HC Deb 04 May 1915 vol 71 cc1002-3

I should like to say a word about the revenue from Customs and Excise. The November estimate was £73,900,000. The revenue actually received came to £80,975,000. That is an increase of £7,000,000 on the estimate. Of that £7,000,000—it has been analysed very carefully by my advisers who have had considerable experience in the matter—£3,000,000 in their judgment comes from forestalments, notably in spirits, tea, and tobacco. Of the remainder, £2,182,000 is due to an increase, in their judgment, in the consumption of spirits, £530,000 to the consumption of beer over and above the November estimate, and £950,000 from the increase of tobacco which we did not anticipate. That is very largely attributed by those who advise me on the subject to the smoking in camps, and to the great gifts of tobacco which have been distributed among the troops. The £2,182,000 increase in the consumption of spirits over the estimate represents a consumption during that period of 2,900,000 gallons more spirits than anticipated, and about 17,000,000 gallons more beer than was anticipated. The Committee would like to know what was the effect of the Beer Duty on consumption in comparison with last year. In December the decrease in the production of beer, owing to the duty, was 38 per cent., in January it was 22 per cent., in February 22 per cent., and in March 17 per cent. On the other hand, the net increase in the consumption of spirits, after making a liberal allowance for forestalments, was in December 3 per cent., in January 6 per cent., in February 15 per cent., and in March 26 per cent.