CANADA AND BRITISH TARIFF REFORM.
Address by Mr. Alfred Mosely, C.M.G., before the Empire Club of Canada, on December Both, 1905.
Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen,--
I have only arrived in Toronto this morning, and I must be excused if my remarks are somewhat scattered. I have hurried along so that I might be with you and I am leaving for Ottawa tonight. Before commencing my remarks to you, will you allow me to correct an error which has appeared in the Toronto papers, where it has been stated that I am Chairman of Mr. Chamberlain's Tariff Commission. Such is not the case. I am one of the Commission-one of the Executive members -but I am not the Chairman. Lord Ridley, to whom the manufacturers who visited England last summer were introduced, is the Chairman.
Now, gentlemen, the question of tariff reform, I take it, affects us one and all-those who love the Empireand the very name of this Club gives an inspiration in a direction that we know means something to the British people at large. You 'could not have chosen a more appropriate name for your Club, because the day is fast approaching when the Empire as a whole will be considered important to the world at large. We are but at the commencement, I venture to think, of our prosperity, providing we know how to use our opportunities; and it lies in the hands of the masses, of those who would seek like ourselves to lead the masses, to decide whether we shall say that the birth of the British Empire, the birth of the prosperity of England, has but commenced, or whether we shall accept the position of the inevitable, of those who do not march forward, the position of first standing still and of then going back.
Now, the British people, through their tenacity in the past, have shown the world that they know how to fight when they are cornered. And, I venture to think today that we are cornered, in the position in which British industry is placed, when we are brought into such severe competition with those who do not buy our goods, but who close their doors against us, and seek to dump their surplus products upon the British market, thereby putting our people out of work, and' lowering the general standard of the community. You have only to read the papers to know for yourselves the present condition of our workers. I, who have taken an active interest in the people of the Old Country for a long time, cannot remember such a condition as is approaching at the present moment. You read of the unemployed parading the streets; you have read only the other day when the King's daughter went to open a new scene of industry, which it was hoped would give them some relief, they jeered and cried, "We want work, not charity." Gentlemen, that is the position, I venture to think, of the bulk of the British race today. We want to work. We want the opportunity to extend our commerce. We want the opportunity to give education, and all that we desire leads towards the uplifting and the making of the Anglo-Saxon race which up to the present time has led the world.
Scientific dumping has become a perfect pest so far as the British Isles are concerned. Now, many of you here are business men, and, therefore, know what dumping means. It is that a protected country, having a protection surrounding its own industries, charging the whole of the fixed charges to the protected part of their industry, which is sold to the home consumer, seeks to increase its protection and to have a surplus to export. That surplus carries no fixed charges, because it remains entirely chargeable to that part which they consume at home. The surplus often represents merely the bare cost of the raw material, the bare cost of labour often enough representing fifty percent of the total cost, and those goods are dumped on our markets in England, rendering manufacturing not only unremunerative, but placing our manufacturers in the position of having to accept a low price for all they are producing, and, therefore, sweating, not the machine, but the man, and placing themselves in a position whereby they are unable to keep pace with the present modern developments of machinery, and to regulate their factories in the way in which it is being done in the United States and in Canada, now that you have a protective policy.
The position of manufacturers, as I have said, is a precarious one. Not only are these goods dumped on the market, thereby rendering our own manufactures unremunerative, but it acts as a double-edged sword. These goods are sold irrespective of the cost of production at home, simply because this surplus costs considerably less than the ordinary products. The makers can afford to sell it perhaps at 25 percent less than their ordinary price, and still make a profit. It acts in a double sense in this way; these goods arrive in the British market, and compete with what we produce at home, and I need not point out to you as commercial men--and I know many of those before me belong to that class--that as soon as you put a surplus on the market at a lower price, even though it be but a small percentage of the whole, it drags down the price of the whole .of the produce which is manufactured in the country in which the surplus is dumped. In other words a surplus of five or ten percent put upon an unwilling market Will often reduce the price, not five or ten percent, but twenty, thirty, forty and even fifty percent. We have had an example of that in England lately in the article of sugar. There was something like, I think, 100,000 tons shortage of sugar last year owing to the drought in Germany, and the beet crop being small. I think I saw it stated that this shortage of the total crop amounted to only some seven percent of the total sugar which was manufactured in Germany. In consequence of that shortness of the crop, beet sugar rose from something like nine shillings per hundredweight to sixteen and six-pence. Today, we have the full crop from Germany again put upon the market, and sugar has fallen to eight and nine pence-showing what an extraordinary effect a small percentage has upon the whole cost of the production, and how a small surplus, either plus or minus, affects the price of the bulk of your goods.
The same thing was true in reference to the product of bacon some time ago. Bacon went down with a tremendous rush twelve years ago in England. Farmers had to give up keeping hogs. I made inquiries from a friend of mine who was largely interested in the bacon trade, and I said, "What is this? Why is it that it has become unremunerative for the farmers to raise bacon, and that we see the material being sold at so low a price?" And he said: "It is simply that America is dumping her surplus on our markets." I said: "Why does it have such an extraordinary effect as to reduce the price apparently fifty per cent? What is the total amount of their production?" And his answer to me was that the imports to Great Britain of the total production of the United States was something under four percent of their total. Yet it had the effect of putting down our prices something like fifty percent.
Now, having just touched upon these important points as to the effect of dumping, let me tell you that it is having a most disastrous effect upon the condition of our working people. Those who employ labour--and doubtless there are many before me in that position-know that if a man has to walk the streets a certain length of time, and has to part with his goods and chattels, if his wife and children have to go hungry, he gets into a desperate condition, and often, if he succeeds in finding work thereafter, he is unfitted for regular and constant employment, and gradually drifts into a condition of submerged debt. You have all, no doubt, read that great book of General Booth's, consisting of twenty odd volumes on the condition of the masses! At all events you have read some extracts from it, and those who are interested in the condition of the masses have waded through all the volumes. To sum it up, it means that something like 13,000,000 out of 38,000,000 of our people are on the verge of starvation. That is a serious condition for any country to be in. It has brought danger to the Empire. This is what we have; this is the legacy of sixty years of free trade; and we are supposed to have had the market to ourselves, to have had the monopoly of supplying the manufacturing world.
It is only a generation ago that if the world wanted manufactured goods they had to come to England for them. But times have changed, gentlemen. The ideals of Cobden, if they were ever good, have passed out of existence. He assumed, and possibly rightly read his views at the time, that if England set the example of free trade the rest of the world might follow. Unfortunately for England-and I probably should not be addressing you now if his ideals had been realized-those other countries, instead of lowering their tariffs and making towards free trade, have all sought to build up their own -industries independent of England-and I do not blame them for it-to put up a tariff wall against us until we are now in the position that those who were formerly our best customers are now our competitors. There is a new condition and we must rise to the occasion and meet these altered conditions with some form of protection for ourselves. I am not one of those who believe in wild protection such as they have in the United States, but I should like to see a tariff somewhat on the lines proposed by the Right Hon. Joseph Chamberlain, which lays down the principle that the first object is to secure our home market and then to consider how we can best manufacture to supply the neutral markets, and, above all, how we can draw the bonds closer between the Mother-country and the Colonies, and enter into some sort of fiscal arrangement which will be beneficial to us all, thereby increasing the comfort of the masses and giving increased profit to the manufacturers.
And, gentlemen, I need hardly remind you that it is impossible for the manufacturer to erect factories such as we should like to see, with air and light and comforts for the men, when they are struggling night and day to keep body and soul together, to keep their factories from being closed. I cannot appeal .to you too strongly, gentlemen, to turn this matter over in your minds. That great statesman, Mr. Chamberlain, after having arrived at the exalted position which he has held of watching over and leading the 'affairs of the Colonies of the Empire, did not hesitate to sacrifice that which most men would hold dear, but gave up salary and honour and everything, stepping down into the battlefield to fight for what he believed to be the salvation of the nation; as to whether we are to continue in our past state of prosperity, and if we are to hold our own in the future. It is something for a man who has turned seventy to exhibit such pluck, and to have such complete confidence in his views; but unfortunately in England with a vast population of inferiorly educated people the problem of educating the masses must necessarily be slow, and when Mr. Chamberlain originally launched his propaganda, and when I thought that such a programme as he placed before the public would be carried into effect almost immediately, because it bore on the face of it what I thought, was common sense, he warned me that we could not expect to win in a rush.
He reminded me that it took Cobden a matter of five or six years to educate the people to what he believed to be best for the interests of the people. Mr. Cobden had a very easy task-simply to wipe out what was in existence. A stroke of the pen did it. It is a different thing altogether to commence and build up your foundations from the bottom. We are now, and have been for two years, engaged in framing a tariff. That tariff has to be framed in such a way that it will produce the greatest amount of good to the greatest number, and impose as little hardship as possible-if any hardship must be imposed-upon a small number of manufacturers, or upon the population at large. Now, Mr. Chamberlain, in his wide view of affairs, realizes the possibilities of Canada. He knows your great NorthWest territory, the home you have there for countless millions of people, awaiting the plough, awaiting to produce what we must have in the Old Country, what we must have at home and everywhere to feed our people, and he has said: Let us treat our own kith and kin somewhat better than our enemies." Let us endeavour to purchase from our relations in the Colonies what we cannot produce ourselves, namely, foodstuffs and raw material, and let us see if it is not possible to enter into some sort of bargain and some sort of arrangement with our Colonies, whereby they will be able to develop their great territories, to supply a large and increasing population, to build up comfortable homes for themselves, and thereby somewhat tend to lessen the congestion in the Old Country. And when you have sold your agricultural produce to the Mother-country, who is manufacturing, and who cannot produce enough for herself, his view is that you should, without in any way seeking to hamper or to penalize your manufacturers, take what you cannot produce yourselves, what you must necessarily purchase from the outside world, from the Old Country, instead of from Germany and other countries that close their markets against our British workmen, and seek by illegitimate means and scientific dumping to close our factories, and put our working classes on the streets.
It is a big policy that you have to consider, and it is conceived in no small spirit. It is done with a view to extend and strengthen the great British Empire which, as I have already said, has given to the world all its ideals that are worth having. The question is, are we to continue to lead the world, or are we to gradually follow the position of Spain and Holland, and sink to the place of a secondary power, gradually to become effete. You with your sturdy home blood running through your veins, a great deal of which is Scotch--and there is no better blood in the world--I quite agree with my friend, my father was born in Edinburgh--you have the material in you to overcome difficulties. You have cut down the timber of this country and carved out for yourselves a career in the face and in spite of enormous difficulties. And these difficulties, in my opinion, are things of the past. You are about to reap the reward of that great work of your forefathers. Canada is just now emerging from its cradle. It has taken a long time for you to "get a move on," but you have, and in my humble opinion you are but at the commencement of your prosperity. If one could go out to your great North-West twenty years hence, I think one's hair would almost stand on end to see the changes that are bound to take place.
Let us see how far it is possible to support Mr. Chamberlain in future. You must necessarily import manufactured goods. You must necessarily, if your North-West is to develop on the lines in which I believe it must develop, have an enormous surplus to export. Where are you to send that surplus. The world closes its doors against you. There is only one market for you, as you all know, and that is Great Britain. Let us cherish that market to its utmost. Let us remember that if there is to be increased work for your manufacturers, if your land is to be taken up and put under the plough, with the exception of what you consume at home-and that will always be a small proportion, comparatively speaking, of the large production which will come from the North-West Territories-it is to the Old Country you must look for a market. And we desire in return to send you what you do not produce yourselves. That is Mr. Chamberlain's scheme in a nutshell. To a business man, to a man who is able to think, to a man who is able to size up the proposition as you can, if you realize your advantage in this country, and if you go to the Old Country and see the conditions there, it requires but very little consideration to know that such a scheme must bear fruit, must tend to the prosperity of the whole Empire, and to the help of both the Mother-country and of Canada. We have an up-hill fight to face in Great Britain. We meet with a mass of ignorance, a large amount of misrepresentation, I am sorry to say, by those who would seek to keep the workmen in bondage, I am afraid, not without advantage to themselves. We have to convince the masses that there is such a thing as bringing about a better understanding between the Colonies and the Mother-country.
The Colonies do not convey anything to them. It is but a few years ago, as you all know, that they hardly conveyed anything to the British Cabinet. They spoke of letting the Colonies go, thought they were not worth retaining. Those days are past; but not, perhaps, to the man in the street, and it is only three years ago that I remember a gentleman who had spent five years in the House of Commons, representing the Labour party, asking the question when he landed in Montreal: "Is Canada any bigger than Yorkshire?" If that is from a Labour leader who has been five years in the House of Commons, what can you expect from the masses? It was only when he had been travelling two or three days, night and day, in the train and looked at the map, and found he had been nowhere, that he realized the extent of the Dominion.
I have to appeal to you on behalf of those who are fighting the battle that you shall send out a word of encouragement to the people in the Old Country who are taking upon themselves the brunt of the fight. As I have said, we have a long and difficult task, and I plead with you to have patience. It may possibly be a matter of years before we can carry out our programme, but come it must. All I hope is that it will come soon, in order that we may get prosperity, not for the classes, because they can take care of themselves, but for the masses of workers in England-and we must accomplish an improvement in the conditions of the masses, if the race is to maintain those virile qualities that it has possessed in the past. I plead for patience. I plead for help, and I trust that you will send forth at this Christmas-tide a word of encouragement to Mr. Chamberlain, seeing that you believe that he is on the right track, and that the work that he has undertaken will be crowned with success. He himself is confident, in a way that it is difficult to convey to you, that we must succeed. We shall succeed, and we look to all parts of the Empire to lend us a hand in the work we have undertaken.
LIEUT.-COLONEL G. T. DENISON.--I beg to move the following Resolution: "That the Empire Club desires to express its strongest sympathy with Mr. Chamberlain in his earnest and unselfish efforts on behalf of the consolidation of the Empire, believing that the future welfare and prosperity of the Mother-country and the Colonies and their permanent union depend largely upon the success of the policy of Imperial Preferential trade."
M. W. K. GEORGE, seconded the motion, which was carried with one dissenting voice.
MR. MOSELY.--It is always refreshing to know that there is a difference of opinion, even if it is only a minority of one. I addressed a meeting at Brantford the other evening, a fairly large and representative gathering, and there everyone, with one exception, was of the same opinion, and a vote of thanks was passed to me unanimously, but with this gentleman's proviso that he did not agree with what I had said. When it comes to a question of one out of several hundred, I can only say that I envy your position, and I wish we were in exactly the same position in England. We would not take long to carry out Mr. Chamberlain's programme. As a humble member of his Commission, allow me to thank the Club, Colonel Denison and Mr. George who have kindly proposed and seconded this Resolution, on behalf of our people at home who are working to carry out Mr. Chamberlain's proposal; and I need hardly say that such a demonstration coming from Toronto, which is one of the two greatest cities in Canada, will carry great weight with our people at home. I would ask that the Resolution be cabled to London, so that it can be published in the morning papers, and Mr. Chamberlain will know before he eats his Christmas dinner what is the feeling in Toronto in regard to his great proposals now before the country.