§ MR. A. LAFONE (South wark, Bermondsey)
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade, if his attention has been called to a circular, dated 4th February 1896, issued by the London and India Docks Joint Committee to shipowners, by which they seek to evade the terms and obligations of their Act of Parliament, and of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th sections of Clause 493 of the Merchant Shipping Act of 1894, and by such means to tax all goods delivered on over-side entries in this port; and, what action he is prepared to take, making the evasion of the said Acts impossible; and if the right hon. Gentleman has seen a letter in the St. James' Gazette to-day from the editor of the Produce World, in which he states that he had sent the President of the Board of Trade a copy of his journal of the 21st February, in which the circular referred there is dealt with, and on the 27th received an acknowledgment that it had been received?
§ MR. RITCHIE
With regard to the Question just put, I have to say that it is quite true that I did receive a communication from the editor of the Produce World dealing with this question, and enclosing a copy of his paper, but neither his letter nor his paper contained t' e circular referred in in the hon. Member's Question, so that my answer given to the House the other day was perfectly accurate. I have already replied in part to the hon. Member's Question in my answer of Tuesday. I have not seen the circular 236 referred to. The Section of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1894, to which he now refers, does not appear to confer any power upon the Board of Trade, nor is it competent for the Board to express any opinion as to whether there has been an evasion of the Act.