HC Deb 02 May 1895 vol 33 cc297-8

The question of the Spirit Revenue is one of special interest in connection with the change introduced in the rate of duty last year. The Customs' Revenue on foreign spirit was estimated to yield £4,260,000, of which £160,000 was attributed to the extra 6d. imposed last year. The produce, in fact, has only been £4,197,000, or £63,000 below the Estimate, and only £67,000 in excess of the yield of the year 1893–94. For the first three-quarters up to December 31, there had been no increase on the previous year; and it would seem, if things had gone on in their ordinary course, in spite of the extra 6d., there would have been little or no increase of Revenue; but, owing to the extraordinary severity of the weather in February, the receipts from rum rose suddenly to an excess of £100,000. That is an experience which happened in a still greater degree to the right hon. Gentleman opposite, who spoke of a "rush to rum." On this occasion it appears to have been exclusively confined to the time of severe frost. Brandy fell £127,000 short of the estimate, and £91,000 below the yield for 1893–94. The taste for brandy is evidently on the decline. In 15 years the quantity has diminished by 1,000,000 gallons, or 31 per cent., whilst the population has increased 13 per cent. Regarding the Foreign Spirit Revenue as a whole, and making deduction for the exceptional rise of rum in the frost, the conclusion is that no increase of Revenue was in fact derived from the additional 6d. of duty.