§ SIR EDWARD BIRKBECK (Norfolk, E.)
asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Whether he has given consideration to the question of allowing the agriculturists of the United Kingdom, under proper restrictions, to grow tobacco for sale; and, if not, whether he will 115 cause inquiry to be made with the view of assisting the agricultural interest in this matter?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir WILLIAM HARCOURT) (Derby)
I need not say if anything could be done for the advantage of the agriculturists and cultivators of the soil of England I should be extremely happy to co-operate in such a course. This question of the growth of tobacco in this country is by no means a new one, and has been often considered. The hon. Member is probably aware that up to 1830 it was permitted in Ireland without any charge. The matter was at that time examined by a Committee; and it was found that though the Irish climate was considered peculiarly favourable to its growth, it was only employed to the extent of 500 acres. The result of the Report of that Committee was that the cultivation of tobacco could not be continued in Ireland without the same privileges being extended to England also, and that in both cases it would be necessary to impose an Excise Duty. The question has frequently been considered at the Treasury since that time; and it was calculated that the Excise Duty to protect the Revenue which it would be necessary to impose—namely, about £300 an acre, would be prohibitory, and, in fact, it could not be worked. But if the hon. Member thinks later information would throw light on the matter, and remove the difficulties, I should be most happy to communicate with him, or with any other practical agriculturist, with a view to the further consideration of the subject.
§ MR. PYNE (Waterford, W.)
asked whether it was proposed to place a tax of £300 an acre on the growth of tobacco in Ireland?
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, no; but that was the tax proposed some years ago on tobacco in the United Kingdom, and that the fact that only 500 acres were under tobacco in Ireland when it could be grown free was calculated to prove that the cultivation of it was not remunerative?