§ Mr. DAVID GRENFELL
I beg to move, in page 1, line 17, after the word "description," to insert the words:(other than articles to be used as raw materials in industry in the United Kingdom).We believe that it is necessary to make this distinction between articles that are wholly manufactured and are imported in a finished state for use, and such articles as may be imported for the purpose of being worked up in the United Kingdom and upon which employment for workpeople is to be provided before the manufactured article reaches its market and the hands of the consumer. We find, in Class III of the Imports and Exports List, an immense variety of articles, divided for convenience into groups and related to the several branches of our home industries. I find from the statistical returns of trade and commerce that returns are given for articles described by a variety of terms, showing the quantity and value of each class of import. A glance over the list shows how large a part of the total amount spent on these imports represents expenditure on raw materials for industries of all kinds at home. I notice that these Class III imports in 1929 ran to a total value of £278,000,000. In 1930 the figure was slightly less, namely, £262,000,000. The figure for the first 10 months of 1931 stands at the, comparatively speaking, very low total of £215,000,000. We find that the whole class is divided into groups, A, B and so on up to the letter T, the articles dealt with in the various groups being as follows:
1044 In this group we find all kinds of semi-manufactured products in the rough state, from pig iron to bars, billets and rough forgings to be used in further manufacturing processes in our works.
- Group A: Coke and manufactured fuel.
- Group B: Pottery, glass, etc., including various articles used in building and furnishing.
- Group C: Iron and steel and manufactures thereof.
- Group D: Non-ferrous metals.
- Group E: Cutlery.
- Group F: Electrical goods and apparatus.
- Group G: Machinery, mostly finished.
- Group H: Manufactures of wood and timber.
- Group I: Cotton yarns.
- Group J: Woollen and worsted yarns.
- Group K: Silk and silk manufactures.
- Group L: Manufactures of other textile materials.
- Group M: Apparel.
- Group N: Chemicals, drugs, dyes and colours.
- Group O: Oils and fats.
- Group P: Leather and manufactures thereof.
- Group Q: Paper.
- Group R: Vehicles.
- Group S: Rubber.
- Group T: Miscellaneous goods.
Almost all kinds of semi-manufactured goods and raw materials are represented in these categories—goods vitally necessary to British industries, goods which cannot 'be produced at home; and all these goods in their aggregate and in their separate sense come in under the title of raw materials. The term "raw material" is one which has often figured in these controversies. I read, in a speech which the right hon. Gentleman will remember very well, be cause it was delivered by himself not more than four or five months ago, these words, which are full of warning, full of challenge, and full of defiance to those with whom he was then in political controversy:'What is going to happen to my raw materials?' If you go down the list of categories that are provided in the Board of Trade returns you can ask that question over and over again about things so diverse as oil and resin, immense quantities of which are used in this country; about non-ferrous metals and all intermediate stages of non-ferrous metals on their way to final manufacture; about the 30 or 40 different categories of iron and steel which came under the review of the Balfour Committee last year, the consideration of which filled an entire volume in that Report; about apparel, leather and leather goods, woollen and worsted yarns, and so on. And this list, so diverse, actually contains the essential raw materials of a great many industries. Worsted yarn, for example, is a finished product, but for a man who wishes to weave it into his fabrics it is a raw 1045 material. The finished product of the tanner is the raw material for Northampton and the boot trade. And so you could go on through all these articles. What is or is not raw material becomes of prime importance when framing a tariff.That is the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman, who believed that he was right when he uttered that statement in June last. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say:Long before Mr. Chamberlain presides, over the Board of Trade or the Exchequer, out of fairness to industry and those engaged in industry and commerce he ought to say definitely whether their raw material is or is not to be subject to import duties.The right hon. Gentleman has not done the thing that he expected Mr. Chamberlain to do if Mr. Chamberlain occupied the right hon. Gentleman's present position. He went on to argue that if the price of raw material is raised, the ultimate price of the finished product will be increased, that it will be too high for the foreign market and may mean ruin to manufacturers and exporters in this country. He used these words:If you turn the attention of the heads of the iron and steel industry from their own laboratories and works into the Lobbies of the House of Commons, you will destroy their character and divert their intelligence from the real problems, and there will then be no permanent recovery for iron and steel in any part of England, Scotland or Wales.The right hon. Gentleman has now seen the iron and steel industry turn here, and direct their intelligence to this Bill. The hon. Member for Swansea West (Mr. L. Jones) last night made a speech, very well delivered, in which he spoke as one of the most important officials of the South Wales Siemen Steel Association. I believe he is the secretary of that association. He gave us some details of the condition, which, he said, justified his support of this Bill and of protection for his industry. I have no time to go into other industries this afternoon, but I do know something about the iron and steel industry and the tin-plate industry with which he is himself connected, but I represent a very large number of steel smelters and tin-plate workers. He may represent the employers,, but I represent the workpeople in the steel industry and tin-plate industry in a part of the world where we both reside. I want to say something about that industry. The hon. Member gave us figures to show that wages in Continental countries were very 1046 much lower, and were the main cause of lower Continental prices. He did not say that we had always imported large quantities of foreign steel. In 1913, we imported over 2,000,000 tons, and in 10 months of 1931 the imports of iron and steel have been 200,000 tons lower than in 1929, and lower than they were in 1913, when the steel industry in this country was prosperous, and there was no general complaint about it.
The hon. Member did not say that the main bulk of the steel imported at the present time is of a quality no longer manufactured in this country. In South Wales we ceased manufacturing any Bessemer steel 25 or 30 years ago. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bewdley (Mr. Baldwin) and two other Midland gentlemen were the first to manufacture Bessemer steel in South Wales. I can remember the time when that was done, and when the Siemen industry displaced the Bessemer industry to the absolute extinction of the Bessemer process in all parts of the country. The hon. Gentleman did not say that the Bessemer steel imported into South Wales was steel which can be manufactured from 10s. to 15s. a ton cheaper than the steel manufactured under the Siemen process. He did not say that we gave up making this cheaper steel because the quality was not so good, but that we have always thought it convenient in South Wales, the Midlands and other parts of the country to use Bessemer steel, because it serves the manufacture of galvanised plates and tin-plates for the markets of the world. This cheaper semi-raw Bessemer steel has enabled the South Wales tin-plate industry to retain its exports, and has enabled the galvanised industry to retain, and, indeed, add to its production.
These are the only prosperous industries in our part of the world at the present time. They are the only industries which give full employment to the workpeople, and where the best wages have been obtained. These industries have been retained, not directly because of the presence of cheap foreign steel on the market, but because there is the pressure of the cheaper foreign steel against the home producer of steel when he is disposed to raise his price, and the supply of steel for these industries has been maintained at a fair commercial level because there is this importation of 1047 foreign steel. Let me remind the Committee that while there appears to be a disadvantage in having to import steel, our galvanised steel industry is a most prosperous export industry. At present we export more galvanised sheets than all the rest of the world put together. It is 2½ times greater in volume than the exports of the United States, Germany, France, Belgium and Luxemburg combined. Our production of black-plate and tin-plate is higher than ever before. These are the only industries, as I have said, which are prosperous in our part of the world, and I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he has in mind any proposal, whether now or during the next six months, when his Act will be operative, of preventing these industries from being supplied with the kind of steel that may be manufactured abroad, and the kind of steel which is being supplied at a price to enable this trade to retain and extend its markets all over the world—whether he is going to jeopardise the employment of the men in the tin-plate industry and the galvanised industry, because the Siemen Steel Association has sent its general secretary to look after its own sectional interest? We want to know whether the interests of the Steel Association are to stand before the interests of the general community in the town which the hon. Gentleman and I both represent.
The same argument that is applied to the steel trade can be applied by Members who have information of our other national industries. One on this side can talk with authority on the textile industry, another on the silk industry, and so on. The same argument applies to all our industries, because in the list to which I have referred there is opportunity for all industries to give employment to millions of our workpeople, and it is very important that we should not jeopardise the employment of those people by cutting off the supply of raw materials. There is a small thing, which is hardly worth referring to in a Debate of this kind, but I was told yesterday that a firm making leather bags was compelled to look abroad for the metal frames required in the manufacture of those bags, because there are no firms in this country providing the metal frames.
§ Mr. GRENFELL
I was told that it was the case, and that there is a danger that these people may have to pay a duty for the leather which is the raw material of their industry, and, in addition, 100 per cent. or some such figure for the goods imported from abroad, even if there is no firm in this country prepared to undertake the manufacture of that class of goods.
§ Mr. MABANE
May I say, as an expert on this subject, that that is not so? There are in this country firms which manufacture frames for ladies' handbags.
§ Mr. GRENFELL
I was told about this yesterday, and have referred to it in passing. I ask the Committee, in considering the merits of this Amendment, to consider the real interests of a large number of people in this country who depend for their livelihood to-day and in the years to come upon the maintenance of existing trade and markets. I hope that the Committee will not support the Minister if he opposes this Amendment. I would like very much to convince him, but I am afraid that he has gone back on all his earlier professions, and has given a pledge to take this plunge into an unknown condition of things. I am afraid that he is not to be reasoned with to-day, but I will ask the Committee and those people who represent the workpeople, as I do, to consider their interests. I have no interests to serve, except the people who have trusted me and expect me to put forward arguments on their behalf. I know that they resent very much the liberties taken by the Government with their prospect of employment. I ask the Committee to-day to support us in this Amendment, and to support the general interest of British industry, dependent as it is upon raw material from all parts of the world.
§ Mr. T. GRIFFITHS
I support the Amendment, and, in doing so, I want to correct one statement that my hon. Friend made, as I do not want the President of the Board of Trade to say that we do not know our ease. My hon. Friend said that we have ceased to produce Bessemer steel for 25 years. The fact is that we have been producing Bessemer steel in Ebbw Vale and Dowlais up to, say, two or two and a-half years ago. 1049 But it was not so much for the production of tin-plates and sheets as for rails and other materials. I also want to put myself right with the President of the Board of Trade on another matter. I stated the day before yesterday that the cost of producing a ton of steel, from the beginning to the finished bar, averaged something like 10s. a ton. What I had in mind when I made the statement was that this was Bessemer steel that was being produced in this country, and the figure I gave will be supported by the hon. Member for East Leyton (Sir F. Mills) who spoke on the Address and who is a manufacturer of steel. I did not intend that the House should think that the steel that we produce in South Wales for the purpose of producing our best charcoal plates costs 10s. per ton. It may be 16s. per ton. But it did not affect my argument in any way. If these people were able to import their Bessemer steel bars at £3 per ton, we were still at a disadvantage and were handicapped to the extent of 25s. per ton.
After making that explanation, I want the President of the Board of Trade to consider the very serious aspect of our trade put forward by my hon. Friend. My executive is meeting in London this week to review the position of the business. They have been sitting for two days, and discussing a report submitted by the head office on the state of the trade as a whole, as it affects the whole of our members and not only one section. They are amazed to think that a business man like the right hon. Gentleman, who understands everything about ships, shipping plates, pig iron, and the cost of production in all these industries, should try to rush an important question like this through the House of Commons in two and a-half days.
It is a very serioue matter. In the iron and steel trade you have different stages. You import iron ore from Spain and elsewhere. That is the raw material of the blast furnace men. The pig iron that they produce is the raw material of the Bessemer trade and the crucible trade. Then they produce their article, and their finished article will be the raw material of other trades. Billets, for instance, are the raw material for producing wire and various other articles. Steel bare are the raw material of the 1050 galvanised trade and the tin plate trade and other sections. I think I can fairly claim that, if there is one society in the country that is up to date, it is my society. We have a special statistical department which collects statistics not only from our Board of Trade but from all the producing countries on the Continent and America. We can produce any statistics that are required so far as these trades are concerned. Talking of production, the report says:The number of blast furnace men has further declined during the quarter ended September. Only 62 furnaces have been in operation as against 76 at the end of June.That means that there is a decline in so far as producing pig iron is concerned in the blast furnace trade.The figure of 62 is made up as follows: Derby, Leicester, Notts and Northants, 21; parts of Lancashire and Yorkshire, 4; Lincolnshire, 6; the North-East Coast, 18; Scotland, 1; Staffordshire, Shropshire, Worcester, Warwick, 6; South Wales and Monmouthshire, 1; and the West Coast, 5.I think the Parliamentary Secretary said that, so far as Empire trade was concerned, they were going to give 100 per cent. Is that so?
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. Hore-Belisha)
§ Mr. GRIFFITHS
That will help me with my point. In Scotland there is only one blast furnace working, and the reason is that India is able to produce pig iron and sell it in Scotland cheaper than Scotland can produce it. What arises from that? I cannot do better than put it in the form of a story that I heard at our executive meeting to-day. We have a blast furnace man on the executive who is idle as the result of this Indian pig iron being imported into Scotland, but his son is working in the steel plate trade. The father went to draw his unemployment benefit, and on coming outside he met a mate. They looked at the 10 per cent. reduction and began discussing this question like two professors. One said to the other, "Is not the country in a hell of a hole, and look what Runciman is going to do. I am getting 23s. 3d. a week. I am idle, 1051 but my son, making steel plates for shipbuilding purposes, is earning £4. Now, if they are going to raise the price of pig iron, the shipowners will not want to buy the steel plates. They will be too high, and as a result Runciman is not only going to put me out of employment but my son as well." I am putting that point to show the seriousness of what is going to happen. It may be all right discussing it with theorists sitting there. We know the blunders they have made in the past. I am speaking now of something that really affects our people from making steel down to making the finished product, the sheet and the tinplate.
May I give one illustration. Let us take the imports and exports of these commodities. In the import list that we have here—I am sure it will be in the statistics of the Board of Trade—we import pig iron, iron bars, girders, beams and joists, steel bars, plates and sheets, tubes, rails, sleepers and fish plates, tyres and axles, railway wheels and axles, wire manufactures and other items. The same articles are exported as well as imported. They are exported because they are the finished article of that particular trade. But the articles imported are the raw material of some other trades that we have connected with the steel tinplate and sheet trade and if you look up the imports and exports, from 1913, if you like, you will find that they practically balance each year. That is, we sometimes export more than we import, and sometimes import more than we export. It is according to the demand and the supply. I will give an illustration to show the President of the Board of Trade the injury which he is going to do to the finishing trade. I think that the Member for West Swansea (Mr. L. Jones) will agree with mo that the price of the Bessemer steel imported into Swansea Dock is something like £3 a ton. I am giving round figures. It is manufactured into tinplates, and, taking the quotation to-day, the price of a box of tinplates is something like 15s. That means that if we get 20 boxes out of a ton of steel—we sometimes get more and sometimes less—we get for that ton of steel, after manufacturing it into tin-plates, £15. This £15 worth of tin-plates is exported to the very country 1052 from which we buy the steel bars. Therefore, in the transaction we have paid £3 for the steel, and we have sent them £15 worth of tinplate, making £12 on the deal.
§ Mr. LEWIS JONES
Would the hon. Member for Pontypool (Mr. Griffiths) explain for the benefit of the House that when he talks of £15 for making tin-plates to be exported from this country a large percentage of the amount is for the tin used in tinning the plates?
§ Mr. GRIFFITHS
I am simply giving an account of what is happening. We buy the raw material for £3 a ton and we manufacture it into tin-plates. I do not wish to go into the cost of grease and tin and coal or any of those details, otherwise I should detain the Committee longer than I intend. I am pointing out that in buying this steel and manufacturing it into tin-plates we make £12 on the deal, thus showing that it is an advantage to the country. I am discussing the matter from the standpoint of the country and showing that it is an advantage that the raw material should be imported into Swansea. I would remind the President of the Board of Trade that this affects his trade as well. He would rather see his ships carrying goods to and fro than remaining idle. He will see that as far as the raw material for the finished article in all these sections of the trade is concerned it is very important. I therefore appeal to the President of the Board of Trade to consider the question seriously and to accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. HORE-BELISHA
My right hon. Friend will be grateful to hon. Members responsible for the Amendment for calling his attention to many important matters which he will have to bear in mind in the exercise of this power, but, if I may be permitted to say so, the object of this Bill is not to injure or impede any British industry, but to help and assist as many British industries as possible. That is why we have selected out of all the classes in the Import and Export List that class which does not deal primarily with raw materials but only with articles manufactured or mainly manufactured. My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, in dealing with this matter last night, made what I hope will be con- 1053 sidered a satisfactory explanation to this House, particularly in view of the fact that he is a recognised authority on matters of trade and industry. He said:I can assure the House that they will not be abused, because we are just as much alive to the delicacy of British industry and commerce as any hon Gentleman opposite. We know how narrow the margins are by which prosperity is retained. We are well aware of the fact that you must not ruin the bootmaker by putting an abnormal price on boot leather."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th November, 1931; cols. 978 and 979, Vol. 259.]In that statement my right hon. Friend gives a clear indication of the principles which will guide him in the administration of this Measure, and I hope that in view of that declaration my hon. Friends opposite who have so insistently argued their Amendment will now withdraw it.
§ Mr. ANEURIN BEVAN
The answer we have just received from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade makes things rather more difficult than they were before. His answer is to some extent satisfactory to us, but it cannot be satisfactory to us and satisfactory to some of his hon. Friends behind him at the same time. Yesterday an hon. Member making his maiden speech to which reference has been made, was delighted at the powers for which the right hon. Gentleman is now asking, because he expected that those powers would be exercised in the direction of protecting the industry in which he himself is interested. Now we are to assume from the reply we have just received that it is not the intention of the President of the Board of Trade to restrict the importation of raw material, a rise in the price of which might disadvantageously affect the export trade. My authority is not any of my right hon. or hon. Friends on this side of the House. My authority is the President of the Board of Trade himself. He said when the crisis was impending that it would be disastrous in the extreme that we should in particular restrict the importation of steel bars and billets. It was in a speech to which very frequent reference has been made, and I am not quoting it merely for the purpose of making a debating point.
I have listened to the right hon. Gentleman in this House with very great 1054 respect, and, as the hon. Member has pointed out, his observations upon fiscal policy have been treated throughout Great Britain and the world with very great respect indeed, and I do not think that, despite the fact that he now finds himself in strange company, his reputation for veracity and exact information has been reduced at all. It may he, of course, if he remains there very long, but I do not think that at the moment his reputation has fallen at all. He said, when referring to our export trade—and the right hon. Gentleman, when he has addressed this House, has stressed one point, and one point almost entirely, in his arguments for Free Trade—that interference with our fiscal policy, any attempt at all to restrict the importation of raw materials into this land, might gravely impair the export trade. That argument is as sound to-day as ever it was.
I understand that it is the intention of the right hon. Gentleman to restrict the purchases of this country abroad so far as possible in order to ease the strain upon sterling. I am sure that he will agree with me that the strain upon sterling is not going to be eased if, in reducing our purchases abroad, it reduces our sales abroad. If it is correct to say, as the right hon. Gentleman has said, that to increase the price of raw material in any way will make it very difficult for the purchase of the raw material needed in the export trades to enable them to sell abroad, then to the extent that he reduces our sales abroad he increases the strain upon sterling which he has attempted to ease by reducing our purchases. I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that the argument is not only relevant to what he has said in this House on previous occasions but very relevant indeed to the present intention of the Bill. I therefore ask him if he will be good enough when he replies, if he intends to reply to this portion of the Debate, to give the Committee and the country some assurance as to the extent to which he intends to exercise the powers for which he is now asking. I am not putting an academic point nor am I indeed arguing merely for the sake of filling up the time.
The right hon. Gentleman will appreciate that he will take these very wide powers, he will have them at the 1055 Board of Trade, and that they will hang in suspense. They will hang there ready to pounce upon any imports into this country which are covered by the Bill. As soon as these powers are obtained purchasers of raw materials in the country will have their eyes upon their rivals. If "A" has already purchased a large bulk of raw materials and has it in stock and "B" has not done so, and they are both competitors in the same market, then in order that "B" may be able to secure the same competitive advantages as "A," he will rush into the market to purchase raw material before the President of the Board of Trade restricts the importation. Therefore, the first effect of these powers, if they are not going to be used for every article in the list in so far as the articles in the list enter into the production of any other article, will be to cause an increase in the importation of those articles. The difficulties of the right hon. Gentleman will be increased. What then will become of the assurances of the Parliamentary Secretary that it is not the intention of the President of the Board of Trade to exercise his powers in such away as to impair our industries? What becomes of his contention? If he does not immediately proceed to exercise the powers to restrict the importation, which has been increased because he has the powers, then he will increase the strain upon sterling. His difficulties will increase. The right hon. Gentleman is asking for powers that will only embarrass him. Are we to understand that we are not hearing the real reason as to why assurances are not being given here? What is the reason? If the right hon. Gentleman got up at that Box and told us in what direction he intends to exercise his powers, what would occur? The hon. Baronet the Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) would immediately come along and accuse him of not being a true convert to Protection but of being still a Free Trader and of simply bluffing the House for six months by obtaining powers which he did not intend to exercise.
The hon. Member for West Swansea (Mr. L. Jones), representing Siemens' Marketing Association, I understand, whose speech was printed in a South Wales journal to-day with hilarity, said 1056 that all the steel producers of South Wales would believe that their saviour is at hand and that at last Ebbw Vale is to have assistance, because the price of imported steel is going to be raised to a point where Ebbw Vale will be able to produce steel again. I see the hon. Baronet who was managing director of that company for many years smiling. At last all those derelict blast furnaces were to be put in hand. It is known that they will not be able to be put in hand for three of six months, but in the meantime the price of steel will soar upwards and the President of the Board of Trade will find himself plagued by deputations from steel consumers, asking that for Heaven's sake he should take the importation duties away. Not only will he have prevented steel coming in, but the blast furnaces will not be able to produce. The right hon. Gentleman will get industry in this country into serious difficulties. This is a further exemplification of the dictum that he has laid down in this House on more than one occasion that, unless this House, whenever it interferes in industry or commerce, interferes on the basis of a known plan, interferes root and branch and assumes entire economic responsibility, any attempt to interfere with it at all must fall short of that ambitious plan and is bound to make the situation worse than it was found.
What is the right hon. Gentleman's difficulty? He is bound to keep industry in suspense in order to keep the Tory party in suspense. To reassure industry, he has to offend his Tory colleagues. To reassure steel consumers and the raw material consumers as to their supplies, he has to come here and say that he does not intend to interfere with their purchases, because, if he did that, there would be immediate rebellion in the House of Commons among his Tory colleagues. In order to try to secure docility among his Tory colleagues he has to introduce uncertainty and discord into commerce and industry. That is what occurs to commerce and industry when the right hon. Gentleman applies his mind, not to the reorganisation of British industry and commerce, but to the gerrymandering of a Parliamentary majority. I would urge upon the House the seriousness of that position. On the other hand, if, having obtained his 1057 powers, the right hon. Gentleman finds himself in the position of having to exercise them all immediately, because the very possession of them increases imports, he will have to take action which he must know he ought not to take precipitately and without examination of the facts in each case. I would therefore ask him in all seriousness that, before the end of this Debate, to give the House some indication of the articles upon which he intends to exercise these powers. Unless he does so, a very serious situation will arise, once those powers are exercised.
I would like to refer to another point. We are not engaged in dealing with a large industrial plan. We are not seeing that intelligent and scientific Safeguarding of which so much has been said in recent years, but merely a piece of hurried legislation, presumably to deal with a serious run upon sterling, and an attempt to balance our purchases abroad with our sales abroad in order to prevent inflation and the pound from falling. In this Debate, hon. and right hon. Gentlemen are naturally anxious not to enter into too much detail, and have not given any comparison between the imports of 1931 and the imports for 1929 and 1930.
§ Mr. BEVAN
I am not leaving the Amendment, Sir. I am returning to it immediately. I merely attempted to reinforce my argument by a suggestion to the President of the Board of Trade, that, the intention of the Bill being to ease the run upon sterling, immediately there is a rise in the price-level as a consequence of import duties, inflation starts and cannot be stopped. A suggestion has been made, I do not knew with what truth and substance, that the philosophy of the circulation of commodities can be extended to a point to carry a higher price-level in this country, without involving a resort to any increase in the note issue. Immediately the price-level is raised, as a consequence of the restriction of imports, the advantage that exporters are now able to enjoy in the difference in the value of sterling between at home and abroad, will largely be lost.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member is certainly not speaking to the Amendment. I must ask him to do so at once.
§ Mr. BEVAN
I would like to point out, Sir, that the Amendment which is now being moved, proposes to eliminate from the Bill the right to restrict the import of any article coming into this country which may be used as a raw material in industry. I should imagine that it is perfectly relevant and proper for me to argue that an attempt to restrict the raw materials will have the effect of increasing the price of a raw material to the industries consuming it, that that increased price must be passed on in the total price of the product and the price-level in the industry raised accordingly. Surely, I am entitled to argue therefore as to what is going to be the effect upon currency and sterling of the higher internal price-level. If I am not allowed to point out to the House of Commons the consequences of restricting the importation of raw materials, then the whole of our Amendment is minimised, and reduced to such a narrow level that we are wholly unable to give any adequate reasons for it.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member certainly may refer to those particular matters, but when he goes on to discuss a theoretical point of view, entirely apart from the question of raw materials or otherwise, he is getting away from the Amendment.
§ Mr. BEVAN
I aim not making that the principal gravamen of my charge, but I am simply saying that the rise in the price-level is a logical and inevitable consequence of the restriction of the importation of raw materials, and that that is the intention of the President of the Board of Trade. The intention is that the price-level should be raised, as he himself would point out. A rise in the price-level, due entirely to this action of his may start that spiral movement to which authorities have referred and against which they have warned this country. I will leave that point, hoping that some other hon. Gentleman in the course of the Debate will be able to throw additional light upon it.
May I be allowed to say just one more thing in conclusion? Students of our fiscal policy, and of our commercial rela- 1059 tions with other countries, have said, and there is a large measure of agreement with them, that it is absolutely necessary that our foreign trade should be established upon some regularised basis. I have argued from these benches, and many of my hon. Friends have done so too, that to allow the organisation in industry and commerce on the principle of Free Trade is very undesirable, because competition introduces into industry and commerce elements which are bound to make for confusion. It has been recognised, and by no one more than the President of the Board of Trade, that it is impossible for us to increase our exports and reduce our imports at one and the same time, although the right hon. Gentleman is hoping to accomplish that in his Bill.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member is getting definitely beyond the Amendment. He is getting on to the general question of Free Trade or otherwise.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ Mr. BEVAN
I do not wish to pursue that. I have merely pointed out that if I have to accept the principle of the right hon. Gentleman's later Amendment which covers everything in Class III, it covers any raw material in industry. I will leave that point. If there is to be a division of labour between ourselves and the rest of the world, in that division of labour we will have to allow the rest of the world a place. There is no better place we can allow them than that they should be able to sell to us those products in which the least amount of human skill is involved. We have only one advantage left in the world market, and that is that we have a highly skilled artisan population. It will be generally true to say that if one were to make a general distinction as between what is a raw material and what is a finished article, one would say that a finished article has a higher proportion of skilled labour contained in it than the raw material. I see the right hon. Gentleman shakes his head. I submit that there are "raw material" articles where there is a higher proportion of skill than is obtained in finished articles. To make a generalisation which will be applicable to wide ranges of industry, I would say that, as a general rule, a finished product will contain a higher measure of labour and intensity of 1060 skill than a raw material. I suggest that if we try to maintain a division of labour between ourselves and the rest of the world, and not merely carry on a fiscal war, we should allow the rest of the world to send us its raw material. I suggest that the right hon. Gentleman should try as far as possible to leave the rest of the world the opportunity to send to us the raw materials in which very little skill has been used, in order that we might be able to work upon those materials and sell to the rest of the world the finished products that we are more capable of supplying. The right hon. Gentleman is asking for very serious powers of interference in commerce and industry and I suggest that it is due to this House, and to those engaged in trade and commerce, that he should now give us some indication of the direction in which he is going to use these powers and not leave the commerce of this country at the mercy of the veto of the Board of Trade and thus increase the difficulties which I am sure he is most anxious to avoid.
§ Mr. GIBSON
The hon. Member for Gower (Mr. D. Grenfell) who moved this Amendment says that if this Bill becomes law there is no hope of any recovery for the iron and steel industry. I have sufficient faith in the President of the Board of Trade, and I am perfectly satisfied that hon. Members of the Committee have sufficient faith in the right hon. Gentleman, to believe that both operatives and employers will get a square deal. The hon. Member also referred to leather bags manufactured on the continent, but, unfortunately, in this matter he was delving into an aspect of the trade with which he was not au fait. At the Leather Sellers Hall the other week there was exhibited a marvellous arrangement of bags and on that occasion Mr. F. J. Marquis, who is the head of the retail distributors of the country and Chairman of Lewis, Limited, of Manchester and Liverpool, said that for the next six months his stores would only sell British made bags made with British leather. Most of the metal fittings used in the manufacture of bags are British made. I am perfectly satisfied that when this Bill becomes law we need not fear that there will be any undue inflation 1061 of prices in this country. Neither this Government nor any other Government, next year or in the future, will ever tolerate again an unreasonable inflation of the price of commodities in this country.
My own industry was specifically mentioned yesterday by the late Solicitor-General and the President of the Board of Trade—the leather industry. As far as I am personally concerned, as a manufacturer, what I want is not an inflated price for my goods but that I should be able to get a larger turnover; I will get my profit from that. Every business man desires this, and I am prepared to give an undertaking that, apart from any increase in the cost of labour or raw material, if I can increase my turnover I will not increase the selling price of my articles for five years. I am only one of many in industry who does not look for inflated prices; what we want is an increased turnover. The woollen industry in the West Riding of Yorkshire is being killed because the enormous importation of woollen goods has not enabled them to get any turnover. I am satisfied that the Government will not accept the Amendment, it cuts clean across the Bill. If it was accepted the Bill might just as well be dropped.
With regard to the woollen industry, whilst it is undoubtedly the raw material of the tailor and clothier no one can for a moment justify the large importation of woollen goods from the Continent during the past few years. There are firms in London who have been taking the whole of the produce of certain mills in Italy, most of whose output has been subsidised by the Italian Government. These goods have been sold in this country below the cost of production, and the loss has been made good by subsidies by the Italian Government. I want the President of the Board of Trade to pay attention to such matters. A week ago I saw a letter addressed to a business man in my own division in which an importer in London definitely stated that one of his friends had placed an order on the continent for 1,000 pieces of cloth on condition that they were delivered in this country before 10th November, in order to forestall any duty which may be imposed by this country.
A woollen manufacturer in Leeds told me only on Monday of this week that 1062 he had a contract with a firm in London, which has been held up during the past week because the firm in London had had a visit from a German woollen manufacturer. The firm offered the German manufacturer an order for 2,000 pieces of cloth on the condition that they were delivered by a certain date, to forestall any tariff which may be imposed by this country, and were delivered at a certain price. The German telephoned to his firm, and to the workers' trade union, and said that if they were prepared to take a reduction of 10 per cent. in their wages—the German manufacturer was willing to stand his share of the reduction—they could get the order. They got that order; and those goods are coming into this country. It passes my comprehension as a business man how hon. Members opposite, who no doubt are sincere, can year after year sit on those benches always under the impression that the employer is out to exploit the workman, instead of realising that they should work hand in hand with each other.
There is one point I should like to mention in connection with my own industry. In the beginning of the week the President of the Board of Trade referred to box calf tanned leather, and speaking last night, he said that:We are well aware of the fact that you must not ruin the bootmaker by putting an abnormal price on boot leather. Those are the simple things which we learned in the schoolroom."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th November, 1931; col. 979, Vol. 259.]The late Solicitor-General has attained high rank in the legal profession but, unfortunately, he sometimes delves into matters which he does not understand, and it was evident to anyone connected with the leather industry that last night he was simply relating what he had been told, not what he knew, when he made the following statement:After to-morrow, or after the end of this week, leather will be subject at a moment's notice to a tax by the right hon. Gentleman without any merchant or manufacturer knowing it until he sees it in the paper in the morning. How is he in that state of affairs to arrange for the manufacture and sale of his boots at a fixed price in foreign markets? It is absolutely impossible. It will throttle his trade, because he will be afraid to enter into any forward contracts or sales not knowing where he is to be as regards his raw material."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th November, 1931; col. 970, Vol. 259.]1063 As a matter of fact, the great pity is that this Bill was not introduced months ago.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I have been trying to find out how the hon. Member is going to associate his argument with the Amendment before the Committee, which deals with articles used as the raw material in industry in the United Kingdom?
§ Mr. GIBSON
I will come to that point straight away. It has been said that articles which are the finished material for one industry are the raw material for another; and one industry that has been mentioned is the leather industry. That is why I am dealing with this matter. The late Solicitor-General last night said that leather, whilst being a manufactured article, was the raw material of the boot manufacturer, and that this Bill would ruin him. It so happens that the boot manufacturers of this country have no objection to duties on importation of leather. The President of the Board of Trade told us last night that taking 1924 as the unit of importation for all kinds of manufactured and semimanufactured goods and putting that unit at 100, then in the first quarter of this year the importation was 120½, in the second quarter 127½ and in the third quarter 137½; and it is still rising. There have been enormous importations of leather during the past few years, and I say that there is ample justification for us to take due notice of this fact. The figures I could give with regard to this importation are far more startling than the figures given by the President of the Board of Trade last night. If you take the year 1029 as the unit of 100 for the importation of leather, then in 1930 it is 217. Boot manufacturers need not be afraid of any inflation of prices for many months to come. Owing to the delay in the introduction of this Bill, there has been such an enormous importation of leather into this country that boot manufacturers can go on using the leather stocks now in this country for some four or six months.
Further, I maintain that if the President of the Board of Trade in his wisdom imposes a duty on leather coming into this country it is not a serious matter for the exporter in the shoe industry. If you take the whole 1064 range of leathers in connection with the manufacture of boots and shoes and impose a duty of 23 per cent. on the importation of leather it is only equivalent to 3d. per foot, or a few pence on a pair of boots or a pair of shoes; and our export trade in boots and shoes is only a very small percentage of the total output of the country. For years it has been unfair to the leather industry of this country to allow millions of pounds worth of goods to come into this country from countries where the conditions of labour and rate of wages would not be tolerated here for a moment; and, in addition, keep our people out of work. I hope the President will pay some attention to this aspect of the case.
§ Mr. A. BEVAN
Will the hon. Member who is addressing the Comomittee with such evident information about the leather industry tell us with what particular branch of the industry he is connected?
§ Mr. GIBSON
I have not the slightest objection. It so happens that I am connected with the leather industry which manufactures leather for boots and shoes.
§ Mr. GIBSON
Tanning, yes, various kinds of leather. If any hon. Member puts the question to me, "Do you want Protection because it will help you in your industry?" I say "Yes," and I will be candid with him. Incidentally, at the same time Protection will also help my workpeople and find them work. That is why I say it is for the common good. We want revenue; we want more work and less dole, more prosperity for the country; and one of the ways of securing these ends is to keep out of the country the goods which we can economically manufacture here. I tell the President of the Board of Trade that this Bill has heartened the people in the West Hiding of Yorkshire more than any Bill that has been introduced in this House in the last 10 years. The right hon. Gentleman will have the wholehearted co-operation, not only of the employers of labour in the West Riding, but of hundreds of thousands of workmen, who see in this Bill some measure of salvation and hope for the future of the country.
Lieut.-Colonel Sir WILLIAM ALLEN
I should like for a few minutes to get the Debate back from Second Reading speeches to the point under consideration. In my opinion if the Amendment were carried it would completely destroy the utility of the Bill. I am, therefore, very glad that the Parliamentary Secretary has objected to acceptance of the Amendment. Everything depends on what is raw material. The question has been discussed up and down the country for the past 50 years. I would like to illustrate my idea of what raw material is, and of how the Amendment, if carried, would affect industry. Naturally I turn to the industry of which I know a great deal, though I am not connected with it. I refer to the linen industry. First you have the spinning, which is a separate concern. You have the manufacture, another separate concern. You have the merchants who purchase from the manufacturer. You have the bleacher who takes his goods from the loom. You have the maker-up of handkerchiefs, and the distributor. What is raw material to each of these branches? Take first of all the yarn. We were told yesterday by the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. D. Foot) about the dumping of linen yarn. We take yarn as raw material for manufacture. If the Amendment were passed that raw material, which is raw material to the manufacturer, could not be stopped and dumping would go on. The result would be that you would have the same state of affairs in the future as has existed in the past.
Then turn to the linen manufacturer. He hands over his goods to the bleacher —a separate industry entirely. If the bleacher cannot get goods, his hands are idle; all the employés who have been idle in the past will be idle in the future. The Amendment would destroy the utility of the Bill so far as the manufacturer and the bleacher are concerned. Then there are the thousands of girls and women who are employed in the making up of handkerchiefs, or pillow linens or bed linens—a separate industry entirely. The raw materials of all these girls and manufacturers are the piece goods that come from the bleacher. There again you have a different raw material. If you do not prevent these raw materials coming in, the enormous number of girls who have been idle in the past will be idle in the future, That 1066 would be the result of the Amendment, so far as the linen industry is concerned. I take it that the principal object of this Bill is to try to improve industry, to give more employment. This Amendment cuts right across that principle.
I am certain that the hon. Members who tabled this Amendment do not appreciate the difficulties in which they would land the employés who would be affected. I have listened to arguments with reference to the steel industry, and it would surprise me very much if something of the same kind did not happen in the case of that industry. Here is a case which is unanswerable for raw materials of all kinds. It must be absolutely in the discretion of the Board of Trade to decide what is raw material and what is not, and I take it that the President would have before his mind constantly the idea that employment in this country must be improved. It would not be germane to this Amendment to continue discussion of that point. Hon. Members who have moved the Amendment have put the case from their own point of view. I ask them also to look at the matter from the point of view that I have put. I am sure they will agree that the result of the Amendment would be so disastrous that unemployment would be worse in the future than it has been in the past.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
We have listened to two very admirable speeches from the last two speakers, but both of them have failed entirely to meet the point at issue. There is one question to which I would like an answer from the Government. Is there to be any declaration made within any reasonable time as to what are to be the subjects of this taxation? The point of the Bill is that it leaves things in a state of uncertainty. We are constantly told in the Press and elsewhere that the great danger is uncertainty. Our point with regard to raw material is that the people who use it will not know from day to day or week to week or month to month whether or not they are to have a tax put upon their raw material. That will prevent them making forward contracts either for a supply of raw materials or for the sale of their finished articles.
We are told that we must rely on the good sense of the President of the Board of Trade. Presidents of the Board of Trade come and go and Ministers vary very much in good sense. It is a very 1067 flimsy thing, and if someone who is brought up in the Bankruptcy Court said that he failed because he was trusting to the good sense of the Minister, I do not think he would get away with it. The traders of the country are entitled to something other than a state of uncertainty. Several points raised in the Debate have not been dealt with, and that is an additional point which should be answered. The arguments of the hon. and gallant Member for Armagh (Sir W.
|Division No. 8.]||AYES.||[5.25 p.m.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Milner, Major James|
|Batey, Joseph||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Morris, Rhys Hopkin (Cardigan)|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Hicks, Ernest George||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Hirst, George Henry||Price, Gabriel|
|Buchanan, George||Jenkins, Sir William||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Cape, Thomas||John, William||Thorne, William James|
|Cove, William G.||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. David|
|Daggar, George||Kirkwood, David||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Logan, David Gilbert||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Duncan, Charles (Derby, Claycross)||Lunn, William|
|Edwards, Charles||McEntee, Valentine L.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||McGovern, John||Mr. Gordon Macdonald and Mr. Duncan Graham.|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Grundy, Thomas W.||Maxton, James|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Browne, Captain A. C.||Davison, Sir William Henry|
|Alexander, Sir William||Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Denman, Hon. R. D.|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l, W.)||Burghley, Lord||Denville, Alfred|
|Allen, Maj. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd, W)||Burnett. John George||Dickie, John P.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh)||Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Donner, P. W.|
|Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent)||Calne, G. R. Hall||Doran, Edward|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley)||Dower. Captain A. V. G.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Campbell, Rear-Admi. G. (Burnley)||Drewe, Cedric|
|Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K.||Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm||Duggan, Hubert John|
|Aske, Sir William Robert||Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Duncan, James A>L. (Kensington, N.)|
|Atholl. Duchess of||Castle Stewart, Earl||Dunglass, Lord|
|Atkinson, Cyril||Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)||Eales, John Frederick|
|Baillie, Sir Adrian W. B.||Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Eden, Robert Anthony|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Edmondson, Major A. J.|
|Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J.||Chalmers, John Rutherford||Ednam, Viscount|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Chamberlain, Rt.Hn.Sir J. A. (Blrm.,W.)||Elliot, Major Walter E.|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Ellis, Robert Geoffrey|
|Balniel, Lord||Chapman, Col.R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Eillston, Captain George Sampson|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||Eimley, Viscount|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar||Chorlton, Alan Ernest Leofric||Emmott, Charles E. G. C.|
|Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey||Chotzner, Alfred James||Emrys-Evans, P. V.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Clarke, Frank||Entwistle, Major Cyril Fullard|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury)||Clarry, Reginald George||Ersklne-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blk'pool)|
|Beaumont, R. E. B. (Portsm'th, Centr'l)||Clayton, Dr. George C.||Essenhlgh, Reginald Clare|
|Belt, Sir Alfred L.||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)|
|Benn, Sir Arthur Shirley||Colfox, Major William Philip||Everard, W. Lindsay|
|Bernays, Robert||Collins, Sir Godfrey||Falle, Sir Bertram G.|
|Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B.||Colville, Major David John||Foot, Dingle (Dundee)|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Denman||Cook, Thomas A.||Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)|
|Bird, Ernest Roy (Yorks., Skipton)||Cooke, James D.||Ford, Sir Patrick J.|
|Bilndell, James||Cooper, A. Duff||Fraser, Captain Ian|
|Boothby, Robert John Graham||Copeland, Ida||Fuller, Captain A. E. G.|
|Borodale, Viscount||Courtauld, Major John Sewell||Galbraith, James Francis Wallace|
|Boulton, W. W.||Courthope, Colonel Sir George L.||Ganzonl, Sir John|
|Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton||Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry||Gibson, Charles Granville|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Craven-Ellis, William||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Bracken, Brendan||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Glossop, C. W. H.|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Crooke, J. Smedley||Gluckstein, Louis Halle|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)||Goldle, Noel B.|
|Briant, Frank||Cross, R. H.||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Crossley, A. C.||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Cuiverwell, Cyril Tom||Graves, Marjorle|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks., Newb'y)||Davies, MaJ. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter|
§ Allen) might have been germane if they had been directed to a House that was considering a definite tax to be put on a definite article for a definite period. What we are considering is leaving uncertain powers in uncertain hands and leaving uncertainty hanging over a very large range of our industry.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 43; Noese, 375.1069
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro',W.)||Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo|
|Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||Maclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D. (Corn'll N.)||Salmon, Major Isldore|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Salt, Edward W.|
|Guy, J. C. Morrison||Macquisten, Frederick Alexander||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Magnay, Thomas||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H (Darwen)|
|Hales, Harold K.||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Hall, Lieut. Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard|
|Hall, Capt. W. D'Arcy (Brecon)||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Savery, Samuel Servington|
|Hamilton. Sir R. w.(Orkney & Zetl'nd)||Margesson, Capt. Henry David R.||Scone, Lord|
|Hammersley, Samuel S.||Marjoribanks, Edward||Selley, Harry R.|
|Hanley, Dennls A.||Martin, Thomas B.||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Harbord, Arthur||Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)||Shaw, Captain William T. (Fortar)|
|Hartington, Marquess of||Mayhew, Lieut-Colonel John M.||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.|
|Hart land, George A.||Meller, Richard James||Slmmonds, Oliver Edwin|
|Harvey, George (Lambeth,Kenningt'n)||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Sinclair, Col. T.(Queen"s Unv., Belfast)|
|Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Millar, James Duncan||Skelton, Archibald Noel|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Mills, Sir Frederick||Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.|
|Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Milne, Charles||Smith, Sir Jonah W. (Barrow-ln-F.)|
|Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford)||Milne, John Sydney Wardlaw.||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Mitchell, Harold P.(Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Klnc'dlne, C.)|
|Herbert, George (Rotherham)||Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)||Smith-Carlngton, Neville W.|
|Hlilman, Dr. George B.||Moreing, Adrian C.||Somervell, Donald Bradley|
|Hills. Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Morn an, Robert H||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Holdsworth, Herbert||Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.)||Soper, Richard|
|Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge)||Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.)||Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.|
|Hore-Bellsha, Leslie||Muirhead, Major A. J.||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Hornby, Frank||Munro. Patrick||Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.|
|Horobin, Ian M.||Nall-Caln, Arthur Ronald N.||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Horsbrugh, Florence||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.|
|Howard, Tom Forrest||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)||Stanley, Hon. O. F. C. (Westmorland)|
|Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Petersf'ld)||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney,N.)||Normand, Wilfrid Guild||Stones, James|
|Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Nunn, William||Storey, Samuel|
|Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Ormlston, Thomas||Stourton, John J.|
|Hunter-Woston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Palmer, Francis Noel||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Hurd, Percy A.||Patrick, Colin M.||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Peake, Captain Osbert||Stuart-Crlchton, Lord C.|
|Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R (M'tr'se)||Pearson, William G.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray F.|
|Hutchison, W. D. (Essex, Roml'd)||Peat, Charles u.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|Inskfp, Sir Thomas W. H.||Penny, Sir George||Summersby, Charles H.|
|James, Wing-Corn. A. W. H.||Perkins, Walter R. D.||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|Jamieson, Douglas||Peters, Dr. Sidney John||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A.(Pd'gt'n,S.)|
|Jennings, Roland||Petherick, M.||Templeton, William P.|
|Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Thorn, Lleut-Colonel John Gibb|
|Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan)||Peto, Geoffrey K.(W'verh'pt'n,Bllston)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)||Pickering, Ernest H.||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)||Pickford, Hon. Mary Ada||Thompson, Luke|
|Ker, J. Campbell||Pike, Cecil F.||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Kerr, Hamilton W.||Potter, John||Thomson, Mitchell-, Rt Hon. Sir W.|
|Kirkpatrick, William M.||Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|Knatchbuil, Captain Hon. M. H. R.||Pownall, Sir Assheton||Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wiek-on-T.)|
|K neb worth, Viscount||Procter, Major Henry Adam||Todd, A. L. S. (Klngswlnford)|
|Knight, Holford||Purbrick, R.||Touche, Gordon Cosmo|
|Knox, Sir Alfred||Pybue, Percy John||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Lamb, Sir Joseph Qulnton||Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Latham, Sir Herbert Paul||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Law, Sir Alfred||Ramsbotham, Herewald||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)|
|Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)||Ramsden, E.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Leckle, J. A.||Rawson, Sir Cooper||Watt, Captain George Steven H.|
|Leech, Dr. J. W.||Rea, Walter Russell||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Lees-Jones, John||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)||Wedderburn. Henry James Serymgeour-|
|Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Held, James S. C. (Sterling)||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Reld, William Allan (Derby)||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Levy, Thomas||Remer. John R.||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Liddall, Walter S.||Rentoul, Sir Gervalt S.||whyta, Jardlne Bell Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Llewellin, Major John J.||Renwick, Major Guetav A.|
|Lloyd, Geoffrey||Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.||Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)|
|Locker-Lampion, Rt. Hn. G. (Wd.G'n)||Roberts, Sir Samuel||Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)|
|Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Robinson, John Roland||Windsor-Cilva, Lieut-Colonel George|
|Loder, Captain J. de Vere||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell||Wlnterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Lymington, Viscount||Ropner, Colonel L.||Withers, Sir John James|
|MacAndrew, MaJ. C. G. (Partlck)||Rosbotham, D. S. T.||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Ross, Ronald D.||Womersley, Walter James|
|McConnell, Sir Joseph||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Klngsiey|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hn. J. R. (Seaham)||Rothschild, James L. de||Wood, Major M. McKenrle (Banff)|
|MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Runclman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Runge, Norah Cecil||Wragg, Herbert|
|Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (SVnoaktr|
|McEwen, J. H. F.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|McKeag, William||Russell, Hamer Field (Shef'ld, B'tslde)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|McKie, John Hamilton||Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)||Captain Sir George Bowyer and Lord Erskine.|
§ Mr. LUNN
I beg to move, in page 2, line 5, at the end, to insert the words:Provided that no importation shall be deemed to be abnormal in quantity unless the Board are satisfied that articles of the same class or description are normally produced in sufficient quantities in the United Kingdom at reasonable prices.5.30 p.m.
There is very serious disagreement about this Bill. We would throw it out, while some hon. Members opposite think that there is great urgency for it. But I hope and believe that there will be no two opinions regarding this Amendment. I understand that the principle of this Amendment was included in the anti-dumping Bill of 1919. We say that there should be no prohibition or tax upon foreign articles which are not produced in England at reasonable prices, and the supply of which is not equal to the demand. During the discussion of the previous Amendment, it seemed to me that the interests of the manufacturers and the traders were most concerned in that Amendment, but, in connection with this Amendment I would say that we have a duty to the consumers as well as to the traders and distributors.
I hold that the consumers' interests ought not to be lost sight of when we are passing legislation of this kind. We ought to protect the consumers from being fleeced and we ought not to encourage inefficient or unsatisfactory methods of production. Surely, that is not the policy of this so-called National Government—to encourage inefficiency in industry. Surely it is their policy to look after the interests of the consumers. I believe that, generally, we in this country produce the best goods, and that where price and quality are comparable we ought always to buy British goods. That is the policy of the Empire Marketing Board of which I was for more than two years the vice-chairman. I agree with its policy and I commend its work. The Empire Marketing Board has done more to cultivate a knowledge of the Empire, to encourage the sale of home and Empire products, and to help to a better understanding between all parts of the Empire than anything we have known up to now. I am very sorry that its finances have been so severely cut and its work curtailed. But while the Board always says "Buy British" and is carrying on a campaign, with which I entirely 1072 agree, to encourage our people to buy British, it lays down in all its publications that we ought to do that wherever the price and quality are comparable.
I wish to give a simple illustration from my own experience and not merely one of which I have heard—there may be more glaring illustrations—of how the consumer may be fleeced if this Bill is carried into law. On Saturday, I asked one of my eons to purchase a shaving brush for me. I said to him, "See to it that it is of English manufacture, and that it is hog's hair." He went to the most reputable shop we know, and the manager of that shop placed on the counter a number of English brushes. He said, "I cannot guarantee any one of these as hog's hair." He further said that the lowest price was 6s. Then he brought down a brush of foreign manufacture—I think it was German—and he said, I can guarantee that this is hog's hair. It is no interest of mine to sell it, and I would rather sell the British article, but this is only 3s."
I ask the President of the Board of Trade to take a note of that simple illustration, and, when he is imposing these restrictions and prohibitions, I ask him to have regard to industries which are not competent, to-day, to supply the requirements of our people. I ask him to see to it that the consumers are not going to be fleeced by people who are not manufacturing in sufficient quantities at reasonable prices the articles which the consumers need. If the right hon. Gentleman does not do that what will be the result? We know the conditions of this country. We know that millions of our people have not got much money, and it is the interests of the millions which should count with the Government before the interests of the hundreds in whatever class of life they may be. My case is quite clear, and I have given a simple illustration of what may be done in many other cases; and because I am interested, as I think we all should be and are, in the consumers of this country, I ask the President of the Board of Trade to accept the Amendment and to protect millions of our people from being robbed, as they may be if the Bill be passed without this Amendment.
§ Mr. CHARLES BROWN
I rise to support the Amendment. A little while ago 1073 the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade told us that the object of this Bill was to assist the trade and industry of Great Britain. I do not want to dissent from that statement, and most of us are prepared to give the hon. Gentleman and his right hon. Friend credit for good intentions, but sometimes even the best intentions lead to disastrous consequences, and we cannot forget that this Bill confers upon the President of the Board of Trade unprecedented powers. While we appreciate his knowledge and his business ability, we are bound to remind the Committee that the range of articles in Class III covers 50 pages of the Import and Export List and comprises many hundreds of articles, and it may very well be that all the articles covered by this list cannot be produced in sufficient quantities and in reasonable quantities in Great Britain. I think, therefore, we are entitled to ask the Committee to accept the Amendment so as to ensure that reasonable care shall be exercised in the use of the tremendous powers asked for in the Bill.
I entirely agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan), who spoke a little while ago, when he argued that one of the inevitable consequences of the operation of this Bill will be a general rise in prices, but even if it is possible to disprove that contention, it may very well be that, if you created in any way, by the measures you intend to pursue, a temporary scarcity of any article in this country, then inevitably, according to the law of supply and demand, the price of that article would rise. In existing conditions there are very large sections of the community who could not bear the strain of having to pay more for the goods they need than they are doing at present. Let me remind the Committee of the unemployed and their meagre allowance, of the agricultural labourers and their dependants, of the mining population and those dependent on them. These sections of the community cannot face a situation where the price level is likely to rise, without becoming involved very quickly in struggles for increases in wages. That would be inevitable, and the papers which support the Government are telling us that that is one of the things which must be avoided under existing conditions, because if that state 1074 of affairs develops, we shall pass almost inevitably into that phase which the Government are seeking to avoid, namely, the phase where we shall have internal inflation. Consequently, I think we are entitled to have an assurance, or the Committee had better support the Amendment to ensure, that the things to which I have referred shall not occur.
I accept the statement made by the Parliamentary Secretary that the objects and intentions of this Bill are of the best. Those who are supporting it, I know, are hoping for much from it. I remember the right hon Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) waving his hand the other day across to these benches and talking about the times when the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition had painted pictures of what he called a dim and distant Utopia. I am rather inclined to think that hon. and right hon. Members who are supporting this Bill have been painting for the electors pictures of the tariff Utopia which they intend to create in this country, and if we do not act very carefully in handling the situation with which this Measure seeks to deal, it may be that that tariff Utopia will fade away very rapidly indeed.
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. Runciman)
The Amendment would, I fear, give us very little clear guidance as to how we were to deal with the operation of this Bill beyond that which is already provided by the use of the words "abnormal quantities," for I observe that in the Amendment itself it says:Provided that no importation shall be deemed to be abnormal in quantity unless the Board are satisfied that articles of the same class…are normally produced"—"normally" being no more definite than"abnormal"—in sufficient quantities"—and that would be a matter of opinion; and finally—at reasonable prices,which, again, is a matter of opinion, so that I think my hon. Friends will see that even the safeguards which they would wish to insert into the Bill do not carry us any further than the phraseology already in the Bill. I know what their real object is. It is to prevent any form of profiteering as a result of the Orders that might be issued. I think I might at 1075 this stage tell the Committee the simple way in which we could deal, if there were no other ways open to us, with profiteering. The shortest and simplest way of dealing with it is to withdraw the Order if profiteering is found to prevail, and immediately the whole support, if there be any in the Order, for profiteering would have disappeared. That is much the simplest way of dealing with the matter, and it is far better than attempting to define in the Clause itself exactly—
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I do not think there is much likelihood of it arising, and if it arises, I have already provided means for knocking the foundations from under the feet of the profiteer. It is purely with the object of keeping the Bill within limits which are not too closely defined, in order that we should be given as wide a discretion as the Committee is prepared to grant us, that I resist the Amendment; and I hope that with the suggestion that it provides no more definite guidance than is already to be found in the Clause, my hon. Friends will not press the Amendment.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman how he intends to deal with such a case as the one that I venture to put before him? The President will remember that in 1925 the cutlery trade of Sheffield proceeded to a Safeguarding Committee, their object being to obtain a Safeguarding Duty upon imported goods in the cutlery trade. The cutlers of Sheffield were advised to supply the Committee with certain figures, relating, first of all, to the wholesale price of the imported article and, secondly, to the estimated price of the same article should that article be produced in Sheffield. Let me quote three sets of figures, and perhaps the President will be good enough to indicate how he intends to deal with this particular type of case, because, apart from profiteering, my hon. Friend has got this in his mind I know.
These are figures submitted by the cutlers of Sheffield, and they refer to a particular kind of scissors. The figures supplied showed that this article was presently being sold on the English 1076 market at 8s. per dozen, or 8d. per pair of scissors, whereas should the same article be produced in Sheffield, the cutlers themselves stated that they could not be produced under 25s. per dozen, or an increase of 200 per cent. over and above the present price of the article Quite clearly the article is of a cheap kind, and it is not produced in Sheffield at all. Thanks to the skill and the art of the Sheffield cutlers, they are doing something infinitely superior. The second article referred to—
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member, I think, must understand that if he wishes to interrupt a speaker, he can only do so if the speaker gives way. It is not a question of a point of Order. The hon. Member must not interrupt by pretending to rise to a point of Order.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
The hon. Member major may not be aware of the procedure under the Safeguarding Act of a few years ago, but when approaching a Safeguarding Committee the employers in a case were obliged to submit such figures as those which I have quoted—not only the current price of the imported article, but also the estimated price assuming that the same article was produced by the employers who made the application. The figures I have given were supplied by the cutlers of Sheffield. The second illustration—and I am sure the President will be very interested and will, if he can, supply us with some reply as to what he intends to do—is in reference to a pocket knife imported from Germany and sold in this country at 8s. 6d. per dozen. The Sheffield cutlers, on the basis of these figures: wages 11s. 1d., materials 4s. 6d., overhead charges 5s. 9d., profit 3s. 10d., stated that the wholesale selling price of a similar article, if produced in Sheffield, would be £1 5s. 2d., producing again an increase of 200 per cent. I could quote several similar instances. It is obvious to the President that these particular articles are not produced in this country. Consequently, should they be 1077 brought within the meaning of the Bill, a boy who wants a knife to do one of the thousand and one things which a boy does with a knife, will be called upon to pay 2s. 2d. instead of 7½d. or 9d. That is a price which he is quite unable to pay. Will the President of the Board of Trade be good enough to indicate what he intends to do in a case like that?
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I readily respond to the invitation of my hon. Friend, but I am afraid that the only answer I can give him is one which is usual in this House: that and all relevant considerations will be taken into account. I
§ know the kind of things that my hon. Friend has in mind. I have seen some of these eightpenny scissors. I had a sample sent to me when we were discussing the Safeguarding Duties. I kept one pair, which was in a nice little cover, in my pocket, and at the end of the week it would barely cut paper. Sheffield is quite prepared, I am sure, to make a good fight for quality in the markets of the world.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 44; Noes. 385.
|Elmley, Viscount||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Reid, James S. C. (Sterling)|
|Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||Lees-Jones, John||Remer, John R.|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Rentoul, Sir Gervais S.|
|Entwistle, Major Cyril Fuliard||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Renwick, Major Gustav A.|
|Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Levy, Thomas||Rhys, Hon. Charles Aithur U.|
|Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blk'pool)||Liddall, Walter S.||Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)|
|Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||Llewellin, Major John J.||Roberts, Sir Samuel|
|Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick||Robinson, John Roland|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Lloyd, Geoffrey||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hn.G. (Wd.G'n)||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Loder, Captain J. de Vere||Rosbotham, D. S. T.|
|Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Lymington, Viscount||Ross, Ronald D.|
|Ford, Sir Patrick J.||MacAndrew, Maj. C. G. (Partick)||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Rothschild, James L. de|
|Fuller, Captain A. E. G.||McConnell, Sir Joseph||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||MacDonald, Rt. Hn. J. R. (Seaham)||Runge, Norah Cecil|
|Gibson, Charles Granville||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Glossop, C. w. H.||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Russell, Hamer Field (Shef'ld, B'tside)|
|Gluckstein, Louis Halie||McEwen, J. H. F.||Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)|
|Goldie, Noel B.||McKeag, William||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo|
|Goodman, Colonel Albert W,||McKle, John Hamilton||Salmon, Major Isidore|
|Gower, Sir Robert||Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton||Salt, Edward W.|
|Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Maclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D. (Corn'll N.)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Graves, Marjorie||Macquisten, Frederick Alexander||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Magnay, Thomas||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro',W.)||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Savery, Samuel Servington|
|Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E.||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot||Scone, Lord|
|Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Selley, Harry R.|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Margesson, Capt. Henry David R.||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Guy, J. C. Morrison||Marjoribanks, Edward||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Martin, Thomas B.||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.|
|Hales, Harold K.||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)||Simmonds, Oliver Edwin|
|Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Unv., Belfast)|
|Hall, Capt. W. D'Arcy (Brecon)||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John M.||Skelton, Archibald Noel|
|Hamilton, Sir R. W. (Orkney & Zetl'nd)||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.|
|Hanley, Dennis A.||Millar, James Duncan||Smith, Sir Jonah W. (Barrow-in-F.)|
|Harris, Percy A.||Milne, Charles||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Hartington, Marquess of||Milne, John Sydney Ward law-||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Hartland, George A.||Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)||Smith-Carington. Neville W.|
|Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Moreing, Adrian C.||Somervell, Donald Bradley|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Morgan, Robert H.||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.)||Soper, Richard|
|Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford)||Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.)||Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Morrison, William Shephard||Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.|
|Herbert, George (Rotherham)||Muirhead, Major A. J.||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Hillman, Dr. George B,||Munro, Patrick||Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.|
|Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Nall-Cain, Arthur Ronald N.||Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde)|
|Holdsworth, Herbert||Nathan, Major H. L.||Stanley, Hon. O. F. C. (Westmorland)|
|Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge)||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)||Stones, James|
|Hornby, Frank||Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Petersf'ld)||Storey, Samuel|
|Horobln, Ian M.||Normand, Wilfrid Guild||Stourton, John J.|
|Horsbrugh, Florence||Nunn, William||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Howard, Tom Forrest||Ormiston, Thomas||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||Palmer, Francis Noel||Stuart-Crichton, Lord C.|
|Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Patrick, Colin M.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray F.|
|Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Peake, Captain Osbert||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|Hurd, Percy A.||Pearson, William G.||Summersby, Charles H.|
|Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Peat, Charles U.||Sutcllffe, Harold|
|Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R. (M'tr'se)||Percy, Lord Eustace||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A.(Pd'gt'n,S.)|
|Hutchison, W. D. (Essex, Romf'd)||Perkins, Walter R. D.||Templeton, William P.|
|Inskip, Sir Thomas W. H.||Peters, Dr. Sidney John||Thorn, Lieut.-Colonel John Gibb|
|James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.||Petherick, M.||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Jamleson, Douglas||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Thompson Luke|
|Janner, Barnett||Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n,Bilston)||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Jennings, Roland||Pickering, Ernest H.||Thomson, Mitchell-, Rt. Hon. Sir W.|
|Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Pickford, Hon. Mary Ada||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan)||Pike, Cecil F.||Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)|
|Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)||Potter, John||Touche, Gordon Cosmo|
|Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)||Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Ker, J. Campbell||Pownall, Sir Assheton||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Kerr, Hamilton W.||Procter, Major Henry Adam||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)|
|Kirkpatrick, William M.||Purbrick, R.||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Knatchbull, Captain Hon. M. H. R.||Pybus, Percy John||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Knebworth, Viscount||Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)|
|Knight, Holford||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Knox, Sir Alfred||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Ramsbotham, Herswald||Watt, Captain George Steven H.|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Ramsden, E.||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Latham, Sir Herbert Paul||Rawson, Sir Cooper||Wedderburn,Henry James Scrymgeour-|
|Law, Sir Alfred||Rea, Walter Russell||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Leckle, J. A.||Reid, David D. (County Down)||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Whyte, Jardine Bell||Wise, Alfred R.||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Wills Wilfrid D.||Withers, Sir John James||Wragg, Herbert|
|Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)|
|Wilson, G.H.A. (Cambridge U.)||Womersley, Walter James|
|Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George||Wood, Rt. Hon, Sir H. Kingsley||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl||Wood, Major M. McKenzle (Banff)||Captain Austin Hudson and Commander Southby.|
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Captain Bourne)
Before I call on the hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. Parkinson) to move the next Amendment, I would point out that that Amendment and the three Amendments which follow are really one Amendment, and I would ask him to deal with them as one Amendment
§ Mr. PARKINSON
I beg to move, in page 2, line 6, to leave out the word "An," and to insert instead thereof the words "A draft of any."
The object of this Amendment is to ensure for the House of Commons what we regard as proper control, to make certain that the Orders in Council shall be submitted to the House before they become operative. The Amendment proposes that the draft of any Order shall be laid upon the Table, instead of the Order itself. Every Member of the House ought to have an opportunity of examining the draft of any Order. The Clause as drawn up gives unlimited power to the right hon. Gentleman to enforce his decisions upon the House of Commons. It may be all very well to allow that from some points of view, but when one recognises that the right hon. Gentleman has been associated with the Liberal party, who have made such a great fight over similar points in the past, it is somewhat surprising that he should have dealt with the matter in this way. He is to be given a power which is too great for any individual to exercise. The power of the House of Commons ought not to be delegated to an individual. There will be no consultation with Parliament, and no opportunity for hon. Members to examine the list or to give decent consideration to the Orders.
These Orders ought to be subject to criticism before they are issued, but under the Bill as it is drafted no criticism is possible. The Orders will come up for approval by the House at some later date. In my opinion they ought not to operate until the House has had an opportunity of ascertaining the facts and knowing what goods are to be prohibited. An Order may be in operation for some months before it is presented to the 1082 House of Commons. Only a few days ago the Prime Minister said that the question of dumping would have to be investigated and consideration given to the particular goods to be dealt with before duties were imposed. What consideration can be given to the articles to be included under these Orders? No consideration at all, outside the Department of the right hon. Gentleman and the Cabinet. This Measure is denying to individual Members of Parliament the rights which they ought to enjoy. It will give the right hon. Gentleman greater powers than have ever before been given to any individual Minister. He will have the power to impose his will upon the House, and Members will be denied the right to which we believe they are honestly entitled.
The next Amendment reads in line 6, after the word "Order," to insert the words "to be." This Amendment is also designed to ensure that any Order shall be laid before the House before it comes into operation. Quite a number of Orders may be made in the immediate future, indeed they may be already drafted. We are not aware how far the hon. Gentlemen has got with the work in hand, but in view of what appears to be the urgency of the case it is quite likely that many of the Orders have already been drafted. In the course of time it will be found necessary to make further Orders. According to views expressed from the Government side of the House, there will be a continuous series of Orders until practically speaking all the 39 pages of articles have been listed. We say that hon. Members desirous of doing so ought to have an opportunity of examining the Orders beforehand. Probably many Members would not bother to take advantage of that opportunity, but it ought to be within the power of any Member to discuss the Orders or to criticise them.
The third Amendment reads in line 7, to leave out from the word "Parliament," to the word "it," in line 11, and to insert instead thereof the words:and such Order shall not come into operation until.1083 This Amendment, too, is put forward to safeguard the rights of individual Members, and can be supported by the arguments I have already used in protesting against an Order not coming before the House until some time after it has been put into operation. In the present circumstances it may be March before we are asked to approve an Order made now. To issue an Order and afterwards ask Parliament to approve of it is quite contrary to our ordinary procedure. In this case the right hon. Gentleman feels quite sure that the Order will receive approval, owing to the very large majority behind the Government, but, all the same, minorities ought not to be robbed of their undoubted rights of investigation. Though the Government may have a large majority at the moment, they must not forget that minorities become majorities when Governments change. A similar procedure may be adopted in future by other Governments, and in that day the supporters of the present Government will very likely regard it as very dangerous to their interests.
The fourth Amendment is to leave out lines 13 to 17. The lines which it is proposed to omit deal with the calculation of dates and say:Provided that in reckoning any such period of twenty-eight days as aforesaid no account shall be taken of any time during which Parliament is dissolved or prorogued or during which the Commons House is adjourned for more than four days.Does not that show that many of the Orders which will be made now cannot come up for approval before March of next year, that they will have been in operation for three months before being submitted to us? Does it not strike hon. Members that it will be awkward for the trading community if an Order, after being in operation for two or three months, has then to be submitted for approval by this House? It must create a feeling of uncertainty; in my view, we are going the wrong way about things. We know that the Bill will be carried, and that all our Amendments will be defeated unless the Government care to accept any of them, but that does not relieve us of the duty of trying to protect the interests of private Members. Finally, I would again submit that we are being asked here to adopt a procedure which 1084 can hardly be accepted by responsible people. We feel that the Government are departing from the ordinary methods of government.
§ Mr. BATEY
I beg to support the Amendment, because in my view the method adopted by the Government is altogether wrong. Although when we go into the Lobbies the decision may be a foregone conclusion the Opposition are justified in registering their disapproval of this revolutionary method. Had we been sitting on the other side and the supporters of the Government were where we now are, nobody would have been louder than they in protests against action of this kind. We are protesting against the principle of taking action before the House of Commons has had a chance of expressing its view as to what articles we shall prevent being dumped into this country. I can well understand the Conservative party being in favour of preventing dumping, I can understand them being full-blooded Protectionists, but I cannot understand them handling the matter in this unconstitutional and unparliamentary way. In the country the Conservative party go around boasting that they stand for the Constitution, and are always trying to create the impression that the Labour party want to overturn the Constitution, yet now we find the Conservatives using the most unconstitutional methods in connection with these Orders in Council. Still less can I understand the action of the Liberal party in supporting this procedure.
If the Labour party, when they were in office, had come forward with proposals like this, the present President of the Board of Trade would have been one of the first to argue that the House of Commons ought to have the opportunity of saying what articles should be made subject to these Orders before the Orders themselves were issued. I can well understand that he wants to prevent some articles being dumped, and had he come forward with a proper Bill, in a proper way, we might have agreed with him about some of the articles, but, instead, he is asking for general powers to deal with articles in a wholesale fashion, and I say that he is asking far too much. It is my belief that he will find eventually that he has gone too far and taken too great powers to himself. I 1085 remember a Minister in a former Conservative Government who took large powers to deal with certain questions and was quite glad when he "got shut of" those powers. In the same way I believe the President of the Board of Trade will regret the day when he asked for these general powers, for he will find the Conservatives on one side and the Opposition on the other both attacking him for the way in which he has exercised those powers, this side not satisfied and that side not satisfied. If we had an opportunity of examining the list of articles which it was proposed to exclude we might be able to persuade the right hon. Gentleman that it would not be an advantage to the people of this country to prevent their being dumped here. The Orders to be issued by the right hon. Gentleman may benefit small traders, but, in my view, this Bill is going to be—
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member is departing from the Amendment. The Question before the Committee is whether "an Order" or "a draft of any Order" shall be laid before the House.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Mr. BATEY
It would have been much better if the President of the Board of Trade had placed before the Committee a list of the articles which he intends to prohibit, because, while his proposals might benefit some particular trades, I do not think that they would be beneficial to other trades; in fact, I feel sure they might do serious injury to some trades. It would be better for the country that some dumping should take place rather than an injury should be done to a number of the larger trades of this country.
§ Mr. HARRIS
I can quite understand that the President of the Board of Trade will not be able to accept this Amendment, because it is clear that the right hon. Gentleman desires to have these powers in order to deal with abnormal importations, or any attempt to forestall a tax by rushing foreign goods into this country. If these Orders had to lie on the Table, that might intensify the evil, because it would publish to the world the intention of the Government that there was going to be a duty placed on certain articles, and then, of course, importers would expedite their importations. 1086 That being so, it is impossible for me to support this Amendment.
I am concerned with another aspect of this question which, I suggest, the President of the Board of Trade should consider. If the House is sitting, hon. Members will be conscious of the Orders which are being issued, and objections can be raised to them. It is true that that is not an adequate protection, because then the tax would have been imposed, and that is a revolutionary departure from the constitutional practice which can only be justified by a state of emergency. If the House is adjourned for two or three months, then the President of the Board of Trade can work his wicked worst if he so desires. During the Adjournment period he might be issuing Orders relating to all sorts and categories of goods, and the parties concerned—the taxpayer, the importer and the user of those goods in this country— might not have any remedy at all for two or three months, and that might turn out to be a very serious matter.
The right hon. Gentleman might impose quite unconsciously a duty that might strike a blow at the heart of the industries using those imported articles. Some apparently innocent imported article might turn out, upon examination, to be essential to some important industry in this country. I have had experience today of the users of some completely manufactured articles which are imported into this country. I will not mention the name of the firm, but their representative came to me, and pointed out that a particular completely manufactured article would come under the category of one of the prohibited imports, and he told me that it was an essential raw material of their industry, and if its importation were prohibited it would drive the article which his firm manufactured off the market, and consequently they were very much concerned about it. I told this gentleman that the right thing for him to do was to go to the office of the President of the Board of Trade.
If this House happened to be sitting when a complaint of this kind was made to me, I could raise it across the Floor of the House—I could do that after eleven o'clock at night—and that would be some remedy, but if the House is adjourned, and the Members are scattered to the four quarters of the United 1087 Kingdom, then the Minister is not in a position to be criticised or supervised by Parliament. In this way the rights of manufacturers are being undermined, and that is a serious thing. I would suggest that during the Report Stage the Government ought to consider whether the right hon. Gentleman should be allowed to use these powers during the Recess. We have all been through trying times, and I am sure that Ministers are quite ready to meet in order to carry out their great responsibilities. If we are faced with such a great emergency the House might adjourn for not more than a week or 10 days. The only alternative is to provide that when the House is not sitting this machinery should not be put into operation. I am aware that the President of the Board of Trade is a great constitutionalist and a great parliamentarian and values the rights of private citizens, but we might not always be so fortunate in our choice of someone to fill that office.
§ Mr. COVE
The speech of the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris) shows that the Liberals are very uneasy about these proposals, and the hon. Member has tld us that this is a very dangerous Bill and gives to the President of the Board of Trade very wide and dangerous powers. The hon. Member agrees that these powers place the President of the Board of Trade in the position of a dictator, and yet, in spite of that, my hon. Friend, and those Liberals associated with him, are apparently willing to go into the Lobby against this Amendment, and consequently they are supporting this very dangerous Bill. The Liberal Members tell us that these proposals are likely to do incalculable harm to a large number of industries, and yet they have declared that they will go into the Lobby in support of the Government. Although those hon. Members have protested vehemently that they are still Free Traders, they are going to support the President of the Board of Trade in clapping on tariffs, and using his dictatorial powers without any discussion being possible in this House for doing those dangerous things.
So far the right hon. Gentleman has not given us a single word in defence of what he is proposing to do under this Clause and, as far as I can judge by the 1088 temper and tone of hon. Members sitting behind him, the right hon. Gentleman intends to be a dictator, and a very active and industrious dictator, because he has told us that he is going to work over the week-end. There will be such a rush of orders issued one after the other that it will be absolutely impossible for this House to discuss them. Those orders will go through automatically, and the President of the Board of Trade and the Custom officers will be able to use these powers without any discussion whatever in this House.
The right hon. Gentleman always prided himself upon being a democrat. He is not only a great business man, but he has been, in the past, a great supporter of democracy. What democracy is there in these proposals? I do not see the slightest sign of any democracy in them, and I fear that the right hon. Gentleman is so ashamed of his proposals that he will not attempt to defend them in this House. Not only is the right hon. Gentleman to be the dictator, but that position applies to the President of the Board of Trade whoever he may be. Supposing that the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) became the President of the Board of Trade, would hon. Members opposite go into the Lobby in support of his proposals? If the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Mr. J. H. Thomas) became President of the Board of Trade, what would happen then, as far as the Conservatives are concerned? We have, for the time being, as President of the Board of Trade, a gentleman whom all the Members sitting on the other side of the House are prepared to trust for the moment, although I am afraid that there is one section of hon. Members who are supporting the Government who are bound to be disappointed sooner or later.
Either the Liberal Free Traders will be disappointed or the Conservatives. We shall have to wait and see the result, and I am sure that we shall have some very interesting discussions in the future. Here we are considering a wicked Bill which is going to do great damage to the trade and industry of this country, and is establishing a dictatorship. This is bound to injure our trade and commerce, and this House, under this Bill, is giving up its right to discuss and 1089 legislate in regard to these matters, and the Liberal party are supporting these iniquitous proposals.
§ Mr. JENNINGS
I crave the indulgence of the House for this, my first effort in addressing it. In opposing this Amendment, I feel that time is of the essence of the contract in dealing with this system of dumping. It is high time that we did have a business man with a live Department ready to deal expeditiously with this system, which is crippling the employment of our people. I represent a division which comprises thousands of miners and thousands of workers in the Imperial chemical industry, and I believe that this Bill, put into operation expeditiously, will keep in employment many of the people who sent me here. I am under no delusion as to what were my pledges in the constituency. I pledged myself to come here and support any Measure that would substitute employment in a productive occupation for the present system of unemployment pay. We shall never reach any state of prosperity in this country until we can re-employ those millions of people who are, unfortunately, out of employment to-day—
§ Mr. THORNE
I wish to ask whether the hon. Member is in order in making a Second Reading speech, and whether he should not apply himself to the Amendment before the Committee'?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I must say that it seemed to me that the hon. Member was wandering a very long way from the point before the Committee, but, as he is making his maiden speech, I did not interrupt him.
§ Mr. JENNINGS
I must say that I was endeavouring to stick to the point. I said at the commencement that time 1090 was of the essence of the contract. The re-employment of our people is a question of very great urgency, which cannot wait until this House has discussed every Measure, which, in my opinion, the President of the Board of Trade should put in operation quickly. The point that I was raising was that time is of importance in this ease, and that we should not be allowed to discuss everything here, and have Amendments moved, but that the President of the Board of Trade should deal with these matters in a businesslike way. That is my point, and I consider that the Amendment should be strongly opposed.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
The proposal of my hon. Friends opposite would render it possible for anyone who wished to get in ahead of the restrictions which are now to be imposed to do so with great ease during the period of 28 days. The object of this Bill is not that which is under discussion at this stage. The Amendments before the Committee are purely concerned with the question of procedure. It is quite clear, from the previous discussions that we have had and from the Bill itself, that the intention of the Government is that the Orders shall come before Parliament within 28 days, and can be revoked by Parliament if it so desires, but—and I think my hon. Friends have overlooked these words— that each Ordershall be laid before the Commons House of Parliament so soon as may be after it is made.My hon. Friend the Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris) asked whether it would be possible to have anything in the nature of discussion during that period. There can only be one possibility of discussion until the Order is actually laid, and that is by question and answer across the Floor of the House. My hon. Friend must not ignore that altogether; it does provide some safeguard, so that the aggrieved person, through his Member or others, may bring the matter before Parliament and inquire from the Minister publicly what he has to say on the subjects which are raised. Of course, that is by no means a substitute for the ordinary procedure of the House; I do not suggest that it is; but it does provide one means by which publicity can be obtained.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
The Bill provides thatAn Order made under this section shall be laid before the Commons House of Parliament as soon as may be after it is made.That refers to every Order. The normal procedure by Order will not be departed from in what we are doing here. If we were to adopt the method suggested by hon. Gentlemen opposite, it would simply mean that the object of the Bill would be largely defeated, especially by those who are bringing in abnormal quantities of the goods that we desire to check, from the near-by countries at all events, and that would happen to such an extent that it would be very little use our attempting to proceed by way of Order at all.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
Is it the intention of the right hon. Gentleman that these Orders which have to be approved by the House should come on in the ordinary course of business, or will they just come on after eleven o'clock?
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I cannot say when they would be taken; that would be a matter for those who are arranging the business of the House. It is impossible for me to say at this stage exactly how and when it would be done. But there is a well-known position in our agenda for Orders of this description, and that will certainly not be departed from. Before I sit down, I should like to congratulate the hon. Member for Sedge-field (Mr. Jennings), who addressed the House just now with great acceptance.
§ Mr. HARRIS
The right hon. Gentleman has not answered the very important point that I raised, namely, that, if an Order were made during the Recess, it might not come before the House for three or four months.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I cannot imagine this House being adjourned for as long as three or four months. If it meets again, say, early in February, the whole action of the Board of Trade during the Recess could then come under review if the House so desires.
§ Sir STAFFORD CRIPPS
Will not the right hon. Gentleman give the House some assurance that, when the Resolu- 1092 tions to approve these Orders come before the House, they will be brought forward at such a time that the House can consider them properly. The right hon. Gentleman is quite aware that, when Orders of this class come before the House, they never have an opportunity of proper discussion. They are put in shortly before 11 o'clock, or after 11 o'clock, on an ordinary day, and the House has no opportunity to discuss them; it is merely a formal matter, some questions, perhaps, being asked of the Minister. When these Resolutions are Resolutions to continue taxes, as they will be, surely the right hon. Gentleman is prepared to assure the House that decent and proper time will be given for their discussion, in view of the great importance of the matters that will have to be discussed.
§ Mr. A. BEVAN
I should like to point out that the procedure to which the right hon. Gentleman has made allusion will involve a very unusual mass of work for the House. In the past, the procedure with regard to Orders-in-Council in the House of Commons has been regarded as more or less adequate, because it has given no great amount of work to that part of our constitutional machinery; but it is now going to involve an unusual burden of work, and, if the procedure of the House of Commons is going to be altered in one respect, is it not desirable that appropriate alterations should be made in other respects? The procedure with regard to Orders-in-Council is going to be used for imposing taxation. Is it not desirable that alterations should be made in some other parts of the Standing Orders of the House, so that these Orders may be subjected to proper Parliamentary scrutiny? I suggest that it is very bad constitutional practice to make alterations in one part of the Standing Orders without making the appropriate alterations in other parts.
I am sure that our request is a modest one. Although the Opposition cannot affect the powers for which the right hon. Gentleman is asking, and has no hope at all of defeating him in the Lobbies, I suggest to him, and also to the Liberals who are supporting him, and who, especially, ought to be very jealous of the rights of the House of Commons, that these powers ought not to be given 1093 without this safeguard. When these taxes are imposed, the only opportunity that we have of questioning them and discussing them is by a Prayer after eleven o'clock. That is not an adequate opportunity, and it certainly is not the atmosphere in which the House of Commons ought to consider these very diverse and complicated matters. Therefore, I would urge the right hon. Gentleman to consider some modification of the other procedure of the House of Commons, in order to give an adequate opportunity for discussing this procedure by Order when the House meets.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I am very anxious to meet the feeling of the House in the matter of this kind, but it is difficult for me to make any statement with regard to the order of business. I would point out, however, that the Motion that will come before the House must be in the form of a substantive Resolution—a Resolution approving of the Order; so that the position is rather different from that of the Prayers to which we are accustomed late at night, and which, as we know, are largely matters of form. I do not think I shall be rash if I say that, when the Orders which we may find it necessary to issue in the near future come up for discussion in the House, the House will see that there is something in the nature of a first-class debate. I could not promise that it should come on early in the day. It may have to be late at night. That depends on the business that we are transacting. But it will not be regarded as a purely formal stage.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
Will not the right hon. Gentleman go one step further? A large number of Gas Orders and other Orders of that kind are taken at eleven o'clock, about which everyone is agreed and which are matters of form; it only happens now and then that one is discussed. The present matter, however, is one which we all agree is quite exceptional. If the House of Commons is to give an opinion upon it, all that we ask is that the right hon. Gentleman should tell us that, so far as he is concerned, he will see that we get proper time, so that the public may hear about these Orders and so that the discussions upon them will not be so negligible as is the case after eleven o'clock at night.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will not ask me to commit the Leader of the House, with whom I have had no opportunity of discussing the matter, but the matter is certainly one of considerable importance, and I do desire that the House should have an opportunity of expressing its view. It may have to be taken late at night; that depends upon the course of public business; and, if that be so, I am afraid that I can offer nothing else.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Mr. A. BEVAN
I do not think we ought to leave this matter without a more adequate assurance. I appreciate the desire of the right hon. Gentleman to give what assurances he can, but the House is now parting with powers which are ordinarily exercised under a Finance Bill, where considerable opportunities are given for adequate discussion. Hon. Members can only discharge their duties to their constituents if they are allowed the fullest opportunity in the House itself to discuss these taxes. The Committee should remember that the consumers of these goods should have the opportunity of getting their case represented on the Floor of the House of Commons itself. We are in the hands of the Government. The right hon. Gentleman has said that he thinks the House of Commons will want to discuss these matters fully, but he cannot have derived that impression from the way in which the House has behaved up to the present. No House of Commons has ever given its powers away with such complete indifference to its traditions as this House has shown daring the last few days. The time may come when the precedents which are being established now will be used for purposes not nearly so agreeable to hon. Members opposite. The history of our Constitution has shown very often that precedents have been established for purposes the very opposite of those for which they have been subsequently used. This is not a matter on which we as a Labour party or a Liberal party or a Conservative party are involved, but the House itself, before it parts with these powers, should force the right hon. Gentleman 1095 to give an assurance that the Government, which is master of the House, agree that, when these Orders come before the House, they will come in such a manner and at such a time as the Finance Bill would in the ordinary way. There is nothing to injure them in that, because the Orders would be operative. All we want is that those whose interests are affected by the Orders should have an adequate opportunity of expressing their case on the Floor of the House. The time will come when all these precedents, which are being established now, will be quoted against hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite before the end of this Parliament. As to the Amendment itself, it would be a good thing if the Liberal Members who support the Government were to leave the right hon. Gentleman naked and defenceless against the Conservative hordes. It might be desirable if they were to put a Debate in the House of Commons between themselves and the charge of the cavalry of the hon. Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft). If these powers are given to the right hon. Gentleman without an adequate opportunity for Parliamentary Debate, the Liberal party will leave him naked in Parliamentary Debate. I hope that they will close in on him and defend him when the time comes.
§ Mr. M. W. BEAUMONT
Anybody who was in the last House of Commons, when the Labour Government were in power, must have laughed when he heard the indignant defence of the rights of free speech put up by the hon. Member who has just spoken. He reminds us that the use of these powers may became a precedent. If we have learned anything about the muzzling of free speech, we have learned it from the hon. Gentlemen opposite. They have taught us and they were admirable masters and, if we have learned anything from them, I am sure that they are deeply grateful. The Guillotine on the Finance Bill, the kangaroo powers of Chairmen in Committees upstairs, every possible muzzle on free speech was used by them on the House of Commons when they were in power. Yet their back benchers used to complain that they could not muzzle the Opposition. Now they came here and talk about the rights of free speech. I hope that the President of the Board of Trade will see that these important 1096 Measures are debated at the proper time, but that he will not take too much to heart the indignant protests of the hon. Member opposite.
§ Sir AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
The Amendment moved from the other side of the House is, of course, a wrecking Amendment. It would defeat the very purpose of the Bill and, if such an Amendment were carried, we might just as well abandon the Bill at once. I am certainly not going to support any Amendment of that character, but the peculiarity of the recent discussion is that it had no relation whatever to the Amendment, but dealt with a different matter, namely, an appeal to the President of the Board of Trade as to the time at which we shall be able to discuss the Orders made in pursuance of this Bill when it is passed. I do not know if the right hon. Gentleman would be prepared to consider a suggestion which I would submit to him. I certainly do not think it reasonable to ask that, whenever an Order is made under this Bill, it should always come on at an early hour, but the first Orders made will have a special importance as indicating the manner and spirit in which the right hon. Gentleman is going to administer the powers given to him. If he could see his way to arrange that the first batch of Orders or single Order should afford the House an opportunity for something like a Second Reading Debate on the method in which his powers were being applied, and that at a reasonable time of day, it would meet what is of substance in the request of the hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. It would not endanger the success of the operation of the Bill, and Members on all sides might wish to have some opportunity of that kind in taking part-in what I suggest should be something of a Second Beading Debate on the operation of the Bill.
§ Mr. MAXTON
I support the Amendment of the official Opposition on the general principle that it is bad business to place in the hands of the Minister any more power than is absolutely necessary for carrying on the work of his Department. I am not inclined to think that this is a more objectionable use of Orders-in-Council than that made by any Government, including the late Labour Government. Those on this side of the House need not press the President of 1097 the Board of Trade for promises to discuss these matters. I do not know the view of the official Opposition, but I certainly do not wish to discuss the details of the various Orders made by the President of the Board of Trade. I want to discuss—when the facts prove it to be the case—that the whole policy, of which these Orders are part, has proved to be absolutely futile in meeting the trade situation. I want to expedite the operation of these Orders and these taxes, because nothing will prove to the country the complete futility of the Protectionist method but its actual operation, and nothing in my view will conduce more to the complete collapse of the capitalist system than to allow the hon. Members opposite to have their way. I do not want to discuss particular Orders or to talk about whether bacon for Bournemouth or steel for Glasgow is being safeguarded. What I want to discuss in the House is the failure of the general policy, and I am sure that, without any favours from the President of the Board of Trade, the Opposition will be bound to have some opportunities provided either on a Vote of Censure or on the Minister's salary. Those would provide better and more adequate opportunities for dealing with what I personally want to deal with than the very limited opportunities which would be presented in discussing any particular Order.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I do not know if my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) was present when I replied to a similar point from the other side. I promised to communicate with the Leader of the House, but I did not think I was authorised at this particular stage to make any statement as to the allocation of business, certainly not so far ahead as the beginning of next Session. I made it clear to the House that it was a matter in which general interest was taken, and that to deal with it like a Prayer after Eleven o'clock at night would not be fair to the House, nor would it adequately comply with the desire of the House to review what had been done during the Recess. Of course, if the Opposition ask for a Supply day on which to discuss the salary of the President of the Board of Trade, I am sure that the request would be complied with and one of the days set aside. That would satisfy the hon. 1098 Gentleman below the Gangway. He does not want to discuss these academic questions of either Free Trade or Protection, as he is not interested in one or the other, and he would have a full opportunity then of discussing anything done by the President of the Board of Trade at any time. It will satisfy him and also the official Opposition who will be able to cover the whole ground. If it is desired that the Orders themselves shall be the subject of discussion, I shall make strong representations—I do not go further than that—to the Leader of the House that time shall be provided.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
It is a pity that the Leader of the House cannot be present at the discussion. He may be busy, but, after all, we are going to pass a very exceptional Bill, and the point which is raised just now is not one which can be dealt with in the manner in which the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) or the right hon. Member himself has suggested, namely, by calling for the salary of the President of the Board of Trade. There is a certain period of the year when one can call for these Votes, but these regulations are going to be passed with express speed. I would have been satisfied for the moment with the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman, because I believe that, once we get down to discussing them, we would be able to show how futile and how injurious many of them would be. I, too, want to discuss the bigger question of the difference between capitalist administration and socialist administration, but we are all elected to this House to deal with day-to-day views, and this matter we are dealing with to-day is fraught with so much danger to the workers and industrialists generally that we want the earliest and most effective opportunity of discussing what the right hon. Gentleman does. For that reason, I welcome his statement that he would make representations to the Leader of the House, but we might have had a communication from the Leader of the House himself. In reply to the right hon. Gentleman opposite, whatever other evil the Labour Government did, it had not the courage to bring forward so revolutionary a method as this of taxing the rich. I wish they had had the courage to do it.
§ Mr. D. M. MASON
Would it not meet the case and meet the suggestion made by the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) if the President of the Board of Trade would convey the suggestion to the Leader of the House, and if he could give an assurance that on the Report stage there would be some provision in the Bill to meet these points under discussion? If we could have some assurance that we would have some machinery so that these Orders could be discussed, that would meet the points which have been raised.
§ Mr. THORNE
Although we have a number of Amendments on the Order Paper, I am convinced that the President of the Board of Trade is not going to accept a single one of them, good, bad or indifferent. The Prime Minister said this afternoon that he was going to get through Committee, Report and Third Reading to-night. The Bill will receive the Royal Assent to-morrow, and the
|Division No. 10.]||AYES.||[7.18 p.m.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie||Dower, Captain A. V. G.|
|Alexander, Sir William||Burnett, John George||Drewe, Cedric|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l, W.)||Butt, Sir Alfred||Duckworth, George A. V.|
|Allen, Maj. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd.W)||Caine, G. R. Hall||Dundale, Captain Thomas Lionel|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh)||Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley)||Duggan, Hubert John|
|Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent)||Campbell. Rear-Adml. G. (Burnley)||Duncan, James A.L. (Kensington, N.)|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Camonell-Johnston, Malcolm||Dunglass, Lord|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Eales, John Frederick|
|Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K.||Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)||Eastwood, John Francis|
|Aske, Sir William Robert||Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)||Eden, Robert Anthony|
|Athoff, Duchess of||Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Edmondson, Major A. J.|
|Atkinson, Cyril||Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Ednam, Viscount.|
|Baillie, Sir Adrian W. B.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J.A. (Birm., W.)||Ellis, Robert Geoffrey|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Elliston, Captain George Sampson|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Elmley, Viscount|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||Emmott, Charles E. G. C.|
|Balniel, Lord||Chorlton, Alan Ernest Leofric||Emrys-Evans. P. V.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Chotzner, Alfred James||Entwistle, Major Cyril Fullard|
|Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Erskine-Bolst. Capt. C. C. (Blk'pool)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Clarke, Frank||Essenhigh, Reginald Clare|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury)||Clayton, Dr. George C.||Eterard, W. Lindsay|
|Beaumont, R. E. B. (Portsm'th, Centr'l)||Colfox, Major William Philip||Falle, Sir Bertram G.|
|Beit, Sir Alfred L.||Colville, Major David John||Foot, Dingle (Dundee)|
|Benn, Sir Arthur Shirley||Cooke, James D.||Foot. Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)|
|Bennett, Capt. Sir Ernest Nathaniel||Cooper, A. Duff||Ford, Sir Patrick J.|
|Bernays. Robert||Copeland, Ida||Fraser, Captain Ian|
|Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B.||Courtauld, Major John Sewell||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.|
|Bircnall, Major Sir John Denman||Courthope, Colonel Sir George L.||Fuller, Captain A. E. G.|
|Bird, Ernest Roy (Yorks., Skipton)||Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry||Ganzoni, Sir John|
|Blindell, James||Cranborne, Viscount||Gibson, Charles Granville|
|Borodale, Viscount||Craven-Ellis, William||Gillett, Sir George Masterman|
|Boulton, W. W.||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Crooke, J. Smedley||Glossop, C. W. H.|
|Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton||Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)||Gluckstein, Louis Halle|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)||Goldie. Noel B.|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.|
|Bracken, Brendan||Cross, R. H.||Gower, Sir Robert|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Crossley, A. C.||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)|
|Briant, Frank||Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Davies, Edward C. (Montgomery)||Greene, William P. C.|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Davies, Maj. Geo.F. (Somerset,Yeovll)||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Davison, sir William Henry||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. john|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Denville, Alfred||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Mlddlesbro',W.)|
|Browne, Captain A. C.||Dickie, John P.||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Donner, P. W.||Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.|
|Burghley, Lord||Doran, Edward||Gunston, Captain D. W.|
§ result will be that the Act will be operating on Monday. I am convinced that a lot of the Orders are already drafted. I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether they will be laid on the Table one day next week, so that we can examine them and see whether there is a possibility of disagreeing or agreeing with those already made. He has told us that there will be an opportunity of discussing them, but the Government have taken the time of the House up to Christmas. The House is going to adjourn at the latter end of the month, and we shall not assemble again, as rumour goes, until February, when all the damage will have been done. The House, therefore, is not going to have a chance between now and February of discussing any of the Orders that are already made.
§ Question put, "That the word 'An' stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 353; Noes, 45.
|Guy, J. C. Morrison||Macquisten, Frederick Alexander||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Hales, Harold K.||Magnay, Thomas||Russell, Hamer Field (Shef'ld, B'tslde)|
|Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)|
|Hamilton. Sir R. W. (Orkney & Zetl'nd)||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo|
|Hanley, Dennis A.||Margesson, Capt. Henry David R.||Salt, Edward W.|
|Harris, Percy A.||Marjoribanks, Edward||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Hartington, Marquess of||Martin, Thomas B.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Hartland, George A.||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John M.||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard|
|Hellgers, Captain F. F. A.||Millar, James Duncan||Savery, Samuel Servington|
|Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford)||Milne, Charles||Scone, Lord|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Milne. John Sydney Ward law-||Selley, Harry R,|
|Herbert, George (Rotherham)||Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Hillman, Dr. George B.||Molson, A. Harold Elsdale||Skelton, Archibald Noel|
|Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.|
|Holdsworth, Herbert||Moreing, Adrian C.||Smith, Sir Jonah W. (Barrow-ln-F.)|
|Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge)||Mercian, Robert H.||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Hore-Bellshs, Leslle||Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.)||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Hornby, Frank||Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.)||Smithers, Waldron|
|Horobin, Ian M.||Morrison, William Shephard||Somervell, Donald Bradley|
|Horsbrugh, Florence||Mulrhead, Major A. J.||Soper, Richard|
|Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||Munro, Patrick||Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Nail-Cain, Arthur Ronald N.||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Nathan, Major H. L.||Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.|
|Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.|
|Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)||Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde)|
|Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Ayimer||Normand, Wilfrfd Guild||Stanley, Hon. 0. F. C. (Westmorland)|
|Hurd, Percy A.||Nunn, William||Stones, James|
|Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||O'Donovan, Dr. William James||Storey, Samuel|
|Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R. (M'tr'se)||Ormiston, Thomas||Stourton, John J.|
|Hutchison, W. D. (Essex, Romf'd)||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G A.||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Inskip, Sir Thomas W. H.||Palmer, Francis Noel||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|James, Wing-Com. A. W. H,||Patrick, Colin M.||Stuart-Crichton, Lord C.|
|Jamieson, Douglas||Peake, Captain Osbert||Sueter, Rear-Admirnl Murray F.|
|Janner, Barnett||Pearson, William G.||Summeriby, Charles H.|
|Jennings, Roland||Peat, Charles U.||Sutclifle, Harold|
|Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Penny, Sir George||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A. (Pd'gt'n,S.)|
|Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)||Perkins, Walter R. D.||Templeton, William P.|
|Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)||Peters, Dr. Sidney John||Thorn, Lieut.-Colonel John Glbb|
|Ker, J. Campbell||Petherick, M.||Thomas, James P, L. (Hereford)|
|Kerr, Hamilton W.||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Thomas, Major I B. (King's Norton)|
|Kirkpatrick. William M.||Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n,Bllston)||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Knatchbull, Captain Hon. M. H. R.||Pickering, Ernest H.||Thomson, Mitchell-, Rt. Hon. Sir W.|
|Knebworth, Viscount||Pickford, Hon. Mary Ada||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|Lamb, Sir Joseph Qulnton||Pike, Cecil F.||Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Potter, John||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Latham, Sir Herbert Paul||Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Law, Sir Alfred||Power, Sir John Cecil||Wallace, John (Duntermilne)|
|Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)||Procter, Major Henry Adam||Ward, Lt-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Leckle, J. A.||Pybus, Percy John||Ward, Irene Mary Bawick (Wallsend)|
|Leech, Dr. J. W.||Ralkes, Hector Victor Alpin||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)|
|Lees Jones John||Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Lelghton, Major B. E. P.||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)||Watt, Captain George Steven H.|
|Lonnox-Soyd, A. T.||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour-|
|Levy. Thomas||Ramsbotham, Herswaid||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Liddall. Walter S.||Ramsden, E.||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Liewellin, Major John J.||Rawson, Sir Cooper||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick||Rea, Walter Russell||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Lloyd, Geoffrey||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Loiler, Captain J. do Vere||Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)||Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)|
|Lyons, Abraham Montagu||Remer, John R.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|MacAndrew, Maj. C. G. (Partlck)||Renwick, Major Gustav A.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.||Withers, Sir John James|
|McCorquodale, M. S.||Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)||Womersley, Waiter James|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hn. J, R. (Seaham)||Robinson, John Roland||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Kingsley|
|MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell||Wood, Major M. McKenzle (Band)|
|Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Ropner, Colonel L.||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|McEwen, J. H. F.||Rosbotham, D. S. T.||Wragg, Herbert|
|McKeag, William||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)||Young, Rt. Hon, Sir Hilton (S'v'noaka)|
|McKle, John Hamilton||Rothschild, James L. de|
|Maclay, Hon. Joseph paton||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Maclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D. (Corn'll N.)||Runge, Norah Cecil||Mr. Shakespeare and Lord Erskin|
|McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Cripps, Sir Stafford||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)|
|Batey, Joseph||Daggar, George||Grundy, Thomas W.|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Nermanton)|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Buchanan, George||Duncan, Charles (Derby, Claycross)||Hicks, Ernest George|
|Cape, Thomas||Edwards, Charles||Hirst, George Henry|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Jenkins, Sir William|
|Cove, William G.||Grenlell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||John, William|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. David|
|Kirkwood, David||Maxton, James||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Milner, Major James||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Lawson, John James||Parkinson, John Allen||Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)|
|Logan, David Gilbert||Price, Gabriel||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Lunn, William||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|McEntee, Valentine L.||Thorne, William James||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|McGovern, John||Tinker, John Joseph||Mr. T. Groves and Mr. Cordon Macdonald.|
§ Major MiLNER
I beg to move, in page 2, line 20, at the end, to add the words:Provided that an Order made under this Section shall, if not previously revoked, cease to have effect on the termination of this Act.7.30 p.m.
The Act, we were told, is to terminate in six months' time, and the purpose of the Amendment is to ensure that orders made under the Act shall terminate also at the same time. I am well aware that the right hon. Gentleman yesterday told us that with the lapse of the Act, the orders must lapse, but I respectfully submit that that may or may not be so. Orders have a separate operative effect, and it would be to the advantage of traders, importers and manufacturers to know the precise position, and for that reason it is very desirable to insert this Amendment in the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman did not give any authority for his statement, and I hope that he will not think that I am pressing him unduly when I ask him to give us a more definite assurance on the subject, or perhaps he may accept the Amendment.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir Thomas Inskip)
The hon. and gallant Gentleman who has moved the Amendment is anxious that the operation of any Order-in-Council made in pursuance of the Act shall not continue after the six months, which is the period of the Act. That is also the intention of the Government, and perhaps the hon. and gallant Gentleman will be good enough to accept my assurance that it is effected by the terms of the Bill. I think I can satisfy him on the point, because if he will turn to the first Clause, at the top of page 2, he will observe that the powers given by the Bill are to be bound by order to apply the Act to articles of a particular class or description. If the Act has come to an end there is nothing upon which the Board can apply an order. If the Act has gone there is nothing upon which an order can be 1104 made to hang. For that reason, it is quite clear that the Bill as drafted carries out the intention both of the hon. and gallant Member and of the Government. He may, perhaps, reply by asking why his Amendment should not be accepted. The reason is that this form is a perfectly common and indeed a universal form in Acts of a temporary nature. If such provision as he proposes were to be inserted in the Bill, it would throw doubt on a number of temporary Measures.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
We are indebted to the hon. and learned Gentleman for his explanation, but I do not think he has quite explained the point which my hon. and gallant Friend had in mind. He will appreciate that under the first Clause the Board will not be able to make any fresh orders after the six months have elapsed. That is not what we are concerned with. The position is, an order having been made, let me say, on Monday next by the Board of Trade, it then, say 28 days later, or as soon as Parliament meets, comes before the House and a Resolution of the House revivifies the order and extends its period of operation beyond the 28 days which it has by virtue of being made by the Board of Trade. What we are concerned with is that such resolution shall not give an order power beyond the termination of the six months. I think that perhaps this is the way it can most conveniently be dealt with. The form of the resolution which is brought before the House when these orders are to be extended beyond the 28 days with the approval of the House should be such as to make it clear that they will terminate at the end of six months. I think that if he would assure us that the form of the resolution would be such as to say that the orders would terminate at the end of six months, we should not desire to press the Amendment.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I appreciate the suggestion of the hon. and 1105 learned Gentleman, but I cannot agree that it will be necessary to do what he proposes in the body of the resolution, because it would have the effect of doing the very thing I want to avoid, namely, throwing doubt on the interpretation of this form of Act which is a very common form in Acts of a temporary character. I think that I fully appreciate the reason of the hon. and gallant Member and the particular risk he wants to avoid. I merely referred to Clause 1 as indicating in my opinion that if the Act has disappeared, the effectiveness or validity of any order dependent upon the Act must also necessarily disappear. That is my firm opinion, and I hope that the Committee will be good enough to accept our assurance on the point.
§ Major MILNER
In view of the assurance which has been given by the hon. and learned Member, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
We do not desire to cause any delay by dividing upon this question. We have expressed our opinion on the Second Reading regarding the whole Bill, and, as regards particular points, on Amendments, which have been before the Committee.
Duchess of ATHOLL
I do not wish to detain the Committee, because I recognise that this matter is urgent, but I should like to say to the President of the Board of Trade how unfortunate it is that pit-props and sleepers are classified in Class II and therefore do not come within the scope of the Bill. It is clear that pit-props and sleepers do not require any additional processes, and can be brought into use at once as pit-props and sleepers. It is rather strange, therefore, that we find them in Class II and not in Class III. The value of pit-props and sleepers imported into this country in the first 10 months of the year amounted to some £3,500,000. A good deal of that timber could have been supplied at home, and what could not have been supplied at home might very well have been supplied from Canada. I am told that there are great quantities 1106 of deals, battens and boards coming into this country many of which are used just as they are for packing, construction or hoardings. I have been told by someone well qualified to give an opinion that there is more imported timber in the country than we can use, and yet our greatest supplier, Soviet Russia, is said to be pressing us to take more from her than we have been taking in the last year or two.
Therefore, I ask the President of the Board of Trade if it is not possible to reconsider the classification of these various forms of timber, because they are of importance. I cannot see how anybody can maintain that a pit-prop or a sleeper is in any way a raw material of anything else, and it is difficult to maintain this in regard to deals, battens and boards. I am told that deals, battens and boards constitute the greater part of the very large quantity of timber which we have been purchasing in the last year or so from Soviet Russia. In 1929–30, we imported hewn and sawn timber from that country to the value of nearly £8,000,000. Therefore, if any limitations could be put upon those imports, they would have a very considerable effect on the question of the trade balance, and undoubtedly would cause a stimulus to production at home and to the Empire which is very badly needed.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
My Noble Friend will observe that the operation of the Act is restricted to Class III, and I am afraid that it will not be possible to extend the list of articles to Class II without going outside the scope of the Measure. The fact that she has brought before us this afternoon is one we shall certainly keep in mind, especially when we make a more complete and a more extended review of our industry as a whole.
§ Mr. CAPE
I submit to the President of the Board of Trade that we require the very best timber possible in our mines. Unless we received a guarantee that British timber was in such a condition that it would prove of the utmost safety in the mines, we should have to oppose the proposal of the Noble Lady. I ask the President of the Board of Trade, before he attempts to include anything of that kind in the Bill, to consult the different sections of the mining industry. I am sure he understands that it is desirable to have the greatest safety 1107 in mines. We had an experience some time ago of raw timber coming into the mines. Before the right hon. Gentleman contemplates any change, we hope that he will consult the two sections of the mining industry.
§ Mr. TINKER
I should like to emphasise the point raised by my hon. Friend. Probably the Noble Lady is not aware of what she would really be doing if her proposal were carried out. I admire her intention, but, after all, we have to rely upon the opinion of our own men. This timber, we are told, is the best possible timber in the interests of the safety of the men. The question of steel sleepers—
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I think that we are now getting rather far away from Clause 1. It is obvious that no timber can be dealt with under this Bill.
§ Mr. TINKER
I would point out that had the President of the Board of Trade not followed up the point raised by the Noble Lady by saying that he would consider the matter, I should not have intervened. I think that this is an indication of what might happen, and I wish to raise my voice in protest and say what must be expected from this side if the President of the Board of Trade proceeds to do anything.
This is a very important point. Will the right hon. Gentleman give an undertaking that whatever consideration he may give to the question, nothing in the nature of duties on timber from Russia will be decided until a further consultation has taken place?
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I am sure the hon. Gentleman opposite need not be apprehensive about that. It will not be included in the powers that are contemplated.
§ Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.