HC Deb 10 March 1910 vol 14 cc1626-7

asked whether the Indian Government have just imposed protective duties on cigarettes; and whether, in view of this abandonment of Free Trade in the Indian fiscal system, the Government propose to take any action?


The duties in question have been imposed for revenue and no other purposes, and involve no alteration of the fiscal principles of Indian finance.


asked whether the Home Government were informed of the intention of the Indian Government to raise the import duty on cigarettes; and, if so, whether the Government sought and obtained the views of the trade in this country on the effects of these changes before signifying their approval to the Indian Government?


The answer to the first question is in the affirmative. All the proposals of the Indian Budget were framed in concert with the Secretary of State in Council. The answer to the second question is in the negative. It is not usual to make public in the way suggested impending changes of taxation in India or elsewhere.


Is not the effect of this duty on cigarettes protective?


That is a question of opinion; but, as I said the other day, the Government of India are considering the question of putting a corresponding Excise duty upon tobacco manufactured in India.


asked whether, in view of the fact that the Government have frequently expressed their approval of inter-imperial preferences, they have made, or are prepared to make, representations to the Indian Government to grant preferential duties for cigarettes imported from within the Empire?


The answer to both questions is in the negative. The Indian import tariff is solely for revenue purposes, and in the view of the Indian Government the grant of preferences within it would not be consistent with its object. The question seems to assue that the Government of India stands on the footing of an independent State or a self-governing Colony. This, of course, is wholly inconsistent with the statutory enactment defining the relations of the Government of India to the Home Government.


asked what was the total quantity of imported cigarettes on which duty was collected in India during the last financial year; and what reduction in consumption has been assumed in consequence of the increase in the duties?


The quantity of cigarettes imported into India in the year ending 31st March, 1909, was 2,995,692 pounds. The Secretary of State has not been furnished by the Government of India with an estimate of the reduction in consumption anticipated during the coming year.