HC Deb 15 March 1894 vol 22 cc327-8

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India if the decision to exempt British cotton goods from the Import Duty imposed upon most other articles was arrived at by the Government of India, or whether the exemption was by order of the Secretary of State; and upon what principle the Government of India is prohibited from imposing a duty of 5 per cent. upon certain British goods for Revenue purposes, while the Home Government, for the same object, imposes a duty of nearly 50 per cent. upon Indian tea?


The Secretary of State declined to sanction the proposal of the Government of India to include cotton goods among those on which a duty was to be imposed. He did so on the ground that a duty on such goods in the shape in which it was proposed by the Government of India would operate as a Protective Duty, and that, in view of the Resolutions passed by the House of Commons on the subject in 1877 and 1879, such a duty ought not to be imposed unless a more urgent financial necessity were shown than that which the Government of India had laid before him. I may add that the Tea Duty is a Revenue Duty charged upon all tea consumed. With respect to articles on which, when imported from abroad, a Customs Duty is levied, a countervailing Excise Duty is levied on the same articles, if produced or manufactured in this country.

MR. WHITELEY (Stockport)

May I ask whether the cotton trade in India since the abolition of duties on imported cotton goods has not largely increased, and would not the direct effect of the re-imposition of the duties be to further stimulate the manufacturing them at the expense of the already suffering and depressed home industry?


I answered that question the other night, when I gave the figures showing the enormous progress made in the internal cotton trade of India.


Will the Chancellor of the Exchequer, seeing that the Home Government has decided to fetter the hands of the Government of India in the matter of an essential duty in order to avoid a deficit, be prepared in the Budget to provide for such deficit?


I think the hon. Member will hardly expect me to answer such a question offhand.