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Safeguarding Of Industries Act

Volume 154: debated on Monday 22 May 1922

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Japanese Window Blinds


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?

Parcel Post (Customs Inspection


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has been able to make any new arrangements with the Postmaster- General as to the charges which the Post Office are now making for opening parcels for inspection by the Customs House staff, seeing that in a case recently dealt with the Post Office charges were 15s., and the amount of duty collected was 11d.?

As I informed the hon. Member for Edinburgh East on 15th May, I am in communication with the Postmaster-General on this subject.

Part Ii (Complaints)


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has received a request from the artificial flower manufacturers of Great Britain for the imposing of a duty, under the Safeguarding of Industries Act, upon imported artificial flowers; and, if so, can he state if any decision has been arrived at?


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has received an application, under Part II of the Safeguarding of Industries Act, for the imposition of a duty on imported picture-frame moulding; if so, on what date it was received; and whether any decision has been arrived at in the matter?

I have already stated in reply to similar questions that I think it undesirable to give information regarding the nature or scope of any particular complaint unless it is referred to a Committee.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that as soon as an announcement is made that this matter is being reviewed by his Department, there is an enormous increase in the import of the article, pending a decision?

Scheduled Articles


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the decision of the referee, under Part I of the Safeguarding of Industries Act, with reference to cream of tartar (including tartaric acid, vinegar, and acetic acid), synthetic camphor, and many other similar commodities, he will state what technical advice he took in drawing up a list in which so many articles were improperly included?

The list in question was prepared by officers of my Department, who utilised all appropriate sources of information, but it was thought undesirable to consult any interests which might be directly affected by the inclusion or exclusion of any particular commodity. In view of the comparatively very limited number of complaints which have been made, I am satisfied that the list issued was based on adequate technical knowledge.



asked the President of the Board of Trade whether a decision has been arrived at concerning the suitable Regulations as to drawback under the Safeguarding of Industries Act, which he stated on 31st October last were under consideration; if so, whether they will be submitted to trading organisations, such as the London Chamber of Commerce; and, if not, whether he will state when he expects to make an announcement on this matter, as the uncertainty now prevailing is having a detrimental effect upon the re-export of goods from Great Britain?

I am informed that the Regulations in question have been available since the 3rd November last, and that copies have been forwarded by the Commissioners of Customs and Excise to all bodies or persons who have made inquiry on the subject.



asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the disturbance to trade caused by the setting up of numerous committees under the Safeguarding of Industries Act, such as those on glass bottles, hooks and eyes, press buttons, wire nails, optical and scientific instruments, gas mantles, and the heavy expenses thereby incurred, he will suspend the appointment of any further committees till the Cabinet has been able to review the reports already given or, in the alternative, afford facilities for the Safeguarding of Industries Act Repeal Bill now before the House?

Scientific And Optical Instruments


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been drawn to the amount of the duties collected for the six months ending 31st March on a wide range of scientific and optical instruments from all countries; and whether, seeing that by far the greatest proportion of that amount was collected in respect of cinematograph films, and that the duties actually collected on the other ranges of goods are very small and in some cases infinitesimal, on what grounds, seeing that the imports from Germany must be very small, he has decided that there is aprimâ facie case to refer to a Committee?

I am aware of the amount of the duties collected on the articles referred to in the question. The Board of Trade considered that aprimâ facie case was made out that the volume of imports from Germany of optical and scientific instruments, considered in relation to the present output of the industry in this country, was such as to exercise a serious effect on employment. Cinematograph films are not included within the Committee's terms of reference.

Glass Articles


asked the President of the Board of Trade if he can explain why toys, such as magic lanterns and viewscopes, are classified as scientific instruments by his Department for the purpose of duty under the Safeguarding of Industries Act, while vacuum flasks and similar articles are not; whether he can explain why some glass hand-mirrors are held to be exempt from duty as optical glass, whereas those used for shaving purposes are held to be dutiable; and whether he will issue a list stating what glass articles are dutiable and thus save the present confusion, expense, and delay?

As regards magic lanterns and viewscopes, I would refer my hon. Friend to the answers which I gave to the hon. Member for the Western Isles on the 24th October last and the 8th May respectively. Laboratory vacuum flasks are included in the list of articles dutiable under the heading of scientific glassware. As regards mirrors, a small number have been held to be dutiable as having worked surfaces and, consequently, falling under the heading of optical elements. In reply to the last part of the question, I would refer to the lists already issued under Section 1 (5) of the Safeguarding of Industries Act.

Synthetic Substances


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the decision of the referee that synthetic camphor has been improperly included in the list issued under Part I of the Safeguarding of Industries Act, he will introduce legislation providing for the repayment of the duty to those who have been wrongly called upon to pay it?

No, Sir. Contingencies of the kind which has arisen in this particular case were specifically provided for by Section 1 (5) of the Safeguarding of Industries Act.


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether the decision given by the Referee under Part I of the Safeguarding of Industries Act with reference to synthetic camphor covers other synthetic substances, including synthetic perfumery used by the manufacturers of fancy soaps; and, if so, whether he will issue immediate instructions to that effect and thus avoid the continued payment by manufacturers of duties improperly levied?

The decision of the Referee in the case mentioned by the hon. Member does not cover other synthetic substances, and consequently the second part of the question does not arise.

Part Ii (Orders)


asked the Prime Minister whether he can make any statement as to the Cabinet policy in reference to the imposition of Orders under Part II of the Safeguarding of Industries Act?


asked the Prime Minister if he can now state the intentions of the Government in regard to putting into operation Part II of the Safeguarding of Industries Act in the case of the fabric glove and other industries in which the Committees have recommended that the said Act should be applied?

The President of the Board of Trade is not yet in a position to make a statement on this subject.

In these circumstances, are we to take it that we have heard the last of these Orders under Part II?

No, Sir. The hon. and gallant Member would, I am sure, be sorry not to have the opportunity of putting these questions.

In view of the great urgency of this matter, can the right hon. Gentleman state when the Government will announce its intentions in regard to the question?

The hon. Member is repeating a question which has been put and answered. It has been stated that the Government have not made up their minds yet.

May I, without prejudice in the matter of urgency, repeat the question to the Prime Minister on Thursday, the first day, as I understand, when he will be in attendance in the House?