Abnormal Importations (Customs Duties).

– in the House of Commons on 17th November 1931.

Alert me about debates like this

Motion made, and Question proposed That—

  1. (i) there shall be charged on any articles imported into the United Kingdom, being articles to which this Resolution applies, in addition to any other duties of Customs, such duties of Customs as are hereinafter provided;
  2. 723
  3. (ii) the articles to which this Resolution shall apply shall be articles of any class or description comprised in Class III of the Import and Export List issued under the authority of the Treasury and the Commissioners of Custom and Excise for the year 1931, to which the Board of Trade, being satisfied that those articles are being imported into the United Kingdom in abnormal quantities, have by Order applied any Act of the present Session for giving effect to this Resolution;
  4. (iii) the Customs duties to be charged as aforesaid in respect of any articles shall be such duties as may be specified in an Order made by the Board of Trade under the said Act not exceeding one hundred per cent. of the value of the articles:
  5. (iv) the Act aforesaid shall continue in force for a period of six months from the passing thereof and no longer;
  6. (v) any Order made by the Board of Trade as aforesaid shall cease to have effect at the expiration of twenty-eight days from the date on which it is made unless at some time before the expiration of that period it has been approved by a Resolution of this House:
    • Provided that in reckoning any such period as aforesaid no account shall be taken of any time during which Parliament is dissolved or prorogued, or during which this House is adjourned for more than four days;
  7. (vi) the Act aforesaid may include such incidental and consequential provisions as may be necessary or expedient in relation to WHS matters aforesaid."—[Mr. Runciman.]

The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. Runcirman):

I am bound to admit at the outset that the procedure which we are here following is exceptional. Throughout the discussion yesterday the Government made it quite clear that they must adopt exceptional procedure if they were to attain the end that they had in view. The circumstances are exceptional, and the fact that they are exceptional means that we could not have afforded the time to have passed through all the stages, in the normal way, the proposed imposition of taxation. Had we adopted the normal procedure it would have taken up at least a fortnight of Parliamentary time. The use of Parliamentary time does not matter very much; what does matter is that another fortnight should pass without our being able to deal with the flow of imports that we have seen during the last five or six weeks. I gave some figures yesterday which showed that, even allowing for all the seasonal variations, there was an enormous increase of imports in the month of October, and a still more remarkable increase in the early part of November. In the first eight months of 1031 the average monthly importations of Class III goods were at the level of £20,600,000. In September the value of those imports had risen to £22,600,000, in October to £27,200,000, and in the 10 day period ended on 10th November they were at the rate of £35,000,000 a month.

6.0 p.m.

That points very clearly to the fact that the acceleration was continuous and showed no signs of abating, and all the other indications we have had of the run of goods during the last 10 days show that there is forestalling, show that those who are bringing goods into the country or importing goods into the country are clearly looking ahead to circumstances which they anticipate. Within the policy of the Government these facts necessitate exceptional measures during the next few months. In those circumstances, we were bound to take the steps described yesterday. I know that it is a very large demand to make on Parliament. The powers indicated in the Bill—which will be circulated to-morrow and which will be available, I hope, in the Vote Office to-night — will be handed over to the Board of Trade, but what is handed over to the Board of Trade is not a power to impose taxes. It is a power to initiate the procedure by which taxes will be imposed. It is a power of initiation which the Government are asking the House to place in the hands of the Board of Trade and, when the Board of Trade has taken the initiatory steps, the sanction of Parliment must be obtained within 28 days. An Order can come up with 28 days for discussion in this House if the House is sitting, or within 28 days after its reassembly if it is in Recess, and the House can if it likes revoke the Order, or at all events refuse to sanction the Order. If the House does not care to revoke the Order, we may take it then that that is the will of Parliament, and it is so that we shall interpret it. The method by which Parliament can operate is well known in our practice. There is nothing exceptional in that. The ordinary means can be taken for opposition to any Order which may have been made, and if that opposition is not effective in the House, then the proposal is that the duties thus imposed should carry the full force of Parliamentary sanction.

I made some reference yesterday to the size of the duty. That must be left, I am afraid, for the consideration of each case as it may arise. We have taken, or propose to take, a very wide range of powers, and within that range of powers we hope we shall do something to deter forestalling and to prevent attempts being made by those who have no particular sympathy with our Parliamentary system, or our fiscal system, to take full advantage of the conditions in which we are at the present time, and which will, at the same time, be a deterrent to those who pay no consideration whatever to the state of our foreign exchanges except in so far as these concern their own trade. We must take a larger view. We have to keep in mind the fact that we have to preserve and maintain the value of the sovereign externally as far as it is within the power of Parliament to do so. We must, at the same time, on the other side do what is in our power to prevent the depreciation of the internal value of the sovereign.

It is for those considerations which I explained at great length yesterday, and need not repeat to-day, that I beg to move the Ways and Means Resolution which appears on the Paper. It covers all the points which will be embodied in the Bill. In the Bill itself Members will find that full provision is made for the imposition of these duties, for the securing of Parliamentary sanction for changes of Customs duties on the articles to which I have made reference, and for ascertaining values for the purposes of the Act. The only further point to which I need draw attention is that the usual provision will be inserted for the determination of disputes which may arise between the authorities and the taxpayers, and that, finally, the articles to which this shall refer, shall be the articles named in Class III of the Imports and Exports list.

Some Members of the Committee may not be well acquainted with the Imports and Exports list. I may explain that it is issued under the authority of His Majesty's Treasury and His Majesty's Commissioners of Customs and Excise. It receives the sanction of Parliament under our financial procedure. The classification is not only used for Customs convenience, but for all our statistical returns. Class III covers all articles except food, drink and tobacco, raw materials and articles mainly unmanufactured. Class III covers the whole of the rest, all raw materials and articles mainly unmanufactured being excluded, and all articles wholly or mainly manufactured being included. I do not need to read the list over to the Committee. It covers no less than 30 pages of close print. The Committee will see that that very wide range should be sufficient for the immediate purpose. That immediate purpose we can only attain by very rapid action. That is why I appeal to hon. Members to give us this Bill at the earliest possible moment. I know that the House of Commons is reluctant to forego any of its usual financial procedure, but it is only the urgency of the case which has necessitated our making this demand upon the generosity of the House. I hope that sanction will be given to carry it out with, I hope, due discretion by the Board of Trade, with the sanction of the Treasury, and, finally, with the confirmation of Parliament.

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

I rise to oppose the Resolution. I oppose it on two grounds —first, the constitutional ground of the revolution which it introduces into our financial procedure, and, secondly, on the ground of the policy which it contains. We are told that this is a special procedure for swift action adopted in respect of an emergency. We all recognise that in an emergency swift action has to be taken, but we want to know a little more about what this emergency is and what has caused it. This is not part of the emergency of which we heard in August. This is a special sort of emergency, and, even taking the reasons put forward for it by the other side, it is a special emergency caused by the return to power of the National Government. We are told that there is a special form of dumping, in that numbers of people are endeavouring to forestall something. The right hon. Gentleman talked a great deal about forestalling, but did not say what these people were forestalling. What are they endeavouring to forestall but the Protectionist measure which the National Government propose to introduce?

It seems clear that these importers, at all events, have no doubt, as the majority of hon. Members opposite seem to have no doubt, that the Government propose to go in for a full measure of Protection. If that be so, what becomes of the formula? What becomes of the inducement to certain Liberals, generally known as the Samuelite Liberals, to join this Government and to appeal to the country under the pretence that this whole question was open and would be considered and might be turned down? It is obvious that in the country generally there is no doubt whatever as to what was intended, and the fact that this matter is put into the hands of the Board of Trade under the right hon. Gentleman with hi? long record in connection with Free Trade, will do very little to establish confidence among those Liberals who still cling to Free Trade.

There is a second reason for introducing this proposal. This emergency which has so suddenly been rushed on the House came up only in the last few days. It emerged really not from the question of these heavy importations or of this dumping but was brought about by the charge of the heavy brigade, the 300 Members lead by the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft), I was reading the other day that when the Heavy Brigade in the famous charge thundered up, the opposing army opened their ranks and let them come in. That is what the Russians are said to have done in that action. In fact, they avoided the Heavy Brigade and surrendered at the first charge. Not unnaturally this Government has surrendered at the first charge of the heavy brigade led by the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth. It may be said that this is a very partisan view to take of the matter, but I have authority for it from an unexceptionable source. It is not a Labour source. I do not think that anyone would accuse the "Financial News" of being a Labour paper; in fact, I am informed that the chairman of the "Financial News" is no less a person than the hon. Member for North Paddington (Mr. Bracken), that faithful echo of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill). Let us see what the "Financial News" says in a leading article. The anti-dumping cry comes mainly from those who desire a general change of fiscal policy, and are now seeking to justify that change on the ground that it is required to correct the adverse balance of trade and prevent the further depreciation of sterling. I should like to quote at greater length from this very interesting article. I do not know whether it echoes the views, at second hand, of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping, or whether the echo always comes afterwards, or whether the hon. Member for North Paddington is not in agreement with the last change of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping. But I never read an article more sceptical of the bona fides of the Government, or more sceptical of the whole anti-dumping legislation and the whole Protectionist policy. I will give one other extract from that article before I pass from it. They say: To subject our foreign trade to Orders in Council, swiftly available and swiftly-applied, would be to substitute a greater for a lesser cause of uncertainty and loss. Therefore, when it is claimed that this is a special emergency and that therefore this House is entitled to depart from all its principles and to override all its procedure, we say that the emergency was not an external emergency, but one set up by the movement of the Protectionists in the ranks of the party opposite. We have something quite unprecedented here in the action of the Government in endeavouring to rush the House. I must say that I admire their tactics, purely from the point of view of tactics, because by this dumping, which they have themselves provoked, they are enabled to get the House to consider emergency legislation which will allow them to change our whole fiscal policy at half-a-day's notice in two and a-half days of Parliamentary time. I do not suppose that anyone is so simple as to imagine that tariffs, once imposed in an emergency like this, are going to come off very easily. A tariff, once imposed, will lead at once to vested interests, and in effect what we are doing now in this Motion is to give the President of the Board of Trade the right to change our whole fiscal system, the right, in fact, for him to forestall the Budget that should come on next year. It is regrettable that we have not the Noble Viscount, who was described yesterday by an hon. Member as an acidulated pedant on the subject of Free Trade, in his place to support, with his voice and vote, these very remarkable proposals.

With regard to this proposed procedure, I have stated that it is quite unprecedented, and there is here a very important constitutional point, and I think that hon. Members opposite who really believe in our Constitution and in the Parliamentary system should consider a little as to what they are doing. The House is asked to vote to tax goods. It is not asked to decide what goods shall be taxed; that is left to the right hon. Gentleman opposite. The House is not to decide how much taxation shall be put on each class of goods; that is left to the right hon. Gentleman opposite. It is not to decide what subjects are to be taxed. It is not to give any decisions as to the wisdom of a certain tax or as to the repercussions of taxing one form of import on other trades or exports, but in fact this House is asked to hand over the whole of its taxing powers to the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade.

The right of determining taxation is one of the most vital rights of the House. Years ago the issue was fought out, as between Parliament and the Executive, as to who should have the right to tax the subject, and Parliament won. The Executive at that time was the Crown. The Executive at this time is the Cabinet, but the principle is precisely the same. That great fight was fought over the Bill of Rights, and I want to give quotations as to what the Judges have said on that very important matter of the Bill of Rights. It is a matter, after all, that has been considered. The matter came up, not once nor twice. If you look up Anson on the Constitution, you will find that he laid it down most emphatically that that fight that was fought out in the Bill of Rights against the Crown has had to be carried on since against the Executive. Even in the emergency of the War—and there was a real emergency then, not merely a party manoeuvre emergency—there was an endeavour to secure taxing powers which was refused to Ministers of the Crown when a legal case came before the House of Lords. There was a most emphatic judgment against the Government, and that was based entirely on the principles of the Bill of Rights. I would like to read an extract from Anson, who is a great authority on the Constitution: Parliament, which is omnipotent, may, if it chooses, delegate to the Executive any of its powers, but the Courts, in construing a Statute, will not admit an interpretation which would derogate from the Bill of Rights unless the intention to do so is expressed in the clearest possible words. It is true that the fear in 1689 was that the King by his prerogative would claim money; but excessive claims by the executive Government without grant of Parliament are at the present time quite as dangerous and require as careful consideration and restriction from courts of justice. We make no apology whatever for appearing in this House and standing for these ancient and undoubted rights of the elected representatives of the people. This matter came up in a very important case to which I have already referred, namely, the case of the Attorney-General versus the Wilts United Dairies. We shall there get the idea of the courts as to the position that Parliament ought to take up in respect of these matters. Lord Justice Atkin, in giving judgment in that case, stated: In view of the historic struggle of the Legislature to secure for itself the sole power to levy money upon the subject, its complete success in that struggle, the elaborate means adopted by the representative House to control the amount, the condition, and the purpose of the levy, the circumstances would be remarkable indeed which would induce the Court to believe that the Legislature had sacrificed all the well known checks and precautions and, not in express words, but by implication, had entrusted a Minister of the Crown with undefined and unlimited powers of imposing charges upon the subject for purposes connected with his Department. I do not claim that the present case is exactly on all fours with that. No doubt in this Resolution the Government is inviting the House of Commons to abandon its powers and to delegate them to a Minister of the Crown, but the warnings of the Judicature on the dangers of giving unlimited powers to the Executive, of allowing taxation to be imposed without laying down the amount, the conditions, and the purpose, are as strong in this case as they were in that. It is quite impossible to ride off on the pretext that this is not really taxing the subject at all, but that it is merely a method of excluding goods from importation. In effect, the method you have chosen to adopt does inflict a charge on the subject. It does pick out certain persons and say that they shall pay a tax, and you cannot ride off on the idea that this is merely a matter of State policy, because this is the method which you have chosen. There are other methods open to the Government, but they have not chosen to adopt them. I say that this is an extraordinarily dangerous precedent, and I can imagine what would have been said if anybody from this side, when in power, had asked Parliament to give this sort of power to a Minister.

Photo of Mr William Cove Mr William Cove , Aberavon

On a point of Order. May I draw attention to the fact that the President of the Board of Trade is absent while our representative is speaking, that he did the same thing last night, and that he is treating the Opposition in this House with scant courtesy? This is supposed to be a national emergency, of which the right hon. Gentleman is the chief guardian at the moment, yet he leaves the Chamber, and the Debate proceeds without his being present. Is it not necessary that the President of the Board of Trade should be sent for at once, in order that he may be present during this Debate?

Photo of Mr Robert Bourne Mr Robert Bourne , Oxford

I have frequently observed that a Minister has been absent from the Chamber when the subject for which his Department was responsible has been under discussion, but I would point out that the Board of Trade is represented.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

Further to that point of Order. I want to move the Adjournment.

Photo of Mr Robert Bourne Mr Robert Bourne , Oxford

I cannot accept a Motion to report Progress.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

This is not the first occasion on which this has happened. It is becoming customary in this House. Last night, for example, there was no speaker at all when—

Photo of Mr Robert Bourne Mr Robert Bourne , Oxford

I have already warned the hon. Member that I do not intend to accept a Motion to report Progress. He, therefore, is not in order in speaking at this moment.

Photo of Mr William Cove Mr William Cove , Aberavon

It is exceptionally important to have the President of the Board of Trade here. Is it that he is a Free Trader and afraid to face the issue?

Photo of Mr Robert Bourne Mr Robert Bourne , Oxford

The hon. Member is not in order in making a speech now.

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

I want to deal a little more with this very remarkable procedure. There was a book published not long ago by the present Lord Chief Justice, Lord Hewart, a book called "The New Despotism," in which he pointed out how, in one way and another, gradually the powers of legislation of this House were being taken from them and were being handed over to Government officials or to members of the Executive. That complaint has been voiced very often, generally by Conservatives. We have not heard any of them complain yet, and yet this is the most outrageous piece of bureaucracy that was ever proposed in this House. Let us just see what the Lord Chief Justice says on this subject, and let us see what is going to happen, because here in effect you are going to have decisions made that certain members of the public, certain citizens of this country, should pay certain taxes. There is to be no inquiry whatever in which they will be able to put forward their case for or against taxation. There is to be no publicity. There is no judicial procedure whatever. Let us see what the Lord Chief Justice says on that point, and I will ask the questions that he puts of hon. and right hon. Members opposite. He says: Will anybody at this time of day deny that it is essential for the proper administration of justice that the decisions should be based on evidence? There is no evidence to be given here. That the evidence shall be heard in the presence of both parties"— There are many parties who are affected here. You will have a case of stopping an importation which at the same time will affect the export of another trade in this country, and that trade will have no right to complain or to be heard. That the evidence shall be heard in the presence of both parties who are given the opportunity of cross-examination. Evidence not tested by cross-examination is nearly always misleading and practically valueless. I think the experience of all Legislatures in dealing with tariffs will bear that out. It is also essential to the proper administration of justice that every party should have an opportunity of being heard. 6.30 p.m.

The Government do not intend that there shall be any discussion on these proposals. They do not intend that they shall ever come before this House until they have been in force. I was amazed at the right hon. Gentleman saying that the Board of Trade can only take the first step. Let us see what will happen. Everyone knows that the Government intend to adjourn the House in a very short time, and it is known that they propose that the House shall go into Recess for two months. There is a provision for 28 days beyond that, so that for three whole months the subject will be taxed and there will be no opportunity for bringing before this House any question whatever about it. Everyone will agree with the Lord Chief Justice that that is a travesty of justice. We have had departmental legislation in one form and another, but we have had nothing like this ever proposed in this House before. I suppose that we are asked by the Government, which went to the country not on a programme, but on personalities, to cast all our faith on the personality of the President of the Board of Trade. He has been selected for this purpose, because he has never previously been a very violent Protectionist. There has been a great deal of discusion on how necessary it was to offset a full-blown Protectionist at the Exchequer by something rather wobbling at the Board of Trade.

We do not know how long the present President of the Board of Trade may last. He may be easily swept aside, and this Bill may be operated by a full-blown Protectionist. I do not wish to depress the right hon. Gentleman at all, but I should say that if he were fully acquainted with the Members of this House, lie would not think his prospects of survival were very good. I notice that on land values there is a perfect howl going up from all quarters of the House where the Conservative party sit, that, in spite of all his wonderful services in the election, our new Viscount's pet baby shall be strangled as soon as possible. If they do it for him whose services are admitted, how much more will they do it for the President of the Board of Trade who, after all, has only the story of the Post Office savings to put forward in his favour? It is quite illusory to put any trust in the idea that this Bill is to be moderately worked by Liberal and ex-Labour members of the Government. I do not altogether approve of the Safeguarding machinery, but there was at least some sort of a suggestion of inquiry. That is all being swept away in a moment.

The real reason, of course, for this procedure, as everybody knows, is not in the least the wonderful emergency; it is because the Government are afraid of a discussion on the Floor of the House. [Laughter.] The hon. Member who laughs was probably not present when we had those illuminating discussions on the Safeguarding Duties, and the spectacle on the Floor of this House of one hon. Member interested in paper and cardboard who was violently opposed by another Conservative Member interested in malted milk. Another got up and defended custard powders, and the Floor of the House was a perfect huckstering place for all the trades. I remember very well an admirable lesson on Protection in a Committee upstairs, when two hon. Members, who are perhaps two of the strongest Protectionists in the House, differed most violently on the question of protecting electrical machinery, because one was a purchaser and the other was interested in a constituency which produced it.

We are to have these duties imposed without any consideration of what their general effect will be on the country. The right hon. Gentleman, whose knowledge of trade and industry we all-admit, indicated with evident approval some of the considerations that had to be taken into account before you inflict tariffs. But this is all to take place behind a veil; it is not to be discussed in the House, We are very likely to have Protection in regard to iron and steel. We are not, however, to be allowed to have a full discussion in the House on the very difficult question as to which side of the iron and steel industry you want to preserve. We shall not he able to trace out the interesting dumping that goes on of British coal to Germany, the dumping of Belgian steel to England, and the dumping of the finished article to the United States or to our oversea Dominions. We shall have no discussion on the effect of retaliation, or the effect of putting a duty on goods that come predominantly from one country, which will result in the cutting off of the market, let us say, for the coal of South Wales. All this is to be left to the sweet will of the President of the Board of Trade.

There was never such an impudent proposal brought before the House. We often used to hear in the last Parliament talk about the decay of Parliamentary institutions. This is surely the dotage of Parliamentary institutions. We have 500 or more Members, many of them introduced for the first time into the House, who are willing to sign away privileges for which their, or at any rate, our ancestors fought. I would like to ask a question which occurred to me when I had time before coming here to glance at this week's "Punch," in which there was an interesting cartoon. It showed Mr. Punch and the Prime Minister in conversation at the docks, which were crowded with enormous packing cases, and Mr. Punch asked the Prime Minister: "Who are the supporters of the National Government who are doing all this importing?" There are none of these importers in the Labour party—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] No, there are not. They are all good Conservatives and good Liberals, though I do not know what variety of Liberals.

Photo of Mr Tom Howard Mr Tom Howard , Islington South

They are Free Traders.

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

I had a letter on this point saying that a large firm that was undoubtedly controlled by Conservatives had introduced all kinds of foreign goods. They are the importers, not the working-men. Hon. Members opposite are very inclined to attack this party because we are knit together on certain principles and because we trade unionists object to blacklegs. How soon are you going to deal with your national blacklegs, the people who, as the President of the Board of Trade said, are selling the pass for you? Who are these people? They are the supporters of the National Government.

Photo of Mr Tom Howard Mr Tom Howard , Islington South

The co-operative societies.

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

If you look through this list you will see masses of articles with which the co-operative societies never deal. I have never been of that school that says, "I welcome dumping." The great exponent of that school is a Member of the present Government, the Lord Privy Seal. I heard the Noble Viscount say, "I love dumping; I welcome dumping." There is also the Home Secretary and others who have not been averse from dumping. We on these benches have never stood for free dumping. We have always stood for an ordered economic system. There is plenty of dumping by this country in other countries, encouraging the ridiculous warfare that has brought so much trouble on the world. We believe in an ordered plan of economic development. Some hon. Members believe in that too, I think.

We have had a great deal of talk on the scientific tariff; it has even been worked out, I am told, by the late Professor Hewens. Apparently, you are forestalling your scientific tariff now; it is now to be based on what happens at this particular moment in what is called an excessive importation of certain articles, and you are going to build up any number of vested interests which will make any form of scientific tariff absolutely impossible. As a matter of fact, there never has been a scientific tariff. The only science that you want to know in framing a tariff is the science of lobbying and the science of corruption. This tariff is to be imposed without any conception of what should be the economic future of this country and of what are the things we should conserve in the national economic interest, without any consideration on the part of the majority of Members of this House, because they are surrendering all their functions and handing them over to the President of the Board of Trade.

I do not know what the conception of the President of the Board of Trade of the economic future of this country is, hut if you are to embark on a tariff policy, you should have some clear conception of that future. You want to have some conception of the relation of this country to other parts of the world. Here I wish to put a pertinent question. What about the Dominions in all this. I hope the hon. and gallant Member for South Paddington (Vice-Admiral Taylor) will get up and ask what is going to be done about Empire Free Trade. There is nothing said here about Empire preference. In the Dominions, where we have tariffs with Empire preferences, there are some of the most effective means of keeping out imported goods that I have seen anywhere. If you study the Canadian tariffs, you will see that, despite the preferences to this country, they are framed to protect absolutely the home producer. We are entitled to know from the Government what they are going to do about that. I have examined as far as I can, in the light of the figures given yesterday, some of the imports that will be dealt with. One, for instance, is non-ferrous metals. Their importation in the first 10 days of November was £1,012,921 in value, as against £1,971,185 in October. That is to say, in 10 days they had amounted to nearly half the importations of the previous month. We can take it that that comes under the category of an unusual amount of importation. I notice, further, in looking through the items, that at least 20 per cent. of those imports are from our Dominions or our Colonies. Are they to be kept out? Tin is included. Is tin to be kept out in the interests of Cornwall?

Finally, we come to the point which really does concern us, and that is what is the true problem? I would commend to hon. Members an article in the "Financial News" and an article in the financial columns of the "Times"—not exactly a Labour organ—if they would know what the real problem is. If we are to keep out all these goods how, it is asked, are we to receive payment for capital invested overseas? How are our Dominions to get along if they are not to be allowed to send goods here? How are we to get payments from the Continent, and how are we to keep up our export trade if imports are kept out? I do not know what the great exporting interests of the country will say to these proposals. Eventually it will be found, I believe, that the result is only a case of Tweedledum and Tweedledee. The right hon. Gentleman will come here to tell us that we have created prosperity in some one industry, giving more employment there, but against that we shall have a bitter cry from some other industry which has been knocked out. This is not a national policy at all, not even a genuine emergency policy. It is a policy under which Ministers who, at all events until recently, did not believe in full-blooded Protection, have surrendered to the menace of their back-benchers, led by the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth. I wish that instead of a Ministry camouflaged by the presence of certain hon. and right hon. Gentlemen we had had an honest Protectionist Government. They would have carried out their policy, whether it be good or bad, better than a number of half-hearted people who are doing it merely in order to hold their positions.

Photo of Mr Henry Croft Mr Henry Croft , Bournemouth

I am grateful to the hon. Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee) for his kindly references to myself in the course of his speech, but I think we must all agree that his reasoning has left us a little confused. Just before he sat down he was talking of the definition of a scientific tariff, and said there was only one definition, that it meant lobbying and corruption. At this early stage it is a little ungracious of the hon. Member to repudiate so emphatically Mr. Arthur Henderson, who, I thought, was still regarded as one of the leaders of the once great Labour party. [Interruption.] He is still the leader of the party, I am told. It must be remembered that Mr. Henderson said that the policy of tariffs was worthy of consideration, and it will be a shock to him to find that the policy which he regarded as worthy of consideration can be sized up only as "lobbying and corruption." When the hon. Gentleman expresses alarm about our export trade I beg him to remember that every protected country has been more successful with its export trade since the War than has this country, and that in the last three years this country has fallen from its supreme position in the matter of the export of manufactured goods to the third position. At the beginning of his sepech the hon. Member asked, "What is this emergency?" I did not think that, so soon after the facts had become so well known to the country, any hon. Gentleman sitting on the Opposition Front Bench would ask what caused the emergency. I thought we all know that we are still suffering from the grave peril caused by the complete failure of the then Government, now His Majesty's Opposition, to deal with the situation. [Interruption.] Of course there were some great and heroic exceptions, men who put their country before their party.

The hon. Gentleman asked why, if it is an emergency to-day, it was not an emergency 10 days ago? My hon. Friends and I feel that the situation has been very serious for the last seven years, but, in fact, it is only since the election that we have had such a very grave aggravation of the position in regard to imports. The President of the Board of Trade is perfectly justified in saying that three weeks ago there was not any sign of a very great change in the position as compared with past years, but what has happened in the last fortnight or so must have alarmed even the champions of the British working men who are sitting on the Opposition benches. The remarkable figures given yesterday in answer to a question which I addressed to the President of the Board of Trade make it clear that in the first 10 days of November a quantity of manufactured goods in Class III was imported into this country such as would have given employment to 1,000,000 of our unemployed. When the question is asked, "Why an emergency; why not discuss this thing for a fortnight or three weeks; why not go through all the usual procedure?" The answer is that not only have the unemployed been suffering for a very long time, but that their position has been immensely aggravated by what is happening, and that the Government now have a definite mandate to take action.

The President of the Board of Trade said one of the reasons why an emergency had arisen was that foreign countries had suddenly decided to take action. They recognised the mandate which the nation gave to the Government. No one in the House, I think, likes to see this speeding up of our legislative machinery, in ordinary circumstances we should all agree that it was unfortunate, but at the present time we cannot wait. It is a question of hours. [An HON. MEMBER: "Minutes."] Yes, and of minutes; because every minute of the day and night all through this last year £500 worth of manufactured goods has been imported, and the men whom the Opposition claim to champion have had to go to the Employment Exchanges. The hon. Member for Lime-house made a reference to "some blacklegs" who were importing at an excessive rate at the present time. Does that fit in with the other statement we hear that there is no excessive importation? In any case such importation is not confined to people of one political belief. Human nature being what it is, unless the State intervenes we cannot expect to see universal action. After all, one has heard of ships going into Avonmouth laden with Russian wheat, and I have been told that that wheat was destined for co-operative mills. I do not know whether that is right or not. [An HON. MEMBER: "Then why mention it?"] I am only asking if it is so. If the hon. Members of the Opposition party, who obtain so much assistance—moral only, of course—from the co-operative movement can stand up in their places and say that co-operative societies have not taken advantage of the economic situation of the world to buy this vast amount of cheap produce, very well, Whey have a right to criticise others; if not, I think it would be better for them to keep quiet.

Next I should like to address one or two words to my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade. Everybody realises that in an emergency Measure it was necessary to confine action to certain great and well-defined groups of industries. Had it been possible—I am afraid I should have been ruled out of order—I should have liked to move an Amendment, not in any hostile spirit, that the words "Class III" should be omitted, in order that the President of the Board of Trade might be able, if necessary and in consultation with the President of the Board of Agriculture, to deal with certain classes of agricultural imports, in the next week or fortnight, or even when the House is in Recess. I should have liked to see him reserve powers for that purpose. I suppose every one, even those who sit for industrial constituencies, must realise that the position of agriculture to-day is even more tragic than the position of the cotton, woollen, iron and steel and mining industries. There is a crisis in the cereal areas such as we have never known. [Interruption.] Only in the last three weeks, in an area of 10 miles with which I am very well conversant, 10 farmers have had to throw in their hands.

Photo of Mr Robert Bourne Mr Robert Bourne , Oxford

I must point out that under this Resolution the question of agriculture cannot be raised.

Photo of Mr Henry Croft Mr Henry Croft , Bournemouth

I am obliged, Captain Bourne, for your Ruling, and I realise that I ought not to have allowed myself to be led astray by the hon. Gentleman. I will conclude my sentence by merely expressing my apology that I should have been led into saying that I -wish there had been wider possibilities for the right hon. Gentleman in dealing with this question. It is sometimes thought that Class III covers all manufactured goods, but that is not so, though I am afraid I must not point out that there are several million pounds worth of manufactured agricultural products which I wish had been in Class III. May I say, also, that a very large number of Members are concerned about the exact interpretation of the word "abnormal?" We may have a more complete explanation of what it means and what it will cover in the course of these Debates, but I beg the right hon. Gentleman to give consideration to the fact that there are a large number of goods within the category of Class III the imports of which have certainly been abnormal during the past seven years. Where is he going to begin in deciding when things are abnormal?

7.0 p.m.

I will give one or two instances, beginning with bricks, things which we are quite competent to produce for ourselves. In the first eight months of 1924 we imported 4,000,000 bricks. In the first eight months of 1931 we imported 137,000,000. That is an increase of 3,300 per cent.—a very serious matter for the workers of this country. I could go through the whole list, but I do not want to weary the House with figures. In domestic and fancy glass in the same period the imports have gone up by 2,871 per cent. There has been a great increase in the percentage imports of carpets and rugs; rubber goods have gone up by 492 per cent., and, as is well known, electric lamps, cotton and piece-goods and woollen and worsted yarns and piece-goods have also increased. Where is it that the right hon. Gentleman commences the "abnormal"? It seems to me that we have to consider here the abnormality of the abnormal. I do hope and trust that the right hon. Gentleman will remember that this problem has been piling up and that there are some industries where the importation has gone up steadily year by year until British industry can hardly hold its own. Clearly, in that case it is not sufficient to say that there has been a great increase in imports in the last fortnight of October or the first fortnight of November. I hope that he will realise these facts, for it will be heartbreaking to hundreds of thousands of workers in the industries to which I have referred if they are to receive no aid simply because he cannot prove that their condition became more abnormal in the last three weeks or three months.

I believe that everyone will agree that conditions have certainly altered very much for the worse in the last few weeks and that no one outside this House would blame the Government for speeding-up in this matter, seeing that every day this position lasts vasts masses of our countrymen are being affected. The whole country, no matter what section or party people may come from, will expect immediate action, and the whole nation will congratulate the right hon. Gentleman for going straight ahead with his policy.

Photo of Mr Gwilym Lloyd George Mr Gwilym Lloyd George , Pembrokeshire

I do not propose to follow the hon. and gallant Baronet excepting to say one thing in regard to the emergency. The Measure which we shall be discussing shortly is an emergency Measure, but according to the last speaker it is an emergency that has been going on for the last seven years. I would point out that during that seven years the favourable trade balance of this country has been on the average £80,000,000 a year. I daresay that we can survive a few emergencies of the sort he has depicted in the intervening years. I want to address a few remarks to the President of the Board of Trade. I have heard him on many occasions in this House, and always, if I may say so, with admiration, but I have enjoyed speeches of his more than I did yesterday. I may also say, without disrespect, for it is the greatest compliment I can pay him, that his speech yesterday was not one of his best. He started by making as good a case for Free Trade as I think could be made, and finished it by promising to make this country one of the highest Protectionist countries in the world. He told us that he had not altered his views. If the Measure which, we gather, will be before us to-morrow, means anything at all, it means there has been a very considerable change of view on the part of the right hon. Gentleman. He told us that he does not believe in doing things by halves. He certainly does not. He told us that the situation had helped him to change his view. I want to ask him what is the changed situation which has led him to change his views. Has our adverse balance this year increased so alarmingly as to make it necessary for him to change the views which he has held for so many years?

Take the first 10 months of this year as compared with 1929 and 1930. In the first 10 months of 1929 the visible adverse balance was £307,000,000. In 1930 it had increased to £313,000,000 and for the first 10 months of this year it had gone up to £323,000,000. According to the trade returns, that is not due to any increase in importation of Class III articles. Rather is it due to the loss of exports in our own Class III articles, particularly in the textile industries. I may point out to the hon. Baronet that a great many of us believe the thing which has played a very great part in the loss of our export trade has been the return to the Gold Standard in 1925. Up to that year we were holding our own in the export of manufactured articles fairly well.

With regard to this adverse balance of trade, I think the Committee will forgive me if I say that there has been a great deal of loose talk about it, particularly during the election. If I may take the first 10 months of this year, and average them up to 12 months, we may assume that our visible adverse balance this year will be in the neighbourhood of £390,000,000 to £400,000,000. If we look at the years since the War, we find that in 1920 our visible adverse was £343,000,000, but our favourable trade balance was £252,000,000. It may be interesting to point out that the year 1920, which was a year in which we had the largest imports into this country which we have ever seen, and the largest exports, and that in the year our ship- ping earnings were the highest ever recorded. In 1925 we had £400,000,000 as an adverse visible balance but the favourable trade balance was £64,000,000. In 1927 we had nearly £400,000,000 adverse visible balance but we had a favourable balance of £114,000,000.

The real fact which emerges from a study of these figures surely is that the volume of our imports and exports has gone down, and that the adverse balance which we shall probably get this year is due not to any increase in our imports but to the fact that our shipping earnings will be enormously down, and that our interests from overseas investments will also be down. We carry about two-thirds of our imports in British ships and about two-thirds of our exports and how putting on tariffs—which will give these ships still less to do—and making it more difficult for foreigners to pay us our interest will turn an adverse trade balance into a. favourable one I find it very difficult to understand.

What is the test going to be in regard to the articles in Class III which are to have this duty levied upon them? The right hon. Gentleman said yesterday that he would not waste the time of the House in defining dumping. With great respect, I think that is very important. If we are to take as a definition of dumping what the vast majority of those in the Conservative party used at the last election, we are still the greatest dumpers in the world. I understand there was a definition of dumping in a Measure which was brought before this House just after the War, and that definition was that dumping should be defined as goods imported into this country from countries enjoying a tariff and imported here at a cost below the cost of production in their own countries. I believe that is a definition of dumping which has been used in this House. But we are not to have a definition of dumping in the present Measure. Is the test to be the quantity of goods that come in in this Class? May I ask what periods are to be taken? Are we to take comparative periods? For instance, I am told that goods have been coming in in abnormal quantities in the last few days. The Parliamentary Secretary yesterday, in reply to a question by the hon. Baronet, said that, unfortunately, he could not give comparative figures for the 10 days of 1930, but he gave us the figures for 1931. That may mean anything. The figure has not the slightest value unless you can compare it with something else. The Parliamentary Secretary told us that the corresponding data was not available for 1930.

Surely we ought to know what is the test by which a duty is to be put upon these articles? The President of the Board of Trade told us that goods had been coming in in abnormal quantities in the last few days. But why? Those goods have been coming in because the Government have let it be known that they were going to impose tariffs. The effect of that has not been confined to the first ten days of November. There is no doubt that the acceleration of October is to a very large extent due to the fact that the foreigner thought the National Government were determined to put on tariffs when they got back. They took a chance on the Government getting back, and I am sorry to say they have been justified. I am certain that the acceleration for October is due to a very large extent to the foreigner trying to anticipate the result of the election. But is that the way we ought to go about putting the trade and industry of this country right, legislating by taking examples from periods which have no relation whatever to the actual position of the country? I pass from that to ask a question which the right hon. Gentleman has himself asked on many occasions. What is raw material? He himself said some time ago: I believe if the Conservative party wore to come into office and introduce a tariff"— I am certain he never thought he would be doing it himself— the tariff would break down on this simple question, what is and what is not a raw material. He then went on to say: For instance, what is the good of saying to the galvanised sheet of tin-plate manufacturer, We will only tell you we are in favour of a general tariff; but whether steel is to be in that tariff we will not say at the present time.' We were in rather a similar situation yesterday. The one thing that the galvanised tin manufacturer wants to know is whether he can get the steel he wants freely in the world wherever he can buy it cheaply. Does the right hon. Gentleman still take the same view about raw material? Worsted yarns, he said, is a finished product, but for the man who wishes to weave it into fabric it is a raw material. The finished product of the tanner is the raw material for the Northampton boot trade, and so you can go on through all these articles. What is a raw material? Are the needs of the manufacturers of this country to be taken into consideration when this tariff is being imposed? Yesterday the only test which the right hon. Gentleman gave was the abnormal quantities which have been imported. Are not the needs of the manufacturers, to whom in some cases the finished article may be the raw material, to be considered when a tariff is to be drawn up? We were given a list yesterday which included plate and sheet glass, and I assume that those articles are the raw material for some trades. Knives, surgical instruments, vacuum cleaners, carpets, and washing machines were mentioned, and then the right hon. Gentleman went on to say that he did not think a tax on any of those things would affect the cost of living. Surely washing machines are bought only by those people who want to use them. I remember seeing a very handsome photograph of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) in regard to these articles. Do these articles not come under "raw materials" and do they not go up in price when a duty is placed upon them?

Has the President of the Board of Trade changed his views upon that subject? I know that not long ago the right hon. Gentleman held strong views on the question of raising the cost of raw materials to the people of this country. I wish the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) had been in his place, because I would have liked to ask him if he had changed his views; he used to hold very strongly that tariffs would raise the cost of living to the people of this country. Many of the articles in Class III are undoubtedly raw materials. Can the President of the Board of Trade inform the House when a raw material is not a raw material, and does he not agree with me that if these articles are not carefully dealt with the effect will be to put an additional burden on industry instead of helping it?

Photo of Mr Henry Croft Mr Henry Croft , Bournemouth

Can the hon. and gallant Gentleman give to the House a single case where safeguarding has had the effect of putting up the price?

Photo of Mr Gwilym Lloyd George Mr Gwilym Lloyd George , Pembrokeshire

I know that in every tariff country in Europe the standard of life is very much lower than it is in this country. The fact is that, although prices have come down, the duty prevents the full extent of the drop being passed on to the consumer. I always thought that those who advocated tariffs wanted them because they could not compete with the foreigner. Surprise was expressed by the right hon. Gentleman at the fact that the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) declared yesterday that the right hon. Gentleman would prefer to stand at this Box and once more to affirm his cherished opinions. I am perfectly happy standing where I am to-day making the kind of speech I am making, and I think the President of the Board of Trade would be happier making the kind of speech which I am making at the present moment. Something has been said about the theories that embarrassed us in the past. I do not regard Free Trade as a theory, but as a principle which those of us who believe in it do so because we think it is good for the country.

We have been told that there is an emergency, but I defy anyone to show that any change has taken place in our industrial life which justified anyone in saying that tariffs are necessary. We have been told for years by supporters of tariffs that this country has been ruined by the importation of foreign goods. The fact is that, as importations have gone down, our unemployment has gone up, and, if our present state is due to importations, will hon. Members explain why unemployment has gone up when imports have gone down?

I understand that we are not allowed to discuss the subject of agriculture, but may I point out that this is an emergency measure dealing with an emergency situation in industry, and agriculture is the hardest hit industry of all. Agricultural implements and many of the articles mentioned in Class III have gone up in price recently, and this directly affects the agricultural industry. Perhaps I shall not be out of order in referring to the effect which these proposals will have upon agriculture. Many of us believe that the revival of agriculture in this country would do more to produce a revival of industry than anything else. Why has this great industry not been included? The President of the Board of Trade stated in answer to a question that he could not say whether we should know before the House rises whether any Measure would be brought in dealing with agriculture. That is the one industry which has suffered most from the depreciation of sterling. We have always contended, as Free Traders, that, if you had tariffs, the farmer would pay more for his feeding stuffs and fertilisers and would not get any better prices for his product. Several articles connected with agriculture come under Clause III, and between 14th September and 14th November this year the price of linseed cake went up by 17s. 6d. per ton, maize meal 25s. per ton, bran 25s. a ton, and feeding wheat 10s. a ton. Sulphate of ammonia went up 20s. per ton, basic slag 5s., and potash manures 3s. 6d. per ton. The price of farmers' produce has gone down much below what it was expected to realise at this time of the year. If Protection is the remedy for this state of things in agriculture, I cannot understand why this industry has not been included under the proposals of the Government. All we are told is that there is going to be a quota and potatoes are to be dealt with.

I do not think that this Measure will do any good at all, and I can conceive it doing a very great deal of harm. We are suffering to-day from loss of exports more than from an increase of imports, and I do not think any hon. Member will deny that fact. The cause of the dislocation of the trade of the world is the existence of high tariff barriers in foreign countries. We know that the world is suffering from over-production, and that if we had a more free exchange of commodities there would be a higher standard of living and better wages. But because we have not a free exchange of commodities we have depression all over the world, and the proposals of this country are very likely to add to the present chaos. The President of the Board of Trade, speaking in June of this year, said: Those of us engaged in trade who are concerned with ships and the men who man them know that those employed in the docks in their hundreds of thousands are dependent on foreign trade. It is well to realise that all those live by foreign trade. That British foreign trade is the essence of our being and that freedom is the solid basis on which to build. I ask hon. Members to compare that quotation with the speech which the right hon. Gentleman made yesterday, and I appeal to him not to waste his gifts on this kind of thing, but to use his knowledge and great experience to find some means by which foreign trade, which he admits is the very essence of our being, may be restored and if possible extended.

Photo of Mr William Mabane Mr William Mabane , Huddersfield

I claim the indulgence of the House as a new Member, and I offer as my excuse for intervening in the Debate my desire to draw attention to a topic which has not yet been mentioned, but which has a great bearing on the subject under discussion, and in regard to which I claim to possess some special knowledge. I think the hon. and gallant Member for Pembroke (Major Lloyd George) was unduly apprehensive in believing that the Measure now before the House will, if it becomes law, have the effect of raising the cost of living to the people of this country. My excuse for introducing the subject to which I shall refer is to be found in the last sentence of the Motion, which reads: The Act aforesaid may include such incidental and consequential provisions as may be necessary or expedient in relation to the matters aforesaid. 7.30 p.m.

The topic I desire to refer to is that of retail distribution. So far hon. Members have concentrated on the productive side of industry, and their object has been to maintain the standard of living of the people of this country. It is very proper that that standard should be maintained by the maintenance of wages, and that is an aspect of the question which has not received much attention in the discussion, yet the business of retail distribution is also intimately linked with the Motion now before the House, and I think that the business of retail distribution is very considerably misunderstood. So far it has received scant attention, and, in my view, if I may say so without being presumptuous, improper attention, from politicians. Ordinarily speaking, it is not regarded as an industrial problem at all. Retail distribution is not regarded as an occupation in which the best brains of the country might properly be employed, but I think that, if it did receive the attention that it ought to receive, we should have a chance of reducing the cost of living of the people of this country far more considerably than hon. Members probably imagine. It is commonly said that retail prices are too high, and the retailer is set down as a profiteer, the matter being considered to end there; but that is by no means the whole case.

We may agree that retail prices are too high, and we may agree that the level of retail prices is a vital factor in the cost of living. Ordinarily, in the retail trade, the mark-up on the cost price at which the goods come into the shop or store is somewhere between 40 and 50 per cent.—clearly a very considerable sum. If, in the case of a piece of cloth,, all the goods and services that have gone into the make-up of that cloth, from the time when it leaves the sheep's back in Australia to the time when it arrives in the shop, are represented by a figure of 100, it seems ridiculous that the person who sells the piece of cloth over the counter should require to increase that price to, say, 150. That is a very high figure, but that gross figure is not the end of the story. The retail distributor has to bear certain overhead charges, which consume the greater part of that mark-up, and which result in his having at the end no more than a normal profit on his turnover—no more profit than would satisfy anyone engaged in any manufacturing industry.

I want to ask the House to consider why this mark-up should be so high, because I am certain that the reason is not ordinarily understood. The reason why this mark-up is so high is two-fold. It depends, first of all, on what I may term the uneven flow of demand with which the retailer has to cope; and, secondly, on the fact that the public are inexpert as buyers. It may surprise hon. Members to learn that in a retail store the difference between the turnover of the maximum day's trading and that of the minimum day's trading is as 20 to 1, and that there is a similar disparity in trading as between months and as between weeks. The result is that the retail distributor has to carry an organisation, a staff and a plant sufficient to cope with his maximum load, and that maximum load occurs only occasionally during the year. Consequently, throughout the greater part of the year, the retail dis- tributor has to carry facilities out of all proportion to his turnover.

The next point is that the public are inexpert as buyers. The retail distributor who desires to sell goods of good quality and of good value has not sufficient advantage over the one who is selling goods that are not of good value and not of good quality. The public in general has but one criterion of value, and that is price. Ordinarily, if an article is offered for sale at a certain price, and it is generally assumed that that is the normal price, people will not buy that article if its price is reduced. It is extraordinary, but it is often the case that, when a retail distributor wants to sell, for example, a pair of shoes for which a fair price is 21s., but which his public are accustomed to think ought to cost 42s., he has to sell them by offering them as shoes whose normal price is 42s., reduced to 21s.

These two factors are vitally important in causing retail prices to keep up, and I suggest that, side by side with these measures to prevent abnormal importations, the Government should make an approach to the retail distributors of this country. I had a conversation by telephone this morning with the President of the Incorporated Association of Retail Distributors, the largest association of retail distributors in this country, and he assured me that the retail distributors of this country are extremely anxious to co-operate with the Government in securing that, when this Measure is passed, there shall be no increase in the prices of goods to the body of the people of this country. [Interruption.] It may be easy to suggest, as I gather it is suggested on the Opposition Benches, that that means nothing, but I think that it definitely means something, because already the retail distributors of this country have made substantial efforts to get over the difficulties of uneven flow of demand and of inexpert buying knowledge on the part of the public. They have also, this year, made serious efforts to increase the percentage of British goods that they sell. I am certain that, if the Government were to get in touch with the retail distributors, they would find a very ready response. They would find that the retail distributors, like themselves, desire to do everything possible to secure that the prices of commodities in this country shall not rise. I suggest that, if these two difficulties could be overcome, there is a possiblity that retail prices in this country may not merely be maintained at their present figure, but that a reduction in retail prices may be secured of anything up to 15 per cent. That would be a very substantial result.

Already the process has been going on. Already those engaged in retail distribution have been endeavouring to engage in research in order to get over these difficulties, and I should like to suggest how these difficulties may be overcome. We want to secure that there shall be an even flow of demand. I would remind the Government that they will not be dealing with a derelict industry, or an industry that has made no profits at all in recent years. They will be dealing with an industry which has had considerable profits and considerable success, and one which already has behind it the two great powers of advertising and the Press. If the Government were to assist those engaged in retail distribution to educate the people of this country into new buying habits, so that the flow of demand might be spread more evenly over the year, the month, the week, and even over the hours within the day, the efficiency of retail distribution might be improved, and the present amazingly large mark-up might be reduced.

I would also suggest that, if the Government were to go further and assist the organised retail trades of this country in the development of standardisation of the quality and value of the goods sold, they would assist the public to become more expert in their buying. Already this has been done in certain directions. For instance we have the National Mark. There was a time, not so very long ago, when anyone who went into a shop to buy an egg never knew what sort of an egg he was going to get, but nowadays, by reason of the measures which have been adopted with regard to marking, one knows precisely the sort of egg that one is going to get. I believe that the organised retail trade is anxious to assist in this matter, and that, if the process of standardisation and marking were carried further, the public of this country would rapidly become more expert in their buying.

There seems to me to be no reason why, if this Measure become law, retail prices in this country should go up. Yesterday reference was made to profiteering, and to-day the hon. and gallant Member for Pembroke has suggested that this Measure will result in a decrease in the standard of living of the people of this country by reason of increased prices. I suggest that there is no reason whatever why that should happen if, side by side with putting the suggested law into force, the Government will approach the organised retail trades and assist them in research into these two problems and in educating the public; and I think I can say with sufficient authority that they will find the organised retail trades of this country anxious to respond tenfold to every advance that the Government make. All that I would ask is that that advance should be friendly, and that the attitude that has so often been adopted in this House, that the retail distributor is a kind of parasite and that high prices are to be attributed solely to the objectionable personal qualities of the retailer, should be abandoned, and that, instead, the Government should approach the retail trades of this country as people who are extremely anxious to do their patriotic duty in keeping the standard of living as it is, or even improving it, and who are anxious above all to sell British goods, and British goods first. That will assist the people of this country, not merely to maintain their present standard of living, but, even in the face of all our present difficulties, to improve it.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

I am sure I shall be expressing the view of the whole Committee when I extend to the hon. Member who has just spoken their very sincere congratulations, and express their desire that he will intervene frequently in our discussions. We are engaged this evening in considering the first piece of legislation that the National Government has introduced, and, after having listened to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman yesterday and to his speech this afternoon, and having considered the proposals of the Measure which is now before us, I am driven to the conclusion that one of the chief curses of a National Government is that, while there is a National Government, there must be a crisis. Unless there is a crisis, the excuse for the existence of a National Government disappears, and, if there is not a crisis, then, in order to continue, they have to manufacture one. Consequently, I am afraid that the industry and commerce of this country, which the National Government came into existence to stabilise, will never be stabilised until we see the end of the National Government, and that, as long as it is there, it will always have to create a condition of neurasthenia in the country in order to justify its continuance in office.

I have listened to the right hon. Gentleman on many occasions in this House, and I join with the hon. and gallant Member for Pembroke (Major Lloyd George) when he said that he always listened to him with considerable admiration. Yesterday, however, I thought that the right hon. Gentleman fell far below his usual form. He was obviously performing a task in which his heart was not involved. He was engaged, not so much in dealing with a grave national crisis, as in attempting to preserve the facade of the national character of the Government which is necessary if their reactionary bluff is to be continued. The right hon. Gentleman said, in the course of his speech, that his views had not changed at all. He said: If my hon. Friend asks me to retain the same views that I had before the crisis in August, I say I do retain the same views, but I have to deal with new conditions, and, still holding those views, I believe that the only way we can face up to our new anxieties is by adapting ourselves to every practical problem as it arises."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th November, 1931; col. 54.5, Vol. 259.] I defy hon. Members to find any sense at all in that sentence, except to conclude that the right hon. Gentleman still believes in Free Trade but that he is no longer defending his Free Trade views. Rather, he is simply defending his position as President of the Board of Trade in a Government which has to depend upon a majority of Tory votes. Consequently, the right hon. Gentleman is compelled to violate his own views, to offend his own philosophy in order to try to preserve the national character of the Government. Parliamentary language prevents me from adequately describing a person of that type. Hon. Members know the term usually applied to a person who says he believes one thing and does another, and I am forbidden by Parliamentary usage from adequately describing him. We should have had much more respect for him if he had said that the change that had come over the character of British commerce and of our commercial relationships with the rest of the world had compelled him to modify his views and that now he is driven to the conclusion that fundamental changes in our fiscal policy are necessary in order to meet new world conditions. But he is still a Free Trader, and this high priest of Free Trade is the person to whom is entrusted the task of reversing 70 years of fiscal policy. This is just a presage of the sort of conduct we shall see from the National Government before it ends its miserable life.

We have been told that this Bill is introduced in order to deal with a grave national crisis. I am not at one with my hon. Friend the Member for Lime-house (Mr. Attlee), who said he objected on constitutional grounds to the procedure adopted in this Bill. I am profoundly convinced that the country is not interested in the procedure of this House. If any alteration of our procedure, any quickening of the machinery of legislation, will improve the economic condition of the country, I am afraid the people will accept it. I am, consequently, not going to protest too much about the unconventional, unorthodox character of the procedure we are asked to support. I am going to try to examine this proposal from the point of view of the effect it will have upon our commerce, on our relationships with Foreign Powers, and on the organisation of the economic life of the country in the immediate and remote future.

The House is entitled, if legislation of this most unusual character is to be introduced, and if it is to be asked to surrender its traditional privileges, to ask why it is that neither yesterday nor to-day has the right hon. Gentleman placed before the House comparative figures of imports for September and October of this year and September and October of 1930 and 1929. We are asked to give the Government these powers, because there are abnormal imports coming into the country. If we are asked to do that, surely we are entitled to ask the right hon. Gentleman, as he was asked by the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft): What does he mean by the term "abnormal"? We have had no figures for last year or for 1929. We have merely had the figures for this year, which are absolutely meaningless unless they are compared with the figures of previous years. We were informed yesterday that the figures for the first 10 days of November, 1931, were available, but the figures for 1929 and 1930 were not given. Yet the whole justification for the Bill is that for the last few months Great Britain has been subjected to abnormal imports—imports which, if they are abnormal, must be shown to be in excess of the imports for last year and the year before.

If the House is asked to surrender these great powers and these traditional privileges, is it not entitled to ask the President of the Board of Trade to make out his case, and to show where is the crisis? He cannot say the crisis is merely the fact that we desire to maintain the external value of sterling. That is important, but other countries are facing adverse balances as well as Great Britain. That is not the crisis, because this Bill does not deal with that crisis. The crisis, we are told, is that we have to deal with huge, unusual, unprecedented dumping of foreign goods and that these powers are necessary in order to keep them out, and this House of Commons, this overwhelming majority, these defenders of the interests of the British people, these patriots, these monopolisers of the Union Jack, instead of asking for this very necessary information have swallowed their medicine man incantation of the President of the Board of Trade, using the word "crisis," which has served them so well on every platform in the country, and which they can still continue to use in order to close the mouth and dope the intelligence of the House of Commons itself. The case for this Bill has not been made out. The smallness of the numbers of the Labour party may cause the Government to treat the Opposition, if not with contempt, at least with indifference, but surely it is the duty of the House of Commons, if it is asked to give these powers, to see that the Government does not treat the whole House with the same scorn as it is treating the Opposition. We are entitled to ask for a case to be made out and a ease has not been made.

The Bill has been brought before the House, not for the purpose of dealing with dumping, but for the purpose of dealing with potential rebellion in the Conservative party. It had its origin, not in the increase in British commerce, it finds its inspiration, not in the desire to protect the British working man, but in the megalomania of the "Daily Telegraph" and the "Daily Mail." I, therefore, suggest that, in the course of the further stages of the Bill, we should ask the right hon. Gentleman to do what he has not yet done, and I suggest that he has not done it because he lacks information, because he is one of the best informed intelligences in Great Britain. He did not treat the House of Commons with this contempt because he has not the information. His speeches are usually informed by more facts than most speeches in the House. His handling of statistics is always ready. He is always facile, and this absence of information yesterday and to-day is because he is no longer the economist but the chief medicine man for the National Government. He is here for a purpose. He is the high priest of Free Trade. He is used for this purpose in order to win the support of the Free Traders who still remain in the National Government. It is still necessary to give them something. They have not yet thrown their principles overboard. The right hon. Gentleman is doing for the National Government what the Prime Minister did for the National party. He is a decoy duck. He is put up as the high priest of Free Trade to decoy the innocent Liberals into the Protectionist snare and, once he has accomplished that task, they will no longer require his services, as they will no longer require the Prime Minister's services. Indeed, the Tory party's enthusiasm for him has faded, and their enthusiasm for the right hon. Gentleman will disappear once he has sold the pass. Once he has decoyed them into the snare of Protection, he will no longer be needed and, if he is not elevated above, he will be driven below. The right hon. Gentleman is simply exploiting the old cry of "crisis" and is not making any case.

8.0 p.m.

Let me ask him a further question. If it is a fact—and we will assume it for the sake of discussion—that imports are coming into the country in abnormal quantities, to what is that due? In the first place, it may be due to the fact that foreigners are anxious to put their goods in before a tariff is put on. It is due, therefore, to fiscal uncertainty. One way of removing fiscal uncertainty is to assure them that we do not intend to put tariffs on. We have a most astonishing situation. The hon. Baronet the Member for Bournemouth and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) have been going up and down the country for the last three or four months saying the only thing to save Great Britain is tariffs. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen are entitled to that view. They are entitled to argue that the conditions of labour that subsist between this country and the rest of the world should be altered in some way by well-advised fiscal machinery. They are entitled to hold that view. We do not quarrel with it. If we were dealing with a Bill this evening in which there was a wide conception, a central plan, an idea behind it, we should be able to discuss it intelligently. There would be a great deal of sympathy in the Labour party for that approach, and for some form of economic planning in which a. change in our fiscal machinery would be an element. There would be considerable support in the working-class movement in this country. It might not go 100 per cent. of the way, but nevertheless intelligent minds would sympathise with the Bill and its intention. But here we are asked to deal with dumping, and the principal cause of the dumping is that they have been talking of tariffs. The very tariff agitation has caused all the dumping; and the tariff itself is the cure for the dumping. We are having a new vaccine doctrine. They are going to put in diphtheria to drive diphtheria out. We are to bring in tariffs to drive tariffs out. That is the suggestion. I submit, therefore, that there is no need at all to come to the House of Commons and ask for these unusual powers. If the dumping is caused by the expectancy of tariffs, it is the right hon. Gentleman's tariff colleagues who have caused that fear. Let him get up and say that there is no fear of tariffs in this country, that the Government are still sitting on the addled egg of the election and have not yet hatched out any legislative chicks, and do not intend to put on tariffs. That is all that he need do.

But I will abandon that suggestion and assume that other countries are themselves in difficulties and are compelled to send their goods out in increasing volume at the present time because of their own internal difficulties. Therefore, it may be that Poland, France, Germany, and Europe generally are increasing their exports to this country because of their own financial difficulties. The right hon. Gentleman is familiar—much more familiar than I am—with those difficulties. He knows—he mentioned it yesterday in his speech—that as a consequence of the falsification of economic balances and of War debts and Reparations debtor countries have artificially to stimulate their exports, and that that has largely been aggravated by a fall in the world-price level, that the debtor countries are getting into increasing difficulties and have to increase their exports still further to maintain the value of their own currencies. We appreciate that fact. If the excess of imports into this country is due to those facts and we keep out those imports, shall we not have to meet their difficulties in another place? If you stop France, Poland, Germany, Yugoslavia, any of the Balkan States, any of the central European countries, Czechoslovakia, assuming that the excess of exports from those countries is due to their financial difficulties, will their financial difficulties cease when you stop them sending their goods here? You will meet them in another place. You do not take the dent out of a piece of iron merely by hammering the dent; you hit it somewhere else.

It is clear that if you increase the financial and economic difficulties of those countries by stopping them from sending goods here at the moment you are bound to have to face the position through a diminution of the massed volume of purchasing power of those peoples and your exports are bound to suffer. If their difficulties are due to Reparations and to War debts, a tariff in Great Britain will not solve the problem. Those Reparations and War debts should be courageously, realistically and patriotically tackled. The right hon. Gentleman and his Government, with their vast initiative and their terrific prestige and their overwhelming Parliamentary power, need not fear being said to be unpatriotic or pro-German; they can proceed to take the initiative in European affairs immediately. One of the most interesting, and in some ways ludicrous spectacles we have seen in this House was when the right hon. Gentleman yesterday declared, in his inimitable and pedagogic way, that one of the principal causes of our difficulties was the Peace Treaty, the Reparations. When I ventured to interrupt and say that this was a confessional, I was not referring to the right hon. Gentleman, because I admit he was always against them, but to the cheers from around him, from those benches filled with persons who in 1919–20 were organising parties to lynch those of us who were saying in the country what would be the economic consequences. After all, we are entitled, although we are a meagre Opposition, to some ordinary failings and to say, "Well, at least we told you so." We must listen, 10 years afterwards, to speeches regarded as the essence of political wisdom containing the statements we made 10 years ago. I submit therefore that, if the excess of exports from those countries is due to their peculiar financial difficulties, the root cause does not lie in our fiscal machinery, and the remedy does not lie in the alteration of our fiscal policy.

I would direct the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the fact that the uncertainty will not disappear when he gets those powers. It will be increased. Once the President of the Board of Trade is armed with his powers they will hang like the sword of Damocles over the exchanges of this country. He will have to use the sword at once or else put it back into its sheath. He will either have to exercise all the powers immediately, or say that he does not intend to exercise them at all. His troubles are going to start once he gets those powers. All he will do will be to shift the pressure from the lobbies of the House of Commons to the Carlton Club. All that will happen will be that the Protectionist hordes behind the Government will no longer have to come to the House of Commons and make speeches but will go to their party meet- ings. He will perhaps hear the echoes and also hear of the casualties that may follow. All those articles will be subject to the veto of the President of the Board of Trade.

If the Bill is to be brought in in order to get rid of uncertainty, I would ask the right hon. Gentleman: How is that uncertainty going to be resolved unless he immediately exercises those powers or says that he does not intend to exercise them? Once the thing is on the Statute Book importers of all kinds will hurry up their imports for fear that it is going to descend upon them. It is not a cure for uncertainty, for commercial neurasthenia; it is neurasthenia itself. It is not going to be a stable foundation for exports and imports. It will not be a strong rope to which we may cling; it will be a rope of sand. I submit to the right hon. Gentleman that the first effect of his powers will be that all exchanges will be jazzing about. There will be increased imports from abroad. We have to assume—it is the only assumption upon which we can proceed—that he intends to exercise his powers. When the House has given wide powers to a Minister it must criticise those powers on the assumption that they are going to be exercised. It cannot be assumed that they are not going to be exercised. It cannot be allowed to be said that we have to trust the right hon. Gentleman to be discreet because we know that he has no criteria for discretion. Immediately these powers are conferred pressure is going to be placed upon the President of the Board of Trade. The pressure is not going to be Parliamentary pressure, but commercial and business pressure. It is not going to find articulation through the ordinary veins of the Constitution of the country but through Whitehall. I cannot do anything better than quote the language of the right hon. Gentleman himself in a speech which he made on the 22nd June, 1921: One of the worst features of a tariff system and one which, for my part, I most dread is giving a political aspect to all our business activities. I would look forward with feelings well-nigh of nausea"— the right hon. Gentleman's stomach is stronger than it was— if I were compelled to add to the staffs under my control, a staff in the Lobby of the House of Commons"— He will merely exchange Whitehall for the House of Commons: Not one of us dare dispense with that new department under a general tariff. We dare not leave our competitors or users of raw material free to Lobby the House of Commons. That new element would poison business life. The right hon. Gentleman proposes in the Bill that we should provide him with a large number of bottles of poison which he can dispense at leisure while President of the Board of Trade. I submit that it is far better, if the political machinery of this country is to be exposed to business pressure and if we are to be lobbied at all, that the elected representatives of the people should be subject—[An HON. MEMBER: "Instead of the Trades Union Congress!"] If the hon. Member will make a relevant interjection he will add to the clarity of the Debate. If we have our political life exposed to these temptations and pressures, it is desirable that the elected representatives of the people should be exposed to them. Then the balance of interest in this House and the free play of discussion will correct any tendency towards corruption which may exist. To leave the President of the Board of Trade, deeply involved, as he is, in the commercial and economic life of this country—more involved than any other Minister—with those large powers of bribery and corruption and the right to make the fortunes of some businesses and destroy the fortunes of others, to give to the President of the Board of Trade the biggest vested interest we can-possible give to him, would be a great danger. We are to give to him those wide powers. This National Government, and the Prime Minister, with his capacity for moral indignation, standing for the purity of British public life, are going to expose the House of Commons and our Constitution to that sort of thing.

So far as we are concerned on these benches we are not going to expose the Civil Service and public officials to temptation which we ourselves are not prepared to withstand. We do not want the Lobby of the House of Commons and we do not want the office of the President of the Board of Trade to become the centres of appeal from business interests. We prefer to have those matters fought out on the Floor of the House of Commons in a proper manner. We say to right hon. Gentlemen opposite that they have Americanised English elections in this country and they are going to Americanise English politics in this House. They have copied the worst features of American mass suggestion, and now they are to expose our Constitution to all the influences of corruption and degradation of public life with which we are familiar across the Atlantic. I, therefore, ask them to hesitate. Having stampeded public feeling in this country and secured in this House an overwhelming reactionary majority, they are going to corrupt public life in this country and undermine the confidence of our people.

I would ask the right hon. Gentleman opposite a few questions. If these powers are to be exercised, does he propose to exercise them in regard to semifinished and finished steel? Does he propose to extend Protection to the steel industry? We should like to know, and the industry would like to know, because blast furnaces cannot be put in hand immediately. It takes three months for them to get into full working order. Is the right hon. Gentleman going to exercise these powers? Is he going to prohibit the importation from France, Luxemburg, Germany and Belgium the importation of steel bars and billets? If so, what is going to happen to the South Wales export coal trade? This, as the right hon. Gentleman said, is a very delicate and complex mechanism. The Government are going to throw a crowbar into that mechanism. Our export of coal to the Continent of Europe to-day is not affected by price competition at all. The volume of coal that we are selling in Europe to-day is not fixed by prices, but by licence. We are no longer selling our coal in Europe because we are able to sell it cheaper than anybody else. We are selling our coal in Europe under licence because those countries are definitely allowing a certain volume of coal to be sold at the bargain counter against Great Britain.

If the right hon. Gentleman restricts in any way the export of steel bars from the Continent, and the French raise an embargo on coal and the Germans use their coal dumps to extend the non-competitive areas in Germany, what answer is he going to make to the South Wales colliers and the colliers of Scotland, Durham and Northumberland who will be idle? It will do for the South Wales export coal trade on the Continent what the Polish Corridor did for our Scandinavian export trade in coal. We are still suffering from the consequences of that. They gave Dantzig to the Poles. The tariff war between Germany and Poland for seven years stopped the sale of any Polish coal in Eastern Germany, drove Polish coal to Scandinavia and operated against our coal trade. We lost 40 per cent. of our Scandinavian market in consequence. That is one of the consequences of the economic wisdom of right hon. Gentlemen opposite. Now we are, in effect, told that we are going to interfere with the amount of coal that we can sell in Europe. The fiscal machinery of the Continent has grown up for a century, and during that time we have been able to sell our exports to them. They have not prevented our exports from going in. That represents the Continent's idea of the division of labour which should subsist between this country and the Continent. It is not fiscal war, but control and division of labour.

I submit in all seriousness that if the Government proceed with this tariff legislation they will convince Europe that England is no longer a good European. They will establish in Europe a permanent French hegemony. They will drive Germany into the hands of France. We cannot afford to be regarded by Europe in an unfriendly way. We are not now as necessary to the European division of labour as we formerly were, and any attempt on our part to rupture the economic relationship will have economic and diplomatic consequences for us that will not end by the end of the century. I appeal to the Government to consider this matter in all seriousness. The one asset that we have left is our most highly skilled artisan population, and our chief interest lies in devoting that high skill to the making of high quality products. It does not matter to us if the Continent sends to us raw material, but it does matter to us if we prevent France and Luxemburg from sending us steel; and we drive France into the arms of Germany, with their highly skilled artisan population who will be ready for France to avail herself of. Stop the steel from coming in, but you do not hear the last of it. You will bring about between France and Germany an organic industrial relationship instead of the existing cartel, in which France will make use of the skilled German workmen to work on the semi-finished steel and we shall meet with the competition where it is most deadly, in the finished engineering market.

Anyone looking round on the whole range of the economic life of this country will admit that the proposals contained in the Bill are highly dangerous. I have listened to arguments from hon. Members, particularly young Liberals and young Conservatives, who are usually the persons to make old-fashioned theories agreeable to modern life. They have stated that we ought to have scientific safeguards and organised production and that we ought to build our economic life behind a line of fiscal barriers. There is nothing of that in the Bill. It is a stupid, ordinary, ignorant, nineteenth century Conservatism that is in the Bill. There is nothing scientific about it. It is merely a question of the Conservative party paying its debts to those who contributed to its election fund. It is a monument of Conservative corruption. It is a case of the Conservatives demanding their price. That is what the proposal is. I would point out to Liberal Members of the Government and to Liberal supporters of the Government that they may pay this price now in order to secure for a few months longer their juxtaposition with the Tories, but that, once the Tories have got what they want, they will be kicked out into the political wilderness and no man will want to know whether they have anything to eat, or drink or wear. They will be forgotten, the Lord President of the Council will have no further use for them, the legend of a National Government will have disappeared, the job will have been done, and Great Britain will be handed over to the most reactionary Conservative Government of modern times, whose name will be anathema throughout the whole country.

Photo of Mr Arthur Samuel Mr Arthur Samuel , Farnham

The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan) will forgive me if I do not follow him in his very attractive and humorous speech, in which he has poked fun at the President of the Board of Trade and at the Prime Minister and attacked everything in general and nothing in particular. In the next place, he criticised the President of the Board of Trade because, as he said, the right hon. Gentleman had not made out a case for stopping dumping, and in the next breath said that there was no case to be made. In fact, the hon. Member entirely shirked the issue. The issue today is our adverse overseas balance and its damaging effect upon our credit. He did not deal with that problem at all, and he will forgive me if I do not follow him in his speech. I am sure that he does not expect us to treat his speech with any great seriousness.

8.30 p.m.

I want to deal with the point made by the hon. Member for Stepney (Mr. Attlee), who opened the Debate for the Opposition. He made the point so often made in an unqualified form by Free Traders, that if you stop imports you will stop exports. Up to a point that is true, but it has to be qualified, and the proof that it must be qualified can be found in what took place during the year 1930. If hon. Members will look at the published figures showing what our overseas balance was then, they will find that we had a credit of £39,000,000. We had an excess of imports which was met by our invisible exports, that is to say, shipping freights, banking commissions, insurance premiums and so on, and the income on our foreign investments, amounting to £235,000,000. But as our net credit balance at the end of that year was only £39,000,000, after all calculations had been made, it shows that we parted with all our invisible exports such as shipping freights and banking commissions and insurance commissions and other services and that they even were not adequate to fill the gap. So we had to fall back upon the greater portion of the £235,000,000 of income on our overseas investments in order to leave us with £39,000,000 as our overseas credit balance. That shows that we imported in excess £106,000,000 which drew no exports at all other than surrendered dividend warrants. That is a fact which was not disclosed until we received the figures of the Board of Trade returns on 26th February this year. It shows that there is a fallacy when Free Traders tell us baldly that imports draw ex- ports. Yes, but what sort of exports? What is the good to us to export paper dividends. In 1930 we were merely surrendering the right to receive £196,000,000 of overseas dividends, which would otherwise have been at our disposal plus the £39,000,000, to invest in loans abroad to enable us to give credit to people abroad to enable them to buy goods from us. Had we stopped the importation of £196,000,000 worth of selected manufactured goods in the year 1930, out of the total of £1,044,000,000 of imports which we paid for by £196,000,000 in dividend warrants, we should have stopped the export or surrender merely of those dividend warrants and given employment to people in this country in the manufacture of the goods. It would have had the effect of slightly reducing our invisible exports in the shape of shipping freights and banking commissions and insurance commissions but it would have given a year's employment to nearly 1,250,000 people.

The fact of the matter is that this excess of imports is now shown to be paid for in a great degree by nothing else than the paper warrants for interest on investments made in the past, and we therefore can stop a certain amount of selected manufactured imports coming into this country without suffering any loss to our export trade whatever. We can make the goods here, retain ownership of the income due from abroad, which we can re-invest again as loans to customers to enable them to buy our goods and at the same time put people into employment here to manufacture the selected imported goods which are prohibited. What is the problem which the Government have to face? It is this. We have felt, and it has been shown in the position of the exchanges, that there is a growing minus in our overseas balance. We do not know, and I can only conjecture, what that adverse balance will be. But during the last 10 months we have been building up certainly not a plus overseas balance. At the end of the year we shall have a debit oversea balance of something not less than £60,000,000, probably £100,000,000. We are on the wrong side of the hedge. Our credit has suffered and the position has been revealed in the weakness of sterling, before we can see the actual calculations of the oversea balance.

This Resolution seeks to give power to stop the importation of such an amount of manufactured goods under Class III as may seem proper to the Government. What is the total amount of manufactured goods imported into this country? It is in the neighbourhood of £300,000,000. We need,, not only to cancel or neutralise the minus £60,000,000 or it may be the minus £100,000,000 of our overseas balance by increased exports and decreased import excess, but on the top of that we must set up a credit balance overseas of not less than £150,000,000 a year. During the years 1928 and 1929 our credit annual balance was roughly about £140,000,000. We must have a credit balance overseas large enough to enable our customers and friends abroad to borrow so that they may be able to buy goods from us. We need every year an increased credit balance in our overseas transactions in order to meet the needs of the increase in our population.

We, therefore, have this problem, to cancel the minus £60,000,000 or the minus £100,000,000 of adverse balance overseas and, in addition, to provide a plus balance of £150,000,000 of credit overseas, as we had in past years. That means that we have to fix on methods to readjust a figure of from £210,000,000 to £250,000,000 each year in our overseas transactions. As the total amount of manufactured goods under Class III only comes to £300,000,000, I fail to see how, although I welcome the Bill, we are going to put our adverse balance right by dealing only with articles in Class III. Of course, an increased export trade is also aimed at There is £200,000,000 sterling in the total amount of Class III manufactured goods which well could be made here. But I do not think for a moment that the Bill will operate in such a way as to keep the whole of that £200,000,000 out. I have no means of knowing, but I assume we may under the Bill remedy our adverse balance with the help of Class III to an amount of £70,000,000 to £100,000,000. But, as I said, we need an adjustment to put the oversea position right of something like £210,000,000 to £250,000,000, and in order to get that balance with which to fill the gap we shall have to go in another direction and beyond the methods now being provided.

Much as I welcome this Bill, for I think its principle is right, I want to put it on record that I think we need further legislation for agriculture to produce the amount that I have mentioned, and that we shall not get that required total amount by this Bill alone. We must go further. Whether we can get an overseas credit position depends on an agricultural policy. I cannot deal with that question now, but I think that the policy that we favour will set going such a home production of foodstuffs as will enable us to be free from having to import as part of our total needs something like £100,000,000 to £160,000,000 worth of foodstuffs every year. The method, implicit in this restriction of inv-ports proposal, will, I think, put our adverse balance right only when it is supplemented with an agricultural home production large enough to dispense with buying from abroad food to the total value I have just mentioned.

Photo of Mr John McGovern Mr John McGovern , Glasgow Shettleston

We have just heard from the hon. Gentleman a plea to go the whole hog and to have full-blooded tariffs put into operation in this country. I am inclined to agree that if the policy advocated by the Front Bench is going to be a cure, or a partial cure, of the evil from which society suffers, it will be natural to assume that we must go the whole hog and put full-blooded tariffs into operation. This House is a remark-able institution. We are dealing with an anti-dumping Bill. I have listened to speeches which have amazed me. I am rather perplexed when I begin to deal with politicians and with the various parties in this House. I find, for example, that the men who are in charge of this anti-dumping Bill have throughout their lives said that Free Trade was the be-all and end-all of society. In my younger days I heard many of them waxing eloquent in telling their audiences that Free Trade was the thing that gave this nation and this Empire its position and power and wealth and security and freedom, and that we must fight to the last ditch and never surrender Free Trade. I sec those same people to-day on the Government Front Bench pleading for the thin end of the wedge of Protection. They have changed their policy, and the change has coincided with their arrival on the Front Bench.

On the other hand, I have heard speeches from Members on this side of the House, and have recollected that when they were on the other side they advocated an entirely different policy. It is all to me rather strange. The hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) told us that Mr. Henderson had advocated tariffs, that he was prepared to go to the length of a 20 per cent. tariff. But a Member of the Front Bench said, "Yes, that was before we went off the Gold Standard." I rather thought it was before the right hon. Gentleman went off the Front. Bench. If people are going to hold so loosely to principles in politics, it is no wonder that our Parliamentary institution is being demoralised and that people have absolutely no respect for it at all.

I have heard it suggested of the right hon. Member for Bewdley (Mr. Baldwin) that he would use the Liberals and then throw them aside like sucked oranges. I want to be frank and honest. I do not believe that that is the attitude of the right hon. Gentleman at all. I have watched him throughout his public life, from outside this House and from inside, and the view I have always held of the right hon. Gentleman is that he is too honest for politics at all. I do not think that he makes use of people in the way suggested. He has fought all along against every and any system of tariffs in this country. Any person who has watched the Beaverbrook campaign must admit that the right hon. Gentleman throughout his career was a very un-willing advocate of any form of tariff in this country, and was not prepared to put it into operation. But we find the National Government arrived on the Front Bench with an overwhelming majority, and they come to the House and say, "The position is urgent. We require to go ahead. We require to override the ordinary rules of this institution in order to get these tariffs into operation." They put forward this Bill.

As has been suggested, the urgency of the problem became evident only when the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth and the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) presented their ultimatum to the Government to go ahead speedily. Anyone who heard the statement of the Prime Minister must admit that he shuffled and evaded with indefinite statements, and that he had no intention of carrying out a policy of tariffs on this side of Christmas. But a change took place because of a threat of rebellion from inside the party. A threat of rebellion inside the Government party compelled the Front Bench to (move, but the threats of rebellion in the Labour party could never compel the Labour Front Bench to move in that direction at all. We are urged now to go in for a system of anti-dumping. The hon. and gallant Member for Pembroke (Major Lloyd George) made a statement that I dispute entirely, without agreeing or disagreeing with tariffs. He said that in foreign countries the standard of life is much lower than that of this country. It is well known that in America and in every State of Australia—I lived there for a couple of years—the standard of life is very much higher under a system of tariffs than it is in this country. I do not say that that is an argument for or against tariff reform, but we should not attempt to treat Members of this House and the public outside as if they were a class of children who are being instructed in simple elementary truths.

I heard the speech of an hon. Member on the Labour Front Bench and I was inclined to wonder whether he was speaking as a Member of that Front Bench. I began to see a new alignment of forces again—Liberal and Labour forces allying themselves and cheering one another on in the hope that when the change takes place in politics, as it naturally must take place, they might evolve as a happy family on the Treasury Bench to conduct again the game that they have conducted for months in the past. If there is one set of people which has played fast and loose with Parliamentary democracy it is the Liberal section now in the National Government. To me they are people devoid of the ordinary Parliamentary decencies and principles which ought to attach to a party sincerely desirous of the well-being of the State.

They are in charge of the anti-dumping Bill. Let us examine that Bill. What is the reason for dumping? Dumping, I believe, takes place. There is no use closing our eyes to it and trying to make the world believe that dumping does not take place in this and other countries. It takes place because we are producing faster than the people in any country can consume according to the purchasing power which they receive. In order to get rid of the surplus goods produced, an attempt is made to export them either at cost, or a little over cost, or at something under cost. The home market is exploited and then the remaining goods are unloaded on some other country. But is not that exactly what Liberals and Tories alike have pleaded and argued for in the past? They said that competition was the life of trade, that you had to compete in the open market, and that you ought had to encourage anything in the nature of trusts or combines because they destroyed the ordinary come and go between nations and between firms.

The Government say they want to prevent dumping; they say that this procedure is the cure and that it will prevent dumped goods coming here from Czechoslovakia and Germany and other countries. Let me put this question to the responsible spokesman of the Government. Are they going to include the prohibition of goods coming from India —goods produced under sweated conditions or by slave labour? Are they going to allow goods to come in freely from India although the competition is unfair as between industrial firms in this country and those in India. It is all very well to say that India is part of the Empire. I know it is, but if India can unload coal in Italy for 14s. a ton when it takes, between freight labour and profit, 20s. a ton to send coal there from this country—I am not giving actual figures but I am using this by way of illustration—are you going to encourage cheap slave labour in India, or are you going to encourage raising the standard of life of the people in that country?

I do not think that this anti-dumping Bill is going to do anything. I think it is a great game of bluff by politicians who are compelled to go along the road of the policy which they have advocated to the people of the country. They had an overwhelming majority. They cannot reasonably plead that they are a minority party, or that they have not the mandate or have not the power. They will carry their anti-dumping Bill. They will go further; they will continue the process of going on to a full-blooded tariff system, and they will discover that the last posi- tion is worse than the first. I have never seen such an exhibition of shadow-boxing in this House as that which has taken place this afternoon. Hon. Members keep on dancing round the subject without ever coming to the stern realities of what is taking place in our industrial life.

We are witnessing the decay of the system of capitalism. Hon. Members opposite may smile, but I have yet to hear of any case being put forward, other than the case for Socialism, as an alternative to the decay, demoralisation and crisis in which the capitalist society at present finds itself. The capitalist system goes on producing poverty in abundance and producing unemployment. The hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth says that if we had the production of these goods in this country we could find employment for 1,000,000 men. Does any person in his senses believe a story of that kind? It may be all right for a Tariff Reform platform or the Junior Imperial League, in order to get people wagging flags and in order to make them believe that you are going to achieve the salvation of mankind. But you cannot destroy unemployment, and unemployment is bound to grow, so long as your present order continues. There is only one alternative, and that is to add to the purchasing power of the working class. You are looking for fresh markets. The only market that is to be found is the home market. The only people who can consume more goods are the working class. What is your policy?

Your policy is to destroy the purchasing power of the people. You think you are going to find markets elsewhere. There are no markets to be found elsewhere. The markets are being wiped out. If you take from one nation £10,000,000 purchasing power by keeping out goods which they supply to you, then, in the same relation, you destroy their purchasing power to buy back from some other part of the world, from Britain, or Germany, or China. You are destroying their purchasing power or reducing their purchasing power, adding to unemployment and making the position worse. You will, I know, go on with the process. I am not blaming you for attempting to stop dumping, or for attempting to meet the crisis which is upon us. I am not blaming you, but I know that you are bound to fail, because you are making the attempt in the spirit of the quack. Since 1918 this state of things has continued, and you have tried to make people believe that if they would only entrust power to you, you would find a remedy. The Liberal party, the Tory party, the Labour party, all have applied the same 17th century minds to 19th century and 20th century problems. And all the time things have been going from bad to worse, and then you come along and say that a crisis is upon us. The crisis has been upon us since 1918. You have had as high as 3,500,000 unemployed, and you have had as low as 1,250,000 unemployed. It has gone from one position to another. Not only this country but every country in the world, whether Protectionist or Free Trade, is suffering from unemployment.

I am not enamoured of your system of tariffs or of your system of Free Trade. I believe that in a well-regulated well ordered state of society there might be, if you were moving according to the needs of the times, a kind of halfway house between the two, and a way out of all this trouble that is now taking place. You might increase the purchasing power of the masses, decrease the hours of the working class, and by a system of import boards, regulate imports so as to see that no goods came into the country which have been made under sweated or slave conditions. I hear from time to time oratory in this House about slave labour in Russia, but there is slave labour in every part of the world. There is slave labour in Britain at the present moment. You cannot in any shape or form find a way out of the present morass by applying these remedies. What you are saying is, "Here is a bottle. Take a couple of spoonfuls and rub your back with the bottle, and all will be well." Every man, every politician on the Government bench at the moment has sat on it as an individual party or unit, and now they are sitting there collectively, and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) said, you have all attempted it individually and. now you go collectively and say, "That which we failed to do individually we will now apply a collective mind to, and all pull at the cat's tail in an attempt to find a way out." I have no faith in any one of you. Not a single party in this House have I faith in for a solution of these problems. I want to see a greater adhesion to prin- ciple than I have seen yet in this House. Not a single party has put principle first. They are all anxious to keep sitting on that bench, whether it means the sacrifice of principle or not, and they think they are going to masquerade in that disguise and keep the people outside continually in subjection.

You are on your last trial. Make no mistake about it. They have tried you all individually, and now they are trying you collectively, and the fall will be great when it comes; and I am confident that the fall will come and probably sooner than many of you expect, but you are going on with that order of society, producing poverty, adding to the glut in every country, and every country has the same old problems. In the Reichstag in Germany the hoary-headed politicians are saying, "What we have to do is to stop dumping." The politicians in Sweden are saying, "We have to prevent imports from coming in and to develop our exports." The people in New South Wales are the same. I have heard the same old story in their Parliament. They are all looking for the other fellow to take their exports, and they are not going to take any imports in return. It is the most stupid and fanatical policy I have ever heard of.

I only want to say, in conclusion, that I simply got up to express my disgust and contempt for this game of hide and seek that is being played in this House. You are not realists at all, but simply an army of living dead men who fail to realise the progress that is being made outside. The mind of man develops, and the only thing in the universe that is constant is change, but the only change in this House is to move from these benches across the way, and the struggle goes on between one set of politicians and the other. When one set are in power they stand for a certain policy, and the other party condemn everything they do while they are in power. Then when they cross over the people on those benches carry out the policy advocated by the others, who then condemn it from this side. That is what goes on—no realities, no honesty, no principle—simply meeting and talking, and talking, and talking eternally, never intending to do anything, because you cannot do anything, to cure the poverty. The system will come down on you eventually like an avalanche and sweep you out of existence.

9.0 p.m.

Photo of Mr Thomas Griffiths Mr Thomas Griffiths , Pontypool

I have sat here all the evening listening to the Debate, and practically all the speakers have been speaking in general terms about these Orders-in-Council. I am going to endeavour to bring the President of the Board of Trade or his Parliamentary Secretary back to realities. I have been very alarmed at these Orders-in-Council. I am speaking on behalf of one of the greatest industries in the country, namely, the iron and steel industry, and I understand that semi-raw materials and raw materials are to be brought under these Orders-in-Council. I want, first of all, to point out that if the President of the Board of Trade begins with pig iron, that is the finished article of the blast furnaces but the raw material to the steel furnaces, producing basic or Bessemer steel. The steel bars that are imported into this country are the finished article in the steelworks, but they are the raw material of the tinplate trade and the galvanised sheet trade of this country. I also want to point out that, although the tinplate and the sheet are the finished articles in the tinplate and the sheet trades, they are the raw materials for the canning industry in this country, and also for the motoring industry and other industries that use this finished article.

Has the President of the Board of Trade considered what effect the taxing of imports into this country will have on the re-rolling trades and the finishing trades in the iron and steel trade? If he will look up the records of the steel trade and the tinplate trade and the galvanizing trade, which is our staple industry in South Wales, he will find—I am very pleased to see that the right hon. Gentleman, the President of the Board of Trade, who is a business man, has now come back into the House. I was just pointing out to the right hon. Gentleman, as a business man—and some of his speeches in reference to the steel and the sheet trade have already been quoted against him to-night—that if he will look up the statistics at the Board of Trade, he will discover that the steel trade since the big slump of 1920 has been declining year after year until now the steel trade in this country is in a worse position than it has ever known before.

The second point that I want to put before the right hon. Gentleman is that, if he will look up the statistics, he will find that the steel trade and the tinplate trade and the sheet trade have been improving year after year until, in 1929, we produced more tinplates and sheets in South Wales and exported more tinplate6 and sheets than we have done since the McKinley tariff was imposed in 1891. In regard to what you call dumping of these raw materials that we use in the tinplate trade and in the sheet trade, I want the right hon. Gentleman to find out, before he puts these Orders into operation, whether it is going to be an advantage to the steel, tinplate, and sheet trades combined or whether it is going to be a disadvantage. I guarantee that the President of the Board of Trade will find that if he imposes a tax in any way on these raw materials, it will be a disadvantage in the end. It will bolster up the inefficiency which exists in the steel industry of this country, and in bolstering up inefficiency it will tax the people. The consumers, therefore, will suffer as a result of the foolish thing which the Government are doing.

I want to follow up another point by an illustration. Belgium and French steel is being imported into South Wales today at something like £3 a ton. We cannot produce it in South Wales under £5 a ton, and we cannot compete against this imported steel any way. The cost in wages of producing a ton of steel from the gas producer to the finished bar is something like 10s. a ton. Therefore, if the members of my organisation went to the steel works to-morrow and offered to work for nothing, the steel works would still be 30s. a ton at a disadvantage as compared with Belgium and Northern France. Therefore it is not a question of wages or a question of sweated conditions; the manufacturers in the other countries have some greater advantage than we have in this country. The hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) said that he had been alarmed at the lack of initiative on the part of different Governments in this country over the last seven years in not taking this matter in hand. Those who understand the trade, the employers and the representatives of the men, have been discussing it for 10 years. We have approached Governments, we have approached the Lord President of the Council, and the Labour Government; and I think that the President of the Board of Trade was present with the economic committee of the Liberal party when we discussed it with them. We have also placed our proposals before the public.

We have constructive proposals in order to deal with this industry. We want a national planning of the industry on the regional lines suggested and recommended by the Sankey Commission. We want to establish an import board and an export board. We want business men to do that; we do not want the House of Commons to do it or to bring politics into it at all. We want to do it in the national interest. We want the business people who would compose these boards to regulate the output and to decide what goods should be imported, and what use should be made of them. Such import and export boards would do far more effective work than Orders in Council. The President of the Board of Trade said last night that he did not blame so much the people who imported the goods into this country as the people who bought the goods in this country. I agree with him, because I brought that matter before the Conciliation Board in South Wales. I am not going to make a debating point of this; it is too serious a matter. I am here to deal with it in a conciliatory spirit as if I were in the Conciliation Board. When I go to the Conciliation Board, I go there with the interests of my men at heart, and I know that the employers go there with the interests of their side at heart, but we always have the trade first in mind, because if the trade were lost, employers and workmen would not be a bit of good. It is, therefore, from that point of view that I want to bring this question before the Minister.

I remember going to the Conciliation Board in Swansea when the late Sir J. C. Davis, who was one of the finest employers this country has produced, and was the leader of Messrs. Baldwin and Company, produced statistics before me as chairman of the men's side. The statistics showed the number of steel bars that had been imported into this country, the amount of coal that could be used in producing this steel, the number of miners that could be employed, and so on. I listened to him very attentively, and when I replied, I put this question to him: "What have you been doing to stop this steel coming in?" He said: "We have been doing nothing." I said: "The only thing you have been doing is buying it. If you wanted to stop it, you could have prevented this steel from coming in by refusing to buy it. You do not want me to go back to Parliament to ask for an anti-dumping Bill or for a tariff. If you are patriots, and you profess to be patriots, do not buy the steel that is sent into this country."

As sure as I am standing here to-night, there are going to be hundreds of business men in the tin-plate, steel and sheet trade ruined as a result of this, and I ask the Government to adopt the policy of the Confederation. It has been adopted in public by our own people and by the Labour party, and considered favourably by the Liberal party, but the Tory tariffists will not discuss the question at all. I hope that the President will read to-morrow the points that I have put before him. The policy of the Confederation holds the field at the present time. We want an import board and an export board; to take the question out of the hands of Parliament altogether; and to carry out our scheme, not in the interests of the men or of the employers, but in the national interest. It would be far better than any Orders-in-Council that the President of the Board of Trade will try to thrust down the throats of this House.

Photo of Mr Leslie Hore-Belisha Mr Leslie Hore-Belisha , Plymouth, Devonport

The hon. Member for Ponty-pool (Mr. T. Griffiths) has been the first speaker from the opposite benches in this Debate to make any constructive suggestion. He has told us of the particular modification he would make in the Free Trade system, but, of course, we are not at liberty to discuss import and export boards at this moment, when we are concerned with a very particular problem. The hon. Member for Lime-house (Mr. Attlee) spoke in a mood of complete terror. He was in terror of a Constitutional revolution. I was rather surprised that any complaint of a breach of the Constitution should come from that quarter, when one remembers the record of the late Government in regard to the Finance Bill of last session, and still more so when one recalls the whole series of speeches and articles complaining of the cumbrous mechanism of Parliament. Here, at any rate, we are having firm and resolute action for the first time in the last two years. The hon. Gentleman seemed to think that action was inconsistent with democracy, that all that was required by democracy was that everything should be discussed at interminable length. Of course, our conception of democracy is identical with the conception of Sir William Anson, from whose learned book an extract was read out, namely, that democracy has the right to delegate its powers if it thinks proper, and really I fail to see the ground of the complaint of my hon. Friend.

Here we are in this House discussing what we shall do, and nothing can be done without the approval of this House. He said we were adopting this procedure because we were afraid to have these taxes discussed in Parliament, but the truth of the matter is that every one of these taxes will be discussed in Parliament, because it will be the duty of the Government to move a positive resolution approving of any Orders that may be made. Therefore, on constitutional grounds I do not think the complaint holds very much water, and, if it had held very much water, doubtless we should have had a speech from the ex-Solicitor-General, who has remained very silent throughout this great Constitutional discussion. The other fear expressed by the hon. Gentleman was also a fear of revolution, a fear of a fiscal revolution, which he thought should not take place within so short a space of time. He thought 2½ days was too short a period in which to effect a fiscal revolution. As a matter of fact, we are not making any permanent change in the fiscal system of the country by this Bill, which operates for only six months. In that respect also, therefore, my hon. Friend's attack was based upon a misapprehension.

We had another speech from the Front Bench opposite. It was very significant and very pleasing to find that the hon. Member for Limehouse and the hon. and gallant Member for Pembroke (Major Lloyd George) should both speak from the same bench. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Pembroke made a very good Free Trade speech. He expressed charmingly and effectively his undying belief in the most rigid form of Free Trade, a form that is no longer believed in by the most ardent Free Traders. He even told us he would do nothing to protect this country against dumping; but the best Free Trade authorities have always been in favour of protecting this country against dumping. He said, for instance, that vacuum cleaners do not come here unless somebody wants them, and his whole attitude towards imports was "The more the merrier." That is not the attitude of the most convinced and traditional Free Traders. It is not the attitude of the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), whose absence at this moment we so genuinely deplore. The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs made a plea in this House last Session in which he said: I hope that the Minister will look further into the question of dumping. I have always been against dumping. I do not consider, as I have said here before, that Free Trade is bound to carry that monster on its back.

Photo of Mr Gwilym Lloyd George Mr Gwilym Lloyd George , Pembrokeshire

May I ask what was the definition of dumping?

Photo of Mr Leslie Hore-Belisha Mr Leslie Hore-Belisha , Plymouth, Devonport

I wilt read it with pleasure, but I would first ask what becomes of the statement of my hon. and gallant Friend that vacuum cleaners do not come here unless somebody wants them. He wishes me to read the definition of dumping. The right hon. Gentleman said: By dumping I do not mean legitimate competition, as far as food is concerned, when the foreigner comes here and fights a fair fight in the market. What I mean by dumping is this: Where there is a surplus, the producer first of all sells in his home market at a price which enables him to make a profit under the shelter of a protective tariff, and then dumps the surplus here at a price which is under the cost price to himself.

Photo of Mr Leslie Hore-Belisha Mr Leslie Hore-Belisha , Plymouth, Devonport

If any of the goods abnormally coming into this country fulfil that definition, they will be kept out of this country in the future. To that extent my hon. and gallant Friend should be satisfied. We are not discussing here the abstract merits of Free Trade and Protection, we are not dealing here with normal trade, but with abnormal trade. When we come to discuss normal trade the arguments of my hon, and and gallant Friend will have very much validity, and will have to be met in all seriousness. We are dealing here with a very special problem, a problem which he admits. Imports are coming into this country in abnormal quantities. Are we going to do nothing to defend ourselves from a position such as that? For instance, should woollen travelling rugs be coming into this country at the rate of 53,000 a month when in 1929 they were coming in at the rate of only 5,000 a month? No one is going to be any worse off, and the cost of living will not be increased, if these travelling rugs happen to be restricted. There are a number of other articles in the same category, which do not interfere with the cost of living at all, which are coming in here in abnormal quantities. Supposing the poor unfortunate people who make travelling rugs in this country are put out of work as a result of those importations. Then the taxpayer in this country has to keep them. Why should he? You are not dealing with the system of laissez faire in so far as maintaining your own unemployed by your own industries is concerned.

Therefore, I say, we are not dealing with the ordinary Free Trade system at all, not dealing with the normal trading system, but dealing with something that is entirely abnormal. From whatever angle we look at the figures of recent imports we come to the conclusion that a dead set is being made against this country in anticipation of a permanent change in the fiscal system. Whether that change is to come or not, we must shelter our own traders and our own currency in the meantime, and (here is the explanation of this Bill, which operates for only six months. I have here a letter from a German firm which says: We beg to enclose you herewith special quotation for the goods we have in stock, for immediate delivery, as we want to clear the stock before the new tariff comes into force. That is why we are having abnormal imports, and why we are seeking powers to deal with them. Those were the only two speeches in serious criticism of this Bill and both of them were based upon antiquated notions.

We had a very rousing speech, as we might well expect, from the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) in encouragement of the action we are taking. He was not permitted to deal with all the matters he had in mind, but he asked a question: "What about preferences for the Dominions?" I do not think my hon. and gallant Friend will have need to complain, when he sees the Bill, of the treatment which has been meted out to the Dominions. They are to have a preference. If he wants to know what the figure is, it happens to be a preference of 100 per cent. I do not think he will have any complaint on that score. We are dealing here with an emergency and with an abnormal position. When this House first met we had a very inspiring and eloquent speech from the hon. Gentleman who moved the Address in reply to the King's Speech in which he said he hoped that in this Parliament the new spirit of this century would become for the first time visible. I think it has become visible in this Bill. We intend to act and to act resolutely. I am proud to be serving at the Board of Trade under a right hon. Gentleman who understands this subject of trade and industry better almost than any other living man. He is moreover a man of broad mind and a man of great resolution.

Photo of Mr John Remer Mr John Remer , Macclesfield

I beg to move, in line 4, after the word "provided," to insert the words: and duties at present imposed or to be imposed by any Act of the present Session to give effect to this Resolution may be remitted. The Committee will recognise that the Amendment I am moving is divided into two parts, namely, those duties which are already in existence and those duties which may be put into force under this Resolution. When the President of the Board of Trade was introducing this proposal, I was not quite clear about the position, but I think he said that as far as the new duties were concerned they could be amended within the six months for which they were being imposed. If that is so, that part of my Amendment falls to the ground, but I am exceedingly anxious in an emergency Measure of this kind that nothing should be done which could be in any way derogatory to the tariff system which, I hope, will be imposed quickly and effectively, and that if there should be some mistake made, the President of the Board of Trade should have the opportunity, immediately the mistake is found, to rectify it during the six months in which these duties are in operation.

9.30 p.m.

I am emboldened to make this suggestion for the reason that there are on our Statute Book at present a number of duties known as the Silk Duties, and there have been several mistakes made which have done very great injury to the silk industry, which happens to be such an important industry in my own constituency. By this Amendment I want to secure the removal altogether, and as quickly as possible, of the raw material duties, which never ought to have been put on. By this Amendment I am attempting to call attention to these duties because when they were put on there was a protective flavour in favour of the home producer. The price of raw silk was 22s. a pound and the duty was 3s. There was a duty on fully manufactured articles of 33⅓ per cent., but since then the price of raw silk has fallen from 22s. to l1s. and there is a duty of 28 per cent. at the present time on the raw silk sold to the manufacturer. When the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) was introducing his Budget at that time there was a protective flavour in regard to these duties and what he called a compensation for the inconvenience that was being suffered, but that compensation has disappeared altogether.

The trade at present is in a most parlous state, for foreign goods are being dumped into the country. I do not know whether there is going to be a tax imposed on Saturday or not, but I do plead that the real way to put the industry right is the removal of the raw material tax, which never ought to have been put on. It only brings in £200,000 a year altogether, and the object I have in moving this Amendment is to plead for the silk industry in Macclesfield where literally thousands of people are out of work, so that by this simple method they can be put back into a state of happiness and prosperity. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to look into the matter carefully and see if by a surtax, or by removing the raw material tax— and the removal of the raw material tax is the best way of doing it—he can put matters right. The removal of the raw material tax would be best, because when exports go to Canada, Canada does not Charge them with the price at which they sell to Canada, but charges the duty on the price at which the goods are sold in this country. The whole of our export trade to Canada, instead of having to pay a duty of 60 per cent., is having to pay 90 per cent. This great industry which went to the United States 40 years ago from my constituency and which has come to be the largest textile industry in the United States, employs more than 750,000 men. There is a great opportunity for securing employment in our own country, especially when we realise that 80 per cent. of the silk goods used in this country are imported from foreign countries. Therefore, I plead with the right hon. Gentleman to look into this matter. I should like him to give me an assurance as to whether, from the point of view of the new taxes, he has power to deal with these matters during their imposition in the next six months.

Photo of Mr Walter Runciman Mr Walter Runciman , St Ives

The object of my hon. Friend is to appeal to us to make sure that when an Order has been issued it may be varied or revoked before the end of the six months' period, if it should be seen from experience to have been a mistaken Order. I can assure him on that at once, for we are taking power at the end of Clause 1 to provide that an Order so made may be varied or revoked by a subsequent Order made in a like manner and subject to like conditions. It will, therefore, be possible under the powers given to do exactly what he wishes. With regard to the other aspect of the Silk Duty which he has in mind, and to which he invites my attention, I can tell him at once that I shall be glad to convey to the Chancellor of the Exchequer the views he has expressed, but I do not think it would come within the purview of this Bill, and it certainly would not fit in with the general scheme to deal with it under this Bill. The duties he has in mind are Budgetary duties, and they should come under consideration in March and April and not during the discussion of this Bill. I shall be very glad to tell the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the hon. Member's views are, and I have no doubt the hon. Member will take other opportunities for driving them home.

Photo of Mr John Remer Mr John Remer , Macclesfield

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery , Birmingham Sparkbrook

I beg to move, in line 10, after the word "quantities", to insert the words: regard being had not only to the volume of imports but to the total consumption at home and abroad. I am submitting the Amendment not so much because I attach very great importance to the actual wording, but because I am anxious to secure from the President of the Board of Trade a somewhat fuller definition of what is intended by the word "abnormal" than we have had so far. Before asking the question which I wish to put on this point, I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman two questions regarding the actual scope of the Resolution. The Resolution is confined to articles which come under Class III of the import and export list, and therefore presumably excludes articles under Class V. It is not quite clear whether, after he has issued the Order-in-Council, the articles in respect of which he issues such an Order will still be supposed to be non-dutiable articles under the definition of Class V. If they still remain non-dutiable articles under the present definition, and if that excludes them from any action to be taken afterwards, it is possible that a large volume of those articles in regard to which forestalling is dangerous to this country may be sent in by parcels post. I think it would be better for the President of the Board of Trade to make it clear whether this Motion will enable him when he issues an Order to impose the duty upon articles not previously dutiable, but coming in through the parcels post.

My other question is in regard to the scope of the Motion concerning certain articles in Class I. The object of the Motion is to exclude manufactured articles. The President of the Board of Trade told us yesterday that it was not his intention to deal with agriculture, and he intimated that agricultural products were not of a kind which lent themselves to dumping or forestalling. No doubt the question of agriculture will have to be dealt with separately, though it ought to be dealt with urgently. I am not pressing the right hon. Gentleman to deal with it in this Motion, but I wish to ascertain what is the position of those articles, which are manufactured articles, although they are manufactures under Class 1. There is a very large class of articles that certainly lend themselves to dumping or forestalling which will very likely be sent into this country in large quantities in anticipation of a tariff, and the accumulation of those articles in this country in the shape, for instance, of canned vegetables and bottled vegetables might indirectly prejudice the farmers in the coming season. I want to know: Is there any reason why those articles should not be subject to an Order-in-Council? Would not the limitation of those imports be very desirable in the interests of maintaining the balance of trade?

From those questions I wish to pass on to the question of what is the test of abnormality. We might very well say, and say with profound reason, that the whole state of the trade of this country during the last few years has been thoroughly abnormal. In an industrial country like ours, relying on manufacturing industries, to allow anything like the volume of importation of manufactured articles which is taking place is an abnormal and unhealthy state of things arising out of abnormal and unhealthy conditions. We have to remember the abnormal taxation which British industry bears at the present time. If that were the test many of us would welcome it. In that case we should say: Why not resort to that procedure and introduce an emergency tariff at once? On the other hand, if that is not the line taken, it is important to say whether abnormality is based on a comparison with last year or with a period of years, and whether it takes into account volumes and values, and not merely the volume of importation but how far it is normal relative to the state of the country, to the total production of the country, the total consumption, and to what would be regarded as normal in the world outside.

I gave an instance yesterday which I should like to repeat. For the first time this year the actual importation of iron and steel from all countries was just under 2,000,000 tons. That is about the same amount as the importation in 1925, and it is a shade less—100,000 tons—than the average importation of the last two years. If the test of normality is simply the test of imports, there would not appear to be anything very abnormal about that state of things; but if we consider the very much lower volume of production of the present year compared with 1925 the ratio of importation to total production is alarmingly abnormal. In the first year which I mentioned, that is 1925, even then our importations amounted to 2,000,000 and our exports to 2,750,000 tons. There was a very large surplus over and above what our industries produced for the requirements of the home market. In the first nine months of that year our exports were 550,000 tons short of our imports. The result is that the figures of imports of iron and steel in the present year show an acutely abnormal position. What I am anxious to get from the President of the Board of Trade is some assurance that, in taking this test of what is abnormal, he will include not merely a statistical comparison of this year's imports, or a particular month, with the imports of the previous year, but he will consider all the imports relative to the whole position of the industries in question. Those questions are the ones to which I am most anxious to get an answer from the President of the Board of Trade, and I will reserve till later anything else that I might wish to say in connection with this Resolution—a Resolution which, while some of us might prefer a somewhat different line of action, we still welcome as clear evidence of a purpose to act now and of more to come in the near future.

Photo of Sir Basil Peto Sir Basil Peto , Barnstaple

The speech which has just been made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) in support of his Amendment, and the object of which is research into the methods which will be employed in carrying out this Resolution, gives me the opportunity of saying what I want to say to the Committee. The terms of the Resolution would appear to be extremely wide. It gives very wide powers to the President of the Board of Trade. Exception has been taken from the benches opposite to entrusting such large powers to any one Ministry, but, when we consider the speech of the President of the Board of Trade yesterday, and still more the very short speech that he made in introducing this Resolution to-day, I cannot help being afraid that he is looking at the question which has to be dealt with, not from a wide point of view, but from an exceedingly narrow point of view. There is an old proverb that it is not a good thing to look a gift horse in the mouth, and I agree with my right hon. Friend that we are very pleased to see this sign of resolution on the part of the Government in dealing with a part, at any rate, of a problem to deal with which they were undoubtedly returned to power. But I cannot help feeling that, if the administration of the Bill which is to be founded upon this Resolution is going to be confined to such matters as the actual forestalling which is shown by the Board of Trade figures for the last month, and still more for the first 10 days of November, our action will be based upon such narrow grounds that it cannot possibly be satisfactory.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Sparkbrook has pressed the President of the Board of Trade for some definition of what he means by "abnormal." In a moment or two I am going to give three examples from the actual Class III figures for October and the first 10 months of this year, and to put it to the President of the Board of Trade whether in these three cases the importation would in his view be abnormal or not. The right hon. Gentleman indicated yesterday that the amount of forestalling and increased importation ranged from a small percentage up to, in some cases, 100 per cent., and the Parliamentary Secretary gave us an example just now in which it was far above 100 per cent.— that of the woollen shawls, where it was something like five times as much as the normal. What is going to be the right hon. Gentleman's definition? If it is to be a question of percentages, what would be the effect of considering any percentage?

Suppose that he decided—I do not know whether this is the way his mind would work—that a 50 per cent. increase in imports constituted abnormality. Then a duty would be imposed, and it cannot, in the nature of the case, be a small revenue duty calculated to allow the imports to come in so that the revenue could be collected; it must be a high duty, which is going to keep out a very large proportion of those imports. Taking the figure of 50 per cent., suppose that something gets over that percentage, and has a duty of, perhaps, 50 per cent. ad valorem imposed upon it. Then suppose that in the case of another analogous item in this long and complicated Class III the increase is only 30 or 40 per cent. No duty will be imposed there, but there will be a duty of 50 per cent. in the other case. The result of building up any kind of tariff on those lines would be a tariff of shreds and patches with perhaps a purpose to be served, but built up on no plan, perfectly haphazard, and calculated, I think, to do great injustice in many cases, because many people will be disappointed who, according to the other tests, some of which have been mentioned by my right hon. Friend the Member for Sparkbrook, are quite as much entitled at present to this measure of Protection as those who are suffering from what the President of the Board of Trade would consider to be abnormal importation.

What would be the effect of that on prices? Surely it would give the Home Secretary the opportunity of saying, "See what is the result of this first experiment in Protection, this first departure, from Free Trade. You have constructed a tariff which is doing the maximum of harm and doing very little good to anyone, and it only shows how wrong you were ever to deviate from the straight path of Free Trade." We do not, therefore, want that, and I venture to think that as the basis of any tariff, even this emergency tariff, the state of industry and the state of employment in this country ought to be considered, and that that should guide the action taken, and not fortuitous circumstances which de- pend upon the enterprise of certain foreign exporters to this country, the amount of credit they can get to finance their exports, and matters of that kind. In one case, in which, owing to the push of over-production in some particular line in some foreign countries, you have this abnormal importation at the moment, you are going to take action, while in a great number of other cases you are going to take no action at all, although employment in this country may be far more seriously affected.

Here are the three cases that I want to put to the President of the Board of Trade. Taking Group H—Manufactures of Wood and Timber—and looking at the value figures for the month of October for furniture and cabinet work, one finds that the imports of furniture and cabinet ware in 1931 are just a trifle less for the month than the imports in 1930, and that for the first 10 months there is also a slight diminution, of about 10 per cent. On that basis it might be said that the furniture trade was not suffering from any abnormal foreign competition, and that there was no need for dealing with it in any way. Let me give the Committee the facts. During the years 1906 to 1913—the seven years before the War —the importations of foreign furniture were under £500,000 a year, namely, £463,000. During the years 1928 to 1930 —the last three completed years—the importations of foreign furniture were exactly double, namely, £980,000; and, while unemployment in the furniture trades in the earlier period that I have mentioned was 5 per cent., the latest figure is 18.7 per cent. On those tests, which I think are the real tests, there is abnormal importation, and there is nothing in these figures for October and for the 10 months that shows anything abnormal but quite the reverse. If I had not called the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the fact he would probably, in having these figures prepared for him, never have thought that the furniture trade was suffering from any excessive importation at all.

I take next another group—wearing apparel. There I find for October, taking the principal item, which is women's and girls' woven fabrics, dresses, coats and skirts and the like, the importation was down for October from £303,000 in 1930 to £243,000, but for the 10 months, on the other hand, the importation is up to a certain extent, from £2,700,000 to £2,800,000, not a great increase, but a slight increase. There a wholly different question comes in. Wearing apparel and the clothing trade is one of those things that are regulated by the Trade Boards Act. I have looked it up to refresh my memory and be sure that I was right and I find that ready made, wholesale, bespoke tailoring, and any other branch of tailoring, is the first thing in the Schedule that those special rates of wage regulations were applied to. Is not that a factor that the President of the Board of Trade ought to take into account? My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) two days ago referred to wearing apparel from abroad and said he had seen overcoats at 8s. l1d. and trousers at 1s. l0d. each, obviously not produced at Trade Board rates of wages. Therefore, you cannot look merely at the figures of imports but, where the imports are up, as they are, running to nearly £3,000,000 for the 10 months at these very low prices of this sweated apparel from abroad, you have to consider the Trade Board wages, and what is the effect of this House saying that no one shall be employed in the clothing trade unless he is paid a fair rate of wage and at the same time allowing these products of foreign sweated labour to come in without any duty whatever? Surely that is a factor.

10.0 p.m.

Let me give the Committee another example which has recently been brought to my notice. Only 10 years ago in my own constituency, in the little town of Bideford, we had three thriving factories manufacturing collars. There is now one factory at work employing only 120 hands at about half time. Ten years ago over 1,000 women and girls were employed in the three factories. I had a sample sent me the other day of quite a decent looking collar—[Interruption.] No, I will not put it on, I have a better one on. But I should like the right hon. Gentleman to look at this. These collars are offered in this country at 2s. l1d. per dozen. The collar has been submitted to Manchester and the Manchester people say that the material as supplied to the manufacturer would cost two shillings and the labour, at the compulsory Trade Board rates,, would cost 1s. 6d. That is 3s. 6d. before you touch the question of the value of machinery, motive power, fuel, rent, rates, transport and the profit, if any, of the manufacturer. I am told that the lowest manufacturing cost, if they were made in this country of material muanufactured in this country, employing labour at Trade Board rates, would be just upon 5s. a dozen. In that case there are clearly other factors which you do not get from merely looking at these figures and you have a wrong basis of action altogether if you have the very narrow basis of action which seems to be indicated in the speech of the President of the Board of Trade.

The last case I want to give is leather and fabric gloves. The figures show that for October, in leather and fur gloves, the imports are nearly three times what they were in October the year before, and in fabric gloves they are just upon three times—22,000 dozen has increased to 56,000—and in value the leather gloves have gone up from £700,000 in round figures to £l,700,000 for the 10 months and fabric gloves have gone up from £402,000 to £781,000, just upon double. These figures are clearly abnormal imports. The President of the Board of Trade might say that under this provision limited for six months we shall give them some measure of Protection, but is that the course that we really ought to adopt? The industry has been twice subjected to Safeguarding Duties. Twice the manufacturers have been encouraged to lay down new machinery, take on new apprentices, and so on. Twice women and girls have been brought into the industry and thrown out on to the streets again without any employment at all. Only as lately as 21st December last a thriving and prosperous industry was practically ruined by the fanatical Free Trade theories of Viscount Snowden. What kind of encouragement would it have been to the industry for the right hon. Gentleman to say: "At any rate, I will give you some security of a Duty of some amount or another for six months." They have had duties put on for five years at a time and taken off and half the people employed thrown out of work every time that hon. Members opposite had a chance to have their fingers in the pie, and now again what would it be, to say that for six months this industry shall have some security. I cannot understand why the industries which have had Safeguarding applied to them—

Photo of Mr Robert Bourne Mr Robert Bourne , Oxford

I must point out to the hon. Baronet that the question of tariffs cannot possibly arise on this Amendment.

Photo of Sir Basil Peto Sir Basil Peto , Barnstaple

I thank you, Captain Bourne. I had just concluded my remarks. I have very little more to say, and I think that it will not infringe upon your Ruling. The procedure in the case of the safeguarded industries is not, I think, appropriate. They ought to have been dealt with otherwise than by Order. At any rate, I hope that the President of the Board of Trade, as far as those industries are concerned, will remember that they were given a measure of protection which has been removed, and that therefore they merit very special consideration on his part, so that they may not be left in a state of insecurity if he can help it.

Photo of Sir Percy Harris Sir Percy Harris , Bethnal Green South West

Before the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade replies, I should like to support the very valuable speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery). The House of Commons is entitled, before it gives these very large powers to the right hon. Gentleman, to know exactly what is meant by "abnormal." There may be conditions, some of which may be broad and some narrow, some meticulous and merely dealing with one aspect of the position, and, on the other hand, as the right hon. Member pointed out, conditions covering a very much wider field. What I understand, and what the House generally understands, I think, the right hon. Gentleman has in view is the very common habit of anticipating possible tariffs by rushing in goods so as to avoid the proposed new duties. We saw that when the Safeguarding Duties were instituted. A few weeks beforehand quantities of goods poured into the Port of London in order to escape those duties. That is commonly called forestalling. Apparently, intelligent importers of foreign goods are better informed than Members of this House. We do not know what goods will be taxed. We are in the dark and everything is shrouded in mystery. I understood that before the election, the proposed duties were largely to be limited to so-called luxuries. What are luxuries? How are luxuries to be defined? [Interruption.] I am able to support a 100 per cent. duty in order to forestall the dumping of quantities of champagne. I am quite willing to support prohibitive duties on silks and furbelows, ladies' luxuries, ladies' millinery, which they would, no doubt, gladly sacrifice in order to help the nation out of its difficulties. At any rate, I think we are entitled to information.

The hon. Member for Barnstaple (Sir B. Peto) referred to two very important industries in which I have a personal interest, because they are both industries which are suffering very much in my district. There is the wood and furniture category and also the ready-made clothing. If there is to be this kind of duty, my constituents are as much entitled to have the advantage of it as any of the more prosperous industries. If the West of England, which is comparatively prosperous and has very little unemployment is to have duties, obviously those in my constituency are equally entitled to have them. But those things do not come into the category of normal importations. The hon. and gallant Gentleman is perfectly right. Apparently in the Board of Trade figures there is no specially abnormal importation of furniture—[Interruption.] —Not that I am wedded to the theory, but if there is going to be a struggle for spoils, yes. If we are going to depart from sound principles and give up Free Trade, it will be everybody for himself and the Devil take the hindmost. It is the logical result.

In the meantime, it is hardly a question of policy. What we want to know is, what is meant by the word "abnormal"? Does it mean merely anticipating possible duties undefined, un-described and yet to be stated, or does it mean merely imports that have increased in one particular industry, partly because of reparations, perhaps, or owing to depressed trade in one particular country? Before we embark upon this new policy and before the House of Commons hands over those drastic powers to a trusted, able, competent but still a human Minister, we ought to be quite sure what he is going to do. We ought to be clearly advised and warned as to what he means by the word "abnormal" so that the supporters of Tariff Reform or Protection may not be led up the garden path and sold a pup, or, alternatively, so that Free Traders may not be blindfolded and led up the road unconscious of what the Government really mean. I have very great pleasure in supporting the Amendment.

Photo of Mr Walter Runciman Mr Walter Runciman , St Ives

My hon. Friend who has just sat down is, obviously, in serious difficulties. I can quite understand his feeling of embarrassment. His principles were taking him one way and the interests of his constituents were leading him another way. I cannot say which was the pup and which was the garden path. He was a little confused, if I may say so.

Photo of Sir Percy Harris Sir Percy Harris , Bethnal Green South West

I am still a Free Trader. I am opposed to all duties, but if there is to be a struggle, naturally my constituents will want to have their share.

Photo of Mr Walter Runciman Mr Walter Runciman , St Ives

I do not wish to say anything to embarrass my hon. Friend in the services which he renders to his constituents, but I must say that I feel a little less apprehensive now of his criticism. When he taunted me on the ground of high principle, I felt my conscience much disturbed, but when he taunted me about the interests of his constituents, I felt that I must take a broader view of the position and go outside the confines of Bethnal Green to the nation as a whole. My hon. Friend has emphasised the inquiry which was made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery), who wanted a definition of what is meant by "abnormal." I am afraid I do not know that there is any precise definition of what is meant by "abnormal." If I may say so, the word was chosen with great discretion. It was not intended to tie down the Board of Trade to complicated mathematical calculations such as were made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook. As he went through all the relative measurements to be calculated before we put our procedure into operation, I felt that we should require at the Board of Trade a mathematician who would be able to say what the percentage should be when he considered the relative proportion of those imports to our total British trade. We were to consider their relative importance in proportion to their volume as well as to their value, we were to bear in mind the past year's imports—how many past years he did not definitely say—and we were also to bear in mind, as he has said, the total consumption at home and abroad. If you are not going to trust the Board of Trade with the powers which come under that very simple word "abnormal," but are going to impose on the Board of Trade measurements which are to be calculated in this complicated way, I think that you may as well abandon the Bill altogether. You cannot possibly, in what is only a temporary condition, and in a Measure which is meant very largely to mark time, as I said quite frankly yesterday, work out a scientific mathematical tariff which will be absolutely watertight and leave no discretion for the human element, the Minister himself.

I appeal to the Committee that they should not ask us to say exactly at the present time by what formula we are to be guided in our operations. I gave a number of examples to the House yesterday and to the Committee to-day of importations which, obviously, were far above the usual volume and far above the usual value. Those are the first to be taken. I can promise the House that if we get the Bill on Friday, as we hope we shall, and if the Royal Assent is given then, we shall not be idle over the week-end. We shall at once attempt to deal with those cases which are beyond doubt. Those which are still in doubt we can deal with when we have got through the first rush of dealing with the first of the difficult problems with which we are now faced.

The right hon. Member for Spark-brook asked a question with regard to Class V. Class V, I may remind the House, deals with parcels post transactions. Under the heading of "Parcels Post" are to be found the words "non-dutiable articles." If we exclude articles by the imposition of a duty up to a maximum of 100 per cent. they will then become dutiable articles and will not come into Class V. They will then be included in Class III, so that that point does not apply. I do not think that I need say anything further in regard to the individual trades mentioned by the hon. Member for Barnstaple (Sir B. Peto). If at this stage and if during the discussions this week we are to deal with every one of the depressed industries in this country we shall find that we cannot transact the business that is before us. We cannot take each individual trade one by one and point out its merits and its defaults. All that we can do is to have a general survey. We are making now a new departure. There is no exact parallel except in war time for the powers that we are taking, and I cannot do better than ask the. House to grant us their confidence and allow us to use our discretion.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery , Birmingham Sparkbrook

Will the right hon. Gentleman answer my question in regard to manufactured foodstuffs?

Photo of Mr Walter Runciman Mr Walter Runciman , St Ives

Manufactured foodstuffs do not come into Class III of the categories which were mentioned yesterday. I would remind the House of what I said then: As this is a forestalling Bill aiming for a comparatively short period at keeping the field clear for future action, we have not included agriculture, because forestalling in agricultural produce from its nature is scarcely practicable to any serious extent."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th November, 1931; col. 551, Vol. 259.] What my right hon. Friend had in view were preserved foods. We have not dealt with them because we wish to leave them, along with other subjects which are germane to agriculture, for the policy which will be enunciated in due course by the Minister of Agriculture. We do not wish to confuse that matter with the Bill now before the House.

Photo of Sir Basil Peto Sir Basil Peto , Barnstaple

When the Board of Trade have got through what the right hon. Gentleman calls the first rush, would he welcome representations made by different industries to show that there is abnormality in their case which perhaps is not apparent upon the face of the Board of Trade figures?

Photo of Mr Walter Runciman Mr Walter Runciman , St Ives

I think I can promise that no case that is brought to the notice of the Board of Trade will remain unexamined.

Photo of Lord Eustace Percy Lord Eustace Percy , Hastings

I wish to add one word because I desire to respond to what the President of the Board of Trade has said. It is the desire of this House to give full confidence to the Government but I am a little puzzled, and other Members are a little puzzled, at the precise way in which the President of the Board of Trade will exercise this great discretion. Surely if he wishes the House to repose complete confidence in him, to give him a completely free hand, he would hardly have chosen the word "abnormal," because "abnormal" presupposes a norm, and & norm is a, question of fact. The Government exercise an even greater discretion if they simply used the word "excessive." If the President of the Board of Trade had to decide whether my consumption of alcohol at any given meal was excessive he would be able to exercise complete discretion as to what he regarded as an excessive consumption, but if he had to decide that my consumption of alcohol was abnormal he would have to have a wider knowledge than I think he possesses as to the normal quantity I may consume. What we really want an assurance upon is this, that there can be no question that any decision by the Board of Trade under the Bill when it becomes an Act can be upset by the Courts on the ground that the Board of Trade cannot possibly be satisfied that the importation is abnormal if, in fact, it does not exceed the norm of the last two or three years. That is the assurance we require; and precisely because we wish to place confidence in the Government.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery , Birmingham Sparkbrook

I think the Amendment has served its purpose in drawing from the President of the Board of Trade an answer so vague that I hope and believe it means that he is going to use the very widest discretion in his interpretation of the word "abnormal" and is not going to be restricted to a narrow comparison between the figures of a particular week or month and those of the previous year. The right hon. Gentleman asks me to wait and see. Well— I do not ask to sec the distant scene One step enough for me. It is not enough for everybody, because I have had a telegram given to me in which I read: Runciman's Bill is not in my opinion of any use. Could you move an Amendment to the effect that a minimum tariff of 33⅓ per cent. be imposed on fully manufactured goods immediately. I do not know, Captain Bourne, whether I have permission to move such an Amendment—

Photo of Mr Robert Bourne Mr Robert Bourne , Oxford

The right hon. Member cannot move that Amendment because it is without the King's Recommendation.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery , Birmingham Sparkbrook

I will content myself with withdrawing the Amendment and hoping in the near future.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Photo of Mr Charles Williams Mr Charles Williams , Torquay

I beg to move, in line 15, after the word "articles", to insert the words: provided that, in the case of articles manufactured within the British Empire, the maximum duty shall not exceed two-thirds of that chargeable in respect of goods imported from, or manufactured in foreign countries. In the speeches up to a short time ago no mention has been made of the position of the Dominions under these regulations. Composed as it is, this Parliament would wish some clear statement to be made by the Government on the matter. The Amendment proposes a preference of one-third, or 33⅓ per cent. I noticed just now that when my hon. Friend the Member for Devonport (Mr. Hore-Belisha) was making a very excellent first speech as Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade, he said that the Government proposed to give the Dominions 100 per cent. preference. I concluded then that the Government intended that the Dominions should be left entirely out of the operation of the Bill. If the Government have not met my point already they should find it easy to make a statement that the Dominions will be kept entirely outside the scope of the Bill.

Photo of Mr Leslie Hore-Belisha Mr Leslie Hore-Belisha , Plymouth, Devonport

My hon. Friend need not be in the least alarmed. I have already made the declaration, and I make it again, that no articles which are Empire products will be chargeable to duty under the Bill.

Photo of Mr Charles Williams Mr Charles Williams , Torquay

I would thank my hon. Friend. I did hear him make his statement earlier, but he did not make it in quite those words. Having got everything that I want, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Photo of Mr David Grenfell Mr David Grenfell , Gower

I beg to move, in line 18, to leave out from the word "shall" to the word "it," in line 20, and to insert instead thereof the words "not come into operation until",

10.30 p.m.

I move this Amendment on behalf of the Labour party in the hope that the. (Government will now pay attention to the very real claim that we have made. The Government have to-day heard very grave apprehensions expressed, especially by Liberal Members supporting the Government, as to the effect of the Bill. I would ask the Minister to pay special attention to what I say, because he has not paid us his usual courtesy when Members of the Labour party have been speaking. There is a special obligation on the right hon. Gentleman, because he has supporters before him, behind him and on cither side of him, and as a small minority we deserve the utmost consideration and courtesy. Hon. Members opposite won the last election by stampeding the electors. They drove men and women to vote in fear. The result has been to pack the House with a crowd of Members who do not know exactly for what they stand, and who have not yet fully recovered from their surprise at being here There are Members in this House who may be termed "old hands" and who have returned to the old game. They are playing it in the presence of newcomers who do not know the danger they are in when the old game is being played. They have already started the ramp. The Government having stampeded the electorate has now been stampeded itself and is starting a mad chase which will end in the confusion of our economic and political life.

The Government pleads emergency for this legislation. When did the emergency arise? The Prime Minister was not aware of it less than a week ago when he said in this House that the question of dumping would have to be looked into, that we would have to investigate and consider and examine separately each of the articles of importation and also examine collectively the effects of the imposition of such duties as these upon our general system of trade and commerce. To-day we find from the statement of the President of the Board of Trade that it is not merely a few articles which are to be subject to these proposals. To-day we hear from him, to my surprise, that in this Imports and Exports List there are, not 39 articles, but 39 pages of articles—I think he said—every single one subject to the attentions of the Board of Trade and liable to be taxed, up to a maximum of 100 per cent.

Are we really in danger of having this system of Protection and tariffs, imposed over the whole of this list? Is each article to be examined separately or has the Prime Minister changed his mind? Is he now in favour of shirking inquiry and shirking discussion by the House of Commons? Is he going to hand over to the President of the Board of Trade supreme authority not over the House but over the economic life of the nation? I think the President of the Board of Trade said that he would have to consult the interests concerned. Before any change was effected in regard to taxation on imported goods a variety of interests, he said, would have to be consulted. How are they to be consulted? Are they to be consulted in the open, in public, or are they to be consulted in private? Are they to be consulted only when they make their own representations, or are they to receive open invitations to state their case before the duties are imposed?

The Prime Minister is the custodian of the rights of the House. He has a great responsibility to the Members who have come here for the first time. More than half the present Members of the House came here for the first time a few days ago. I shall be surprised to find that in their gratitude for being returned here they are prepared to allow the one function which they can perform to be denied to them, and to allow themselves to be gagged and bound and stifled. I shall be surprised to find that these people are willing to accept such a position. Are the new Members who have been dumped into this House to be forestalled by the President of the Board of Trade? I hope not. I hope that there is still some spirit left in these people and that the President of the Board of Trade will be made to prove his case. He has not done so up to the present.

The right hon. Gentleman is a very competent man and I pay tribute to him freely in that respect. He is especially adept in the use of figures and quantities and proportions. No-one could lead the House of Commons as effectively as he could in regard to those matters but he has not chosen to do so. He has given us no explanation of the character or range of these proposals. The Parliamentary Secretary has been put up but, if I may say so, while he made a very nice maiden speech as a Minister, he made no contribution to the Debate. He quoted a definition by the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), who is quite capable of giving one definition now and another definition some other time, and we still have to ask, What is truth in this matter; what is dumping in reality, what does it convey to the mind of hon. Members opposite and on this side of the House? The Parliamentary Secretary stated that there was an enormous importation of travelling rugs. In my election contest I was faced by an opponent who was a National Liberal, and when he was questioned closely, the only articles of consumption in this country which he was prepared to tax were luxury strawberries and new potatoes. To those, we shall now have to add travelling rugs.

The hon. Gentleman stated that there were people in this House who still suffered from antiquated notions. Really, this House is full of antiquated notions. It has failed to realise the gravity of our economic position, and there are people in this House—young men, I am ashamed to say, almost in adolescence—who think that trifling remedies such as this are able to solve the grave economic difficulties from which we are suffering. Something has been said about abnormal importations. The Bill which we shall discuss tomorrow is an abnormal creation, having two heads, one a Liberal head and the other a Tory head. These two heads are functioning for the same body—a very abnormal creation indeed, which it will be very difficult to operate and to maintain in existence. The Parliamentary Secretary declared his satisfaction at holding office under so distinguished a right hon. Gentleman. If I held the same office, I also might speak highly of my chief, but we expect both the Parliamentary Secretary and the Minister to give us some estimate of the extent and the duration of these duties, and the number and range of articles which they propose to tax.

What is the value of the goods which the right hon. Gentleman expects to stop coming into this country in the next six months? Is it £20,000,000, £30,000,000, £40,000,000, or £50,000,000? One hon. Member opposite referred to a figure of £250,000,000, and that was a gentleman who occupied office in a recent Tory Administration. What is the estimate of the value of goods that the right hon. Gentleman is trying to stop in the next six months? He must have some idea in his mind. I do not believe he is as casual as he pretends to be. I believe he does know something of what he proposes to do, but I think this House ought to know too, and we have a right to ask him to declare what is the estimate, in round millions—not in pounds, shillings and pence—of the value of the goods he proposes to keep out, because I understand the intention of the Bill is to stop goods coming in, not to raise taxation.

This Bill will not find work for people in this country, but in stopping imported articles it will stop exported articles to at least the same value. Unfortunately, very many business concerns in the distressed countries of Europe are themselves on a very low basis. Germany has had to send to the outside world, in excess of her normal export trade, over £200,000,000 worth of goods this year. Where has she to send them? We have to decide whether Germany is to continue to pay us reparations and send us goods, and if we say that she is to continue to pay us reparations, you must scrap this Bill and allow Germany to send goods to us. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Are we, then, to give up our claim for reparations? Germany must export to us. Every country in the world, including ourselves, are sending goods to all parts of the world at less than a fair cost level. I represent the great mining industry in which over 800,000 people are still employed, and we expect to export this year 40,000,000 or 50,000,000 tons of coal. I say in all seriousness that every single pound of coal sent abroad from this country is sold at a price below a fair level of cost of production. Every single pound of coal sent from this country is sweated coal—[Interruption".] I have done 23 years of the sweating, and I know something more about it than the hon. Gentleman.

There is complaint in every country in the world about dumping. Who are the chief dumpers in the world to-day? Great Britain.[Interruption.] Of course it is. Go to any Continental city you like, and you will see British goods displayed openly in the shops, and the people passing the shop windows say: "There are more English dumped goods; there is the cause of unemployment in our country." If the right hon. Gentleman does not want to kill trade altogether, he would be well advised to stop fooling with this Bill. He knows very well that it cannot lead to an expansion of our trade, for if you contract imports you contract exports to the same level. You bring still more embarrassment and difficulty to our already impoverished customers in all parts of the world. Suppose you prevent Germany selling £20,000,000 worth of goods to us; she is £20,000,000 worth poorer, and she is therefore a less effective purchaser from us in those commodities which we claim are not dumped commodities. If we stop Spain, Italy, France and our other European customers selling to us, we by the same measure stop their purchasing power to buy from us the goods that we have to sell.

There never has been a more illogical and more stupid proposal before this House. I would like to know much more details about it. We are content that the Bill should be passed, but we do insist that before any single one of these Orders operates, the House shall be told what the facts are about the goods that are to be prohibited from importation into this country. We are just as much elected Members of this House as the Members of the Government, and we want the right to examine the list and to put our views against theirs in the light of day and in the public eye. I believe that when the list is examined —[Interruption.] The hon. Member has made a thousand interruptions, and I shall listen with pleasure to the first real speech he makes. I believe that we have a right to the fuller examination of the list of articles which is asked for in this Amendment, and if we are denied that right it will be an injustice, not only to this party but to the country as a whole.

Mr. PRICE:

I rise to support the Amendment so ably moved by my hon. Friend, and as a new Member of this House I wish to protest against our passing any Measure which gives a Minister the power of imposing taxation on a number of articles without the consent of this House. I come to the House with a great respect for the liberties and privileges which it has enjoyed for many centuries, liberties which were won at a great sacrifice, and I do not intend quietly to hand over those liberties and privileges either to the President of the Board of Trade—[an HON. MEMBER: "Or the Trades Union Congress"] This Bill, which involves an entire change in the fiscal policy of the country, asks us to hand over to the Minister power to levy taxes on numerous articles before we have had an opportunity of considering and weighing up the facts in regard to them. The President of the Board of Trade has used observations which have created some confusion in the minds of Members of this party. In one statement he said that the balancing of our trade depended very largely on increasing our exports, and that serious consideration ought to be given to that question. While we are asked to hand full powers to the Minister to tax a large number of articles, we have been told nothing as to the countries whence they come. Many of us on this side are interested in the coal industry. Thousands of men are unemployed in the coal industry, yet no one would suggest that that state of affairs has arisen through excessive coal imports. The export trade is an important part of the coal industry, and we are anxious to know whether the imports on which taxes are to be levied come from countries which now purchase our coal, and which, in consequence, will be likely to cease purchasing that coal.

Many of the articles in the list come from Scandinavia and Central Europe, where we find some of the biggest markets for our coal. Those articles come here in return for the coal which we export. If there is an attempt being made in this Bill to balance our trade, we wish to know, and have a right to know what are the articles affected, and where they come from, and we ought to see that in imposing our duty we do not shut off our own customers on whom many of our heavy industries are dependent. I have not heard anything suggested in connection with this Resolution which goes a stage further than the protection of our British manufactures. If there is going to be Protection, and Protection is to be the future policy of this country, I suggest it ought to go further than the protection of the manufactures alone. If there is a case made out for Protection, I suggest that the retailer wants protection, and the housewife and the man in the street. It is fair to assume—for otherwise this suggested duty would be of no avail—that if you are going to put on a duty it means that similar articles in this country will go up in price and the cost of living will advance.

Therefore, we have a right to know these details, and I am surprised that Members of the House should be frittering away their liberties and privileges as easily as they are, and leaving behind the traditions for which their forefathers and mine have fought, and which we ought to be proud to maintain. I consider that we are dealing with this matter in quite the wrong way. The Minister suggested in his observations la6t night that some consideration should be given to our export trade. That is the issue which should be dealt with, and we should be spending our time far better if we were dealing with exports, and endeavouring to increase them, than dealing with duties on imports. Therefore, I support this Amendment and trust that Members will recognise that it is in the protection of their own liberty in the first instance, and that we have a right to know, in regard to whatever duty is going to be imposed, the articles on which it is to be imposed, and the countries from which they come. Therefore, I shall certainly vote for this Amendment.

Photo of Mr Walter Runciman Mr Walter Runciman , St Ives

The hon. Member for Hemsworth (Mr. Price) has asked a number of questions in the course of a maiden speech delivered, if I may say so, with a very wide knowledge and pleasantness of manner, to which I fear I cannot give an answer here and now. The question before the House, and the subject-matter of the Amendment moved by the hon. Gentleman opposite with so much vigour, is really one of procedure. It is not a question as to whether the House shall or shall not discuss these matters. We are providing in this Resolution, and hon. Members will find provided in the Bill, the proviso that the Orders shall come up for discussion in this House within 28 days of the issue of the Orders.

Photo of Mr George Lansbury Mr George Lansbury , Poplar Bow and Bromley

Suppose Parliament is not sitting.

Photo of Mr Walter Runciman Mr Walter Runciman , St Ives

Then it is within 28 days of the resumption of Parliament. The difference between discussion before a duty is imposed and after will be, I venture to suggest, practically nothing. The same opposition will be offered by hon. Gentlemen opposite then as is being offered now. The issue of Orders could not be delayed without impairing the whole of their value. If, for instance, we had to have discussion in this House before the Orders could be brought in, it would mean there would be considerable time lost and that the forestalling which is now taking place would still continue and be accelerated, and the effect of prompt action would be entirely destroyed by reversing the order of our procedure. It is only a matter of procedure, and there is really no question of imperilling the traditions of the House in the least.

When I have said that, I have said all there is to be said on the Amendment. If we are to operate this Bill we must be able to operate it promptly and completely. We must not give too much notice of what we are going to do, as otherwise we should find ourselves defeated in our object, for we should be in exactly the same position, if we gave long notice, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be in March and April if he were to tell the interests concerned the taxes he was about to impose. We must give these matters practical consideration, and remember that those wit); whom we are dealing would be able to act more promptly than we could under this Amendment. We must adhere to the Bill, and ask the House to give power to issue the Orders and bring those Orders down to the House for discussion, and for the sanction which, I hope, we shall obtain.

Photo of Mr George Lansbury Mr George Lansbury , Poplar Bow and Bromley

The President of the Board of Trade has not answered our criticisms at all. [Laughter.] I know that this question is considered by some hon. Members opposite as a matter of amusement, but I would like to remind them that to-night, to-morrow, and on Thursday we are going to alter the whole fiscal system of this country. There is no doubt about that. Our fiscal system is going to be changed without this House knowing the form of the change, the duties which are to be imposed, or the articles upon which the duties are to be placed. I am sure that when the history of this Measure comes to be written, it will be regarded as one of the most revolutionary proposals that has ever been passed by this House. I think it is rather unworthy of the President of the Board of Trade to say that we are adopting only a little different procedure by this Motion, because he knows perfectly well that he has now at his disposal all the information and power that would enable the Board of Trade to act rapidly and to put what he wants to do into force next week.

The right hon. Gentleman knows quite well that he could have got the powers he requires by a special Motion, and what he has said in reply to our arguments is simply begging the whole question. The position could have been safeguarded by a Motion providing that goods would be liable to the tax even if they were imported before the Bill was passed. Anyone would imagine that notice had never been given before that if certain articles came through when a duty was going to fee levied, those articles would have to bear the tax like any other articles. When the right hon. Gentleman tells my hon. Friends that they will have an opportunity to discuss these tariffs within 20 days of their imposition, he knows that that is a most elusive opportunity. When the House rises none of us know when we are coming back—it may be three months or two months—but whatever the period the tariffs will then have been levied and enforced.

11.0 p.m.

Our main objection has never been met, either by the right hon. Gentleman, or by the Lord President of the Council, who moved this Motion and then left the House. No one has thought it worth while to take up the constititutional question; of all the constitutionalists in the House, none has troubled to stand up to night and defend this position, because each knows that it is an indefensible position. To-night you are acting as if the country was at war, and something had to be done instantly. [Interruption.] We all know that, if these right hon. Gentlemen can act instantly, there is no reason why they should not now table their proposals. It is because they do not know what they are going to do, because this "doctor's mandate" has been given to a set of doctors who disagree. They have not yet made up their minds, and consequently they cannot let the House have its constitutional procedure. Because that is the case, we are going to register our protest against it, so that in the days to come it will be recorded that only the Socialists defended the rights of the House of Commons.

Photo of Mr George Buchanan Mr George Buchanan , Glasgow Gorbals

I understand from the right hon. Gentleman—I hope I shall be corrected if I am wrong—that the Government's interpretation of the position for which they are asking is that, the moment they make an Order, it shall operate, hut that the House shall have power to discuss the Order after it has been made and put in operation, and, if the House cares to do so, to reject the Order after it has been in operation; but that the power to operate the Order must be left in the hands of the President of the Board of Trade, the power of veto resting with the House after the Order has been made. As the Leader of the Opposition has said, it may be five, six, seven or eight weeks before the House of Commons could meet again to veto the right hon. Gentleman's conduct. I think that that is a wrong procedure, but it was the procedure adopted by the party of the present Leader of the Opposition in the case of the Anomalies Bill. [Interruption.] It may be right or it may be wrong, but I want to say frankly that in that case poor people's benefit was involved, and they had as much right to have their Orders discussed as those to whom tariff duties will be applied. This problem is not being settled here to-night. The position in the case of the Anomalies Bill is exactly what the position is said to be here to-night, and I cannot see any consistency in taking people's benefit away under that Bill and at the same time objecting to this proposal.

The reason for this is not so much the necessity for Orders in Council in a hurry, but, as I see it, the desire to take away the discussions that we should have here, and put them into the Cabinet. If the Government had not this power, the House of Commons would discuss and decide the issues; but the right hon. Gentleman knows, and I know, and everyone in the House knows, that there are great differences of opinion in the Cabinet as to what is to be done and what is not to be done, and, instead of our having public discussions and public resolutions on what ought to be done, we are transferring from a public decision to a private decision of the Cabinet the wrangles which ought to take place on the Floor of the House of Commons. No one knows that better than the leading Protectionists in the House. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) knows that they are rent in twain as to what should be done. The Home Secretary thinks differently from the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Lord Privy Seal thinks differently from both. The Prime Minister never knows what he is thinking. Everyone in our party knows that he used to tell us one day one thing and the next day another, according to the state of the weather, and always in the background, if he was not getting on too well, having the newspapers publish that his health was not too good. The differences are there. The President of the Board of Education and the President of the Board of Trade were two Liberals of a different kind. The Home Secretary is another Liberal of a different kind. Then you have the Foreign Secretary, another Liberal of a different kind. In Conservatism it is the same.

We could have had the Resolutions debated here, but they are going to transfer it to a wrangle inside the Cabinet itself and, instead of the House of Commons registering a public decision, we are going to have all sorts of party views at work in the worst possible fashion, without public scrutiny, this Cabinet Minister saying, "I will back you for this if you will back me for that," all manœuvring for position. That is not for the good of Parliament and it is bad from the Tory point of view. It will be a half-baked business which will be creditable to none concerned at the finish. The Liberals seem of all people to have deserted their principles the most. They have stood in the past for freedom and clear discussion. They had men like Sir Charles Dilke and others who faced the House of Commons in days of unpopularity for open discussion and freedom. To-day the Liberal party without protest see the public rights of the House of Commons transferred to the worst kind of Cabinet of all. In the old days Cabinets were bound by the principle of an idea. Conservatives may have differed about tariffs in all their aspects, but in principle they were all Tariff Reformers. Here you are transferring it to what we call in Scotland a mixsey maksey hotch potch. Let them be frank. Let them say in public what they have been saying about the Home Secretary in private. They transferred the President of the Board of Trade into his post because on the eve of the election he made a speech—not the Savings Bank speech, though he was entitled to be rewarded for that. Anyone who can arouse feelings like that is entitled to his reward. I see the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade. He has gone over. Now he is prepared even to tie up his principles knowing that he is doing wrong. Those who want Protection want to see it a success and are not prepared to follow the Prime Minister's usual plan by putting it off and hiding it. I only hope that on this occasion the Protectionists in due time will see the Prime Minister in the proper light and in his proper colours, and I have no doubt that they will not stand him for two years and three months but will have disposed of him long before that time elapses.

Photo of Mr William Thorne Mr William Thorne , West Ham Plaistow

I do not propose to discuss the pros and cons of the Government's proposition, but wish to make a correction of a statement made by my hon. Friend the Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan). He led the Committee to believe that orders made by the late Labour Government were on all fours with the powers now asked by the President of the Board of Trade. He must know that there is a good deal of difference between the powers asked by the President of the Board of Trade and the powers asked by the Labour Government.

Photo of Sir Ian Fraser Sir Ian Fraser , St Pancras North

There is a good deal of substance in the complaint that the House of Commons is being asked to abrogate its usual rights to discuss in detail proposals of the importance of those to be included in the Bill. After all, the times and the circumstances are unusual, and perhaps one of the greatest attributes of this House is its capacity, having regard to its constitution, to adapt itself to circumstances. Surely, if there is any outstanding feature of the position arising from the recent election, it is something in the nature of a demand from the electors that the ordinary machinery of House of Commons procedure shall, I will not say, be abrogated or set aside, but modified to suit the urgency of the present time. If the House of Commons was not competent to adapt itself to the needs of special circumstances, it would not be competent to serve the nation at all.

I feel that the statement which has been made by the President of the Board

of Trade carries conviction, but affirms that unless this procedure is granted to him—procedure under which he can act and then come to the House for confirmation—the whole object for which the Bill will be brought in to-morrow will be nullified. If in those circumstances the House of Commons finds itself unwilling to modify its usual machinery to meet the emergency, then, as I say, it will fail to do its duty. I hope, therefore, that protest having been made and it having been explained and admitted and agreed that it is an exceptional time, and that having regard to the exceptional time exceptional proceedings are asked for, the House may be ready to grant the Minister this Resolution in order that we may get on with our business.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 340; Noes, 43.

Division No. 5.]AYES.[11.15 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-ColonelButt, Sir AlfredDunglass, Lord
Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)Cadogan, Major Hon. EdwardEady, George H.
Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.Caine, G. R. HallEales, John Frederick
Albery, Irving JamesCampbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley)Eastwood, John Francis
Allen, Maj. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd, W)Campbell, Rear-Adml. G. (Burnley)Eden, Robert Anthony
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh)Campbell-Johnston, MalcolmEdmondson, Major A. J.
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.Caporn, Arthur CecilEdnam, Viscount
Anstruther-Gray, W. J.Carver, Major William H.Ellis, Robert Geoffrey
Aske, Sir William RobertCayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)Elmley, Viscount
Atkinson, CyrilCayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)Emmott, Charles E. G. C.
Bailey, Eric Alfred GeorgeCazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)Emrys-Evans, P. V.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. StanleyChamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.)Entwistle, Major Cyril Fullard
Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J.Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)
Balfour, George (Hampstead)Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring)Erskine-Bolst. Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)
Barclay-Harvey, C. M.Chorlton, Alan Ernest LeofricEssenhigh, Reginald Clare
Barrie, Sir Charles CouparChristie, James ArchibaldEvans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)
Barton, Capt. Basil KeiseyClarry, Reginald GeorgeEvans, R. T. (Carmarthen)
Beauchamp, Sir Brograve CampbellClayton, Dr. George C.Flanagan, W. H.
Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury)Cobb, Sir CyrilFraser, Captain Ian
Beaumont, R. E. B.(Portsm'th, Centr'l)Colman, N. C. D.Fremantie, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.
Belt, Sir Alfred L.Colville, Major David JohnFuller, Captain A. E. G.
Benn, Sir Arthur ShirleyConant, R. J. E.Ganzoni, Sir John
Bernays, RobertCook, Thomas A.Gledhill, Gilbert
Bevan, Stuart James (Holborn)Cooke, James D.Glossop, C. W. H.
Bird, Ernest Roy (Yorks., Skipton)Copeland, IdaGluckstein, Louis Halle
Blaker, Sir ReginaldCourthope, Colonel Sir George L.Goldie, Noel B.
Blinded, JamesCranborne, ViscountGoodman, Colonel Albert W.
Boothby, Robert John GrahamCraven-Ellis, WilliamGower, Sir Robert
Borodale, Viscount.Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.Granville, Edgar
Boulton, W. W.Crooke, J. SmedleyGraves, Marjorie
Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert TattonCrookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)Greene, William P. C.
Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)Guinness, Thomas L, E. B.
Boyce, H. LeslieCroom-Johnson, R. p.Gunston, Captain D. W.
Bracken, BrendanCross, R. H.Guy, J. C. Morrison
Braithwaite, Maj. A. N. (Yorks, E. R.)Crossley, A. C.Hales, Harold K.
Braithwaite. J. G. (Hillsborough)Culverwell, Cyril TomHanley, Dennis A.
Briant. Franknavies, Edward C. (Montgomery)Hannon. Patrick Joseph Henry
Briscoe, Richard GeorgeDenman, Hon. R. D.Harbord, Arthur
Broadbent, Colonel JohnDenville, AlfredHartington, Marquess of
Brocklebank, C. E. R.Dickie, John P.Harvey. Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)
Browne, Captain A. C.Donner, P. W.Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)
Buchan, JohnDower, Captain A. V. G.Hellgers, Captain F. F. A.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.Dugdale, Captain Thomas LionelHenderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd, Henley)
Burghley, LordDuggan, Hubert JohnHenderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford)
Burnett, John GeorgeDuncan, James A. L. (Kensington. N.)Hepworth, Joseph
Herbert, George (Rotherham)Marsden, Commander ArthurSamuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Hillman, Dr. George B.Martin, Thomas B.Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart
Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John WallerMayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John M.Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.
Holdsworth, HerbertMillar, James DuncanSavery, Samuel Servington
Hore-Belisha, LeslieMills, Sir FrederickScone, Lord
Hornby, FrankMilne, CharlesShakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Horobin, Ian M.Mitchell, Harold P.(Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)
Horsbrugh, FlorenceMitcheson, G. G.Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)
Howard, Tom ForrestMolson, A. Harold EisdaleShepperson, Sir Ernest W.
Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.Moreing, Adrian C.Simmonds, Oliver Edwin
Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)Morrison, William ShephardSinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A. (C'thness)
Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)Moss, Captain H. J.Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Unv., Belfast)
Hume, Sir George HopwoodMunro, PatrickSkelton, Archibald Noel
Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)Nall, Sir JosephSmith, Sir Jonah W. (Barrow-in-F.)
Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg)Nail-Cain, Arthur Ronald N.Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Hurd, Percy A.Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kine'dine, C.)
Hutchison, Maj.-Gen.Sir R.(Montr'se)Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Hutchison,William D.(Essex, Romf'd)North, Captain Edward T.Somervell, Donald Bradley
Inskip, Sir Thomas W. H.Nunn. WilliamSumerville. D. G. (Willesden, East)
James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.O'Connor, Terence JamesSoper, Richard
Janner, BarnettO'Donovan, Dr. William JamesSotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.
Jesson, Major Thomas E.Palmer, Francis NoelSouthby, Commander Archibald R. J.
Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan)Patrick, Colin M.Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.
Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)Peake, Captain OsbertSpencer, Captain Richard A.
Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)Pearson, William G.Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde)
Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)Peat, Charles U.Stanley, Hon. O. F. C. (Westmorland)
Ker, J. CampbellPenny, Sir GeorgeSteel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
Kerr, Hamilton W.Percy, Lord EustaceStevenson, James
Kimball, LawrencePerkins, Walter R. D.Stones, James
Kirkpatrick, William M.Peters, Dr. Sidney JohnStorey, Samuel
Knatchbull, Captain Hon. M. H. R.Petherick, M.Stourton, John J.
Knebworth, ViscountPeto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bilston)Strauss, Edward A.
Lamb, Sir Joseph QuintonPickering, Ernest H.Strickland, Captain W. F.
Latham, Sir Herbert PaulPickford, Hon. Mary AdaSugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart
Law, Richard K. (Hull, S. W.)Pike, Cecil F.Summersby, Charles H.
Leckie, J. A.Potter, Johnsutcliffe, Harold
Leech, Dr. J. W.Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A. (P'dd'gt'n, S.)
Lees-Jones, JohnProcter, Major Henry AdamTempleton, William P.
Lennox-Boyd, A. T.Pybus, Percy JohnThorn, Lieut.-Colonel John Gibb
Levy, ThomasRaikes, Hector victor AlpinThomas, James P. L. (Hereford)
Liddall, Walter S.Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles
Lindsay, Noel KerRamsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)Thomson, Mitchell-. Rt. Hon. Sir W.
Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe-Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)Thorp, Linton Theodore
Liewellin, Major John J.Ramsbotham, HerswaldTitchfield, Major the Marquess of
Liewellyn-Jones, FrederickRamsden, E.Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)
Locker-Lampson, Com. O.(Handsw'th)Rankin, RobertTouche, Gordon Cosmo
Lockwood, Capt. J. H. (Shipley)Rea, Walter RussellTrain, John
Loder, Captain J. de VereReed, Arthur C. (Exeter)Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.Reid, David D. (County Down)Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Mabane WilliamReid, William Allan (Derby)Wallace, John (Dunfermline)
MacAndrew, Maj. C. G. (Partick)Remer, John R.Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)
MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)Rentoul, Sir Gervals S.Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)
McConnell, Sir JosephRenwick, Major Gustav A.Warrender. Sir Victor A. G.
McCorquodale, M. S.Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)Watt, Captain George Steven H.
McEwen, J. H. F.Robinson, John RolandWedderburn,Henry James Scrymgeour-
McKeag, WilliamRopner, Colonel L.Weymouth, Viscount
McKie, John HamiltonRosbotham, D. S. T.Whiteside, Borras Noel H.
Maclay, Hon. Joseph PatonRoss, Ronald D.Whyte, Jardine Bell
McLean, Major AlanRoss Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Maclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D. (Corn'll N.)Rothschild, James L. deWills, Wilfrid D.
McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)Runciman, Rt. Hon. WalterWindsor-dive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Macmillan, Maurice HaroldRunge, Norah CecilWinterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)Wise, Alfred R.
Magnay, ThomasRussell,Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)Womersley, Walter James
Makins, Brigadier-General ErnestRussell, Richard John (Eddisbury)Wood, Major M McKenzie (Banff)
Mallalieu, Edward LancelotRutherford, Sir John HugoWorthington, Dr. John V.
Marningham-Buller. Lt.-Col. Sir M.Salmon, Major Isidore
Margesson, Capt. Henry David R.Salt, Edward W.TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Marjoribanks, EdwardSamuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)Lieut.-Colonel Sir Lambert
Ward and Major C. Davies.
NOES.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)Kirkwood, David
Attlee, Clement RichardDuncan, Charles (Derby, Claycross)Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George
Batey, JosephEdwards, CharlesLawson, John James
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)Leonard, William
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)Lunn, William
Buchanan, GeorgeGrundy, Thomas W.Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)
Cape, ThomasHall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)McEntee, Valentine L.
Cocks, Frederick SeymourHirst, George HenryMcGovern, John
Cripps, Sir StaffordJenkins, Sir WilliamMaclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)
Daggar, GeorgeJones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)Maxton, James
Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)Milner, Major James
Parkinson, John AllenTinker, John JosephWilliams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)
Price, GabrielWatts-Morgan. Lieut.-Col. DavidWilliams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)
Salter, Dr. AlfredWilliams, David (Swansea, East)
Thorne, William JamesWilliams, Edward John (Ogmore)TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Mr. John and Mr. Duncan Graham.

Original Question Put.

The committee divided: Ayes, 336; Noes,40.

Division No. 6.]AYES.[11.29 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-ColonelCroft, Brigadier-General Sir H.Hudson, Capt. A. U.M.(Hackney, N.)
Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)Crooks, J. SmedleyHudson, Robert Spear (Southport)
Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.Crookehank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)Hume, Sir George Hopwood
Ainsworth, Lieut.-Colonel CharlesCrookshank, Capt. H. C. (Galnsb'ro)Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)
Albery, Irving JamesCroom-Johnson, R. P.Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg)
Allen, Maj. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd, W)Cross, R. H.Hurd, Percy A.
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh)Crossley, A. C.Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R. (Montr'se)
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.Culver-well. Cyril TomHutchison, William D.(Essex, Romf'd)
Anstruther-Gray, W. J.Davies, Edward C. (Montgomery)Inskip, Sir Thomas W. H.
Aske, Sir William RobertDenman, Hon. R. D.James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.
Bailey, Eric Alfred GeorgeDenville, AlfredJanner, Barnett
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. StanleyDickie, John P.Jesson, Major Thomas E.
Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J.Donner, P. W.Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan)
Balfour, George (Hampstead)Dower, Captain A. V. G,Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)
Barclay-Harvey, C. M.Dugdale, Captain Thomas LionelJones, Lewis (Swansea, West)
Barrie, sir Charles CouparDuggan, Hubert JohnKer, J. Campbell
Barton, Capt. Basil KelseyDuncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)Kerr, Hamilton W.
Beauchamp, Sir Brograve CampbellDunglass, LordKimball, Lawrence
Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury)Eady, George H.Kirkpatrick, William M.
Beaumont, R. E. B.(Porttm'th, Central)Eales, John FrederickKnatchbull, Captain Hon. M. H. R.
Beit, Sir Alfred L.Eastwood, John FrancisKnebworth, Viscount
Benn, Sir Arthur ShirleyEden, Robert AnthonyLamb, Sir Joseph Quinton
Bernays, RobertEdmondson, Major A. J.Latham. Sir Herbert Paul
Bevan, Stuart James (Holborn)Ednam, ViscountLaw, Richard K. (Hull, S. W.)
Bird, Ernest Roy (Yorks., Skipton)Ellis, Robert GeoffreyLeckie, J. A.
Blaker, Sir ReginaldElmley, ViscountLeech, Dr. J. W.
Blindell, JamesEmmott, Charles E. G. C.Lees-Jones, John
Boothby, Robert John GrahamEmrys-Evans, P. V.Lennox-Boyd, A. T.
Borodale, Viscount.Entwistle, Major Cyril FullardLevy, Thomas
Boulton, W. W.Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)Liddall, Walter S.
Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert TattonEssenhigh, Reginald ClareLindsay, Noel Ker
Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)Lister. Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe-
Bracken, BrendanEvans, R. T. (Carmarthen)Liewellin, Major John J.
Braithwaite, Maj. A. N. (Yorks, E. R.)Flanagan, W. H.Liewellyn-Jones, Frederick
Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)Fraser, Captain IanLocker-Lampson, com. O.(Handsw'th)
Briant, FrankFuller, Captain A. E. G.Lockwood, Capt. J. H. (Shipley)
Briscoe, Richard GeorgeGanzoni, Sir JohnLoder, Captain J. de Vere
Broadbent, Colonel JohnGledhill, GilbertLumley, captain Lawrence R.
Brocklebank, C. E. R.Glossop, C. W. H.Mabane, William
Browne, Captain A. C.Gluckstein, Louis HalleMacAndrew, Maj. C. G. (Partick)
Buchan, JohnGoldie, Noel B.MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.Goodman, Colonel Albert W.McConnell, Sir Joseph
Burgnley, LordGower, Sir RobertMcCorquodale, M. S.
Burnett, John GeorgeGraves, MarjorieMcEwen, J. H. F.
Butt, Sir AlfredGreene, William P. C.McKeag, William
Cadogan, Major Hon. EdwardGriffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.)McKie, John Hamilton
Caine, G. R. HallGuinness, Thomas L. E. B.Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton
Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley)Gunston, Captain D. W.McLean, Major Alan
Campbell, Rear-Adml. G. (Burnley)Guy, J. C. MorrisonMaclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D. (Corn'll N.)
Campbell-Johnston, MalcolmHales, Harold K.McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)
Caporn, Arthur CecilHanloy, Dennis A.Macmillan, Maurice Harold
Carver, Major William H.Hannon, Patrick Joseph HenryMacpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.
Magnay, Thomas
Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)Harbord, ArthurMakins, Brigadier-General Ernest
Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)Hartington, Marquess ofMallalieu, Edward Lancelot
Cazalet, Thelma (Isllington, E.)Hartland, George A.Manningnam-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.
Chamberlain,Ht.Hn.SIr J.A.(Birm.W.)Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)Margesson, Capt. Henry David R.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)Marjorlbanks, Edward
Chapman, Col. R.(Houghton-le-Spring)Hellgers, Captain F. F. A,Marsden, Commander Arthur
Choriton, Alan Ernest LeofricHenderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd, Henley)Martin, Thomas B.
Christie, James ArchibaldHenderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford)Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John M.
Clayton, Dr. George C.Hepworth, JosephMills, Sir Frederick
Cobb, sir CyrilHerbert, George (Rotherham)Milne, Charles
Colman, N. C. D.Hillman, Dr. George B.Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)
Colville, Major David JohnHills, Major Rt. Hon. John WallerMitcheson, G. G.
Conant, R. J. E.Holdsworth, HerbertMolson, A. Harold Eisdale
Cook, Thomas A.Hore-Bellsha, LeslieMoreing, Adrian C.
Cooke, James D.Hornby, FrankMorris, John Patrick (Salford, N.)
Copeland, IdaHorobin, Ian M,Morrison, William Shephard
Courthope, Colonel Sir George L.Horsbrugh, FlorenceMoss, Captain H. J.
Cranborne, ViscountHoward, Tom ForrestMuirhead, Major A. J.
Craven-Ellis, WilliamHowitt, Dr. Alfred B.Munro, Patrick
Nall, Sir JosephRopner, Colonel L.Storey, Samuel
Nall-Cain, Arthur Ronald N.Rosbotham, O. S. T.Stourton, John J.
Natlon, Brigadier-General J. J. H.Ross, Ronald D.Strauss, Edward A.
Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)Strickland, Captain W. F.
North, Captain Edward T.Rothschild, James L. deSugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart
Nunn, WilliamRunciman, Rt. Hon. WalterSummersby, Charles H.
O'Connor, Terence JamesRunge, Norah CecilSutcliffe, Harold
O'Donovan, Dr. William JamesRussell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)Taylor, Vice-Admiral E.A(P'dd'gt'n.S.)
Palmer, Francis NoelRussell,Hamer Field (Sheffield,B'tslde)Templeton, William P.
Patrick, Colin M.Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)Thorn, Lieut.-Colonel John Gibb
Peake, Captain OsbeitRutherford, Sir John HugoThomas, James P. L. (Hereford)
Pearson, William G.Salmon, Major IsidoreThomson, Sir Frederick Charles
Peat, Charles U.Salt, Edward W.Thomson, Mitchell-. Rt. Hon. Sir W.
Penny, Sir GeorgeSamuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)Thorp, Linton Theodore
Percy, Lord EustaceSamuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Perkins, Walter R. D.Sandeman, Sir A. N. StewartTodd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)
Peters, Dr. Sidney JohnSassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.Touche, Gordon Cosmo
Petherick, M.Savery, Samuel ServingtonTrain, John
Peto, Geoffrey K.(W'verirpt'n,Bilston)Scone, LordTryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Pickering, Ernest H.Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Pickford, Hon. Mary AdaShaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)Wallace, John (Dunfermline)
Pike, Cecil F.Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Potter, JohnSimmonds, Oliver EdwinWard, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)
Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A. (C'thness)Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)
Procter, Major Henry AdamSinclair, Col. T.(Queen's Unv., Belfast)Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.
Pybus, Percy JohnSkelton, Archibald NoelWatt, Captain George Steven H.
Raikes, Hector Victor AlpinSmith, Sir Jonah W. (Barrow-in-F.)Wedderburn,Henry James Scrymgeour-
Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)Weymouth, Viscount
Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)Whiteside, Borras Noel H.
Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western isles)Smith-Carington, Neville W.Whyte, Jardine Bell
Ramsbotham, HerswaldSomervell, Donald BradleyWilliams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Ramsden, E.Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)Wills, Wilfrid D.
Rankin, RobertSoper, RichardWindsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Rea, Walter RussellSotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.Wise, Alfred R.
Reid, David D. (County Down)Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.Womersley, Walter James
Reid, William Allan (Derby)Spencer, Captain Richard A.Wood, Major M. McKenzie (Banff)
Remer, John R.Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde)Worthington, Dr. John V.
Rentoul, Sir Gervais S.Stanley, Hon. O. F. C. (Westmorland)
Renwick, Major Gustav A.Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir ArthurTELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)Stevenson, JamesMajor G. Davies and Lord Erskine.
Robinson, John RolandStones, James
NOES.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)Grundy, Thomas W.Maxton, James
Attlee, Clement RichardHall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)Milner, Major James
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)Hirst, George HenryParkinson, John Allen
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)Jenkins, Sir WilliamPrice, Gabriel
Buchanan, GeorgeJones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)Salter, Dr. Alfred
Cocks, Frederick SeymourJones, Morgan (Caerphilly)Thorne, William James
Cripps, Sir StaffordKirkwood, DavidTinker, John Joseph
Daggar, GeorgeLansbury, Rt. Hon. GeorgeWatts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. David
Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)Lawson, John JamesWilliams, David (Swansea, East)
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)Leonard, WilliamWilliams, Edward John (Ogmore)
Duncan, Charles (Derby, Claycross)Lunn, WilliamWilliams, Dr. John H. (Lianelly)
Edwards, CharlesMcEntee, Valentine L.Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)
Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)McGovern, John
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Mr. John and Mr. Duncan Graham.

Question put, and agreed to.

Resolution reported. That—

  1. (i) there shall be charged on any articles imported into the United Kingdom, being articles to which this Resolution applies, in addition to any other duties of Customs, such duties of Customs as are hereinafter provided;
  2. (ii) the articles to which this Resolution shall apply shall be articles of any class or description comprised in Class III of the Import and Export List issued under the authority of the Treasury and the Commissioners of Customs and Excise for the year 1931, to which the Board of Trade, being satisfied that those articles are being imported into the United Kingdom in abnormal quantities have by 820 Order applied any Act of the present Session for giving effect to this Resolution;
  3. (iii) the Customs duties to be charged as aforesaid in respect of any articles shall be such duties as may he specified in an Order made by the Board of Trade under the said Act not exceeding one hundred per cent. of the value of the articles;
  4. (iv) the Act aforesaid shall continue in force for a period of six months from the passing thereof and no longer;
  5. (v) any Order made by the Board of Trade as aforesaid shall cease to have effect at the expiration of twenty-eight days from the date on which it is made unless at some time before the expiration of that period it has been approved by a Resolution of this House:
    • 821
    • Provided that in reckoning any such period as aforesaid no account shall be taken of any time during which Parliament is dissolved or prorogued, or during which this House is adjourned for more than four days;
  6. (vi) the Act aforesaid may include such incidental and consequential provisions as may be necessary or expedient in relation to the matters aforesaid."

Bill ordered to be brought in upon the said Resolution by Mr. Runciman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Major Elliot, Mr. Hore-Belisha, and the Solicitor-General.