HC Deb 08 December 1908 vol 198 cc221-2
MR. GEORGE THORNE (Wolverhampton, E.)

To ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in view of the fact that the manufacture of animal traps in this country is practically confined to Wednesfield, near Wolverhampton, that prior to the imposition of a prohibitory tariff on the admission of such traps into Southern Nigeria the traps despatched there constituted a large proportion of the total sale of such traps, that such tariff was imposed without any previous notification whatsoever to any of the persons concerned in the manufacture or sale of such traps, notwithstanding that similar traps are still being used in this country, Australia, and other parts of the world, and that such prohibition has resulted in leaving large stocks of traps on the hands of manufacturers and merchants, in causing serious lessening of employment in Wednesfield, involving much loss and privation to men, women, and children there, and in injuriously affecting businesses which have been carried on there for generations, he is prepared to advise the withdrawal of such tariff, or in some other way to provide relief for the loss and suffering thus occasioned.

(Answered by Colonel Seely.) The imposition of an increased duty on iron-toothed spring-traps was strongly advocated by the Governor of Southern Nigeria on the ground that their widespread employment by the natives entailed great cruelty to small animals, and especially to the bird-life of the Protectorate. As an example he stated that 40 per cent. of the bush-fowl shot in a certain district were found to have only one leg, the other having been torn off by a trap. The Secretary of State is aware that traps of the same kind are in use elsewhere, but it is also the fact that there is a very strong and increasing feeling against their employment in this country, and he was not prepared to overrule the Governor in this matter. The increase of duty was approved by an unanimous vote of the Legislative Council of the Colony. It is not the practice, either in Southern Nigeria or in England, to give notice of an intended increase of duties. The Secretary of State regrets that hardship should have been entailed to the manufacturers of the traps, but he is not prepared to direct the removal of the duty which has been imposed. The Governor, who is now on his way to this country, shall be further consulted on his arrival; but, for the reasons I have given, there would appear to be no prospect of any change of policy.