HC Deb 25 November 1931 vol 260 cc379-81

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the fact that during the last 12 months three-quarters of the firms engaged in the furniture manufacturing industry of this country have been working on short time, and that one firm which had recently laid out a special plant at Slough to compete with the import of Italian furniture produce found it impossible to carry on business and has closed down the works; and whether, in view of the effect of furniture imports upon employment in this country, it is intended to include furniture generally in the list of imported goods which are to be subject to duty?


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether in view of the fact that the object of the Abnormal Importations (Customs Duties) Act is to promote production in this country, and that the imports of iron and steel amount to approximately £24,000,000, he will consider the immediate inclusion of iron and steel in the schedule of goods to which an order under the Act shall apply?

56. Major MILNER

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that by putting a duty on imported woollen tissues without a corresponding duty on all women's wearing apparel made from such tissues he has not only neutralised any advantage to the piece goods industries but has also encouraged the importation of made-up garments, to the detriment of the manufacturers and workers in the clothing industry in the West Riding and elsewhere; and, as the matter is urgent, will he state what action he proposes to take?


I hope hon. Members will realise that it would not be proper to make any statement as to what goods may or may not be included in any subsequent Orders made under the Abnormal Importations (Customs Duties) Act.


Will the hon. Gentleman call the attention of his right hon. Friend to the facts stated in my question, and will he give special consideration to the furniture manufacturing trade when considering what further list of import duties will be imposed?


My right hon. Friend's attention has already been called to the facts in this question and I cannot go further than the answer I have given.

Brigadier-General Sir HENRY CROFT

Could the hon. Gentleman tell the House now whether he has evidence with regard to the iron and steel trade for the last four weeks?


That question does not arise.

50. Mr. O'CONNOR

asked the President of the Board of Trade the total imports of lace for October, 1929, 1930 and 1931, respectively, and for the first three weeks of the months of November, 1930 and 1931?


The total value of the imports of lace of all kinds, including embroidery on net or dissoluble fabric but excluding lace forming part of made-up goods, during the month of October, 1929, 1930 and 1931, amounted to £60,500, £48,100 and £36,700, respectively. Except as regards lace of silk and artificial silk, the figures for October, 1930 and 1931, exclude the imports by parcel post. Goods passing in transit through the United Kingdom are included in the records of imports except in the case of goods transhipped under bond. As regards the second part of the question, I would refer my hon. and learned Friend to the reply given yesterday to my hon. Friend the Member for Rotherham (Mr. Herbert).

51. Mr. O'CONNOR

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the large quantities of lace which are being imported into this country by means of the parcels post, thereby nullifying for purposes of comparison the official import figures, he will institute a special census for a limited period of lace imports through the parcels post?


I have been asked to reply. There is no ready means of obtaining such a census as my hon. and learned Friend desires, and to make special arrangements for sorting out parcels containing lace from other parcels and taking an account of their contents would involve an amount of labour, expense and postal congestion which I could not justify.


Has my hon. Friend any doubt that there is substantial importation of lace going on through the parcels post?


I had an opportunity of seeing the figures the hon. Member sent to the Board of Trade, which seemed to indicate that, at any rate so far as those figures were concerned.


Is it not a fact that before the Safeguarding Duty on lace was imposed such a census was in fact taken by the Post Office, and therefore could not a similar census be taken now?


I think that ray hon. and learned Friend will agree that to begin such a census before the Christmas mails would very probably produce great congestion in the postal services.

52 and 53. Miss HORSBRUGH

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) the area and value of jute carpets imported during each of the following periods: month of October, 1931, 1st to 19th November, 1931, and 11th to 20th November, 1931; and

(2) the weight of flax line and tow yarns and hemp line and tow yarns imported during the periods 1st November to 10th November, 1931, and 11th November to 20th November, 1931?


The total imports of jute carpets and rugs into the United Kingdom registered during the month of October, 1931, amounted to 418,263 square yards, valued at £41,893. As regards imports during broken periods of the month I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given yesterday to my hon. Friend the Member for Rotherham (Mr. Herbert).

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