HC Deb 17 June 1852 vol 122 cc868-9

begged to ask the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he was prepared to give such an assurance as would allay the apprehension at present prevailing throughout the wine trade, by the announcement of a project for reducing the import duty to one shilling a gallon—a rumour which was calculated to raise the price of wine abroad, and was already operating to the injury of the revenue by deterring parties from taking wine out of bond for home consumption?


Sir, I understand the hon. Gentleman to say that apprehension is occasioned by the announcement of a project for reducing the import duty on wine to one shilling a gallon. Now, in the first place, there is no project on the part of the Government to reduce the import duty on wine to one shilling a gallon; and I trust that no Government which is likely to exist in this country would entertain any project of such a kind. I will take the liberty of saying that there is no intention whatever on the part of Her Majesty's Government to recommend any reduction in the import duty on wine. I think that these questions when asked should be explicitly answered. Many years ago there was a reduction made in the duties on wine under Lord Ripon, which did not as a financial measure realise the success that was anticipated from it; and should the reduction to which the hon. Member has referred, as occasioning so much apprehension, be car- ried out, it would require an increased consumption of about 500 per cent to restore the loss of revenue that would be involved. Under these circumstances there is no prospect of such an increase of consumption as would make up for the sacrifice. The evidence that was taken before the Select Committee which considered this subject confirmed the view of the Government, that it is inexpedient to interfere with the wine duties. Moreover, I consider there are many other articles which have claims for reduction superior to the wine duty, because it is a duty on the luxuries of the rich, whereas there are many other articles largely used by the poorer classes of the country, which ought previously to be considered.