HC Deb 02 September 1909 vol 10 cc545-6

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the new tariff law of the United States imposes a duty on British spirits imported into the United States of $2.60 per proof gallon, whether similar spirits imported from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Switzerland pay only $1.75 per proof gallon under their respective reciprocity treaties with the United States; what are the dates on which these treaties respectively expire; whether he is aware that in the interval British distillers are placed at a serious disadvantage in being subject to duties of more than 50 per cent, greater than their competitors; and whether any representations, and, if so, with what results, were made to the United States Government as to the breach of the most-favoured-nation clause in the treaty of 1815 which such differentiation represented?


The facts as to duties are as stated by the hon. Member. The reciprocity treaties referred to expire as follows:—Treaty with France in November next, treaty with Germany in February next, treaties with Italy, Spain, and Portugal on 7th August next, and the treaty with Switzerland on 31st October next. This differentiation on spirits is not new, as the question implies, but has been in force for several years, and the matter has been more than once represented to the United States Government, even as long ago as in 1900; but, as the hon. Member is no doubt aware, the United States Government have long held that the advantages granted under the special provisions of the Dingley Tariff Act respecting reciprocity agreements, in return for a consideration, could not properly be claimed under a most-favoured-nation article. These special provisions are, however, not repeated in the new tariff law.


further asked the right hon. Gentleman whether, before the present tariff law came into operation, the duty on spirits imported into the United States was higher for spirits imported from the United Kingdom than for similar spirits imported from France, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Switzerland; whether such differentiation contravened the provisions of the treaty of 1815, by which the United States agreed to extend most-favoured-nation treatment to the United Kingdom; whether any representations have been made to the Government by British distillers as to the hardship imposed by this differentiation; and whether any communications, and, if so, with what results, were made to the United States Government?


The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. The answer to the second part is contained in the reply which I have just given the hon. Member on the same subject.

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