HC Deb 06 March 1922 vol 151 cc828-9
19. Mr. KILEY

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that Mr. Cyril Atkinson, K.C., announced his decision under Part I of the Safeguarding of Industries Act that a duty of 33£ per cent, should be imposed upon certain materials which are constituent parts of gas mantles; whether, under the Act, a decision so given is final; whether, some time later, this referee, without any public announcement, agreed to state a case for the High Court; whether he can say at whose instance and by whose authority a case has been stated after the decision was given; why no intimation of these proceedings appeared in the Press; whether he can state when the case will come before the Courts; and whether the Board of Trade will be represented by counsel?


I am aware that the Referee announced what his finding would be in the particular case mentioned, but he deferred signing an award in order' to give any one of the interested parties opportunity to apply to him to state a case for the High Court, and subsequently made an explanatory statement to remove doubts. An application for statement of a case was made by the manufacturers of gas mantles, who were the original complainants. The procedure was discussed on two occasions before all the parties and in the presence of representatives of the Press; the decision of the Referee to state a case was communicated to all the parties, and no further announcement appeared necessary. I am aware that the Safeguarding of Industries Act lays down that the decision of the Referee shall be final and conclusive, but as the precise bearing of that provision on the finding of the Referee in this particular case is one of the questions to be determined by the High Court, it would be improper for me to express an opinion on the subject. With regard to the last two parts of the question I have at present no information.


Seeing that this matter has been before the Board of Trade for five months and that thousands of pounds have been spent, is there no possibility of reaching a decision?


I am as anxious as the hon. Gentleman for an early decision, but I am sure he will realise that the responsibility does not lie at the door of the Board of Trade.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is great unemployment among the people who are manufacturing gas mantles?


But that would seem to mitigate the trouble caused by the delay.