asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that penknives, cigarette cases, ash trays, metal pencil cases, pottery mugs, and various other articles, all bearing the name of a British trader, are allowed to be imported into this country without any indication of the country of origin thereon, on the ground that such articles are to be ultimately given away as advertisements; and if he will take legal opinion as to whether such admission is in accordance with the provisions of Section 16 of the Merchandise Marks Act, 1887, and in the meantime discontinue further admission of such articles?
The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative except that the articles referred to are not regarded as bearing the name of a British manufacturer in the sense in which the word "bear" is used in Section 16 of the Merchandise Marks Act. The administration of that Section is in the hands of the Commissioners of Customs and Excise, and I am informed that their practice in this matter is in accordance with an opinion given by the Law Officers who were consulted in 1908. In view of this opinion the Commissioners hold that the articles in question cannot under the existing law be required to be marked with an indication of their country of origin, or, failing such indication, be prohibited from importation.
Will the right hon. Gentleman see that in the Merchandise Marks Bill in another place words are inserted to make it wide enough to include articles of this sort?
That will be a very good opportunity of discussing the whole subject.
Can the right hon. Gentleman take some steps to see that goods manufactured abroad shall not be represented as British goods bearing the name of a British firm?
Will the right hon. Gentleman take steps to press forward the new Bill to regulate merchandise marks?
The new Bill is proceeding in another place with quite conventional rapidity.