HC Deb 20 March 1882 vol 267 cc1296-7

asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Whether the attention of the Government has been called to a recent seizure, by the Excise authorities in Liverpool, of an article known as malt coffee, sold undisguisedly as a mixture of malt and coffee; and, whether, having regard to the recent Treasury Minute of 20th January last, permitting the importation of "any vegetable matter applicable to the uses of coffee or chicory, roasted or ground, mixed without reference to the proportion of the mixture," and having regard also to the permitted mixture of other vegetable substances with cocoa, the Government are prepared to relax any old Law which may operate as a restriction on Home trade, and so encourage British manufactures, if it should, upon investigation, be held that the article in question is an. infringement of any existing Law?


Yes, Sir; the attention of the Treasury has been called by the hon. Member, and by the noble Lord his Colleague, to the circumstances mentioned in his first Question. The seizure was made by the Excise authorities in pursuance of the Act 43 Geo. III. c. 129, which enacts, in Section 5, that if any article prepared for the purpose of resembling coffee shall be found in the possession of any dealer, it shall be forfeited, and the dealer fined £100. Moreover, no duty had been paid upon the malt. With reference to the second Question, I have to observe that there is nothing opposed to the above-mentioned section in the recent Treasury Minute. In 1860 a duty was imposed on chicory, or any other vegetable matter applicable to the uses of coffee or chicory; the object of that duty being, as was stated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to protect the coffee revenue, which could not be expected to grow so long as an article that assumes the appearance of coffee is admitted free, while coffee itself pays a high duty. The duty on coffee and on chicory, or any other vegetable matter applicable to the uses of coffee or chicory, has since that time been equal; and the recent Treasury Minute has simply allowed the importation, on payment of duty, of mixtures, the components of which previously paid duty when imported separately. The Minute in no way authorizes the sale of any article previously forbidden. But as malt may now be roasted without any duty or Excise restriction, the Revenue would be endangered if a mixture of malt and coffee were allowed to be made in this country and sold as coffee.