HC Deb 29 October 1909 vol 12 cc1406-11
s. d.
Cigars the lb. 4 2
Cigarettes the lb. 4 1
Cut, roll, cake, or other manufactured tobacco the lb. 4 0
Snuff (not being offal snuff) the lb. 3 10
Stalks, shorts, or other refuse of tobacco (including offal snuff) the lb. 3 9

Mr. HUNT moved, in Part I. (Customs Duties), to leave out "3s. 8d.," and to insert instead thereof "3s. 0d."

This increased duty on tobacco imposes another burden upon the working classes. There is not a particle of excuse for this proposition under a Free Trade system. Tobacco is just as much a raw material as either grain or meat, and it is used by the great majority of the working men of this country. The working people are paying this very heavy tax to the Government instead of being able to spend it on their food and clothes. In the case of tobacco I agree with hon. Members opposite that the consumers in this country practically pay the whole of the tax. This tax falls hard on the poor man, because, although he cannot afford to spend so much on tobacco as the rich man, under our system, he pays several times more in proportion to the value of the tobacco smoked than the rich man, and this tax will increase and make worse that inequality. The poor man pays from five to eight times as much duty as the rich man. When a working man buys an ounce of tobacco at 3½d he pays at least 2¾d. taxation. It is really more, because the manufacturers add water to the tobacco to make it heavier. This is a tax of 600 per cent. on what is practically a necessity to the working man. No doubt next week hon. Gentlemen will go all over the country and from hundreds of platforms tell the people that under a Liberal policy there are no taxes on raw material and food, but that is what some people would call an inexactitude. No one can get up and justify this tax of 600 per cent. on a raw material. We are told that the Liberals do not tax raw material, but we all know how heavily food grown in this country is taxed. I hope, at all events, that in future years we on this side of the House shall be able to reduce this taxation on tobacco.

Mr. CHARLES M'ARTHUR seconded the Amendment.


I will not follow the hon. Member into the dissertation he has raised as to the merits or demerits of Free

Trade, but I should like to point out that the mere differentiation which he proposes, if it is intended to stimulate the importation of unstripped tobacco, would have this effect that, inasmuch as unstripped tobacco contains a higher percentage of moisture than stripped tobacco, there would be much more paid on the water that comes into the country than at this moment. I do not know if the hon. Gentleman thinks that would be to the advantage of the trade, but that is the reason why the Government cannot accept this proposal.

Question put, "That 6s. 8d. stand part of the Schedule."

The House divided: Ayes, 139; Noes, 56.

Division No. 873.] AYES. [5.14 p.m.
Allen, Charles P. (Stroud) Gibb, James (Harrow) Morton, Alpheus Cleophas
Atherley-Jones, L. Glendinning, R. G. Murray, James (Aberdeen, E.)
Balfour, Robert (Lanark) Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford Myer, Horatio
Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight) Gooch, George Peabody (Bath) Napier, T. B.
Barnard, E. B. Greenwood, G. (Peterborough) Norman, Sir Henry
Beauchamp, E. Griffith, Ellis J. Pearson, W. H. M. (Suffolk, Eye)
Benn, Sir J. Williams (Devonport) Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis (Rossendale) Philipps, Col. Ivor (Southampton)
Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, St. Geo.) Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worcester) Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)
Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romford) Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-sh.) Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.
Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon) Hedges, A. Paget Raphael, Herbert H.
Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine Higham, John Sharp Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (Gloucester)
Bowerman, C. W. Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H. Rees, J. D.
Branch, James Hodge, John Richards, T. F. (Wolverhampton, W.)
Brigg, John Holland, Sir William Henry Robinson, S.
Brodie, H. C. Hooper, A. G. Robson, Sir William Snowdon
Brooke, Stopford Horniman, Emslie John Roe, Sir Thomas
Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh) Howard, Hon. Geoffrey Rogers, F. E. Newman
Bryce, J. Annan Isaacs, Rufus Daniel Rutherford, V. H. (Brentwood)
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Jackson, R. S. Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)
Byles, William Pollard Jardine, Sir J. Schwann, Sir C. E. (Manchester)
Carr-Gomm, H. W. Johnson, John (Gateshead) Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne)
Channing, Sir Francis Allston Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea) Seely, Colonel
Cheetham, John Frederick Jones, Leif (Appleby) Shackleton, David James
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S. Jones, William (Carnarvonshire) Shipman, Dr. John G.
Clough, William Kekewich, Sir George Silcock, Thomas Ball
Collins, Stephen (Lambeth) Laidlaw, Robert Simon, John Allsebrook
Compton Rickett, Sir J. Lamont, Norman Soames, Arthur Wellesley
Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow) Lehmann, R. C. Stanger, H. Y.
Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead) Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David Steadman, W. C.
Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Lupton, Arnold Stewart, Halley (Greenock)
Cory, Sir Clifford John Lynch, H. S. Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)
Cotton, Sir H. J. S. Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs) Verney, F. W.
Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth) Maclean, Donald Vivian, Henry
Cross, Alexander Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J. Wadsworth, J.
Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.) M'Callum, John M. Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)
Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P. McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)
Dobson, Thomas W. M'Laren, Sir C. B. (Leicester) Waterlow, D. S.
Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor) M'Laren, H. B. (Stafford, W.) White, Sir Luke (York, E. R.)
Elibank, Master of M'Micking, Major G. Williams, W. Llewelyn (Carmarthen)
Essex, R. W. Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston) Williamson, Sir A.
Esslemont, George Birnie Marnham, F. J. Wills, Arthur Walters
Evans, Sir S. T. Massie, J. Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)
Everett, R. Lacey Micklem, Nathaniel Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)
Falconer, J. Melteno, Percy Alport Wood, T. M'Kinnon
Ferens, T. R. Mond, A.
Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Captain
Fuller, John Michael F. Morrell, Philip Norton and Mr. Whitley.
Barnes, G. N. Cave, George Fletcher, J. S.
Bellairs, Carlyon Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Forster, Henry William
Bignold, Sir Arthur Cochrane, Hon. Thomas H. A. E. Gardner, Ernest
Boland, John Craik, Sir Henry Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)
Bowles, G. Stewart Faber, George Denison (York) Gooch, Henry Cubitt (Peckham)
Carlile, E. Hildred Fell, Arthur Guinness, Hon. R. (Haggerston)
Cuinness, Hon. W. E. (B. S. Edmunds) Lonsdale, John Brownlee Starkey, John R.
Gwynn, Stephen Lucius Lowe, Sir Francis William Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Hamilton, Marquess of Magnus, Sir Philip Thorne, William (West Ham)
Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil) Mason, James F. (Windsor) Thornton, Percy M.
Hay, Hon. Claude George Morpeth, Viscount Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)
Hazleton, Richard Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield) Walrond, Hon. Lionel
Heaton, John Henniker O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)
Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.) Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm
Hills, J. W. O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.) Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-
Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield) O'Malley, William Younger, George
Kerry, Earl of Parker, James (Halifax)
Kimber, Sir H. Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Hunt and Mr. M'Arthur.
King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hull) Renton, Leslie
Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.) Sloan, Thomas Henry

Mr. M'ARTHUR moved, after the words "Stripped—the lb.," to leave out the figures "3s. 8½d.," and to insert instead thereof "3s. 6½d."

The Amendment is intended to deal with a point which is very important, and which has already been brought before the Government by the trade. As I understand it has been promised consideration, and I hope it will be favourably considered. I assume that the object is that the manufacturers and retailers shall be able to collect from the consumer what they have to pay to the revenue in the shape of increased duties. The manufacturer, when he gets his tobacco out of bond, pays 8½d., and the consumer pays the 8½d. in the in creased price of his tobacco. But that 8½d. does not find its way back whole into the pocket of the manufacturer, for this reason: that it becomes part of the price, and so becomes liable to the ordinary trade charges, and therefore it is subject to deduction, There is the customary trade discount, loss of interest on the capital which is locked up in the additional duty, and there is the manufacturer's profit, which is 10 per cent., and that makes the 2d. which forms the difference between the duty as proposed and the duty to which I seek to have it reduced. Unless that is done the manufacturer will be in this position—that he will have paid 8½d. and will only have got back 6½d.; or, putting it another way, if he has got back 8½d., he has foregone his ordinary profit and discount. The Secretary to the Treasury intimated last night that this would be made good to the manufacturer and retailer through the addition of moisture. Let me read one sentence from the report of the London Chamber of Commerce. They say:— Moisture added to tobacco is a process of manufacture only applied to the very common grades. The better class tobacco, cigarettes and cigars do not contain any added moisture whatever, so it will be seen that the moisture question only affects a portion of the business and does not take into account the compensation for increase in the duty.

Mr. JAMES HOPE seconded the Amendment.


The hon. Gentleman has explained that the principle involved was the same as that which underlay the Amendment which he moved this afternoon. The arguments which I could place before the House in refutation of his proposals would be exactly the same as those which I laid before the House before. He says it is impossible for the trade to recover the 8½d., and he says on the finer grades of tobacco and cigars no moisture is added on sale. I go further than that. I pointed out last night that in the case of cigars, not only is moisture not added, but moisture is taken away. The amount of money involved in this proposal is something like £500,000. I have only to say that the Government cannot accept the Amendment.

Amendment negatived.


I beg to move, at the end of the Schedule, to add the following words: "Except in the case of tobacco grown in any part of the British Empire, which shall pay the same duty only as at present."

I would point out that this exemption would benefit the tobacco industry in India and Borneo, but, above all, it would give assistance with respect to the tobacco cultivated in Nyassaland, Uganda, and the Transvaal. There is an increasing amount of tobacco grown in Nyassaland, and I believe it is considered very good. This is an industry that requires encouragement. Traders in this country find it very uphill work to push any new brand of tobacco. The men who are opening up Nyassaland should be encouraged by any means in our power in developing an industry which is one of the most profitable when carried out on a large scale. This Amendment would give them a small benefit.


I think the hon. Member will not expect us to debate this again. We had a full Debate on it in Committee. We know his views on the matter. We cannot accept the Amendment.

Question put, "That those words be there added to the Schedule."