Dumping of German Wheat.

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons on 30th October 1929.

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Photo of Mr Walter Runciman Mr Walter Runciman , St Ives

I do not challenge the hon. Member's figures, but he is making a comparison with a year when the figure was at a very low level, and if he had taken the year before he would have found that "25 times" did not represent the fact. But what is meant by bounty-fed wheat? Neither Member has told us. I hope that the Noble Lord, who is to follow, will tell us exactly what he means by bounty-fed wheat. Does he mean that there is a definite bounty or subsidy given to the German exporter to induce him to export wheat to this country? If so, that is undoubtedly an infringement of the undertakings which were given by the representatives of Germany at the Geneva Economic Conference; there is no doubt about it. I know that within the exact definition of the Treaty, as quoted by the Minister this afternoon, it is difficult to say whether wheat is included, but I am sure that the general principle which was assented to by the representatives of Germany and has since been assented to by the German Government itself, was that there should not be bounty-fed competition, especially in agricultural products.

There was a separate section of the Geneva Conference which dealt with nothing but agriculture, and the grievances of agriculturists in this country were exactly paralleled by identically the same grievances in every other country in the world. Even those who represented Chinese interests had exactly the same faults to find as farmers living in Lincolnshire and Norfolk; and the Conference was undoubtedly unanimous in its agricultural decisions. There was finally a report, received without opposition by the representatives of every nation of the world represented at the League of Nations, with the addition of those who were looking after the interests of the United States of America, and ultimately the decisions of the Economic Conference were accepted by the German Government itself. I suggest to the Minister of Agriculture that he should set inquiries afloat as to what are the artificial bounties or subsidies, or other form of assistance, given to the exporters of German wheat into this country so that be may be able to tell the House exactly what the conditions are. If he finds that any subsidy or bounty is given for the export of German wheat in competition with our own, he should at once ask his right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary to make representations to the German Government that it is an infringement of the general understanding which was reached as a result of the Geneva Conference.