HC Deb 12 November 1908 vol 196 cc536-7
MR. JESSE COLLINGS (Birmingham, Bordesley)

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the practice of the English proof houses, both in Birmingham and in London, of proof-marking foreign-made barrels and firearms with the same proof marks as those put upon British made barrels and firearms, and to the fact that this practice is taken advantage of by importers and Continental makers to send their goods to the English proof houses instead of to the proof houses in the countries of origin for the purpose of obtaining English proof marks and thereby passing off the goods so marked as of British make; and, if so, what steps do His Majesty's Government propose to take to prevent the deception.


I understand that the views held by different sections of the English gun trade on this difficult matter are widely divergent, and that whilst all parties agree that imported barrels might with advantage be marked differently from British, the gunmakers are opposed to the desire of the barrel makers, that barrels made from tubes imported in the rough should also be marked as foreign. A conference on the subject between representatives of those interests was held at the Board of Trade in 1904, but without result. I am at any time prepared to consider proposals for a further conference which may be made to me on behalf of the parties interested, but while the trade is so divided in opinion it is not possible for me to take action in the sense desired by the right hon. Member.


Will my right hon. friend take steps to ascertain whether or not the so-called gunmakers who are opposed to this change are gunmakers at all, or simply importers of guns whom the present system—so bad for the workmen—suits?


I will submit the statement of my right hon. friend to my advisors at the Board of Trade.

MR. J. MACVEAGH (Down, S.)

Is it a fact, as suggested in this Question, that this unpatriotic system is practised in Birmingham?