MR. J. POWELL WILLIAMS
On behalf of the Member for the Sudbury Division of Suffolk (Mr. W. C. QUILEER), I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware, that cocoanut mats made by prisoners in the so-called Agricultural Colonies of Belgium are imported into this country in large quantities, and sold and resold at a price with which no free labour can compete, without any mark upon them denoting the country of origin; whether, considering that these mats are of English standard sizes and descriptions, a mark upon the wrapper containing a number of mats is a sufficient compliance with the Merchandise Marks Act; and, whether he will take steps to insure that each individual mat so imported shall be distinctly marked to show that it is made in Belgium, and for that purpose will amend, if necessary, the Merchandise Marks Act?
§ MR. J. BRYCE
The Board of Trade have no later particulars of exports of these mats from Belgium than are contained in Sir F. Plunkett's Report of 16th August, 1893, nor have they any data as to the amount of such mats imported into this country. The Merchandise Marks Act does not make compulsory the marking of goods, but only ensures that any mark placed upon the goods shall be true. As has been frequently explained to the House, the proposal to amend the Merchandise Marks Act by making marking compulsory was condemned by the Committee which sat in 1890.