HC Deb 05 April 1894 vol 22 cc1458-9
MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to an article in The Hardwareman of the 3rd March last, purporting to be the description by a Special Commissioner (who had been sent to Germany for the purpose) of the concessionaire system now obtaining in some 20 or more of the German convict prisons; whether he is aware that, under this system, English goods and English patterns are pirated and copied by the German Prison Authorities, and turned out in tons by the convicts at a labour cost of 3d. to 1s. per day; that this convict labour is let out to a concessionaire or gaol manufacturer, who has only to supply the necessary plant and raw material, and who exports to England, as British-made goods, the articles made by the prisoners from pirated English designs; and that the higher class German dealers refuse to touch these prison-made goods, while the inferior tradesman who deals with them tries to conceal their origin; whether the above facts are generally known to the British public; and, if not, whether he will take steps to warn the public against them in The Labour Gazette, or otherwise; and also make representations to the German Government on the subject; and whether he can explain why it is that the Merchandise Marks Act is powerless to stop such fraudulent misrepresentation?


Probably the hon. Member has not seen my reply to a similar question put by the hon. and gallant Member for Central Sheffield. I am making inquiry as to the alleged importation of these goods. The provisions of the Merchandise Marks Act are sufficient to prevent goods coming into this country with false trade descriptions attached.