HC Deb 21 February 1890 vol 341 cc872-3

I beg to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with respect to Clause 4 of "The Revenue Act, 1884," which enacts that certain Oriental plate shall be exempted from assay in the United Kingdom, whether the construction put upon the clause by the officers of Her Majesty's Customs is that, if intended for exposure for sale, such wares must be hall-marked, and therefore assayed; whether it is the practice on the part of the officers of Her Majesty's Customs to require an affidavit on the part of importers that such wares are for private use, and not for purpose of sale; whether, if for purpose of sale, such wares are detained by the officers of Customs and sent to the Goldsmiths' Hall, or other assay office, where, if found to be below standard, they are required to be re-exported or to be smashed; and whether he will direct that, subject to the payment of the proper duties of Customs, articles of Foreign plate which, in the opinion of the Commissioners of Customs, may be properly described as hand-chased, inlaid, bronzed, or filigree work of Oriental pattern, shall be admitted for purposes of sale free from the obligation of assay and hall-marking?


I think the hon. Member is under some misapprehension as to the facts of the case, because I must answer the first, second, and third paragraphs of his question in the negative. It is not necessary to issue additional instructions to the Commissioners of Customs, because they have already the power to do what is requisite, and I am informed that they exercise that power. In order, however, to remove any cause of grievance on the part of our Indian fellow-subjects, I may assure the hon. Member that if any case is brought before me it shall receive my full consideration.


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he will inquire whether a number of casquets were not detained recently until I myself, who was the importer, was able to make a declaration?


I have no doubt that the casquets were detained as the hon. Member says. I will, however, make a specific inquiry as to the matter which he has brought under my notice.