Full text: British engineering industry

There is a movement afoot for the repeal of the Trades Disputes 
In the last session the Government introduced a Bill for the 
ratification of the Washington Convention. That Bill was tem- 
porarily withdrawn, but has been re-introduced this session and 
Industry is threatened with having imposed upon it conditions 
which are unreasonable compared with the conditions of competitor 
countries who do not observe them. 
Apart from charges imposed on industry by Parliament 
there are the local, and municipal charges. These may be in the 
form of restrictions, sometimes unreasonable in themselves and 
sometimes a severe handicap because foreign competitors suffer 
from no such restrictions. 
Such are, for example, so-called fair wages clauses which 
cannot be enforced on foreign works and may in some cases even 
prevent a local industry from competing for local work against a 
foreign industry. At times when the industry is hard-pressed, 
inability to compete for such reasons may make the difference 
between continuing to keep the works running and dismissing 
But the actual costs of local rates are the most serious local 
charge upon industry. It is to be noted that rates are a * prior 
charge,” that is to say, they have to be paid whether there is a 
credit balance on the working of an industry or not. They are not 
a tax upon profits. 
High rates have various effects besides that of preventing an 
industry from making profit. They increase the cost of production, 
and since this cost has to be charged to buyers, they either raise the 
cost of production to all other industries using the products of the 
industry so charged or they compel those other industries to buy 
abroad. This means throwing men out of work. But men out of 
work mean extra cost to the tax-payers and therefore less money 
available for industry, or they mean still higher rates for local 
maintenance of the unemployed. It is not necessary to show that 
where rates are highest unemployment is usually worst or that 
where unemployment is worst rates are highest because there are 
the too familiar features of the so-called “black spots” or 
“depressed areas’,

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