HC Deb 02 July 1896 vol 42 cc570-3

THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER moved:— That the Duty of Customs now payable on cocoa or chocolate, ground, prepared, or in any way manufactured, under the provisions of the Act 42 and 43 Vic., c. 21, s. 3, shall be payable on that product of the cocoa bean which is generally known as cocoa butter.

He said he could in a very few words explain the reason for the Resolution. The matter was a very small one, but still it was of importance to the manufacturers of cocoa, and it certainly might become of importance to the revenue. At the present moment, and for many years past, cocoa, whether in the raw state or manufactured, had been liable to duty, and it had been discovered that cocoa butter, though manufactured from cocoa, could not properly be included as a manufactured article, because the process of its manufacture had not come within the scope of existing provisions.

Therefore, while cocoa itself in the raw state or manufactured was liable to duty, this particular article of cocoa butter, which was largely used in the manufacture of chocolate, could enter the country without the payment of any duty at all. A good deal of cocoa butter was made in this country by those who imported the raw article. He thought that out of every hundredweight of raw cocoa about 86 lbs. of cocoa butter was manufactured. As the law stood the manufacturer of cocoa butter in this country was liable to a duty of one and a third of a penny on every pound, whereas the foreign manufacturer could send it to this country without paying any duty. This was protection for the foreigner against the Englishman, and for that reason he asked the Committee to include cocoa butter among the manufactured articles. ["Hear, hear!"]

*MR. H. E. KEARLEY (Devonport)

protested against the Resolution on the ground that no notice of it had been sent to the great manufacturing firms of this country.


said he had received communications from Messrs. Cadbury, Taylor, Epps, Lupton, and Thorne, all of whom he understood, desired this alteration of the law. [Cheers.]


said he noticed one serious omission from among the great firms of an important firm which flourished in the district the right hon. Gentleman himself represented, namely, Messrs. Fry, of Bristol. He understood they strongly objected to this Resolution, and although he accepted the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that he had communicated with certain persons, still the objection held good, for he had not communicated with——


I did not say I had communicated with them. I said I had received communications from them. Perhaps I may say I have also received a communication from Messrs. Fry, but I think they do not understand the purport of the Resolution.


was perfectly aware the right hon. Gentleman had received a communication from the Messrs. Fry, advising him that they had great hostility to the proposal, and on that ground alone he submitted that the Resolution should be delayed. He presumed that the right hon. Gentleman did not wish to impose on the English manufacturers onerous conditions without an opportunity of their being heard. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer would consent to the postponement of the Resolution for a week, to give firms concerned in this question an opportunity of expressing their views, he would withdraw his opposition. [Cries of "No."] It had been pointed out to him that, whereas the home manufacturer paid a duty of one penny a pound on the cocoa bean because the fat had not been extracted, the importers of chocolate powder or cocoa paid a duty of twopence per pound in consequence of their having extracted the cocoa butter. The proposal now was that if they sent cocoa butter to this country they should pay another duty, although they had already paid this twopence per pound. This was an interference with trade, cocoa butter being largely used by English manufacturers for confectionery purposes. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was perhaps under the impression that cocoa butter coming in free handicapped the English manufacturer. That was a mistake. The free importation of cocoa butter helped firms like Messrs. Fry to hold their own against competitors in foreign markets. He believed he had made out a substantial case why the Resolution should be postponed that the manufacturers of the country might have an opportunity of expressing their views.


hoped the hon. Member would not press for the postponement. If the Resolution was passed he would place a clause on the Paper which the House might think fit to insert in the Finance Bill. That clause could not be considered for at least a week, which would give ample opportunity for any objections to be made by those who had a grievance.


said that if a clause were introduced in the Finance Bill no doubt his hon. Friend would be satisfied.

MR. T. LOUGH (Islington, W.)

said the Chancellor of the Exchequer was mistaken in saying that 86 per cent. of cocoa butter could be made of a hundredweight of cocoa. He himself believed that only 20 or 25 per cent. of cocoa butter could be made.


admitted lie made a mistake. He meant that out of every 112 lb. of raw cocoa there would be 86 lb. of marketable produce. Of that about 501b. would be cocoa butter.

Resolution to be reported To-morrow; Committee to sit again To-morrow.