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 know the system by which import bonds work; but that is not new. What is objected to by hon. Members above the Gangway is something entirely new, and if there is anything new surely the right hon. Gentleman, through the Foreign Office, can find out what it is, and if it is an infringement of the understanding reached at Geneva and endorsed by the German Government, he has the right to protest. In these matters international action can be of great benefit to our people at home, and I hope he will not hesitate to take the matter up. If this Motion is inspired by a general opposition to the import of foreign grown grain—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]—there has been strong opposition in some quarters to the import of any foreign grown grain—if that is the object of the present Motion, then I can assure them that they are not likely in this House to find willing acceptance of proposals which mean the imposition of a tax on imported wheat. We have passed that stage. Does it mean that this peril to agriculture, or whatever it may be, is to be met by a bounty? We had the experiment of a subsidy in recent times, and it was repealed at the request of a Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer; and his request for repeal met with the support of the Conservative party of the day.

A subsidy will not do; we know that by experience. What is to be the device to which hon. Members above the Gangway will now turn? They are thrown back to some of the old devices of the old Protectionists of the past. It is amusing to find them reviving a policy which were barely up to date 60 years ago. There is only one new way by which you can deal with these economic questions, and that is on an international basis. If we can persuade the world, as we are gradually, that by international solution we can abate the hard-ships of our people and of our prime producers then along that line lies the path of duty.