asked the President of the Board of Trade if it is possible for his Department to take some action on behalf of the trading community to prevent the wholesale detention of goods which arises owing to the collection of duties now imposed upon miscellaneous goods, as in the case of a consignment of Japanese window blinds which arrived in London by the ss. "Polyphemus" on the 6th March; whether he is aware that the Customs refuse to deliver these goods unless a deposit equal to 33½ per cent. on 90 per cent. of the total value of the blinds was paid, for the reason that certain glass beads which form part of the blinds were manufactured by the lamp-blown process, and that, despite the statement made by the importer, supported by three glass experts, that the heads in question were not manufactured by the lamp-blown process, all efforts to obtain a return of the deposit have been without result; can he state whether the glass in question was submitted to his glass expert; and, if so, can he say what was the decision of that official?
I cannot admit that there is any wholesale detention of goods on importation as suggested in the question. As has been frequently stated, pending decision as to liability to Key Industry Duty, immediate delivery of imported goods may be obtained on a deposit being made with the Customs to secure any duty which may prove to be chargeable. I understand that this course was followed in the case of the consignment referred to. A deposit of £15 was made with the Customs on the 29th March, and the consignment was delivered out of charge of that Department on the following day. The goods have since been held to be not liable to Key Industry Duty, and the deposit refunded.
Does the right hon. Gentleman not know that certain expenses were incurred owing to the detention of these goods, and that it took two months to investigate and return the deposit?
I think the facts are not as stated by the hon. Member. The facts are as stated in my answer.
I understand the money was paid in March and was not received back until last week. Is not that two months?