I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether he is aware that the Return of Imports and Exports, recently issued by the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction for Ireland contains the statement that the information given is neither complete nor exact, and applies to the year 1905; whether such tables are prepared for the United Kingdom by the Customs Department and issued monthly; and whether, seeing that the whole value of such figures depends on their accuracy and the promptness with which they are issued, he can undertake that in future correct tables of imports and exports shall be issued for Ireland by the Customs Department.
The Answer to the first part of the Question is in the affirmative. As to the second part of the Question, tables of the foreign trade of the United Kingdom are prepared by the Customs and issued monthly. The trade between Great Britain and Ireland is regarded as coasting trade, and the Customs do not prepare statistics of the quantities and values of goods carried coastwise. As to the final part of the Question, the Department will undertake that a full and complete statement of Irish imports and exports will be promptly and regularly issued, provided they are given the necessary powers to obtain adequate Returns. Legislation with this object in view is being considered.
Does the hon. Gentleman consider that a delay of eighteen months is reasonable?
No, and I think the Returns should be made monthly.
Will the hon. Gentleman undertake to introduce legislation next session to expedite the Returns?
I can give no undertaking, but I will do my best to get the necessary legislation to secure that the Returns are adequate and prompt.