HC Deb 02 August 1904 vol 139 cc536-7

I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he can say how the figures of the adjusted revenue, giving the true contribution of Ireland as compared with the collected revenue, are arrived at by the Treasury authorities; and, seeing that the contribution of Ireland in respect of tea duty for 1903–4, if calculated on the same basis as in former years, would have been £919,000, he can explain how the last Customs Return of the tea duty, under the head of adjusted revenue, gives the amount at the figure of £672,000.


I explained the nature of the recent inquiries in some detail in answer to the hon. Member for North Dublin on the 21st of July†. † See (4) Debates, cxxxviii., 771 Returns were obtained from the companies engaged in the shipping trade between Great Britain and Ireland of the amounts of sugar, tea, and wine interchanged between the two countries during the financial year 1903–4. On the basis of these returns the figures of revenue collected in Great Britain and Ireland on those articles during the financial year were adjusted so as to allow for the amounts of duty paid in one division of the United Kingdom on an article consumed in the other. In the case of tea the inquiries went to show that, although the amount of duty collected in Ireland was only £340,000, the duty paid upon tea consumed in Ireland was £672,000, and Ireland is accordingly credited with that increased contribution in the published Return. In the Financial Relations Returns for previous years similar adjustments have been made on the basis of inquiries carried out in 1890–91. But the inquiries in that year extended only over four months, while those of 1903–4 covered the whole financial year. I think there can be no doubt that the figure of £672,000 arrived at by the recent inquiry is much more trustworthy than the figure of £919,000 which the old computation would have given.


But, in view of the fact that Ireland is an island, cannot the right hon. Gentleman consider the propriety of removing her trade from the category of mere coasting trade, so that we may have proper Return?


I am not prepared to propose the establishment of a separate system of Customs for her trade as against the trade of this country.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Ireland had her own system prior to 1823?


Order, order!