Full text: British engineering industry

The late Government tried to remedy this position locally by 
reducing the rate-charges on industrial premises and transferring 
part of the charges to other premises or to the tax-payer, in the 
hope that they might break the chain which was steadily dragging 
the depressed areas deeper into the Slough of Despond. To what 
extent that effort could eventually succeed is a matter of doubt 
because, as we have seen, all public expenditure is eventually a 
handicap to industry, however it is collected. Also any benefit 
from “ De-rating >’ is liable to be cancelled by fresh impositions. 
In any case, the chief need of all the industries of the country 
is a reduction in the total costs of Government, national or local, 
that is, a large reduction in taxation, by whatever authorities and 
npon whatever section of the community it is imposed. 
The last difficulties of industry generally to which reference 
may be made are those caused by trades union restrictions and 
demarcations. Illustrations will not be given here because, for the 
most part, they vary from industry to industry. So far as they 
directly and exclusively affect the Engineering Industry they are 
within the control of employers and trades unions negotiating 
together, But it is evident that restrictions and demarcations which 
increase the costs of an industry using engineering products, and 
therefore lower its ability to compete and to obtain orders, directly 
decrease orders and therefore employment in engineering. It seems 
to be a matter for the trades unions together to consider how far 
restrictions in one can be relaxed in order to help workers employed, 
both in the industry immediately concerned and in others. 
It is not suggested that these restrictions and limitations are 
all due to prejudice or are all of recent growth. British industry 
has a longer history of development than that of any other country. 
It has made experiments, devised new methods, and created new 
products of which other countries, now its competitors, have taken 
advantage. But in this process of development there have naturally 
been caused new branches of employment which have taken away 
some of the work originally done by others, and attempts have 
been made by limitations to prevent this process gomg so far as to 
deprive the original workers of employment. The use of a new 
method or a new material is always apt to throw out of work men 
long accustomed to and skilled in the older method or the old material.

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