HC Deb 06 November 1919 vol 120 cc1672-3
62. Mr. REMER

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the arrival of the ss. "Import," on the 3rd November, from Rotterdam, containing the following cargo: 26 packages brushes, 37 cases capsules, 12 cases glass beads, 70 cases whisky, 70 cases brandy, 117 packages electric glow lamps, and 7 packages merchandise; whether his attention has been called to the arrival of the ss. "Rinstroom" from Amsterdam on the same date, containing the following cargo: 11 cases hats, 7 cases cycle parts, 78 cases glassware, 12 cases furniture, 36 packages toys, 60 cases glassware, 17 cases gramophones, 594 packages bottles, and 5 cases pictures; whether his attention has been called to the arrival of the ss. "Florence" from Antwerp, containing 7 cases watch works, 315 cases window glass, 61 crates tiles, and 16 packages perfumery; and whether he can state which of these goods cannot be manufactured in the United Kingdom at the present moment and which of these goods it is essential to the national interests should be imported?


My attention has not especially been drawn to the particular cargoes referred to. Without further particulars as to the exact nature of the goods in question, I regret that I am not in a position to say which of them can be manufactured in this country. As regards the last part of the question, I would refer my hon. Friend to the statements already made in the House on the subject of the trade policy of his Majesty's Government.


Will the hon. Gentleman make inquiries into those articles and perhaps next week give a more definite and fuller answer, and also on the question of the enormous profits which importers from Europe are obtaining by importing into this country?


I do not think the last part of the supplementary arises out of the question, and, as with the first part, I am not sure I am able to undertake an examination into whether glass beads and other things can be manufactured in this country.


Will the hon. Gentleman communicate with the Secretary for Scotland as to the advisability of importing whisky?


Toys are mentioned in the list, and is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Government soon after the outbreak of war requested that the toy industry should be gone ahead with as much as possible in this country, and does he think the importation of toys will assist manufacturers in this country?


The whole question of toys has been under the consideration of the Board of Trade for a very long time.

Captain BENN

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether the Board of Trade has any power to prohibit the import of these things?


I do not think that arises out of the question. It has been answered very often.

Captain BENN

What was the answer?


asked the Attorney-General whether legal proceedings are pending to test the legality of the action of the Board of Trade in imposing restrictions on imports; and, if so, will the utmost expedition be exercised to get a judicial decision on this very important question of Departmental power?

The ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir Gordon Hewart)

Legal proceedings are pending which will have the effect referred to, and they are being, and will be, conducted with all possible expedition.


When may we expect the case to be taken?


I cannot give an exact date, but I think within ten days.

Captain BENN

May I ask the Leader of the House whether the Board of Trade intend to continue to exercise their powers under the Act of 1876 pending a judicial decision?


The hon. Gentleman should give notice of that question.