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Orders of the Day — Clause 13. — (Short title, interpretation and repeal.)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons on 22nd May 1928.

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Photo of Mr Frederick Pethick-Lawrence Mr Frederick Pethick-Lawrence , Leicester West

I beg to move, in page 6, line 40, after the third word "day" to insert the words not being earlier than the first day of January, nineteen hundred and twenty-nine. One of the objects of the Clause as it stands is to fix the date on which this Bill is to come into operation. It says that it shall come into operation on the appointed day, and the appointed day shall be such day. Then I propose we should insert the Amendment which I have just read. Our object in moving this Amendment is to postpone the operation of this Measure for at least seven months. We have not put down this Amendment with the idea of delaying the coming into operation of the Measure, but in order to give time for the international meeting of central banks adumbrated at Genoa. We have not put the date later than 1st January, 1929, as we are aware that in an earlier Clause of this Bill there are financial proposals which depend upon the Measure coming into force before the end of the financial year. We believe seven months will allow time for the conference to be held and for the convention which it was proposed should be arrived at by the central banks. There has been a good deal of discussion about the Genoa Conference in the course of these Debates, and I have no wish to go over ground which has been covered perhaps more than once. But I do suggest that at Genoa there were two very important proposals which ought to be implemented before a Bill of this kind comes into operation. The first deals with the hand- ling of international relationships through the gold exchange standard and, therefore, the husbanding of gold, and the second deals with the attempt to keep a stable level of prices through international banking action. At Genoa the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War used these words: The power to influence prices and the responsibility for using that power belong to the great central banks. In currency policy they are the directing intelligence, and therefore the first practical step to be taken will be the meeting of these central banks which is to he called by the Bank of England. It may be hoped that the result of that meeting will be such co-ordination of credit policy throughout the world as will enable the great banks to make the general level of prices more stable. I would ask the House to notice the words: The first practical step. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say his policy presupposed a general return to the gold standard—I want to be quite fair to the right hon. Gentleman—but, as a matter of fact, we have for practical purposes a general return to the gold standard. Very few countries are still outside it, and I do not think that affects the issue. Further, the right hon. Gentleman went on to say: Nevertheless, in the interval before that general return has been completed the co-operation of the central banks can undoubtedly do much to introduce stability and confidence into the business. It is our opinion that this conference of central banks ought to have been held long before this. If the coming into operation of this Measure be postponed for some seven months it will allow time for the conference, and for the conference to form a convention which will guide the Bank of England and other banks in the future with regard to their currency policy. We should regard it as unfortunate, to say the least, if this Bill came into operation before there had been such a meeting of the central banks.