HC Deb 31 October 1932 vol 269 cc1453-549

I beg to move, in page 2, line 8, after the words "agreements," to insert the words: (except in so far as they relate to fresh or raw fruit). The Committee will be familiar with some of the arguments that have been employed on previous occasions on this issue, but I hardly think the subject received the serious consideration that it deserved when we discussed it on the last occasion; and I do not think the Government have fully explained the reasons they had for entering into an agreement relating to fruit. We have been told that these arrangements are designed to encourage our own fruit growers—to increase wholesale prices—we have always been told that—and above all to find employment for our folk at home. I feel positive, on the other hand, that this arrangement is definitely an encouragement to the Dominion fruit growers and traders, and the hon. Gentleman nods assent right away. That is the first occasion I have ever seen a member of the Government in agreement with anything that I have said, consequently I feel that I am making a little headway. As stated, all the encouragement is definitely in favour of the Dominion producers. When you enter into an agreement in favour of the Dominion producer, it does not follow of necessity that it will help in the least the home fruit grower. The hon. Gentleman does not nod assent to that statement.

Every statement that has been made on these Ottawa proposals has lent colour to the view that they are going to increase employment here at home. This may be a very strong statement to make, but I feel sure that I am right in prophesying that, for every 10 persons who will be employed on new or extended fruit farms in this country, there will be 15 or 20 thrown out of employment in handling foreign fruit—sailors, dockers, and retailers. The strange thing to me is that the retailer is left clean out of the picture as far as the Government is concerned. Of course, the producer is a very important person indeed, but the hon. Gentleman ought to remember that imports of some foreign fruit have declined enormously since the passing of the Horticultural Products (Emergency Customs Duties) Act, and that must have thrown out of employment a number of persons engaged in the retail trade. That trade as a whole is very badly organised, and, consequently, no one bothers about it at all. If you had 10,000 persons employed in the retail trade thrown out of work, the Government would not take any notice at all of them. But the Farmers' Union is well organised, and consequently the Government will listen to anything they say. The fruit growers are organised, too, and they are supporters of the Government. When the Government come to face the country once again, the retail fruiterers will want to know why their trade has been damaged by these proposals, and especially by the Horticultural Import Duties.

From 1901 to 1931 there was a steady increase of fruit consumption in this country. The old saw that appeared on every hoarding, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away," seemed to have got hold of a large number of our people. In 1901 we imported about 2,000,000 cwt. of apples, and in 1931 our imports had grown to over 7,500,000 cwt., and the large number of persons employed as sailors in bringing over these commodities, dockers handling them at the ports, and retailers selling them in the shops, ought to have some consideration from the Government. I am informed that the imports of cherries were reduced by 89 per cent. consequent upon the passing of the Horticultural Products Act, and currants reduced from May to July by 56 per cent. You have all along the line a decline in imported fruits consequent upon one of the first Acts passed by this Government. I would not mind so much if the retail trade suffered in order to help the home producer of fruit.


The hon. Member has told us that the imports of fruit are much less this year than last. Will he say how much, because my information is to the contrary?


The hon. Gentleman's information is wrong and mine is right. The hon. Gentleman was talking to the Noble Lord sitting next to him when I was speaking, and consequently he could not gather up the thread of my remarks. If the hon. Gentleman would talk less, I think he would be able to think more clearly. I gave the actual figures, and in order that he may write another pamphlet about them perhaps he will bear them in mind. The apple import trade to this country grew from 1,830,000 cwts. in 1901 to 7,600,000 in 1931. I think that he has got these figures correctly this time.


Those are not the figures to which I was alluding.


Really, I am not here to inform the hon. Gentleman on every point of this kind. I am delivering my own speech. It is passing strange that the fruit growers of this country, apparently, are not to benefit as much from this arrangement as are the fruit growers in the Dominions. We on these benches have been taunted over and over again when speaking about better relations with Russia, and have been called hon. Members for Moscow and Leningrad. I am entitled now, after reading these Agreements and seeing what was done at Ottawa, to tell the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bewdley (Mr. Baldwin) that he ought, in future, to be termed the hon. Member for Ottawa or Montreal. Montreal, by the way, is peopled by 50 per cent. of French people and some Ukranians thrown in. The right hon. Gentleman the Lord President of the Council can no longer claim that he is the Member for Bewdley. He may even be regarded as the Member for Brisbane, or Melbourne, or Sydney. In fact, the gentlemen who went to Ottawa have been more concerned about the people in the Dominions than about those living in Derby, Bewdley or Birmingham. It is quite proper that we should raise a, protest against the idea that all the residents of the Dominions are our kith and kin. If hon. Gentlemen will analyse from whence the people of Canada came, they will find that the majority, in Quebec, at any rate, are of French origin.


Does the hon. Gentleman suggest that they are less loyal than the Welsh?


The right hon. Gentleman, not being able to understand the Welsh language, cannot understand their loyalty either.


Nor does the hon. Gentleman understand the French language.


I do not want to enter into combat with two hon. Members, One at a time, if you please. There is, indeed, a very serious aspect of the proposals which we are now discussing, as they are intended deliberately to raise the wholesale price for the Dominion producer. I feel sure that it will be found that these arrangements are definitely against the home fruit grower, and, in any case, against the retailer of fruit in this country.

I am not conversant with the canning industry of this country, but I saw a reference on Friday about a meeting which was held in Birmingham. All great movements seem to come from Birmingham. Mr. George Cadbury, Chairman of the Home Canners, Ltd., said, at the Canners' Convention at Birmingham, that they could not, in fact, secure sufficient fruit for canning purposes in this land. Without taking into consideration party politics at all, I hope that the Government will do something to meet the claim of those people, so that their factories can be kept fully employed. I do not know whether those who are canning fruit in this country are using foreign fruit for the purpose, but, if they are, the Government ought to take note of the fact that the canning industry is a new industry and ought to have an opportunity of developing properly, because it uses up a great deal of tinplates produced in this country. The right hon. Gentleman smiles because I say that, as the tinplate industry is carried on in South Wales. I do not represent Wales in this House, and at the moment I am thinking more particularly of the fruit growers of Evesham. Probably the right hon. Gentleman will be able to tell us whether the canneries are requiring foreign fruit for the purpose of their factories in this country.

I wish to put a further point which has been given to me in all good faith by those engaged in the trade. I am informed that foreign pears vary in quality and price more than almost any other kind of fruit which comes into this country. I understand that pears are now sold at 4d. a 1b., 10d. a 1b. and even 1s. a 1b., and that the retail fruit trade is very much alarmed because the universal duty of 3s. 6d. or 4s. 6d. will impose a very much heavier tax upon the poor people who are only able to afford pears at 4d. a 1b. as against those who are able to buy pears at 1s. a 1b. The percentage of duty upon the cheaper fruit is much larger, as the hon. Gentleman will see. Therefore the Government ought really to try and introduce a change in the arrangements whereby the duty shall be imposed upon the price that the box or barrel of fruit will fetch in the market. I think that that, in technical terms, is called ad valorem duty. The hon. Gentleman will be able to correct me if I am wrong on that score.

I have now raised one or two points which have not yet been mentioned, and I should like to know from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he is to speak, whether, in giving these preferences to the Dominions, and especially to Canada, any question was ever raised in the Conference as to the number of people sent home to this country by the Canadian Government because they were a burden upon their public funds? I think that about 10 or 12 people were sent home to Lancashire not long ago, and they had lived in Canada for some 5, 10, 12, 15 or 20 years. There was a very strong feeling in those parts against the action of the Canadian Government in sending their citizens back to this country, because they declined to maintain them out of public funds.


Is it not a fact that deportation can only apply to people who have been in the country under five years, and that people who have been there longer than five years cannot be deported?


I am not so sure about that; I have not been deported myself. I think that I am right anyhow.


I am sure that you are wrong.


The hon. Gentleman is not the first man who has told me that I have been wrong and it has afterwards been found that I have been right.


I shall not be found to be wrong this time.


Whether it is five years or 10 years, strong feeling has been aroused in parts of Lancashire because the Canadian Government have sent home again some of these people who have lived there for a long period. In giving all these preferences to the Dominions, was a question like that raised at all at the Conference?

4.0 p.m.


I desire to support the Amendment so ably moved by my hon. Friend. In the first place, I am wondering whether any good purpose can be obtained at all by detaining the Committee, or staying here ourselves to discuss these matters, particularly as it was stated, on behalf of the Government, I presume, in an earlier part of the Debate, that we could not expect to secure any concessions, modifications or any alterations of any kind in the Bill which has been presented to us. I think the words of the representative of the Government speaking on that occasion were, that not one line, not one word, and not one comma in the Bill could be altered. If that is so, of course all of us are wasting our time, on whatever side of the Committee we sit, in discussing the Bill. But there is an old saying, that while there is life there is hope, and some of us who represent constituencies in which the great majority of the people are poor, still have some hope that we can win some concessions on behalf of those poor people during the proceedings on this Bill.

I remember, as all of us do, the Empire Marketing Board, which, like the fruit trade generally in this country, invited the people to "Eat more fruit," which became a slogan which was brought to the notice of the people so continuously that they were affected by it. Another old saying that "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" also had its effect, and, as a consequence, the sales and consumption of fruit went up. I think, however, that the sale and consumption of fruit as a consequence of the action of the Government in this matter will definitely go down, and it seems to be obvious that the benefits, so far as there are to be any benefits from this Bill, will be benefits, not to the people of this country, but to the people in the Dominions. I have not heard from the Government of any benefit that will accrue to the people of this country from the negotiations at Ottawa or from this Bill. I think it might be well for the fruit trade and Empire Marketing Board to change their slogan in future, and, instead of saying "Eat more fruit," to use another slogan, "Your fruit will cost you more," because it certainly will as a consequence of the action of the Government.

I would remind the Government that it used to be said of other Governments which preceded them, particularly of the Government that I sat, behind, and felt proud of it, that we represented every country but our own. I think it might be truly said of the Government now in power that they represent every part of the Empire but their own, and that all their activities up to now have been with the object of giving concessions to people in other parts of the Empire at the expense of the people in this part of the Empire, whom, after all, we have a right to expect them to represent when they go to Ottawa or whenever they are engaged in matters of policy between separate parts of the Empire. As I say, I am not very hopeful of getting any concession of any kind from the Government, but I desire to take the opportunity of asking the Government to reconsider their decision in regard to this matter of fresh fruit, and to give the opportunity to their people here at home to get fruit at least as cheaply as they got it before, and not to take the action which they are contemplating in this Bill of increasing the price of fruit to our people at home, even for the purpose of giving concessions to people in other parts of the Empire. I have pleasure, therefore, in supporting the Amendment, and I hope we shall get some concession on behalf of the poor people in our constituencies.


I do not think that there is a definite sub stance in the difficulties which have been raised. I think it is a matter which would call for a great deal of study on the part of the Government and the House, but it is not worth while discussing it here and now. The real question lies in this: It is quite definite that we cannot alter the Agreement at Ottawa, and, therefore, if we try to upset any part of it at this time we merely destroy the whole Agreement, and do no good to this country. It is well known by everyone moving these Amendments that they are nothing else in effect than wrecking Amendments—I do not say in intention, but in effect, because there is a desire to call the attention of the public and the Government to certain points. I think that on this particular question quite enough has been said, because we know that nothing can be done now, and anybody who turns to the Agreement will see in every Agreement the words: In the event of circumstances arising which, in the judgment of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, or of His Majesty's Government in the Union of South Africa— or whatever the Dominion —"as the case may be, necessitate a variation in the terms of the Agreement, the proposal to vary those terms shall form the subject of consultation between the two Governments. Therefore, I think if the attention of the Government is called to this matter—we earnestly ask the Government to consider it—and the opportunity presents itself of a full discussion in a suitable moment, place and method for the Government, I, for one, am confident that the Government will take a reasonable line, and if, as some believe, there is a mistake as to date and other matters with regard to this particular Agreement, they will take it up in the usual proper way, and no doubt something will be done. But one hopes that time will not be taken up to-day when we have some important Amendments before us which can be dealt with without affecting the Agreement.


I have listened attentively to what the hon. Member has just said, because I intend, in the course of the few words I propose to address to the Committee, to refer to some remarks which he made in a previous Debate. The discussions in respect of the Ottawa Agreement have made one thing absolutely and abundantly clear. A large number of Members who have spoken, even those who support the action of the Government, have referred to discrepancies in the Agreements that require very careful consideration. I agree that the supporters of the Government have indicated that they are prepared to accept the Agreements, but the cumulative effect of the objections certainly form a very substantial undermining of the Agreements. It is a matter of common sense that the proceedings, which commenced in all good faith on the understanding that there should be a lowering of tariff walls, and which ended in a hurried settlement of differences so that definite Agreements should be arrived at, must contain innumerable mistakes either of omission or commission. The hon. Member himself, in the Debate on Wednesday, gave a very clear indication of this. He said: With regard to fruit, I fear that the Government have made a mistake. I think that they are wrong both as to their dates and the tax on weight. I remember that in 1923 proposals of a similar kind were brought forward, only much worse, and they were combated by the trade who knew what they were talking about. I want to direct attention to this, because it is rather important from our point of view on these benches. After all, it is not the first time that mistakes have been made, and I want to bring this before the House. There has been a tendency, particularly in certain parts pf the Debate, to be angry when the reply has been given that these Agreements must stand or fall. It would he a poor sort of arrangement if the Agreements were subject to being chopped about in the different Parliaments of the Empire. Of course, they have to be maintained as they were settled. Later on we may mutually arrive at modifications."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th October, 1932; col. 1086, Vol. 269.] The mistake has already been made. The hon. Member is aware, and we are all aware of it, and I am convinced that the Government know very well that in this instance a mistake has been made. There should be no difficulty in the Government ascertaining the facts.


Is it not the privilege only of a Front Bencher to read his speeches?


What the hon. Member was doing was reading what somebody else had said.


As no objection has been raised by my hon. Friend on the opposite benches to the words I have quoted, which are his, of course, I take it it was quite understood I was not in any way misquoting him, and that I was quite entitled to put the facts in the words as he presented them. He says that a mistake has occurred of which we are already aware, and, I say with the greatest respect, that not only is he already aware of that mistake, but I am perfectly satisfied that the majority of those who have taken the trouble to investigate this particular case are aware of the mistake, and consequently the Government themselves must be aware of it. If they are satisfied that there is such a mistake, in my view it is important that they should examine the position as speedily as they possibly can. Where there is an obvious error, surely it stands to reason that that error should be rectified at the earliest possible opportunity.

My hon. Friend suggests that there is a provision in the Agreement for that, but how is that provision going to work? I ask him, and I ask the Government, if already, when we have a palpable mistake in front of us, we are not in a position to satisfy the Dominions or ourselves that there is power to amend the error before the Bill is passed? I say that it is our duty at the present moment to point out to the Dominions, that this is a case where an error has been committed, that they have nothing to gain from it. I say this in all earnestness, because there are people who are in the trade, an important federation of traders, who are satisfied that the matter calls for correction. Here is a mistake which has already been made as to the possibility of the Empire growing at definite times in the year the commodities which are necessary. The Empire itself is, for natural reasons, unable to cope with the demand in respect of those commodities, and therefore will not be injured in the slightest if the error is rectified. I say, and my hon. Friends here say, that if we cannot correct a mistake of this nature in the present Parliament, how on earth are we going to manage to correct mistakes at a later date, by virtue of the provisos which are contained in the Agreements themselves for settlement by mutual arrangement?

To me and to my friends on these benches the position seems perfectly clear. Suppose we went to the Dominions and we said, taking grape fruit as an example, "You have asked us to put a tariff on grape fruit from the rest of the world, but there are portions of the year when that tariff will be of no advantage to you whatsoever. You cannot grow grape fruit during all periods of the year. For six or seven months of the year this tariff will be of no advantage to you." If we said that to the Dominions, even now—and I pointed this out over a week ago—surely the Dominions would reply by agreeing with us and saying: "You can amend this particular proviso, which does not affect us adversely in the slightest."

Who would suffer if we did amend the proviso? We have repeatedly asked that this matter should be considered. Is it intended by these measures to put an additional import duty upon our commodities? Surely not. These measures, we are told are intended purely and simply for the purpose of adjusting our relationships with the Empire and for giving the Empire an opportunity of selling us such commodities as are available in the Empire. Here, however, we have commodities which are not available in the Empire during certain periods of the year, and the only result that can follow from the imposition of tariffs on them is that these commodities will cost the consumer more, and it will not in the slightest way assist the Dominions in their efforts to obtain an extended market.

I am not going into any elaborate figures, but the bon. and gallant Member for Ayr Burghs (Lieut.-Colonel Moore) said, on the last occasion, when he was speaking with regard to grape fruit, that the tariff would merely mean an increase of one farthing on each grape fruit. I have gone very carefully into the point and I say that the increased cost on a grape fruit retailed at 2½d. will be a halfpenny or three farthings.




If my hon. Friend would like the figures, and the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) will not object to me referring to my notes, I shall be happy to give them. The hon. and gallant Member for Ayr Burghs states that the new tax would only increase by one farthing the cost of grape fruit. The position, as I understand it, actually is this. The cost to the importer of an 80 1b. box of grape fruit is approximately 15s. 6d. c.i.f. An additional 1s. 6d. for selling expenses is incurred. The wholesaler therefore pays 17s. and sells to the retailer at approximately 18s. 6d. The hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. Williams) smiles. I do not know why he smiles.


Supposing he buys Empire grape fruit, which is not taxed?


I am talking about a period when you cannot obtain grape fruit from the Empire, and I am trying to show that during that period under this tax there will be an increase in the price, which is not justifiable. I should like my hon. Friend to listen to what I have to say, for I think that before I have finished he will be convinced that it is not a proper thing to impose this duty. A box contains a maximum of 112 grape fruit, which works cut at a cost in the neighbourhood of 2d. for each fruit. The type of grape fruit to which I am referring is the smaller kind which finds its way into the hands of the street trader and shopkeepers in the poorer neighbourhoods. The retailer sells at about 2½d. When the tax has been put on, there will be an increase of 3s. 6d. per box at the quayside. To this will have to be added a few pence and by the time the fruit reaches the consumer, the consumer will have to pay at least 3½d. for his grape fruit. Even if he had to pay only 3d., that would still be an increase of one-halfpenny on a grape fruit now retailed at 2½d., which makes a considerable difference to a family man whose income is very small at the present time. The ultimate effect will be that the trade in this particular commodity, as far as the poorer classes are concerned, will entirely disappear. The poor man will no longer be able to enjoy the privilege of consuming this fruit, and it will disappear from his table.

Another point which is of importance is that it will take five years before you can get an additional supply from the Empire, even during the seasons when the Empire can supply grape fruit. It is true that the Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs said that already we have an additional acreage under cultivation, but I should like to know, and we on these benches would like to know, how big is that increased acreage and what is going to be the likely result of the cultivation. Why not have a graduated scale of tax so that as the new Empire fruit comes into the home market we shall not be interfering with the price of fruit, because we should know exactly, or within certain limits, the amount of fruit that will be available from Empire sources. The same thing applies in the case of oranges and particularly in the case of apples. I do not want to go into the figures, but the position is similar. With regard to apples the result of the proposed tax will be that instead of paying 4d. a 1b. for the poorer class of apples the consumer will have to pay about 4¾d. That is a very serious thing for a woman or a man who has to weigh up the family income and ascertain how much they are able to purchase in the way of fruit.

Some people think that a good fruit supply is unnecessary but I think it will be agreed by most of us that fruit is a very valuable food and health-giving commodity and that conditions being such as they are amongst those who have small incomes their right to obtain fruit should not be interfered with, or should be interfered with as little as possible. Have the Government taken into consideration the very important fact that some hundreds of thousands of men are employed in the fruit industry? They are well paid, even hon. Members on the Labour benches will agree that the salary or wage of £3 to £4 for a fruit porter is a good wage in present circumstances. If the consumption of fruit in this country is substantially interfered with the numbers of these and other men who are employed in the industry will be depleted, more people will be thrown on to the Employment Exchanges and the result will be that, although no benefit can possibly accrue to anybody, we shall suffer not only through a shortage in supply but through a shortage in positions for men who are at present enjoying a decent livelihood. These matters are well worth consideration, and they should be considered now.

My hon. Friend said that every opportunity has been given to those who were concerned with the trade to put forward their point of view. I would, however, respectfully remind him that a letter was sent by a very substantial organisation in this country, an organisation which deals with some £8,000,000 worth of fruit annually—an organisation which ought to know and does know, its business and ought to receive some little consideration—asking that a member of that organisation who was conversant with the facts should be permitted to go to Ottawa, in order that he might be there consulted. That application was refused. Why? If it was necessary to consult someone, and obviously in this case it was necessary so to do—hon. Members on the opposite benches agree that it was necessary—why was not someone allowed to be present who understood the trade inside out and who would have been able to give the Government representatives at the Conference the benefit of his advice. He was not present. He was not allowed to go. The traders' organisation was not consulted. The consumers were not consulted. Those who are employed in the trade were not consulted. Consequently, we have these glaring errors, which are admitted on all sides to be errors.

I am a believer in the maxim that, "It is never too late to mend." If there is any useful purpose to be served by our discussions, and I do not agree with my hon. Friend opposite that we have no right now to amend a position in which it is clear that a mistake has been made, I respectfully submit to the Government at this stage that here is an opportunity of showing their bona fides if they honestly and definitely believe that the arrangement for amendment by mutual agreement is going to work, let them prove that that is so by immediately taking this matter in hand before they commit in legislation an obvious error and so assure the Committee that errors will be eliminated as and when they arise. Our view has always been that the Government will find difficulty in correcting errors on these tariffs once they have been made, because there are so many influences at work and so many sources to which they will have to go in order to put an error right. If we allow the error to go uncorrected now I am afraid that subsequent correction will become impossible. Here is an opportunity for the Government to show us that it is not impossible to put the matter right as and when it can be put right, without delay. In these circumstances we appeal to the Government and we can assure them that if they accede to our request and deal with these matters by accepting the Amendment they will have no further discussion from us on the question of fruit.


The hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) was interrupted by the hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. Williams), who asked him a question. The hon. Member for Westhoughton was unable to answer that question, but contented himself by saying that if the hon. Member for South Croydon would talk less he would think more clearly. It would be interesting to apply that principle to the case of the hon. Member for Westhoughton. I hold in my hands a copy of the most recent issue of the "Parliamentary Gazette," and I find that of the 615 Members of this House there are only three who have talked as much in this Parliament as the hon. Member for Westhoughton. I find that the House has suffered from him no less than 243 columns of the OFFICIAL REPORT since this Parliament started. In view of that unending stream of loquacity on every conceivable subject, I suggest that it would not be reasonable for the Committee to expect any very clear thinking from the hon. Member for Westhoughton this afternoon.

That fact may partly explain the extraordinary statement he made about employment. He said that, in his judgment, for every person who would be employed in selling fruit in this country as a result of these duties, 15 or 20 persons previously employed in handling foreign fruit would be unemployed. A moment's consideration of the circumstances show that the ultimate effect of these duties must be precisely the contrary, because in the case of fruit grown in this country, even when it has been grown, sorted and packed it has to be handled, just like imported fruit. There is all the additional labour employed in planting fruit, looking after it, picking it, sorting it and packing it. The effect of legislation such as this is exactly the reverse of that suggested by the hon. Member for Westhoughton.

I think it is broadly true to say that when this House is faced with a definite and concrete proposal designed to lead to further employment in the country districts, either in arable agriculture, in market gardening, whatever section of agriculture it may be, those proposals are always met by uncompromising hostility on the part of the Labour party They showed their opposition to the Wheat Bill and they are showing it today on this Bill. It is a curious thing that although we get this uncompromising hostility in the House and in Committee from representatives of the Labour party, when they go to speak in agricultural districts they sing a very different tune. Only a week ago my own constituency was favoured with a visit from the Minister of Agriculture in the Labour Government, Dr. Addison. He came to Colchester, and this is what he told us: Socialism is not Free Trade, and you cannot make it so. I do not believe in the degradation of our country labourer merely because a coolie in Malay will do the work cheaper than he will. 4.30 p.m.

That, of course, is precisely opposite to the arguments continually put forward by the Labour party. If hon. Members said in this House what they and their representatives say in the country it would be more helpful in the progress of legislation. The whole attitude of the official Opposition to this Bill is clearly shown in their desire to get away from a discussion of the concrete proposals before us in order that they may air their views on unemployment and describe in touching tones the sufferings of the unemployed, and should not be called upon to take any practical remedies.


I want to draw the attention of the Committee to the realities of these Agreements. It is all bunkum for the hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Lewis) to suggest that the amendments put forward by the Labour party show that they have not as much love for the Empire as hon. Members opposite. We have just as much feeling and regard for every part of the British Empire as any hon. Member opposite. I agree with the hon. Member for Stepney (Mr. Janner) that if the Government had taken some representatives who knew the intricacies of the fruit trade we should have had a different Agreement. That does not only apply to the fruit trade. The Government are proposing to put duties on various articles, which certainly cannot come from any of our Dominions in certain parts of the year. Many of the duties can only mean that the Government propose to raise revenue by taxing articles of food coming from foreign countries which cannot be supplied by the Dominions. We remember what occurred in connection with the Horticultural Products (Emergency Duties) Act. We pointed out what it would mean to the people in the North of England unless there was some adjustment in those duties? What happened? During the early summer we in the North of England had tremendous difficulty of getting fruit of certain kinds which were taxed in the Horticultural Products (Emergency Customs Duties) Act. We could not get cheap cherries and strawberries.

In these Agreements the Government are puffing a tax on fruit which cannot be supplied from the Dominions, and there is not sufficient grown in our own country during certain months of the year. It means that they are levying a tax on poor people and are driving a large number of families, who are dependent on small incomes, to the possibility of having to do without any fruit at all in their ordinary diet. The preserving manufacturers of this country last season could not get the fruit they needed for preserving, and in order to export to other countries. These Agreements, in many ways, will not bring any good to the fruit growing industry of this country and will be a levy on poor people who have to buy cheap fruit. There is no variation, according to the Schedules, of the duty to be imposed on pears and apples. This means that the cheap fruit which is eaten by the industrial population will carry the same duty as the splendid pears you find in the homes of Mayfair and which are bought by wealthy people. It has been suggested that our Amendments are of a wrecking character. I admit that we would like to see some of them go in that direction, because if this Bill goes through as it is it will wreck the country.

We are anxious to make some amendment on what, taking it as a whole, is a bad Agreement and which offers nothing to the people of this land. We are opposing the Bill and moving Amendments in order to point out the fallacy and injustice of the proposals. I am beginning to wonder whether there is not more in this Bill than the question of trading agreements with the Dominions. I am wondering whether there is not in this Bill the policy which was outlined by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the early part of this year in his Budget speech, and that this is an attempt to put on the backs of the poor people by indirect taxation a tax on food, and thus get money for revenue purposes, not for the development from any industry in this country.


The Debate has rambled a little from the subject of fruit, but the hon. Member for Hemsworth (Mr. Price) has brought it back to that issue. The hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. R. Davies) tried to arouse our fears by suggesting that we should lose more in distributive employment if the duties came into operation than we should gain in productive employment. He forgot that the primary object of the duties is not an increased production of these fruits in this country, but an increased production in the Dominions, and that the reaction should benefit our exporting industries to the Dominions. These dirties are, of course, some concern to British horticulturists. I interrupted the hon. Member for Westhoughton when he said that the existing duty of 10 per cent. has reduced the imports of fruit into this country. As usual the hon. Member is wrong, and if he will look at the accounts relating to trade and navigation for the month of September he will find that there has been an enormous increase in the imports of apples for the first nine months of this year as compared with last year and a large increase in the imports of bananas. It is true that the imports of cherries are down, but they represent a very small importation as compared with these other fruits. Oranges also are somewhat down. But if you take all forms of fruit you will find that the importation this year is greater than it was last year. The hon. Member for Stepney (Mr. Janner) has said that the existing duty has brought about deplorable results and that hundreds of thousands of fruit porters——


I must correct my hon. Friend. What I said was that there are hundreds and thousands of people engaged in the industry, including porters, who receive something between £3 and £4 per week in wages.


It is suggested that there are hundreds of thousands engaged in the distribution of fruit in this country, but if that is so the effect of the protective duty has not been to diminish consumption, and therefore the number of porters engaged has not been diminished.


The duty has not been in operation.


It has been in force since March last. Now we come to grape fruit, which is the piece de resistance of the menu which the hon. Member for Stepney put before us. It has not yet been fully established as an article of the proletarian diet. Let me point out that there is now in operation a duty of 10 per cent. on grape fruit. Has it produced the deplorable results suggested by hon. Members on the workers of this country? Are the constituents of the hon. Member for Hems-worth in grave distress because of this duty on grape fruit? Has he received a single complaint from any of his constituents? Of course he has not. What is the proposed duty we are now discussing? It is a specific duty. It raises the duty from 10 per cent. to 12i per cent.


It is the last straw on the camel's back.


The camel is carrying the present straw without any difficulty. The apple duty is a. very interesting one. When our crop is large our imports remain unaffected. The crop in this country increases consumption in July and August and possibly September, but that in no way affects our imports, which are largely during the remaining months of the year. In the main the duty on apples will not have much effect on our own production. In a good year the supply of apples we produce is rather larger than the supplies we import; but in a bad year they drop. The duty is really imposed from an Imperial point of view. The Dominion of Canada is our natural supplier of apples within the Empire. They are grown in three areas, in British Columbia, in the Niagara Region of the Province of Ontario and in the Maritime Provinces of Nova Scotia. The total production of these three areas is such that it could easily meet the whole of our requirements.


Has the hon. Member considered this point? Will he let us know the imports of January, February and March of last year, how they compare with the imports of America; and what the difference in the price is going to be?


I have a lot of information, but not all. I cannot remember offhand the imports month by month of every commodity. I am fairly good at remembering a number of figures, but I cannot remember them all. If the hon. Member will consult this blue document provided by the fruit growers, he will find the information there.


I have it.


Then if the hon. Member will do so, he can look it up while I am getting on with my speech. Let us come back to Canada. The position is very interesting. The United States is, of course, by far the largest apple-growing country in the world. In the United States the apple crop is very fluctuating. When there is a year of surplus that surplus is far in excess of the total Canadian crop. The result is that you get swept into this country an enormous quantity of apples from the United States. They are sold at any price at all, and they completely destroy Canada's opportunity of competing. The result is that Canadian apple production is always in a condition of complete uncertainty. If the Canadians were assured of a steady market there would be a larger production in Canada and a larger importation of Canadian apples than now, and the Canadian growers would be more prosperous. The present position is quite absurd as anyone who has had the privilege of visiting these three provinces—as I did, as a member of the Empire Parliamentary Association—must know. The other night the right hon. Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) said he could not understand why it was that cider apples were exempt. Anyone who has taken the trouble to study the subject would know that cider apples grow only in three countries—in this country, in France, which is more important, and in Spain to a less degree. Cider apples are not grown in any Empire country overseas. Therefore from the point of view of Imperial Preference it would be absurd to put a duty on them.


They are grown in Australia.


Not to any material extent. At any rate they have not been successfully exported to this country. Information which I obtained a year ago showed that there were only three countries where there was an appreciable production available for cider making in this country. In a normal year the production of cider apples in this country is about half our requirements, but in a bad year it is only about one-tenth. It takes longer to bring a cider apple tree into bearing than any other apple tree. If there is a duty on cider apples then as you have to obtain a larger proportion of your requirements from abroad, the consumer pays the duty. He does not pay the duty when there is an effective and expanding tax-free supply. That is why the Government have exempted cider apples.

When you come to pears you get a different consideration. In the case of pears there is large competition with the British production from certain near-by Continental countries, and the duty on pears will be of material assistance to the United Kingdom. The period of consumption of home-grown pears and pears from near-by Continental countries is from the end of July till the end of October. During the rest of the year there is the importation from overseas, and the whole of that could be quite easily supplied by Empire countries. Why not? In connection with bananas, there was a time when practically the whole of our supplies came from foreign countries, but very great progress has been made by the British West Indies, and they are now supplying 10 times the quantity that they supplied before the War. If we only give the West Indies effective encouragement obviously we can increase our supplies from the West Indies instead of drawing them from Central America, and the West Indies are very much better customers for our products.

With regard to oranges, I think there is some substance in the criticisms that we heard. In a document which some of us prepared a little over a year ago we recommended a duty of 5s. a cwt., compared with the 3s. 6d. in the agreement that we are discussing. The period we recommended was from 1st May to 31st October. The period in the Agreement is from 1st April to 30th November. In the existing circumstances this shorter period would have been wiser. I see no reason why the Government should not in due course represent to the Government of South Africa, the Dominion more particularly concerned, that it may be desirable to some extent to shorten the period for this special duty. During the rest of the year the 10 per cent. Import duty under the Import Duties Act will operate automatically. The principal Empire supply of oranges is from Palestine. Unfortunately, through the present interpretation under Mandate A under which we hold Palestine from the League of Nations, Palestine is regarded as being a foreign country for the purpose of most-favoured-nation treaties. I have always dissented from that interpretation. I think we are wrong. T think it is absurd that we should have all the responsibilities for defence and the preservation of good order in Palestine and yet be debarred from giving Palestinian products a preference, and that Palestine should be debarred from giving us a preference.

When we remember that Palestine is the largest Empire supplier of oranges it is rather a tragedy that at this moment we are prejudicing the future progress of Palestine to some extent. The matter calls for some examination, and I hope the Government will look into the point. I raised it in the discussion on the Import Duties Act. So long as Palestine is in effect part of the Empire I think Palestinian products ought to be treated in a different way. It is true that the situation is not quite as bad in respect of oranges as it might appear to be, because the bulk of the oranges are exported during that period to which this higher duty will not apply. Nevertheless the 10 per cent. duty still operates against the Palestinian orange. I am ventilating a legitimate grievance which exists both for this country and for Palestine through the interpretation of Class A Mandate.


There was a flaw in the argument of the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies), who made the point that these Agreements were all for the benefit of the Dominions and not for the benefit of anyone at home. Later the hon. Member produced a grouse that the Dominions were deporting back to this country people who had been in Canada for 20 years. He did not correlate those deportations with these Agreements. My argument is that if these Agreements are going to be of benefit to the Dominions, surely they are going to bring more employment to the Dominions, and that will mean an immediate end of any deportations.


I will deal straight away with a point raised by the hon. Member for Whitechapel (Mr. Janner), as to an application received by the Government from certain people interested in the fruit trade, that they should be allowed to send an adviser to help the British Delegation during the Ottawa Conference. That application was in fact that someone should go with the Delegation as an official adviser, presumably to be paid for by the taxpayer. Naturally it was quite impossible for the Government to take a host of advisers covering all the industries which might be concerned in the Ottawa discussions, and to do it at the expense of the taxpayer.


I am rather sorry that the Under-Secretary has put his reply in that form. It would have been mote appropriate to have mentioned that fact to the National Federation of Fruit Trade Associations, so that they might have considered whether in the interests of the trade or of the consumers, or both, they could overcome that difficulty. I am sure they would have done so.


My information is that a reply in that sense was sent to the federation at the time we received the application, that the reply to the federation was careful to point out that the Government were taking some official industrial advisers, and that the federation could send any information to and make any representations they might wish to these advisers so that their case might be considered fully. Furthermore, it was said many times in public during the summer that it was open to any federation or any industrial organisation in this country to send a representative to Ottawa at its own expense. I should have thought that that position was perfectly understood by the public generally and by the industries.


I should be much obliged if the Under-Secretary would do me the service of letting me have, at a later stage, the letter of reply which indicated what he has stated, because unfortunately the reply I have in my possession does not contain the facts which he is giving now. I would like to convey his statement to those who have given me the information from another source.


I have had the matter inquired into in the Department since it was raised to-day, and my information is to the effect that I have stated. It was public knowledge at the time, and everyone in the House knew, that industries and federations that were concerned were at liberty to send their own unofficial advisers to Ottawa at their own expense. I would like to draw the attention of the Committee to the comprehensive nature of the Amendment. It seeks to exclude from the Ottawa Agrements all reference to raw or fresh fruit. That would exclude apples, pears, bananas, oranges, grapefruit, plums, grapes, peaches and nectarines. As regards some of these fruits, there is no question at all either of the supplies coming into this country being interfered with or of retail prices to the consumer being raised.

5.0 p.m.

As regards some of these fruits, the consumers cannot possibly be at any disadvantage as a result of these Agreements operating. I was at pains to point out, when this subject was last discussed, that in the case of plums, for instance, the proposed new duty is to operate for a very limited period, during which almost our whole supplies come from South Africa. The operation of the duty is not intended to give South Africa any advantage against existing competitors, because in fact there are no existing competitors: but the duty has been put on in order to secure South Africa against any possible future competitors. The existing supplies, therefore, will not be interfered with, and there will be no change either in the quantity or the prices of those fruits coming in here. What applies to plums applies to certain other of the fruits covered by this Amendment. I take it, therefore, that although in some cases the consumer in this country cannot possibly lose by these Agreements, while the Dominions have a great deal to gain by them, nevertheless the Opposition would wish to exclude that kind of Agreement from our Ottawa deliberations. For that reason alone, it would be quite impossible for the Government to accept this comprehensive and sweeping Amendment.

In the case of certain other fruits the position is not quite the same. The case of oranges has been mentioned. It is true in that case that imports from South Africa, for instance, compete with foreign supplies coming to this country, and it is the deliberate purpose of the proposed new duty on oranges to enable our Dominion suppliers to compete more successfully against foreign importers. My hon. Friend who moved the Amendment said that the object of these proposals was to raise the wholesale price of these fruits. That is not the prime objective. The prime objective is not to raise the wholesale price, or we might have done something a great deal more drastic. The objective is to try to get for the Dominions a larger share of the existing market and it is on that matter of increased quantity, rather than increased price, that the Agreements concentrate so far as fruit is concerned.

One or two questions have been asked in the case of oranges. My hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. Williams) raised a point as to the dates in the Agreement and my hon. Friend the Member for Whitechapel (Mr. Janner) apparently assumed that the whole Committee agreed with him that a mistake had been made in that respect. He even included the occupants of the Front Bench among those who were, he suggested, ready to admit that a mistake had been made, and a ghastly mistake at that. The Government cannot admit, on the information given to them so far at any rate, that a mistake has been made in this matter. There is certainly some point in the criticism which has been made but, as against that, there is a certain reply to be given and I should like to tell the Committee what the Government had in view when they arranged that this preference should begin rather before the period when the supplies of oranges begin to come to this country from South Africa and Southern Rhodesia. The intention was to meet this situation. Supposing that just before the time when supplies from South Africa begin to arrive here in large quantities, foreign shippers brought enormous supplies into this country, kept them in cold storage for a period, and then put them on to the market, in competition with the South African oranges, a little later in the year—perhaps a few weeks afterwards. If that situation developed then obviously the preference which had been deliberately put on to help South African oranges from the moment that South African oranges begin to come into this country, would prove ineffective. By a sort of forestalling, the preference, for a period of a good many weeks, would be rendered ineffective to help the South African producer. That is the reason which persuaded the Government to agree to the dates which have been put into the Agreement and they cannot admit, therefore, that any mistake has been made in that matter.

On the question of grapefruit, my hon. Friend the Member for Whitechapel again seemed to think that we would admit without any argument that a great mistake had been made, in causing the proposed duty on grapefruit to operate throughout the year. He said that there were, I think, seven months in the year, or at any rate a good many months, when no grapefruit came into this country from the Empire at all. I am afraid it is the hon. Member who has made a mistake. It is true that grapefruit only come from South Africa during about five months of the year and that the original intention of the Government was to put an additional duty on just so as to secure that period of the market for South Africa. But then we were asked whether we could not do something to help the grapefruit which come to this country from the British West Indies and from Jamaica in particular. If my hon. Friend will look at the statistics published by the Empire Marketing Board of fruit supplies in 1931 he will find that there is not a month in the year in which supplies of grapefruit are not coming into this country from one part of the Empire or another.


I am sure the hon. Gentleman does not wish the Committee to come to any wrong conclusion. I have the actual figures here. In January, 1931, we imported from the British West Indies 3,000 cwts. out of a total of 45,000 cwts.; in February, 2,000 cwts. out of 51,000 cwts.; in March 4000 cwts. out of 52,000 cwts.; in April 1,000 cwts. out of 87,000 cwts. In May, we imported 1,000 cwts. from South Africa and none from the British West Indies out of a total of 94,000 cwts.; in June 11,000 cwts. from South Africa and 1,000 cwts. from the British West Indies out of 92,000 cwts.; in July, 19,000 cwts. from South Africa and 1,000 cwts. from the British West Indies out of 114,000 cwts. In August, 15,000 cwts. from South Africa and none from the British West Indies out of 67,000 cwts. In September 10,000 cwts. from South Africa, none from British West Indies out of a total of 81,000 cwts.; in October 8,000 cwts. from South Africa, 3,000 cwts. from the British West Indies out of 78,000:ewts. In November 1,000 cwts. from South Africa and 5,000 cwts. from the British West Indies out of 58,000 cwts., and in December none from South Africa and 14,000 cwts. from the British West Indies, out of 78,000 cwts


I am astonished at the interruption because if my hon. Friend was aware of those figures, I cannot understand how he came to tell the Committee a few moments ago that during seven months of the year no grape fruit came to this country from the Empire. Had my hon. Friend not interrupted, I was about to say that I did not want to mislead the Committee or to suggest that the quantities coming in from the West Indies during these other months of the year are always enormous. It is true, as I was going to point out, that the quantities during part of that time are comparatively small. But that is the whole point, as I have already said, of these preferential arrangements—that we should try to encourage greater imports from those parts of the Empire concerned and endeavour to give the West Indies in the winter months, as well is South Africa in the other months, a larger share in the market here for grapefruit. That is the main object of all these provisions as regards raw and fresh fruit.

My hon. Friend the mover of the Amendment suggested that all the advantage was going to the Dominion producer, and that people in this country were going to get no advantage at all. That is an argument with which we cannot possibly agree. We contend that if we could get for Dominion producers a larger share of our home market, then the purchasing power of those producers, for our goods going to their countries, under the preferential arrangements contained in other parts of these Agreements, would be increased. Moreover, as far as apples at any rate are concerned, this duty is going to help the development of apple production in this country, and is calculated to increase employment on the land in this country. That point has been dealt with very effectively by the hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Lewis) and it cannot be denied that our own people in this country are going to benefit, both directly and indirectly, by this part of the Ottawa Agreements. My hon. Friend raised one further point. He suggested that our canning industry was going to suffer under these, duties on foreign fruits. Whatever may be the complaints of this industry or that, the canning industry cannot complain about the Ottawa Agreements. It is true that a duty is put on against certain kinds of fruits coming into this country, but it is also true that in another part of the Agreements, our canning industry will receive a greater amount of Protection than hitherto, and that provision will more than make up for any possible disadvantage which might arise to the canning industry out of the matters which we are discussing at the moment. For the various reasons I have mentioned, the Government must resist the Amendment.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 53; Noes, 270.

Division No, 331.] AYES. [5.11 p.m.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South) Daggar, George Hail, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)
Aske, Sir Robert William Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Hall, George H (Merthyr Tydvil)
Attlee, Clement Richard Edwards, Charles Harris, Sir Percy
Batey, Joseph Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen) Hicks, Ernest George
Bernays, Robert Foot, Dingle (Dundee) Hirst, George Henry
Briant, Frank Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin) Holdsworth, Herbert
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur Janner, Barnett
Cove, William G. Grentell, David Rees (Glamorgan) John, William
Cowan, D. M. Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.) Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)
Cripps, Sir Stafford Grundy, Thomas W. Jones, J. J. (West Ham. Silvertown)
Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.) Tinker, John Joseph
Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Parkinson, John Allen White, Henry Graham
Lawson, John James Pickering, Ernest H. Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)
Logan, David Gilbert Price, Gabriel Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)
Lunn, William Rathbone, Eleanor Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)
Mabane, William Rea, Walter Russell
McEntee, Valentine L. Roberts, Aled (Wrexham) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
McGovern, John Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen) Mr. G. Macdonald and Mr. Groves.
Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot Thorne, William James
Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G. Eden, Robert Anthony Lennox-Boyd, A. T.
Albery, Irving James Edmondson, Major A. J. Levy, Thomas
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverpl, W.) Elliot, Major Rt. Hon. Walter E. Lewis, Oswald
Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd) Elliston, Captain George Sampson Lindsay, Noel Ker
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Elmley, Viscount Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe-
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Emmott, Charles E. G. C. Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hn. G.(Wd. Gr'n)
Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K. Emrys-Evans, P. V. Loder, Captain J. de Vera
Apsley, Lord Entwistle, Cyril Fullard Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander
Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover) Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare) Lyons, Abraham Montagu
Atholl, Duchess of Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool) MacAndrew, Lt.-Col C. G. (Partick)
Baillie, Sir Adrian W. M. Falle, Sir Bertram G. MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Fermoy, Lord McCorquodale, M. S.
Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J. Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)
Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell Flint, Abraham John MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)
Bateman, A. L. Fox, Sir Gifford McKie, John Hamilton
Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell Fraser, Captain Ian Macmillan, Maurice Harold
Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury) Fremantle, Sir Francis Making, Brigadier-General Ernest
Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th, C.) Fuller, Captain A. G. Manningham-Buffer, Lt.-Col. Sir M.
Bennett, Capt. Sir Ernest Nathaniel Ganzonl, Sir John Margesson, Capt. Henry David R.
Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B. Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John
Bird, Ernest Roy (Yorks., Skipton) Glossop, C. W. H. Meller, Richard James
Bird, Sir Robert B. (Wolverh'pton W.) Gluckstein, Louis Haile Merriman, Sir F. Boyd
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Goff, Sir Park Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)
Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton Goodman, Colonel Albert W. Mitchell, Harold P.(Br'tf'd & Chiew'k)
Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W. Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd, N.) Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)
Boyce, H. Leslie Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale
Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough) Graves, Marjorie Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres
Brass, Captain Sir William Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)
Briscoe, Capt. Richard George Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Grimston, R. V. Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.)
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E. Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff. E.)
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C.(Berks., Newb'y) Guinness, Thomas L. E. B. Moss, Captain H. J.
Browne, Captain A. C. Gunston, Captain D. W. Muirhead, Major A. J.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Munro, Patrick
Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie Hall, Capt. W. D'Arcy (Brecon) Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.
Burnett, John George Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Newton, Sir Douglas George C.
Burton, Colonel Henry Walter Hanley, Dennis A. North, Captain Edward T.
Butler, Richard Austen Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Nunn, William
Cadogan, Hon. Edward Hartington, Marquess of Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.
Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley) Hartland, George A. Palmer, Francis Noel
Campbell, Rear-Adml. G. (Burnley) Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M. Peake, Captain Osbert
Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm Heilgers, Captain F. F. A. Pearson, William G.
Caporn, Arthur Cecil Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford) Penny, Sir George
Castlereagh, Viscount Herbert, Capt. S. (Abbey Division) Perkins, Walter R. D.
Castle Stewart, Earl Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Petherick, M.
Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.) Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G. Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Chalmers, John Rutherford Hore-Belisha, Leslie Peto, Geoffrey K.(W'verh'pt'n, Blist'n)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston) Hornby, Frank Pickford, Hon. Mary Ada
Chorlton, Alan Ernest Leofric Horobin, Ian M. Procter, Major Henry Adam
Christie, James Archibald Howitt, Dr. Alfred B. Purbrick, R.
Clarry, Reginald George Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Pybus, Percy John
Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D. Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport) Raikes, Henry V. A. M.
Collins, Rt. Hon. Sir Godfrey Hume, Sir George Hopwood Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)
Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J. Hurd, Sir Percy Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)
Cook, Thomas A. Hurst, Sir Gerald B. Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)
Cooke, Douglas Hutchison, W. D. (Essex, Romf'd) Ramsbotham, Herwald
Cooper, A. Duff Inskip, Rt. Hon, Sir Thomas W. H. Ramsden, E.
Cranborne, Viscount Iveagh, Countess of Rankin, Robert
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.) Ratcliffe, Arthur
Crossley, A. C. James, Wing-Coin. A. W. H. Rawson, Sir Cooper
Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard Ker, J. Campbell Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)
Culverwell, Cyril Tom Kerr, Hamilton W. Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)
Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C. Kirkpatrick, William M. Reid, William Allan (Derby)
Davison, Sir William Henry Knatchbull, Captain Hon. M. H. R. Remer, John R.
Denman, Hon. R D. Knight, Holford Rentoul, Sir Gervais S.
Despencer-Robertson, Major.J. A. F. Knox, Sir Alfred Renwick, Major Gustav A.
Dickle, John P. Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.
Donner, P. W. Latham, Sir Herbert Paul Robinson, John Roland
Doran, Edward Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.) Ropner, Colonel L.
Duggan, Hubert John Leckie, J. A. Rosbotham, S. T.
Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.) Lees-Jones, John Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)
Dunglass, Lord Leighton, Major B. E. P. Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter
Runge, Norah Cecil Storey, Samuel Wardlaw-Milne, Sir John S.
Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham) Stourton, Hon. John J. Watt, Captain George Steven H.
Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart Strickland, Captain W. F. Wayland, Sir William A.
Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart Wells, Sydney Richard
Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D. Summersby, Charles H. Weymouth, Viscount
Savery, Samuel Servington Sutcliffe, Harold Whiteside, Borras Noel H.
Scone, Lord Tate, Mavis Constance Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby) Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)
Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Waiter D. Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford) Wills, Wilfrid D.
Smith, R. W.(Ab'rd'n & Kinc'dine, C.) Thompson, Luke Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Somervell, Donald Bradley Titchfield, Major the Marquess of Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor) Todd, A. L, S. (Kingswinford) Withers, Sir John James
Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East) Touche, Gordon Cosmo Womersley, Walter James
Southby, Commander Archibald R. J. Train, John Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Kingsley
Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L. Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement Worthington, Dr. John V.
Spencer, Captain Richard A. Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey) Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S`v'oaks)
Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde) Wallace, John (Dunfermline)
Stanley, Hon. O. F. C. (Westmorland) Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock) Sir Victor Warrender and Major
George Davies.

I beg to move, in page 2, line 8, after the word "agreements," to insert the words: (except in so far as they relate to linseed, cod liver oil, castor oil, linseed oil, coconut oil, ground-nut oil, rape oil, sesamum oil). When a similar Amendment was considered in this House a week ago, the Debate centred almost entirely upon the effect upon imported cod liver oil of the imposition of this duty instead of the general 10 per cent. ad valorem duty which was imposed under the Import Duties Act of 1930. The effect of this duty on invalids who have to take quantities of this oil was then impressed upon the House and quotations were taken from the "Lancet" to point out the effect that an increase in the price of this commodity was likely to have upon a number of the poorer people who have to take this oil. This medicine is in use in almost every working-class household in this country, especially where there are young children, and local authorities spend considerable sums in purchasing bulk supplies for hospitals and sanatoria. These authorities are concerned as to the increase in price which will result from this new imposition, and they consider that they ought not to be asked to pay an increased price for this commodity for the purpose of encouraging the cod fishing and cod liver oil industry in Newfoundland.

When this matter was last considered there was some controversy as to whether Newfoundland could supply the requirements of this country. It was then pointed out that of the 500,000 gallons of oil consumed in this country, about 20,000 came from Newfoundland and 475,000 from Norway. My hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. Williams), when it was pointed out that one-thirtieth of this oil came from Newfoundland, asked that the figures for 1928 should be given, and later he pointed out that in that year Newfoundland supplied just one out of 2½ times the requirements of this country. In any case, last year and at the present time, it is true to say that Newfoundland only provided something like one-thirtieth of the requirements of this country.

Mr. Gamble, a director of Messrs. Allen and Hanbury, a well-known firm, in a letter to the "Times," dated 8th October of this year, pointed out that his company had been manufacturers of cod liver oil since 1860 in this country and in Norway, and formerly in Newfoundland. He said: The quantity of medicinal cod liver oil produced in this country is negligibly small and cannot he increased to any considerable extent. He pointed out with very great force that the cost of production of cod liver oil in Newfoundland is much higher than in Norway, owing to surrounding circumstances, and he also said that Newfoundland cod liver oil is sold to the United States of America and Canada at a cost that is 50 per cent. higher than that of Norwegian oil in this country. The preference that we are discussing, arising out of the Ottawa Agreements, takes the form of a flat rate per gallon, equivalent, so Mr. Gamble said, to about 40 per cent. on the value of medicinal cod liver oil and about 60 per cent. on the lower grade used for animal feeding purposes.

I am not going to deal with the effect of this increased price, which, in our opinion, is inevitable, upon those children and adults for whose ailments doctors prescribe cod liver oil. That matter was very fully dealt with last Monday, but we shall take every possible opportunity of doing our utmost to prevent the enforcement of this duty. It may be called an imposition upon the invalid and the cripple, and the Government have no right to impose this duty upon that type of person for the purpose of encouraging or increasing the cod fishing and the cod liver oil industry in Newfoundland. There is another aspect dealing with the consumption of cod liver oil in this country which appears to be almost entirely overlooked, and that is the effect of this increased price on cattle feeding oils, for a very large quantity of this commodity is used for the feeding of cattle, poultry, and swine. It is the lower grade, the cattle grade, that is so used, and there is a considerable quantity which will have to bear this tax. The incidence of this tax upon large quantities is very striking. This duty represents 33s. 4d. on a 24-gallon barrel, or 53s. 4d. on a 40-gallon barrel. This cost will certainly have to be borne by the consumer or by the agricultural community, and with the National Government and the Conservative party priding themselves always as the friends of the agricultural interests, one is rather surprised that this aspect was not taken into consideration when this Agreement was being negotiated at Ottawa.

5.30 p.m.

The duty must result in an increase in the price of this commodity. The hon. Member for South Croydon on Monday last pointed out that the amount of duty was only 4d. a quart, as though that meant nothing. Fourpence a quart is 2d. a pint, and as 2d. will have to be imposed on every pint purchased, it must mean that a pint of cod liver oil will cost at least 2d. more than it formerly cost, before the 10 per cent. duty and this duty were imposed. In almost every protected country in the world, cod liver oil is admitted duty free, and we are the only country of any magnitude where there is a duty imposed upon it. Even the United States of America has no such duty, and I am rather surprised, as I say, that the Government should seek to impose it, simply to encourage, as my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade said, when replying to the Debate last week, what he considered to be a very hard-pressed industry in New- foundland. He and the Government are prepared to increase the duty upon those poor people who have to take this medicinal cod liver oil. The Amendment does not deal only with cod liver oil. It deals with linseed oil. I am surprised that my hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon is not present while we are discussing this Amendment, for if there is a high priest of Protection in this country, he is the hon. Member. It is strange because a little lower on the Order Paper the hon. Member's name is attached to an Amendment in which he asks that the duty shall not apply to linseed. Had he been present, we should have asked him to support our Amendment. My friends and I are concerned about the effect of this day. I have been looking through the returns, and I find that the amount of linseed imported into this country last year was something like 340,000 tons or thereabouts. Of that amount 312,000 tons came from the Argentine. Only 15,000 tons came from the Empire, and that was from India. In the first nine months of 1932, the Argentine imported into this country 263,000 tons, whereas British India sent only 5,000 tons and other countries 4,600 tons. There is thus a very large amount to be taxed for the sake of the very small amount which conies from British India.

I would like to know whether the Government took into account the likely effect of the taxation of linseed upon the industries in this country in which linseed is a large raw material. Take the linoleum industry. I have been informed that that industry is very largely dependent upon linseed. If that be so, did the Government take into account the possible effect upon it? It must be remembered that the linoleum industry is an important industry in this country and the one industry in which there has not been a large falling off in exports. For the first nine months of 1931 the exports were about 7,000,000 square yards. For the first nine months in 1932 the exports were almost equal to that amount. Other hon. Members are more competent to deal with the effects of this tax upon linseed than I am, and they are going to take part in the Debate, especially my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing (Sir F. Sanderson). I would like to read a quotation from the letter which was sent to the "Manchester Guardian" of the 22nd August this year by Councillor F. Till, who is actively identified with the seed-crushing industry in Hull. We must remember that Hull is the largest seed-crushing centre in the world, and Mr. Till is a director of the British Extractor Company, Limited. He said: It looks to me as though Dutch and foreign crushers of linseed will get a very big advantage over British crushers as they will be able to get their seeds from all over the world free of duty, while we in this country, to help India with her comparatively small crop, will have to pay full prices unless a considerable compensating duty is placed on landed oil from Holland. The consequences to Hull might be very serious. The Argentine shipments of linseed for the current year have been 1,376,000 tons as against only 46,000 tons from India, and the price of River Plate linseed has been £8 17s. 6d. per ton while Indian has cost approximately £11 a ton. I would ask hon. Members who want to see this industry encouraged to support us in the Lobby in this Amendment. I will not deal with the other oils which are mentioned in the Amendment. One could deal at some length with castor oil from the point of view both of its medicinal use and its use as a lubricating oil, the use of which is growing in this country as a result of the development of the aeroplane. That and the other oils ought not to be asked to bear this duty.


I find myself in a difficult position in rising to speak on this Amendment, because I consider that it is a mistake to put down an Amendment which incorporates both raw materials and manufactured oils. The Amendment includes linseed, which is essentially a raw material. We then have fish oil, which has no bearing whatever upon oil-bearing seeds, that is to say castor oil, linseed oil, coconut oil, ground-nut oil, rape oil, and sesamum oil. All these oils are crushed or extracted from oil-bearing seeds. I am against the Amendment so far as it includes oils because, as we are a manufacturing country, and one of the largest seed-crushing countries in the world, it naturally follows that the seed-crushing industry should be protected from manufactured oils coming into the country. The hon. Member for Aberdare (Mr. G. Hall) referred to castor oil. Let me inform him that practically all the castor beans grown in the world are grown in and exported to this country from British possessions. Therefore the tax on castor oil, while having very little effect, will be all to the advantage of this country.

With regard to linseed I want to give a set of figures to demonstrate the result of the 10 per cent. import duty imposed last March on the oil corning into this country. The result of the tax has been to give the linseed crushing industry of this country a great impetus. For once we have been able to see the possibility of crushing linseed in this country at a profit. That is due entirely to the fact that the imposition of a 10 per cent. duty has kept out the foreign manufactured oil. I will give a set of figures to prove this. In January of this year, 1,681 tons of linseed oil were imported. In February the figure was 5,123 tons. The duty came into force on 1st March, and it resulted in a considerable decline. In March the imports were only 740 tons; April, 113; May, 213; June, 405; and July, 230. The tremendous advantage which this country is securing owing to the imposition of that 10 per cent. duty will therefore be seen.

The main reason for my rising is to deal with the 10 per cent. import duty on linseed. Linseed, unlike linseed oil, is a raw material of the greatest importance in this country and the case for allowing linseed to remain on the Free List is unanswerable. The industry regards this imposition with dismay and considerable misgivings as to where it will finally lead. It will result in a large number of people being thrown out of work. Linseed is a raw material which is subject to crushing by hydraulic pressure and to an extracting process, the resultant products of which are linseed cake and linseed oil which are used for feeding cattle, and linseed oil which is used in connection with a large number of important industries. I want specially to point out that linseed is not grown in any quantity except in the Argentine and India. India is unable to supply the quantity required by this country. What is more important is that linseed grown in India is of an entirely different quality from the linseed grown in the Argentine. The oil extracted from it is of a different character; it contains a higher percentage of oil and it has a special value.

I can remember no time in the last 30 years, during which I have had some experience in this industry, when Indian linseed was at a price comparable with that of the Argentine. The linseed grown in India invariably commands a price of from 15s. to £2 a ton above that grown in the Argentine. I will quote the prices of linseed to-day. Anyone who cares to look at this morning's papers will see that the price of linseed delivered to London from Calcutta is £10 13s. 9d.; from Bombay, £11 16s. 3d.; whereas the price of linseed from the Argentine is £8 17s. 6d. per ton, or nearly 23 per ton more. It must be perfectly obvious to the Committee that Indian linseed does not compete, as it never has competed and under no circumstances ever will compete in price with that of the Argentine, because it is of a higher quality and contains a higher percentage of oil, and on that account commands a higher price in the world's market. Further, India is unable to grow the quantity of linseed that this country requires. India has never been able to supply this country with all it needs. Last year the total imports of Indian linseed amounted to less than 5 per cent. of the total quantity of linseed which we require and which was imported into the United Kingdom. In 1928 the Argentine exported 2,032,000 tons of linseed and India exported 173,000 tons. In 1929 the amount exported from the Argentine was 1,691,000 tons, compared with 254,000 tons from India. In 1930 the Argentine exported 1,249,000 and India 265,000 tons. In 1921 the Argentine exported 1,983,000 tons and India 114,000 tons. As to linseed exported to this country, in 1930 the Argentine sent 140,000 tons and India 74,000 tons. In 1931 the Argentine exported to this country 312,000 tons and India 16,000 tons. For the first six months of this year the Argentine sent here 167,000 tons and India only 3,800 tons. Therefore, it will be seen how dependent we are upon the Argentine for our supplies.

May I direct attention to yet another point? Linseed is one of the most delicate of the oil seed-bearing plants. Those who know anything about linseed or have travelled in India or the Argentine must know, by their own experience, that a whole area of linseed ready for cutting can be destroyed in half an hour. I am speaking with real knowledge, because, to my sorrow, I have seen tens of thousands of acres of linseed just ready for cutting completely destroyed—rendered quite valueless—in less than half-an-hour. I ask the Committee what is going to be our position if we allow this great industry here to be dependent upon India alone for linseed? Conversely, if we were to place ourselves unreservedly in the hands of the Argentine, and have no other source of supply to fall back upon, the position would be equally grave. The reason why linseed was put upon the Free List last March was that the Empire supplies were regarded as inadequate to meet British demands. There is no difference in the position to-day; indeed, there is more reason to-day why the proposed imposition should not be placed upon linseed from the Argentine. The figures which I have given show clearly that India is not in a position to meet our requirements. Where should we have been this year if we had had to put up with 3,800 tons only from India?

Under the arrangements made with the Dominions whereby preferences are to be given to them, there has always been a. proviso in other cases that the Dominion concerned could offer adequate supplies at world prices. That is not so with India and linseed. When we were discussing copper the other day the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that the duty to be imposed was accompanied by the express condition that Empire producers must be able to supply the needs of consumers in this country, and at world prices. Surely there is a ease for linseed to be put on precisely the same terms. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury, replying to the Debate upon wheat, said: Unless the supply from the Dominions allows the consumer to have wheat at the world price and in sufficient quantity he will not have to pay any duty on foreign wheat at all."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th October, 1932; col. 706, Vol. 269.] I would also refer to a speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely (Mr. de Rothschild) when he moved the following Amendment: In line 41, at the end, to add the words '(d) shall provide that any duty imposed under the provisions of the said Act shall be removed if at any time producers of the commodity affected by the duty are unable or unwilling to offer these commodities on first sale in the United Kingdom at prices not exceeding the world prices and in quantities sufficient to supply the requirements of United Kingdom consumers.'"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th October, 1932; col. 777, Vol. 269.] I submit that the terms of that Amendment would meet the case of the seed-crushing industry in this country, and, quite frankly, I can see no objection to such a provision in connection with any raw materials, because unless the Dominions and Colonies are able to assure us that they can give us the quantities we require and compete in the world market then, in so far as our raw materials are concerned, we shall become an importing nation of manufactured commodities instead of a nation importing raw materials and shipping the manufactured products abroad.

I do not want to weary the Committee, but this is a matter of so much importance that I feel it to be my duty to cover the ground fully. I do not think the Committee appreciate the fact that India has a duty of 25 per cent. upon linseed oil going into India. That means to say that while India can send her linseed oil into this country free, we are prevented from sending our linseed oil into India. With this new duty in force India will be able to an increasing extent to crush her own linseed, and will have a market here for her linseed oil and her linseed cake. At the present time India is shipping to this country something like 30,000 tons of linseed cake a year. Now we are going to make her a present not only of the opportunity of supplying this country with linseed cake, but also with linseed oil. If she has a free market here in which to dump her linseed oil she will be placed in an advantageous position to the detriment of our crushers at home. An hon. Member referred to cod liver oil and said there was no country of any importance in the world which imposed a duty upon it. I want to tell the Committee that there is no country in the world, including the high protective country of America, which imposes a duty upon the raw material linseed, nor has any country at any time imposed a duty upon this raw material.

What will be the result of the 10 per cent. import duty in this country? It will mean that the Continent, and in particular I would refer to Belgium and Holland, will be in a position to purchase linseed at the lowest world price, and having, as they have at their own doors, a ready market for the sale of their linseed cakes, they will be able to dump their linseed oil on our shores in spite of the 15 per cent. duty. If we are to pay 10 per cent. above the world price for linseed, how is it possible for this industry to remain on our shores? Obviously, we shall become an importing nation for manufactured linseed oil and linseed cake. The linseed crushing industry which employs thousands of hands and has a considerable bearing upon many other industries will be severely handicapped. Take the paint, linoleum and varnish industries alone. Our exports from this country have averaged approximately £5,000,000 a year during the last three years. Those industries will be severely penalised.

6.0 p.m.

In conclusion, I would like to say that I hope that my action in supporting this Amendment will not be interpreted as showing any lack of sympathy with India or Indian interests. That is far from my thoughts. I do so because I believe frankly, with my knowledge of the industry that this tax will be of no benefit whatever to India. I would go further and say that I cannot believe there is anyone in India who knows anything about the industry who would attempt to put up a case in favour of the imposition here of a 10 per cent. duty upon linseed. I would like to ask the Minister whether he could assure me that anyone at Ottawa representing the Indian Government with a full knowledge of this industry did in fact put up a case for this duty. I would like to know also whether there was at Ottawa anyone who knew anything about the industry at all, or whether there was anyone who was serving the interests of agriculturists in India. I say that, not because I have no sympathy with the agriculturists in India, but because I am convinced that the agriculturist in India knows his business so well that he would never ask for the imposition of a tax like this, which has no bearing upon India and which will not in any way assist her to compete in price against a lower class of seed, namely, the Argentine seed. If this imposition were withdrawn, it would not in any way be detrimental to Indian interests. If this were put to India through the right channels, I believe that India would agree that this tax is of no advantage to her, and that it should be withdrawn. I have not heard a single argument advanced in this Committee in its favour. From my knowledge of the subject, I submit that no argument can possibly be advanced.

I also say, with all due deference to my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade that throughout these discussions—and I think I have heard almost all the speeches that have been made on the Ottawa Conference—it is significant that neither he, the Prime Minister, the Lord Privy Seal nor the Chancellor of the Exchequer have, so far as I am aware, made any reference whatever to linseed. It is true that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade did make some reference to it, but while it is not possible for me to interpret any expressions which may fall from his lips. I must confess that I did feel that there was a certain amount of sympathy in those expressions—or, shall I say, from the expressions which he did not put forward, because I believe that he felt that his case was so poor that the quicker he got through the Debate and got the Division over, the better.

I should not feel that I was doing my duty unless I submitted to the Government the alternatives which are open to them to save this industry in its entirety. Obviously, the first is that linseed should be permitted to enter the United Kingdom free of any duty whatsoever, a position that it has always enjoyed in the past, and which, in every other country in the world, it enjoys to-day. The only other alternatives would be to prohibit the importation of linseed oil and linseed cake, or to impose a prohibitive tariff of probably about 35 per cent. If that were done, it would affect and prejudice seriously our export trade, unless an agreement were also effected whereby a drawback were given upon the products which were exported from this country.

I would submit that the Government should first consider very seriously whether it would not be advisable, in view of what I have said, that India should be approached to see whether or not they would be willing to accept the withdrawal of linseed. If I could have assurances from responsible authorities that India demanded this protection, I would say that we must consider the other alternative, namely, the imposition of a tax upon linseed oil and linseed cake imported into this country, with a drawback system on our exports. Failing that, we must resign ourselves to lose one of the most important industries in the United Kingdom.


On a point of Order. In view of the speech that has just been made, I want to ask whether it will be possible for the Committee to take a decision on this Amendment, as it stands. It embodies the raw material side by side with manufactured articles. It would he far better if the Amendment could be submitted in a way so that the voices of the Committee might be taken on the subject of linseed.

The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Captain Bourne)

That is no longer possible. If the question had been raised before the Amendment had been proposed from the Chair, it would have been possible, but the Amendment has now been proposed as a whole to the Committee.


We should be prepared to withdraw all the words that follow the word "linseed" in order to get a discussion on that subject, and a. decision.


I would like to point out that one hon. Member has already spoken on cod liver oil.


I think it would be better if the Debate continued as it commenced.


Anybody who listened to the speech of the hon. Member for Ealing (Sir F. Sanderson) could not but be convinced that he made out an unanswerable case. If we had a free Parliament where we could vote according to our consciences, or according to our reason, undoubtedly linseed would be omitted from the Schedule. No Ministers even bother to speak on this subject, and I do not blame them, because their hands are tied. They say, frankly, that it does not matter what the House of Commons does or says, however strong the arguments and however much it is proved that industries might be injured or the country as a whole suffer from some of the proposed duties. The duties cannot be altered. I have a great respect for the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade. Nobody questions his ability and capacity. He is convinced, I am sure of it, and I am sure that he is not going to try—I am certain that he will not succeed—to answer according to his convictions. [Interruption.] I have no doubt that his conviction is that the whole of these duties should be taken en bloc. Therefore he will have to resist Amendments. He is a member of the Government, and he has no right to do otherwise. He has none of that feeling of elasticity that some of my hon. Friends had. He will have to get up and put the best case he can against the expert and unanswerable case put by the hon. Member for Ealing, although the hon. Member spoke from real knowledge of the industry. I could have paralleled every word he said not in regard to one industry but in regard to several other industries. The hon. Member for Dunfermline (Mr. Wallace) made out a case for the linoleum industry. He said, when we were discussing this matter in the early hours one morning last week: Linseed oil crushed from Argentine linseed is our biggest and most expensive raw material."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th October, 1932; col. 766; Vol. 269.] He said: "My industry must suffer": but the interests of India were at stake, so he willingly offered his industry at the altar of Ottawa.

I have taken the trouble to ask other persons interested in the linoleum industry, persons I regret to say who were not quite so jingo, shall I say, as my hon. Friend the Member for Dunfermline. They pointed out to me that they are large employers of labour and that this tax must seriously jeopardise the interests of their trade. They had to look after their interests and they believed that they have no right, in order to wave the Union Jack, deliberately to sacrifice the wellbeing of an industry which is, like every other industry, going through a very hard time, and is suffering from severe competition in neutral markets, competing with countries that have the advantage of untaxed linseed. We have no right to put this imposition, for such it is, on an important industry.

Then there are the interests of the paint and varnish trade. They are large trades with factories scattered all over the country, competing in neutral markets with untaxed raw material and with other countries manufacturing similar articles. The exports of prepared paint in 1931 ran into £1,000,000. Paints in the form of colour and powder were £750,000; varnish, 2500,000; and linoleum £1,750,000. These are very big interests. If we were a Parliament doing our duty to our constituents, we would not sacrifice them without explanation being given to us of what happened at Ottawa to persuade the Government to make this concession to India. I quite agree with the hon. Member for Ealing that no case has been made out to put this tax upon such a big industry in order to help India. I am the last person to do anything to jeopardise Indian interests. I understand that our delegates were very busy at Ottawa and had to find some article to tax in order to give a preference to India. Probably at the last moment, after hours of discussion, this article was singled out.

During these Debates, English agriculture seems to have been sacrificed. Nobody seems prepared to put up a really strong case, but there is a very strong case for the users of cattle cake. There is very little protection for agriculture in these proposals. We are selecting an article that will indirectly impose a tax upon agriculture through the increased price of oil cake. I think this Committee should say clearly to the Government that Parliament was elected for the one purpose of looking after the interests of the people as a whole, and that we are not entitled lightly to neglect those powers.

These are not duties that are being made for one year, like an ordinary tax. They are not for next year or the year after, but they are duties for five years. Parliament's hands are tied for five years. There will be more severe competition because of the tax, and people will be thrown out of work. We shall have to say to India: "We are very sorry, but this is an agreement with the Dominions, and this duty cannot be removed." Last March this article was deliberately put on the Free List. After long discussion, it was decided that an unanswerable case could be made out for its being on the Free List. That being so, unless the Parliamentary Secretary can show very good reasons—I hope he will put forward a very much stronger case than he did on the last occasion—the House of Commons should show that it is a free House, that it is not tied, but is able to use its discretion, and, even at the risk of worrying the Government and sending them back to Ottawa, should decline to assent to this proposal.


I listened with very great attention to the robust eloquence of my hon. Friend the Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris). He is always prepared to give his services in the interests of the oppressed and downtrodden, and he has not failed in that role this afternoon. [Interruption.] It does him great honour. I want to correct one misapprehension on the part of my hon. Friend. It is perfectly true that I spoke in the Debate on this subject last week, but I want to emphasise the fact that at that time I spoke as an individual Member of Parliament, and not as representing any trade interest whatsoever. It is very important that I should state that point of view, because it was certainly inferential in my hon. Friend's observations that I was speaking as representing here a certain industry, and I wish to disabuse his mind of any idea of that kind. I also listened to my hon. Friend opposite with the greatest possible interest. He spoke with expert knowledge which certainly is not at my disposal on this very important question, and I was very much impressed with the case that he stated to the Committee. His attitude of mind now is very much what my own attitude was when I first read the Ottawa Agreement. That, again, I explained to the House last week.

What caused me to change my opinion—I may have changed it wrongly, but I adhere to what I have said—was the existence of compensating elements on the other side of the Agreement. I am not prepared to say for a moment that this concession on linseed is going to do the Indian linseed trade any particular good; that, possibly, is a matter more for my hon. Friend than for me; but it was a message at least, which the Indian delegation could take to Indian agriculturists, that certain concessions were now being granted and there was a chance for the further development of the linseed industry in that country. What did we get in exchange for that? If I am rightly informed, we have got, for the first time in the history of our relations with India, an economic preference on a very wide range of commodities, which possibly will mean—I must not mention any figure—a very large increase indeed in the export of manufactured goods from this country to India. I believe that that will be the case. But I do not view without concern the suggested effect upon the linseed trade in this country which was outlined in my hon. Friend's speech. That is more or less what is in my own mind, but the trouble is this, that, so far as I understand the Ottawa Agreement, it is signed, sealed and delivered, and we have no chance in this House of making any alteration whatever in that Agreement. [Interruption.] I do not know whether the cheers behind me are cheers of approval or otherwise, but, at any rate, if they indicate indignation, it appears to be a very good-natured kind of indignation. In any case, we are up against that hard fact, and I believe in making the best of things as they are. For that reason I wish to mention in a very definite manner a subject which I raised last week in connection with this tax upon linseed—it has already been referred to by my hon. Friend opposite—and that is the question of a drawback upon goods exported from this country. My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary will recollect that he omitted to answer my question upon that subject last week——


Entirely by accident.


I am quite sure that it was entirely by accident, but I should like to have the answer to it, if I may be allowed to say so, in a somewhat specific manner. This duty on linseed makes this country practically the only country in the world in which a duty has to be paid upon linseed. We, as manufacturers, are competing in the neutral markets of the world with foreign countries like Germany and America, where no duty whatever is paid upon linseed, and, if we are to maintain our export trade, it is essential that we should be protected against our competitors who are in a better position by means of a drawback upon the content of linseed oil in any particular export consignment. I do not think it is quite enough for my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to tell me that machinery is in existence which possibly can be harnessed to this particular Measure. I should like to see a definite Clause in the Bill providing for a drawback. Otherwise, while I accept this Measure as being the best that can be done in the circumstances, it is perfectly hopeless if we neglect the interests of our export trade, and I most seriously and earnestly urge my hon. Friend to make such representations as will make it possible for a new Clause to be introduced into the Bill when it finally comes before the House of Commons.


In rising to support this Amendment, I propose to confine my remarks to cod liver oil. I would like to assure the Committee that I do not propose merely to reiterate arguments which have been used on this subject before, but rather to deal with suggestions which were put forward when the matter was discussed at a previous stage. It would be impertinent of me were I to congratulate the hon. Member for Aberdare (Mr. G. Hall), but I would like to say that I associate myself with everything that he said on the question of the rise in the price of cod liver oil, which, as we see it, must follow the Agreement which is being embodied in this Bill. We on these benches feel particularly keenly in regard to this matter, because it was under a Liberal administration, just before the War, when my right hon. Friend the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) was President of the Local Government Board, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) was Chancellor of the Exchequer—it was under that Liberal administration, which did more for progress and for the working people of this country than any other Government has ever done in this country, that the infant welfare centres and clinics were put upon their feet, and when a grant of half their expenses was made by the Treasury. We know how much they depend upon cod liver oil, and what an enormous quantity of it they use, and we are extremely sad that this Measure, going back upon that action, should be piloted through the House of Commons by one who bears the name of Liberal.

It was suggested on a previous occasion that all the supply of cod liver oil that this country needs could be produced within the Empire. The two sources, presumably, within the Empire were Newfoundland and this country. With regard to Newfoundland, it may be true that the quantity can be produced. I am not going to reiterate all that was said before as to the quality of that oil, but I would just remind the Committee that its quality is utterly unacceptable to the British market in view of its most unattractive taste, its smell, and its discolouration. With regard to the possible production in this country of a sufficient quantity to meet the market, it was admitted by those who put forward that suggestion that British trawlers which at present bring livers to this country to be boiled have not as yet installed the necessary apparatus——


Some have.


But not in any quantity that matters to this House—they have not installed the necessary apparatus for boiling livers in the boats sufficiently near to the catching to make the oil fit for medicinal purposes. Therefore, even on that argument, there must he some delay, and, while that delay continues, there roust be some restriction of the supply in this country. I submit to this Committee that any restriction, however problematical, however slight, would be something which the Committee would be very well advised to avoid.

If I may say so, when representatives. of the Government are dealing with criticisms of this Bill, and particularly criticisms directed to show that the price of a given commodity would rise, their-usual formula has been to say, "Oh, but the rise will be insignificant." It would appear that absolutely no regard has been had to the aggregate effect if there are heaps of small rises in prices, and it seems also to be quite forgotten that a time of falling prices is also a time of falling wages, and that small things in the aggregate mount up very considerably. In this particular case, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade came forward with the rather surprising answer that he had no evidence-that the price of cod liver oil in this country would rise. With what neophytic zeal he is carrying through his duties in the House! Surely it would have been very much more appropriate for even a former Free Trader to have striven to show that there was no evidence that the price would not rise.

It must be perfectly plain—I state this categorically—to every Member of the House that the price of this article will rise. I state that dogmatically. There is evidence before almost every Member of the House, that the price is at the present moment rising. I should like to bring to the notice of the Parliamentary Secretary a particular case. It concerns a place in a Parliamentary division which I think will not be unknown to the Foreign Secretary, with whom the Parliamentary Secretary is not unconnected. At Cleckheaton, in the Spen Valley division, there is actually this notice in the co-operative store—an organisation which exists for no other purpose than to put before the people in that part of the country the goods they need as cheaply as they can be sold. The notice is as follows: Your attention, please! As the result of the Ottawa Conference, Norwegian Cod Liver Oil has greatly advanced in price. We, in anticipation of this increased price, purchased before the increase considerable quantities of new season's Cod Liver Oil, which we can offer to our members at the old price. 6.30 p.m.

Ordinary business prudence has been exercised by those responsible for that store. I would draw attention to the fact that already the price has very materially increased. [HON. MEMBERS: "Where?"] In this country, and there is a perfectly good example of in the Spen Valley Division. I should like the Parliamentary Secretary to deal with that point. He talked in the previous stage of the discrepancy between the wholesale and retail price, but he absolutely failed to show how it is that the increase in first cost should suddenly snake the middlemen wish to accept lower charges for their services. It would be extremely to the point if he would say how this is going to take place. By just putting a tax on the raw material, how will it take place that there will be in any way a decreasing of that discrepancy? Surely all experience is exactly to the contrary, and that a profit is required even on the duty. I ask hon Members not to walk through the Lobby as mere machines without any power of thought. I know many Members who have considerable power of thought, and I have no doubt at all that they have been exercising that power recently and must know of the ill effects of this proposed Measure upon people who really cannot afford to suffer any more. I ask them to consider very seriously before walking through like so many automatic machines, had they not better vote against the Government if the Government are not prepared to make any concession?


I hope the Committee will forgive me for returning from cod liver oil to the proposed duty on the raw material of the seed-crushing industry—linseed. I am sure all Protectionist Members will agree with me that it is entirely contrary to all the practice in Protectionist countries, which have the advantage of scientific tariffs, to put duties upon raw materials, and in proof of that we have just been told, what I personally knew before, that there is no other country in the world that puts a duty upon this raw material. Therefore, we are handicapping an industry which has an export trade of over £3,500,000 a year. That same industry is not handicapped in any other country and therefore it is not surprising that those of us who are Protectionists should from the Protectionist point of view, object to this duty just as much as those who are Free Traders. It appears to me that the disadvantage to British industry is out of all proportion to any possible advantage that can be gained by the Indian linseed growers.

The amount of linseed imported from India is almost trifling. It amounts only to about a twentieth part, and it is clear that, by putting a 10 per cent. duty upon the nineteen-twentieths of our imports, we are going to raise the price of the raw material by practically the whole amount of the duty. If we do that, the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) says, "What about the farmers?" Will not someone say something from the point of view of agriculture as to the effect of this upon linseed cake? I do not think there is going to be any very immediate effect upon the price of linseed cake, because the rest of the world which is crushing linseed is necessarily making linseed cake as well as linseed oil, and already has a surplus of linseed cake for export to this country, although we are making linseed cake at present out of the untaxed raw material. Last year I understand that the importation from foreign countries, mainly the United States and India, was in the neighbourhood of 80,000 or 90,000 tons and, as all the rest of the world will still be using a tax free raw material, there will be plenty of competition between other countries and the real effect will be that we are going to kill the home industry which is at present supplying a very large part of our farmers' supplies and hand it over to our competitors abroad.

It may be asked, "If you feel so strongly about it, if you feel that this is from the point of view of Protectionists a stupid tax, how can you justify voting for it, or not voting against it?" But, however much we dislike it, we have to look at it as part of a complete scheme. I beg the Under-Secretary, however, to consider very seriously the question of the effect upon this export trade—and it is a very important one, over £3,500,000 a year—not counting anything that we may export in linseed cakes—linoleum, paints and varnishes. In that alone we are liable to sacrifice, because we enormously handicap our industry, either the whole or the major part of it, and we can only get out of that in the way the hon. Member for Dunfermline (Mr. Wallace) suggests, by a drawback equivalent to the whole effect of the duty and, if it is to be a drawback only upon our main exports of these manufactured articles like linoleum and linseed oil, it will not really undo the whole of the mischief, because there is still the question of the linseed cake, which is almost entirely consumed at home, and we shall get no drawback on that linseed cake which goes to feed the animals in our own agricultural industry which is at present so terribly hard hit by foreign competition.

I do not believe that my main proposition will be disputed from the Front Bench, that this is a stupid tax which we should never have dreamt of imposing either as Free Traders or Protectionists, and it is bound to injure our interests. We put it on as a sop to placate Indian feeling and induce a friendly attitude to our exports of other things. We know that all the representatives of India at Ottawa were able to tell their compatriots when they got back that they bad not made a single concession which could injure any Indian interest, so why was it necessary for our delegates to make a concession which may possibly destroy a very important trade?


I want to endorse as strongly as I can the appeal of my hon. Friend who has just spoken, the hon. Member for Dunfermline (Mr. Wallace) and the hon. Member for Ealing (Sir F. Sanderson), that some steps should be taken by means of a drawback to deal with the very serious situation which may otherwise arise in the important manufacturing industries which are based upon linseed. Among the miscellaneous enactments that are applied to the Bill is Section 9 of the Finance Act, 1932, under which it is open to any industry to make application to the Import Duties Advisory Committees for a scheme whereby a drawback may be applied in certain circumstances. That Section, together with Sub-sections (4) and (5) of this Clause, make it clear that the Import Duties Advisory Committee can examine the duties on an application for a drawback. But the Import Duties Advisory Committee is overwhelmed with work at the moment. An enormous mass of applications has gone to the committee, which was inevitable in the early days, and it is very much overworked, and it is obvious that in the ordinary way any application must have to wait a considerable time before it can be examined unless exceptional steps are taken and, as what we are now doing is not a normal process for the purpose of protecting British industry but is for the purpose of developing Imperial trade, and outside our ordinary industrial Protection, I think it is the plain duty of the Government to take some more prompt step than that represented by Section 9 of the Finance Act.

It is not adequate and not fair to an important manufacturing industry to have the matter left in the position that an industry shall submit a scheme, if it is approved the Committee shall make a recommendation to the Treasury and then, if the Chancellor of the Exchequer approves, the Lord Commissioners will sign the necessary order. Many weeks or months will elapse before that pro- cedure has been gone through in existing circumstances. If the duty had been running for three or four years, the matter might be different, but at this moment the Committee is overwhelmed with work and it is not right that we should prejudice a very important manufacturing industry by delay. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to make the strongest representation to the members of the Cabinet, whose absence I again deplore, even though I know how preoccupied they are, that this matter shall be dealt with by a new Clause either in Committee or on Report. I think its importance justifies it.

With regard to cod liver oil, I did not hear the speech of the hon. Member for Aberdare (Mr. G. Hall), because I was refreshing myself with the Ceylon product. I understand he reproved me for my absence and I apologise to him. The hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Mallalieu) said he was not going to repeat old arguments. He had a very good reason for that, because the arguments he produced last time were so bad that it was obviously necessary to produce better ones. He discussed the question of boiling cod livers on trawlers and implied that that was not done. I have here an interesting descriptive leaflet of an important cod liver oil factory at Aberdeen that was founded in 1904. It says that livers are collected from the fishing boats and inshore trawlers and boiled for the production of North Sea cod liver oil. That is one sort of production. Considerable quantities are always boiled on trawlers while at sea with special boilers of Allen and Hanbury's design. There is a definite declaration by one of the most celebrated firms that they are, in fact, doing that which the hon. Member for Colne Valley says is not done. They boom this and say what good cod liver oil it is. They draw attention to its merits and to the report of the Empire Marketing Board of the merits of North Sea cod liver oil.

We are told by the hon. Member for Colne Valley that Newfoundland oil is -not good enough for the purpose. Let us come down to it. Two or three years ago Professor Drummond, of University College, London, and Professor Hilditch of the University of Liverpool, were invited by the Empire Marketing Board to make an authoritative report on supplies -of cod liver oil in the British Empire. In page 114 of this report its authors wrote as follows, and I hope that all hon. Gentlemen who have spoken on this subject will take very careful note, and not least the members of the Cleckheaton Co-operative Society: At the present moment, a considerable proportion of the cod liver oil sold in this country is of relatively low medicinal value, largely because the pharmaceutical trade has a preference for the pale oils—mainly of Norwegian origin. In some cases, these oils are sold with a guarantee of vitamin activity that is virtually worthless, as the figures or 'units' given are often based on unreliable methods of testing. This is the oil which the Liberal party want us to consume. Now I come to the cod liver oil which the hon. Member for Colne Valley condemns. In pages 124–5 these scientific gentlemen, who have really been intimate with the subject and have not merely considered it for the purpose of this Debate, state their conclusion: Of the oils from the important cod areas studied, those from Newfoundland were found to be of richest vitamin potency. Next in order of merit come those of Icelandic origin. The oils from Scotland were found to be intermediate in value between the rich Newfoundland oils and the much poorer class of oils of Norwegian origin. In view of authoritative statements like that, it is really time that that section of the Liberal party which is opposing this Bill should abandon the vote-catching device of trying to terrify electors by saying that the health of their children is going to be imperilled. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) started it, but he has had the good grace to drop it since he found out that his information was not too accurate. [Interruption.] The right hon. Gentleman says that he has not dropped it. He has avoided any subsequent reference to it, but his less able followers go on talking. Followers are always a little out-of-date compared with their leaders, for they always go on repeating something which their leaders have given up. I really ask them to drop it. It is not creditable to a party with great traditions that they should bring before the House and the country information of such little accuracy as that which has been produced on the subject of cod liver oil.


It is with great trepidation that I dare follow the hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. Williams), but really one would imagine that the last word had been said on the subject of cod liver oil. I assure the Committee that there are many sides to this question, and that it is feasible to look at more than one of them. One would imagine from all the talk about the kind of oil which is being produced in British factories, and the amount which can be produced by British factories and on British ships, that there would be no difficulty at all about an adequate supply of the finest quality of cod liver oil. As a matter of fact, only about 150 tons of oil are produced from British sources altogether.


The census of production for 1930 published by the Board of Trade a few months ago reveals from one section alone a production of 2,000 tons for that year.


That may be so, but the figures of the Board of Trade relating to the home production of cod liver oil include oils from various kinds of fish and fish livers, and all of it is called cod liver oil. The greater part of the oil which is dealt with in the figures of the Board of Trade is not used for medicinal purposes. It is used for dressing leather. There is a very good reason for that, because it is impossible for human beings to take it. The reasons for that were given very adequately in the Debate last week. The geographical reasons and the question of weather and climate were dealt with very adequately on that occasion. If we have to rely entirely upon the home production of cod liver oil, we shall be in rather a had way, and similarly if we have to rely to any increasing extent for medicinal purposes on the use of Newfoundland oil. I have in my hand a letter dated 17th October from one of the largest firms of chemists not only in this country but in the world in which they say: As regards this firm, our experience has been that the British public will not have the Newfoundland cod liver oil owing to its strong taste and odour. These people do not manufacture cod liver oil but sell it. They know broadly what the public want, and the characteristics of the Newfoundland cod liver oil. They say that the British public does not want it. If, on the other hand, we are to follow the advice of the hon. Member for South Croydon in regard to the possibility of producing a sufficient supply in this country, there is one firm which he mentioned whose name is known equally well by every member of the Committee. It is the name of Allen and Hanbury. They, in company with Messrs. Southall Brothers and Barclay, Limited, two of the biggest firms in the trade, would not be very likely to have gone to the trouble of erecting factories in. Norway in order to produce Norwegian cod liver oil had there been any possibility of their doing it adequately in this country or Newfoundland. The fact remains that they have done so, and that these two British firms are producing Norwegian cod liver oil, which will be taxed if these proposals go through in their present form.

There was a good deal of interruption and doubt when my hon. Friend the Member for Nine Valley (Mr. Mallalieu) mentioned the question of a rise in price. One can adduce all kinds of arguments to support the view that prices may rise or that prices may not rise, but I have here trade circulars issued to those who purchase cod liver oil for various purposes. One advertises the finest Norwegian.cod liver and the price of 4 ounce bottles is 6s. 3d. per dozen. This circular was issued at the end of September. Another circular to the trade is dated 24th October, 1932. It says that they are about to place on the market Newfoundland cod liver oil which will be supplied in three sizes. The four-ounce bottles are 13s. 6d. per dozen, as compared with the Norwegian cod liver oil of the finest quality at 6s. 3d. per dozen. The producers or sellers of the Newfoundland oil probably know something about their own business, and they are not going to attempt to put cod liver oil, which we have been told by big chemists the British public do not want, on to the market at a retail price of 13s. 6d. per dozen, if the Norwegian oil, which the public do want., can be put on to the market at 6s. 3d. per dozen bottles, plus the duty and the profit on the duty, which we must not forget, arid which will probably amount to 10s. per dozen or something slightly less. I felt that it was only right, after the speech of the hon. Member for South Croydon, that I should bring these facts to the notice of the Committee.


I want to bring the Committee back to linseed. I am not going to enter into a controversy with my hon. Friend the Member for Barnstaple (Sir B. Peto), but there was one passage in his speech regarding these Agreements where he seemed to show a certain amount of disparagement of the value of what has been done at Ottawa with reference to the trading Agreement which we have made with the Indian Government. In looking at the question of linseed we have to have regard for the whole of the picture. I think that it will be found that what India is doing for this country is by far the most important part of the whole of the Ottawa Agreements. For the first time India is giving us Imperial Preference. I believe in the Ottawa Agreements. The value which we are receiving for our manufactures is of far greater importance than any of the other Agreements which have been made. I believe that we shall have an opening among the hundreds of millions of people who live in that great Empire which will bring us a very great volume of trade and provide employment for our people. It is for that reason that we should give India some advantage in regard to linseed which they produce. It should not merely be looked at as a single item and I appeal to my hon. Friends not to look at the matter in this way.


The Committee have listened to a very full and interesting Debate upon this Amendment, which relates to eight miscellaneous subjects. Of those eight, in spite of my elaborate preparations, only three of the articles have been referred to in the Debate—cod liver oil, castor oil and linseed, and by far the greater time of the Committee has been spent in referring to linseed. No possible complaint is made, because the subjects of this Amendment are undoubtedly of exceptional interest. The hon. Member for Aberdare (Mr. G. Hall), who moved the Amendment in a most temperate and reasoned speech, made reference to ad valorem calculations of duty, and referred to the duty on cod liver oil as being, in certain circumstances, 40 per cent. and on another quality of oil, 60 per cent. I only want to say to the Committee on the ad valorem figure generally that we are passing through a period when there is an extremely low price level, and consequently it is possible by arithmetic to make the duty appear to be a very high ad valorem figure. That is quite a fallacious argument, because the existing price level is far too low.

The hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Mallalieu) contrived to render even a discussion on cod liver oil extremely entertaining, and his observations related chiefly to price. Other speakers have followed on the question of price. I should like the Committee to appreciate again, as I said on the Report stage of the Resolutions, that the ordinary method under which medicinal cod liver oil is sold in a retail chemist's establishment is in an eight-oz. bottle. Taking the duty at the level proposed by the Ottawa Agreements it would work out at a penny on an eight-oz. bottle, but there is no reason why the cost of a penny on an eight-oz. bottle should be passed on to the retail price at all. Including the duty, the cost price of the oil is 4d. per eight-oz. bottle, and this is sold over the counter at ls.6d. There is no reason apparent why the Id. per bottle which would be the arithmetical calculation of the duty should be put on to the retail price. There is plenty available from the profits of those concerned in the industry that its addition to the retail price of 1s. 6d. could not reasonably be justified.


Will the hon. Gentleman give an undertaking on behalf of the Government that steps will be taken to see that no addition to price is made?

7.0 p.m.


The hon. and learned Gentleman knows perfectly well that I can give no such undertaking. The Members of the Committee are susceptible to the arguments based on the figures I have given. With regard to the price of the other type of oil, veterinary oil, used in cattle feeding, it must be borne in mind that cod liver oil forms only part of the total food ration for poultry and animals, and we are advised that the additional burden will be very small so Far as the individual farmer or poultry keeper is concerned. Reference was made by the hon. Member for Ealing (Sir F. Sanderson) to castor oil, and he pointed out how large a percentage of the imports of that oil already come from within the Empire. The Committee will know that effective competition with that Empire product is solely from Belgium, and the idea of this particular duty is that some portion of that trade which goes to Belgium should be diverted to Empire channels.

We now come to the question of linseed, and we have had a very powerful speech from the hon. Member for Ealing. The Government are prepared to have the fullest possible inquiry made into a subject matter of so important a material as linseed oil. The discussion to-day is welcome, and the hon. Member's knowledge of the subject is appreciated, but he, on his part, will understand that the Government have advisers equally versed in the industry and all that belongs to it. The first question put was whether there was any demand for this duty from the Indian delegation, and if any pressure had been exercised for this 10 per cent. duty on foreign linseed? Not only did the Indian delegation press repeatedly for this particular duty, but their expert advisers were in this country for some weeks prior to proceeding to Ottawa; so Indian representatives who called here, and their experts, before proceeding to Ottawa had been demanding a duty. Representing the agricultural classes they knew what they wanted, and wanted it firmly. That is the reply to the specific question which has been put.

I am sure the hon. Member with his knowledge of the industry will recognise that linseed is different from fruit trees which have to be planted for a number of years before they yield fruit. There is nothing to prevent a crop of linseed being sown where it is desired in India. There are no climatic or other reasons why the export of linseed from India should not very enormously increase. In the figures which he gave he showed that the Argentine crop in one year was approximately half the crop in the previous year, and was nearly double the crop in the following year. He mentioned how the crop is subject to storms and other damage. The hon. Member will accept my assurance that it is possible for India, if she is so minded, to produce enormously more linseed than she does at present.

The question is: Has she the inducement to do so? Is there adequate inducement? Is the linseed problem understood by the Indian peasant and the agricultural community? The figures for the total Indian crop and export make interesting reading. I have them for every year from 1900 to 1932. The possibility of linseed has been nothing like exhausted. It is a crop which does not require any particular skill in sowing. It is a crop peculiarly suited to the Indian peasant. It can be grown almost anywhere in India. It requires very little artificial fertilisation in India for a big crop to result. It is thought that a duty will stimulate a vastly increased crop. The hon. Member has called attention to the difference in quality between Indian and Argentine linseed. The difference in quality is partly through greater oil content and partly through the much more rapid drying qualities which the linseed oil possesses. If it were to be only a slightly increased crop, there would be no very considerable advantage to India, but if India increases her crop very largely indeed, then there is no reason why we should not take a very large percentage of ordinary linseed from India and so take a proportionately less quantity from the Argentine.


Does my hon. Friend realise that the crushers of this country have been, and always will be, prepared to take all the linseed that India can possibly spare; that India has no occasion to compete in price with Argentine linseed because Indian linseed is invariably worth more than Argentine linseed for the reason already expressed, namely, its higher oil content. It is worth £3 per ton more than Argentine linseed to-day and therefore there is no question of its competing in price against the Argentine.


The argument that India will never be able to do something is rather reminiscent of Canute. There will be a ready sale for the Indian seed if the increase takes place. But in fact with the increase of output the premium would disappear. If India is going to put on the market linseed in a quantity wholly out of proportion to that which she has produced and exported in recent years she will not long be able to obtain the high premium between Indian linseed and Argentine linseed. There is no suggestion that the large crop which the Argentine grows should not be available. We are endeavouring to make a difference in price to offer inducements to the Indian producer; to give encouragement to the Indian peasant, to grow a crop within his ability to grow and which this country is willing to absorb.

What would be the effect on our industry? I have been asked by many hon. Members to realise the effect which a duty on linseed coming from foreign countries would have so far as crushers are concerned, and so far as other industries are concerned. I appreciate that Holland and Belgium are to be able to buy Argentine linseed free, and we are to pay a duty. The crusher is to some extent disadvantaged, but we must not forget that under the Ottawa Agreements there is to be an increase in the duty on linseed oil from 10 to 15 per cent. The answer to the question as to the effect on the export trade in linoleum, and the effects on varnish, is that these can all very largely be dealt with by an adequate drawback system. Drawback with regard to export trade is not a new idea. It is provided for in the Acts dealing with the Customs and, expressly, under the Import Duties Act, as altered by the Finance Act of 1932. In the very Bill we are now discussing power is taken to apply the Sections of these relevant Acts to the duties in this Bill. The hon. Member will find it on page 4 of the Bill, lines 1 to 6. These show that the provisions and enactments set out in Part 3 of the Second Schedule are to apply to the duties being imposed under this Bill.


Will it be necessary for the interests concerned, who are applying for a drawback, to go before the Advisory Committee, because, if so, we should have something expressly in this Bill dealing with the matter.


Under Section 9 of the Finance Act of 1932 it is necessary for the matter to be referred to the Import Duties Advisory Committee. If it is necessary to set up a drawback system for the paint, varnish and linoleum trades, it may obviously present some difficulties. There may have to be administrative regulations worked out to see how far that can be done for the protection of the industries, on the one hand, and the revenue on the other. For that reason, it is desirable that matters of this kind should be referred to the Committee, and the procedure of Section 9 should be followed.


There will be the process of the seed being converted into oil, and into linoleum and paint. Is there any precedent for a drawback under those conditions?


There are a number of precedents for drawbacks where there are composite articles; where an article on which duty has been paid is worked up into an article of which it forms only part. I imagine there is no insuperable difficulty in tracing seed which has paid duty, which has been crushed into oil, and the oil used in manufacture. I hear words that it is quite impossible. In preparation for this Debate, I have made inquiries and I am given to understand that it is not impossible. It is an administrative matter which will certainly receive proper attention.


Will the hon. Gentleman give an assurance that when these duties are imposed these industries will obtain a drawback?


The hon. Member clearly understands that I cannot give any assurance. I say, immediately, that any danger to the export trade which uses as a raw material linseed oil can, as I sec it, be overcome by drawback provisions. I have said that the setting up of machinery for applying these drawbacks is not impossible. I have said that under this very Bill we are now discussing the drawback provisions of the Import Duties Act and the Finance Act are applied to these very duties. In this Debate, a strong demand has been made that a drawback should apply to these particular articles. Can I go further than that; is it reasonable to ask more? There are other stages of this Bill and in the interval the matter can be looked into to see if a more definite assurance can be given.


Is it not a common practice in the case of duties which may injure industries within the country that the duty and the provisions of drawback are contained in the same Act so that Members who vote for the duty know exactly for what they are voting?


It is precisely because it is common practice that I suggest it is not an exceptional matter that requires a special Clause. In this Bill care has been taken by the draftsman to apply to this duty the common form of drawback provision applicable to other duties. May I mention how coffee and chicory are inexplicably mixed, but there is no difficulty in regard to the drawback? I mention that fact merely to show that these matters are being met by custom, which is capable of being put into practice in regard to these duties, and steps are being taken to see that it is.


What I am anxious about is the time that it will take. It is not common practice. The Import Duties Act made no provision for drawback of the kind we are considering. It was my representation more than that of any one else that led to the insertion in the Finance Act of Section 9, which has only been applied in one case, cotton textiles, and that after many months. This is a much more serious matter, and we want some guarantee about it. I do not know whether it is going to take the Committee five or six months to give the necessary protection to the exporting trades, but before we part with this Clause, we ought to get some assurance from a Member of the Government.


If the hon. Member really expects me to give him the time that I think it will take to apply for a drawback in any particular case, he has obviously asked for something which is completely unreasonable. I understood him to ask what time would elapse between the application for a drawback, and its being granted. It is obviously impossible in the Committee stage of the Bill to give anything more than a hazard but the importance of the matter has been raised in this Debate and hon. Members must be very nervous of the effect of their own advocacy if they think that the precedent for this procedure will not receive proper attention.


The Minister must remember that this is the only opportunity we have of dealing with the matter. We cannot go before the Tariff Advisory Committee and make recommendations. Therefore, it is not asking too much when I say that this matter ought to be considered again, and a new proposal brought forward which can be tabled before the House on the Report stage of the Bill.


I think the hon. Member has given the appropriate answer to his own argument. He started by saying that this is the only opportunity for raising the matter, and then he invited me to do something fresh on the next stage of the Bill. I am perfectly prepared to say that the whole matter of drawback shall be considered between now and the next stage. The only other point with which I wish to deal arose out of the speech of the hon. Member for Ealing (Sir F. Sanderson) as to the effect on the seed crushing industry of the proposals contained in this Clause. I can only say that those industries are immeasurably better off since March of this year than they were before. The import duty of 10 per cent. on foreign linseed oil has provided that stimulus, and I could give the Committee instances of crushers who have moved their factories from the Continent to this country under the stimulus of that duty. If that has been the effect of the duty of 10 per cent. on linseed oil, I think the Committee might draw the conclusion that an increase of from 10 to 15 per cent. will probably have no less a stimulus. I must ask the Committee to reject the Amendment.


The hon. Member for Luton (Dr. Burgin) cannot get away with it as easily as that. I would ask the attention of the Committee exclusively to the problem of linseed included in this Agreement. It is, I understand, the object of the proposal to give some advantage to the Indian Empire, and we who oppose it are told that we are against Indian interests. The hon. Member for Luton told us that there was a strong demand from India for its inclusion. Who made that demand I We hear a lot about the Indian delegates. Who chose the delegates? They were not the elected representatives of India. They were the nominees of the Viceroy, and already their proposals have been seriously criticised by those who claim to represent India. Sir Purshotlamdas Thakurdas, a very influential Bombay business man, and in many senses a. man of moderate views, has repudiated the whole Ottawa Agreements and says that there is no permanent advantage in them to India. Therefore, I think we can say that no danger whatever is involved in this Amendment of widening the breach between ourselves and India.

The hon. Member for Luton made no attempt whatever to answer the argument that the linseed crop in India is comparatively small in contrast with the Argentine crop, which is the main source of the world supply. He says that the production of Indian linseed can be increased, but how long will it take? He mentioned that it would take less than it takes to grow an apple tree. I believe that it takes four or five years to grow an apple tree. While the new Indian linseed crop is growing, where are we to get our linseed except from the Argentine, which will be at an increased price? Indian linseed is already more expensive than Argentine linseed. It fetches £1 to £2 a ton more than linseed from the Argentine. The new duty of 10 per cent, will raise still further the price of the linseed. We can make that argument in the Committee for the first time without Conservative interruption, because the case has already been given away by the hon. Member for Barnstaple (Sir B. Peto). I am very glad to find myself, for the first time, in agreement with the hon. Member for Barnstaple, but I do not understand the reasons why he is not going to extend his co-operation with us to the Division Lobby.

The hon. Member for Luton has admitted in Committee on the Financial Resolution that the price will be raised. That is a serious business for our manufacturers. This affects the raw material for the paint and varnish industry and for the petroleum and oil group, which last year exported manufactured products of the value of £1,700,000. The hon. Member for Luton can give us no guarantee whatever that a drawback system will be introduced. He says that he is not in a position to give such a guarantee. Why is there not a Cabinet Minister present to give such a guarantee? Why is the Committee treated with this gross discourtesy by leading members of the Government? What is raw material? It is a commodity which comes

in here in order that British capital and British labour may be expended upon it. Any restriction on a raw material impedes the flow of British capital and the employment of British labour.

How often have I heard that very argument from the lips of the hon. Member for Luton. I see sitting next to him his old opponent in Hornsey (Captain Wallace). I wonder how often he repeated that argument in the Hornsey election. I have sat on the same platform as the hon. Member for Luton and I have enjoyed his sallies at the expense of the Protectionists. How often has he driven home, with all his weight of eloquence, this raw material argument. I wonder what the hon. Member for Luton thinks of that argument now. I know what I think of the hon. Member for Luton, but I cannot state it within the bounds of Parliamentary decorum. This raw material argument appealed to a man even greater than the hon. Member for Luton, Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, who, in his classic Tariff Reform campaign, specifically exempted raw material from the scope of taxation. It appealed in the case of linseed to those who regard themselves as the legatees of Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, members of the present Administration. The Government specifically placed linseed on the Free List, Why is it removed now? The hon. Member has made no answer of any kind to that question. I hope that hon. Members not merely of the Liberal party and the Labour party, but of the Conservative party, will back up their opposition to this duty in the Division Lobby.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 61; Noes, 260.

Division No. 332.] AYES. [7.28 p.m.
Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir Francis Dyke Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen) Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South) Foot, Dingle (Dundee) Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)
Aske, Sir Robert William Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin) Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George
Attlee, Clement Richard Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur Logan, David Gilbert
Bernays, Robert Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan) Lunn, William
Briant, Frank Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.) Mabane, William
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) McEntee, Valentine L.
Cove, William G. Groves, Thomas E. McKeag, William
Cowan, D. M. Grundy, Thomas W. Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot
Cripps, Sir Stafford Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton) Milner, Major James
Curry, A. C. Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Nathan, Major H. L.
Dagger, George Harris, Sir Percy Parkinson, John Allen
Davies, David L. (Pontypridd) Hicks, Ernest George Pickering, Ernest H.
Davies, Edward C, (Montgomery) Hirst, George Henry Price, Gabriel
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Holdsworth, Herbert Rathbone, Eleanor
Edwards, Charles Janner, Barnett Rea, Walter Russell
Evans, David Owen (Cardigan) Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields) Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)
Rothschild, James A. de Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. David Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)
Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen) Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Joslah Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)
Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A. (C'thness) White, Henry Graham
Tinker, John Joseph Williams, Edward John (Ogmore) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Mr. John and Mr. G. Macdonald.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Falle, Sir Bertram G. Marsden, Commander Arthur
Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G. Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John
Albery, Irving James Fox, Sir Gifford Meller, Richard James
Allen, Sir.J. Sandeman (L'pool, W.) Fraser, Captain Ian Merriman, Sir F. Boyd
Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd.) Fuller, Captain A. G. Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.)
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Ganzonl, Sir John Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Gillett, Sir George Masterman Mitchell, Harold P.(Brtf'd & Chisw'k)
Apsley, Lord Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)
Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover) Glossop, C. W. H. Mitcheson, G. G.
Atholl, Duchess of Gluckstein, Louis Halie Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)
Atkinson, Cyril Goff, Sir Park Morning, Adrian C.
Baillie, Sir Adrian W. M. Gower, Sir Robert Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.)
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Graves, Marjorie Muirhead, Major A. J.
Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell Greases-Lord, Sir Walter Munro, Patrick
Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell Greene, William P. C. Nall-Cain, Arthur Ronald N.
Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th. C.) Grenfell, E. C. (City of London) Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.
Bennett, Capt. Sir Ernest Nathaniel Grimston, R. V. Newton, Sir Douglas George C.
Batterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B. Gunston, Captain D. W. Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)
Bevan, Stuart James (Holborn) Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. North, Captain Edward T.
Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Hall, Capt. W. D'Arcy (Brecon) Nunn, William
Blindell, James Hanley, Dennis A. O'Connor, Terence James
Borodale, Viscount Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry O'Donovan, Dr. William James
Bossom, A. C. Hartington, Marquess of Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.
Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton Hartland, George A. Palmer, Francis Noel
Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W. Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Pearson, William G.
Boyce, H. Leslie Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M. Penny, Sir George
Bracken, Brendan Heilgers, Captain F. F. A. Percy, Lord Eustace
Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough) Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford) Perkins, Walter R. D.
Brass, Captain Sir William Herbert, Capt. S. (Abbey Division) Peters, Dr. Sidney John
Briscoe, Capt. Richard George Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Petherick, M.
Brocklebank, C. E, R. Hore-Belisha, Leslie Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Hornby, Frank Peto, Geoffrey K.(W'verh'pt'n, Bliston)
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C.(Berks., Newb'y) Horobin, Ian M. Power, Sir John Cecil
Browne, Captain A. C. Howard, Tom Forrest Procter, Major Henry Adam
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Howitt, Dr. Alfred B. Pybus, Percy John
Burghley, Lord Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Raikes, Henry V. A. M.
Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport) Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)
Burnett, John George Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries) Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)
Cadogan, Hon. Edward Hurst, Sir Gerald B. Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)
Calne, G. R. Hall- Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H. Ramsden, E.
Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley) Iveagh, Countess of Rankin, Robert
Campbell, Rear-Adml. G. (Burnley) Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.) Ratcliffe, Arthur
Caporn, Arthur Cecil James, Wing-Com. A. W. H. Rawson, Sir Cooper
Cassels, James Dale Jamieson, Douglas Ray, Sir William
Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.) Jesson, Major Thomas E. Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)
Chalmers, John Rutherford Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan) Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N.(Edgbaston) Ker, J. Campbell Reid, William Allan (Derby)
Clarry, Reginald George Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose) Remer, John R.
Cobb, Sir Cyril Kerr, Hamilton W. Rentoul, Sir Gervais S.
Collins, Rt. Hon. Sir Godfrey Kirkpatrick, William M. Renwick, Major Gustav A.
Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J. Knatchbull, Captain Hon. M. H. R. Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.
Cook, Thomas A. Knebworth, Viscount Robinson, John Roland
Cooke, Douglas Knight, Holford Ropner, Colonel L.
Courtauld, Major John Sewell Knox, Sir Alfred Rosbotham, S. T.
Courthope, Colonel Sir George L. Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)
Cranborne, Viscount Latham, Sir Herbert Paul Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.
Craven-Ellis, William Leckie, J. A. Runge, Norah Cecil
Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle) Leighton, Major B. E. P. Russell, Hamer Field (Shef'ld, B'tslde)
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Lennox-Boyd, A. T. Rutherford, Sir John Hugo
Crossley, A. C. Levy, Thomas Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)
Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard Lewis, Oswald Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Culverwell, Cyril Tom Liddall, Walter S. Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart
Denman, Hon. R. D. Lindsay, Noel Ker Scone, Lord
Dlckie, John P. Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe- Selley, Harry R.
Donner, P. W. Loder, Captain J. de Vere Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Duckworth, George A. V. Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)
Duncan. James A. L. (Kensington, N.) Lyons, Abraham Montagu Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)
Eastwood, John Francis MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G.(Partick) Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.
Eden, Robert Anthony MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr) Slater, John
Edmondson, Major A. J. McCorquodale, M. S. Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.
Elliston, Captain George Sampson MacDonald, Rt. Hn. J. R. (Seaham) Somervell, Donald Bradley
Elmley, Viscount MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw) Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.
Emmott, Charles E. G. C. McKie, John Hamilton Spencer, Captain Richard A.
Entwistle, Cyril Fullard Macmillan, Maurice Harold Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde)
Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare) Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)
Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool) Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M. Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
Everard, W. Lindsay Margesson, Capt. Henry David R. Storey, Samuel
Stourton, Hon. John J. Todd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford) Wills, Wilfrid D.
Strickland, Captain W. F. Touche, Gordon Cosmo Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)
Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Summersby, Charles H. Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey) Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Sutcliffe, Harold Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull) Wise, Alfred R.
Tate, Mavis Constance Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock) Withers, Sir John James
Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby) Wardlaw-Milne, Sir John S. Worthington, Dr. John V.
Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford) Warrender, Sir Victor A. G. Wragg, Herbert
Thompson, Luke Wells, Sydney Richard
Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles Weymouth, Viscount TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Thorp, Linton Theodore Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay) Mr. Womersley and Commander
Titchfield, Major the Marquess of Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.) Southby.

I beg to move, in page 2, line 8, after the word "agreements" to insert the words: (except in so far as they relate to copper). This is a very important Amendment and I think it is a great pity that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is absent from his place on the consideration of a proposal which so nearly affects his own constituency and the City of Birmingham. Indeed, throughout the whole of these Debates the members of the delegation to Ottawa have run away from the discussion just as they ran away from Mr. Bennett and the Wall Street financiers, whom he and his clique represent. The Chancellor of the Exchequer when speaking the other night about copper said that there were enormous technical difficulties. There are. The proposed duty on copper will about double its price, and that will not be very satisfactory to the users of copper here. If electrical cable makers and other users of copper have to pay twice as much for their raw material in competition with other copper users abroad who get their copper tax free, it will hamper the British exporter of manufactured articles in which popper is used, and it will be no answer to put forward the argument, advanced just now by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade, that a. duty is not high if the price is low. I should like to see the hon. Member addressing an audience of Income Tax payers and using the argument that the Income Tax is not very high because their incomes are very low. It would be interesting to watch the result on them and on him.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer used two other arguments in regard to the question of copper. He admitted that Canada was not able to supply all the electrolytic copper that we used, but that Canada in the future might be able to do so. At present she is not. As far as fire-refined copper is concerned he said that it was impossible for the Empire to supply it. Therefore, one half of the supply the Empire cannot supply and the other half Canada is not able to supply at the present moment. What is going to happen? The duty on copper is imposed on condition that the Empire supplies it at the world price. What is the world price? The Chancellor of the Exchequer admitted that he did not know; and apparently there is no world price of copper It varies according to the different metal markets. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that in order to fix a world price for copper the producers and consumers are meeting together to hammer it out; not the copper but the world price for copper. I want to know how far they have got in their hammering and whether they are hammering the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the price of copper.

What will happen if they do not arrive at an agreement as to the world price of copper; and if they do agree how much money will go into certain people's pockets by this arrangement amongst themselves as to what the world price for copper is to be? It is important that we should know. One thing is clear, and that is that the Government are in a state of complete confusion about this question of copper. I suggest that when they went to Ottawa they had no intention at all of putting a duty on copper. What has happened is that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has sacrificed the interests of Birmingham to the blustering and hectoring of Mr. Bennett. I wish that his distinguished father had been alive and gone to Ottawa instead. He would not have taken it lying down. That statesman would very quickly have put Mr. Bennett in his place and on his back. I can well understand that at the present moment the copper users of Birmingham are saying with regret: "One crowded hour of glorious Joe is worth an age of Ottawa surrenders."


I beg to second the Amendment.


I should be obliged if the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, who I understand is going to reply, will answer a few points Which I think will be of interest to the Committee. When I looked at my Order Paper this morning I expected to see an Amendment to regularise the position of copper in the name of the Government, and I conclude that as they have not put down such an Amendment they propose to accept the present Amendment. In fact, as the President of the Board of Trade said the other day, they have given up, after weeks of experiment and after the reception of their proposal, any idea of taxing copper. The President of the Board of Trade in his speech last Thursday made it perfectly clear that the British Delegation did not adequately examine the question of copper before they went to Ottawa, or at Ottawa, and it is after they have come back and been met with universal reproach by the users of copper in this country that they have decided to act and set up a committee, the composition of which it will be interesting to learn, of users and producers to guide them as to what action they should take. That is a most extraordinary omission, because copper is a most important raw material.

The world production of copper is approximately 1,500,000,000 tons, and of that amount about 150,000,000 is used in this country; that is about 10 per cent. of the whole copper production of the world. Therefore, it is a vital raw material for British industry. Of that copper approximately two-thirds is what is called of electrolytic quality. As to the non-electrolytic copper, I do not think we need have the least fears about the remaining one-third. The Dominions are able to produce substantial quantities of electrolytic copper for our use of the quality required, but when we come to Bessemer and fire-refined copper there are insuperable difficulties; there is not produced inside the British Empire copper of the requisite quality. No amount of protection of any sort will ensure that the Empire shall provide the copper-user with copper, Bessemer or fire refined, containing a lower degree of tungsten. I gather, that in some specifications the quantity provided for is as low as 1 to 1,000 parts, but the general rule seems to be that five parts to a 1,000 is a safe quantity of tungsten to be present in Bessemer and fire-refined copper which is used for such things as copper plates and tubes, and so forth, used in shipbuilding, engineering and housebuilding, and in every conceivable sort of thing in which electrolytic copper is not used.

We are, therefore, face to face with the fact, as the President of the Board of Trade recognises, that there is an impasse as regards non-electrolytic copper. It cannot be produced in the Empire in sufficient quantities or of the right quality. The President of the Board of Trade, finding himself faced with these difficulties, has done a very remarkable thing. First of all he assured us in his speech on Thursday that when the British Delegation were at Ottawa they only agreed to a duty on copper subject to the condition that users and producers were equally safeguarded. In fact that is not so and could never have been so, because although the alleged safeguards as regards world price and quantity are there, there is no proviso as to quality. Therefore the Government will find themselves in the very curious predicament of having to acknowledge that they cannot, without the greatest injury to the industry in this country, enforce a proposal to tax copper, one of the main proposals in the Ottawa Agreements.

If that is the ease, what becomes of the argument that it is impossible to change anything in this Bill? I understand, from what the President of the Board of Trade said on Thursday, that he proposes to make a very vital change indeed, and proposes to make it on the authority of a joint committee whose report we have not seen. He said that the joint committee would report on 5th November. The Debates upon the Ottawa Bill in this House will have finished before then, and I think it would be to the interest of the House if the Financial Secretary could see his way to give us the conclusions at which this joint committee of copper users and producers have arrived. If it is the intention of the Government to withdraw this duty, we are entitled to know precisely upon what ground and upon whose advice they propose to do so, because this joint committee is not mentioned at all in the Ottawa Agreement. It is an ad hoc body. There is no provision in the Agreement that such a joint committee shall be set up or consulted, or still less that its advice shall be taken. It seems to me a most extraordinary thing that the Government should be willing to withdraw one of these taxes on the advice of such a committee, and yet when it was faced with equally cogent arguments upon linseed from Members of all parties, the House should be told that nothing that the House can do can alter these Agreements in any shape or form.

There is another point I wish to put to the Financial Secretary. I hope he will forgive me for saying that I hope we shall get a more satisfactory reply on the question of the world price of copper than we had on the question of the world price of wheat on Friday last. As the hon. Member for Broxstowe (Mr. Cooks) said, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to arrive at an agreed price for copper. Prices vary in different markets, and they vary as regards different qualities of copper and countries of origin. I understand that the joint committee which has been set up is to make recommendations to the Government as to what shall be the "call" of the world price, and as to what "first sale" is to mean. If they are really going to define these things in terms of the copper trade we shall have the Government taking action upon very curious grounds indeed.

I am informed on what I know to be right authority that in fact the dealings of copper buyers in this country are carried on in the following way: The copper that they buy from abroad is bought at the market price, minus what is known as a returning charge, a secret drawback given by the supplier to the buyer. Are the Government going to take account of these returning charges in estimating the world price? If they do not take account of these returning charges, obviously they are going to give the Empire producer a very unfair advantage. If the world price is going to he calculated upon some kind of arbitrary amalgam of all the quoted prices in the newspapers, and the returning charges are not to be taken into account, the Empire producer will be able to say, "I have offered copper in the British market at the world price as defined by the Board of Trade." I am informed that up to the present the Empire producers of electrolytic copper have not been willing to make returning charges to the trade as foreign suppliers have done.

The whole of this argument depends really upon what the Government are going to tell us about the recommendation of this joint committee, and upon what action they are going to take in response to it. I see nothing in the Bill which enables the Government to discriminate between two qualities of copper. In the Bill the word "copper" appears; there is no difference specified between Bessemer or fire-refined and electrolytic. If one follows the Chancellor of the Exchequer one would believe that they were going to impose a tax immediately upon electrolytic but not upon Bessemer and fire-refined. If one followed the President of the Board of Trade one would believe that they are going to suspend the operation of the tax upon both or all sorts of copper until some unknown day when the Empire producers are able to supply adequate quantities of all qualities. What are the Government going to do? Under what Clause in the Bill do they propose to discriminate between one kind of copper and another? Secondly, are they facing the fact that it is a question principally of quality and not of quantity with which they have to deal?

This Committee has been treated with some degree of disrespect by the Government. I do not say it has been deliberate, but I think that more attention should have been paid to the very weighty arguments which have been put forward against the imposition of some of these duties. In particular I think that, irrespective of parties, the whole Committee would have been glad to have had more complete and definite answers than they have received, really adequate explanations of the grounds upon which the Government are taking action in specific places. I hope that in this case we shall hear from the Financial Secretary to the Treasury a reasonable explanation of why the Government are taking action, upon what grounds and upon whose advice, and upon what Clauses in the Bill they say that they are justified in taking the action which they propose to take.


My hon. Friend the Member for Broxstowe (Mr. Cocks) spoke in the spirit of one who was desirous of learning and my hon. Friend who has just sat down spoke in the spirit of one who was capable of teaching. I am ready to recognise the "expertese" which he has in this subject. I shall do my best to answer all the questions put to me. I have no desire to evade any questions put on this or any other occasion. The Agreements provide for a duty on foreign unwrought copper of 2d. a pound, that is to say on copper in its raw material state, to be used by other industries—the cable making industry, the electrical industry and the brass industry. Clearly the Government would not have undertaken to put this duty on foreign imported copper unless they were satisfied that resources existed in the Empire for replacing what now comes from abroad, and unless they were satisfied that the users of copper would get what they require, not only in ample quantity but in reliable quality and at a satisfactory price. The Agreements so provide either in letter or by implication.

8.0 p.m.

Hitherto our users of copper have been dependent upon the United States or upon South America for their needs. That is because it is only recently that the Empire resources have become available. The Government came to the conclusion that it was not desirable that we should remain dependent upon foreign sources of supply, firstly because we could provide ourselves in sufficient quantity, and secondly because we were strengthened in our conviction by the recent duty which the United States has imposed of four cents a 1b. on copper entering that country, a duty which acts as an obstacle to the development of our Imperial resources. So we put this duty on foreign unwrought copper for the purpose of diverting the channels of supply. We had difficulties confronting us, and my hon. Friend in his able speech dealt with those difficulties. In the first place, some varieties of copper, particularly Bessemer copper coming from the Empire, are not free from impurities. My hon. Friend made much of that point and quite rightly. We hope to overcome that first difficulty in a manner which I shall suggest in a moment. Our second difficulty was that while there is an ample quantity of copper in the Empire there is not an ample quantity of refined copper. That is another difficulty that we hope to overcome. It is for that reason that we have provided in the Bill that Empire copper may enjoy this preference even though it be refined outside the Empire—and that, for a period of three years, or it may be by extension, even longer. Now, in order to ensure that our plans should work smoothly and without hindrance my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade called together, in the manner which has been mentioned already, the consumers and producers in this industry, and at that conference 90 per cent. of the whole industry was represented.


Consumers and producers!




In London?


Yes, at the Board of Trade. They have reached an agreement and they say: The intention being to ensure a progressive change-over from non-Empire to Empire copper, the consumers agree to give every possible assistance to the producers including the maintenance of a technical committee on which representatives of the producers will be welcome for the study and discussion of the problems"— That is the problems of the technical impurities— arising in their endeavours to satisfy consumers' requirements it respect of quality and further"— and this is important— they will, from now on, as far as lies in their power purchase from Empire producers in preference to non-Empire supplies. I do not think we could excel a statement of that kind for generosity and prudence combined. Here are the principal users of copper undertaking that, even without this tariff, they will give preference in their purchases to Empire copper and that they will assist the producers to overcome the technical difficulties of which we have been speaking. They have also reached a definition of "world price" and that was one of the specific queries put by my hon. Friend. This is what they say: With regard to world price the producers and the consumers agree to adopt as world price the London Metal Exchange quotation for copper, exclusive of duty, it being understood that if separate quotations are in future to be made for Empire copper and non-Empire copper, the latter quotation shall be adopted for the purpose of this agreement. That is the operative part of the Agreement on this point. They also answer another of my hon. Friends interrogatories as to the meaning of "first sale." As regards first sale it is agreed that this is intended to mean sale by producers, and/or by bona fide agents of producers, to any consumer. Finally, they undertake to accept the principle that United Kingdom consumers shall not be at a disadvantage as compared with foreign consumers. As I have said, here is an agreement representing the views of 90 per cent. of the trade, and I hope hon. Members will agree that this is a most promising outcome of the Imperial Conference. Here is a great industry coming together promptly to give effect to the principle on which all the Imperial Governments agreed at Ottawa, of increasing inter-Imperial trade.


May I ask were the Canadian Government consulted on the variations which will have to be made? May I also press my hon. Friend a little on the point as to what the Government propose to found themselves on, in delaying the bringing into force of this Measure in view of the fact that the question of quality does not arise in the Agreement?


We did not omit to take those points into consideration. We are satisfied that the Canadian Government will raise no objection because this Agreement which I have quoted represents the producers in the Empire countries and the consumers in this country, and we are advised that we have ample power to fulfil that Agreement in the manner which I have mentioned.


I understand from the hon. Gentleman that the duty will now be levied on electrolytic copper, but will be in suspense as regards fire-refined copper. It seems to me that, generally speaking, the arrangement which has been arrived at is an admirable one and one which fulfils the original intention of the Agreements, that Empire production should be effectively encouraged and protected against the artificial methods of the United States, and at the same time that the consumer should have a fair chance. The only point upon which I should like to utter a, word of warning is with regard to the definition of "world price." It is, of course, obvious that in a large open market in which there are no duties and where a number of competitors meet there is such a thing as a price which may be described as a world price. If the market is a free market then there is a price which is very largely relative to the world as a whole. But the situation is modified when a market imposes a duty.

It is a well-known fact that where sellers are particularly anxious to sell in such a market and have to meet heavy competition from other sellers who pay no duty, they will put down their price specially in order to surmount the duty. Therefore in a, market where a duty is imposed you may have a specially low price quoted by certain foreign sellers, a price which bears no relation to the general price in world markets as a whole. The price at which they sell is not one that can fairly be described as a world price. It may be a residual price, if the market is a small one to which the overflow of a great many other markets are sent or a price specially put down in order to get into that market. That raises the difficulty that you may get a price after the paying of the duty which is as low as the price in other free markets, yet, if you take the foreign price in our market, it may be lower by the extent of the duty. Therefore, you may say, if you take that narrow construction of the term "world price," that the duty ought to come off.

The point is, I admit, somewhat complicated, but if I may mention an instance of what I mean it is this. Since the imposition of the 10 per cent. duty, lead has been sold in this country, I understand, after paying duty, at a price actually lower than the price in the Berlin market or the Paris market, in neither of which, I believe, duty is paid. It is therefore on any broad construction of the term being sold at or below world price. On the other hand in so far as foreign lead has been quoted on the metal market here and sold, it has obviously been sold at a still lower price in order to pay the duty and get in here. It seems manifestly unreasonable if so narrow a construction is to he taken of the term "world price" as to mean that, whenever instances can be quoted of a metal, or any other of the limited commodities being sold in this market at a price before paying duty, lower than the price after paying duty, that that frustrates the intention of the Government. I feel that in this matter the term "world price" should be taken in the reasonably broad sense of meaning the price at which large quantities are sold in all free markets, or would be sold normally in this market if there were no actual duty imposed.


May I be allowed to reinforce what has been said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery)? The Board of Trade is to be congratulated on the admirable way in which they have dealt with the copper situation. The definition of

the terms "world price" and "first sale in the United Kingdom" presented difficulties but those difficulties have been met with great wisdom. The large consumers and the large producers of copper within the Empire met together at the Board of Trade under the chairmanship of a leading official, and, as we have heard, they have come to an arrangement which is likely to avoid any difficulty at all. I have criticised the Board of Trade earlier in these discussions and it is only right that I should say that they are entitled to congratulations on the admirable way in which they have handled what might otherwise have been a very difficult situation.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 50; Noes, 220.

Division No. 333.] AYES. [8.13 p.m.
Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir Francis Dyke Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur Milner, Major James
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South) Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan) Parkinson, John Allen
Attlee, Clement Richard Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middiesbro', W.) Pickering, Ernest H.
Batey, Joseph Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Price, Gabriel
Bernays, Robert Grundy, Thomas W. Rea, Walter Russell
Briant, Frank Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton) Roberts, Med (Wrexham)
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)
Cove, William G. Hicks, Ernest George Tinker, John Joseph
Cowan, D. M. Hirst, George Henry Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. David
Cripps, Sir Stafford Holdsworth, Herbert Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah
Curry, A. C. Janner, Barnett White, Henry Graham
Daggar, George Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields) Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)
Davies, David L. (Pontypridd) Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Williams. Dr. John H. (Llanelly)
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)
Edwards, Charles Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George
Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen) Lunn, William TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Foot, Dingle (Dundee) McEntee, Valentine L. Mr. John and Mr. G. Macdonald.
Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin) McKeag, William
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie Elmley, Viscount
Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G. Burnett, John George Emmott, Charles E. G. C.
Albery, Irving James Cadogan, Hon. Edward Emrys-Evans, P. V.
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (L'pool, W.) Caporn, Arthur Cecil Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)
Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd.) Cassels, James Dale Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (P'rtsm'th, S.) Everard, W. Lindsay
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Chalmers, John Rutherford Fuller, Captain A. G.
Aske, Sir Robert William Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N.(Edgbaston) Ganzonl, Sir John
Atholl, Duchess of Christie, James Archibald Gilmour, Lt.-Col, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Atkinson, Cyril Clarry, Reginald George Glossop, C. W. H.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D. Goff, Sir Park
Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J. Cook, Thomas A. Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd, N.)
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Cooke, Douglas Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas
Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell Courtauld, Major John Sewell Graves, Marjorie
Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell Craven-Ellis, William Greene, William P. C.
Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th, C.) Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle) Grimston, R. V.
Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B. Croom-Johnson, R. P. Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.
Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Crossley, A. C. Gunston, Captain D. W.
Blindell, James Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.
Borodale, Viscount Davies, Edward C. (Montgomery) Hall, Capt. W. D'Arcy (Brecon)
Bossom, A. C. Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Hanbury, Cecil
Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F. Hanley, Dennis A.
Boyce, H. Leslie Dickie, John P. Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry
Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough) Donner, P. W. Hartington, Marquess of
Brass, Captain Sir William Duckworth, George A. V. Hartland, George A.
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.) Harvey, Major S. E (Devon, Totnes)
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks., Newb'y) Eastwood, John Francis Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.
Browne, Captain A. C. Eden, Robert Anthony Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Edmondson, Major A. J. Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsf'd)
Burghley, Lord Elliston, Captain George Sampson Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller
Hore-Belisha, Leslie Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.) Scone, Lord
Hornby, Frank Moss, Captain H. J. Selley, Harry R.
Horobin, Ian M. Muirhead, Major A. J. Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)
Howard, Tom Forrest Munro, Patrick Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)
Howitt, Dr. Alfred B. Nall-Cain, Arthur Ronald N. Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.
Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H. Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport) Newton, Sir Douglas George C. Slater, John
Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries) Nunn, William Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.
Hurd, Sir Percy O'Donovan, Dr. William James Spencer, Captain Richard A.
Hurst, Sir Gerald B. Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A. Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde)
Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H. Palmer, Francis Noel Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)
Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.) Pearson, William G. Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
James, Wing.-Com. A. W. H. Penny, Sir George Strickland, Captain W. F.
Jamieson, Douglas Perkins, Waiter R. D. Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart
Jesson, Major Thomas E. Peters, Dr. Sidney John Summersby, Charles H.
Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan) Petherick, M Sutcliffe, Harold
Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose) Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, B'nstaple) Tate, Mavis Constance
Kerr, Hamilton W. Peto, Geoffrey K.(W'verh'prn, Blist'n) Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)
Kimball, Lawrence Power, Sir John Cecil Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)
Kirkpatrick, William M. Procter, Major Henry Adam Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles
Knatchbull, Captain Hon. M. H. R. Raikes, Henry V. A. M. Thorp, Linton Theodore
Lennox-Boyd, A. T. Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich) Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Levy, Thomas Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian) Todd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford)
Lewis, Oswald Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles) Touche, Gordon Cosmo
Liddall, Walter S. Ratcliffe, Arthur Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)
Lindsay, Noel Ker Rawson, Sir Cooper Wallace, John (Dunfermline)
Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe- Ray, Sir William Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Loder, Captain J. de Vere Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter) Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)
Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander Reid, James S. C. (Stirling) Wardlaw-Milne, Sir John S.
Lyons. Abraham Montagu Reid, William Allan (Derby) Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.
MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G.(Partick) Remer, John R. Wells, Sydney Richard
MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr) Rantoul, Sir Gervais S. Weymouth, Viscount
MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham) Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U. Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)
MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw) Robinson, John Roland Wills, Wilfrid D.
McKie, John Hamilton Ropner, Colonel L. Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest Rosbotham, S. T. Wise, Alfred H.
Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M. Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge) Withers, Sir John James
Margesson, Capt. Henry David R. Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A. Womersley, Walter James
Marsden, Commander Arthur Runge, Norah Cecil Worthington, Dr. John V.
Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside) Wragg, Herbert
Meller, Richard James Rutherford, Sir John Hugo
Merriman, Sir F. Boyd Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.) Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart Captain Sir George Bowyer and Dr.
Mitchell, Harold P.(Br'tf'd & Chisw'k) Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard Morris-Jones.
Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr) Savery, Samuel Servington

I beg to move, in page 2, line 17, at the end, to insert the words: and provided that such duties shall be removed if at any time Empire producers are unable or unwilling to offer the commodities to which they refer, on first sale in the United Kingdom, at prices not exceeding the world prices and in quantities sufficient to supply the requirements of United Kingdom consumers. The Amendment is based upon Article 4 of the Treaty between the United Kingdom and Canada. The Article reads: It is agreed that the duty on either wheat in grain, copper, zinc or lead, as provided in this Agreement, may be removed if at any time Empire producers of wheat in grain, copper, zinc and lead respectively are unable or unwilling to offer these commodities on first sale in the United Kingdom at prices not exceeding the world prices and in quantities sufficient to supply the requirements of the United Kingdom consumers. It will be observed that the Article is limited to the four substances specified, namely, wheat in grain, copper, zinc and lead, and the simple purpose of my Amendment is to extend the safeguard contained in Article 4 to all the articles in the Schedule. There may be some mystic reason why these four particular commodities have been selected for this kind of protection, but although this matter has already once been discussed, and we have received a reply from the Minister, I think all who heard the Debate are still entirely mystified as to what the distinction is. The effect, of course, would be, if we had this safeguard applied to the whole Schedule, that if it could be proved in regard to any one of the commodities that the Empire producers could not or would not provide them in sufficient quantities, or provide them at the world prices, then the duty would automatically be taken off.

Criticism has been made and can be made as to the efficiency of the safeguard itself. Some criticism was made from these benches with regard to the method by which the world prices would be calculated, and how far they would really be an efficient safeguard in regard to wheat. None the less, in spite of those difficulties, which have been recognised in all parts of the House—they were recognised by the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) only a few minutes ago, when speaking about copper—I do regard this safeguard as of enormous importance, at least in one respect. It shows that the Government, when they went to Ottawa and met the Canadian Delegation, clearly recognised two possibilities. The first was that it was reasonably possible that Empire producers would not be able to produce sufficient quantities, and the second was that it was reasonably possible that they would not be able to produce them at the world prices. If those things were not envisaged, there could have been no reason for Article 4.

The Government also recognised this, that if either of these events occurred, either a failure as to quantity or a failure as to proper price, the moral and economic basis for that duty had gone, and they recognised that with regard to the four particular commodities which they have specified. If they recognise that, it is an enormously important admission, because it knocks the bottom out of the case about the foreigner always paying the tax. The Government know now that that is nonsense, and to that extent they have to provide for it when they come to a substance of such universal importance as wheat. If it applies there, why not to the rest of the Schedule? The selection seems to be rather arbitrary. It is true that wheat in grain is a food stuff and that copper, zinc and lead are raw materials, but there are raw materials and foodstuffs that are left out. As a matter of fact, if you make a comparison between what is put in and given the safeguard, and what is left out, I imagine that the ordinary consumer who, I hope, is still of some importance, is much more likely to be worried about butter or even fruit than he is seriously to feel the effects of a zinc shortage. He might do so, but the immediate articles of domestic consumption are the things that will appeal to him first.

I should like the Financial Secretary to explain, in rather more detail than he was able to give me last time, why this distinction is made. I appeal to him with some confidence to acknowledge his ancient principles. It is a curious thing that the most obscure parts of this Bill are always left to be defended by Free Traders and ex-Free Traders, possibly because from their previous knowledge they know the case on both sides, and a great deal better than others. I appeal to him as one who has seen a great light, for I want to share in any illumination that is going. On the last occasion I got no illumination from him at all. He made only two points in answer to my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely (Mr. de Rothschild) who moved the Amendment a week ago. The first was a purely debating point. He said that we who were moving the Amendment had no right to be heard on this subject because we ventured to criticise the efficiency of this safeguard when it was applied to meat, and therefore, once having ventured to uplift our voices in criticism, we are out of court and cannot say that the principle should be extended. That is a purely debating reply because the hon. Gentleman has got to walk by his own knowledge and that of his Cabinet, and not by ours.

Those above him thought it worth while to insert this safeguard in regard to meat, and he thinks it of value. Those who went to Ottawa would not otherwise have put it in. He thinks it of value because he explained with great vehemence what an enormously valuable safeguard it was when dealing with the quota. Although there may be difficulties in the application of the safeguard in the reckoning of the world price, I would rather have any safeguard than none. On Friday, after a great deal of pressure, the hon. Gentleman did succeed in going a little further in explaining how this matter of world price was to be reckoned. We understood that if any comparable article is being sold cheaper elsewhere than we can obtain it as a result of the duty, automatically the relief of the duty operates. For what it is worth, I should like that extended generally, and I should like to have it explained why this provision is of value when it comes to defending copper, but ceases to be of any value when it comes to defending the larder. We want to know what the defence is.

8.30 p.m.

The other reply of the hon. Gentleman, and the only other reply which we have heard suggested, is one which has become very common in these Debates. It is to avoid altogether every question of the merits of a proposition which is put forward, and simply to say, "Well, here is the Treaty. You have to take it or leave it. In one of the Ottawa Agreements we have provided that this safeguard shall apply to wheat in grain, copper, zinc and lead, but we have not inserted it in every case." That is the kind of answer which Shylock on a famous occasion gave to Portia. Any appeal to logic would simply get the answer, "It is not in the bond." Any appeal to his better feelings was met with the reply, "I cannot find it in the bond." After all, there was a more powerful argument there, because Antonio made the bond himself, but the consumers, whose pound of flesh is to be extracted on this occasion, were no parties to the bond. They knew nothing about it and had no voice in settling the duties. A number of arbitrarily selected gentlemen went to Ottawa and made the Agreements, and now they have been made the consumer cannot alter them and not even the elected representatives of the consumers in this House are allowed to have a single word. We are told that it has been done—and that condition of things is not merely for the lifetime of this Parliament; it is to go on for five years.

That being the case, I implore the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, who has now had time to look round a little more than when he was replying to me in the small hours last week, not merely to give us some reason which will explain the fact; that is obvious to anybody, that the Treaty is there, and that there are a lot of unreasonable things in it which he dare not or cannot defend, but to try and tell the Committee why this distinction was ever drawn in the original Treaty at all. After all the Debates in Committee have two objects: one, on more fortunate occasions, that we may hope to get Amendments through and make the proposed legislation better legislation; the other, if we have no chance, as appears to be the case here, to make what is bad better, that we may at least make the country outside realise how bad it is and give the Government in their turn a chance to answer us and explain the reason for their conduct. If they do not answer, if they hide behind the decisions of the gentlemen who went to Ottawa, what possible result can be obtained from all the Debates that we are having? I implore the hon. Gentleman to give us some reasoned answer why this distinction has been drawn, and not to be content once more with the mere Shylock answer, remembering that, after all, Shylock came to a bad end.


There is something to be said from one aspect for this Amendment, even though it may go too far. At present there are no words that I can see in the Bill to give effect to the provisions in the Agreements dealing with this matter. The next Sub-section of this Clause is intended to deal with that, but it will not unless some words of this sort are put in there or somewhere else. The next Sub-section does give the Treasury power to repeal these duties if they can do it without contravening any of the Agreements, but, although the Canadian Agreement provides a certain protection with regard to the question of quantities, the Australian and the South African Agreements do not contain that provision at all. Those two Agreements clearly enable us to repeal these duties if we are not getting the commodities at the world price. Therefore, as the Subsection says that it only enables you to remove these duties if you can do it without breaking any Agreements, you cannot do it without breaking the Australian and South African Agreements if you try and do it merely on the ground of the quantities that you require. I should have welcomed an Amendment of this sort if it had been limited to wheat, copper, zinc and lead, because it would have made it clear that the Treasury would have power to repeal those duties if the two conditions laid down in the Canadian Agreement were not being fulfilled.

With the Bill drawn as it is that condition about quantity is simply nullified. Certainly qua Canada, provided the quantity was not coming in, they could do it, but qua Australia they could not do it at all under the Sub-section. The only power to do it is if they can do it without breaking the Agreement; if they attempted to interfere with the Agreements on the ground of quantity, they would be breaking the Agreements in the case of Australia and South Africa. With words of this kind in the Bill itself, it would make it clear that they could repeal these duties the moment either of these conditions as to quantity and price ceased to apply. I suggest to the Government that they should seriously consider the necessity of these words, limiting them to the four subject matters of wheat, maize, zinc and copper, which are specified in the Agreement. My point is that they should clearly have the power to remove these duties if we are not getting the commodities in sufficient quantity; because as the Bill stands now they could not repeal the duties however small was the quantity available.


My hon. Friend, as he has already informed the Committee, moved an identical Amendment when we were discussing the Resolution. It is true that in the Agreement respecting wheat, copper, lead and zinc there are provisos that these commodities must be sold at the world price, and in sufficient quantity, or the duty lapses. If I may digress for a moment to reply to my hon. and learned Friend, although the formula differs in the case of Canada and Australia, we are advised that there is a clear implication that the requirement as to quantity must prevail in the Australian Agreement as in the Canadian Agreement, and, indeed, we have made that plain to the Australian Government, who agree. When my hon. Friend moved his Amendment to the Resolution, I was compelled to say that although the condition applied to the commodities I have mentioned it did not apply to the other commodities in the Agreements which we were seeking authority to implement.

This Bill is to give effect to these Agreements, and I can only repeat this afternoon the argument I then submitted to him. There is a very clear reason why we selected these commodities for this particular safeguard as to price and quantity, and that is that they are all commodities which have a world quotation in the grain and metal markets of the world. My hon. Friend is not satisfied with that, and wants eggs to be made subject to the conditions as to world price. Nobody can suggest that there is a world price for eggs. The price differs in every village and in every country, and it would be quite impracticable to have a safeguard of this kind applied to eggs. Nor could we apply it to cheese, or butter, or apples, or oranges, or plums or honey. All those commodities are sold at different prices in different shops, at different prices in different towns and at different prices in different countries. Therefore, to insert a provision of this sort would render all the Agreements not only nugatory but futile. I appeal to my hon. Friend to look at it in that spirit. He spoke of Shylock, and quoted the phrase about its not being in the bond. These Agreements deal with something far more majestic than a quibble about the world price of eggs. They are an exchange of advantages on both sides, and, since he is so fond of the "Merchant of Venice" I would tell him that they bless him who gives and him who takes.


I am afraid the Committee will not be very much impressed by the speech of the Financial Secretary. The speeches we have heard are sufficient in themselves to demonstrate the danger and complexity of these Agreements. I have taken the opportunity of comparing the Canadian Agreement with the others, and I find, so far as Canada is concerned, that while wheat in grain, copper, zinc and lead are subject to this special clause in the agreement there is no such condition in the case of New Zealand, although we import foodstuffs from New Zealand. There is also no such condition with regard to Newfoundland, or Australia, or South Africa or Rhodesia. There the only condition is in regard to world prices, with nothing requiring that there shall be sufficient quantities. I do not know what explanation the Financial Secretary has to offer for these disparities in the Agreements with these various Dominions, but what we are chiefly concerned with is to insure that the whole range of foodstuffs, cheese, butter and so forth, should be subject to the same safeguards as zinc, copper and the other commodities which are specially referred to in the Canadian Agreement.

Reference has been made to the speech of the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery). There, again, it was made clear how dangerous it is to have these complications and complexities. Only this afternoon I was asked by one of the principal fruit merchants in Durham to help him to find out from the Government what is his position in regard to certain importations for the Christmas markets. He wishes to place a large order for the importation of Christmas trees. He is told by the Customs authorities that if these Christmas trees are imported with their roots they will be subject to a tariff of £20 per ton, but he is also given to understand, though with no surety, that if they are imported minus the roots they will come in on the 10 per cent. basis.. I mention that only to emphasise the danger of these complications, and I would urge upon the Financial Secretary the real desirability of accepting this Amendment. If he can-

not accept it in the terms in which it is proposed, cannot the Government at any rate accept it in some form which will be agreeable to the Departments while at the same time ensuring that the same safeguards which apply in the case of wheat, copper, zinc and lead shall be extended to the great quantity of foodstuffs which we import?

Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 50; Noes, 228.

Division No. 334.] AYES. [8.46 p.m.
Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir Francis Dyke Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan) McKean, William
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South) Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.) Mander, Geoffrey le M.
Attlee, Clement Richard Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Milner, Major James
Batey, Joseph Grundy, Thomas W. Parkinson, John Allen
Briant, Frank Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton) Pickering, Ernest H.
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Price, Gabriel
Cove, William G. Hicks, Ernest George Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)
Cowan, D. M. Hirst, George Henry Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)
Cripps, Sir Stafford Holdsworth, Herbert Tinker, John Joseph
Curry, A. C. John, William Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. David
Daggar, George Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields) White, Henry Graham
Davies, David L. (Pontypridd) Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)
Edwards, Charles Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)
Evans, David Owen (Cardigan) Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)
Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen) Logan, David Gilbert
Foot, Dingle (Dundee) Lunn, William TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin) Mabane, William Mr. Russell Rea and Mr. Janner.
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Chorlton, Alain' Ernest Leofric Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd, N.)
Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G. Christie, James Archibald Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas
Albery, Irving James Clarry, Reginald George Graves, Marjorie
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (L'pool, W.) Cobb, Sir Cyril Greene, William P. C.
Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd.) Cochrane, Commander Hon. A D. Grimston, R. V.
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Collins, Rt. Hon. Sir Godfrey Gunston, Captain D. W.
Apsley, Lord Cook, Thomas A. Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.
Aske, Sir Robert William Cooke, Douglas Hall, Capt. W. D'Arcy (Brecon)
Atholl, Duchess of Courtauld, Major John Sewell Hunbury, Cecil
Atkinson, Cyril Craven-Ellis, William Hanley, Dennis A.
Baillie, Sir Adrian W. M. Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle) Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Croom-Johnson, R. P. Hartland, George A.
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Crossley, A. C. Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)
Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.
Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th, C.) Davies, Edward C. (Montgomery) Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.
Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B. Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford)
Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F. Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.
Blindell, James Dickie, John P. Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller
Bossom, A. C. Donner, P. W. Hore-Belisha, Leslie
Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton Duckworth, George A. V. Hornby, Frank
Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W. Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.) Horobin, Ian M.
Boyce, H. Leslie Eastwood, John Francis Howard, Tom Forrest
Bracken, Brendan Eden, Robert Anthony Hudson, Capt. A.U. M.(Hackney, N.)
Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough) Edmondson, Major A. J. Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)
Brass, Captain Sir William Elliston, Captain George Sampson Hurd, Sir Percy
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Elmley, Viscount Hurst, Sir Gerald B.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks., Newb'y) Emmett, Charles E. G, C. Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.
Browne, Captain A. C. Emrys-Evans, P. V. Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare) James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.
Burghley, Lord Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool) Jamieson, Douglas
Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie Everard, W. Lindsay Jesson, Major Thomas E.
Burnett. John George Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan)
Butt, Sir Alfred Fuller, Captain A. G. Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)
Cadogan, Hon. Edward Ganzonl, Sir John Kerr, Hamilton W.
Caporn, Arthur Cecil Gillett, Sir George Masterman Kimball, Lawrence
Cassels, James Dale Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Knatchbull, Captain Hon. M. H. R.
Castle Stewart, Earl Glossop, C. W. H. Knight, Holford
Cayzer, Maj. Slr H. R. (Prtsmth., S.) Gluckstein, Louis Halle Leckie, J. A.
Chalmers, John Rutherford Goff, Sir Park Lennox-Boyd, A. T.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston) Goodman, Colonel Albert W. Lewis, Oswald
Liddell, Walter S. Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple) Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Lindsay, Noel Ker Peto, Geoffrey K.(W'verh'pt'n, Bilston) Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.
Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe- Power, Sir John Cecil Spencer, Captain Richard A.
Loder, Captain J. de Vera Procter, Major Henry Adam Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde)
Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander Raikes, Henry V. A. M. Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)
Lyons, Abraham Montagu Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich) Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
MacAndrew, Maj. C. G. (Partick) Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian) Storey, Samuel
MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr) Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles) Strickland, Captain W. F.
MacDonald, Rt. Hn. J. R. (Seaham) Ramsden, E. Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart
MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw) Rankin, Robert Summersby, Charles H.
McKie, John Hamilton Ratcliffe, Arthur Sutcliffe, Harold
Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest Rawson, Sir Cooper Tate, Mavis Constance
Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M. Ray, Sir William Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)
Margesson, Capt. Henry David R. Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter) Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)
Marsden, Commander Arthur Reid, James S. C. (Stirling) Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles
Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John Reid, William Allan (Derby) Thorp, Linton Theodore
Meller, Richard James Remer, John R. Titchfield Major the Marquess of
Merriman, Sir F. Boyd Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U. Todd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford)
Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.) Robinson, John Roland Touche, Gordon Cosmo
Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chisw'k) Ropner, Colonel L. Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)
Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr) Rosbotham, S. T. Wallace, John (Dunfermline)
Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.) Ross Taylor, Waiter (Woodbridge) Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)
Moss, Captain H. J. Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A. Wardlaw-Milne, Sir John S.
Muirhead, Major A. J. Runge, Norah Cecil Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.
Munro, Patrick Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside) Wells, Sydney Richard
Nall-Cain, Arthur Ronald N. Rutherford, Sir John Hugo Weymouth, Viscount
Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H. Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney) Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)
Newton, Sir Douglas George C. Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart Wills, Wilfrid D.
Nunn, William Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
O'Donovan, Dr. William James Savery, Samuel Servington Wise, Alfred R.
Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A. Scone, Lord Womersley, Walter James
Palmer, Francis Noel Selley, Harry R. Worthington, Dr. John V.
Pearson, William G. Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell) Wragg, Herbert
Penny, Sir George Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)
Perkins, Walter R. D. Shepperson, Sir Ernest W. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Peters, Dr. Sidney John Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward
Petherick, M. Slater, John and Dr. Morris-Jones.

The following Amendments stood upon the Order Paper:

"In page 2, line 38, to leave out the words or the increase of the rate.'

In page 2, line 39, after the word 'order,' to insert the words 'or any part thereof.'

In page 2, line 42, after the word 'duty,' to insert the words or some part thereof.'

In page 2, line 43, to leave out the words 'or, as the case may be, shall be charged at such increased,' and to insert instead thereof the words 'at such.'

In page 3, to leave out lines 5 to 9."—,[Sir S. Cripps.]


I do not propose to trouble the Committee with these Amendments. They are drafting Amendments, and I understand that the Government are prepared to consider the points which they mention.


There is an Amendment on the Order Paper in the name of the hon. Member for East Birkenhead (Mr. White)—"In page 3, line 10, to leave out Sub-sections (4) and (5)." The Amendment would not be in order in that form, but if he proposes only to leave out Sub-section (5) I will call it.


I beg to move, in page 3, line 10, to leave out Subsection (5).

I do not propose to leave out Subsection (4) but only Sub-section (5) in accordance with your Ruling. I will content myself with moving the Amendment formally in order that the Committee may have an explanation of the purpose of Sub-section (5). There are certain duties which are clearly necessary for the purposes of this Bill. They were incorporated in the Schedule, but I shall be glad to know why powers are taken apparently under this Sub-section to add duties to those which appear to be necessary for the purposes of the Bill.


I hope the Committee will reject this Amendment. The rates of duty proposed in the Agreements are the rates conceived from the point of view of inter-Imperial trade, and are not necessarily conceived in reference to the introduction of any of these commodities into the United Kingdom. It would be wrong to deprive manufacturers in the United Kingdom of an opportunity of presenting their case to the Import Duties Advisory Committee for higher duties than those contained in these Agreements. Any such higher duties could not, of course, be prejudicial to the Empire countries concerned, because they would afford them greater preference, but there is not the slightest reason why an undertaking to put on certain minimum duties should deprive our manufacturers of the opportunity of applying for higher duties. If we do not pass this Measure, every person in this country has the right to apply for higher duties in respect of any commodities which are in fact contained in this Bill. Why, by passing this Bill, should we take away from the inhabitants of the United Kingdom the right which they now possess to apply for higher protection than that which they enjoy at the present time? It would be manifestly unfair to do so.

Under the provisions of the Import Duties Act, as amended by the Finance Act, people in this country have a right to apply that goods now dutiable may be transferred to the Free List. That is a very important provision, because duties may be put on which are wrong. It is true that, in the ease of any such applications in respect of a commodity on which a duty is imposed under this Act for five years, while the Committee might hold an inquiry and present a report to the Treasury, the Treasury could not act on that report without infringing the Agreements, but that is no reason why, if difficulties should arise in connection with the duty on any commodity, either because it is too high or because it is imposed at all, the door should be closed to those who want to represent that some duty imposed under this Agreement is oppressive; and, if the Committee recommended to the Treasury that that was the case, the Treasury would he in a position to negotiate with the Empire country concerned and give reasons why they asked for some modification of the Agreement—and such modifications, of course, are contemplated under the final Clause of each Agreement.

I should like to know whether it is clear that under Sub-sections (4) and (5) of Clause 1 what I am seeking is not possible. Under Clause 11, however, which is drawn in very wide terms, it may or may not be possible—I hope that the Financial Secretary will give me an interpretation—for the Import Duties Advisory Committee to inquire into a case where we have imposed a duty under these Agreements which may be prejudicial to some British industry. I think it is very important that that door should be open, and I hope that Clause 11 covers it, but Sub-sections (4) and (5) of Clause 1 deal with the same point, and I hope I have not been out of order in raising, on this Amendment, a matter which partly affects Clause 11 of the Bill.

9.0 p.m.


Perhaps I might mention the next Amendment, which stands in the names of some of my hon. Friends—In page 3, line 31, at the end, insert the words "and subject as hereinafter provided." The Sub-section as it reads at the present moment, as far as we understand it, gives to the Import Duties Advisory Committee power to put additional duties not only on foreign goods but on Empire goods as well, because the restriction in Section 4 of the Import Duties Act will be in force until the 15th November, 1932, and after that date, unless a new date is fixed under the Act, that Section will lapse. The Import Duties Advisory Committee, therefore, would have power to make a recommendation that an additional duty ought to be charged on goods coining from the Dominions or Colonies. That matter is dealt with in Clause 2, and, therefore, I suggest that it ought to be made clear that the power here given is to be subject to the powers given in Clause 2, arid that the words "subject as hereinafter provided" should come at the end of line 31 and precede paragraph (a) of Sub-section (5).


May I put to the hon. and learned Gentleman this question? Section 4 of the Import Duties Act provides that, when the 15th November has passed, the duties shall be such duties as may be made by order of the Treasury, and there is no reference there to any previous inquiry by the Import Duties Advisory Committee. Therefore, as I read Section 4 of the Import Duties Act, the Import Duties Advisory Committee are not in a position to make any recommendations one way or the other in respect of preferential duties as such with respect to the Dominions, India and Southern Rhodesia.


I am afraid that my understanding is different from the hon. Member's, and for this reason, that the recommendation of the Import Duties Advisory Committee can cover all goods of that class. That which stops the charging of duties on goods coming from the Empire is Section 4, but Section 4 ceases to operate after the 15th November, 1932, and then there will be nothing to stop it.


The hon. and learned Gentleman has called my attention to a fact which I am afraid I had overlooked when I put the question. If I put the question, "That Sub-section (5) stand part of the Clause," it would not allow of his Amendment being moved. Therefore, I will put the Question, "That the words to the end of line 31, in page 3, stand part of the Clause."


I feel that I am almost exempt from replying on this Amendment, because of the answers which have been given from various parts of the Committee, but I will respond to the invitation of my hon. Friend the Member for East Birkenhead (Mr. White), who asked me what was the meaning of this particular Sub-section. I do not know if he has still any doubt on the point after what has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. Williams), but it is clearly stated that the Import Duties Advisory Committee may recommend, in accordance with the Import Duties Act, that an additional duty be charged on

the top of these Ottawa duties. For this purpose the Ottawa duties come into exactly the same place as the general ad valorem duty, and there would seem to be no reason why the Advisory Committee should be prohibited from recommending an additional duty on the top of them, seeing that they are not prohibited from recommending an additional duty on the top of the present ad valorem duty. These additional duties may in certain circumstances even be put on Empire goods. That is provided for in Clause 2, as has been stated by the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps). I had not had prior advice on the particular point which he has raised, but I am given to understand that these two provisions in Clauses 1 and 2 are absolutely watertight. I am very much obliged to him for having raised that point, and I will look into it, acknowledging, as I do, the spirit in which he has put down so many of his Amendments.

Amendment negatived.

Motion made, and Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 232; Noes, 52.

Division No. 335.] AYES. [9.5 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N.(Edgbaston) Gillett, Sir George Masterman
Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G. Chorlton, Alan Ernest Leofric Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John
Albery, Irving James Christie, James Archibald Glossop, C. W. H.
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l, W.) Clarry, Reginald George Gluckstein, Louis Halle
Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd.) Cobb, Sir Cyril Goff, Sir Park
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D. Goodman, Colonel Albert W.
Apsley, Lord Collins, Rt. Hon. Sir Godfrey Gower, Sir Robert
Atholl, Duchess of Conant, R. J. E. Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd, N.)
Atkinson, Cyril Cook, Thomas A. Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas
Baillie, Sir Adrian W. M. Cooke, Douglas Graves, Marjorie
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Courtauld, Major John Sewell Greene, William P. C.
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Craven-Ellis, William Grimston, R. V.
Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle) Gunston, Captain D. W.
Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th, C.) Croom-Johnson, R, P. Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.
Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B. Crossley, A. C. Hall, Capt. W. D'Arcy (Brecon)
Bircharll, Major Sir John Dearman Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard Hanbury, Cecil
Blindell, James Davies, Edward C. (Montgomery) Hanley, Dennis A.
Bossom, A. C. Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry
Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F. Hartland, George A.
Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W. Dickie, John P. Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)
Boyce, H. Leslie Donner, P. W. Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.
Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough) Dower, Captain A. V. G. Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.
Brass, Captain Sir William Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.) Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford)
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Eastwood, John Francis Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks., Newb'y) Eden, Robert Anthony Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Wailer
Browne, Captain A. C. Edmondson, Major A. J. Hore-Belisha, Leslie
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Elliston, Captain George Sampson Hornby, Frank
Burghley, Lord Elmley, Viscount Horobin, Ian M.
Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie Emmott, Charles E. G, C. Howard, Tom Forrest
Burnett, John George Emrys-Evans, P. V. Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)
Butt, Sir Alfred Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare) Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)
Caporn, Arthur Cecil Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool) Hurst, Sir Gerald B.
Cassels, James Dale Everard, W. Lindsay Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.
Castle Stewart, Earl Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst Iveagh, Countess of
Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.) Fuller, Captain A. G. Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)
Chalmers, John Rutherford Ganzonl, Sir John James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.
Jamleson, Douglas Nunn, William Slater, John
Jesson, Major Thomas E. O'Donovan, Dr. William James Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan) Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A. Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.
Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose) Palmer, Francis Noel Spencer, Captain Richard A.
Kerr, Hamilton W. Pearson, William G. Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde)
Kimball, Lawrence Penny, Sir George Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)
Knatchbull, Captain Hon. M. H, R. Perkins, Walter R. D. Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
Knight, Holford Peters, Dr. Sidney John Storey, Samuel
Leckie, J. A. Petherick, M. Stourton, Hon. John J.
Leighton, Major B. E. P. Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple) Strickland, Captain W. F.
Lennox-Boyd, A. T. Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'prn, Bilston) Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart
Lewis, Oswald Power, Sir John Cecil Summersby, Charles H.
Liddell, Walter S. Procter, Major Henry Adam Sutcliffe, Harold
Lindsay, Noel Ker Raikes, Henry V. A. M. Tate, Mavis Constance
Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe- Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian) Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)
Loder, Captain J. de Vere Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles) Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)
Lovat-Freser, James Alexander Ramsden, E. Thompson, Luke
Lyons, Abraham Montagu Rankin, Robert Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles
MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G.(Partick) Ratcliffe, Arthur Thorp, Linton Theodore
MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr) Ray, Sir William Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
MacDonald, Rt. Hn. J. R. (Seaham) Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter) Todd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford)
MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw) Reid, James S. C. (Stirling) Touche, Gordon Cosmo
McKie, John Hamilton Reid, William Allan (Derby) Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)
Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest Remer, John R. Wallace, John (Dunfermline)
Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M. Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U. Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Margesson, Capt. Henry David R. Robinson, John Roland Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)
Marsden, Commander Arthur Ropner, Colonel L. Wardlew-Milne, Sir John S.
Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.) Rosbotham, S. T. Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.
Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John Ross Taylor, Waiter (Woodbridge) Wells, Sydney Richard
Meller, Richard James Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A. Weymouth, Viscount
Merriman, Sir F. Boyd Runge, Narah Cecil Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)
Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.) Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside) Wills, Wilfrid D.
Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Rutherford, Sir John Hugo Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Mitchell, Harold P.(Br'tf'd & Chisw'k) Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney) Wise, Alfred R.
Mitcheson, G. G. Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart Withers, Sir John James
Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr) Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard Womersley, Waiter James
Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.) Savory, Samuel Servington Worthington, Dr. John V.
Moss, Captain H. J. Scone, Lord Wragg, Herbert
Muirhead, Major A. J. Selley, Harry R.
Munro, Patrick Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Nall-Cain, Arthur Ronald N. Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar) Captain Austin Hudson and Dr.
Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H. Shepperson, Sir Ernest W. Morris-Jones.
North, Captain Edward T. Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir Francis Dyke Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin) Mabane, William
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South) Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur McKeag, William
Aske, Sir Robert William Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan) Mender, Geoffrey le M.
Attlee, Clement Richard Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.) Milner, Major James
Batey, Joseph Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Parkinson, John Allen
Bernays, Robert Grundy, Thomas W. Pickering, Ernest H.
Briant, Frank Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton) Price, Gabriel
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Rea, Walter Russell
Cove, William G. Hicks, Ernest George Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)
Cowan, D. M. Hirst, George Henry Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)
Cripps, Sir Stafford Holdsworth, Herbert Tinker, John Joseph
Curry, A. C. Janner, Barnett Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. David
Dagger, George Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) White, Henry Graham
Davies, David L. (Pontypridd) Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)
Edwards, Charles Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)
Evans, David Owen (Cardigan) Lawson, John James Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)
Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen) Logan, David Gilbert
Foot, Dingle (Dundee) Lunn, William TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Mr. G. Macdonald and Mr. John.