HC Deb 29 October 1906 vol 163 cc691-2
MR. LEIF JONES (Westmoreland, Appleby)

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that, under Article 16 of the Customs Union Convention provisionally agreed to by the South African Colonies, it is proposed in the Transvaal to substitute for the existing duty of 15s. per gallon on spirits a preferential duty of 7s. 6d. to 9s. per gallon on brandy manufactured within the Customs Union, including the cheap Cape brandy mainly relegated to the use of natives and coloured persons, while raising under Article 2 the general duty on spirits to 19s. per gallon: and that, in spite of the prohibition of the supply of drink to natives and coloured persons in the Transvaal under the law of 1902, there has been illicit sale of spirits to such persons, which illicit sale will be facilitated by the increased supply of cheap brandy owing to the lowered duty: and that the Witwatersrand Church Council, composed of representatives of all the Baptist, Congregational, Presbyterian, and Wesleyan Churches on the Rand, opposed the change when it was before the Legislative Council, which, however, carried it against the votes of all but one of the non-official members of the Legislative Council; and whether, seeing that the Church Council has now appealed to the Secretary of State for the Colonies to refuse his assent to this part of the Customs Union Ordinance, he will take steps to secure that this alteration of the spirit duty shall not be made until after the grant of responsible government to the Transvaal.


The Secretary of State is aware of the facts stated by the hon. Member, He has not seen fit to accede to the request of the Witwatersrand Church Council as he understands that in agreeing to the provisions of the Customs Convention which are in question, the Transvaal Government took note of the fact that, with similar provisions in the law of the Orange River Colony, prohibition had been effectively enforced on the natives, and that prohibition had been substantially effective in their own, Colony when spirits were still manufactured at the Hatherley Distillery. The position of the new Legislature is safeguarded by the fact that the arrangement can be determined at six months' notice, without prejudice to the remainder of the Customs Convention.

In answer to a further Question, Mr. CHURCHILL said the position of the new Legislature was fully safeguarded.