§ MR. KIMBER (Wandsworth)
I beg to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, before he finally decides upon the question of hall-marking of Indian silver plate, of rupee standard, he will cause inquiry to be made respecting the practice of "soldering" in India on the part of native workmen; whether this practice varies immensely: whether any fixed standard would apply to Indian art workmanship; and, whether, in view of the valuable Reports of Her Majesty's Consuls, in Parliamentary Paper, No. 59, Foreign Countries (Gold and Silver Marking), it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government, before proceeding to amend the laws relating to the hallmarking of gold and silver wares, to refer the matter to a Select Committee?
§ *THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. GOSCHEN,) St. George's, Hanover Square
So far as this question refers to India, I can assure the hon. Member that nothing will be done without lose consultation with the Government of India, and we are now in communication with the Indian Government on the subject. As regards the modifications in hall-marking law, they are so very slight that we see no necessity for referring this matter to a Select Committee.
§ *MR. SCHWANN (Manchester, N.)
Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Government have decided to prolong the date for the abolition of the duty on gold plate?
§ *MR. GOSCHEN
No; I find it is not possible to prolong the date. We have satisfied ourselves that although we might meet some difficulties by postponement, yet out of this new difficulties would arise.
§ MR. MUNDELLA (Sheffield, Brightside)
Will the right hon. Gentleman say when the proposal for the change in hall-marking will be before the House?
§ *MR. GOSCHEN
Practically, only technical changes will be necessary to break the connection between the levying of the duty and hall-marking; it will not be necessary to make any material alteration of the law in relation to hall-marking.