THE CASE FOR TARIFF REFORM.
The report just issued by the Tariff
Commission on the condition of the Engineering Industries at Home affords ample food for reflection for all interest-
cd in the vitally important question of Fiscal policy, tin the whole, the report is rather encouraging than otherwise to those who hold thnt England's commercial and industrial supremacy is not yet seriously threatened; for the evidence gop« io show that the engineering industrie.s at Home haie. on the whole, expanded and progressed during recent years. Bul the point to be observed is that the various trade* which make up this great industry hiive not advanced "so rapidly as the increase in the demand for engineering products, or so rapidly as t'.ie engineering industries oi the United Slates and Germany." Moreover the report caretully notes that "in many branches ihe conditions of competition in the British industry have become more difficult., in consequence of the rapid expansion of competing foreign industries, the greater r;-curity they enjoy in their home market- and* their greater power of competition in other markets." It i- this question of relative progress that the Tariff Reformers rightly empha-isc. for if it is once clearly e-tablirhed that though England's industries are growinu. foreign producers are securing a lursrer share of the Home market, and at the same time defending their own protected markets more effectually against British competition, the ultimate prospects of British trad-p become gloomy in the extreme.
As to the evidence ii;l:-.iitted to the . Tarifl Commission on the effects of the i growth of foreign t-ade upon fcritish
industries, it may be pointed out that j77 of the firms consulted stated that
! they do not suffer perceptibly from • foreign competition. Thp reasons given.
j however, were generally the special j character of their manufactures, or the fact that they were engaged on Ad- ! miralty and War Office contracts, from which foreign competition is usually excluded. But. on the other hand, more than 400 tirnia complain that they suffer seriously from the inroads of foreign goods into the Home market, and from their evidence has been compiled a list of 500 foreign products and mauufactu-es inipoitii] on a laige scale into Kngland. A large amount 01 "dumping"' is reported in th? engineering trades, especially in the cycle and harvester machine ; trades. The import of German ami i Belgian steel joists and girder* ! at ridiculously low figures has J compelled the British manufacturers to i accept "altogether unremnnerative prices" J so as to secure orders. The importation J of structural steel, chiefly from Germany,
has increased by an average of 74 per cent in 10 years. According to the 1908 contract lists 81 per cent of 1 the new electrical machinery used in London and the provinces is of foreign origin. The British motor car output has reached an annual value of £5,000,000; but the -importations of complete cars and motors are valued at £4,000,000. United .States makers of binders and harvesters have secured 95 per cent of the English home market, while of all the flour used in the United Kingdom 75 per cent is ground and otherwise prepared by foreign-made machinery. We select these items almost at random from the report and they indicate plainly its very serious character. The effect of foreign tariffs in limiting the sale of British products abroad is shown -io U- highly injurious to the trade; and at the same time "Colonial preference, where it has operated upon engineering products, has been of much benefit." On the whole, we should imagine that the tariff reformers could wish for no more complete justification of their demand for a revision of England's fiscal policy and a return to some modified form of protection than is contained iv this report
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