Dumping of German Wheat.

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

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Photo of Viscount  Wolmer Viscount Wolmer , Aldershot

I would point out to the right hon. Gentleman that the late Government did do something to help agriculture. They took all the rates off the land, they took all taxation off farmers, and they went to the country with a proposal to give the farmers an assured market for British meat and British wheat as regards the Imperial Forces, a proposal which was turned down by hon. Gentlemen opposite. Therefore, it does not lie in the mouth of the right hon. Gentleman to tax us with regard to our policy; the late Government did more to help agriculture, probably, than any previous Government for a long time. What I am asking the right hon. Gentleman, however, is what he is going to do, and what the Government propose to do, with regard to this question of dumped German wheat, which, as I have said, is really the last straw as far as the British farmer is concerned.

While the right hon. Gentleman was unable to propose any definite action at all, he mumbled, if he will excuse my using that term, something about stabilisation. Do I understand from him that stabilisation is the policy in which his party and his Government believe? If so, surely, if stabilization means anything, it is meant to deal with a situation like this. If stabilisation cannot be used against dumped subsidised foreign imported wheat, when can it be used? Surely, the whole purpose of a stabilisation policy is to deal with unfair competition of this sort. Does the right hon. Gentleman believe in his party's policy of stabilisation? It appears that the right hon. Gentleman has not any belief. He has declined to announce his general agricultural policy in the course of what he calls this narrow Debate, bat, surely, on the question of subsidised foreign imports, we have a right to know if the Government's policy of stabilisation of prices applies. Have they got a policy? Have they worked out their election cry of stabilisation—because that is all that we have seen of it? We have seen it in election pamphlets, we have seen it on posters, we have seen it in books with high sounding titles, such as "Labour and the Nation." We have seen it sketched, but we have never seen it worked out in detail. Has the right hon. Gentleman ever worked it out? Have the Government got it in black and white? Has the right hon. Gentleman got the Bill, and, if so, will he produce it?

In answer to a question which I ventured to ask him yesterday, he said that he was anxious to announce his agricultural policy at the first opportunity. He Can have an opportunity to-morrow; he can present his Bill and get it printed, so that the House, at any rate, can see in detail what the agricultural policy of the Government is. He gave, as the excuse for not pushing that Bill forward, the fact that the Labour party have not a majority in this House; but no party has a majority in this House. Is agriculture —and this is a point that I would like to put to Members of all parties—is agriculture to wait until it suits our party conveniences to bring forward a party programme and carry it by a party majority? The right hon. Gentleman this afternoon seemed to welcome the idea of an inter-party conference. Surely, the interests of agriculture demand that, if there is no party majority in this House, the three parties should get together and try to work out an inter-party policy. But, before we can do that, we must have the proposals of the Government in regard to the stabilisation about which they are always talking; we must have them in black and white. If the Government are unable to produce their Bill, if they have not even worked out their Bill, if they have not thought it out, if they have not drafted it—