HC Deb 12 March 1895 vol 31 cc886-7
SIR T. ROBINSON (Gloucester)

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether it is in accordance with the rules of the Board of Customs, when illegally-marked goods are consigned by foreign houses to purchasers in this country, to refuse to treat with the foreign consignors for proper marking of or for the re-purchase of such goods, and to offer them at a price fixed by the Board of Customs to the English consignees after proper marking, thereby fining the foreign consignor the whole value of the goods, and making a profit to the Board of Customs on goods finally duly marked; and whether this practice has been sanctioned by the Treasury?


In the case of the import of foreign-made goods bearing illegal marks, it is the practice of the Board, under the Merchandise Marks Act, 1887, to treat each case on its merits, and to consider and give due weight to any explanation which may be received on the subject either from the consignees or the foreign consigners before deciding whether the goods shall be released on payment of a fine, and the removal of all illegal marks, or be ultimately retained as a seizure. As re-regards the disposal of goods which have been seized under the Act it is the practice, after six months from the date of the order directing the confiscation, to issue the order as to their disposal. Those goods which are neither patent nor copyright, and from which the illegal marks can be removed, are offered for sale by auction without reserve at the usual Customs sales, and the amount realised by such sale is carried to the Crown's account, no portion thereof being handed over either to consigner or consignee. It is not the usual practice to treat privately either with the consigner or the consignee for the sale of goods so seized, but in rare cases the Board have entertained an offer from the persons interested in the importation of such goods, and have sanctioned their release on payment of such a sum as, in their opinion, represented the value of the goods, subject, of course, to the removal of all illegal marks therefrom prior to delivery. In such cases the amount so paid is carried to the Crown's account, and no portion handed either to consignee or foreign consignor. The question as to any resulting loss caused to the consigner by the importation and subsequent sale by the Board to the importer of goods so restored appears to be one for settlement between the importer and the consigner, but not one in which the Crown is concerned. The powers of the Board of Customs in respect to the restoration of seized goods on such terms as they may consider fit are based on Section 209 of the Customs Consolidation Act, 1876.