§ 56. Mr. J. HUDSON
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that, in order to carry out his new Customs Regulations, packages of patterns of textile materials, not subject to tax, are being stopped for search by the joint action of the postal and Customs authorities; that, in a case raised by the Huddersfield Chamber of Commerce, 19 days elapsed for a postal package to reach a Huddersfield firm from Montreal; that this firm was asked by the Customs House to send a representative to Liverpool to see the package searched; and whether he can provide any means to secure British firms against such requirements by the Customs authorities and against the loss of trade which results from such delays?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
There is a standing prohibition against the importation of dutiable articles by letter post, and under the Post Office Act, 1908, any letter packet suspected to contain contraband is handed to the Customs authorities by the Post Office. The Act requires that before the packet is opened notice in writing shall be given to the addressee to enable him to be present at the opening, should he so desire. It is inevitable that on occasions a suspected packet may be found to contain only goods not liable 2105 to duty, as in the case to which the hon. Member refers. It is not the fact, however, that in this case the addressee was required to attend at Liverpool. Opportunity is always given for suspected packages to be opened at any Customs or Excise office selected by the addressee, and in the present case the package was actually opened at Huddersfield. I am unable to say how long the packet took to come from Montreal, but I am informed that it arrived here in the period of Christmas pressure.
§ Mr. HUDSON
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that by his policy the Act of 1908 has been very considerably extended by the fact that postal packages containing ordinary textile materials that possess no silk article or other article are liable to be taxed; and will he carefully consider a modification of that Act of 1908 in view of the very great disadvantages the textile manufacturers are now suffering as a result of that policy?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
All the information I have received from a great many quarters shows that the textile manufacturers are not suffering any great disadvantages as a result.
§ Brigadier - General Sir HENRY CROFT
Has the right hon. Gentleman read the Report of the most important textile company of all, which shows that this is working smoothly?