§ MR. BROADHURST (Nottingham, W.)
asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, If he can now inform the House whether the reduction of the duty on tobacco will take immediate effect, so as to prevent the great loss to the workpeople engaged in the cigar-making trade which will ensue if the reduction does not take effect till the 21st May; and, if not, whether he will give rebate on all tobacco leaf taken out of bond between now and the 21st May?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. Goschen) (St. George's, Hanover Square)
I see the hon. Member's Question refers to great loss to the workpeople in the cigar-making trade which will result if the reduction of duty does not take place till the 21st May. I cannot understand why this should be the case. There is no reason, in the change of duty, why any cigar manufacturer having tobacco in stock should not continue to carry on his manufacture as usual. But I am informed that a number of these manufacturers either have discharged, or are going to discharge, their workpeople, rather than take fresh tobacco out of bond while the higher duty is still in force. I should be sorry to think that many manufacturers would adopt so harsh a course, especially in view of the great been about to be bestowed upon them, as to discharge their workpeople rather than continue to pay the present rate of duty on the comparatively small amount of raw material necessary to keep them employed till the 21st. The hon. Member will easily understand that it is impossible for me, in so serious a matter, and one affecting so many interests, to 239 change the clay originally fixed for the reduction of duty. But I am considering whether some steps may not be taken to put a stop to the mischief which the hon. Member's Question directly contemplates, and I am not without hope that means may be found to prevent the threatened discharge of workpeople.