HC Deb 22 July 1952 vol 504 cc262-3
26. Mr. Wills

asked the President of the Board of Trade why he has allowed cane chairs manufactured in Hong Kong to be given a variation licence from the standard general specification for Utility furniture and permitted them the use of the British Utility mark.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade (Mr. Henry Strauss)

Imported furniture which complies with the Board of Trade's requirements has, since 1946, been able to qualify for the use of the Utility mark; similarly, variation licences have been issued for imported furniture on the same grounds, and with the same safeguards, as for home-produced furniture. The licence to which my hon. Friend refers was issued in 1950 in accordance with this practice.

Mr. Wills

Will my hon. and learned Friend bear in mind that the Utility mark should be a guarantee of quality and of standard and that the quality of these imported chairs is far below the quality of chairs manufactured in this country? Is he aware that the Utility specification with which our people have to comply makes it impossible for them to manufacture chairs at so low a figure as these imported chairs?

Mr. Strauss

The variation licences do not permit any lowering of quality and the same standard is applied to the article whether it is imported or home produced. In regard to the particular chairs to which my hon. Friend referred, no complaint of any kind has been received by my Department.

Mr. Wills

If I produce the two chairs, one made in one country and the other made in another country, will my hon. and learned Friend sit on both and judge of their quality?

Mr. Bottomley

Will the hon. and learned Gentleman give an assurance that there has been no lowering of the Utility standard for either overseas goods or home-produced goods?

Mr. Strauss

Yes, Sir.

Mr. W. R. Hudson

Will my hon. and learned Friend bear in mind that blind persons as well as others are engaged in making this cane furniture and that if importation is continued it may have a very serious effect on their employment?