asked the President of the Board of Trade what is the position of the Government in regard to the expiry of the Dyestuffs Act, now imminent?
Yes, Sir. The Government have given full and careful consideration to the position in respect of the Dyestuffs (Import Regulation) Act, 1920, in the light of the Report of the Dyestuffs Industry Development Committee.The Act provided for the safeguarding of the dye-making industry by a system of prohibition subject to licensing, and it was expressly provided in Section 5 of the Act that it should continue in force for a period of 10 years and no longer. That clearly indicated the opinion of the framers of the Act that a period of 10 years should be sufficient to enable the, industry to become firmly established and thereafter to meet international competition unaided. The comprehensive Report of the Dyestuffs Industry Development Committee shows that the industry has now reached a stage at which it is capable of meeting a very large proportion of the requirements of dyestuff users in the United Kingdom and of carrying on an increasing export trade, and the manufacturers have indicated their ability to meet normal foreign competition in respect of prices. It appears then that the object of the Act has been attained. The Government have also had under consideration representations from all the interests affected, including the users of dyestuffs and the organisations of employers and operatives in the textile industries of Lancashire and Yorkshire. These using industries have represented that the burden of developing the dyestuffs industry during the period of the Act has fallen mainly upon them, and that there is in present circumstances no justification for the continuance of the Act beyond the period originally contemplated. The Government have decided that the Dyestuffs (Import Regulation) Act shall be allowed to lapse at the appointed date, that is, on the 15th January next.
Is it not a fact that the makers of dye in this country are prepared to give an undertaking that, if the Act is continued, there shall be the free entry of any dye which cannot be manufactured in this country of an equal excellence and at an equal price to the foreign dyes, and, if that is so, how can any dye user in this country possibly be prejudiced by the continuance of the Act?
It is quite true that they have made representations in that sense, but there is, of course, controversy even on that point among the users. I dare not go into details in reply to a supplementary question, but I can, of course, if hon. Members opposite exercise their opportunity on the Adjournment or in any other way, give much fuller details.
The information which the right hon. Gentleman has given is of no use at all. This matter is of very vital importance. The right hon. Gentleman says that there is controversy, and, of course, the whole House will expect a much fuller statement—[HON. MEMBERS: "Speech!"]—than is possible in answer to a Parliamentary question. I therefore ask the right hon. Gentleman formally if the Government will give time at an early date for a full discussion on this subject in such a manner that the voice of the House may be ascertained?
The point was raised by my right hon. Friend on the last occasion. I said then that I could not give any pledge regarding Government time, having regard to the nature of Business, but I said that there were other opportunities. It may be that the Adjournment is not very suitable, but I see no reason why on a private Member's Motion—[Interruption]—this matter should not be discussed.
I can only observe at this point that, if we are not met, it is always open to us to put it down in the form of a Vote of Censure.