12 DECEMBER 1931, Page 8

This suggestion may be too inventive, and it would be

unwise to fall into the error of other countries suffering from currency difficulties, namely, the attribution of every difficulty to foreign machinations. We have enough of our own creation, particularly that so clearly brought out at question time during the week-end- amusingly enough—discovered by the official newspaper of the Labour Party, namely, that high taxation in item after item is defeating its own object of bringing in a greater yield. That is by the way, though it must be giving Mr. Chamberlain tremors about his next Budget. To return to tariff irritations, no one save the most ludicrously optimistic protectionist could have expected anything else, and Mr. Runciman was wise to face the House immediately with one necessary but not necessarily condemnatory result of the new economic policy. As he suggested, mere irritation must be replaced by desire to negotiate in a friendly spirit. But that ha,; been made difficult with foreign countries by the Govern- ment's announcement that it will make no arrangements with them likely to prejudice any future arrangements within the Empire. The House cheered loudly both Mr. Runciman's warning (coupled as it was with a hint that he was " warm " in the search for innocuous duties on cotton goods and warmer than before towards' duties on iron and steel) and this hint of priority for an Imperial economic policy ; but members will probably be -glad if the hint proves not to rule out temporary arrange- ments with our other customers. Such arrangements are quite possible—for example, our present commercial relations with France are partly regulated by a treaty terminable at only three months' notice on either side. We should look pretty silly if we dispensed with foreign customers at least before finding others. Meanwhile only a very exacting critic would accuse a Government which has come to such decisions of being indifferent to the need of bold experiment in general, or to the claims of Conservative policy in particular.

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