21 NOVEMBER 1931, Page 1

News of the Week

THE Government's intentions regarding the prevention -I- of what are technically described as Abnormal Imports are to be known immediately, for the powers conferred by the Bill which is expected to be passed into law before this week is out are, according to Mr. Runciman, to be put into force immediately. That means in theory that tariffs of anything up to 100 per cent. may be levied, in addition to any existing duties, on any part of the imports, valued at not much under £300,000,000 a year, falling under the head of manu- factured articles. But it-does not, of course, mean that in fact anything so fantastic will happen. It may be hoped that the President of the Board of Trade will have the wisdom to use his powers in the first instance as a Warning, putting on a strictly moderate duty on a short and carefully selected list of articles. The disturbing feature of the new legislation (the necessity of which we do not question, as an article on a later page indicates), is that the new duties will fall on legitimate and necessary imports of particular articles as well as on the real or supposed excess of them, and that an clement of disastrous uncertainty must be introduced into the negotiation of all future contracts, for new duties may be imposed without notice at any moment and apparently varied at will, even after they have been imposed. Business under these conditions becoMes ga