HC Deb 13 June 1904 vol 135 cc1474-5
MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)

To ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in the interests of trade, he would inquire why the Board of Customs refused, in April last, to grant a special request made by the proprietors of Butler's Wharf to bulk together three small parcels of Indian tea, considering that the request was not outside the spirit of the standing regulations governing the importation of Indian and Ceylon teas, as contained in Revenue Code, paragraph 430; and, also, whether, seeing its importance to the tea trade, he has any objection to laying the Papers and Reports dealing with the matter in question upon the Table of the House.

(Answered by Mr. Austen Chamberlain.) The intention of the Code of Warehousing Regulations (which are common to the Customs and Inland Revenue Departments) is to keep within reasonable limits the performance on dutiable goods in bonded warehouses of operations which can be readily performed in trader's private premises outside Revenue control. Every extension of the kinds of operations, which may be performed in bond necessarily entails additional expense to the Crown. Paragraph 430 of the Code permits the bulking together of beds of Indian teas under certain conditions, and the proprietors of Butler's Wharf had availed themselves of this permission in regard to the teas in question. They desired, however, to perform a further operation on the tea before clearance from bond by re-bulking together an entire bed and parts of two other beds. No special reason for the request was stated in the application except that it was desired to get one even sample, and the Board of Customs, after careful consideration, felt themselves unable to grant the request on the grounds, (a) That the operation allowed by the standing regulations had already been performed on the teas. (b) That it was open to the proprietors of the teas to have paid the duty and removed the teas to private premises where the operation could have been performed. (c) That to grant a special concession of this kind to one particular firm in relation to an operation in bond would have created a precedent which would have been immediately followed by other requests of the same kind, thereby rendering it impossible to maintain the regulation, and entailing increase of expenditure for supervision. If the tea trade desire the amendment of a particular regulation of the Code affecting their interests, the Board would be perfectly ready to consider such a measure on its merits. The Reports of Customs' Officers are of a confidential character, and I cannot undertake to lay them upon the Table of the House.