§ [SECOND READING.]
§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ MR. SAMUEL ROBERTS (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
, in moving the Second Reading of this Bill, said it dealt with the question of the hall marking of foreign plate imported into this country. He introduced a similar Bill last year and then had the support of the Board of Trade. Last year a large deputation waited upon the President of that Deparment and presented to him a petition signed by those interested in the question at Sheffield, Birmingham, and London. The signatories to the petition included the London Wholesale Jewellers Allied Trades Association, the National Association of Goldsmiths, the Birmingham Jewellers and Goldsmiths Association, the Sheffield Master Silver Smiths Association, the Workmen's Association connected with the trade, and the Sheffield Federated Trades Council. He might also tell the House that the 62 Associated Chambers of Commerce had unanimously passed a resolution in favour of the principle of the Bill. It was, in fact, a measure which both masters and men were united in pressing on the Legislature, and in the preparation of which he was indebted for assistance to the President of the Board of Trade. It had indeed been drafted under the superintendence of the right hon. Gentleman, who he believed would speak in favour of it that day. He would first explain to the House how the law at present stood with regard to the hall marking of plate in this country, both for goods manufactured here and for those imported. It was evident that for the protection of the public gold and silver plate must be tested in some way to ensure the quality of the metal. For that reason assay offices had been established in various places. No gold or silver plate could be put on the market without being first sent to an assay office and tested and marked accordingly. Hon. Members would agree that that was a reasonable provision. Not only must goods made in this country be so tested, but foreign plate also had to be dealt with in the same way, and to have impressed upon it the same marks. The marks which were now required to be put on plate made in this country were for silver wares, first, the local mark of the Assay Office, as in London a leopard's head, in Birmingham an anchor, in Sheffield a crown, and so on; secondly, a lion, indicating silver; thirdly, a letter varying with every year to indicate in what year and what century the plate was assayed. These were the three standard marks which all silver plate sent into the Assay Offices had to bear. These marks were likewise put on foreign plate, but in addition to them it was provided by the Customs (Tariff) Act of 1876 that foreign plate should be marked with a letter F on another escutcheon. It was not often that Acts of Parliament indicated reasons for their existence or provisions, but in this case it was noteworthy that the Act stated that this was to be done in order "to denote that the plate was imported from abroad." The object thus indicated in the statute had not been secured, because the letter F had not been recognised as an indication of foreign origin. He might explain to the House 63 that in addition to the ordinary hall, marks it was usual for the manufacturer's initials indicating his name, to be added, and not unnaturally this letter F had been mistaken for the initial of the manufacturer. The public on seeing the lion mark were satisfied that the goods were silver and did not look at anything else. Foreigners were now bringing their plate into this country for the purpose of getting the lion stamped on it, and so securing by aid of the British hall mark a better price for their manufactures in their own and in neutral markets. That was the grievance of which British manufacturers complained.
The grievance was that the foreigner sent his goods into this country for the purpose of getting the English hall mark and then sold them at an enhanced price. That was a practice against which the Legislature intended to guard in 1876, and the object of the present Bill was to enable that intention to be carried out. A precedent existed for what was now sought. By the Merchandise Marks Act of 1887 an exception as to marking was made with regard to watch-cases. Foreign watch-cases had been sent into this country in large quantities for the purpose of getting the hall mark, and were then sold as British. The Committee which inquired into the subject came to the conclusion that—it was clearly proved that while the hall mark was intended as a mere mark of standard quality yet it had become an indication of British origin, and that when it appeared on foreign watch-cases it was taken to attribute British origin to the whole of the watch.Consequently, watches were given a different mark altogether, and the letter "F" did not appear. It was now I alleged that the grievance which existed in 1887 with regard to watches had been proved with regard to all kinds of plate, and a special mark was asked for. The Bill provided that foreign plate should be assayed in exactly the same way as at present, but that, instead of having the present hall marks with the letter "F," it should have some mark readily distinguishable from those used for marking plate wrought or made in the United Kingdom, "as His Majesty may determine by Order in Council." The particular mark to be applied would be 64 decided by the Privy Council, who would doubtless consult the different Assay Offices. It was believed that when that Order had been made the grievance would be remedied. He had shown that there was a demand for this Bill on the part of the wholesale and retail traders, that by the Customs Tariff Act of 1876 the Legislature meant to make a difference between the marks on foreign and those on British plate, and that the object of the Legislature had not been attained. The Bill created no new principle, inasmuch as it followed the precedent of the Merchandise Marks Act of 1887, and it involved no fiscal protection of any kind. British manufacturers did not object to any fair competition, but they did object to foreign goods being sold as British-made, and he hoped the House would agree to the Second Reading of the Bill. He begged to move.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ MR. CALDWELL (Lanarkshire, Mid)
said that when this Bill was before the House last session he felt that it was not one that could be allowed to pass without full discussion. It was true that the hall mark was the same both for British and for foreign plate, with the addition in the latter case of the letter "F," that letter being added for the express purpose of denoting that the plate was made abroad. The object of the hall mark was to guarantee that the material of the article was of standard quality, and that held good whether the letter "F" appeared or not. The indication of the place of origin was another question altogether. The Bill proposed the adoption of a different mark to distinguish foreign made goods, and that was exactly the object of the Merchandise Marks Act. Why was it not proposed to place on the articles "Made in Germany "or "Made in Italy" as the case might be? That would be very useful as it would enable people to know where the designs came from. Everybody knew that the Merchandise Marks Act had ruined the trade of this country.
§ SIR HOWARD VINCENT (Sheffield, Central)
Then why does the hon. Member always oppose a Bill to amend it?
§ MR. CALDWELL
said he opposed it because the amendment was as silly as the Act it sought to amend. That act had simply advertised Germany and her trade, and the Germans had been competing with us ever since. The Act of 1837 had seriously injured this country, and the present Bill would not do any good. When people were attracted by a design which had been made abroad, they would find out where it was made and buy it there instead of in the British market. He had refused to allow this Bill to pass after midnight without discussion, and he was glad it had come up now so that he could give his reasons for taking that step.
§ MR. STUART WORTLEY (Sheffield, Hallam)
said the speech of the hon. Member for Mid Lanarkshire left out two main considerations—firstly, the interests of the working people; and secondly, the consumer. He would consider first the interests of the working classes. What higher interest could the worker have than the interest he had in seeing that the name of his country should not be misused by foreigners? Upon this point he addressed himself particularly to labour Members. This was the one direction in which the working man might be said to have a share in the asset which was contained in the goodwill of the business. The representation that goods were made in Great Britain when they were not was one of the most dangerous ways in which that most valuable part of a working man's property could be attacked. It was idle to contend that this Bill was intended to protect any particular trade, for its object was to protect the consumer, who was being deceived to the prejudice of the wage-earning producer. He thought ho had shown that this Bill was drawn upon genuine democratic lines, and its aim was to defeat malpractices, not on the part of the producers, but on the part of the middlemen. It was only drawing a red herring across the path for the hon. Member for Mid Lanarkshire to introduce the failure of certain proposals in the Merchandise 66 Marks Act, for they were admitted defects, and there were nearly always some defects in every Act of Parliament. The requirement that you should have the place of origin marked upon the goods was put in because of our treaty obligations, and in the expectation that the executive administration of that Act would be wholly different. It was not expected that affirmative indication of foreign origin would be required in more than a very small proportion of cases. In his opinion the Customs Department were wrongly advised, and a Bill to amend the Merchandise Marks Act ought to be passed, and with the passing of such an amending Bill would disappear the only grievance which could be alleged against the Merchandise Marks Act, except by middlemen who wanted to obtain that to which they were not entitled. He hoped hon. Members would not be led astray by all this talk about labour in Germany, with which this Bill had nothing whatever to do. He entreated the House to go back to first principles, and consider in this matter the good of the greatest number, namely, the consumers and buyers of these goods who had been deceived; and the great mass of working men who were interested in the fair fame of this country for genuineness and sincerity in manufactures. He hoped the House would resolve not to allow working men's property to be filched away by the practice of obtaining custom under false pretences.
§ SIR JAMES JOICEY (Durham, Chester-le-Street)
said the speech they had just listened to was a fair sample of the speeches they were constantly hearing upon questions of this kind. The hon. Member for the Hallam Division's main argument was that this measure would benefit working men. He hoped his hon. friend would insist upon a division, because this Bill was only a bit of protection for certain manufacturers in this country. They were told the same thing and the same arguments were used in favour of the Merchandise Marks Act, and he remembered Mr. Mundella making a powerful speech against it.
§ MR. STUART WORTLEY
This statement relates to a deceased Member of this House for whom I had great respect, and I must absolutely contradict the statement that he ever made any speech against the Merchandise Marks Act.
§ SIR JAMES JOICEY
said that so far as filching away working men's property and selling goods under the name of Great Britain which were not made here was concerned, he could not see that such a case had been made out in regard to this Bill. Hall marks were well known to the general public in this country, and he did not see why they should change them. As for selling things under a wrong name, the letter "F" showed clearly that the article was not made in Great Britain. He was satisfied that this Bill was simply intended to protect a particular industry, and if possible to prohibit the importation of foreign-made silver articles. He hoped the House of Commons would not sanction this Bill.
§ SIR E. DURNING-LAWRENCE (Cornwall, Truro)
said the hon. Member for Mid Lanarkshire had stated that it did not matter what marks were upon silver. He disputed that argument, for there was often a question whether it was the real thing or a copy. They might make silver to-day exactly the same as that which was 130 or 140 years old but they could not put the same mark upon it without fraud. If it were a genuine old piece, instead of fetching 3s. or 5s. per ounce it might fetch £50 per ounce. Therefore it was important that the mark of silver should be understood. It was also very desirable that the public should quite clearly understand when they saw the mark whether the article was of English or of foreign manufacture. He did not say that in all cases the foreign article was worse, for he possessed some articles of foreign 68 plate of extreme value, but he did not want to possess foreign plate that pretended to have been made in England. There never was a time like the present when genuine articles possessed such an extraordinary value. A great many wealthy men were desirous of possessing articles which old British families once possessed in times past, and if dealers could only persuade these men that the articles were real and genuine they did not care what price they paid for them. He very strongly supported the passing of this measure. Watches were sent over to this country from abroad by tens of thousands, and formerly the public, looking at the cases of those watches and seeing the British mark of the lion upon, them would naturally assume that the whole of the watch was British. It had therefore been found necessary to put a mark upon watch-cases which could not be mistaken for a British mark. He failed to see any reason why they should not also put a mark on all foreign plate which would indicate plainly that it was not made in England. He failed to see that this Bill was in any way unfair to foreign workers. If people wanted foreign goods by all means let them buy them, but the public ought not to be misled by a lion being placed upon foreign goods. He was not prepared to say what special marks should be used, but he thought the Board of Trade could settle that. He strongly objected to marks being put on plate which would deceive the ordinary public. He did not think anyone realised the enormous extent to which at the present time cheap silver goods were being made. The price of silver used to be 5s. an ounce, and at that time there used to be a duty upon it of 1s. 6d. per ounce. To-day the price of silver was about 2s. 2½d. an ounce. He was told recently by a wholesale manufacturer that his firm had started works for the manufacture of small silver articles which could be sold at 3s. an ounce, but great complaints were made that purchasers were not able to distinguish between British and foreign-made articles. He asked hon. Members opposite not to oppose the Bill.
§ MR. SCHWANN (Manchester, N.)
said that when he saw the names on the back of the Bill he had a suspicion that there was something against free trade in connection with it. The hon. Member for the Hallam Division of Sheffield distinctly said that he supported the measure because the free-trade doctrine was old fashioned.
§ MR. SCHWANN
I had no satirical motive in making the statement. I understood that was one of the chief reasons why the hon. Member supported the Bill.
§ MR. STUART WORTLEY
I would ask whether, if it is not a law, it is not the unbroken custom of this House for one Member to accept from another the explanation of what he has said.
§ MR. SCHWANN
said he accepted the statement from the hon. Member, and was glad to hear that he was a free-trader. He thought it would only add to the difficulty of the buyer if there were put on the goods a certain trade mark which would require much greater knowledge of hall marking on the part of the outsider before he could comprehend what the mark meant. What had taken place under the Merchandise Marks Act of 1887 ought to be a warning to those who were in favour of British trade. He could state from long experience as a merchant in Manchester that until that Act was passed an immense amount of goods made in foreign countries were ordered through England. The profits upon those transactions spread throughout Manchester and other places. Those profits were now lost to this country, and the worst of it was that not only was the shipping of foreign goods by English merchants prevented, but an immense number of 70 orders had been lost which otherwise would have come to English firms.
§ SIR HOWARD VINCENT
The hon. Member knows that that was not borne out by the evidence before the Commission.
§ MR. SCHWANN
said he could assure the House that that was a fact. A number of foreign-made articles used to be ordered through Manchester houses in conjunction with English goods, but when buyers found that they were made abroad they followed up the manufacturers and gave them the orders. The result was that all sorts of new fabrics were introduced into those countries—fabrics of which it was not perhaps very easy to send out samples from England. The effect was that an immense amount of trade which was formerly done in this country had gone to the manufacturers in other countries. His hon. friend had said that it was ruining British industry. He did not believe that for a moment. He hoped the House would pause before it passed this Bill It seemed to be a measure in the interest of some manufacturers, and no doubt the working people of Sheffield and Birmingham, but it was not in the interest of the public generally. He should regret, even for those trades concerned, if we were to abandon the free-trade principles upon which we had acted in England for the last fifty or sixty years. The effect of the measure would be indirectly to put considerable difficulty in the way of importing foreign plate with the result that actually less plate would be introduced into this country. One great advantage which our own manufacturers derived from these imports was that they were able to see the beautiful designs produced in France and ether countries not second to this country in the matter of taste. If we once commenced to rope in a trade, to confine it within bars, and to protect it, the imagination of manufacturers would diminish. They would not see the necessity for employing first-class workmen, and would think that anything 71 would do for this country, because the public would be compelled to buy the goods. He would support his hon. friend in pressing this matter to a division.
§ MR. LAWRENCE (Liverpool Abercromby)
said reference had been made to the Merchandise Marks Act and its effect on the foreign trade of this country. He wished to inform the House that he had received a request from the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce to support this Bill. When they heard so much of the injury done by the Merchandise Marks Act in certain quarters, he could not help thinking that this important body would not have asked him to support the Bill if they thought there was anything in that objection. It was only proposed by this Rill to follow on the lines of the previous Act, and therefore they were not entering upon any new departure. By passing this Bill Parliament would enable the public to know what they ought to know, namely, from where the goods were imported. He believed that a well-designed article would sooner or later obtain the appreciation of the public. He felt convinced, however, that foreign goods should be marked in the way proposed. By passing the Rill they would only be doing justice to British workmen, I while not preventing the entrance into this country of really good foreign goods.
§ MR. HENDERSON (Durham, Barnard Castle)
said all the speeches to which he had listened from the other side of the House were more or less of a protectionist character. The hon. Member for the Hallam Division put in a strong appeal to the labour representatives to support the Bill, and assured them that its promoters were actuated by a desire to do something in the interest of the particular trades affected. He had heard no argument which at all wont to prove that the workers as a whole were going to be benefited if this Bill were passed. There was no evidence that the articles were made under unfair conditions, although they were often told that such was the case in connection with foreign-made goods. Nor had the question of inferior quality been raised. 72 That had been settled by previous legislation. If no attempt had been made to prove that the articles imported were of inferior quality what could be the object of the measure? To his mind the object was to promote not the interest of the workers but that of the manufacturers. Several speakers had said that under present conditions the purchaser did not know that an article was of foreign manufacture. That seemed to him to be a reflection on the intelligence of the purchaser. Surely all the purchasers did not go into the question whether the firm's name began with an "F," or whether "F" represented that the article had been made abroad. He supposed that the hon. Gentleman wanted two "F's' to represent that the article had been made abroad. How far was this principle going to be carried. It might be driven much further than the hon. Gentleman desired. Some hon. Members who represented labour might demand that there should be some mark to distinguish articles which were made under unfair or sweating conditions in this country; and then it would be found that those who were asking for support for this Bill would go into the Lobby against them. He spoke in the House directly in the interest of labour, and he would oppose this measure, believing that it was not in the interest of the workmen but that it was of a protectionist character, and instead of helping the workmen it would have the opposite effect.
§ MR. LOWE (Birmingham, Edgbaston)
said that the Rill was simple and reasonable. There were a large number of people engaged in this trade in his constituency who were unanimously in favour of the Bill and who had asked him to give it his support; and he intended to do so. It was quite erroneous to suppose that the Bill raised the question as between free trade and protection. It was not intended to restrict the sale of these articles, but that people should see that they were purchasing foreign-made articles. The principle had been recognised in the Act of 1876,which provided that goods should be marked in a distinctive way showing that they had been made abroad, and that they should be marked 73 by the letter "F." But they had heard from the hon. Member who had introduced this Bill that it had been found, from experience, that that mark was not sufficient; and all he asked was that the mark should be made sufficiently distinctive. That seemed to him to be eminently fair and reasonable, and he would give the Bill his warmest support.
§ SIR JOSEPH LEESE (Lancashire, Accrington)
said that his objection to the Bill was that it was unnecessary. Why should they load the Statute-book with unnecessary measures? The Act of 1875 provided very clearly and distinctly that full notice should be given to the consumer or purchaser that what he wanted to buy was not made in this country but abroad. Under that Act the letter "F" in an escutcheon was required to be stamped on the article alongside the marks indicating the quality of the metal. By Statute that, letter "F" was declared to moan foreign make. If that notice to the buyer was insufficient what kind of mark would be substituted? He could not see how either workpeople or manufacturers would be benefited by this Bill. In nine cases out of ten the buyer would purchase what most took his fancy whether foreign or British. Under these circumhe objected to the Bill as wholly unnecessary.
§ SIR FRANCIS POWELL (Wigan)
said that if he thought this Bill was a protectionist proposal he would vote against it, because he entirely concurred with the First Lord of the Treasury in his objection to a protectionist policy. But this Bill was not of that character. The only intention of the measure was that the purchaser should have the right to know what was the character of the article he was purchasing. There were some goods, such as silks, which were better produced in, say, France than in this country, and always would be, because of the delicate artistic faculty of the French workman, which had not been given to the English workman. Some reference had been made to the Merchandise Marks Act in connection with the discussions in Committee on the Musical Copyright Bill. He believed that that Act had worked in restraint of trade; 74 although the representations made that day by the representative of the shipping houses in Liverpool that it had not so acted, had made an impression on his mind.
§ MR. BULL (Hammersmith)
said he understood that the object of this Bill was to have a separate mark for foreign-made goods. He was connected with a firm which had manufactured gold and silver articles for a century. They had encouraged native artists and had a largo collection of models; and they found that these models wore copied abroad and the manufactured articles wore brought into this country and were purchased here under the idea that they came from his firm. He hoped that the Board of Trade would alter the whole of the marking of these goods, and would make the marking entirely distinct so as to show which was home and which was foreign-made. What was wanted was that in the case of foreign plate the old heraldic marks of the lion, crown, anchor, etc., should not appear at all, but something entirely distinct.
§ SIR HOWARD VINCENT
said that this was in no sense a measure connected with protection. All the bodies connected with the manufacture of gold and silver urged the adoption of the Bill. The hon. Member opposite said he represented labour in a special sense. Ho denied that. He himself represented labour. The great majority of his constituents were working men. The hon. Member for Barnard Castle did not represent labour any more than any other hon. Member in the House. He contended that the interests of the working men were injuriously affected by the present state affairs. The hon. Member for the Barnard Castle Division said that he understood perfectly well the marks on these foreign-made goods. Might he ask the hon. Member to look at his watch and see whether it was of English make or of foreign make? He very much doubted whether he would be able to do it. He remembered when the Merchandise Marks Bill was being considered in Committee, the late Mr. Mundella was in the Chair, and when the members of the Committee were asked to produce their watches it was found that the only member who had an English-made watch was Mr. Mundella himself, although several 75 of the members had watches which bore the names of English firms on them. The hon. Member for Durham maligned the late Mr. Mundella in connection with the Merchandise Marks Act. Mr. Mundella took a very active part indeed in the enactment of the Act of 1887. He was also a member of the Committee of 1896 and 1897, but unfortunately his death occurred just before the Committee reported, so that he was not at the final sitting. The Committee reported that they were "satisfied that the operation of the Merchandise Marks Act of 1887 has been on the whole beneficial. There has been abundant evidence that it has, to a great extent, stopped the fraudulent practices against which it was directed." On behalf of the watchmaking trade it was represented that the marks of foreign origin placed upon watch-cases should be in visible letters, inasmuch as it was found that die watches were made abroad and imported in order to be placed in British hall-marked cases and then sold as British manufacture. The Committee thought the demand reasonable. The Member for Mid Lanark was very emphatic in his condemnation of the Merchandise Marks Act, and he was very glad to hear him say that the words "Made in Germany" had done an immense amount of injury to the trade of this country. If so, why did he continually oppose this Bill, and not alter the words and put in something more definite?
§ MR. CALDWELL
said his answer was that the proposals of the hon. Members were quite as ridiculous as the present system of marking.
§ SIR HOWARD VINCENT
said why, then, did not the hon. Member suggest some change? It was all very well condemning everything. The hon. Member was a very clever and a very persevering man and opposed everybody's Bills except his own. He invited the hon. Member to confer with him and see in what way they could remove this injury to the trade of the country. It had been shown by his hon. friend most clearly that the word "F" was of a diminutive character and passed totally unobserved by the ordinary purchaser. That meant 76 that great injury was done to the purchasers of British plate. It was absurd to attempt to distinguish between the interests of the manufacturers and their workmen in this matter. He hoped, therefore, the House would give the Bill a second reading.
§ SIR THOMAS ESMONDE (Wexford, N.)
thought it was a great pity that this subject could not be discussed without the question of free trade and protection being brought into the discussion. However foreign manufactured silver was marked it would make no difference to the quantity that came into this country or the amount of foreign manufactured silver sold. In his opinion this was a question which the House was entitled to consider and discuss from the consumer's point of view. They had different hall marks for England, Ireland, and Scotland, and it was a common custom for English manufacturers to send silver over to Ireland to be marked, and the letter "F" which was put on foreign manufactured silver was not sufficient to tell the ordinary buyer where the silver came from. Hall marks were at first marks of origin, and for his part he would go much further than this Bill went. He did not consider it was fair that either English, Irish, or Scotch marks should be put on any silver of foreign manufacture, and it would be a wise thing for the Board of Trade to come to that conclusion and to prevent any of the British hall marks being put on foreign silver, and if at the same time some other mark were put on to show that that silver had paid a tax it would be a much better arrangement than that, which obtained at present. If people wanted to buy Irish, English, or Scotch silver they should be at liberty to purchase it, and none of these marks should be put on silver of foreign origin.
§ MR. MURRAY (Coventry)
supported the Second Reading of the Bill. He repudiated the suggestion that the question of free trade was involved by the measure, declaring that the Party that it was supported by, the Members for Birmingham, did not necessarily raise the question of protection. He stood in a different position, for he was a free-trader, and as a free-trader, declined 77 to associate free trade with fraud. He saw no necessary connection between free trade, which he desired to support, and fraud, which he desired to put an end to. Would it be one of the planks of the platform of the hon. Member for Mid Lanark when, under another Government, he became Secretary for Scotland, or Lord Advocate, to do away with all hall marks.
§ MR. CALDWELL
I must absolutely decline to make any answer to that, because if the event takes place, which the hon. Gentleman predicts, which is very unlikely, one cannot do anything without consulting one's colleagues.
§ MP. MURRAY
The hon. Member had laid down the point that hall marking simply stamped the quality, hut it went beyond that; it identified the origin, and the date, which was a very important point in the question of the price of gold and silver. Parliament had gone a step further than the date; it had added the letter "F," to distinguish between foreign and British plate. The supporters of the Bill, who spoke for a very large interest in the country, simply argued that what Parliament did then was in the right direction and was justified, but was not sufficient, and all they asked now was to make that measure more effective. It had been said that the letter "F" might refer to a certain manufacturer, but there could be three different "F's" on different shaped shields, one showing the article was of foreign manufacture, one the nominal mark of the maker, and the third signifying the date; and he did not think the doing away with this confusion could be stigmatised as protection. The Bill, he declared, was brought forward in justifiable defence of interests against fraud, and they ought to be thus protected whether they were those of consumer, manufacturer, or worker. This was not a small matter; it was a matter which interested large sections of trade, and it could not do the slightest harm, for any one who wished would still be able to purchase foreign plate.
§ MR. NORMAN (Wolverhampton, S.)
repudiated in the strongest possible way that any question of protection or 78 free trade was involved by the Bill. If it had savoured of protection, he need not say that his own name would not have appeared in connection with it. The question at issue was a very simple one; it was whether there should be a big "F," or some corresponding mark, to denote that the article was of foreign manufacture. The law had decided that these goods should be marked in a certain fashion, but they were now marked in such a way that the British hall mark, perhaps the highest standard, could be and was regularly, fraudulently used. This was not only obviously defeating the intentions of the law but also the interests of this country. The issue, therefore, was simply whether the mark was to be used as intended by Parliament or used in such a way as to lend itself to fraud; ond he hoped his hon. friends would not vote against the Bill simply because its srigin was in the Birmingham conatituency.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE (Mr. GERALD BALFOUR,) Leeds, Central
said the Bill was supported by the Board of Trade for reasons stated by the hon. Member for the Ecclesall Division of Sheffield. The question was one of extreme simplicity. The Legislature had already laid down the principle that foreign-made plate should be distinguished from British, and to effect that distinction the Act o fl876 enacted that he letter "F" should be stamped on foreign-made plate sold in this county. It was found, however, that the mark was insufficient, and this Bill proposed in lieu of it a more distinctive mark. The sacred principles of free trade had been invoked against the Bill, and the Merchandise Marks Act had been dragged in and its principle assailed. But was that Act inconsistent with the principles of free trade? If so it would hardly have passed that House without a division in 1887. It might be desirable that the Merchandise Marks Act should be amended in certain directions, but he thought the Select Committee who inquired into its operation were right in maintaining that on the whole its effect had been beneficial. But it was possible to condemn the general effect of the Merchandise Marks Act and yet hold that this Bill was amply justified. The case of this 79 Bill was a peculiar one, for while the Legislature enacted that a mark should be applied, it had been shown that the mark, which was originally intended to be a guarantee of the quality of the material, had gradually become to be taken as an indication of origin by the great mass of customers. Both customers and producers were entitled to have such a distinctive mark put upon plate that they would be enabled to know what was British-made and what foreign-made. The only consideration which should lead them to leave things as they were was that some particular section of the trade would be seriously damaged by the change. This was not so in the present instance. Every section of the trade, employers and workmen alike, were agreed that the change now proposed
§ would be advantageous, and he hoped the Bill would be read a second time.
§ COLONEL DENNY (Kilmarnock Burghs)
suggested that, in the discussion of the principles of this Bill, the President of the Board of Trade should avoid giving a great and gratuitous advertisement to foreign competitors, as the Merchandise Marks Act had unhappily done. He thought that that Act was one of the greatest disasters to British trade, and had undoubtedly been the origin of other competing lines of steamships from Germany.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 96; Noes, 53. (Division List No. 63.)81
|Acland-Hood Capt. Sir Alex. F.||Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury.||Reckitt, Harold James|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Harris, F. Leverton (Tynem'th)||Reid, James (Greenock)|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Helder, Augustus||Rolleston, Sir John F. L.|
|Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hn. Sir H.||Hickman, Sir Alfred||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Hoare, Sir Samuel||Runciman, Walter|
|Balcarres, Lord||Holland, Sir William Henry||Russell, T. W.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. G. W. (Leeds||Howard, J. (Midd., Tottenham)||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W. (Salop||Spear, John Ward|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Knowles, Sir Lees||Stanley, Edw. Jas. (Somerset)|
|Bignold, Arthur||Laurie, Lieut.-General||Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart|
|Black, Alexander William||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Lawson, Jn. G. (Yorks., N.R.)||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|Campbell, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Glasgow||Layland- Barratt, Francis||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M.|
|Cavendish, V.C.W. (Derbyshire||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Tuff, Charles|
|Chapman, Edward||Lowe, Francis William||Valentia, Viscount|
|Charrington, Spencer||Lucas, Reginald J.(Portsmouth||Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. H. (Sheff'ld|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Macdona, John Cumming||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Crossley, Rt. Hon. Sir Savile||Malcolm, Ian||Walrond, Rt. Hn. Sir William H.|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Morrell, George Herbert||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Denny, Colonel||Mount, William Arthur||Wason, Jn. Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Dickson, Charles Scott||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||Whiteley, H.(Ashton und. Lyne|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Murnaghan, George||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas||O'Mara, James||Wodehouse, Rt.Hn. E.R.(Bath|
|Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Manc'r||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||O'Shee, James John||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Flower, Sir Ernest||Parrott, William|
|Forster, Henry William||Pemberton, John S. G.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Samuel Roberts and Mr. Norman.|
|Fyler, John Arthur||Platt- Higgins, Frederick|
|Gardner, Ernest||Plummer, Walter R.|
|Garfit, William||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Grant, Corrie||Rasch, Sir Frederic Carne|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Crean, Eugene||Ffrench, Peter|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Crombie, John William||Flynn, James Christopher|
|Burns, John||Delany, William||Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herb. John|
|Cameron, Robert||Dunn, Sir William||Hammond, John|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Edwards, Frank||Hayden, John Patrick|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Fenwick, Charles||Horniman, Frederick John|
|Joicey, Sir James||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.||Toulmin, George|
|Jones, D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Priestley, Arthur||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Kitson, Sir James||Reddy, M.||Wallace, Robert|
|Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cornwall)||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||Whiteley, George (York, W. R.)|
|Leese, Sir Jos. F. (Accrington)||Roche, John||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Levy, Maurice||Schwann, Charles E.||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Lundon, W.||Slack, John Bamford||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|M'Kenna, Reginald||Soames, Arthur Wellesley||Woodhouse, Sir J. T (Huddersf'd|
|M'Laren, Sir Charles Benjamin||Spencer, Rt. Hn. C. R (Northants|
|Markham, Arthur Basil||Sullivan, Donal||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Caldwell and Mr. Henderson.|
|Nannetti, Joseph P.||Thomas, D. Alfred (Merthyr)|
|Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)||Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.)|
Bill read a second time, and committed to the Standing Committee on Trade, Etc.
§ Bill accordingly read a second time, and committed to the Standing Committee on Law, &c.