asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that a post package, No. 956, containing 35 dozen lamp-blown Christmas-tree ornaments, arrived in London on the 6th May, advised by the Customs and Excise on the 15th, and, on the importer attending with the necessary forms and the 33⅓ per cent. duty due under the Safeguarding of Industries Act on lamp-blown ware, he was informed by the officials that he need not pay the duty; will he explain under what method these exemptions are given to some firms and not to all; and, if it is not intended to collect duty on lamp-blown ware, will he issue a notice accordingly, and also specify whether this exemption applies to commodities other than lamp-blown ware?
The details given in the question are not sufficient to identify the package, but they indicate that on presentation of the invoices, etc., it was found that the goods came within the scope of the Treasury Order exempting from Key Industry Duty all toys and fancy goods in which the part liable to duty does not exceed 10 per cent. of the value of the article.
Customs Parcels, Grimsby
asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether he is aware that duties paid on parcels N 1/763 and N 1/122 forwarded to the Customs at Grimsby on the 11th May were only acknowledged on the 24th, and that on parcels No. 351 to 354 payments were forwarded on the 17th May, but no receipt has yet been received; and whether he will take some action, either by increasing the staff or by adopting some other system, to prevent the holding up of goods owing to the collection of these various duties, seeing that his efforts and promises have failed to secure the prompt clearance and delivery of goods so essential for the carrying on of trade?
The parcels cannot be identified from the details given in the question. If the hon. Member will supply me with the reference numbers quoted at the head of the relative Customs notices of arrival, or, failing these, the names of the importers and the dates of importation, I will make inquiry and communicate the result to her.
Japanese Window Blinds
asked the Financial Secretary to the Teasury whether he will make improved arrangements for dealing with goods over which a dispute arises, as in the case of a recent consignment of Japanese window blinds, where the Customs officer inaccurately asserted that certain glass beads forming part of the blinds were made by the lamp-blown process, which necessitated the detaining of the goods from the 6th to the 29th March, involving heavy charges upon the importer and the deposit of 33⅓ per cent. duty in cash; and whether he is aware that the deposit was not obtainable until after a delay of two months, during which time the importer was unable to sell the goods owing to the uncertainty as to whether the duty plus charges would be payable or not?
I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given on the 22nd instant to a question by the hon. Member for Whitechapel, which, I assume, relates to the same consignment. As regards the period from the 6th to the 29th March, I would remind the hon. Member that, pending a decision as to liability, delivery of the goods could have been obtained at any time after importation on a deposit being made with the Customs to cover any duty which might prove to be chargeable. This deposit was not actually made until the 29th March. The delay in returning the deposit was due to the fact that a question of principle, requiring careful consideration, had first to be determined.
Has the Cabinet decided the principle involved in Part II of the Act?
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why the gross expenditure of the Mint, including coinage, has gone up from £143,374 in 1913–14 to £383,160 in 1921–22 and £6,019,000 in 1922–23?
The gross expenditure is increased owing to an accounting change introduced this year under which the silver withdrawn for recoinage is passed through the Vote account. The hon. Member will have observed that there is a counterbalancing increase in the receipt and that the net total of the Vote remains a nominal sum of £10.
Motor Chassis (Import Duty)
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether any import duty is still being imposed on motor chassis to be used for taximeter cabs, chars-a-bane, hotel omnibuses, and funeral hearses; and, if so, why?
Motor cars are, by Section 13 (4) of the Finance (No. 2) Act, 1915, exempt from import duty if they are proved to the satisfaction of the Commissioners of Customs and Excise to be constructed and adapted for use, and intended to be used solely as motor omnibuses, or motor ambulances, or in connection with the conveyance of goods or burden in the course of trade or husbandry, or by a local authority as fire engines or otherwise for the purposes of their fire brigade services. Taxicabs do not fall within any head of the exemption but motor chars-à-bane and hotel omnibuses, if used solely as motor omnibuses, and motor hearses are exempt.
Is it not a fact that the right hon. Gentleman stated that there is no charge for industrial motor cars, but that the duty is placed solely on touring cars, and, if so, do taxicabs come under the category of touring cars or industrial vehicles, and if the latter, why do they pay the 33⅓ per cent. duty?
The other day I gave the hon. Member the precise words of the Statute which deals with the matter. I do not think I can elucidate the matter further.
The hon. Member will have an opportunity of raising the matter in the Committee on the Finance Bill.
asked the Minister of Health whether steps can and will be taken to restrain local bodies from accepting tenders for housing at rates substantially higher than those at which the Corporation of Nottingham has succeeded in obtaining tenders, namely, £50 per house?
The price obtained at Nottingham will naturally influence other local authorities in considering tenders, but conditions vary in different localities, and my right hon. Friend could not usefully specify any general limit.
Why cannot the Minister of Health put forward Nottingham as the example which it is so well qualified to be?
Because the hon. Member does that so frequently himself.
Unemployment And Health Insurance
asked the Minister of Health when the Departmental Committee now considering the practicability of amalgamating unemployment and health insurance cards and administration will present its Report?
My right hon. Friend is informed that the Committee are making satisfactory progress with their consideration of the matters referred to them, but that they are not yet able to say when their report may be expected.
Will the hon. Gentleman accelerate the Report in view of the recommendations of the Geddes Committee for amalgamation on grounds of economy?
I will bring the matter to my right hon. Friend's attention.
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty the strength of the German Navy in ships, torpedo-boats, submarines, etc.; how many new ships, etc., have been added in the last 12 months; and how many are being built at the present time?
As the answer is somewhat long, I propose, with my hon. Friend's permission, to circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
Following is the reply:
Battleships.—Eight, two of which are in reserve, with armament, but without ammunition.
Light Cruisers.—Eight, two of which are in reserve, with armament, but without ammunition.
Destroyers.—Sixteen, four of which are in reserve, with armament, but without ammunition.
Torpedo Boats.—Sixteen, four of which are in reserve, with armament, but without ammunition.
Gunboats.—Four, two of which are without. armament.
Miscellaneous Vessels. — Minesweepers; numbers will not be fixed until minesweeping operations have been completed.
No ships have been added during the last 12 months.
Authority has been given for building one light cruiser. Her construction has, however, been held up pending the reply to Germany's request to be allowed to retain one of her war light cruisers, instead of building a new ship.