Orders of the Day — Excess Profits Duty.

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons on 28th April 1920.

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Photo of Mr Thomas Griffiths Mr Thomas Griffiths , Pontypool

I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will not accept this Amendment. The right hon. Baronet has tried to deliver a lecture to the Labour Members, but that right hon. Member does not look at this question from the same economic point of view as the Members of the Labour party. He talked about saving. I do not know whether he meant saving Treasury Notes or saving useful commodities produced by the workers of the country by hands and by brains. What the Labour party believe in is that the national pool should be filled with useful commodities and that those commodities should be scientifically distributed amongst the people of the country. It is useless filling the national pool with Treasury Notes. Last year when I spoke upon the question of excess profits I pointed out to the Chancellor that, in so far as the most important trades in the country were concerned, no capital was required in order to revive trade. I believe the Chancellor on that occasion pointed out that he was reducing the Excess Profits Duty with a view to reviving the industry of the country in order that we might get back to pre-war conditions. I think, if we take the four most important industries of this country, namely, steel, galvanising, cotton, and the ports and harbours of our country I do not believe that the Chancellor can show that a single penny of new capital has been invested in those industries during the last year. If hon. Members do not agree with the facts I have placed before them let them repudiate them. I am sure that the Financial Secretary knows that what I am saying is correct. Take the galvanising industry, and you will find there are more than 25 per cent. of the modern mills idle to-day. I will explain why later. In the steel industry there are several furnaces and section mills and bar mills and other kinds of mills idle to-day on account of the transition from producing shells to the production of steel used for purposes as in prewar days. If you go to Lancashire you have hundreds of mills idle in the cotton trade. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no !"]