HC Deb 17 February 1916 vol 80 cc228-9

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the amount and value of the imports into this country from Switzerland of chocolate and other cocoa preparations in each of the periods of six months ending 30th June, 1913, 30th June, 1914, and 30th June, 1915, respectively; whether these imports contained a very large amount of sugar imported into Switzerland from Germany and Austria; and whether, with a view to lessening the import into this country of foreign-manufactured articles of the nature of luxuries, and to prevent the exportation into this country from Germany and Austria of sugar of enemy origin, he will take steps either entirely to prohibit the importation from Switzerland of chocolate and other cocoa preparations or to place a substantial Import Duty thereon?


My right hon. Friend has asked me to reply to this question. Statistics of importation in the periods specified will be printed in the OFFICIAL REPORT. I am aware that some, at least, of the chocolate imported from Switzerland contains sugar of enemy origin, but it is the practice to allow the importation of goods for our own use manufactured in neutral countries from materials which are partly of enemy origin, provided that the proportion of value due to such materials does not exceed 25 per cent. I have had inquiries made which show that this proportion is not, in fact, exceeded in the case in question, and I am not prepared at present to prohibit the importation of Swiss chocolate and cocoa preparations. These preparations are, of course, already dutiable, and the hon. and learned Gentleman will not expect me to make a premature announcement as to any possible increases in Customs duties which may or may not be in contemplation by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer.—[See Written Answers.]


Is there any reason why we should permit the import into this country of foreign-made luxuries, such as chocolate?


There is only a small proportion, under 25 per cent., of this chocolate which is of foreign enemy origin, and that is the rule which applies to these cases.