HC Deb 28 February 1939 vol 344 cc1057-9
15. Mr. Rickards

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware of the increasing importation of foreign silk, artificial silk, and cotton labels, ribbons, and bindings at prices below the manufacturing costs of British manufacturers; and whether he will take steps, by quota or otherwise, to protect British employment against this uneconomic competition?

Mr. Stanley

I am aware that there has been some increase in the imports of ribbons of artificial silk mixed with other materials, but the imports of the other goods to which my hon. Friend refers appear, from the available statistics, to have declined. I have no power to impose a quota restriction on imports of such goods and any question of an increase in the rate of duty is a matter for consideration, in the first instance, by the Import Duties Advisory Committee.

Mr. R. Gibson

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the importation of these goods is affecting the production and sale of similar woollen goods in this country?

12. Captain Strickland

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will make an Order, under the Merchandise Marks Act, 1926, that all imported silk, artificial silk, or cotton labels shall be marked with indications of origin between each label, as is the case with such labels imported into France and the United States of America?

Mr. Stanley

The Statutory Committee on Merchandise Marks considered and rejected the form of marking which my hon. and gallant Friend suggests, and unless new evidence can be produced that was not available to the Committee when they reported on this question, I should not feel justified in asking them to reconsider it.

Captain Strickland

Does my right hon. Friend not realise that the present system of marking enables imported goods to have that marking easily removed?

Mr. Stanley

That is one of the questions the Statutory Committee considered when they rejected the proposal. If my hon. and gallant Friend has any new evidence I shall be glad to consider it.

Mr. R. Gibson

Do the same considerations apply to woollen goods as to these goods?

13. Captain Strickland

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many prosecutions have been undertaken by his Department during the past five years to 31st December, 1938, against importers and merchants, respectively, for evasions of the provisions of Section 8 of the Merchandise Marks Act, 1926, by the removal, alteration, or obliteration of indications of origin in the case of imported silk, artificial silk, or cotton labels, ribbons, and bindings?

Mr. Stanley

Section 8 of the Merchandise Marks Act, 1926, is not applicable to woven labels, as the Order applying to such labels does not require them to be marked on their importation or exposure for sale wholesale. There has been no prosecution by the Board of Trade for offences under this Section in respect of ribbons, but prosecutions under the Act may be, and usually are, taken by the trading interests concerned, and, in that event, the prosecution might not come to my notice. The Order applying to bindings came into force only at the end of last year.