The Debate on this Bill has, so far, been little more than a repetition of the arguments against the Bill which were heard on the various stages of the Financial Resolutions, and I cannot help thinking that it shows that the opposition to the Bill is of an entirely artificial character. My right hon. Friend the Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean), at a public meeting, announced his intention of fighting this Bill line by line, day and night, and to resist it by every means, tooth and nail. If there was any real body of opinion behind him in the matter, it was very strange that when he addressed the House he had very few supporters behind him; in fact, for the most part, the Benches were empty. That shows that there is not much real hostility to the Measure. It is a curious thing that the opposition does not seem to be supported by any considerable body of opinion representative of the manufacturing and trading interests of the country. There are some traders who have been engaged in the very lucrative occupation of importing goods from Germany and other countries where the exchanges are depreciated, and they, very naturally, object to any legislation which is likely to hamper or interfere with their trade. Apart from these people, the opposition to the Bill is of a very artificial character.
The Bill can be considered under three heads. I will deal with the least controversial, and that is the provision in relation to dumping. The legislation to prevent dumping was recommended by the Balfour of Burleigh Report, and that, I think, was a unanimous recom-
mendation. The right hon. Member for Moray (Sir A. Williamson) said yesterday that he did not sign the Balfour of Burleigh Report; but he did sign the Memorandum attached to the Report, and in that Memorandum he stated that he agreed with the recommendation of Sir Clarendon Hyde. Sir Clarendon Hyde in his Memorandum said that he approved of the anti-dumping legislation. Therefore we may say that, so far as the members of that Commission were concerned, they were unanimously in favour of legislation to stop dumping. There has been some question as to what is meant by dumping. It was clearly stated in the Balfour of Burleigh Report that the definition of dumping was
the sale of goods in a particular market at prices lower than those at which the goods are currently offered in the country of manufacture.
There was a further definition in His Majesty's Speech in 1919, in which it was stated that
the Government would introduce measures for the prevention of unfair competition by the sale of imported goods below their selling price in the country of origin.
That was unchallenged then. Many hon. Members spoke in the Debate on the Address, but the promise of legislation to stop dumping was absolutely unchallenged. As dumping stands to-day, it is a perfectly legal operation. It is harmful to industry and the object of this Bill is to impose a customs duty on anyone who engages in it. The War stopped dumping, but it has now recommenced, and at that little exhibition of samples of foreign goods there was a well authenticated instance of dumping which has now commenced; a case of vulcanised fibre which was being imported from the United States and sold in this country at prices less than the wholesale prices here and something like 30 per cent. less, taking exchange and freight into account, than the selling price in the country of origin, the United States. The result is well known to those engaged in that industry. It is an attack on a British industry and has caused unemployment, and a great deal of machinery engaged in that industry has been put out of work. It is necessary that this legislation should be passed as quickly as possible, because we must all be agreed that when a British industry is attacked by the dumping of foreign
goods, so that that industry should be killed and the foreigner should then have the free run of our market, it is to our interest that practices of that sort should be stopped. This Bill will impose a penalty, and I have no doubt that once it is on the Statute Book people will see that dumping is not a profitable occupation and that it will naturally and automatically stop. And if this Bill prevents dumping in future it will have accomplished something which is of substantial national service.
In regard to key industries, there is a list of well-defined industries scheduled to the Bill, which were found in the great War to be of importance for the safety of the nation. Again, that was referred to in the Report of Lord Balfour of Burleigh. That Report recommended that "industries which are essential for the security of the country must be maintained at all hazards and at any expense." They are not important industries in themselves, but if it is the considered opinion of those, who are responsible for the defence of the country that these industries are of importance the House would be taking a grave responsibility if it allowed itself to be influenced by opponents of the Bill, and that no security was extended to these industries. I, of course, feel that there are other industries that might reasonably claim to be included, but they will derive a benefit from the other provisions of the Bill, and if it is found that they do not receive the encouragement or they are not able to become healthy industries then I think that in another Session the Government will have to amend the present measure and extend its provisions to them.
I turn now to what is the most important part of the Bill. That is the provisions which deal with imports from countries where the exchanges have collapsed. One factor to be considered is the high prices which ruled until recently. On the other hand, the heavy slump which has taken place is undesirable and there is little doubt, having regard to the exchanges, that the slump will continue unless it is checked. The whole point in connection with the collapsed exchanges is that British labour, taking skilled labour as a basis, which is paid something in the neighbourhood of 2s. an hour, is, as regards Germany, in consequence of the exchange, in competition with German labour which is paid 6d. an hour. This is not competition, it is a complete knock-out of our own industries. Also it is abundantly clear—and it has been stated again and again—that the depreciated Germany currency is not an accident resulting from the War, but that it has been depreciated deliberately in order that Germany may appear before her creditors in a position of being unable to make the reparation which has been demanded from her. There is no doubt that there is a double value to the mark, the internal value and the external depreciated value, and the evil which results from this is that we have 6d. an hour labour in competition against our 2s. an hour labour, an evil which I think is recognised by everyone in this House.
Now as to the remedy, my hon. Friend the Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham), in his interesting speech yesterday, had no remedy to suggest unless it as that we should have international labour legislation. The hon. Member for Abertillery (Mr. Barker) favoured the establishment of some sort of industrial commonwealth so that we would produce things for use in opposition of the present system of producing them for profit. These are remedies which it will take a long time to carry into effect. You are not going to introduce a system of socialism and nationalisation of industries in this country in the course of a single Session. Meantime our industries are going to the dogs, and it is urgently necessary that we should take steps to safeguard them. That is what is contemplated by this Bill. I suppose that this system of international labour legislation would also mean a system of international free trade. Is there any sign of any country in the world moving to-day in the direction of international free trade? They are all stiffening up their tariffs. They are all protecting themselves, and they all realise that the welfare of their country depends upon securing to labour reasonable conditions of employment and of life. There is practically no unemployment in France, and they have a depreciated exchange. The same applies to Belgium. They have abandoned all the folly of the 48-hour week, and most of the industries are back again working the old 53 and 54-hour week. You will find that they are doing well and that there is no unemployment or industrial unrest. On every hand there is evidence of prosperity, and there are signs that France and Belgium will be among the first nations to recover from the effects of the War. My right hon. Friend, the Member for Peebles quoted the bankers' Manifesto which he described as "a high authoritative opinion, signed by a great number of gentlemen well known in the City of London, and some of them well known also in this House." I have no hesitation in describing it as just a bit of Free Trade propaganda, and I should have very little difficulty, I think, in laying my hands on the author of that precious document. I am told that the majority of them are ardent Free Traders, and, sharing the views of hon. Members on these Benches, they are alarmed at the thought of any legislation of this kind being put upon our Statute Book. They say, in their Manifesto, that the importation of foreign goods does not diminish the activities of our people, because such goods can only be paid for by the products of British capital and labour. In other words, they repeat the old theoretical Free Trade argument that imports pay for exports, but that theory has been challenged over and over again. There are few people, unless they are ardent Free Traders, who ever really believed in it. What happened during the first fifty years of the nineteenth century? The exports of goods from this country exceeded the imports by nearly £2,000,000,000.
That is not the explanation. We have to build up a position so that our exports exceed our imports. It is only by building up and encouraging our exports that we can ever restore the currency to its proper position, and as we are able to build up our exports, so most assuredly will the ex-change move in our favour. It is of the highest importance to us, because every one knows that we are not self-contained to anything like the extent to which Germany is self-contained. It is of vital consequence to us that we should increase by every means the purchasing value or power of our currency. It is an extraordinary thing that some of the bitterest opponents to this legislation are hon. Members who succeeded at the last General Election in getting returned to this House with the help of the Coalition Liberal coupon. They took the coupon; in fact, I am told there was a scramble to get it, and the result was that they were able to secure election. Now an attempt is made to deal with the difficulties, as regard industries, which the War has left behind, they utterly disregard their election pledges and take up an attitude of extreme hostility to this legislation. The Prime Minister, in that famous letter which has been so often quoted, said that he would examine all these questions without any regard to theoretical opinions about Free Trade or Tariff Reform.
No one can say that this Bill is Tariff Reform. I am a Tariff Reformer, a whole-hearted Tariff Re-former, and if hon. Members say that this Bill is Tariff Reform, then I tell them that they know nothing about Tariff Reform. They are, however, still Free Traders, and they still hang on to their theoretical opinions about Free Trade. I support this Bill because the country at the moment is suffering from a definite evil, and it will to some considerable extent help manufacturers and workpeople out of their difficulties. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Miles Platting (Mr. Clynes), in his speech on the Financial Resolutions, stated very definitely that he would prevent goods coming here which are made under sweated conditions, and I believe he received some measure of applause from his supporters. I should like to ask him what it matters to the British worker when he becomes unemployed whether he is thrown out of employment by sweated labour or by labour which is paid in depreciated money? The result, as far as he is concerned, is the same. If we are going to oppose the importation of goods because they are the product of sweated labour, and because, as the product of sweated labour, they interfere with employment in this country, then to be consistent we must take the same stand in regard to goods which come here from countries where the currency is depreciated. Several Members have asked, "Where is the demand for this Bill? Who wants it? Is there any real body of opinion behind
this Bill which is pressing for it? "There is, and if my hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Wedgwood) had taken the trouble to visit that collection of samples to which I have already referred, it would have done him some little good, and would, I think, have educated him. It was abundantly clear from that collection of samples that there were 16 trade associations, all of them representative, I will not say of large industries, but of industries of considerable importance, employing many thousands of hands, who were hungrily clamouring for a Bill of this character. It has been said that this Bill will not help them, and that, as regards Germany, 33⅓ per cent. will be entirely insufficient. All I can do is to read to the House a resolution which was passed at a meeting of these trade associations, who went very fully into the matter, and who came to the conclusion:
Subject to its being understood that the Customs Duties are levied on the actual internal value of the goods from Germany and other countries of dual values, as distinguished from the lower value which is expressed by the depreciated and fluctuating exchanges, this meeting approves of the Ways and Means Resolution proposed by the Government.
They have asked me by every means in my power to support the Government in the passage of this Bill., It does not mean that the whole difference of the exchange will be compensated. A comparison in prices was made, and, taking the British price as being 100 and levying the duty on the real value of the goods, it would bring the German figure from 75 to 85, so that we should still have to come down a considerable distance before we could meet the German competition. It would, however, be a help and far be it from us to wish to impose a continuance of the present high prices. We want an all-round reduction, and manufacturers recognise that their overseas trade depends upon getting prices down. There is no desire to keep up prices at the present level. This Bill, at any rate, will be a great help to the manufacturing industries which are at present utterly demoralised and broken up by German importation. It has been stated that all these duties are utterly absurd, and that after all the consumer pays the duty. It is the old stock Free Trade argument, and it will not bear testing. You had at that exhibition musical instruments which are already subject to
a 33⅓ per cent. duty. I will give definite figures. Gramophones came in at £2 5s.; 14s. duty was levied upon them, and with landing charges this brought the price up to £3. The price of the British equivalent article was in the neighbourhood of £9 and £10. The German gramophone, costing £3 with the duty, was always sold just under the British price. Who paid the duty? The duty was simply an appropriation by our Treasury of some small part of the huge profit which the German importer was making by sending his gramophones here. The same thing applies to pianos. The right hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) was impressed with the piano exhibit. He recognised that the piano came in at £34, the value due to the depreciated mark. £11 10s. duty was levied upon it, and it was sold for £90 or £100, just under the price of the British article. Who paid that duty? Did the consumer pay it? It was, again, just an appropriation of a bit of the profit which would otherwise have gone into German pockets. Of course, there would be competition amongst importers. Competition sprang up and prices looked as if they were coming down. But the German Government stepped in. They said "No." They established a price office and did not allow the export from Germany of any of these goods except at a price which was always just below the British price. They thus kept that profit in Germany. Unless we have this Bill passed the German price office will always bring the German price down, down, down below the British price, and in a very short time our industries will be killed.
There is evidence that trade after trade had been practically forced out of business, that the piano trade, the musical instrument trade were gone. Four-fifths of the workers were out of work and drawing unemployment pay; the docks were full of German pianos which had come here under the conditions I have stated. There was the glass industry suffering; the electrical industry was suffering; the great Nottingham lace industry was suffering; the great silk industry was suffering. There was also a little industry, the toy industry, which was suffering, and there were heaps of other industries. In the toy industry a year ago there were 30,000 hands employed. This year the industry employs only about 3,000 hands. The industry has been utterly killed by this wholly unfair form of competition, which is only possible because of the collapsed exchanges. Then there are fabric gloves and gloves. The unemployment in those industries runs into thousands of hands. To my mind the matter is one of great urgency. I am extremely sorry to find that this relief is being opposed with so much bitterness and determination by some hon. Members. I trust the Government will press forward the Bill. I am certain they will find that hon. Members who oppose this legislation have little or no real backing in the country.
The President of the Board of Trade, when he introduced the Resolutions earlier in the Session, announced that he was not the father of this Bill. The Debate this afternoon has been opened, I think, by the father of the Bill. We admire the persistency with which he has followed this subject, and the passage of the Bill to-night will be some compensation to him for the trouble he has taken in guiding the Government and by clever propaganda near Westminster bringing certain facts to the attention of the House. There is no doubt that through the present situation certain industries are being heavily hit. No one on these Benches would deny that fact. I happen to have with me this afternoon the figures of one industry in which Germany was very proficient before the War, the industry which manufactures scientific instruments and appliances. In 1913 Germany's exports to this country amounted to £362,000; in 1920 they were only £102,000. I happened to have those figures by me, and I think they refute some of the arguments advanced by the last speaker. In his speech the hon. Member told the House that industries were being killed, and he thought that in a very short time this House would be asked to give an extension to the industries protected under this Bill. The door is open. The ball is set a-rolling, and one by one industries which find their profits affected will come to this House and rightly demand protection from this House.
The underlying idea running through the speech of my hon. Friend is this: He is afraid of British industry. He is afraid of the future. He has little con- fidence in British traders, in our people, to withstand foreign competition. That is the policy underlying the Bill. The Government have no confidence in British traders. They are doubtful as to the future, and they ask this House to grant a large measure of protection to certain industries. That fear dominates their policy in other directions—fear of the future. I ask them this afternoon to have some measure of confidence in British traders. British traders have gone through a bad time during the last few years. They have faced it successfully, and having faced the competition of America and of Germany in the past successfully, I have no doubt that they will face it successfully in the future.
I am anxious this afternoon to analyse the main arguments advanced by the Minister of Health in support of this Bill. I think the House will agree that from the Government Bench he has been the most vigorous spokesman for the Bill. I say that in no spirit of disrespect for the President of the Board of Trade. On 9th May the Minister of Health stated that Germany with her printing press was grinding out notes in order deliberately to depress the ex-change and patch up the export market; and later on in the same speech he said:
If you diminish your imports, as Germany has done so successfully, you depreciate your currency and it is reflected in exports."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th May, 1921; col. 1611, Vol. 141.]
That is a clear statement that Germany has diminished her imports and that it is reflected in exports. The facts are exactly contrary. In 1920, the last figures which are available, the imports into Germany for the whole year amounted to 8,000,000,000 marks, and her exports amounted to 5,000,000,000 marks. These are figures taken from a speech delivered by a supporter of the Government in this House a short time ago. Therefore the argument of the Minister of Health, on his own basis, is found to be false in the light of recent events, and one of his main arguments falls to the ground. A further argument used was that through the depreciated currency certain countries would be able to increase their export trade. I have informed myself as to the true situation. Take America, with an appreciated currency. In 1913 American exports amounted to £510,000,000. In 1920, based
on 1913 values, her exports amounted to £841,000,000. Therefore America, with an appreciated currency, increased her export trade by 60 per cent. According to the theory of the Minister of Health, an appreciated currency would hurt her trade. Take Italy, with a depreciated currency. In 1913 her exports were £100,454,000. In 1920, based again on 1913 values, her exports amounted to £35,285,000. That is a very big decrease in a country with a heavily depreciated currency.
In submitting these two facts and the most recent figures available, I suggest that the argument advanced by the Minister of Health does not hold good. It is the main argument advanced by the Government, and if my figures are correct—they are taken from the Report of the Supreme Economic Council—the main argument falls to the ground. I could quote further figures to prove the contention I am anxious to make to the House, namely, that a country with a depreciated currency cannot month by month and year by year maintain a great export trade. The depreciated currency leads to uncertainty and causes confusion. Speaking broadly, and of a country as a whole, a country with depreciated exchange cannot maintain her position in the markets of the world. A further argument was advanced by the Minister of Health. He drew a lurid picture of all our steel works being unemployed. Here, again, I am anxious to give certain of the latest figures to disprove that contention also. The total imports into the United Kingdom of steel blooms, billets and slabs for the year 1913 were about 500,000 tons. In 1920 the import had fallen to half that figure, 251,000 tons.
Belgium has a depreciated exchange and her exports to this country fell from 108,000 to 37,000. America, on the other hand, has an appreciated currency and her exports to this country increased from 64,000 tons in 1913 to 146,000 tons in 1920. [An HON. MEMBER: "That has got nothing to do with the exchange. It is because of the coal."] The main argument advanced by the Minister of Health was that countries with a depreciated currency had an advantage over other countries and in the light of experience since the War the figures I have given show conclusively that the main argument of the Minister of Health falls to the
ground. Some hon. Members wondered why the Government fixed a duty of one-third against countries with a depreciated currency. The answer is to be found in certain words uttered by the Minister of Health on the same subject which I shall quote.
We propose to try to reduce this huge difference on the only sound basis of the difference as nearly as we have been able to get it, between the exchanges, internal and external, of the country we are most concerned with, and that is Germany."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th May, 1921; col. 1602, Vol. 141.]
Perhaps the President of the Board of Trade will correct me if I am wrong, but I read into those words that in fixing this one-third the Government have chosen that figure as the difference between the internal and external exchanges in Germany. This is a matter of some consequence, yet I find no answer to my query from the Treasury Bench.
If the answer is "No," then the proposition is that the Government will take no notice of the difference between the internal and external exchanges in one country. They will have a flat rate for all countries. But if it be sufficient in one country, it cannot be sufficient in another. If it is sufficient, say, against France, it is insufficient against Italy, and quite inadequate so far as Germany is concerned. The more these proposals are examined, the more it becomes apparent that they cannot stand argument. I can well believe that in certain parts of the country where unemployment is rife and where distress exists the supporters of the Government go on the platform and try to show that their policy is animated by a desire to protect the industries of the country. That may be good enough for the platform, but I submit it is not good enough for the House of Commons.
I shall endeavour to deal with Part II of the Bill. The proposals regarding the prevention of dumping are based on a simple proposition. My hon. Friend who preceded me has consistently advocated in this House the interests of producers. That is a consistent policy with many other hon. Members, and there are also numbers of people outside this House who agree that the interests of the pro-
ducer should be protected. Speaking for myself, the producer is well able to look after himself, and we should consider rather the interests of the consumer. During the War the producers of various commodities came together, and there are to-day in existence many arrangements about prices which this Bill will tend to stabilise and confirm. The arrangement about fixing prices and maintaining them will tend to make the consumer pay in the long run. A free exchange of commodities would enable prices to be lowered. The hon. Member who has just spoken wished that our export trade could be encouraged. It can only be maintained if, year by year, we import from the rest of the world the goods we require, at the lowest possible prices. I venture to ask the President of the Board of Trade a further question with regard to Part II of the Bill. It is a question of some substance. I am anxious to find out if this Bill applies to all countries. In Sub-section (2) of Clause 2 the following words occur:
If … the conditions aforesaid are fulfilled the Board may, by order, apply this part of the Act to goods of that class … provided that no such order shall be made which is at variance with any treaty, convention or engagement with any foreign state in force for the time being.
We have an agreement to-day with Japan. Will the President of the Board of Trade inform the House whether Part II applies to our trade with Japan?
My hon. Friend will recognise that it is impossible to deal with the matter in this way, by question and answer. The Sub-section is perfectly clear. It is self-explanatory. I will endeavour to answer my hon. Friend later on, but it is perfectly clear that it applies to all countries, but, as it says,
provided that no such order shall be made which is at variance with any treaty, convention or engagement.
I am indebted to the President of the Board of Trade. I have put a point to him, and he has answered it with courtesy. It is a Second Reading point, and not a point for Committee. I will now ask him, are there treaties with any country which will make the provisions of Part II not apply? The President of the Board of Trade must know our Treaties with Japan and with other countries, and I am entitled to ask, are there any treaties, conventions or engagements in existence to-day with any country which will prevent Part II applying to that country?
There are some in existence. As my hon. Friend is aware, there are treaties of various kinds, some terminable at an early date, some terminable by short notice, and some not so terminable.
Can the right hon. Gentleman tell the House how long? [HON. MEMBERS: "Order, order!"] If the Government will definitely answer me, and state that, speaking broadly, this Clause does not seek to imply that Part II will not apply to countries with which we have commercial treaties, then the position will be entirely different. The point I am anxious to put is this: We have renounced our commercial treaties with Germany and Austria, and I think it can be read into this Clause that Part II will not apply to countries with which we have commercial treaties. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will give me an answer later in the course of the Debate, because if Part II only applies to ex-enemy countries and not to countries with which we have commercial treaties, the Bill will bear a very different aspect. It will appear to us and to the Government supporters a very different Bill from that which we have been discussing. I sincerely trust that even at this late stage the Government will not be led by fears as to the future into altering the fiscal system of our country, but will have confidence in our manufacturers to withstand foreign competition and rely upon their ability, and their ability alone, to meet competition from all parts of the world.
Yesterday during this Debate it seemed to me most of those taking part in it were expressing their own particular opinions, but to-day the hon. Member for Chippenham
(Mr. G. Terrell) is one who has been speaking for associations other than, and in addition to, his own. I should like to lay before the House the considered opinion of the Chambers of Commerce of the country, as represented by the Association of British Chambers of Commerce, who have been dealing with the question now before the House ever since the beginning of the War. I need hardly remind hon. Members that an association of that size, so geographically diversified as it is, must of necessity contain all shades of political and economic opinion. It certainly includes Free Traders of every description, and likewise those who pin their faith to what is known as Tariff Reform. In the past days of the association there were many acrimonious discussions on the relative virtues of these two policies, but soon after the commencement of the War the members of these bodies throughout the country commenced to appreciate the difficulties and dangers in which the nation was placed, due to what I may term cast-iron adherence to the principles of Free Trade. The most firm believers in that policy among the members of this Association, or most of them, had to put aside their principles to the extent of agreeing that those principles should be departed from at least so far as was necessary to make the country secure in the future. The two sides sank their differences and conferred as to what in their opinion was the policy for the Government of this country to adopt. At the beginning of 1916 opinion in the country was ready to be crystallized in regard to these matters, and the Association determined to have a conference of all those interested, which conference, having had due time to consider the recommendations that were to be made to it, should meet together and discuss what was proposed and come to some resolutions. These resolutions were drafted some three or four months before they were considered, and my hon. Friend the Member for Farnham (Mr. A. M. Samuel) had a considerable part in drafting those resolutions. The greatest meeting of Chambers of Commerce of this country that has ever been held was held on the 29th February, 1916, when 112 Chambers of Commerce were represented by 500 delegates. These delegates represented at that time at least
30,000 manufacturers, merchants, professional men, and traders from all parts of the United Kingdom and, of course, of every shade of political opinion. Of the resolutions that were passed, I think the first may be described as the most important, because it sets forth the fundamental principle which guided that meeting, and it was as follows:
This Association desires to place on record, for the guidance of those who follow it in days to come, its firm conviction, based on experience of war, that the strength and safety of the Empire lies in ability to produce what it requires as largely as may be possible from its own soil and factories.
That resolution was carried in that large meeting with only two dissentients. That was laying down what I call the fundamental policy, and may I say that the proceedings of the Committee which was set up under Lord Balfour of Burleigh were watched with intense interest by the Association of Chambers of Commerce? The Report ultimately submitted by that Committee is one which may be regarded as of extreme importance in settling by its recommendations the future commercial policy of this country. At all events, it clarified the policy of the Association of Chambers of Commerce, and especially in regard to those sections of it which refer to the protection of key industries. The association did not simply deal with this matter in a spasmodic manner, but followed it up consistently from time to time during the whole of the period of years which have elapsed since the time of this first meeting, and, as the President of the Board of Trade knows, pressure has been brought to bear upon that Department, and through them upon the Government, to get some measure of the kind now before the House produced. So lately even as the 6th October last, when I acted as President, the following letter was written, at the instigation of the Executive Council of that association, to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was then President of the Board of Trade:
The Executive Council of this Association considered at its meeting to-day the very unfavourable conditions which are arising in various industries owing to the Imports and Exports Regulations Bill, or whatever is to be substituted for that Measure, being still in abeyance. I should like to refer you to the letter sent to your predecessor (Sir Auckland Geddes), on the 3rd March last, which letter embodies the lesults of very mature consideration of the
draft Bill by the Chambers throughout the country, and the Council to-day asked me to express to you their very earnest hope that the Government will introduce into Parliament without delay a Bill which will enable the Board of Trade to give adequate protection to key industries and also the control of dumping. Naturally the Board of Trade must be well acquainted with what is taking place at the present moment under both these headings, but may I specifically point out the importation in large quantities of German-made magnetos, which are sold at prices with which it is impossible to compete in this country, and that much capital was spent in the erection and equipment of factories for the production of these articles, under the distinct promise of the Government that that industry should in the future be protected?
I do not suggest that there is anything in the shape of actual contractual relations between the Government and those who started factories during the War for the production of articles which were not previously produced in this country, but it is common knowledge, at least to all the Members of this House, that vast sums of capital were invested in the starting of undertakings such as those which are more or less enumerated in the Schedule to this Bill, and do hon. Members ask that the word—for it was the word—of the British Government should be abrogated, that they should, now that the dangers of war are over and when this large capital has been expended, refuse to carry out that understanding? I do not believe that. I think one of those things that an Englishman is proudest of is that in certain countries, especially those in the East, whilst the written bond of a member of every other country is required, it is said that an Englishman's word is as good as his bond. I ask whether the House of Commons is prepared to ask the Government not to carry out honourable undertakings which they have given, such as was the case in connection with these industries.
In regard to anti-dumping, the Association takes exactly the same view of the need of control as it does of the protection of key industries, and even in January of this year, at a general meeting of the Association, the following Resolution was passed:
In view of the present serious state of unemployment in British industries, and the imminence of still further unemployment in the near future, this Association urgently calls upon His Majesty's Government to fulfil their pledges and relies on their undertaking to bring in the promised Anti-Dumping Bill as the first Measure of the new Session.
This large body of commercial opinion, which is actuated, not by academic arguments, but by actual day-to-day experience—an hon. Member says they are pocket arguments, but I should be inclined to say they are out-of-pocket arguments. We are face to face with the problem of unemployment through-out the length and breadth of this country, and we, as employers, feel that it is our duty to do all we possibly can to stay that disastrous wave of unemployment which is passing over the country. It is not a question of making money. I do not suppose there is anyone in the country to-day who is making money, but one cannot see men walking about the streets of our industrial cities, living on the dole, which is now apparently about to be reduced, one cannot see them walking about through the absence of orders for the factories which at least might be provided to the extent of those goods which are coming in from abroad, without believing, even more than has been believed during the previous years, that it is the duty of the Government to do everything they can in this way to assist employment.
I approach the consideration of this Bill from the point of view of one who has always held very strong Free Trade opinions, but I am convinced of this, that the question of free trade or tariffs is not a question of moral right or moral wrong; it is a question, to my judgment, purely of practical expediency. There is nothing wrong morally in having a tariff, and there is nothing morally right in having free trade. They may both be right in certain circumstances, but in the circumstances of our island, where we have to import our raw materials from abroad and work them up into manufactured articles as cheaply as possible in order to compete with other countries in some ways more favourably situated by the gifts of nature than we are, I think in that case we ought to pursue a policy which enables us to produce as cheaply as possible. The Bill is divided really into three parts. In regard to that part of the Bill which refers to key industries, I find myself in sympathy with the Bill, because it was borne in upon me during the War, by the experiences we then had, that there were certain articles, probably a limited number, but important for the national defence, which it was desirable should be manufactured within our shores, and, so far as it is shown that those articles are essential to our safety, I am quite prepared to say that, at whatever cost, those articles should be produced here. Therefore, as far as regards this limited list of articles under the heading of key industries, I can support the Bill. I am glad to see that it is a limited list, because there evidently was a tendency at one time to regard as key industries a much wider range of articles, including, for example, iron and steel, but, as the Bill stands, I give that part my support.
In regard to the anti-dumping proposals of the Bill, I have always said that if it could be shown that there was by any country, or by any set of manufacturers in any country, a deliberate policy, persistent and consistent, of selling here articles below cost in order to kill a British industry, that was unfair competition, and I was entirely opposed to such competition. Therefore, I am quite prepared to support the putting of a tariff upon such goods with a view to their exclusion if it can be shown that they are sent here deliberately to destroy some British industry. I note, in connection with this part of the Bill, that the Colonies are included, but that, in regard to key industries, the Colonies are excluded. It seems to me that there is an Amendment required in the Bill, which no doubt will be dealt with in the Committee stage, to make it clear that we are really setting out to combat some persistent attempt to destroy an industry and that we are not setting out to prevent the importation of some article, some solitary sale, or occasional sale of some article, at less than cost of production. It is clear that the Bill! as it stands—at least it appears so to me—may have the effect of bringing into operation the 33⅓ per cent. duty, even in the case of a solitary sale. There is also another matter that I think requires very careful consideration in connection with this part of the Bill, and that is the matter of cost and price. Cost has been interpreted as price at the works, and we all know that, especially in a great country like the United States of America, the price at the works of a similar article varies greatly 'according to the situation of the works—whether these works are near the centres of consumption, or far away—and a great deal of care would have to be exercised to know what price was being taken, whether it was the price at the works that was the cheapest or the price at the works that was the dearest. There will in that case be the liability of great differences between individual manufacturers, and a great deal of care will have to be exercised in Committee to deal with this point of the difference of price at different works in a particular country. I said just now I hoped it was not intended to strike at occasional cheap sales below cost. I had in mind a position of this sort. We will say a Belgian wire manufacturer produces a stock of wire at a time when prices are low. He holds his stock for a year, and then prices have risen and he sells some of his wire to Great Britain. It is quite clear that he could then sell at a price that would leave him no loss, and probably a profit, though the price was lower than the cost of production at that time. Is it to be the case that because he has sold something, which showed no loss to him at a price which is lower than the cost of production at the subsequent date, that therefore not only he, but all Belgian wire manufacturers are to have a duty of 33⅓ per cent. put against their wire? There is no option about this duty It is not a question of reducing it to meet a need. It is a question of 33⅓ per cent. or nothing. Something was said in yesterday's Debate, in fact a good deal was said, by the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department in particular, with reference to two prices. He referred to two prices as if there were some dose of original sin in the matter of the manufacturer having a price for the home trade and a price for the foreign markets. Surely the hon. Gentleman, occupying the position he does in the Government, must know perfectly well that that is a quite common occurrence in business.
I do not think I was dealing with that at all. I did not deal with this question of dumping. I think my right hon. Friend is misrepresenting me, quite unintentionally. The only thing I did say was that in connection with the exchange there were the two values, the internal and the external value.
I am sorry if I misrepresented the hon. Member, but I understood him to refer to manufacturers having two prices, one for export and one for the home trade, because if that were his view I would point out to him several concerns with which Members of the Government are connected, in the chemical trade and in the Birmingham trade, which have prices for the home trade and prices for export which are much less. Take the case of the Massey-Harris binders. Surely it is well known to the House that the price at the works for home consumption of the Massey-Harris binder is a great deal higher than the price for export, and it may well be that the agricultural community will be staggered if they find that the price of the Massey-Harris binder in Liverpool docks is lower than the price for home consumption in Canada. I do not know whether the hon. Member has looked into that, but that is quite a possibility, and if it does not occur in that particular article it is quite likely to occur in others, and in such cases the anti-dumping provisions would apply.
I turn now from the dumping part of the Bill, as to which I have said I would support action against dumping if it can be proved to be directed with the specific object of killing a trade here, and let us look at the other part of the Bill, which to my judgment is much more menacing to the trade of this country and much more serious. That is the part of the Bill relating to depreciated exchanges and the countries where those depreciated exchanges exist. It has been suggested to the House that in this matter we are dealing largely, or mainly, in fact almost exclusively, with Germany. It is not the case that this Bill will apply in that limited way. It has been said that exchange in Germany has been deliberately kept down. I do not know if there is any proof of that assertion. For my part I doubt it. It may be that it is deliberately kept down for an object while certain negotiations have been pending; that is possible, but that it is the policy of Germany to keep her exchange for any lengthened period at a low rate like the present I can hardly credit, and it certainly is not the policy of most of the countries of the world which have depreciated currency. Their one ambition is to get their currencies up to a higher level. What country in South America is there that has not a depreciated currency, or Central America? And what about India? What about many other parts of the world? The bulk of the countries in the world have depreciated currency. A very limited number have exchanges that are now at a premium as compared with British pounds, but the Bill seems to have been conceived with a view to Germany only, and it does not seem to have occurred to those who were drafting the Bill how wide will be its effect. Take Chile, a country where I have seen exchange at 3s. and it is now 6¾d. Copper is produced in Chile. It is also produced to some extent in this country, and manufactured to a larger extent. Is it to be the case that because currency in Chile is depreciated, there is to be a duty of 33⅓ per cent. against copper bars from Chile? If so, as appears from the Bill, are American copper bars to come here without any duty at all?
Next I take Bolivia. Tin is produced in Bolivia, also in Cornwall and in the Straits Settlements. Bolivian currency is at a discount. Is the poor country of Bolivia to pay 33⅓ per cent. duty on all its tin, while you allow tin from the Straits Settlements to come in without any payment at all? A duty of 33⅓ per cent. means £60 a ton on tin, an enormous difference, which is quite insuperable. Take railway rails and bar iron. Is poor Belgium to be charged a duty of 33⅓ per cent. upon her rails and her bars while rails and bars from the United States are to come in free? Is that to be the position? Take our Colonies. Take India. Are we to bring in hessian cloth, the foundation of our linoleum trade and many others, from India and charge 33⅓ per cent. duty upon it? Is that to be a possibility? How are you going to keep your linoleum trade and others if you are going to raise the price of your hessian cloth? Then the case of kerosene seems to have been forgotten. Are we going to charge kerosene coming from Mesopotamia and the Persian Gulf and from certain South American countries, and possibly Mexico, although at the moment Mexican exchange is at a premium, a duty of 33⅓ per cent., and allow American kerosene to come in without payment of any duty. I cannot conceive of a policy of that sort, and how it is going to benefit this country? We are going to raise the cost of all those articles. Is that going to benefit the country? Surely we want to lower the price of articles! The effect on our manufacturers would be disastrous, because many of the things that are required would be dearer and there would be consequently no cheapening of the cost of manufacture by such a policy as this. Our manufacturers would have to live on the home trade, and we all know that they cannot live on the home trade, and we want our export trade in order to buy other things. We all know that we have to sell abroad in order to buy food. If you are going to cut off a large part of our export trade, how are you going to pay for wheat and the other things you need? It seems to me that you first of all restrict your manufacturers and then injure the country as a whole.
I realise as well as any Member of the House that the labour situation, the question of unemployment, is a very serious one, but I do not think that this part of the Bill has any argument to support it except one argument, that if you do not pass it, what are you going to do about the want of employment in the next year or two? That is really the only argument there is in favour of this part of the Bill, and I do not think it is a sound point. I think the dislocation which we now have in values can be put right only by very severe and very painful processes, and that if you adopt this scheme we are only postponing the process and leaving ourselves in a weaker position to cope with that situation when it arises, which it will undoubtedly at the end of the three years. It would be very much better to leave the thing to work its own cure. If you leave it alone what happens? Orders for rails and for bars and for other things will go to the Continent. You will not get them, and you will therefore lose employment for your people. I agree. At the present moment they will go there, and let them go. If you crowd all the world's orders upon Germany and upon Belgium, what will be the effect? The first effect will be that they cannot supply the goods, they have not the capacity to supply them, and the next effect is that they will raise their prices and that their workmen will ask more wages, and the last effect of all is that their exchange would rise because their exports would increase. Then you may find Germany a dear producer and not a cheap producer. It is quite clear that if they pay the German workman, as now, 300 to 500 marks weekly, and one mark is worth only a penny, and if the trade of Germany grows as I picture it may under those conditions in the next 12 months or two years, the mark would go up in value, and the Belgian franc would not remain at 50 to the pound. The consequence would be that those countries, which to-day are cheap producers, would possibly become dearer producers than this country. I think it would be very much better to face our difficulties and not to postpone them. Let us brace ourselves and face what undoubtedly is a very painful process and that is a readjustment of values. The whole of the values of the world have been dislocated by the War. They were artificial, and we all know that they cannot go on on the high level which they reached. I think it would be very muck better for this country to allow the natural laws of economics to rule the situation, and that in that way we shall sooner get over the evils from which there is no ultimate escape.
I do not rise to challenge the general philosophy of trade which has been expounded in the able speech of my right hon. Friend. I share that philosophy. I have always held, and still hold, that it is desirable to confine the interference of the Government with trade and commerce within the narrowest possible limits. I am no lover of State control, and our experience of State control—indeed of experiments in State Socialism, necessary and indispensable as those experiments have been, has not left a very favourable memory either in the House or in the country. I am therefore disposed by my intellectual antecedents, and by my natural bias, to view with eyes of great jealousy any proposals which may have the effect of restricting trade and commerce. The Bill which we are now considering is divided into three parts. There is first of all the part which is intended to be permanent, and the part which is intended to be permanent is by far the most important part of the Bill. There are the two other parts, one dealing with the safeguarding of key industries, and the other dealing with the measures to meet the competition of goods subsidised by the state of the foreign exchanges which are temporary, and, therefore, are of less importance. Every economist is agreed that when goods are sold below the cost of production in the country of origin in our market the customers, being those persons in our market who purchase these goods, are advantaged by the cheapness of the goods. Every economist is also agreed that in excluding the competition of those goods from our market by a tariff you do not necessarily exclude the competition of those goods in other markets. Those propositions are now, I think, universally acknowledged.
On the other hand, it is, I venture to think, common ground between those who hold Free Trade views and those who hold Tariff Reform views that where you have clear evidence of a concerted effort on the part of employers in a country protected by a tariff or otherwise subsidised, where you have a concerted attempt on the part of employers and manufacturers to capture one of your markets in respect of a particular commodity by under-selling our producers in that market, with the view of subsequently raising the price to the home consumer, then there is a case for defensive action. May I remind the House of a passage in the brilliant speech delivered by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) when the Financial Resolution on which this Bill is founded was being discussed here. What did he say?
Dumping! What is dumping? … What does it mean in any intelligent sense? It means the deliberate and organised attempt of foreign producers, or, as is much more common, a combination of foreign producers, flourishing as they do under the facilities of rings and trusts which protective tariffs always afford, to flood our markets, regardless of price, with goods which will undermine and, as they hope, destroy some particular branch of British industry. I am an old hand in these matters, and I have argued this question of dumping before many hon. Members now present were here, and I have always said that Free Trade is not a gospel of fiscal quietism or quakerism. There is nothing in the Free Trade creed or practice which obliges any Free Trader to submit to a process of that kind. Even when it is proved, and it must be proved first of all, then the next thing to do is to make yourself quite certain that the methods you are going to take to counteract it are not likely to do more injury than would be the case if you allowed it to exist. Those are the two conditions upon which Free Traders are quite prepared to deal with dumping."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th May, 1921; col. 1727, Vol. 141.]
Those are the views of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley. Those views are embodied in the Bill before us. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!" and "Hear, hear!"] My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade used a very happy simile when he spoke of this Bill as placing an umbrella in the hands of the Government. An umbrella is not opened when it is fine; it is opened when the rain falls. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley has approved of measures being taken to shield domestic industry in the proved case of dumping. He did not indeed indicate what kind of umbrella was to be provided; he merely indicated that it should not be used until the rain was actually falling. I fully admit, with my right hon. Friend who spoke last (Sir A. Williamson), that it is necessary to proceed with extreme caution when you are framing measures of this kind. I agree with those who tell us that dumping can never be a permanent condition of trade. It is temporary and intermittent. But when it does occur it is extremely disturbing. I believe, with my right hon. Friend who spoke last, that the knowledge that a country possesses the means of parrying such an attack as that which I have described may act as a deterrent to foreign countries, and may, in consequence, have the effect of steadying industrial conditions and of keeping trade and employment at a more even level.
It has been said in some quarters, though not this afternoon, that to entrust a Committee of the Board of Trade with the duty of determining the question as to whether the conditions have been actually realised under which, according to this Bill, an anti-dumping duty may be imposed violates the spirit of the constitution. I quite admit that there is a very natural reluctance on the part of this House to entrust such a power as this to a Committee of the Board of Trade, and I think there would be equal reluctance on the part of any Committee of the Board of Trade, knowing, as they must do, the great jealousy with which this House views any independent exercise of powers of the sort—a reluctance on their part to exercise the powers entrusted to them rashly or without due consideration. I hope, indeed, and, in fact, I believe, that the occasion for the use of these powers will not frequently arise. I notice that when my right hon. Friend the Member for Paisley visited an exhibition held not very far from here, and organised, I think, by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Chippenham (Mr. Terrell), he was only able to detect one authentic specimen of dumping not due to the state of the foreign exchanges. I was a little surprised that he was able to find one specimen. I think it came from America. Still, once you admit that it is weakness in the purely laissez faire position to make no provision at all for possible cases of proved dumping, then it is clear that some such course as that taken in this Bill must be pursued.
What is the course of procedure which is taken in this Bill? In the first place, a complaint has to be made to the Board of Trade that goods are being sold in this country below the cost of production, and that, as a result, employment is being seriously affected. My right hon. Friend (Sir A. Williamson) expressed the fear that a duty might be imposed in the case of a solitary sale. I, myself, would view such a tendency with great alarm. I think, however, the words of the Bill preclude such a possibility, for this power is only to be used in case employment is being seriously affected. Well, then, if the Board consider that there is a primâ facie case they may refer the matter for report to a Committee composed mainly of business men. If the Committee reports that the conditions are fulfilled, the Board of Trade may make an Order applying Part II to goods coming from the country in question whereupon the goods become subject to a duty of 33⅓ per cent. If evidence is forthcoming that goods of the kind in question are being sold in this country at a price not below the cost of production, the duty is either not charged or is returned. These safeguards, I think, will be found adequate to protect the country against injudicious, improper, or too frequent use of this power. This is the permanent and, therefore, the important provision in the Bill.
The particular case of dumping arising out of the state of the collapsed exchanges is abnormal, and is met by a temporary provision. I freely admit that if anybody had suggested to me before the War that it was probable that a 33⅓ per cent. duty would be imposed by the British Government upon goods coming into this country by reason of the state of the collapsed exchanges, I would have described the proposals as touching the extreme limit of economic dementia. But the conditions by which we are at the moment surrounded are by no means normal. They are extraordinary. They were entirely unforeseen. They present a new case for consideration. What are the facts? We find goods coming into this country subsidised to the extent, in some cases, of 200 per cent. by the state of the exchanges. We find, in consequence, that our industries which—be it remembered—are not emerging from a state of Free Trade, but from a state of high war Protection, with consequent high wages and high labour costs, are confronted by goods produced and marketed under these abnormal conditions.
I am all in favour of competition. I believe it is the lifeblood of commercial success, and I would not myself be a party to any Measure which had for its object the removal or limitation of wholesome competition. In this case, however, I do not think the competition can be so described. We may have manufacturers contending against odds so great as I have described and con fronted with the industrial difficulties with which we are all familiar, such as the high price of coal, the high cost of labour, and the disturbed relations between labour and capital. I think in such conditions as these the Government is justified for a very limited period of time in giving to these manufacturers some hope and some expectation of being able to compete against their foreign competitors and some stimulus to the improvement and development of their industry.
It has been said with very great power by two hon. Members that no country can have an interest for a long period of time in keeping its exchange depressed. I think that is sound economics, because although it is perfectly true that the depressed state of the exchange, let us say, in Germany, gives to the German exporter an advantage, at the same time it causes him to pay dearer for his imports. If, then, we look at foreign trade alone we not only find the motives for continuing to depress the exchange are entirely insufficient, but also that the exchanges will automatically rectify themselves. But this is not all. We have certain foreign countries where they find it difficult to raise taxes. They have been confronted with very serious social disturbances. The Government is unsettled and timid, faced with enormous difficulties, and entertaining apprehensions of its public opinion.
Imagine that the same Government has contracted a very large internal debt, and has once possessed a great and flourishing export trade which it is anxious to recover. It is keen to get its footing in foreign markets and to overcome the prejudice created against it during the War. There we have three motives which may converge upon one point, and may be sufficient to induce such a Government to print money partly in order to avoid extra taxation, partly in order to lighten the burden of its internal debt and partly to promote its exports. Therefore, you have in existence three powerful motives which, singly or in combination, may tend to the continuance for a period of time of this unwholesome depression of exchanges. I do not know whether in point of fact these causes have operated. I am quite willing to believe that there is no clear evidence that the German Government have been affected by those influences, but I do say that the British Government is entitled to take these considerations into account, and estimating and considering the problem of the exchange righting itself by rational and automatic processes within a very short period of time.
I feel that there is a very strong case for temporary action of the character specified in this Bill. It has been pointed out that the fixed duty of 33⅓ per cent. is no exact measure of the premium created by the state of the exchange. True it is a very rough measure. It is impossible to devise an exact measure, because the exchange varies from week to week, from month to month, from year to year and differs in different countries, and consequently all that the Government can do, or all that any Government can do, is to give a certain amount of encouragement to the manufacturer who is met by this form of competition.
Hon. Members will have heard of the poison called strychnine. Taken in large quantities the dose is lethal, but administered in small quantities by qualified practitioners to patients suffering from heart weakness for a short period of time it is found to be efficacious. Although it is poison taken in unlimited quan- tities, nevertheless in certain circumstances it may be found to be a useful tonic. I put it to the fair sense of the House whether we are not face to face with conditions which may well dishearten the most able manufacturers in this country, and under these conditions are we not justified in administering this tonic? My right hon. Friend enumerated a number of articles which he said might be subjected to this duty to the detriment of English trade. I do not know whether in his exhaustive enumeration he had clearly in mind the conditions under which this duty is to be enforced. This duty is not imposed simply because a particular exchange is depressed, and it will only be imposed if it can be shown that the industry in this country is suffering by the importation of articles which are receiving a premium through the depressed character of the exchange. I do not know how far my right hon. Friend has satisfied himself that that test would be met by the instances cited.
I do not overlook the fact that the consumers of this country would benefit by the cheapness of the goods that are, imported, and I should hail with delight any symptom of a fall in prices. I am also aware of one very serious objection which has been levelled against this portion of the Bill. It is said, "Here you are proposing to impose a duty upon goods coming into this country from countries where the exchanges have collapsed, and are you, therefore, taking exactly the step best calculated to perpetuate the collapsed state of the exchange, and to prevent the natural reaction which would correct the evil which you are seeking to remedy?" I quite agree with that argument if we were proposing under this Bill altogether to exclude German goods. Then you would in fact be arresting the development of those forces which, if allowed to continue, would eventually correct the state of the exchange, but that is not the proposal in this Bill. This part of the Bill only becomes operative in cases where the volume of goods coming from the country in which the exchanges have collapsed is such that they cause serious unemployment in any industry. Consequently it is perfectly compatible with the provisions of this Bill that the goods flowing into this country or diverted into other countries will have the effect of correcting the state of the exchanges and removing the evils complained of.
I come now to the last portion of the Bill, that is the protection of the key industries. I do not gather that objection is taken to the principle underlying this portion of the Bill. Nor indeed would Adam Smith or John Stuart Mill have objected to it. Those great masters of economic science held that not only was it legitimate on economic grounds to foster industries during their period of infancy, but also that it was legitimate to prefer considerations of defence to considerations of strict economics. In this case we are asking the community to bear a burden in order to insure that certain articles shall be produced in this country—articles which have been found necessary in the late War, and for which we can no longer afford to rely exclusively on sources of foreign supply. This part of the Bill is not defended upon economic grounds. We realise that we are asking the community to pay a price for it, and it ought to be prepared to pay that price.
The only questions which really divide the House on this part of the Bill are, as I understand it, the nature of the schedule, as to which in Committee there may be a number of suggestions made, and also the point as to the nature of the measures which are to be taken to safe-guard our industries. I freely admit that when I first addressed my mind to this question of key industries I was in favour of subsidies. I thought that would be a cleaner and more economic method of dealing with the situation, but looking into the question I realised there were objections to the subsidy system, namely, first that it imposed a considerable charge on the Exchequer at a time when it is difficult to find money; secondly, that if you elect to proceed with subsidies you have to select particular industries which are to receive the subsidy, and, thirdly, that the subsidy involves very close supervision and control.
I came to the conclusion therefore that if you are really desirous to give these scientific industries—because with one exception all the industries scheduled are scientific—a fair chance of success it is preferable that the assistance should be limited in time and of unrestrictive energy and initiative. For these reasons I have deliberately come to the conclusion that the method pursued in the Bill is preferable to the method which I first thought would meet the situation most effectively. Speaking from my point of view as an advocate of free exchanges, I must say I have always felt that the extreme laissez faire position was subject to two valid criticisms. In the first place absolute laissez faire is quite consistent with a position under which a nation has to rely on foreign sources for industries vital to its protection in times of war; and in the second place, it is quite consistent with a position under which a nation may find a particular industry destroyed by the concerted action of foreign manufacturers with the result that an additional charge is subsequently placed upon consumers of the products of that industry in the country into which it is imported. I felt that in the interest of a sound philosophy of trade it is desirable to meet these criticisms, and I venture to think that they have been met in a very practical and reasonable way in the Bill now before the House.
The strychnine has been administered, but I cannot help thinking it was administered to the wrong article. It did not seem to me that it was Free Trade that was getting it when the right hon. Gentleman was talking. I thought it was being administered to the Bill which he is supposed to be supporting. I think the Leader of the House had better send for the Minister of Health. The real tragedy of this Debate is not the presence "on the Front Bench opposite of the Minister of Health or of the Minister of Education, the real tragedy is the absence of the Tariff Re-formers. Where are they? Where are those who formerly carried the banner of Tariff Reform? Where is the Member for Camlachie (Sir H. Mackinder)?Where is the Member for Durham City (Major Hills)? Where is the professor of political economy who came from Birmingham? Where is the present Financial Secretary to the War Office?They are all gone. They are all silent, and the real reason is that they have been converted. They have not been converted by the speeches, they have been converted by high prices. Even the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) has come round on the right side. His whole reputation has been built on Protection and Tariff Reform, but he says he will have nothing to do with the second part of the Bill. Those upholders of Tariff Re- form have all been converted except my hon. Friend the Member for Chippenham (Mr. G. Terrell). He still comes forward with the same old story, the same old facts that fitted the case 20 years ago, and the manufacturers of Great Britain ought to be proud to have their case advanced as it is by so able, eloquent, and intelligent a Member as the representative of Chippenham.
Of course, the difficulty of the Minister for Education is that he has such a clear insight into Free Trade psychology that he spent three-fourths of his speech in defending that part of the Bill which we can all defend; that part of the Bill which gives to the Board of Trade power to prevent real dumping, to prevent the sending into this country, at prices below the cost of manufacture, of articles manufactured elsewhere with the intention, by selling them here at a cheaper price, to smash British competing manufacturers and thereby to establish a monopoly and to shove up prices. If we could only persuade the Cabinet to confine this Bill to that policy it would have the unanimous support of the House, and I may add it would ultimately secure the blessings of the manufacturers of this country. It is the other part which is really the best debating portion of this Bill, the part which is going to shove up prices, which is intended to do so. I think I must quote once again certain words and arguments which are valuable for use on public platforms and for the benefit of one's constituents. In those words the Minister for Health administered the strychnine I think rather more powerfully than the Minister for Education. These are the words:
Of course it will raise prices. It is bound to do so. That is the object of it. If it did not do that there would be no point in it.
That is all right. It must be known on every platform in the country that this Bill is intended to raise prices, and the hon. Member for Chippenham only follows a good example when he says that the raising of prices is going to be the salvation of British industry, that it is going to increase employment, and that it is going to re-develop our export trade.
If the hon. Member did not say it, it was what he meant. If he did not mean it, then I am afraid that even he has deserted the cause. There is not one left faithful to the good old Tariff Reform doctrine. I prefer the words of the late secretary to the Cobden Club. He knows that this measure is intended to raise prices and will raise prices, and will be no good unless it does so, and he believes that by the raising of prices—he told us so—there will be more employment in this country, and that those unfortunate people who are now tramping the streets in search of work will be enabled by this Bill to find employment owing to the increase in prices. An admirable illustration of this Bill, perhaps the best illustration of it was given by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Moray (Sir A. Williamson), who pointed out that the really interesting Clause in this Bill is the one which allows the Board of Trade, without any interference from vulgar public opinion, to put on tariffs, and that would enable them, owing to the depreciated nature of Indian currency, to put a 33⅓ per cent. tariff on hessians, or manufactured jute, and other goods brought into this country from India. These goods at the present time are undercutting the Dundee jute manufacturer. Scotsmen manufacture jute in Dundee, and Scotsmen manufacture jute in Calcutta. At present, owing to the depreciated currency, this manufactured jute comes into this country, and is used in the manufacture of linoleum, as well as for many other purposes. The first people who will visit the Board of Trade will be the constituents of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies. They will come to him and say, quite truly, that there are numbers of people out of work in Dundee, because this Indian hessian is coming in and undercutting their prices and throwing men out of work in Dundee. They will come up the back stairs of the Board of Trade—those back stairs which will be the royal road to fortune—and, backed by the great influence of the right hon. Gentleman, they will have a 33⅓ per cent. duty put on all Indian hessians coming into this country, oblivious of the fact that it is produced by Scottish capital and Scottish managers in Calcutta.
The immediate result of that will be that the prices of hessians in this country will go up. A second result will be that unemployed people in the jute trade in Dundee will find employment. The Board of Trade will point to that, and it is the only thing that is to be discussed in the Board of Trade when the question of putting on this duty is considered. There will be more employment in the jute trade in Dundee, and there will be just as many, if not more, people in the linoleum trade in Lancaster and elsewhere thrown out of work because their goods will not be able to compete with linoleum made in Germany and other foreign countries. You will have merely a shifting of unemployment from one trade to another. This shifting will take place capriciously, no one knows in which trade next. I need hardly say that, if Dundee makes its case good for a duty on hessians, every other industry in the country will say, "You have no right to treat Dundee and the jute trade differently from my industry. People in my industry are unemployed, and they have every bit as much right to protection as the Dundee jute trade." I do not see how even the Board of Trade can resist that claim. Every other industry will come along. They will all find somewhere in the world competitors in countries where the exchange is below ours, and they will all claim and get protection.
Various things are excluded from this Bill—for instance, food and drink. There is no chance of putting a heavy duty or the butter coming from Siberia. A good many other things come from the East of Europe, where there are depreciated exchanges. Timber, for instance, somes from Russia, Poland, Finland, and Norway—all countries with a depreciated exchange. It comes here at cutthroat prices, and the poor landlord in this country is unable to sell the timber from his property at a decent price. He, too, will come to the Board of Trade sobbing for the British working man out of a job. He will say, "All my foresters are out of work, and none of the labourers on my estate can find work cutting down trees, because you are allowing this wretched foreign timber to come into this country to throw honest British men out of work." They will make their claim good, and thereby throw out other people in the building and exporting trades, and even in the coalmining trade. You cannot make people more prosperous by raising prices. All this well-meant nonsense about increasing employment is absolutely fraudulent if it does not emanate from people who are completely ignorant of the subject which they are discussing. You can create more employment in special trades. We grant you that. And in every case when you do that you will throw more men out of employment somewhere else. My hon. Friend told us that these idiotic old ideas about exports paying for imports were all out of date since the War. My own impression is that two and two still make four, even after the Treaty of Versailles, and I really do not understand how we are to pay for imports in any other way than by exports. I wish the hon. Member would explain to us how it is possible to export anything from this country without its being paid for by an import.
That is quite true, but how do we pay for imports except by exports? In those happy days we produced far more exports than the rest of the world. We were first in the field, and we filled the whole world with our manufactures. We took payment in imports into this country, and, if we did not import as much as we exported, we invested the surplus in foreign countries all over the world. Our position at the beginning of the War was made by our foreign investments, earned in those years when we exported more than we imported; but what we did import we paid for by exports. It appears to be the idea of the Government, as well as of the hon. Member for Chippenham, that if you import fewer things into this country, and if you raise the prices of those'things which you do import, thereby there will be more employment in the country. Obviously, if you stop a shipload of raw material from coming into this country, you must, ipso facto, stop two shiploads of manufactured goods from leaving this country. You may increase employment in one trade, but you must decrease the total bulk of employment in the country, because your export trade will suffer to exactly the same extent. It is admitted that under this Bill you will raise the price, for instance, of hessians, the raw material of the lino- leum industry. Therefore, everyone who wants to buy furniture for his house, and is driven to buy linoleum because he cannot afford carpets, will pay more for his linoleum. I warn the hon. Member, who still clings to this old Tariff Reform idea, that this country—not only the Labour party, or the Liberal party, but even his own party—is absolutely sick to death of high prices, and does not appreciate any efforts, even on his part, popular as he is, to raise prices any further.
The Section of the Bill which deals with the powers given to the Board of Trade to put on this 33⅓ per cent. tariff in the case of those countries where there is a depreciated exchange is obviously so weak that the right hon. Gentleman himself gave it, I think, almost a coup de grace to-day. It is inconceivable that any sane House of Commons—even a business House of Commons—or any sane Government would really put forward that part of the Bill and stake their reputation upon its passing into law. How is it conceivable that you should deliberately arrange to put a tariff on all goods that come from Norway and exempt all goods that come from Sweden? Is it conceivable that you should give in that way a gigantic preference to one particular country? It would merely mean that the middlemen in that country would make far larger fortunes than they are making already. The middlemen in Sweden would import from Norway, and, with or without any further processes of manufacture, they would export to us, taking for themselves that 33⅓ per cent. which the Norwegian manufacturer would have had to pay in order to get his goods into this country. You are giving a bonus to that country which, as we were told the other day, holds British trade and industry and commerce in the hollow of its hand. Not a single duty is to be levied on any goods coming from America—
Japan also is on the free list. These countries, which, as we are told, have their foot upon Britain's throat, are to be allowed to send their goods here, while any of the unfortunate Allies like France, Italy or Poland—if Poland is still an Ally—who have a depressed exchange, are to be treated as pariahs. You are to tell them—and they owe us money, which they can only pay in goods—" We do not want your goods; we prefer Japanese and American articles." I do not think that that part of the Bill really will wash with the present intelligence of this House of Commons or of the public as a whole. It has been put into the Bill by the hon. Member for Chippenham, and I honestly believe that, before the Bill has finished its career in Committee, the hon. Member himself, pressed by this Federation of British Industries, which he so ably represents—
I am very glad to hear that the hon. Member has nothing to do with it, but I can assure him that they could not possibly express their views better than he expresses them. I thought it was in keeping with the whole position that, in the great oration which he made this afternoon, he pointed out that this Bill alone was not enough, that 33⅓ per cent. was no good to his tariff reform friends. Complete prohibition would be better, but even that was not enough. Nothing would put the situation right except increasing the hours of labour in this country—making the people work harder as well as pay more for everything they buy. It is all in keeping with the general wishes of the Federation of British Industries. This Bill is their Bill. They see profit in it. That is where the goods come in. That is where the key industry section of the Bill is particularly fortunate.
We were told by the President of the Board of Education that he had considered the question of a subsidy instead of a tariff, and that all his sympathies were for a subsidy instead of a tariff, but that really, in the present state of our national finances, it was impossible to find the money for a subsidy, much as he would have preferred it. I really imagine that the right hon. Gentleman must have been trying to pull our legs—if a Minister of Education ever would do anything of that sort—because a tariff costs just as much as a subsidy, if not more. A tariff means that you are giving to certain private individuals the right to tax the community. If I have got to be taxed, I prefer to be taxed by a Government rather than by a private individual. A tariff would be of no use as an alternative to a subsidy unless it provided the money for the protected industry. The protected industry has got to get the money somehow, and it really does not make any difference to it whether it gets the money from the Government or gets it from the country as a whole. I still have one of those old-fashioned prejudices in favour of knowing what I am spending, and I believe the House of Commons is the best body not only to say what they will pay but how the money shall be raised. I even go so far as to say that as long as the expenditure is put before us year after year, we are more likely to get efficient use out of the money that we spend on these key industries than we should get by starting this system of tariffs in favour of these particular goods. He knows well enough that, whether it is a subsidy or whether it is a tariff, it is some group of private individuals who are going to benefit by that subsidy or by that tariff. He knows that, although he is going to impose this tariff, or it may be a subsidy, neither a tariff nor a subsidy will ensure in any way our getting these key articles that we want to have for the next war. The only way to be quite certain of getting these things that we are told are absolutely essential to us in the next war, is for the State to manufacture them itself, and to find the money and to see that the money goes for the definite purpose of getting what is wanted and is not merely going into the pockets of those, widows and orphans, I believe, they usually are, who invest in these protected industries.
Then the right hon. Gentleman comes along and says we need not bother about the question of key industries. It is only temporary—a few years. Then he turns to the last Section, giving the Board of Trade power to put on 33⅓ per cent. in the case of depreciated exchange, and says, "It is only temporary—three or four years, or whatever it is, and it will be all over, and you need not bother about that. Just keep your mind on the one sound thing in the Bill." I do not think anyone knows better than he does that once you take this infant industry in your arms and begin to bottle feed it, as the infant gets larger it does not generally look forward to the time when it will have to drop the bottle and walk on its own legs—a natural process in the natural world. But what will happen? Your industries will be protected, shares will go up, the widow and orphan will buy at the top price, as they have done in the United Steel Company. As soon as they have got their money well into the concern at the top price they will come to the House and say, "Look at the ruin you will bring upon all these innocent shareholders. On the pledge of the British Government we invested in these shares. Now would you suggest taking away from us this old umbrella? Never! Let us reline the umbrella. Let us make it wider. Let us have more protection." Then everyone will be set up, the prices of the shares will rise, we shall be told in the columns of the financial Press that the prosperity of Britain was never greater, and the cost of everything will go up, and the purchasing power of wages will go down, our export trade will perish, and then right hon. Gentleman opposite will come forward with some other new-fangled, quack notion of how to restore the trade of the country by flying in the face of all their economic doctrines. Bight hon. Gentlemen opposite say, "Trade is so bad. Would you sit still and do nothing?" I would sooner do nothing than make an ass of myself. I see no attractions whatever in committing suicide, and that is what this Bill means if it is carried out with all these provisions.
My hon. Friend (Mr. W. Graham), almost the only other Labour Member who has preceded me in this Debate, stated our point of view perfectly clearly. We want more production. The only cure for the present unemployment is more production. Not production by the subsidising of all your pet industries. I should have thought hon. Members had talked enough about that. We are rather tired of this idea of subsidising special industries. Someone has to pay the subsidy. What we want is more production. What we want is useful productive work, and none of this producing things that we can purchase more cheaply in other countries and pay for with those goods which we produce most cheaply in this country. It is no use piling the load on the productive workers shoulders. What we want is to increase useful productive work, and- I ask the House to observe how, in this crisis in the country's history, the Government tries not to increase useful productive work but deliberately to decrease it. Only last week the Government sent out a notice to the whole country that the allotments which had been taken up under the Defence of the Realm Act years ago, from which people were producing food, on which people were being employed, were to be closed down and the land handed back to the landlords to be idle.
The hon. Member has been asleep, I suppose, during my argument. My argument is that the whole House wants to increase production. The whole action of the Government has been to decrease production by closing down the allotments, and as long as that is the attitude of the Government unemployment is bound to increase. As a matter of fact, the slump in values has only just begun. We have had a slump in the shares of manufacturing concerns. We have seen the shrinkage there. Another slump is coming along presently, and is bound to come as unemployment increases, and that is a slump in the value of land. You will find there, too, people throwing their land upon the market, just as they have thrown their shares upon the market, and as the price of land comes down so at last you will allow people who want to produce something out of that land to get access to the raw material they want to use. Then your allotment holders, your smallholders, your building trades, and the agricultural trade will be able to get their raw material a little more cheaply. It is not only the high cost of labour that stands in the way. It is the high cost of the essential raw material of all production—the land—and as your unemployment increases so the land will become cheaper also till even the landlords begin to feel the slump and make up their minds that they are paying too highly even for a Coalition Government.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman said he would rather do nothing than make an ass of himself. He has been doing something. He has been making what at any rate would pass very well for platform utterances to public audiences, but I do not really think he has affected the judgment of the House on the question now before us. I find in the Bill something which, I believe, if we had had it in the years that have gone would have been of enormous value to us. The hon. and gallant Gentleman referred to steel, as though I had some association with it. I have had a little to do with the steel trade, and I am prepared to use my experience, so far as I can, for the benefit of those who come after me. In this industry, shortly after the South African War, there was a very large order for steel rails to be placed in this country. The then Colonial Secretary, Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, asked me about the price, and informed me that the prices quoted by British makers were £1 a ton higher than from Germany, and as a trustee of the British Empire he could not give advice to South Africa to pay £1 a ton from patriotic or loyal motives. Inquiry was made into the matter. The German manufacturers informed us that they were prepared to make a deal with British manufacturers. The British manufacturers resisted the offer to make a deal. They preferred to go on their own. What was the result? In consequence of the reduction of the price they had to take these orders at a loss, and not only the order for South Africa, but for all other markets in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, at a reduced price. The German manufacturers continued to quote again £1 a ton below, and occasionally they took orders in Great Britain. They divided amongst themselves the losses on those orders, which were distributed amongst German manufacturers, the goods being sold dis- tinctly below cost. Those manufacturers again informed us that when we were ready to treat they would be prepared also to treat, and they would make arrangements by which they would withdraw their competition, and for some time, for a matter of years, the British manufacturers declined to enter into such an arrangement. But at last their loss was so considerable that they had to treat with the German manufacturers, who had the German Government behind them. We could not retaliate on them in Germany. They had their protected market. The substantial terms that the Germans suggested were that the British manufacturers should have the market of the British Empire and should withdraw from foreign trade throughout the world, and that was the substance, arranged in percentages, which was eventually agreed, and continued for some years, until the War, under which by agreement the British manufacturer excluded himself from the markets of the world other than within the British Empire.
This was an agreement arrived at with the German manufacturers which extended afterwards to other manufacturers. Of course it was a ring. I am telling the House what happened under a system by which we had no means of protecting ourselves against this German attack. What was the effect on the concern with which I was connected? I saw for myself that it would be impossible for us to continue manufacturing on a large scale. My plant was capable of producing 10,000 tons a week of steel rails, and I had, in 1910, to close one-half of the manufactory so that the other half might continue with a certain degree of prosperity, which it enjoyed under the terms arranged, which, however, were all to our disadvantage. In all my life I never had a more difficult task to perform than when I had to tell those thousands of men that there was no further work for them in that part of the industry and that we should close it down because of an arrangement compelled to be made by reason of our having no method of retaliating or resisting the dictation of a combination of manufacturers in Germany with the Government behind them. If there had been a Bill with these powers in it there would have been a remedy. We should have been able to say to the German manufacturer, "If you come into our market we will go to the Board of Trade and we will have some protection against you." Not protection against fair competition—that is not desired, that was not wanted—but protection against a combination of circumstances designed expressly for the purpose of injuring or destroying or bringing to terms a particular industry vital to the interests of this country. One of the great effects of this, and why the Government of the German Empire was behind it, was that we, who had occupied the first place, were reduced to a bad third as manufacturers of iron and steel in the world, so that at the beginning of the War we, who had closed down our manufactories, were not in a position, indeed, the whole of the Allies at the commencement of the War were not able, to manufacture as much iron and steel as the German Empire was able to manufacture within her own borders. The German Empire could not have gone to war with us if her manufacture of iron and steel had been reduced like ours, instead of being increased by the action of their manufacturers, backed up by their Government. That was the policy, not for a day or a month, but for a long period, which Germany pursued, and it resulted in Germany being in that premier position as against the Allies.
Therefore, I welcome this Bill because I see in it the possibility of preventing the mischief which occurred, and which possibly may occur again. I do not think that the question of Free Trade, reciprocity, Tariff Beform, and other things matter at all. They are counters in the game. They are mere questions of expediency. The question is, is it best for this country that we should be able to put on a tariff to prevent unfair competition, or is it not the best for us? I say that it is the best for us. If you ask me, do I want Protection? I say not protection against fair competition, but I do want to be in a position to see that the people of this country have fair play in the markets of the world, and are not done out of legitimate trade which belongs to the industries of this country. I know perfectly well that we want more production, but we can only get more production if we get the raw materials.
That was a fanciful argument adduced by the hon. and gallant Gentleman. Under some conditions it may be bad for hessians to come in; that is, if the competition of hessians from India is unfair. I do not say that it is unfair. I do not anticipate the disaster suggested, and I do not say that we are going to push Dundee in order to ruin Lancaster or to injure Scotsmen who have invested in Calcutta. Those arguments may do for audiences outside, but the real effect of this Bill is that there is to be some remedy against unfair com petition, backed up by operations in other countries which are unfair in the opinion of the Board of Trade Committee. That Committee will consist of commercial and business men, and I have confidence that something will be done, not in the interests of Protection or Tariff Reform or against Free Trade, but something to enable the people of this country to carry on their industry without fear or favour.
Every hon. Member agrees with the hon. Member that it is desirable to prevent anything in the nature of unfair competition, which is directed at the destruction of industry in this country. Every hon. Member is agreed that the other objects aimed at by this Bill are in themselves desirable, and that, in so far as any of the difficulties existing to-day are due to the inequality of depreciated exchanges, that is something which everybody would like to remedy. We are all agreed that it must be an eminently desirable thing to get well-established in this country certain industries which are set out in the Schedule relating to the first part of the Bill. That being so, one would have thought that Ministers, in dealing with the Bill, would have dealt rather sparingly with the difficulties which we wish to overcome, and would have devoted more of their arguments to explaining how the methods proposed by them in the Bill are going to remedy the situation. Almost without exception, the speeches of Ministers were devoted to detailing the difficulties, the problems which we have to solve, and not one of them, either on the Bill or on the Financial Resolutions, have adduced any argument to explain how their proposals are going to remedy the situation, and they have expressed no very great confidence that they are going to do so.
If the patient is to have any confidence in the medicine given by the physician, one would at least expect that the physician should have some confidence in the medicine. We heard the Minister of Education to-night. He is the second consulting physician called in by the Government. It is true that he diagnosed the complaint accurately, but could anyone listening to him believe that he himself had any confidence whatever that the remedy which is being suggested is going to cure the malady? None whatever. If we take the President of the Board of Trade, I am not at all sure that he was not more dubious still about the efficacy of his remedy, because in one of his speeches he said:
I have been accused of a certain lack or enthusiasm in introducing this Resolution. I am not a man who is given to enthusiasm for legislation. I have not that profound belief in the immediate effect of legislation of any kind which any man who hopes to rise high in the political world ought to have. From that I imagine that I have about got to the top of my tree.
Every hon. Member profoundly dissents from that observation, because we hope that the right hon. Gentleman will get to the very top of the tree. He also said that under these Resolutions the conditions laid down for providing a case were very stringent, and he believed that people would find it much less easy than they hoped to get that help which they anticipated from the Bill. Therefore, it seems to me, that the right hon. Gentleman is not reassured. The real confidence which he has is given him by the reflection that after all it is going to be so difficult to get any particular commodities under the Schedule of the Bills that it will not do as much harm as it otherwise would. Another point which calls for comment is the great anxiety of Ministers to disclaim any responsibility for the parentage of the Bill. The President of the Board of Trade said that He found it on the door-step of the Board of Trade. The Minister of Health told us that it is really the product of the Committee which was appointed to inquire into commercial and industrial policy after the War. The Minister for Overseas Trade told us that it was based upon the Paris Resolutions. In considering the parentage of the Bill
one has to look at the marriage contract which took place in November, 1918, the unnatural union between the Tariff Re-formers and the Free Traders, which was carried out under the hand of the Prime Minister on the 2nd November, 1918. I was, amazed last night to hear the assurance with which the Secretary for Overseas Trade told us that this Bill was based upon the Paris Resolutions. Has he read those Resolutions recently? There was a preamble to these Resolutions which set forth this statement:
The representatives of the Allied Governments met at Paris for the purpose of giving practical expression to their solidarity of views and interests, and to present to their respective Governments the appropriate measures for realising this solidarity.
He tells us that this Bill is based on these Resolutions. The President of the Board of Trade tells us that it is purely an emergency measure, and has no relation to anything in the world but the emergency which exists to-day. When we inquire further into the Paris Resolutions we find the following:
(4) In order to defend their commerce, their industry, their agriculture, their navigation against economic difficulties resulting from dumping or any other mode of unfair competition, the Allies decide to fix by agreement a period of time during which the commerce of any power shall be subjected to special treatment, and the goods originating in their countries shall be subject either to prohibition or to a special regime of an effective character.
If this Bill is based upon the Paris Resolutions, I should like to enquire whether it has been drafted in agreement with our Allies. If so, we have heard nothing about it. We ought to have been told something about the agreement come to. This Bill is directed not only against our late enemies but against our Allies also. I would like to ask the Secretary for Overseas Trade whether he thinks that the French Government, the Italian Government, and the Belgian Government would agree that this Bill is based upon the Paris Resolutions, which were intended not to put barriers between our Allies and ourselves, but were intended, as stated in the Resolutions, to establish the solidarity of their views and their interests. Equally it may be said that this Bill has no relation whatever to the Report issued by the Committee on Industrial and Commercial Policy after the War. The President of the Board of
Trade in one of his speeches told us that this was purely ad hoc legislation, and that we had little if any experience to guide us in the matter. If that were entirely so, if it were merely a matter of opinion or expectancy, they might say, say, "We believe this Bill will do good. You believe it will not; we are entitled to our opinion; you are entitled to yours. Only experience can prove which of us is right." The case is not quite like that, because there are in the Board of Trade figures which will give some guidance based upon the experience of the past few years.
It is within the recollection of the House that in 1915 when a duty of 33⅓ per cent. was imposed upon certain articles—I need not detail what they were—but it is significant and interesting that in that case the duty was 33⅓ per cent. It is true that that duty was not imposed for the same purpose as the present duty, but the amount was the same, and whatever the result of the imposition of that duty one would expect it to be the same as the result of the duty now proposed. A day or two ago I put a question to the President of the Board of Trade to which he was good enough to reply, and he gave me figures to show the imports into this country of the articles which were subjected to the new import duties from the time they were first imposed. I will leave out the War years, because for the greater part of the War years the import was prohibited altogether. I will take the two years subsequent to the War. If under this Bill the 33⅓ per cent. is going to prevent, or materially curtail, the import of these articles into this country one would expect that that would have been the effect of the 33⅓ per cent. under the new import duties.
I will give the figures for l"919 and 1920, the two post-War years, with regard to a few countries. The imports from Germany of these special articles, subject to the new import duties in 1919, was £64,879; in 1920 £1,461,134, nearly 22 times as much. The imports from Belgium in 1919 were £30,233; in 1920, £308,042, or ten times as much. From France in 1919 they were £390,379. In 1920 they were £1,186,164, or four times as much. From the United States in 1919 they were £4,105,000; in 1920 they were £14,230,000, or over three times as much. It is quite clear in those cases, whatever the effect of the 33⅓ per cent., it did not curtail the importation of those goods into this country. Now I will give the figures for the British Possessions. They are peculiarly interesting because the British Possessions have the advantage of the preference. In their case the tax is not so much. Therefore you would expect a greater increase in imports to come from the countries which have the benefit of the preference. The fact is that though the tax is less the amount of increase from British Possessions is infinitely less than the amount of increase from many of the other countries. The imports from Canada in 1919 were £519,511: in 1920 they were £638,483, by comparison a very small increase indeed. So far as we have any experience to guide us it is that even if you impose your tariff it is not going to have quite the effect of protecting the industries which it is hoped to protect.
Before I sit down I will deal briefly with one or two points in the Bill. I do so because they are so very extraordinary that it is possible that I fail to understand their import. Clause 1, Sub-section (4) seems to provide that where you have an article which comes under the category of key industry articles, and that article is made into a compound article, that is, is manufactured with something else and made into a different article altogether, and you have a completely manufactured article, then such a compound article is not subject to the tax. But if the same article comes in, not as a compound article, but in such a state that it may be used as a raw material by somebody else, then it is subject to the tax, which is the reverse altogether of the old doctrine which was accepted even by Tariff Reformers, namely, that you should exclude raw materials from the tax. In this instance you exclude the fully manufactured article and you tax the raw material.
There is one other Clause to which I should like to call attention, because I want to be quite clear that I understand it correctly. Clause 4, Sub-section (1) provides that if a person by whom a duty has been paid proves to the satisfaction of the Commissioners that the goods in respect of which the duty is payable have already been sold in the United Kingdom at prices which were not less than the cost of production, then payment of the duty shall be remitted. That seems to me to mean that if somebody in the United Kingdom is going to get the advantage of the low price, then the tax has to be imposed, but if somebody outside the United Kingdom is to get it, and the purchaser here has to pay the high price, then the article will be free from the tax. If I am wrong in that, I shall be glad to be corrected upon it.
The last point with which I deal is this. It seems to me that the Government anticipate that there will be many disputes to be dealt with under this Act. There are no fewer than three or four provisions providing for disputes, but though the Government provide for disputes, they are going to take very good care that they are not going to let the Courts of Law deal with them. They are going to have no more Sankey judgments. They remember quite well that the Courte decided that arms and ammunition would not include such an article as pyrogallic acid, and remembering that, they might well say to themselves, if the Court decided things of that sort, what in the world will they decide next. Anyway, they are not going to take the risk, so they will have no more nonsense of that kind. But when it comes to deciding what article is going to come into the category of key industry articles, or what is not, they are going to have no dispute at all or no reference as to that, because what they provide is that it shall be open to the Board of Trade to include any article in the list, and having done so, then that list shall have the effect and power of an Act of Parliament.
It is quite true that if anybody thinks afterwards that an article has been improperly included then he might make a complaint, and if it appears to the Board that the complaint has anything in it they can refer the matter to a referee appointed, not by agreement between the parties to the dispute, but by the people who are to get the money—the Treasury. In other cases where there is a dispute it is referred to this same referee appointed by the Treasury. In no case will the subject have the right of redress by the Courts. It seems to me that this is a complete reversal of the old policy of the Constitution as we knew it. In the old days it was the function of Parliament to legislate and it was the function of the Courts of Law to interpret and construe Acts of Parliament. Now the policy is completely changed. It appears to be the policy of Parliament to delegate to some Government Department the power to legislate, and it is to be construed and interpreted by a referee appointed by such Department. In view of this turning upside down of the Constitution, and in view of the turning inside out of our tariff system, in spite of the great confidence which I know the Minister for Overseas Trade has in this Bill, and seeing that the President of the Board of Trade himself is so sceptical about it, and seeing that the other consultants brought in are equally sceptical, I am more sceptical still, and I shall vote against the Bill.
The speech to which we have just listened contains very damaging answers to many of the criticisms that have been levelled by opponents of this Bill. The main burden of the complaint against it was that these taxes were to keep the goods out of the country, and by reducing imports react on our exports and prevent us finding markets for the goods we make. The hon. Member who has just sat down has proved, at least to his own satisfaction, that even in spite of the 33⅓ per cent. duty upon imported goods, countries are still able to pay us for our exports and present our national exchequer with a handsome sum towards the finances of this country.
I should say in regard to the question of tariff reform and free trade which has been raised by opponents of this Measure that if I had to vote on this Bill purely on the great question of tariff reform or free trade it is probable that I should vote against it. Tariff reform as I understand it is a tax on all competing imports from all countries. This Bill only proposes to tax all competing imports from some countries, and some from all countries. It will still leave vast sources of supplies for imports to come into this country without any duty whatever. It will therefore not prevent us from laying ourselves open to the criticism that free traders bring to bear against tariff reform, and it will not have all the advantage which tariff reformers believe their system to have, and for that reason I am not sure that I should not vote against it on the broad question. But it is as an ad hoc Measure that I regard it; purely a special Measure brought in to deal with a special problem.
I have been interested, in the course of this Debate, in hearing the case put forward by those erstwhile supporters of the Coalition Government who say they will oppose this Bill. It seems to me that those Members are here in Parliament on the pledge that they would support the Government. The electors voted for them on the understanding that they would support the Government which at that time was pledged to deal with these problems of key industries and of dumping. If those hon. Members at the time of the last election had any mental reservations in regard to the manner in which those pledges should be fulfilled, I sincerely hope and trust that at that time they communicated those mental reservations not only to the electors but to those whom they were professing to support. If, now that the Bill is laid before them, they say, "Yes, we are ready to carry out that pledge, but not in this way," then I appeal to them to produce their alternative methods for dealing with the problem. I listened to one or two so-called Coalition Members, none of whom produced an alternative which, if put forward by the Government instead of them, they would have supported at the present time.
In regard to the first part of the Bill, it is a pity that the Government have not given us a little more explanation as to the reasons which influenced them in arriving at the Schedule set out at the end of the Measure. I am afraid they have not taken a very heroic course in regard to that Schedule. They adopted it because it was in the Report of Lord Balfour of Burleigh's Committee, which was signed by men of all parties. But I would call their attention, and also the attention of the House, to some very important paragraphs in that Report which qualify that Schedule. The gist of those paragraphs is this, that this is a list of industries of what we now think will be essential after the War. It must be remembered that it was several years ago when that Report was written. The Report says definitely that this list will, of course, be subject to revision, to addition and subtraction after the War, and it recommends the setting up of a Committee for the specific purpose of considering what will be the industries considered necessary and essential after the War, with power to recommend additions to and subtractions from the list which they included in their Report. The Government have adopted merely the list, but I was glad to hear the President of the Board of Trade yesterday say that it was proposed to bring into existence a new Committee to watch the effect of this Bill on the industries in the Schedule. I appeal to the Government to make the duties of that Committee wide enough to conform to the recommendations of Lord Balfour of Burleigh's Committee on this question, so that it may have power not only to recommend the withdrawal of industries from the Bill, but to make recommendations which may be laid before Parliament in due course for the purpose of including any other industries which the Committee may, from the evidence put before them, deem worthy of consideration by Parliament for addition to the Schedule. That, and nothing short of that, will be carrying out the Report of Lord Balfour of Burleigh's Committee.
With regard to Part II of the Bill, it is obvious to everybody that a fixed duty of 33⅓ per cent. will, both as regards dumping and the exchanges, in some cases be more than sufficient and in other cases quite inadequate. In the case of some countries 33⅓ per cent. will certainly not make up the difference in the exchange, and it is quite possible to conceive of dumping which may be carried on at such a low price as not to be rectified even if the whole 33⅓ per cent. duty were added to the price. In that respect I would draw attention to the fact that the report favoured the principle of the Canadian dumping legislation, namely, the making of the duty equivalent to the difference between the cost of production and the selling price. However, as a rough and ready instrument this 33⅓ per cent. duty will act as a great deterrent in regard to dumping. In the case of collapsed exchanges, it will collect and bring into the National Exchequer, at any rate, a large proportion of the difference between the cost of production and the price at which the goods very often are sold in this country. The Leader of the Labour party, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Miles Platting (Mr. Clynes), expressed in an earlier Debate on the Financial Resolutions the greatest amazement as to what happened in regard to the difference in price at which goods were imported from some of these foreign countries and the price at which they finally reached the market. There is no mystery about it to those who follow this out. The difference goes into the pockets of merchants and importers who form the vested interests to-day that are fighting against this Bill and against any similar proposal. They take good care not to give the British consumer the full benefit of the cheap price at which they buy these imported articles. They simply place the price at a little below the price of the British article. If this duty does nothing else it will collect for the Exchequer a certain proportion of that difference which at present goes into private pockets.
I should like to draw attention to a definition of dumping given by the Minister of Health in an earlier Debate. It is a definition which everyone thought was good and which everyone will be quite willing to support. The right hon. Gentleman said that dumping was
sales as a part of a deliberate policy made by producers of one country in order to ruin or destroy an industry in another country.
The right hon. Gentleman was speaking on the Financial Resolutions, and he went on to say that the machinery to deal with it would be disclosed in this Bill. Everyone agrees with that definition. It is the thing we are against, and not the word. We do not care by what word it is called. Any Bill to safeguard us should prevent that, however it is done. There are other ways of doing that, however, than by underselling manufacturers in this country. It is possible that a country may have more or less of a monopoly in a semi-manufactured article, which is the raw material for many industries in this country. I do not know whether it is possible that Germany, for instance, may have a monopoly in certain qualities of dyes which are raw materials of dye users here. By increasing the price of that raw material they may make it impossible for this country to compete in the further processes of manufacture. That is actually being done in regard to one industry at the present time, the industry engaged in the manufacture of potassium compounds, including muriate, sulphate, car-
bonate, caustic, and other compounds. Some of these compounds are raw material essential to the manufactures of dyes, optical glass, and many other key industries. If supplies of these are not assured us, Part I of the Bill will in some cases be a failure. The base or raw material of all these compounds is potassium chloride. The German manufacturers who before the War had the great monopoly of it, and who at the present time alone have sufficient plant to manufacture it, are charging in this country a price which is four times as great as the price at which they supply this potassium chloride to the manufacturers in their own country. The result is, that it is impossible for manufacturers in this country to go on and manufacture further compounds from this semi-raw material. A corporation, I believe, has been set up in this country, not unconnected with Herr Stinnes, the great octopus of German industry, with the avowed purpose of capturing the potash industry. Seeing that this, in itself, is the key to many of the other industries, I say that here is a case, to use the Minister of Health's words, of sales as a deliberate policy on the part of producers in one country in order to ruin the industry of potassium compounds in this country. There is nothing that I can see in this Bill to meet it, and I hope it will be possible to remedy this in Committee.
In regard to the question of exchanges, it is most unfair for opponents to criticise this Bill as though it were put forward as an effort to set the exchanges right. As I understand it—it is a very difficult question—in ordinary times the exchange goes wrong simply because a country imports a greater value of goods than the value of the exports for which it can find markets, with the consequence that the exchange works as it were like the governor balls of a machine. The value of that country's credit falls in foreign markets, her currency is cheapened, thus reducing the values of her exports until they find markets sufficiently to balance her imports, whereupon the exchange automatically adjusts itself. The exchange is an effect, not a cause. To say we can restore trade by stabilising the exchange is the same thing in my opinion as saying that we cannot always have fine weather by stabilising the barometer. It follows, therefore, that under normal conditions to restrict the exports of a country must necessarily retard the rectifications of the exchange, and if this Bill were to restrict the exports of those countries whose exchanges have gone wrong it would retard their recovery. But there are two comments I wish to make about that. Firstly, so "far as I understand the problem, the exchange in the countries of Europe is debased, not principally on account of the question of balance of exports and imports, but simply because they have been using the printing press to such an extent that no amount of excess of exports over imports will ever bring their present currency up to the value it was before the War. In the second place, this Bill does not prevent those countries exporting. It simply seeks to control the nature of their exports to us. What we say is, "We desire you to pay us for the goods we send you, but you shall not pay us in goods which take the bread out of the mouths of our own people. Pay us in goods which we require. Since this is the only market over which we have any control, you are free to send your other goods to any other markets in the world; we cannot control those." Therefore, the proposals in regard to the exchanges do not retard the recovery of exchange. They may have the same effect on those countries that free imports have on this country. Free competing imports, we are told, may have the effect of causing people to go from one industry to another industry, so that if in these proposals we prevent countries paying us in goods that compete with us, it may compel them to turn to other industries the products of which we do require, and which do not compete with us.
There is the question of imports paying for exports which is dealt with prominently by free traders. The hon. Member for East Renfrew (Mr. Johnstone) said that he was a Coalition Member who would vote against the Bill, and he drew attention to a manifesto sent out by the Free Trade Union. He said that the manifesto had been dealt with far too flippantly and he read one passage which I suppose he regarded as the kernel of the manifesto. As far as I could hear it, it was to this effect: the bankers said that the policy of trying to exclude productions from
other countries could not increase the volume of commerce or employment in this country. That seemed to be the spear point of the attack on the particular duty on imports included in this Bill. In the first place, the Bill does not exclude the productions of other countries. It endeavours only to alter the nature of our imports. In the second place, I will not deal flippantly with the bankers' argument but I will deny it in toto. Let us suppose Birmingham is buying steel rails from America, and the latter country is buying cotton goods from Lancashire. Of course, there is no direct and inevitable connection between the two transactions. The Lancashire exporter does not effect his sale to the Americans because their fellow-countrymen have sold steel rails to Birmingham, but because his cotton goods are cheaper than the cotton goods of his competitors. But suppose the bankers are correct in assuming that if we did not import the steel rails we should necessarily cease to export the cotton goods. If the steel rails are excluded it is because Birmingham is buying them, say, from Middlesbrough instead of from America. But Birmingham does not get them for nothing now any more than before. Goods pay for goods within the borders of a country just as much as they do across those borders. What has happened is that Middlesbrough workers, hitherto unemployed and therefore non-consumers of cotton or any other goods, are now earning wages and spending them on British goods. In the first case you had a set of men employed in America, another in Lancashire, and a set unemployed in Middlesbrough. In the second case you have two sets of British workers employed instead of one, and both the rails and cotton produced in our own country instead of only the cotton goods. Therefore, if this Bill does exclude competitive imports, it will increase the volume of commerce and employment within this country. That seems to me to be obvious. An incapacity to see round the whole of a proposition seems to afflict many critics of this Bill. The hon. Member for the Bridgeton Division of Glasgow (Mr. MacCallum Scott) built up a fanciful argument on the same question. He said that if we keep the goods out they will go somewhere else and rob us of a market. Where will they go? If a tariff keeps them out of this country to what countries will they go where they will not have to meet a tariff?
The hon. Member took it for granted that the goods will there jump the tariff over which they cannot jump into this country. They will take our market abroad, but only by presenting us with a market at our own doors. If the goods come here they will cut out competitors in this country and our men will not get employment. But if they go to a foreign market we shall gain instead a market here in which the whole of the workers are British, and those workers will spend the bulk of their wages on British products. The hon. Member for Oldham (Sir W. Barton) talked about hats, and said it was a fact that at the present time there were a great many men walking about Stockport out of work owing to the importation of foreign hats. The hon. Member added that he did not mind confessing that he wore one of those foreign hats, and he made the confession without any shame, because he said he knew that that import would be paid for by a corresponding export. The hon. Member does not know anything of the sort. The man in the foreign country, whether France or Germany, who sent the hats to this country, sent them, not because there was an export of goods to pay for them, but simply because he thought the buyers' bank balances were good enough to pay for the hats in cash. The man who bought those hats paid for them in cash, and not with a bale of cotton, or a yard of steel rail, or anything else. If the hon. Member had bought a Stockport hat the Stockport men's production would have had to be paid for just the same as the import from abroad; they would have produced British goods to a greater extent, and there would have been two sets of workers employed in this country instead of one. It is a good thing that a majority of the residents of Stockport have forgotten, or have never heard, the old ditty:
Where did you get that hat; where did you get that tile?
Why did the hon. Member buy the foreign hat? The reason why people buy foreign goods is generally that they are cheaper. Why are they cheaper? Is it because of the higher British wages? If so, it can easily be seen how free imports depress wages. Is it because of the high profits? If so, I will put this to hon. Members on the Labour Benches: If goods are dear here because of the high profits being obtained by capitalists, it is a pity that
instead of losing millions of pounds in strikes and disputes, they do not put the same energy and money into acquiring some of these businesses and profits for themselves and producing goods at a cheaper rate. That is the safeguard against high profits. If it is because of high taxation the hon. Member for Oldham is saying, in effect: "You can always escape paying a fair share of taxation in this country by buying foreign goods." The Free Trader's case seems to be that if you have two competing sources of supply and you put a tax on one source, - it is added to the price and falls on the consumer. Not only that, but the price of the remaining source is raised similarly and the increase in this case goes into private pockets. But, I ask you, which source of supply available to us to-day is the most heavily taxed? Is it not the British source? The total value of British goods produced last year could not have exceeded £3,000,000,000. On this production our Government levied, on incomes and wages and in other ways, a tax of over £1,000,000,000. Here is a tax of over 33⅓ per cent. on British goods. It has entered into the cost of production and raised the price of British goods to the consumer, for if taxation is passed to the consumer the name of the tax cannot matter. Our present system then involves a heavy tax on the British source of supply with no corresponding duty on the foreign competing source. It not only makes it difficult to compete abroad, but helps to exclude British manufacturers from their own home market.
The right hon. Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes) said what seemed to me well worth studying. He stated that every restriction imposed, whether financial or otherwise, was something tending, not to enlarge but to diminish the chances of employment and to make employment worse than it was before. He was dealing with the taxes upon the goods which compete with labour in this country. Trade is competitive and always will remain so while the wives of Labour Members and, of course, the rest of us walk from one shop window to another to see where they can get the best value for their money. There will always be competition to supply the cheapest goods. Restrictions imposed on trade are not confined to import duties. The hon. Member said that every restriction on trade, whether financial or otherwise, diminished the chance of employment. Seeing that employment in this country depends upon our goods finding a market in competition with the goods of other countries, does it not follow that all the various devices by which the Labour party are forcing up the cost of production must have a tendency to cause us to lose trade and throw more and more of our workers out of employment? The Labour party themselves, both politically and industrially, have caused a great deal of unemployment. I do not think this will last very much longer. I do not think the workers will allow their own best interests to be so misrepresented. We hear men saying what will happen if some workers dare to accept employment at 25 per cent. below the rate of wages fixed by a trade union, and saying in the same breath that nothing must be done to interfere with the free competition of goods made by the workers in other countries who may be accepting 50 per cent. less than the wages demanded in this country. The position is illogical and cannot be maintained. I have endeavoured to deal with some of the general arguments put forward by opponents of the Bill, but I say, in conclusion, as I said at the opening, that if I were voting as on a question of Tariff Reform v. Free Trade, I am not sure I would not vote against the Bill because it is an incomplete Measure and may do more harm than good to the general cause of Tariff Reform. But as an ad hoc Measure it deals with a form of competition which nobody on any side of the House can defend, namely, the competition of dumping, and therefore I am going to support it as a Measure to deal with a particular problem.
We have had the privilege of listening to an extremely able elucidation of what in past generations was known as "the mercantile theory." The hon. Member who last spoke has been in the past secretary of the Tariff Reform League of Lancashire. I begin to understand the strenuous adherence of that great county as a whole to the cause of Free Trade. I must say when I came to the House this afternoon, it was beyond my wildest hopes of enjoyment that I should listen to a speech so replete with every antique fallacy as that of the hon. Gentleman. It really makes one almost happy to learn that there exists in this House any hon. Member who thinks that we in this country can all be perfectly prosperous and happy by the simple process of confining ourselves to living by taking in each other's washing.
The hon. Member did not put it in those words, but those words, I submit, are a perfectly correct interpretation of what he had in his mind and of what he actually said. He said that Free Traders imagined that if they admitted imports they were paid for by corresponding exports. I do not think he challenged that. But then he said if you keep out imports something far better than making exports will be done by the people of this country. They will be making the imports. That is turning the clock of progress backwards. Has the hon. Member never heard of the division of labour? Why do the people of this country import at all? Because the people of this country, wiser than the Government of this country, or the hon. Member's Tariff Reform League, know what they want and what is good for them. They use that free access to the markets of the world which the law at present allows them and of which the hon. Member wishes to deprive them. If the hon. Member's theory were true nothing would be more useless than the shipping industry which brings goods to our shores. It would be quite unnecessary, because, as he admits, there would also be no goods to carry from our shores to other countries. The reductio ad absurdum of his contention will appear to him if he presses it a little further. I will not deal with the well known case of oranges and grapes. He will no doubt have considered that in the past. But if he presses his contentions in those directions it will be obvious to him before he goes very far that he has reached the entirely novel conclusion that it would be much better for this country to have no foreign trade at all. What is the real position? How far are we drifting from the realities of the situation? Here is a little island of 40,000,000, and what proportion of that population could be kept alive if the theory of the hon. Member was followed out? It has been said to Coalition Liberals that they are bound by pledges in this matter. Yet so far as we Coalition Liberals are concerned there have been occasions when great liberal measures have been proposed from the Front Bench and we have gone through the humiliation of seeing them killed by the hon. Member and his friends, and when we have gone through that humiliation we have had sufficient self-restraint not to accuse them of a breach of the pledges which they gave at the General Election to support the Government.
I suggest no imputation against the hon. Member personally, but I do suggest that there have been cases when such Measures as I mention—[HON. MEMBERS: "What Measure?"] Where is what was known as Dr. Addison's Housing Scheme, which was first allowed to creep through this House and then to crawl through Committee and finally to be buried under the ridicule of its supposed friends? Have there not been other occasions on which the hon. Member and his Friends, for whom I have the greatest respect, have used with great freedom the right of free conscientious opinion which they seek now to deny to Coalition Liberals? Where in the election pledges is there the least scrap of authority for a Bill of this sort? Where in that supposed pledge is there a single word, for instance, about collapsed exchanges? Yet the part of the Bill to which Coalition Liberals unanimously object is the part favoured by the hon. Member and his Friends, and we are taunted that if we oppose it we have broken a pledge. With regard to key industries, I am quite in agreement with him that the question is not one which can be argued entirely on the old lines of Protection and Free Trade. I do not know that there is any Free Trader, not even the hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) who denies that if an industry is essential to the defence of the country in times of war you are bound to make economic sacrifices to preserve it. I admit that, but nobody ever suggested at the time of the General Election that it was to be made the excuse for planting on this country a 33⅓ per cent. tariff, a tariff so high that Mr. Joseph Chamberlain in his palmiest days never dreamt of it. We Coalition Liberals are also taunted with not having suggested an alternative. The hon. Member who suggested that must be a Rip Van Winkle. Has he never heard of the Committee of Coalition Liberals which sat repeatedly to consider this question, and had the great privilege of having an extremely fair and courteous hearing from the Prime Minister? What was the alternative proposal which we put forward and which he has never heard of? We proposed that where it was proved that an industry was, in the true sense, a key industry it should be assisted directly by the Government. Does he realise the tremendous number of industries which require these key products as their raw material to enable them to compete effectively with the rest of the word? Does he realise the enormous number which require free access to the markets of the world so that they may compete with countries abroad? There was a still further suggestion put forward by the right hon. Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) that where these industries are really essential, they should be run by the State. Either of these alternatives might have been taken by the Government, and in adopting either of them the Government would have the unanimous support of the wing of the Coalition to which I have the honour to belong. The course which has been taken is one far more pleasing to secretaries of Tariff Reform Leagues, because it introduces the insidious principle of a high tariff.
I have not made any suggestion that my hon. Friend has not been better engaged as well as more gallantly engaged since the War started. I do not desire to follow him very much further. I agree with him when he says that the ex-changes are mere barometers. It surely follows, however, that this Bill is an attempt to make the weather fair by interfering with the barometer. I do not differ from him in his definition of dumping as a real concerted plan to capture an industry, but I would respectfully call his attention to the fact that there is not a single word about that definition in this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman the Pre- sident of the Board of Education, the Gamaliel at whose feet I sat at Oxford years ago, made an extremely sound speech, but I could not trace in it any rampageous enthusiasm either for the Bill or the principle which it enshrines. He made an extremely good speech, which shows that at heart he is still a Free Trader. He said in effect that dumping was a persistent, concerted attempt of foreign producers, by selling in this country below the cost of production, to stamp out and gain possession of a branch of British industry. Let me call his attention to the fact that not a single item in that very excellent definition is contained in the Bill which he supports. There is nothing whatever in the Bill about the introduction of these goods in substantial quantities or about a real plan to extinguish a British industry. There is not any word either about the cost of production, or, rather, the cost of production is so defined as to mean something which is entirely different. Take a country with a very high tariff. One of the curses of that tariff is that the people of that country have got to pay an enormously enhanced price for the goods which are produced there. A certain article is produced in a factory, say, in France, where there is a high tariff. The fortunate manufacturer is able to sell that article hugely above the cost of production. The wholesale price at that factory is vastly in excess of the cost of production, because he has the advantage of a high tariff, and my right hon. Friend will bear with me when I point out to him that one of the great disadvantages of his Bill is that by its operation the burden of the tariff of every country in the world is fixed upon the broad back "of the British consumer, because the cost of production is not the criterion. The criterion is the wholesale price, which may be a totally inflated wholesale price by reason of foreign tariffs, and that is the criterion which my right hon. Friend seeks to defend.
I greatly regret that my right hon. Friend the Member for the City of London did not frankly say that on the constitutional point alone he was going to vote against this Bill. As I understand it, he attached great importance to the constitutional point that we are doing something derogatory to the House of Commons. I would go so far as to say we are
making a deliberate attack on the rights of democracy when we hand over to an executive whose powers are already swollen as a result of the War the power to intervene in regions which generations of constitutional statesmen have regarded as sacred and to impose taxes without the consent of Parliament. It is true that the Order is to lie upon the Table, but what chance has the House, when the Government takes all its time, to prevent these taxes being put into operation? The taxes are to be conceived in secret in the Board of Trade to the music of the tramp of interested parties up and down the stairs, and then they will be presented to the representatives of the people as a fait accompli. We are taking a grave step. We are introducing into this country a danger which has marked the politics of every protectionist country in the world. We have seen the bombardment of circulars, of samples, and of exhibitions which have been going on already, and surely that teaches us a lesson. What is the distinguishing mark of this country as a political entity? It is the signal purity of its politics, and now we are going down the path, followed by every protectionist country, where the favour of legislators is sought by traders for the purposes of private gain. There is no end to that except corruption, but, far short of corruption, there is the insidious danger of very plausible, and powerful, and argumentative people being able so to concentrate the mind of legislators and officials and Ministers upon one little branch of industry that the interests of the great whole outside are forgotten. I think it is a very good thing that, when we have got legislation of this kind, we have at the Board of Trade a man not only of honesty but of great courage and ability, but I would take leave to remind him of this, in the words of Macaulay—
No man is fit to hold high office in the State who hesitates to disoblige the few who have access to him for the sake of the many whom he will never see,"—
who are the great dumb British public that stands outside and that hardly knows now what is being done in its name. At the very moment when it is said it is necessary to lower wages you are by legislation propping up prices. There will come some day a reckoning, and those of us who, although we have followed and still follow the Government, have taken our stand against this Bill will never regret that we have done so, but the people will call to a
reckoning those men who prescribe tariffs and interferences with trade for a disease which can only be alleviated or cured by following the stern road of hard work and strict economy, and of European peace.
We have just listened to a speech which reminds one of old times, but it is not my intention to follow the hon. Member in his reference to the fact that he was a student under the right hon. Gentleman who is now the Minister of Education. It is difficult for men who have talked for years theoretically and not perhaps come into practical business to understand how the subject of this Bill will actually work in commerce. I have had the privilege of trading with many countries in many products, in raw materials, in semi-manufactured goods, and in finished goods, and my first experience in travelling into foreign countries on business was a deep sense of real indignation that the British people were never fairly treated in the countries that I went to. I used to be amazed to find that here at home no cognizance was taken of the unfair way in which foreign Governments tried continually to keep out the products of British commerce. My indignation often grows to considerable heights, and although, as far as my own business was concerned, absolute free trade all over the world would have been my ideal, I recognised that for the employment of our own people at home we must use our influence and our power to extract fair treatment from those with whom we traded. During this War, if we learned one thing we learned this, that the best line of defence was attack, and I say that in the matter of these tariffs to-day the best line of defence for the employment of our people at home is to attack those who, by chance or by Government action, take unfair advantage of us. We have practically said to the world in the trade race, "We are so strong and so great that we will start from scratch in this race, or wherever you like to put us; you can handicap us in any way you like, but we will win in the end." I am a profound believer in the power and skill of the British worker, but I believe there are limits where the best runner and the finest racer can be put out of the race.
I remember being told at the Grand National once, when I backed the horse that I knew was the best horse, that I was a fool. I was told, "Don't you know that the handicapping committee has handicapped him out of the race by putting on an enormous weight because he has won so many races before?" The English workman is in that position to-day. He has won in the trade race, and the other handicapping committees have tried to handicap him cut of the race, and now that I am a Member of this House of Commons, which is really the Handicapping Committee of this country, I say that I for one was astounded when the Leader of the Labour party last night made his impassioned speech here in this House, that we were to continue the free import of foreign manufactured goods into this country. I do not believe the right hon. Gentleman will be backed by 10 per cent. of the skilled artisans of this country when it is stated that he is in favour of every single artisan in the world sending his finished products to replace our British workers here without any voice in this handicapping. If we are on a handicapping committee, and if we try and do what is just and fair, we should not follow the advice of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Labour party. The Minister of Education talked of competition. I believe in competiton, and I want to see competition, but I want to see it with equal opportunities on both sides, and I want to see fair conditions established. This Bill is the beginning of the establishment of some form of fair conditions on different sides. We are, first of all, handicapping our own workmen, who in the years gone by, through unfair competition, were handicapped out of the race of the manufacture of these key industries, and we are going to say, "We will put you in a position to win in this race."
Then we come to what is an accident, namely, the depreciation of the foreign exchanges. Here, again, there was no object of an evil-minded person upsetting the exchanges which had remained for so long as customary here in London, where the great international exchanges were arranged. It was some strange turn of the War that seemed to throw out of gear what had been built up 50 or 100 years before, and none of our economists are able to tell us just how or why the German exchange, which stood at 20 marks to the sovereign, is to-day 240 marks to the sovereign. It cannot be any great difference in their imports and exports. There must be something much deeper and more far-reaching than that, or some of our economists would have found what was the basic cause of the fact that the exchanges of the world have, as the Minister of Health said, become a Bedlam, because it becomes a Bedlam owing to the rapid, Strange movements that are taking place every week. I do not pretend to say I have found a solution for these fluctuations in the foreign exchanges, but one thing I am quite certain about is that the cause of the depression of these exchanges is very much wrapped up in the fact that the gold reserves that these countries had have, disappeared in proportion to the amount of paper money they have issued. Hon. Members on either side of the House say that the secret of the exchange is the export of goods against the import of goods. We had that before, but we had a medium. When one country internationally was either a debtor or a creditor to another country, they had to send a medium to correct that adverse balance.
To-day the gold in every country is so locked up that no one will allow it to be moved, and having burned up so much of our actual wealth during the War, we must find some other means of enabling the countries of the world to pay their debit balances without sending goods in such form as the other countries will accept. Until we can find such a medium I say there is no hope of these foreign exchanges getting right, and when hon. Members such as the Minister of Education say it is only a question of time and patience and the exchange will come right, I say that argument has no basis of fact. I do not believe when Germany imports and exports exactly the same quantity of goods that her exchange will get normal again. One deficiency of this Bill is this. Many of us were talking over the matter before the Bill was framed, and we were very strong on one point, and that was this, that if the duty to be imposed automatically changes as the exchange moves up or down, it would be in the interest of every Government to get back to a normal exchange. It has been shown to-day that while the German mark remains at 240, while her people are seriously inconvenienced in certain ways, they are greatly actuated to keep the exchange where it is, because they obtain such an enormous advantage in the exports of products grown or produced by their own labour out of their own soil. That being so, we in our Acts of Parliament ought to try and so word them that the moment the German exchange is back to 120 half of the duty shall disappear, and as soon as the balance of the exchange becomes the normal 20 marks to the sovereign the duty shall be wiped out of the Statute Book altogether. I do not see anything in this Bill which will act automatically and act as an inducement to Germany or any other country working with a depreciated exchange to try and get back to a state of normal exchange. If those countries had that in view they would stop the issue of the excess amount of paper money. They would tax their people more heavily, and the result would be that the cost of production in those countries would rapidly enhance, and if the cost of production rapidly enhances, then their power to fight us and depreciate our labour would be greatly reduced. It is for us in our legislation to say to those people: "We will give you a certain standing in our markets, and you shall have a much better standing in our markets the moment you put your house in order, the moment you get this exchange, which has puzzled all the economists of the world as to cause and effect and effect and cause, put right."
I appeal to the Members here who represent labour to realise that if there is one thing that all of us are keen about it is to preserve in this country a high rate of wage consistent with the best living possible to the artisan and the skilled workman. But if they claim that the product of the man in Germany who is receiving 5d. or 6d. an hour shall come in here without any bar and compete with the goods for which we are paying 2s. an hour to the same class of labour, then they are not the friends of the artisans and skilled workers of this country, and I feel absolutely certain of this, that never will the men who uphold such a policy have in this House of Commons a working majority.
A considerable number of Members in speaking to-day have referred to the fact that this is not really a Debate in which the issues of Free Trade and Protection are joined, but if some of the more recent speeches are any criterion I would say we have to-day a real Free Trade versus Protection Debate. If I required any further conviction on that point, two speeches would have convinced me—one from the hon. Member for Farnworth (Captain Bagley) and the other, that which has just been delivered by the hon. Member for East Birkenhead (Mr. Bigland). They were both cold-blooded protectionist speeches, and I am quite sure they are ready to admit that. They are both protectionists, and they take this particular view, and I respect them for coming out so clearly into the open when the issues in the Bill are supposed to be so obscure. There have been several remarkable speeches made in this Debate. We had a new economic doctrine broached by the hon. Member for Chippenham (Mr. G. Terrell) who told us that no longer did exports pay for imports and that no longer did the consumer pay the duty. I would like very much if my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade would comment quite frankly on the utterances of the Member for Chippenham. I feel it would not only be a relief to the President of the Board of Trade, but it would convey certain very necessary information to the hon. Member himself. We had another remarkable speech from the President of the Board of Education. He seemed to me like a lonely mariner upon an uncharted sea, making very heavy weather. Had he continued very much longer I think he would have hoisted some kind of signal of distress and asked for some help to conclude his extraordinary argument in support of his Bill. He certainly conveyed to the House that he was speaking for this Bill, not from the point of view of a convinced believer, but rather from the point of view of an advocate in the court who is not quite sure whether the prisoner is guilty or whether he is innocent. He made no reply whatever to the brilliant speech delivered by my right hon. Friend the Member for Moray (Sir A. Williamson). That speech, in which much expert criticism was offered, in my judgment riddled the Bill, and I did expect some more serious notice would have been taken of it by the Minister of Education.
It has been stated in the House that we Coalition Liberals have a certain responsibility regarding the Measure now before the House, and I agree we have. For two and a half years we have been able to give a general report to the Government, and sometimes we have been asked to compromise on certain Measures. To those who are shocked at compromise, I would respectfully say the history of politics is very largely the history of compromise. But the time comes in a question of this sort when we must ask ourselves, at the parting of the ways in our fiscal system, whether there is any possible ground of compromise at all. Let me refer for a few minutes to what the issues really are which concern us. We are asked to deal with three different subjects, and on two of those subjects we Coalition Liberals made certain pledges at the last General Election. Those pledges referred to key industries and to dumping, but those two particular points have been so fully dealt with by my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. A. Shaw) that I do not require to detain the House by referring to them at any length. Let me say a word about key industries. It is common ground that the safety of the country must be assured, and we are all willing to pay the necessary insurance premium to make that result reasonably certain. This House of Commons has never refused supplies for the adequate defence of this country, and we Coalition Liberals who object to the particular methods adopted in this Bill are fully alive to the paramount necessity of safeguarding the industries of this country which are necessary for the safety of the country in wartime. If we do disagree, and I do, it is on a question of method. We have been taunted with the idea that we have put up no alternative proposal, but that point also has been fully dealt with by my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock, and I shall leave that where it is. But I am bound to say this list of key industries is to me a somewhat perplexing one. We were told nothing about what constituted a key industry in 1918, and I did not expect a list of this particular nature. I am not, however, a military expert, and for the purpose of this Bill I accept the Schedule generally. In spite of the fact that the President of the Board of Trade and others have waved the subsidy to one side, we Coalition Liberals still adhere to that method of safeguarding key industries, and not only by subsidy, but subsidy with conditions. We have laid it down—for what it is worth—that subsidies should be allowed to necessary key industries, but that the profits of the firms engaged in those industries should be limited. Otherwise we are exposing the public and all consumers of these particular articles made by key industries to unfair penalties.
There is one key industry on which I wish to say a few words. In the list we have arc-lamp carbons specified. I wish to draw the attention of the Board of Trade to this particular item. I saw a day or two ago the prospectus of the General Electric Company asking for £3,500,000 sterling new mortgage debenture stock. This company, I am informed, is the sole company for the manufacture of arc-lamp carbons in this country, possessing a complete monopoly of this most important industry. They are to have the benefit of the 33⅓ per cent. protective duty. Judging by the prospectus issued during the last few days they do not seem to me to stand in any particular need of protection. I shall not weary the House by giving figures, except to say that in 1915 the profits of the General Electric Company were £126,000 and in 1920 they were £637,000 net profits. I do not know, but the production of arc-lamp carbons must be considerable. What are arc-lamp carbons used for? They are used by municipalities largely for street lighting purposes. They are used in the photographic business, and in the cinema business. I do suggest that it is an unfair handicap on the consumers of the products of the General Electric Company that this company should be placed in this favoured position. It seems to be forgotten by the Government that the articles specified in this list are not only necessary for war purposes, but for ordinary peace-time activities. It is unfair that we in this House should create a kind of commercial aristocracy; to place a certain number of firms in this charmed circle is, to my mind, quite unfair to the ordinary traders who have to earn their profits in the ordinary way. The result is clearly seen. Every morning brings me letters from certain firms who claim that they also are key industries and ought to be included in this favoured circle.
I have not the slightest objection to the Government taking over any industry which is really necessary for the purposes of war. It may be that this list is considered a war list; but I cannot recall at the moment a single industry in the country which was not necessary for the prosecution of the War. It is quite possible that in order to make assurance doubly sure that certain of these industries should be taken over, but I do object to them being placed in this specially favoured position. If fiscal changes are necessary they should arise out of stern economic necessity and not be inspired by political considerations. I do still feel that in the Bill which is now before us an attempt is being made, not because our industries are really in danger, to satisfy all sides of the House with a sort of milk-and-water fiscal change which at the present time satisfies neither side of the House.
I want to say a single word about dumping. I am sorry my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health is not here. My hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock has referred to the fact that at Oxford ht sat at the feet of Gamaliel. If there is one man more than another whom I receive more mental pabulum from on the fiscal question it is from my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health. His Free Trade speeches were much more convincing that his speeches in the House in favour of this Bill. I also remember the illustration he used about dumping in a famous speech. He talked scornfully about dumping. Dumping, he said, and its discovery resembled a blind man in a dark room looking for a black hat which was not there! The illustration was not original on his part, but it expressed his views at that time. I am not aware that dumping is taking place in this country at the present time, but if it is I am prepared to deal with it on the lines laid down in the Prime Minister's letter to the former Leader of the House. We are told that we are not keeping our pledges. I say that the definition of dumping which we are now asked to accept was not in the bond. The definition—and I should like some reply about this when my hon. Friend opposite speaks later—the definition of dumping laid down in the letter was "the cost of production in the country of origin."
I do not consider that the Government are acting fairly in asking us to accept, and without explanation, the new definition. Possibly some concession may be made on this point, but in any case so long as that definition remains I for one decline to accept the conditions of the Bill. Just a single word about collapsed exchanges. I admit at once how difficult and complex is this whole subject. I am not sure that we shall ever see a return to pre-War parity of exchange in our time, but if it is to come it cannot be by the methods adopted in this Bill. The President of the Board of Trade has told us that he looks for a return of prosperity to the world when there is a rectification of the exchanges. But if we adopt the provisions of this Bill we are doing nothing to accelerate but every-thing to retard the rectification of the ex-changes. I cannot see how, from the point of view of getting the exchanges back to anything like normal, that, the provisions of this Bill can be logically defended.
I wish to take a perfectly and moderate view of the position now before the House. I have never been what is called an ethical Free Trader. I have always regarded our economic system as admirably suited to our particular wants and necessities. I have never considered that there is anything immoral about tariffs, either for revenue or Protectionist purposes. They may lead to corrupt practices of all kinds, but I have always regarded them as prejudicial to our real trade interests. I see no hope for the return of our country to prosperity along the lines of this Bill. We have a hard road to travel, but I am quite content to pin my faith to the native commercial genius of this country to find a way out if the Government will leave us alone.
The fact is that this country requires in many ways to wake up. There is a common idea in the minds of many that the winning of the War was to usher in a kind of new Utopia in which we should all eat, drink, and be merry and do as little work as possible. The very reverse is the case. The real hard fact staring us in the face as the result of this War is that as a nation we are infinitely poorer and we have to work infinitely harder. I sometimes wish that my friends in this House not only on these benches but on the Labour Benches would be courageous enough to state this fact. The hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. Graham), who spoke last night, was perfectly right when he said that our only hope for a return to normal times was by production, and to my mind that is the only way. What we want above all else to-day is to reduce the cost of production, and this Bill will achieve the very opposite result.
We speak about collapsed exchanges, and we are going to protect our own markets at home. But where is the real damage being done by collapsed exchanges? It is not here, but in the neutral markets of the world. Does the Government contend for one moment that this Bill will help that condition of things by one iota. I have heard in commercial circles that the neutral markets of the world are slipping from our grasp. The only way that I can see to regain or retain those markets is not by methods of this kind, but by a return to something like normal conditions on the part of capital and labour in this country. Capital and labour at the present time seemed to be ranged up against each other to destroy each other, and what we want more than anything else to-day is to realise that both sides in the unfortunate conflict that is going on have to make a common sacrifice to the good of the country. I feel that if we could get back to the spirit even of 1913 we should find measures of this kind altogether unnecessary, and we should soon regain some of the lost years of the War. One of the lessons of the War is that it is not by the imposition of trade restrictions that we are going to recover, but rather by their abolition, and by whatever measures we realise that fact, and realise that we all have to work as we have never done before, we shall regain what we have lost and prevent the interference with our commercial prosperity and the fettering of our development which this Bill tries to invoke.
I have either listened to or read almost every speech which has been made since the Financial Resolutions were first introduced in connection with this subject. What has rather puzzled me has been why so many hon. Members thought it necessary to follow the old beaten track of the pre-War fiscal controversy, with the result that the wheels of their oratory were so apt to get into the Free Trade rut on the one side or the Tariff Reform rut on the other. That is a pity, because, although there may be points in connection with the key industries and dumping which are contrary to the strict gospel of Free Trade, there are, in my humble opinion, far more points which are contrary to the principles of Tariff Reform. Therefore I cannot help regarding this as a Bill which we should consider, not in the light of our pre-War convictions, but rather in the light of the conditions as they now stand.
I have noticed that great indignation has been caused by the speeches of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who have left one side or the other of the fiscal controversy and have come into the middle of the road, so to speak, and have frankly expressed their change of opinion in view of the changed conditions, and they, like the Minister of Health, have been taunted with inconsistency. I would like to submit that the most inconsistent people in the world are the people who maintain the same views although the foundations of the world have altered and conditions have entirely changed. To do that is not consistency, but what some of my hon. Friends would call rank Toryism. I cannot imagine any more hard-shelled folly than to say, "We will not change our opinions, although everything has changed, and we will reproach those who venture to say that as conditions have altered they have altered their opinions." If I were speaking as a Tariff Reformer, which I am not, because I am now endeavouring to speak in an impartial manner, I should pour a great many criticisms upon this Bill. I should say it was unscientific, and I should use many strong words in regard to it. To-night, however, I would merely like to point out that if this Bill is not a Free Trade measure it certainly is not a Tariff Reform measure, and that is a point which should be clearly laid down and accepted by all sides.
I propose now to leave any further references to the key industries and dumping and turn to the most important part of the Bill, that is, the part which relates to the collapsed exchanges. May I point out that the question of these collapsed exchanges cannot possibly have anything to do with the old fiscal controversy, or with either Free Trade or Protection, as we understand that term, for the simple reason that the high priests of economics on both sides, men whose teachings we revere, were never able to conceive, in fact they could not possibly dream of a European war which would so dislocate the exchanges that the German mark would only be worth one penny. It was inconceivable, and consequently all the teachings which we have imbibed on one side or another from the great economists whom we revere do not touch this case. What use is it for anyone to say that the proposals in this Bill in connection with exchanges are contrary to the doctrines of Cobden? How could Cobden or any other great economist possibly have foreseen the conditions which we have to face to-day?
It has been claimed that we in this country have always been able to face foreign competition, to meet it and to beat it. That is true. It is our proud boast. But may I point out that the competition which we then met and beat was not the competition which we have to meet to-day. It was then a natural and normal competition; but the competition which has to be faced by our industries to-day is neither natural nor normal, it is artificial and abnormal. Therefore we cannot go back on the lessons of the past and say that because we were able to beat certain competition in days gone by that for that reason we shall be able to meet and beat this new and much more serious form of competition. I have great faith in British industry and in British workers, but I feel that if we do not help them in any way, and if we expose them to the full fury of this storm of artificial and abnormal competition, if we ask them to meet it and beat it as in the past, we are asking of them something which it is impossible for man to perform. I think perhaps the main fear entertained by hon. and right hon. Members in regard to the provisions of this Bill is that they may render things less cheap than they are, and may lead to an increase in prices. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen to whom I refer want cheapness. So do I. I would, however, like to submit to the House that there are two kinds of cheapness—temporary cheapness, which leads to ultimately permanent dearness, and a permanent level of comparative cheapness, which, on the whole, is best for all.
If we allow our industries to be killed there will then be no competition in this country against the foreign supplier. What will be the result? What is the result in any market if there is no home competition against those who send in goods from abroad? The foreign manufacturers will be able to put up their prices as high as they like, because they will have obtained a monopoly in our market, and that will lead to higher prices. My belief is that if we do not do what we can now to keep our industries alive we shall find that over an average of years we have paid more for our goods than we should have paid had we gone to some trouble, and taken some risks, and even incurred some expenditure, in order to keep our home industries alive. We all know that once an industry dies it is a very difficult matter to resuscitate it. Industries take a long time to grow, and, once they die, are difficult to revive. Speaking as a consumer, and representing a constituency where there is very little production, a constituency mainly of consumers, I have no hesitation in saying that I will support this Bill, not only from the point of view of the producer, but from the point of view of the consumer. I believe that it will tend towards economy in the long run.
I hope I have not been unduly eulogistic of this Bill. I can quite see its disadvantages as well as its advantages. As a business man of long experience, I have frequently been in a position in which I have had to weigh the balance of advantage and disadvantage, and to find out on which side the balance of advantage lies. I have found, too, that although the balance may be very much on one side there is nearly always a fly in the ointment. To-day, after considering this matter, as I have done for many months—I think the Overseas Minister knows that I began to study it at the same time as he did, and that I have devoted a great deal of study to it with no partisan feeling in favour of Protection. In fact I was never less a Protectionist in my life than I am now—after weighing all the advantages and disadvantages I have come to the conclusion that the balance of advantage lies in the direction indicated in the Bill we are considering, and although I do not think it is a perfect measure, although I agree it might be improved, still on account of this balance of advantage I intend to vote for it.
I am afraid I cannot hope to add anything very new to this-Debate, but I should like, with the permission of the House, to occupy a few minutes in making clear my attitude towards this Bill. I would like, in the first place, to join with my hon. Friends the Members for Kilmarnock and Dun- fermline in their protest, mild it may be, but none the less sincere, as to the statements against Coalition Liberals with regard to supposed pledges. I take it that with Coalition Liberals, as with members of all other parties, when a man comes to this House he owes his first duty to his conscience and then to his constituency. The speech of the hon. Member (Mr. Pennefather) revealed a refreshing width of view. He said, and rightly, that every man was entitled to change his opinion, and that it was very often wise to do so. With that I thoroughly agree, because, important as I believe freedom of trade to be, I consider freedom of opinion to be very much more important. I have always a very considerable regard for the man who changes his opinion, and personally I should be pleased to see a good many Members of this House change their opinions, so that they might come round to my point of view; but I have no complaint or reproach to make that we have in the House the Minister of Health advocating views which to some of us may seem strange, but which, we have no doubt, he holds for the time being with as strong a conviction as he held opposite opinions some years ago. We all admire his great ability, and I think we are rather of opinion, from his attitude towards this Bill, that his present position is due to a merely temporary aberration, and that he will not go very much further down the primrose path without realising that he is getting into rather doubtful company. I think he would have been not a little astonished, if not dismayed, had he been in the House this afternoon, and heard the interpretation put upon this very small Bill, as he calls it, by some of those who have spoken here. I admit, however, that every man has a right to change his opinions, and I admire the courage of those who express such a change; but one cannot but think that there are certain other Members of the Government who have not taken the opportunity of making it quite as clear as they might do why they have so changed their opinions. One must always, however, allow for circumstances, and I daresay the view from the interior of a Cabinet is much more limited than is possible in the larger atmosphere of personal and unofficial freedom.
With regard to key industries, I think there is no difference of opinion among hon. Members in any part of the House. The safety of the Realm comes first; of that there is no question. The important question is, how are these interests to be safeguarded; and under this head we must ask, firstly, what are the key industries which we propose to safeguard? I am not qualified to criticise the contents of the Schedule. That is a matter for expert opinion. But I would point out that at no time can the key industries of the country be regarded as stable and fixed, either in number or in quality. Key industries must vary from day to day with the advance of scientific discovery, and if this country does not take steps to keep itself in the van of scientific research and discovery, then it will find that it has not made provision for the demands of the future by safeguarding simply the interests which are scheduled here and now. Therefore, I would ask that the President of the Board of Trade, who will have this matter in charge, should have an inquiry made into the technical teaching resources of this country. I believe he will, find that to be a much better safeguard than can be found by anything in the nature of a tariff. There was a very significant passage in the speech of the President of the Board of Tarde yesterday. It was to the effect that he hoped to set up a Committee which would investigate from time to time how the application of this tariff was working, and that if that Committee found that progress was not being made, then certain articles could be removed from the Schedule. If I may say so, with all respect to the President of the Board of Trade, that seems to me to give away the whole case. If an industry is a key industry, it must be preserved at all costs; otherwise, the Government is doing what the President of the Board of Trade said no Government would dare to do, namely, playing fast-and-loose with the real interests of the country. I am afraid, however, that the result of finding that an industry has not made the progress which had been hoped for and, perhaps, anticipated, will be, not that that industry will be cut out of the Schedule, but that it will be still further safeguarded by an increased tariff.
I may also say why I propose to vote against this Bill on account of its pro- posals with regard to key industries. The question arises, not only what are key industries, but how are they to be safe-guarded? I believe that the method of this part of the Bill is entirely wrong. The President of the Board of Education said that he had been converted from the subsidy proposal to the proposal of the Bill owing to the difficulties which attach to the giving of subsidies. There are difficulties take it which way you please, and on the whole I believe, as I understand many hon. Members on this side of the House believe, that the safer way is that a subsidy should be given to particular industries for a particular time, and that there should be a certain measure of Government control. By the other method there is a danger of corruption and of one section of the community benefiting at the expense of the whole. With regard to dumping, it is not necessary for me to enlarge, beyond saying that we who are opposed to this Bill feel that the question has not been put before us in the terms which we have a right to expect. Dumping, as has been said time and again, is essentially an organised attack on a particular industry for a nefarious purpose—very probably for the killing of that industry and the reaping of a reward in higher prices. Those are not the terms in which dumping is defined in this Bill, and therefore, even supposing that some of us had been pledged—personally I was not—to the terms of the Prime Minister's letter, I feel that there is no disloyalty on the part of some of my Coalition Liberal colleagues in their taking exception to the proposal here made. Apart altogether, however, from the definition of dumping, my objection is on the constitutional ground that the power is taken away from this House of deciding what taxation shall be imposed. We have had depicted already what will happen in the way of industries seeking to be protected on the ground of the allegation of unfair dumping. I am convinced that on the general principle tariffs of whatever kind are a source of corruption. Sometimes they are of such a slight character as not to lead to anything of that sort, but when Protection is applied to one industry and not to another, I think corruption in some insidious form is the sure and certain result. We have too many Government Departments already, and I should be very sorry indeed if under this Bill it were possible to set up what we might call a Patronage Department, because there would be much of that going on. On the point of collapsed exchanges, I never professed to understand much of the theory of exchanges or their relation one to another, and after the two days' Debate to which I have listened I have not the slightest expectation of ever being able to understand it. I feel pretty sure, however, that this Bill, on the ground of the statements made by its supporters, is not likely to accomplish very much because the arguments used by its supporters, it seems to me, have been mutually destructive. Having regard to the proposed method of dealing with key industries, and what I consider the retrograde and bureaucratic proposal of taking out of the hands of this House and putting into the hands of a Committee the imposition of a tariff, I feel I shall be quite justified in giving my vote against the Bill as it now stands.
I do not want to give a silent vote against the Bill or to abstain from voting without some explanation. I look on it with the utmost suspicion, and I might almost say dislike. Nothing that has happened during or since the War has in the slightest degree shaken my faith in the efficacy of Free Trade. There has been a good deal of talk to-day as to whether this is a Free Trade Debate or not, and there has been much splitting of hairs as to what one means by Free Trade. By Free Trade I mean free imports, and I have not the slightest doubt of the efficacy of free imports as the best method of obtaining the greatest good for the greatest number of people of the country. I am more convinced since the War than I was before of the injury to trade and to the community in general which is wrought by restrictive enactments, of which we have already seen too many, and by protective barriers. As regards the first part of the Bill, which deals with key industries, like other supporters of the Government, I am of course more or less pledged—I do not know that I ever gave an actual pledge, but I am, without being pledged, quite prepared to consider any methods which can preserve and sustain—I believe those were the words used in the Manifesto—those key industries. This country can never be self-supporting. The chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Therefore, of course, if by key industries one means everything necessary in time of war, protection of key industries means protection of everything which is necessary in time of war. If by key industries we mean things which we specially found ourselves short of during the late War—of course they might not be the same in future wars—I am quite prepared to stand by any pledge I gave, and I should rejoice if those key industries could be preserved by any means which would not inflict more injury on the community than benefit by their preservation. I am not satisfied, and I do not think any of those who speak from the same platform as I do are satisfied, that a protective tariff is the best means of accomplishing that end. I should very much prefer that that end should be accomplished by means of a subsidy, greatly as I dislike subsidies, and as we all do.
When we come to Part 2, we find that the prevention of dumping is intermingled, or, at any rate, joined together with the question of collapsed exchanges. As regards dumping, so far as we have heard in the course of this Debate and the Debate on the Financial Resolutions, not the slightest evidence was adduced that there was dumping. The Minister for Education mentioned the single case of dumping which the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Asquith) discovered in a very notable exhibition which was held not far from this House. That single exception, which he appeared to think constituted a good and sufficient reason why measures should be taken to protect this country against dumping, came from a country with an appreciated and not a depreciated exchange. So far as I can see, there is no evidence that dumping is taking place, or is likely to take place. Of course, what one means by dumping is not an isolated instance, but a continuous system of robbing this country of an, industry for the purpose of killing it by selling persistently below the cost of production in the country of origin in order that, when it has been killed, prices may be put up again. But there is no evidence of that sort. I should like to emphasise the change in the definition of dumping. Such pledge as the Coalition Liberal Members gave at the election was that they would be prepared to join in measures to prevent goods being sold below the cost of production in the country of origin. The definition has now been changed to the wholesale price in the country of origin, which, of course, includes the wholesaler's profit. I dare say it is very difficult to get at the cost of production in the country of origin, and I quite admit that the whole-sale price may be more easily ascertainable, and may be a good datum line. There should be a deduction made from that datum line of some agreed percentage which would not take away that item of profit which the wholesaler must get, or he cannot remain in business.
In regard to that part of the Bill which deals with collapsed exchanges I confess that, like everybody else, I have passed through some transitions since I began to consider this question. The proposals dealing with collapsed ex-changes do appear rather startling. When I consider them from the general point of view of a layman it appears to me to be a protectionist move. A tariff wall of 33⅓ per cent. may be erected to keep out foreign imports and to protect home industries. Up to now everybody has been deploring the collapsed exchanges, and saying that things would never come right until the collapsed exchanges were adjusted, and we had got on to the old level again; and yet we have the Government producing a Bill which might have been specially designed to prolong, and almost perpetuate, these inequalities of exchange, which we have been led to believe are the source of all evil and are working such havoc. We are told that this is to temper the wind to the shorn lamb. In view of the present constantly fluctuating condition of affairs there are dangers in departing from fixed principles in order to legislate for the moment.
The whole tendency of the Bill, so far as I can see, is reactionary. Even the Members of the Government who are most ardent in its support cannot say that it is not a Bill calculated to raise prices artificially. I am sure they themselves will deplore it, because it will add to the horde of civil servants which we are anxious to reduce. What the country needs to-day is the free flow of trade, without restrictive Regulations, of which we have seen far too many during the War and since the War. With the free flow of trade, almost as certainly as the night follows day, would come the lowering of prices, and also the gradual adjustment of exchanges, and a much quicker adjustment of exchanges than if we impose barriers against that adjustment. I cannot believe that in this country you are ever going to increase the flow of trade in one direction if you dam it in another. It is a truism to say that the manufactured product of one trade is the raw material of another, and it is a truism because it is so true. Nobody knows where the process begins and where it ends. If you stop cheap imports by tariffs, because they are cheap, you must increase the cost of production in this country, and thereby limit our power of export and limit our general trade.
The more I look at the Bill the less I like it and on that account I am not surprised that the Government should have sent for the Minister of Health to chloroform the House in order that they might swallow a Bill which certainly many of us do not like. He performed his task with a skill and an adroitness which was worthy of a better cause. It was his duty to do his best for the Government. I agree that Members of the Government are not in the same position as a private Member. I am quite sure that the right hon. Gentleman was sincere in what he was saying, because I know perfectly well that he and others who think like him, although they are Free Traders, as I am, feel that the present exceptional circumstances demand exceptional treatment. I should not be in the slightest degree surprised that when the right hon. Gentleman recovers from his own chloroform, whether sooner or later, we shall hear him making a still more brilliant speech in defence of those Free Trade principles of which in the past he has been such a great exponent. So far as I am concerned, not being a member of the Government, I do not think there is any reason why I should forsake the principles of a lifetime in order to support proposals such as those contained in this Bill, and I certainly shall not find myself able to do so. If I do not vote against the Bill it is not because I like it any more than those who do vote against it, but because so far as the questions of key industries and dumping are concerned I have no objection to them being scrutinised by a Committee. They will possibly be all the better for that scrutiny. I shall not regret it if the Bill passes the Second Reading because I think it will clear the air and secure a healthier atmosphere if the questions of dumping and key industries are thoroughly explored by a Committee. When that does arise, as it probably will arise, I hope that the very pertinent and important points which were raised this afternoon by the right hon. Member for Moray (Sir A. Williamson) will receive that serious attention, which they deserve.
Unlike most hon. Members who have spoken, I have no apology to offer for supporting the Bill. When I was in the Commonwealth of Australia I was a Protectionist to the outside world and an advocate of inter-state free trade. Now I am in favour of Empire Free Trade and Protection against the world. I have listened to hon. Members who have spoken against the Bill, and they have wound up by saying that under the circumstances they propose to vote for the Second Reading. We have had no assurance, although I believe it has been given to one hon. Member, that this Measure will be taken in Committee of the whole House. If that is so, there are one or two points which will arise which I might reserve for the Committee stage, which have special reference to an undertaking with which I am more or less intimately associated. Reference has been made to the Minister of Health and his very weighty utterance. I am surprised that those hon. Members who have looked upon him for years as a leader, and who now state that they are absolutely satisfied of his sincerity, cannot follow him on this occasion. It is rather inconsistent on their part and a reflection upon the right hon. Gentleman to suggest that he has been chloroformed by his own chloroform. If the right hon. Gentleman is the same patriotic citizen that they have considered him in the past, if he is the man of sound judgment and business ability that they acknowledge, he cannot have changed his spots for the simple reason that he is a Member of the Government.
It is rather confusing for an unsophisticated Colonial to come here and find politics topsy-turvy. All my Labour friends in Australia are strong pronounced Protectionists, but we find in this country that Labour Members of Parliament are Free Traders. I have never been able to arrive at any conclusion as to why the principles which guide men who are sympathetic to the workers to consider that it is unwise to support a principle which has been approved by most of their colleagues in the Overseas Dominions. So far as the 33⅓ per cent. duty is concerned, I do not think it will give the results that the Government anticipate. Since yesterday the American exchange has dropped something like 20 points, and the suggestion made by one hon. Member that you should have a sort of sliding scale and reduce your tariff as the exchange alters does not seem to me a practical solution. It is bad enough to follow all those fluctuations so far as one particular country is concerned, but the suggestion that you should adopt the same principle for every country is one that may be put aside for consideration after the next war.
The Minister of Health seems to me to be the one man of the Government who knows this Measure backwards. [Laughter.] Hon. Members do not mean what I mean. Although a convinced Free Trader, he realises that special circumstances require special treatment. Hence the proposals which he has made. I should like, however, further to express my pleasure that the provisions referred to do not apply to the British Dominions or Possessions. That is a very gratifying feature. I have heard no Member of this House take exception to that Clause, and quite rightly so. In the Protectionist countries to which I refer we have a preference tariff so far as British goods are concerned. In the State with which I had the honour to be associated as a Member of the Government for a considerable time we even went further, and when it was found that orders for rails, fish plates and locomotives, notwithstanding a preference from 10 to 15 per cent., could be supplied by Germany or Belgium 15 per cent. cheaper, we decided to forego this additional 15 per cent., so that the order should be given to this country. Although that may have been unbusinesslike and sentimental, it is a sentiment which I think should be encouraged.
We know that during the War sentiment held this country and the Overseas Dominions together. The Overseas Dominions had no legal obligation to come to the assistance of this country in its time of need. It was simply the sentiment of kinship which bound the Overseas Dominions to this country, and I am gratified that provision is made in this Bill to give a preference to the Overseas Dominions. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. A. Shaw), who made an impassioned speech, and seemed to be rather upset that he had been taunted with violating his pledges, made a statement to which I must take exception, that if this country ever veered towards Protection it would veer towards political corruption. I have been in politics in another place, and I do not know that when a country has a protective tariff it necessarily follows that the politicians are dishonest. But that was the inference one would draw from his speech. That does not, in my opinion, enter into the argument.
I would not have intervened had not reference been made to one particular undertaking with which I am associated and in regard to which I have been able to obtain some information so that I can correct some of the misstatements which have been made by hon. Members, possibly as a result of incorrect information being supplied to them. I refer particularly to the General Electric Company and Birmingham Carbon Works. The hon. Member for Dunfermline (Mr. Wallace) referred to that company bringing out a prospectus for £3,500,000 as if that were some crime. If the money is going to be spent on works which are going to lead to employment, surely the company should be commended. They have courage in their enterprise and confidence in their capacity to manage their enterprise successfully even in the face of adverse conditions. No other firm in the United Kingdom manufactured these essential articles, searchlight and electric light carbons, before the War. In the early days of the War the company approached several Government Departments, including the Board of Trade, pointing out that the output of this section of their works would be of great national importance and suggesting that the whole plant should continue to produce carbons, but that it should be at the Government disposal and under Government supervision. That was fair enough, and they spent something like £100,000 in perfecting these carbon works.
In regard to the argument that where anything in the shape of a monopoly is protected, it means that the proprietors will not experiment but will be satisfied that their article is good and will not endeavour to keep pace with the times: this does not apply so far as this particular organisation is concerned, and the company are spending many thousands of pounds on laboratory experiments to keep their works up to the mark. Since 1901 the Admiralty have given their support to this branch of their undertaking, realising that the manufacture of searchlight carbons should be retained in this country. But the War Office had not done so, and it was not until after the outbreak of the War that the company were called upon by the Department to meet its demands in this matter. German and Austrian supplies of carbons had been cut off, and France, the third supplier of that essential article, required all her own produce for her own war services, and the works were inundated with orders from private customers. With the existing conditions it was impossible to supply all the carbons required. At a conference between the War Office, the Admiralty and the company, it was decided to double the capacity of the carbon works, the company agreeing to furnish all the requirements of the Admiralty and War Office. Within three months the additions were completed and the output was doubled. Before the War the demand for carbons was something like 150,000 pieces per annum. During the period of hostilities this particular company provided over 5,000,000 pieces of carbon for Government use, or an average of over 1,000,000 a year and approximately 7,000,000 arcs, etc., thus making a total supply to the British Government of no less than 12,000,000 pieces.
From this it will be seen that, though the company have not pressed the inclusion of carbons in the Key Industries Bill, the industry is one of the most essential so far as this country is concerned. I have no doubt that the company would be very delighted to accept the suggestion made in some quarters that the concern should be handed over to the Government. Whatever happens those works have got to be kept going or else the country would be in the same position in which it was in 1914 when Germany was actually supplying carbons for searchlights and war vessels. That is an absurd position to allow any country to get into and so far as the company are concerned they should be commended for what they have done. Up till now it is estimated by the accounting department that something like £100,000 has been spent in perfecting this work. I must apologise to hon. Members for referring to a matter which is more or less a Committee point, but it has been raised just previously and I have taken the opportunity to deal with it. I hope, during the Committee stage, to have something more to say about it.
The most important thing about this Bill and about this Debate is that we now know that the last war was not a war to end war. It is indeed, very clearly expressed in the Bill that we are to safeguard certain industries in order to be prepared in the event of war. Most of the speeches from hon. Members who are going to support the Bill have assumed that there is going to be another war. Now we know that the great vision placed before the workers of this country on the occasion of the last war to lead them to take up arms was a delusion and a pure will-o'-the-wisp from the standpoint of the Government and of those people who support the Government in regard to this Measure. If that is their point of view, and I gather from their speeches that it is, I would ask the hon. Members who support this Bill to be quite frank and to say so to their constituents. I would also suggest that they should withdraw the leaflet which they are sending out, which asks who took the leading part in drawing up the League of Nations Covenant and the Peace Treaty, the object of which is to prevent future wars. That is pure camouflage, for all through this Bill and through the speeches of its supporters there has been reflected the point of view that history is simply one great prize fight, and that the last war was simply one round in that prize fight. We may not have another round in our lifetime, but certainly it will come.
I will make another qualification on this point. I care not what result it has on me in my own constituency. I would vote against this Bill even from the point of view of the key industries, because of the spirit that it reflects and which has been expressed in the speeches of the last two days. It seems to me that it is not exactly playing the game with this nation, which took such great risks and played such a great part during the past five years. Before I leave that point I should like to say this. You may make sure of your key industries and your chemicals, but you will
have to be much more sure of your human material before you go into the next mal-adventure. It is no good the supporters of the Government deceiving themselves on this point. You appealed to a great vision; our people leapt to that vision. As expressed in this Bill, and in the speeches during the past two days, you have lost that vision and the people will not be deceived again. From the point of view of the Government, I cannot understand why an efficient, courageous and intelligent body of people like the British should ever take this course, even to defend what it calls its key industries, which are necessary in times of crisis. There are some people who have suggested that instead of taking this course we should subsidise these industries. When I think of the splendid natural resources of this country, and of the splendid human material, mental and moral, I wonder why we either want a subsidy or protection in these particular industries. The far wiser, more effective and more economical way would be to pay greater attention to the education of our people than we are doing at the present time. The President of the Board of Trade in introducing the Resolution drew attention to the fact that:
In the fine chemical trade you have a still more important demand. There are no trades in the world to-day which are crying more clamantly for brains than these trades. There are no trades in the world which, in the next quarter or half century, will be more the foundation of great national industries. There are no trades in which we may look for greater discoveries."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th May, 1921; col. 1552, Vol. 141.]
I remember during the War a large number of books were written, proving that our great weakness in time of crisis was that our educational system had not been sufficiently completed. One book sold by hundreds of thousands; I should say it was on every bookstall and in most people's hands. It was written by a large employer of labour alongside of a university professor, and was called "Eclipse or Empire." It gave stacks of facts definitely demonstrating that our great lack in time of crisis, and the reason why we were so far behindhand, was that we were not giving sufficient attention to the brain power of our nation. It was largely through such a spirit as that that we got our Education Act. What was it that dictated the Education Act now on the Statute Book?
It was not a matter of humanity alone, but the feeling that the true test of this nation was its intellectual standard. Now, what have we got from hon. Members who will support this Bill? They will support it, with its committees, its arbitrators, its referees, and all its paraphernalia, which is going to be of illimitable cost to the Government. The same people will come to this House and protest against the operation of certain sections of the Education Act. I have noticed closely the economists of this type of mind in the House. Their claim to be economists is a piece of the most brazen effrontery I have struck. It seems to me that, whereas they would protest against £1,000 being spent on education, they would calmly pass £1,000,000 if it were for destructive work.
One of the points made during this Debate was put by the President of the Board of Trade and the hon. Member for Chippenham (Mr. Terrell), to the effect that the exchanges were against us. I was one of those who went to see the Industries Exhibition, which the hon. Gentleman and others organised. If he would only speak as gently in this House as he spoke to me at that Exhibition he would get through much more quickly than he does. The hon. Gentleman impressed me. Then he came here and began telling us the facts. He said, "Here is a German piano which comes into this country. It costs £50 altogether. A British piano costs £100. The Germans are able to send it here because of the rate of exchange and it is sold just slightly under the price of the British piano. Who gets the rest of the money?" I say, "The middleman." The middleman is the man who gets it and who pockets the money. That is the kind of person into whose hands we are going to put the Anti-Dumping Regulations and ourselves; the person who will openly rob the British public of a considerable sum of money. I know it is not called robbery in business circles. It is called business. Down our way we call it robbery and that is what it is. The late Leader of the House told the House of Commons before the last General Election some of the most startling facts concerning the way the British public had been exploited—facts which made this House and the country feel ashamed of certain types of people. Now we are asked to put ourselves into their hands. The President of the Board of Trade says.
"Well, but we have to go through a certain method before they get there." The hon. Member for Chippenham (Mr. Terrell) and his supporters, and the Federation of British Industries will see that they achieve what they want to achieve and that they get there all the time. Far better than the passing of such legislation would it be to develop the natural resources of the country and the brain power and the great and varied ability of our people. I come from an area where there are 3,000 seats in the secondary schools and at the present time there is a demand for 12,000 seats. With the President of the Board of Education, who favours a Bill of this kind, we are waging war every day as a county in order that we might go on building elementary and secondary schools.
This Bill reflects the spirit of war in the economic world. The War has ended in the military sense; it is to continue in the economic sense. If you want to continue that spirit, do not expect peace in industry in this country during our lifetime. You cannot limit the spirit to territorial boundaries. You cannot limit it to Bills for the safeguarding of industries. If that is your attitude towards other nations it will find its reflection in the minds of the workers, and all the way along we shall find ourselves going from disaster to disaster of the kind we are facing now. I regret very much that a Bill of this kind has been put before the House, because I feel that it will justify to a great extent some of the people of this country who take counsel in despair, who believe that there is no hope and no other way but the way the Government takes in this Bill of going from one stage of conflict to another. I do not share their views. I have very great faith in our people. With their genius and longing for peace, with their courage and their devotion to their country, they will find their own way out, and even if the League of Nations perishes, as the Government seems to think it will perish, the people themselves will build another such League. I am against this Bill because it reflects conflict from beginning to end. I claim to be as good a patriot as those who support the Bill. I think there is no better village than that in which I was born and live, no better county than that from which I come, and no better country than this country; but I recognise also that as the good of all the people and of each of the people in this country will find its well-being in common co-operation, so I say it would be with the nations
I hope the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken will not think me discourteous or the House think me irrelevant if I do not follow him into the very fascinating regions of high debate in which he has spoken so sincerely and with so much power. I wish to say quite simply that I cannot agree with the main contention that lay behind his argument, which appeared to me to be that a care for national defence was inconsistent with the promotion of the League of Nations or the promotion of education as a means of peace. In my judgment all these are imperative duties. It is difficult, of course, to harmonise or regulate or to describe in what exact proportion they are to be blended, but to neglect any one of them is far worse than to suggest that they of necessity clash with each other. I propose to confine myself to one general observation and one detailed criticism of a single aspect of this Bill. My general observation is that I am disappointed with this Bill now that I see it printed. There are two matters on which many of us are perfectly prepared to carry out election pledges and to promote that for which there may be grounds. First, that of safeguarding key industries, not on economic grounds, but on grounds of national defence; and, secondly, dealing with the problem of dumping when that dumping is deliberate, continued, and directed to the destruction of some particular industry in this country. But this Bill, although it deals with both those matters, deals also with a very large number of other matters, deals with them in a way which appears to me to be unsound, and the elements in it which I approve are not only conjoined with elements which one dislikes, but are almost hidden in those other and more emphatic elements of which so much of the Bill consists.
Fortunately, the case on these matters has been placed to-day before the House in a speech by my right hon. Friend the Member for Moray (Sir A. Williamson) I which it would be an impertinence to praise and vanity to attempt to imitate. But there is another aspect. It has been referred to now and again, and to it I attach the greatest importance. That is the machinery of this Bill, particularly as it affects what I hold to be the constitutional rights of this House and the relation between the Executive and the Legislature. The first Clause of the Bill deals with the safeguarding of key industries. Let it be granted that this is right, and that the Schedule is one which can be defended. Why are we to have questions as to what articles are to go into that Schedule dealt with by a referee appointed by the Government? I ventured to say during the Debate on the Resolutions that the proper authorities for interpreting Acts of Parliament were the Courts of Law, and not any nominee of the Executive. However able and distinguished any referee may be, you cannot endow him with that independence of the Executive and that authority in the community which attaches by common consent to the Courts of Law.
When we come to the latter part of the Bill we find it goes far beyond dealing with the dumping which has been so imperfectly defined. It goes into proposals for dealing with difficulties as to exchange by methods which it is very hard to distinguish from those methods defended by Protectionists in all ages with more or less effective argument. The machinery of the Bill is to give power to the Board of Trade to issue an Order upon the Report of a Committee, and this Committee is to consist of three persons chosen from a panel of eminent gentlemen. Upon their Report the Board of" Trade may by a stroke of the pen impose a duty of 33⅓ per cent. on some article of commerce imported into these islands, subject to no real Parliamentary control, but subject only to a most shadowy and farcical procedure, namely, that of leaving on the Table of the House an Order which becomes law automatically unless the House passes a Resolution against it. Such a Resolution can only be moved after 11 o'clock, and accordingly cannot be moved unless the very Government which is being criticised in its self abnegation gives facilities for the discus sion. During the time I have been in this House, an obscure observer of Parliamentary procedure, I have felt that particular method was fair neither to the House nor to the importance of the subject matters to which it is applied. Last Session in a Bill connected with transport, some of us secured a reversal of that method, namely, that Orders should not become law unless endorsed by a specific Resolution of this House or the other House as the case might be. That at any rate gave to the House an opportunity of expressing its opinion upon each of such Orders as they arose, but in this Bill one finds no procedure of that kind. Nothing which touches taxation can ever command universal consent, and nothing which comes within speaking distance or even shouting distance of the time-honoured controversy between free trade and protection can do other than raise acute differences of honest opinion. That being so, is it not all important that Measures which deal with such subjects should deal with them on the strictest constitutional line, and that they should not be associated with machinery which tends to withdraw from this House its proper control of taxation and finance and gives to a Government Department—with little or no power to this House of checking it—the power of varying the taxation of the country. It is not often one has to agree with the hon. Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury). On most aspects of this Bill I suppose he and I differ as widely as it is possible for two human beings to differ, but I read with pleasure that in speaking of this part of the Bill he took the strongest objection to it on these very constitutional grounds. These are quite as fundamental to government in this country, as the proposed enactments in this Bill. I take this opportunity as a supporter of the Government, perfectly prepared to discharge the pledges I gave at the election, of asking the Government in whatever legislation on this subject they finally decide to press upon the House, that they will avoid these methods of increasing the power of any Department, particularly in matters of finance. I ask them to remember that in the full authority of this House over every department of finance lies the greatest safeguard of a democratic State. I adhere to everything to which I pledged myself at the election, and when this Bill goes to Committee I shall welcome the opportunity of supporting those comparatively few things in it which I approve of, and of opposing those more numerous matters which appear to me to be wrong. While I say I shall do that, I also take this opportunity of earnestly pointing out to the Government that they are in the particulars referred to acting contrary to the best traditions of this House, contrary to the tradition of a Parliamenary control which should be independent of particular proposals and contrary, as I believe, to the intelligent and earnest desire of the mass of my countrymen.
On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. I wish to ask whether in your opinion, under Standing Order 46, this is a Bill which will be committed to a Committee upstairs, or will it be kept on the Floor of the House for full discussion? That is the first point. The second point is that under Standing Order 27A you, Sir, on the Report stage, or the Chairman of Committee on the Committee stage, has the right to select Amendments. This Bill contains a category of goods on which it is proposed to impose a tariff, and, therefore, I desire to ask whether in this particular case you will have power to select Amendments. The result of that would be that your decision would impose the proposed tariff on a particular article if you decided not to select an Amendment dealing with that particular article, and would do so without giving any power to the House to vote "aye" or "no" on the question.
With regard to the first point raised, Standing Order 46 provides that any Bill which imposes a tax should not be referred automatically to a Standing Committee. This is a Bill which imposes a tax, and, therefore, in the absence of some special action on the part of the House, it will stand committed to a Committee of the whole House. With regard to the other question, Standing Order 27A is quite general in its terms, and either the Chairman of Committee or the Speaker would have power under that Standing Order, and it would be for them to exercise that power according to their discretion.
On the point raised by the hon. Member for Leith (Captain W. Benn). The Standing Order giving power to yourself, Sir, or to the Chairman of Committees, in the absence of a special Resolution, to rule out Amendments was passed at the beginning of this Parliament. I believe it never could have been the intention of any Government to pass an Order the effect of which would be to deprive any Member of this House of the opportunity of voting upon a question such as that of whether or not taxation shall be imposed by a Government Department instead of by this House. As that would be the effect of the Standing Order in this case, and as I believe that effect can never have been contemplated, I wish to ask you whether it would not be in order for the Government to propose the suspension of the Standing Order as far as this particular Bill is concerned.
I desire, briefly, to set before the House my position at the General Election and this evening. I pointed out at the last election that if there was an industry in this country whose methods and whose plant were modern, output satisfactory, organisation and management good, and if such industry could prove to a tribunal of this House that, owing to persistent dumping by foreign cartels or combinations, its existence was in danger, I was prepared to support the Government in steps to protect such an industry from disaster. I have not changed my mind. On efficiency I stand, but if it was proposed to pass any Bill through this House to protect obsolete plants, inefficient production and output, bad organisation, bad management, which would involve the taxing of the British people to support inefficiency, I could not assent, but should oppose such a Bill. In my opinion, such a Bill would be the beginning of the decay of British industry, and nothing but calamity would follow. Briefly, that is the position I took up on 1918, and it is my position to-night. I hold the view that British industry can only be main- tained by producing the largest volume of the best quality in the shortest time and at the lowest cost. I believe the secret of production should be full reward for full endeavour, a willingness on the part of the worker to make the endeavour and a willingness on the part of the employer to pay for such endeavour when made. I believe the best protection for any industry in this country would be a low cost and high output. A low cost would attract the largest business and secure the fullest amount of employment. Such, in my opinion, are the principles which should form the basis of our industry. The restriction of output—and it is no use hoodwinking the fact—may be either negative or positive. The employer by neglect, or the employed by wilful restriction, of output are guilty of a very great sin against their country, and I want to say this, that both are a greater menace to Britain than any dumping we have ever had in this country.
I have gone through the Bill, and I have looked very carefully for a clear definition of what is meant by key industries, and I am rather disappointed to find that there is no specific principle laid down in the Bill. As I understand the key industry, it is the foundation of other industries, or it may be necessary for the defence of the country. This Bill goes beyond those two definitions. The course I took at the last election, and my position to-night is this, that all new industries should first establish that their methods of production and plants are modern. I should then be willing, even as a Free Trader, to give such new industries reasonable time to develop their products and their distributing organisation and to allocate them a period in which they should be able to reach the efficiency point which is vital to themselves and to the interests of the country. Such a proposition is not inconsistent with free trade. In regard to this Bill, I am committed to deal with the question of dumping and with the question of key industries, and as the Bill is the product of the Government, in order that we may consider the proposals in detail, I am bound to vote for the motion. But in Committee I hope the principle of efficiency will be the basic principle upon which we shall work out a solution of these questions.
I must ask the House to make allowance for me in the task which was put upon me an hour and a half ago of preceding the Leader of the House in this Debate. It is always a formidable task to try to precede him, but it is doubly so when he is engaged in a task so much after his own heart, and engaging so much his dutiful affections, as that of fastening another shackle on the industry of this country. Let me begin by trying to find a word or two in praise of the Bill, or, rather, perhaps in appreciation of the thickness of skin of the Government in supporting it, if they still can support it after the course of this Debate, supporting a Bill of which such extraordinary things have been said in criticism by its friends and by hon. Members on this side. It is our duty to do our best in opposition to the Government, but what things have been said by the friends of the Government, men who usually vote for the Government sitting upon the benches opposite? If the speeches alone of Members for such divisions as Morley (Mr. France), Moray (Sir A. Williamson), and Dunfermline (Mr. Wallace) are taken, they would provide an extraordinarily strong argument against this Bill. Those hon. Members are usually supporters, and convinced supporters, of the Government, in a good many things at any rate. If one looks at the speeches of the Members I have named it would seem as though the heather were on fire in Scotland. I have listened, to the best of my ability, to a good many of the speeches, and I do not think I have heard anyone support the Bill because it would help in any definite way. Persons have supported it for many reasons, but the main body of supporters will be those who have come into the House at half-past ten because they have been told to come back and vote for the Government, and do so pretty automatically. It is done quite automatically. I do not make any complaint at all about that. It has also been supported by Protectionists, who are making it quite clear that they do not think it goes half the way it ought to. I take the speech of the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) as being typical of that view. He said, "I have got to vote for the Second Reading because I am a Protectionist, and I shall do so," but he disapproved of the whole of it, or Part II of the Bill, and no doubt will be equally honest when we come to Part II. Then there are Free Traders, who have made practically no disguise of the fact that they support the Bill because in their curiously reasoned judgment they think it is the best way to secure the ultimate triumph of Free Trade. It is such an absurd Measure to deal with the object in view that they think there will be a revulsion towards Free Trade in a few years' time and that it will be established more firmly than ever as our system of taxation.
One or two things arise out of that position, and the first is the extraordinary comparative honesty of the more or less Free Trade Members of the Government who have supported this Measure. The honesty is rather comparative, because I think a more obvious form of honesty would be to say, "This is pitch, and he who touches it will get defiled, and I will not touch it at all." But it is clearly a less full form of honesty to say, "This is pitch, but I shall only get a little black, it will soon wash off, and therefore I will touch it to some extent." We have never had a finer collection of similes than those from the other side. Look through the speeches of Members on this side, and you will find no similes or metaphors in criticism of the Bill so splendid as those from the Front Bench opposite—"foundling," "collapsed umbrella in a terrible storm," "quack remedy," and then, this afternoon, it was all right because it was only a small dose from the poison bottle, which it was hoped would act as a tonic to industry if only it was taken in small enough doses. Comparing the attitude of the two sections of supporters, the Protectionists and Free Traders, I am bound to say I think the children of this world are much wiser in their generation than the children of light, by which I mean the Protectionists are much wiser than the Free Traders. They know perfectly
well, as the late Leader of the House said, on a memorable occasion:
There are many grounds on which a tax on manufactured articles from abroad might not be considered unreasonable, but there are two unsurmountable obstacles, first, the interference with trade and, second, that it would be impossible to put a tax on one manufactured article without raising an agitation for the taxation of all manufactured articles.
The Protectionists who desire Protection for their particular industry have marked out their case and surveyed their ground, and we shall have regular batteries beginning to be unmasked and dozens of claims put forward that if it is right to put a duty on to help so and so, it is equally right to help some other article; and from the point of view of providing against the danger of the next war I believe it will be possible to make out dozens of arguments for other articles to be included in the list of specially assisted industries quite as good as those which the Bill at present contains. It is not as if it were not all quite clear already. I quote from the "Trade Supplement" of the "Times," which lays down quite clearly what the Federation of British Industries really wants. They make the point perfectly clear that, in their opinion, there are dozens of things just as essential for the next war as anything which the Government proposes at present to assist—steel bars, photographic paper, telephone manufactures, typewriters, busks for corsets, and so on, and so on, all linked up with marine engineering, iron and steel ware, and glass bottles. If we once begin, we shall in this House get no peace or quiet until the last glass bottle has received its fill of the false and heavy stimulant of Protection in favour of its own particular industry.
I would say to my Free Trade friends opposite, that once you begin you really cannot distinguish this sort of proposal from protection. It is like, the story of the little boy who was called in to see the very new baby that had arrived and perceived that it was extremely wrinkled all ever and rushed out and cried, "Feyther, feyther, we have been had, it's an old 'un.' I believe this is an "old 'un." It brings back the old business of protection, and we shall be flooded with claims from all manner of industries to have tariffs put on in their favour. I want to say one word in reply to the attack that has been made against some of us on this side of the House with regard to our following what has been called the fetish of cheapness. It is admitted quite naturally and honestly that this Bill will effect prices. There is no reason at all if it does not do that why food should be excluded from the Bill. The Government knows perfectly well that the people of this country will not stand any sort of tax on their food because that would raise the price. But it is worth noticing that, while it is true in general that under our present system we receive the bulk of the articles we receive from other countries in the form of food and raw material, and, conversely, that we export to other countries the great bulk of what we export in the form of manufactured articles, yet a very considerable number of the articles which enter into the daily lives of the people of this country will be affected by this Bill, and particularly by the provisions relating to the duties against the countries which have unfavourable exchanges with us. For instance, window glass, cotton piece goods, etc., come to us largely from Belgium. France sends us leather, and stuffs, and yarn for weaving to the extent of many, many millions. Before the War Germany used to send us a certain amount of raw leather, hosiery, apparel, and so on to the tune of over a million. It is not possible to see these lists of articles of daily consumption which entered into the cost of housing and things of that kind without realising that the Bill will come down hardly in dozens of ways on the cost of living, and, believe me, that fact will be resented.
It may, however, be said—and I am getting now to what everybody knows is the very centre of the Bill—what does it matter if you have a small increase in prices or a small increase in the cost of living if you can put into employment by means of the Bill thousands or hundreds of thousands, possibly, of the people who otherwise would be out of employment? But is it argued that the Bill will affect unemployment in the way indicated? There is no evidence at all that the Bill will do that. I must take it at its best, and it would not be fair to make it out that it has been argued that, at any rate, the Bill would really put people into employment that without the Bill would be out of employment. I tackle that aspect because I wish hon. Members would be so kind as to see and realise that we on this side do not at all take the line of saying that all is well with British industry and, therefore, we will hold our hands and do nothing. We know there are a great many things that is not well with British industry. We know of the unemployment that exists to-day. We admit all that and, of course, we would be prepared to take this line if we were satisfied. If we felt that this Bill would be a real remedy for unemployment, it would be our duty to vote for it. But I have listened, as all of us have listened, all through these Debates for some definite cases of threatened industries which this Bill will save. I have heard of several cases, for instance, where it is alleged that an industry has been ruined by dumping of goods from Germany, but it has never been put forward that that industry would be saved and men put back into employment by this panacea in the shape of 33⅓ per cent. duty on these particular articles. The duty required in such a case would be nearer 500 per cent. The Debate has been confined on the other side to generalities without any proof that the passing of this Bill would really in a definite industry effect the employment of a single person.
I would ask the Leader of the House, who must have received, one would think, dozens of letters from people saying, "If you pass this Bill by a certain date my industry will be preserved." I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to produce, if he can, some ounces of fact in the many tons of generalities to which we have listened in the last two days. Has anyone said in the Debate, for instance, that his industry is just hanging on, and although it is rather a close thing keeping his works going, if the Bill is passed by a certain date he will be able to guarantee profit and employment for persons who otherwise he would have to turn away and close his factory? Exactly the same with regard to the key industries. If we had any definite cases of persons getting up in this House, and saying that this duty of 33⅓ per cent. will really save a key industry and leave it in a position of being able to do what we shall require it to do in the case of the next war—about which we now talk almost as if it were a certainty—it would be different. Two or three cases, however, in which individual persons will continue to go on buying the foreign article in spite of the extra price will not have any effect in getting a key industry more firmly established in this country.
In the schools and one or two university colleges they will go on having to buy their chemical glass from Germany because it is better in quality. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I go to people who are not politicians and they say to me, "Our breakages with British glass are so and so, and with foreign glass so much less, and therefore we are bound, in the interests of our finances, to buy the foreign glass." Under this Bill these people will have to cripple educational institutions by having to pay more for these articles without establishing the glass industry.
In the case of forestry we have not been able to get an ordinary instrument for measuring the height of trees with accuracy without going abroad for them. You cannot get these instruments in this country at a reasonable price while you can get an absolutely standard pattern abroad much cheaper and so you go on purchasing from abroad. By this Measure you will not establish that industry in this country.
The Debate has consisted of generalities without any proof that industries will be actually helped. If you look into the threatened trades you will not find that they are going to be helped by these duties, but on the contrary you will find that their most active competitors are countries with regard to which we have no disturbed exchange, and therefore you cannot put on any duty on the ground of the exchange being dislocated. Except in the case of dumping you will have no help for those industries. I happen to have kept the invitation which hon. Members received to the Exhibition of Industries held not long ago, and I noted down five things named on show there as being threatened. They included brooms and brushes, electric apparatus, glass, leather and hosiery. If you look up this matter in the returns you will find in those five things our greatest competitors are not France, Belgium and Italy, but Japan and the United States, Sweden and Holland and countries of that kind, against whom we cannot put on the 33⅓ duty at all.
Brooms and brushes come mostly from Japan and the United States. Electric apparatus comes from the United States, glass from the United States and the Netherlands, and leather from Australia. Are we going to put duties on the goods from those countries because of their exchange? Hosiery comes largely from Switzerland and Canada, and they are countries against which this Bill will not help us at all. This Measure is merely a quack remedy, and the disease has been diagnosed wrongly. Our industries are not now suffering because of an enormous flood of foreign goods coming into this country and making it impossible for us to produce. Our industries are really suffering because other countries are not able to buy our goods, and that is the real cause of unemployment. What you have to do in order to really prove a case for this Bill is to show there is a tremendous expansion of manufactures of all kinds. [Cries of "Divide!"] I hope hon. Members will not interrupt. I had to divide three-quarters of an hour between the Leader of the House and myself. I intend to take as near a quarter of an hour as I can, and I will do my best to keep within that. I am rushing along very quickly. If we are really going to show that this Bill will cure our evils, we must prove that the countries of Europe are manufacturing in enormous bulk; that they are capturing our markets and flooding this country with their goods. But we all know that the real position is that Europe is not able to buy our goods, and that is what we are in the main suffering from.
Take the case of wool. Last winter, as everyone knows, ordinary wools in this country were practically unsaleable. Devonshire wool was lying in the farmers' barns and the mills which deal with it were idle. It was not because foreign woollen goods were flooding our markets or neutral markets. Not a bit of it. On the contrary Europe was crying out for woollen goods but could not afford to buy them because her industries had not been restored. Unless her industries can be restored so that she can sell there is no hope that she will be able to buy or to do anything really effective to meat these causes of unemployment which we all recognise. If the Government would give half the time to the real pacification of Europe that they now give to thwarting Europe's power to recover by Bills of this kind they would improve employment tenfold more in this country than ever this Bill will do. I have not time to go into this question in detail. It is clear that the more goods Germany has to export in the form of indemnity the less she will be able to send out in exchange for what we send her. You can have tribute or you can have employment. You cannot have both. This also is clear, that until Germany is free from the fear of losing her Eastern and Western coalfields, or one of them, she will not be able to export freely and thereby create an effective demand for our goods and thus produce employment in this country. My third point is that if the Government had made a trade agreement with Russia 15 months ago instead of only the other day, that in itself would have done more to encourage employment in this country than anything that can be done by this Bill. It is a quack remedy for a disease which has been falsely diagnosed. We are not suffering from a superabundance of goods coming into this country. We are suffering from an ineffective demand for goods from the countries of Europe. I very much fear the plunging of this House into an atmosphere of competing claims for trade benefits under tariff arrangements. We shall see enough of it in Committee, and I do not think we shall like it. We shall have it up again every year, because the Government have been quite open with us in saying that this Bill is tentative, and that many of these things will need alteration. Whenever they are altered, a fresh crowd of industries will beat at our doors and try to find a place in this Measure. We have heard from many hon. Members in this Debate how strong that feeling is. You can only get rid of it in two ways. You must either put it into the hands of this House, in which case the House becomes a place of lobbying, back-scratching, and intriguing, or you must leave it, as the Bill proposes, to the Board of Trade, and then you get hardly a better thing, in the way that the Bill arranges it, namely, the selection of three persons from trade representatives and trade experts, who, although they will be judges in a particular case on one day, will be plaintiffs for their own trade the next day, when other persons are selected as the umpires. It is absurd to say that a set of trade representatives, with all the will in the world, can act fairly when they know that they will be judges of an industry one day but interested parties trying to get an industry included in the Measure the day after. Before it is too late, let me say this: This House, in the years that are before it, will have enormous tasks, which may well engage the whole of its attention, with regard to economy, with regard to social reform, with regard to reduction of armaments, with regard to learning something of the veal spirit of brotherhood both in this country and abroad; and I do hope that we may keep away from the lure and the corrupting influence of tariff jobbery in our deliberations by rejecting this Bill on Second Reading, as we shall soon have a chance to do.
I cannot rise to take part in this Debate without expressing my regret at the absence of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith), and still more at the cause of his absence. The right hon. Gentleman finds again, in this subject, his pristine vigour, and renews his old controversial successes. Quite the most interesting and quite the most delightful speech that has been made in the course of our six-days' Debate was delivered by the right hon. Gentleman, and I am sorry that illness should have prevented him from again contributing to our instruction and entertainment.
I need not say that I share my hon. Friend's regret that the Prime Minister, who had wished and intended to take part in this Debate, is not able to be here to make an appeal to those Members who were especially associated with him to support the policy which he advocated in the country.
I do not propose this evening to attempt to cover the ground of the Debate. Many of the questions which have been raised seem to be matters for discussion in Committee, and some of them matters in which I hope we shall be able to meet the legitimate criticism which has been offered on the Bill. There is, for instance, the question of the exact measure of control which the House of Commons is to preserve over operations under it. We will endeavour to meet the views which have been expressed on that matter if we can. Again, there is the question of India in relation to the collapsed exchanges. I do not think that India is a country with a collapsed exchange. It is a country where the exchange moved abnormally and extraordinarily in its favour at a certain period during the War, and it is now not a collapsed but an ordinary exchange. That, again, is a matter with which we can deal in Committee on the Bill. I cite these only as instances of the class of subject with which, I think, I cannot most usefully attempt to deal in the short time which I must occupy to-night. I want rather to direct the attention of the House, before we go to a Division, to the great problems that confront us, and to the attitude of parties and individuals towards them.
This Bill attempts to deal with three difficult problems. There is the problem of the key industry, the deficiency or total absence of which, I do not say was very nearly fatal to us in the War, but caused us to run great risks, and cost us a very great deal to overcome. There is the problem of dumping in the ordinary sense and the problem of dumping as affected by the depreciated exchange. Two of those problems were before us at the election, and the policy of the Government was clearly stated by the Prime Minister and my predecessor in the leadership of the House. The third is a new one not foreseen at that time, and not dealt with in their manifesto. Upon the first two problems a little time ago, while the War was still being waged, we were all agreed. What has happened to disturb that? I understood the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean) contended that the Paris resolutions had no bearing upon this Bill or upon our decisions upon it. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Camborne (Mr. Acland) following his leader, suggested that the Paris Resolutions were a mere brutum fulmen, an empty threat uttered at a time when the fortune of War was going against us, and intended to inspire terror in the then successful Germany. The Resolutions were not presented under that guise at Paris. They were presented as a settled and considered policy which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley boasted was the policy of his Government, and in particular of his President of the Board of Trade. To represent that now as something that was only to be used as a threat at an unfortunate moment of the War, or to be applied only if Germany were vic- torious in the War, seems to me a very dangerous argument. If that was really in the right hon. Gentleman's mind at the time he presented these Resolutions to the House—
If the hon. Member will look at the OFFICIAL REPORT, he will find that the right hon. Gentleman made a speech descriptive of the proceedings at the Paris Conference, read these Resolutions to the House, and claimed credit to the British Government for having proposed them and betrayed the secret that they originated with his President of the Board of Trade. Is it suggested that at that time the right hon. Gentleman was contemplating defeat? That is the unkindest criticism that I have ever heard of my right hon. Friend, and might justify the suggestion that the Minister who contemplated defeat was not the Minister to conduct the War. Out of their own mouths they shall be judged. In the course of that Debate Sir John Simon, who had retired from the Government, criticised the Resolutions. Did he regard them as presented in that way? On the contrary, he said:
Nobody who looks at the matter fairly can doubt that these Resolutions are designed, no doubt honestly, and most ingeniously designed, to promote, to sustain, and to improve the trade of this country after the War.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Paisley, in presenting these Resolutions to the House, described as vitally important those parts of the Resolutions which were neither war measures nor temporary measures, but permanent measures for adoption as an after-war policy. Take the question of key industries. Was there any difference of opinion among us whilst the War was being waged that we must not again find ourselves in the situation in which we were in the early months of the War, when we suddenly discovered that in many vital matters we had been dependent upon sources of supply that were no longer open to us? It was common ground. The first part of the Bill is only the translation into an Act of Parliament, within the narrowest sphere, of that Resolution which was then common to all parties, to Gentlemen who sit opposite no less than to Gentlemen who support the Government. What is the criticism urged against it? My right
hon. Friend found fault with us because some articles which were included in the previous Bill are excluded from this Schedule. I confess that I have much more difficulty in defending the limitation of this Bill against their criticism than I have in defending the inclusion of such vital articles as are included.
We have restricted the Bill within the narrowest compass which we thought would serve the purpose that we have in view. The right hon. Member for Paisley found fault with the industries we have chosen as key industries. He said that the key industries of the country were shipping, iron, steel, and cotton, and yet in the Bill he found not these, but very subsidiary and minor industries. Were not the right hon. Gentleman and those who have followed him in the same line of argument confusing key industries with staple industries? Staple industries are well established, and do not need this measure of protection. An industry may not be a staple industry, it may be a very small, almost an infinitesimal industry, and yet it may be a vital part of the national life, and the failure of it may-be destructive of national success. Both right hon. Gentlemen, and most hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who criticised the proposals admit the danger. They oppose the Government solution. What solution do they offer in its stead? The right hon. Gentleman who spoke last, if I understood him rightly, would do nothing. I do not know whether he would Wait and see, or Watch and pray.
The right hon. Member for Peebles and the right hon. Member for Paisley offer no alternative. They are afraid of injuring those who have no interest in industry and commerce, and are more concerned with merchanting and agencies. They are terribly concerned lest this House should be corrupted by the modest measure which the Government propose. They therefore submit as an alternative, and to guard against an admitted danger and an admitted evil, that we should establish a system of subsidies. Then you will never see a trader in the Lobby. No one will ever walk the back stairs of a Government office. There will be no what has been described as back-scratching. All will be above board. All will be generous and patriotic, and none of the evils that follow our proposal will ensue. Was there ever a more absurd contention? Who is to subsidise these industries? The taxpayer. That means an increase of the taxes. It is complained that this Bill will increase the cost of production. The weight of our taxation, as I have reason to know, having been Chancellor of the Exchequer, has already increased the cost of our production. Of all forms of Government help, subsidies are the most extravagant, the least effective, and involve the greatest admixture of Government control with the least resultant effective regulation of the industries which are subsidised. The House would not be well advised to reject this Measure, in order to adopt the subsidy alternative of right hon. Gentlemen opposite.
I come to dumping. I have listened to more of this Debate than most Members of this House. It has been my happy good fortune to be able to attend the Debate, while others were evidently employed on public affairs elsewhere. Yet the fact is that I am still in doubt as to what is the attitude of the Opposition towards dumping. Do they think that dumping is a good thing or a bad thing? They oppose the provisions of this Bill on the ground that if the articles are dumped below the cost at which we can produce them, or at which they are sold in the countries of origin, we buy them cheaper, and that that is an advantage. But to whom is it an advantage? Is it to individuals, or is it to the nation? Is it to a class, or is it to the community as a whole? One further question. If it be such a good thing, it is wrong to meddle with it at all; it is a good thing that demands continuance indefinitely.
At last I have got an answer, but not, I am sorry to say, from the Opposition. Though I believe my right hon. and gallant Friend speaks the mind of the Opposition he does not speak the whole mind, for the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley expressly included dumping, by which he said he meant unfair competition, as one of those matters against which we must make permanent provision after the War. What is dumping? It is of two kinds. There is what I might call political dumping, and what I might call economic dumping. As an example of political dumping, I go to Lord Balfour of Burleigh's Committee, which draws attention to the
Report of the Departmental Committee on Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering. It was not a violent Tariff Reform Committee, I imagine. It had Sir Alfred Booth as Chairman. This is what it said:
From statistics and evidence given to us we are convinced that rough machine forgings and finished crank shafts were systematically dumped in this country. We feel certain that this was governed by political considerations, the object being to cripple our forgings with a view to reducing the potential output of guns and other war materials. The real danger appears to us to lie in a recurrence of this systematic dumping on the part of Germany or some other large producer, especially in the case of forgings and castings.
That is political dumping, and it is a measure of common-sense and common defence to take precautions against it. Then there is economic dumping. Economic dumping, in its most offensive form, proceeds habitually from a combination or cartel, protected in its own markets, and then seeking to secure a foreign market. For that purpose it uses the profits of the home market, in order to undersell in the foreign market which it wishes to capture. For a period of time my right hon. and gallant Friend has cheap goods. He congratulates himself—
I have very little time left to give an example. The temporary advantage of cheapness to the consumer is, in my opinion, and I venture to think in the opinion of a majority of the House and of our countrymen, dearly bought by the permanent impoverishment of the country and its dependence upon foreign sources of supply. But even if they do not succeed, even if the competition be only temporary, see what has happened! Economic laws have been set aside. No manufacturer can calculate at what price he can sell his goods. Uncertainty pervades the whole trade, and as that temporary competition naturally arises mainly in time of depression, our manufacturers are deterred, at times when they cannot sell, from making for stock, whilst their competitors keep their works going, and are therefore in a superior position to take advantage of the revival of trade whenever it may come.
I come now to the question of exchange. The results produced by calculation under political or economic dumping may be, and are being, produced at this moment owing to the depreciated exchange. The state of the exchanges was not foreseen, I think, by any at the time of the last General Election, and I do not suggest that any man's election pledges covered this particular point. But what is the case in regard to the exchanges? As far as I know, nobody denies that as long as the exchanges are depressed, the country with the depressed exchange has an effective bounty upon export and an effective tariff on imports. Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite suggest that if we would only wait, this will right itself in the ordinary course. The exchanges are constantly righting themselves in normal times. They fluctuate slightly, and the moment an exchange becomes adverse it tends to the restriction of imports in the country to which it is adverse, and to the encouragement of exports. For any small and temporary fluctuation the natural remedy is at hand, is sufficient, and works with sufficient celerity. But can anyone suggest that that normal remedy can work sufficiently, or with sufficient celerity, to protect us against a great increase of competition and a great deterrent to employment in this country in such abnormal conditions been argued from the benches opposite.
The hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Wintringham) made an interesting speech, in which he took as an illustration the case of gloves. It is not the illustration I value, but the conclusion he drew. It was that you could not manufacture gloves profitably, and that therefore the manu- facturer must for the time content himself with being a merchant. I do not know that that matters very much to the manufacturer, but it matters profoundly to his workmen. I am surprised that members of the Labour party treat that contingency with complete equanimity. So far, I have not dealt with their alternative to the proposals of the Government, but I beg the House to note what it is. The alternative of the triple Opposition is a system of subsidy. The alternative of the Labour party is the nationalisation of industry. They explain that the need of the world is purchasing power. As our manufacturers cannot find a market for their goods, the State is to take over the obligation, and dispose of the goods to I
know not whom, and I know not bow. I conclude with this observation: There is an admitted evil; there is an evil with which we ought to deal, and there are three ways to deal with it. There is the way illustrated by this Bill; there is the way of subsidy; and there is the way of nationalisation. I invite my hon. Friends the supporters of the Government to say which of these ways they prefer.
|Division No. 150.]||AYES.||[11.3 p.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Goulding, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward A.|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm. W.)||Grant, James Augustus|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)||Gray, Major Ernest (Accrington)|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Child, Brigadier-General Sir Hill||Grayson, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Henry|
|Allen, Lieut.-Colonel William James||Churchman, Sir Arthur||Green, Albert (Derby)|
|Amery, Leopold C. M. S.||Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Clough, Robert||Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)|
|Ashley, Colonel Wilfrid W.||Coats, Sir Stuart||Greenwood, Colonel Sir Hamar|
|Astor, Viscountess||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Greenwood, William (Stockport)|
|Bagley, Captain E. Ashton||Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Greer, Harry|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Gregory, Holman|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Conway, Sir W. Martin||Greig, Colonel James William|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Cope, Major William||Gretton, Colonel John|
|Balfour, Sir R. (Glasgow, Partick)||Cory, Sir C. J. (Cornwall, St. Ives)||Gritten, W. G. Howard|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Kinc.)||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. Frederick E.|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Page||Gwynne, Rupert S.|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)|
|Barrie, Charles Coupar (Banff)||Pavidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W. (Liv'p'l, W. D'by)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Hambro, Angus Valdemar|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Hamilton, Major C. G. C.|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Benn, Capt. Sir I. H., Bart. (Gr'nw'h)||Dean, Commander P. T.||Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)|
|Bennett, Sir Thomas Jewell||Dennis, J. W. (Birmingham, Deritend)||Harris, Sir Henry Percy|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Denniss, Edmund R. B. (Oldham)||Henderson, Major V. L. (Tradeston)|
|Bigland, Alfred||Dewhurst, Lieut.-Commander Harry||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Dockrell, Sir Maurice||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)|
|Bird, Sir A. (Wolverhampton, West)||Doyle, N. Grattan||Herbert, Cpl. Hon. A. (Yeovil)|
|Bird, Sir William B. M. (Chichester)||Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Edgar, Clifford B.||Hickman, Brig.-Gen. Thomas E.|
|Blair, Sir Reginald||Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Elveden, Viscount||Hills, Major John Waller|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Hinds, John|
|Bowles, Colonel H. F.||Falcon, Captain Michael||Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Hohler, Gerald Fltzroy|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Farquharson, Major A. C.||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard|
|Brassey, H. L. C.||Fell, Sir Arthur||Hood, Joseph|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Hope, Sir H. (Stirling & Cl'ckm'nn, W.)|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||FitzRoy, Captain Hon. Edward A.||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)|
|Briggs, Harold||Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||Hopkins, John W. W.|
|Brown, Major D. C.||Ford, Patrick Johnston||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)|
|Bruton, Sir James||Foreman, Sir Henry||Horne, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Forrest, Walter||Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Howard, Major S. G.|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||France, Gerald Ashburner||Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)|
|Burdon, Colonel Rowland||Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Hurd, Percy A.|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Ganzoni, Sir John||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.|
|Campbell, J. D. G.||Geddes, Rt. Hon. Sir E. (Camb'dge)||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.|
|Carew, Charles Robert S.||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert|
|Carr, W. Theodore||Gilbert, James Daniel||Jephcott, A. R.|
|Carter, R. A. D. (Man., Withington)||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||Jodrell, Neville Paul|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Glyn, Major Ralph||Johnson, Sir Stanley|
|Cayzer, Major Herbert Robin||Gould, James C.||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)||Smith, Sir Harold (Warrington)|
|Joynson-Hicks, Sir William||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Smith, Sir Malcolm (Orkney)|
|Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George||Nield, Sir Herbert||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Kerr-Smiley, Major Peter Kerr||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Kidd, James||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut-Col. Sir John||Starkey, Captain John Ralph|
|King, Captain Henry Douglas||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Palmer, Major Godfrey Mark||Stephenson, Lieut-Colonel H. K.|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Palmer, Brigadier-General G. L.||Stevens, Marshall|
|Lane-Fox, G. R.||Parker, James||Stewart, Gershom|
|Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)||Parkinson, Albert L. (Blackpool)||Surtees, Brigadier-General H. C.|
|Lindsay, William Arthur||Pearce, Sir William||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Lloyd, George Butler||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike||Taylor, J.|
|Lloyd-Greame, Sir P.||Peel, Col. Hn. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)||Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)|
|Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Pennefather, De Fonblanque||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Lorden, John William||Perkins, Walter Frank||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Lort-Williams, J.||Perring, William George||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Lowther, Major C. (Cumberland, N.)||Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)||Townley, Maximillan G.|
|Lowther, Maj.-Gen. Sir H.C. (P'nrith)||Pickering, Colonel Emil W.||Townshend, Sir Charles V. F.|
|Lyle, C. E. Leonard||Pinkham, Lieut.-Colonel Charles||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|M'Donald, Dr. Bouverie F. P.||Pollock, Sir Ernest Murray||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachie)||Pownall, Lieut-Colonel Assheton||Wallace, J.|
|McLaren, Hon. H. D. (Leicester)||Prescott, Major W. H.||Walton, J. (York, W. R., Don Valley)|
|McLaren, Robert (Lanark, Northern)||Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Macleod, J. Mackintosh||Ramsden, G. T.||Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)|
|Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Randles, Sir John Scurrah||Waring, Major Walter|
|McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Rankin, Captain James Stuart||Warner, Sir T. Courtenay T.|
|Magnus, Sir Philip||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel Dr. N.||Warren, Sir Alfred H.|
|Maltland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-||Rees, Capt. J. Tudor- (Barnstaple)||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Reid, D. D.||Weston, Colonel John Wakefield|
|Manville, Edward||Remnant, Sir James||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.|
|Marriott, John Arthur Ransome||Renwick, George||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Mason, Robert||Richardson, Alexander (Gravesend)||Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Matthews, David||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Meysey-Thompson, Lieut.-Col. E. C.||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Middlebrook, Sir William||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Mitchell, William Lane||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)||Winfrey, Sir Richard|
|Molson, Major John Elsdale||Rodger, A. K.||Winterton, Earl|
|Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz||Rothschild, Lionel de||Wise, Frederick|
|Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.||Roundell, Colonel R. F.||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Moore-Brabazon, Lieut-Col. J. T. C.||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund||Wood, Major S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Morden, Col. W. Grant||Rutherford, Colonel Sir J. (Darwen)||Woolcock, William James U.|
|Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)||Worsfold, T. Cato|
|Morison, Rt. Hon. Thomas Brash||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Morrison, Hugh||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur||Young, E. H. (Norwich)|
|Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|Murchison, C. K.||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Younger, Sir George|
|Murray, Hon. Gideon (St. Rollox)||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Scott, Sir Samuel (St. Marylebone)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Murray, William (Dumfries)||Seddon, J. A.||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr.|
|Nall, Major Joseph||Seely, Major-General Rt. Hon. John||McCurdy.|
|Neal, Arthur||Shaw, Capt. William T. (Forfar)|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis D.||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Grundy, T. W.||Myers, Thomas|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Guest, J. (York, W.R., Hemsworth)||Newbould, Alfred Ernest|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||O'Grady, James|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Hartshorn, Vernon||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hayday, Arthur||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Hayward, Evan||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Briant, Frank||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Bromfield, William||Hirst, G. H.||Robertson, John|
|Cairns, John||Irving, Dan||Rose, Frank H.|
|Cape, Thomas||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Johnstone, Joseph||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Spencer, George A.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Kennedy, Thomas||Spoor, B. G.|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Kiley, James Daniel||Swan, J. E.|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Lawson, John James||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)||Lunn, William||Thomas, Sir Robert J. (Wrexham)|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Lyle-Samuel, Alexander||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Finney, Samuel||Macdonald, Rt. Hon. John Murray||Waterson, A. E.|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Gillis, William||Maclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D. (Midlothian)||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Glanville, Harold James||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Wignall, James|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Morgan, Major D. Watts||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Graham, R. (Nelson and Colne)||Murray, Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdean, C.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)||Mr. George Thorne and Mr.|
|Division No. 151.]||AYES.||[11.16 p.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Howard, Major S. G.|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Dean, Commander P. T.||Hurd, Percy A.|
|Allen, Lieut.-Colonel William James||Dennis, J. W. (Birmingham, Deritend)||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.|
|Amery, Leopold C. M. S.||Denniss, Edmund R. B. (Oldham)||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Dewhurst, Lieut.-Commander Harry||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.|
|Ashley, Colonel Wilfrid W.||Dockrell, Sir Maurice||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert|
|Astor, Viscountess||Doyle, N. Grattan||Jephcott, A. R.|
|Bagley, Captain E. Ashton||Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Jodrell, Neville Paul|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Edgar, Clifford B.||Johnson, Sir Stanley|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Elveden, Viscount||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)|
|Balfour, Sir R. (Glasgow, Partick)||Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Falcon, Captain Michael||Joynson-Hicks, Sir William|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Farquharson, Major A. C.||Kerr-Smiley, Major Peter Kerr|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Fell, Sir Arthur||Kidd, James|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||King, Captain Henry Douglas|
|Barrie, Charles Coupar (Banff)||FitzRoy, Captain Hon. Edward A.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||Lane-Fox, G. R.|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Ford, Patrick Johnston||Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Foreman, Sir Henry||Lindsay, William Arthur|
|Benn, Capt. Sir I. H., Bart. (Gr'nw'h)||Forrest, Walter||Lloyd, George Butler|
|Bennett, Sir Thomas Jewell||Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Lloyd-Greame, Sir P.|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)|
|Bigland, Alfred||Ganzoni, Sir John||Lorden, John William|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Geddes, Rt. Hon. Sir E. (Camb'dge)||Lort-Williams, J.|
|Bird, Sir A. (Wolverhampton, West)||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Lowther, Major C. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Bird, Sir William B. M. (Chichester)||Gilbert, James Daniel||Lowther, Maj.-Gen. Sir H.C. (P'nrith)|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||Lyle, C. E. Leonard|
|Blair, Sir Reginald||Glyn, Major Ralph||M'Donald, Dr. Bouverie F. P.|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Gould, James C.||Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachle)|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Gouldlng, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward A.||McLaren, Hon. H. D. (Leicester)|
|Bowles, Colonel H. F.||Grant, James Augustus||McLaren, Robert (Lanark, Northern)|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Gray, Major Ernest (Accrington)||Macleod, J. Mackintosh|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Grayson, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Henry||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.|
|Brassey, H. L. C.||Green, Albert (Derby)||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Magnus, Sir Philip|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-|
|Briggs, Harold||Greenwood, Colonel Sir Hamar||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)|
|Brown, Major D. C.||Greenwood, William (Stockport)||Manville, Edward|
|Bruton, Sir James||Greer, Harry||Marriott, John Arthur Ransome|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Gregory, Holman||Mason, Robert|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Greig, Colonel James William||Matthews, David|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Gretton, Colonel John||Meysey-Thompson, Lieut.-Col. E. C.|
|Burdon, Colonel Rowland||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Middlebrook, Sir William|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. Frederick E.||Mitchell, William Lane|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Molson, Major John Elsdale|
|Campbell, J. D. G.||Gwynne, Rupert S.||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz|
|Carew, Charles Robert S.||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.|
|Carr, W. Theodore||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.|
|Carter, R. A. D. (Man., Withington)||Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W. (Liv'p'l, W. D'by)||Morden, Col. W. Grant|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.|
|Cayzer, Major Herbert Robin||Hamilton, Major C. G. C.||Morison, Rt. Hon. Thomas Brash|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Morrison, Hugh|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm, W.)||Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.|
|Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)||Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert|
|Child, Brigadier-General Sir Hill||Henderson, Major V. L. (Tradeston)||Murchison, C. K.|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Murray, Hon. Gideon (St. Rollox)|
|Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Murray, John (Leeds, West)|
|Clough, Robert||Herbert, Col. Hon. A. (Yeovil)||Murray, William (Dumfries)|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon||Nall, Major Joseph|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hickman, Brig.-General Thomas E.||Neal, Arthur|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Hills, Major John Waller||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)|
|Cope, Major William||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Nield, Sir Herbert|
|Cory, Sir C. J. (Cornwall, St. Ives)||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Norrls, Colonel Sir Henry G.|
|Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Kinc.)||Hood, Joseph||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Hope, Sir H. (Stirling & Cl'ckm'nn, W.)||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Page||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)||Palmer, Major Godfrey Mark|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Hopkins, John W. W.||Palmer, Brigadier-General G. L.|
|Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Horne, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)||Parker, James|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)||Parkinson, Albert L. (Blackpool)|
|Pearce, Sir William||Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Walton, J. (York, W. R., Don Valley)|
|Peel, Col. Hn. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Pennefather, De Fonblanque||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur||Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)|
|Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.||Waring, Major Walter|
|Perkins, Walter Frank||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Warner, Sir T. Courtenay T.|
|Perring, William George||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)||Scott, Sir Samuel (St. Marylebone)||Weston, Colonel John Wakefield|
|Pickering, Colonel Emil W.||Seddon, J. A.||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.|
|Pinkham, Lieut.-Colonel Charles||Shaw, Capt. William T. (Forfar)||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Pollock, Sir Ernest Murray||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)||Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Smith, Sir Harold (Warrington)||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Prescott, Major W. H.||Smith, Sir Malcolm (Orkney)||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Ramsden, G. T.||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)||Winfrey, Sir Richard|
|Randles, Sir John Scurrah||Starkey, Captain John Ralph||Winterton, Earl|
|Rankin, Captain James Stuart||Steel, Major S. Strang||Wise, Frederick|
|Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel Dr. N.||Stevens, Marshall||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Rees, Capt. J. Tudor- (Barnstaple)||Stewart, Gershom||Wood, Major S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Reid, D. D.||Surtees, Brigadier-General H. C.||Woolcock, William James U.|
|Remnant, Sir James||Sutherland, Sir William||Worsfold, T. Cato|
|Renwick, George||Taylor, J.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Richardson, Alexander (Gravesend)||Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)||Young, E. H. (Norwich)|
|Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs, Stretford)||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)||Younger, Sir George|
|Rodger, A. K.||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Rothschild, Lionel de||Townley, Maximilian G.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Roundell, Colonel R. F.||Townshend, Sir Charles V. F.||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr.|
|Rutherford, Colonel Sir J. (Darwen)||Tryon, Major George Clement||McCurdy.|
|Arland, Rt. Hon. Francis D.||Hayward, Evan||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)||Robertson, John|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hinds, John||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Hirst, G. H.||Rose, Frank H.|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Irving, Dan||Seely, Major-General Rt. Hon. John|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)|
|Briant, Frank||Johnstone, Joseph||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Bromfield, William||Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|Cairns, John||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Cape, Thomas||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Spencer, George A.|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Kennedy, Thomas||Spoor, B. G.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin)||Kiley, James Daniel||Swan, J. E.|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Lawson, John James||Thomas, Sir Robert J. (Wrexham)|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Lunn, William||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Lyle-Samuel, Alexander||Wallace, J.|
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)||Macdonald, Rt. Hon. John Murray||Waterson, A. E.|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Finney, Samuel||Maclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D. (Midlothian)||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|France, Gerald Ashburner||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Wignall, James|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Mallalieu, Frederick William||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Gillis, William||Morgan, Major D. Watts||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Glanville, Harold James||Murray, Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)|
|Graham, R. (Nelson and Colne)||Myers, Thomas||Wintringham, Thomas|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Newbould, Alfred Ernest||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Guest, J. (York, W.R., Hemsworth)||O'Grady, James|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hartshorn, Vernon||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Mr. George Thorne and Mr.|
|Hayday, Arthur||Rendall, Athelstan||Hogge.|
Bill read a Second time, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House for To-morrow.