Sir PHILIP CUNUFFE-LISTER
I beg to move, in page 2, line 4, at the end, to insert the words:(3) The Act mentioned in Part III of the Schedule to this Act shall, to the extent specified in column three of that Schedule, be continued until the fifteenth day of January, nineteen hundred and thirty-six.The object of this Amendment is to secure for a further period the continuance of the Dyestuffs (Import Regulation) Act, 1920. The time for which that Act should be continued is a matter of secondary consideration. The Amendment puts forward the term of five years. I should be perfectly prepared to compromise on any reasonable term of continuance, hut what i seek to establish by this Amendment is the principle that the Act should not be brought, to an arbitrary end at the beginning of next month. if the Act be not extended, it will be brought to an end on the shortest possible notice, for the Government have delayed to within a month or two of its normal expiration the announcement of their decision, They cannot say that their decision is the result of the recommendation of any exhaustive inquiry, such as ought to precede a decision of such grave moment as that which they are inviting the House to take to-day. One inquiry there has been, the inquiry by the Dyestuffs Industry Development Committee, to which the President of the Board of Trade has referred, the report of which is published as a Command Paper, and upon the findings of which, as I understand, he largely bases his decision that the Act should not be continued. Let me at once, however, remind hon. Members of what were the conclusions of that committee, in so far as it made any recommendations. Paragraph 112 of the report reads thus:The question now arises whether it would be possible for the industry to carry on that development and maintain its present position without the protection 2420 afforded by the Act. There are two possible opinions on this. The colour users say the Act was for 10 years and no longer. The colour makers say that their increased efficiency during the last few years warrants an extension of the Act which would enable them to complete their work. Further, the importance of the dye industry from the point of view of national security must not be overlooked, but from the point of view of obtaining this object the burden should not be laid on the colour users.[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear"] I agree, and I am going to show that, in the claim I make to-day, no possible burden can be laid on a single colour user in this country. This is their conclusion:Consequently, it is to the interest of all parties concerned, that is The Government, the users and the dyestuff manufacturers to continue to consider the problem in the same spirit of co-operation that has marked the period of the operation of the Dyestuffs Act, and together to agree, IF possible, first whether any further assistance to the industry is necessary, and, if So, as to the form which such assistance should take.4.0 p.m.
Whatever else may be said for those conclusions, they certainly afford no warrant whatever to the President of the Board of Trade, without further inquiry, with out further consideration, to determine this Act at the beginning of next year. I propose to show to the Committee what, I think, any unprejudiced critic will agree is a tremendously strong case for some continuation of this Act, but, before I do that, I want to make plain what is the measure of the control of imports for which we ask to-day. We merely ask that foreign dyes shall be prohibited from coming; into this country where the British maker is able to supply a British dye as good in quality as the foreign dye, and to supply it at the same price at which the foreign maker sells his dye to the user in his own country. That is the only claim which the dye industry is asking upon the House, and that is why I say that, in the claim I make, no possible prejudice can come to any single user in this country.
It is quite true that we seek protection against dumping, which means trying to kill the trade here by selling dyes at prices at which those dyes are not available to the textile users in the country from which the dye has come. AG the right hon. Gentleman the Mem- 2421 ber for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) has said, that is a kind of monster which Free Trade cannot be expected to carry, and I do hope that the President of the Board of Trade is not coming to the House to-day to deal with a question which raises grave national issues on the basis of Free Trade or Protection. It is a question which transcends all that. No user can possibly complain if all that he is asked to do is to buy British dye of equal quality at the same price at which that dye is available to the user in Germany or Switzerland. That is the sole claim we are making.
Let me now make the case for the continuance of this Act. The industry is not an industry of foreign origin which we are seeking, contrary to natural ability, to import into this country. It is an industry which, in its origin, was British; British pioneers established it.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
I hare a great deal to say, and I do not want to delay the Committee unduly. I am perfectly fair; I am coming to Germany. As regards the origin of this industry, the first brain was that of Perk-in, who had associated with him a man of German origin, perhaps a German himself—Hofmann. The two worked together, but the great pioneer work was done in this country. It is quite true that in the decades before the War, this industry passed into German hands, because they were wiser than we were in those clays, because, when we were paying no attention to the industry, a wise German Government was subsidising its chemists and its universities, was bribing people like Hofmann to return to Germany and establish that close connection of science with industry which has made the great chemical industry in Germany. It was because they were wiser and more far-sighted than we were, that we lost that which was originally ours, which we had to get back by blood and tears in the War, and which the party opposite are trying to throw away once again.
2422 What was the result? This industry had almost died out in this country before the War. Then came the War, and the experience in the War. I challenge anyone to deny that the loss of the dye-making industry to this country at the outbreak of the Great War was about the greatest handicap with which we had to contend. The whole textile industry was hamstrung. An hon. Member, in an eloquent speech last night, talked of the amount of khaki used in the War, and how the British soldier carried four times as mach woollen on his back as the average civilian does to-day. Is it realised that in this country, at the beginning of the War, we could not produce the dye for the khaki cloth and we had to send across the seas men with orders to scour neutral countries to get dye to dye the khaki uniform for our troops? That was the result. But it did not end there. It was not only the textile trade. The dye, industry, vital in peace to the textile trade, was equally vital to the munition industry in war. It was the key almost to explosives. Whether it was for textiles or for explosives, it was vital to restore that industry, and the industry was able to 1. built up with great difficulty by a hardworking band of men whose success owed a great deal to the inspiring genius of Lord Moulton.
In the light of War time experience, I want to ask the President of the Board of Trade what is the considered view to-day of the Service Departments as to the continuance of this Act? We are entitled to know that. Presumably the President of the Board of Trade has consulted the Services before taking this decision, and the House is entitled to know before it takes a decision to-night what is the view of the great Service Departments in this matter. We managed to build up something of an industry in the War. After the War the whole country was unanimous in supporting the recommendations of the Balfour of Burleigh Committee that a dye industry should be maintained in this country at any expense and at all hazards. The Government gave a pledge thatIn order to safeguard this particular industry against the great efforts which the great German dye-making firms are certain to make after the War to destroy all that was accomplished through the War, and to 2423 make this industry again subservient to Germany, importations of all foreign dyestuffs shall be controlled by a system of licences for a period of not less than 10 years after the War.That recommendation was carried out at first by a system of administrative prohibition. Then there came the Sankey judgment, which declared that to be illegal, and between the date of the Sankey judgment and the passing of the 1920 Act, there were enormous importations of foreign dyestuffs which, for the first few years of the 1920 Act, largely militated against the success of the dye industry in this country. In 1920 the Act was passed by common consent. [Interruption]. I think I had a good deal to do with it at the time. I was serving under my right hon. Friend then, and I think I am entitled to say that we had a very large measure of common consent. What will not be denied is the amazing manner in which that Act has justified itself; indeed, it is the very success of the Act which is the only possible ground which the President of the Board of Trade can advance to-day why we should not continue it. It has worked with increasing smoothness and rapidity.
There were many difficulties at first, but they were all overcome by the good will and accommodation of the licensing committee, to which the country owes a real debt and on which there were five users, three makers, and three independent members, and I should like especially to pay a tribute to the hon. Member of this House who through all these years has presided over the committee. I should like to ask the President of the Board of Trade another question. There are three independent members of that licensing committee. They have had 10 years' experience of working this Act. Has he consulted them on the way it has worked and as to the decision which he seeks to take to-day? It is almost inconceivable that he should not have done so. If he has done so, I hope he will give us the views that they have expressed, and, if he has not done so, I hope he will stay his hand.
Let me come to the progress that has been made under the Act. We have to overtake a lapse of 15 years in an industry which is not static but which is moving forward every day and every 2424 hour. It is a very difficult task. Before the War only 20 per cent. of the dyes which we consumed worn made in this country. To-day, the dye industry is producing over 90 per cent. of the dyes that our industries consume. Not only that. Before the War all the intermediates for such dyes as we made came from abroad. To-day, practically every intermediate used in dye-making is efficiently made in this country. The production since 1913 has gone up six-fold. We are producing 55.000,000 lbs. of dyes to-day as against 9,000.000 lbs. before the War. The imports have been reduced in exactly the like proportion. The export trade, to which we aye always asked to direct our attention, has gone up from 4,000,000 lbs. in 1922 to over 15,000,000 lbs. last year. So much for the progress that has been made in the volume of production.
In an industry like this, however, it is not volume alone that counts. Quality is as important. The story of the progress in quality and the achievements made in quality are just as remarkable as the progress that has been made in volume. The committee say, in effect, that the quality of British dyes is so good that they really need not go into the details of the quality of any particular dye. The general opinion throughout the colour-using industry is that the output of British makers now compares very favourably with that of foreign producers. In view of the fact that the general position so far as quality is concerned is so satisfactory, the committee do not think it necessary to deal with individual products on this point. That is a pretty good tribute from a committee on which the makers are in a minority. The Dyestuff Development Committee draw attention to one particular triumph of British dye-makers to which I should like to draw the attention of the Committee. It is the triumph of the British dye-makers in vat colours, the most difficult of all, and, as the result of that, the tremendous impetus which has been given to the artificial silk industry in paragraph 43 they say:Vat colours are the most complicated to produce, and it is in this class that the recent development of the industry has been most marked. Foreign manufacturers, particularly German makers, have made great efforts to increase the use of vat colours and to secure the market for them. Notwith- 2425 standing this, 74 new British vat colours have been introduced on the market since 1921, and some of these were not previously manufactured anywhere in the world.The committee go on to show the impetus which has been given to the artificial silk industry, which is one of our few great post-War successes. They say:It is of supreme importance to observe that owing to the fact that active work was proceeding on the development of a dye-stuffs industry in Great Britain, that industry was able to solve a problem of great urgency in the textile industry, the dyeing of acetate silk, and in this field of the production of dye-stuffs suitable for the ravel textile fibre the British dye-stuffs industry not only pointed the way to the rest of the world, but still provides one of the most complete ranges of these special dye-stuffs. This achievement enabled the British textile manufacturer to exploit the possibilities of the new fibre at the earliest moment and thus gain a predominant position in the market.That was not doing much injury to the textile trade. But the story does not end there. The creation of this efficient dyestuff industry in this country led to the building up of subsidiary industries. The committee show how the pigment colour industry has been built up entirely as the result of having the dyestuff industry. They show that it is thoroughly efficient and that its produce is every bit as good in quality as any foreign industry, and that it has actually quadrupled its employment since the dye industry received this measure of protection. In the same way, the printing ink industry has also made its advance. If you look at the other end of the scale, this dyestuffs industry, which the Development Committee say is always eager and anxious to improve its plant, is always placing new orders with the engineering trade. The existence and the efficiency of this industry has led to numerous orders being placed with upwards of 100 firms of engineers who have been able, because we have this dyestuff industry here, to build up a highly scientific branch of the chemical engineering industry in our engineering trade to-day. Foreign capital has come in. Instead of importing dyes from Switzerland, the Clayton Aniline Company is manufacturing in this country. I have seen repeated statements made on high authority and I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman: If we abandon this Act, is it not a fact that this Clayton Aniline 2426 Company, a Swiss subsidiary which manufactures here, will manufacture in Switzerland and send from there instead of manufacturing here. Does not all this show how remarkable is the progress that has been made in what is perhaps the most difficult industry of all in the short space of 10 years?
It may be asked: If the industry has made progress and is as successful as that, what need is there to continue the Act? The need to continue the Act is the risk that a concentrated dumping attack will be made upon it in order to ruin it in the immediate future. That attack is certain to come. This is the only open market. Other countries protect their dye industry. The capacity to produce dyestuffs in the dye-making countries of the world is far greater than the capacity of the world to absorb them. Without any extension of factories, Germany could perfectly easily manufacture the dyes that we require and dump them here in a month or two. Other countries are not opening their doors. America protects its dyes. And I noticed that at Geneva, when the right hon. Gentleman's representative announced to an applauding audience of foreign countries that we were going to abandon the Dyestuffs Prohibition Act, inquiries were instantly made as to whether there was any chance of Parliament changing the right hon. Gentleman's decision. Our representative asked: "What are you prepared to do in return" That was followed by a statement by the French that they could not possibly think of abolishing the prohibition on scrap, and, more interesting still, the Japanese said that, if we abandoned our prohibition of dyes, they could not abandon theirs.
Is it not plain that it will mean that it is to this country that the concentrated attack will come in order that Germany may once again assume that dominating position in this vital industry which she enjoyed before the War? In the past German dye manufacturers have made overtures to dyemakers in this country, saying: "Why do you bother to make dyes? You do not make much money out of it. We could supply the dyes, and we could very conveniently compensate you for any loss of profit and give you a good deal more besides." That overture has actually been made to makers in this 2427 country, and they have hitherto refused it. But, if you take away any safeguards that they have, what encouragement is there for them to refuse an overture of that kind? That is the case for the maintenance of the Act.
May I now deal with such arguments as I have been able to ascertain are advanced against its continuance, and advanced not by the users as a whole, but only by a very limited body of users? Probably the most representative and the most experienced user is, Sir Henry Sutcliffe Smith, who is not only managing director of Bradford Dyers, but has been for 10 or 11 years president of the Colour Users' Association, the official body most concerned in the matter. He says that it would be little short of a disaster to bring this Act to an end at present. So that it is by no means a unanimous demand that comes from users, and, where the demand does come, it is based entirely on a misconception of what we are seeking. In all the arguments that are advanced, I never see it stated that all we 'are asking is that British dyes shall be bought only where they are equal in quality and in price to the foreign article.
Let me take the arguments that are advanced. The 'first is that the Act was for a period of 10 years, 'and, the 10 years having expired, it ought to lapse. I have explained what the Government's words actually were and what happened 'and the influx of dyes that came in the interregnum between the Sankey judgment and the passing of the Act, but I do not rest myself on that. What does it matter what was said or done 10 years ago? Surely what we as practical people have to consider to-day is what we ought to do in the light of world conditions, of which the Government are always speaking.
The second argument is that of price. I have already dealt with the fact that any argument advanced in regard to price has reference to old difficulties and to old controversies. Of course, there were difficulties at the beginning when we were trying to build up the industry. I know that the committee had to introduce ratios and formulae about price factors? All that is out of date to-day, because the offer which the dye-makers are making to the dye-users is that if 2428 they cannot produce a dye which is just as good and just as cheap, then the foreign dye may come in. What argument can be advanced on the ground of price? Let the Committee observe what has been the history of prices in the dye trade and in the fine chemical trade as well '? As long as Germany had a monopoly the price of dyes was kept up. Dr. Morton told a story—and it can be multiplied over and over again by different examples—that there was one most complicated dye, one of tie Indanthrene series, which took nine years of research in this country to produce. What happened? As long as Germany had a monopoly of the dye it was 9s. 6d. a lb. British research and British manufacture began, and, steadily, the price came down. and to-day that Indanthrene dye is being sold at 3s. Does anybody suppose that if we had not manufactured that dye the Indanthrene dye-makers, out of the goodness of their hearts, would have made a present to Lancashire of the difference between 9s. 6d. and 3s. The same kind of story could be repeated over and over again. If yon abandon this Act—and it is in these most difficult dyes that the greatest research is needed—it cannot be supposed that the price will not go up and that all the temporary advantages will remain.
The next argument is the fear that if we continue the Act we shall not get the latest new dyes. That is a piece of propaganda from foreign dye-makers which I really did not think would take in even the simplest person in this country. There is no ground for the suggestion. I have asked over and over again: Where is there an example of a foreign dye-maker refusing to send a dye? I have never had one. We imported last year 5,000,000 lbs. weight of foreign dyes, and they included over a thousand different grades and types. If we can get a thousand different types in that comparatively small tonnage, what evidence is there that foreign dye-makers are going to refrain from sending their dyes? Everybody is aware of the evidence of Dr. Morton, one of the most skilled dyers in this country. He says that in one of his processes he uses, I think, 150 different dyes which he requires to import, every one of which he is able to get in small quantities without the slightest difficulty. He says that the 2429 travellers of foreign dye-makers come week after week and almost day after day offering the latest novelties for consumption in this country. I do not believe that for one moment there is anything in this suggestion.
There is the allegation that we are being hit by the Indanthrene propaganda of the Germans. I will try in a sentence or two to make this technical point clear. The Germans have a series of dyes which they call Indanthrene. These dyes have no guarantee of quality or of fastness, but the Germans have been clever enough to do very extensive propaganda to say that these are very good dyes, and as a result certain persons ask for goods with the Indanthrene mark. The Germans say that unless you dye your goods with German dyes throughout you shall not put the Indanthrene mark upon any textile goods. If that is true, what is the answer'? It is not in the British textile interests to encourage the Indanthrene mark. On the contrary—I had some experience at the Board of Trade with regard to this question—I know that the textile people in this country are anxious that their own individual marks, which have a long history behind them and are tokens of quality all over the world, should be the mark which should be carried into foreign markets. The way to meet the Indanthrene propaganda of German dye-makers and dyers is not to sit down and say we consent to the Indanthrene mark being put upon our stuff; it is for the textile makers and the dye-makers, who, I understand, are wililng to co-operate, to get together and have an intensive propaganda of British textile marks to counter the propaganda in favour of German textile marks.
There is one last thing which is alleged. It is a fear that our export trade will suffer because of the price which we have to pay for our dyes. I have already answered that question. The proposition is that we should buy only British dyes when they are the same price as the foreign dyes. If this be so, what difference can it make in the price of the textile article? I would remind Members of the Committee that, if they look into the past and analyse the figures, they will find that, though there have been great reductions in our exports of cotton goods, by far the largest reduction is in grey and bleached and unbleached 2430 cloth where no dye at all is used, and that the smallest proportion of reduction has come in printed and dyed goods where British dyes have been. used. If I am challenged, I can quote the figures. It is worth the while of the textile industry to remember, that in the time after the War, when it had a chance of selling at great prices in all the markets of the world, it was entirely due to the British dye industry which had been built up during the War that the British textile industry was able to take advantage of this trade in foreign markets.
Those are all the arguments, as far as I have been able to gather them from discussion, from the Press and through these reports, which any user can advance against the temporary continuance of this Act. They would be slender reasons for jeopardising any industry, least of all perhaps the most vital key industry in this country. The dye industry is the basic industry in organic chemistry. It is the great training ground for chemists. All through the industry to-day it is becoming more and more important that you should have this application of science to industry. It is a commercial opportunity for the trained chemists in our workshops.
It is not in the interests of the dye industry alone but also enormously in the interests of the textile industry. I have already shown to the Committee how the skill and work of these expert chemists made possible the advance in the artificial silk industry in this country. We are tremendously indebted to these chemists; the whole of the textile industry is indebted to them. Here you have the ideal linking of science and industry—universities and factories. The whole Committee will have read the remarkable manifesto issued by practically all the professors of chemistry in the great universities in this country. hope that the President of the Board of Trade will not put them upon their trial for an agitation against the economic State. Is not an appeal like that the kind of appeal which comes home, at any rate, to moderately impartial people in the House: of Commons 7 Is it not an appeal to which we can give consideration?
It is said, "Abolish the Act now, and if we make a mistake, we can put it back 2431 again." To do that would be to take a terrible risk. Undoubtedly, that would be followed by an intensive attack upon this industry, and, as I said before, it is not a static industry—it is the least static industry in all the world, moving forward with increasing velocity the whole time. What will happen? You will lose all the continuity of research, dishearten your chemists and throw many of them upon the streets just when the process of research is going forward perhaps to some great new fruition, and you will have to start again far down the scale. What do we ask? We only ask for a maintenance of prohibition where the British dyes are equal in quality and equal in price. Remembering our past experience and appreciating the progress which this industry has made, I beg of the Committee to give to this industry some further help, and not to stay so hopeful a venture and thereby imperil our indutrial and national security.
§ Sir HERBERT SAMUEL
The reason I venture to address the Committee on this somewhat technical subject is because, for some time past, I have been endeavouring to keep in very close touch with the various aspects of this controversy. If I disagree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hendon (Sir P. Cunliffe-Lister) in his conclusion there is very much in the premises embodied in this speech which I would not seek for a moment to traverse. Perhaps it would be as well, in the first place, if we consider how far we agree, so that the discussion to-day could be limited as far as possible, if the Committee so desires, to the somewhat narrow point where there is a very real difference of opinion.
I entirely agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hendon that the dyeing industry must be regarded as a special case. There are exceptional factors which require the special attention of Parliament. During the War it was the colour users who took the initiative in promoting a revival of the dye industry in this country. They found, the textile trade in particular, that the normal supply of dyes had been cut off by War conditions and that it was impossible for them to carry on their trade at all unless 2432 fresh supplies were opened up within our own shores. It was they who promoted the kind of legislation which is embodied in the Act which we are now considering. At a later stage it was found that the rapid expansion of the dye industry could render very great services in national defence in providing the chemical elements of warfare.
The Government of which I had the honour to be a member in 1916 appointed a Ministerial Committee—it was done by my right hon. Friend the Member for St. Ives (Mr. Runciman) who was then President of the Board of Trade—to go into the whole matter. That Committee unanimously decided that special measures were necessary to promote the establishment of an expanded dye industry in this country and to maintain it after the War. We did not adopt the crude and clumsy methods of a tariff, but the more carefully devised special machinery which has been employed during the last 10 years. In 1920, when the War was over, diverse views were expressed among members of the party with which I am associated, and Mr. Asquith, who was then Leader of the party, concurred that it was necessary to have special legislation for the dye industry. I was abroad at the time on other duties, but if I had been in this country I feel sure that I should have shared Mr. Asquith's views. I do not hold, and never have held, a laissez faire principle in politics. I believe that in many directions the State may exercise an intelligent activity to promote, if necessary, important industrial movements, or in various ways to strengthen our industrial system. I should not seek to restrict the activities of the State by a priori limits in that regard.
The Act was passed, and the facts show that it has really been justified by the results. The right hon. Member for Hendon has given some of those results. Before the War, this country produced 9,000,000 pounds of dyes. It is now producing six times as much—55,000,000 pounds. Four times the number of people are employed in the industry as were employed then. The very elaborate plant that is required in the production of the dyes is now provided from domestic sources. There are over 100 firms which have made themselves capable of supply- 2433 ing the plant that is needed. Over 90 per cent. by weight of the domestic consumption of dyes is now provided from domestic sources. As the right hon. Gentleman has said, it is established that the quality of the British dyes is as good as that of the Continental dyes, and occasionally better, and that the price of the dyes now produced in this country is no longer excessive, although some years ago it was excessive. Further, the dye industry has enriched this country by a number of new discoveries and, in particular, has found the processes which enable the new material of artificial silk to be efficiently dyed. It has also developed 'an export trade. Our exports of dyes are now nearly equal to the imports.
All this has been the result of close study and arduous work, and I think the whole House, whatever their view upon this particular Motion may be, should express their gratitude to the leaders of the industry, and to their chemists and engineers, for the very remarkable achievements which they have been able to carry through. By 15 years of strenuous work they have increased the opportunities of employment and have added to the wealth of the nation. All sections of the House should pay a tribute to all those who have so successfully carried through these great achievements.
Furthermore, the new dye industry has given a wide scope for practical training in research arid in chemical improvements. There was need for special action in this country because there was a backwardness in Great Britain for many years in regard to scientific research, applied science and technical education which enabled our Continental trade competitors to get a great advance. It is not cheap labour, as some of my hon. Friends occasionally suggest, which has been the means of securing for modern Germany her economic greatness, but, far more, it is intensive intellectual application to the problems of industry. In ancient times it was the plough, the hand loom and the spinning wheel which were the foundations of industry; in the 19th century it was the steam engine, but now the foundation lies far more with the chemist and the electrical engineer than with any others. So far I think we are all agreed, and the debate to-day need not range 2434 over those points which are not disputed in any quarter.
Does it follow from all that I have said that it is necessary to continue the operation of this particular Act of Parliament I That is the point to which the House must give its consideration, and on which it will to-night give its decision. As hon. Members are aware, there has been in existence for a number of years the Dyestuffs Industry Development Committee. That is a statutory body set up under the Act of 1920. It represents all the parties to this controversy, the dyemakers, the dye users, and also independent elements. That committee has issued a report for the guidance of the Government and of this House. It is true that the report does not make any specific recommendation on the particular point now before us. The committee evidently disagreed, and ended with a concluding paragraph which was in itself inconclusive. They really express a benevolent desire that there should be a general agreement for making all these trades as happy as they can be made. However, the committee have presented the facts, and they have presented them in a form which I think will be accepted in all quarters. At any rate, I have not seen any criticism of the presentation of the facts. They are not ex parte. I shall base what I have to say very largely upon the report of the committee and shall read several paragraphs from the report. They say:At the outset the Committee have no hesitation in saying that the main object of the Act has been achieved, and that a substantial dye-making industry has been built up and maintained by reason of the Act in this country; and that the achievement of that object has admittedly laid a serious burden upon the colour-using industries, in the high prices which have been charged to them for dyewares during the early years of the operation of the Act, and by some interference with their access to the world's markets for their wares. It is gratifying to record, however, that the economic disadvantage has been gradually diminished, but it is obvious that any form of restriction is a hindrance to the consuming trades.That is a very important pronouncement of opinion, but it is not so important as this paragraph:Arising out of these comments attention should be drawn to the directions in which the British manufacture has not been developed, and it is not altogether reassuring that the tendency has been in the main to 2435 concentrate on those materials for which there is a comparatively large demand, whilst in those cases where the consumption is relatively small, the policy appears to have been to leave these to the foreign maker.Very naturally, this new industry has concentrated on bulk supplies for which there is a large demand, while specialities, for which there is a small demand, have been left to the foreign makers. The paragraph proceeds:…but special stress must be laid on the fact that these industries depend to a great extent upon the novelty of the effects procurable, and in order to achieve these ends specialities are indispensable. The market for these goods is not confined to this country, but is in the widest sense the world's market— I would call special attention to the next sentence—and it is imperative— no stronger word could be used—that the producers of these goods in this country should he fully provided with the greatest possible variety of the necessary materials for their production. Anything short of this must be considered a most serious handicap. One direction in which the British dye-making industry has failed to justify the hopes of users, is that development of an important group of dyestuffs has been prejudiced by British makers entering into arrangements with foreign producers, whereby the manufacture of this range has not been attempted commercially, and the user has been left entirely to draw his supplies from foreign sources. The group referred to is an important series of mordant colours.That is the essence of the matter as it now presents itself to the House, and that is the essence of the case which I desire to put to the Committee. The imports which we have now, according to the report, consist to the extent of upwards of 99 per cent. of dyes that are not made in this country. Of our imports practically the whole are dyes which are not produced in this country at all and, as the right hon. Gentleman has said, they are a very great variety. There are no fewer than 1,600 brands of them. Let me turn again to this invaluable report. I make no apologies for reading further passages because they are authoritative and will be accepted in all quarters of the House. In regard to the purchase of these necessary imports from foreign countries the Committee say:It cannot be overlooked, however, that under the method of purchasing colour in this country, a proper balance is not 2436 obtained, inasmuch as the British makers are supplying the users with types of colours used in bulk quantities, whereas the foreign types, the demand for which is increasing, have to be purchased at present in smaller lots from the Continent."Have to be purchased." These imports have been increasing in recent. years. In spite of the remarkable growth of the industry, the special commodities that have been imported from abroad have been increasing. In 1925 and 1928 the imports varied in amount from 4,000,000 pounds to 4,500,000 pounds each year, but last year they amounted in weight to 5,600,000 pounds. The intermediates, which are of less importance, show a very great growth in the importations of last year.
One cannot consider the question as if it were the one single question of importing foreign dyes. We have this enormous variety of different dyes imported from abroad which are needed by the different manufacturers for different purposes. It is essential that there should be no handicap, difficulty or restriction put upon the manufacturers in obtaining those dyes which cannot be produced here. The whole question is whether the continuation of the Act will involve such restrictions and disadvantages. The licensing is left to the licensing committee, and the gravamen of the colour-users' case is that the operation of the Act by the licensing committee undoubtedly puts very great difficulties in the way of the consumers of dyes. The report says:The dyer, the printer and the finisher have to meet exactly their customers demands with something* which cannot be definitely measured, inasmuch as by the use of one material as compared with another, the ultimate result which, to the men not in the trade, does not seem of much account, yet may mean in the actual sale of the finished goods the difference between losing and obtaining the order.That is of absolute importance.The production of the desired effects frequently involves numerous processes, which renders it imperative for the user to make a most careful selection of suitable dye-stuffs, and years of experience are necessary to determine the facts.5.0 p.m.
The colour-users' case is that this work cannot be delegated to any licensing committee in London. It is the old case of the interference of bureaucracy in the conduct of business. Some of my hon. Friends above the Gangway are continually emphasising how important it is that there should be no interference under the 2437 law with the trader and producer, and that he should be left to conduct his own business in his own way. Here is a case where he is left, I will not say at the mercy of, but he is made subject to a committee which may or may not administer the matter efficiently. The complaint of the dye-users is that even where consent is given to the importation of the commodities which they think to be necessary, very frequently prolonged delay is involved, which they say is destructive of business. It is all very well for large manufacturers, like Dr. Morton, to say that there is no difficulty. The case is really one which affects the small firms of manufacturers. It is they who are chiefly concerned. I will not use my own words, because I have no technical knowledge of this subject, but I will quote from those who are engaged in the trade and who know its ramifications. I will make two or three quotations from letters which I have received. The first is from a manufacturer who is Chairman of the Federation of Yarn Dyers covering Lancashire, Yorkshire and Cheshire, Mr. Lawson. He says:
The most serious consideration is how the matter affects the smaller firms, particularly the smaller firms who are unable to employ an expert staff to superintend the demand for licences and who, confronted with the difficulty and uncertainty of obtaining a regular licence for any new product offered to them, content themselves with the product that is available without these handicaps although they realise it to be a second best. Anyone who has had an opportunity of seeing what goods are produced by many of our Continental competitors must realise what untold harm this frame of mind has done to the textile trade of this country.The second is from Mr. Swallow, a director of an important firm in Manchester. He says, in a published letter:It can definitely be said that dye-makers have shown no real disposition to attempt the manufacture of many colours essential to our business. It may convey more to the reader when I say that, although upwards of 80 per cent. of the requirements of the trade in which I am interested are purchased from British sources, we are compelled to import a greater number of products than we buy in this country. It will be realised, therefore, that the imported colours are specialities used in relatively small quantities.I have received this morning a letter from the gentleman who is chairman of the 2438 joint committee of the Lancashire cotton trade, Mr. J. S. Grey, of Burnley. He writes to me in. a personal capacity, and he says:It is essential for the cotton trade that the Act should be allowed to lapse. The trade has borne with great patience this Act for 10 years. That is ample time for the industry to be established. The worst feature of all is the delay and inconvenience and handicap of the licensing system. There are so many of the highest class and newest dyes essential to calico printing which Lancashire must have and ought to have as readily as have foreign competitors, which the licensing system interferes with. They are not yet and cannot be produced here, and if Lancashire cotton of the finest type is to keep in the forefront, there should be no handicap imposed of this nature.
§ Sir H. SAMUEL
Yes, a large manufacturer. He is expressing his opinion not from the point of view of his own actual business, but, being chairman of the whole of the Lancashire cotton trade, he writes to me—I know him very well—expressing his own view that, in the interest of the trade not only of his awn business, but of the whole of the Lancashire trade, the Act should lapse.
§ Sir H. SAMUEL
I hope so—yes. He is a most sensible man. There is another organisation which represents the calico printers, the Calico Printers' Association, which holds strongly that this Act should be allowed to lapse, particularly for the reasons I have mentioned. They say:Owing to the nature of the processes, it is frequently only after long experience that suitable products can be found, and it is one of the fundamental objections to any control of the imports that the decision regarding the materials to be used is placed in the hands of people other than those with the job to perform.There is an even larger and more important body than any I have mentioned yet, the Colour Users' Association. This is a combination of all the colour-users of various trades. It was originally the Colour Users' Committee, and was established in 1915 when the question was first raised. In 1919, it was formed into a definite association, and is officially recognised. It has not been created for the purposes of this controversy; it has been officially recognised for many years, and 2439 has four representatives on the licensing committee. The members have cooperated loyally and actively in the working of the Act ever since it was first in existence. The Chairman, Sir Henry Sutcliffe Smith, spoke at a meeting of the association on 15th July. He is of opinion personally that the Act might be continued partially, that some parts of the Act might be continued, but he is in favour of it only in so far as it applies to existing dyes manufactured here. As chairman, he expresses the views of the association. He says:Your council desires that I as chairman should publicly voice their views, and the fact. that they are opposed to any further extension of the Act and that they are equally opposed to any equivalent legislation which would hamper the colour-using trades in the efficient and economical pursuit of their industries.In this official announcement, which was issued to the Press, he goes on to give the reasons why the Colour Users' Association oppose the continuance of the Act. These are:
That is the whole of the statement, and I think hon. Members will agree that it is a very powerful one.
- "1. The Dyestuffs Act has served its purpose in assisting to establish the dye-making industry in this country.
- 2. The colour users of Great Britain have loyally honoured their pledge to assist in the establishment and development of the dye-making industry.
- 3. The users suggest that the burden of the establishment of the industry has not been equitably shared, too large a share having fallen on them.
- 4. Users are still dependent upon foreign supplies for certain of their needs, and it would be a serious handicap if the flow of novelties and specialised dye-wares from abroad were obstructed in any way.
- 5. The users suggested that because of the importance and strength of the leading British dye-stuffs makers and additional sources of supplies from abroad now available the serious position of 1914 is not likely to be repeated.
- 6. The Government pledge to assist the establishment of the industry because of national security cannot be overlooked, but the cost should not fall solely upon the colour-using industries."
§ Sir H. SAMUEL
The next paragraph is his own personal view. It says: 2440I have endeavoured to give you a fair representation of the official policy of the Colour Users' Association as formulated by the council; nevertheless, my personal opinion, as I expressed it at our last annual meeting, is that it would be economic folly to allow this great industry so necessary for our trade and security and now well on the way to be thoroughly established, to decline.'There is a conflict of views, the chairman being at loggerheads with his council, but it is perfectly legitimate for me to say that the Colour Users' Association, which is the body recognised as representing the colour-users, has declared in uncompromising language that it desires the Act to cease. I would add, finally, that the Chambers of Commerce in the part of Lancashire I represent, Blackburn and Preston, have passed this resolution:That this chamber is of opinion that the operation of the Dyestuffs (Import Regulation) Act is prejudicial to the interests of the textile industries and is a cause of unemployment in those industries. The Chamber therefore asks the Government to allow the Act to lapse when the period of its operation expires.The statement that was made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hendon that the dye-makers would be willing to allow dyes of equivalent quality and price to British dyes to he imported is not quite correct. That is not the offer of the dye manufacturers. Their offer is qualified by saying that in their view the licensing committee ought to be continued, and if the licensing committee are satisfied that in all the circumstances of the case foreign prices may be detrimental to the sound development of the industry in this country licenses to imports shall be refused.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
I should not have made the statement I did without the full authority of the whole of the dye-makers. Since the statement which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) has quoted was published, the dye-makers have stated that all that they ask is that British dyes shall be protected where they are equal in quality and price—with the sole exception of dumping.
§ Sir H. SAMUEL
The question, of course, is what exactly is dumping. If the right hon. Gentleman says that this paragraph is withdrawn-I was quoting from the memorandum sent out by the Association of British Chemical Manufacturers dealing with the whole of the case-I can only say that, as far as I know, no part of it has been publicly withdrawn, and I imagine this paragraph that I quoted is their way of expressing the anti-dumping proposition. The question is whether they wish to continue the licensing and are prepared to stop goods coming in if, in the opinion of the licensing committee, the prices at which these goods come in are injurious to what they call the sound development of the industry. That may be a matter of opinion, so it is not correct to say that in all cases they are willing to allow foreign competition if the price is lower than the British price.
The main point is that in regard to all these specialities there is not such a thing as a market quotation. These are not standardised articles. There is such an immense variety not only in grades of colour but also in quality and strength, that the price has to be negotiated for each separate parcel, and there is no general market price which can be quoted and compared with the general British market price. They find that, under the present law, when British textile manufacturers wish to obtain some special article they ask for licences to import it, but the foreign producer will not quote a price, because he knows that the only purpose of quoting a price is to enable the British manufacturer to fix the same or a lower price. That is found to be frequently the case. The foreign producer will not quote merely in order to suit the convenience of the licensing committee and to give a standard price which British manufacturers can adopt. They know also that their samples which are sent over are sometimes sent to British manufacturers in order to see whether they can make a similar article. In the meantime, there is great delay, and the British importer being prevented from obtaining the special articles which he needs, may lose the order for which that special article is required.
§ Sir H. SAMUEL
They are statements made to me by dye-users. That is the reason why the colour-users are opposing a renewal of the Act. The dye-users have a reason to oppose; they are only anxious to maintain the dye industry as a valuable industry to themselves and to the country. if the dye-users oppose, they have some reason for doing so. They say that it is a handicap in obtaining the necessities for one of the most valuable branches of the cotton trade. I appeal to the Committee to give a not unsympathetic hearing to the plea of the colour-users as well as the dye-makers, and particularly of the cotton industry. The cotton industry is passing through a period of extreme depression. I doubt whether any other great industry in this or any other country has suffered in so short a time so great a collapse as the cotton trade. Its production is now only half what it was a few years ago, not only in the bleached goods but in the dyed and printed goods. The part of the cotton trade which one may have good hopes of saving and expanding is the better end of the trade, the finer qualities, the specialities. It is not the grey goods of cotton cloth which are most likely to prosper in the near future; it is the more highly elaborate materials, the finer qualities, the novelties, which may secure a recovery of our trade to some extent.
At this moment there are 233,000 unemployed workers in the cotton trade. We frequently reproach our manufacturers with not showing sufficient enterprise and push in adapting their wares to the market. That is a criticism which is continually made, and no doubt has some force, but here, where the manufacturers ask for the fullest liberty to provide the colours which are necessary to produce goods of the greatest variety, the highest quality and the latest novelty, restrictions and difficulties are put in their way, and the cotton trade does feel that it has a right of appeal to this House that if it cannot take any positive measures for rescuing the trade, at all events it should not put hindrances in the way. They say, if you cannot help us, at all events do not hinder us.
2443 Lastly, I come to the exceedingly important point of substance raised by the right hon. Member for Hendon to which attention must be given. He said that if this Act is allowed to lapse the effect will be that this new, flourishing and healthy industry will be left at the mercy of foreign competitors, who may deliberately set out to crush it; and they can do that in two ways. In the first place, they have practically a monopoly of some of the most important dyes and they could make it a condition of supplying those dyes to our manufacturers that they should also take the cheaper quality dyes. The German industry might say that if they want to have their specialities they must also take the other range of their dyes. In the second place, they might sell for a time at a ridiculously low price, below the cost of production, a large range of dyes made here in order to bring our industry to its knees and compel it to allow a much larger importation of dyes than now prevails, and the effect of that would be to stop valuable work in chemical research and development which is now proceeding. If that were so it would undoubtedly be a grave evil. No one can deny that it is a possibility, but because it is a possibility we must not assume that it is a probability, still less that it is a certainty. I am very sceptical about this prophecy of dumping in order to ruin our industries. In 1920, after the War, Parliament was terrified of that eventuality and the depreciation of currency, and passed an Act to stop all dumping. But that Act was never once put into force on any one occasion because the situation never arose, and, therefore, I am exceedingly sceptical whether it will arise in this case. If it did I am certain that Parliament by general assent would be prepared to act in order to prevent such an eventuality.
§ Sir H. SAMUEL
It would not be too late. If there were any signs that such an attempt was being made, that the condition was being imposed that no specialities would be supplied unless the others were taken, this House would support measures which could be taken without delay and by general consent. This is the only argument of substance in the 2444 whole of this agitation, And on the strength of that argument, doubtful as it is, this vast edifice of propaganda has been based. I must congratulate the dye-makers on the effect of their propaganda. It is directed by a master hand, and has not been countered by any adequate or effective presentation of the case on the other side. Every industry naturally wishes to maintain any privilege it may have. The dye-making industry is prosperous. Lord Melchett, in presiding at 'a meeting of Imperial Chemicals, Limited, referring to the dye section, said:We are making increasing profits in spite of severe competition and reduced prices in this branch of our business.I am glad that their enterprise is rewarded. It is perfectly legitimate, and naturally they desire to maintain any trade advantage which any Act of Parliament gives them. No industry has ever done otherwise. I have never come across any industry which has been given a measure of protection which has been willing to forgo that advantage when the period fixed came to an end. Why should they not carry on a propaganda in order to maintain their privilege and present the best case they can? But when this Act was passed it was definitely agreed between the parties, whose interests were, to some extent, conflicting, that it should be a temporary Measure and extend for 10 years, and no more. Lord Moulton, who was the real father of this Measure, suggested a period of five years, but a longer period was asked for and the consumers agreed. The dye-users agreed that it should be a period of 10 years. They have suffered considerable economic hardships through the operation of this Act. Nevertheless they have assisted and co-operated in every way to promote its smooth working, and they have done so on the faith that the undertaking given to them should be kept. To many of us it appears that there is no reason why Parliament should enact fresh legislation in breach of the agreement and extend this Measure longer than the period which was originally agreed. The burden of proof rests upon those who desire fresh legislation, and I submit that that proof has not been given.
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. William Graham)
The Committee this afternoon, on a very im- 2445 portant subject, has returned once more to the fundamental controversy between Protection and Free Trade, which was perhaps almost inevitable in a debate of this kind. In summarising the position and giving the reasons why the Government have come to the decision they have, I want as far as possible to base my speech on the facts, and I hope to show the Committee that everything has been taken into account in the determination of the Government's policy. Let me say also that this decision was not taken lightly or until after all the circumstances had been very fully explored. It must be obvious to every hon. Member that very powerful forces are arrayed on both sides. On the one side there are the dye manufacturers and pigment makers and also kindred industries and undertakings. They are naturally desirous of maintaining to the full, if they possibly can, the large measure of protection which they obtained under this Act.
On the other side, there are the colour users, the Calico Printers' Association and the great industries of woollen and cotton textiles, whose position at the moment is serious if not grave, who are presenting very impressive arguments in support of a discontinuance of this legislation. It is the duty of any Government which has to make a decision of this kind to weigh up all the facts and decide to the best of its judgment what is desirable in the national interest. In order that I might be fortified in what I have to say I went back to the debate in December, 1920, and in particular to the speech made by the right hon. Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne) who presented the Bill on that occasion.
Without dealing at too great length with the history of this matter, may I say that it is beyond all dispute that this Act originated in the circumstances of the War. That crisis had thrown a fierce light upon the extent to which this country was dependent on German supplies in this respect. Certain regulations were introduced during the War and the Government made large contributions in money to the British dye industry. Then there came a period, from 1919 until this legislation at the end of 1920, a period called the interregnum during which, largely because of a judgment given by Mr. Justice Sankey as he then 2446 was-he has since risen to greater heights-dyes were imported into this country, without restriction, to the aggregate value of some£7,000,000. From some points of view that intensified the case, or so it was argued, for the Dyestuffs Act of 1920. But running through all the debates on that Act there was the desire to establish the industry with an elaborate and indeed very complete measure of Protection, in order that never again should this country be exposed to the kind of danger which was so remarkably revealed during the War crisis.
I imagine that the chief questions before us this afternoon are whether the conditions which were laid down in that discussion in 1920, and in the Act, have been fulfilled, whether this industry has been established on a sound and satisfactory basis, and whether any case can be made out for the continuance of the legislation. There were imported into those debates of 1920 many arguments or, at all events, some arguments regarding the exchange position. It was not until four or live years later that we again became anchored to the gold standard and stabilised exchanges and part of the plea then was for some kind of safeguarding against dumping, or against the exporting advantage given to other countries because of the depreciated exchange. That argument figured in the debates and there is not the least doubt it influenced a certain section of Parliamentary opinion. Divisions were taken in the House of Commons and Amendments were moved from the Liberal benches and supported by most of my hon. Friends who were in the House at the time, but the Coalition Government had an overwhelming majority, and the Act was justified as an experiment in order that this industry might be established.
So we entered upon the 10-year period which concludes on 14th January, 1931. It is rather remarkable that in the speech of my right hon. Friend opposite there should have been, just the suggestion, though it was nothing more, that this period was not in the nature of a definite Parliamentary understanding or bargain. It is true that, in the course of those debates, not a great deal was made of the actual time limitation but the words were very clearly inserted in the Act—10 years and no longer. More- 2447 over, this was recognised as an altogether exceptional form of Protection, because it was au out-and-out prohibition of the entry of these goods into this country, save to the extent that it was modified by a licensing system and, although I have had debates for a good many years now with Protectionists of every shade and colour, I have never found them particularly enthusiastic for that form of tariff restriction. Generally speaking they have advocated a tariff on some scale, but they have always insisted at the same time upon the wisdom of administering it without interfering in any industrial operation. Nevertheless this extreme and exceptional form of Protection-and because exceptional resting again very largely on the limited period for which it was applied-was embodied in the Act. So, I do not think that my right hon. Friend can ride off with any hint or suggestion that there was not a quite definite impression at that time that this Measure was to be of limited application.
It should be observed that in the Amendment now before us he himself does not suggest an indefinite extension of the Act which, presumably; he would have no difficulty in suggesting if his case were substantiated. He merely proposes a five-year period, or, in other words, another limited term, at the end of which I have not the least doubt we would have exactly the same arguments, and during the whole of that five years propaganda would be going on one way and another as to whether the legislation should be further continued or not, and there would be a considerable amount of speculation as to the possible economic colour of the Government which would be in office at the date of expiry and what action that Government would be likely to take. Is it unreasonable to suggest that that state of affairs is not desirable in any industry and that there should not be this overhanging doubt as to whether legislation of this kind is permanent or temporary, and whether another lease of a highly protective system may or may not be granted 7 I hope to show later that there are many arguments for a definite decision, subject to certain statements which I shall make, regarding certain important points, quite properly raised by hon. Members.
2448 I should like to associate myself with what has been said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) and by my right hon. Friend the Member for Hendon (Sir P. CunliffeLister) as to the progress of the industry during the 10 years and as to the importance of agreement upon the common ground in this matter. No doubt the position has, literally, been changed to almost exactly the opposite of what it was in the pre-legislation period. We are now using, in this country, dyestuffs produced to the extent of probably 93 per cent. in the country, subject to certain modifications. The numbers employed in the industry have increased and the price of the commodity has diminished, although we must not fall into any confusion or error on that point. The price has not fallen solely for this reason, but partly for this reason and partly for others. We are overtaking, to-day, the supply in the great bulk of the central lines in the trade although, admittedly, there is more difficulty as far as specialities or novelties are concerned. All that may be admitted regarding the 10 years of the operation of the Act, and all that has been set out with admirable clearness and skill in the report of the Dyestuffs Industry Development Committee on which much of our debate this afternoon is founded.
I should like, in passing, to pay a tribute to the very excellent service which that statutory Committee has rendered and the care with which they heard evidence and considered the whole problem before this report was presented. But when we come to the report itself let the hon. Members observe that there is no direction whatever as to the future. There is no pronouncement as to whether the legislation should be continued or abandoned, and, if I were sitting on the bench, though I cannot hope to pretend to any power or ability of that kind, I should say that a case is probably established or just established on that report against the continuance of the Act if other external factors in the industry and the industries affected are taken into account—because there are very powerful arguments which relate to the burden placed upon colour-users and which no hon. Member seeking to discharge a national duty, as we all are, can afford to ignore.
2449 Let me inform hon. Members that I went into the actual report itself before this decision was taken and I went even further. The concluding paragraph of the report said that the two sides to the industry should, continuing the co-operation which they had previously enjoyed, get together again, and see whether they could not arrive at some agreed proposal. I personally met Mr. Woolcock, the chairman of the committee and some other representatives of the two interests and again entrusted to them the duty of making a further report in the hope that they might arrive at agreement and give us some kind of indication upon which a decision could be based. That conference was representative of the dyestuff manufacturers, and of the colour-users, but after a further attempt which I have not the least doubt was very sincerely and efficiently made, they had to report to me that they were still in virtually complete disagreement. In other words, an indication could not be given and these powerful interests remained arrayed on either side of the controversy. Those are the main facts of the situation and the Government had to make up its own mind upon a variety of other factors which arose, partly in the course of the report and partly in our review of the conditions in other industries, which I will now try to present in summarised form.
Let me turn to the question of price because there is no doubt that it goes to the heart of this controversy. All kinds of prices, I have no doubt, obtained during the War period but in 1920—when we were still in the boom which followed the War and before prices broke—I think the price had touched as high as four shillings and some pence per pound-a kind of average price taken throughout. During the years since that time the price has fallen pretty steadily until to-day it is about is. 6½d., or even less, per pound which is an increase of rather more than 50 per cent, on the average pre-War price of one shilling. It is true that, as far as the index of wholesale prices goes, that appears to be rather higher than the index of many basic commodities in this country, but I am quite prepared to recognise that the price has come down to that extent and that is a factor which we must admit. Dur- 2450 ing this time, also, there was the operation—and this is important from the point of view of much of the argument put forward—of the price factor in the industry. That price factor was at one time as high as three times the pre-War level, I think, falling to 2½ and 2, and, resting to-day about 1 3/4 or 75 per cent. above the pre-War price. According to my information it is acknowledged that, in practice, many of the prices charged have been below that level and the manufacturers suggest at the present time that they can keep it below the 1s. 6d. average; they can go on-so their contention runs-at a price which will compare with that of the Continental supplies, while quality conditions will at the same time be satisfied.
This is, of course, very largely a question of the Continental supplies, because only to a limited extent do we import dyestuffs from America or other parts of the world. This is, broadly and generally, for the purpose of our debate this afternoon, a question of the British Dyestuffs Industry vis-a-vis Continental competition. It is a very remarkable fact that the industry has been prepared to give what is, virtually, a guarantee of the price level and to say, in effect, "We are now so powerfully organised that we can deliver at that price and at that quality." They have gone further and have said, "If we do not fulfil those conditions"—which are the conditions laid down in a great deal of the fiscal argument which took place—"then you can import these goods." But surely it is perfectly fair to say, on the other side, that if those conditions can he satisfied the central part of the case for this Protection has disappeared.
May I pass to another feature, and a not unimportant one? It has been contended that during the operation of this legislation the dyestuffs manufacturers in this country have tended to concentrate very largely on the great bulk lines of manufacture, and that they have not devoted the same attention to those special classes or novelties on which considerable sections of the textile industry of this country depend. I think that that is proved beyond a shadow of a doubt, and I do not know that I am prepared to criticise the dyestuffs manufacturers very harshly on that account. I am quite willing to admit that for a certain period 2451 they did not get the full benefit of this legislation, that there was a kind of overflow from the Reparations Acts, and that there was on the market probably one-and-a-half or two years' supply, owing to the Sankey judgment.
But I must remind the Committee that all these considerations, or by far the greater part of them, were present to the Government in 1920 when this period of 10 years was fixed, and, as a matter of fact, proposals were made from the Conservative benches in the Coalition that the period should be limited to three or five years, or in any case should be much short of the 10 years ultimately embodied in the Act. All these things were perfectly plain and clear, but, be that as it may, it remains true that there has been a tendency to concentrate on what I will call the bulk lines and not to pay the same attention to the novelties or specialities or more particular brands. That raises a very important consideration when we come to the textile trades.
Sometimes hon. Members opposite are inclined to suggest that we have no business experience and that many of these decisions are taken on purely political grounds. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear !"] I refute an argument of that kind. I am not going into the business experience either of myself or of hon. Members on that side of the Committee, but we are very much in the position of any occupant of this office. We consult the acknowledged authorities in the industries affected, and we have done that to a very considerable extent in this case. I have been told over and over again as regards the textile industry, that there are important classes of things which are sold to-day not so much on the quality of material as on colour and appearance and that this is an increasing factor of very great importance in an age when, if industrial conditions are better than at present, the turnover and demand is quicker, and people do not look for that durability of quality that they used to, but for a variety in colour, and there is greater change from year to year in textiles. A consideration of this kind must be of very great importance.
It may be suggested that this is provided for under the operation of the licensing committee, that in fact, as re- 2452 gards these special brands, you can get them into the country at very short notice. and I do not dispute that, taken by and large, the licensing committee has operated with very considerable efficiency and that complaints have diminished within recent years. But that does not remove the contention, which is made by many of these manufacturers and dye-users, that there are still certain difficulties in getting hold of these dyes, that from some points of view the applications are not made because they know they have to go to a licensing committee of this kind, that to some extent they are content to avoid trouble by putting up with substitutes not entirely satisfactory, and that this must have important reactions on the extent to which they can keep their markets for those classes of goods. That is, in my judgment, a point which we cannot possibly overlook.
My right hon Friend contended, in the course of his introductory remarks, that the exports of those coloured articles had either increased or at all events had not decreased as the exports of other kinds of textiles had diminished in recent times. On the figures, that is no doubt true, but that is far from being anything like the end of the argument in this case. We are perfectly well aware that great political and other difficulties in important markets have hit the great staple industries, those great bulk lines of trade, of which the Lancashire trade is one, and I am not the least surprised that the figures of the reduction of exports in those lines are to-day of a falling character, and I should regard that as a much stronger case to quote than the trend of the exports of the coloured goods to which the right hon. Gentleman referred.
Now I want to pass to another consideration, as to the future structure of this industry if this Dyestuffs Act disappears.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
The right hon. Gentleman has given the views of various people; will he give us the views of the Service Departments, for which I particularly asked?
§ Mr. GRAHAM
I am coming to that. I was about to point now to the structure of this industry. A very large part of the propaganda of these recent times has suggested that if the Dyestuffs Act 2453 is removed, the industry is either going to collapse or to operate under very great difficulties. I cannot bring myself to believe anything of the kind, because we are not dealing here with an industry in which you have a great multitude of scattered producers. On the contrary, it is substantially true that there are two great bodies, the Imperial Chemical Industries to which the British Dyestuffs Corporation passed some years ago, and the Clayton Aniline Company, which is under Swiss control, and outside of that we have perhaps a score of manufacturing enterprises in Great Britain. In other words, there has been a considerable measure of concentration in the industry, and there is not the least doubt that that concentration, because one of them at all events is a very powerful body, would enable the industry to stand up to any dislocation, even if I grant for a moment that there would be a dislocation, if the Act were to disappear.
But I imagine that the difficulty that is present in the minds of many of the Members of this Committee is as to what will happen in the case of the manufacturers in this country and in the case of the Interressen-Gemeinschaft, an organisation of German producers, and indeed of other producers, mainly in Europe. I cannot give the Committee any information on that point this afternoon. I can only mention to the Committee the kind of speculation which takes place very largely in conversation, but to the best of my knowledge not in concrete proposals. It has been suggested, first of all, that there might be a combination of world producers, including even American producers. That is discussed by most students of this problem, and there is a tendency rather to suggest that there might be at any rate agreement between British and German producers, and many of these people contend that whether the Act is continued or not, there will be an agreement of that kind. Whether the association between Swiss and German producers would be sufficient to bring the former in also I cannot say, but it is certainly present to the minds of dyestuffs consumers that they might be exposed to the danger of a European cartel if an agreement of that kind took place.
I am advised, on all the information before me, to say that it is probably more likely that there will be an agreement or 2454 understanding between British and German producers, and that that agreement may well be independent of whether this Act continues or lapses, though I do not dispute that the continuance of the Act might be used, by one side at all events, as a bargaining asset. Be that as it may, in any event I do not anticipate for a moment that there could be any break-up of the structure of the industry or any scramble of interests, because it seems to me perfectly incredible that those powerful organisations in this country and in Germany are incapable of an understanding or would engage on the market in a ruinous price-cutting campaign, which would bring no benefit or help to one or the other. If that is the state of affairs, I do not think there need be undue anxiety about the structure of the industry itself.
§ Sir R. HORNE
Suppose they do engage in ruinous price-cutting, what about the workmen who are employed? Would they have any industry to be employed in?
§ Mr. GRAHAM
They are not going to lose their market; I see no danger of any development of that kind.
§ Sir R. HORNE
The right hon. Gentleman anticipated ruinous price-cutting by Germany or America. That is the hypothesis upon which his statement is made. How does he assume in that case that employment can be given here?
§ Mr. GRAHAM
If the two great industries embarked on a ruinous price-cutting campaign of that kind, one or the other would go under, or both would be seriously weakened, but I am expressly saying to the Committee that in my judgment, in what is largely a field of argument or speculation, I do not believe that that is going to be the result.
§ Mr. GRAHAM
That is covered by my reply to the right hon. Member for Hill-head, but I am passing on to the Committee the information which is given to me on the other side, and there is a very great deal of support for it. So 2455 that I do not anticipate any difficulty at all regarding the structure of the industry itself, more particularly when we remember the powerful nature of the leading organisations in this country.
I have tried to take the points so far in order as they have 'been presented in this debate, and I want to turn now to that question of national defence. It is quite true that this was a consideration in 1920, and indeed during the War and before the Act was passed. No Government would take a decision of this kind without having regard to Service requirements, but any danger from the Service point of view depends again on either the serious weakening or the disappearance of the industry. As regards these chemical industries that is a very large part of the case for their protection. I have said I do not believe for a moment that the industry is going to suffer, and if that is true then the defence position is secure, but in any event it is perfectly unfair, as the textile industries have pointed out, that if it becomes a question of defence they should be asked to carry in the main a burden of that kind. All Governments must make provision, so long as the world remains in its existing condition, for defence; but the defence must be provided under other heads, and in so far as it is related to this matter, I think I could give a complete reply. A considerable number of university professors have intervened with the plea that if this industry disappears, because of the lapsing of this Act, they will lose the basis of a great deal of the work being done in chemical research and in the training of chemists. They think they will lose a. large part of that effort to link science and industry together with which none of us will disagree. My reply to that is just my reply to the other point, that this industry will continue and that the maintenance of research will he secured. We have our own Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, and it will become a question as to the best methods by which this research is to be safeguarded whether indirectly or in conjunction with the industries that are affected. I want to remind the Committee that there are very great difficulties in a problem of that kind. A good deal of research is carried on at the present 2456 day in close contact with individual industries. There are research associations, and it is open to this industry to get an arrangement of that kind. The difficulty of such an arrangement, however, is that when the Government appear through the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, there is very often a contention that to be effective, it must, to some extent, interfere with the commercial policy of the concern. It is my hope and belief that that difficulty can be removed, and, in any event, I make it perfectly plain that it will be the duty of any Government to see that the research is fully safeguarded, either through that particular method or in any way that we can devise.
I want to pass to what is, after all, the leading consideration before us, that is, the bearing of this dyestuffs industry on our great textile trades. Attempts have been made to belittle the arguments that the textile trades have advanced. In order to put the matter beyond all doubt, we had consultations of an informal kind with the different sections of Lancashire cotton manufacture. We had representations from the woollen textile trades in Yorkshire. In short, those industries have been very fully heard. We had a representative deputation which covered spinners and manufacturers in Lancashire, the trade union representatives, and, indeed, all sections of the cotton industry and, at the same time, as I understand, all sections of the woollen industry. There was a unanimous representation to the Government that this Act should lapse, that it had fulfilled its purpose, that it was unfair that these industries should continue to carry the burden, and that they should now be given the encouragement of perfectly free access to the dyestuffs that they required.
§ Mr. GRANVILLE GIBSON
Will the right hon. Gentleman say what bodies represented the textile industry?
§ Mr. GRAHAM
The employers in the Yorkshire industry. There were representatives of both sides of the industry. They made that unanimous request. They do not dispute the progress of this industry, and the manner in which prices have been reduced, but they quite pro- 2457 perly point to the fact that they had borne the burden during the 10 years of the operation of the Act; and they also pointed to that section in the report of the Dyestuffs Industry Development Committee which refers to the extent to which the cost of dyes enters into the cost of their products.
Sir NAIRNE STEWART SANDEMAN
May I ask whether the cotton dyers were concerned? Many spinners and weavers do not use dyes.
§ Mr. GRAHAM
I may tell my hon. Friend that the spinners and the employers in the cotton industry, who, after all, are concerned, made that united representation to the Government, a representation which, under existing conditions, we could not possibly ignore. May I put to the Committee quite impartially the kind of controversy which we had to decide I contend that this industry has been established and than its structure is not in danger. Here we have an industry of dye manufacture which employs between 7,000 and 8,000 people. Far be it from anyone to belittle that total, for every contribution to direct employment is wanted. In Lancashire, however, 500,000 people are employed, and hundreds of thousands are directly or indirectly engaged in the woollen industry. I am not going to suggest that that vast textile population, which is far in excess of the numbers engaged in the dyestuffs industry, is all immediately and directly affected by this Act, but I am going to say that very important branches of its trade are affected by this legislation, and I have already given reasons to the Committee why that is so.
What is the position in Lancashire at the present time, and what, to an appreciable extent, is the position in Yorkshire? I will concentrate in the main on Lancashire, because no one who goes there to discuss the matter with different sections of Lancashire cotton can fail to be impressed by the fact that there is a bewildering difference of opinion as to the remedy for the present state of affairs. An enormous part of the export trade has been lost. They cannot agree as to the form of amalgamations; they cannot agree as to price; they cannot agree as to merchanting. In fact, there is controversy in all the five or six dif- 2458 ferent sections of the trade. There is no individual contribution or remedy which will provide a cure for Lancashire's distress, but it is true beyond all question that it is entirely in the national interest at the present time to add up all the contributions that we can possibly make, and beyond doubt one contribution is the perfectly free access to dyes, the absence of restriction, and freedom to buy wherever suits them best. If the British industry is in a position to supply at competitive prices, then it will get the trade. The textile industry and Lancashire cotton have everything to gain by the removal of every possible restriction, and I have more confidence in putting that to the Committee when I believe, as I do, that there can be no real damage to dyestuffs manufacturers in the process. That is the kind of problem on which we have to make up our minds.
Hon. Members have raised the question of the dumping of Continental and other supplies. There is no doubt that this is a. very difficult problem for every one of us, and I want to say one or two general words before I pass to the particular pro, position. Every week I am asked questions by hon. Members on the other side as to what we propose to do to deal with what they call the wholesale dumping of all kinds of commodities. To-day it is German cereals; to-morrow Russian wheat, and on another occasion, Russian timber or doors; and there is a persistent attempt to try to get some kind of remedy against what hon. Members regard as an economic disease of the present day. My right hon. Friend the Member for North Cornwall (Sir D. Maclean) pointed out the other night that we have to be satisfied that goods are being dumped in great quantities at less than the cost of production in the country of origin. I must tell the Committee that with all the information at our disposal, it is very difficult, if not indeed impossible, in most cases to prove anything of the kind. It is all the more difficult when we have not statistics as to the world cost of production of these articles.
No one will dispute that in existing conditions there is a great world surplus of wheat, and that that large quantity of wheat can be measured with reasonable accuracy, but who is going to allege dumping when the world price is generally depressed? Does any hon. Member 2459 seriously suggest that this country is to discriminate against individual countries from which these supplies come, in order to try to deal with this situation? The moment that any hon. Member makes a proposal of that kind, he must tell us—it is his duty to tell us—the way in which he would deal with the problem. But it is not to be dealt with by means of general prohibition. It is not to be covered in that way at all. The only possible way of dealing with dumping from any individual country is by discrimination against that country, either by complete prohibition of the entry of the particular goods, or by a particular tariff. No sooner would that be done, than we should run counter to important treaties. I had to point out when the German case was before the House, that if any discriminatory action were to be taken against Germany, it would involve tearing up—and that only after 12 months' notice—the Anglo-German Commercial Treaty of 1924. In the case of Russia, which is the acute controversy at the present time—
The right hon. Gentleman is rather broadening the discussion, and if I permitted him to go into these matters, other Members may be tempted to follow him.
§ Mr. GRAHAM
I was about to reply to the concrete question which was put to me. I am trying to show the difficulty of dealing with a problem of this description. As far As I can make out as regards dyestuffs, there is no world figure of the actual supplies. It may be that certain estimates are made in the industry, but there is nothing comparable with the figures which we get for other commodities. The real question is whether there is any real reason to believe that large quantities of dyestuffs will be unloaded on the market in this country after this legislation goes.
§ Major CHURCH
Is it not a fact that 40 years ago the Germans actually adopted a policy of dumping, and attacked our own analine dyes? They brought the price down to 5d. and then, having destroyed the industry in this country, put the price up to 2s. 6d.
§ Mr. GRAHAM
Many efforts of that kind have been made, but surely my hon. 2460 Friend must admit that there is a vast difference between the structure of this industry to-day and 40 years ago in this country. We are now dealing with powerful organisations. To the best of my knowledge, there is not likely to be any large-scale dumping of the kind. I have made the fullest inquiry, and, oddly enough, the suggestion is not of German dumping to which my hon. and gallant Friend refers; the suggestion is that American supplies will be unloaded for entry into this country after the prohibition goes. It is quite impossible to indicate what step will be taken by this Government if there were any dumping. I have already told hon. Gentlemen quite frankly that if we are not careful in the steps that we take, we stand the risk of doing serious damage to other sections of our trade; but I am not satisfied that the danger is real. In any case, if the earlier suggestion is correct that there is likely to be some form of agreement—which I believe—between British and German producers, then I imagine they should be strong enough to deal with any danger under that head.
I have never disguised from the House that this is a problem for which powerful arguments can be adduced on both sides, but I fall back upon my early contention that the problem on which the Government had to pronounce has been that of a balance of advantages, and we were satisfied that the dyestuffs industry in this country could continue in perfect strength and safety after this Act had lapsed, as indeed was the original contention when it was passed, and that the time has come when any advantages which will follow its disappearance should be passed on to the great textile trades. No one disputes the precarious condition in which those trades are today, and, keeping that in view, we come to the quite definite decision that, as from 14th January next, this Act should disappear.
§ Sir JOHN SIMON
I wish to intervene only for a very few minutes, because I am afraid that, just as in the case of the Colour Users' Association, there is not complete unity of opinion, so the Committee will be greatly surprised to hear that there may not be complete unity on these benches. I 2461 warmly agree with what has been said by the President of the Board of Trade that this is a case where one has to consider calmly a balance of arguments. It would be in the highest degree foolish to suppose that every consideration of weight is found on one side. I would go further, and say that in my opinion it is probably only by a process of gross exaggeration that one can assert either that very splendid or very dreadful consequences will follow according to the choice which the House makes. It is essentially a practical question. I remember to have read, for I do not think I was in the House at the time, that the late Mr. Asquith, when this subject came up in 1920, was most careful to assert that it did not, in fact, raise the abstract question of Free Trade and Protection. Perhaps the Committee will allow me to quote the passage. Mr. Asquith, who never voted against this Bill at any stage, said on 7th December, 1920:I want if I may to impress upon the Government— he was speaking from the Opposition Front Bench—that there is really no question here of what I may call the abstract question of Free Trade and Protection. It does not arise. The question is what is the best—in other words, what is the least inconvenient and least injurious—method, of safeguarding what we all agree to be an important national industry—[OFFICIAL, REPORT, 7th December, 1920; col. 1993, Vol. 135.]I am very glad that the debate has not rim upon, and so far as I am concerned it shall not run upon, any abstract arguments of that sort. To my way of thinking, much the strongest practical consideration that can be presented to the Committee in favour of the Government's proposal-and those who sit on this side of the House above the Gangway, I think, admit it-is that it is the invariable experience of all of us, it is part of the natural history of the matter, that if we do pass an Act of Parliament, to run for so many years, under which particular branches of industry undoubtedly get special help, at the end of that period they will come and say they want more. That is absolutely a universal proposition, and however overwhelming the success of this Act had been, however completely it put the British manufacturers of dyes into a position of security, it would be asking too much of human 2462 nature to suppose that they would come forward with enthusiasm and say they did not require it any more. Unquestionably that is a consideration which every sensible man must keep constantly in the front of his mind.
At the same time, it is not only on that side that arguments of very considerable extravagence have been used. I see on the Treasury Bench my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War, who is Member for Preston, and from a motion he made just now I am not sure that he may not be taking part in the debate. I am sure he will not mind if I remind the House of the language which he used about this particular Act when he moved its rejection on the Third Reading 10 years ago. I imagine from the speech of the President of the Board of Trade that it is now common ground that this Act during its existence has to a very considerable extent-the Government say completely-achieved its object; that it has not produced an inefficient industry, but a very efficient one, that the committee has to a large extent worked in a very practical way, and that the Act has very materially promoted research. I should not think that at this time of day, in the month of December, 1930, there are many people who would deny that; but in the month of December, 1920, my right hon Friend the Secretary of State for War moved the rejection of this Act, when it was presented for Third Reading, and I will read two extracts from his speech. He said in his first sentence:In my opinion this Bill will do immense harm to two very large industries in this country, it will not achieve the purpose for which it is drawn, it will lead to inefficiency, unnecessary bureaucracy and to a general upset, where, by other methods, there might be a growing trade."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th December, 1920: col. 1114, Vol. 136.]That was only the beginning of his speech. Presently he warmed to his work, and with that robustness which we all admire in the right hon. Gentleman he used this language in the final passage of his peroration. I cannot presume to reproduce his tone; this is from the cold pages of the OFFICIAL REPORT. He spoke of the Measure as:This Bill which does not do anything at all to further research, to develop science, to give us a chance of becoming what we ought to be, one of the first nations on 2463 earth, not only in this trade, but in any other."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th December, 1920; col. 1119, Vol, 136.]That is a warning against being too emphatic on the other side. Frankly, on this subject, I do not find myself as emphatic on either side as, for my peace of mind, I should wish to be. I feel quite frankly the force of a good many things which the President of the Board of Trade has said, but at the same time I cannot really bring myself to believe that there is anything very outrageous in considering whether we have reached the moment when this Act should cease to operate, as it will unless Parliament takes some other step. Not many days ago, for reasons which appear to be much more flimsy than any reason here, the Government thought it highly desirable to have an inquiry before they decided something or other about unemployment insurance.
There has been a good deal of controversy here between my right hon. Friend the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) and others as to the real extent of experienced judgment on this subject in many departments. There is this curious situation. The Colour Users' Association—who are not the people who make these dyes—has upon its own council not only Sir Henry Sutcliffe Smith, but also Mr. James Ewing, both of whom say: "Colour users as we are, we do not think that the right practical course at this moment is to put an end to this Act." In the same way, my right hon. Friend the Member for Darwen, if I understood him aright, says that if this Act were to be continued somewhat longer we might have to face world combinations and cartels, and I do not know what else. If I understand the President of the Board of Trade correctly, he comforts us with the thought that if the Act does come to an end it will still be all right, because a world combination, or a combination between England and Germany, may very well take place.
My own feeling, which I quite agree is of a slightly halting character, perhaps because of my economic past—[Interruption.] We all of us have got pasts-and some of us have got futures. My own feeling is, really, that on balance I should have thought a ease was made out for some continuance of the Act for 2464 a time, and for a really effective inquiry in the meantime. I do not attach the least importance to the fact that gentlemen who are getting an advantage out of the present law desire it to be continued. Of course they would. On this occasion, I do not attach any importance to the abstract arguments of Free Trade or Protection, and in that respect I am following a very good example, the example of the late Mr. Asquith; but it does appear to me, and I venture to think there are some others on these Liberal benches who will agree with me, that the wise judgment that might be reached on a matter of this sort would be not pedantically to bring the Act to an end without giving the opportunity, by some limited extension of its life, to have an inquiry, properly conducted, to see what the real result would be.
§ Mr. MOND
I intervene in this debate with much diffidence since as is probably well known to most members of the House I am a director of Imperial Chemical Industries, who manufacture 50 per cent, of the output of dyestuffs in this country. I have listened with very great interest to the observations of the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon), and I would say this at once, as representing, so far as I do, a large section of the dye-making industry, that we would be perfectly satisfied for our case to be made the subject of a Government inquiry, subject to temporary continuance of the Act for a year, or whatever period might be decided by the House. The President of the Board of Trade laid very great stress on the damage that might be done to the textile industry by the continuation of this Act, and also on the fact that the organisation which controls a large proportion of the output of dyes was strong enough to be able to look after itself. I would point out to him that this same body which produces the dyes and is interested in the continuance of the Act has as its largest customer, in another direction, that very same textile industry. No one is more vitally interested in the prosperity of the textile industry than the chemical industry. It is our largest customer not for dyestuffs alone but for other things, such as alkalis. So far as that is concerned, and I do not put the case any higher, there is a very genuine 2465 difference of opinion as to what the effect would be on the textile industry of the continuance of this Act.
I also wish to make this further observation on the economic side. It is quite true, as the right hon. Gentleman pointed out, that the disappearance of this Act will not strike a fatal blow to the large corporation which makes half the dyes of this country. It must be remembered, when it is stated that the industry is quite strong enough to look after itself, that it may be true that one half may be able to carry the burden, but the other half may not be able to do so. Therefore, it is not quite so safe as has been made out. Take the question of dumping. The President of the Board of Trade does not seem to have gone very fully into that part of the subject. There has been a price war in dyes and that has been one of the most bitter fights that has ever been waged in the history of commerce. In every free import country to-day that battle rages. It is true that Imperial Chemical Industries took over a large section of the dyestuffs industry, and it has been able to fight very hard in China and the East to maintain its position. If this competition is allowed to spread to this country it may damage the industry considerably. If this heavy burden is thrown upon the British maker, you will make the whole thing far more difficult.
May I put this point? I happen to know that the instructions have been given to German salesmen to follow British prices unless the Americans start importing, but, if the Americans start importing, to slaughter prices and keep them out. Then they are to go to a customer and say, "We make certain specialities; if you want these you must give us all your business, and Mr. So-and-so has taken the whole range, so if you refuse he will have the advantage." Here you create a difficulty for the textile industry, because you put them under the obligation of wishing to use the British article and being forced to use a foreign article in order to maintain their individual positions. The instructions which I believe are at present being given to the German salesmen are as follows: You will follow British trade and British prices unless the Americans start importing dyes into this country, and then you will smash prices in order to 2466 keep them out." That is simply using this country as a battleground.
That may or may not be of great importance to this country. It is quite true that it is not a matter which is vital to the company with which I am associated, but I would just like to make this one defence of the dye makers. I question the argument which has been used by the President of the Board of Trade. There are in the world some 10,000 known dyes. There are 4,000 in current use, and we make 2,500. It has taken us eight years to build up this industry. It is economically impossible for us to undertake this great range of manufacture of dyes at once. You cannot embark upon the manufacture of the whole range of these special dyes until the necessary men have been properly trained. It cannot be done. Further than that, you cannot get the scientific staff with the knowledge and ability and spread them over this wide range of extraordinary complex subjects. As an example, to carry out the chemical five-year plan in Russia would involve the combined technical staff of Imperial Chemical Industries and Interressen Gemeinschaft. Such a combined staff could not be created in less than 20 years. In the same way you cannot embark upon the manufacture of these specialities except after a considerable period of time. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) said that there was an agreement to prohibit us from manufacturing certain dyestuffs in existence.
I know there is no such agreement in existence so far as one half of the industry is concerned, and I do not think there is any agreement in the other half. The arguments we have heard this afternoon seem to me to be taking the House away from what I believe is the really essential national point. I urge the House to give the Act another opportunity.
The President of the Board of Trade has connected the question of research and chemical manufacture. It cannot be too strongly stressed that there is a profound difference between organic and inorganic chemistry. It is exactly on that point that I would like to make a few observations to the House, which I believe will be of more assistance in 2467 helping hon. Members to make up their minds than any arguments of an economic character that have been put before the House. There is a great difference between organic and inorganic chemistry. Organic chemistry is really the science of the carbon atoms. This model which I have here represents what is commonly known as the benzene ring. Each one of the balls represents one atom of carbon, and each atom of carbon is bound up or associated with an atom of hydrogen. One of these hexagons represents benzene, two represent naphthalene, and three represent anthracene. The whole business of making colours is to try to replace the hydrogen atoms associated with the carbon atoms by atoms of other substances, and it is just on that point that I wish to claim the indulgence of the Committee. What are the other substances used for that purpose? They are nitrogen, oxygen, carbon, sulphur, alkalies, acids and alcohol. Almost every substance that is known to man is used for this purpose, and the raw materials represented are limestone, salt, coal, sulphur, cereals, and metale like arsenic, sodium and iron. In other words, earth, air, fire and water—indeed, all the substances upon which our life is based—enter into this question of the chemistry of the carbon atom. Even cereals enter into it very closely.
The processes carried on involve alterations of temperature and the addition of substances at various pressures, in some cases at very high pressure, which is only just beginning to be developed technically in the world, but we are fairly well on with it. It is like a very complicated game of chess. Imagine a board which is not a square but a cube, and on which no piece has a less complicated movement than a. knight. There you have the infinite variety of combinations and permutations of which the various colours are made, and upon which organic chemical science is based. Unless you have a great school of people doing this work—not a few people in laboratories, but men who can go into it as a future career, who know that, if they study organic chemistry, there will 2468 be a job for them in the future—there can be no organic chemical industry in the country. It is like asking people to play this game of chess and giving them all the books and the pieces in their university life, and then saying to them when they go out into the world: "Your job is to know all about this complicated game, but you shall have no pieces, only the pawns." You could never create a school of chess on that basis.
It is impossible to, build up a really fine organic scientific school in this country unless you have a well-established and sound organic chemical industry. It comprises a study, as I have said, of all the materials upon which our life depends, and the many substances which may in the future have some bearing upon industry. Perkin began this science in this country in 1854. Afterwards, it left these shores and went to Germany, where it was very carefully nurtured. Since Pasteur began with the science of sterilization, there has been, following to some extent upon his work, an extraordinary progress in organic chemistry. Lister began with the study of phenol, and created the science of antiseptics; but phenol is simply another grouping of carbon atoms. Metchnikoff went further, and discovered that extraordinary creature-if one can call it a creature—the enzyme. This material, or animal—no one knows which it is—creates fermentation. It has the peculiar property of eating starch and giving off alcohol. [Interruption.] In that respect, perhaps, it is less fortunate than human beings. All that is known about the chemistry of the enzyme is that it is based upon carbon, and it is only, therefore, by the intense and wide study of the science of organic chemistry that we are likely to gain more knowledge of it.
Further, there is the case—it is not English but German—of Ehrlich, who produced the valuable drug known as salvarsan which is based on carbon. Then you have the hormone, that curious thing which is described as the chemical messenger of the body, which operates in connection with the ductless glands, and can change entirely the nature of a man or woman. It is no exaggeration to say that cases have been known of members of the opposite sex who, for some peculiar 2469 reason, have suddenly been found to lose most of the properties usually attributable to their sex—to grow beards and things of that kind-and who, by proper treatment, have entirely recovered and become perfectly normal again. All that is due to the hormone and the ductless glands. What is the chemistry of the hormone?
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Robert Young)
I am afraid that this is very far removed from the Amendment before the Committee.
§ Mr. MOND
I accept your Ruling. I will merely say that the chemistry of the hormone is based upon the chemistry of carbon, and the chemistry of the vitamin, again, is based upon the chemistry of carbon, as has been shown by Sir Lowland Hopkins, that great Englishman who has just been made President of the Royal Society, while Professor Starling has shown the same thing with regard to the hormone. Thus a great school of English chemists has already been built up on the organic chemical side so far as it has gone, but far more remains to be done in that direction in the future, and it is not too much to say that, unless there is a real opportunity for men to go from the university into industry in order to continue their study of organic chemistry, we shall never have the fine science which this country ought to have. The ordinary professor is not going to take the trouble to train men for jobs that do not exist in this country, and the ordinary man is never going to set out upon the years of learning which are necessary in order to become accomplished at this work.
At the present moment we have an organisation for dealing with that question. There is a committee of professors and scientists which sits in association with our industry. They train men in contact with us, and they get considerable sums of money for their universities from us. It would be very hard to justify the continuance of large expenditure in this direction by any commercial company if there were no industry for the purpose of which these men could be used. It is impossible to conceive that this could be done in the absence of such an industry, and it is probable that it would cease to be done after a time.
2470 It is quite true that a case has been made for and against the continuance of this Act, but I seem to feel that behind the case against its continuance there is the influence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is known to hold very rigorous views on this question. He has shown to us, on one side of his public life, the aspect of a man who is unrelenting, and even cruel; but quite lately he has shown us another side of his character—the more harmonious side—as a patron of the fine arts. In regard to this, he might, perhaps, be compared with the Emperor Nero, but, whereas Nero fiddled while Rome burned, the right hon. Gentleman has engaged a complete orchestra to play while his country collapses.
Apart, however, from any political prejudices on the question of Protection or Free Trade, I would make this one plea. It has been said that the future of industry in this country is the future of the chemical industry and that our greatest raw material, coal, which is carbon, on which all this science is based, is the one thing which can assist this country to recover. I would go so far as to make this prediction, that, if the future of industry is based upon chemical industry, the future of chemical industry is based upon the organic chemical industry, and one might almost go as far as to say, also, the future of our knowledge of human life. It is for this House to make up its mind whether it really feels that it is essential to have an organic chemical industry in this country. I do not wish to press the case unduly, because I am interested, but it is not a question of finance, it is not a question of profits; those represent a very trifling side of the whole question. It is a much bigger question than that. If it is felt to be necessary that we should have an organic chemical industry, then do not let us make any move to-night to destroy or even to impair it. If you come to the conclusion that it is not worth while to have such a school of science in England, I shall only regret that I have not been able to make my case before this House for what I believe to be a very important and very profound scientific object. With these words I would leave it to those who have the right to decide, saying as I sit down that I firmly believe that in the future there will be no great nation that 2471 has not an organic chemical industry firmly and well established within its shores.
§ Mr. WISE
I shall not attempt to follow the last speaker into his most interesting and instructive dissertation on the march of chemical science, but I think it might be convenient if I make at this stage such observations as I have to make on the general issue, rather than, perhaps, at a later stage on the narrower issue. This debate has shown a very remarkable measure of agreement in all parties in the House and on both sides of this controversy in regard to the general facts of the situation. Neither side has challenged the view of the Development Committee that, with the assistance of this Dyestuffs Act, the dyestuffs industry has developed to a very remarkable extent, that it has planted itself firmly in the general economy of the country, that it has been enabled to assist a remarkable and very valuable development in research and in the training of chemists, and that it is supplying, at any rate as to 80 per cent., the needs of the colour users of this country, in quality at least as good as is available from abroad, and at prices which are comparable. The whole controversy, after all, rests largely upon assumptions or expectations as to what may happen, on the one hand if the Act is renewed, or, on the other hand, if it is allowed to lapse.
I found a very discouraging measure of agreement between the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) and the President of the Board of Trade. Their arguments covered very much the same ground. Both of them were troubled, and apparently the President of the Board of Trade was primarily moved, by what might happen to the textile industries if there were any increase in the cost of dyestuffs. It is very easy to stress particular factors in what is a very involved, critical and dangerous situation, but I cannot help remarking that, when the President of the Board of Trade signed the report which has been issued on the cotton industry, he made, so far as my recollection goes, no reference, nor did the committee, to the effect of the Dyestuffs Act on the difficulties of the cotton industry.
§ Mr. W. GRAHAM
I am sorry to interrupt, but I must correct my hon. Friend. I did not sign the report, and I was not, except for a very brief time, a member of the committee.
§ Mr. WISE
Then I exempt the President of the Board of Trade, but, anyhow, I think the report of the committee was signed by two of his right bon. Friends, and they, as a result of a whole year's inquiry, have not discovered that this measure of assistance in the production of dyestuffs was one of the real difficulties of the cotton industry. When we examine the detailed facts of the industry as to the importance of a change in the cost of dyestuffs, if any change were likely or if any higher price were paid—which is strongly disputed—the matter quickly gets into its proper and very small proportions. The total value of dyestuffs produced in this country is, I believe, somewhere in the neighbourhood of£3,000,000, and the value of the total production of the textile industry is somewhere in the neighbourhood of£250,000,000, so that the total possible effect, at its most, is limited to about three per cent. [An HON. MEMBER: "One per cent."] I am giving the benefit of the widest possible advantage. I myself inquired of a leading manufacturer in the Huddersfield trade as to the importance of dyestuffs and their cost—he is a dyer as well as a manufacturer—in the production of cloth; and he told me that the maximum possible allocation of cost to dyestuffs in the manufacture of woollen cloth is not more than three per cent., or 10. per yard of cloth, the price of which may be 7s. or 8s. a yard; and I saw, in a letter in the "Times" the other day, the statement that, if the cost of dyestuffs were increased by 25 per cent.—and there is no possibility or suggestion of that—the total effect on a suit of clothes would not be more than 1⅓d.
Therefore, the talk about the cost of dyes being a factor in the textile situation is, I think, a misuse of words. Compared with the other factors, as to which the right hon. Gentleman is fully informed, dyes are quite negligible. I recall that the Balfour Report drew attention to the fact that the cost of merchanting woollen and worsted cloth in this country was somewhere in the neighbourhood of 50 per cent., and that the 2473 cost of drapery distribution of the finished cloth was somewhere in the neighbourhood of 40 per cent. In view of these figures, as compared with a maximum of 3 per cent. for dyes, I suggest that the proper task of the Government is to deal with the things which primarily and fundamentally matter. Everybody knows what is the real cause of the difficulties of the cotton, woollen and worsted industries, and we must not be misled by manufacturers, spinners and others who, in a difficult position, in extrentis, are perfectly prepared to throw the blame on anyone else outside the trade if by that means they can satisfy, even temporarily their own consciences. I suggest with great respect that that is what is happening in that trade at this moment.
Then the question arose, and both right hon. Gentlemen addressed themselves to it, as to the probable or possible danger of dumping. It seems to me that, in analysing this problem, there are two possibilities. One is that, if this Act is allowed to lapse, we shall immediately find the German industry attempting to get a grip on this market by dumping; and the other is the suggestion made by the right hon. Gentleman that in fact the more likely outcome is an agreement. Let us examine both possibilities. The German industry at this moment is working at a percentage of its capacity which is estimated by British experts at, I think, about 25 per cent. Anyhow, the Germans put it at under 50 per cent. of their capacity. Their total production now, thanks to the creation of the dyestuffs industry here and the industries in other countries, is about one-third or more under their pre-War production. At least 50 per cent. of their capacity is at present unused, but they could bring it into operation in a comparatively short time. They have every reason, therefore, if this market is open to them, to try to get a grip in it again.
Moreover, if the case of the colour-users, or some of them—because I would remark that there is a very strong divergence of opinion even among colour-users as to the effect of this Act—if the case of some of the colour-users is correct, and German prices are lower than prices in this country, they have all the advantage of extra profits to induce them to put their surplus production here. It is per- 2474 fectly plain, I think, that, having, as I believe they have now, an agreement with the French and Swiss dye industries, and desiring, no doubt, at some stage or other an agreement with the dye industry in this country, their natural and most likely tactics would 'be to do precisely what they did in 1920, that is to say, to push as much stuff on to this market as possible in order to disorganise our own industry and get a grip here. In 1920, when it was found that the original proclamation was ultra vires, and there was a period of a year during which the market was open, the Germans put on to this market£7,000,000 worth of dyes, which is five or seven times a normal year's import into this country. I think there is every reason to expect that, unless they can come to an agreement, they will certainly dump, and in that case for months, and perhaps for a year or two, the whole progress of an industry which is admittedly a key industry—an industry which, putting aside the War interest, to which I will come in a moment, is vital to the textile trades—may be held up and put into a, state of confusion.
To turn to the other possibility, the right hon. Gentleman on the Front Bench says that everybody knows that it is customary now with international organisations to come to agreements, and that in this case it is not as though there were a multitude of producers here. There is one great producer, and there are one or two others who count, but, broadly speaking, the industry is in very strong hands, and we need have no fear, because probably very quickly they will come to an agreement with the corresponding German combine. But what has happened to the consumer in that case? What has happened to the interests of the consumer, who desires to get his dyes cheap? If that is his assumption, then the case is even weaker than if my previous assumption is right and, at any rate for a time, there is a period of acute disorganisation of the trade on account of dumping.
The other points made against the existing scheme are points of comparatively small administrative detail. The right hon. Member for Darwen talked 'about the delay in getting licences. In regard to that, there is a great divergence of opinion, 'and I was interested to read what was said by a director of the largest 2475 dyestuff-using firm in the country, who is himself a member of the licensing committee, Mr. Hewin, the Bradford dyer.
He said a week or two ago:As a representative of one of the largest users in the country, importing several hundred different types of colour annually, for each of which a licence is necessary, I have no hesitation in stating publicly that the licensing procedure has worked extremely smoothly,This talk about the effect that the licensing system has on the misfortunes of the textile industry and of the inconvenience and delay and loss involved by it is most of it special pleading, which has no substantial basis in fact. I was very interested to hear the right hon. Member for Darwen, who himself, a little time ago, in the discussions on the Coal Bill, moved Clauses pressing for amalgamation, reorganisation, and large-scale production, say that the real case against this procedure is that it injures the interests of the small trader and producer as 'against the big producer. If there are weaknesses in the administration, it is a comparatively easy matter to correct them.
My fundamental criticism in connection with the arrangement here is that I find it quite impossible to understand what conception of policy is really in their minds. Here is an experiment which really is not Protection; there is no tariff required. I was rather interested to observe, in that very interesting and well-documented speech which the ex-President of the Board of Trade made, that he neglected to quote the paragraph in the Development Committee's report which points out that the results that have been obtained in the dyestuffs industry could not have been achieved by any method of Safeguarding or Protection. This is a method, a machinery which seeks to get the advantage of Protection—in the nontechnical sense—without any injury at all to the interests of the consumers. It gives us the advantages of Protection and of Free Trade. It avoids the objections to a tariff as increasing the cost of production, which most of us on these benches feel. I cannot see why the Government, in that extraordinary and unnecessary pursuit of consistency in regard to Free Trade doctrines, should have taken a course which certainly will yield no advantages of 'any substance and which will 2476 probably do us a considerable amount of injury. It is not as if the situation was as it was often before the War. This method of controlling imports by licence gives us a weapon in dealing with the very powerful interests on both sides of the North Sea, which otherwise would not be available.
It is common ground, again, that we are not dealing in this ease with ordinary commercial competition. We are up against what is described, in a report of the League of Nations which I have here, as the most strongly organised and centralised trade in Germany, the trade in which competition among producers has to the largest extent disappeared. The German dyestuff industry is the key to the whole structure of the chemical industries which the Germans have erected. It is an extraordinarily strong combination covering coal mines and a whole host of connected industries. As has been pointed out, the success of the Germans in a great number of industries has been built up on the experience, competence and resources of this great dye industry. In regard to antiseptics, rubber, coal, fuel, motor spirit, and especially in regard to fertilisers, this is so. The power of this industry, if it pleases, to manoeuvre in our markets and against our other interests, if we give it the opportunity, is very great.
The right hon. Gentleman is very troubled about the textile industry of this country. Suppose anything happens so that, by agreement between the two trusts or otherwise, or on account of the removal of that measure of protection, our dyestuff industry, as many people believe may be the case, dies down, what then is to be the position of our textile industries when they find themselves in competition with the German textile industries, closely connected as they are with this great dye industry'? Hon. Gentlemen opposite attach importance to this industry for its use in time of war. That is not, to my mind, a primary consideration, and my attitude towards this proposal is not in the very least based on it. A few days ago I was reading a. statement by a Dane on the inability of British textile manufacturers to compete competently on the Danish market, and the reasons he gave why we were constantly finding ourselves in difficulty was 2477 that the German dyestuffs industry was able to give the German textile manufacturer several weeks or months start in its new dyes, its new colours, its new designs, and its new lines. I should be very glad to furnish the right hon. Gentleman, who seems suddenly to have cheered up as compared with a few minutes ago, with the reference and the authority for that if he desires.
There is the possibility, which is a real danger, that the German industry, again getting a monopoly of production, may use that monopoly in respect of new lines of development and new methods very much to the disadvantage of our own textile industry. There is no doubt that, though the British dye industry has made very great progress, though in regard to 80 per cent. of its production it can compete on equal or better terms with most of the German industry, yet, over a margin of 10 per cent. or 20 per cent. or so, the Germans, with 30 or 40 years experience and research and trained chemists behind them, are still ahead of us. Under this Act we had begun to catch up; we have caught up in many respects. If we let go the machinery and arrangements now, there is an urgent danger that we may lose not only what we have got, but the possibility of getting that extra 10 per cent. and 20 per cent. for our competing textile exporters in neutral markets.
Having said that, there is in my view an overwhelming case for the continuance of this sort of assistance and protection to the dyestuffs industry. I am bound to say that I do not think the Act in its present form can be regarded with satisfaction, and I am therefore opposed to the Amendment proposed from the opposite benches, extending the Act for five years. When the Act was passed, it was not the case that our own dyestuffs industry in this country was solidified into a very great and powerful combine. I do not in the least want to underrate the advantages of that manifold concentration of forces and resources, both from the commercial point of view and from the point of view of research and development, but, at the same time, it does create a new situation with certain not very obscure dangers. For example, as the Measure stands, there is nothing in it to prevent 2478 Imperial Chemicals, Limited, and the German combine from coming to an agreement. I do not know whether they have done it or not. There is nothing in the Measure or in the situation which would prevent them coming to an agreement under which the Germans would quote for particular types of dyestuffs a higher price than they really required, or than was really necessary to yield them a fair rate of profit in, order to enable the British combine to get a high price from British consumers. It would be possible in those circumstances for a quid pro quo to be given in regard to the export market.
I was very much interested by the phrases in the Development Committee's report which point out that, while the British industry has made great progress in the home market, it has made comparatively little progress in the foreign market, very little progress, for example, in the biggest market of all, namely, China. I am not suggesting that it is so, but it is quite conceivable that there are agreements already existing between the two combines for the allocation of foreign markets. If there are not, I see no reason why, moved by the obvious commercial advantages of such agreements, they should not come to arrangements for dividing the foreign markets and keeping the price in the British market. There is nothing in the Act or the existing machinery which would enable us to deal in any way with that situation. Nor is there anything in the Act or machinery which gives a substantial quid pro quo both to the consumer and to the producer for the very special situation in which the British combine finds itself with a practically secure market, and a certainty of selling orders. I think I am right in saying that not many weeks ago Lord Melchett congratulated himself that the dyestuffs part of his great enterprise was not only paying good profits, but paying increasing profits, and I should like to be assured that, in any case where this kind of special protection is given, the Government or some other external body—where there is a great monopolistic combine as in this case—should have the power or possibility of protecting the interests of the consumer.
There is another set of considerations which has not yet entered into legisla- 2479 tion of this sort, but which ought to enter into it, namely, the interests of the workers, the chemists and the technical staff, who find with a great combine like this that their possibilities of employment are practically limited to one employer. Where under the protection of legislation a great commercial enterprise has been put into that specially favoured position, the Legislature ought to protect the interests both of the consumers and of the employés of the organisation. These seem to me reasonable and proper safeguards. If you put Imperial Chemicals, Limited, in a position in which it can do, by agreement with the Germans, practically what it pleases, in the interests of the whole community, the State ought to take a very much more direct and detailed interest in and have knowledge of its proceedings. If we extend the Act for six years, that would be impossible.
I can only express my very deep disappointment that the Government did not take the opportunity of reviewing the whole position in regard to dyestuffs, continuing to give to this vitally important trade a measure of protection, in a non-fiscal but very real sense, which would enable them to develop what is in every sense of the word a key industry and would at the same time use the opportunity, as they could quite rightly and quite reasonably, for acquiring for the benefit of the whole community a much greater control over the operations of this tremendously powerful corporation, whose interests very often may not be at all the interests either of the British textile industry or of this country, and using that opportunity to secure the real interest of producer and consumer.
The fact of the matter is that the Government appear to have looked at this problem with a sole regard to the Free Trade dogma on which they were brought up. That is a great misfortune both for the country and for this party. This party does not believe in laissez faire. It believes in the proper organisation of the national resources, and in no consideration of the problem of the industries of the country could the need of a dyestuff industry be omitted. In my view, here was an opportunity to hand of putting into operation the views for which the party stands in a case in which 2480 the business interests of the country and the interests of producers and consumers could all have been safeguarded, and it is a very great misfortune that the opportunity may be lost.
§ Major TRYON
I desire to refer to one or two points that have been made in the debate. In the first place, I think the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) might have spared this industry the gratitude that he expressed. If he has any gratitude to the industry it would be better shown by allowing it carry on its great work than by working against it. I noticed one omision in the speech of the President of the Board of Trade. He told us that under the operation of the Act the price of dyes had come down to 1s. 6½d., but he did not tell us that it was during that brief interlude of free imports that existed in 1920 that the price was up at 4s. 4d. and, therefore, there is this direct contrast between the 1s. 6½d. under the Act now and the 4s. 4d. which was the price when we were operating under Free Trade conditions. Perhaps the most vital remark made by the right hon. Gentleman was with reference to dumping. He said that, if there were cutting of prices between us and Germany, one of us would go under. That is true, hut, if you allow this Bill to lapse, you make certain that the one that goes under is this country and not Germany.
This industry has had such an experience as, I think, few industries have gone through. It has had alternating a series of periods under free imports, then under State assistance, then back again to free imports and once more to State assistance, so that it has had over and over again the experience first of one thing and then of the other. There could be no doubt whatever that it has always been under the system if free imports that the industry has been in difficulties, and it has always been at a period when the Government have come in to help that it has prospered.
The point that the textile industry can be seriously injured was completely answered by the last speaker, who overwhelmingly demonstrated that even considerable variation in the cost of dyes could not appreciably affect the textile industry. Beyond that, it seems to me 2481 that, when you have to decide if there was any conflict of interests, which I deny, between the trades, the national interest should be supreme. It should overwhelmingly out-value any interest set up by either of those trades. Neither the dye trade nor the textile trade has any right to assert itself against the national interest, and it is for that reason that I value the concluding argument of my hon. Friend the Member for East Toxteth (Mr. Mond), in which he pointed out the vital interest to this country of a great, growing, developing and scientific chemical industry. The country cannot afford to allow this industry to go down simply for the sake of a few trivial points made on minor details by a section of the textile industry.
Then we have had no answer on the question of defence. If the Secretary of State for War replies, I can imagine that his Free Trade predilections will greatly outweigh his responsibility as the Minister of War. At all events we heard quoted, in support of the importance of the chemical industry from the point of view of defence, two people who do not always agree. I understand that Sir William Robertson makes the point that, as long as we have a Navy, Army and Air Force, it is essential for our security, and it will remain equally essential, that there should be an adequate body of trained organic chemists available if and when required. I hope the Government, who are spending over£100,000,000 on defence, which shows that they regard the possibility of war as a thing to be taken into account, will not ignore the position and the needs of the chemical industry and will not forget how much they affect the safety of the country.
I am able also to reconcile two people who have not always agreed. There has never been a better and more consistent Free Trader than Mr. Asquith. He said that the dependence of the country on a single foreign country for materials of such vital importance to industry, in which millions of our workpeople were employed, constituted a permanent danger. His words were "a permanent danger," not a 10-year danger, and he was speaking not from the war point of view, though it was in the War, but from the commercial point of view. A permanent danger cannot be covered by a 10-year 2482 period. Then we come to a statement made on behalf of the Government of which the present Leader of the Liberal party was head that it was vital for the Government to safeguard this particular industry against the efforts which the great German dye-making firms were certain to make after the War to destroy all that we had accomplished. The President of the Board of Trade is a most guileless man. He sees no danger whatever. He cannot imagine that the Germans would do such a thing as to compete with us. He thinks they would form some happy alliance with us. Why should they do that when they have their own Government backing them and our Government does not back our dye industry?
§ Mr. W. GRAHAM
That is not my opinion. It is the opinion of people who have a life-long knowledge of the industry.
§ Major TRYON
We have had so many expressions of life-long conviction that I have quoted the opinion of Mr. Asquith when Prime Minister, and I have also succeeded in discovering the settled conviction of the present Leader of the Liberal party. I do not exactly know the duration of a settled condition within that party, but, when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen spoke just now about the evils of a Government interfering with the trade of the country, that will not last 10 years. For he took the exactly opposite view on the Consumers' Council Bill.
I should like to recapitulate certain points made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Hendon (Sir P. CunliffeLister) which have not been answered in any way. They are that the industry was created originally by enterprise and invention in this country, but that it was transferred to Germany, because the Germans encourage industry by every means, not only by such things as import duties but also by subsidies to Universities that teach chemistry. We then come to the point where the industry was transferred hack to this country to some extent, when we had Government action. We next had a year of interregnum, when we began to lose the industry again, and now under the Act we have to a great extent regained it. The result of the Act may be summarised as follows: new 2483 factories have been put up in this country, production has been increased six times as compared with pre-War, that 93 per cent by weight of the consumption of dyes is of British origin, whereas before the War only 20 per cent. was of British origin, and we have an expanding export trade.
We have heard a good deal of talk from the textile point of view about their desire to have new dyes at their disposal. The greatest case of anything of that sort happening was the case of acetate silk, when discoveries brought a whole new range of industry into this country and effective use was made of acetate silk for the first time. A committee reported that it was fully equal to that of any foreign manufacture and that there had been a steady improvement in the ranges and a marked advance in quality. All the five big discoveries in connection with it have been made in this country under the influence of this Act.
To allow the Act to lapse would be a grave mistake, particularly at the present time of general depression. I do not notice that there has been very much applause on the other side of the House of the speeches made in favour of the Act. If only the right hon. Gentleman had been speaking, not in the House of Commons but at Geneva, he would have received general applause from the foreign nations. I need hardly say that it is regarded by them as a splendid international act. I understand that an international act is one in which we give away everything and the other nations give away nothing.
Another, and a rather curious, point has come out in this debate. I am reminded of it by the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for East Leicester (Mr. Wise). When we talk of tariffs in other connections they say that tariffs are old-fashioned, and that the right way to deal with dumped goods or with goods made by cheap labour is not by tariffs—this is the Labour argument—but by prohibition. They further say from the benches of the Labour party, and on platforms, "Do not have tariffs. It is better to have some arrangement under which you regulate imports." These are their arguments, and when we ask for help of some kind in connection with the steel trade, 2484 we do not get it. It is astonishing that those who advocate prohibition and the regulation of imports should, when they find an example of this kind in force for dyes, then promptly proceed to destroy it. There is another vital consideration from the national point of view. I have read a. lecture by Professor Pope, who writes with extraordinary knowledge of science and not very much knowledge, I think, of the political views of the present Government, because he seems very doubtful as to what they are likely to do. He stresses the point, that under this Act, and only owing to this Act, we have built up a great staff of trained teachers. Young men go to the universities and for years devote their studies to chemistry. Opportunities for continuing those studies are provided by the chemical industry, and the dye industry gives an enormous amount of encouragement to these men.
I do not say for a moment that the benefit is confined to the dye industry. Many of these men have different tastes and they branch off into other forms of discovery. But just as the dye industry has benefited, so have a great number of other trades benefited. This training of young men for the chemical trade has enabled many men to branch out into other industries. At a time when so many great problems in industry are unsolved, and when we have a staff which has reached its most useful point owing to the fact that the work at the universities has been brought on as a result of the practical experience gained in industry, it seems a pity to break up this condition of things, and leave these men, many of them, to turn to some other business, and to injure not only the dyeing industry but also the textile industry, which must necessarily suffer if British dyes do not advance, and, after all, to set back this great exploration of the infinite field of undiscovered science. This is a voyage to which there is no end. As far as this particular ship is concerned, it is going to be wrecked by the present Government, and, if I may say so without personal discourtesy, wrecked by
the mildest mannered man that ever scuttled ship".
I must begin by rebutting with all the energy of which I am capable the charge which seems to 2485 be levelled against the present Government and the Members of our party of being indifferent to the importance of science in industry and generally to scientific research. Nothing can be more wholly untrue or a more false description of our general attitude. I suggest, with all respect, that the speakers from the other side, including the right hon. Gentleman and the Member for East Toxteth (Mr. Mond) exaggerated the value of the work, important as it is, which has been done under the Dyestuffs Act, and in that are doing their case no good. They are trying to identify scientific research with a particular commercial experiment in a way which makes one doubt the disinterested character of their devotion to science. We fully accept the fact that a supply of really trained chemists and scientists is vital to the nation, and never more vital than at the present time. But we have a greater respect for what such a great institution as the Imperial Chemical Industries and other great industries and their Research Associations do, than to think that all the opportunities for scientific research are concentrated in one narrow department—that connected with work under the Dyestuffs Act. That is a fact which has really been so over stated that it has become almost ridiculous.
It is said that only by retaining this particular prohibition system are we going to get a supply of trained chemists. I think that such a description of the attitude of our whole country toward scientific research ought to be resented. It is not going to help us if outside this country the impression is created that our provision in regard to science and scientific work is governed by, and is to be concentrated in, the small section of our industry which is connected with dyeing. In that connection, I think that hon. Members ought to study with candour the paragraph in the report of the Development Committee which deals with this question, and which says in plain terms that there is evidence of lack of research of an original character in connection with the Dyestuffs Act. What they say, in paragraph 52, is:There is some evidence, however, of lack of research of an original character, and this is exemplified in a minor degree by the absence of production of ancillary products for colour using industries.… The Committee view with alarm the fact that original 2486 work in this development of dyeing technique is more vigorously and successfully attempted by foreign makers.In general, this over-statement of the importance, great as it is, of dyes research does harm. For fundamental chemical research we have to rely upon our Universities, upon our Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, and upon our research associations, and we want to strengthen that fundamental research.
I have listened attentively in this debate and I confess that I am a little in doubt as to whether the dyes industry is a really strong, efficient one or whether there is some concealed weakness in it which makes hon. Members opposite so apprehensive about its future. There is always a danger, when children are safeguarded and sheltered too long, they very often develop the fault of selfishness. Surely the time has come when the dyes industry can stand Ors its own feet and not selfishly claim protection at the expense of other great industries. I am taking part in this debate in order to put one point of view, namely, the point of view of the Lancashire cotton industry. It is evidently a subject of some resentment on the part of hon. Members opposite that on this matter both the employers and the workpeople in the Lancashire cotton industry do speak with one voice, and that voice is correctly represented by the action of the Government and by the view which we take on these benches. I want hon. Members to try to realise, if they can, what is the state of the Lancashire textile industry at the present time. You are dealing with the case of an industry in abnormal conditions. The Lancashire cotton industry at the moment is so stripped and bare that difficulties which, in ordinary circumstances, could be regarded as relatively insignificant, are very serious indeed. Its future depends literally on marginal considerations, on considerations which affect the marginal price.
From that point of view we have legitimately to regard any obstacles in the way of recovery with a degree of carefulness and accuracy which would not be necessary at other times. It is all very well to say from the administrative point of view that the difficulties connected with the licensing system are such as to be easily overcome. They do 2487 —on this the report is clear—limit the access to a wide range of dyes and hamper that quick adaptation and swift use of novelties which are vital elements in the possibility for Lancashire of recovering markets, holding markets and re-establishing its workpeople in employment. In not one, but in a whole series of passages, the Committee pays tribute—and deserved tribute—to the degree to which the colour users, and, in particular, those connected with the textile industry have accepted the period of Parliamentary control connected with the establishment of this experiment. No one reading that document with any kind of realisation of what are the conditions over the whole area of Lancashire can help feeling the necessity of paying the greatest attention to those passages in the report to the sacrifices made in the past by Lancashire and the difficulties put in its way at the present time. Those difficulties are serious in themselves.
I would like very much to re-enforce the point made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) when he suggested that action in the direction now being taken by the Government is not only a practical and economic assistance, but a psychological assistance. Nothing will better serve to hearten the hard-pressed associations, both of workpeople and employers in Lancashire, than the knowledge that when they come to this House with a request which is practically unanimous from all those associations, the House does understand the extreme difficulties in which they are involved, and the extreme fortitude with which they are asking for a due and proper consideration of that request. I should be the very last to suggest that any sectional interest should be preferred at a time like this, or at any time, to the national interest. Lancashire does not ask in a selfish spirit for the removal of this Act. It asks for its removal entirely in a national interest. It accepts the view that just as the dye industry is very useful to the textile industry, we must take the other side of the picture and recognise that the textile industry is of vital importance to the dyeing industry. To a very large extent their prosperity is bound together. But a period of 10 2488 years has now gone by, a period of sacrifices willingly made by Lancashire in what they believe to be the national interest, and we ought to look at the question from a broad, national point of view, and realise that we have a particular responsibility for the conditions in one of the greatest of our industries, which takes a view of this problem which is practically unanimous and will feel the endorsement of this House as an encouragement to it in its struggle with its difficulties.
I believe that, in taking that view, we are not disregarding, but rather considering the interest of the dye industry itself. We on this side of the Committee take the view expressed in the report and reinforced by many speakers that the dyes industry has now reached the position of such established strength that it does not require an artificial barrier round it. In this I beg the Committee to realise that I am not speaking with the feeble voice of one individual, but as a representative in this case of a very large body of opinion which covers the whole of the industrial area of the North affected by this question.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for WAR (Mr. T. Shaw)
I am sorry that the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) is not in his place, because I have a few words to address to him. Having no definite views himself and, apparently, having to fill up the time, he had to seek out a passage from the remarks of someone who had definite views, in order to shield his own shakiness by putting before the Committee what he considered to be a. dangerous example.
§ Mr. SHAW
I am coming to that. I am going to repeat it. I said in 1920 that, in my opinion, this Act would do a great deal of harm to the two principal industries in the textile trade. To that I still hold, and behind me I have the combined opinion of every representative man on the employers' side and the workmen's side in the two big industries of the textile trade, which are 50 times larger than the dye industry. If 50 times be not enough, I can go a little further, because in the one case there are 750,000 people employed and, 2489 according to the report of the Dyestuffs Industry Development Committee, there are only 7,000 employed on the other side.
We had been pressing for definite provisos that if the guarantee of the removal of competition were given there should be inserted in the Act two things: (1) the guarantee that research would be made obligatory, and (2) that there should be limitation of profits. Neither of these conditions was consented to. What has been the result? In 1920, according to the Report, there were 7,632 people employed in the dye industry. To-day or, rather, in 1928, the last year of which there is a report, there were 7,209 employed. That. is the statement made in the OFFICIAL REPORT, showing that in 1920 there were 423 people more employed than there are to-day in the industry. Those who think that research has been specially attended to may like to hear the figures which I am about to give. In 1920, there were 594 of a technical staff, to-day there are 378. Of the research staff, full-time, there were in 1920 some 120, to-day the number is 105. There has been an increase in the research staff, part-time, from 25 to 28. The administrative staff has gone down from 1,075 to 740 but, fortunately, the works staff has increased by 140. The result is, that after 10 years of prohibition these figures show a less number working in the!industry than in 1920. I invite the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley to look at those figures and then ask himself whether my statement was entirely without justification.
Let me turn to some of the things that were said at the opening of the discussion to-day. We were told that the Germans had said: "Why do you wish to make dyes? There is no profit in them, and we can make them." It seems to be assumed that in some way the present dyestuff makers of this country are the opponents of the Germans, on patriotic grounds, and would never, never, never enter into an arrangement with them. The Committee ought to know that in 1924 there was a proposal made to bring about what was to all intents and purposes a merger between the dyestuff makers of this country and the Interressen-Gemeinschaft, and that the Government should withdraw their 2490 holdings in order that that merger should be made. It was the Government of 1924 that would not relinquish the Government's holdings, so that the merger between our dyestuff makers and the German dyestuff makers should not take place. [Interruption.] I hope that these facts are not unpalatable. We were told, in effect, that there was no difficulty in getting dyes. We were told that the reduction in our exports had been mainly in grey goods. These are things which I am prepared to deal with on their merits, and to do so quite openly. Let me revert to history. I will not say a word about the extraordinary financial events that took place at that time. "Let the dead past bury its dead," so far as that is concerned. There were, however, such things during the time of the agitation as shares jumping up from a few shillings each to very many pounds. The Government put£1,700,000 into the concern and drew out£600,000. If it comes to a case of raking up old things, one can do it very effectively.
The curious thing is that in 1920 the Government of that day did not know that the real textile trade was the Lancashire cotton trade and the Yorkshire woollen trade, employing 750,000 people. These people were never even represented on the committee that was appointed to consider this question which so vitally affected them. Let me give a few extraordinary figures to show exactly the scope of these interests. In 1913, the Lancashire trade alone exported, apart altogether from its own consumption, cotton goods, containing colour, to the extent of 2,704,000,000 yards. In 1930, for the first 10 months, we exported 937,000,000 yards. These figures are very difficult to seize. Let me use an illustration to show what they mean. The cotton goods that were exported from Lancashire in 1913 would wrap round the world 62 times, and even this year so far the goods that we have exported would wrap round the whole globe 21 times. That is an industry that is placed opposite an industry which employs 7,200 people. If we have to choose between the two, if all other circumstances are equal, surely one would choose the industry which employs 750,000 people rather than the 2491 industry which employs 7,000. On the top of that, there is the definite promise that this Measure was for 10 years and 10 years only. Lancashire has at last come to its own. It has found a Government that has realised that 500,000 people have a right to speak in a matter which concerns their livelihood. Lancashire has spoken. Both employers and employed state quite definitely that in their opinion this Act has been of great harm to Lancashire, and they ask that the promise made in 1920 that the Act should last for 10 years only should be kept. We are definitely keeping the promise which was made by a preceding Government.
Someone says, "Why not have an investigation?" Here, in my possession, is the Report of the investigation, drawn up by a Committee on which there was not a single direct representative of the two huge trades which I have mentioned, who from the beginning have been treated as if they did not belong to the textile trade, and whose interests have been neglected for the sake of a trade which, however important, is a mere fleabite in comparison. [Interruption.] I will say that it is like a grain of sand in comparison. I will say anything that the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) likes.
Let me deal with the report in order to show that even this Committee, without a single representative of the two great textile trades, whose interest it is very largely to maintain the present position of affairs, realises the position. Let us see what the report says about the position. I said in 1920 that in my opinon the two big textile industries would be penalised. The committee says, quite definitely, that the users have been subjected to certain disadvantages, and every disadvantage that the dyestuffs user suffers is more than felt by the actual producer of the goods. The report says:Users have been subjected to serious technical handicaps in obtaining their complete requirements. The importation of dye-stuffs is definitely prohibited by the Act, hut under the system operated by the Licensing Committee, users are entitled by licence to import such colours as are necessary for their industry, and are not made in Great Britain. Despite the close co-operation between the users, the makers and 2492 the Licensing Committee, the users undoubtedly have had difficulties, which may be classified under the following general terms:8.0 p.m.
- (1) Interference with the ability to obtain supplies of dye-stuffs of proved quality.
- (2) Limitation of access to developments and improvements in the world's market."
What effect has that upon the cotton textile trade? One hon. Member quoted, forsooth, as an argument against the Government that textile goods from Germany were sold in Denmark in preference to our own, because the Germans were three or four weeks in advance with the novelties of dyes of German manufacture. This Act has prevented our people from getting access to those dyes. The report says, quite plainly and definitely, over and over again, that it has been difficult to get novelties and that it has been difficult to get these things quickly. I would ask anyone in this House who wears a dyed cotton garment of any kind whether, if he or she went into a shop and saw two pieces of cloth, one an old-style cloth and the other dyed with a novelty, with a guarantee of fastness of colour, whether he or she would not at once take up the novelty? [HON. MEMBERS: "No !"] Then, if people like old-fashioned stuff, there is no need for this Act. The fact is that people like these novelties. The worst of it is that. our competitors in the East have begun not. where we begun but they have begun ahead of us. I have been in the East and I have seen German machines using German dyes in order to cut us out of the market. It is about time that in this country we had the same quick access to these novelties and the same quick access to improvements as any other country, in order that. we may take the cream from the market and not. leave it to the German, the Ian or the Chinaman. To put it. bluntly, that is what has been going on. The cream of the market has been taken, and we have been left with the skimmed milk, and the result is that we have built up a dye industry employing 7,000 people. That has been done by the splendid effort of this Act! When I heard of what had been done T asked myself whether I had read the figures correctly, and I went to my friends, some of whom know this subject as well as I do myself. [Laughter.] Yes, I have had the advan- 2493 vantage of working 21 years in the mills, and of working all my life in the cotton textile industry, and I think I may say without egotism that I know it better than most hon. Members in this House. I have seen textile workers at work in probably more countries than any other hon. Member, and I know what I am talking about when I speak about the textile trade. It may be that the late Government did not know that it was the textile trade, but my argument is that it is the textile trade. It is a good trade, the largest exporting trade in the country, and it is entitled to consideration, and amateur and immature experiments in tariffs ought not to be applied to it.
Then the Committee went on to say:The production of the desired effects frequently involves numerous processes,and they ended the paragraph by saying that, after everything had been considered,To that extent, therefore, there has been throughout the period of the Act considerable interference with the users' ability to obtain supplies of dyestuffs of proved quality.In addition to that, they said that not only was the onus of proof imposed on the makers, but in actual practice it has been transferred to the consumer. This is from the report on page 34, paragraph 106, and, if any hon. Member wants to consult the report, he can do it. Then I invite the attention of the Committee to another paragraph in the same report: which says:It seems to have been the rule for applications for licences for new material to be held up until the makers had reported upon them, and in the using industries, where novelty is of the utmost importance, any impediment to the flow of the newer products is a serious handicap to the development of their export business.Is not that clear proof that there has been interference with trade? Take the question of colour. If there has been any method of dyeing adopted by any country which, by virtue of its excellence or novelty, has forced its way into the markets of the world, would it not be simply suicide for us not to take advantage of it? In the textile trade, the dye maker bears practically the same relation to the textile trade that the maker of blacking bears to the hoot trade. It is absolutely essential that our makers of 2494 wool or cotton should have the closest access to all places where novelties are made. On page 36, the report says:The dye-making industry of Great Britain, whilst it is well established, does not however provide for the full need of the colour-using industry, and users are dependent upon foreign suppliers for special colours and novelties. It would be a serious blow to British users, were the flow of these products to be impaired in any way.They have already said that the flow is impaired and very difficult to keep going; they then call attention to the gravity of the effect if the flow is impaired.
That is the state of things under the Act at present. I do not care very much for the academic position, either of Free Trade or of Tariff Reform. I am a Free Trader because i believe that Free Trade is the better system, but, if I felt that the continuance of this Act meant a serious addition to the efficiency of our country, no amount of doctrinal faith would stop me from supporting it. This Act, however, is injuring industry, and no one can tell the harm which it has done to Lancashire and Yorkshire. That harm is increasing, and it is not merely by accident that our exports have fallen from the figures I have given to the figures of this year. I am not going to claim that the Dyestuffs Act has been the sole cause of all this, nor even the principal cause, but that it is a cause which is responsible for more unemployment than the total number of people employed in the dye industry I am firmly and absolutely convinced. Every man in Lancashire, either on the operatives' or the employers' side, who has given study to this subject wit/ agree with me in that expression. Here is a telegram which has just been handed to me from the workers' organisation in Lancashire. We have already had the views of the employers' organisation. This body represents some 300,000 of the organised workers in Lancashire, and I ask that their views should be heard at least equally with those of the 7,000 persons in the dye industry. The telegram says:The Textile Factory Workers' Association view with alarm that any doubt as to the necessity for the lapsing of the Dyestuffs Act should exist, and trust that all Lancashire members will support the Government's proposal.—Boothman.2495 He is the secretary of the Amalgamated Spinners, and treasurer of the joint organisation of the textile workers in Lancashire.
§ Mr. SHAW
Whatever dye there is used on cotton goods I am interested in the getting rid of the cotton goods and the selling of them, because on that great industry depends the happiness of pretty well the whole of the county of Lancashire and the fringes of the adjacent county, while its influence on the rest of the industry in this country is simply enormous. I ask the hon. Member to think of the position of an hon. Member like myself, who has spent practically all his life in the mill or among the workers, and who sees a state of things which gets worse and worse. I happen to have been born in a town, where I have lived all my life, and which gave its name to the agreement between employers and employed for the weaving of coloured goods. I know as much about. this arrangement as anybody. I have seen my town's trade dwindle and dwindle. I have seen where a lot of it has gone, and I have seen German goods used with German dyes for the production of goods in other countries in competition with my own people. I am more interested in my own people than in anybody else: than in a German, an Indian, a Chinaman or a Jap.
The fact is that there are three things concerned in this matter. The most important is: Are we carrying out the promise which we made? The second is: If we do carry it out, will the dyestuffs industry die? The third is: If we allow the Act to lapse will more good than harm be done? In the first case, if what has been stated on behalf of the dyeing industry be true, there will be no danger. It says: "We can manu- 2496 facture equally with anybody else and as cheaply as anybody else." In reply to the question, "If we carry out the promise will the industry die?" I say, "Certainly not." In reply to the third point, unquestionably we shall do more good than harm, because a ready access to dyes of the best quality and to novelties will put more men into work in the textile trade than there is any danger of putting out of work in the dyeing trade.
Finally, I appeal to the House to remember that the circumstances which existed at the passing of this Act are not the circumstances of to-day. People say that if the abolition of the Act results in loss of the industry it will mean a serious menace in case another war should happen. There is no hon. Member in the House who is against any reasonable expenditure of money on any research work that may be needed to guarantee the country's security, but do not make your research out of the bones of my people in Lancashire. If you want research to guard the country against danger, pay for it; do not adopt methods that will keep my people out of work. If you want technicians—I have already shown from the figures how you are not getting them—train them.
The burden of the song has been that Germany can beat us because of her extremely fine technical colleges and universities. Very well, set them up; but every proposal we make for an advanced education is opposed by hon. Members opposite. If you want a fair and square deal give ear to those who have suffered for 10 long years, without ever being consulted or without their interests being thoroughly considered. If it be the case that, as the result of the passing of this Act into the limbo of forgotten things, any country should deliberately attempt under licence to smash the market, there is no Government in England, either Liberal, Conservative or Labour, that would not take action in a case like that. But there is no proof that anything of the kind will take place. That is not the danger. The danger has been quite plainly pointed out, and it will exist if this Act is continued. The danger is that the dye-making in this country is in private hands and there is nothing to prevent them coming to an agreement with other 2497 nations, and probably we shall see before long a ring formed;n which the dyestuff makers will delimit their territories, and all people using dyestuffs will be squeezed. We have nothing to regret, we have nothing of which we need be ashamed. We are going to let the Act lapse in accordance with a political promise. For once a political promise
§ shall be kept. We who did riot make the promise will keep it; hon. Members opposite who did, now want to break it. I leave the verdict with the Committee.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 225; Noes, 255.2501
|Division No. 52.]||AYES.||[8.17 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey|
|Ainsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles||Dalrymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey||Locker-Lampson, Corn. O.(Handsw'th)|
|Albery, Irving James||Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Lockwood, Captain J. H.|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Long, Major Hon. Eric|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.)||Dixey, A. C.||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)|
|Allen, W. E. D. (Belfast, W.)||Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Duckworth. G. A. V.||Makins, Brigadier-General E.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Margesson, Captain H. D.|
|Astor, Maj. Hon. John J.(Kent, Dover)||Dugdale, Capt. T. L.||Marjoribanks, Edward|
|Astor, Viscountess||Eden, Captain Anthony||Mason, Colonel Glyn K.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Edge, Sir William||Meller, R. J.|
|Atkinson, C.||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd|
|Ballile-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W.||Elliot, Major Walter E.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)||England, Colonel A.||Mitchell-Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Erskine, Lord (Somerset,Weston-S.-M.)||Mond, Hon. Henry|
|Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet)||Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)|
|Balniel, Lord||Everard, W. Lindsay||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)|
|Beaumont, M. W.||Ferguson, Sir John||Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)|
|Bellairs. Commander Carlyon||Fermoy, Lord||Muirhead, A. J.|
|Berry, Sir George||Fielden, E. B.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)|
|Betterton, Sir Henry B.||Ford, Sir P. J.||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)|
|Bevan, S. J. (Holborn)||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G.(Ptrsf'Id)|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Ganzoni, Sir John||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert|
|Bird, Ernest Roy||Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otrey)||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Gilmour, Lt.-CoL Rt. Hon. Sir John||O'Neill, Sir H.|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William|
|Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.||Gower, Sir Robert||Peake, Captain Osbert|
|Boyce, H. L.||Grace, John||Penny, Sir George|
|Bracken, B.||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Pato, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Grentell Edward C. (City of London)||Preston, Sir Walter Rueben|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks, Newb'y)||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Purbrick, R.|
|Buchan, John||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Bullock, Captain Malcolm||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Rawson, Sir Cooper|
|Burgin, Dr. E. L.||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Reid, David D. (County Down)|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Remer, John R.|
|Butler, R. A.||Hamilton, Sir George (llford)||Rentoul, Sir Gervais S.|
|Cadogan. Major Hon. Edward||Hammersley, S. S.||Reynolds, Col. Sir James|
|Campbell, E. T.||Hanbury, C.||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'te'y)|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecciesall)|
|Castle Stewart, Earl of||Harbord, A.||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell|
|Cayzer. Sir C. (Chester, City)||Hartington, Marquess of||Ross, Major Ronald D.|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R.(Prtsmth, S.)||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Ruggles-Brise, Lleut.-Colonel E. A.|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd, Henley)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Salmon, Major I.|
|Chadwick, Capt. Sir Robert Burton||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.)||Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart|
|Christie, J. A.||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon.Sir S. J. G.||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.||Savery, S. S.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Howard-Bury. Colonel C. K.||Simms, Major-General J.|
|Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney,N.)||Simon, E. D. (Manch'ter, Wlthington)|
|Cohan, Major J. Brunel||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Simon, Rt. Hon, Sir John|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Hurd, Percy A.||Smlthers, Waldron|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Iveagh, Countess of||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Colville, Major D. J.||KIndersley, Major G. M.||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Knox, Sir Alfred||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Cowan, D. M.||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)||Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland)|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)||Stewart, W. J. (Belfast South)|
|Crookshank, Cpt.H.(Lindsey,Gelnsbro)||Little, Dr. E. Graham||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A.|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Liewellin, Major J. J.||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)|
|Thomson, Sir F.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles||Womersley, W. J.|
|Todd, Capt. A. J.||Wayland, Sir William A.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement||Wells, Sydney R.||Worthington-Evans,Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)||Wright, Brig.-Gen. W. D. (Tavlst'k)|
|Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton|
|Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Wardlaw-Milne, J. S.||Withers, Sir John James||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Warrender, Sir Victor||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount||Commander Sir B. Eyres Monsell and Major the Marquess of Titchfield.|
|Adamson, Rt. Han. W. (Fife, West)||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Matters, L. W.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Groves, Thomas E.||Messer, Fred|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Grundy, Thomas W.||Middleton, G.|
|Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Cralgie M.||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvll)||Millar, J. D.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')||Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.)||Milner, Major J.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blaokburn)||Montague, Frederick|
|Ammon, Charles George||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)||Morgan, Dr. H. B.|
|Angell, Norman||Hardie, George D.||Morley, Ralph|
|Arnott, John||Harris. Percy A.||Morris, Rhys Hopkins|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)|
|Ayles, Walter||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Barnes, Alfred John||Haycock, A. W.||Mort, D. L.|
|Barr, James||Hayes, John Henry||Moses, J. J. H.|
|Batey, Joseph||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||Muff, G.|
|Bellamy, Albert||Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.)||Muggeridge, H. T.|
|Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)||Naylor, T. E.|
|Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Benson, G.||Herriotts, J.||Noel Baker, P. J.|
|Bentham, Dr. Ethel||Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)||Noel-Buxton. Baroness (Norfolk, N.)|
|Bevan, Aneurla (Ebbw Vale)||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Oldfield, J. R.|
|Blrkett, W. Norman||Hoffman, P. C.||Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)|
|Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret||Hopkin, Daniel||Owen, H. F. (Hereford)|
|Bowen, J. W.||Hudson. James H. (Huddersfield)||Palin, John Henry.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Palmer, E. T.|
|Broad, Francis Alfred||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Perry. S. F.|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Johnston, Thomas||Peters, Dr. Sidney John|
|Bromfield, William||Jones, F. Llewellyn- (Flint)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Bromley, J.||Jones, Rt. Hon. Left (Camborne)||Phillips, Dr. Marion|
|Brooke, W.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Picton-Turbervill, Edith|
|Brothers, M.||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Pole, Major D. G.|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield)||Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Potts, John S.|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Jowett, Sir W. A. (Preston)||Price, M. P.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire)||Kelly, W. T.||Qulbell, D. J. K.|
|Buchanan, G.||Kennedy, Thomas||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Burgess, F. G.||Kinley, J.||Raynes, W. R.|
|Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland)||Kirkwood, D.||Richards, R.|
|Caine, Derwent Hall-||Knight, Holford||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Cameron, A. G.||Lang, Gordon||Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)|
|Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W)||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Ritson, J.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Lathan, G.||Romeril, H. G.|
|Chater, Daniel||Law, Albert (Bolton)||Rosbotham, D. S. T.|
|Clarke, J. S.||Law, A. (Rossendale)||Rowson, Guy|
|Cluse, W, S.||Lawrence, Susan||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Lawrle, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)||Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)|
|Compton, Joseph||Lawson, John James||Sanders, W. S.|
|Cove, William G.||Lowther, W. (Barnard Castle)||Sandharn, E.|
|Dagger, George||Leach, W.||Sawyer, G. F.|
|Dallas, George||Lees, J.||Scott, James|
|Dalton, Hugh||Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Sexton, James|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lloyd, C. Ellis||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Day, Harry||Logan, David Gilbert||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Longbottom, A. W.||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Duncan, Charles||Longden, F.||Sherwood. G. H.|
|Ede, James Chuter||Lowth, Thomas||Shield, George William|
|Edmunds, J. E.||Lunn, William||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Shillaker, J. F.|
|Edwards, E. (Morpeth)||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Shinwell, E.|
|Freeman, Peter||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||McElwee, A.||Simmons, C. J.|
|Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.)||McGovern, J. (Glasgow, Shettleston)||Sinkinson, George|
|Gibbing, Joseph||McKinlay, A.||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Gibson, H. M. (Lance, Moseley)||Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)||Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)|
|Gill, T. H.||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhlthe)|
|Glassey, A. E.||MacNeill-Weir, L.||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)|
|Gossling, A. G.||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Smith, H. B. Lees- (Kelghley)|
|Gould, F.||Mander. Geoffrey le M.||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Mansfield, W.||Smith. Tom (Pontefract)|
|Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Marcus, M.||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Granville, E.||Markham. S. F.||Snell, Harry|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne)||Marley, J.||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Marshall, Fred||Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middfesbro' W.)||Mathers, George||Sorensen, R.|
|Stamford, Thomas W.||Vlant, S. P.||Whiteley, William (Blaydon)|
|Stephen, Campbell||Walkden, A. G.||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Stewart, J. (St. Rollex)||Walker, J.||Williams Dr. J. H. (Llenelly)|
|Strauss, G. R.||Wallace, H. W.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Sullivan, J.||Wellhead, Richard C.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Sutton, J. E.||Watkins, F. C.||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S W.)||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)||Wellock, Wilfred||Winterton, G. E.(Lelcester,Loughb'gh)|
|Tinker, John Joseph||Welsh, James (Paisley)||Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)|
|Toole, Joseph||Welsh, James C. (Coatbrldge)||Wright, W. (Rutherglen)|
|Tout, W. J.||West, F, R.||Young, R. S. (Islington, North)|
|Townend, A. E.||Westwood, Joseph|
|Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||White, H. G.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Vaughan, D. J.||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)||Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr. Paling|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
Sir WILLIAM MITCHELL.THOMSON
I gather that we have reached an understanding that the remainder of the Committee stage of this Bill is not to be unduly protracted, and I rise merely for the purpose of repeating a suggestion which was made in the course of the proceedings on the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill of last year and which, at that time, was regarded as reasonable by the representatives of the Government. Year after year we are presented with an Expiring Laws Continuance Bill with a very long Schedule embodying a dozen or more Acts of Parliament which it is proposed to continue for a further year. It is a matter of great difficulty and considerable research to discover what these Acts are about and even when that has been ascertained, one does not know the reasons why it is desired to continue them.
Last year I suggested that, along with the Bill, there should be issued a White Paper showing precisely and, in short form, the effect of each Act and why the Department which recommended its continuance desired that it should be continued. That suggestion has been made by successive Select Committees. I regret that the Government have not been able to carry out the proposal in connection with the present Bill, but I now repeat it in the hope that it will be considered favourably by the Government and handed to the Departments concerned for future reference. While I am on the subject, perhaps I may ask Whether it is intended this year to appoint a Select Committee to inquire into these Acts which it is proposed to continue. It has become the practice that every three years a Select Committee should go through the list of expiring laws. The last Committee was 2502 appointed in 1928, and in the ordinary course of events there should be such a Committee in 1931. Perhaps the Financial Secretary to the Treasury will tell us if the Government propose to appoint such a Committee.
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence)
I quite appreciate the point put by the right hon. Gentleman with regard to the White Paper. I have not forgotten that that question was raised last year. I have given careful consideration to the proposal, but I think that the situation has been considerably modified by the steady reduction in the number of Bills covered by this Measure. Only 10 years ago as many as 40 Acts were included in the Expiring Laws Bill of the year, and even as recently as last year, 21 Acts were continued in this way. In the current year there are only 15. It seemed to me that, in those circumstances, there was not much advantage in producing a White Paper such as the right hon. Gentleman suggests. Another consideration affected me in this matter. It seemed to me that such a White Paper would either have to be quite short, in which case it would not give any information which could not be obtained by hon. Members themselves and it might be misleading, or, on the other hand, if it were very long, it would anticipate the discussion in the House of Commons. I did say at the time when the proposal was made that it was not unreasonable, but, having given it the most careful consideration, I feel that it would be unnecessary in the present circumstances. With regard to the Select Committee, I do not wish to give any promise at the present time and I think it will be sufficient to say that we will look into that matter.
§ Sir KINGSLEY WOOD
I think that in the interests of the House the hon. Gentleman might be respectfully requested 2503 to reconsider the matter and give us some more definite assurance. It is understood that every three years there should be a Select Committee appointed to look into the Acts incorporated in this Bill and to examine them in a way which is not possible to a Committee of the Whole House. I am surprised that the Financial Secretary has not found himself able to state immediately, that now, after a lapse of three years, such a Committee is to be appointed. He has not mentioned any objection to that course, and I cannot conceive any. I hope, that before we leave Clause 1, he will be able to give us some further assurance on this matter. It is one which, I am sure, Members of every party would desire to press upon whatever Government happens to be in office.
As regards the White Paper, I do not think that the number of Acts included in the Bill affects the principle at all. It would be for the convenience of hon. Members that there should be an adequate summary of the kind suggested. Whether that summary is to be short or long is really a matter for the draftsman. Again, the hon. Gentleman did not say what the objections to this course were, and I do not think any of us will accept the suggestion that it is beyond the wit of any Minister or any Parliamentary draftsman to place before the House an adequate explanation in a reasonably short form of the proposals of this Bill. Surely the hon. Gentleman would be the last to suggest that it is not possible for that to be done.
I went to the trouble, because it was a matter of interest to me, to see exactly what was meant by the various Acts mentioned in the Schedule, and for a good many of them there is a reasonable explanation, so that the Government would only have to explain them in three, five, or 10 lines, and that would he the end of the matter. Any Government of the day, if they did that, so far from increasing debate, might save themselves a good deal of discussion, and I therefore hope the hon. Member will not find it impossible to furnish a proper White Paper within reasonable dimensions. I am very glad that the number of Acts put into the Bill has decreased, but there are many technical matters men- 2504 tioned in this Bill about which it would be useful to have some information.
I therefore press upon the Financial Secretary to assure the Committee that he will give further consideration to this matter, and not content himself by saying it is an impossibility to issue a White Paper of such reasonable dimensions as will give a satisfactory explanation of the Acts contained in the Bill. I think, further, that he should give an undertaking to-night—and we must press upon him to do so, because hon. Members opposite may find themselves in a different position to-morrow or whenever it may be—that there shall be a Select Committee of the House to go into this question every three years. This method of continuing legislation is not a satisfactory way of dealing with many of the Acts at present on the Statute Book, but it may be necessary. In any case, I think we ought to have a Committee every three years to look into the question and issue their report to the House. I know the hon. Gentleman wants to meet the wishes of the Committee, and he cannot, I submit, very well leave the matter as it is
§ Sir DENNIS HERBERT
I am sorry the hon. Gentleman was not more amenable with regard to this question of a White Paper, but I should like to make a suggestion to him, in ease he may be in charge of another Expiring Laws Continuance Bill. However remote that possibility may be, in case it should happen, if he still intends to refuse a White Paper, I want. to suggest a possible alternative, and that is that there should be attached to the Bill a memorandum setting out quite shortly the effect of the Acts included in the Schedule. Perhaps I may be forgiven for quoting the case of a Bill which I had the honour and privilege of conducting through this House four years ago, a Bill which, among other things, repealed some seven or eight old Acts of Parliament. In that case a memorandum on the front of the Bill set out quite shortly the effect of every one of the Acts which it was proposed to repeal, and I suggest that if the hon. Gentleman will not issue a White Paper, he might at least attach such a memorandum to the Bill.
I think I heard the hon. Gentleman say that a White Paper might be misleading. I do not attach much importance to that 2505 argument. These White Papers are, of course, prepared in the Departments by people who are extraordinarily efficient, and who, I am sure everybody in this House would agree, are extraordinarily fair and impartial. Therefore, a White Paper would not in the least be likely to be intentionally misleading. No doubt a memorandum attached to the Bill would not carry the same weight and would not be regarded as a document of the same importance as a White Paper, and if the hon. Gentleman thinks that it would be difficult to supply a White Paper which would be reasonably short and at the same time not open to the objection of being possibly misleading through its brevity, that would not be a valid objection to a memorandum attached to the Bill. On whichever side of the House we might sit, those of us who were in opposition at the time would no doubt be able to make up our own minds as to how far a memorandum prepared by the Government in charge of a Bill was likely to be misleading, but at any rate such a memorandum, setting out shortly what the Acts did which were included in the Bill, would be of very great use to hon. Members and would be likely to make the discussion of the Bill much more effective.
May I also re-enforce what has been said in regard to a Select Committee? There again I think that in these days, when the House of Commons is sometimes a rather unwieldy body to deal with matters of this kind, it is of the greatest assistance in the effective working of the Parliamentary machine that we should make use of Committees of that kind, and I sincerely hope that next year, whatever Government may be in charge of the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill will see that we have a Select Committee to go into this question.
§ Mr. ARTHUR MICHAEL SAMUEL
I was very surprised to hear the answer given by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, because he rather conveyed the impression that he had not had an opportunity of, or had missed, consulting with his staff as to what was the position with regard to a Select Committee. I am not going to do anything to obstruct this Bill, but on two occasions when I was in charge of a. similar Bill, in 1928 and 1929, I remember being asked several times whether we were going to have a Select Committee again tin 1931, and if 2506 my memory does not mislead me, I said that without a doubt it was understood that we should have such a committee in 1931, being three years after 1928. I therefore feel that the Financial Secretary has either not informed himself or is under a misapprehension.
I think it has always been the intention of the Treasury to have a Select Committee, which, as I remember it, was not for the purpose of saying whether or not an Act should continue. It was set up for the purpose of saying for how many years the temporary Acts should be continued. It is very easy to get these Acts looked into. No question of policy is involved, but the House of Commons is anxious to know exactly where it stands in these matters. My right hon. Friend asked the Financial Secretary last year whether he would consider issuing to the House a friendly, informative document to save the House time, so that we might know what the Acts, which it was proposed to extend, referred to. I also referred to it in a speech. The hon. Gentleman did not give an undertaking that he would supply a memorandum, but he said that he would look into it and consider it because, he thought., that it was a reasonable request. Judging from his answer to-night, he appears to have gone back on that view, and I would like him to tell us whether he has considered the proposal again since we raised it in last year's debate.
We do not ask for a long involved memorandum. I remember a memorandum which was issued to the Select Committee in 1928 by Mr. Granville Ram. I have a copy of it here. It is not a long verbose document, for it runs to only 4½pages. It deals with one item which comes in this Expiring Laws Continuance Bill, and in the course of six or eight lines it says:Scottish Office desire the annual continuance, because a plague of grey seals on the coasts of Scotland has been complained of and is now being investigated, and the best way of meeting such an event is to be in a position to let the Act expire if necessary, at the end of a year: Ministry of Agriculture concur.Such a form of explanation would save us a great deal of time on various items in the Schedule, and we should have something which would give us an opportunity of knowing what the Acts referred to were about. There is a certain item in 2507 this present Bill dealing with an Act which has been renewed on various occasions, and has been going on for 16 years. Clearly, we should feel no particular anxiety about that item if there had been a memorandum to-day, and our minds would have been put at rest with regard to other things which give rise to doubt. I do not know why this Act, which I cannot now discuss, is in this Schedule, for a Bill dealing with it must come to the House sooner or later, and I ask why it has been included at all. Had the Financial Secretary given us a Memorandum of the type which I have in mind I should have been able to pass over that item without any doubt, and so save the time of the hon. Gentleman and of the Committee. Yet here we have an item in the Schedule without any explanation, while we know that the Government intend to bring down a Bill to vary this Act. For the convenience of the Financial Secretary and of the Committee, the hon. Gentleman would be well-advised to say that he will undertake to produce year by year some kind of short resume of the reasons for the various Acts being put in, so that the time of the Committee may he saved.
§ Mr. PETHICK-LAWRENCE
I appreciate the spirit of the remarks that have been made, and careful attention will be given to the points that have been put forward.
§ Clause 2 [Short title and Application to Northern Ireland], ordered to stand part of the Bill.