HC Deb 16 June 1884 vol 289 c420

asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Whether the Government intend to abolish the system of destroying tobacco seized by the Customs authorities, which system has entailed a loss to the Revenue of £27,000 in four years; and, whether the Government will order such tobacco, in future, to be sold by auction, or, if any objection exists to its being sold, whether the Government will sanction its distribution among the workhouses, for the use of the aged paupers?


The hon. Gentleman is not quite accurate in supposing that in four years the Revenue has lost £27,000 by the destruction of tobacco seized by the Customs authorities. That sum, as stated by my hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury on the 15th of May, included the value of and duty on cigars seized, which were sold for the benefit of the Crown. I am not prepared to order that such tobacco should be sold or given to paupers. It would rarely fetch at auction more than the duty, and if it did, would only displace a corresponding amount regularly entered for home consumption, so that the public would gain little or nothing. There are, besides, other fiscal reasons against such a proceeding. But in time of war seized tobacco is sometimes exported for the use of our troops abroad; and this, and its use for fumigation at Kew, to the extent of about a ton a-year, are the only exceptions for which I see sufficient reason.