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Volume 154: debated on Monday 15 May 1922

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asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that the 1,050,000 lenses and prisms imported into this country during the past six months chiefly consisted of toy articles such as kaleidoscopes, viewscopes, magic lanterns, magnifying glasses and similar articles; that the average complete value of the lenses and instruments was 6¾d.; and that these are classified as optical and scientific instruments upon which the Key Industry Duty of 33⅓ per cent, is levied; if he can say whether these articles are included in the reference to the Committee which is appointed by him to consider the placing of a further 33⅓ per cent. duty under the depreciated currency provisions of the Safeguarding of Industries Act on the ground that the importation of these toys is causing serious unemployment in this country: and is he aware that another Committee recently reported that the importation of such toys is not causing serious unemployment?

The total number of lenses, prisms, etc., registered as imported during the six months October to March was about 2,000,000. These, no doubt, included a considerable number of lenses imported with complete instruments, but I am unable to confirm the figure mentioned in the question. The average value of about 6½d. includes only the lenses, prisms, etc., not the instruments of which they formed part. Some of the articles mentioned in the question are included under the headings of optical elements or instruments in the Safeguarding of Industries Act, and are therefore liable to key industry duty. So far as such articles come within the scope of the optical or scientific instrument industry, they come within the terms of reference to the Committee referred to in the third part of the question, but so far as they concern the toy-making industry they have already been dealt with by the Toys Committee.