§ MR. J. A. WILLOX (Liverpool, Everton)
I beg to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) whether foreign cigars and other manufactured tobacco are being imported into this country duty free through the Post Office; (2) whether postmen are employed to collect the duty on such foreign manufactured tobacco in small sums from the consumers; and, if so, under what Statute or Customs regulation the practice is permitted; and, (3) whether he will make such arrangements as will allow to British merchants and manufacturers the same facilities in the payment of Customs duties as are now conceded to foreigners?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir MICHAEL HICKS BEACH,) Bristol, W.
There is no law or regulation under which foreign cigars and other manufactured tobacco can be imported into the United Kingdom through the Post Office free of Customs duty. Under an arrangement made on the introduction of the foreign and colonial parcel post, the Post Office, acting under Section 3 of Clause 14 of the Post Office Parcels Act, 1882, undertakes the collection of Customs duties on dutiable articles of any kind (not exclusively tobacco) contained in postal parcels arriving from abroad; but such duties are first assessed by Customs officers in precisely the same manner as if the goods were imported into the country by any other means than that of the foreign and colonial parcel post. I am afraid I do not fully understand the meaning of the third paragraph of the Question. The arrangement above described does not appear to unduly favour foreign as compared with British merchants and manufacturers. If the hon. Member will communicate with me in writing and explain what it is he wishes me to do, I will of course carefully consider any suggestion he may make.