§ MR. LOYD (Berkshire, Abingdon)
I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, beyond appointing officers of Inland Revenue, under Section 13 of the Corn Returns Act, 1882, to be inspectors of corn returns, the Commissioners of Inland Revenue exercise any supervision over such inspectors in the performance of their duties under that Act.
§ * SIR M. HICKS-BEACH
The Commissioners of Inland Revenue retain the sole control over Excise officers appointed to act as inspectors of corn returns. The inspectors are responsible to the Commissioners for their due attendance at the markets, for seeing that all the requirements of the Corn Returns Act are strictly complied with, and for the accuracy and punctuality of the returns and summaries which they send to the Board of Agriculture.
§ MR. LOYD
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Agriculture whether any and what steps are from time to time taken by the Board of Agriculture to ascertain whether the inspectors of corn returns receive, under the Corn Returns Act, 1882, complete and accurate returns of the prices at which British corn is sold in each of the towns specified by Order in Council.
§ * MR. HANBURY
The inspectors of corn returns are, of course, directly responsible to the Commissioners of Inland Revenue. But after the returns collected by them have been sent to the Board of Agriculture, they are examined at once, and if any point arises which seems to call for further explanation the inspector is at once consulted. Such points are the possible inclusion of foreign corn, or considerable variations in price from one week to another, or errors in calculation. Any complaints received from outside sources, as, for instance, complaints of the omission of particular sales, are referred to the Board of Inland Revenue for investigation.
§ MR. LOYD
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether any, and what, steps are from time to time taken by the Board of Trade to ascertain whether the inspectors of corn returns, under the Corn Returns Act, 1882, receive complete and accurate returns of the prices at which British corn is sold in each of the towns specified by Order in Council; can he state how many convictions have taken place since the commencement of the Act, 1st January, 1883, for failure to make return, and for making a false return; and in how many instances has the Board of Trade caused a return, or any particular in a return, to be omitted in the computation of the average prices on the ground that the Board had reason to believe such return or particular to be incorrect.
§ * MR. HANBURY
The whole of the functions of the Board of Trade under 68 the Corn Returns Act have now been transferred to the Board of Agriculture. Twenty-three prosecutions and twenty-two convictions have taken place since the commencement of the Act for failure to make returns, but none for making a false return. Since 1892, when the Board of Agriculture took over the duty, there have been two or three cases in which returns or particulars in them have been omitted in the compilation of the averages.