§ "That in addition to the duties of Customs now payable on beer imported 1672 into Great Britain or Ireland there shall, on and after the 11th day of May, nineteen hundred and nine, be charged the following duties, that to say:—
§ In the case of beer called or similar to mum, spruce, black beer, or Berlin white beer, or other preparations, whether fermented or not fermented, of a similar character:—
|Not exceeding one thousand two hundred and fifteen degrees, a duty of||1||0|
|Exceeding one thousand two hundred and fifteen degrees, a duty of||1||2|
§ In the case of every description of beer other than that above specified:—
§ For every thirty-six gallons, where the worts thereof were, before fermentation, of a specific gravity of one thousand and fifty-five degrees, a duty of … threepence
§ and so in proportion for any difference in gravity."
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I told the Chancellor of the Exchequer yesterday that I wished to raise a point of detail, although it is one of some importance, on this Resolution. I had intended to communicate with the right hon. Gentleman by a letter this morning what the matter was, in order that he should have had a little time to deal with it. I am sorry that I was not able to do so, but the fact is that my correspondence has been increased so much by the right hon. Gentleman's Budget that I had a great deal more than I could do this morning, and I am obliged to put my question across the House, and I will be very brief. I must say in passing that the Chancellor of the Exchequer does not seem to understand the reason why we attach importance to this Resolution. No doubt the fiscal result would be very small, like the result of a great many duties we now charge, but the trade result of the absence of such a corresponding duty when you are taxing the home-made article might be out of proportion to the fiscal result which you obtain by taxing it. There is, I know, the principle that if there is no preference to our own people there should be no preference to the foreigner, but in addition to that there was reason to consider that a preference even of this amount to the foreigner might largely divert the course of trade, because a very small matter very often has a great effect in trade affairs.
I will not develop that argument any further, but I will come to the specific matter to which I wish to draw the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. My hon. Friend the Member for Ayr has a different point which he wishes to raise, which refers to the charge of the duty on 1674 the home produce whilst on the bulk of imported beer the charge is by gravity. But my point is a different one. As I understand the brewer's licence duty and the charge on the home beer it is in the form of a brewer's licence duty, and I understand that the brewer's licence duty is paid on October every year in advance.
The brewer, therefore, will be out of his money for the whole of this duty for a shorter or longer period, according to the time which elapses between the time when he pays his duty and the time when he is able to sell his beer. How does that compare with the case of imported beer? The importer will pay the duty only when he takes his beer out of bond at the moment of sale. He will not have to charge himself except on the capital, and he will be able to recover the amount of the duty. The home producer will, on the contrary, have to charge himself with the interest on the money. Throughout our Customs and Excise duties that necessity is recognised whenever it occurs by a difference between two scales of duty. The Customs duties are made higher than the exact equivalent of the Excise duties, in order to compensate him for the indirect charges which the levy of the Excise places upon him. I submit to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that in framing his Budget this matter has escaped his attention. In some cases the charges will be very small, but in some cases they may be very considerable. A great deal of the beer which goes into home consumption is drunk within a short time after it is brewed. Some is kept for a considerable time longer, and the export beer, I am informed by people in a position to know, is sometimes kept for eighteen months, or even a longer period, before it is sent out; but the brewer will have to pay not only at the moment of brewing, but in advance, and he may have to wait something like two years in these cases before he can recover from the consumer. I hope that I have made my point clear to the Committee, and I am sure that the Chancellor of the Exchequer sees it, and I hope that he will tell us that he has considered the matter and what he thinks is necessary to do. The effect of the duty will fall upon the export trade. It is an export duty on beer as well as the beer consumed at home. Did the Chancellor of the Exchequer know that? On what ground do the Government say that an export duty on coal is injurious to the trade of this country, but that an export duty on beer 1675 can be imposed without any injurious effect? That is a matter of consequence, and of some principle which we may have to recur to at a later stage.
§ Mr. WALTER GUINNESS
Quite apart from the comparatively small point which the Member for Ayr Burghs wishes to raise on the question of standard barrelage, I think that the concession of the Chancellor of the Exchequer obviously calls for a certain amount of comment from a general point of view of Tariff Reform. I think for that reason that the right hon. Gentleman will be very well advised to try to prevent any discussion on this novel method of getting money by the Budget. The licences proposed in the original Budget were quite clearly a preferential arrangement for the foreigner. This is not the only tax which gives the preference to the foreigner, and throws undue burdens on the British manufacturer and lets the foreigner off scot free. I should like to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on the advance which he has made in this direction. He has admitted that there is a justification for an import duty apart from the necessity of raising Revenue. He has realised that there are other duties besides Excise taxes, and that the cost of manufacture may be a burden on the industries of this country. It is very generally believed that the right hon. Gentleman's experience at the Board of Trade showed him that the free import theory was not quite so water-tight as is generally believed on his side of the House. This is a small step, but it is still a step which hon. Members on this side wish to go in the direction of Tariff Reform. The right hon. Gentleman has apparently treated this duty on the brewers in quite a different way to other duties, but he ought to charge a higher duty against the foreigners to compensate the manufacturers in this country for the greatly increased cost which will be necessary for the production of their articles owing to the retailers' duty. I think that the retailers' duty in this trade is quite different from any other trade. It is a tax which will fall almost entirely on the brewers. I think that nine-tenths of the licensed premises are tied to some brewer or another, and that the effect will be to destroy the majority of free houses. In the case of free houses the tax can only be borne by the retail trader, but in the case of tied houses the wholesale traders will bear part of the additional burden.
1676 I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to go a little further and put on an import duty which will have the effect of countervailing the increased burden on the manufacturers in this country. I am told that the London brewers have stated that the retailers' tax will amount to 2s. 6d. per barrel on their output. Already before these duties were imposed the brewers, like every other trader in this country, were bearing a larger amount of taxation than their German competitors. In Germany the taxation per head of the population—I mean Imperial taxation—is only half what it is in this country, while local taxation is as 10 to 25 compared with similar taxation in this country. For that reason it is absolutely essential that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should make this duty on imports a little more effectual than he has done. I am prevented by the rules of the House from proposing that this duty should be increased, but we on this side wish to put it on record that we regard this duty as quite inadequate, and that the action of the Government in proposing only 3d. is not founded on any principle of logic or has any regard to the general burden of taxation on the trading community of this country.
§ Mr. G. YOUNGER
I do not propose to trouble the House with my views on fiscal reform. This morning I had a letter from a pretty large trader in Scotland, who tells me that an extremely energetic German trader told him that whatever the effect on prices here might be Germany will supply beer at the old prices. The point which I wish to deal with is this. The right hon. Gentleman proposes very properly to place an equivalent duty on imported beer. He proposes to charge the British brewer 3d. on the bulk barrel. The standard barrel is 55 degrees. I have not been able to take out the figures, but I think I am right in saying that the average gravity of the bulk barrel last year was something like 1,052 degrees, while on the standard barrel it was 1,055 degrees. It is proposed to put 3d. on 1,052 degrees, and only 2d. on 1,055 degrees. To that extent he is precluding himself, unless at a later period he charges the licence duty against the brewers on standard value, which it is quite within his power to do, from putting the matter right if the Resolution is passed in its present form. I understand he cannot raise any tax later on without recommitting the Bill, and an alteration 1677 of the standard would be in the nature of a rise in this new tax. How is he going to get over that difficulty? If he is prepared to tell me that at a later stage he will arrange that the charges on the brewers' licence will be on the standard barrel, then I shall have nothing more to say; but if he adheres to the bulk barrel—which, in my opinion, is an unfair way of taxing the beer—he will place a serious drawback upon the brewers who brew light beers. If he is not prepared now to say the duty will be on the standard barrel, then I would recommend him, in order to keep himself on the safe side, and until his advisers have an opportunity of discussing the matter with him, to alter the 1,055 in the Resolution to 1,050, and that, I think, would enable him to make the adjustment afterwards without recommitting the resolution. I do not know whether he has consulted the Somerset House officials, but I would suggest that this would get him out of his difficulty.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
I think I had better reply at once to the hon. Member who has spoken on this subject with special knowledge of the matter. Indeed, I wish the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition had given way to me in the first place. The point is a rather difficult one, and it is of a very technical nature, but I may say at once that I have had time to consult some of the officials who are in charge of this branch of the revenue. I will take the first point with regard to gravity or bulk. I think there is a good deal in the suggestions made this afternoon, and I am quite prepared to consider whether the barrelage which we are charging the British brewer should not rather be on the standard than on the bulk barrel. The Resolution which has been already carried will enable me to do this, because, after all, it only represents the maximum. The same thing applies with regard to the question of the export duty on beer. I can do that also in my Resolution. As the right hon. Gentleman knows very well, you can make a rebate although you cannot put up a tax, and that I am prepared to do later on, as we have no desire at all to be unfair to the British brewer. As long as I get the money that I want within limitations I am willing to consider all these matters which affect the trade. On these two points I repeat I think I shall be able to meet the criticisms of right hon. and hon. Members opposite. Now I come to the 1678 question of interest. That is really, on the whole, a very small matter. The total of the new duty on foreign beer only comes to about £600 or £700. I am not at all sure it will reach the lower figure. The interest on the total is a very small matter to the trade, and cannot be taken as giving any considerable preference to the foreign brewer. As the right hon. Gentleman knows very well, the British brewer pays once a month, and sometimes his beer is sold before he is called upon to pay the duty.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I beg your pardon. I want to get this point quite clear. The right hon. Gentleman is now talking about the brewers' payment of Excise duties. They no doubt are paid once a month, but the licence duty is paid once a year, and the duty which the right hon. Gentleman is now about to impose takes the form of a licence duty, and unless he makes separate provision, of which he has not yet said a word, it will have to be paid at the same time as the ordinary licence duty.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
That is so. I only want to show that as far as the brewer is concerned he does get an advantage, inasmuch as very often his beer is sold and drunk before he is called upon to pay the duty. That is not the case with the foreign brewer, who has to pay the duty before the beer can be released from bond. Further than that, as the right hon. Gentleman knows very well, there is at the present moment a preference of 3d. in favour of the British brewer. I believe the British brewer pays 7s. 9d. per barrel, whereas the foreign brewer pays 8s., and that really covers these charges for interest, etc. In what I have done I am following strict precedent. When Mr. Goschen put 3d. on the duty he placed a corresponding duty on the foreigner. There was no distinction at all. And when Lord St. Aldwyn put 1s. on, he, too, made no distinction between the British and the foreign brewer.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
Well, I have conceded that point to the hon. Member. I have told him I think I shall be able to meet him. But this other point of interest is an exceedingly small matter. It is the question of interest on £700 not for a whole year, but perhaps for two or three months at the end of the year. I 1679 should not think this would amount to more than £20 or £30, and I do not think the right hon. Gentleman can possibly suggest that such a sum would constitute a difference between preference for a particular trade and putting it on the basis of absolute equality. Further than that I do not really see how I could spread £20 over the whole trade. It would be such an infinitesimal fraction, and it would add so much to the trouble, expense and difficulties of the Revenue that it would hardly be worth while to do it. This Resolution was put down on the suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition, and I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for his suggestion. I think we have been able practically to meet his views.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I do not want to raise any unnecessary difficulty about the Resolution, which, as the right hon. Gentleman says, was put down in reply to the criticisms of my right hon. Friend. But I really cannot follow him, and I would like, therefore, to ask one or two specific questions. He says that neither Mr. Goschen nor Sir Michael Hicks-Beach, when they increased the Excise on beer, increased the Customs duty by more than the exact equivalent. No, Sir, but the Excise on beer is, as the right hon. Gentleman says, paid month by month, and there is practically no lock-up of capital, whereas in the case of imported beer it has not to be paid until the beer is taken out of bond. The right hon. Gentleman's proposal is to charge not an Excise but a licence duty; he is charging barrelage under the name of a licence duty, and that duty will have to be paid once for all, consequently the lock-up is very much more than in the case of the Excise. That is where I think the right hon. Gentleman does not understand my point. He does not realise the distinction between the two. I do not understand his point either. He says the whole charge can only amount to £700. What does he mean by that? Where does he get his £700 from? Is he thinking of the yield of his import duty?
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
That has nothing to do with what the brewer is going to pay. The English brewer is not going to pay the additional duty on imported German beer. He is to pay 3d. per barrel for all the beer he brews himself. That is not a matter merely of £600 or 1680 £700, it is an enormously greater sum which is at stake. I do not know what amount the right hon. Gentleman has calculated it at, but he clearly has confused two entirely different things.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
The only point I make is this: that the yield of the additional import duty on foreign beer will come to about £600 or £700; that is really the measure of the difference between the two. Taking the interest on that sum at five per cent., it would give about £17 10s., and that really is a very small matter indeed.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
That affects only the foreign brewer. What I want the right hon. Gentleman to look at is the charge he is putting on the British trader. If the right hon. Gentleman will for a moment consent to forget the foreign trader and devote his ability to considering the position of the British trader I think he will see that the question is a much bigger one than he suggests. I cannot work out the exact equivalent, because naturally it requires some knowledge as to what is the average lock-up of the brewery companies. But nothing the right hon. Gentleman has said removes my feeling that the basis on which he has calculated his Customs duty is unsound, and is not in accordance with the general spirit of our other Customs duties.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I just want to ask one question. I gather the whole difference between the Chancellor of the Exchequer and my right hon. Friend is that the former is stating what he thinks the amount of the additional import duty will be, while my right hon. Friend is dealing with the amount of the Excise duty payable in this country. My right hon. Friend thinks the Excise duty which will have to be paid will involve a very considerable loss of interest, and that the difficulty should be met by placing a higher duty on the beer imported. Now the question I rise to ask is this. I presume the Chancellor of the Exchequer has fixed his figure £700 on the basis of the quantity of beer now imported. May I ask whether he has taken into consideration the fact that under these new duties a different state of affairs may arise, and that a very much larger amount of foreign beer may be imported when the home trade is placed at a disadvantage?
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The increased taxation will cause one of two things. Either 1681 the home trade will die out, or they will have to raise the price of the beer; and that may induce the foreigner to come in with a larger quantity of beer.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
How can he sell his beer! The duty is on the licences of the houses which are selling it.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The British trader will have to get a higher price for it here to compensate him for the increased amount which is charged for the licence. The English brewer must make up the loss which he is going to be called upon to pay. I do not care whether it is by a tax on the barrel or whether by tax by way of licence duty—it comes to exactly the same thing. He has got to pay the money and must make his loss good. If he is to get it back from the consumer he will have to raise his prices, and that may give a bounty to the foreigner, who will send a much larger amount of foreign beer into this country. The desire of my right hon. Friend is to put the foreign producer of beer upon an equality with the English producer of beer, and he considers—and I think he is right—that the proposals of the Chancellor of the Exchequer are not sufficient.
§ Mr. E. B. BARNARD
I think there is a great deal of confusion in this matter. Whether the beer which the retailer sells comes from the foreigner or is produced in this country it is obvious that if you are charging merely a licence to the retailer the same condition applies to the foreign of beer by our own people and by the matter to be considered is to what extent this proposal meets equally the production of beer by our own people and by the foreigner. The Chancellor of the Exchequer proposes to charge 12s. only on 50 barrels. According to the recent Report, he chose to take—and I am not arguing it—the bulk barrel. The bulk barrel works out in the Report, one of the speakers said—I think the Member for Bury St. Edmunds—about 1,053 gravity. I am willing to take it at 1,054. I am dealing with 12s. on 50 barrels; and I find 3d. a barrel would be 12s. 6d. on 50 at 1,054. There is no case whatever, so far as I can judge—I do not like some of the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman—but there is no case for saying that the English brewer on mere production of the material is injured in any way by the imposition of the licence duty. The licence duty is open to the gravest argument, but in this matter there is no injustice whatever between the English brewer and the foreign brewer.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I quite agree that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has made a good defence on the question of the amount of preference as shown in this particular case. It does not amount to a great deal, but I do not think that covers the whole ground. The right hon. Gentleman admits that to the extent of the interest, whatever it is, £30 or £17, the foreign producer of beer does get a small preference.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
The right hon. Gentleman admitted it in his speech, but whether he does or not it is the fact. The point I wish to make is far more serious than this, in my opinion. The mistake which the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends make in this question is to assume that trade is going to continue on exactly the same conditions in the future that it proceeds on now. I remember in the Debates of last year the argument of the Prime Minister was to take the actual trade between this country and the various Colonies, and say it is very small, and what is the use of it. But it is not a case of what it is now, but of what it may be. I say precisely the same in this instance. The interest is not in itself a big thing, but this is going to alter the trade in a great many respects. The right hon. Gentleman says that the people who pay the licences will have to pay them whether they deal in foreign beer or English beer; but everyone knows that a large part of the trade of this country is carried on by brewers who sell their own beer, and these licences will undoubtedly make a great difference to them, and they will have to add to the price of the beer what they pay for the licences. That is going to change the trade, and I say it may just as well take the trade from the brewers who have tied houses and give it to the foreign brewers as take the trade from the brewers who have tied houses and give it to other English brewers. There is undoubtedly in this case a slight preference being given to the foreign brewer. To put it very mildly, if the right hon. Gentleman has determined, as we all know he has, to get a certain amount of taxation out of these duties, would it not be reasonable to make it certain that the foreign producer is not put in a better position than the home producer? Would there be any objection to put the home producer of beer in the same position as the right hon. Gentleman puts 1683 the home producer of cocoa? Why not make it perfectly clear that the home producer will get some advantage as against the foreign producer? That is the whole point, and I think it is one in which he ought to give the advantage to the home producer rather than the foreign producer.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
I wish to say a word as to the effect on the small trader of these proposals. In my Constituency there are several small breweries, three or four on account of the excellent barley grown in that country, which is better than that in any other part of the country. In my opinion the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman would mean the immediate destruction of at least two of those breweries. Has the right hon. Gentleman noticed the extraordinary fact that since his Budget was introduced Guinness' shares rose £1 in value. Why? Because everyone recognises that the big man will be helped and the small man will be hit by this Budget. So far as the beer tax goes, it is a capitalist Budget. Guinness' will pay the duty out of their profits, and the consumer of their article will not be charged a single farthing extra. They can afford it, because out of the enormous revenue which comes to Guinness you have seen, the other day, that they were even able to split their shares. In the case of Guinness this is a distinct tax upon the brewer. But take the case of the small brewer; one of the small breweries to which I referred has not of recent years been able to pay a dividend, and they will try if they can to put this extra tax upon the consumer. That means, of course, that they will have to raise the price of their article, but the moment they try to do so, of course the big brewer who does not raise the price of his article, gets an advantage over the poorer man. Guinness would be able to send their beer by arrangement with the railway companies to Tralee, 180 miles, at the same price as the brewers can send it from Cork, which has not half the mileage. The moment will arrive when the small man will have to consider whether he shall raise the price of his article against the consumer, but Guinness, who is the chief conductor of the orchestra, will not allow him.
I do not quite see how the remarks of the hon. Member come within the scope of the Resolution.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
I am attacking the tax. Of course, if this was purely the 1684 3d. I am out of order, but I understood that the Resolution was being debated as a whole.
So far as I understand the hon. and learned Member is discussing another point in regard to the duties which we were discussing yesterday. This is only upon the Customs duty upon foreign imports, and although the question of home production as against foreign importation may be mentioned as a matter of contrast, I do not see how the question as between the large producer and the small producer at home is in order.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
I was going to conclude upon that end of the question, and I think it is practically the same. The foreign producer who is protected in his own country from English importations is undoubtedly in the position of the capitalist whose case I have put, but we are told by an hon. Gentleman above the Gangway of considerable experience, that the German will continue to sell his beer in this country at the same price as of old. Why? Because he is protected in his own country against British importation. In other words, he has practically a bonus from his Government for selling, which enables him to dump his beer in England. It is exactly the same case as the case which I put with regard to the large brewer, but instead of getting his aid from capital, he gets it from the State, and I think it would be far fairer for the right hon. Gentleman to introduce a tax which would obviously fall upon the consumer in every case, instead of a tax which, in one case, if you attempt to put it upon the consumer, some arrangement of foreigners will prevent you from doing so, and, in the other case, will enable the large capitalist at home to sell at a low price to the detriment of the smaller brewer.
§ Mr. A. J. BALFOUR
There is one aspect of the question which has not yet been touched upon, of which I think we ought to have, what we have not had, some explanation from the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I do not know the important details of the effects of this scheme which the Chancellor of the Exchequer put forward, which have been mentioned by my hon. and right hon. Friends, but I am sure the Chancellor of the Exchequer will take them into account before he frames his Budget Bill and endeavour to meet the legitimate objections that have been raised. This is, I think, the only oppor- 1685 tunity we have, so far as I am aware, of really asking the Government what is their view of the scheme of taxation with regard to which the right hon. Gentleman now finds himself compelled to put on a Customs duty. He represented that scheme of taxation to us in his Budget speech as not being a tax upon the consumer, but as a tax upon the brewer. He represented it as a licence duty which will fall upon the trade, and he deliberately said he did not propose to put any tax upon the consumer of beer, if I remember aright, for two reasons, one of which was that any tax upon consumers of beer would have to be much bigger if it was to be properly paid, and he pointed out in the second place that he thought he had put additional taxation of an indirect kind upon the consumers of alcoholic liquors in other parts of his Budget, and he did not propose to put an additional tax upon them here. That was the Budget statement, but I gathered that in reality this was a tax upon the consumer and would require to have a Customs balance. The Government assented to that, and they say the case is unanswerable. The matter is not a very big one, though, as far as it goes, there is an unanswerable case for putting on a Customs duty, and that is the matter we are now discussing. If that view be true, the old view must be abandoned. If it be true that this, indeed, is a tax upon the Excise of a kind which requires to be balanced by Customs, then it is a tax which falls upon the consumer, and the Government have themselves said so. I think the right hon. Gentleman has said so, and I know the Prime Minister said so when he made the final speech concluding the Debate for his party on the general discussion which took place on Monday week.
Under these circumstances we have two entirely different views of the particular scheme of taxation of which the Customs duty is the foreign part—one the view of the Budget speech and one the view of the Prime Minister in reply, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he deals with newspaper reporters, and of the whole of the Government when they put on this Customs duty and gave a drawback upon the export. We have it now that the Government regards this as a duty on the consumer. How is that to be reconciled with the fact that in the first place the Chancellor of the Exchequer said he did not wish to have a tax on the consumer, and in the second place with the statement, made over and over again, 1686 that if it is a tax on the consumer, and if the price is raised on the consumer, the consumer will pay a great deal more than the State gets, and, as was explained yesterday, that this will be a great endowment of the brewing industry? I think this is the proper time for the Government to give us a perfectly clear view of what this double taxation really means. I mean the Excise taxation which was passed last night and the Customs taxation which we are about to pass now. Do they intend it, as they originally said, to be a tax on the brewer or do they intend it to be, as they now say, a tax on the consumer, and, if the latter, how can they put a tax on the consumer which they say must of necessity put a large bonus into the pockets of the brewers? The brewer is not to blame for it. He can only raise the retail article by a given fraction. The Government say that fraction will be far more than will go into the Exchequer. Of course it must go into the pocket of the brewer if that argument were sound. We have not had any explanation of the Government's attitude since the general discussion of the question. We ought perhaps to have been able to obtain a full explanation last night upon the Excise portion of the taxation, but it is not too late to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, now that we have come to the Customs portion of it, to give us a clear and full statement of the Government policy.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
The right hon. Gentleman has raised a very large issue of policy, which I cannot possibly really discuss within the limits of order on this particular Resolution. It is clearly a question which ought to be, and has been, raised first of all upon the general discussion which we had three days of, and it might conceivably have been raised yesterday. One thing is perfectly clear. This 3d. on the 30,000 barrels of foreign beer which come into this country is not going to make a difference to the consumer. If there is going to be any difference to the consumer it is in respect of the heavier tax discussed yesterday. If I were to enter into that I should be discussing a Resolution already passed, and it would be absolutely out of order if I were to pursue the very large questions of policy which have been raised, rather too late, by the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
The right hon. Gentleman can really not say that. We were discussing it for ten hours, and that question was never raised at all, and yet the right hon. Gentleman says it underlies the whole policy of the Government on this question—yet during the whole of these ten hours the principle which underlay the whole policy of the Government was never mentioned, and it is only mentioned on a Resolution to which it is not in the slightest degree relevant. I could only enter into it by referring to a Resolution which was passed, and three-fourths of my observations must be out of order. If I do not follow the right hon. Gentleman there he must not imagine that it is out of any lack of courtesy to him. It is purely because I am anxious to conform to the rules of the House. With regard to this particular 3d. I am still of opinion that it is a duty on brewers, but the right hon. Gentleman and his supporters say it is not. It is perfectly true that it is paid in the form of a licence, they say, but it will handicap us in our competition with foreign producers. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dulwich says, on the whole, you ought to give the benefit of the doubt if there is any difficulty at all about it. We are doing it. What is the charge which we are making on the foreign brewer? We are making a charge of 3d. Our charge on British beer is 2.88d. It is a difference of 6d. a barrel in favour of the British brewer, and I thought he was rather going to claim me as a Protectionist. This difference of 6d. far more than covers the interest, which is a very small matter. When we come to work out our scheme of specific gravity if it is still found that the British brewer is under any disadvantage I shall be quite willing to consider any points which may be raised, but I trust that, having put off the Debate until to-day in response to the invitation of hon. Members opposite, they will allow us now to get the Resolution.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
Can the right hon. Gentleman say what is the official definition of "mum" and "spruce"?
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
A very famous predecessor of mine, Mr. Gladstone, had that question put to him, and he said no human being was ever able to find it out.