7 MAY 1927, Page 22

The Bogy of Protection Safeguarding and Protection. By Francis W.

Hirst. (Richard Cobden-Sanderson. 7s. 6d.) MR. HIRST has written quite a good little tract on Free Trade. He is clearly a fanatic upon the subject, and puts his case with the impassioned and somewhat reckless (but exhilarating) gusto of the genuine political pamphleteer. All the old argu- ments are hdduced and no new ones. They are, however, set out with such clarity and force that one is almost persuaded when reading the book that the author is dealing with an important issue. Why worry about a little thing like Socialism when the monstrous horror of a tax on gloves is perpetrated by a dastardly Government ? The dangers and importance of war. itself recede into the background when gas-mantles are at stake. Mr. Hirst boils along, his indignation against Mr. Baldwin growing with every page. • Hops, cutlery, wrapping paper—what next ? The beet subsidy, and—worse still— an appalling threat by the Prime Minister to consider' the possibility of subsidising other industries. We are hurried on to a chapter characteristically entitled, " Facts, Figures, and Fallacies." It is all very good fun. But Mr. Hirst will never convince modern democracy that a duty on imported lace is going to cause the British Empire to rock and tremble. There is a time for most things. The time, for instance, for the Capital Levy was 1919. Mr. Lloyd George rather naturally flinched, the time passed, .and, wle now. lincl_ourselves_sarklied. ,with an intolerably large burden of internal debt which ue must pay off as quickly, as conveniently, and as cheerfully as we can. The time for ProtectiOn—which is a rather clumsy method of inflation—was 1923, to counteract the terrific deflation of 1920-22. The country would not have it, and we have suffered in consequence. A little less hurry about the gold standard would have done much better, but no one dared to say so except Mr. Keynes, who wasn't listened to, and Sir Montague Barlow, whose political career closed shortly after wards. Now most thoughtful people are agreed that a general tariff would be both inexpedient and unsound. But they are not going to swallow the sort of stuff that Mr. Hirst—importing a blind enthusiasm and an almost religious fervour into the prosaic atmosphere of economics—hurls at them here. Fortunately for this country and the world people are beginning to_ ake_up a realistic attitude, towards economic problems and to judge each question on its merits, without regard to pre- judice and preconceived theories, which usually bear no relation to the facts. It is in this attitude that the only hope of a solution to the fiscal problem lies—and to many other problems, of infinitely greater moment, connected with industry and finance. To Mr. Hirst the fiscal problem would appear to be the only one of any fundamental importance, a view not now generally held outside the ranks of the Liberal Council. This book ought to be read by all bigoted tariff reformers, who will find in it much food for thought. It is well written and printed, and possesses a most excellent appendix.