HC Deb 18 June 1906 vol 158 cc1359-60
MR. ALDEN (Middlesex, Tottenham)

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware that the recent Customs Convention in South Africa, if carried into effect in the Transvaal, would be to seriously increase the cost of every necessary of life; that such taxation of food is contrary to the wishes of the people of the Transvaal, as shown by recent meetings of protest; and whether he will urge upon the Legislative Council the advisability of ascertaining fully the feeling of the people, more especially in towns like Johannesburg, before consenting to these new tariff' proposals.


The increased duties under the new Customs tariff' come into effect on May 25th. The tariff' is higher than the previous one, but simultaneously with the increased duties there has been a reduction of railway rates which should have the effect of very largely neutralising the effect of the increased duties on the cost of living in the inland colonies. I have noticed that there has been a meeting of protest on the part of the Johannesburg Chamber of Commerce. The Legislative Council is meeting this week and opportunity will be thereby afforded to members of it to express their opinions. It is an open secret that the continued existence of the South African Customs Union at the present time was bound to involve a higher tariff in view of the financial position of the coastal colonies. When the Transvaal and Orange River Colony possess elective Legislatures, their authoritative voice can be expressed on the subject. Meanwhile the general opinion in the two colonies appears to have been clearly in favour of retaining the Customs-Union. The Convention can be denounced by any member of the Union giving one year's notice to date from June 30th in any year.