asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is prepared to instruct the officials of his Department to issue, without further delay, or cause to be handed to His Majesty's Board of Customs for publication, a notice clearly defining what percentage of purity will, and will not, be liable to duty under the Safeguarding of Industries Act, 1921, Part I, in view of the Referee's ruling in the recent appeal case against the inclusion of R. sodium hyposulphite in the list of scheduled articles?
The degree of purity is not the only test as to whether a chemical is or is not included within the scope of Part 1 of the Safeguarding of Industries Act, as was clearly indicated by the Referee in the particular case to which the hon. Member refers; and the suggestion made in the question is not a practicable one. I should add that I have no reason to think that the list in its present form now gives rise to any appreciable difficulties.
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that since the Safeguarding of Industries Act, 1921 (Part I), came into force His Majesty's Board of Customs have levied duty on importations of sodium hyposulphite, pea crystals under the item R sodium hyposulphite, in the list of scheduled products; that importers of this product in pea-crystal form who declared them on free entries were recently fined for so doing, and at the same time were refused particulars of the result of customs analysis of their goods; that the referee has now decided that only sodium hyposulphite, pea crystals of 99 per cent., or thereabouts, purity and upwards are liable to the duty on importation; if so, whether he will state what was the percentage of purity of the material in connection with which importers were fined for wrongful entry; and, if of lower percentage of purity than that laid down by the referee, whether he will order the remission of the fines imposed on the firms in question?
The answer to the first part of the question is, I understand, in the affirmative. The remainder of the question relates to matters of Customs' rules and practice, over which I have no control, and should consequently be addressed to the Treasury. But if the hon. Member will furnish full particulars of the case or cases he has in mind, I shall be glad to invite the attention of the Board of Customs to them.
I have just invited the hon. Member to supply me with full particulars, which I shall put before the Treasury for their consideration. If he will do that, I think it will be more useful.
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that., by the use of the words "analytical re-agents" in the Safeguarding of Industries Act, 1921, certain heavy chemicals never intended to be taxed have to be taxed because they are used in comparatively minute quantities as analytical re-agents; that, in consequence, such a heavy chemical as hyposulphite of soda is taxed because a few hundred pounds, as compared with every 1,000 tons used industrially, is used as an analytical re-agent; whether he is in sympathy with this unexpected result of the Act; and, if not, what steps, if any, he proposes to take?
Such heavy chemicals as are prepared in a. very high degree of purity for use as analytical reagents are liable to duty only when of analytical re-agent or correspondingly special quality. As regards the second part of the question, hyposulphite of soda of the ordinary industrial grade is not liable to duty, but only the photographic quality. This is not an unexpected result of the Act, and consequently I do not propose to take any action in the matter.
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that, at the hearing by the referee of the case against the inclusion of R. sodium hyposulphite in the key list of articles scheduled under Part I of the Safeguarding of Industries Act, 1921, his Department, through their counsel, submitted, in support of their case, a sample of sodium hyposulphite, commercial quality, which was described by more than one trade expert witness as being of exceptionally bad quality and a most unfair specimen; and whether he can say from what source this sample was obtained?
The sample in question was put to witnesses for the complainants in cross-examination by counsel appearing on behalf of a manufacturing company which was allowed by the referee to appear in opposition to the complaint, and not by the Board of Trade. I am unable to give the information asked for in the last part of the question.