HC Deb 17 April 1890 vol 343 cc788-9

2. Motion made, and Question proposed,

"That, in addition to the Duties of Customs payable on Spirits under "The Customs and Inland Revenue Act, 1881,"there shall be charged and paid the Duties following (that is to say):—

£ s. d.
For every Gallon computed at proof of Spirits of any description as in the said Act mentioned (except Perfumed Spirits) 0 0 6
For every Gallon of Perfumed Spirits 0 0 9
For every Gallon of Liqueurs, Cordials, and other preparations entered so as to be chargeable under the said Act with the Duty of Fourteen Shillings 0 0 8
and so in proportion for any less quantity.

And the Duties of Customs on the articles hereinafter mentioned, being articles of which Spirits are a part or ingredient, shall be proportionately increased, and shall be as follows:—

£ s. d.
Chloroform. the pound 0 3 1
Collodion the gallon 1 5 0
Ether Acetic the pound 0 1 10
Ether Butyric the gallon 0 15 8
Ether Sulphuric the gallon 1 6 2
Ethyl, Iodide of the gallon 0 13 7
and so in proportion for any less quantity."—(Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer.)


I should like to point out in reference to this Vote that the Government are proposing to tax a most useful and beneficent anæsthetic. The man who invented chloroform probably conferred greater benefit on the human race than any other inventor who ever lived. Why, I ask, is chloroform to be made the subject of taxation? Perhaps the Government will furnish some explanation of the reason why such articles are to be taxed.


The Excise Authorities find it impossible to make any difference in regard to the taxation of spirits. No change is made in regard to the law, and the increase on the existing duty is not large. I am quite sure that hon. Members will not expect me to enter into a scientific discussion on such a subject at the present moment, even if I were competent to do so.

DR. TANNER (Cork, Co., Mid)

I do not think the right hon. Gentleman takes into consideration when he proposes to increase the tax on anæsthetics how important these things are in surgical operations. He has apparently forgotten that already the price of these articles is exceedingly high, and it seems to me to be unwise to still further enhance the cost of materials which are only used for the purpose of relieving pain, notably in the case of poor persons who are subject to surgical treatment. Hon. Members may not object to proposals making the consumption of intoxicating liquors as expensive as possible; but at the same time I think it will be generally granted that articles like chloroform, which are merely aids to humanity, ought to be made as cheap as possible. In increasing the cost of these things there is some risk of doing harm by adding to the inducements to adulteration.

Question put, and agreed to.

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