§ MR. FORWOOD (Lancashire, Ormskirk)
asked the President of the Board of Trade, If he can furnish the House with the number of gold and silver (separately) watch cases that were hallmarked by the Goldsmiths' Company in 1884 and in 1885, distinguishing those of Foreign manufacture from those of British make; if he is aware that the Foreign made cases, when so marked, are exported abroad, where they are fitted with watch movements, and then brought back to this Country, selling here as English made watches, by reason of bearing the British Goldsmiths' Hallmark, thus unfairly and seriously injuring an important but struggling British industry; and, whether he will take such steps as may be necessary to stop the marking of the Foreign manufactured cases with the British Hall mark, reserving the benefit of that mark solely for British productions?
§ THE PRESIDENT (Mr. MUNDELLA) (Sheffield, Brightside)
As to the first part of the hon. Member's Question, I will communicate with the Goldsmiths' Company, and furnish such information as they are able to give. As to the second part, I have no information beyond that contained in the evidence given to the Hall-Marking Committee of 1878 and 1879, which went to show that about 10 per cent of silver watch cases were of foreign origin. I am aware that the law with respect to the hallmarking of silver plate is not in a satisfactory condition; but it must be remembered that the hall-mark is in its essence a test of quality and not a statement of origin. It is doubtful whether any such limitation as is suggested would effect the object which the hon. Member has in view. The question raised is one of misrepresentation of place of origin; and, as such, it shall have my consideration when dealing with that subject in connection with the Merchandise Marks Act.