HL Deb 17 August 1921 vol 43 cc896-938

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Viscount Peel.)

House in Committee accordingly.


Clause 1:

Charge of customs duties on goods in Schedule.

(5) For the purpose of preventing disputes arising as to whether any goods are or are not any goods chargeable with duty under this Part of this Act, the Board may from time to time issue lists defining the articles which are to be taken as falling under any of the general descriptions set out in the said Schedule, and where any list is so issued defining the articles which are to be taken as falling under any such general description, the said Schedule shall have effect as if the articles comprised in the list were therein substituted for that general description.

Every list issued under this section shall be published forthwith in the London, Edinburgh, and Dublin Gazettes, and in such other manner as the Board think proper.

If Within three months after the publication of any such list any person appearing to the Board to be interested delivers to the Board a written notice complaining that any article has been improperly included in, or excluded from, the list, the Board shall refer the complaint to the arbitration of a referee to be appointed by the Lord Chancellor, who shall not be an official of any Government department and the decision of the referee shall be final and conclusive, and the list shall be amended so far as is necessary in order to give effect to the decision, without prejudice, however, to the validity of anything previously done thereunder.

LORD MUIR MACKENZIE moved, in subsection (5) after"Government Department," to omit"and the decision of the referee shall be final and conclusive." The noble Lord said: The Amendment that I have to submit has to do with a case in which a person thinks himself aggrieved by reason of the inclusion or exclusion of some article in the list. The point of the Amendment is that there should be an unrestricted power of appeal in these cases, which are very important. Though I am strongly opposed both to the Bill as a whole, and also to the way in which it has been dealt with as regards this House by the Government, the particular Amendment that I have to propose is not. I think, in any way hostile to the Bill. It is one that I should have thought the Government might reasonably accept, and one that the House of Commons, if it were brought before them, would not regard as containing anything that would prevent them from directing that their powers under the Parliament Act should not be utilised in rejecting the Amendment.

There is nothing that is either novel, or that could be called factious in the Amendment that I propose. I believe that it was dealt with to some extent in the House of Commons, and that there the Government showed no intransigeant spirit in the matter. The haste with which your Lordships have been forced to deal with this Bill has, of course, made it difficult to go adequately into matters of detail. The provisions of this clause, as they appeared in the copy of the Bill in the House of Commons which I happened to see at some earlier period, were different from the provisions in the clause as it now appears, and I must admit that if the present form is due to the. action of the Government they have greatly improved the clause from the form in which I saw it before. Nevertheless, I still submit to the House that in a matter of such great importance as the question of including in the list of articles upon which the duties described in this Bill are to be levied, it ought not to be that the party aggrieved—and it is admitted in the Bill that there may be parties aggrieved—should not have access in the ordinary course to appeal. The defect, if I may use so strong a word, of the clause as the Government now have it is that they have added the words"and the decision of the referee shall be final and conclusive." I think it would be better if the Government would consent to leave out those words and to let the clause stand as it is without them.

I have only- one word to add, and it is this. The clause, as it is, reads just the least bit comically. I do not know whether the noble Viscount has observed it. It says"the Board shall refer the complaint to the arbitration of a referee to be appointed by the Lord Chancellor, who shall not be. an official of any Government Department." Of course, the words ought to be transposed and they ought to read"the Board shall refer the complaint to the arbitration of a referee who shall be appointed by the Lord Chancellor, and who shall not be an official of ally Government Department." It is a. very small matter, but I think it is desirable that that alteration should be made.

And I think if the House will consider for a moment they will come to the conclusion that it is a matter of very great importance with reference to the Parliament Act. I think it has been expressed in this House— it certainly has been said outside— that tiffs House can practically make no Amendment. I cannot find anything in the Parliament Act that justifies that statement, nor anything in the Parliament Act that makes it improper for the House of Commons to accept what has been done here, and either to let the Bill proceed in the ordinary way, like any other Bill where both Houses consent, or to present it to the King for His Royal Assent without the consent of this House with that alteration made.

There might be seine mistake or oversight in the Bill which needs obvious improvement. If you take the ease of the Railways Bill which has just been passed through this House, conducted by the noble Earl with an ability which I think has called for the enthusiastic admiration of the whole. House, there were some sixty Amendments to that Bill; and I think it is quite on the cards that if you carefully examined the Safeguarding of Industries Bill, Which is an extremely important Bill, you might find it desirable to make a great number of Amendments of the same drafting character. Why should not a Bill be capable of being altered in that way in this House, and those Amendments accepted by the other House?

I think it is important that we should make the present Amendment, to which there could not possibly he any objection in the other House, so that on this first occasion when there seems to be some opportunity of settling a practice for the Parliament Act you should be able to demonstrate that it may be used in a reasonable and proper way, and without any tyrannical process which lowers the dignity of your Lordships' House and does not carry out the constitutional position that Bills are to be passed not by one House but by two Houses.

Amendment moved— Page 3, line 6, leave out from (" department,") to (" and ") in line 7.—(Lord Muir Mackenzie.)


I think I can assure my noble friend that no reflection was intended on the position of the Lord Chancellor by the curious collocation of words to which he has drawn attention. On behalf of the Government I am gratified that my noble friend approves very much of the alterations that were made in the clause before it left another place. I do not know whether his enthusiasm was called forth more by the fact that the Lord Chancellor was appointed instead of the Treasury, or by the fact that all officials were excluded from being persons who might act in this particular capacity. According to my noble friend, the object of this Amendment is that there should be a full appeal from the referee so appointed, on all questions of fact as well as of law, in connection with the lists which are to be published from time to time by the Board of Trade, defining exactly what particular articles come under the more general definitions as set out in the Schedule.

I do not know whether my noble friend has had his attention called very closely to the words"shall refer the complaint to the arbitration of a referee." I understand that those words give the referee all the rights and privileges of an arbitrator under the Arbitration Act. In that ease, as my noble friend will realise, questions of fact are finally decided by the arbitrator. On questions of law, of course, on a case being stated, there could be an appeal to the Courts, and there would be an appeal to the Courts on a question of law under this clause as now set out.

If my noble friend's Amendment were carried, and if those words were left out, it would not give any appeal on questions of fact, and therefore it would not do what my noble friend desires to do. Is it desirable that. there shall be such an appeal on points of fact from the arbitrator? Is it really suggested that all these matters as to whether or not a particular article does or does not come within a particular defini- tion—which is surely a matter of very technical decision—should be referred to and go through all the gamuts of the Courts of Law? I submit that this matter should be finally decided by the arbitrator. Whether that is so or not, the Amendment of my noble friend would not have the effect of giving an appeal on points of fact, and therefore I hope he will not press his Amendment.


I should like to ask the noble Viscount opposite who is in charge of the Bill exactly what is intended by this procedure. Am I to understand that the referee will be appointed ad hoc in each case, and that he will be a person specially competent by his knowledge and experience to deal with the particular matter under consideration? As your Lordships will notice, there is a great variety of articles of very different type in the Schedule, and the same man would obviously not be competent to give a reliable opinion as to whether or not different classes of goods did or did not fall within that long list of different classes.

There is one expression in the Schedule about which I should like to ask the noble Lord a question, before any decision is arrived at on the noble Lord's Amendment. The expression"all other fine chemicals"is used in connection with chemicals, in the last paragraph. I do not know whether there is a technical definition of the term"fine chemicals," which would avoid a reference to the referee, but I should like to give, by way of illustration, a case which might materially affect the interests of the agricultural population. We all know that there are two main kinds of potash, kainit, a minor form of potash, which comes from Stassfurt and other parts of Germany and Alsace-Lorraine, and sulphate of potash, which is a much more refined chemical, and which is preferred by the more enlightened and scientific farmers, and ought to be preferred, to kainit. May I ask whether kainit would be regarded as outside entirely and sulphate of potash within? If so, it is quite possible for a person interested, say an iron-master, who thinks he can make a fortune out of the potash derived from flue dust, to claim that all kinds of potash, including sulphate of potash as used by the farmers, should be kept out of this country in the interests of his own particular industry.


May I ask the noble Viscount whether he proposes 'to insert a drafting Amendment in order to put right the ridiculous mistake regarding the Lord Chancellor which has been pointed out? I assume that if it was a Bill of an ordinary character it would be done. I should like to know whether the noble Viscount considers himself debarred from a harmless step of that kind owing to the fact that the Bill has received the Speaker's Certificate as a Money Bill.


I suppose the position on that point was correctly stated by the noble Lord on my right. I suppose that it is possible to insert Amendments, but it is equally possible for another place to declare that they are all privilege and refuse to consider them. That is a matter for another place rather than for your Lordships' House.


Yes, undoubtedly, but, as the noble Viscount knows, it is open to another place to waive its privilege at any time and on any subject.


That is so. The noble Marquess also asked me whether I was precluded from introducing an Amendment of the nature he indicated. I hardly think I run absolutely precluded from making a verbal Amendment of that kind, but, as 1 say, it is subject to the fact that it: may be treated as part of a privilege Amendment. whether it improves the sense of the Bill or not.

With regard to the point made by Lord Bledisloe, as to whether the same person is to act in all these different cases concerning many kinds of industry and many sorts of chemicals, I should have hardly thought that any one was sufficiently omniscient to deal with all those points. I doubt whether I am sufficiently omniscient myself to answer all the points he raised. I understand that the term"fine chemicals"is a trade term, rather than a scientific one, and that it is mainly applied in Opposition to heavy chemicals made in this country, than to those fine chemicals, involving rather a difficult and delicate process and made in small quantities, which are aimed at by this Bill. The suggestion that this term should be included in the Bill was made by a late member of your Lordships' House—Lord Moulton.


After what the noble Viscount has said I do not propose to put your Lordships to the trouble of a Division.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2:

Power of Board of Trade to apply Part II to certain goods.

2.—(l) If, on complaint being made to the Board to that effect, it appears to the Board that goods of any class or description (other than articles of food or drink) manufactured in a country outside the United Kingdom are being sold or offered for sale in the United Kingdom—

  1. (a) at prices below the cost of production thereof as hereinafter defined; or
  2. (b) at prices which, by reason of depreciation in the value in relation to sterling of the currency of the country in which the goods are manufactured, net being a country within His Majesty's Dominions, are below the prices at which similar goods can be profitably manufactured in the United Kingdom;
and that by reason thereof employment in any industry in the United Kingdom is being or is likely to be seriously affected, the Board may refer the matter for inquiry to a committee constituted for the purposes of this Part of this Act:

Provided that the Board shall not so refer any matter involving a question of depreciation of currency unless they are satisfied that the value of the currency of that country in question in relation to sterling is less by thirty-three and one-third per cent. or upwards, than the par value of exchange.

THE MARQUESS OF CREWE moved, in subsection (1), after"other than articles of food and drink,'' to insert"or articles for use in the practice of husbandry, agriculture, or the raising of stock." The noble Marquess said: I do not want to deal with this Amendment at any length because most of the arguments relating to it were used in the course of the debate on the Second Reading, and I think the Government attempted a reply. I quite admit that it seems to be a wrong course to pursue to pick out a particular industry, as this Amendment does, in order to relieve it from the disabilities which all other industries may have to suffer owing to the provisions of the Bill. It is only possible to justify an Amendment of this kind by pointing out that the recent circumstances of agriculture are different from those of every other industry. As your Lordships know until a few weeks ago it was believed by farmers that they were going to receive a measure of protection through the subsidy in respect of some of their most important articles of production. That has been swept away by the Bill which has recently been considered in one of its stages by your Lordships' House.

During all this time, as I am sure noble Lords will remember, many speeches have been made on agricultural platforms and elsewhere announcing that agriculture was to receive this special treatment because it was a key industry, although the term was, as we realise, inaccurately used, because agriculture is one of the great staple industries of the country. But the use of the term"key industry"in relation to corn production was not, I think, formally contradicted by ally one entitled to speak on behalf of the Government. Therefore, the agricultural community, having considered itself to be carrying on one of the great key industries of the country, now finds that it is deprived of the aid which it had been receiving and that, at any rate, there is a possibility that through the terms of this Bill it may suffer actual loss. I know it is said that, as a matter of fact, agriculture cannot suffer, at any rate to a serious extent, through Part II of this Bill. The noble Lord behind me, Lord Bledisloe, used some arguments in disproof of that statement which were not seriously combated from the Government side, and I do not see how it can be disputed that in certain circumstances either agricultural implements or artificial manures might fall under the restrictions of Part II of this Bill.

But I would put the matter to the noble Viscount on another ground. It cannot be disputed that, owing to the recent action of His Majesty's Government, the agricultural community is in a condition of some nervousness, and of what is generally termed unrest; and I would put it to him, even though he does not believe that agriculture will be seriously damnified by the actual terms of this measure, whether it would not be worth his while, as a matter of reassurance, to meet those fears half-way by inserting in the Bill a provision such as I have on the Paper. I do not think that in the particular circumstances that I have mentioned of the Repeal of the Corn Production Act other industries can consider themselves unfairly treated by a preference of this kind— if it be a preference—being granted to the business of agriculture. I hope, therefore, that the noble Viscount will be willing to consider the point in the light of what I have said, because I know that the passing of this Bill through another place has caused considerable uneasiness in the agricultural world generally.

Amendment moved— Page 3, line 15, after (" drink ") insert (" or articles for use in the practice of husbandry, agriculture, or the raising of stock ").—(The Marquess of Crewe.)


The noble Marquess, I think, protested, or claimed, that agriculture should be called a key industry.


No; I beg the noble Viscount's pardon. On the contrary, I regard agriculture as a staple industry; but I said that it has often been so described without contradiction from His Majesty's Government.


I am sorry that His Majesty's Government were not more careful on those occasions to make it quite clear that they considered agriculture a staple industry, because I was going to protest. that it is, in fact, a misnomer to apply the term"key industry"to agriculture."Key industry," so far as I attempted to define it on the Second Reading of this Bill, applies to peculiar kinds of very technical small industries. It clearly would be absurd to apply a term of that kind to the gigantic industry of agriculture, and I am glad that on this point, at least, the noble Marquess and I are absolutely of one mind.

The noble Marquess supported his Amendment mainly on two grounds. The first was that agriculture might suffer in some ways by the provisions of this Bill. It did not seem to me that the noble Marquess laid very great stress upon that point, because, after touching upon it rather lightly, lie moved on to a second point, upon which he lays greater weight. I think I could argue, if it were necessary, that it is difficult to see how agriculture can suffer from the provisions of this Bill, because, after all, this Bill is intended only to prevent articles being sold in this country at 5 per cent. less than their cost of production in the country of origin. You will observe that, in that case, nothing is said about the cost of bringing these articles here, about freights and insurance and I do not see hew the agricultural or any other industry can expect to be provided with materials at prices far below those at which the articles could be produced in this country, or could be imported on any fair basis of trade from other countries. Agriculture can hardly claim to be damnified because it cannot get its goods at a price less than what it cost to produce them. The noble Marquess also raised an objection as regards the condition of agriculturists, and their nervousness at the repeal of that short-lived Act.

While regretting that the noble Marquess should express any such opinion, my difficulty is in dealing with the Amendment itself. The Amendment itself is couched in such general terms that I am afraid it is exceedingly difficult to say what it precisely means. It seems to me to be difficult to say that any article should not be included, through being, in some sense, of use as regards agriculture. Take pots, pails, milking-stools; there is hardly any limit as to what might be used in agriculture, and I am afraid that if we were to accept this Amendment, it would drive a very large hole in the Bill. It would make it very difficult to work, and the whole thing would become so extremely indefinite that I think even those learned gentlemen who have to decide whether or not an article does or does not come within a particular definition, would be quite unable to come to a decision.

The Amendment, in fact, is too general and too wide, and, in addition, it is open to the objection very clearly stated by the noble Marquess, and with which he is extremely familiar—the difficulty and danger of excluding any one particular industry. As soon as you have excluded one industry, there is an immense appeal from every other kind of industry to be excluded. Agriculture appeals on one ground, because of her short-lived Act, mid every other industry, no doubt, under the ingenious advocacy of the noble Marquess or other noble Lords, could easily prove that it was entirely distinct in. many respects from all other industries. I am afraid I am bound to oppose it on that ground, and also on the ground that there is no knowing how far the Amendment will extend.


I should like to point out that, as you have already selected food and drink as vital matters for the welfare of the country, not to be hampered by the operation of this Act, surely the production of food and drink are a large part of the work of agriculture, and it will not be very unreasonable to exclude the materials by which the food and drink are produced. The noble Lord rather threw ridicule upon the Amendment, on the ground that it was quite unreasonable to suppose that there should be any danger from dumping to agriculture, as the definition of dumping was that the articles should be sold at 5 per cent. below the cost of production, and that there was no consideration of freight or insurance.

But the noble Viscount seems to forget that there were two types of dumping in this Bill. There is"dumping A"and"dumping B," and apparently the Government seem to think the latter more important— namely, the question of exchanges. The Government, apparently, believe that the rate of exchange in Germany is going to allow the Germans to export things to us at a profit. But this is not dumping in the sense that they produce, though at a profit to themselves, at such a depreciated price compared with the market price of the world that they can dump. I do not believe much in this Bill or its protection, but the Government put it forward as a serious Bill, and there is no doubt, as the noble Lord behind me has pointed out, that in a the matter of potash the Germans had, before the war, I will not say absolute control but a very prominent position in its production, and the experts of the Government may advise that the rate of exchange in Germany constitutes the importation of potash a dumping procedure.

Then there is the question of agricultural machinery. Of course, Canada will be free to dump, because Canada is protected as a Dominion, but America, if she chooses, can dump under (a), and if the Government think there is anything in their talk about depreciated exchanges the Germans might dump under (b). Therefore, I think there is no justification for saying that this Amendment is an unreasonable one.


The noble Viscount opposite found fault with the words in which this Amendment is expressed, but if he bas, at heart, any sympathy with the object. of the Amendment, I have no doubt he will make it possible for us so to reconstruct the actual Amendment as to Make it more palatable to himself and his colleagues. However that may be, I cannot help thinking that, if he still represented the electors of the Taunton Division of Somerset, he would be received with less than their usual enthusiasm if he suggested that this Amendment was not one which your Lordships' House ought to accept. He said that agriculture cannot suffer under this Bill. My noble friend. Lord Sheffield, has pointed out several respects in which, obviously, it can suffer. If you are going to confer a potential boon upon every industry in this country except agriculture, and as agriculture will be employing a large number of the products of other industries, it stands to reason surely that, with the enhanced prices consequent upon this clause, agriculture must suffer as being the only industry left out of this Bill.

In my judgment there is absolutely no product which is being dumped, or which is likely to be dumped, to a greater extent in the future than wheat. We cannot possibly produce it at less than 82s. per quarter, and it is being dumped upon these shores at about 75s. per quarter to-day, and there is every prospect of its coming to a much lower price. Yet we are at the same time told that it is absolutely essential, in the interests of national security, that a larger area of wheat should be grown. If that is so, and if you are not prepared, consequent upon prejudice in the minds of the dwellers in the towns, to protect the products of our fields, agriculture must suffer if it cannot get the raw materials of the industry without having to pay the enhanced prices consequent upon the operation of this scheme.

As Lord Sheffield pointed out, the dumping contemplated in (a) would include machines coming from the United States, such as motor tractors, ploughs, reapers and the like, and under (b) would include fertilisers, such as potash, slag and so on, which come from countries which are intended to be hit, and will be hit, by this clause. If they are going to be hit it means that, although it may be true that this clause would not afford any material protection to the producers of these articles in this country, obviously if w6 add 33 per cent. the farmers will have to pay a good deal more than otherwise they would have to pay. At the National Council of Agriculture, held this morning to protest, as we did emphatically and unanimously, against the volte face of the Government with regard to their agricultural policy, there was also a vigorous and unanimous protest against the passage of this Bill without some Amendment to alleviate the position of agriculture in the light of this provision.


May I appeal to the Government to consider the damage which is going to be done by this Bill to agriculture. Up to now it has been able to use the best machinery obtainable all over the world, but under this Bill von are going to stop all that. When we wish to dump our own agricultural machines upon other countries they will put up a tariff wall against us, and we probably dump as many agricultural machines in Europe and elsewhere as any other country. I believe that provisions of this sort are going to do this country very great harm.


I hope that the noble Viscount in charge of the Bill will pay attention to the remarks that have been made. The agricultural interest feels that it is being very badly left in the lurch, because people engaged in it may have to buy in a protected market and sell in an open market, and that is a thing which no person engaged in ally trade wishes to do. If, by any chance, any manufacturer of agricultural interests can make out such a in case that the Government allow 33½ per cent. to be put upon those articles, there will no doubt be great hardship to the farmer who has to buy the machines, and it must be remembered that machine makers, like all manufacturers, have a great weakness for combining and going into small syndicates and trusts.

I can remember very well when most trades were carried on in competition, but a different state of affairs has obtained in the last twenty-five years. Now, the tendency is for two or three manufacturers of one article not to compete but to join together and get as much money as possible out of the public. If the manufacturers of ploughs or tractors, or mowing or reaping machines, get the Board of Trade to prohibit them, except on payment of a 33⅓ per cent. tariff, I have no doubt the manufacturers here will combine, and the farmers will have to pay not only the 33⅓ per cent. addition, but very likely more, for what they have to buy. That is not all. However low the cost of production of corn in foreign countries may be, it will be allowed to come into this country without any tariff upon it. Many of us remember when corn went down to 22s. and 23s. per quarter. It could not be produced here at that price, and I do not think any country in the world can produce it at that price, but there is no reason why, if there is over production for a year or two, corn should cot come down even as low as it did in the early 'nineties.

What is the farmer to do? He cannot go to the Board of Trade and say:"These people are producing under cost price." The Board of Trade have no power to help him, and therefore he has to take it lying down, and his trade is very much injured by this influx of corn at a lower price than the cost of production. I do not think it is any wonder if the farmer says:"You are not behaving fairly to me. I am producing corn, which may be produced abroad and sold in this country at a much lower price than that at which I can produce it, and I have no remedy; whereas other things that I have to buy, either implements, or fertilisers, or other things that I use, I may have to buy in a protected market." It is not fair to the farmer, and I think the Amendment ought to be accepted.


I wonder whether I might appeal to the noble Viscount to respond to what is obviously the general wish of thy,. House? no well-wisher of the Government can desire to see the chasm which has grown up already between them and the agricultural interest widened, as it must be if they persist in refusing the Amendment. What is the position? We are all aware of the necessity of economy, which has driven the Government to withdraw what was regarded as as firm a Parliamentary bargain as was ever made with any industry in this country; and we know that, within six months, for the first time, as far as I know, in the history of this Parliament, a policy so adumbrated and embodied in an Act of Parliament has been withdrawn, and the whole industry left in an entirely different position. I am not complaining. I believe the second action of the Government was better than the first. But no human being can fail to see how strong a feeling has been evoked throughout the agricultural world. On top of that we get the proceedings of this afternoon, when the Government has been endeavouring, still to keep up some of the agricultural wages, or to take care that they do not fall too rapidly. Where on earth is the farmer to make his profit if, on all hands, he is bound, and the one thing for which he has no protection is his own product?

Will the noble Viscount put it to himself in this way? Is there any body of men in this country which, in the circumstances, has a greater right than the farmers to buy in the cheapest market, especially in these days, when everybody desires to see the development of scientific farming, and when large classes of machinery, apart from other materials, are used in farming which are produced more cheaply in foreign countries than they have hitherto been produced here? In those circumstances, and considering that farming is still the largest of all our industries, and that the desire of the Government above everything is that the production of food should be increased in this country, I would appeal to the noble Viscount to make this most modest concession, in which he will have the support of nearly the whole of this House.


I should like to support the noble Earl who has just spoken. The question is really one of the production of food. The price of the loaf stands at over one shilling now, and what the masses want is cheap bread. If you keep out cheap agricultural machinery the farmers of this country cannot produce wheat to enable the loaf to collie down. The tractors that one now sees all over the country are most important articles of machinery for tilling the land for wheat—and wheat this year is one of the finest crops that England has ever grown, although it is not so big as it should be. May I suggest to Lord Crewe that he should I confine the Amendment to agricultural machinery for the. present? I hope he will do so, because I feel it is a very much larger question than the matters which are dealt with in this small Bill.


May I say one word? His Majesty's Government have done enough harm to the agricultural interest as it is, God knows, and I only hope they will give us a bit of a chance now.


So far as the wording of the Amendment is concerned, I am quite willing to alter it. It was taken bodily from an Amendment moved in another place, and if your Lordships would like to see it in different terms I should take no objection. The Amendment that. I should be prepared to move would be— After drink ' to insert or agricultural implements, or fertilisers used in the practice of agriculture: I should be quite content with those words.


Probably it would be simpler to take the Division on the noble Marques 's Amendment as first moved. It states the broad issue.


Very well.


I was very much interested to hear so many noble Lords who have spoken on behalf of agriculture regretting, and regretting most pathetically, that wheat was brought into this country without any duty.




I am afraid I cannot help them, and I am afraid that, if I were to accept the suggestion, I should bring down upon myself immediately all the indignation of my noble friend, Lord Emmott, who would regard me as a lost soul. Some of the speeches of noble Lords have shown that they really have not appreciated this Bill at all, and that they have been treating the Bill not as an antidumping Bill or a key-industries Bill, but as a general tariff Bill. If it were so, I agree that many of their arguments would he relevant. Lord Mayo and Lord Nunburnholtne would then really have spoken with effect.

But what does Lord Mayo say? He says the object. of this Bill is to keep out cheap industrial machinery. It has nothing to do with keeping out cheap industrial machinery. Under this Bill cheap industrial machinery can come in exactly as it could before. If any industrial machinery is produced in Germany, America, or any other country, and sold in this country, after paying freight and insurance, at the cost of production in that country, it conies in absolutely free as far as this Bill is concerned. Can any body of men in any industry ask for more than to buy their goods at a price which not only gives no profit to the person who makes them, but gives him a loss? How can any industry go on if it has to sell goods at less than their cost of production? I state, therefore, and I state it roundly, that those noble Lords are speaking under a complete mis- apprehension of the provisions of this Bill.

Now let me take one point against my noble friend, Lord Bledisloe. He talked about Europe and America, and he said:"Yes; but there is America. America is going to dump this cheap agricultural machinery into this country." I am always surprised when my noble friend, who is learned in so many things, makes these elementary mistakes. Surely he knows that the American exchange has depreciated immensely against our own, and that there is no human possibility of these things being dumped at 5 per cent, less than the cost of production.


May I be allowed to correct the noble Viscount, because he has made that mistake twice—on the last stage of the Bill and on this. I particularly joined forces with my noble friend, Lord Sheffield, in pointing out, that as regards machinery (A) applies, and as to fertilisers (B) applies. Therefore, the machinery has nothing whatever to do with the depreciation of currency as between us and the United States.


Oh, yes it has; I assure the noble Lord that it has. It would not come under collapsed exchanges, and I think the noble Lord has entirely misunderstood what I said. There are two kinds of dumping. There is the selling of goods at 5 per cent. less than the cost of production in the country, and there is the other question of this depreciation of value owing to collapsed exchanges. The noble Lord has entirely misapprehended my argument. I am not talking of collapsed exchanges as regards America. I am saying that. under the relative values of the American currency and our own, it. would be quite impossible for them under (A)—that is, under the dumping clauses—to send machinery into this country at less than the cost of production in this country. I am dealing with (A), and not with (B), which is collapsed exchanges.


They are probably doing it now.


It is quite impossible that. they can be doing it in the present conditions of trade.


Will the noble Viscount kindly explain why it is impossible? We all know that it is going on.


I assure the noble Earl that it is not going on, because the exchange is now 3.60 in dollars as compared with the £ sterling. I will not say it is absolutely impossible, but the loss would be so great to the American exporter that it is practically impossible for it to take place.

Now, as regards my noble friend, Lord Sheffield, was rather surprised to find that he was alluding to the case of collapsed exchanges with Germany, because he told us that so greatly had the German exchange depreciated relatively to France, and so great was the advantage which the Germans got, anyhow as compared with France, in the difference between the external and internal price of the mark, that it was perfectly useless to put on this miserable little duty of 33⅓ per cent.


I never said so.


Yes; I treasure the noble Lord's words more than he does himself. Now he is telling us of the great. danger there would be because of the putting on of that. 33⅓ per cent. During this discussion, I have not heard one single word about the manufacturer of these tractors and implements in our own country. Do not noble Lords opposite consider British trade at all? Do not they consider the manufacturers of this country? Do they consider it fair that our manufacturers of these implements—which, to my own knowledge, arc quite as good as. and better than many of the tractors that they speak of with such enthusiasm as coming in from Anierica would have no chance? They are not avoiding competition. Goods can be

brought in, as I said, not only cheaply, but at less than the cost of production in the foreign country. And when the very limited definition that I have described is put on the term "dumping," surely it is not too much. to ask that they shall be protected or safeguarded front these extreme forms of dumping. I am very sorry that I cannot accept the Amendment, but I am bound to say, and.I say it with all respect to noble Lords who are present, that this is an Amendment which. I fear, has not the slightest chance of being accepted in another place.


I only want to say one word in justification of myself and to show how completely the noble Viscount has misunderstood what I said. I never said that the depreciation of currency was an advantage. I said the opposite. I. said that the whole theory that the Germans could export because of their depreciated currency was a fallacy. I night refer the noble Viscount to this very excellent Report, which I have no doubt he has studied, and which states that the German manufacturers of machinery find it very difficult to compete with Belgium and France, although the depreciation of the currency in Belgium and France is down to about one-half of our currency, while the depreciation of currency in 'Germany, is down to one-twelfth of our currency. I do not agree with the noble Viscount's theory at all. I say it is all nonsense, and I can only view this absurd Bill on the grounds which I have put forward.

On Question, Whether the.proposed words shall be here inserted?—

Their Lordships divided:—Contents, 49 Not-Contents,: 31.

Birkenhead, V. (L. Chancellor.) Peel, V. Gorell, L.
Hylton,. L.
Sutherland, D. Abinger, L. Killanin, L.
Ancaster, K. Ampthill, L. Lawrence, L.
Bradford, E. Annesley, L. (V. Valentia.) Lee of Fareham, L.
Chesterfield, K. Armaghdale, L. Ludlow, L.
Clarendon, E. Chwyd, L. Methyr, L.
Eldon, E. Colebrooke, L. Somerleyton, L. [Teller.]
Lucan, E. Colwyn, L. Stanmore, L. [Teller.]
Lytton, K. Cottesloe, L. Wavertree, L.
Onslow, E. Gisborough, L. Wigan, L. (E. Crawford.)

Resolved in the affirmative and Amendment agreed to accordingly.

EARL BEAUCHAMP moved, in subsection (1), after"United Kingdom"where those words firstly occur, to insert"other than France." The noble Earl said: The Amendment which I beg leave to submit to your Lordships is one which I hope will receive as favourable treatment as the last Amendment received at your Lordships' hands. There is, I think, this to be said in its favour, that it is in no way connected with any old controversies of any sort or kind. It is rather a question that we should abstain from doing anything which might in any way alienate from us the good feeling and the good will of our Ally, France. I beg to move that from the operations of this Bill France should be entirely excluded.

There is, I think, some little question as to whether France is affected or not. If France is not affected, there can be no harm in accepting the Amendment, whereas if France is affected, there are a great many of us who would be anxious to see the goods of our Ally excluded from the operations of this Bill. It has been stated in debate in this House— and, I think, without contradiction—that already a protest has been received from our friends in Paris against this Bill, and against the possibility of its operating unfavourably towards French manufactures. In these circumstances, I am quite sure your Lordships, with full sympathy for France in all that- she has suffered during the last few years, will be anxious not to do anything which might prejudicially affect her trade.

I think that an argument which I venture to adumbrate on the Second Reading is a really valid one. The greater the depreciation in the currency of a nation, the less must be the price of goods as compared with the price in countries with a less depreciation, if a flat rate is applied. Let me give an instance of that. I understand that there was an exhibition of industries held in the spring of this year somewhere near the Houses of Parliament, and at that exhibition they showed some pianos. The pianos from Germany could be sold, so long as the mark is worth 240 to the £, at £31. A similar piano from France is sold, while the franc is in the region of 50, at the sum of £70. Here comes what, I venture to think, is the weak spot in the proposals of His Majesty's Government from their own point of view, and it is that a flat rate is applied to the goods coming from Germany and to those coming from France; therefore, while the duty upon German pianos is only £11 the duty which the French importer has to pay is not less than £23.

If there is that difference in the duties to be paid upon goods coming from France as compared with similar articles coming from Germany, then there is what I think I may not unfairly describe as a preference to our late enemy. In any case any action under this Bill must disturb our good relations with our Ally, and in these circumstances I hope your Lordships, anxious to maintain those good feelings with France, will accept this Amendment.

Amendment moved— Page 3, line 16, after (" Kingdom ") insert (" other than France ").—(Earl Beauchamp.)


I am not quite sure as to what is the full meaning of the Amendment of the noble Earl. Does he mean to exclude France as regards both (A) and (B)—ordinary dumping and collapsed exchange dumping? I think that is the effect of his Amendment. Is that his intention?


That is certainly the form in which I have moved it. If it is the wish of the House I would exclude (A).


I suppose I had better deal with it on the lines on which it has been moved. I am going to make an appeal to the noble Earl not to press his Amendment, or, if he does press it, I am going to make a very strong appeal to your Lordships not to divide upon it. What is the proposal? We have many Allies besides Fiance, and what your Lordships are asked to do is to make a special exception in favour of only one of those. Allies. I think an Amendment of this kind was moved in another place, but it was a far more tactfully and carefully worded one, because it did not specially single out France, but wanted all our Allies to be exempted. It is not necessary for me to say what -Would be the effect of singling out one Ally and not including the rest, but I am afraid it is not an Amendment which, upon any ground, it is possible to accept, because the very fact of putting France outside this provision would have the effect of compelling His Majesty's Government to accord similar treatment to all countries having a"most-favoured. nation clause"regarding the Customs' duties of this country.

The Amendment, therefore, has obviously, on the face of it, a far more far-reaching effect than the noble Earl has suggested. It has another difficulty to which he had not called attention. Although the great Dominions are excluded from the first part of the Bill, they are not excluded from the dumping part of it, because, as your Lordships know, the act of dumping is looked upon as a form of offence. Therefore, in this matter of trade, you propose to give an advantage to France which you are denying to all your Dominions. I do not believe a proposal of that kind would pass your Lordships' House.

May I make one more point? The suggestion has been made by the noble Earl that there is sonic danger of disturbance of our good relations with France if such a measure as this is passed and France is included. I strongly doubt whether trade arrangements of this kind will have any such effect on our good relations with France. I believe the mutual ties between the two countries are far too close for any suggestion of that kind to have any effect whatever. The French know perfectly well, and we know perfectly well, that it is for every country to take proper measures for the security of its own trade. I may say that recently France has raised its tariffs and as a result, though of course we come under the minimum tariff, that minimum tariff has been a good deal raised; but there has been no suggestion in this country that because we may suffer in that way our good relations with France are disturbed. It is no compliment to France for the noble Earl to suggest that their Governments are less endowed with common sense than ours, and that they are going to be irritated by provisions of this kind when we show no irritation, but constant good will towards France. I hope, therefore, on these grounds that the noble Earl will seriously think before he presses this Amendment, I have shown what a general disturbance it would make as regards other countries, and. I have shown also, I think, the invidiousness of selecting France and France alone for this particular provision.


The noble Viscount has made a strong appeal to your Lordships not to support my noble friend, Lord Beauchamp, if he presses this Amendment. He stated, in the first instance, that it was an invidious thing to do to select France for this particular privilege, while leaving out some of the other Allies, but, of course, if that were the only objection which the noble Viscount took, it would be very simple to amend the Amendment by adding the names of Italy, Belgium and Portugal, who were the original Allies at the time of the Paris Resolutions, upon which noble Lords have laid so much stress. I think it is pretty clear that the reason why Inv noble friend mentioned France, and France only, was explained by what was said either by him or by some others in the debate on the Second Reading—namely, that the actual effect of this measure as it stands will be to hit France very hard, whereas it does not hit the other Allies in the same manner. As we have no commercial Treaty with France, France falls immediately under the possible ban, whereas the other countries, unless our Treaties with them are denounced, escape under the terms of the Bill.

I do not think the noble Viscount was quite accurate in setting aside altogether the fear of the disturbance of relations between the two countries by legislation which may appear to be specially aimed at one of them by the other. I think, if the noble Viscount recalled the comments that were made in the French Press, freely made and in the most candid terms, at the time when a provision relating to sparkling wines was inserted in the Budget, which, if not aimed at, was specially detrimental to, French trade, and which was only modified, not because it was detrimental to French trade, but because it. was found not to bring in revenue— I think if the noble Viscount recalled that he would see that it. is not safe to ignore the possibility of, do not say disturbing in the grand sense the relations between the two countries, but. creating a considerable amount of friction and irritation by financial provisions of this kind.

The noble Viscount has appealed to my noble friend not to press this Motion to a Division. I think it is possible my noble friend may be disposed to respond to that appeal on public grounds, but it will not be, I think, out of any particular deference to His Majesty's Government, or front any doubt that so far as the interests of France arc concerned, His Majesty's Government are making a great mistake in drawing this Bill in the terms they have done.


If I cannot secure more support from your Lordships' House in this direction, naturally I should wish to withdraw my Amendment, but in doing so, I would answer the criticism made by the noble Viscount., on behalf of His Majesty's Government, in asking why it was that France alone was chosen. The answer is obvious. First of all, it is because France has protested, and secondly, as has just been said by the noble Marquess, the leader of the Opposition, it is because France is the only one of our Allies with which we have not a commercial Treaty at the present moment, and therefore she would come, or might come, at once under the operation of this Bill.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 2, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 3 to 6 agreed to.

Clause 7:

Constitution of committees.

7.—(1) A committee for the purposes of this Part of this Act shall consist of five persons selected by the President of the Board from a permanent panel of persons appointed by him who shall be mainly persons of commercial or industrial experience.

(2) Any person whose interests may be materially affected by any action which may be taken on the report. of a committee shall not be eligible for selection as a member of the committee.

LORD MUIR MACKENZIE moved to omit from subsection (1) all words after"A committee for the purposes of this Part o: this Act shall," and to insert"be appointed by the House of Commons at the instance of the Committee of Selection it the first Session of each Parliament, for tin lifetime of such Parliament, to consist of at least members". The noble Lord said: I shall not detain your Lordships more than a minute over this proposed Amendment, because I think the point is: it is so very plain that it. can be dealt. with in a very few words. If your Lordship-will look at. subsection (1) of Clause 7, it says— A committee for the purposes of this Part of this Act shall consist of five persons selected by the President of the Board from a permanent panel of persons appointed by him who shall be mainly persons of commercial or industrial experience. Your Lordships will see, from the earlier part of the Bill, what very important functions this Committee has to perform.

The Committee will practically settle whether orders are to be made to include certain articles amongst those to which the provisions about dumping are to apply. I suggest that the form of the Bill, being exclusively financial— at any rate it having been certified by the Speaker as a Money Bill— such large powers as are to be given to the Committee under this Bill ought not to be entrusted to any one except members of the House of Commons. That is the whole meaning of the proposal I make, and I suggest that the Government should adopt the Amendment so that this matter could be kept in the hands of the House of Commons.

Amendment moved— Page 7, line 38, leave out from (" shall ") to the end of subsection (1) and insert the said words.—(Lord Muir Mackenzie.)


The object of the Amendment is to make a considerable alteration in the Bill. Instead of this committee of business men, selected from a particular panel, it sets up a Committee of the House of Commons chosen by select Committee. That is to say, you I lave a Committee of members of the House if Commons instead of some of those listinguished business men from outside. The whole object of the clause was to conduct the inquiry before this Committee n an entirely non-political atmosphere. It was the decision of the House of Commons and it must be assumed that if lie House of Commons decided to entrust its powers to a committee of business men they are afraid that if they did it themselves there would be political atmosphere. Tile noble Lord assumes that there would not be"political atmosphere."

He will agree with me that it is essential that"political atmosphere"should be entirely excluded. I suppose the House of Commons knows its own composition and members better than my noble friend, and if they think that by setting up their Committee there would be"political atmosphere," I am inclined to believe them even against the great authority of my noble friend. I think it would be better to assume that the House of Commons knows its own characteristics better than the noble Lord. It is also important that the men who will have to judge these facts should be men of wide business experience. I do not say that men of this type are not to be found in the House of Commons, but the governing point is, that these decisions will be removed entirely from"political atmosphere." and I hope your Lordships will not disturb this portion of the Bill.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

LORD BLEDISLOE moved, in subsection (1) to leave out"five"and insert"six"and after"persons"to insert"of whom five shall be"The noble Lord said: In pursuance of the statement I made in the Second Reading debate, I move that the Committee to whom the President of the Board of Trade is to refer the question as to whether unemployment in any industry, including agriculture, is likely to result from the operation of Clause 2, should consist of one person at least who is experienced in agricultural matters. For this purpose I am moving this Amendment. The result is to increase the five persons in Clause 7 to six, and to ask that the person shall be nominated by the Minister of Agriculture, who necessarily knows much-more about these matters than the President of the Board of Trade.

Amendment moved— Page 7, line 38, leave out (" five ") and insert (" six ") and after (" persons ") insert (" of whom five shall be ").—(Lord Bledisloe.)


I sympathise with the object of my noble friend, but I am going to ask him not to press the Amendment, for two reasons. He will admit that a committee of five is a much more convenient body than a committee of six, and for obvious reasons. But. if we are to specify the great business of agriculture we should have to specify a great many other businesses as well, and he knows how troublesome all that specification becomes in an Act of Parliament. I can tell him for his own information that I understand that some representative of agriculture will be placed on the panel, and that the President of the Ministry of Agriculture will be asked to select one. I hope that will satisfy him.


I fully appreciate the undertaking which the noble Viscount has given. In the ordinary interpretation of the word"industry"in an Act of Parliament, it excludes agriculture, and if that is so I suggest, in pursuance of what he has now said, that the word"industry"shall be interpreted so as to include agriculture.


I do not think it is necessary to do that. I have consulted the Board of Trade and they think that their action will not be inconsistent with the terms of the Bill.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

On Question, Whether. Clause 7 shall stand part of the Bill?—


There is a question of interpretation on which I should like some information. Will the meetings of the Committee, and the nature ' of the applications which will come before it, be publicly advertised so that firms interested may have an opportunity of being represented? Firms may wish to be represented at the inquiry, and unless there is a public advertisement of the fact they cannot become acquainted with the date of the inquiry. The other question is this. Part II is to come into force on October 1. The date of the coming into force of the rest of the Bill does not appear to be specified. Will it be possible to make an Order under Part II before October 1?


The noble Earl knows well that the meetings of the Committee are to be held in public, and the fact that a Committee has been appointed to meet and decide some specific point will have to be made public. I understand that is the intention of the Board of Trade. As to the other question, the other portion of the Bill is to come into force immediately the Bill becomes law. The noble Earl asks me whether Orders made under Part II could be made before October 1. The period is very short, and I understand that while it is theoretically possible that they might be made it is actually impracticable that they should be made.


I am much obliged.

On Question, Clause 7 agreed to.

Clause 8 agreed to.

Clause 9:

Duration, &c., of orders.

9. An order made under this Part of this Act shall, unless previously revoked by the Board, continue in force for three years or such less period as may be specified in the order; but any such order may, subject to the provisions of this Part of this Act, be renewed from time to time by an order made in like manner and subject to the like conditions as the original order:

Provided that the Board shall not have power to revoke any such order either wholly or as respects any country or article to which the order relates except after reference to and consideration of any report thereon by a committee constituted under this Part of this Act, and that an order made on the ground of depreciation of foreign currency shall not be made or continue in force after the expiration of three years from the passing of this Act.

THE EARL OF MIDLETON moved to substitute "two years" for "three years" where those words firstly occur. The noble Earl said: I do not know whether the noble Viscount has considered the effect of the Amendments I have ventured to put down. I am sure that the great majority of your Lordships, reading this clause, will hardly realise its effect. I am not going to repeat what was said in the Second Reading debate. but it must be admitted that there is a great doubt as to the operation of this Bill. The Government have confined Part I to five years. I can quite understand that it may be necessary to have rather a longer period for industries which have to be fostered and perhaps created than for industries which are in existence, but the object of the second part of the Bill is to avoid their being stamped out by competition which the Government regard as unfair.

Surely, in those circumstances, the provision made for Part II of the Bill for dealing with dumping ought to be for a less period, and not for a longer period, than the provision made in regard to Part I. I think myself that the period applied to Part I is unduly long, and that it may reach a great danger of dislocation of trade, but I am not going to touch upon that point now, because it is dealt with in Clause 16. But with regard to the class of dumping—I forget the technical name which the noble Viscount applies to it—which is the result of the depreciation of foreign exchange, it does seem a marvellous thing that in this clause, which on the face of it appears only to give protection for three years, they have a provision which enables them to give protection for six years.


For dumping?


The Order can be made for three years, and at any time before it has expired, which may be a few days before the Bill lapses, another Order can be made, also for three years. At the end of the clause it is specifically stated that such an Order shall not be made on the ground of the depreciation of foreign currency for more than three years. I challenge both those figures. As regards foreign currency no human being appears to be able to gauge its probable movement from day to day. I do not think a single financial authority of any description predicted the enormous fall in the German mark which has occurred in the last few days, and to contemplate a single Minister in a Government Department sitting down and giving an Order based upon what he believes will be the condition, of foreign currency for three years from now, is to put a power and a responsibility on any man which seems to me to be unwise, which is inequitable to various trades, and which, I fancy, may recoil very much on the Government who have placed it in the Bill.

But while I think that unwise, I cannot understand on what principle, for simple dumping, it is necessary to contemplate three years or six years at all. You have not got to build up an industry upon it. It is simply that, if at any time you find a particular class of article is being landed here at considerably less than the cost of production of it in the United Kingdom, you can at once put on this very heavy penalty. If you put it on for a year you will see the result of it. I cannot understand why it should be necessary to contemplate—and it is one of the most objectionable creatures of the Bill, which is resented on all hands, that the Board of Trade should practically take over control of a very large portion of the trade of the country, at the will of whoever happens to be the Minister of the moment—that the Board of Trade should continue restriction for a period of three years and, even without the interposition of Parliament, possibly for six years.

The whole of this Bill is a leap in the dark. We do not know what the effect of it may be, Different noble Lords with great experience have given absolutely different estimates of that effect. The noble Viscount. yesterday contrasted Lord Colwyn's estimate that all trades would be pressing upon the Board of Trade to get them into the charmed circle


It was Lord Cawley, not Lord Colwyn. I am very glad to have the opportunity of saying that it was wrongly stated. I was certainly not criticising Lord Colwyn, who made a speech or the subject. It was Lord Cawley whom I was criticising.


I apologise to the noble Lord for having given his thunder to anybody else. At all events, his high authority was contrasted, in a sentence which, I think, suggested that every board of directors would be rushing to get their particular industry into the charmed circle, with the estimate made by the noble Marquess behind me, that the Bill would be to a large extent inoperative. One certainty arises out of that namely, that the whole question is a matter of doubt. That being sc., I do think, in view of the enormous body of commercial feeling which exists against the passage of the Bill at all, that the Government ought to meet us Halfway with regard to its duration believe that it would be a wise course in their own interests. I have suggested two years as the period, but if the Government attach great importance to the period being somewhat longer, provided there is a substantial reduction, I should certainly not quarrel with them on that point. But I demur to the possibility of any Minister being allowed, as he is by this clause, at the final moment of the Bill, at a moment before Parliament is to resume, having the power of dishing Parliament by a direct ban awl extending the operation for two or three further years. I hope that, whatever happens, the noble Viscount will consent to take that out of the Bill.

Amendment moved— Page 8, line 38, leave out (" three ") and insert (" two ")—(The Earl of Midleton.)


I dislike referring to, or making any complaint as to the speech which I made on the introduction to this Bill, but I attempted to make it clear, though I suppose I did not succeed, that there was a marked distinction between the different portions of the Bill. I used certain phrases, too, about what I may call the common or ordinary dumping, to distinguish it from the dumping connected with collapsed exchanges, and, of course, from the. other portion of the Bill. The desire of the noble Earl, I think, amounts practically to the rejection of the Bill, and it is as a Second Reading objection that I am afraid it must be treated. If the Amendment of the noble Earl were carried, it is just as much a rejection of the Bill as if it had been rejected on the Second Reading.

First of all, with regard to those industries which come under Part I, I ant not sure that the noble Earl would make a very strong objection. I imagine he thought that the term of five years was not unreasonable. But at the same time, his Amendment says that the period shall be two years. If it were limited to two years, the provision would, of course, be absurd, because it would be absolutely impossible and perfectly useless to give assistance under Part I to these infant industries, if the period were to be limited to two years. I am certain there is not one human being in your Lordships' House who would advance one single penny to any of those industries if he knew that this security was to be only for two years. I think that is sufficient condemnation of this Amendment, because it is obvious that before this Bill comes into operation there will be large stocks accumulated in the country, and it will be some time before the Bill begins to work. The term of five years, which will enable these industries to take measures against foreign competition, has been cut down to the shortest possible period, and to reduce it to two years is equivalent to throwing out the Bill, which your Lordships accepted by a considerable majority a few days ago.

The same consideration does not quite apply to collapsed exchanges. I agree with the noble Earl there.


I must remind the noble Viscount that I particularly guarded myself. I was not dealing with key industries, but particularly devoted my whole argument to the question of dumping.


I agree; but I am dealing with the effect of the Amendment—it does not matter to what the noble Earl addressed himself in his speech—and was showing what would be the result of the Amendment if it were passed.


It does not affect key industries at all. The noble Viscount has advanced several arguments in the course of the discussion which are not justified. How does what is done under t his clause affect key industries?


The noble Earl wishes to give two years for the general currency of the Bill.


But this refers to dumping.


I am going to deal with dumping in a moment. With regard to collapsed exchanges, I agree that it is a far more difficult problem. I agree also that it passes the wit of man to know at what time, or in what period, these exchanges may be re-established, and the period of time which was selected, of three years, gave considerable trouble to the Government. Various times were proposed, but on the whole they came to the conclusion that three years was a reasonable period, because it has, I believe, generally, been the experience of the Board of Trade that currencies have re-established themselves much more slowly than was generally expected, and so they thought that three years was a rather better period than two years. I may point out that no harm will be done if the longer period is taken, because it is obvious that, if in that period the depreciation of currency in any country comes to an end, and the exchange is re-established, then the provisions of the Bill will not apply to that country, and no harm will be done. Therefore, I urge the noble Earl not to press that portion of the Amendment.

On the question of ordinary dumping, I really do think lie is under some misapprehension, because I explained in my opening speech, and I am afraid at excessive length, that this portion of the Bill is permanent. It is not a question of three years, or of six years, but it is a permanent piece of legislation, because in the opinion of the Government this form of dumping is bad for trade and ought to be stopped, and there is no question why it should be allowed to go on after three years or six years. This particular portion of the Bill must be placed on quite a different platform from the parts dealing with key industries and collapsed exchanges, which are matters that arise out of the conditions due to the war. Dumping conditions are matters which are bad in themselves, in the opinion of the Government, and on which the Bill is very largely based, and therefore it would be defeating one of the objects for which the Bill was promoted if the noble Earl had his way and, instead of being permanent, this part of the Bill was made temporary, and so very temporary. Therefore, I urge your Lordships who voted for the Bill to renew your vote on this occasion, and not allow the measure to be whittled away and rendered almost useless by the Amendment of the noble Earl.


I cannot help thinking that the noble Viscount has only himself to thank if it is not entirely clear to the House that this provision against dumping was intended to be a permanent provision; because, if that is so, it is not quite clear why Orders made under this part of the Bill should only continue for three years, or, as apparently is even expected, for a shorter period. If the noble Viscount and His Majesty's Government were in earnest in treating the prohibition of dumping as part of our permanent legislation, it is not clear why they did not say so, and why they did not try to pass an Act of Parliament making the dumping of any article, under certain conditions, permanently an offence. Why, therefore, should the Order for what is called ordinary dumping only last for three years, or less?

That is a matter, however, which is for the Viscount and His Majesty's Government to decide.

But I support my noble friend behind me on the general ground that all this is experimental, and the dumping provisions are equally experimental. Whether they arise out of the circumstances of the war, or not, is not the point at this moment. They are experimental in the sense that nobody- knows precisely what the effect will be of introducing this provision against dumping. Nobody can say what the effect on trade will be, because nobody knows how the Committee who have to deal with the matter will work the various restrictions and qualifications which, as we all know, were inserted n the Bill. Surely, it is far safer to consider the matter as experimental, so that after the expiration of two years the whole business can be considered again. We are not now considering the noble Earl's Amendment to Clause 16, and therefore I do not pursue that part of the question, but I merely desire to lay emphasis upon the experimental character of the whole business, and the consequent desirability of making all the terms of the Bill as short as possible.


I only wanted to say two words in support of the noble Earl's Amendment, because I am bound to say that f roust plead guilty to having been under a complete misapprehension. I thought, and I believe most people thought that all I he provisions of this Bill were of an experimental character. I have looked at the Bill and examined it from that point of view, and I found, so regarding it, that there were apparently three forms of time limit. One was the limit of three years for ordinary dumping, and that might be extended to another three years. The second period had regard to exchanges, which could only go on for three years after the passing of this Act, and the third period

Birkenhead, V. (L. Chancellor.) Onslow, E. Glenarthur, L.
Plymouth, E. Gorell, L.
Sutherland, D. Hood, V. Hylton, L.
Bath, M. Peel, V. Killanin, L.
Ancaster, E. Abinger, L. Lawrence, L.
Bradford, E. Annesley, L. (V. Valentia.) Lee of Fareham, L.
Merthyr, L.
Chesterfield, E. Armaghdale, L. Riddell, L.
Clarendon, E. Clwyd, L. Somerleyton, L. [Teller.]
Eldon, E. Colebrooke, L. Stanmore, L. [Teller.]
Lucan, E. Colwyn, L. Wavertree, L.
Lytton, E. Gisborough, L. Wigan, L. (E. Crawford.)

is the one under the Amendment which we are not now discussing, of five years for protected industries. I am bound to say that I hold the opinion, whatever the intention of the Government, that the Bill is experimental in all its provisions, and it is desirable, I think, that there should be a time limit during which the matter should be reconsidered.

Although I am approaching the case from a somewhat more serious aspect than I thought I should have to do, I am going to suggest that the period of three years in this case is not so material if the antidumping clause be subject to such a proviso as we find at the end of the exchanges clause—namely, that an Order should not be made or continue in force after the expiration of three years from the passing of this Act. I feel bound to support the Amendment of my noble friend, Lord Midleton., which carries out what I had originally believed to be the intention of the Government—namely, that this Bill should be an experimental Bill in all its provisions.


In order to make it quite clear let me say that five years is the period for.Parr I of the Bill; three years for the collapsed exchanges; and for the ordinary dumping eternity is the only limit.


I hope it is quite clearly understood that this Division and this Amendment are directed towards the dumping and not towards the key industries, to which the noble Viscount directed the more picturesque part of his remarks.

On Question, Whether the word proposed to be omitted shall stand part of the clause?—

Their Lordships divided:—Contents, 33; Not-Contents, 39.

Bedford, D. Grey of Fallodon, V. Hemphill, L.
Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore.) Hindlip, L.
Crewe, M. MacDonnell, L.
Lincolnshire, M. (L. Great Chamberlain.) Muir Mackenzie, L.
Askwith, L. Nunburnholme, L.
Salisbury, M. Bledisloe, L. Redesdale, L.
Cawley, L. Sandys, L.
Charming of Wellingborough, L. Save and Sele, L.
Beauchamp, E. Clinton, L. Shandon, L.
Grey, E. Denman, L. [Teller.] Southwark, L.
Mayo, E. Desart, L. (E. Desart.) Stanley of Alderley, L. (L. Sheffield.)
Midleton, E. [Teller.] Ebury, L.
Portsmouth, K. Elgin, L. (E. Elgin, and Kincardine.) Strachie, L.
Terrington, L.
Gladstone, V. Emmott, L. Treowen, L.
Goschen, V. Gainford, L. Vernon, L.

Resolved in the negative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.


There are three consequential Amendments to the Amendment just agreed to.

Amendments moved— Page 8, line 37, after (" order ") insert (" specified to continue in force for a period of less than two years ") Page 8,line 39, after (" time ") insert (" before the expiration of this Act ") Page 8,line 42, leave out (" such ") and after (" order ") insert (" made under this part of this Act ").—(The Earl of Midleton.)

On Question, Amendments agreed to.


I suggest that the House should now resume. It is expected that a Royal Commission will take place in a few moments, and I would therefore ask your Lordships to reassemble at nine o'clock.


The noble Earl speaks of a Royal Commission as though it were absolutely necessary that it should assemble at a particular hour. I dare say it is convenient to some persons that it should do so, but I well recollect occasions, when important business was before your Lordships' House, when a Royal Commission has had to wait for an hour or an hour and a half before it could sit. And, as a matter of fact, I very much doubt whether the whole of the further proceedings on this Bill would take more than half an hour. But, of course, it is a matter for your Lordships to decide.


Many of us have not taken part in these discussions this afternoon simply because we thought it was for the general convenience to get through before dinner.


I am entirely in your Lordships' hands. A Royal Commission has to be fixed in advance for a particular time, and it so happens that seven o'clock was fixed. It was postponed for half an hour, because it was thought that would be most convenient. If your Lordships desire to sit on now I suppose I could convey to the other House, who have made arrangements, I believe, to have it at half past seven, that we cannot receive them then.


I think the noble Earl will see that, if this business is to be finished in half an hour, it would be asking a great deal of your Lordships to come back after dinner. I do not think that would be reasonable at all.


We desire to take the Report stage of this Bill tonight.


It will be very soon over.


I think it is quite clear that the Report stage will be purely formal and will not take up very much of your Lordships' time. At the same time, the Government may reasonably expect to get the Report stage as well as the Committee. It is well known, I think, that a hungry House is more likely to be expeditious than one which has just finished dinner.


I shall be very happy to fall in with your Lordships' desire, and if it is the general understanding that, as far as circumstances permit, we shall finish in half an hour, and then adjourn, and will convey to those concerned the expectation of holding the Royal Commission at 8 o'clock.

THE EARL OF MIDLETON moved to substitute"two years"for"three years"at the end of the clause. The noble Earl said: This is a purely consequential Amendment.

Amendment moved— Page 9, line 5, leave out (" three") and insert two ").—(The Earl of Midleton.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 9, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 10 agreed to.

THE MARQUESS OF CREWE moved, after Clause 10, to insert the following new clause— If the Board are satisfied that any goods specified in the schedule to this Act or in any list made by the Board under Part I of this Act, or goods to which an order made under Part II of this Act applies have been imported for educational or scientific purposes, and that Such goods in respees, of which duty has been paid have been so used, the duty shall be repaid.

The noble Marquess said: I do not want to detain your Lordships, but I should like to make au appeal to the noble Viscount to consider seriously the proposition which is embodied in this new clause: that is to say, that goods coming under either part of the Bill, if they are desired for educational or scientific purposes, should not be subject to this disability. I will give your Lordships one instance—chemical glass. The chemical glass trade is an extremely important, one to scientific and educational institutions. The expense of the glass used in one University laboratory from which I had a report. amounts to 300 per cent. more than it did in 1913. That is to say, instead of costing about £500 for the year it costs £2,000. That conies at the time when all Universities and' colleges, as your Lordships are aware, find it extremely difficult to carry on at all.

The particular product which I mentioned, chemical glass, is one which will riot be effectively protected by such a duty as it is designed to impose, either under Part I or under Part II of the Act. The difficulty at this moment is that the price is very high and that the quality, though now and then extremely good (it can be made extremely good) is far from being uniform. The amount of breakages that occur in chemical laboratories now is very high. I was given an instance the other day by an extremely well-known and distinguished man of science who had got from the other side of the world a small quantity of a very rare metal on which he worked personally for a whole week for purposes of purification. He put the solution, when it was made, into a cupboard, in a flask of British manufacture, and locked it up. When he went the next morning to look at it; the flask had broken to pieces and the costly solution, which had occupied so much time to make, was lost. That, of course, is a single instance. But, as I am sure the noble Viscount. knows, the complaints which are made of the quality of a great deal of the British glass which is supplied are widespread and loud.

There are also other objects more concerned with the teaching of physics, such as balances, which will also be subject, to these restrictions. When it is considered that this is not a question merely of scientific research, at any rate in the pedantic sense, but that it is most closely concerned with the actual development, of industry—because the connection between research and industry, as your Lordships know, is becoming closer every year and almost every month—it does seem hard that the fountain head, from which the men are to be drawn who are to carry out the intentions of this Bill by improving the output of these various products, should be checked by the difficulty of training the number of men required for research, a number which is, as we know, continually increasing.

In those circumstances, I would appeal to the noble Viscount to consider whether it is not possible, even if he is not able to adopt the full terms of my Amendment, to provide some means by which these very hard cases can be met. My impression is that this matter was discussed in another place, that at a very early period of the discussion it fell under the guillotine, and that it would, but for that, have received a very large measure of support. I venture to press strongly upon the noble Viscount the importance of doing something, and I feel certain that in this I shall have the sympathy of the noble Lord sitting next, to him.

Amendment moved— After Clause 10, insert the said new clause.—(The Marquess of Crewe.


I think I can shorten the proceedings by saying that I have on the Paper a subsequent Amendment referring to the second paragraph of the Schedule which, having regard to the Amendment just moved by the noble Marquess, I do not propose to move because his more than covers it. It is that second paragraph about which some of us arc mainly concerned. It is the paragraph that covers all the various laboratory glass of different descriptions which, unfortunately, cannot be obtained of the same quality in this country as from abroad. The educational and scientific institutions of this country are unanimous, I believe, in desiring to. see research workers helped in this respect and not hindered.

Your Lordships will realise that in the first paragraph which deals with optical glass, yon are dealing with a substance of very great national importance in times of war which affects the whole security of the country. When you are dealing with laboratory glass—glass used in beakers and litres, and flasks and test-tubes—you are interfering with the development of that measure of science which unfortunately we lacked at the beginning of the war and our German competitors possessed. In fact, you are deliberately standing in the way of the development of that knowledge the lack of which proved the greatest handicap to us in pursuing the war to a successful conclusion.


I only desire to say one word. No money practically will be lost if this Amendment is accepted by the Government. Like other members of your Lordships' House I have had the strongest representations from professors at the Universities, and people of that kind, in regard to the great hardship that will be inflicted upon them. I have had a letter from a professor at Victoria University, Manchester, in which he urges this exemption because he hears from colleagues in Canada and South Africa and other places that the educational institutions there are exempt from the payment of duties on educational and scientific outfits, and he pleads that similar treatment should be accorded in this country.


I understand that my noble friend, Lord Bledisloe, is not going to move the Amendment that he has put down, because it is more than covered by that of the noble Marquess. I was going to give the noble Lord an answer on the specific points raised by his Amendment, but I will not do so now, as he does not propose to move it. The noble Marquess has pleaded the cause of scientific investigation and of educational interest with great force. I feel the strength of his case, but his Amendment goes very far indeed. I think he wishes to say that all goods imported for educational or scientific purposes should be exempt.


Provided they are actually used.


I am afraid that would make a tremendous gash in this schedule. It would not cut out the schedule altogether, but it would cut out a very large portion of it. I think the Amendment is perhaps more comprehensive than the noble Marquess intended, because the bulk of these instruments are imported I understand, for scientific work. Therefore, his Amendment would be exceedingly destructive. Moreover, I am informed that it is impossible to distinguish between those objects which are used in a University laboratory and those used in a works laboratory. It is suggested that possibly a better way, and one which may meet the feelings of noble Lords, is to give a subsidy to assist research as much as possible. That would be a more easy way to do it, and I understand it is already being done. As regards the educational aspect of the matter, in the ordinary course I would have said to the noble Marquess that I would represent his views to the Minister responsible for this Bill, but unfortunately, in the circumstance under which we are now having our discussions tinder the Parliament Act, I am afraid it would be useless for me to give any such promise. I am sorry I cannot meet the noble Marquess in this respect.


It could be done if the Minister agreed to the suggestion.


I am afraid it would lead to a long discussion in another place. That is the difficulty. I think I ought to point out that if we really are to depend for our scientific research upon these articles imported from abroad, our scientific research is in a. somewhat dangerous condition, and were we again, unfortunately, in a state of war, we should be in the difficulties which we experienced in the late war. There may be some difficulty until these industries at home are brought up to date, but in three or four years, when I he industries in this country are well established, the scientific men and the professors, to whom reference has been made, may find that they will get a considerable advantage through the operations of this Bill. The Amendment itself would be far too wide, and I am afraid I am unable to accept it.


I am sorry that the noble Viscount does not think that he can accept the Amendment, even in a modified form. I appreciate the distinction between the objects which are used in college and University laboratories, and those used in works laboratories. I should like to see the latter excepted, too, because I think the work done in works laboratories is so important. I appreciate the distinction, and t hat it would, of course, mean letting in, duty free, a large number of objects. Perhaps I might say that the difficulty which the noble Viscount. has in accepting this Amendment, even in modified form, and sending it to another place for concurrence, is in no sense clue to the terms of the Parliament Act, but is due to the extreme hurry with which we arc asked to finish the session. It is quite easy to send an Amendment down to another place on a Financial Bill under the Parliament Act. 'What you cannot do is, for longer than a month's time, to insist on its being, carried if it is not accepted. But if it is accepted, it could be inserted in the Bill at one. I am sorry the noble Viscount does not see his way to assist us at all over this. The larger payments which are to be made to the colleges and Universities as the only possible alternative are also becoming restricted by the general necessity for national economy.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clauses 11 to 13 agreed to.

LORD EMMOTT had an Amendment to insert after Clause 13 the following new Clanfie— This Act shall not apply to goods for the purpose of being used in shipbuilding or ship-repairing.

The noble Lord said: I think there may hardly be time to move this Amendment and get a reply, because the Amendment of the noble Earl opposite, Lord Midleton, will take a little time. I therefore do not move this new clause now. If I desire to move it, I earl do so on Third Reading to-morrow.


The Third Reading is to-night.


Very well, I do not move now.

On Question, whether Clauses 14 arid 15 be agreed to:


Am I in order in moving Lord Emmott's Amendment? If so, I shall move it.


Iliad already put the question that Clauses 14 and 15 stand part.

Clauses 14 and 15 agreed to.

Clause 16 (Duration of Part 1):

THE EARL OF MIDLETON had on the Paper two Amendments to Clause 16. The noble Earl said: I think, after what fell from the noble Viscount earlier as to the great importance the Government attach to the period of the key industries, I will not ask your Lordships to deal with my Amendments.

Clause 16 agreed to.


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