§ Order read for resuming adjourned Debate on Question proposed [21st February]:
"That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty, as followeth:—
'Most Gracious Sovereign,
'We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the Gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament.'"—[Mr. Illingworth.]
§ Question again proposed. Debate resumed.
§ Mr. G. L. COURTHOPE
moved as an Amendment to add at the end of the Address:But we humbly represent to Your Majesty that the critical condition of the hop industry, which involves so great a diminution in rural employment, requires urgent and remedial consideration from Your Majesty's Government.In moving the Amendment, which stands not only in my name, but in that of many other hon. Members on the Order Paper, I think we must justify the course which 479 we take by doing, or attempting to do, three things. Firstly, we have to satisfy the House and the Government that the state of the hop industry is critical, and requires consideration; secondly, that the industry is of vast importance as a national concern and is not merely a local affair—in other words, it is worth saving; and thirdly, we must give some idea (or more than an idea, a return) of the remedies which are required to rescue that industry from the destruction which threatens it, and satisfy the House that these remedies are suitable for the purpose and desirable from all points of view. As to the first point it requires very few words to prove, as it is almost a matter of common knowledge that the hop industry is in a very serious state. The official figures issued by the Board of Agriculture as to the acreage under hops prove that only a quarter of a century ago there were in this country 71,327 acres under hop cultivation, and that there are now only 32,539, or a decrease in twenty-five years of nearly 39,000 acres; or in other words, 54 per cent. of the whole or more than half of the acreage has gone out of hop cultivation. That loss of 39,000 acres may not sound very serious to people who are not familiar personally with hop cultivation, and merely look upon agriculture from the point of view either of grazing land or perhaps mixed farming, but in this particular case it is a very serious loss indeed. The loss during the twenty-five years is not the most noticeable point. The most extraordinary feature is that considerably more than a third of that loss has taken place in the last three years. Over 14,000 acres have been grubbed and there is no sign whatever that that decrease will cease, in fact, there is every sign that the industry in this country may almost come to an end. What does that loss in acreage represent? To those who are familiar with the report of the Select Committee on the hop industry, which sat the year before last under the chairmanship of the hon. Gentleman (Sir William Collins), the loss in capital—I mean irrecoverable loss—amounts to something like £5,000,000, and a very large portion of that is tenants' capital. It is sunk and lost for all purposes except the purpose of hop cultivation.
The only way that capital can be even partially recovered is by the planting of hops on that land on which they have been grubbed. The buildings which are specially erected in connection with hop 480 cultivation are of practically no use for any other purpose. If we get the hops back, immediately those buildings have a capital value again. The wirework on which the hops are grown is of no value whatever for any other purpose, in fact it is merely a costly encumbrance which would cost more to remove than it would fetch when it is moved. In addition to this great loss of capital there is the even more serious loss in the wages of labour and in employment. There was evidence brought before the Committee on the hop industry nearly two years ago which proved that although the amount spent on the direct wages of labour in hop cultivation varies considerably from one district to another, in East Kent, for instance, the evidence is that it exceeds £30 an acre per annum in many districts, and in East Sussex it is something like £23, it is safe to take a rough average, for purposes of this discussion, that about £25 per acre per annum is expended in the direct wages of labour, including in that the tying, picking and carting as well as the ordinary cultivation of the soil. That would cease altogether if hops ceased to be cultivated. This loss of 39,000 acres has meant an annual loss to labour of close on £1,000,000 a year. What that means to local trade you can judge for yourselves. It cannot be put in figures, but it means ruin to the local trade, the trade of those villages where hop cultivation used to be the principal industry, and where now it is either disappearing or entirely gone. In addition to this great financial loss—loss in wages, loss of capital, loss of trade—there is Heaven only knows how much loss of health and strength and physique to the crowded inhabitants of the slums of our great cities, who used to get a month or five weeks' healthy and profitable employment in the country districts from the middle of August to the end of September every year. They lose not only the wages, but the healthy benefit of change to themselves, their wives, and their children, when the hops are gone.
The very statements I have made, and I think no one will dispute them, show that the industry is in a worse state and are, I think, almost sufficient to prove that it is worth saving. Anything that can be done, not only to check the grubbing of hops and to encourage the replanting of some of the acreage which has gone already, means the recovery of the capital, the increase of employment, the improvement of local trade and the bringing back to those who used to enjoy it and no 481 longer do, of that healthy, profitable holiday in the country, instead of having to spend the whole year, as many of them do now, in the horrible atmosphere and filthy surroundings of the slums of our great cities. I think if any proof or any evidence in favour of the importance of this holiday in the country is needed, it is merely sufficient to quote the words of one of the best known clergymen of South London, the Rev. R. W. Wilson, commonly known as Father Wilson, the hop pickers' parson, who gave evidence before the Select Committee two yearn ago and said:—The annual outing in the country for the hop picking was absolutely splendid, being of great value to the health of the children, who always accompanied their parents, and providing profitable and healthy employment for the latter. He considered the maintenance of the hop industry to be of the very greatest importance to the poor of London.I need not go into similar evidence which one might bring from other of our great towns which provide bodies of pickers and would provide greater bodies of pickers if something could be done for this industry. I will only quote one or two brief sentences which have been used by prominent Members of His Majesty's present Government. In May, 1908, the President of the Board of Agriculture stated in a Debate in the House of Lords:—The hop industry was a national concern deserving the immediate attention of His Majesty's Government.On 22nd July of the same year the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in responding to a deputation representing the hop industry which came to appeal to him, said:—You may depend upon each of us. We shall be glad to do anything within our power to save this honest and healthy English industry from anything in the nature of depression, and certainly from destruction.His words were endorsed on the same occasion by the President of the Board of Trade, who said that he agreed with every word his right hon. Friend had said, and assured the deputation that every Member of His Majesty's Government would do his best to save this industry, which they all considered of so great importance. So I think I may take it that we are all agreed, everyone who has considered the Question, His Majesty's Ministers and the Opposition, that the industry is not only in a bad state, but that it is also worth saving. Now let me turn to the remedies. In order to understand and appreciate the remedies which are needed, it is well to look for a moment first at the causes of 482 this depression. There is a very consider able number and undue prominence has sometimes been given to this or that. Though all have some bearing upon the Question, some are more important than others. I will not attempt to differentiate between them on this occasion. One cause to which great importance has been attached on several occasions is cold storage. Certainly it affects the question, but it only affects it so far as old hops are concerned. It does not affect what is the most important market—the market in the hops of the year. It has no bearing on that whatever. But it does give an added value and importance to the crops of previous years, and to that extent there is not the slightest doubt that it has a bearing on the question.
Then there is a statement which is frequently made, and frequently exaggerated, that the increase in the production per acre is so great that, although we have lost 54 per cent. of the acreage in twenty-five years, we are now producing more hops than we did then. There is not a word of truth in that. Official figures were placed before the Select Committee on the Hop Industry. Mr. Rew stated that the best periods for considering comparatively the average production of hop land were quinquennial periods, and he divided his figures into quinquennial periods. In the last period of five years, which he gave us, the average yearly production was 8.13 cwts. per acre. That is lower than in the two previous periods. I know that if you take the decennial period, the production in the last ten years is rather greater than in the previous ten years. I do not pretend, and I am not going to suggest, that the hop production of to-day is less than it was before. I know, in my own experience, it is slightly more, but only slightly, than it was twenty-five years ago, and so it is impossible to look upon that contributory cause as more than a triviality.
Thirdly, the statement is made, and again often exaggerated, that the growth of temperance—and no one would wish but to see it continuing and increasing—has led to a great decrease in consumption of beer, and further that improved scientific methods of brewing have led to a decrease in the quantity of hops used in producing each barrel of beer. Both are true to a small extent, but still the consumption of hops in this country, in spite of the decrease in the number of barrels of beer, is only from 600,000 483 odd cwts. to 570,000 cwts. per annum—a decrease which is comparatively unimportant when viewed in the light of the great depression and ruin in the hop industry. Then we come to another subject which has really more bearing on the question with which I am now dealing, namely, the use of substitutes and chemical preservatives. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in July, 1908, estimated the amount of hops displaced by the use of substitutes as equal to the growth of 666 acres. I am quite prepared to accept his figures as correct. That was a comparison with a year when hops were plentiful, and when they were cheap. There was no great encouragement then for brewers to use large quantities of hop substitutes. The question is very different to-day. It is a fact that to an extent that has never happened before in the history of hop-growing, so far as the records show, there was last year a short crop in every single hop-growing country in the world, and consequently hope fetched higher prices, and there is a great deal more inducement to brewers to use substitutes than in years of plentiful crops and low prices. I fancy that a considerable quantity will be found to have been used during the present calendar year. I shall say something more on the question of substitutes when I refer to the Hops Bill which was introduced last year, and which I hope will be introduced again this Session, I am dealing with the causes of depression for the moment, and I think I had better leave the other question until I deal with the question of remedies. Next, there is foreign competition of a distinctly unfair nature. It is absolutely preferential to our foreign competitors in two ways. It is unfair, firstly, in a way in which you will all sympathise with me, though possibly not in regard to the second way. The first is that great restrictions and obligations are imposed upon English growers in the matter of the marking of hops. Every bag, or "pocket" as we call it in England, has to be marked with particulars, and great penalties are imposed in the case of false marking or omission to mark. Although hopgrowers have now got used to these conditions, and they do not feel the hardship now, they caused great hardship when originally enforced, and great difficulties had to be overcome before the conditions of the Statute could be complied with. Yet hops from abroad come into this country absolutely free from those conditions in regard to mark- 484 ing. That is the first sense in which foreign competition is absolutely unfair. It is unequal also in the matter of soil and climate. Our greatest competitors are the growers on the Pacific Coast of America, where they have great depth of alluvial soil and virgin soil, which for many years can grow hops without any manure at all. Their climate is somewhat better than ours, and they have also great advantages in the matter of labour. A great part of the work of hop cultivation, such as picking, is done, not by white labour, but by coloured labour—partly Chinese, partly negro, and partly Indian. The work is-done by coloured people on terms which make it impossible for us to compete with them in this country. Other hop-producing countries, with the exception of Belgium, impose heavy duties on hops. It may not be immediately apparent what value these duties are to them, seeing that they can grow what they want for themselves, But still they have a very great value. They enable them to regulate their own supply according to their own demand and to get rid of any surplus crop in years of over-production without allowing any chance to their competitors to send their surplus crops into their markets.
Whenever there is over-production in the United States of America, as there always is save in an exceptional year like last year, they are able to send their surplus to this country, which is their great free market for hops, and to depress our market without the slightest chance of our being able to send any surplus we may have to their market, because the tariff wall is almost insurmountable. Up to last year they had a duty of 56s. a cwt. on hops. Probably it may have been worth the while of the foreigner in a few cases to have paid that duty for the purpose of selling his hops in the United States market, so now they have raised the duty to 73s. 8d. a cwt. This forms a tariff wall which is absolutely insurmountable, and imposes a very great hardship on other countries like ourselves, which have no means of retaliation against them. So much for the various causes of depression.
Two years ago, in the Debate on the Address, a precisely similar Amendment was moved by the hon. Member for Ash-ford (Mr. Hardy), and seconded by myself. It had this effect—that the Prime Minister promptly rose, and stated that this matter immediately required attention, and he promised a Select Committee. A Select Committee was appointed, with my hon. Friend the Member for West St. Pancras 485 as chairman. I had the privilege of serving on that Committee. We paid great attention to the subject. Three reports were presented. A very able report was drawn up by the chairman, and endorsed by the majority of the Committee, and is now public property. That was followed by action in another place, where Lord Addington moved a Motion, which was accepted on behalf of the Government, to the effect that the continued cultivation of the hop gardens of England was a matter of national concern, and that the present critical condition of the hop industry deserves the immediate attention of His Majesty's Government. The President of the Board of Agriculture endorsed that Resolution in the House of Lords in the words which I have already quoted. Great demonstrations followed outside. The deputation which has been mentioned previously was received favourably by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the President of the Board of Trade on 22nd July of the same year. That was followed by the introduction in the Autumn of 1908 of the Hops Bill in this House by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. As it was late in the Session time could not be found to proceed with the Bill, and it was dropped. Last year a similar Bill was introduced in another place by Lord Hardinge. It was accepted on behalf of the Government by, I think, the Lord Steward, who was speaking for the Government on that occasion. He said:—Your Lordships to-day are asked to give a Second Reading to a Bill which, as the Noble Viscount told us, is substantially and practically the same as that introduced by His Majesty's government last December.That was followed in a few weeks by another Government Bill introduced by the President of the Board of Agriculture, also in another place, and differing only from Lord Hardinge's Bill in its provisions as to the marking of foreign hops coming into this country.
The provisions of the Government Bill as to marking did not satisfy the hop growers, and consequently the section dealing with that matter was cut out of the Bill; and, for some extraordinary reason, the Bill itself was dropped, although all parties wanted to see that section dealing with hop substitutes passed into law. There the matter stands at present. Now we return to the charge. We should like to see what we believe to be the only effective remedy, a substantial protective duty—I am not ashamed of the word Protection—which practically every- 486 one who knows anything about the hop industry, and a great many of the brewers, say should be fixed at 40s. a cwt., in order adequately to protect our industry from the fierce competition of foreign countries. Although I attach the greatest importance to that side of the question, I am going to say least about it. I know quite well it is no use asking the present Government in the present Session to think about a 40s. duty on hops, and I may as well save your time and my breath on that subject, though I do think that one can make out a good case for a duty. There is the question of coloured labour, which has been already mentioned, and white labour ought to receive some economic protection against competition from coloured labour I see one hon. Member shake his head. He was not pleased with Chinese labour in South Africa.
§ Mr. COURTHOPE
Then there is the admitted national importance of the industry which makes it deserving of special attention; and there are all the other features which I have already mentioned, which I think are deserving of exceptional attention. But I am not going to say more than that, as there are two other remedies about which we are all agreed. All the three reports which I have mentioned, which were introduced after the sitting of the Select Committee, were in substantial agreement that foreign hops should be marked in a similar way and subject to similar restrictions as to mixing as are British hops, and that substitutes and preservatives which replace hops should be prohibited. I do not think it necessary to go in the smallest detail into the question of substitutes. Four years ago, when introducing a Pure Beer Bill, with a less sympathetic House than the present appears to be, I went into some chemical detail of the substitutes which were used in brewing. I shall not torture the ears of the House attempting to pronounce them again. But it is admitted now, I think, on all hands that the use of many of these substitutes which ten years ago were thought by scientific men to be harmless is deleterious to the consumer of beer, and therefore, quite apart from the question of the hop industry, ought to be prohibited. So I do not think any more is necessary in recommending to the House the prohibition of substitutes. Marking is a more difficult 487 matter. I would draw the attention of the House to the Hop Trade Act which was passed in 1866, and which imposes the marking provisions now in force in this country.
That Act was originally brought in as a private Members' Bill. It was badly drafted, and it was passed, though, I think, without very much discussion. It was intended, and clearly intimated, from the Debate which took place on that occasion, to specifically apply to foreign hops. In the opinion of the Attorney-General, which he expressed before the Select Committee two years ago, it failed to apply to foreign hops. Still, there was the intention of the House of Commons at the time that foreign hops should be marked, and that is one reason for the support which we claim now. There was general agreement among all sections of the Hop Committee that there should be this marking, and there is also the important statement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the same subject. He stated, in reply to a deputation in July, 1908:—Whatever conditions you impose upon the British grower, should he imposed upon the foreigner. That is not a departure from Free Trade. I have legislated in three Bills—foreign watches, foreign patents and foreign ships—each imposing upon the foreigner the same conditions as upon the British trader. Therefore, I am not afraid of that. But I want to put it to you that I am not quite sure it is going to effect your object, because if the brewer at the present time purchases this commodity, knowing it is foreign, he will do so if you mark it.The Chancellor of the Exchequer expressed his clear intention repeatedly to impose, as far as he could, the same conditions on the foreigners as were imposed upon us. Another difficulty arises. The terms which apply to our own parishes and districts, and so on, would not apply abroad. Again, the conditions under which hops are grown on some parts of the Continent are wholly different from those which obtain here. For instance, in some parts of the Continent, Bohemia and Bavaria, for example, hops are not grown on comparatively large holdings, where they are dried and prepared for market, but they are grown in quite small holdings—little patches or allotments—and they are only sun-dried by their growers. They are purchased by itinerant merchants, who, after mixing them with a lot of other hops, dry them, and send them to market. It is perhaps difficult to frame one's marking provisions in a way to meet the case.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. H. J. Tennant)
They are mixed with English hops.
§ Mr. COURTHOPE
They are also mixed with inferior Belgium hops. Nobody would suggest that we wish absolutely to destroy the possibility of hops grown on these small plots coming here. It is often worth our while to buy them, but it is difficult to frame provisions which will allow of their importation and still secure that they are not mixed with inferior hops by the itinerant merchants before they are sent to market. Without going into details as to the marking provisions which may be imposed, I think we may assume that we are all agreed, first of all, as to the state of the industry, and that it is worth saving. There are two remedies which I have mentioned—prohibition of substitutes and more effective measures of marking. I do not think the Government are quite free from the blame in connection with the action of last year. I do not think there was any justification for the Government dropping their Hops Bill, introduced by the President of the Board of Agriculture last year, because one section of it was disapproved of in detail by those whom the Bill was intended to benefit. But I am not going to lay too great stress on that. Although there is no mention of this subject in His Majesty's Speech, and although the Prime Minister has announced that no attempt will be made to proceed with any other Bill except the two named in His Majesty's Gracious Speech, still I hope that the Government may be able to change their minds and give an opportunity for a Bill dealing with this question to be introduced, or, if they cannot do that, then that they will give us an assurance that, if a Bill on these lines is introduced by some private Member who is interested in this matter, they will not oppose it, but will allow it, if it does not meet with opposition from any part of the House, to get a second reading and go upstairs to Committee in order that something may be done for this industry. It is in the hope that we may get some such assurance from His Majesty's Ministers that I beg to move the Amendment which stands in my name.
§ Mr. ARKWRIGHT
I rise to second the Amendment. I think I may claim to do so for this reason: I was a Member of the Select Committee which inquired into the condition of the hop industry. I come 489 from a part distant from that which my hon. Friend represents—a district where another aspect of the hop industry presents itself. My hon. Friend has made a strong and general case for our contention, and I believe that both sides of the House are agreed in the direction of doing something for the hop-growing industry. After hearing the evidence given before the Committee, I hold strongly, and nothing would shake me individually, that what ought to have been done was to impose a duty on imported foreign hops. I think that is the great disadvantage under which the hop-growing industry labours. There are other disadvantages which crop up from year to year, and are perhaps the straws which have broken the back of the hop industry, but it is the large importation of foreign hops which is the permanent factor which gives weight to those straws. We cannot expect the Government to meet us in that sense, but we think that the Government can meet us in other ways without any departure from any of the theoretical principles of Free Trade or anything of that sort, and which will at any rate considerably advantage the hop industry, and which might do something to prevent the grubbing which is now going on. With regard to this being a national industry, what has always struck me is not only the large amount of capital that is employed in the industry, but the fact that it is an industry which employs labour continuously throughout the year. There is also the fact that hop-picking at certain times of the year employs women and children and gives that narrow margin which is required to give certain poor, and very poor, families the power to remain on the land for other and general agricultural purposes. If you do away with hop growing in such a district as I live in you will take away those few shillings or those few pounds which poor families earn among them, and which makes just that difference which enables them to live in their country homes, to which they are attached, instead of going to the over-populated and congested towns. I think that is an important point.
I do not wish to be contentious, but I make this point with regard to the duty, and that is that here you have actually a concrete instance in which the whole of the hop-growing industry, the whole of a great English industry, which admittedly is worth preserving, might be benefited in that way, according to the showing of those people who would consider them- 490 selves benefited. On the other hand, you have not got any evidence from a single man or single section that the imposition of that duty would hurt anybody at all. I should like to appeal to hon. Members of this House who directly represent labour, and ask them to take that into consideration with the question of Protection in conjunction with the question of the protection of our own labour as against coloured labour in this particular industry. I should like them to remember that an immense amount of capital has been sunk in this industry, and is there on the land. It is the capital of the landlord, it is the capital of the tenant, and it is the capital in a sense of many smaller industries connected with it, and which have made some sacrifices in order that they may continue connected with the hop-growing industry. Surely I think it will be better if those hon. Gentlemen were to try and help us to rescue an existing industry than to tell us about afforestation, about which they do not produce details, when we can give the detail, acre by acre, county by county, of the industry to which I refer. I think we are likely to hear the argument this afternoon that if we do something which will materially assist the hop-growing industry, and which will stop the grubbing, that it will create the impression that there is a period of prosperity before the industry in the near future. I think we may be met with the argument that that will produce a lot of illegitimate and improper hop growing in this country, that you will have your market overstocked, and that you will have possibly worse competition here among yourselves than you already have with the foreign hops. My answer to that is this: One of the difficulties under which the hop-growing industry now labours is the fact that it is exceedingly difficult for any hop grower, or for any part of the trade, to discover what is going on in other parts of the world from which those competing articles come. I think it would be much better for our industry that we should have that competition among ourselves under conditions under which the Herefordshire grower could know what was going on in Kent—what was being planted and being grubbed. I think those conditions would make more for the stability of the hop trade and the proper amount of hop land in cultivation than that Herefordshire, Worcestershire, and Kent should not know of the condition of things 491 on the Pacific Coast of America. I think that is a complete answer to that argument, and if there is to be this competition surely we had better keep the competition to ourselves.
I hope and believe that the Government will go, I do not say a very long way, but an appreciable way, and that they will go a distance for which we can honestly and seriously thank them in the name of the hop-growing industry. After all, I think it is possible for them to do something quite appreciable, and to do something for which the hop-growing districts can thank them. We have made our position perfectly plain. We do not think it is a real answer to the difficulty, but we think that it may for a certain length of time stop the grubbing that is going on. There is one other point which has impressed me very forcibly, and I should like to call the attention of the Secretary of the Board of Agriculture to it. In the hop-growing industry it is not only the actual facts of the position that are hurting the industry, but it is also the fear of the position that is doing so. It is not only actually the facts, bad as they are up-to-date and up to the moment at which we speak, but it is the fear of worse, and it is also the fear of the unknown. I think the Government could do a great deal to make the position of things known. They can meet us with a Hops Bill, or they could facilitate a Bill introduced by a private Member, or a group of Members, in this House. If I might make a suggestion of my own, I think the Government could also do a great deal further in circulating among hop growers better figures and more accurate facts of the position of hop growing throughout this country and in the world at large. I beg to second the Amendment.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD of AGRICULTURE (Sir Edward Strachey)
The hon. Member for the Rye Division of Sussex (Mr. Court-hope) stated that the question of the position of the hop industry is one which it is necessary to consider. That undoubtedly is the case, and that is the reason why the Government two years ago appointed a Select Committee to consider the whole of this Question, and to consider the cause of the loss of 39,000 acres referred to by my hon. Friend, and also generally to see what legislation could be introduced, subject to this—that they did not in any way clash with the principles of a Free Trade 492 Government. We said then we were desirous to do our very best, and are ready, of course, now to do our best to assist the hop industry, just as to assist any other industry in the country. In view of that provision we cannot accept the suggestion put forward by the Mover and Seconder, whose principal proposal would really be a good swinging duty upon foreign hops imported into this country. The hon. Member for Rye (Mr. Courthope) dwelt on the large amount of acreage which has gone out of hop cultivation, but he did not refer to the very important fact that there has been a large increase in the yield per acre of the land still cultivated as compared with some years ago. In the ten years 1888–1897 the annual production was 438,215 cwts., while in the next ten years, 1898–1907, the amount was 434,567 cwts., a reduction of less than 4,000 cwts., showing that fox practical purposes, although the acreage under bop cultivation has diminished, the total yield is about the same. I am quite aware that the hon. Member would say that that does not meet his point with regard to the diminution of rural labour. I should like to know what he estimates that diminution of labour to have been. It is a question not only of the actual agricultural labourers employed in the cultivation of hops, but also of the pickers. Many people are brought in from outside, and that labour would be affected only by the quantity of the yield. As there has been practically no diminution in the total yield, there would be no diminution in the number of people employed in picking the hops; therefore the diminution of labour would be only as regards the cultivation. The hon. Member also said that there had been a loss of £1,000,000 a year in wages, but he did not show where he got his figures. As far as I can see, no evidence was given before the Committee to support such a statement. Nor can I find any proof that there has been an enormous depopulation of villages in hop-growing districts.
As regards land having gone out of hop cultivation, it must be remembered that much of it is used for other purposes. I am informed that in Kent a great deal of the land formerly used for hop-growing is now used for fruit-growing, and would therefore employ almost, if not quite, as much labour as before. Consequently it is not exactly true to say that because land has gone out of cultivation for hops it necessarily employs a much smaller amount of labour. Where it has gone back to 493 arable land that would no doubt be the case; but where it is used for fruit growing there is probably not much difference in the amount of labour employed. Neither in the Report of the Committee nor in the Report of the hon. Member himself is that particular point dealt with in any detail. It might very well be considered whether some of the land is not unsuitable for hop growing and, therefore, not worth further cultivation for that purpose, seeing that a much larger yield is obtained from the land still under cultivation. We have also to remember that in England the cost per acre for the cultivation of hops is £40, while in the State of New York it is only £9. That is a very serious difference, and the 40s. duty proposed in the report of the hon. Member, and also suggested by the hop growers themselves, would be of very little use at all. The hop growers have frankly stated that their object is to raise the price of the home produce, and to prevent the foreign grower exporting to England hops which have been produced at a much lower rate. There we have the Protectionist case stated quite openly, without any subterfuge at all. But this 40s. duty would not secure that end, and we should soon have the hop growers asking for a much heavier duty. The hon. Member, referring to the heavy duty of 73s. 8d. per cwt. upon hops imported into America, spoke of the tariff wall which prevented hops from other countries going into the United States. I think he cannot have read the statement, reported in "The Times" of 23rd August last, made by Mr. Sydney Smith at a meeting of the Canterbury Farmers' Club, to the effect that, notwithstanding that heavy duty, from 80,000 to 100,000 cwts. of hops were sent from Germany to America. That shows, as we on this side have always contended, that you do not keep out foreign goods entirely, but you make the manufacturer and consumer pay more heavily. The price of beer in America would be increased in consequence of the 73s. 8d. per cwt. charged upon imported hops.
§ Sir E. STRACHEY
The consumer would have to pay more. I have no doubt it has increased the price of beer to the American consumer.
§ Sir E. STRACHEY
But not only have the farmers and hop growers who gave 494 evidence before the Select Committee asked for a 40s. duty, but quite lately there has been a meeting of the Defence League of Hop Growers, Labourers, Pickers, and Allied Industries, at which they said that the only way in which the object of having more hops grown in this country could be obtained was by the imposition of a duty of not less than 40s. per cwt. on all imported hops. I would ask hon. Members opposite whether that exactly coincides with the declarations made by the Leaders of their party during the recent election that there should be no duty at all put upon raw materials. Are not hops a raw material of the brewers? I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman or those of the brewing trade will say that they do not consider it as their raw material, but would be very, very glad to see a duty upon it. I fancy we should have a great outcry raised by the brewers, who strongly support hon. Gentlemen on the other side, saying that hops are raw material. Certainly, under the terms of the Tariff Commission, and under the proposals put forward by the various authorities on the Conservative side, hops are a raw material, and ought not to be taxed. I certainly never saw any suggestions made that hops are not a raw material, and that therefore they would be liable to taxation. It would be interesting to hear the views of hon. Gentlemen on the other side as to whether they do or do not consider hops a raw material, and that therefore it is proper that they should be taxed as a manufactured article. I think, although it is perfectly clear from the Debate so far, and from the quotations I have given from the evidence given before the Select Committee, and from the statements put forward by the society representing the hop growers, that what they really want, and the only thing they consider a remedy at all, is a good swinging duty on foreign hops.
On the other hand, the Mover of the Amendment stated that there were other remedies, yet he puts one remedy as an import duty of 20s. He and the hon. Member for the Eye Division moved in the Committee in which this matter was put in the very forefront a duty of 40s. on foreign and of 20s. on Colonial hops. The hon. Gentleman, I noticed, was not supported by anyone except the hon. Gentleman the Member for Hereford. The hon. Gentleman, too, who is so ready to speak on behalf of the brewers when a member of this Committee 495 —I refer to the hon. Member for Rutland—did not vote with him on that occasion. I do not know whether he voted on any other occasion that he was in favour of taxing the raw material of the brewer.
§ Mr. GRETTON
The Report which I signed recommended a duty of 28s. and left it an open question whether that duty should not be more.
§ Sir E. STRACHEY
The hon. Member for Rutland did not go the whole hog in that matter. He did not support the hon. Gentleman who moved this Amendment in the 40s. duty, which in his opinion was the smallest amount that ought to be imposed.
As regards the question of marking, it is quite true, as has been said by the hon. Gentleman who moved this Amendment, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and also the President of the Board of Agriculture, said that they would be very glad to see foreign hops put under the same conditions in this respect as English hops. There were placed in a Bill that was first of all introduced into this House, and then last Session into the House of Lords, provisions to deal with this question. Those concerned thought these provisions entirely carried out all the pledges that had been made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer as regards this question.
§ Sir E. STRACHEY
I know the hon. Gentleman thinks not; but it was done in the sense that so far as it was possible to apply the system of the marking of English hops to foreign hops it was applied by the Bill introduced into another place by the President of the Board of Agriculture. The difference between that Bill and the other was that instead of adding the word "parish" to "district" it was left out. There are no parishes in our sense of the word in foreign countries, and it was necessary to take the word "district" and not "parish."
§ Sir E. STRACHEY
There is another difference. Our contention is this, that, as regards the English practice, it is only necessary to put upon the packages the name of the man who has actually collected the hops and put them into the package. I know perfectly well that it is the practice for the packages to be marked with 496 the name and parish and district whence they come. But what I am advised is that the Bill of last Session absolutely carried out the provisions that in the English trade are felt to be necessary and can be enforced. What is done at the present moment is simply done as a matter of practice. There is nothing in the Act about the owner putting his name upon the package. What can be done is that several owners may sell their hops to one particular man, and he will be compelled to put his name on the bag or package which he sells—
§ Sir E. STRACHEY
I know my hon. Friend takes that view, but, on the other hand, I am told that is not so. All that is necessary for the man who actually places the hops in the bags or packages is to mark on them the places and districts from which they come. It is not necessary for the brewer to do it. The practice has grown up that the brewer should mark the bags or packages. It is interesting to see what has been done in this question of marking, upon which so much weight has been laid by the other side. What has happened is this: In the House of Lords, when this question was being discussed in Committee, Lord Harris said that there was no mark on the foreign bags, and that therefore foreign hops had not the same reputation as English hops. If, he said, the proposals of the President of the Board of Agriculture were carried it would give a spurious reputation to foreign hops. We therefore find one of the great advocates for the protection of foreign hops actually saying in the House of Lords that it would be a distinct disadvantage to the hopgrowers of this country to have foreign hops marked. I suppose that that was the reason that influenced the House of Lords in throwing out, upon a Division, the marking clauses in the Hops Bill, which had been placed there in consequence of the pledge given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that there should be similar treatment of foreign and English hops. It rather complicates the matter and makes it difficult when you have such authorities speaking like this. At the same time you have the House of Lords, who should certainly know something of a matter like this, throwing out these very marking clauses. Nothing was left in the Bill except Clauses relating to preservatives and hop substitutes. I was certainly at one time in considerable agreement 497 with hon. Gentlemen opposite on the matter, but I have been shaken by reading the Debate in the House of Lords. For it might be an injury to English hops if foreign hops were marked, because at the present time the Englishman has got a guarantee when he is buying English hops that they are exactly what they are represented to be; while, on the other hand, in respect to foreign hops it is very doubtful whether they may not be hops which were brought from Russia and sold as Bavarian hops. In a Marking Bill it seems to me to be very doubtful that anything we could do would prevent fraud or that we could, for instance, guard against hops from Russia being brought to Bavaria and being marked as Bavarian hops, and being exported and sold in this country as Bavarian hops. I do not see how the proposed marking would deal with that, and I am afraid we should be very liable to frauds in this matter, and it is very likely we should be faced with the difficulties we were before in regard to the marking of goods coming from abroad. It is quite probable at this moment that the majority of the people in this country would prefer to buy English hops. They want the best quality, and they know what they are getting, but with hops coming from abroad it would be perfectly impossible to prevent fraud by marking. The hon. Member for Hereford also dealt with this Question; he wanted to know whether foreign competition would increase or not, and thought that that would depend entirely upon whether you put a heavy duty upon imported hops. The hon. Member made one point with which I entirely agree and that was that it was desirable that the Board of Agriculture should give hop growers the fullest information they could as regards the cultivation of hops abroad, and to suggest any remedies in case of disease, or any better mode of cultivation, or anything that might legitimately assist them in their competition in the market. What is really asked by the Amendment is that a heavy duty should be put upon imported hops. Speaking on behalf of a Free Trade Government, it is impossible for me to hold out any hope of anything of that sort so long as this Government remains in office. On the other hand, the Government will only be too ready to do everything in their power to help forward any Bill to help the hop industry, subject to this condition, that we cannot have any interference with the subject of Free Trade in this or any other matter. As the Mover of the Amendment 498 said, it is impossible for the Government to be expected to move in this matter. If any private Member introduces any Bill in the direction I have indicated, and, subject to the conditions I have laid down, we will go as far as it is possible for the Board of Agriculture to go to assist in the matter.
§ Mr. WALTER LONG
Let me in the first place offer my congratulations to the hon. Member upon his appointment to the position of Under-Secretary to the Board of Agriculture; his appointment has met with the universal approval of everyone who has watched his hard work in connection with that Department in this House. And also let me express my great satisfaction that the Board of Agriculture, with which. I once—now many years ago—had the honour of being associated, has been strengthened by the appointment of an Under-Secretary, so that in future, whether the President of the Board sits in the other House or not, there shall always be a representative of the Board here. Let me note in passing, in a perfectly friendly and non-controversial way, that this appointment of an Under-Secretary of the Board with the object of securing representation in both Houses seems to augur well for the issue of other controversies. Having offered the hon. Gentleman my congratulations, may I also offer him my condolence? I ventured to say the other day, speaking in this House, nothing struck me more than the altered demeanour of the House and the altered demeanour of the Ministers addressing themselves to these great problems. The hon. Member who has just spoken deserves our sympathy and our condolence because he had to address himself to this technical and difficult Question under the dark shadow of the majority of thirty-one, and it was quite obvious he had to wrestle with the old Free Trade theories and shibboleths fully conscious that the Division of last night declared that they no longer possessed the power and no longer were received with; the same amount of sympathy that they were before the election of this Parliament. The hon. Member paid very little attention to the suggestions that were made by my two hon. Friends, outside the question of a duty. They made two practical suggestions. Both hon. Members made it perfectly clear that, although they believed a duty to be essential and necessary, yet there are other methods by which something might be done. I respectfully suggest that the answer which the Government made is one of the most 499 unsatisfactory answers that was ever made by a Government Department.
The hon. Gentleman opposite indulged in all the old criticism of hide-bound Free Trade. "There is the consumer," he exclaimed. Yes, that is perfectly true, but the consumer of what? It is interesting to note that this objection in the interest of the consumer to a tax upon hops, which is to have the object of promoting industry here at home, is held strongly now, but it is not held with the same strength when pointed out that by increasing the Licence Duty you will create such an increase in the cost of beer as to make the price higher to the consumer. It is legitimate to add to the price the consumer will have to pay, because it adds an additional impost on the man at home, but it is illegitimate when it proposes to add something to the man who is not at home, and would give the man at home some further employment. There is another aspect as to the consumer. The hon. Gentleman tells us he is quite sure the brewers would rise in their wrath, and resent the proposal of the Amendment. Surely that ought to be the greatest commendation he could use for it—to be able to say "the brewers have risen in their wrath and condemned the Licence Duty; this is not a lowering of it, but an altering of it, and it is done in the best interests of the country." But we have some information upon this subject, and we know from all sources that there is not the smallest prospect of the brewers doing any such thing; that there is no agreement that it would have the effect the hon. Gentleman anticipates, and that it would be welcomed by all concerned. This Question does not arise now for the first time. It was a subject of very great anxiety when I was at the Board of Agriculture. Although this Question has been discussed on platform after platform, and at meetings of all kinds not confined to the hop-growing industry or to the hop-growing districts, the hon. Baronet has not been able to produce one atom of information in support of his statement that a duty on hops would be followed by annoyance to the brewers, or opposition from them on account of a rise in the price of hops. We have been threatened with all sorts of charges of inconsistency and impropriety of conduct in case we should go back upon our declaration not to tax raw materials. Does it mean that under no circumstances or conditions you can do this? Is that 500 the proposition of the Government? Does it mean that you are never to be allowed to examine the circumstances and the facts in cases where there happens to be a common agreement amongst those who use the raw material that the imposition of the duty is a matter of which they approve, and that it will not injure the consuming classes? A more narrow presentment of the case for Free Trade has never been put before the House. The Mover of this Amendment asserted that there is a decrease in the number of people employed in this industry and that it is threatened. Is it denied that this industry is showing signs of a considerable decrease in the number of people employed in it?
§ Mr WALTER LONG
Even if the Report of the Committee ignored the fact which the hon. Member cannot deny that the number employed in this industry is decreasing, that does not to my mind alter, and cannot alter, the fact. Nobody denies that the number employed in the hop industry is decreasing. What is the answer which the Government make? They say, "You tell us that the number of people employed in this industry is decreasing, that there are a large number who are now out of employment, but we cannot find them, and we cannot find any district from which the population has gone because this industry is languishing." The answer of the Government to this state of things is that they will move neither hand nor foot until the threat of decline has turned into a reality, until the industry is dead, and until the people are gone away. Evidently the Government does not believe that "prevention is better than cure," or that it is the first duty of the Government to step in and interfere if it is possible for them to do so in order to maintain and retain a great national industry.
Let me make a comparison. I do not think the most ardent Free Trader will disagree with the general view I am going to put before the House. It is a commonplace in this House in our Debates upon unemployment, upon the social condition of the country, and upon agriculture, to hear hon. Members in all quarters deploring the fact that there are millions of acres of land which are not growing cereal crops which twenty years ago were finding employment for a large number of our people and producing a large proportion of our corn supply. I do not think it would have interfered in any way with the appli- 501 cation of the principles of Free Trade if at the time it was decided to repeal the Corn Laws the change had been made in a more gradual manner, and some provision had been made by the State to ensure the continuance of the production of cereals in this country. I have heard many Free Traders say that they would have been thankful if under Free Trade the corn industry had been kept in existence. It would be one of the best things for this country if in the great corn-growing districts, where we are now growing miserable grass and fattening inferior cattle, the corn-growing industry of forty years ago could have been continued. This would have been an admirable thing, but it cannot be done now. To bring this about now you would have to put on a very large duty. Although there is common agreement amongst all that what I have suggested is a good thing, and although it is acknowledged that the consumer would not be injuriously affected, and that it is a remedy which ought to be applied, the Government decline to apply this remedy because it is contrary to the principles of Free Trade. The statement of such weight and gravity that this industry is threatened is one which is met by the Government with a very inadequate and unsatisfactory reply, to the effect that the principles of Free Trade make it impossible for them to consider the duty, and as they have no other remedy the Government say that things must remain as they are. I venture to say again what I said at the beginning: A more unsatisfactory reply to a carefully-stated case has never been made. The hon. Gentleman was challenged by my hon. Friend the Member for Rye (Mr. Courthope) to give a single instance where there has been an increase in the price of beer. Yet he adhered to the prophecy he made, for which there is not the smallest foundation. The only conclusion it is possible to draw from the answer of the Government is that while they give us their sympathy they have no practical help to offer us. They are content to sit with their hands folded whilst this industry, which affects thousands of agriculturists and many in the allied industries, and which provides employment for a large number of our people, is rapidly being extinguished. ["No."] It is no use saying "No." If when facts are presented to you, as they are in this case. you say there is no remedy you can offer, then you are undeniably sitting with your hands folded, prepared 502 to see an industry die which we desire to save. The issue has been perfectly clearly stated. We have presented our case, the Government have given their answer, and I have no doubt what will be the decision of the great mass of my fellow-countrymen when they are asked to give their opinion upon the matter
§ Sir WILLIAM COLLINS
As I happened to have been the chairman of the Select Committee to whose Report reference has been made in the speeches this afternoon, may I be permitted to intervene at this stage and say a few words on the question which has been raised in so moderate and competent a manner by the hon. Member for the Rye Division. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken will permit me to say that the quotation to which he referred was from the Report which had the advantage of being supported by the hon. Member for Rye and by the hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. Arkwright), who seconded the Motion, but which was rejected by six to two in the vote on the Committee. It is quite evident it is possible to approach the consideration of this interesting and important problem of the hop industry from two widely distinct standpoints. It may be regarded as an example, unique and particular, of one of the dying industries, and approached with some mental prepossession or preoccupation, thinking it a particular example of the general case which has been argued during the last two days in this House. Anyone approaching it from that point of view would have his mind so obsessed as to be naturally disposed to look on the imposition of a 40s. duty on imported foreign hops as the sovereign or only remedy for the distress to which reference has been made. On the other hand, it is quite possible to approach the consideration of the question as I think the Select Committee approached it, namely, with an endeavour to lay under contribution all the facts and figures which are available on the subject and to regard it from a world-wide standpoint, seeing what has been the operation of the laws of supply and demand upon the prices so much complained of to-day.
If I might briefly summarise the findings of the Select Committee, I should say they were these. The consumption of hops may be practically taken from the Inland Revenue Returns, because, apart from hops used for the purpose of brewing, very little are used, and, according to them, the annual consumption is 600,000 cwts. It is true there has been some falling off in 503 recent years. Since 1901 the falling off has been 12 per cent. The reason of that is, as the Committee explain, partly because less beer is consumed—7.4 per cent. less in 1907 than in 1900. A very interesting and significant fact also came out during the investigations of the Committee. Much less hops per barrel are now employed than was the case twenty-five or thirty years ago. We were told that from 25 to 30 per cent. less hops per barrel are now employed than thirty years ago. The average annual production of hops in this country, according to the figures supplied by the Board of Agriculture, amount to about 400,000 cwts. although it is admittedly perhaps the most variable of agricultural crops, hops being said to be especially speculative; and at the present time, even in the depressed state of the industry, more than 70 per cent. of the hops consumed are produced in this country. The figures are perfectly conclusive on that point.
It is, nevertheless, undoubtedly true, as the hon. Member for Rye stated, that there has been a great reduction in the acreage under hops in the country. We are naturally met with a paradox—if the home production remains what it was on an average number of years and the acreage under hops is reduced. How is that paradox explained? It is explained by the fact—and I think the figures are indisputable on the subject—that along with the reduction in the acreage under hops there has been an increased yield per acre. Whether you have regard to periods of five years or of ten years, the figures are conclusive on the subject. The longest periods possible to compare since the date of the collection of the statistics by the Board of Agriculture on their present basis are for the two decades, 1888–1897 and 1898–1907. Whilst the annual average acreage has been reduced by 13 per cent., the average annual yield per acre has increased by 14 per cent. In other words the reduction in acreage has been largely or almost entirely met by the increased yield per acre, owing to the intensive cultivation on the wire system, instead of on the old method of poles. The cost of producing and marketing an acre of hops, as has been said, is about on the average £40. Therefore, if you take 10 cwts. per acre as the yield, the grower would expect to get at least 80s. per cwt. in order to get some slight profit in return for his expenditure.
504 I quite admit, and the hon. Member for Rye was perfectly entitled to call attention to the point, that a large proportion, indeed the Select Committee has found, and I think correctly found, that half, or perhaps more, of the total cost of production is spent in the employment of labour. He called attention, not only to the labour employed in the ordinary cultivation some ten months of the year, but also to the extraordinary employment of pickers during harvest. I agree with him that some advantages are derived by the people of our crowded courts making an annual excursion into the country for hop-picking; but I am bound to say that there is a shady side to the picture which the hon. Member endeavoured to present to the House. I have here a report to the Staffordshire County Council, and the sanitary conditions disclosed in many cases are almost too revolting and disgusting to read to the House. Imperfect supply of water, want of decent accommodation, insufficient supply of lavatory accommodation, and so on, present a most revolting picture. It is only fair to bear in mind, when these light touches are put on this picturesque matter of hop-picking, that it is often associated with these other features, and that disease is sometimes traced to them, as the right hon. Gentleman, who has, I know, had much experience in public health matters, will bear me out. Stress has been laid, and naturally laid, on the amount of foreign competition. Here again the figures supplied by the Board of Agriculture are perfectly clear. They show that the foreign competition was certainly greater thirty years ago than is the case at the present time. "The Times" newspaper, in a leading article, dealing with the Report of the Select Committee, drew attention to that fact and stated that the present tendency is for foreign imports to decline rather than to increase, and the period of largest imports was more than twenty years ago. Hon. Members must, therefore, bear in mind that the figures prove that whatever foreign competition may be doing now the total imports thirty years ago were greater than they are to-day. I am sorry not to see the hon. Member for Gravesend in his place. The House will remember that, in a former Debate, the hon. Member rather alarmed it by citing a case of the dumping of foreign hops. This, if really true, would have been alarming indeed. He stated on 14th April, 1908, that, within the preceding three weeks, there had been dumped on the shores of the Thames something like 505 8,000 tons of hops to be sold at 25s. per cwt., and he went on to add that he believed there would be, within the following fortnight, something like 15,000 tons of hops dumped for sale in the county of Kent. These two totals gave an aggregate of 23,000 tons of hops dumped in this country in a period of five weeks. Having been chairman of the Select Committee I felt it my duty to specially investigate this case of alleged dumping. I could not get at the exact five weeks referred to by the hon. Member, so I took a period of two months, March and April, covering eight weeks including the five weeks, and I found that instead of 23,000 tons, representing 460,000 cwts., having been dumped in five-week, including the five weeks, and I found according to the Board of Agriculture figures, not for five weeks, but for eight weeks, was 90,000 cwts. I trust that those figures may not be regarded as an example of the accuracy of Tariff Reform statistics.
Did not the hon. Member for Gravesend subsequently explain that he meant hundredweights instead of tons?
§ 2.0 P.M.
§ Sir WILLIAM COLLINS
I have looked up the reference to-day. It is quite true that the Chancellor of the Exchequer challenged the hon. Gentleman as to whether he meant hundredweights and not tons, and the hon. Member rather incontinently retorted: "I said tons, and I meant tons." That reminds me of the story of the man who said he bad purchased a horse 16 feet high, and when a friend suggested that he meant hands, he incontinently replied, "What did I say? Did I say feet? Then I will stick to it." I should like also to call attention to the fact with regard to these foreign hops, which we are sometimes told are cheap and nasty, and which we have been again told this afternoon are picked by coloured labour, that, so far from these hops being of that character, we were informed by an authority which the House will not dispute—by the hon. Member for Rutland (Mr. Gretton), whose authority and experience are incontestable—that foreign hops were invariably used in brewing the highest class of beers. The hon. Member volunteered himself as a witness before the Committee, and in the course of his evidence he said the English public would not be satisfied with beer brewed from English hops only. He stated further that Messrs. Bass had used foreign hops ever since 1855, and even before that, and that about 50 per cent. of 506 the hops used by Messrs. Bass are imported foreign hops. He said also, as regarded price, that Messrs. Bass gave £1 per cwt. more for foreign than for English hops, in order to get certain qualities which English hops do not possess. In other words, there are great varieties in the qualities of hops, and foreign hops are not simply or mainly used because they are cheap, but they are used because they happen to be rich in properties which English hops lack. Next arises the question why prices have been so low during recent years—not perhaps during the last season, for I think the hon. Member for Rye will admit, although he did not tell the House, that prices during last season, although the crop was small, were fairly satisfactory, ranging from £6 to £9 per cwt.
§ Sir WILLIAM COLLINS
I am sorry I did not hear it, but I quite accept the hon. Member's statement. I think I have shown that while the consumption of hops has somewhat fallen off, the supply in this country has remained very much about the same. I may also add that the proportion of hops produced in this country to the total of the world's supply has also remained stationary, as is shown by the figures supplied by the Board of Agriculture. But there were several causes operating, some of which the hon. Member for Rye referred to, in addition to that of over-production, as being responsible for the lower prices paid during recent seasons for hops. He mentioned one, although I do not think he laid sufficient stress on it, and that was the method of cold storage, which has no doubt had the effect of equalising prices. Some of the earlier inquiries instituted by this House resulted in a Report that there were no means of using the superabundance of hops in one year in order to make up for the scarcity in another. Cold storage has removed that difficulty, and it enables the plethora of one year to be used to make up the scarcity of another. Then as to Hop Substitutes. I would remind the House that the Committee was unanimous in recommending that the House should initiate legislation with a view to prohibiting the use of hop substitutes. There is no ground whatever for saying that there is a really effective substitute for hops. There is, in fact, no substitute which combines the valuable properties of the hop—the aroma, the flavour, the precipitating, and the preservative powers which the hop alone possesses. Nor 507 is there any reason to think that synthetic chemistry is able to produce one. I do not think scientific chemists would support the suggestion that that is at all likely. While there are substitutes which may legitimately be used for malt, such as rice or sugar, as a matter of fact there is no substitute which can be used for the hop. These substitutes are sometimes deleterious, and even poisonous, as was proved before the Royal Commission on Arsenical Poisoning, when it was shown that in one case the substitute contained large quantities of antimony and arsenic. I am, therefore, heartily with the hon. Member for Rye in pressing upon the Government to introduce a small Bill, if only a Departmental measure, dealing with the use of hop substitutes. I think it is only due to the Select Committee, which took so much trouble in investigating this Question, that such a result should follow upon our labours. Now, I turn to the question of the duty which hon. Members on the other side of the House, however much they may desire to prohibit the use of hop substitutes, regard as the real remedy for the grievance of which they complain. It struck me as remarkably interesting to hear, at any rate, that we have a particular product on which all Tariff Reformers are agreed that a duty should be imposed. I have sometimes heard the Prime Minister ask the Leader of the Opposition whether he was prepared to advocate a tax upon this or that—upon wheat, upon meat, upon maize, or upon bacon—but apparently they are all agreed there should be a tax upon hops. "The Times" newspaper on 13th July, 1908, said:—In any scheme for the adjustment of a new tariff on imports, the special case of the hop grower deserves primary consideration.So that, at any rate, the case of a duty on hops may be regarded as a concrete example of those abstract discussions with which during the last two days this House has been occupied. Therefore it behoves us to scrutinise with some care what are the object, amount, incidence, and nature of this particular duty on hops. As regards its object, all the witnesses who appeared before the Select Committee were unanimous in agreeing that it was to raise the price, and not to raise revenue; and we were also told—and the figures bear it out—that the question of Colonial preference was quite insignificant as regarded hops. As to the amount of duty, we have 508 not heard anything about a lower duty this afternoon than one of 40s. per cwt., or from 25 or 50 per cent of the value of the article, which can hardly be regarded as moderate; and as to its incidence, we do not gather that those who defended the duty before the Committee thought that it would fall upon the foreigner. We were told by a representative of the brewers, who gave useful evidence, that he calculated that 40s. per cwt. would be equal to a tax of 7d. or 8d. on a barrel of beer, which he said would be equivalent to a 3s. 8d. in the £ tax on the ordinary shareholders of breweries; and if the brewers were unable to shift the incidence of the tax on to the shoulders of the consumers, then the brewers, as the primary consumers, would have to bear this tax, and not the foreigner. I have the pleasure of meeting from time to time on the board of a great charity in London a brewer whose name is a household word. He is a great and active Tariff Reformer, and he has sometimes chaffed me on the progress of Tariff Reform, but one day, just before the Select Committee was presenting its Report, I met him, with a harassed expression, and he said, "I say, you are not going to recommend a duty on hops, are you?" which, at any rate, bore into my mind the impression that there was a consumers' point of view with regard to this duty on hops. So far as I can gather from the information supplied by the Board of Agriculture, the import duty of 10s. in Germany has not prevented grubbing of acres of hops in Germany, more particularly in Prussia and some in Bavaria, although they enjoy the blessings of Protection. On the West Coast of America we have a Consular report from Oregon and California, in which the industry is described, although there is a duty of 56s., as being in "a ruinously low condition." An hon. Member alluded to yellow and black labour, but we are told by His Majesty's Consul for Oregon:—Labour employed in the hop industry is generally white; very few Chinese and no negroes are employed; even Chinese growers generally employ white labour. Japanese are employed to some extent, bur, the bulk of the labour is white. Wages paid for cultivation range from 6s. to 7s. per day.Therefore I think the hon. Member laid undue stress on the employment of coloured labour, as is shown by these Consular reports which we received from the West Coast of America.
§ Sir WILLIAM COLLINS
It is mostly white labour in the case of California. That is my recollection, but I cannot remember the exact terms at the moment. We asked the witnesses what was to be the effect of the 40s. duty on hops, and they hoped it would raise the price by the amount of the duty, and that it would increase the acreage of hops under cultivation in this country. They were asked whether that would not encourage home competition, so as to make it almost as bad as competition from abroad, but they were apparently prepared to face that alternative; but we also got evidence from the West Coast of America which showed that apparently attempts were made to set up large trusts and syndicates to control the industry there, and I am not sure whether the same thing would not happen under a 40s. duty here. It may have the effect of benefiting the factor and the middleman, but I doubt whether it would benefit either the grower on the one hand or the brewer on the other. There was an interesting inquiry by a Committee of this House in 1857, and, according to a Report which they prepared, they said:—It is now evident that the present duty of £2 5s. per cwt. will not in future have the effect of preventing their importation in large quantities, to compete with the finest English qualities.I do not know on what basis hon. Members have arrived at 40s. as being sufficient duty to achieve the end they have in view, but I quite agree with the proposal which has been made for bringing in legislation to prohibit substitutes. I also agree that if it is practicable we should insist on making the foreigner mark his produce in the same way that the English growers mark theirs now. There is, I know, some difficulty, especially in the case of the small growers round Nuremburg, but I do hope that may be overcome, because, if it is desirable to distinguish between Kent and Sussex hops by marking, it is also advisable in regard to other hops, seeing that there is no chemical method of standardising hops. I am quite prepared to co-operate with hon. Members in bringing in those two reforms, which I think the representative of the Board of Agriculture fully admits would not infringe the principles of Free Trade. I also agree with what the Report laid special stress upon: that it is desirable to acquaint the home grower not only as to what is going on in foreign markets as to conditions and prices, but also to bring to his knowledge better methods of culture and curing the hops. The United States Board of Agri- 510 culture has done a great deal in that direction which we might also do, and the Royal Commission of 1897 recommended something in the same direction. I cannot help thinking that the Board of Agriculture is not altogether free from some reproach for not having taken steps in that direction, suggested by the Committee unanimously, which I believe would be of real advantage to growers in this country. It is, I believe, on these lines that the House might do something to improve this industry, but I am bound to say the evidence, the figures, and facts do not, in my opinion, justify the exceptional treatment of this industry, and I believe in this, as in other oases, protective duties can only result in detriment to the general consumer, even if they give temporary benefit to particular classes of producer.
§ Mr. A. St. G. HAMERSLEY
We have heard from the last speaker as to the conditions under which hops are grown on the West Coast of America. I happen to have been a grower of hops on that coast, and I can speak with a little experience and practical knowledge of the conditions of labour and price and cost of production. The cost of production on the West Coast of America may be put at about a quarter of the cost in Kent. In 1890, when we began to grow hops there in large quantities, in yards which are now exporting very largely into England, I went through Kent and the yards there and found a state of prosperity and a very large number of people employed. I went through that same country this spring, and found that the prosperity had gone. Labour was no longer employed as it had been, and the whole conditions had been altered. We have heard to-day reasons given and the causes of the alteration, but from my experience I cannot help coming to the conclusion that one very large cause is the importation of foreign hops produced under conditions that created unfair competition with the growers in Kent. As an instance, when hops were first grown in large quantities on the West Coast of America, Australia had a very heavy duty on all imported hops that practically closed the exportation of hops to Australia from the West Coast of America, and that branch of the business has never prospered or increased, and the Australians and Tasmanians now have kept their production unimpaired. That was evidently owing to that duty. It was an easier voyage. It was easier, as far as 511 method of transit is concerned, to get the hops into the Australian market than it would have been to get them into the English market, but the Australian market was kept for the Australians. The English market was not kept for the Englishman. It was kept for the coloured labour of the West Coast of America. We have heard it stated by the last speaker that no coloured labour is employed in producing these hops on the West Coast of America.
§ Mr. HAMERSLEY
I have never seen on the West Coast of British Columbia any white pickers at all. They are all Chinamen and Indians, and in California it is only of very late years that there have been white pickers, but I believe there are some now owing to the increase of population. The cost of picking by these Chinamen and Indians, chiefly Indians, on the West Coast of America, in the yards which now are exporting large quantities and dumping them, as has been stated, into England, is of the very cheapest kind, and it has been the object of all the Labour members in Canada and on the West Coast to prevent, as far as possible, the influx of Chinese labour into that country and to keep it as a white man's country, and properly so, too. But in England we find the Labour Members not attempting to prevent the competition of the Chinaman and the Indian in the hop-growing industry, but absolutely, more or less, encouraging it when they so easily, if they liked, could prevent it. I should like, as an object lesson to them, to bodily transfer the scene of hop picking on the West Coast of America into one of the yards of Kent and then invite all the Labour Members to go and look at it. I know what the result would be. They would say at once that it must be stopped, that it was unfair competition with our people. What is the difference—how can they state that there is any difference—between the employment on the West Coast of America of Chinamen and Indians in competing in the production of hops there and in Kent? Why should not a duty protect the industry here as much as is done in Australia, Tasmania, or any other country where it has been tried? I should like anyone to point out the difference, except in labour and the cheapness of it, between the production and the methods employed in this country and the others.
512 Again, we have it stated from the Front Bench that there is a prohibitive duty in America on hops, and yet the hon. Baronet at the same time stated that there were large imports from Germany. That entirely does away with the argument that you cannot have the revenue and Protection at the same time. The hon. Baronet admits that they get the revenue from the large importation of German hops, at the same time protecting their own industry. That is the chief argument we have heard against the idea of protecting the industry. I fail to see why the labour should not be protected in this country by duties on manufactured articles as well in this country as in any other. That applies to the West Coast of America and Australia in hops. Why should it not apply to this? It is said that hops are a raw material. That may be so if they like to use that definition of raw material, but, as a matter of fact, that is not the definition of raw material. The definition of raw material is entirely a different definition, and that can be seen by looking at the ordinary definition in a dictionary. My object has been only to see if something could not be done to maintain this vast industry on which so many of our fellow citizens depend, and not allow it to go as other industries have done when the means are in our reach by imposing a duty on it or by taking some other steps. I cordially support the Motion.
§ Mr. JOHN GRETTON
I only want to make clear the position which I have taken up in this matter as a brewer and as a representative of the agricultural industry. We are all agreed that measures should be taken at the earliest possible moment to relieve the very serious and dangerous depression under which the industry has suffered far too long. It is useless, as my hon. Friend the Member for Eye (Mr. Courthope) stated, to argue for all practical purposes in this Parliament in support of a proposal to put an import duty on foreign hops. I should like to state on this subject that I believe a moderate duty upon imported hops—[An HON. MEMBER: "HOW much?"] That is a matter that can be discussed at another time. I believe that a moderate duty on foreign hops would not do any injury to the consumers of hops in this country, and its imposition would have a tendency to steady the market. Violent fluctuations are not in the interest of the brewing trade. What has taken place in the past? We have had periods 513 of over-production, and hops have been exceedingly cheap, being sold at a price which would scarcely pay for the labour expended on their cultivation, and yielding no profit to the producer. Well, no industry can exist under these circumstances. The result is that when bad seasons come, and the yield is unprofitable, land is allowed to go out of cultivation. Since the Select Committee investigated this matter a good many acres which were formerly devoted to the cultivation of hops have gone out of cultivation. It is admitted that 14,000 acres, which up to that time were under cultivation for that purpose, have gone out of cultivation, with the result that a very large amount of misery and loss have been entailed, not only on the growers themselves, but on the agricultural districts, where hops were formerly cultivated. The effect of this must be to increase the price of hops in particular years, and I would point out that the occurrence of violent fluctuations are not to the advantage of the users of the material or of the districts engaged in cultivating hops. On the broad principle that the article ought to command a price at which it can be produced, and give a fair profit to the growers, the brewers of this country would raise no objection to a moderate duty on imported hops. There are two reasons for the depression in price on which I think too little stress has been laid. In a declining industry a comparatively small decrease in the demand for the article makes a great difference in the market price of the article. The reduction in the quantity produced must also inevitably lead to further depression in the market, if foreign hops are allowed to come in free of duty. I think the decrease in the consumption of beer in this country has had a real and marked effect on the price of hops in the English market.
Reference has been made to-day to the question of cold storage. I think hon. Members who have referred to it have not adequately estimated the effect of that on the hop industry. Cold storage does provide a medium for carrying over from one year to another the lower qualities of hops; but I do not think that anyone who had experience of cold storage will pretend that that method of preserving hops from one season to another will avail to preserve high qualities. It can be employed in connection with what may be called competition hops, which do not compete with the very best 514 class of hops. The lower qualities of hops can be carried over by means of cold storage in a very efficient condition for competition in prices, and that has really a great effect on the price of hops generally. It is also a cause which conduces to the depression of the industry. That is a cause which cannot be remedied. It is one which will always be with us, and that is one more reason why there should be means taken to abate the unfair competition which the home grower has to meet on account of the importation of foreign hops when there are abundant crops abroad. One of the remedies in regard to which we are all agreed is the prohibition of the use of substitutes. I agree with everything that has been said on that subject, with the exception of the statement that substitutes are deleterious. While I do not believe they are deleterious, I am sure they are no advantage to the brewer or consumer of beer. They do not possess any of the qualities that are sought for in hops. They do not give the flavour or the aroma which is to be found in beer made from hops. They are no advantage to anyone. As regards the question of marking, I do not think that is a remedy which will effect all that its advocates desire or claim for it. No doubt the marking of foreign hops will do something in the direction of preventing fraud. At the same time, I may say that I do not believe that fraud is being now perpetrated on a large scale. After all, most consumers of hops have some knowledge of the article they are dealing in, and it is difficult to sell as high-class articles hops which have been fraudulently treated. They can only be sold at low prices as inferior articles, because those who want a superior article are quite capable of judging of what they are buying. This year there was a high price for hops on the Continent, because there was a very considerable shortage in the crop. It seems to me that the remedies proposed by the Government were entirely inadequate. They insisted that the name of the owner of the hops should be marked on the labels. It is the owner who is accused of fraud. If the owner merely puts his seal on the bag there is no guarantee whatever as to the quality of the hops contained in the bag. Of course, the only way that it can Be carried out is to have an alternative. The Satz hops grown in Bohemia, which are most highly esteemed in the markets of the world, are grown on large and small holdings, but they are all packed under the supervision of the local authority of the 515 district, and the bales are sealed with the seal of that authority, and they will not pass upon the market unless they are sold with the official seal on them. Some method of the kind would give a guarantee of the quality.
In the case of the Bavarian and some other foreign hops, in the packing of which it is sought to avoid fraud, we understand that hop growers in this country would not wish to take any measures to prohibit the importation of foreign hops, but if they were to insist that the name of the grower should be put on the bale, it would in effect prevent the importation of hops from considerable districts on the Continent, and I am quite sure would soon involve our Foreign Office in great difficulties with the Governments of the places concerned in the matter. After all, I am not given to understand that the English growers desire to prevent, under fair and reasonable conditions, the importation of foreign hops into this country if those hops are desired by users in this country. It seems to me that it would meet the difficulty to provide either that the name of the hop grower should be marked on the bags, or in the alternative that the official seal of the district in which the hops are grown should be affixed. There is a very great measure of agreement in this matter, and I trust sincerely, if this Parliament lasts long enough to pass any useful legislation of the kind, that a Hops Bill may be carried with the general consent of all parties. After all, it will only be a very partial and very inadequate remedy for the very serious, almost desperate, condition of the hop industry in this country. I believe that the only real remedy for the evil will be to place a moderate duty on foreign imported hops. I have no hesitation in supporting the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Rye, and I hope that he will go to a Division.
§ Mr. G. WHELER
I should not have intervened if it were not that this question concerns the vital interests of the division I represent. Those interests are so vital that the Member who represented it in the last Parliament said, I believe, that he was in agreement with the idea that some duty should be placed on foreign hops, because he believed that that duty would not increase the price of beer. I do not say that he admitted that on the Committee, but I believe that that was his statement in various parts of the North-East Division of Kent. There are 516 various suggestions as to what should be done to save from total extinction an industry which gives a very large amount of employment. It was stated in the Debate that if hops were done away with fruit would take their place, and an equal amount of employment would thus be created. I am certain that that is wrong so far as our district is concerned, because my experience has been that when land has been grubbed and fruit has been planted, in a year or two the land is laid out in grass, and nobody will claim that land laid out in grass will give as much employment as hop growing. Even if fruit culture does employ labour, it is only at certain parts of the year, while hops practically employ labour all the year round. They start in the winter with various works—digging, trimming the poles, and things of that sort. In the spring, when you have also women in the garden, you have training the rising shoots up the poles, and in autumn you have the hop-picking, which undoubtedly, as has been mentioned, does enable many families to set by a sum of money, which pays, for instance, the doctor's fees and other things of that sort, and which, unless something is done for this industry, I venture to say they will not be able to earn in the near future.
Another point is that it is nearly all hand labour. Practically the only machinery used is the machinery for spraying hops. The rest of the work which is done in the garden has of necessity to be done by hand. That is the sort of employment that it is necessary to encourage at a time when machinery in many cases is supplanting hand labour and is therefore driving men out of employment And it is not only hop raising itself which is affected in many parts of Kent, but some of the other industries which are dependent upon it. One small industry that has suffered severely is the wood-cutting industry. Many small owners and farmers in former times, when they found no profitable employment in winter, would buy an acre or so under wood, fell it, and sell the faggot wood in neighbouring towns, while getting a fair price for the poles made for the cultivation of hops. We admit at once that string work has done away with a large proportion of the poles, and that they are not wanted as much as they were. But at the same time, if it was not for the grubbing going on in many a hop garden, there would be work for many a small holder who in the past has been a wood-cutter, who does not venture to go to buy wood at 517 present because he knows that he will not get his price for it when it is cut up and sold. At the present time, when we hear so much about encouraging small holders, it is a matter for consideration by all parties in this House—not only how they are going to bring fresh men on the land, but how they are going to make life more liveable for those who are there already. Allusion was made to the fact that hops sold well last year. The reason was that, generally speaking, the foreign crop failed, and therefore the English grower gained some advantage. 1s that a satisfactory position in which the English hop industry should be placed, that it should be at the mercy of the foreigner? Speaking as one who has had rather a long experience in hop growing, I have no hesitation in saying that though we made better prices for our hops last year, can anyone guarantee in this Chamber, or anywhere else, that the price will be satisfactory next year? We know perfectly well that when there are large crops in foreign countries, knowing that they can be sent over here, down will go our prices again. There are various industries dependent upon hop growing. In past years the farmer was able to buy a larger number of cattle in north-east Kent than at the present time. He bought them for the simple reason that he wanted a larger amount of manure to put on the land, and he thus had not only the profits from the cattle, but he was also enabled to enrich the land for the cultivation of hops. In the district which I represent the depression in the hop industry has rather a serious effect on the keeping of cattle. When the price of hops was better years ago a large amount of money was circulated, and the hop industry helped not only the labourer, but the tradesmen of the small country towns and various parts. Something must be done to safeguard the various employment connected with hop growing, which are so vitally affected, otherwise unemployment in north-east Kent will be increased. I have seen this year what I have never seen before in my experience, namely, skilled woodsmen, who used to supply wood to the hop growers, now doing casual labour on the road, because the wood is no longer wanted. That cannot be satisfactory for any industry. It is because I myself seriously advocate something being done, and because I believe something should be done for the advantage of the various employments connected with the hop-growing industry, which employs a larger number of people 518 per acre than does any other form of agriculture, that I strongly support the Amendment.
§ Mr. RYLAND ADKINS
Those who have listened to this Debate feel that it is very nearly as instructive as the Debate to which we listened the day before. If the discussion of general principles of great interest lent themselves to every variety of prophecy and rhetoric, we have now the pleasure of hearing a particularly interesting Debate. I have heard most of the speeches delivered this afternoon, and I remember, in the last Parliament a discussion on this subject which was raised two years ago by the hon. Member for the Rye Division, on an Amendment to the Address. I think the tone of the speeches on the other side of the House has been very instructive from the point of view of fiscal principle which has been raised. I have heard a great deal said, with great care and great point, about certain recommendations for the upholding of the hop industry, such as the marking of foreign hops, and other remedies, besides that of the duty; but while these remedies have been discussed at some length today, we have found nothing like unanimity upon them. The speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Rutland was one to which I hope great attention will be given by Members of this House. He referred to the proposal of a duty on foreign hops in the most vague and general terms, with the phrase "a moderate duty," which sounds so attractive and modest, and free from the objections which might be urged against any definite proposal. Then he devoted his great experience and his expert knowledge to showing that all the specific proposals of his hon. Friends around him were open to special objections. He is the only Member of this House who has spoken from the point of view of the brewing industry. My hon. Friend the Member for West St. Pancras reminded the House of the very important evidence given before the Committee by a brewer of experience, who suggested that the proposed foreign duty on hops would be equivalent to an income tax of 3s. 8d. additional on the dividends of the brewers. If that be so, and all the other remedies being open to criticism from Members on that side of the House who are most anxious that this Amendment should be passed, then they should, with regard to the one remedy on which they are all agreed, the remedy of imposing a duty, recollect that it will add 519 such a burden upon the brewing industry that it will seriously increase the cost of production in that industry. If by any chance the House were to agree to the present proposal, we should certainly have an Amendment on some future Address from the distressed brewing industry, asking why they were to be singled out for further burdens.
It is also interesting to notice one other striking thing in connection with a duty on foreign hops—it has not yet, I think, been mentioned in debate whether that duty is to be levied on hops coming from the Colonies or not. You are going to put a tax on hops, such as those grown in California, which are almost exclusively dealt with by white labour, and you are going to admit free hops grown in Columbia, where hops are largely grown with the aid of yellow and coloured labour. The philanthropic note struck in the argument on the other side, if it is to be effective for coloured labour, can only apply if you are going to put a duty on hops from abroad, whether they come from our Colonies or not. It can only apply in fullness if you are going to put a duty on hops coming from our Colonies, where coloured labour is used to a large extent. That has not been put before the House by any hon. Member on that side, but it follows of necessity that it would have to be dealt with if their suggestion were carried out. I am sure that Members of this House recognise that while the woes of the hop industry have undoubtedly not been minimised by hon. Gentlemen with personal and geographical interest in the question, there are certainly grounds for the condition of the hop industry being considered with care by Parliament. But the ordinary and effective way in which that could be done would surely be by the reintroduction of the Hops Bill into this or into the other House, and the discussion would then be obtained in a less urgent fashion than in the form of an Amendment to the Address. We have had it from the other side in a way for which we on this side of the House cannot be too grateful. I think it was the hon. Member who spoke last who was dealing with the fact that last year the market for hops was better, and who said that that was due to the failure of foreign supplies. He went on to say, Could we in that way guarantee better prices for our hops? So that we see now what the real proposal is that is before the House, that measures 520 shall be taken in the way of a duty on foreign hops for the purpose of guaranteeing a better price of commodities in which the hon. Member and other hon. Members are interested. That is a fiscal principle so clear and so far-reaching that we may be glad that this Debate has revealed it without disguise and without veiling of any kind. If Parliament is to take measures to guarantee better prices of commodities which are sold, or in which hon. Members from Kent are interested, why should not Parliament take equal trouble to guarantee prices for commodities in which the people in the North or in the Midlands are interested? [Hon. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] So now we know all the more from those approving cheers, for which I express my gratitude, that the whole idea of Parliamentary action in this matter is to, by artificial means, guarantee the price, whatever the result to the consumer. The competition, which is so much resented, from the Colonies and foreign countries is competition affected to a considerable extent by the fact that the hop grower in this country has to pay far more in the way of rent than his competitor abroad; and the anxiety of those Members of this House and of those interested in the hop industry might be also to come extent affected by the fact that land let for the growing of hops commands more than double the price the same land would command if let for ordinary arable purposes. [An HON. MEMBER: "Question."] The hon. Member will have the opportunity of correcting me. I have taken that statement from the Report of the Committee. I only failed to read it to the House because it would take more time to read than to repeat it. It is there in the Report, with an instance given in the county of Kent, where land was let at £3 for the purpose of a hop garden and at £1 5s. for ordinary arable purposes. It is stated there that it is not confined to one particular instance, but is of general application. One can well understand that the change in the user of land in some parts from hop gardens to ordinary agricultural land might carry with it great disadvantages to particular landowners and a particular number of persons. I think this House will wait long before it will take so remarkable a step as that which is advocated on the other side of the House merely in order to prevent those disadvantages which occur, and are occurring, in this country, and in all coun- 521 tries, owing to economic changes which affect commerce and industries.
We on this side of the House, while we sympathise to a considerable extent with some part of the case made out for giving Parliamentary attention to the hop industry, are entirely unable to vote for this Amendment to the Address. It is clear that the real remedy hon. Gentlemen opposite are seeking is not the attainment of greater skill in the growing and cultivation of hops, but only to a very small extent those remedies which the Committee agreed to recommend, but that is merely an instance selected from certain geographical districts for preaching, in particular terms, the gospel of Protection preached with generalities yesterday and the day before. On that ground we oppose, and on the ground especially that this shows how, if this were supported, and if this were to lead to legislation, we should not only have the country split up into different interests, but also split up into geographical fragments; and if we were to give the preference to Kent and Sussex we would be asked for a corresponding preference for Cornwall and Norfolk, and we would be going back to financial methods more suited for the heptarchy than the United Kingdom. At any rate, we shall not take the first step in that direction.
§ 3.0 P.M.
§ Mr. LAURENCE HARDY
I think the speech that has just been made was very interesting, but I think also it would be just as well if we got back to the spirit of the speeches with which this Motion was submitted to the House. The hon. Member asks about the question of duty, and I have no hesitation in saying that those who are interested in this matter are unanimous in their opinion that a duty would be the most efficient way of dealing with it. But, as was clearly pointed out by the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment, that is not the reason why they have put it forward now, and that is not the condition which is being insisted on at the present. We know perfectly well that the Government have difficulties in meeting the case from their particular point of view, and therefore, though we could not possibly be silent on the question, we do not forward that particular remedy at this particular moment. I would say, in passing, that I do think the House ought to remember one thing in connection with this. A good deal has been said to-day about raw material. I do not think there is any hon. Member in this House old enough 522 to say that hops are not taxed heavily in this country. That is the real point. If anybody likes to turn back to the period when the duty on hops was taken off, and when the beer duty was put on by Mr. Gladstone, they will find the facts of the case stated. Mr. Gladstone stated most definitely in this House that the duty was transferred and not taken off, and that it was included in the beer duty, which was then put on, as an alternative policy for taxing beer, and, through that, the materials from which beer was made. Therefore the tax has always been on, and it has been increased during those years when greater difficulties of competition have come in, and stands at the very highest pitch at this moment when the depression has fallen most heavily. Therefore it is absurd to say that this is raw material which is not taxed now. If you say it is raw material, then you must alter the beer duty and give it relief. That is what we are asking for.
We are asking for some method by which this particular material, which is the most valuable one in connection with agriculture, should be relieved from the heavy taxation that it bears, or, at all events, should be given fair play, which it does not have with foreign hops which are now being grown without any of the burdens which rest upon hops in this country. The hon. Member (Mr. Adkins) referred to rent and quoted a passage out of the Report. I can give him an instance much more valuable than those in the Report, of an actual case where land, on which hops in the most favourable position in the country were grown of the very highest quality in these last years, has been offered at a rent below that which could be got for ordinary agricultural land, and nobody was willing to take it. If the question of rent comes in, this House ought to remember so far as the landlord is concerned that it is a great deal through the action of this House itself that the rent has to be heavy upon the land upon which the hops are grown, because in consequence of the extraordinary tithe which was taken off a few years ago from the land, and practically placed upon the landlord that land which then grew hops to the extent of nearly 70,000 acres at that moment now stands at 32,000. On that 70,000 acres there was a new permanent land tax varying from four shillings to eight and nine shillings per acre. If, therefore, rents have to be carefully looked at in connection with land which 523 has grown hops, it is because of the action of the Legislature in putting an extra burden of from 4s. to 9s. upon it, although at the present moment it probably has to be turned to grass and is not in any sense making the return it did formerly. The Select Committee noted this particular fact and said that it was one of the duties of the Legislature to take care that some change was made. Has any action been taken in reference to that matter? Has the hon. Member any right to bring in the question of rent, when it is to a great extent the action of this House which causes land in hop-growing districts to be involved in extra burdens and renders it extremely difficult to deal with the land under any circumstances whatever, whether under hop cultivation or not?
So far as a duty is concerned it can be maintained that we have special grounds for bringing forward the question, but, as has already been said, that is not our demand to-day. The hon. Member asked why we do not deal with the matter in the ordinary course by Bill. What hope have we of seeing a Bill this year? Has any promise been given by the Secretary to the Board of Agriculture that we shall see a Government Bill? We had to call serious attention to this question, and we had to do it on the only occasion we could get and on the first occasion which arose, because it is a matter of vital importance to the counties with which we are associated. That is why we brought the matter forward on the Address. Have we any satisfaction whatever in the answer of the Board of Agriculture to-day? We have to judge by the past. Both the Secretary to the Board of Agriculture and the Chairman of the recent Committee (Sir W. Collins) still adhere to the position taken up two years ago by the Committee. But since then we have had the statistics of two years in connection with the hop trade, and those statistics are the most serious ever put forward. In the two years something like 12,000 acres of hops have been grubbed, and in that fact lies the gravamen of the reason for our bringing the question forward at this moment. It means that 12,000 acres, or nearly one-fourth of the land left under hop cultivation, has gone out of cultivation since the Committee gave their reasons for the action they took. The Secretary to the Board of Agriculture pointed out that although the acreage had decreased, yet the production was practically the same. He quoted figures showing that the Committee had 524 reckoned that the average production of hops was something like 450,000 cwts., that now we are producing about 9 cwts. to the acre instead of the lower quantity produced in years before, and that therefore the needs of the country were being met. But what is the fact? Are we getting the 70 per cent., or whatever it is, from home production? If the 32,000 acres produced 9 cwts. each, which is the highest average ever taken, it would only give us a little more than 300,000 cwts., and seeing that the demands of the country are something like 600,000 cwts., that would leave us dependent upon foreign supplies for half the amount. Therefore we are not producing anything like the quantity which the Committee said ought to be the percentage supplied by home produce. It should also be remembered, when this increased production per acre is talked about, that it is due to a fact often overlooked. The result of the depression in the hop industry has taken a very different line in recent years from that formerly taken. In the old days the reduction in acreage was in the poorer districts, but in recent years the grubbing has been in the districts growing the very finest hops—such as the East Kent district, for instance, where they grow the finest goldings. That is the really serious fact. The reason is that, having only a very small return per acre, under the conditions under which hops have been sold lately and the competition which has arisen, it has become impossible to devote the amount of capital necessary to raise these fine qualities, with the result that the acreage has diminished far more in those districts than in the districts which have large returns per acre, but of a commoner and less good quality. Consequently, we are losing the very best hops, and, in my opinion, it was only on the question of quality that we could satisfactorily compete with the foreigner, and we are unable to grow the best quality under existing conditions. At present there is such an enormous reduction that every person connected with the industry is anxious. Recently a document was circulated amongst all the brewers of the country asking for their opinion upon the various remedies suggested, such as the marking of hops, the prohibition of substitutes, and the imposition of a duty. Two hundred and sixty-two brewers signed the petition advocating all those remedies and expressing their belief that they were necessary in their own interests, with a view to keeping the home hop 525 industry going, and not forcing them to be entirely dependent on foreign supplies. That petition was circulated throughout the whole of England—I am not sure whether it went to Scotland—and, though every brewer did not sign it, not a single brewer actually expressed his opinion against it. Therefore amongst the manufacturers who, according to hon. Members opposite, would so strongly object to these measures, there is practically a unanimous consensus of opinion that the position is so critical that it would be in their interests to help to secure the remedies which we suggest.
What we have really to consider is the position taken up by the Government. For myself I consider the answer of the Board of Agriculture most unsatisfactory. We have to judge it by the experience of the past. There are two ways in which the Government might have acted—by legislation and by administration—but they have failed to do either. In the Select Committee's Report there are several matters which could have been dealt with without legislation. There are the statistics of which we have no knowledge at present, although the question was strongly pressed in the Report. There is also the suggestion that, although there should be no interference with foreign supplies by duties, yet the country should have an opportunity of knowing to what extent and how foreign hops were used. In that Report the Committee said that "though they were not prepared to recommend a duty, they thought that the Legislature should require that the use of foreign hops should be declared by English brewers, and that a separate column should be introduced into the brewing books kept for the purpose of the Inland Revenue. That could be done by the Government, in asking for the return every year, so as to secure that foreign hops should be shown, and the country know to what extent they were used. The Committee thought that the fact and the extent of the use of foreign hops in the brewing of beer should be indicated on the cask. Consumers would then be in a position to ascertain as to how far the present position of affairs requires that foreign hops should be used in the brewing of beer, and how far the use of such hops may be safely dispensed with." They have taken no measures to secure that line.
There is another matter that I think the Government may well consider. There is no industry in which research is more necessary than in the hop industry. If I 526 may venture a little outside the present Resolution, I should suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that when the question of carrying out the Development Bill comes into operation he would see that steps are taken to secure research into the growing and quality of hops, in order that we may forward in that way an industry that is very important to the country. There is no proof whatever that the Government or the Board of Agriculture have taken any steps in administration which they might have done without legislation. On the other hand, we have known for two years that they have really failed to carry out their pledges. In 1908 they brought in a Bill, certainly at a very late period of the Session, but it had very great advantages at its back. It had an entirely friendly reception from these benches. The Government were assured that rather than lose the Bill the Opposition were willing to withdraw every Amendment that they had put down against it in Committee. The Government were assured that, in order to get a portion of the Bill, the Opposition were walling to drop that portion of it that referred to foreign marking. The Government had every assurance of support from this side, and it ought to have been the case that a Bill, supported by so many Members of the Government, should have had a safe passage through this House. The Government were frightened by a mere handful of Members below the Gangway, who conceived that the prohibition of substitutes interfered in some way with Free Trade. I believe most of them are not in this House; and I cannot pursue that argument in their absence. The Government succumbed. In that way they showed that they lacked any real enthusiasm or harmony in connection with the Resolution.
We know exactly what happened to the Bill of last year. The Government put forward a proposition which was criticised. They declined to bring forward what was not criticised even into the cognisance of this House, although again and again appealed to to do so. Though we had so long a Session, they would not give an hour, even a minute, for the consideration of a Bill that they knew we thought of great importance, and the importance of which has been increasing every hour since the Select Committee reported. Whilst the needs of the hop industry are acknowledged, whilst there is nothing that should take it out of the line of ordinary legislation, whilst we are extremely moderate in our demands in not pressing upon the 527 Government legislation which we knew they could not put forward, we have the fact that they have done nothing to carry out the recommendations of their own Committee. Acknowledging that they have failed so entirely in the past, and in view of the unsatisfactory answer to-day, I hope my hon. Friend will press this question to a Division.
§ Mr. J. M. ROBERTSON
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has availed himself of the argument that any kind of a financial burden laid upon beer means a tax on the growing of hops. That proposition is on all fours with the assertion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Strand Division that a tax upon licences is a tax upon beer. Both propositions are absolutely economic nonsense. There is some difference of opinion among economic authorities in these days as to the incidence of taxes on production. But no economist would, I think, for a moment deny that a tax on licences is for all practical purposes not a tax, not an economic rent, and could not possibly in itself affect the cost of beer. You may put a tax on an industry that would have the effect of a taxation of the product, but a tax upon a licence is not a tax of that nature. If the case of the Opposition is to be founded upon propositions of that sort it is only another illustration of the absolute lack of economic opinion and of study of their case. The assertion that taxes on beer or on the brewing trade are burdens upon hops is patently false.
What has come out clearly in this Debate is that this Amendment on hops is an Amendment in the interests of the rent drawers. [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes" and "No."] We know something of the economic history of the Tariff cause in this country. Hon. Gentlemen opposite pre-eminently represent the rent-drawing class. They call it an industry. In the old days of Protection the battle, the whole stress of the battle, was always fought over the kind of protection that put money into the pockets of the rent-drawing class. This Amendment upon which the Tariff Members of this House have concentrated themselves, with twenty similar Amendments, on hops, hops, hops!—this Amendment, I say, is selected because, of all forms of protection proposed, this particular form is one that would best help the rent-drawing class, the rent of hop-growing land paying something about double that of the same land devoted to 528 other forms of industry. It is an Amendment for the protection and the collection of rent. A moderate duty is suggested. But that would not benefit the industry in the sense in which it is alleged. We have only to go back to the old Corn Law days, and ask this question: Was the agricultural class, as a whole, ever shown to be benefited by the Corn Laws? While the Corn Laws were at their highest this House was besieged every few years with the representatives of the distressed agricultural class. [An HON. MEMBER: "The farmers?"] The farmers, of course! They were the persons who, next to the labourers, I dare say, suffered most. The one class that always stood to gain, whatever were the results, was the rent-drawing class. What would be the process if a duty were placed upon the import of hops into this country? It has been already made clear in the course of this Debate that the small duty suggested would be entirely inadequate to secure the results they profess to aim at—on their own showing. And they do not deny, I think, that, once they get a duty on the hop-growing industry there would instantly be a clamour set up for an increase of the duty. All the tariffs in Europe began with a small duty. They had only been on a few years before the whole of the corrupt interests involved joined together to clamour for a rise. Suppose you put on a duty and it is a duty adequate for the purpose you profess. The first effect will be to put more capital into the growing of hops, unless there should be causes at the moment particularly discouraging. Then there invariably will be a rise in the rents of the industry concerned. Is it denied? What did happen under the Corn Laws? The farmers, just like the hop growers, made their biggest profits in a time of scarcity. In a year or two of small crops they made large profits. They went to the landlords and asked to have more land laid out. They got more land put under cultivation. It happened again and again in regard to agriculture. The one man who makes his profit is the landlord. A few years of very large crops would put the hop grower in a position that when the very first reverse came on you would have the hop-growing industry coming here in distress, while the landlord had pocketed all the profits. The growing of hops is on all fours with the growing of corn as it existed with this difference, that the demand for hops is admittedly decreasing. The very fact that less hops have been consumed is for hon. 529 Members opposite as gloomy an aspect of the situation as any other, but they prefer to lay stress upon the fact that the industrial population employed in the industry is decreasing. Would their methods cure that? Are hon. Members aware that under the old Corn Laws, before we resorted to Free trade in corn, the population employed in agriculture was going down every decade. They constantly make appeals to the country on the score that the agricultural population is dwindling to-day. It was dwindling in the days when corn was protected, and for similar reasons. Improved methods of cultivation are reducing your population engaged in the hop industry in any case. [An HON. MEMBER: "No."] Does the hon. Member deny that? Is not the hon. Member aware that the hop industry now does yield more hops to the acre by a long way than thirty years ago?
§ Mr. J. M. ROBERTSON
There was a very considerable increase in the yield. It was admitted by the last speaker, but hon. Members opposite alternately admit and deny the same proposition. It is admitted that the yield of hops to the acre to-day is considerably more than it used to be.
§ Mr. LAURENCE HARDY
The hon. Member appeals to me. I only took the case at the very highest figure put forward by the hon. Member. I only took his figures.
§ Mr. J. M. ROBERTSON
Does the hon. Member deny the figures of the Board of Trade, showing about the same yield of hops on the average to-day as twenty years ago, while the acreage is considerably less?
§ Mr. LAURENCE HARDY
I accepted the figures put at the highest for the purposes of the argument, but the actual figures did not show a considerable increase.
§ Mr. J. M. ROBERTSON
I do not know what the hon. Member means by a "considerable." The figures are given for the periods 1888 to 1897 and for 1898 to 1907, and they show that in the former period there were 56,370 acres under hops, and 530 that in the period 1898 to 1907 there were 48,841 acres. The average yield per acre in the former period was 7.76 and in the latter 8.84, and the total yield is very nearly the same in the two periods. Surely that is not denied. Is not the important and the desirable thing the productivity of the industry, or is it the fundamental doctrine of hon. Members opposite that the whole object is to increase the amount of labour relatively to the yield of a given industry? Is not their solution a solution under which you will need more labour to get the same amount of product? The absurdity of the position of hon. Members would be brought home to them if they would realise the bearing of all this upon the case of Ireland.
The Leader of the Opposition told us yesterday that there was great significance in the position of the Irish party as regards their claim in connection with this fiscal question. He said they want fiscal autonomy. Nothing can give them a better right to the claim of fiscal autonomy than the whole case of Tariff Reform. I have heard hon. Members opposite put the whole case for the Nationalist Members. That is to say, that any country can greatly increase the amount of employment and of its production by drawing a tariff wall around it. If that is true for great Britain it must be true for Ireland, and the Irish party have now got a claim for fiscal autonomy from the Tariff Reform propaganda they never had before. Hon. Members who think Imperially may perhaps now begin to realise the system of bogus economics they have been putting before the country. It is not only Ireland but India also. Hon. Members opposite favour fiscal autonomy on the ground that by drawing a tariff wall round about a country you increase its productivity and its wealth. By what right would they withhold fiscal autonomy from India and Ireland if they applied it to great Britain. They laid great stress upon the population question; the Leader of the Opposition told us last night it is to population he looks, and a precious argument he gave us in that connection. He said it was proved by facts that we have a large emigration relatively in proportion to population, while Germany has not. As usual, he took no trouble to find out what the German emigration is; he never troubled about the statistics of emigration at all. Hon. Members opposite never will look into any question. I know their methods. for many years. The hon. Member 531 for Ashford told us that the question of hops was one that called for research. He has gone into the economics in a very inadequate and limited way of the hop industry for the reasons I have shown; that is one of the failings of the party that represent the rent trade industry. They have concentrated themselves upon hops. The least comparative inquiry into the matter would have revealed to them that hops is really one of the least representative industries that they could select, and, at the same time, that it involves precisely the worst dangers to their policy.
Take the point of emigration in connection with Ireland. If the Leader of the Opposition had fortified himself by looking at the emigration figures of protected countries in Europe he would have discovered that the highest rate of emigration that has occurred any time in any country is the emigration from Italy, a highly protected country with a population of less than ours, and which amounts to 750,000 a year. That goes on under Protection, and that one instance proves the absolute and worthlessness of the argument upon which the Leader of the Opposition relies. Does Protection enable Germany to solve its trouble in regard to emigration and unemployment? Does the emigration from Italy, which is three times greater than ours, prove nothing. [HON. MEMBERS: "That is only one country."] Hon. Members prefer to take one industry at a time. They go to one part of the country where there is one particular industry—that is proof of their Imperial thought—and they get votes from people who know no better and who know nothing of the necessities of other parts of the country. I am taking the case of Italy. You say, "We are dealing with the question of an import duty to save the hop industry." What are you going to do for Ireland to save her population and industries. The population of Ireland has declined as a whole, therefore employment for the Irish people has declined as a whole. You are bound by the principles you profess to give to Ireland the only method of saving her population and her industries, namely, the power to put a tariff wall round Ireland. The party opposite are committed to a policy which will entitle the Irish Members to demand fiscal autonomy for Ireland. They are committed to a policy the same as the United States and Canada, namely, to demand fiscal autonomy, because they maintain that there is no way of curing 532 the economic evils of those countries except by drawing a tariff wall round the whole country. I am one of those who believe that by such a policy you will not in any way lessen those economic evils, and you will only put money into the pockets of the landlords. You may cause more capital to be invested in the hop industry, but as soon as you get a season of large crops and low prices, then demands will be placed before this House to have the duty raised still higher. A duty of 40s. would not accomplish what these people want. This is only a palliative, and there are one or two other palliatives which are very much to be objected to when they put money into the pockets of the landlord class. Throughout the whole of these fiscal discussions there has been one perpetual imputation against hon. Members on this side of the House of a desire to plunder the hon. Members on the other side. In my opinion the very basis of a Tariff Reform policy is a desire to plunder the masses of the people in the interests of the rent-drawing class, whom hon. Members opposite specially represent. It is a proposal founded on the same basis as the Corn Laws of the past. These palliatives are something in the nature of the Merchandise Marks Act. Hon. Members of that way of thinking got this House to pass certain laws demanding the marking in a certain way, of goods imported from foreign countries. It is well known that they had to come to this House later on to beg it to repeal that Act, because that particular policy was unduly advertising the foreign merchants as against the home producers. This has already been pointed out by a member of the opposite party in another place, who used the very same argument, for he said the kind of marking you propose would give a spurious prestige to foreign merchants.
§ Mr. COURTHOPE
May I point out that the proposal made by the President of the Board of Agriculture last year is not the same proposal which we are putting forward now.
§ Mr. J. M. ROBERTSON
Then what hon. Members are now proposing is another kind of merchandise marks. I suppose they have learned a little from their blunders of the past, and they are now proposing another method. Is it denied that it was said in another place that the method I alluded to would advertise and give a spurious prestige to foreign merchants? I do not approve of the mer- 533 chandise marks system, or any other method of that kind. I do not think by these methods you can put the hop industry in this country in a better position than it is in protected countries. What is its position in the United States? The hon. Member for Ashford has told us that many thousands of acres have been grubbed up in the hop industry in the United States. The standing absurdity of the whole of the arguments from the other side is that they are now proposing a given policy in face of the fact that that policy has never cured the evil they seek to cure. Hon. Members opposite talk about unemployment as if it were something that existed solely in a Free Trade country. Of course, the hon. Member for the Ashford Division does not mind how many acres they grub up in the United States, where they are doing it under Protection, and the German hops are going in there. I think that proves that the policy proposed by hon. Members opposite will not do what they claim for it. I am not proposing any particular panacea in the interests of the hop industry. I am afraid this industry cannot be saved from its precariousness unless men will habitually practice a tendency towards under-production instead of a tendency to over-production, especially in the face of a declining demand. Hon. Members opposite say that we should turn our attention to producing the best hops, but that is no argument at all. As regards the best hops, the hon. Member for Rutland stated before the Hop Commission that the brewers could not possibly depend on English hops; that they must have the foreign hops, and could not do without them.
§ Mr. GRETTON
If the hon. Member examines my evidence he will see that I said the best hops in this country were deteriorating, and that it was necessary to use foreign hops in consequence of that fact.
§ Mr. J. M. ROBERTSON
Does the hon. Member deny that he expressly stated that we could not do without foreign hops?
§ Mr. J. M. ROBERTSON
I know that is not the point which the hon. Member would like to bring forward here. I will illustrate the kind of thing that will be set up under this new fiscal policy for political purposes between the brewing and the landed interest. The hon. Member himself suggested a duty of 28s., but the landed interest required a duty of 40s. I can have 534 no confidence in the sincerity of proposals of that kind, because the hon. Member must admit that 28s. would not give what the hop industry are asking for. Therefore his proposal, for all practical purposes, is absolutely so much dust thrown into the eyes of the public and of this House. The hon. Member for Rutland is committed to needing foreign hops, and we have to consider what the effect will be if the other side insist upon putting on hops a duty of 80s. I cannot pretend to forecast what the result of such a policy will be. We are told that the hop industry is threatened with total extinction, but I do not think there is anything in that argument. You might just as well say it is threatened with extinction in the United States because a great deal of grubbing is going on and men are turning to safer methods of agricultural production.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Strand (Mr. Long) made a vehement attack upon the Government because they were laying down principles they were going to stick to under all circumstances. He was naturally shocked at such principles. They certainly would not suit the party with which he is connected. The Leader of the Opposition has had to adjust his economic principles and to make a good many concessions and professions of faith. Amongst other things, he has absolutely reversed his economic foundations, inasmuch as he began in 1903 by telling us the strength of this country depended on it investing its capital abroad and upon our having a large credit with nations. He then said he was afraid we were going to be ruined because we were ceasing to do that. He now tells us we are going to be ruined because we do it. The right hon. Gentleman, in answer to the challenge, "Are you or are you not committed to taxing raw materials?" put forward what was virtually a justification for his party in case it should see itself led to abandon its promise not to tax raw materials. We have been told over and over again that the party opposite will never tax raw materials. It is pledged not to tax them. The whole upshot of the right hon. Gentleman's argument to-day was that if one could only show circumstances which would give him a pretext he would tax any raw material. We have got that to-day. Members on that side of the House have simply no principle whatever, except—I grant them this—the putting on of the kind of tax which will yield the largest return to the private interest concerned. I am thinking of their backers, 535 and not of themselves. I am not alluding to anyone there. I have no doubt the hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment is as sincere in his belief that his policy is the right one as any man who ever scuttled the ship of a nation's welfare. But these are the results. The Opposition is concentrated on a policy which means, and can only mean, the enrichment of the rent-drawing class, and they are prepared, despite their professions and promises to the contrary from time to time, to tax any kind of raw material whatever if only there is the requisite amount of clamour and the requisite amount of pressure is brought to bear upon them, and if only sufficient votes can be got by it. We have, I think, sufficient reason there for rejecting the Amendment.
§ Mr. PATRICK WHITE
I rise to intervene in this Debate because I had the pleasure and honour of sitting on the Select Committee which, some two years ago, inquired into the hop industry. I speak only for myself, and not for my colleagues. If only some hon. Gentlemen who have so freely criticised the Amendment had heard the evidence given before the Committee, I think they would change their opinions. What is the condition of the hop industry at the present time? It was given in evidence before us that in the three years previous to the present year there was not a single farmer who had made a profit out of his hops. No grower had made sufficient to pay the expense of growing his crop. I asked a grower if he had his land for nothing whether he could make his crop pay, and he said he could not. During the past twelve months 14,000 acres of hops have gone out of cultivation, and it is to give the farmer the means of livelihood, and not to help the landlord class with which I have no connection, that this Amendment is put forward. It is a paradox, but the larger the crop the worse sometimes it is for the farmer. He has an increased expense in dealing with his crop, and he gets a smaller price for it, with the result that his remuneration is less in the end. It is said that if you put a duty on imported hops and there comes a big crop, a higher duty will be asked for. Anyone knows, however, that there is only a limited demand, and, if you increase it to a £10 duty it will not in any way affect the question. A man will be supplied from the home growth, and an import duty on foreign hops will not matter in the least.
536 The Question before the House is: Do you want English beer made from English hops grown in this country and money spent on British labour without involving any extra expense upon the consumer or anybody else? That is the question. I put a question to the hon. Gentleman, who now occupies a seat on the Treasury Bench (Sir E. Strachey), and he told me that if sufficient hops were grown in this country each year to supply the local demand it would involve an expenditure on the growth of the hop crop of £1,000,000. The demand for hops is admitted to be about 600,000 cwts. per year. During the last three years the home growth reached close on 500,000 cwts. It only needed 200,000 cwts. from abroad to bring the supply in excess of the demand, and to pull down the price. What would be the effect of a duty. It would preserve a minimum price at which the grower could produce hops without a loss to himself. Other countries of the world are protected with regard to hops. They grow sufficient to supply their own requirements and have a surplus, and they send that surplus here at even a lower price than hops are sold in their own market. The hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. J. M. Robertson) sneered at a duty of 28s., but I say a duty of 28s. would have an enormous effect and help to strengthen the hop industry here. What you want is to preserve a minimum price. You will find from the statistics of the past twenty years that when the supply of hops in this country is great and considerable the foreigner does not send his hops. He waits till there is a short yield and then he swamps the market with the excess of his own country, and that pulls down the price here. When the farmer grows a big crop, over-production at home pulls down the crop, and, if he grows a small crop, the excess of other countries comes in and also pulls down the price. Therefore, big or small year, he stands to lose. You cannot get over the facts and figures; 14,000 acres have gone out of cultivation.
What do the Government propose to do to remedy that state of affairs? Free Trade may be good or bad, but you must apply it to every particular industry as it presents itself to you. After studying the matter many months on the Select Committee, I came to the conclusion, although I entered with a perfectly open mind, that this industry did require special treatment, and that this was the only way of preserving it. The hon. Member for St. 537 Pancras (Sir W. Collins) referred to the dumping here last year, and said it was only 90,000 cwts. He gave that as a comparatively trifling affair, but it is one-sixth of the total requirements of this country, and, if that 90,000 cwts. came here at 25s. per cwt., how could the local farmers possibly compete with it? Had there been a duty at the time, however small, even one of 28s., they could not have brought their hops over here to sell them at 25s. The result is that by means of cold storage through the winter hops can be issued in competition with the English-grown article with the effect of bringing down the prices to such an extent that the English grower is rendered unable to compete. The condition of the hop industry in this country is absolutely defenceless. Competitors from abroad can ruin it by combining to keep back the supply from the market in years of surplus production and then rushing it on the market in years of scarcity to the detriment of the home growth. I do not suggest that hop growers, more particularly than any other class, require Protection, but I do think that the singularly defenceless state of that industry entitles it to some "preservative," I will not call it "Protection," as against the foreigner. The question of rent has been raised. That point also was considered by the Select Committee, and it was made absolutely clear that it did not enter into this difficulty. Whether the rent was high or low it did not affect the ultimate result the cost of the production of the crop worked out at £40 per acre, and rent was only, after all, a minor consideration. The hon. Member for the Tyne-side Division compared hops with corn, but really there is no analogy between the two. The demand for hops is limited, and can be satisfied by home growth. The demand for corn is not limited, and by no process of reasoning can it be said we can grow sufficient com in this country to meet demands.
§ Mr. PATRICK WHITE
That was long ago. In my opinion it is a great mistake for any country to be absolutely dependent on a foreign supply, and if there were sufficient hops grown in this country to meet the local demands the competition at home would be sufficient to keep the prices down. In the end it would be better for the brewer, because under the present system an enormous price is charged by 538 reason of the small production, and then the foreigner takes advantage of the market. I think it would be possible to have a system under which the prices would be better regulated and would not be subject to violent fluctuations. After all, you must remember that the money spent on the cultivation of the hop reaches practically all classes of the community. The poor people of London get their advantage from it, and there are many allied trades which benefit by the industry. I think if the hon. Member for the Tyneside Division would only read the evidence given before our Committee he would alter his views.
§ 4.0 P.M.
§ Mr. PATRICK WHITE
Then, if the hon. Member did do so and remains of the same opinion I can only express my regret. It may be argued, of course, that this is really a Debate in the interests of Tariff Reform. Now, I am in favour of a duty on hops, but I am not a Tariff Reformer—at any rate, I am only a Tariff Reformer so far as hops are concerned, and because I would put a duty upon hops, it does not follow that I would put a duty on anything else. My idea of Tariff Reform is it is a scientific principle, scientifically applied by scientific men, in order to foster necessary industries, and to protect enterprises which it is essential to defend against combinations from abroad, which might result in extinguishing them. That is my definition of Tariff Reform. This is not a question of taxing the raw material. It is no use talking about taxing raw material, and we cannot generalise on these questions. I believe had other Members sat upon the Select Committee they would have come to the same conclusion as I have done. You cannot draw a hard and fast line in connection with Free Trade. It may be a good thing as applied to some industries. It may result in the extinction of others, and the time may come in connection with the hop industry when we may be rendered dependent on a foreign supply, and then this House will regret that it did not, in due time, protect that industry and give it necessary support when it was in a languishing condition.
§ Mr. C. E. MALLET
I also had the honour of serving on the Hop Committee, and I should like to say that the hon. Member who has just spoken took a special interest in the subject, and especially represented the interests of Ireland. He 539 sometimes contributed to the interest of our discussions in an unexpected way. We were never quite sure how, on that delicately balanced Committee the hon. Member would vote. Now we have just got back from a General Election, the echoes of which are fresh in our minds, and, strange to say, one of the first actions of hon. Gentlemen opposite, one of the very first proposals they make to this House is to reward the brewers, who rendered them invaluable service by the exercise of that independent judgment, on which we all rely, by coming to the House of Commons and proposing a tax on their raw material equal to anything from 50 to 90 per cent. If the evidence before the Committee is looked at it will be found that the 40s. tax proposed is something between 80 and 90 per cent. of the average price of hops. We on this side are perfectly well aware that this is a genuine and natural complaint. We do not for one moment fail to sympathise with the anxieties and needs of the hop growers, but owing to the fact that very few of us on this side have the misfortune to represent those districts or counties in England in which hops are grown we are able to view the matter more impartially than those who do.
What is the chief fact about the hop industry? It is that it is and always has been and must be by its nature speculative. It is a trade in which, if I may use a Hibernianism, the worse you do the better you do; the fewer the crop of hops you grow the more you make out of them, and the fewer the crop of hops the better for those who have hops to sell. It has always been of that character from the old days. Take the old days when there really was a strong duty imposed on foreign hops. What do you find? You find just the same fluctuations in the crop and the same fluctuations in the price as you do now. In the old days, when you had at times a duty as high as £8 per ton, you found the price varied from £23 per cwt. in 1825 down to £3 6s. in 1840, and the average price from 1805 to 1864 was £7 7s. 8d. per cwt. Take more modern times, and take the Worcester prices. The prices paid on the Worcester market between 1862 and 1907 ranged from 30s. per cwt. to £30, and the average there for the whole period was £6 2s. If you take the Mid and East Kent hops, the figures are the same. The average there was £6 2s. 10d., showing a decline on the old days, but not such a decline as you would naturally expect. What are the real 540 causes of the recurring trouble in this great industry as far as we could discover from the witnesses? First of all, we brew less beer than we did. In 1900, the record year, we brewed 37,090,986 barrels of beer, and in 1907 we brewed only 34,338,651, a reduction of 7.4 per cent. in those few years alone. Secondly, we use fewer hops per barrel. Twenty years ago one cwt. of hops was used for every forty-nine barrels, but of recent years one cwt. of hops has been sufficient for 56 barrels. We drink our beer a little lighter than we did, The third cause is that the smaller breweries have been pressed out of existence by competition, and there has been economy in trading, of course, and the introduction of cold storage has enormously helped to obviate waste. It has enabled hop owners to put by hops year after year.
The fourth cause is one which one ought not to be afraid to mention, and need not be if one has not hop growers amongst one's own Constituents. It is undoubtedly the fact that the quality of the hops is declining. Of course that statement was very strongly resisted by some of the witnesses, but I think there is very little doubt that the best informed witnesses admitted that the quality of our hops is not quite what it was. The hon. Member (Mr. Gretton) who represents one of the most prosperous breweries, the great firm of Bass, speaking as a Tariff Reformer, admitted that his firm had been compelled to reject two-thirds of the fine English hops offered them because of sulphur contamination. That means that the methods of our growers, in spite of all their expenditure and all their care, are not quite as perfect as they should be, and that this tells in a highly organised trade against the interests of British brewers. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wiltshire talked in vague terms of the extinction of the trade. I respectfully protest against that loose language. There is no sign or prospect of the extinction of the trade. The trade in hops will never be extinguished until you extinguish the trade in beer, and the trade in beer will never be extinguished until you have altered the character of the English people. The hon. Member (Mr. Laurence Hardy) raised the point about the supply being the same. Of course, that again is one root of the trouble. The acreage, it is obvious, has fallen Though the acreage goes up and down, and you cannot avoid its going up and down with a crop lake this, it has fallen largely, but the supply remains practically the same. Take the ten years 541 ending 1897, and you will find that the average output of English hops is 438,000 cwts. Take the ten years ending 1907, and you will find the average output is 434,000 cwts.—a decline, but it is not substantial. The supply of English hops is practically the same. It is a trade which does not increase, but rather dwindles, but the supply remains the same.
The whole point of the discussion, however, is the import of foreign hops. Can you do without foreign hops? Are you prepared to do without them? If not, is it not a mistake to raise this outcry against it? Let me take the evidence again of the hon. Member (Mr. Gretton), one of the most valuable Members of our Committee, the only expert upon it—I had almost said the only Gentleman really familiar with the subject. What was his evidence on that point? He stated that Messrs. Bass and Co. must have foreign hops for their trade, and that some brewers used only 14 per cent. or 15 per cent., but some, and those the best and most progressive houses, and these are never the industries which come to you for protection, use 30 per cent., 40 per cent., and even 50 per cent. of foreign hops. Let me deal with the other points. He stated that Messrs. Bass paid on the average a higher price for foreign hops than for English hops, and that they must have, irrespective of price, the best hops available in the world. Secondly, he said, they could not carry on their brewing with the lower priced hops. He said, "We should go on the rocks at once." Thirdly, he stated that they had a constant struggle and always greater difficulty in this country in obtaining the quality of English hops required. That is not a matter of controversy. That is the evidence of an expert. Messrs. Bass cannot do without foreign hops. The more successful breweries are the more foreign hops they use.
There has been for some time past a great deal of vague talk about the amount of foreign hops imported, and that was specially active, as sometimes happens, when the exponents of Tariff Reform doctrines undertake an agitation in, say, the county of Kent. The gentleman who organised the agitation which led to the appointment of the Committee was a prominent Tariff Reformer, and his evidence afforded a great deal of amusement to the members of the Committee. What are the facts about imports? There is one which overshadows every other, if you take any 542 fair period of years and study the imports. The fact is that the imports of foreign hops-are declining and not increasing. That is a point which hon. Gentlemen do not always grasp. Generally, the average import of foreign hops is 200,000 cwts.—rather less than one-third of the total used in this country. It varies enormously. Some years it is under 200,000 cwts. and some years over 300,000. Let me give you the figures for decades, because you must take long periods on account of the fluctuations from year to year. Taking the decade ending in 1886 the average yearly imports amounted to 215,000 cwts.; in the decade ending 1896 it was 194,000 cwts., and in-the decade ending 1906 it was 186,000 cwts., showing that during these three decades there was a steady decline. I wish hon. Gentlemen would grasp the fact that the tendency is for the importation of foreign hops to decrease, and that it is a total delusion to say that the state of the hop-growing industry in this country is due to the flooding of the markets with foreign hops. There are always foreign hops needed by brewers. Suppose you did put a duty on imported hops, what reason is there to expect that it will help the hop industry? I do not attach very much importance to the remedies proposed with respect to the marking and differentiating of hops. The only, I will not say cure, but change, which, according to hon. Gentlemen opposite, the industry wants is a good thumping duty. I submit that if you did put a duty on imported hops it would not effect your end. The hon. Member for Rutland (Mr. Gretton) to some extent bears me out in this. There were certain adventurous spirits who appeared before the Committee and advocated a high duty, but the hon. Member said he did not want a high duty. How would duties help? I submit that where you have got a duty it does not keep foreign hops out. In the United States they have got a duty of about 75s. a cwt., but it has practically very little effect. It does not prevent the imports of German hops into America from largely increasing. If you read the evidence of one of the German consuls given recently you might suppose it was a passage from a Tariff Reform speaker in Kent. The consul at Portland, Oregon, in a report in 1908, says: "There is little hope of an improvement in our business unless the production is made to conform to the demand." The trouble there is the same as here. Take Germany, the model country for all Tariff Reformers. The trouble there is just the 543 same. In Germany they do in some quarters take, perhaps, even more pains than some of our brewers, great pains as they take. But in Germany they grubbed 26,000 acres since 1905. Tariff Reform is not a remedy. It does not prevent variations in profit or in price.
Then, again, the duty does not steady price. It is said sometimes that a duty will not keep foreign hops out but will steady prices. I submit that that is a mistake. Look at the figures of our Board of Trade when we had a duty, and you find that the prices varied as wildly then as they vary to-day. On the Pacific Coast, where there is a heavy duty, the price has varied from £5 to 32s. a cwt. in quite recent years. In England before 1840, in the good old days, when we had a really thumping duty of £8 11s. a cwt., London prices varied from £27 down to £4 4s. A duty does not steady prices. It does not give a better result than you have to-day. When witnesses came before our Committee they were rather divided as to who would pay the duty. We tried to get from them some pronouncement on that point. It is perfectly true that some experts admitted that the brewers would not mind the duty. It is perfectly true that some brewers told us that they were quite prepared to pay a duty on their raw material of anything from 50 to 90 per cent. out of good fellowship and friendliness to the hop growers and out of affection to their fellow-men. But when we cross-examined them as to how they would get their expenditure back, one of them told us the brewer's life was a very hard one, and that when we considered what brewers had suffered and what they were threatened with, then—it was in view of the Licensing Bill a year or two ago—we ought to blush black in the face. One hon. Gentleman, speaking from below the benches, mentioned the question of labour, and said that the hop trade gives a great deal of employment, and employment of enormous value to our people. I quite admit that hop growing gives much more employment than most agricultural occupations. We all admit that we should regret deeply to see the hop industry dying. But remember that this matter is very much exaggerated. What is the amount of labour which the whole industry employs?
I will give one or two figures. If you put the acreage under hops at 40,000 acres, which is high, and if you allow one man 544 five or six acres—and that is really a liberal estimate—that means regular work for 7,000 or 8,000 men at the outside—that is all. Besides that, you have, of cource, the casual work for women during the summer months, and then for one month—the picking season—you have a very large number of men, women, and children engaged. I venture to say that if you were to halve to-morrow the acreage under hops you would only take away regular employment from 3,000 or 4,000 country labourers and one month's casual employment for a large number of the casual class. First of all, it is clear that our imports of foreign hops are not increasing, but declining, and therefore the trouble is not due to that. Secondly, it is clear that the duties, if you put them on, do not prevent the import of foreign hops, and do not steady the price of hops in your country. Thirdly, it is clear that no duty can be put on them without a tax on the raw material of the brewers, and the brewers would have to get that out of the public somehow, either in costlier material or in washier beer. Fourthly, I submit it is admitted that the only real cure for the ever-recurring depression of this great industry is to pay attention to quality and much less attention to Tariff Reform.
§ Mr. GEORGE WYNDHAM
If I rise at all it is because I cannot claim to have that kind of impartiality which the hon. Member who last addressed us considered enabled him to deal dispassionately with this matter. I represent a county where he would find hardly anybody to agree with the views he has just laid before this House. Again, I cannot and do not for a moment pretend to lay claim to the detailed knowledge which he has acquired by rendering such eminent services upon that particular Commission. The hon. Member has adduced several propositions to the House which, on reflection, I think he will find it rather hard, even as a Free Trader, to reconcile with what he has told us in the last few minutes—that the brewers have greater difficulty in getting not only the quality but the quantity of hops from England they require.
§ Mr. MALLET
No, no. I said that a certain eminent brewer gave evidence before the Committee that the brewers could not get from this country the quality required.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
I thought the hon. Member said quantity also, but certainly he indicated the difficulty of obtaining 545 English hops for brewers, and certainly he indicated that the import of foreign hops is decreasing. The third proposition was that the real problem of the hop industry was due to people drinking less beer. It is rather hard to reconcile the three, the poor quality from the English, a decreasing amount from the foreigner, and the people drinking less beer, so that there were too many hops.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
The fact is that no Free Trader can afford to treat this hop industry as an exception. That is the real fact of the matter. If there were any distinguished stranger in the Gallery coming from any other country, or from one of our sister States, he might call himself a Free Trader, and yet would be unable to understand how any Government could refuse this claim, when the Government admits that a certain amount of labour is being displaced, though the amount of labour is not very great. What is the explanation? The hon. Member knows perfectly well that if he concedes the case upon hops he has got to concede the case all along the line. Going into this Committee, after hearing all the evidence and cross-examining the witnesses, he comes out of it unshaken in his belief. This hop industry is one which, I have no doubt, the House will hear a great deal of in the future when we really come to grips on the question of Tariff Reform. The hon. Member seems to suppose that I and my hon. Friends, who are fortunate enough to sit for seats in Kent, have been commissioned by landlord and farmer to come here and raise this Question, but it is simply because this hop industry gives us the most perfect model by which we can demonstrate the insufficiency of the Free Trade case. Their views do not bear on this industry in the way in which they ought to bear if their arguments were coherent and universally applicable. Are we to be told that those in the hop industry ought to go and do something better. It is not contended by the last hon. Member that you can employ more people to so many acres, or that more could be employed at some other form of agriculture. From the point of view of giving employment, and that is the fundamental point, you cannot really say that the people in the hop industry could be doing anything better. That Free Trade argument falls to the ground 546 when applied to the hop industry. It is then said, if we place a duty on foreign hops, we shall be taxing the raw material of the brewer, which is another stock Free Trade argument. I do not remember that the brewer has spoken in such a manner as to justify the hon. Member in advancing that argument. Although the hon. Member has had the undoubted advantage of sitting on the Committee, I have the advantage over him of sitting with a number of hon. Members representing Kent and Hereford, who can say here, owing to the play of democratic institutions, that all classes in those counties want the duty. Those who engage in the industry want the duty, the brewers want the duty, and the consumers do not object to it. Will the hon. Gentleman say, for the sake of pedantry, that he will go against the general will of the three counties, and whether people are entitled to have a fiscal system which they like, or must they have a system which the hon. Member supposes to be universally true?
The third stock Free Trade argument which breaks down in this case is that if you check the import you will check some export. Will anyone seriously argue that if we prevent foreign hops being dumped, as they are sometimes, to such an extent in one year as to throw a great deal of land out of cultivation, we shall automatically stop the export of some other article grown or made in this country? The suggestion is ludicrous. What happens is this. In one year an excessive importation of hops most prejudicially affects the hop industry and inflicts lasting evils from which it does not recover in another year when hops are dear. The hon. Member (Mr. Mallet) said that a curious thing about the hop industry is that the worse you do the better you do. He was speaking of the hop grower. It is true that in recent times the price of hops was so high that some growers made a very good thing out of hops. But those growers do not agree with the hon. Member that the worse you do the better you do; they would prefer a more stable industry, with more even profits from year to year. The brewers also object to these fluctuations, and, certainly in Kent, almost unanimously support the growers, because, when there is this great increase in price, which cannot be rectified, the brewers suffer.
None of the three stock arguments of the Free Trade theory will hold water in the opinion of those interested in the hop industry, or living where hops are cultivated. It affords us an excellent working model 547 for the views which we shall be prepared to develop at greater length on future occasions. For the moment we assure the House that in spite of the lucid exposition of Free Trade principles to which we have listened, public opinion is solid against their application to the production of hops.
§ Mr. FREDERICK VERNEY
When the hon. Member for Meath (Mr. White) spoke of hop gardens as having gone out of cultivation, he must have forgotten the evidence given before the Select Committee to the effect that a great deal of the land formerly under hops is now cultivated in other ways with excellent results, and that ground which had been manured and properly prepared for hop purposes was in excellent condition for intensive cultivation.
§ Mr. VERNEY
The hon. Member says hop cultivation now, but I think he said before simply that the land had gone out of cultivation. Members have spoken of the loss of 29,000 acres as though the land had been dug up and put in the middle of the ocean. It is absurd to talk of the loss of so many thousand acres because they do not happen to be under hop cultivation at the present moment. We have had from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover a plea for a particular fiscal system for Kent and Herefordshire. I am not sure that that is not carrying the system of Home Rule even further than the most ardent Home Ruler on this side of the House has ever ventured to suggest. He spoke of the labour which is being displaced. No doubt labour is displaced, but when displaced from one industry it very often finds its way into another; and we had evidence before the Select Committee that a great deal of the labour which, un-fortunately has been displaced in the hop industry had found its way into other channels, and that many of the workmen were now engaged in other labour equally remunerative to themselves and to their employers. This is a matter which has not been mentioned
§ yet in this Debate, though it is a very important one, because I think every member of the Committee warmly agreed that this trade was in a very serious condition, and warmly sympathised with those poor people who had come out from London, and were in the habit of hop picking to the great advantage of their health in many instances when the sanitary arrangements had been properly provided for, and when care was taken for their welfare, as is the case in many parts of Kent, though, I am afraid, not in every county. The real point was this: The one and only remedy which could be called a remedy at all was a thumping Tariff Duty, reaching to at least 40s. a cwt. That, I think, was the remedy which was really proposed by those who thought that a remedy was possible, and all the other proposals were only mentioned as palliatives, and in some cases, if I remember rightly, were not even allowed to be that. That being so, surely it is absurd to mention these palliatives in connection with the real crux of the whole subject. If once we admit that an adequate duty on hops is practically an impossibility, surely it is waste of time and waste of breath to advocate these other palliatives, which we know perfectly well would not cure the disease, or indeed go any way in that direction. I think this Debate has been most useful and interesting, and I think, though it will not have converted any of those who listened to the evidence and balanced one class of evidence against another, it will not convince us that the remedies proposed are in the least adequate, and that they are not worthy of being embodied in a Government Bill.
Question put, that the following words be added at the end of the Address:
But we humbly represent to Your Majesty the critical condition of the hop industry, which involves so great a diminution in rural employment, requires urgent and remedial consideration from Your Majesty's Government."—[Mr. Courthope.]
§ The House divided: Ayes, 185; Noes, 228.551
|Division No. 2.]||AYES.||[4.45 p.m.|
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hon. Sir Alex. F.||Balfour. Rt. Hon. A. J. (City Lond.)||Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid)|
|Adam, Major William A.||Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Boyton, James|
|Arbuthnot, Gerald A.||Baring, Captain Hon. Guy Victor||Brassey, H. L. C (Northants, N.)|
|Archer-Shee, Major Martin||Barnston, Harry||Bridgeman, William Clive|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Brunskill, Gerald Fitzgibbon|
|Bagot, Colonel Josceline||Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Bull, Sir William James|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Burdett-Coutts, William|
|Balcarres, Lord||Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Burgoyne, Alan Hughes|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Beresford, Lord Charles||Calley, Col. Thomas C. P.|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M.||Hamilton, Marquess of (Londonderry)||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Carlile, Edward Hildred||Harris, F. L. (Tower Hamlets, Stepney)||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Harris, H. P. (Paddington, S.)||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Cator, John||Heaton, John Henniker||Quilter, William Eley C.|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Helmsley, Viscount||Rankin, Sir James|
|Cave, George||Henderson, H. G. H. (Berkshire)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T.||Rawson, Col. Richard H.|
|Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||Hill, Sir Clement L. (Shrewsbury)||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r.)||Hillier, Dr. Alfred Peter||Rice, Hon. Walter Fitz-Uryan|
|Chambers, James||Hills, John Walter (Durham)||Ridley, Samuel Forde|
|Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Hoare, Samuel John Gurney||Rolleston, Sir John|
|Clive, Percy Archer||Horne, William E. (Surrey, Guildford)||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Coates, Major Edward F.||Horner, Andrew Long||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Cooper, Capt. Bryan R. (Dublin, S.)||Houston, Robert Paterson||Royds, Edmund|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Hunter, Sir Chas. Rodk. (Bath)||Rutherford, William Watson|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Jackson, John A. (Whitehaven)||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Jessel, Captain Herbert M.||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Cripps, Sir Charles Alfred||Kerry, Earl of||Sandys, G. J. (Somerset, Wells)|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hull)||Sandys, Lt.-Col. T. M. (Bootle)|
|Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Stanley, Hon. Arthur (Ormskirk)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Kirkwood, John H. M.||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Knight, Capt. Eric Ayshford||Starkey, John Ralph|
|Dunn, Sir W. H. (Southwark, W.)||Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich)||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Lawson, Hon. Harry||Stewart, Gershom (Ches. Wirral)|
|Faber, George D. (Clapham)||Lewisham, Viscount||Stewart, Sir M'T. (Kirkcudbrightsh.)|
|Faber, Capt. W. V. (Hants, W.)||Llewelyn, Major Venables||Sykes, Alan John|
|Fell, Arthur||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsay)||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Finlay, Sir Robert||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Thompson, Robert|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.||Lyttelton, Rt. Hn. A. (S. Geo., Han. Sq.)||Tryon, Capt. George Clement|
|Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Fletcher, John Samuel||Macmaster, Donald||Valentia, Viscount|
|Forster, Henry William||M'Arthur, Charles||Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)|
|Foster, Harry S. (Lowestoft)||M'Calmont, Colonel James||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Foster, Philip S. (Warwick, S.W.)||Mason, James F.||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Gardner, Ernest||Middlemore, John Throgmorton||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Gastrell, Major W. Houghton||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Gilmour, Captain John||Mitchell, William Foot||White, Major G. D. (Lanc. Southport)|
|Goldman, Charles Sydney||Moore, William||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claude|
|Gooch, Henry Cubitt||Morpeth, Viscount||Wilson, A. Stanley (York E. R.)|
|Gordon, John||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Winterton, Earl|
|Grant, James Augustus||Mount, William Arthur||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Greene, Walter Raymond||Newdegate, F. A.||Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)|
|Gretton, John||Newman, John R. P.||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Newton, Henry Kottingham||Worthington-Evans, L. (Colchester)|
|Haddock, George Baker||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Norton-Griffiths, J. (Wednesbury)||Yerburgh, Robert|
|Hall, M. (Liverpool, East Toxteth)||O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid.)|
|Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|Hamersley, Alfred St. George||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Laurence Hardy and Mr. Courthope.|
|Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington)||Paget, Almeric Hugh|
|Abraham, William||Brunner, John F. L.||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Bryce, John Annan||Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan)|
|Adkins, W. Ryland D.||Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Dawes, James Arthur|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas|
|Agnew, George William||Buxton, C. R. (Devon, Mid)||Dewar, Sir J. A. (Inverness-shire)|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)|
|Alden, Percy||Buxton, Rt. Hon. S. C. (Poplar)||Ellis, Rt. Hon. John Edward|
|Allen, Charles Peter||Byles, William Pollard||Elverston, Harold|
|Anderson, Andrew Macbeth||Cameron, Robert||Esslemont, George Birnie|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Evans, Sir S. T. (Glamorgan, M.)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Cawley, H. T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Falconer, James|
|Atherley-Jones, Llewellyn A.||Chancellor, Henry George||Ferens, Thomas Robinson|
|Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Ferguson, Ronald C. Munro|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||France, Gerald Ashburner|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Clough, William||Furness, Sir Christopher|
|Barclay, Sir Thomas||Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||Gelder, Sir William Alfred|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick B.)||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Gibson, James Puckering|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst (Leeds, N.)||Collins, Sir Wm. J. (St. Pancras, W.)||Gill, Alfred Henry|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Compton-Rickett, Sir J.||Ginnell, Laurence|
|Beale, William Phipson||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Glanville, Harold James|
|Bentham, George Jackson||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford|
|Bethell, Sir John Henry||Cory, Sir Clifford John||Greenwood, Granville George|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Cowan, William Henry||Greig, Colonel James William|
|Bowles, Thomas Gibson||Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Grenfell, Cecil Alfred|
|Brigg, Sir John||Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy)||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward|
|Brocklehurst, William B.||Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Gulland, John William|
|Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Molteno, Percy Alport||Summers, James Woolley|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Sutherland, John E.|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Tennant, Harold John|
|Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||Munro, Robert||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.)||Murray, Capt. Hon. Arthur C.||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Harwood, George||Muspratt, Max||Thomas, James Henry (Derby)|
|Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Neilson, Francis||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Norton, Capt. Cecil W||Tomkinson, James|
|Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Nuttall, Harry||Toulmin, George|
|Haworth, Arthur A.||Ogden, Fred||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Helme, Norval Watson||O'Grady, James||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Verney, Frederick William|
|Henry, Charles Solomon||Parker, James (Halifax)||Walker, H. de R. (Leicester)|
|Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon. S.)||Pearson, Weetman H. M.||Walters, John Tudor|
|Higham, John Sharp||Philipps, Col. Ivor (Southampton)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Hindle, Frederick George||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Pirie, Duncan V.||Wardle, George J.|
|Hodge, John||Pointer, Joseph||Waring, Walter|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Pollard, Sir George H.||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Hudson, Walter||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Illingworth, Percy H.||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||Waterlow, David Sydney|
|Isaacs, Rufus Daniel||Pringle, William M. R.||Watt, Henry A|
|Jardine, Sir John (Roxburghshire)||Radford, George Heynes||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Raffan, Peter Wilson||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Rainy, Adam Rolland||White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)|
|Jowett, Frederick William||Rea, Walter Russell||White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E. R.)|
|Lambert, George||Rees, John David||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Layland-Barratt, Sir Francis||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Leach, Charles||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Lehmann, Rudolf C.||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs.)||Whyte, Alexander F. (Perth)|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)||Wiles, Thomas|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)||Williams, John (Glamorgan)|
|Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Robinson, Sidney||Williams, W. L. (Carmarthen)|
|Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Robson, Sir William Snowdon||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Luttrell, Hugh Fownes||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W.R.)|
|Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Roe, Sir Thomas||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Rowntree, Arnold||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestershire, N.)|
|Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Wilson, T. F. (Lanark, N. E.)|
|M'Callum, John M.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|M'Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Schwann, Sir Charles E.||Winfrey, Richard|
|M'Laren, Rt. Hon. Sir C. B. (Leices.)||Seddon, James A.||Wing, Thomas Henry|
|M'Laren, F. W. S. (Linc., Spalding)||Shackleton, David James||Wood, T. M'Kinnon (Glasgow)|
|Mallet, Charles Edward||Sherwell, Arthur James||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Manfield, Harry||Simon, John Allsebrook||Younger, W. (Peebles and Selkirk)|
|Marks, George Croydon||Snowden, Philip||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Martin, Joseph||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Menzies, Sir Walter||Spicer, Sir Albert||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—The|
|Millar, James Duncan||Strachey, Sir Edward||Master of Elibank and Mr. Fuller.|
Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Resolved, That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty, as followeth:
§ Most Gracious Sovereign,—We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the Gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament.
§ To be presented by Privy Councillors and Members of His Majesty's Household.