HC Deb 03 April 1922 vol 152 cc1819-21
24 and 58. Mr. KILEY

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) the dates when application was made to him with respect to the imposition of a duty of 33⅓ per cent., under Part II of the Safeguarding of Industries Act, on brush ware, lace goods, silk goods, and glass bottles; and if he is aware that the prolonged time occupied by his Department in either accepting or refusing such applications are injurious to the trades concerned, as in most cases the articles are raw materials for other trades, for which estimates and prices have to be quoted months in advance; if he appreciates the difficult position which many firms are placed in owing to the uncertainties as to whether a tariff will be imposed or not on these raw materials;

(2) whether, in view of the uncertainty prevailing in trade circles as to decisions which are likely to be arrived at in connection with applications made for the imposition of a duty of 33⅓ per cent. under the Safeguarding of Industries Act, Part II, he will announce that, when a decision is actually arrived at, either by himself in rejecting the application or by a Committee who may report unfavourably on an application, such decision shall be immediately announced; and whether, when an application has been made and has been rejected as primâ facie unsatisfactory, longer time shall not be required to elapse before such application can again be considered, in order to prevent the unnecessary continuance of trade uncertainty which prevents contracts being made and thus hinders the revival of trade?


I think there are objections to giving information with regard to complaints which may or may not have been received by the Board of Trade pending the decision to refer such complaints to a Committee. All complaints are dealt with as expeditiously as possible, and I have fully in mind the considerations to which the hon. Gentleman refers. With regard to the second question, it is proposed to announce without delay the effect of the findings of a Committee who report in a sense adverse to the application. I doubt, however, the desirability of making a similar announcement where the Board Trade find that no primâ facie case has been made out, nor do I think it would be practicable to lay down any rule on the lines suggested in the last part of the question.


Does not the right hon. Gentleman appreciate the fact that when an application is made, that it is known to the industry, and that if he declines or refuses the application, that that is not made public; and, therefore, a certain amount of feeling is created?


I do not agree with my hon. Friend.


When will the right hon. Gentleman make his statement in regard to the action in the cases where the Committee has advised as to the action he proposed to take?


I must have notice of that question.


Is it a fact that the permanent officials have absolute power to decide whether or not a primâ facie case has been made out for an application?


The only person who has ultimate authority is myself.