HC Deb 22 November 1920 vol 135 cc6-8

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the enormous increase in the import of incandescent gas mantles during the present year, in contrast with the almost negligible volume of import of this article last year; whether the value of these imports during the period from the 1st January to 6th November was£136,000, being an increase at the rate of 500 per cent, on last year; whether the proportion of the cost of production expended directly and indirectly upon wages exceeds 85 per cent., and, therefore, during the present year, involved a loss of over £100,000 to British workers; and what action he proposes to take to safeguard this important key industry from unfair foreign competition?


The figures given by my hon. Friend regarding the value of imports of gas mantles agree substantially with the Customs statistics. I am, however, unable to accept his estimate of the proportion of production costs represented by labour or his estimate of the loss in wages due to imports. In regard to the last part of the question, my hon. Friend may be aware that the Government has undertaken to introduce legislation dealing with the key industries at the beginning of next Session.


Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us the proportion of wages paid?


If I may hazard an opinion, it would be, not 85 per cent., as stated in the question, but something like 50 per cent.

Lieut.-Colonel CROFT

Is there not likely to be great danger, if legislation is delayed, that there will be no key industries left in this country?

22. Sir J. REMNANT

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that one of the largest imports of incandescent gas mantles, amounting in value to £3,936, was entered in the Customs Office during the first week of the present month and that some of the imports of these gas mantles are coming through in boxes which do not clearly indicate their foreign origin; and when the existing Merchandise Marks Act will be amended in accordance with the recommendations contained in the Report of the Merchandise Marks Committee recently appointed by him.


I am aware of the facts stated in the first part of the question. With regard to the second part, I am afraid that I cannot at the moment give a date for the introduction of legislation to amend the Merchandise Marks Acts, but it will be as soon as possible in the next Session.