HC Deb 29 April 1901 vol 93 cc129-63

2. "That there shall be charged on and after the nineteenth day of April, Nineteen Hundred and One, the following Customs export duty on coal:—

s. d.
Coal (including culm, coke, cinders, and manufactured pen ton 1 0"

Resolutions read a second time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the First Resolution."

MR. KEARLEY (Devonport)

At this stage of the Budget I do not propose to raise the policy of the duty on sugar, nor do I propose to go into detail as to the effect the duty may have in the future in connection with various manufactures in which this article is used largely, and which have really come into existence because of the supply of cheap sugar. But, whatever may be said about the duty at some future time, I think I am fully entitled to discuss at the earliest available possible moment, and to condemn, the methods adopted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the levying of the duty, because it shows clearly either that he had no knowledge of the wide and far-reaching effects of the duty, or that he intentionally neglected to take steps beforehand to protect the mercantile interests that would suffer unless they were protected. I am prepared to assume that all that has happened has arisen from lack of knowledge on the part of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I noticed in his speech that the right hon. Gentleman displayed an easy confidence that there would be nothing to complain of on the part of the various trades concerned, that the duty would be easily collected, and that there would practically be no dislocation of trade at all. The right hon. Gentleman stated that refined sugar would pass direct to the distributor without delay on paying the full duty. That is not the case at all. Distributors and merchants dealing in refined sugar have been harassed in a most unhandsome way, to put it mildly, since this duty was levied. Red tape is rampant at the Custom House, and instead of refined sugar passing without any delay to the distributor, the Customs authorities have been insisting on the sugar being bonded and re-weighed, and have put all sorts of extraordinary difficulties in the way as regards an article which comes into this country in packages of a uniform weight of two hundredweights, and for which the importer has tendered the full amount of duty, but has been unable to receive it. If this is an example of what the Chancellor of the Exchequer thinks is the manner in which goods pass direct to the distributor, I think I am justified in accusing him of having no knowledge whatever of what will be the effect of this duty. The right hon, Gentleman pointed out that the duty arrangements would be very easy to work, because the shipments consisted of large parcels; which again demonstrates that he had not contemplated for a single moment the wide range of articles affected, or the treatment to which the various interests concerned have been subjected during the last ten days. What has happened is that a most important industry has been thrown into chaos, and that merchants and importers have been subjected to wholesale pillage—that is not too strong a term to use—and if it occurred in any other country in the world except a civilised country it would be denounced as brigandage. The unfortunate merchants have been left to struggle with the edicts issued by the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself. What the Chancellor of the Exchequer first elected to do was to instruct his representatives at the Custom House to levy the highest duty on the full bulk weight of any article containing a dutiable quantity of sugar, irrespective of its other components, coming into the country. I describe that as brigandage, nothing more nor less, and all the consolation those treated in that way are given is that it is only a question of time, and that they will get their money returned. The Chancellor of the Exchequer attempted to justify his conduct by saying that it was a legal proceeding on his part, and he invoked an Act of Parliament—the Customs Tariff Act—to support him in his contention. Before I refer to that Act, let me say that the right hon. Gentleman himself was responsible for issuing these instructions. He issued instructions to the Custom House officials two days before the Budget was introduced—I do not make any complaint on that score—and he also issued confirmatory instructions on the 19th April, after the Budget resolutions had been passed. By these instructions the Customs officials were entitled to levy as I have explained, duty on the full weight of any article that contained the smallest possible proportion of sugar. I deny that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has the authority of any Act of Parliament behind him. The Customs Tariff Act, on which he relies, states that, goods composed of any article which is dutiable shall be charged the full duty charged on such article. I maintain that that does not mean that the whole bulk should be charged with the duty, and the Act further states that if composed of more than one article, then duty can be levied on the full duty on the article, charged at the highest rate of duty. Then with reference to spirits, the Act states that on the importation of any article in the manufacture of which spirits are used, duty shall be charged in respect to such quantity of spirits as shall appear to the Treasury to have been used in the manufacture of such article. I think that all these provisions should be read together. It is perfectly clear, that as regards spirits, at all events, only the percentage of the spirits present in the article shall be charged duty. So much for my rendering of the Act; but I am able now to argue most assuredly that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was wrong in his contention that he had the support of an Act of Parliament, because, as an outcome of steps taken in this House a few days ago, the right hon. Gentleman has modified his own orders to the Customs authorities, and whereas he alleged he had the authority of an Act of Parliament to levy duty on the full bulk weight, he has now issued an amending order to the Customs authorities to levy duty not on the bulk weight, but on 60 per cent. of it. Therefore, if he argued that he had an Act of Parliament to support him in the first instance, he is now committing an illegality in amending his first order.

I should like to point out what will be the effect of this wholesale levying of the duty, independent of the quantity of sugar in the article levied upon, I will take a few articles to illustrate what I wish to convey to the House. Condensed milk is imported into this country to the value of two millions sterling, and to the weight of one million cwts. I am informed that the percentage of sugar in condensed milk varies from 30 per cent. to 45 per cent., whereas the Chancellor of the Exchequer has levied duty on 100 per cent. Similarly with condensed milk and cocoa, which is imported to the value of half a million sterling; the percentage of sugar is 12½ per cent. to 20 per cent., but the Chancellor of the Exchequer has insisted on these consignments paying a duty of 4s. 2d. per cwt. on the whole bulk. Again, cocoa and chocolate represent a value of half a million, and the percentage of sugar is not more than 10 per cent., yet the Chancellor of the Exchequer has insisted on the full duty being paid on the full bulk weight. I could mention many other articles, but these are typical. It is not a case of these articles being analysed. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has given that alternative now, but in the meantime the goods have been practically held in durance vile by the Chancellor of the Exchequer until he has extracted his full pound of flesh. Perhaps I might be permitted to refer to a letter from one of the largest importers of one of the articles I have referred to, in order to show the effect of what the Customs are doing. He states that one of his ships arrived in the Thames on Thursday last, that he was compelled by the Customs to land the cargo and bond it at considerable expense, and that he had been unable to ascertain from the Customs authorities even the amount of the duty that they required to be paid. The goods are lying at the quay, and the importer will be unable to obtain them until the net weight of the tins, cases, etc., has been obtained, although he offered to pay 4s. 2d. per cwt. on the net weight of the goods, He was prepared to guarantee by a declaration the exact weight of each case, which declaration is accepted all over the world to be correct. This merchant does not complain of the duty. I have never heard any particular outcry against it on the part of the trade, but is it right that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should so disorganise business in the manner I have indicated? I say that however red tape may suit in Government departments, it will not work in commerce. If applied to commerce it will simply strangle it, or you will have such a revolution against your methods as will teach you to limit the scope of red tape to Government offices, and not to extend it to commercial affairs. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer is to avoid a continuance of these harassing conditions, he will really have to pay some attention to persons who understand their own businesses. As far as I can ascertain, he sought advice with regard to the sugar duty from sugar refiners. They would be able to give most- excellent information about their own particular industry, but outside that they know nothing of the multitudinous ramifications that affect various other trades. Therefore I must ask him to give those concerned an opportunity of putting before him suggestions to bring to an end the serious harassing to which I have referred. In this connection I would suggest to him that he would facilitate matters very much if he instructed the Customs to accept a declaration from the shipper as to the percentage of sugar present in goods manufactured abroad, and shipped to this country in very large quantities. The right hon. Gentleman has informed me that he cannot see his way to do that, and I presume that he will also refuse to accept a similar declaration from British exporters who will before long be asking for drawbacks. But if he will not accept a declaration as to the quantity of sugar present, he will land himself in interminable difficulties, and will finally have to capitulate. There are difficulties which cannot be got over in the way he himself thinks, and I wish to mention that if he will not accept the declaration it means that all goods must be detained and analysed, both coming into this country from abroad and on shipment out of this country for export, and the delay will be well nigh destructive of trade.

Our present experience leads us to suppose that the analytical department of the Customs is not quite adequate to cope with this matter, and that in fact it has already broken down. I had mentioned to me on Friday a case where an importer declined to pay duty, and preferred to have his goods analysed. The Customs promised that the analysis would be finished at the end of the week, and when the importer went to ascertain the result of the analysis he was told that they were very sorry, but that he would have to come again on Monday, when they thought they would be able to let him know the amount of the duty. The only alternative to that state of affairs is for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to accept my suggestion, and take a sworn declaration from the importer, and again from the exporter. The reason I press this is because he will never be able to obtain by analysis the quantity of added sugar contained in certain articles. The importation of fruits preserved in syrup from America and Canada is an enormous trade, representing hundreds of thousands a year. I asked him the other day how he proposed to ascertain the amount of added sugar in fruit, which has a natural sugar itself. He replied, by chemical analysis. This is another evidence of the lack of knowledge of the right hon. Gentleman and his advisers as to what can be done by chemical analysis. Fresh fruit, as everyone knows, contains a considerable percentage of natural sugar, and when boiled with the ordinary sugar of commerce, there is an acid thrown off, which acts on the added sugar and entirely changes it. It is no longer the sugar of commerce, but becomes what is known as invert sugar. I am assured by the most competent analytical experts in this country, including four past-presidents of the Society of Public Analysts, that it is absolutely impossible when sugar has become chemically changed in this manner to ascertain how much is due to the natural sugar in the fruit, and how much to added sugar. The right hon. Gentleman said that this could be ascertained by chemical analysis, but I challenge his authority. We know that Dr. Thorpe, the head of the Somerset House laboratory, is a man of great eminence, and is recognised by analysts as a reliable authority. But I doubt very much if Dr. Thorpe gave the right hon. Gentleman his information. If he did it will be challenged. Beyond question it is perfectly impossible to tell. Then the right hon. Gentleman is placed in this dilemma: if he will not accept the declaration of the importer and exporter, he will be levying duty on a certain percentage of sugar natural to the fruit, and if he does that he will have to levy duty on fresh fruit imported into this country, because he told us that he had not the slightest intention of subsidising any industry. Bananas contain 20 per cent. of sugar, oranges 8 per cent., raisins and dates 50 per cent., and figs 60 per cent. I am sure, however, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer cannot see his way to levy duty on all fresh fruit imported into this country. I challenge his statement that he proposes to ascertain and discriminate between natural and added sugar by chemical analysis. Then there is another kind of sugar contained in condensed milk. Crude milk contains a percentage of sugar amounting to about 4½ per cent., but in the process of condensation the milk is evaporated to about one-third of its volume, and consequently there is about 14 per cent. of natural sugar belonging to the milk. In this particular case, I am told it is possible to differentiate between natural and added sugar. There is a test known to analysts whereby this can be ascertained, so that there is no difficulty in the matter. In the confectionery trade there will be enormous difficulty, unless the Chancellor of the Exchequer accepts the sworn declaration of the importer and exporter. A large proportion of the sweets imported and exported contain various proportions of materials other than sugar, and in a single case of sweets there may be as many as ten varieties, each different so far as the percentage of sugar is concerned. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer refuses to accept a sworn declaration he will be thrown into such difficulties as will either inflict great hardship on the trade, by underestimating the percentage of sugar, or will do an injustice to the Treasury. I addressed a question to the right hon. Gentleman the other day as to what he proposed to do with regard to honey. It may appear trivial, but, as a matter of fact, it is important. The right hon. Gentleman stated that he had no intention of levying a duty on honey unless sugar was added to it. What is honey? Honey consists of 80 per cent. of sugar, and 20 per cent. of moisture. The bee, when it extracts the nectar from the flowers, extracts pure cane sugar, and when that sugar passes into the honey stomach of the bee it meets an acid, and precisely the same thing takes place as in the boiling of fruits, and the sugar becomes invert. If honey is not taxed, brewers, distillers, fruit preservers, confectioners, and jam-makers will fasten immediately on it, and they will use it in preference to the sugar of commerce, on which they would have to pay a high duty. Again, it is chemically impossible to tell the difference between invert sugar and honey. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that he was advised that it could be determined by the pollen that existed in the honey, or by the smell. Ask any good public analyst as to whether those who are in the habit of shipping adulterated honey to this country have not been alive to the weakness of their case, and have not introduced into invert sugar the necessary amount of pollen, so as to throw analysts off the scent when it is subjected to microscopical examination.

The final example I will give as to the lack of knowledge on the part of the Chancellor of the Exchequer as to the effect of these duties is that of glucose. Want of inquiry has shipwrecked Chancellors of the Exchequer before now. I suppose Mr. Lowe did not make the necessary inquiries before he imposed the match tax. Another Chancellor of the Exchequer imposed the van and wheel tax without adequate inquiry, and the present Chancellor of the Exchequer took the duty off tobacco, and the tobacco manufacturers reaped the full benefit of it. Before the Chancellor of the Exchequer levies a duty of this kind, it behoves him to accurately examine what its effect will be, and how a trade may be seriously affected if not protected. My final case is that of glucose, which has got to be well known in this House in connection with arsenic in beer. The Chancellor of the Exchequer assumes that glucose contains 40 per cent. of taxable sugar, because he has imposed on it a duty of 1s. 8d. a cwt., which is 40 per cent. of the full tax. He is quite right as regards one kind of glucose, but he has omitted altogether from his reckoning another kind of glucose, which is not liquid but solid. This solid glucose contains not 40 per cent. but 80 per cent. of taxable sugar, and the result will be, unless the matter is rectified, that the users of solid glucose will get 50 per cent. of their sugar free of duty. I have an Amendment on the Paper which I do not propose to press at this point. I have sufficient confidence in the Chancellor of the Exchequer to expect him to give us some assurance that the matters of which I have complained will be rectified, and that he will abandon the attitude he took up the other day, of justifying the swooping down on all consignments under the cloak of an Act of Parliament. I hope he will see his way to put into his Finance Bill some such sort of protection as that foreshadowed in my Amendment. It is taken from one of the schedules of the Customs Tariff Act, although it is faulty in one or two particulars. If I can get some assurance from the right hon. Gentleman that these matters will get his attention I will not move the Amendment.

COLONEL MILWARD (Warwickshire, Stratford-on-Avon)

I will not follow the hon. Gentleman opposite in some of the remarks he made, because I think that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has shown a wonderful adaptability in placing these new duties on the country. The introduction of a tax on sugar and on all articles containing sugar must have created great difficulty at the Custom House, and whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer accepts invoices, which are accepted in many countries, or whether he proceeds by analysis, I am perfectly certain that he will give that consideration and care to the matter which it demands. It must be remembered that sugar enters into a very large number of articles of commerce, and that therefore there must be great difficulty in arriving at the exact taxation to be placed on each article. I have great faith myself in the Board of Customs, and I have no doubt they will pay great attention to the difficult subject that confronts them. With reference to the question of honey, raised by the hon. Member, it appears to me that there will be very little difficulty about that. Honey costs about 8d. per lb., and entirely differs from sugar at 1d. per lb. With reference to glucose, I am very glad that the hon. Member called the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the fact that there are two kinds of glucose, and that one requires to be taxed more than the other. Solid glucose contains a larger percentage of sugar than liquid glucose, and therefore should be taxed heavier. I rise really to say that I think there is some little misunderstanding with reference to the position of sugar refiners in this matter. It was thought that refiners would get some considerable advantage from the new scale of taxation, but I am told on good authority that, on the contrary, a great many refiners are losing by the scale adopted. I do not suppose that anyone would wish to protect refiners, but still, on the other hand, I am sure from all I have heard that if the refiners can make out that their position is in some respects worse than it was, the Chancellor of the Exchequer will at all events consider their case. There is one class of sugar which comes into this country, and is refined by two or three large refiners—I mean cane sugar, which contains more than 98 per cent. of polarisation. It will be called in the existing scale refined sugar. It is in reality unrefined sugar, and I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will endeavour, if possible, to make some difference in the duty as far as it is concerned.


I am well aware that at the stage we have reached in these resolutions it is sometimes inconvenient to go into a detailed criticism of the proposals of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but this is an exceptional occasion. We are now dealing with the reversal of the policy of this country with regard to this particular article for the last twenty-six years, and therefore we are entitled at the earliest possible moment to go into the questions raised by the resolution read from the Table. I think the House is very much indebted to my hon. friend the Member for Devonport, who brings a knowledge to this discussion which many of us do not possess. He has illustrated the difficulties of the course we are asked to follow by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and he has referred to a great number of imports and trades of this country which will be affected by the duty it is now proposed to impose. I do not propose to follow my hon. friend into these details, because I am not fitted to do so. We have had another duty imposed by this Budget—the coal duty, and the trades interested are bringing a great deal of pressure to bear on the House with regard to it, but I think the House ought to receive with considerable reluctance arguments brought forward by interested persons. I have no interest whatever in the subject now before the House. I approach the subject from the standpoint of an amateur, and I am indebted to hon. Members like the hon. Member for Devonport for the little detailed knowledge I have. I approach it from the standpoint of an economist, and I see great difficulties in the future if we approve of this resolution.

In the first place, it is a very complicated resolution. There was a very simple alternative before the Chancellor of the Exchequer of putting on a tax of, say, 4s. 2d. per cwt. on all sugar coming into the country. When one of my hon. friends suggested that we should have a graduated duty on tea, we had a most clear, emphatic, and almost eloquent protest from the Chancellor of the Exchequer against graduated duties. He was good enough to pay me some compliments, and he said I was economically sound on the question of a graduated duty with regard to tea. But there is no difference in this matter between tea and sugar, and as regards sugar the Chancellor of the Exchequer has departed from the sound principles he laid down with regard to tea. The first fault I find with the proposal is that instead of being a simple proposal to tax sugar at so much a hundredweight, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has brought in a graduated tax, against which all the economists of the country have protested for many years past. The Chancellor of the Exchequer justified this graduated tax on sugar on the ground that sugar was an article regarding which it was easy to discover the proportion of essential matter it contained. Therefore, he says, I must graduate sugar, but I cannot graduate tea and coffee, because it is not easy to detect the exact merits of these articles. I do not wish to speak disrespectfully of the Treasury, but I must say that is mostly nonsense. It is just as easy to detect differences in tea as it is in sugar, and as easy to detect differences in coffee or cocoa as in sugar. The principle of graduated taxation has been rejected by this House as far as these articles are concerned, and the chief fault of the present proposal is that it is an attempt to bring back graduation into the Customs of this country. It is perfectly easy to detect differences in tea and coffee. Everyone in the market knows the difference between coffee at 30s. or 35s. a cwt. and coffee at 100s. a cwt. It is just the same with regard to tea. There are certain broad distinctions, and it would be quite easy to divide tea into separate classes, one class worth, say, 4d. per lb., another 8d., and a third 2s. Why did the country reject graduated duties on tea? The reason was that it put a premium on the importation of a low quality of tea, and repressed the importation of the higher qualities. What is the interest of this House? It is to do the best it can for the people of this country. Their interest with regard to food is to get the highest quality possible. Strictly speaking, with regard to sugar, tea, coffee, and butter, there is only one idea, and that is to have the best. As far as this House interferes in the matter by legislation, it should endeavour to secure a high standard of excellence. The objection to a graduated duty is that when you let in a low quality at a cheap price you tend to bring everything down to the low quality in order that it may get in at the lower duty. The policy of the House ought to be exactly the opposite. We ought to penalise this low, bad quality rather than put a premium upon it. The great fault of this proposal is that it does not put a definite duty on sugar, and declare that all sugar coming into the country shall pay that duty, and that is the end of it. Instead of that, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been tempted, by some ingenious person, into a morass in which he has twenty-five different kinds of sugar, with twenty-five different rates of duty. It is one of the worst proposals ever made to this House. We have had another Paper circulated to explain the proposal, but the more explanation we have the worse the proposal itself appears. A little study of this Paper explaining the question of polarisation, on which the Chancellor of the Exchequer founds the duty, will repay the House. There are twenty-five different qualities of sugar specified, beginning with qualities exceeding 76° of polarisation, and ending with qualities exceeding 98°. The eight lowest qualities of sugar, ranging from 76° to 83°, will be admitted into this count? at a duty of 8d. There are six qualities in the next grade, with 1d. duty per degree of polarisation. Then we have six more at 1s. 2d. per degree of polarisation. We see, therefore, that the cheapest sugar is admitted at the lowest rate, but as you get to the better qualities, which are what the people of the country want, the Chancellor of the Exchequer puts upon it a higher rate per degree of polarisation. That is a very objectionable system. If any difference at all was made it should be in favour of the better article, but here the preference is given to the lower quality.


The lower quality is only half sugar.


I will deal with that in a moment. If hon. Members will look at the lowest degree of polarisation mentioned, they will see that, whereas in the beginning the duty is only 8d. per degree of polarisation, in the last degree there is actually a rate of 5d. Sugar polarising up to 97° will get in at 3s. 8 8d. per cwt., but if it exceeds 98° it will have to pay 4s. 2d., so that in the last degree there is an extra duty for the one degree of polarisation of no less than 5d. It will therefore be to the interest of the fraudulent persons abroad to send sugar which will polarise at 97° rather than at 98°, because they will save 5d. per cwt., or 8s. 4d. per ton, which is a tremendous profit in the sugar trade. The tendency all down the scale is, the lower the quality the greater the inducement the Government gives to bring the sugar to this country. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says that sugar which would polarise at, say, 75° or 76° is not sugar. The same argument might be applied to tea—that tea which is sold at 4d. per pound is not tea. But with regard to this sugar, I submit, with great respect, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is wrong. All this black, moist, damp sugar is still sugar, and out of it a certain proportion of the finest refined sugar can be made. After the refined sugar is produced there will remain what are called "pieces," and Various kinds of crude sugar, and finally molasses. Every pound weight that comes in as sugar is sugar, and the market prices the difference between the qualities. That coarse sugar, which the right hon. Gentleman says is not sugar, before the duty fetched 9s. per cwt., while the best fetched 13s. The difference placed upon that sugar by the market, with the free play of competition and supply and demand, is 4s. But the Chancellor of the Exchequer brings in his scale, and in twenty-four hours the 9s. sugar, with a duty of 2s., goes up to 11s., while the 13s. sugar, with a duty of 4s. 2d., goes up to 17s. 2d., so that where on one night there is a difference of 4s., the next night there is a difference of 6s. 2d. That is how the market is affected by unsound economic proposals of this kind. If a duty of 4s. was placed upon both the 9s. and the. 13s. sugar, the prices would be 13s. and 17s., and the difference which the free play of the market creates would be continued.

I think I have shown that this is a complicated duty, that it puts a premium on the lower qualities of sugar, and that it will tend to reduce the quality of the sugar introduced into this country. Why is this done We have in this Resolution protection in a bad and aggravated form. What is the reason that this sugar is allowed to come in at a low rate? It is that the British refining industries may be resuscitated. Hon. Members opposite saw what was the object of the Budget the very night it was introduced. The hon. Member for Greenock stood up and welcomed it with open arms. He said: "This is what we want; protection for our own interests and industries."

MR. JAMES REID (Greenock)

I said nothing of the kind. We do not want protection. We want free trade. We do not want bounty-fed sugar interfering with honest refiners in this country.


I do not wish to enter into a dispute with the hon. Member. What I said was that he welcomed the Budget with open arms in the name of the sugar industry at Greenock.


For the reasons which I gave.


Quite so; he recognises the advantage which the Budget gives to that industry. We now see the mischief of this Budget. It will set up again a bad industry, which will not on the whole serve the wants of the people of this country. I assure the hon. Member for Greenock that if, on taking a broad view of the question, I felt that the proposal of the Budget would advance the general interest, I would be the last to say a word against it. But its effect will be to set up in this country an industry which is not the least likely to succeed. The tendency of protection is to create in different countries industries which are not well suited to those countries, and to make the inhabitants pay for the unreal advantage which they appear to enjoy.

Now, what is sugar? Sugar is an agricultural product, and can be, and is, at present, best made in the countries where it is produced. One-third of the estates in the West Indies, which are the worst sugar estates in the world, because machinery has been introduced so slowly, produce a perfect sugar and send it into this country, where it will polarise at 98°. There are also many places on the Continent where the sugar is grown and refined on, and sent from, the estate into the market in a perfect condition for consumption. That is the ideal state of things. Every agricultural product can be most economically managed in the place where it is produced, the conditions being right for doing it. I ask the House to look at the Budget from that standpoint. I have said that this proposal gives protection to the British refiner. It also gives protection to the lowest and worst quality of sugar produced in the West Indies, and gives a very hard blow to the best qualities produced in those islands. In the West Indies there is a quality of sugar produced on the open pan system—a black, moist sugar. The open pan system has been abolished where new machinery has been introduced, but it still remains in two-thirds of the West Indian estates. Under this system only 33 per cent. of the sugar contained in the cane is extracted, while by improved machinery you can get 95 per cent. What does the Budget do? It gives a premium to this lowest quality of sugar, which can be brought into this country and refined or adulterated or made to look like good sugar, while, on the other hand, the best sugar is penalised to a corresponding extent. The tendency will be to give protection in this country to an unnatural industry, which has had painful vicissitudes. No one sympathises more than I do with any industry which falls into decay, but there are some industries which are destined to decay. I say that an industry of this kind, in which sugar is refined away from the estate, after great expense has been incurred, is bound, sooner or later, to fall into decay, and it is a great mistake for us, at this time of day, to try to prop it up. At what cost will this experiment be made? It will be made at the cost of the British public. It was with great difficulty that Protection was got rid of, and we ought not, after these years, to be introducing it again. Assuredly we gave an unnatural advantage of 2s. 2d. to one kind of sugar about a fortnight ago, when we passed this resolution. We did it at the expense of the public, so that in addition to the heavy duty we are imposing to-night, there will be a considerable additional cost because of this element of Protection.

With regard to Ireland, this tax is the heaviest blow you could strike at the Irish taxpayers, with the exception of a duty on salt or potatoes. I admit that the English poor as well as the Irish pay the tax, but it is English statesmen who have adopted the policy which has led to the tax, while Irish statesmen have protested against it. What is the condition of Ireland in regard to their ability to bear additional taxation? We were told six years ago that Ireland ought to be taxed by an honest Government to the extent of about £4,750,000 or £5,000,000. Since then her population has gone down, but her taxes have gone up to £10,000,000. They were about £9,750,000 before this sugar duty was proposed, and this will impose an additional £600,000 a year.




The Chancellor of the Exchequer says no; I will accept his figures, whatever they are. In this country there are 91 pounds of sugar consumed per head of the population. I put the amount in Ireland at 60 pounds per head. At ½d. per pound that would be 2s. 6d. per inhabitant, or a total of nearly £600,000. Let us say £500,000, that is a moderate calculation. I admit that Ireland is considered in the coal tax. Ireland will now be the cheapest foreign country—for, after all, she is a foreign country—as regards coal; but the sugar tax will hit her very hard.

I must apologise for detaining the House at such length, but it seems to me that these proposals are the worst we have had in any Budget for many years past. They embody Protection in a very bad form. There are two principles upon which we have proceeded with regard to taxation in this country since 1845. The first is that we will not tax any great article of food. Sugar is the third greatest article of food in this country, grain being the first, and meat the second. Sugar has found its way into every home; it is the delight of young and old; and yet, after twenty-six years experience of the substantial advantage of the abolition of the sugar tax, we are to-night re-introducing it. The second canon upon which we have proceeded is that we should not tax any article which is the raw material of an important industry. Sugar has become the raw material of important industries, such as those connected with jam, confectionery, cocoa, etc., in which we are trying to build up a trade in competition with Holland, France, and Germany. All these industries will be destroyed by this Budget. While I approve of some of the proposals in the Budget—the income tax and the coal tax, for example—I think the sugar tax is a blot upon it. I would appeal to my right hon. friends on the Front Opposition Bench. If they would arouse themselves from their lethargy, they have here a point which would not separate their followers, and if they offered an energetic opposition to this tax I believe they would win the regard of their fellow countrymen.


I have listened to the speech of the hon. Member with ever-increasing interest and, I think, with ever-decreasing comprehension. The only point I could make out was that, in the hon. Member's opinion, everything should be manufactured where it is grown, from which I infer that all the Lancashire cotton mills ought to be transported to the Southern States of America. I am no particular friend of this sugar duty, because I apprehend that it will do a considerable amount of mischief to very young but very vigorous and growing industries. I do not think, however, that it is open to the animadversions of the hon. Gentleman opposite. So far as I gathered the import of his speech, he complains that it is a differential duty, that it differentiates between various classes of sugar, and that, he says, is very objectionable. But I believe I am right in saying that sugar duties have always differentiated between different classes of sugar. The only difference is that the differentiation in former times was founded almost solely on the colour of the sugar, which was an eminently unscientific process, whereas now it is founded on polarisation, which indeed I do not thoroughly understand, but which I believe professes to be accepted as a scientific method. What does the differentiation amount to? It amounts to this, that you tax the article according to the amount of sugar, or sugary matter, or sucrose, or saccharine, or whatever you like to call it—the essential part of sugar—contained in it. Can there be any fairer differentiation than that? The hon. Gentleman says that this duty is protection. Protection of what?


Bad quality.


I do not understand. I thought protection implied the levying of a duty at your ports in order to protect your home manufacturers or your home growers. Are there any home growers of sugar?


There are homo refiners.


Are there many of them?


A good many.


I think there are very few of them. But how do you protect the home refiner by levying this duty upon sugar? I can quite understand that, if you levy a sufficient amount of duty to keep the manufacturers of any particular article going, you are giving them a certain amount of protection. If you levy a duty of 10s. a quarter on wheat you protect the British farmer; but if you levy a duty of ¼d. a quarter you do not protect him at all. Therefore I entirely fail to apprehend how this duty on sugar will protect the British refiner; although I perfectly understand how it will injure the British manufacturer of goods for export into the manufacture of which sugar enters. Nothwithstanding the economic lecture which the hon. Member has given us I think that, if a duty is to be levied on sugar at all, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has levied it in precisely the proper way.

But I really rose to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer a question. I observe in the resolution that he proposes that the exemption from duty of plums preserved in sugar should cease. On reference to the Act of 1876, in which the exemption is contained, it will be found that the duty on plums not being plums preserved in sugar is 7s. 6d. per cwt. Plums preserved in sugar are excluded, but they are now to be included on the ground that they contain sugar. It seems to me—I shall be glad to be told whether or not I am right—that the effect of doing away with the exemption will be to bring plums, if preserved in sugar, not into the 4s. 2d. per cwt. scale, but into the 7s. 6d. cwt. scale. I submit that if they are to be taxed because they contain sugar they ought not to be taxed at a higher rate than 4s. 2d. per cwt.


was understood to explain that plums preserved in sugar were excluded from taxation under the Act of 1874, and now they were simply to be placed in the position in which they would have stood but for that Act.


I submit that is hardly fair on the plum. It is now only brought in for taxation because it contains sugar. According to the principle laid down by the hon. Gentleman opposite, it is only the sugar and not any part of the plum that is to be taxed. If you are going to tax it at all you ought not to tax it at 4s. 2d. per hundredweight. At present plums are absolutely exempt and absolutely free of duty, and if you are going to bring them into taxation it is only because they contain sugar. I assume that they are entirely composed of sugar, and therefore the duty ought to be on the 4s. 2d. scale. But owing to the astute referential manner in which the tax is imposed, plums, instead of being charged 4s. 2d., although entirely composed of sugar, are charged 7s., and that is not fair.

*MR. OSMOND WILLIAMS (Merionethshire)

said (having asked that indulgence that the house so readily and with so much courtesy always accorded one who addressed it for the first time) his apology for taking part in the debate was that he did so on behalf of the poorer members of his constituency, upon whom the tax on sugar would press most heavily, and who were least able to bear the burden. It would be felt most cruelly by the working classes, and more by the women and children than by anyone else. Those who had lived amongst the poor, and knew their mode of living, were aware that sugar was almost as great a necessity of life to them as bread, and in many poor localities the children and the babies were almost entirely fed upon it. Sugar was one of the most important articles of general consumption, and why the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whose conduct of this debate and whose patience and courtesy were the admiration of all, by this tax, sought to accentuate the wretched misery and constant battle for life of these people he did not know. He did not see why the poor people should be called upon to share the burden of a debt which the country had contracted through no fault or voice of theirs. He did not know how this proposal would affect the different interests of the country, as he was not a commercial man; but he had lived all his life on his own estate, with a vast number of poor around him, and he was acquainted with their wants and mode of living, and he knew that if this tax was insisted upon it would bring frightful deprivation to the very babes and sucklings of those who already live from hand to mouth. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had told them that beer, wines, and spirits showed a falling revenue, and that there was no margin left for taxation. They had it on very excellent authority that for weeks before the Budget was introduced merchants had been making most elaborate preparations in the confident anticipation almost amounting to a certainty of certain articles being taxed, and they were now much annoyed to find that they had had their trouble and expense for nothing. He contended that those were the very articles which ought to have been taxed. They were luxuries which men could do without, and they ought to be taxed heavily. He thought it was only fair that men in his position in life should take a fair share of the burden of taxation. The poor had no luxuries, and subsisted from hand to mouth, and it was only fair that those who lived upon luxuries should pay for their extravagance, and pay their fair share of taxation. Personally, he would have cheerfully paid 2d. or 4d. more on the income tax to spare the necessities of the poor. It had been said by Members of this side of the Honse, let the working man be punished for his "Mafficking"—it would teach him not to vote for a Tory Government and a jingo policy. Such an opinion, if really held and meant, was poor and contemptible in the last degree. If by taxation they punished the working man for his "Mafficking," they would be punishing and taxing what had hitherto been the support and backbone of the British Empire—the patriotism and loyalty of the working man for his King and country. The working man was not to blame; the blame, if blame there were, was theirs who aroused that element in his national character and used it for their own ends. He appealed to the right hon. Gentleman not to reward the workingman for his response to his country's appeal by taxing him, If that were done that patriotism and loyalty would be smothered and perhaps lost for ever. It was a pearl without price, which we should rather cherish, nourish, ahd perpetuate to the future glory of the British Empire and the unborn generations of those who were yet to come

*SIR MARK STEWART (Kirkcudbright)

contended that it was doubtless a hardship that the working classes should have to pay more for their sugar than they had done hitherto. The right hon. Gentleman appeared to have overlooked the important fact that the working classes, instead of feeding their children on porridge and milk and oatcake, and so forming sinew and bone, now brought them up in a great measure on sugar, and they used large quantities of jam and marmalade. Although he was sorry that the right hon. Gentleman had put a tax on sugar, he was glad that it would tend to curtail somewhat the enormous quantity of sugar now consumed by the working classes.


The hon. Baronet who has just sat down is the representative of an agricultural constituency, and in that respect I wish to draw his attention to the fact that the imposition of this duty may very seriously affect a young and growing agricultural industry. I refer to fruit growing in our own country. This is an industry which is remarkably healthy, which can be engaged in by the young people in our villages and hamlets, and the development of which would add to the wealth and resources of this country. As the representative of a city famous for products in which sugar is a large ingredient, I have had my attention directed to this practical fact—that in the neighbourhood of Dundee there has been, in recent years, a very considerable development in fruit growing for the purpose of supplying the fruit preservers of Dundee with the articles which they wish to preserve. I hold in my hand a letter from the secretary of the Blairgowrie Fruit Growers' Association, which I think should be submitted to the House. He says— There is very considerable feeling in this district, which, as you know, is a fruit-growing district, in consequence of the tax to be put upon sugar. It is impossible at the present time to say what the effect will be, but there can be no doubt whatever that it will, to a greater or less degree, tend to damage the fruit grower. This is a matter of great importance to the fruit grower himself, but I think it is also a matter, as you point out, of national importance. The fruit-growing industry is one of the few industries which at the present time are tending to get people 'back to the land.' The necessity for the repopulation of the country seems to have impressed itself upon the public mind generally. It is one of the natural results of the agitation against overcrowding in the slums of our large cities, and I am afraid it is almost a necessity, if the breed of the race is to be kept up, and if we are from a commercial, as well as a military point of view, to keep pace with the nations of the world. I do not think sufficient attention has been directed to the rapid growth of the very important industry of fruit preserving and the making of jam and marmalade. Upwards of 100,000 persons are now engaged in this industry, and several millions of capital are employed in it. It is also an industry which affords employment for a large number of girls and young women who are well paid, and who add largely to the income of their parents thereby. I also hold in my hand a report from the Produce Committee of the Dundee Chamber of Commerce, who say— One point on winch they see a likelihood of considerable friction and disturbance to business is in regard to the interference with packages, especially barrels containing molasses and glucose and cases containing tins, such as fruit and condensed milk. A parcel of condensed milk was landed yesterday (April 23) by the steamer from Rotterdam, and a considerable number of the cases have been broken up and a tin extracted from each by the officer, the packages thereby being made unsightly and reduced in value The tins so extracted have been sent to the laboratory of the Customs in London for the fixing of the percentage of sugar in the goods. It is obvious that, whenever you place under Customs articles imported from abroad—whether they are raw material, or partly or entirely prepared goods—they necessarily inflict considerable harassment upon those engaged in the business. One of my correspondents made a very brief suggestion which seems to him of great value, and which I will bring before the notice of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. This correspondent says— It occurs to me it will be a somewhat costly and inconvenient business if the sugar as it arrives at the port of debarkation has to be transferred into a Customs warehouse, and I would suggest that some simple plan be devised for bills of lading being presented at the Customs House, where a certificate or receipt would be granted that duty had been paid on the sugar represented by the bill. [Hear, hear, and some Ministerial cries of "Divide."] Some gentlemen opposite seemed a little impatient of the discussion of this subject. This is a very simple suggestion which would greatly facilitate the importation of sugar, and which, if adopted, would go far to lessen the objection which I have taken to the proposed tax. In that sense I bring it before the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)

said that as an Irish Member he desired to enter his protest against this tax because it pressed severely upon the poorest classes of the population. He had listened with amazement to the doctrine laid down by the hon. Baronet opposite, who said that he welcomed this tax because it would tend to discourage the unwholesome custom of using jam and marmalade and sugar, instead of porridge and milk. In many parts of the country the poor people could not get milk. The working classes of Ireland were unable to give milk to their children because they could not afford it, and consequently they had to fall back upon jam and marmalade. There was no more necessary food than sugar for young children if they could not get plenty of milk and butter. Milk contained a good deal of sugar, and if they could not get the natural sugar contained in milk they were driven to buy sugar, and to supply it in that shape. A tax upon sugar was a tax upon one of the prime necessities of life, and that was a departure from the traditional policy of this country for the last fifty years, which was to remove all taxes from all the necessary articles of food. If they agreed to tax sugar he could not see why they should not tax corn. If they were not prepared to tax flour they had no right to tax sugar, because there was no difference in principle. If this tax was put on sugar, the Government would find themselves face to face in the future with an almost irresistible demand in favour of a tax on flour. It was on that ground that he based his opposition. Those who had been following the disastrous and ruinous fiscal policy of the last five years would have read the articles by an expert in The Times on "Twenty Years of British Finance," published three or four years ago, when this system was compelling the Chancellor of the Exchequer to look round for fresh sources of taxation. This expert claimed that the financial policy of this country should be revolutionised and altered to broaden the basis of taxation, and he pointed out that the policy of Sir Robert Peel and Mr. Gladstone was a totally mistaken policy and ruinous. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was an extraordinary Minister. He laid down sound principles of finance in his speeches, but his action was just the opposite, for he had now put a tax upon one of the primary articles of food of the people. Once they admitted the principle they had no logical foothold for resisting the full application of the principle, and there would be a growing demand from Members opposite representing agricultural constituencies in favour of a tax upon corn.

He was astounded at the small amount of opposition to this tax from members of the Liberal party sitting on the Front Bench. He warned the House that if they admitted the principle of taxing the food of the people by taxing sugar, there was nothing for Ireland but a tax upon corn, which would do a great deal for Ireland. If he were forced to make a choice between taxing sugar and corn, although he was a free trader, he was not sure that he would not vote for taxing corn, for that would put money into the pockets of the people of Ireland. The tax upon sugar violated the great principle of not taxing the necessities of the people, a principle which had been the pride of England for years, and he believed one of the main reasons of England's success. And it violated another great principle which lay at the root of the trading prosperity of England, because it taxed a raw material of manufacture, an article which was most important in the manufacture of confectionery, jam, and preserves of all kinds. This industry had enormously increased within the last ten or twelve years on account of the cheapness of sugar. They were going to strike at all these manufactures by this tax. Sugar was a peculiarly unsuitable article for taxation, because it entered into so many and so varied manufactures. Enormous quantities of preserved fruit were imported into this country. How were they going to arrive at the quantity of sugar in these imports? Yet they must tax them. How were they going to deal with the sugar in condensed milk? He did not believe that all the ingenuity of the Custom House would be able to ascertain the amount of sugar in condensed milk. This tax would create an amount of annoyance and dislocation of trade which it was almost impossible to exaggerate. What were they going to do in the case of hams? There was an enormous and valuable industry in Ireland in hams, and he had come to the conclusion that there was no bacon to equal Irish bacon. But sugar was used in curing the hams. How were they going to determine the amount of sugar in hams imported from Chicago and Denmark? He did not think the Chancellor of the Exchequer had quite realised how many articles contained sugar, but he was bound to say that the Irish Members would insist upon foreign hams being charged the full duty in respect to the sugar they contained. This sugar tax united in itself all the vices a tax could possibly have. It was against all the principles of English finance. It put a new tax on an article which it was the pride of previous financiers to have freed. It was a departure from the well-established principles of British finance. Although he was not an admirer of the House of Commons or of the British Government, he had been an enthusiastic admirer of British finance. One point in which England stood above all other countries had been the soundness of her finance. It was that which lay at the root of her great commercial prosperity.

*MR. CAINE (Cornwall, Camborne)

said he was sure the House felt under deep obligation to the hon. Members who had spoken for the way in which they had put the matter before the House. It had now become abundantly clear that this country had launched itself on a career of revenue by tariff, and it was quite certain that we should not stop at sugar. If the present Government continued in power they would certainly have successive duties imposed on various articles of import. It was a great mistake for the House to treat sugar as a manufactured article. It was the raw material in its second stage, and if they entered upon a career of taxing raw material in its second stage they would, as their own raw material ran out, be landed in a position for which they would be very sorry indeed. He instanced the case of ores from the United States. Our own ores were rapidly becoming exhausted, and if we were to continue our manufacture of steel we must be largely dependent on those countries which had big deposits of ore. Ore for importation was a raw material in its second stage. They had already twenty-four different duties established with regard to sugar. There was no article in any tariff that was so elaborate as this list of intermediate duties on the one simple article of sugar. The tariff in the United States was a model of simplicity. They gave a bounty on sugar grown and manufactured in the United States, and they settled that bounty by polarisation. But there were only two items—home-grown sugar over 90° polarisation, 2 cents.; and sugar not less than 80, 1¾ cents. He suggested that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should adopt some such system. Much of the sugar came into this country on what was known as a through bill of lading. If that through system were interfered with the amount added to the cost of imported sugar would be at least 5s. per cwt. Moreover, the Custom House expenses would be very great. Not only would the importer have to pay the interest on fresh capital raised, but they would lay on him the cost of having special Custom House clerks for sugar—he was not sure that they would not have to have a chemist as well. All these costs would have to be met by the consumer, for the merchant had capital, and would take good care to get his profit. He was talking the other day to one of the largest wholesale grocers, and asked him what the tax meant to his firm. His friend replied that they had decided to add £50,000 to their capital. They would require two or three Custom House clerks. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer thought that the margin between 4s. 2d. and 4s. 8d. was sufficient to allow the same sugar to be obtained at ½d. per lb. more, he was very greatly mistaken. What would happen would be that the sugar now sold at 2d. a lb., and hereafter sold at 2½d., would be manipulated before it was introduced to the grocer, and inferior stuff would be put into it. There were twenty-four differential duties on sugar, and if jam, preserved fruits, confectionery, sugar-cured hams, and all the different articles were to be carefully tested and their various percentages of sugar settled, the staff necessary would be enormous. Were they to polariscope every parcel? [An HON. MEMBER: "NO."] HOW were they going to treat it? If he were a merchant dealing in preserved fruits he would rather pay his 4s. 2d. and be done with it. He was sure the nuisance would be very great indeed. If this Government continued its career of reckless extravagance they would have a tariff such as the world had never seen. The United States tariff was the most elaborate in any foreign country. In the United States tariff there were only four duties on sugar, namely, sugar above No. 16, Dutch standard of colour, 2s. 4d. per cwt.; sugar candy, 23s. 4d. per cwt.; confectionery, 50 per cent. ad valorem and glucose, 3s. 6d. He suggested that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should withdraw this resolution, and put into the Bill a reasonable tariff.


This Resolution has been attacked on two grounds, and opposition in the first place is to the principle of the duty in its entirety. Of course, I expected that a duty on sugar would meet with some objection, but I also expected there would have been some consideration for the fact that it is necessary, as hon. Members will admit, to raise a considerable sum by additional taxation. The money has to be raised by some tax or another, and this source of taxation is expected to produce more than five millions in the present year. It is useless, if I may venture to say so with all respect, to object to a proposal of this kind and to all proposals for additional taxation and not suggest anything in their place. [An HON. MEMBER: It is for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to do that.] I have made such proposals as I thought best, and it is for the House to accept or reject them, but I do not believe if you are to adopt any new indirect taxation at all—there is any indirect taxation that could be suggested with so much to be said in its favour. I do not believe there is a tax producing anything worth having that could be substituted for this tax on sugar. It is objected that it will impose a considerable burden on the working classes, and no doubt, it will; I frankly admitted that in explaining the Budget. In fact, I pleaded it as a reason in favour of the tax, because I hold the opinion strongly, it is right and necessary that the working classes, like every other class, should bear a reasonable share in the cost of the war and preparation for the war. My proposal has been criticised, but throughout the country generally it has had a favourable reception. Of course, there are objections to it; of course, I do not suggest for a moment that all the working classes are in favour of it, but I will venture to say that in the large centres of population the proposed tax on sugar has been received, I will not say with pleasure, but, at any rate, with approbation as a fair proposal. That reception contrasts favourably with some of the observations made by those who suggested that the working classes were not prepared to pay a fair share of the expenditure on the war. Of course, there is another line of opposition, and this comes from the hon. Member who has just sat down and the hon. Members for Devonport, West Islington, and Camborne. They have criticised the tariff. Undoubtedly it has the appearance of being somewhat complicated, but it is an exaggeration to say that there is a list of twenty-four different duties. It is a scale of duties based according to the crystallisable amount of sugar in a parcel of so-called raw sugar, starting from the basis of 4s. 2d. per cwt. on refined sugar. That may seem complicated, but in working it will be found after very limited experience perfectly simple, for it is based on the present custom of the trade. It is based on the scale adopted and accepted by the trade itself.


remarked that it was only a refiners' arrangement.


It is adopted by the persons who have to estimate the amount of crystallisable sugar in a parcel of raw sugar. Working in that way, the number of degrees of polarisation will be accepted by the Customs as the basis of calculation for the duty, and I do not believe that, after a very short experience, there will be any difficulty in the matter. Of course, I admit the scale is a tentative scale, and I said so when explaining the Budget. We have drawn it up to the best of our power, and I believe it will be neither protective to the refining interest here nor will it be unfair to them as compared with refiners abroad. To charge one duty on all kinds of sugar, raw and refined, as proposed by the hon. Member for West Islington, would be absolutely unfair, and would only tend to the benefit of foreign refiners. Why should we do that? The hon. Member for West Islington spoke of Protection. I have already said I recognise nothing of Protection in this scheme. It was not framed with a view to Protection; it was not framed as the refiners desired to see it framed. If it can be proved by experience that there is any Protection in it it would be necessary to rearrange the scale.


I said the other night that I would allow 10 per cent. for refined sugar, and all there sto none scale


But if the cwt. of raw sugar contained only half the crystallizable sugar that there is in a cwt. of refined sugar would that be a fair thing? The hon. Member for Camborne asked me what I considered would be the cost of collection. It is impossible accurately to forecast that, but I estimate that it will not amount to more than £40,000 a year. That includes the whole additional staff. Raw sugar is imported into no very large number of ports in the country, so that any difficulty as to raw sugar would occur in only a few places. Refined sugar would pass easily into the country. I come to the question of manufactured articles containing sugar. Of course, that is a very difficult question, When you first impose a duty on an article like sugar or tobacco, which is the raw material for manufactures, you must have very considerable difficulty in allocating the precise amount of duty to be imposed on these manufactured articles, and the precise drawback to be allowed when they are exported. I do not, for a moment, deny that there has been delay and inconvenience to traders during the last week or ten days since the duty was first imposed. It is necessary that that should be so. It is a great change in the Customs tariff, and undoubtedly there must be inconvenience in the beginning. At the first we attempted to impose the duties in the same way as under the Customs Tariff Act of 1870, which is to charge the duties upon all materials imported into this country containing a certain amount of sugar by the weight of the object itself. A very short experience proved that that did not work. The articles brought to my notice by the hon. Member for Devonport showed very soon that that would not be a fair system to the consumer. We have started analysing these articles, and before long that will be completed, and we will be able to settle the amount of the duties and the drawback on these articles which will fairly correspond—they cannot correspond in all cases—to the amount of sugar which they contain. The hon. Member suggested that in certain cases, instead of arriving at a settlement through an analysis we should accept a sworn declaration, either from the exporters or importers, as to the amount of sugar contained in the manufactured articles. That proposal will be very carefully considered, and if it is found that it can be done without a risk of loss to the Revenue by fraud, I should be glad to adopt it. I quite admit that it would save a great deal of trouble. The hon. Member referred to the question of liquid and solid glucose, and said that they differed largely in the amount of taxable sugar which they contain—the solid 10 per cent. and the fluid 40 per cent. If that be so we shall have to revise the scale. But in imposing a duty of this kind, I do not think that hon. Members quite realise how extremely difficult it is for the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Revenue Department to ascertain everything that can be said before the duty is imposed. I cannot take everybody into my confidence. If I could have gone to the hon. Member for Devonport with his vast expert knowledge of the trade, it might have been of very great assistance; but I am afraid it would not have met the requirements of the Revenue or the necessities of the imposition of duties in this country if I had consulted the experts in the trade before attempting to get a resolution from the House.


It was pretty well known that the sugar duty was to be imposed a fortnight before the Budget.


I think I have referred to the principal points raised during the debate.


What about the Limerick hams?


I do not myself feel sure that although hams are advertised as cured with sugar, they

contain an amount of sugar worth estimating and taxing. That is no reflection on those who are engaged in the industry in Ireland. I do not wish to underrate the difficulties of imposing a tax of this kind. The Treasury must ask for a little patience, and I think that the hon. Members for Islington and Devonport have rather criticised the proposal from the point of view of opponents of the Government and of the tax than from the point of view of the traders. There must be inconvenience at first, but I hope that the traders will bear this inconvenience with as great patriotism and self-sacrifice as the great mass of the working classes have borne the imposition of the duty; and I am quite sure that they will.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes, 251; Noes, 148. [Division List No. 159.]

Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham Parker, Gilbert Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)
Long, Rt Hn Walter (Bristol, S.) Peel, Hon. Wm. Robert W. Stewart. Sir Mark J. M'Taggart
Lowther, Rt. Hn. W. (Eskdale Pemberton, John S. G. Stock, James Henry
Loyd, Archie Kirkman Percy, Earl Stroyan, John
Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft) Platt-Higgins, Frederick Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley
Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth Powell, Sir Francis Sharp Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier
Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred Pretyman, Ernest George Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Macartney, Rt Hn W. G. Ellison Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward Thornton, Percy M.
Macdona, John Cumming Purvis, Robert Tollemache, Henry James
MacIver, David (Liverpool) Pym, C. Guy Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray
Maconochie, A. W. Randies, John S. Tritton, Charles Ernest
M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool) Rasch, Major Frederic Carrie Tufnell, Lieut.-Col Edward
M'Calmont, Col. J. (Antrim, E.) Reid, James (Greenock) Valentia, Viscount
Majendie, James A. H. Renshaw, Charles Bine Wanklyn, James Leslie
Malcolm, Ian Rentoul, James Alexander Warde, Col. C. E.
Manners, Lord Cecil Renwick, George Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney
Martin, Richard Biddulph Rickett, J. Compton Welby, Lt.-Col. A. C. E. (Ta'nt'n
Massey-Mainwaring, Hn. W. F. Ritchie, Rt. Hon. Chas. T. Welby, Sir Chas. G. E. (Notts.)
Maxwell, W. J. H. (Dumfriessh. Roberts, John Bryn (Eifton) Whiteley, H. (Ashton-u.-Lyne
Melville, Beresford V. Rolleston, Sir John F. L. Whitmore, Charles Algernon
Milward, Colonel Victor Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)
Molesworth, Sir Lewis Round, James Willox, Sir John Archibald
Montagu, G. (Huntingdon) Royds, Clement Molyneux Wills, Sir Frederick
Montagu, Hon. J. Scott (Hants.) Russell, T. W. Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)
More, Robert J. (Shropshire) Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford- Wilson, John (Falkirk)
Morgan, D. J. (Walthamstow Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert Wilson, John (Glasgow)
Morris, Hon. Martin Henry F. Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.) Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh., N.
Morrison, James Archibald Seely, Charles H. (Lincoln) Wilson-Todd, Wm. H. (Yorks.)
Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford) Seton-Karr, Henry Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath
Mount, William Arthur Simeon, Sir Harrington Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart-
Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C. Skewes-Cox, Thomas Wylie, Alexander
Muntz, Philip A. Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Murray, Rt Hn A Graham (Bute Smith, H C (North'mb Tyneside Young, Commander (Berks, E.)
Murray, Chas. J. (Coventry) Smith, James Parker (Lanarks.
Newdigate, Francis Alexander Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand) TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.
Nicholson, William Graham Spear, John Ward
Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay Stanley, Hon. A. (Ormskirk)
Abraham, Wm. (Cork, N. E.) Donelan, Capt. A. Lewis, John Herbert
Abraham, William (Rhondda) Doogan, P. C. Lundon, W.
Allen, Chas. P. (Glouc., Stroud Duffy William J. MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A.
Ambrose, Robert Duncan, J. Hastings MacNeill, John Gordon Swift
Asher, Alexander Edwards, Frank M'Crae, George
Atherley-Jones, L. Esmonde, Sir Thomas M'Dermott, Patrick
Barry, E. (Cork, S.) Evans, Sir Francis H. (Maidst'ne M'Fadden, Edward
Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire) Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan) M'Govern, T.
Beaumont, Wentworth C. B. Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond M'Kenna, Reginald
Black, Alexander William Flavin, Michael Joseph Mansfield, Horace Rendall
Blake, Edward Flynn, James Christopher Mellor, Rt. Hon. John Wm.
Boland, John Furness, Sir Christopher Mooney, John J.
Bolton, Thomas Dolling Goddard, Daniel Ford Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen
Boyle, James Hammond, John Morton, Edw. J. C. (Devonport)
Brand, Hon. Arthur G. Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil Moss, Samuel
Brigg, John Harrington, Timothy Moulton, John Fletcher
Broadhurst, Henry Hayden, John Patrick Murphy, J.
Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale- Nolan, Col. John P. (Galway, N.
Burke, E. Haviland- Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur D. Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)
Buxton, Sydney Charles Helme, Norval Watson Norman, Henry
Caine, William Sproston Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H. O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary Mid
Caldwell, James Hobhouse, C. E. H. (Bristol, E.) O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)
Campbell, John (Armagh, S.) Holland, William Henry O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)
Carvill, Patrick Geo. Hamilton Horniman, Frederick John O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W)
Causton, Richard Knight Jacoby, James Alfred O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)
Cawley, Frederick Joicey, Sir James O'Doherty, William
Channing, Francis Allston Jones, David Brynmor (Swans'a O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)
Cogan, Denis J. Jones, William (Carnarvonsh. O'Dowd, John
Colville, John Jordan, Jeremiah O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)
Craig, Robert Hunter Joyce, Michael O'Kelly, Jas. (Roscommon, N.)
Crean, Eugene Kennedy, Patrick James O'Malley, William
Cremer, William Randal Kitson, Sir James O'Mara, Janies
Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen) Lambert, George Partington, Oswald
Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan Langley, Batty Paulton, James Mellor
Delany, William Leamy, Edmund Pirie, Duncan V.
Dowar, John A. (Inverness-sh.) Leng, Sir John Power, Patrick Joseph
Dillon, John Levy, Maurice Price, Robert John
Priestly, Arthur Sullivan, Donal White, Patrick (Meath, North
Rea, Russell Taylor, Theodore Cooke Whiteley, George (York, W. R)
Reddy, M. Thomas, David Alfred (Merth'r Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)
Redmond, John E. (Waterford Thomas, F. Freeman-(Hastings Whittaker, Thomas Palmer
Rigg, Richard Tomkinson, James Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)
Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.) Trevelyan, Charles Philips Wilson, Fred. W. (Norfolk, Mid
Robson, William Snowdon Tully, Jasper Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)
Roche, John Ure, Alexander Woodhouse, Sir J T (Huddersf'd
Shaw, Thomas (Hawick, B.) Walker, Col. William Hall Yoxall, James Henry
Shipman, Dr. John G. Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)
Soames, Arthur Wellesley Warner, Thomas Courtenay T. TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Kearley and Mr. Lough.
Soares, Ernest J. Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan
Spencer, Rt. Hn. C R (Northants White, George (Norfolk)
Strachey, Edward White, Luke (York, E. R.)

Further Proceeding on Second Resolution deferred till to-morrow, at Two of the clock.