HC Deb 23 March 1871 vol 205 cc454-6

asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Whether the following Order issued by the Board of Customs on the 20th February 1864 has been cancelled or altered:— No chemical or unusual preparations, such as tannin, ether, &c., for the purpose of fining or flavouring, may be added to Wines in Bond unless the necessity of such addition is clearly proved to the satisfaction of the Board, and their special sanction obtained; whether any proof is required by the Board of the necessity of such admixture excepting the statements of the owners of the Wines, or their agents; and, whether it be true that, for the purpose of fining, Spanish earth may be mixed with Wines in Bond without any restriction as to quality or quantity, unless the operation is likely to cause an alteration in the rate of Duty, in which case the Board's sanction must be obtained, but not otherwise?


In answer, Sir, to the first part of the Question of the hon. Gentleman I have to state that I am informed by the Board of Customs that no such Order as that mentioned has been issued, from which I infer that it has not been cancelled. As regards the second part of the Question, there is some proof required besides the statements of the owners and their agents. As to the third branch of the Question, there is no Order at all in existence regulating the quantity or quality of Spanish earth to be mixed with wine. And now I would put it to the hon. Gentleman whether we have not investigated this rather technical and minute subject far enough in this way, and whether, if he wishes for information, he could not hit upon a more appropriate mode of obtaining it? If he moves for a Return of the Orders of the Board of Customs, I shall be happy to give it to him, and that would save us from further disputes as to what these Orders are. If, on the other hand, his object is to call in question the manner in which the Government deals with goods in bond, let him frame a Motion, and I shall be glad to discuss it with him. I only hope he will drop this species of interrogatory.


I think it necessary to say that I have copied that Order word for word from a printed book, compiled by an officer of Customs, and published under the sanction of the Board of Customs in the year 1868. I have referred to the book twice within the last three days in order to see that I was right; and I have inquired of various authorities on the subject, and am informed that it is a well-known Order, No. 255. I shall be happy to send the book to the Chancellor of the Exchequer in order that he may ascertain whether the Board of Customs have repealed or cancelled the Order.


That is just the inconvenience that I have noticed. I know nothing of these things myself. I communicate with the Board of Customs, and the answers I receive I convey to the hon. Gentleman. That is why I think it would be very much better if he would go straight to the Board of Customs and in some shape consult with them.