HC Deb 11 April 1892 vol 3 cc1105-6

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to a leading article in the Daily Chronicle of 2nd April, suggesting possible improvements in the monthly trade and navigation statements of the Board of Trade; whether German goods shipped to England viâ Antwerp are classed in the Returns as Belgian, imports from Norway and Sweden viâ Hamburg classed as German, imports from the United States viâ the St. Lawrence classed as Canadian, and imports from Canada viâ Portland, Boston, and New York classed as United States goods; whether he will consider the possibility of obviating this inaccuracy by reference to the bills of lading and by a greater use of the Merchandise Marks Act, so that the real place of origin may be shown; and whether, with a view to increase the value of the Returns to the commercial community, he will follow the custom of the United States and other countries, and enter more into detail in the information given in these statements?


I have looked at the article referred to. It does not accurately describe the present state of affairs. In the import and export statistics of the United States—referred to as superior to our own—no distinction is made at all as regards the countries from which imports are received, but the totals are lumped together from all countries, so that our monthly Returns already give more details than those of the United States. The suggestion contained in the question is one which has often been inquired into by Statistical Committees, with the result that the present practice has been adopted. German goods coming from Antwerp, are not classed in the Returns as Belgian goods, but are entered as coming from Belgium, as is the fact, and so with the other instances mentioned. It is easy to ascertain the country from which goods come to us, while difficulties, delays, and serious inaccuracies would probably be caused by the attempt to give the country of origin. The practice of other leading countries in the matter is not uniform; and some that have attempted to show the country of origin of imports, or the country of ultimate destination of exports, admit their failure. The subject, with others, will be again considered by the Revision Committee of the Board of Trade and Customs which annually considers all representations made for improving the accounts.