§ MR. MURPHY (Dublin, St. Patrick's)
asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Whether it has been represented to him that the process of tobacco manufacture in Ireland occupies a period of from three to five weeks, whereas the system of manufacture in England allows the leaf to be converted into consumable tobacco in five or six days; whether representations have reached him from the Irish manufacturers that, in view of the proposed reduction of duty, they would suffer a grievous loss if they continued manufacturing at the present time, as in consequence of the competition of English tobacco (manufactured under different conditions) they could not charge the difference in duty to the public; whether, to avoid this loss, they have had to cease manufacturing, thereby throwing out of employment for the next three weeks about 2,000 people in Ireland; whether, as the result of a conference with the tobacco trade, on which there was no Irish representative, the Chancellor of the Exchequer made certain arrangements in relief of cigar manufacturers; and, whether he will favourably consider the question of affording some similar relief to the Irish trade, either by way of drawbacks on stocks held on the 21st May, or otherwise?
§ COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
also had the following Question on the Paper:—To ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Whether he is aware that a large number of workers in Irish tobacco factories are now disemployed, as a result of the change in the Tobacco Duties proposed in his Budget; and, whether, having regard to the concession made to the cigar manufacturers to prevent similar discharges of workmen, he will re-consider the position of the Irish trade, with a view to allowing a resumption of work on terms that would not eventually affect the Revenue?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. GOSCHEN) (St. George's, Hanover Square)
I will answer this Question and that of the hon. Member for North Louth (Colonel Nolan) together. Representations have been made to me in the sense indicated in the first three Questions of the hon. Member for Dublin; but I cannot admit that I consider that the Irish manufacturers have proved their case. I can only repeat the substance of my former answers. I do not admit the necessity for discharging workmen; nor can I admit the right of manufacturers on any change of duty to put the pistol at the breast of a Minister, and to declare that they will dismiss their workmen unless certain concessions are made to them. I deny that it is proved that they cannot recoup themselves to a certain extent for the payment of the higher duty during a few weeks. I repeat that it would be a breach of faith to the rest of the trade, and an injustice to those who have taken out tobacco at the higher rate of duty on the strength of my declaration that I would not reduce the duty till the 21st instant. Besides, the amount cleared since the Budget Statement has been very considerable. Operations have been conducted on the strength of a month's grace for the sale of stocks. Retailers as well as manufacturers may have made their arrangements; and, accordingly, I feel there is no option for me but to decline to agree to any further change. It was not in consequence of representations made to me by the manufacturers that I made the concession as regards the cigar trade. The concession was made as the result of other inquiries which I set on foot, which showed me that the two branches of the trade could not with justice be treated alike.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.)
inquired, whether the right hon. Gentleman would be able to take the Customs and Inland Revenue Bill before Whitsuntide?
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
said, he would take the opportunity, when the Bill was before the House, of calling attention to the gross injustice with which Ireland had been treated.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Representations have been made to me from Scotland as well as Ireland. No injustice whatever has been done to Ireland.