§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Whether there are any special causes to account for the great falling off shown by the weekly returns in the receipts of the revenue from Customs and Excise in the period April 1—April 19, 1879, as compared with those from April 1—April 20, 1878, amounting in the case of the Customs to £400,000, and in that of the Excise to nearly one million; and, if this falling off is due to a variation in the times of collection, or to any other cause?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Sir, I do not wonder that the great falling off in the Returns from the Custom and Excise has attracted the attention of the hon. and learned Gentleman; but it is easily explained. With 986 regard to the falling off of £966,000 in the Excise, it must be remarked, in the first place, that there is one day less in the period taken in the present year than in that with which it is compared, and there is virtually another day less owing to the bank holiday on Easter Monday falling within this year's period. This, at the rate of £60,000 a-day, is equal to a sum of £20,000 less this year than last. Again, the Excise collectors—and that is a most important point in the falling off in the Excise—began their collections for the North rounds one week later than last year, and that accounts for upwards of £400,000. Last year they began on the 8th of April, and this year on the 14th of April. This difference will not appear when the rounds are completed, which will not be until the end of May. It should also be remembered that there was an exceptional receipt from spirit duties in 1878 in anticipation of an increased duty. This receipt amounted to £278,000. In addition to these especial causes, there has been a falling off in receipts of malt duty, which was known would be the case, and which was provided for in the Estimates for the current year. The cause of the falling off of £421,000 in the Customs revenue for the period from the 1st to the 19th of April, 1879, as compared with the corresponding period of 1878, is owing principally to the large amount of duties which were paid by merchants from the 1st to the 4th of April, 1878, in anticipation of the Budget which was introduced on the 4th. The amount received in London in these four days amounted to £360,200, duties being paid largely on spirits and tobacco as well as on tea. This year the Budget was introduced on the 3rd of April, so that the merchants had only three days to pay in anticipation, the duties in London for that period being only £440,600, or £229,600 less than in 1878. The same principle holds good as regards the outports, and the difference in favour of 1878 may be stated at £110,000. In addition to the above, two holidays fell within this period in 1879—namely, Good Friday and Easter Monday; while only one fell in the same period in 1878—namely, Good Friday. This may be set down as accounting for £60,000 against 1879. These facts explain what appear to be, at first sight, a very startling difference.