HC Deb 26 April 1855 vol 137 cc1789-90

said, he begged to ask if it was intended by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to amend the schedule of this Bill, so as to remove the objections made to it by the compounders, rectifiers and dealers in Spirits in Scotland and Ireland, on the ground that it subjected their stock in hand to the increased rate of duty?


said, the effect of an augmentation of the duty on spirits, on former occasions, had been to charge spirits, whether in bond or duty paid, in the hands of distillers, but not to charge spirits which were in the hands of wholesale dealers. It appeared, however, to the Government that there was no difference in principle between spirits in the hands of distillers and spirits in the hands of wholesale dealers, and they accordingly included both classes of persons in the Resolutions they had proposed to the House. In taking that step they were influenced by the information they had received as to the large quantity of spirits which had been taken out for consumption in Scotland and Ireland before the financial statement was made on the part of the Government. In the fortnight ending the 7th of April last the quantity of spirits upon which duty was paid in the district of South Argyll was 37,594 gallons; in Edinburgh, 36,494 gallons; Glasgow, 87,204 gallons; Linlithgow, 18,366 gallons; and Stirling, 39,182 gallons; while in the fortnight ending the 21st of April the quantity upon which duty was paid was, in the district of South Argyll, 105,462 gallons; in Edinburgh, 146,309 gallons; Glasgow, 376,690 gallons: Linlithgow, 72,593 gallons; and Stirling, 105,800 gallons. He found also with respect to Ireland that the amount of spirits upon which duty was paid in the fortnight ending April 7, 1855, was in Belfast, 77,928 gallons; in Cork, 43,064 gallons; in Dublin, 76,522 gallons; in Drogheda, 28,205 gallons; and in Waterford, 15,835 gallons; while in the fortnight ending the 21st of April, the quantity was in Belfast, 121,440 gallons; in Cork, 99,632 gallons; in Dublin, 145,623 gallons; in Drogheda, 60,660 gallons; and in Waterford, 71,200 gallons. It was clear, therefore, that the dealers, speculating upon some probable increase of the spirit duty, had taken a large quantity of spirits out of bond in the fortnight preceding the announcement of the budget, and this circumstance explained the intention of the Government to apply their Resolution to the wholesale dealers. He fully admitted the importance of precedents in matters of this kind. As they were now imposing a large additional duty upon spirits in Scotland and Ireland, it might perhaps seem somewhat unfair on the part of the Government to depart from the ordinary custom, and possibly when in Committee he might be enabled to modify his original proposition.


said, he wished to know whether the same answer would apply to other articles on which the duties had been augmented?


said, a considerable additional quantity of sugar had been taken out of bond, but only a small quantity of tea.