HC Deb 25 February 1915 vol 70 cc371-2
14. Mr. HOGGE

asked the Secretary to the Treasury whether the Board of Excise do not allow British-made absolute alcohol to be stored in bond for Home consumption; whether dealers must buy it and store it duty paid; whether the duty is 26s. 5d. per gallon; whether prior to the War German spirit could be stored under bond and paid for only when taken out as is done in the case of ordinary wines and spirits; and whether, in view of the difficulties affecting manufacturers in the present crisis and the amounts of money they have to lie out of under the present arrangement, he can see his way to revert to the previous arrangements?


The law has not been altered since the War began as to absolute alcohol, whether British made or imported, and there has been no withdrawal of any privilege in regard to British-made absolute alcohol. Before the War, very little absolute alcohol, if any, was manufactured in this country, and practically all of it came from Germany and remained in bond until required for use. Since the War none is coming from Germany, but some is being manufactured in this country. Under the law storage duty-free in bond for delivery for home consumption would be allowed in the case of absolute alcohol manufactured by a distiller from duty-free spirit, but not in the case of absolute alcohol manufactured by a rectifier from duty-paid spirit. A certain amount of the last-named spirit is now being made in this country, and in view of this fact, and having regard to the high duty, which may be as much as 26s. 5d. a gallon, the Board of Customs and Excise are considering whether an alteration of the law is justified in order to meet the difficulty indicated in the question.


Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind the great disability which is being laid on British merchants who are attempting to capture German trade, and will he bring in the necessary legislation as quickly as possible?


I cannot, of course, anticipate the recommendations of the Board of Customs or the decision of the Government, but I will do what I can, and if it is decided the matter should be put right by legislation, it shall be done as soon as possible.