I beg to move, in page 3, line 8, column 1, at the end, to insert the words:
and any knife used normally as part of the material or equipment used in any trade, industry, or occupation pursued as a means of livelihood.
The object of this Amendment is apparently the same as that which the Government had in view when they inserted in this part of the Schedule the exception which would free surgical knives or knives for use in machines from duty. The reason the Government have left these out is, of course, quite clear. They do not wish to place any duty upon knives which are used for the beneficent purposes of surgery, and they exclude knives for use in machines because they do not wish to lay themselves open to the charge that they are adding to the expense of the equipment of factories or workshops. We have from time to time, in the Committee stage and on the Second Reading pressed the point that to whatever use cutlery is put the duty ultimately falls as a. burden on the consumer; and there is no distinction in principle between placing a duty upon that which is used by a private consumer and upon tools which are used by a firm or company. They are in exactly the same position,
The reason it is necessary to move this Amendment, as will be seen, if the different categories of cutlery are taken, is that a very large number of knives and scissors are used by workmen in the course of earning their livelihood. In the list which was put before the Committee by the Sheffield Cutlery Manufacturers' Association it was clear, for instance, that butchers' knives, included in this list, knives used for the purposes of skinning, sticking, boning and so on, are knives which are used in one process of one industry. Butchers' steels are, of course, in the same category. Knives which are used by plumbers are as much a part of the equipment of their trade as if the knives found their way into the machines which are used in some branches in the textile and other trades. The case of putty knives was raised yesterday in Committee, for the putty knife is an essential part of the glazier's trade; and the shoe knife, obviously, is part of the equipment of the bootmaker. There is a large number of other knives in this list which would come under the same heading as being essential parts of the equipment of a man who is working either as a separate workman or as an individual in a factory employing a large number of men or women.
In the second category—those knives with shut-up handles which are used in trades—the most important, and perhaps the moat striking, are those which are used in the industry of agriculture. It is a remarkable fact that this Safeguarding policy has never at any stage been able to do a single thing for the industry of agriculture in any one of its numerous branches. All that the Safeguarding proposals of the Government have done up to the present have been to place a slightly increased burden upon the various branches of agriculture, and, particularly, upon those which are dependent upon cutting instruments of various kinds. If the Committee will turn to Schedule B of Appendix I of the Report they will find pruning knives, grafting knives, hacking knives—unless they are used in the treatment of animals —and the whole of these will be dutiable. The farmer, therefore, will be justified in saying that the Safeguarding policy gives him nothing and adds a duty to some of the materials Which are essential to his industry. It is equally true of scissors. Even the horse clip, under the Safeguarding policy, is to come on to the dutiable list. Pruning knives, pruning scissors, and so on are all included. It is quite clear that the Government have not thought out even the exceptions they provide for in their Schedule. I am stating it quite seriously, for the very reason that I am certain that they would not have put in the phrase "other than surgical knives or knives for use in machines " unless they had believed, if a duty were placed upon them, that it would be either extracting a duty out of the surgeons who use them and the hospitals in which they are used, or upon the factories or workshops where the knife is an essential part of the machine.
The President of the Board of Trade may hold the view, and his colleagues may possibly express it, that these duties are not likely to raise the price of the articles on which they are to be placed. In, the Debates that we have had, now covering a good many days, we have heard less and less of the theory that if you place a duty on these articles you increase the output of them at home and tend to reduce the price, for it is now very clearly admitted on every hand that the object is to raise the price, and to raise the price to such a level that the imported article will never be put at an advantage over the home-made article; that is to say, whenever you impose a duty, you will raise the price of the article on which it is placed. That is undoubtedly what the Government had in mind when they exempted surgical knives and knives for use in machines. The object which we have in view is to put in exactly the same category the tools of workmen in various industries, because they are just as much entitled to exemption, and, although the burden may not amount to very much—only 2d. or 3d. or it may be 5d. or 6d. per article—yet it is a duty which ought not to be imposed upon workmen in pursuit of their trade. If anybody is to be mulcted by it, the Government have usually held the view that the consumer, who is not organised and scarcely vocal except in this House, should bear the whole brunt of their new crop of duties. I cannot believe that the President of the Board of Trade can resist the appeal that is made to him to-day on behalf of the British workman, and it is in that spirit that I move this Amendment.
I only want to add a word or two to what my right hon. Friend has said, and I particularly want to draw the attention of the President of the Board of Trade to a very old principle in Common Law by which the tools which a man requires for his livelihood are not permitted to be distrained for debt. This attempt to tax workmen's tools, if my right hon. Friend's Amendment be not accepted, is quite contrary to that old-established rule of British law, and requires the special consideration of the right hon. Gentleman. I only wish to add a couple to the special cases quoted by my right hon. Friend. First of all, take the case of sailors. Sailors' knives are included in Schedule B of the Report; they are going to be taxed. Looked at from the point of view of revenue, or, for that matter, from the point of view of protecting British industry, what is the use of putting a tax on an article which the sailor can buy at every port he touches and which he will buy? All that you do is to take the trade away from your own people in your own seaports. The sailor will say: "I will wait until I go to the next port abroad, and I will buy there." That is all that will happen.
My right hon. Friend mentioned the case of the farmer, and I would like to reinforce what he said. Pruning knives, grafting knives, knives used in husbandry generally—these are all going to be taxed. You are doing nothing for agriculture. You have not produced an agricultural policy of any sort, except to relieve some rates on farm buildings. There is no constructive policy for our greatest industry, employing the greatest number of people of any industry, and yet you are going to tax the equipment of the farmer, of the shepherd, the gardener, the nurseryman, the man who makes his living by pruning fruit. They are part of his means of livelihood, and I think it is iniquitous that this House, representing as it does the more comfortable and wealthy classes, should propose to tax these poor men in this way, partly to satisfy their natural craving for Protection, and partly to safeguard the pockets of their wealthy, and, in many cases, inefficient friends.
I would just like to put in a plea for one or two knives used by workmen. One is the glazier's hacking knife. It is used for cutting out the old glass and putty. They have to use a hammer with it, and this knife wears out very rapidly, because, beside cutting out the putty, they are up against the brads which are used to keep the glass steady while the putty is hardening. These wear out very rapidly, and if any increase in price is incurred through these taxes, as it undoubtedly will be, there will be a good deal of hardship on these men.
The carpet layer is another class of man who uses knives and has to provide them himself. He uses what is known as a lino knife for cutting linoleum. This has a sharp point, which also wears out very rapidly, and he has to keep a whetstone constantly by him to put a new sharp edge on his blade. Here again if these things are taxed they will cost a third more, or more than that, because there will be the profit of all the hands it goes through, so you will be having agitation for better conditions and higher wages and, I suppose, the accusation from the other side that it has all come from Moscow. There is another class of man who uses a goodly number of table knives. The signal fitter and cleaner on the railways has to keep the signals clean. Oil and dirt congregates round the cranks and other pins and makes them stick. These men find the most useful knife to use for this purpose is a table knife, and they buy table knives themselves. They are not provided. When you are continually scraping iron with table knives they do not last very long. This again means that if the knives go up 33 per cent. on entry the different hands through which they pass add their percentage of profit, and considerably more than a third will be added to the selling price when it ultimately reaches the working man who purchases the goods, and again we shall have the Executive Committee of the National Union of Railway Men asking for an increase of wages. Already the railways are in a very bad way, at least so they say, and cannot give us anything. If these men get angry again I suppose we shall be told, as I was told in the Lobby yesterday, that Russian gold is at work in making men dissatisfied. As a matter of fact most of the dissatisfaction comes from the terrible conditions under which the workers have to live, and we have to fear that more than Russian gold. I urge the President of the Board of Trade to consider excluding from the tax all these knives—many others could be added—which the workmen use in getting their living.
This duty serves as a very good illustration of the length to which supporters of Protection are prepared to go. It has been a principle of the English law to exempt from distraint the goods that the workman uses in the pursuit of his labour. These duties abro- gate that principle, which has been established and long observed upon the basis that it is necessary to enable the work-fan, in order to discharge his debt, to have the tools for his work at as low a price as possible and free from distraint. What is this new principle which the right hon. Gentleman introduces? be penalises the very tools the working man uses in order to obtain a livelihood. These duties are very often substantial. They are not merely the 2d. or 3d. which may be imposed by the duty alone. Take the pruning knife that they use in agriculture. We all know what happens when they come to be sold. Not only is the duty added on by the salesman, but an additional and substantial amount over and above the duty, and very often the knife costs 6d. The trouble with these duties is that they are not only duties upon the article which they purport to be duties upon, but they are really duties upon a number of other commodities. They are an extra duty upon shoos, upon agricultural produce and upon houses. They add to the price of boots, houses and agricultural produce.
I really would ask hon. Members to try to maintain some sense of proportion. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Swansea (Mr. Runciman) has said there is no distinction between a man using a knife in a machine and a man using a knife individually for trade purposes. In the first place—possibly he has heard this said before—the applicants for this duty specifically excluded the machine knife from their application, and during the hearing they explained that they did not include surgical knives. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] Surgical knives are not the produce of the cutlers' industry, which is one good reason, nor as far as I know, are machine knives. The right hon. Gentleman spoke about the hardships inflicted on the poor workman by having possibly to pay a higher price for the knife he uses in his work, and he used as, an instance the putty knife. I would refer him to Clause 41 of the Committee's Report where they explain that very considerable examination has been given to the subject of the shoemaker's knife, which I imagine may be classed with the putty knife. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I am neither a shoemaker nor a glazier, and I cannot distinguish between the two. [An HON. MEMBER: "One cuts and the other does not."] I find by the Report that the price of a shoemaker's outlay on knives in a year may be estimated at 4s. If the cost of this annual outlay on tools is increased from 3s. to 4s., or from 4s. to 5s., I do not think that can be seriously advanced against a measure which we are trying to introduce to benefit an industry, the figures of which the right hon. Gentleman knows as well as I, where unemployment is most serious in one of our oldest and most honoured industries. He advances an absurd and trifling argument, to use the expression so frequently used by the hon. and gallant Gentleman who sits above him—
We have been treated lately to some more of the eloquence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the country, in the course of which he described the Socialist party on one occasion as a stupid party, and on another as having soft heads, and so on. I think he might direct a little attention to his own party, for if the case for protective tariffs is the case that has just been put, surely those are the people who ought to be described as stupid and soft headed. They come along and argue the case for a duty upon cutlery, and the advocate of the tariff in the House does not know the difference between a putty knife and a shoemaker's knife. That is just the kind of fallacious basis upon which tariffists have always based their arguments, and we are glad the hon. Gentleman has been so frank as to expose his position to us once more. He has not answered a single one of the logical and reasonable arguments that have been put up in support of the Amendment. He tried to draw a distinction between machine knives and other forms of knife. He cannot have made many inquiries as to the attitude of the distributive trades on this matter to make such a statement as he made then. We use all kinds of blades in the distributive trades, and by the way, I ought to mention that far too little consideration has yet been given to the distributive trades in these matters. It seems to be overlooked that there are over a million workers engaged in the distributing trades, and we find in shops that whilst they use machines with knives they also use a very large supply of hand knives, every one of them part and parcel of their trade equipment. If it is logical to exclude surgical knives, it is logical for us to ask the Government to exclude any form of knife which has to be used in following a particular trade or occupation.
Then I notice the hon. Gentleman followed up the policy of the Government as displayed all the year with regard to agriculture. Ho simply ignored it. All this Session the Government have paid no attention to the arguments put forward on behalf of agriculture. I suggest that the representatives of the Board of Trade should make some inquiries of the National Farmers' Union as to their attitude with regard to these safeguarding duties. I wonder whether their attention has been drawn to a report of a speech made a few weeks ago by the President of the Farmers' Union, which somehow did not get reported in the ordinary Press. I discovered it in the "Mark Lane Express." After twitting the. Government, as I think they deserve to be twitted, about their total neglect of the interests of agriculture, he spoke about these safeguarding proposals of the Government. "Here," he said, "are some of the blessings that you might reasonably expect from the Cabinet." The first was that the scheme for the safeguarding of industries of substantial importance, should either be abandoned or else the embargo upon applications in respect of articles of food should be removed. Why does the President of the Farmers Union take that attitude? Simply because they get no help at all from the Government, while all the time the Government are piling up the farmer's costs of production by ever-increasing lists of duties upon the things he requires in his business.
This is not the first new burden upon agriculture in connection with tariffs. We reimposed in the Finance Bill of this year duties upon articles which are absolutely essential to the farmer. Now, we are putting on a further burden. The right hon. Member who moved the Amendment said that if we refer to the list of articles submitted by the applicants for these duties, we shall be amazed at the large number of implements which come within them, and a very considerable quantity of them are articles which are used at some point or other of his work by the farmer. Anyone who has visited a farm, even though he may not have much knowledge of agriculture, and has seen the daily occupation of the farmer, knows how he has to be skilled in all kinds of jobs, and that he has to have a whole range of tools for his occupation. This Bill will place a considerable additional burden upon the back of the farming industry, and at the same time there is to be no countervailing help, apparently, from the Government.
From the point of view of agriculture, from the point of view of the distributive trades, and from the point of view of the productive industries which have been mentioned in this Debate, it is essential that the Government should accept this Amendment, and cease putting taxes upon production. In the old days of the Protectionist propaganda, we were always told that the tariff proposals would be scientific, and that they would never attempt to put a burden upon anything which was by nature of being a raw material. What is a raw material? Is an instrument required in production raw material? It may not be classified as such, but it is just as important as the actual raw materials to be worked up into the finished article. If there were anything at all in the original Protectionist case, the Government ought to be logical on this occasion and exclude the3e trade requisites from the duties proposed in this Bill.
I support the Amendment. The differentiation made between a knife that may be used in machines and a knife which is to be used by the ordinary workmen, is a differentiation that should not be supported. I can well imagine that the exemption has been made in respect of knives of machines, because a good case has been put up showing that, if these knives are taxed, the price of the knife will increase, and that, ultimately, will mean an extra charge as far as overhead charges are concerned, which charge must, ultimately, fall upon the consumer in the way of an increased price for the commodity produced.
I am associated with an industry in which the workman spends anything from £20 to £30 as an initial expense for tools. Among these tools there is a considerable number of knives. The difficulty has been pointed out this afternoon of our being able to define exactly what is a knife. I could produce at least a dozen articles this afternoon and I could guarantee that, in keeping with the definitions that have been offered, the Parliamentary Secretary and very few Members in this House would be unable to decide whether they were knives or not.
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade gives his assent to my statement. The fact of his assenting to that statement shows the difficulty which is likely to confront the authorities whose duty it will be to impose this new form of taxation. The Committee ought not to assent to a duty of this kind unless hon. Members have very clearly in their minds precisely the things upon which the duty is to be imposed. We ought not to allow this Schedule to pass out of our hands until strict definitions are laid down.
The workmen to whom I have referred have to provide tools at an initial expense of anything from £20 to £30, and they have to supplement those tools with new took. The result of this duty will be that those of us who are acustomed to carry out negotiations in regard to wages on behalf of these men engaged in this particular industry will have to take into consideration the increased expense incurred as a result of this taxation, and put up a case for increased wages. That will react upon the cost of production as far as the industry is concerned. It is no uncommon thing for a man engaged in that industry to be compelled to make a purchase of knives or tools made in countries other than our own, simply because the producers in this country are not making the article they require. That is evidence that the cause of the trouble is inefficiency in industry.
I hope that before the Schedule is allowed to pass we shall have a stricter definition of what is meant by a knife An invidious distinction ought not to be drawn between the owner of a machine and the owner of a simple tool. The principle is entirely wrong. Am I to assume that the Federation of British Industries has brought sufficient pressure to bear upon the Board of Trade, and even upon the Committee which advised the Board of Trade, to say that these machines should be exempt in the interests of the mill owner and the factory owner, and at the same time they are prepared to place an unjust tax upon the ordinary common workman? Am I justified in assuming that? Many people outside this House will assume it. Many workmen will assume it. Is that likely to create a spirit of peace and good will in industry? I fear not. I hope the House will insist upon this Amendment being incorporated in the Schedule, otherwise the workman who is compelled to purchase his tools will ultimately be compelled to resort to asking for higher wages to meet the increased charges for the tools. On these grounds, I hope the Committee will insist upon the acceptance of the Amendment.
Those of us who have tried to follow to a logical conclusion the arguments of hon. Members opposite, must realise that hon. Members opposite are taking up a very curious position. Their complaint against the Government now is that they have not taxed enough things. We are told that they have omitted to tax machine knives. Surely, the only remedy for that would be to place a duty on those, knives also, but I do not want to see that done at the present time. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"]
I will come to that point if the hon. Member wishes me to. I was pointing out that hon. Members opposite are now complaining that a duty is not placed on machine knives, and they now ask why not. In regard to the putting on of these duties it is for the people engaged in the industry to come forward and to make out a case that the duties should be imposed. If you begin taxing parts of a machine you will in all probability have to extend the tax to other parts of the machine, and I do not want that.
It is said that this tax will bear in the main on the hand workers. There are hon. Members in this House who in one form or another have used the articles which are mentioned in the Schedule. I have used a considerable number of them at one time and another, and I have always found from my own experience and from the experience of other people that it is best to buy the British article. If the hand worker wants any knives he will find that if he purchases knives made by British manufacturers they will last ten times longer than a similar article made abroad. That being the case, it is advisable to do everything in our power to encourage the British manufacturer to produce cheaply and to give a good sound article which will last a considerable time. If the worker buys the inferior article, it will not last long, and it means that the purchase of the inferior article really adds to the cost of production.
It was said many years ago by Mr. Chamberlain, when he introduced his tariff proposals, that the Unionist party would bring in a tariff, and that when it had been brought in. after a certain number of years, the Unionists would be fighting the Socialists for the purpose of decreasing the tariff. There are evidences of that to-day. We see it now in the changed attitude of hon. Members opposite. Not long ago we listened to a series of wonderful speeches from the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, the right hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden). I suppose he is preparing his way by his silence to-day to take action when the time comes, when he may have to devote himself to a tariff of some sort. This Bill is not a Budget exactly, but it has something in it of the nature of a Budget. It is something in the nature of ordinary legislation, and on these occasions it has at times been the policy to make slight concessions. I appeal to the President of the Board of Trade to make one concession. Hon. Members opposite have, very kindly, looked after interests which appeal to those of us on this side; although they are very modest and retiring in looking after our supporters. I will, therefore, do something on their behalf.
I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman has noticed in the Schedule one article which was mentioned last night of the existence of which I was unaware. If he could make one concession in regard to this particular article it would perhaps remove obstacles out of the path of hon. Members opposite, and perhaps they might support him. I refer to an article which appeals to hon. Members opposite very much. Could the right hon. Gentleman, for the sake of appeasing hon. Members opposite, remove champagne knives from the list?
Mr. TREVELYAN THOMSON:
The hon. and gallant Member for Torquay (Commander Williams) sat down before he finished his speech. We should be very interested to know why he objects to taxing machinery. The hon. and gallant Member told us in the earlier part of his speech that he would tell us why he objected to taxing machinery.
I should object to taxing machinery because there are limits to the taxation we want to raise in. this country. After the Report, you have got ample evidence that there are certain forms of inferior stuff used for machinery which would be better not used, and good sound British stuff used instead, which would produce much more cheaply and much more efficiently.
Why not tax inferior machinery? It seems to me that we agree with the hon. and gallant Gentleman in his objection to taxation, only he stops short. We want to exclude everything in the way of manufacture of bad tools, and as it seems sound sense to draw the line at bad machinery it is equally sound to draw the line at bad tools. We want to know where we are going to stop. The Parliamentary Secretary said there were two reasons, in answer to the arguments put forward from these benches. In the first place, he said the applicants themselves did not desire taxation for surgical knives or knives used in machines. Surely it is an extraordinary reason to give to this House, which has to legislate for the consumers as a whole, that because the manufacturers do not desire protection against the manufacture of surgical knives or knives used in machines, therefore, this House has to follow their behest. No reaons have been shown why it should make this distinction, exempting one class of tool from taxation, and taxing another.
Reference has been made on this side to the workmen's tools, and I would like to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether this description includes the blades of planes, and other articles which go to make up a workman's kit? If so, it will mean very heavy expenditure on an ordinary joiner and cabinet maker's kit, which he has to supply. The other reason the Parliamentary Secretary gave was that really the tax was so infinitesimal, that it did not really matter. Thirty-three percent, is not a small proportion, and although the amount may not be stupendous in each particular item, the number of items involved are very considerable. Think of the millions of people who are using these articles, and then you get the measure of the tax which you are going to place on industry. I gather that the Government do not propose to tax machine knives, because there are so many of them, but surely there is an equal number of hand tools? They are used by millions of people, instead of being used by one or two wealthy employers. I submit that there have been no answers whatever to the argument put forward from this side, and that this tariff is going to raise the cost of the tools of the individual worker. The cost of production will he a very heavy burden on the consumer. Therefore, for that reason, we resist it.
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade exempts machine knives and puts the duty on knives used by individual workers in industrial occupations. I gather he said the obvious reason was that we wore dealing with cutlery, and that in order to protect the cutlery industry that distinction has been drawn. Well, really, that is a distinction which has no substance, for this reason, that many machine knives are made in Sheffield and therefore, if we want Protection in regard to the material contained in these, they require Protection for the knives made for commercial purposes. Some reference has been made this afternoon to the inconsistency of the Government in imposing these duties, and the distinction they have drawn between the taxing of machine knives and the knives used by hand by workmen in their trades. I want to suggest to the Government that really they have lost a great opportunity, in connection with their stupid policy of duties and Protection, in failing to get established the principles they have been advocating for many years with regard to the importation of foreign machinery. What are the facts? Machine knives are used to a very large extent in the printing trade, with regard to guillotine cutting machines, and large numbers of guillotine cutting machines are imported into this country from other countries.
The Conservative party say they want to be consistent and protect industries, but in the distinction they have drawn in this Bill between machine knives and knives used by workmen they have exempted the machine knives in guillotine machines, imported from a foreign manufacturer, and penalised the British workman for the work knife he uses. There is no kind of consistency in a policy of that kind. May I also go one step further and ask on what ground is the distinction drawn between large tailors' shears, which are to be subject to duty in this Schedule, and the small knife in a machine performing the same operation? There is no distinction which can be drawn. But what does appear is, as has been suggested already, that one is used by the workman and the other is part of an employer's equipment and therefore has to be exempt. In other words, the principle underlying this policy seems to be to penalise and to curtail, the spending power of the workman to the utmost extent. It is only another instance of the impossible situation in which we are landed once we have got on to the slippery slope of Protection. I hope, so far as this Amendment is concerned, that the Minister will see that it is utterly indefensible to eliminate or exempt only machine knives and that he will decide to extend the same exemption to all forms of industrial knives,
I wanted to ask the Minister one or two questions, before he replies. One is, if he would explain how-far he is going to tax the knives and implements that agricultural workers use. I find that the agriculturists in this House appear to be pretty well satisfied. Probably the farmer has been satisfied to know that the blade used in his mowing machine will not be taxed. I want to know what is going to happen to the labourer who uses the scythe and the hedge hook—which is a knife bent for the purpose of trimming hedges, ditches and the side paths. I would like also to know what is going to happen to the agriculturist who uses a knife for cutting rods. They are a kind of instrument for cutting rods, which are used in market gardening, especially when most of the goods are bunched with roas and the man has to have a special knife for cutting the ends off and trimming them up. Also the agricultural labourer has to have a knife for trimming mangel-wurzels and cutting lettuces, in season, and many other things that the market gardener supplies to the consumer. All these instruments are purchased and owned by the agricultural labourer himself. If these instruments are going to be taxed to this extent, presumably the farmers consider that the tremendous high wages they are paying to the agricultural labourer will enable him to pay something extra for these commodities which he uses in his work. But I do not think so. Their wager, are low enough now. The Parliamentary Secretary says that quite possibly it might mean two or three shillings in a year; but it does not work out like that. It is not possible for these men to be able to save up to pay 2s. or 3s. in the year. These things have to be bought out of a week's wages and the wages are small enough as it is, without having to spend 3s. or 4s. for the purpose of an implement with which to do his work. I hope the President of the Board of Trade will be able to give us some answers to these question.
I would like to ask what the President of the Board of Trade means by " workmen's blades"? Does it apply to the joiner's iron, as was stated by the Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. T. Thomson), or the draw knife, which every joiner uses as part of his kit? We want to know exactly what his definition is. The President perhaps not aware that every joiner is entitled to the return, as the annual of the upkeep of tools, of the sum of £3 15s. If you put 33⅓ percent, on the price of the tools, then you are charging him at least £l 5s. per week more than he is at present paid. We want to find out exactly what this covers. I would like to say in reply to one of the hon. Gentleman opposite, who spoke from the back benches as to the reason why every user of edged tools does not buy the home manufactured edged tool, that it is because neither in durability or finish can it equal the American tool that you are going to tax.
the first question raised was why were we not going to tax knives in machines, I can not think that hon. Members would agree for one moment to tax something for which there was neither a claim nor a recommendation. Their general course throughout these Debates has been to say: " You have not made out a sufficient case for the article you propose to tax," though the taxes will be justified in this House and though they have gone through a process of inquiry before a Committee and the claimants have been examined at length by learned counsel and cross-examined and every opposition to the pro-position that at one time, and another has been advanced. But if we are challenged on a case like that for imposing a I would like to know what hon. Members would say if we should produce for duty under a safeguarding proposal an article which has not only not been recommended by a Committee, but has not claimed?
The right hon. Gentleman says he does not see any reason for inserting in this list of duties articles which were not asked for by the applicants. I think he will find if he looks up " carving forks," they appear in the body of the Report and not in the Schedule on pages 18 and 19, put forward by the Sheffield Cutlery Manufacturers' Association as their request. They put it in because it was in the body of the Report. It was not asked for.
The right hon. Gentleman will see that carving forks are included right at the top, where it says
Sets of carvers, including steels and forks.
There is no article which is included in this Schedule which is not included in Appendix I of the Report. I am not saying that one might not be able to make out a good case for taxing things which the Committees have not recommended, but I am quite certain that there would be very strong opposition from the right hon. Gentleman if I made such a, proposal under the Safeguarding procedure. Then the right hon. Gentleman said: " Why do you include these particular articles, even though they are recommended by the Committee? " He drew a picture of certain things which would be included, and said this was harsh and unconscionable, but he did not say how far, as a matter of fact, his Amendment would go. His Amendment would make mincemeat of the whole proposal, because it would extend not only to such things as shoe knives, but even to cutlery such as a restaurant proprietor uses, and would exempt it. Of course, that would be a proposal which the right hon. Gentleman would accept, hut it is not a. proposal which we for one moment could accept, because our purpose is to safeguard the cutlery trade, whereas obviously his purpose is to make the duties as ineffective for their purpose as he can. I do not think there is any real reason to suppose agriculturists are anxious or dissatisfied with this policy. They have had an opportunity at two recent by-elections of expressing their opinion upon it, both at Bury and Ripon, and I see nothing in the results of either of these elections to suppose any section of the agricultural community is anxious as to these specific proposals or
as to the general policy of the Government.
The right hon. Gentleman does his party and the Liberal party less than justice. Both, candidates were at every single meeting subjected to the closest cross-examination on the subject of Safeguarding, and emerged from it unscathed. I remember reading more than one speech and many answers given by the hon. and gallant Member for Ripon (Major Hills) in the contest in which he was the candidate.. [An HON. MEMBER: " He said be was not a Protectionist! "] Exactly. But if the hon. Member had read his speech he would see he said:
I am in favour of safeguarding.
That is exactly where we stand, and it is the Prime Minister's pledge. We do not propose to introduce a general tariff, but we do propose to safeguard. That is exactly what my hon. and gallant Friend says. He did not find it a slippery slope, but found it a perfectly straight pathway to realities and back to this House, and we are glad to see him. The articles included are the articles set out in Appendix I of the Report. I have one more thing; to say.
No, that is exactly what I said, a plane is not a knife. It is a tool of quite a different kind. Neither the plane nor its blade under this would be subjected to the tax. It has been represented, quite wrongly I think, that the general object of workmen is to buy foreign goods rather than to buy British goods. I do not believe that in the very least to be their aim. We have had it represented to us that here are a band of workmen anxious to buy foreign goods rather than British goods. I remember seeing a couple of years ago an appeal made in Sheffield by the trade union officials to other industries to buy the products of their industry in the interest of employment rather than to buy foreign goods. It was an appeal by trade unionists saying they were subject to severe unemployment in the Sheffield district and many more were on short time, and that unemployment would be very much reduced if purchases of tools were of British-made goods. They said these were equal to or bettor in shape, finish, appearance, quality and durability than any imported brand, and they ended with an appeal to support home industries and to help to reduce unemployment. They did not say the way to reduce unemployment was to get more and more foreign articles imported in order that the workman might use them. They said the Sheffield workers could help themselves and each other by using British goods rather than foreign goods. I believe the vast majority of workmen in this country are only too ready to give this help to their fellow workmen. The hon. Member for Hills-borough said that on this side of the House we had soft heads. I am sorry to think that he and his followers have apparently still hard hearts.
In spite of the interesting address to which we have listened, there is still very much to be cleared up. The right hon. Gentleman did not say anything about the steel manufacturers in Sheffield and law they were going to suffer loss of ex-sports of their steel owing to the imports of goods made of their steel being stopped. Will he deal with that? The right hon. Gentlemen seemed to imply that the word " cutlery " was not part of the Act of Parliament at all and that it had nothing whatever to do with what Parliament was doing. The operative words begin on line 5 with the word " knives." I repeat the question, which so many Members have asked, What is meant by " knives." The President of the Board of Trade thinks that if you cut out knives which workmen use, you are going to make mincemeat of the whole proposals. Why will it make mincemeat of it?
I am sorry if I did not make it clear. You get many cases where a man gets an ordinary table knife and uses it for a particular purpose. Quite obviously in cases like that the knife used by the workman is quite indistinguishable from an ordinary knife.
The right hon. Gentleman says that the effect of the Amendment is that if you exclude knives purchased by the employer- for use in the factory you can do that, but you cannot exclude the knives purchased by a workman out of his money, for his use as a workman. Ho says if you exclude the workman's knife you make mincemeat of the proposal. I want to ask with regard to these knives exactly what the definition is going to be What about the blades of planes? Or spoke-shaves? I repeat that question. I represent a port where very many shies were built at one time, and where there are still some repairs. The shipworkers use a good many knives. Apart from the initial cost of the outfit, which I am told is about £50, there is the cost of repairs. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade accepted quite frankly that the effect of the tariff would be to raise prices. It was pointed out to him that it represents 25s. in the year. How far is it to go? Why does the President of the Board of Trade say that the knife of a plane will not be taxed? On whose authority does he say that?
I know perfectly well that a Court of law and all Customs officials would take no notice of what he says. You might quote the OFFICIAL REPORT or the Financial Secretary, who ought to be here. The only thing anyone takes any notice of is the Act of Parliament. To quote a casual remark of even so distinguished a Minister as himself has absolutely no relevance in the Statute in dealing with the Customs, and anybody who deals with them knows perfectly well they do not take any notice of these things. Wherever they can, by the narrowest interpretation, they collect the maximum amount of duty. The President of the Board of Trade does not imagine, I suppose, that the blade of a plane comes in the wooden frame. It comes separately. The wooden part is much more permanent than the blade, which has to be renewed. I think the Committee is entitled to ask for an assurance from the proper Minister—the representative of the Treasury—that these things are not going to be taxed.
What about a knife with two handles such as a spoke shave which is worked with two hands? Is that a knife within
the meaning of the Schedule? It is called a draw-knife in the trade. Apparently there is nobody on the Treasury bench qualified to answer the question. It may be a suitable subject for silence on the part of Ministers, but it is a serious subject for the working men who will have to pay this tax. We will leave it at that. Apparently spokeshaves or draw-knives are going to be included, and the only things to be excluded are planes—not necessarily with the blades in them. So it will go forth from this Debate to all persons concerned, that the implements of their trades are going to be taxed, and I do not think they will thank the Government for it.
|Division No. 489.]||AYES.||[5.17 p.m.|
|Adamson, Ht. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Hall. G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Rose. Frank H.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Ammon, Charles George||Hardie, George D.||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Harney, E. A.||Sexton, James|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Hayes, John Henry||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Baker, Walter||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Barnes, A.||Hirst, G. H.||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Barr, J.||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Batey, Joseph||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Smillie, Robert|
|Beckett, John (Gateshead)||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Briant, Frank||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Snell, Harry|
|Broad, F. A.||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Bromfield, William||Kelly, W. T.||Stamford, T. W.|
|Bromley, J.||Kennedy, T.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Buchanan, G.||Kirkwood, D.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Cape, Thomas||Lansbury, George||Taylor, R. A.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Lawson, John James||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Lee, F.||Thomas. Sir Robert John (Anglesey)|
|Connolly, M.||Livingstone, A. M.||Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro. W.)|
|Cove. W. G.||Lowth, T.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Lunn, William||Thurtle, E.|
|Crawfurd, H. E.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R.(Aberavon)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Mackinder, W.||Townend, A. E.|
|Davies, Ellis (Denbigh, Denbigh)||MacLaren, Andrew||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Varley, Frank B.|
|Day, Colonel Harry||March, S.||Viant, S. P.|
|Dennison, R.||Montague, Frederick||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Duckworth, John||Morris, R. H.||Warne, G. H.|
|Dunnico, H.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N)||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Edwards, John H. (Accrington)||Murnin, H.||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|England, Colonel A.||Naylor, T. E.||Westwood, J.|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Oliver, George Harold||Whiteley, W.|
|Forrest, W.||Palin, John Henry||Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)|
|Gillett, George M.||Paling, W.||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Gosling, Harry||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Lianelly)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Pethick-Lawrence, F W.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Greenall, T.||Ponsonby. Arthur||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Potts, John S.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Purcell, A. A.||Windsor, Walter|
|Groves, T.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Riley, Ben|
|Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth)||Ritson, J.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W.R., Elland)||Sir Godfrey Collins and Sir Robert Hutchison.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Philipson, Mabel|
|Agg-Gardner. Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Pielou, D. P.|
|Ainsworth, Major Charles||Grotrian, H. Brent.||Pilditch, Sir Philip|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Guinness, Rt. Han. Walter E.||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby)||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Preston, William|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Price, Major C. W. M.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Radford, E. A.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Raine, W.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Harrison, G. J. C.||Ramsden, E.|
|Barclay-Harvey C. M.||Hartington, Marquess of||Rawson, Alfred Cooper|
|Barnett, Major Sir Richard||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Remer, J. R.|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Remnant, Sir James|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Haslam, Henry C.||Rentoul, G. S.|
|Berry, Sir George||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Henderson, Capt. R.R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Rice, Sir Frederick|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)|
|Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Ropner, Major L.|
|Blundell, F. N.||Herbert, S.(York, N. R., Scar. & Wh'by)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Hills, Major John Walter||Salmon, Major I.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Hilton, Cecil||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Sandeman, A. Stewart|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Sanders, Sir Robert A.|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Holt, Captain H. P.||Sandon, Lord|
|Briggs, J. Harold||Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Savery, S. S.|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Hope. Sir Harry (Forfar)||Scott. Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)|
|Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Shaw, Lt.-Col, A. D. Mcl.(Renfrew, W)|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Howard. Captain Hon. Donald||Shaw, Capt W. W. (Wilts, Westb'y)|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Hudson. R. S. (Cumberl'nd, Whiteh'n)||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Hutchison, G. A. Clark (Midl'n & P'bl's)||Skelton, A. N.|
|Bullock Captain, M.||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Slaney, Major P, Kenyon|
|Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Burman, J. B.||Jephcott, A. R.||Smith-Carington. Neville W.|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Jones. G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Smithers, Waldron|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Campbell, E. T.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Sprot, Sir Alexander|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Knox. Sir Alfred||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Lamb, J. Q.||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)|
|Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Lane-Fox, Colonel George R.||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Christie, J. A.||Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Streatfeild, Captain S. R.|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th)||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Lougher, L.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunei||Luce, Major-Gen. Sir' Richard Harman||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Lumley. L. R.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Lynn, Sir R. J.||Templeton, W. P.|
|Couper, J. B.||MacAndrew, Charles Glen||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Cowan, Sir Wm, Henry (Islington, N.)||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Macintyre, Ian||Tinne, J. A.|
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||McLean, Major A.||Titchfield Major the Marquess of|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Crookshank, Cpt. H.(Lindsey, Gainsbro)||McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Macquisten, F. A.||Waddington, R.|
|Davidson, J.(Hertf'd, Hemel Hempst'd)||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Ward, Lt.-Col. A.L.(Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Drewe, C.||Margesson, Captain D.||Warner, Srigardier-General W. W.|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Elliot, Captain Walter E.||Meller, R. J.||Waterhouse. Captain Charles|
|Elveden, Viscount||Meyer, Sir Frank||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||Milne. J. S. Wardlaw-||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Watts, Dr. T.|
|Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Wells, S. R.|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Moore. Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.|
|Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Moore, Sir Newton J.||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Fermoy, Lord||Moreing, Captain A. H.||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Fielden, E. B.||Morrison, H, (Wilts, Salisbury)||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford Lichfield)|
|Fleming, D. P.||Morrison-Bell. Sir Arthur Clive||Winby, Colonel L. P.|
|Ford, P. J.||Murchison, C. K.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Foster, Sir Harry S.||Nelson, Sir Frank||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Fremantle. Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Womersley, W. J.|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W.G.(Ptrsf'ld.)||Wood, B. C. (Somerset, Bridgwater)|
|Gates, Percy||Nuttall, Ellis||Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'dge & Hyde)|
|Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Oakley, T.||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.)|
|Gee, Captain R.||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Gibbs. Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Wragg, Herbert|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col, Rt. Hon. Sir John||Pease, William Edwin||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Pennefather, Sir John|
|Goff, Sir Park||Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Grace, John||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)||Major Hennessy and Major Cope.|
|Grant. J. A.|
I beg to move in page 3, line 11, column 2, to leave out the words " thirty-three and one-third," and to insert instead thereof the word " five."
We have already had a discussion on the principle of this Amendment, but I am very anxious that we should not in a Measure of this kind impose a heavy burden on a great body of consumers without some corresponding advantage to the industry which it is sought to protect. In relation to the particular commodities set out in this part of the Schedule, I am persuaded, and apparently the Committee were persuaded, that if one sought to prohibit the import of such articles, a duty of 33⅓ per cent. would not be efficacious. One of the witnesses in favour of the tariff said that a tariff would be no use if it was less than 150 per cent., and from that point of view, the present proposal is not going to help employment in the industry. At the same time, large numbers of articles are coming in, and if you are going to put on a tariff as high as 33⅓ per cent., it is going to be a very serious matter for the purchasers of those goods. I have been interested to notice the result of the inquiries which the right hon. Gentleman seems to have been making into Sheffield affairs since our previous Debates. He has been producing old circulars of two years ago to show what the opinion of Sheffield was on the question of how to improve employment. I am amazed, in these circumstances, that the right hon. Gentleman should have announced to us, as he did last night, that he has not had any consultation with the Balfour Committee on Trade and Industry. Sir Arthur Balfour, for whom I have the greatest possible respect, and who has, I believe, the confidence of the whole business community in this country, is a Sheffield man, and from his experience of Sheffield industry, I thought the right hon. Gentleman would have been able to draw valuable advice on a matter affecting employment in Sheffield. I do not know if the right hon. Gentleman has read the Report of the Committee, but if he has, he may have overlooked the following passage on page 12:
It is clear that other things being equal, a country like Great Britain which is one of the greatest consumers of imported materials and foodstuffs, must be in a relatively strong position for securing a full
share of the export of manufactures by which payment for these materials and foodstuffs is made.
That is the view of the Committee of which Sir Arthur Balfour is chairman in a Report issued some little time ago. They place a great deal of faith in the argument that if you have plenty of imports you are bound to have plenty of exports, and, elsewhere the Report makes it. clear that it is to the rehabilitation of our export trade that we must look to find the solution for unemployment in this country. That is borne out by an extract from the Board of Trade figures given on page 637. I find from these figures that for the period 1910-1913 the average of imports of articles solely or mainly manufactured was £150,000,000 per annum. In the same period the average exports, including re-exports, was £403,000,000 per annum. Judging by the suggestions which have been made from the other side, you would imagine that the position must have got worse since then, but has it? In 1024, I find, the net imports were £266,000,000 and the exports, including re-exports, £652,000,000. SO we find that almost automatically as the imports of manufactured goods into this country have increased so have our exports, according to the Board of Trade's own figures.
From that, point of view, some of us fear very much that the imposition of a duty of 33⅓ per cent. will interfere very seriously with the volume of imports into this country, not from the point of view that it will help employment in the industries which it seeks to protect, because the goods in most cases are not comparable, but because it will raise the prices of the imported articles to such an extent that there will be a restricted use of those articles. Having regard to the finding of the Balfour Committee that we must depend on a really good volume of imports if we are to hope to get an increase in our export trade and thus provide more exployment. I hope the President of the Board of Trade will see with us and reduce the amount of the duty from 33⅓ per cent. to 5 per cent. I do not say this in an offensive way, but it seems rather sharp practice, from a political point of view, for the cutlery industry to be having an inquiry and for pressure to be brought by the Government for that inquiry to be concluded before they had completed all the arrangements which they proposed to make for visiting the centre of the industry and ascertaining the real conditions, while at the same time you have a Committee of this important and far-reaching character set up last year, which has made a provisional Report and which, I believe, will shortly be able to report in more detail still, with regard to the general methods to be followed for improving the trade of this country.
I hope that in those circumstances we shall get a reduction of this duty, so that too much damage will not be done before the Balfour Committee will have advised the Government in a different way and, I hope, the Government will have seen the error of their ways and have abandoned this rather stupid and futile policy of safeguarding.
The hon. Member for Hillsborough (Mr. Alexander) will not be surprised if I do not accept his Amendment. Indeed, he was quite frank in proposing it, for he said his object was not to make the duty work, but to make it not work. He said, " You put on this duty with the object of keeping some goods out; I propose to reduce it to a level that will make it sure that no goods will be kept out, and that all the goods may come in." That may be one way of raising a revenue duty of 5 per cent., but that is not what we are here for. We are here to safeguard this industry. I do not propose to follow at any length the very interesting discourse he gave us upon the desirability of increasing your imports, irrespective of their character, in order that your exports might follow. To carry that to its logical conclusion—and he advised me to be logical in his. last speech but one— you would be careful in your ordinary private life to run up any number of bills in the hope, or, I suppose, the. certainty, that there would come to you the means of paying them.
On that general statement, I would only say this, that it is very dangerous to quote the figures of a single country without seeing what has happened in other countries as well, and while it may be true, and is true, that this country has very slightly increased the volume of its export trade in manufactured articles in the last year—incidentally, not a little, I think, because of the development of trade within the Empire—other countries which do not accept the hen. Member's thesis, such as the United States of America and France and, I think, Belgium, have increased their exports of manufactured articles at a far more rapid rate than this country has. There were some interesting figures cited by the light hon. Member for Carmarthen (Sir A. Mond) in a recent Debate, and there is no doubt at all that those countries have increased their export trade at. a far more rapid rate, and in greater proportion than this country has. I do not want to pursue that further, but I would only make that statement in order to show that you cannot draw any very certain deductions from formulae about exports and imports by citing one country alone.
I think I could have done no greater disservice to the Balfour Committee than to have asked them to undertake an inquiry of this kind. At one time and another it has been suggested that a special thing should be referred to the Balfour Committee, a most valuable body, for an ad hoc inquiry. The Committee have begged me to lot them get on with their job on the broad lines on which they have undertaken it, and the last thing in the world that they want is that they should be interrupted in the wide survey of the whole industrial field which they have undertaken or in the order in which they are approaching their subjects, and I really cannot conceive that anything would have been less welcome to Sir Arthur Balfour and his Committee, for whose work I am intensely grateful, or less useful, than that I should have referred this inquiry to them instead of to an ad hoc Committee in accordance with the ordinary procedure.
As regards the merits of this Amendment, nobody, I am sure, will pretend that where you have articles of varying prices, where you have between one and another a varying gap, where you have conditions which are not always' and at all times the same, it is possible to impose a duty or a series of duties which are always and in every case going to be mathematically accurate. Nobody will attempt to do that. The attempt to do that is what the hon. and gallant Member for Leith (Captain Been) was criticising in the proposals of a predecessor of mine in a locked box. Theoretically they had an enormous amount of accuracy, much more than the kind of rough and ready duty of 33⅓ per cent., but in practice they would never work, and nobody would have objected more than the hon. and gallant Member would to constantly varying duties and to a great variety in the rates of duty. What we say is that this duty, while possibly not effective in every ease to exclude, will exclude in some cases, will give an encouragement to this trade, will enable manufacturers to produce on a bigger scale here, will thereby reduce their costs of production, will thereby —
The hon. Member has far sounder economic instincts than a great many other people on those benches, and it is no bad thing for the duty to leave a gap or two. It is a very good thing that some part of a gap is left here and there to be bridged. The House has approved of the principle of safeguarding this industry and has said it- is to be done by a duty. What is the issue before the Committee now? It is whether it shall be 33⅓ per cent., about which hon. Members opposite say that it may not be enough in every case to safeguard, or whether, instead of putting on 33⅓ per cent., we shall put on 5 per cent. That is the issue. The House has approved the principle, and the Committee is certainly not going to stultify itself by giving effect to this principle in a way which would make the principle utterly unworkable.
The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade quite naturally followed the hon. Member for Hillsborough (Mr. Alexander) into the discussion of the effect this duty was likely to have upon our imports. If he will forgive me for saying it, I think he took a totally inadequate view of the whole of our export and import problem when he compared it with the expenditure of a household. I should not be in order in describing the whole process of international payments to the right hon. Gentleman, although I feel sure there would be some excuse for doing so after what he has just said, but I would remind him of one simple fact, lie knows quite well that whenever a Frenchman, say, buys goods from this country, he does not pay for them in English gold. He pays for them in a bill, which is drawn either in francs or in sterling. If it is drawn in sterling, he has to buy the sterling in Paris to do it; he buys sterling from a banker; the only way in which the banker obtained the sterling was by turning into sterling what had been received for goods already sold from France to this country. The process is very simple, and well known to every bill broker, and I would urge my right hon. Friend, before the expounds theories on our international trade, to consult one of his bill broking friends in the City and see what actually is done with our bills of exchange. If he did that, he would have an entirely different conception of our international trade and one very different from the household analogy the has just given us.
The importance of this Amendment is that it does bring the 33⅓ per cent. down from that high level to the level of what might be called a revenue duty. If 33⅓ per cent. is enough to keep the goods out of this country, it certainly would appear to be bridging a far wider gulf, as far as we can toll, than even the manufacturers themselves have asked. The exhibits which were handed in by the Cutlers' Association have been quoted again and again to this House, and the fact is that the differences between the Sheffield prices and costs of production and the prices at which these foreign goods were landed here were in some cases 250 per cent. and in some cases 300 per cent. The 33⅓ per cent. duty does not fill that immense gap. It certainly in those instances is not likely to keep those goods out of the country. Is it likely to bring about exactly what the right hon. Gentleman suggests? I hope, and I am sure, he is dominated by the necessity of providing more employment, and I suggest that the best way in which to provide more employment is by adding to the facility with which trade is conducted, by increasing our national turnover, by removing obstacles to commerce, and so adding activity to our ports and railways.
The right hon. Gentleman is always thinking in small compartments. His thought now is entirely for those engaged in cutlery. He refuses to think of those engaged in the transport industry, where there is a far greater body of men suffering at the present time from a far deeper degree of unemployment, and anything which would bring more work to men in their thousands would be of far greater benefit than bringing more work to the cutlers in their scores. The right hon. Gentleman asked us to preserve a sense of proportion. I would ask him to preserve it in a very simple degree, and to realise that in our great transport system, railways, ports and docks, there is a far greater body of men effected by any obstacles put in the way of trade than is likely to receive benefit by the barriers he proposes to erect against foreign imports. The 33⅓ per cent has no virtue in it. The right hon. Gentleman himself said it was a rough-and-ready duty; that is to say, there is no scientific method about it. It is not the scientific tariff of the old days. It is not justified in the case of these materials. It has no practical bearing on the judgment of these committees, and, if it had, I do not know we need be guided by the judgment of the committees, because other committees, taking a far wider view of British commerce, have pointed out in their reports the dangers into which we shall fall if we interfere drastically with the flow of trade in and out of this country. Thirty-three and one-third per cent. adds roughly one-third to the cost of all commodities covered in this Schedule. It will add one-third to the cost of the tools of a very large number of men who work with their hands.
The right hon. Gentleman says that the risk of prices rising to the full level of one-third extra will be met by a larger output. He has no guarantee from anybody that they will not raise the price right up to the market level, any more than he has from the employers, that because of this artificial assistance, they will raise wages 1d. a week. The individuals who are affected "by these duties require our consideration, and what we are pleading for is that the duty which they will have to bear in the increased price of their tools shall be reduced from one-third to one-twentieth. The Parliamentary Secretary quoted a passage from the Committee's Report, in which they spoke with a certain amount of contempt of the extra amount which will have to be paid, say, by the cobbler. The cobbler will not take that view of it. He, along with a very large number of people, regard a third added to the cost of their tools as being a burden which ought not to be placed on them for the benefit of anybody else. Let me mention a few of the people affected by this duty. There are the butcher, plumber, painter, glazier, hedger, blacksmith, cobbler, gardener, tailor, sailor, pattern-maker, paper-hanger, weaver, the shipwright and the joiner.
Why should we out an extra duty on the Boy Scouts? It is a most excellent movement which the hon. Gentleman should support, and the best way he can do it is to move au Amendment to the Schedule. He has made no contribution to our Debates, and we cannot say we, are indebted to him for light thrown on these rather difficult problems. The President of the Board of Trade, by adhering to a 33⅓ per cent. duty, adding one third to the cost of all these articles, is going to make it a little more difficult—it may not be much—for those who wish to accumulate their tools and equip their households. The house-holder. I gainer, very seldom comes into the right hon. Gentleman's consideration, though, the householder surely requires our consideration. Those who are setting up house find it difficult enough to gather together enough cutlery, just as those setting up in trade find it difficult enough to accumulate the money to equip themselves fully with tools.
I wonder if the right hon. Gentleman has ever realised how sensitive the workman is about his tools-., I used to observe, when I was working: in a shipyard, that there was no misery which oppressed a man so much as when at some period of his career he had to sell his tools to keep his house over his head. It is one of the most painful events in the life of the man who, during an unfortunate period, cannot get enough income to keep his household together. Now the right hon. Gentleman is going to make it more difficult for him to do so. If he wants revenue, it is quite true that 5 per cent. will bring him in a certain amount, but what he will get out of 33⅓ Per cent. no one knows. This 33⅓ per cent. duty, which he said was rough-and-ready, has certainly not been the product of any wise financial brain, and, so far as I can understand, it bears no direct relationship with the trades concerned. I hope my hon. Friend will press his Amendment to a Division, and, if he does so, let it be clearly understood that those who want to add one-third to the cost of these commodities will have to answer for it to a very large number of workmen all over the country.
The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down is very fond of lecturing the Committee, but I think he might give credit to some others in this House who are engaged in business. The right hon. Gentleman has told us the same thing that the hon. Member for Hillsborough (Mr. A. V. Alexander) has told us about this old story of imports and exports, that the more you buy from abroad the more you are bound to export. I am certain, from my experience of business, that the thing we have got to do is to put our export trade right first, and it is as true to say that we are paying for our exports by our imports as it is true to say we are paying for our imports by our exports. I am certain. if we come to analyse it, these duties will not prevent imports, but will change the character of the imports, and it is the change in the character of these imports which is so important in finding employment in our country. While I, personally, as a Protectionist, accept the theory of goods paying for goods, the action of a protective tariff is to dictate the form in which our exports are paid for—the type of imports sent to us; in other words, we shall receive the raw material and foodstuffs we require, and the manufactured goods we do not require will be prevented from coming in. We do not object to imports. What we object to is the character of those imports which is causing great unemployment in our country, and preventing our people having the standard of life which every right-minded person in this country desires them to have.
I do not propose to follow the hon. Gentleman into the economic profundities he has been discussing. I want, rather, to try to turn my attention to finding out something more about what has led to the adoption of this figure of 33⅓, because the President of the Board of Trade has really given us something more than the Parliamentary Secretary gave us. When we last discussed this matter, the Parliamentary Secretary was pinning his simple faith on the White Paper. Anything that was in the Report was swallowed; anything there he was prepared to take, and I gathered that it was his conviction that the 33⅓ per cent. was the correct amount with which to safeguard this industry, that is to say, fill up the gap between the cost of producing those goods in this country and the cost of producing them abroad. But now we have got quite a different story from the President of he Board of Trade, who tells us that this 33⅓ per cent. is an entirely rough figure. It may not be the correct amount to apply to anyone of these articles. I think, having regard to the very long list of articles that we have in the Schedule, he might have indicated to us how many of these articles would require a duty of 33⅓ per cent., and how many would require a lesser amount.
In those eases, which, I gather, form a very large proportion of these articles, where there is really no comparison between home production and foreign production, because the articles are entirely different, and the difference in cost of production is 100 per cent. or 200 per cent., it is quite clear that this 33⅓ per cent. cannot take effect at all. But there are some people who seem to be very keen on these duties, and I want to know who are the people who are going to profit by them. The firms in the cutlery trade vary very greatly in efficiency, and the 33⅓ per cent. in some cases may not give enough and in others give enormous profits. It is said that the granting of this 33⅓ per cent. to this trade is going to enable some sort of activity to take place which is going to fill up the rest of the gap. Has anyone ever beard of a tariff of this sort stimulating the improvement of trade? Our experience always has been the contrary. About a year and a half ago I met a couple of American manufacturers, who were actually applying to Congress to have duties taken off their particular trade, on the ground that if only there was a, little foreign competition it would stimulate and be good for that trade.
I do not know that at this distance of time I could give the hon. Member full particulars, but I met these people in the lobby of this House. They were introduced to me as manufacturers.
I was, and I expressed my surprise. I have been accustomed to Protectionists of the type of the hon. Member for Moseley (Mr. Hannon), who is always crying out, " Give, give give," and to find a Tariff Reform Protectionist of a quite different type was startling to me. I have never heard it suggested by anyone. I have heard many speeches of the hon. Member for Moseley, but I have never heard him suggest that, by the putting on of a tariff you were going to give a stimulus to the trade concerned. But the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade told us that he is in such a hurry to get on with this matter, that he has not been able to wait for the very valuable Report of the Balfour Committee. He paid a very well-deserved tribute to that Committee, but surely, before dealing with this 33⅓ per cent. which he is going to put on the just and the unjust, which he is going to place on articles that do not need it and those that do, it would have been better to have had the Report of the Balfour Committee. If we had had the Report of the Balfour Committee it might have shown whether there was any other way of getting over this gap. It might have given us some other of the factors in the run of the trade. It certainly appears to me that while it might, quite rightly, be wrong from the right hon. Gentleman's point of view, to ask the Balfour Committee for certain information on this point, while they are engaged, as he says, on a very large survey, surely the same considerations also apply to their stepping in and putting on a 33⅓ per cent. duty before they have got the Report of the Committee?
We have really not had anything from the right hon. Gentleman to justify the 33⅓ per cent. What is the magic of that figure? It seems to me curious that 33⅓ per cent. should be exactly the right amount to apply to cutlery and also right to apply to gloves, although the competing countries are different in the two cases. The industries are entirely different; yet this magic 33⅓ per cent. goes in. I suggest that 5 per cent. would be better, because I believe the approximation, and a certain figure based on a large number of articles as a whole is bad. The only evidence we have had on this matter is from those people who do not understand trade. It seems perfectly clear that the cutlery that we buy and that is involved here is the cheap foreign stuff, which I think we had better be without. When I go into a store and buy cutlery, I want it made of Sheffield steel and of the best. The comparison between the articles made at home and abroad is not a true one. There is no competition between them. As a matter of fact, the 33⅓ per cent. is not going to do anything. What actually is going to happen is, that the people who cannot afford the best articles and have to buy the cheap type of article, the cheap imported article, will have the additional tax to pay on it.
It is suggested it will be good for British trade. But the people who have to buy these cheap articles are the very poor, and I want to see the reduction of 33⅓ per cent. to 5 per cent. because we have had enough already this year of putting taxation on the backs of those who are least able to bear it. This proposal has been called Protection. It has been hailed with joy by the Protectionists below the Gangway. I do not believe it will achieve its object. It is badly aimed. It is simply a piece of class taxation in which the users of the worst type of goods, who are the poorest, are going to be made to pay heavily. I support the 33⅓ per cent. reduction to 5 per cent. on the general principle of taking taxes off the people who cannot afford to pay them.
At any rate, Mr. Hope, it is not my intention to use any insulting words of any Member of this House. I would just like to refer for the two moments that I shall detain the House to one or two points mentioned by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee). He has discovered a rara avis among Protectionists. He is always telling us that hon. Members on the Government side, and those who are manufacturers and Protectionists, are trying to get tariffs put on and kept on as long as possible. I am delighted to hear that he has found two men in. America who wish to see their tariffs reduced. That is exactly my position in the matter. If you give us manufacturers a fair show and a fair chance by putting on a duty we shall be the first to ask that competition shall again be started in this country. [An HON. MEMBER: "Oh!"] I have lived in Protectionist countries and know something about it and something about manufactures. The other point is this: I think perhaps the hon. Gentleman is confusing the question of lower tariffs with what occurred so largely in places like Canada, where, of course, you get the farmer asking follower tariffs because he wants to get his implements cheap.
I am sorry, for I realise that the question before the House is this Amendment as to whether or not we shall reduce the 33⅓ per cent. to 5 per cent. Any business man, when it comes to the question of considering what the duty on a certain article should be, would, I suggest, do exactly what the President of the Board of Trade has done, refer the matter to an expert Committee to investigate. An expert Committee has looked into this matter, and has given us a full Report, and, if I remember the Report aright, it pointed out that even the 33⅓ per cent. duty would not cover the whole of the question. Five per cent. is a ridiculous figure. In some of the cases in these reports we have seen the amount of the duty has been worked out to a nicety—to a fine point. There are some duties which are at present not before the House where the matter has been argued out to a fine point on the article. The difference in hours and wages, and so on. It is because the only duty which can be put on with any degree of impartiality is 33⅓ per cent. duty that this was suggested here. I certainly hope that the Government will not accept this Amendment, for the effect of the proposal will be that the industry will have some fair chance of rehabilitation, and those concerned will have the opportunity of bringing them round to a decent state of protection, so that we may keep up the particular industry to its place in the country.
It is suggested that the 5 per cent. proposed in the Amendment is a ridiculous figure. Our contention is that for all practical and relevant purposes 5—or 10 per cent. down in another Amendment—is much more near the proper duty than the 33⅓ per cent. put forward. Over and over again in these Debates we have put forward—I think we have sustained our point—that, the articles imported are not comparable to those manufactured in this country. They are articles of a different class, and of a very much lower price, so that as between 33⅓ and 5 it is likely that the 5 per cent. would more nearly touch the article concerned. I am not going into the list which has been quoted. The right hon. Gentleman on the Front Bench on this side has already quoted it at length. I will just take one; the type of German razor which is now imported at 9s. per dozen, and about which Sheffield claims that if these were manufactured in Sheffield in 1925 they would cost £l 9s. 11d. per dozen. It would appear quite clearly that neither 5 nor 33⅓ per cent.—nor 100 per cent.—duty would be any good in that particular case. So far as that class is concerned, none of these duties we are discussing really apply.
Our argument is that, whatever duty is put on to that type of cheap article the sole effect of it will be to raise the price to the home consumer. The President of the Board of Trade said the other day in this connection that the conditions in Germany were beginning to approximate to conditions here. Wages were going up, and the cost of produc- tion was going up, and he thought that the Government were taking a very reasonable line, seeing the price of German articles was going up, and so near the price of the English article, and that the duty they proposed would be effective. Might I remind the hon. Member for Moseley (Mr. Hannon) that the late Mr. Joseph Chamberlain suggested a maximum 10 per cent.—
As a matter of fact, Mr. Chamberlain suggested that in a general tariff on manufactured articles the maximum amount that would be necessary would be 10 per cent. These are exceptional cases. We say that 5 per cent.—or if the hon. Member (Mr. Attlee) will allow me, a 10 per cent. duty-would be ample to secure protection to the manufacturers in this country who are making articles which are comparable to the articles which are being imported. Therefore, we say that this Amendment is not ridiculous. It is really a practical suggestion, because it is designed to meet those cases where the imported articles are really comparable.
The hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Remer), who broke the silence from the opposite side and contributed something to the theory of this subject, is, I think, entirely wrong. There is only one reason why goods are exported, and that is because somebody in some other place wants to buy them. There is only one reason why goods are imported, and that is because somebody here wants to buy them. If we keep these goods out we are going to prevent somebody who wants something here from getting it, and prevent somebody who can send something out of this country sending out something that is wanted elsewhere.
Finally, may I put a question to the hon. Member for Moseley (Mr. Hannon)? I think the hon. Member who last spoke from the Opposition Front Bench has entirely misunderstood the purpose of these duties. They are not to give profits to manufacturers, they are not to raise prices; their sole purpose is to give employment to and increase the wages of British workmen. It is on that ground that they have been arguing. May I ask the hon. Member for Moseley—who we all know is concerned, and very honourably concerned, with great industries in this country, and who in this House speaks on those industries authoritatively and with the support of people engaged in them—is there to his knowledge in the industries now concerned— gloves, cutlery and gas mantles—any arrangement, any plan, any contract, however tentative, that has been come to between employers and their workmen, that if this duty is imposed wages will be increased? I would very much like him to answer that question before we go to a division.
This question of a duty on cutlery has excited wide interest. If there is to be a duty of either 5 per cent. or 33⁓ per cent., the Committee ought to be informed by the Prime Minister of the findings of the Civil Re-search Committee regarding the steel trade as a whole. We ought not to come to a decision as to whether we will tax a certain section of the steel trade or not until we know the decision of the Government as to the measure of protection they may give to the steel trade.
I understand that one of the main objects of the tax, whether it be 5 per cent. or 33⅓ per cent., is to increase employment, and I suggest that we are entitled to take the same view of the effect of the duty on cutlery as on gloves and gas mantles. The hon. Member for Barnstaple (Mr. Basil Peto) said yesterday, if I am quoting him correctly, that since the agitation for the safeguarding of the glove industry, something like two years' supplies of gloves had been imported into this country. Since this agitation, three years' supplies of gas mantles have been imported into this country. But for this agitation a great proportion of these gas mantles would not have come in.
My only point was to know if any evidence has been submitted that there have been the same importations of cutlery from abroad sine the agitation for Safeguarding. It that has happened in the cutlery trade, it will increase instead of decrease unemployment.
I hope the President of the Board of Trade may be persuaded to give us a little more information before we vote on this Amendment. I believe this Vote will tell the country and interested persons quite definitely what is the object of the Government in introducing these measures. Last evening we were discussing what would be an appropriate title for this Bill. The vote on this Amendment will show us. I would like to hear from the President of the Board of Trade whether the object of this duty is to enable our own manufacturers, who at present are not able to compete with the very cheap razors, etc., which are imported into this country, to make an effort to capture, that market, and whether it is hoped they will produce cheaper goods when the foreign goods are excluded, and so provide our people with an approximately reasonably priced article? Or is it merely the hope that the extent of the duty placed on the goods will be the extent of the extra profits the manufacturers will 'be allowed to make? If the object of the Government—and it is quite a reasonable one, and there is a great deal to be said for it—is merely to put such a hindrance on goods produced under sweated conditions that our own manufacturers are enabled to produce goods to compete with them, what on earth can be the objection to this Amendment? If we are going to say that, although our industries will make every possible effort to replace foreign goods, it is still necessary to give them a 33⅓ per cent. start over the rest of the world, we are really making to the whole world a lamentable confession of our bankruptcy in industrial efficiency.
We have heard, at very great length, statements which have not been challenged from the opposite benches, as to the regrettable inefficiency and the bad conditions which are rife in this industry. The Committee ought to pause before imposing such a high tax upon these goods that there will be no stimulus to our industries. If we put on a 33⅓ per cent. tariff, an absurd rate of duty, we take away from the British manufacturer the stimulus to compete in the cheaper classes of goods. We shut out the cheaper classes of goods from abroad. We make it impossible for our people to get cheap knives or razors or gloves, or other things. They, in (heir turn, will find it impossible to live on their low wages when the price of everything has been raised by high import duties, and they will come forward and say, "We must have more wages in order to meet the higher charges which your protective duties are imposing." In paying those higher wages, manufacturers will be throwing away any so-called advantage they may gain from this tariff. If they benefit—[An Hon. MEMBER: "If they benefit?"] The hon. Member opposite will forgive us, in view of the record of his own party, if we are not certain, without seeing it in black and white in the legislation in front of us, that his party have any intention that these people shall benefit. Give us some reason or guarantee. Put up somebody on the Treasury Bench to tell us, so that we can find out if our people are to get any advantage. The Prime Minister is in his place. He has often expressed his hope that the. common people of this country will get some benefit, but he, together with all his chief officers, is signally silent during this Debate. We get no reasons at all. We merely see an automatic majority coming along without argument and imposing duties which are going to put up the cost of living. When the cost of living rises, you have to go on increasing wages or you have a strike, and either of them cost you a lot of money.
Cutlery is a commodity that is used in every home. A very large number of things are going to be taxed, according to the Schedule, and I submit that that justifies the fear that the very narrow margin between extreme poverty and the ability to exist fairly comfortably will be overcome if we agree to this 33⅓ per cent. increase in taxation. I hope before the Committee says quite definitely that it does not care a hang about the consumer, and does not care a hang about stimulating industry, as long as it can guarantee 33⅓ per cent. increased profit to its friends in the steel industry —[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"]—if we are going to commit ourselves to that statement, then not only the few of us on these benches at present, but the many in the country who are watching these increased duties, and these increases in the cost of living with very great trepidation, will know what to think when they hear professions that these duties are imposed not in order to make profits but in order that the poor people of the country may find employment.
I only rise because I do not wish the hon. Member for West Walthamstow (Major Crawfurd) to think I am wanting in courtesy after the question he put to me. I have no direct connection with the cutlery industry, but I would remind him and the hon. Members on the Labour benches that the strongest advocates of the duty on cutlery before the Committee of Inquiry were the representatives of the trade unions of that industry.
I have been informed by persons upon whose authority I rely. We have had reports in the newspapers. After all, (his inquiry was held in public, and, if hon. Members were so anxious to acquaint themselves with what occurred during the inquiry, they ought to have sent some representatives to ascertain the real value of the evidence submitted. In this particular inquiry, the extraordinary fact was brought out that the actual remuneration for labour in Germany was only 62 per cent. of he wages paid here, and it was also brought out that the actual amount of labour employed in the production of cutlery goods, taking them as a whole, was 55 per cent. Giving labour its reasonable proportion over German labour, on making a calculation, it is found that the difference would just be met by the 33⅓ per cent. which it is proposed to impose in this Bill. As a matter of fact, in order adequately to protect the cutlery trade we ought to have a duty of about 66 per cent. If I had pleaded for this industry I would have urged the President of the Board of Trade, instead of a duty of 33⅓ per cent., to put on s, duty of 66 per cent. In relation to the cutlery industry we are in the same position with regard to hon. Members above the Gangway as we are on all questions affecting the safety of British industries.
; No, I got up to make a speech on this Amendment. If hon. Members opposite will examine the evidence, they will see that the trade unionists connected with the cutlery trade made a strong request in favour of this duty. The Conservative party are the real representatives of the working classes of this country, and when we make a proposal for safeguarding industries—
Yes, and my argument, Mr. Chairman, is part of the general plan for dealing with cutlery. I am quite prepared to go to Sheffield and justify this Bill in debate. We know very well that the trades concerned in Sheffield and the wage earners there have no sympathy with the attitude which has been taken up by hon. Members opposite of this question, and when they come to appeal to the electorate in Sheffield they will find that the workers will condemn the attitude which they have taken up in regard to this Bill.
I deny the statement that the hon. Member opposite has just made that the Conservative party represent a majority of the working people of this country. With regard to the question of trade unionists who supported, we are told, these proposals, it does seem to me that we are entitled to ask that the evidence given before these committees should be published. It is all very well for the hon. Member who has just spoken to say that we should send our representatives to these committees, but there are other things we have to do such as getting a living. I do not say that that is peculiar to us, and the hon. Member who has just sat down is apparently able to attend the committees. Personally, I think we are bound to take notice when goods are purchased at home or abroad under bad conditions, and I deny altogether that this piecemeal, pettifogging way of dealing with this subject is creditable cither to the Government or to this House. The proper thing to do, if it be true that British industry is being ruined by sweated labour in other parts of the world, is not to single out a trumpery industry like the glove trade, which I am told employs only about 10,000 people, or anyone of these particular industries because we know perfectly well that the great staple industries of the country are not being dealt with. What I object to is that we should be spending all this time discussing a method that history has already proved has not been effective in dealing with this evil.
I am willing to argue in favour of the total prohibition of the import of goods manufactured under sweated conditions, and, if the Government would set up a Committee to discuss the question from that point of view, I think we should be able to hammer out an agreement, but it must be one that will cover not only these small trades but; the great big staple industries, and it must be an inquiry carried on in conjunction with other countries and other Governments. We have been told that these duties will not keep out the goods which are to be taxed, but at any rate you will penalise the unhappy working people in other countries more than they are now penalised, and is it not a sheer waste of time and contrary to the facts to say that these duties are going to help the unemployed? They will do nothing of the sort, and we all know it, and for these reasons every time I get a chance I shall vote against these duties. Personally, I feel that neither on this side nor on the opposite side of the House are we settling this question in an effective manner.
The hon. Member for Moseley (Mr. Hannon) said he intervened in the Debate for the purpose of showing that he did not wish to be discourteous by not answering a question which had been put to him. May I state that the hon. Member went right away from that point and advocated the imposition of a duty of 66⅔ per cent., and that carried him away from the main issue. L rise merely to repeat the question and to put it to the Parliamentary Secretary. The hon. Member merely referred to certain newspaper reports which nobody had ever seen. Under these circumstances, I think we are entitled to look for our information to the Minister in charge of the Bill, and I ask him whether he has a scrap or tittle of evidence to show that any of the people who will be benefited by these duties intend to set aside one penny of their extra profits in order to improve the conditions of the workers, their hours of labour, or the wages of their employés. If there be any such evidence then it ought to be produced. We hold that these duties are a dole to the manufacturers, and we should like to hear from some representative of the Government what he has to say to the contrary.
But why have no arrangements been made in this respect? I should have thought that the manufacturers would have called their employés together to give an opinion upon this point.
|Division No. 490.]||AYES.||[6.40 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Barnston, Major Sir Harry|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Berry, Sir George|
|Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby)||Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Betterton, Henry B.|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. B., Skipton)|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Barnett, Major Sir Richard||Bird. Sir B. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Hall, Lieut.-Colonel Sir F. (Dulwich)||Pilditch, Sir Philip|
|Blundell, F. N.||Hall, Capt, W.D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Preston, William|
|Bourne Captain Robert Croft||Harland. A.||Radford, E. A.|
|Bowater, Sir T. Vansittart||Harrison, G. J. C.||Raine, W.|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Hartington, Marquess of||Ramsden E.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Harvey G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Rawson, Alfred Cooper|
|Briggs, J. Harold||Harvey, Major S. E, (Devon, Totnes)||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Briscoe. Richard George||Haslam, Henry C.||Remer J. R.|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Hawke, John Anthony||Rentoul, G.S.|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Rice, Sir Frederick|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bottle)||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)|
|Burman J. B.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Burney, Lieut.-Com. Charles D.||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Ropner, Major L.|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Herbert, S. (York, N. R., Scar. & Wh'by)||Rusell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Hills. Major John Walter||Rye, F. G.|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Hilton, Cecil||Salmon, Major I.|
|Cadogan Major Hon. Edward||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Caine, Gordon Hall||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Campbell, E. T.||Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||Sandeman. A. Stewart|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R (Prtsmth. S.)||Holt, Captain H. P.||Sanders, Sir Robert A.|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Hope, Capt. A. O. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Sanderson, Sir Frank|
|Chadwick. Sir Robert Burton||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Sandon, Lord|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Howard, Captain Hon. Donald||Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)|
|Christie, J. A.||Hurst, Gerald B.||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl. (Renfrew, W)|
|Chruchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Shaw, Capt. W. W. (Wilts, Westb'y)|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Jacob, A. E.||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Clarry, Reginald George||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Cohen, Major J, Brunei||Jephcott A. R.||Skelton, A. N.|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon|
|Cooper, A. Cuff||Kidd J. (Linlithgow)||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine. C.)|
|Couper, J. B.||King Captain Henry Douglas||Smith-Carington. Neville W.|
|Courtald Major J. S.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Smithers. Waldron|
|Cowan Sir Wm. Henry (Islington. N.)||Knox Sir Alfred||Sprot Sir Alexander|
|Craig, Ernest (Chester Crewe)||Lamb, J. Q.||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Lister, Cunliffe,- Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Stanley. Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)|
|Croft, Brigadier-General H.||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Crooke. J. Smedley (Deritend)||Lougher, L.||Stott, Lieut. Colonel W. H.|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de. W. (Berwick)||Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Streatfeild, Captain S. R.|
|Crookshank, Col. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Lumley, L. R.||Stuart. Crichton-, Lord C.|
|Cunliffe, Joseph Herbert||Lynn, Sir R. J.||Stuart. Hon J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||MacAndrew, Charles Glen||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Davidson, J. (Hertf'd Hemel Hempst'd)||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J.H.||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Templeton, W. P.|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Macintyre, Ian||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Maclaren, Andrew||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Drewe C.||Macmillan, Captain H.||Tinne, J. A.|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Elliot, Captain Walter E.||Macquisten, F. A.||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Elveden Viscount||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Waddington, R.|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Wallace. Captain D. E.|
|Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)||Margesson, Captain D.||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Meller, R. J.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Meyer' Sir Frank.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Fermoy, Lord||Milne, J. W. Wardlaw.||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Fielden, E. B.||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)||Watson. Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Fleming, D. P.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Wells, S. R.|
|Ford. P. J.||Monsell Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||White, Lieut.-Colonel G. Dairymple|
|Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Moore, Sir Newton J.||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Foster, Sir Harry S.||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||Murchison, C. K.||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Fremantle. Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Nall, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph||Wilson, r. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Nelson, Sir Frank||Winby, Colonel L. P.|
|Gates, Percy||Neville, R. .||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Gee. Captain R.||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Gibbs, Col. Rt.. Hon. George Abraham||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'l'd)||Womersley, W. J.|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Nuttall, Ellis||Wood, B. C. (Somerset, Bridgwater)|
|Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Oakley. T.||Wood, E. (Chest'r. Stalyb'dge & Hyde)|
|Goff, Sir Park||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.)|
|Grace, John||Pease, William Edwin||Worthington-Evans. Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Pennefather, Sir John||Wragg, Herbert|
|Greene, W. P. Crawford||Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Grotrian, H. Brent||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Philipson, Mabel||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Pielou, D. P.||Major Cope and Major Hennesy.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife West)||Ammon, Charles George||Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Attlee, Clement Richard||Baker, Walter|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Harney, E. A.||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Barnes, A.||Hayes, John Henry||Saklatvala, Shapurji|
|Barr, J.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||Sexton, James|
|Batey, Joseph||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Hirst, G. H.||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Briant, Frank||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Broad, F. A.||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Bromley, J.||Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)||Smillie, Robert|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Buchanan, G.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)|
|Cape, Thomas||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Charleton, H. C.||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Snell, Harry|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Kelly, W. T.||Stamford, T. W.|
|Compton, Joseph||Kennedy, T.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Connolly, M.||Kirkwood, D.||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Cove, W. G.||Lansbury, George||Sutton, J. E.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Lawson, John James||Taylor, R. A|
|Crawfurd, H. E.||Lee, F.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Livingstone, A. M.||Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)|
|Davies, Ellis (Denbigh, Denbigh)||Lowth, T.||Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro. W.)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lunn, William||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Day, Colonel Harry||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R.(Aberavon)||Thurtle, E.|
|Dennison, R.||Mackinder, W.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Duckworth, John||MacLaren, Andrew||Townend, A. E.|
|Dunnico, H.||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Varley, Frank B.|
|Edwards, John H. (Accrington)||March, S.||Viant, S. P.|
|England, Colonel A.||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Montague, Frederick||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Morris, R. H.||Webb. Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, North)||Westwood, J,|
|Gillett, George M.||Murnin, H.||Whiteley, W.|
|Gosling, Harry||Oliver, George Harold||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Palin, John Henry||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Lianelly)|
|Greenall, T.||Paling, W.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Greenwood. A. (Nelson and Colne)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Ponsonby, Arthur||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Groves, T.||Potts, John S.||Windsor, Walter|
|Grundy, T. W.||Purcell, A. A.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Riley, Ben||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Ritson, J.||Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr.|
|Hamilton. Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland)||Warne.|
|Hardie, George D.|
I beg to move, in page 3, column 1, to leave out lines 12 and 13.
This Amendment deals with the question of safety razors, an issue which I think has not been dealt with before in any specific Amendment. Safety razors fall into a class of articles quite different from any of the others included in these Schedules. I feel that the President of the Board of Trade himself will probably agree that safety razors are perhaps the weakest part of his whole case, and I venture to say that a very little inquiry into the situation shows that safety razors, on the assumptions of the Government themselves, ought not to have been included in this case. About 75 per cent. or more of the safety razors sold in this country come from the United States, and the Committee will be quite aware why that is so. The safety razor from abroad which is sold in this country is mainly the Gillette razor, which is the razor with quality. The Gillette razor fulfils not a single one of the conditions which the White Paper lays down as the conditions which must be fulfilled before a duty ought to be imposed. It is not sold at a price which undercuts the British manufacturer; it is sold at a very high price. It is not produced under unfair conditions of labour; it is produced under a system of wages far better than in our own country. It is not causing unemployment; there is DO proof that a single man is out of work in this country on account of the importation of the Gillette razor.
The safety razor manufacturers in this country appointed one of their number, Mr. Rodgers, to give evidence before the Committee, and Mr. Rodgers stated that he had put up works in October of last year, that he could sell from those works all the razors he could produce, and that he was going to put up new works in January next to produce 1,000 dozen razors a week. He stated that there was no unemployment in the manufacture of safety razors, and that there was no difficulty in selling every razor or razor blade that British manufacturers could produce. The Gillette razor, so far from creating unemployment, has created work, because this rising and expanding industry, the manufacture of safety razors in this country, would never have come into existence but for the change of fashion which the Gillette razor brought about. Therefore, the first point that we wish to put to the President of the Board of Trade is that there is no proof that there is any unemployment in this branch of the cutlery trade, and there is no proof that the putting on of this tariff is going to give an hour's extra work to a single soul.
On the other hand, there is, as the apprehension of firms in Sheffield itself shows, the very gravest anxiety lest the imposition of this tariff is going to throw hundreds of men out of work. What is the position? The Gillette Company buys its steel from Sheffield. It buys steel to produce 40,000,000 blades for sale in the British market, and, having gone to Sheffield, it is now buying from there, in addition, the steel to produce the 280,000,000 blades that it sells in all quarters of the world. In this way, on a rough calculation, it is causing to be distributed in Sheffield wages amounting to about £100,000 a year. If this tariff of 33⅓ per cent. is put on, it is perfectly evident that the Gillette Company, naturally and properly, must somehow economise in order to meet the conditions that the tariff creates. Where are their directions for economy? The firms in Sheffield—and, after all, their views are entitled to be known in this House—the firms in Sheffield who are employing hundreds of men in making the steel for these blades are apprehensive, from what they know, that the most obvious economy which the Gillette Company can secure is to buy its steel from Sweden, where there is reason to believe that, if they would put up with the inconvenience of the change, with which I will deal in a moment, a certain economy, amounting to about 10 per cent., might perhaps be secured. I believe—
It is 10 per cent. on the value of the steel. During the week-end, since this Amendment was put down, I received, and I believe every Member of the House received, a copy
of some letters which had been sent, I think, to the President of the Board of Trade, by two very large firms mainly concerned in Sheffield, and their views certainly ought to be known. One of these firms, Messrs. Jonas and Colver, Limited, writes as follows:—
From our own knowledge of our own supplies, in conjunction with the information from Mr. Peter Macgregor, of Messrs. Sanderson Bros, and Newbould, Ltd., Sheffield, we have no hesitation in saying that we have shipped jointly in 12 months to the Gillette Company, of Boston, U.S.A., blade steel to the. value of one million dollars, including the United 3tates duty "—
It is a duty of 20 per cent. It was not raised as much as the others—it is a quarterly tariff—and it is only 20 per cent. Messrs. Jonas and Colver go on to say:—
As the business has provided steady work for our furnaces, and for our steel strip and cold rolling, mills, we view with nothing short of alarm the introduction of any factor which might, jeopardise, even in a degree, this trade, which it is important to note is well established.
Here is another letter, from Messrs. Sanderson and Newbould, of Sheffield. They say:—
During the last few years the crucible steel trade in Sheffield has been heavily handicapped by the duties imposed by competing nations, and it has been a God-send to Messrs. Jonas and Colver, Ltd., and ourselves that we have been able to give employment to the extent, we hare in producing safety razor steel for the United States.
That is the view of the firms whose fortunes are at stake.
I think I can prophesy the reply which the President of the Board of Trade is going to make. It was suggested in a short speech made yesterday. It is that, if the Gillette Company can save 10 per cent. on the cost of their raw material by buying their steel from Sweden, they will do so anyhow, whether this tariff is imposed or not. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Exactly, that is the argument, but the point is that that argument takes no account of what is important in business—it takes no account of the force of established connection, of arrangements which have been made and which have been working for years; it takes no account of the very element of good will. The fact is that the Gillette Company have practically, so to speak, trained these two firms in Sheffield to produce this particular type of steel, according to a formula which they themselves have provided.
Will the hon. Member tell the Committee why Mr. Gillette should not do what Mr. Ford has done, namely, bring his factory over here and make the razors here on the spot where the sales are made?
Perhaps the hon. and gallant Member will allow me to develop the point I am making. I am developing the point that there is a threat to the work of some hundreds of men in these two firms. Will he allow me to deal with these men on whose behalf I am speaking, and not go into larger issues of the protective tariff?
This is a particular point referring to this razor, and I was answering the argument which has been made why, if that razor company could economise by going to Sweden, they do not go there now? My answer is that they have built up this connection. They have practically educated two firms to produce their steel according to the formula which they have invented. They might go to Sweden. Going to Sweden would mean considerable inconvenience and trouble. It would mean a loss. They would have to train new firms in Sweden. It would mean, at any rate for a time, perhaps the risk of a deterioration in the quality of the steel out of which their blades are made. Therefore, there is at the present moment a specific disadvantage in making a change. The point is that if this duty is imposed and they are com- pelled to economise, then they are in the position in which it becomes to then interest to consider whether this disadvantage should be faced and an alter native source of cheaper supply should not be opened up. Hon. Members may argue as to the degree of risk involved, but nobody will deny that there is some risk, and the point the Committee have to consider is that we are taking this risk of imposing a tariff on an industry in which there is not a man unemployed in the land. That is why we say this particular article stands in a category quite different from those which have been included. What the Government are doing is to impose a duty which will not give extra employment to a single man. [An Hon. MEMBER: "Why not?"] Because the trade is full of work already, and, in doing this, they are jeopardising the employment of hundreds of men who are fortunately in work to-day. For that reason I ask that this duty should be withdrawn.
We have listened to an interesting economic discourse from a supporter of the Fordney tariff in the United States. I am concerned to defend this proposal from the point of view of industry in this country rather than from the point of view of industry in any other country I say this advisedly. I defend this proposal on the positive ground that it is necessary in the interests of the cutlery industry, and on the negative ground that there is no possible reason for acceding to the arguments which have been advanced by the hon. Gentleman. We take the positive side first. In the first place, we are dealing with the cutlery industry as a whole. You have firms which are not confined to making one class of article. The hon. Gentleman cited Messrs. Rodgers, a firm well known. They are by no means confined to one class of commodity. I should have thought if one thing was plainer than another it was this, that, if you are going to secure an industry which has many items in its different processes of manufacture, and that, broadly speaking, as here, a case is undoubtedly made out for this industry, then it is essential in the interests of the employers and of the workers in that industry, who are not always engaged in the same process, and as fashions change may find it most necessary to pass from one manufacture to another, that your duty in its purview should cover the general field of the industry. It would indeed be unwise on that ground alone to omit a very important item, that of safety razors and safety razor blades.
It does not rest on that general problem alone. The hon. Gentleman said that Sheffield was faced with competition from Gillette blades. That is not the problem with which Sheffield is faced. The problem as presented to the Committee is not that we cannot face in Sheffield the competition of the Gillette factory—I think we can—but what we cannot face with present conditions of hours and wages and so on is the competition of the German blades. The hon. Gentleman has said that they are small in amount, £15,000; a very large number when you come to consider the articles that compose a £. When if suits them to quote value it is value; when it suits them to quote volume it is, volume, and when it suits them to quote neither they go into general principles.
But our proposal docs not rest on the amount of importation which exists at the present time.
The hon. Gentleman invited me to carry my investigations further into the report of the Committee. I have done so and I find this—I do not think he can deny it. Go and ask any man in Sheffield, and you will find that, low as the importation of German blades has been up to the present time, at this moment you could obtain offers in Sheffield from Germany of almost unlimited deliveries of these blades on a scale which if you had no safeguarding against it, might very well overwhelm not only the Sheffield production, but the American sales in this country as well. Therefore, I say, on the general ground, that it would be most unwise to exclude. from the Cutlery Duty this important article, and, on the particular ground of the competition which the industry has to face in regard to these articles, the case is fully made out for the imposition of this duty. There are Members representing Sheffield who, I think, will probably say that given this duty the production of these blades in Sheffield would be much larger than it is at the present time. Therefore, I say that the case for the duty is made out.
We are asked to reject this duty on a most curious ground, a ground set out in a circular which has been kindly sent to Members of the House by an American company, the Gillette Safety Razor Company. We are told that this company has bought largely of Sheffield steel in the past, but that it will cease to buy Sheffield steel in the future. I have yet to learn that any American company, or any foreign company at all, for that matter, buys goods in this country out of motives of philanthropy or for any other reason than that it pays them to do so, and is good business to do so. I have yet to learn that they will cease in future to be actuated by that motive. If it paid them to do it in the past and it pays them to do it in the future, they are not likely to be guilty of the indiscretion of cutting oft their nose to spite their face. It is remarkable that an appeal should be made to us to be so careful in our consideration of American interests. Every country has full rights to take whatever steps it thinks in the interests of its own people.
When we come to consider what has been done in America, what do we find has happened? This country which is resenting the action taken in a very limited degree by the British people introduced the highest tariff in the whole world. I am not saying they were wrong, and they certainly were entitled to put their tariff on any level which suited them. Then came -he Fovdney tariff. But what was the result of the Fordney tariff? In practically every respect it greatly increased the rates of duty that were in force before.
I am told that if we have this duty on this limited range here the Americans will turn to Sweden, because Sweden treats them so well. Do hon. Members realise that Sweden is a country like the United States, which has a general tariff also and which puts a duty on to, I think, every single article: that America produces? Let us come down to facts and probabilities. The first fact I will give you is that hitherto the Gillette Razor Company have bought their steel in Sheffield, because it was the best steel for their purpose, and I think their manager would be the first to admit that, as long as that is the case, they would not be such fools as to do anything else, and, so far from their turning to alter- native sources of supply, as long as we can produce the best article for their purpose, my inquiries lead me to think that it has not been a case of buying from hand to mouth, but that they have bought Sheffield steel on such a scale that they have in America now something like a year's supply of it. If exports sag a bit, it will not be because they do not find Sheffield steel suitable, but because they have laid in such a perfectly colossal stock. That is the information I get from the people who sell Sheffield steel to them. I got it from a representative of one of the firms.
We have been told that people will go elsewhere for their commodities merely because we pay them the compliment, on a very limited scale, of imitating them in the way of putting on a duty. Hon. Members below the Gangway opposite are never tired of telling us to apply business principles. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Swansea (Mr. Runciman) has said business is business. I believe business is business, and I have yet to be convinced that, if it pays the country to buy a particular article here because it suits them, because they find it pays, they are going to refrain from that and adopt a course of action which is deleterious to their manufacture and disadvantageous to them financially merely because we, in a very limited field, take the natural step, which they have taken over the whole field, of safeguarding one of our own industries. On both the positive ground on which the duty is framed and on the negative ground of there being no indirect reason which should lead us to do otherwise, I ask the Committee to support me in this proposition.
The right hon. Gentleman has dealt with the question of the supply of steel, and no doubt his opinion is of very great value. But the opinion of those who have been supplying that steel for manufacture in America is surely also of value, and the strange thing is that, while ho can explain what the course of trade is going to be, the people who are engaged in the trade are not half as confident as he is, and they have met again here the same difficulty that was met with in the case of the fabric gloves. For the sake of some trifling experiment in tariff making, they themselves are risking another industry of importance, or, in the judgment of the people engaged in that industry, they are taking that risk.
Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman also confirm me in this, that the item in the whole of Lancashire trade which showed a steady decrease during the currency of that duty was precisely those counts of yarn on which the duty was imposed?
The right hon. Gentleman knows a great deal more about the business than those engaged in it. They all objected. But they did not know anything about it. The right hon. Gentleman, from a greater height, was able to survey it, and he was convinced that it was all right for them although they themselves, like these steel makers, were convinced that it was all wrong for them. I do not question the right hon. Gentleman's authority. I only say that the people in the trade may be presumed to know something about it. They thought it was a bad thing.
But there is another aspect of the thing to which I wish to draw attention. The President of the Board of Trade is a Protectionist, and he has made a first-rate Protectionist speech. He said, "If I am going to protect the industry I will protect the whole industry, and not pick and choose this or that product. The whole industry requires protection, and I will give it." That principle can be sustained, and I can respect him for advocating it on the platform, but that is not what we are considering to-day. May I remind him again that there are pledges in this matter. The Prime Minister and he himself have given in the House very definite pledges. We are entitled to ask whether, in respect of these razor blades any of those conditions are fulfilled. It may be an excellent thing to protect razor blades as a general proposition, but that is not what we are considering. We are considering whether, within the terms of the pledges given, these blades should be protected. I propose to refer to the questions the Government themselves propounded, and on the answer to which in the affirmative the case for the duties was supposed to rest.
Let us ask those questions in relation to razor blades. Is the industry substantial? That may be admitted. Are foreign goods coining in abnormal quantities? I do not think that has been established. Are they being sold or offered for sale at prices below the price at which similar goods can be sold in this country? I do not think that is established. Is employment in the manufacture of these articles being affected? There, again, the right hon. Gentleman is so much better informed than the trade. The only man who gave evidence in the trade said his men were working full time, and he would like to build a new factory. Then we come to the last question. Does the exceptional competition come largely from countries where the conditions are so different as to render competition unfair? If the unfair competition arises from depreciation of currency, does that apply in the case of Gillette razor blades? As to inferior conditions of labour, we know quite well that the conditions of labour are far better in the United States in this trade than in this country. Therefore, apart from the general case for Protection, which may have an application here if you are a Protectionist, there is absolutely not a tittle of evidence to show that in the case of this article any one of the questions which were to be the test of whether the duty should be imposed has been answered in the affirmative.
May I permit myself one further observation on the right hon. Gentleman's patriotic remarks about tariffs. If he will take a straight word across the Floor of the House, I should advise him to drop it. It is vulgar, and it is very offensive. Does he think that patriotism and Tariff Reform are twins? If he does, he is declaring that more than half the electors who voted for Free Trade at the last election are anti-patriots.
The right hon. Gentleman suggested that we in this country were befriending every country but our own. I think countries are interdependent, and the interest of one is the interest of all. I am sufficient of an internationalist for that. But to say that I defend other countries in preference to my own is a vulgar taunt, which is utterly unworthy of an occupant of the Front Bench, even this Front Bench.
May I be allowed to deal with this question of safety razor blades? I think a complete answer to the hon. and gallant Gentleman, with regard to any charge of breach of pledges, even if it was not for the question of German competition, which, undoubtedly, is there, is that you cannot protect the hand razor and leave the safety razor out. They all come within the general category of cutlery, and, as such, it would be unreasonable to deal with them other than as a whole.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman states, with regard to these two firms who have sent circulars to the House, that they are engaged in the trade and they know their business best, and they are, therefore, people whose documents should be taken in a most serious manner by the House. I agree that they should be taken seriously, but they are not necessarily the best judges of their own case. We know one firm that will object to this duty. That is the Gillette film of America. These two firms make large quantities of steel for the Gillette company. The Gillette company is, therefore, their very good customer and their very good friend, and the representative, of Gillette comes to them and says, "We beg of you to send a circular out to Members of the House of Commons saying how much steel you sell to America," and these gentlemen, therefore, in the interest of their best customers, are bound to send out the circular. I think in that way we can discount a good deal that is in the circular.
May I deal with the question from the point of view of employment? I agree with the President of the Board of Trade that it is not very likely they will get their steel from Sweden, setting up an entirely new source of: supply, unless it is really in their interest to do so, but I want, for the sake of my argument, to assume that they do set up this new-source of supply and ignore Sheffield. I will go so far as to assume that the whole amount of crucible steel that goes to America ceases to go to America, and then we will look at it from the point of view of the employment of labour if, on the other hand, these goods which are made in America could be made in Sheffield.
I have had some figures given me as to the amount of about that goes into this crucible steel and the total amount of crucible steel that is sent to America. The information I have is that it would take 47 men their full time for a year to melt and roll the total amount of the export of crucible steel from Sheffield. In the crucible steel trade in Sheffield there are about 5,000 people employed. If the whole of that trade was lost, the result would be that there would be a loss of employment of less than 1 per cent. in the crucible steel trade. On the other hand, the Gillette people send to England, I believe, something like 40,000,000 blades. We can imagine what amount of employment it would make in Sheffield if a proportion of those; 40,000,000 blades were made there, instead of in America. The number of men employed would be vastly increased, and would be immensely more than the 47 men who are now fully employed melting and rolling the whole of the crucible steel that goes to America. It is a fact that cannot be controverted that an effort has boon and is being made in Sheffield to meet this great new demand, which is an ever-increasing demand for safety razors and blades. One firm has been making them for a considerable time, and another firm which has just started making razor blades are doing so very satisfactorily. The first firm is making an extremely satisfactory razor, and with a little encouragement and capital I believe the last firm could very shortly be employing at least 1,000 girls in making safety razors. There is a great opportunity for a new outlet of industry in this way, and it is an opportunity which must not be lightly thrown away for the risk that the Gillette firm might not continue to buy its steel in what they find to be the best and cheapest market.
Can the hon. Member say where he gets the information as to only 47 men being employed in melting and rolling the crucible steel? It seems a very extraordinary figure for an output of £300,000.
I did not want to worry the House with a long series of mathematical calculations. The statement begins like this:
One ton of rolled steel makes 600,000 safety razor blades. Seven men melt one ton.
And so on. The information was given to me by the Secretary of the Cutlery Manufacturers' Association.
The hon. Member is very well acquainted with Sheffield. That is why I am listening very carefully to his argument. He knows something about steel. Will he give us his own opinion? Does he think it is possible to persuade the House of Commons that there are only 47 men employed full-time for an output of £200,000 worth of steel?
I want to reply to the argument made by the hon. and gallant Member for Leith (Captain Benn) who, I am sorry to say, has left the House. I always admire the moral and intellectual superiority which he presumes to have over the rest of us. [An HON. MEMBER: "Not over you!"] Not over me; he only imagines it. He was using the analogy of fabric gloves and glove fabric. He said that the President of the Board of Trade predicted one thing and that the people who knew predicted another. I was not a Member of this House at the time, but I remember the agitation of the Bolton people on this subject. They said that their trade would be seriously affected. Who was right? The President of the Board of Trade or the Bolton people? The President of the Board of Trade was right. The Bolton people did not suffer in any way as the result of the imposition of the Duty on fabric gloves. When the Duty was re-imposed we heard no protest from Bolton. Bolton by their action this time have justified the prediction which the President of the Board of Trade made three or four years ago, when the Duty was first imposed.
The hon. and gallant Member pointed out, with truth, that in one sense there was no unemployment in the manufacture of safety razors in this country. He drew entirely erroneous conclusions. A change of fashion has taken place, and that change of fashion has affected very adversely the manufacture of ordinary razors. While it may be perfectly true that there may be no person in this country who could be accurately described as a worker in safety blades who is unemployed, that does not mean that the importation of safety razor blades is not causing unemployment in the razor industry. A period of change-over is taking place, and that period of changeover will be facilitated by this duty. It will be much easier to absorb the 90 per cent. of razor makers in Sheffield who are unemployed—assuming that the figures given are correct, and we have no reason to doubt the figures given by the trade union—in the new industry which will very rapidly grow up under the protection of the tariff which is proposed.
I have received the circular which has been quoted. I resent being told by those who speak on behalf of Protectionist Americans that Protection is very bad for this industry. I should be very much more impressed with the arguments of the Gillette Safety Razor Company if they were addressed to the Congress of the United States, for the purpose of inducing them to remove the tariff which exists in respect of any safety razors going into the United States. It is very much like Satan rebuking sin, when those who speak on behalf of Protectionist manufacturers send circulars to Members of this House for the purpose of persuading; them to vote against safeguarding our industries, because what is good for America is bad for us.
The argument in regard to special steels is a very simple one, owing to the amazing technical superiority of our people, who have established a predominance all over the world in our special steels. The reason why people buy them is not because they love us, but because they love our product, and they will go on loving our product whatever else they do. It is very extraordinary that whereas in some industries we suffer acute competition in respect of certain products made from carbon steel, such as twist drills and other engineering tools, yet we do not suffer the same competition when these tools are made from special steel because of our predominance in the production of special steels. America will go on baying these products because they want them and not because they love us.
I cannot help feeling that the whole of the arguments from the other side are based upon the assumption that the industry has proved its case before the Committee set up by the Board of Trade. That is a false assumption. The hon. and gallant Member for Leith put several points that were laid down in the procedure of the White Paper which had to be satisfied before a tariff could be imposed. I believe that on all the counts set up on the White Paper the industry of safety razors falls to the ground. There is not a single case in which they satisfy the conditions laid down in the White Paper.
We are told about the unfair competition from Germany. The President of the Board of Trade laid stress upon that. He said nothing about the conditions in America. He said the real reason for this duty is that the conditions are so unfair with regard to Germany. For how long are you going to put on the duty in the case of safety razors? If the right hon. Gentleman had referred to the Report of the Balfour Committee it is a great pity ho has not availed himself of that information—he would have got some better evidence as to the conditions in Germany than were available to those who made the inquiry into this industry. On page 11 of the Report of that Committee it is stated:
The wages paid to German workers, when converted into dollars or sterling at current rates of exchange, have been much lower than those paid in the United States or this country. They are, however, being constantly increased, and agitations to this end are still taking place.
That is the Report of a Government Committee which made an exhaustive inquiry into British industry.
; This year. It was a very different form of inquiry from that which has been conducted by the three specially selected Committees set up by the President of the Board of Trade, who inquired for a few weeks into particular industries, and were then so rushed by the President of the Board of Trade to present their Report that they were prevented from going to Sheffield to make any inquiry as to the state of the general conditions of the industry there.
The President of the Board of Trade sought to show that there was grave fear that there would be severe dumping from Germany of safety razor blades. He has been telling us all through these debates how very much he is in accord with the Chancellor of the Exchequer in this matter. I wonder if he is in accord with him when he makes that statement. It is only a year and nine months ago— not so long in a political career like that of the Chancellor of the Exchequer—that the Chancellor of the Exchequer said he could not find a single case on record of any British industry being ruined by dumping. Is the President of the Board of Trade in accord with the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the statement he has made to-night as to the fear of the ruin of this industry because of the importation of razor blades from Germany? I am afraid that if we went into that matter in detail we should discover there was difference of opinion between the two right hon. Gentlemen.
This industry ought to be able to show, in accordance with the procedure laid down in the White Paper, that there is unprecedented competition and unprecedented imports. The statistics which were given to us in the White Paper gave us no pre-war figures as to the import of razor blades. I do not know why that information was withheld. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will tell us.
That is unfortunate. I do not mind the right hon. Gentleman rebuking a former Administration for not being as efficient as the present one. I should imagine that the import of German safety razor blades was very considerable, even before the War. Taking the statistics which have been given to us in the White Paper, we find that the imports from Germany were only three-fourths of what they were in 1922. That does not seem to bear out the suggestion from the President of the Board of Trade that there are floods of cheap razor blades from Germany ready to come in to compete with the Sheffield product. There is no unemployment at the present time in the safety razor-blade industry in this country, and there are active developments going on. Those developments began to take place before there was a suggestion of an inquiry with a view to a tariff, and whether a tariff was put on or not, that development would have taken place. One firm in Sheffield at the present time is developing the manufacture of safety razor blades and producing a very good blade, which will compete at a cheaper rate with the Gillette blade. I suppose if they put a tariff on, in 12 months we shall be told that the success of that firm is a result of it. That development has been going on for a long period, and they have had to square themselves up, due to the superior organisation and methods of the Gillette Razor Blade Company. A short time ago, how much the condition of the motor trade was increased by letting a little daylight in, in removing the McKenna Duties! [Laughter.] Yes, I think that could be supported, from the point of view of organisation of output, and the figures which have just been submitted by the Minister of Labour as to the state of employment in the industry during the period of freedom from the tax.
One other question I would like to put, and then I will sit down, and that is that hon. Members opposite have stressed a good deal this question of protecting our industries from unfair conditions. I wish sometimes, as I said the other day, they would look a little into the conditions in our industries as a whole. I am going to repeat what I said the other night about this new industry in Sheffield, of safety razor blades. Girls are being taken on at 16 or 17 years of age at a wage of 15s. a week for a full week's work, and almost at once they are put on overtime and kept on overtime at the munificent wage of 4d. per hour. How much room have we got to cast stones at conditions in other countries, when we allow conditions like that to operate? What single guarantee has ever been suggested from the other side that, if a tariff of this kind is imposed, with all the increased cost to the consumer, the workers in the industries to be protected will get any different conditions than they now get from the employers? Is it not perfectly true to say that the Order Paper was right the other day, when it described, in error, the Bill as a Bill for the "safe guarding of interests" and not a Bill for the safeguarding of industry.
You can always appeal to immediate and secular interests. The hon. and learned Member for the Park Division of Sheffield (Mr. Storry Deans) is quite well aware that there are many other trade unions in the country which are not at all in favour of this policy. I notice that the trade unions in these industries that are concerned more with the supplying of the consumers were never asked to give evidence. Indeed, one point in our case all the way through has been that there was never any adequate provision made through the whole of these inquiries for the consumers' views to be heard.
Lieut.-Colonel Sir FREDERICK HALL:
I have listened with great interest to the Debates that have taken place on this Bill, and I have purposely refrained from intervening because I thought it was inadvisable that we should waste too much time, and in order that my hon. Friends behind me and those above the Gangway should have an opportunity of airing their grievances. We are desirous of providing work for our own people in our own country. I must say I am rather surprised at some of the statements that have been made by the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. There are two firms in Sheffield, which have been referred to at full length, who are closely with the Gillette Razor Company in America, and naturally they are looking to assist their good customers as far as they possibly can, to the detriment of this country. I say here that the duty of Members of this House, representing this great country, is to look as far as we can after the improvement of our own people at home. I have never been one who is ashamed to say, as I say here now, that I am a Protectionist because I believe it is to the advantage of my country that interests should be protected. When we go into the question of saying that we are going to throw the whole of our markets open here to goods that are produced—
Sir F. HALL:
As I said I have not been particularly desirous of entering this discussion in order that my hon. Friends should have a full opportunity of stating their views. I hope I shill keep within the four corners of Order when I say that, in regard to those blades, surely you have got to look round to see if you can increase and improve your trade in your own country. Goods are being made and. sent here without any tariff at the present time, and I have yet to learn that we are not competent to make these goods in our own country. It is perfectly true, as was stated by my hon. Friend the Member for Reading (Mr. H. Williams), that in regard to the actual safety-razor trade, qua safety-razor trade, we have no unemployment. But they have no ox-employment because the interests in this country have not had an opportunity of being developed in a way that we are desirous under this present Bill. I do hope that there will not be so much, if I may say so, mud thrown at our own employment and at our own industries in this country, and that we will make up our minds as far as we can. I hope that this Bill will be stretched farther and farther.
It is always a pleasure to hear any contributions made by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Dulwich (Sir F. Hall) to our debates, for he lacks nothing in candour and he expresses freely and accurately, without any attempt to disguise his thoughts, exactly what is passing through his mind. He is not a safe-guarder at all; he is a full-blooded Protectionist and it is purely on protectionist grounds that he is supporting this Measure. It is because he sees Protection in it that he is going to vote against this Amendment, and it is because ho sees Protection in it that he will vote for the Bill to-morrow. That is not the view of the President of the Board of Trade. He and the Prime Minister hold the view that this is not a Protection Bill at all. No one need feel at all nervous about it, however much of a Free Trader he may be; it is only safeguarding an industry! The industry which is under discussion now, that is, safety razors, is rather a good example of what happens under a Protectionist or semi-Protectionist system. We have heard quoted to-night the opinion of various sections of the trade. There has been circulated to all Members of this House statements from those who think they will be affected or hope to be affected by the duties which are imposed. In a very short time, if this Bill is to be extended, as ray hon. and gallant Friend thinks it ought, we shall have our post-bag every morning full of the appeals made by interested parties to have a duty put on, or to have a duty kept off, or to shove the price up, or to prevent an industry closing down. This is just an example of what happens in every Protectionist country. If your post-box is not overladen with these interested statements, men come down to lobby you in the hope of getting what they want.
I am applying it, Sir, to the safety razor part of the Bill, and the reason that I am quoting is that we have had a brighter instance of this than we might otherwise have had. The method by which these duties are put on or taken off is one which is a direct reflection of the amount of pressure which is put upon the President of the Board of Trade. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Moseley (Mr. Hannon) has lost his influence with the Government. He cannot do for the steel industry what the manufacturers of the safety razors have done for themselves with the President. He has entirely failed to get his great industry in. The hon. Member who has been so closely and honourably connected with Sheffield all his life, and who puts the purely Sheffield case, forgets altogether about the hon. Member for Moseley and the other interests of the steel industry. He looks after the one special interest. The vice of this sort of thing is that it rune in the narrow channel of special interests.
The question whether safety-razors should be in or out has never been decided on any point of practical experience. The only thing in the mind of the President of the Board of Trade is that the safety-razor blade cuts. That is all he knows. It is not a question whether the industry is tottering to its ruin. You cannot say that it is really prospering. But everything that we know of it shows that there has been a remarkable revival in the safety-razor industry. It revived on its merits. I do not know whether the hon. Gentle-man who comes from Sheffield, and sits for some other constituency (Mr. S. Roberts) actually shaves with a Sheffield razor. I hope he does. I can tell him that one of the best safety-razor blades is made in Sheffield. It is a blade which is available, not only for a Gillette holder, but for several other holders. They have had a fight in their market in order that the blade may become not only the most adaptable, but the best blade available. The Gillette blade, I believe, only fits its own holder. This development is not the outcome of anything done in this House or by the President of the Board of Trade. It had nothing to do with it. I do not know whether or not the President has ever seen it. I like to advertise British goods, and I say it is a better article than you can buy in America. What I recommend to the President of the Board of Trade is, not that he should go round saying to his friends in these various industries, "I will enable you to sell your 21s. article for 28s.," but to go round the world saying that you can produce better stuff in Sheffield than anywhere else, and that we hold our own against world competition.
In view of the remarks from the last two speakers on the opposite side of the Committee, I would just like to say one or two words. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillsborough (Mr. A. V. Alexander) said that if this duty were brought in, the price of the razors would go up. I wonder how many Members there are who realise what is the actual state of the safety razor industry, so far as the costs of manufacture, advertising, and the profits to the retailer are concerned. I have lately been investigating a very similar article to that which is manufactured on a very large scale, and is sold at about the same price as that blade. The figures were; actual cost of manufacture, 3s. 3d.; actual charge for advertisements, 5s.; actual profit to the retailer, 8s.; actual selling charges on the distributor, 1s. 9d.; and the profit was 2s. I think it will be found that the figures on the Gillette razor are very similar to those figures. The duty will be put upon the invoice price, which will probably be in the region of 3s. or 4s.
Does the hon. Member opposite suppose that the Gillette Razor Company will alter its price on the market? What will happen is that, except in so far as the razor blades are manufactured in this country, they will pay the whole of the duty. They will not be able to take it oft the retailer for fear he should sell the products of some competitor. They will not take it off advertisement charges, because sales will go down. All that will happen will be that the shareholders of the Gillette Razor Company "will not get quite such a big dividend as they have had. There will be a contribution to the British Exchequer, and I think that, far from the Gillette razor being the worst example, as the hon. Member suggested, of what would happen if a duty were put on, it is the best example, because the difference between manufacturing price and the actual selling price is so enormous that it would not pay the company in any way to increase its price. They would, in fact, reduce their profit to cover the duty which they had to pay. It is for those reasons that I hope the Government will reject this Amendment. This duty will also have the advantage of assisting our own people to start the development of razors of a different type to the Gillette in this country.
I want to correct what might be a wrong impression created by a question asked by an hon. Member opposite from the Member for Hills- borough (Mr. Alexander), which suggested that the unions mostly concerned in this matter are in favour of this Bill. If the hon. Member means the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation, I wish to inform the Committee that no one in this House has any right to say that that organisation has come to any such conclusion. Its members have not discussed the Bill. It is true that its members have had the question of the iron and steel trade generally under consideration for the past 18 months and have had referred that matter to their executive council. If this Government were to be guided by the resolution passed by that executive council, they would withdraw this Bill. There are three officers of that confederation in this House, and if they are present when the vote on this matter is taken, they will all vote against the Government, because the resolution passed by their executive asked for the exclusion of sweated goods. The products dealt with in this Bill coming from America cannot bear that description.
Another wrong impression may have been created in the House by the hon. Member who gave us some mathematical calculations. It would have been much better if, instead of asking someone to give him mathematical calculations, he had gone to the firms who were making the steel, and had asked them how many men it takes to make a ton of this steel In all probability the hon. Member who gave the calculations is being guided by figures which recently appeared in the Press concerning the general manufacture of heavy steel. He argues that there are so many men required to make 100 tons, and that therefore if the two and three-quarter million tons imported this year were made here, you would have employment for 100,000 more men in this country. That might be true so far as the heavy iron and steel trade is concerned, but the crucible trade is an entirely different thing, and the output per man would not approximate at all in any way to that in the heavy iron and steel trade. If my hon. Friend had analysed the figure in any way, he would have seen the fallacy of saying that there are 47 men turning out 350 tons of this steel a year, which is sold for £400 a ton. That means that 47 men are turning out a product that their employer says is worth £140,000 a year. The wages of these men on an average is about £3 a week, or in other words they get £7,232 a year.
Yes, it is the steel. These figures were given as a reason for putting on the tariff so that we could have these blades made in this country, but the hon. Member has said that it does not matter whether we lose this portion of the trade or not. I do not want the House to be influenced by figures that are ridiculous.
As the hon. Member says my figures are ridiculous, will he deny this 2 Seven men melt one ton of steel in eight hours, 12 men roll one ton of steel in eight hours. In one year 10 men melt and roll 293 tons of steel. It works out that in a year 48 men roll and melt 7S0 tons of steel.
I daresay the hon. Member believes those figures, but I do not. Take the result, and let the Committee ask if it appears reasonable. He says that 47 men are turning out a product which sells for £140,000, but they are only getting £7,000 for doing it. Why, all the hon. Members on the opposite side would be rushing to make razor-blade steel if they could get the difference that those figures represent. I do not think the Committee ought to be influenced by figures like that. Had I known such a statement was to be made, I would have got into touch with our Sheffield office and obtained the figures.
I am going to vote against the Government's proposal, and that ought to settle the matter whether my association is in favour of this proposal or not. I am going to vote against it on the ground that the goods chiefly affected are made under good conditions and the workpeople are better paid than in this country. With a sweated section of the trade I have not the least sympathy whatever. I would have been pleased if the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill had accepted the Amendment to that effect; that would have much improved his Bill to my mind.
One statement of the hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. S. Roberts) cast a serious reflection on two of the firms to which he referred to, Messrs. Jonas and Colver, and Sanderson Bros, and Newbould.
In other words, that they are more anxious to help their existing customers than the trade of Sheffield generally. That is a serious reflection on those two firms. I do not think it ought to go unchallenged, because they are firms whose honour ought to be upheld. Another matter is the statement by the President of the Board of Trade that he was considering the cutlery trade as a whole. It is remarkable that the evidence before the Committee has been the evidence of the Cutlery Manufacturers' Association, but the Cutlers' Company, a very old company with a high reputation, has not in any way appeared to give evidence. I think that the Committee ought to know the facts of the matter.
I feel it necessary to make some effort to reply to the point of the hon. and gallant Member for Uxbridge (Lieut.-Commander Burney). It seems to me that his references to the probable price at which the Gillette razor will be sold has given away entirely the Government case.
That little interlude has had the effect of bringing in the hon. and gallant Member for Uxbridge (Lieut.-Commander Burney), to whom I should like to address this point. The hon. and gallant Member suggested that if a tax were put on the Gillette razor, in the long run the price would be paid by the foreign manufacturer. I do not know that I wish to contest that theory, because I saw recently in a Manchester shop an enormous stock of these Gillette razors advertised at the astounding price of 10½d per razor. I do not know whether there is any question of a middleman coming in between the manufacturer and the purchaser, but it is very evident that the article can be sold in the retail market, if the manufacturers so desire, at a very low price—at a price even so low, as that which I have mentioned.
May I give the reason? I little while ago, the patents of the Gillette razor having run out, in order to keep their market, the firm altered their article to a new form, and the retailers naturally did not wish to retain the old stocks after the new type had been advertised, and so they put the old stocks out on the market.
They did so at prices which practically involved no loss to the firm originally responsible for the manufacture, and so I am in agreement that there is room for a considerable reduc-
tion in price. If it be true that the Government proposal would result in that conclusion, then where does the protection to the Sheffield manufacturers of safety razors come in? If it be possible for the Gillette Company to reduce their price to 10s. or 5s., or even lower than 1s., what is to be expected in the way of procuring employment for the workers on whose behalf it is pretended that these proposals are brought forward. I submit the hon. and gallant Member for Uxbridge has made out our case, and that the difference between the cost of the production of these articles and the price charged is such that even with a 33½ per cent. duty; even if the hon. Member for the Moseley Division of Birmingham (Mr. Hannon) could secure his 66 per cent., even if you had 166 per cent. duty, in the long run the foreign suppliers have the power to respond, and you will pro-cure no protection whatever for the trades which you say you are anxious to help. For that reason, I submit that if the Government were honest in their intentions, they would withdraw these proposals as trumpery proposals which will do nothing whatever to give employment.
|Division No. 491.]||AYES.||[8.20 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Clarry, Reginald George||Galbraith. J. F. W.|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Ganzoni Sir John|
|Applin, Colonel R.V.K.||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A.D.||Gates, Percy|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F.W.||Conway, Sir W. Martin||Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Cope Major William||Gee, Captain R.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Couper, J. B.||Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham|
|Barclay- Harvey, C. M.||Courtauld, Major J. S.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Barnett, Major Sir Richard||Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N.)||Glyn, Major R. G. C.|
|Berry, Sir George||Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Goff, Sir Park|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Crookshank. Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Grace, John|
|Blundell, F. N.||Cunliffe, Joseph Herbert||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Greene, W. P. Crawford|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Davidson, Major-General Sir John H||Gunston, Captain D. W.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Davies, Dr. Vernon||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.|
|Briggs. J. Harold||Dawson Sir Philip||Hall, Lieut., Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Drewe, C.||Hall, Capt. W. D"A. (Bracon & Rad.)|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Eden, Captain Anthony||Hommersley, S.S.|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan||Elliot, Captain Walter E.||Harland. A.|
|Burman, J. B.||Eleveden, Viscount||Harrison, G. J. C.|
|Burney, Lieut.-Com. Charles D.||Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)||Hartington, Marquess of|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Everard, W. Lindsay||Harvey G. (Lambeth, Kennington)|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Fairfax. Captain J. G.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Haslam, Henry C.|
|Caine, Gordon Hall||Fermoy Lord||Hawke, John Anthony|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmith. S.)||Fielden, E. B.||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Fleming, D.P.||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd. Henley)|
|Chadwick. Sir Robert Burton||Ford P. J.||Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootie)|
|Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Forestier walker, Sir L.||Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.|
|Christie, J. A.||Foster, Sir Harry S.||Hennesy, Major J. R. G.|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)|
|Hilton, Cecil||Moreing, Captain A. H.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D.(St. Marylebone).||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)||Smithers, Waldron|
|Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||Murchison, C. K.||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Holt. Captain H. P.||Nall, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)|
|Homan, C. W. J.||Nelson, Sir Frank||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Neville, R. J.||Storry, Deans, R.|
|Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.|
|Hopkins, J. W. W.||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld.)||Streatfeild, Captain S. R.|
|Howard, Captain Hon. Donald||Nuttall, Ellis||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.|
|Hume, Sir G. H.||Oakley, T.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Hurst, Gerald B.||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Tasker, Major R. Inigo|
|Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Templeton, W. P.|
|Jacob, A. E.||Pennefather, Sir John||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Jephcott, A. R.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Perring, William George||Tinne, J. A.|
|Kennedy, A. R. (Pneston)||Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Kidd, J. (Linlithgow)||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|King, Captain Henry Douglas||Philipson, Mabel||Waddington, R.|
|Knox, Sir Alfred||Pielou. D. P||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Lamb, J. Q.||Pilditch, Sir Philip||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Power, Sir John Cecil||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Lougher, L.||Preston, William||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Radford, E. A.||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Lynn, Sir R. J.||Raine, W.||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|MacAndrew, Charles Glen||Ramsden, E.||Wells, S. R.|
|Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Rawson, Alfred Cooper||White, Lieut.-Colonel G. Dairymple|
|Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Reid, D. D. (County Down)||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Macintyre, Ian||Remer, J. R.||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|McLean, Major A.||Rice, Sir Frederick||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Macmillan, Captain H.||Roberts, E. H, G. (Flint)||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Litchfield)|
|McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)||Winby, Colonel L. P.|
|Macquisten, F. A.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-||Rye, F G.||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Salmon, Major I.||Womersley, W. J.|
|Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Wood, B. C. (Somerset. Bridgewater)|
|Margesson, Captain D.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'ge & Hyde)|
|Meller. R. J.||Sandeman, A. Stewart||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.).|
|Merriman, F. B.||Sanders, Sir Robert A.||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Meyer, Sir Frank||Sanderson, Sir Frank||Wragg, Herbert|
|Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl. (Renfrew, W)||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)||Shaw, Capt. W. W. (Wilts, Westb'y)|
|Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham||Shepperson, E. W.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)||Major Sir Harry Barnston and Captain Bowyer.|
|Moore, Sir Newton J.||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon|
|Morden, Col. W. Grant||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine. C.)|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Montague, Frederick|
|Alexander, A, V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Groves, T.||Morris, R. H.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Grundy, T. W.||Murnin, H.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Guest, J. (York, Horns worth)||Oliver, George Harold|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N)||Palin, John Henry|
|Baker, Walter||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Paling, W.|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Barr, J.||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Batey, Joseph||Hardie, George D.||Ponsonby, Arthur|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Harris, Percy A.||Potts, John S.|
|Broad, F. A.||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Purcell, A. A.|
|Bromley, J.||Hayes, John Henry||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley).||Riley, Ben|
|Buchanan, G.||Hirst, G. H.||Ritson, J.|
|Cape, Thomas||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Robinson, W. C.(Yorks, W. R., Elland)|
|Charleton, H. C.||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Rose, Frank H.|
|Compton, Joseph||Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)||Sexton, James|
|Connolly, M.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Cove, W. G.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Crawfurd, H. E.||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Dalton, Hugh||Kelly, W. T.||Smillie, Robert|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Kennedy, T.||Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)|
|Davies, Ellis (Denbigh, Denbigh)||Kirk wood, D.||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lansbury, George||Snell, Harry|
|Day, Colonel Harry||Lawson, John James||Stamford, T. W.|
|Dennison, R.||Lee, F.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Dunnico, H.||Livingstone, A. M.||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Lowth, T.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Lunn, William||Taylor, R. A.|
|Gillett, George M.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J.R.(Aberavon)||Thomas. Sir Robert John (Anglesey)|
|Gosling, Harry||Mackinder, W.||Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro, W.)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||MacLaren, Andrew||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Greenall, T.||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Thurtle, E.|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||March, S.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Townend, A. E.||Weir, L. M.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Varley, Frank B.||Welsh, J. C.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Viant, S. P.||Westwood, J.||Windsor, Waiter|
|Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen||Whiteley, W.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Warne, G. H.||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)||Williams, Or. J. H. (Llanelly)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)||Mr. A. Barnes and Mr. T.|
I beg to move, in page 3, column 1, to leave out lines 16 and 17.
The effect of this Amendment would be to take knife sharpeners wholly or partly of steel out of the dutiable list. This may be thought to be a relatively small matter, and I do not propose to spend very long on it. At the same time, I think it is sufficiently important to deal with briefly, and in view of the fact that a knife sharpener is really a tool and may be regarded chiefly from that point of view, I should like to draw the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade to the fact, which, of course, he knows very well, that the Government does not propose to put any tax upon knives used in machines. Those are distinctly excluded in the first paragraph of the Schedule, and I think we might have a reply from him as to the grounds on which he distinguishes the exclusion of such knives from these knife sharpeners, which really fall, from a certain point of view, very much into the same category.
There is another point which I think is relevant to this Amendment, which is that in so far as the knife sharpener is a tool or a machine we are really stultifying ourselves in imposing a tax on it so short a time after we have deliberately removed the burden of local rates from machines with the object of encouraging industry. We are really proposing to undo with one hand what we have done with the other, and in view of the fact that that decision has so recently been taken by the House, I hope, as the Parliamentary Secretary says it is a small matter, with little revenue in it, he will accept the Amendment and save the time of the Committee for the discussion of more important matters later on.
Once when I tried to answer the hon. Member for Peckham (Mr. Dalton) he classified knife sharpeners with machine knives. However, it has been recommended by the Committee that knife sharpeners if made partly or wholly of steel should be dutiable, and the Board of Trade feel that they should be included with other articles under this Schedule. I do not feel that I can say more than that, and I cannot, therefore, accept the Amendment.
I am more than surprised at the answer that has been given us, as I thought we should have got some concession from the Government, or at least some definition of a knife sharpener. I am very much interested in agriculture, and I am not so sure that a scythe might not he defined as a knife, and if so, it is of importance in this connection that a certain tool is required to sharpen the scythe. Sometimes the stone used for this purpose will be in a handle, which will be rivetted to the stone by a piece of steel, and under these circumstances it means that you are going to put a tax on agriculture. I notice another hon. Member who represents partly an agricultural constituency, and I hope he is going to vote with me against this attempt to tax agriculture after we have been relieving it in connection with local rates. I should like a definition of knife sharpeners, because there might be a dozen kinds of articles used for sharpening a knife. I have used many things in my time for sharpening knives, and I am anxious to get the Government's definition, so that we can have a full discussion on this matter. It is such an important question in the interests of agriculture that I hope we shall not only get silence from this side, but plenty of talk from the other side.
I think there is a point of substance in the question that has been directed to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade. The phrase, "knife sharpener wholly or partly of steel," skeins to me to contain many possibilities. Either the whole instrument may be of steel, or the sharpening part of the instrument may be made of steel, or the handle may be made of steel, and the sharpening part not made of steel. Is it intended that in all those three cases the duty shall be imposed? I think it is very arguable that where only the handle is made of steel, you cannot say the knife sharpener as such is wholly or partly made of steel, because the knife sharpener as such, surely, is that part of the instrument which sharpens the knife, and not that part which holds the part which sharpens the knife. I cannot think it is really intended by the Government that the handle which holds the sharpener should be taxed, having regard to the special liability of handles. A series of elaborate and costly law suits, I fear, would have to be considered by the Courts in order to determine whether a knife sharpener partly made of steel includes a handle made of steel and a sharpener which is not made of steel. My own view is that that is not a knife sharpener made of steel, but is a handle of a knife sharpener partly made of steel. I suggest, therefore, that the drafting here is rather faulty, and even at this late hour I do ask the hon. Member to consider the point, which, I think, is worthy of more explanation than he has given.
In my view, if I understand clear English, a knife sharpener made wholly or partly of steel is the whole vessel that contains what sharpens the knife, whatever that may be made of; that is, that the vessel itself is in the main part made of steel. That is my conception of what we mean here by " knife sharpeners wholly or partly of steel."
May I ask if the hon. Gentleman is expressing the view of the Government, or only of himself, because he specifically said "in my view." Is this the view of the Government on this important question?
Is not the reply of the hon. Member rather a peculiar one? He talks about vessels; does he mean the vessels that are going to bring the steel over? What really does he mean? The Government are pinning their faith upon solving unemployment by taxing knife sharpeners wholly or partly of steel, which is to be defined as contained in the whole of the vessel which holds the knife sharpener. I really think we shall have to get some Scottish metaphysician to define what the Government mean. I do not see a Scottish official on the Government Bench to-night, but I think their minds might really be helpful in getting the hon. Member out of the difficulty. The hon. Member for Peebles (Mr. Westwood) referred to sharpeners with wooden handles and a steel ring round. Are you going to tax the whole of that, because a steel ring is round a wooden handle? There are various other articles coming into this country not wholly made of steel. You get an amazing number of knife sharpeners. The thing that the Government ought to have done was to get hold of something upon which to sharpen their wits. I hope the Government are going to give some good definition as to what they mean by "knife sharpener wholly or partly of steel." How much is to be taxed? The matter ought now to be explained clearly, or else this should be dropped until some definite explanation can be given to convey an intelligent meaning to the people outside who will be using and paying for these knife sharpeners.
I understood the Parliamentary Secretary to say that where the greater part of the vessel is made of steel it will be subject to the duty, but if the smaller part of the vessel is made of steel—if I interpret him rightly—it will not be subject to the duty. Will it be an instruction to those whose duty it will be to collect these duties to examine these vessels to see what percentage of steel they contain? The whole position is one of very great difficulty. Will bodies be set up to hold inquiries to determine the percentage, and, if so, what does "wholly or partly mean"? Attention has been called to the possibility of there being a handle and a sharpener not made of steel, but cemented together by a piece of steel. Will that be a wholly "or" partly"? As I understand the interpretation of the Parliamentary Secretary, that will not be subject to duty. Will he instruct the people responsible for the administration of the Act to that effect?
What I should like to know is, why the tax is to be put upon a handle. The latest carborundum is a fine piece of work with a nice steel handle, and now the Government say, "f we cannot tax the thing for sharpening knives, we are going to tax the handle, because the handle is made of steel." It seems to me that this must have been drawn up in order to get something new in the place of the cross-word puzzle.
I am in somewhat of a quandary, as the definition given by the hon. Member opposite has not quite dealt with knife sharpeners of stainless knives, where a small piece of stone is fitted with a couple of steel rivets. Stainless knives are used mostly by people who cannot afford the more expensive steel knives, for which the knife machine is used. I want the Parliamentary Secretary, before the Amendment is put, to explain to us the position of the knife machine which sharpens knives, why it should also come into this definition, because the knife machine is partly of steel by a rivet, which goes through the handle, and also the steel setting that it rests upon. Of course, in the knife machine the sharpener is the emery inside. It sharpens the knives, and the steel is in the handle and the rest. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will give us his definition, and say whether it is his personal view, or that of the Government, why this should be considered a knife sharpener under this Schedule?
I must attain point out that in the last part of the cutlery section in the Schedule the words are
or handles for any of the above-mentioned articles.
How do these words fit in with the words, in line 16,
Knife sharpeners wholly or partlv of steel.
I have not, I am afraid, made myself clear. I understood the Parliamentary Secretary to say that if the handle of a knife sharpener was made of steel that would be a knife sharpener partly made of steel, but in line 18 below, reference is made to "the above-mentioned articles." That refers to those in preceding lines. I am suggesting that handles cannot be included in line 16 because of line 18.
We must have some explanation. If the handle or a part of the knife is made of steel, if only there is a very small fraction, a shillings-worth of value in a knife, in this proposal you are going to impose a tax upon this particular thing, not upon the amount of steel it contains, that is to say, one-third of the value, you are not going to tax one third of the shilling, the amount of steel in a particular part; you are going to tax the whole of the article and put 4s. upon the article that contains only a shillingsworth of steel; this because the importer has dared to bring in an article that has steel in it! That is the situation. It may only be, as the hon. Gentleman behind me has said, a steel rivet driven in to connect the handle, yet because you have that steel rivet that possibly cost a penny in any ironmonger's or hardware shop in London, because you have that steel rivet in the handle of a knife sharpener, which may cost £2 or £3, you are going to put a tax upon that article of £1. Surely that is impossible! If that is the sort of thing that has been conceived, and shows the extent of the wisdom of the Front Bench, and is all the Government can give, I must submit that the sooner they appeal to the country again and are replaced by the greater wisdom of others the better for the country. As the matter stands just now the ordinary man of the street, if he had even a fraction of common sense, would laugh at the sheer preposterousness of the idea of taxing up to £l every article that only contains a fraction of steel. The sooner hon. Members opposite realise the stupidity of the attitude taken up by the Government and drop this particular proposal the better it will be for their credit.
|Division No. 492.]||AYES.||[8.53 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Atholl, Duchess of||Berry, Sir George|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Betterton, Henry B.|
|Ainsworth, Major Charles||Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Blades, Sir George Rowland|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Barnett, Major Sir Richard||Blundell, F. N.|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Bourne, Captain Robert Croft|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Hawke, John Anthony||Pilditch, Sir Philip|
|Briggs, J. Harold||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Bullock. Captain M.||Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootie)||Preston, William|
|Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan||Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.||Radford, E. A.|
|Burman, J. B.||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Raine, W.|
|Burney, Lieut.-Com. Charles D.||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Ramsden, E.|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Hilton, Cecil||Rawson, Alfred Cooper|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Remer, J. R.|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Holt, Captain H. P.||Rice, Sir Frederick|
|Caine. Gordon Hall||Human, C. W. J.||Roberts, E. H. G (Flint)|
|Campbell, E. T.||Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth. S.)||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Rye, F. G.|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Howard, Captain Hon. Donald||Salmon, Major I.|
|Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Hume, Sir G. H.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Christie, J. A.||Hurst, Gerald B.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Sandeman, A. Stewart|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)||Sanders, Sir Robert A.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Jacob, A. E.||Sanderson, Sir Frank|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Jephcott, A. R.||Shaw, Lt.-Col, A. D. Mcl.(Renfrew, W.)|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Shaw, Capt. W. W. (Wilts, Westb'y)|
|Cope, Major William||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Couper, J. B.||Kidd, J. (Linlithgow)||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Slaney, Major p. Kenyon|
|Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N.)||Knox, Sir Alfred||Smith, R.W.(Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Lamb, J. Q.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Crookshank, Cpt. H.(Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Smithers, Waldron|
|Cunliffe, Joseph Herbert||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Lougher, L.||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir John H.||Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||MacAndrew, Charles Glen||Storry Deans, R.|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.|
|Drewe, C.||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Streatfeild, Captain S. R.|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus||Stuart, Crichton-. Lord C.|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Macintyre, Ian||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Elliott, Captain Walter E.||McLean, Major A.||Tasker, Major R. Inigo|
|Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)||Macmillan, Captain H.||Templeton, W. P.|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Macquisten, F. A.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Tinne, J. A.|
|Fermoy, Lord||Malone, Major P. B.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Fleming, D. P.||Manrtingham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Ford, P. J.||Margesson, Captain D.||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Meller, R. J.||Waddington, R.|
|Foster, Sir Harry S.||Merriman, F. B.||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||Meyer, Sir Frank||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Galbraith, J. F. W.||Mitchell W. Foot (Saffron Walden)||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Gates, Percy||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Moore, Sir Newton J.||Wells, S. R.|
|Gee, Captain R.||Moreing, Captain A. H.||White, Lieut.-Colonel G. Dairymple|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Murchison, C. K.||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Goff, Sir Park||Nall, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Grace, John||Nelson, Sir Frank||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Greene, W. P. Crawford||Neville, R. J.||Winby, Colonel L. P.|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Nuttall, Ellis||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Oakley, T.||Womersley, W. J.|
|Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Wood, E.(Chest'r, Statyb'dge & Hyde)|
|Hammersley, S. S.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.)|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Pennefather, Sir John||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Harland, A.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Wragg, Herbert|
|Harrison, G. J. C.||Perring, William George||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Hartington, Marquess of||Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Peto, G, (Somerset, Frome)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Philipson, Mabel||Colonel Gibbs and Captain Bowyer.|
|Haslam, Henry C.||Pielou, D. P.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Broad, F. A.||Crawfurd, H. E.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Bromley, J.||Dalton, Hugh|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Davies, Ellis (Denbigh, Denbigh)|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Buchanan, G.||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)|
|Baker, Walter||Cape, Thomas||Day, Colonel Harry|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Charleton, H. C.||Dennison, R.|
|Barr, J.||Compton, Joseph||Dunnico. H.|
|Batey, Joseph||Connolly, M.||Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)|
|Beckett, John (Gateshead)||Cove, W. G.||Gillett, George M.|
|Gosling, Harry||Lowth, T.||Stamford, T. W.|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Lunn, William||Stephen, Campbell|
|Greenall, T.||Mac Donald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Mackinder, W.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Groves, T.||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Taylor, R. A.|
|Grundy, T. W.||March, S.||Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)|
|Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth)||Montague, Frederick||Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro. W.)|
|Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.)||Morris, R. H.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Murnin, H.||Thurtle, E.|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Oliver, George Harold||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Palin, John Henry||Townend, A. E.|
|Hardie, George D.||Paling, W.||Varley, Frank B.|
|Harris, Percy A.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Viant, S. P.|
|Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Hayes, John Henry||Ponsonby, Arthur||Warne, G, H.|
|Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||Potts, John S.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Hirst, G. H.||Purcell, A. A.||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Weir, L. M.|
|Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Riley, Ben||Welsh, J. C.|
|Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)||Ritson, J.||Westwood, J.|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland)||Whiteley, W.|
|Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Rose, Frank H.||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Sexton, James||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Lianelly)|
|Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Shiels, Dr. Drummond||Williams. T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Kelly, W. T.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Wilson, c. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Kennedy, T.||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Kirkwood, D.||Slesser, Sir Henry H.||Windsor, Walter|
|Lansbury, George||Smillie, Robert||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Lawson, John James||Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)|
|Lee, F.||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Livingstone, A. M.||Snell, Harry||Mr. A. Barnes and Mr. T. Henderson.|
I beg to move, in page 3, column 1, to leave out lines 18 and 19.
One of the chief objections to these duties is the vast amount of work thrown on the Customs. The two lines the deletion of which I am moving deal with
Handles, blades or blanks for any of the above-mentioned articles.
If the Customs have to investigate every handle, every blade and every blank that comes in, certain difficulties must at once arise. How are the Customs officials to know whether the blades are actually intended for "the above-mentioned articles," or whether they may not be used for some of the knives that have been exempted in the Clauses already passed? Many things that seem by themselves to be perhaps parts, like a handle is a part of a knife, are found, when you go into the trade, to be used as the raw materials of certain industries. Therefore, I do not see why we can justify these handles and blades having a duty imposed upon them. One of the strange things in the Schedule is the exemption of knives to be used by surgeons and knives used in machines. Here I would like to ask what is the difference between a knife and a blade? A blade that is going to be put into a handle is to have a tax imposed on it. It seems to me that it is unfair to burden the poorer section of the people. Obviously, a knife going into a machine will be used in a large manufactory, and yet
it is to be exempt from taxation, whereas a knife coining in to be put into a handle, or a handle coming in to be put on to a knife, such as might be used by a shoemaker or a butcher, is to have a duty imposed on it. Why is there this difference in the treatment of a blade to be used by those who, in all probability, are better off in life and the knives of those who are using their tools for the real necessities of life? It is rather typical of the society in which we live that we have exempted the surgeon's knife, while putting this tax, small though it may be, upon the knives of those who are preparing our food or otherwise ministering to our necessities. Why is this duty being imposed upon blades? We are always thinking of the ambulances connected with hospitals, but why cannot you deal with root evils, and how much better it would be it make it more easy for the children to have good food instead of the hospitals having surgical knives at a cheaper rate. It is on these grounds that I move the elimination of these lines from the Clause.
I want the Minister to consider the added work which will be thrown upon those engaged in this trade. Only the other day I had a letter from one of my constituents dealing with the delay in connection with the imposition of one of these duties. Every duty on handles, blades, and so forth, throws an immense burden on the business world on account of the examination which has to be gone through in regard to these articles. A man may be importing handles, and he cannot feel satisfied as to what is going to happen, and negotiations would have to take place. All these things constitute a handicap and a hindrance to trade. If the Minister requires the earlier part of the Clause, at any rate, he might accept our Amendment deleting the latter part, and thus remove from the authority of the Customs officials the minor matters mentioned in those two lines.
I have been asked by the hon. Member who has just sat down what is the difference between a knife and a blade. My answer is that for the purposes of this Schedule I do not think there is any difference, provided that the articles are partly or wholly made of steel or iron. The hon. Member said this duty was going to inflict a great hardship on the poor working glazier who has to import a putty knife. May I again point out that we are imposing this duty in order to put an immense number of people in work who are now out of work.
The hon. Member asked me why we are putting these duties on these articles, and he also urges us to relieve the Customs and the Excise officials of the burden that will be imposed upon them by administering this tax. I do not think the hon. Member need have any sleepless moments in regard to the Customs officials, because they belong to a most efficient Department, and he need have no uneasiness upon that score. This is a question of really doing something practical to try and find employment for the people in those particular districts and for these reasons I cannot accept this Amendment.
After the clear explanation we have received, of course this Amendment is going to go the way of most of the other Amendments, and the stalwart battalions of the Government supporters will shortly march up and defeat it. I think the hon. Member representing the Government might easily have improved upon the arguments he used in opposition to this Amendment. The Schedule provides for "handles, blades or blanks." Why is the hon. Gentleman concerning himself so much with blades and knives? This part of the Schedule also says, "blades or blanks for any of the above-mentioned articles," and some of the above-mentioned articles are knives. The hon. Member who moved this Amendment was perfectly entitled to draw the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary to that fact. We have been told that these duties are likely in this particular trade to give employment to 42 per cent. of the unemployed. Is the Parliamentary Secretary referring to the unemployed in Sheffield?
To say that you are likely to give employment to 42 per cent. of those unemployed is rather a sweeping assertion which has not yet been substantiated. The hon. Member does not give us any idea as to the amount of these articles which are likely to be manufactured, and the number of people who are likely to be employed producing them. We are asked to believe that 42 per cent. of those unemployed in the particular trade embraced by these articles will come up the streets immediately and get employment in the workshops of Sheffield as a result of these tariffs, but we have had very insufficient evidence to support that statement. The third article mentioned is "blanks." I think the minds of hon. Members opposite must be blank if they support these tariffs.
The very first line of the Schedule provides for "knives with one or more blades," and there is no distinction between a knife and a blade. If the hon. Member in charge of this Measure had ever been a boy and broken a blade of his knife, he would at once know the difference between a knife in which the blade had been broken, if he wanted to exchange a bladeless knife for something that would be of more use to him. We are asked without any justification to tax handles made of steel or partly made of steel, or they may be made of wood or any other material, but merely because they are handles they are to have imposed upon them a tariff of 33⅓ per cent. I think we want an explanation of what blanks are. What are they to be used for? Blanks for what? I will give way if the hon. Gentleman will explain what blanks mean. It is evident that, as I have said already, the minds of the Government are really defined by the term "blank." If they cannot explain that, we can only take them as sitting there as the living embodiment of this term. I hope that, if the hon. Gentleman himself is not going to give us a clearer explanation, some of his supporters, who until now have preserved the most wonderful silence in this Debate, will rise and try to do what evidently the Front Bench is not going to do—I do not say they are not capable of doing it, but they have not done it, up to the present, at any rate.
The blank about which the hon. Member seems to be so obscure is the article which is the raw material—[Laughter]—or rather, I must correct myself there; I should not say the raw material—it is the blank from which the blade or the handle is fashioned by the cutler. There is the razor handle blank, for instance, or the dinner table knife blank, and it is fashioned by the cutler. That is my understanding.
With reference to the rather interesting statement of the hon. Gentleman as to the meaning of blanks, might I ask whether the blank is the piece of steel before it is sharpened, or does it. mean steel in the mass?
I must submit that the explanation of the hon. Gentleman leaves this matter as blank as it was before. The blank, he says, is the piece of material that is used as the blank for the handle. But it says here
Handles, blades or blanks.
But if the blank were used for the handle it would not be down here at all. Really, I think this Committee ought not to be trifled with in this way. For a Minister left in charge of a Bill to rise and give us the explanation that the blank is the blank, really leaves the Committee as blank as ever it was. I suggest that the House of Commons ought
to be treated in a serious manner, and ought to be taken into the confidence of the Government before it is asked to agree to a tax of this character amounting to 33⅓ per cent. If I thought, Captain FitzRoy, that you would accept it, I would move to report Progress until we get a Minister here who can really explain to the Committee what is actually meant. Might I ask if you would be prepared to accept a Motion to report Progress?
I beg to move, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."
We must really have a definition of this term "blank," and I therefore move to report Progress, because it is absolutely essential that we should have some responsible Minister here to give us some definite information as to what is actually in the mind of the Government when they want to tax blanks. It is absolutely necessary that the Committee should have that information. The hon. Gentleman has not given the Committee the definition that is required or accepted by it, and I therefore make this Motion in order that some responsible Minister may come in and make good the deficiency.
Are we going to have no reply from the Government on this matter? The hon. Gentleman, obviously, is doing his best, But it has been repeatedly pointed our that it is not fair that the Government should leave him in this position. He is a Minister who commands the respect, and, I might almost say, the affection of many Members of the House, but it is not fair that he should be left on the Government Bench on this occasion. To begin with, it is not a matter for his Department. He is not going to tax these things at all. The Customs are going to do that, and it is a matter for the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. I do not know any House of Commons that would tolerate a Debate on Customs duties without the presence of a Treasury official. I should like to put to the hon. Gentleman, on this Motion, one or two points. He is proposing to tax blanks: is he also going to tax tengs? I am informed, on the highest technical authority, that, in addition to the blank, the knife-blade has a teng. [HON. MEMBERS: "Tang!"] Some call it a tang, and some call it a teng. Is the tang or teng to be taxed? I think it is extremely important that the hon. Gentleman should enlighten us. Would he consult his advisers? Is it intended merely to tax the blank, or is it intended to tax the teng? If he is not able to answer that, and unless he can give some very good reason for not reporting Progress, I shall certainly go into the Lobby in support of the Motion.
I think the reason, really, why the Government Bench are not giving an answer to this very difficult question, is that it is quite impossible to tax the blank without taxing the tang as well, because the two are fixed together permanently, and, therefore, it is quite unnecessary for the hon. and gallant Member to try to separate them one from the other. The meaning of the word "blank" is, I think, well known to most of us, and, although I am not actually engaged in the cutlery trade myself, I think it is very obvious that the word "blank" is used as a technical expression in the cutlery trade—
The. hon. and gallant Member for Leith (Captain Benn) remarked that reporting Progress was rendered necessary by the lack of a definition by the Parliamentary Secretary of the word "blank." I stand corrected, and, therefore, I hope the hon. Member for Govan (Mr. N. Maclean) will withdraw his Motion, as we now have the President of the Board of Trade himself here, and he will be able to inform us on this matter.
|Division No. 493.]||AYES.||[9.26 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks. W. R., Elland)|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Rose, Frank H.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Hamilton. Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Hardie, George D.||Sexton, James|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Harris, Percy A.||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Baker, Walter||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Barker, C. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hayes, John Henry||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Barnes, A.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Barr, J.||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Smillie, Robert|
|Batey, Joseph||Hirst, G. H.||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Beckett, John (Gateshead)||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Broad, F. A.||Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)||Snell, Harry|
|Bromley, J.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Stamford, T. W.|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Stephen, Campbell|
|Buchanan, G.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Cape, Thomas||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Sutton, J. E.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Kelly, W. T.||Taylor, R. A.|
|Collins, sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Kennedy, T.||Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)|
|Compton, Joseph||Kirkwood, D.||Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro. W.)|
|Connolly, M.||Lansbury, George||Thurtle, E.|
|Cove, W. G.||Lawson, John James||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Lee, F.||Townend, A. E.|
|Crawfurd, H. E.||Livingstone, A. M.||Varley, Frank B.|
|Dalton, Hugh||Lowth, T.||Viant, S. P.|
|Davies, Ellis (Denbigh, Denbigh)||Lunn, William||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R.(Aberavon)||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Day, Colonel Harry||Mackinder, W.||Webb, St. Hon. Sidney|
|Dennison, R.||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Welsh, J. C.|
|Dunnico, H.||March, S.||Westwood, J.|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Montague, Frederick||Whiteley, W.|
|Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Morris, R. H.||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Gillett, George M.||Murnin, H.||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Gosling, Harry||Oliver, George Harold||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Palin, John Henry||Williams, T. (York. Don Valley)|
|Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Paling, W.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Greenall, T.||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Greenwood, A, (Nelson and Colne)||Ponsonby, Arthur||Windsor, Walter|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Potts, John S.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Groves, T.||Purcell, A. A.|
|Grundy, T. W.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth)||Riley, Ben||Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr.|
|Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.)||Ritson, J.||Warne.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Hammersley, S. S.||Philipson, Mabel|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Pielou, D. P.|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Harland, A.||Pilditch, Sir Philip|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Harrison, G. J. C.||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Hartington, Marquess of||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Preston, William|
|Barnett, Major Sir Richard||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Price, Major C. W. M.|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Haslam, Henry C.||Radford, E. A.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Hawke, John Anthony||Raine, W.|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Ramsden, E.|
|Blundell, F. N.||Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd, Henley)||Rawson, Alfred Cooper|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.||Remer, J. R.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Rentoul, G. S.|
|Briggs, J. Harold||Hilton, Cecil||Rice, Sir Frederick|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan||Holt, Captain H. P.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Burman, J. B.||Homan, C. W. J.||Rye, F. G.|
|Burney, Lieut.-Com. Charles D.||Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Salmon, Major I.|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Howard, Captain Hon. Donald||Sandeman, A. Stewart|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Hume, Sir G. H.||Sanders, Sir Robert A.|
|Caine, Gordon Hall||Hurst, Gerald B.||Sanderson, Sir Frank|
|Campbell, E. T.||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Shaw, Capt. W. W. (Wilts, Westb'y)|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R.(Prtsmth. s.)||Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Jacob, A. E.||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Jephcott, A. R.||Simms. Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon|
|Christle, J. A.||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston).||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Kidd, J. (Linlithgow)||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Clarry, Reginald George||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Smithers, Waldron|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Knox, Sir Alfred||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Lamb, J. Q.||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Storry Deans, R.|
|Couper, J. B.||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Streatfeild, Captain S. R.|
|Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N.)||Loder, J. de V.||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.|
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Lougher, L.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Cunliffe, Joseph Herbert||MacAndrew, Charles Glen||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Tasker, Major R. Inigo|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir John H.||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Templeton, W. P|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Macintyre, Ian||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||McLean, Major A.||Tinne, J. A.|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Macmillan, Captain H.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Elliot, Captain Walter E.||McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Elveden, Viscount||Macquisten, F. A.||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Waddingtton, R.|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Malone, Major P. B.||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Margesson, Captain D.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Fermoy, Lord||Meller, R. J.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Fielden, E. B.||Merriman, F. B.||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Fleming, D. P.||Meyer, Sir Frank||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Ford, P. J.||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Wells, S. R.|
|Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)||white, Lieut.-Colonel G. Dairymple|
|Foster, Sir Harry S.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Fremantle, Lt.-Col. Francis E.||Moore Sir Newton J.||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Galbraith, J. F. W.||Moreing, Captain A. H.||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)||Winby, Colonel L. P.|
|Gates, Percy||Murchison, C. K.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Gault Lieut.-Cot. Andrew Hamilton||Nail, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Gee, Captain R.||Nelson, Sir Frank||Womersley, W. J.|
|Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham||Neville, R. J.||Wood, B. C. (Somerset. Bridgwater)|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Nuttall, Ellis||Wood, E. (Chest'r. Stalyb'dge & Hyde)|
|Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Oakley, T.||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.).|
|Goff, Sir Park||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Grace, John||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Wragg, Herbert|
|Grant, J. A.||Pease, William Edwin||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Greene, W. P. Crawford||Pennefather, Sir John|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Perring, William George||Major Cope and Lord Stanley.|
|Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
I see the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade is present, and I would like to press
the point we have been pressing earlier, to find out whether he can give us an explanation of the definition of the term " blank " in line 18, where it says,
blanks or any of the above-mentioned articles,
and "the above-mentioned articles" are, I take it, knives, scissors, safety razors and component parts, razors, carving forks and knife shapeners. I should be obliged, and I am certain the Committee will be, if the right hon. Gentleman will give a definition.
I think he knows all about this industry. This is a very simple and rather disingenuous Motion. I do not pretend to be an expert cutler, but the blank in cutlery is the piece of material which comes in in a form partly shaped and ready to be further shaped and ground, and it is then subjected to further processes. The effect of accepting the Amendment would be, I am sure, the last result that he himself would wish to obtain because, whether we believe in the duty or not, we at any rate want the cutlery industry, as a complete industry from start to finish, to go on, and the only result of putting a duty upon the finished article and un-safeguarding the component parts, the handle or the blank, would be simply to convert the cutlery trade of the country into an assembling trade. I am sure the hon. Member would not in the least want that done.
When you read down this part of the Schedule, we are dealing with steel and iron until we come to line 18, and then you begin with handles, and the handle may be made of various materials. Here is a knife that has a brass wall casing that holds the blades. It is ivory or some other composition. [An HON. MEMBER: " Or bone! "] If it is bone we get it from the heads opposite. This handle of a German knife that I hold in my hand—[HON. MEMBERS: "Shame!"] It is not a German one, but suppose it was a German knife, and I had broken the handle and wanted to get it replaced. When I get the number that I can get inside the wall, and order a handle, and the handle comes in, I discover that it is neither steel nor iron, as mentioned in the Schedule, and yet on line 18 I am told that you are going to tax that handle. You have not said in the Schedule whether the handle is to be of any particular material, therefore you are going to put a tax upon it. If you take the case of a handle, say, for a carborundum sharpener, it is a very difficult thing to put a handle on to a carborundum tool for sharpening. It is very brittle. There are plenty of engineering gentlemen who know the difficulty of putting a steel handle on to a piece of carborundum, and they will bear me out. The same thing applies here as applies to the handle. You are going to tax a handle that does not contain either steel or iron. In this knife the rivets within the walls are of brass or gunmetal. What is to be the attitude of the Government to a handle like this? Are you only going to tax that which is made of steel or iron, or are you going to prevent me being able to get this handle because it is not an iron and steel combination to fit these blades, since I have broken the handle?
If we are to dispose of the other sections which we want to get there must be a limit to the number of speeches I make, but I will answer the hon. Member at once. He has raised three questions. The first was what is going to happen to the handle of a carborundum sharpener. A carborundum sharpener does not come in.
You must not ask me for an explanation and then not accept it. The hon. Member may differ from me, but I will give him my answer. Knife sharpeners are dutiable when wholly or partly made of steel. As the hon. Member knows, carborundum is not steel. I tell him advisedly that a carborundum sharpener is not included and is not dutiable, and therefore the handle for a carborundum sharpener will not be dutiable. The hon. Member says we have not limited handles, blades and blanks by defining them as made of iron and steel. Certainly not, because we did not mean to, because handles are often made of other materials than iron or steel. We intend that handles, blades or blanks of any articles which are set out in the Cutlery Schedule shall be dutiable, whatever material they are made of, but they are only dutiable if they are handles, blades or blanks for one of those articles set out above. I advise the hon. Member when he breaks his knife, which did or did not come from Germany, to buy a British knife.
I would ask the President if this is his final opinion on the matter, because his assistant a few moments ago told us exactly the opposite. The Secretary to the Board of Trade told me that if the handle were made of steel and the sharpener was not made of steel the article would be dutiable. I put to him exactly the argument the President of the Board of Trade has now put to the Committee, namely, that the handle was only dutiable if it were the handle of an article which was itself dutiable, and the hon. Gentleman told me that was wrong. I only want to know whether the right hon. Gentleman is right-and I think he is-or whether what his colleagues said a few moments ago was right, that the handle of an article which was not made of steel would be dutiable. We have now reached the position in the explanation of an important duty when two Ministers have given us, within a quarter of an hour, two exactly contradictory explanations of the same thing.
The hon. and learned Gentleman is a very skilled cross-examiner and I can well believe that under his cross-examination even I might make a mistake. I do not think there can be any doubt about these "handles, blades and blanks for any of the above-mentioned articles." It really is as plain as a pikestaff and it can only refer to the articles included in lines 5 to 17.
I am afraid the right hon. Gentleman has not made quite clear exactly what these words mean. The "articles above-mentioned" are knives and scissors. I want to get an explanation as to what will be the tax on an article of this nature. This is a knife having one or more blades. It also happens to be a pair of scissors. Are we to understand that if the handle comes in without first of all being attached to either the blades or the scissors the tax is to be 3333⅓ per cent., or, on the other hand, is it to 66⅔ per cent. because this happens to be scissors and knife? I have a further point on which to ask an explanation. We have had a definition of blanks-one of the most blank definitions ever heard in the House. The President of the Board of Trade has made it clear that a blank is a blank. I want to know what a handle is.
There are many kinds of handles. My hon. Friend says that hon. and right hon. Members opposite have handles to their names. I have known of complaints being made in this House about handles being purchased at a price", and the price going into the party coffers. Sow, we have the party opposite in favour of nationalisation, because the price for the handles is to go to the National Exchequer. If we can make such inroads into their principles with respect to nationalisation, the time may come when we may be able to make them agree to the nationalisation of something else. I trust we shall get an explanation of what is meant by a handle. This is as important as what is meant by a blank. No doubt, if the Parliamentary Secretary replies, he will make as clear an explanation about handles as he did about blanks.
When we are discussing handles for knives, does the President of the Board of Trade suggest taxing according to the price of the knife? Many knives which come into this country have gold handles and other kinds of expensive handles. One hon. Member opposite said that the unemployment in the Sheffield cutlery trade was 42 per cent. What does 42 per cent. represent It sounds rather terrible, but it may not be a great number in this industry. He also stated that it was proposed to tax raw material. I think that was a slip on his par;, because one of his supporters said that he meant steel in the mass. I do no; know whether he meant steel in the mess. How does the right hon. Gentleman propose to tax handles? Will it be in proportion to the gold or other valuable material in the handle?
|Division No. 494.]||AYES.||[9.50 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Meyer, Sir Frank|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Goff, Sir Park||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Grace, John||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Grant, J. A.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Moore, Sir Newton J.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Morden, Col. W. Grant|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Moreing, Captain A. H.|
|Barnett, Major Sir Richard||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Hall, Lieut. Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Murchison, C. K.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Nail, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Hammersley, S. S.||Nelson, Sir Frank|
|Blundell, F. N.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Neville, R. J.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Harland, A.||Nuttall, Ellis|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Harrison, G. J. C.||Oakley, T.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Hartington, Marquess of||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Briggs, J. Harold||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Pease, William Edwin|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Haslam, Henry C.||Pennefather, Sir John|
|Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan||Hawke, John Anthony||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Burman, J. B.||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Perring, William George|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootie)||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.||Philipson, Mabel|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Pielou, D. P.|
|Caine, Gordon Hall||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Pilditch, Sir Philip|
|Campbell, E. T.||Herbert, S. (York, N. R., Scar. & Wh'by)||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth. S.)||Hilton, Cecil||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Preston, William|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Price, Major C. W. M.|
|Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Holt, Capt. H. P.||Radford, E. A.|
|Christie, J. A.||Homan, C. W. J.||Rains, W.|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Ramsden, E.|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Rawson, Alfred Cooper|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Remer, J. R.|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Howard, Captain Hon. Donald||Rentoul, G. S.|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Hume, Sir G. H.||Rice, Sir Frederick|
|Cope, Major William||Hurst, Gerald B.||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)|
|Couper, J. B.||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N.)||Jacob, A.E.||Rye, F. G.|
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Jephcott, A. R.||Salmon, Major I.|
|Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsay, Gainsbro)||Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Cunliffe, Joseph Herbert||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Kidd, J. (Linlithgow)||Sandeman, A. Stewart|
|Davidson, J. (Hertf'd, Hemel Hempst'd)||King, Captain Hentry Douglas||Sanders, Sir Robert A.|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir John H.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Sanderson, Sir Frank|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Knox, Sir Alfred||Shaw, Capt. W. W. (Wilts, Westb'y)|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Lamb, J. O.||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Lloyed, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Elliot, Captain Walter E.||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Skelton, A. N.|
|Elveden, Viscount||Loder, J. de V.||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s-M.)||Looker, Herbert William||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)||Lougher, L.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Smithers, Waldron|
|Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Lynn, Sir R. J.||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||MacAndrew, Charles Glen||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Fermoy, Lord||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Storry Deans, R.|
|Fleiden E. B.||MacDonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.|
|Fleming, D. P.||McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus||Streatfeild, Captain S. R.|
|Ford, P. J.||Macintyre, Ian||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.|
|Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||McLean, Major A||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Foster, Sir Harry S.||Macmillan, Captain H.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John||Tasker, Major R. Inigo|
|Galbraith, J. F. W.||Macquisten, F. A.||Templeton, W. P.|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Gates, Percy||Malone, Major P. B.||Tinne, J. A.|
|Gault, Lieut. Col. Andrew Hamilton||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Gee, Captain R.||Margesson, Captain D.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham||Meller, R. J.||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Merriman, F. B.||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Waddington, R.||White, Lieut.-Colonel G. Dairymple||Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'dge & Hyde)|
|Wallace, Captain D. E.||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.).|
|Ward. Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)||Woodcock. Colonel H. C.|
|Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Warrender, Sir Victor||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Waterhouse, Captain Charles||Winby, Colonel L. P.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George||Mr. F. C. Thomson and Lord Stanley|
|Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Wells, S. R.||Womersley, W. J.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Sexton, James|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Hardie, George D.||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Amman, Charles George||Harris, Percy A||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Hayes, John Henry||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Baker, Walter||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Smillie, Robert|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)|
|Barnes, A.||Hirst, G. H.||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Barr, J.||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Snell, Harry|
|Batey, Joseph||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Stamford, T. W.|
|Beckett, John (Gateshead)||Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)||Stephen, Campbell|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Briant, Frank||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Sutton, J. E.|
|Broad, F. A.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Taylor, R. A.|
|Bromley, J.||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Kelly, W. T.||Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro. W.)|
|Buchanan, G.||Kennedy, T.||Thurtle, E.|
|Cape, Thomas||Kirkwood, D.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Charleton, H. C.||Lansbury, George||Townend, A. E.|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Lawson, John James||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Compton, Joseph||Lee, F.||Varley, Frank B.|
|Connolly, M.||Livingstone, A. M.||Viant, S. P.|
|Cove, W. G.||Lowth, T.||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Lunn, William||Warne, G. H.|
|Dalton, Hugh||Mac Donald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Ab'ravon)||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Davies, Ellis (Denbigh, Denbigh)||Mackinder, W.||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Day, Colonel Harry||March, S.||Weir, L. M.|
|Dennison, R.||Montague, Frederick||Welsh, J. C.|
|Dunnico, H.||Morris, R. H.||Westwood. J.|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Murnin, H.||Whiteley, W.|
|Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Oliver, George Harold||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Gillett, George M.||Palin, John Henry||Williams, David (Swansea, E)|
|Gosling, Harry||Paling, W.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Greenall, T.||Ponsonby, Arthur||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Potts, John S.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Purcell, A. A.||Windsor, Walter|
|Groves, T.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Riley, Ben|
|Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth)||Ritson, J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.)||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks. W. R., Elland)||Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr. B.|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Rose, Frank H.||Smith.|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
I beg to move in page 3, column 1, to leave out lines 21 to 27 inclusive.
I should like to indicate one or two objections that I have to this proposal. May I remind this Committee again of the fact that, when the Committee which inquired into this subject sat, they had, if I remember rightly, some four witnesses before them whose evidence was taken in camera. It seems to me that that is a very significant fact, because after all, if this House is to arrive at a judgment worth while in this matter, it is legitimate and fair that the House should be in possession of the information which these witnesses put before this Committee, and upon which I presume the Committee arrived at a final verdict. If the evidence was necessary for the Committee, surely it was equally necessary for this House, and I therefore ask that this evidence or a summary of it should be placed in possession of the House to-night. I should like to direct the attention to another significant foot. It is this. An organisation which ought really to have some knowledge of this particular commodity and its implications for the trade, namely, the Drapers' Chamber of Trade, was invited to give evidence, but specifically refused to do so on the ground as they said that the matter was a purely political one and therefore they did not care to have anything to do with the subject. That is very significant. The Government, apparently, have none of these nice feelings about the matter. They are prepared to use their Parliamentary majority to secure a political victory, regardless of the feelings of the people who are more directly interested in the trade.
I would like to direct the attention of the Committee to another fact. The Master Cotton Spinners' Association was invited to give evidence before this Committee, but it thought so little of the opportunity afforded to it that it said in so many words, though not in precisely the words which I am going to give: "Thank you very much for your invitation, but we have already told you as much as we think it is necessary in this matter. You got our evidence long ago, and it scarcely seems worth while to put the case against a proposition which seems so obviously absurd."
There are one or two practical questions which arise from this proposal. The first is this, as I gather from the evidence given before the Committee and embodied in this White Paper, that it is not suggested that the. British manufacturers are not able to produce a commodity which is not able to compete on equal terms, as far as quality is concerned, with a foreign article. Indeed, they speak with some confidence in the matter. They said the best applicants claim to be able to produce any kind of glove which is now imported, provided they are protected from unfair competition. Therefore it is agreed ground that, from a standpoint of quality anyway, our home producer is as well fitted against competition as the foreign producer. So far, we are agreed. The point therefore arises whether it is necessary, in order to safeguard the abolition of competition, to impose this 3⅓3 percent. duty. The difficulty and the difference arises as to whether a fair condition of competition can be provided by imposing a 33⅓ per cent. duty. May I ask whoever is going to reply on this discussion, this simple question: Is there any guarantee that a 33⅓ per cent. duty will safeguard to the home manufacture this fair condition of competition? Will 40 per cent. do it? How do we know that 33⅓ per cent. will do it? Why will not 30 per cent. or 20 per cent. do it? By what method of calculation is this 33½ per cent. estimated? Suppose we do impose a 33⅓ per cent. duty upon this foreign article; what is the consequence? The only purpose, surely, of imposing a 33⅓ per cent. duty would be either to bring up the foreign article to the same price as the home-produced article or in the alternative to shut it out altogether. Suppose a foreign-produced article is shut out altogether; the question arises, and I have to ask it of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, what guarantee is there to us, when you have shut out the foreign-produced article, that the home producer will not raise the price of the home-produced article to the home consumer?
We have the right to have that question adequately answered because, after all, it is already admitted—at least, by implication-in the Report of this Committee that it is price that determines and not quality. It is price that determines this matter, because our own people, in fact, are so very badly paid that they are obliged by the very circumstances of their economic position to choose the cheaper quality rather than the better quality. Therefore, I submit that no adequate case has yet been put up by the Board of Trade in favour of this proposal. I ask, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman, in order to induce us to vote for this proposal, shall explain to us, firstly, how it is that this particular figure of 33⅓ per cent. is deemed to be adequate and only just adequate for the purpose, and, secondly, if it is adequate, if there is a guarantee that we shall be protected from exploitation by the home producer in the home market.
The hon. Gentleman has moved to leave out the whole of the safeguarding of leather gloves, which is, surely, not the best way to ensure a satisfactory answer to the various points he has put to me. If the safeguarding of leather gloves were dropped, then certainly these points would be mot in a most unsatisfactory way. His first objection was that certain evidence was heard in camera. It was quite rightly heard in camera. Both under this procedure and under the Act passed by the Coalition Government it was laid down that industries applying for safeguarding should be required to make out their claim in the fullest particulars. That included, and rightly included, questions of costings leading to minute investigations, very often of the accounts of particular firms, matters which it would obviously be grossly unfair to those firms as against their competitors in this country or in foreign countries to disclose.
It is an elementary act of justice, recognised in our Income Tax legislation and in all our financial legislation, that if one requires from firms disclosures of a confidential kind relating to their financial position, their costs, their trade secrets and all those matters, then they are entitled to rely on a complete guarantee against any disclosure by those who make the investigation. We indeed should be guilty of a grave dereliction of duty if we broadcast the findings of a Committee on precisely those kinds of matters which from time immemorial the Treasury departments have always been unwilling to disclose. That is why the evidence was heard in camera. As long as I am in control, we will make the most careful investigations through our Committees and we will give the industries of this country the security that confidential information, which would damage them if disclosed, shall be treated as confidential.
The hon. Member then asked why we did not insist on making the Drapers' Chamber of Trade come and give evidence. The Drapers' Chamber of Trade said they did not want to come and give evidence because this was a case of pure polities. Surely that shows that they had not got any commercial or practical objections to urge in this matter, but that they were quite prepared to leave the final decision to the Debates in this House. I have not noticed in any objectors, actual or potential, any unwillingness to come forward and tender their evidence, and if the Drapers' Chamber of Trade did not come and give evidence it is because they have no evidence which is very relevant for the Committee. The hon. Member also said that we have had no evidence from the Cotton Spinners' Federation. That is not very relevant to his Amendment. He is moving an Amendment on leather gloves, but they were invited to give evidence on fabric gloves, and their evidence on leather gloves would not be very relevant.
We cannot have two Debates on the same matter. If it is agreed by the Committee that we might have a Debate on all forms of gloves on this Amendment, and a Division on this and subsequent Amendments, it could be done, if that be the general sense. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Otherwise the Debate must be confined to leather gloves.
The hon. Gentleman cannot have it both ways. He directed the attention of the Committee to the fact that they declined to come in reference to the proposal that he is now putting to the House, a proposal to omit leather gloves, and the evidence of the cotton spinners would not in the least be relevant to the question of leather gloves. If I have the opportunity of explaining to the House why the evidence of the cotton spinners on fabric gloves would not have affected the decision of the House or of the Committee, I shall be glad to do so when the time comes. The hon. Member asked what guarantee we have that home producers will not raise prices. He will have the guarantee so dear to the hearts of hon. Members below the Gangway, if not to hon. Members opposite, that there will be the competition which there is in this trade at the present time in this country, and very keen competition, too! Quite frankly, if you put it to me whether I think that the play of competition in these two competing industries under private enterprise is more likely to be an effective safeguard against a rise in price than the completely centralised and Government control of industries under another economic system, I have no hesitation in saying that prices are more likely to keep down under private enterprise than under State control.
The glove industry is not nationalised in Australia. I agree that if the hon. Member gets control of the glove industry and nationalises it, people on neither side of the House will be able to afford to buy gloves. The hon. Member asked what die justification was. The justification may be found in this simple fact: It is true that fashion has changed and people use less gloves than they did before. Yet, since 1920, the leather glove consumption in this country has doubled, while the British contribution to that glove consumption has remained the same. if that be not a test of abnormal competition, I do not know what is. He suggests that there is no real competition. All I can say is that those, who in this House from their intimate knowledge of the glove trade have endorsed the findings of the Committee, all agree that we not only are capable but that we also have the plant to manufacture those gloves and that, given the proper chance, we can hold our own and manufacture those kinds of gloves in future.
The hon. Member's last objection was why we should propose this duty of 33⅓ per cent. Was it going to be exactly the right amount in each case? It may be that in this or that case you may be able to advance the argument that the bridge is either greater or less than the amount of the countervailing duty. What is the alternative? The case for a duty is plainly established. The hon. Member's proposal is to put on no duty at all. Whatever arguments may be advanced against the mathematical precision of the duty which I am submitting to the Committee, surely thosely arguments may be entirely disregarded when the alternative is to take no action at all.
In reply to the point which was put to him as to evidence at this inquiry being taken in secret, the Minister eloquently pleaded the necessity for protecting the manufacturers of this country from the publicity of an open inquiry. The right hon. Gentleman ignored the fact that this committee was appointed as a result of representations made by certain manufacturers who desired protection. They approached the Board of Trade and asked for an inquiry in order to get freedom from competition and security of prices.
That is quite a different matter from the holding of an impartial inquiry such as the Coal Commission at which the public are invited to give evidence and in connection with which every interest and industry concerned is encouraged to come forward and help an impartial committee to reach a satisfactory conclusion. In this case only one side is completely put before the committee. The industries seeking protection had plenty of time to prepare their case, but it is only by an accident that the case against the duty can be properly made before the committee. AH the paraphernalia of counsel is introduced into these proceedings. The industries which ask for protection have very good cause for engaging counsel because they are after a big prize. On the other hand the consumer who is unorganised has no particular interest in going to the expense of engaging counsel. These inquiries occupy some days and counsel require big fees, and I am told that in a recent case the parties who were organised to object to the duty had to raise £2,000 to provide for the expense of engaging counsel. A very highly organised profession gains from these inquiries, but the unorganised consumer is left out in the cold.
I do not know anything about Mr. Pringle's fees, but these proceedings are spread over long periods, and whoever may be the counsel engaged, the expense is necessarily heavy. That is certainly not the way to carry on these inquiries. The method which should be followed is the method followed by the Coal Commission. The public should be directly represented, and the Committee should visit the various markets—
The President of the Board of Trade has tried to make out that it is quite justifiable to hold these proceedings in secret. I say it is not justifiable, because the public have no security that the evidence given is-satisfactory. I say that the method adopted by these Committees must, in the end, prove most unsatisfactory. What is most unsatisfactory in this particular industry is that the Committee has pointed out that the particular glove made in England does not compete with the bulk of the gloves imported from Czechoslovakia, Germany, and Italy. The kind of glove, of good quality sold in Bond Street to well-to-do people has no competitor, and I think it is right, as was pointed out by an hon. Member opposite, that the best gloves in the world are made in certain centres in the West of England, at Yeovil, near Oxford, in Worcestershire, and other centres—the most expensive glove, the luxury glove, the kind of glove sold in Bond Street and Regent Street to the well-to-do. The gloves imported are the cheap gloves that are used by working girls who want to have a little luxury and to feel as well dressed as their better-off sisters. The hon. Lady who has just gone out no doubt uses English gloves when she comes to the House. I have no doubt she can afford to buy English gloves, and the 33⅓ per cent. duty will not affect her, but the working girl, who buys cheap Austrian or German gloves, is to be asked by Parliament to pay 33⅓ per cent. more for her little luxury. It is a thoroughly unsound proposal, the Committee was an unsatisfactory one, its procedure was secret, and even now, at this late hour, it would not be a bad thing to leave out this particular article, for which no case has been made either in Debate or in the Committee's Report.
I recognise that the Debate, like the curate's egg, has been good in parts, here and there, but the taxing of leather gloves is a serious matter. There are leather gloves and leather gloves, and so far as the taxing of the luxury glove is concerned, there might perhaps be something to be said in its favour. Hon. and right hon. Members opposite are patrons of the noble art of self-defence, and in this case it occurs to me that to increase the price of boxing gloves is simply to put a tax on the tools of an industry. I therefore want to be informed by the right hon. Gentleman opposite if it is intended to interfere with the noble art of self-defence, which; is decidedly an industry. Hon. and right hon. Members opposite are most anxious to decrease unemployment, but if this be persisted in, there will be grave risk of the "Stalybridge Infant" and the "Brummagem Chicken" losing their employment. I want to preserve the employment of these gentlemen, and, therefore, I want the hon. Gentleman seriously to consider where he is going, and to give an assurance, before the Vote is taken, that he is not going further to increase unemployment by taxes upon the tools of industry.
I have listened for many days to many speeches on this subject of safeguarding, and particularly with regard to leather gloves. It would seem that about four objections only have been brought forward. They are that the working glovers do not want protection, that the proportion of home trade enjoyed by our industry is slightly greater than it was in 1913, that the industry is inefficient, and, lastly, that the manufacturers themselves would object to this duty if they understood their own industry sufficiently to be aware that the protection of the industry means the ruin of the export trade. With regard to the first of these objections, namely, that the working glovers do not want to be protected, I might remind the Committee that, a very short time ago, I had occasion to point out to the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly), who said that the working glovers in Yeovil were against safeguarding, that he went down there as an anti-safeguarder and they rejected him, that the hon. and gallant Member who now represents the constituency, and who was for safeguarding, was elected and has held his scat at the two subsequent elections. I also pointed out to the hon. Member for Rochdale that, in my own constituency, the working glovers were solidly in favour of this Measure for Protection. That, I admit, was merely a statement. Hon. Members opposite are always asking for proof. I propose to give them a proof to-night of the opinion of working glovers. I have here a paper which gives an account of a large meeting of working glovers in Worcester, and the occasion of their meeting was to make a valuable presentation to a Mr. Amphlett. a working glover, who, I believe, is the Chairman of the Joint Industrial Council, in recognition of his great services in attempting to bring the glove industry under the Safeguarding of Industries Bill. The paper says:
On Monday last a presentation was made by the Worcester Gloveworkers' Association to Mr. Walter Amphlett in recognition of his services to the craft. It looked now as if Mr. Amphlett's efforts were going to bear fruit, because it was known that the Government Committee had reported favourably on the glove trade's case for safeguarding, and it looked as
though, in course of time, their trade would be brought under the Safeguarding of Industries.
I am asking my hon. Friend on my left to take the paper to the hon. Member, who has asked me to read the passage, in order that he may be in a position to mark the passage he wishes me to read. The second objection to which I have to refer is that the proportion of the home trade enjoyed by the industry was slightly greater than in 1913. That statement was made by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Leith (Captain Benn). What he said was perfectly true. But the comparison that he made was not quite fair, because he referred entirely to home consumption, and did not say one single word to the committee about our foreign trade. During the period he had under review our export trade has dropped from nearly a quarter of a million dozen pairs of gloves in 1913 to only 41,000 dozen pairs in 1924. If you take the two trades together, that is the export trade and the home trade, the hon. and gallant Gentleman will find that the trade, as a whole, has suffered considerably since 1913 and fallen from nearly three-quarters of a million dozen pairs to less than half a million dozen pairs.
Let me reply to the charge of inefficiency. That charge was made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden). [Interruption.] He made it in a speech in which he quoted myself as having said that I had been in the homes of the workers and had seen the uncomfortable conditions under which they worked. But those conditions are not caused by inefficiency of management, or inefficiency of machinery supplied in the works. Those conditions are caused by the poverty of the worker. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear! "] The poverty of the worker is caused by lack of work. Lack of work is caused by that Free Trade beloved of the right hon. Gentlemen opposite. The exact words of the right hon. Gentleman were:
How can you expect an industry carried on under these conditions to be efficient? It cannot possibly compete against the well-equipped modern factories on the Continent of Europe.
I think that when the right hon. Gentleman made those remarks he could not have given due consideration to the Report of the Committee on the Gloving industry. If hon. Members will turn to page 11 they will read this:
Whereas in the British leather glove industry practically half the workers are outworkers, on the Continent a much greater proportion are outworkers who are not limited in hours …. therefore they to not need such large factories for their workers, and their overhead expenses are thereby reduced.
If the right hon. Gentleman had read that he would have found that the efficiency of the foreigners is not to be found in the factories, but owing to the fact that work is done by outworkers. Consequently there are practically no overhead charges; therefore, the accusation of the right hon. Gentleman against the industry being inefficient falls to the ground.
The fourth objection to which I wish to refer is that the manufacturers would not desire this protection if they really understood their own business, and the fact that protection in that business would kill its export trade. The right hon. Gentleman who made that remark is the same as the one who made (he previous remark, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley. He gave us an explanation of his argument. It was to the effect that if we stopped foreign goods coming into this country the foreigner would flood the neutral markets with his goods. Our exporters would then have to face the greater competition, and be in a worse state than before. I hope to show to the Committee this: Whilst we have two markets, the neutral and the home market, the foreigner has three markets, his own home market, our home market, and the neutral market. If this Bill be successful in keeping out foreign goods from this country the position will be materially different. We will have two markets, the home and the neutral markets, and the foreigner will have only two markets as well—his home market and the neutral market. In other words, we will have a larger combined market, and the foreigner will have a smaller combined market. That should lead to the following result: Our production will be greater and therefore cheaper; the foreigner will have a smaller market and therefore a smaller demand: having a smaller demand he will have a smaller output; and having a smaller output he will have a more expensive output; and we will be in a better position to compete in the markets of the world.
The last time I spoke I gave many instances of what had happened in this country to the glove trade under prohibition of foreign imports, Protection and Free Trade. I will not repeat what I said on that occasion, but I would like to draw attention to what has happened in the United States of America. Until a short time ago, they were our biggest customer for gloves. Then they put on a duty, with the result that our export-trade was seriously hit, and many of our best glovers, skilled men, knowing all the technicalities of the trade, went over to America and practically founded the two gloving cities of Gloversville and Johnstown. They are at work there, and so are the men to whom they taught the trade— they are now working in America to compete against their fellows in this country. In 1923 the Americans increased their duties, with the result that our export trade to America has been, entirely killed, and America is actually exporting to this country. Before I make my concluding remarks, I will read the passage which the hon. Member has indicated:
As regards the result of the application for safeguarding the industry, he did not want them to go away with the impression that immediately a duty was imposed on imported gloves the workers in this country would go on overtime. They would have to realise that there were huge stocks of gloves in the country, and until they were sold they would not feel the benefit of the duty. Ho wished to point out that no trade could have been more unanimous on the question of safeguarding than the glove trade. Out of 60 odd firms in the country, only two had refused to contribute to the expenses of the case. The workers had paid their share, and the Staffs Federation had contributed also, and the accounts had been balanced.
I would like to take this opportunity of tendering my most sincere thanks to the hon. Member for having caused my speech to be even more successful than it otherwise would have been. In conclusion, I would point out that we have now practically lost our export trade. Of course, there is the exception of the Dominions,
to which the hon. and gallant Member for Leith (Captain Benn) referred a few nights ago. He admitted, and I was surprised to hear him admit it, that we still hold our own in the Dominions owing to the preference which the Dominions gave us. I shall not fail to remind him of that on the next occasion when we discuss Imperial Preference. But apart from the Dominion trade, we have lost our export trade, and unless we keep our home trade, as the foreigner does, by Protection, we will soon find that the home trade has gone, and gone for over.
I did not intend taking part in this discussion, because of certain things that have happened to-day that did not tend to give one the kind of spirit necessary to take part in discussions in hie House. I am very sorry that the hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Greene) did not read the part I marked for him to read. It is only a few lines, but he passed them over—
I gave the hoc Member the opportunity to read that passage and he did not read the part in which the speaker reminded hem that they must not expect too much. [HON. MEMBERS: " He did read that! "and "He read every word of it! "] He did not read that part, and I will road it to the Committee. Probably an earlier hour of the evening might suit some people to understand it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw! "] I cannot help hon. Members being tired in this House at this time, but if the thoughts of hon. Members run in other directions, then they must wear the cap. I suggest that some hon. Members are too tired to understand what has happened. The statement made was by a Tariff Reformer, and he said that they must not expect too much from the safeguarding of industries, and I suggest that that part, which was the opening of the statement, was not read to the Committee. [HON. MEMBERS: "Read it!"] We were reminded-—[HON. MEMBERS: "Read it!" and "Read the passage!"]
I have on every occasion given way for any Member who has risen, but when I asked that that statement should be read, I particularly noticed where the hon. Member stopped, and I reminded my colleague that the hon. Member had not read from the commencement of the speech.
You did not. The hon. Member asserted that the whole of those engaged in the glove industry were united with regard to safeguarding. He reminded the House that the result of the Yeovil election warranted him in making that statement, but the curious thing is that in the Yeovil election those concerned in the glove trade were not on the side on which the hon. Member suggested they were when he made his speech to-night. It was not Yeovil as a town that was responsible for the result which was arrived at. The suggestion is made by the hon. Member that there is no inefficiency in the glove trade. I do not know whether he still desires to continue this outworking, with regard to which he had to tell us on the last occasion that they had no means of knowing the conditions under which the work was conducted, the hours worked, or anything else relating to those engaged in it. The nearest approach we have had to that was his statement that he had visited these people's homes and seen them working at all hours, working by candle-light, working under conditions that he held were deplorable. And now he asks us to believe that a duty of 33⅓ per cent. placed upon gloves is going to help these people, whom he found work- ing at all hours and working by candlelight, out of their difficulties.
The hon. Member did not remind us of certain parts of the White Paper. He did not remind us of the part where it is stated that gloves made by manufacturers in this country were being retailed in London shops at double the price charged for them by the manufacturer. He will find that on page 12. Then he suggests to us that they might still continue charging these high prices in the London shops if only a duty of 33⅓ per cent. is put upon the imported gloves, and that then the glove trade is going to be in a happy position and able to find more employment. But he has not proved, nor has the President of the Board of Trade proved, that this imposition of 33⅓ per cent. is going to bring any further employment to the glove makers in this country. We have been told by some that there is such a large importation of gloves into this country, and remaining in this country at the present time, that further manufacture of gloves is not likely to be required for some considerable time.
We are also told by the President of the Board of Trade that these inquiries should be conducted in secret, and then we are expected in this House, because three people have heard certain evidence. to be prepared to impose a tariff on any particular article that has been inquired into by them. I think it is unfair to the House of Commons to ask it to be so blindly obedient as to accept the word oil the right hon. Gentleman that everything is all right; that these people, who have had no concern with the glove industry, were able to dissect all the evidence and tell us what would happen in that particular industry. As one concerned with that industry, I am not prepared to take the word of those people. I want the evidence to be submitted to the House: I want the Members of the House, who have to make up their minds, to have the facts that were placed before that Committee. We have not had that evidence, and it is unfair that the House should vote for the imposition of a duty of 33⅓ per cent. which, in spite of all the reports in the " Worcester Times," is not going to help the industry, is not going to bring more employment to the industry, and is certainly not going to help these old people who are working by candle-light for all the hours God sends them.
On a point of Order. May I ask you whether it is the custom in this House, when a Member of this House, if I may use the phrase, gives the lie direct to a Member opposite, and is challenged to read from a document which is in the House, to do so?
I do not see where the point of Order arises. We are in Committee. There is no question of a Member asking leave of the House to speak several times. If any Member wishes to speak on the point he can do so. Nobody who is in possession of the Committee can be compelled to sit down if he does not wish to.
On a point of personal explanation. I would like to inform the Committee, that the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly) marked with ink a certain passage for me to read, and that I read every word of that passage. My hon. Friends around me have looked at the marks made by the hon. Member and they will bear witness to the fact that I have read every word he marked. My only crime in his eyes is that I read something he had not marked as well.
I intervene in this Debate for a special and specific reason and that is that there is no discrimination made between leather gloves which may be considered something of a luxury and leather gloves which are certainly a necessity for certain people and therefore can be said quite legitimately and fairly to be tools of a trade and occupation. I am supporting the Amendment because I believe that no tariffs, or protection, or safeguarding will help the industry or help the unemployed people of this country at all.
You cannot keep out produce from abroad and gain anything on a tax, and, if you let it in, our own manufacturers will certainly pass the cost on to the consumer of the article, whatever it may be. If this were an honest attempt to relieve some of the horrors of Worcester which the hon. Member opposite who spoke last from those benches described, I can sympathise with him. I lived in that delectable city for some years, and I know some of the horrible slums under the shadow of the cathedral, which are a disgrace not only to this country but to civilisation. I know how the glove-workers work and the outworkers, and I know of the mismanagement of British manufacturers who charge girls and women who work in their homes 6d. per week for steam because they do not work in the factory where the manufacturers provide the steam.
No amount of safeguarding will raise those people from the slough of despond they are in and I consider it is unfair if not almost a crime to make them believe that it will. Whatever safeguarding is put against these classes, they will find their position identical with the present, because the capitalist employer never, in my experience, lays all his cards on the table, no matter what the pressure, until he meets a superior force in the drastic operation of a strike. Then, and then only, can you get the facts from him. It is a solid fact and I regret I have to state it here. Therefore this duty is going to be no earthly use to the people we represent. I would oppose it on those grounds but no doubt the House will be weary of hearing this reiterated. If this were merely a luxury tax, there might be something to be said for it.
What is the Minister responsible for the Bill going to say about those leather gloves that are absolutely necessary in certain occupations? By putting on this tax he is not taxing luxuries, but making it harder for working people to live. What is the position with regard to our railway firemen? They use hot fire irons, their hands dry with the heat and very often rubbed with fine coal dust, swinging a shovel continuously for 150 or 200 miles, wearing out their hands. That reminds me I have got rid of mine. They are more respectable than they used to be. These people use leather gloves for protection against what might cause not only very serious discomfort and disfigurement but actually set up disease.
There is no exemption for gloves used by these people who are compelled to use them. Their cost of living is to be sent up by an imaginary Protection, or Safeguard, which puts 33⅓ per cent. on to what is supposed to be a luxury. The House, or the railway companies, may be faced with this, that if the cost of living of these people goes up we terrible trade unionists may have to ask for something more to balance it, and then there will be a terrible outcry. The fact remains that this will put such a tax on gloves used for the purpose of industry and the protection of people working in industry, and will in no way discriminate. If the Government wanted to do the fair thing in this they would—and their advisers should have put them alive to it—have discriminated between what is necessary and what may be said to be personal adornment or luxury. Then what of the motor drivers, who are not supplied with gloves by their employers, or the taximen, who have their own taxis or work for employers. They, too, purchase leather gloves to keep their hands sufficiently warm to have perfect control of their steering wheel in the traffic in our big cities. Is there no discrimination for them? Is that to be conisdered again a luxury?
There are other things which will occur to the minds of hon. Members. There is the rat-catcher and the man who trims hedges and wears leather gloves. I do not want to think that hon. Members opposite are prepared to pursue a pet idea or theory of their own to such an extent as to make it harder in the cost of living of working people who are compelled to use leather gloves for the purpose of physical protection. I feel confident that if the Minister would consider this, few Members on the Government benches would be prepared to say, " No, we have a great machine-made majority and we are going to use it willy nilly, irrespective of any appeals that may be made to us." I am not willing to think that, but my experience is that too often that is done. If the Government want to do the fair thing at least some discrimination should be made between gloves for adornment or luxury and gloves that are an absolute necessity and therefore become the tools of trade. I am afraid it is too late to ask that that may be considered now, and consequently when these pleas are not regarded as seriously as they might be, I feel compelled to vote against the whole thing on the general principle.