asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the judgment given by the referee under the Safeguarding of Industries Act in regard to the complaint that his Department had improperly included cream of tartar and citric acid in the list of commodities to be taxed under the key industries schedule; whether he has noted that a period of seven days has been allowed by the referee before the judgment is signed, with a view to giving the Department an opportunity of notifying if it is its desire that judgment should be stated in the form of a case which can be decided in the High Court; and what action he proposes to take in the matter, in view of the provision of the Act that in the event of any dispute the question of whether a commodity is taxable should be remitted to a referee whose decision would be final?
I am aware of the decisions in question. The referee decided to allow a period of seven days before signing his award, for the reason stated by the hon. Member, and the matter is under consideration. As regards the last part of the question, I would point out the provisions of the Arbitration Act, 1889, apply to these references to the referee under Section 1 (5) of the Safeguarding of Industries Act.
Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate the state of confusion and indeed chaos that has resulted in all these industries by this ever-changing list, and will it be possible to revise the present list and remove these commodities from it, so as to save an enormous amount of time, expense and chaos?
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has considered the situation arising out of the fact that the referee has given judgment, under the Safeguarding of Industries Act, against the Board of Trade in respect of santonine, gas mantles, cream of tartar and citric acid, and sugar milk; and whether, in view of the fact that these decisions involve principles affecting a considerable number of other commodities in the key industries list as denned by the Board of Trade, and in view of the considerable expenditure of public and of other money involved in contesting these cases, he is prepared to take action to delete from the list commodities whose deletion is logically involved in the judgments already given, and thus save the enormous expense involved in obtaining individual decisions?
I am aware of the decisions mentioned, but I am not satisfied that the principles underlying them are so definite and of so general application as the hon. Member appears to suggest, or were intended to be so by the referee. The whole question will, however, be considered in the light of these decisions, and of the decisions in other cases which will be taken very shortly.