remain a permanent'feature of our life. For the time being it
is a grim necessity, but we may hope it is only a preliminary
to a return to greater sanity in Europe, when we can devote
ourselves once more to the arts of peace, and I feel confident
that those who are responsible for the direction of industry
in Birmingham are not losing sight of the importance to this
country of our export trade, which, in the past, has been the
source of so much of our economic and financial strength.
" In a few weeks we shall see the reopening of the Birming-
ham section of the British Industries Fair, which this year is to
receive the much-prized honour of a visit from Their Majesties
the King and Queen. It was a great disappointment that Their
Majesties had to postpone the visit they were to have paid to
the city last year, and we are all the more gratified on that
account that they should have given us this early opportunity
of showing our loyalty and affection to our Sovereigns.
" If it were not for one consideration, I should be disposed
to take a rosy view of the prospects of business during this
current year, for until quite lately there were a number of
features, such as a rise in the price of primary commodities
and the improvement of trading in the United States, which
seemed to show that the recession of last year had passed its
peak. But I am bound to record that at the present time there
exists a certain amount of political tension in international
affairs which may or may not be well founded, but which is
undoubtedly holding back enterprise.
" That shows how closely politics are entwined with
economics and finance apart from any other consideration.
I think that fact would justify the efforts which the Govern-
ment are continuously making to ease that political tension
and bring about a better understanding between the nations.
" Lord Dudley has said something about the events of last
September which culminated in the Munich Agreement. A
great deal of criticism, mostly, I think, in this country, has
been directed against that agreement and against the action
I took in attempting, by personal contact, to obtain a peaceful
solution of a problem which very nearly involved the world
in a catastrophe of the first magnitude.
" The criticism has come from various quarters which are
perhaps only unanimous in one respect, namely, that they