Mr. HARRY BUTCHER (Last Mountain):
Mr. Speaker, for a few minutes last evening before the debate was adjourned I had been dealing with one of two features of two or three of the articles in this agreement. During the few minutes that are now at my disposal I wish very briefly to draw attention to two or three provisions in other articles of the agreement. I should like to revert to article 3 which reads:
His Majesty's government in the United Kingdom undertake that the general ad valorem duty of 10 per cent imposed by section one of the Import Duties Act, 1932, on the foreign goods specified in schedule C shall not be reduced except with the consent of His Majesty's government in Canada.
Schedule C includes the following items:
Timber of all kinds imported into the United Kingdom in substantial quantities from Canada, in so far as now dutiable.
Fish, fresh, sea.
Other fish, canned.
I cannot imagine that this extraordinary provision will be agreeable to the majority of the British people, but I think they are well able to take care of their rights and privileges in the matters both of duties generally and of duties on food in particular, I remember in the year 1923, a Conservative government then being in power in Great Britain, it was decided to place duties on food. The British government referred the matter to the people and the people answered in no uncertain terms; they were not going to have their food taxed. I h.ave it in mind that the time will come in the not far distant future when once again the British people will be asked to express their approval or disapproval of the action of their government in permitting the food of the people to be taxed, and I firmly believe their answer will
be precisely the same as it was in 1923. In that year only the men in Great Britain had the right to vote on this important question. When the next election comes, the women too will record their votes, and notwithstanding the fact that the majority of the men in Great Britain have always been opposed to taxes on food, I firmly believe that the women of Great Britain are even more opposed to such taxation. They have to make up the family budget and they know the difficulties of providing food for the family. That question, however, may be left, so far as the British point of view is concerned, to the British people, but I foresee there may be very embarrassing times for the government of Canada. The time may come when the matter of a reduction of the duties on these items may be referred by His Majesty's government in Great Britain to His Majesty's government in Canada and then emphatically there will be a most embarrassing time for His Majesty's government in Canada.
Just a few words concerning article 9. There has been much discussion as to the effect of this article which reads:
His Majesty's government in Canada will invite parliament to pass the legislation necessary to substitute for the duties of customs now leviable on the goods specified in schedule E the duties shown in that schedule, provided that nothing in this article shall preclude His Majesty's government in Canada from reducing the duties specified in the said schedule so long as the margin of British preference shown in that schedule is preserved or from increasing the rates under the intermediate or general tariff set out in the said schedule.
One thing is abundantly clear, whatever else may be in dispute, and that is that there are 159 items in the schedule under which no reduction of the intermediate or general rate of duties may be made for the coming five years. In other words, the shackles with which trade in those items is at present encumbered are riveted for that period of time. There are a few outstanding examples coming under this particular article to which I should like to draw the attention of the house. On tomatoes the intermediate tariff is 27 per cent; general tariff, 30 per cent; British preference, free. Last year we imported from the United States of America tomatoes to the value of $1,321,432, and nothing from the United Kingdom. What does that mean? I think it means that throughout the year and in particular during those portions of the year when Canadian tomatoes are not to be had, the people of this country will have to pay more for the privilege of eating that article of food. There are many others, but two in
particular I wish to draw to the attention of the house: Barbed wire fencing and cream separators. They have already been referred to. I think it is most unfortunate that the government decided to restrict competition in these two items. We have not been bringing in barbed wire from Great Britain to any extent, and no cream separators at all. The farmers of this country will in all probability have to pay more for their separators in future.
I wish to refer briefly to article 13; I shall not read the whole of it as my time is passing rapidly. It commences by saying:
His Majesty's government in Canada undertake that on the request of His Majesty's government in the United Kingdom they will cause a review to be made by the tariff board ... on any commodities specified in such request (of the United Kingdom)
It goes on:
-after the receipt of the report of the tariff board thereon such report shall be laid before parliament and parliament shall be invited to vary wherever necessary the tariff on such commodities of United Kingdom origin in such manner as to give effect to such principles.
Now I wish to refer to the statement made by the Prime Minister in the course of his address. Referring to such recommendations of the tariff board he said:
The government, of course, could not, without being guilty of a sharp departure in constitutional practice relating to tariff and other financial matters, abrogate its responsibility of recommending to parliament all decisions affecting our tariff structure.
The Prime Minister has in those words confirmed the contention continually made from this side of the house that it was contrary to constitutional practice that tariff changes should be made by order in council. [DOT]
In the two minutes I have left I should like to summarize the conclusions at which I have personally arrived in regard to this agreement. I have arrived at two conclusions in its favour:
1. The list of items now permitted to enter Canada free from Great Britain has been increased from 81 to 159, which, though good in itself, does not compare with the provisions of the Dunning budget, in that the latter placed 270 new items on the free list and increased the total number of such items to 589.
2. This action will probably result in an increase in the total trade between Great Britain and Canada..
That is all I can say in favour of this agreement. I find against it:
1. The principle of high protection has been placed more firmly than ever in the saddle by
reason of the fact that there have been increases of duties on 139 items under the intermediate and general tariffs.
2. In respect to the 159 items permitted to enter Canada from Great Britain on the free list, as the margin of preference must be maintained under the provisions of article 9, Canada is precluded from making favoured nation agreements with respect to those items for five years.
3. The majority of the items to be admitted free or under reduced duties are items that will be purchased by manufacturers for further processing, and it is at least doubtful if any reduction in the cost of the finished article will be passed on to the consumer.
4. The general effects of the increased duties under the intermediate and general tariffs will be (a) to increase the cost to the consumer of such goods; and (b) to invite reprisals from the foreign nations to which those duties apply.
5. The agreement offers no remedy for the fact that the exchange differential at present wholly nullifies any possible or alleged advantages under the preferences, and therefore our primary producers will to a very large extent be unable profitably to avail themselves of such alleged advantages, thus rendering the proposed benefits quite illusory.
My conclusions, Mr. Speaker, are that the disadvantages of this agreement outweigh its advantages, and therefore I must of necessity vote against the resolution.
Subtopic: IMPERIAL ECONOMIC CONFERENCE