§ MR. CHILDERS (Edinburgh, S.)
asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Whether the arrangements for levying the new duty on sparkling wine are working in a satisfactory manner?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. GOSCHEN) (St. George's, Hanover Square)
From the Revenue point of view, the working of the Act is completely satisfactory. Taking the first four months after the modification of the extra duty, by which it was restricted to sparkling wines, I find that the yield of the extra duty was £47,700. At this rate the yield for the whole year would be £143,000, as against my estimate of £125,000. There has, of course, been a certain amount of friction in the working of the Act, and some complaints about the manner in which it has been administered by the Customs authorities, though, considering the difficult task intrusted to them, I consider that those authorities have discharged their duty in a manner which does them credit. I may give, as an instance of the kind of friction which arises, that a firm which advertised a certain wine at 80s. a-dozen, and described it as "the highest class champagne shipped, the best cuvées of the best vintages only," yet claimed to pay the lower rate of duty, on the ground that they bought the wine for less than 30s. a-dozen. Without disputing the accuracy of their statement, the Customs were of opinion that this was not the kind of wine for which the lower rate of duty conceded to cheap wines was intended. I think the House will agree with me that the firm in question may well pay 5s. tax out of the 50s. a dozen profit which, on their own showing, they make. Speaking generally, I may say that, though numerous disputes have arisen, they affect only a small proportion of the sparkling wines imported; and that the friction is not greater than was to be expected before the trade became familiar with the principle of the new duty. Nothing which has yet occurred leads me to think that it will necessary to withdraw the concession by which sparkling wines of under 30s. 141 a dozen are admitted at the lower rate of duty.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
Will the Chancellor of the Exchequer kindly give the name of the firm to which he has referred?