HC Deb 02 May 1895 vol 33 cc299-301

I have dealt with the details of Customs, and I will now turn to the details of Inland Revenue. In Excise the net receipts from home-made spirit in the year 1893–4 were £15,189,000. It was estimated, however, that of this £189,000 might be regarded as an anticipated receipt, due to the expectation of an increase of duty, and, therefore' was not to be treated as normal revenue of 1893–94, and operated, in fact, in derogation of the receipts of 1894–95. The revenue for 1894–95 was, therefore, estimated, upon the former scale of duty, at £15,000,000, which was increased by £600,000, as the expected addition from the extra 6d. upon the amount of spirit charged to duty after the imposition of the higher rate. The actual receipts, however, have been £15,270,000, or £330,000 less than the estimate. It will, therefore, be seen that the additional Spirit Duty has not yielded one-half of what was expected of it. As in the case of rum, previously referred to, the consumption of homemade spirits, which had been constantly decreasing during the previous months, rose suddenly and considerably in February. It is a well-known fact that always in the fine weather there is less consumption of spirits and a greater consumption of beer. On the other hand, in hard weather there is a less consumption of beer and more of spirits. But during the excessive frost in the early part of the year the distinction was more marked. From this circumstance it may be inferred that, but for the exceptional character of the season, there would have been a still greater failure of revenue as compared with estimate than that already stated. That is the history of the Spirit Duty in the past year. I now come to beer. When we turn to the beer duty the case is very different. The estimate was £10,120,000, as against £9,537,000 in 1893–94, an estimated increase of £583,000 for the 6d. duty. The amount received was, in fact, £10,102,000, or only £18,000 less than the estimate. The number of barrels during the first 11 months only varied by 48,000 on a total of 31,000,000—a wholly insignificant figure—but, owing to the severe frost in February, the quantity fell off very considerably during that month compared with the yield of previous years. The weather seems to have acted adversely to the production as well as the consumption of beer. But for this accidental drawback the estimate would have been considerably exceeded. It is clear, therefore, that in the case of beer the extra duty has done all that was expected of it. The total yield of excise has been £25,875,000, or £365,000 below the estimate, which, as has been shown, was due almost wholly to the failure of the Spirit Duty. I now turn to the Stamp Duties, which are of special interest during the present year, owing to the operation of the Finance Act, 1894.