HC Deb 29 March 1906 vol 154 c1538

I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his attention has been called to the decline in the quantity of foreign spirits used for methylation since the year 1902–3, and the small proportion of such spirits used in arts and manufactures under the provisions of the Finance Act of 1902; whether these results are due to the protective character of the present differential duty; what percentage ad valorem duty the 2d. per proof gallon difference between the amount of import duty and export allowance represents; and whether, having regard to the great importance of a cheap supply of industrial alcohol, he will consider the advisability of reducing the import duty on foreign spirits to 3d. per proof gallon, the equivalent of the export allowance on similar spirits.


The quantity of foreign spirit used for methylation in the year 1902–3 was altogether abnormal. The large consumption took place in spite of the increase of the surtax to 5d., which was imposed in April, 1902, and was due to an excess in the supplies of German spirit, which reduced the price to about 6d. per gallon. The decline since 1902–3 in the quantity used for methylation, and other purposes, has resulted, not from the operation of the surtax, but from an increase in the price of German spirit, which a year ago was treble what it was in 1902–3, and is still more than double. These wide fluctuations of price make it impossible to state generally what percentage ad valorem the difference of 2d. in the surtax represents. The question of the conditions under which alcohol should be procurable for industrial purposes was examined and reported upon by a Departmental Committee a year ago, and their recommendations were embodied in the Revenue Bill which was brought in last session. The present Government hope to be able to introduce legislation on the subject at an early date.