HC Deb 15 December 1926 vol 200 cc2967-9

Lords Amendment:

In page 12, line 16, at the end, insert: Provided that, in the case of goods produced or manufactured in the United Kingdom which have undergone in any particular country abroad any treatment or process resulting in a substantial change in the goods, the indication of origin may at the option of the person applying it be given either by using in conjunction with the word 'foreign' or the word 'Empire,' as the case requires, words descriptive of that treatment or process or by a definite indication that the treatment or process was undergone in that particular country.


I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

I think this is quite a reasonable provision. It is to the effect that, if after their manufacture, there has been any treatment or process abroad resulting in a substantial change in the goods, the indication of origin may, at the option of the person applying it, be given in conjunction with the word "foreign," by using words descriptive of the process, or the word "Empire," as the case may be.


Apparently this is a concession as a result of the outcry of public opinion on this point—


I promised this Amendment when the Bill was before the House.


That may be so, but the concession has been made as the result of a general outcry, because it was found that a substantial injury to trade was going to be the result in the case of the textile trades of Lancashire and Yorkshire. I am still very doubtful as to the value of this concession, and, after all, it is only a paper concession. Is it likely that a textile manufacturer is going in for a long lecture on the method of construction and processes which have been gone through in various countries? That would only mean giving an advertisement to that particular process; it would not help the sale of the article in question. A man will not be likely to buy velveteen which has two or three sentences of description upon it.

A trader will not be compelled to put on this description, but I am sure if he does he will interfere with the sale of the article. Although apparently this seems to be a concession I doubt whether it will have any commercial value, and I do not think it will protect Lancashire very much from this interference with the Lancashire trade. At the present moment Lancashire is going through a very bad time indeed, and December will probably be the worst month for that county. Notwithstanding this the only message of hope which comes from the President of the Board of Trade is that in future, in regard to goods dyed abroad, they will have a long rigmarofe of descriptions to go through. I do not think this will help industry, and if this is the way in which the President of the Board of Trade expects to give assistance to British industries, then I am afraid there is very little hope for British trade being helped at all.

Captain BENN

Has the right hon. Gentleman consulted any of the Lancashire interests as to whether this meets the case raised by them in connection with trade in the East?


I do not think that point matters very much in this connection, but we have tried to meet the desires of those who spoke for the trade. The Bill will not be operative if the objections are serious.

Captain BENN

I think this is precisely the type of legislation to which this House ought to take exception The other day the Lord Chief Justice drew attention in a recent speech to this class of legislation, and he said too much power was being left to Government Departments. We had the other day an amusing appeal case because an Order in Council had not been made under the terms of an Act. I maintain that the answer given by the right hon. Gentleman is very unsatisfactory. Practically he says: "There may be objections to this proposal, but I may tell you that the Bill will not become operative if those objections are serious." That is not a proper attitude to take up on this question, and I suggest that he should find words which would really meet this very serious difficulty, or else drop this part of the proposal altogether. No one will deny that in the case of dyed goods it would be very hard for Lancashire if throughout the East dyed goods were distributed with the words upon them, "Dyed in Germany." That must necessarily have the result of diverting trade from this country to Germany. I think this is a very unsatisfactory way of dealing with a matter of such importance.

Question put, and agreed to.

Remaining Lords Amendments agreed to.