HC Deb 05 July 1881 vol 263 cc28-9

asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, If he is in a position to afford the House any information which will explain the unfavourable account contained in the last Revenue Returns, as regards a considerable falling off in the Excise duties?


Sir, the general state of the Revenue is not very familiar to me; but as to the particular point of my hon. Friend's inquiry, I think I can give satisfactory information. The House will remember that, on examining the year's Returns of the Revenue, they could not but be struck with the ominous fact that there was a decrease of £420,000 odd on the Excise. Now, the reason of that decrease, which is the one and distinctly unfavourable and striking feature, is the different distribution of the Malt Duty and the Beer Duty over the four quarters of the year. The Beer Duty, according to the estimate which has been formed and according to experience, is receivable in the four quarters of the year in very nearly four equal portions; but the Malt Duty varies in the four quarters, according to normal experience, as much as from 14 per cent in one quarter to 40 per cent in another. There is no such inequality in the present case. If there had been, the discrepancy in the Excise would have been very much greater; but the difference in the present case is that 30 per cent of the Malt Duty was received in a normal quarter, in the three months ending the 2nd of June, and only 24 per cent of the Beer Duty. Now, when we remember that 1 per cent of duty amounts to £87,000, and that 6 per cent amounts to £512,000, it will be obvious to my hon. Friend that these figures dispose of the whole of the apparent decrease.