§ 49. Lieutenant-Colonel ASSHETON POWNALL
asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that, instead of the licensed trade being allowed to pay duty on 75 per cent. of their 1916 clearances of spirits, i.e., at the rate of 37½ per cent. for the six months ending 30th September, 1919, the clearances are only issued for a month at a time at the rate of 6¼ per cent. per month on the 1916 figure; and, further, whether he is aware that, the percentage being so small, many of the smaller retailers are not able to clear any spirits at all, thus causing great dissatisfaction amongst their customers who were promised larger supplies from 1st April onwards?
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Chamberlain)
Clearances of spirits from bond on payment of duty are allowed to any person at a rate not exceeding 75 per cent. of his clearances in 1916, but under the provisions of Section 15 of the Finance (No. 2) Act, 1915, the Commissioners of Customs and Excise have been authorised to refuse for the present to allow deliveries in advance, except as regards the month of April, the proportion for which (i.e., one-sixth of the six months' supply) may be cleared at any time during the month as may be desired. As regards the second part of the question I am advised that the smaller retailers usually obtain their supplies of spirits not 2023 direct from bond but from dealers, who should be in a position to deliver to them (provided advance deliveries are not demanded beyond the month of April) the proportion of 75 per cent. of the quantities supplied in 1916. If any small retailers who hold authorities for drawing supplies from their own stocks in bond experience difficulty in clearing the proportion due to them, the Commissioners will endeavour to facilitate deliveries as far as possible on application being made to them.
Is the reason for that answer that the right hon. Gentleman anticipates putting a little more on whisky?
§ 94. Mr. ROBERT YOUNG
asked the Food Controller whether he is aware that the urban district council of Newton-in-Makerfield has passed the following resolution, calling attention to the increasing amount of sickness in the district and the country generally, and urging the Government to release a greater quantity of spirituous liquors, especially whisky, with centres established in every town, apart from public-houses, where all classes of the community, especially poor people, can purchase the same in small quantities at a cheaper rate, at a maximum price not exceeding 2s. per imperial half-pint, and allowing a purchase only to be made on the production of a medical certificate, but at any tune between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. on week-days; and whether he will take steps to give effect to all or any part of the resolution?
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of FOOD (Mr. McCurdy)
The Food Controller has no knowledge of the resolution to which the hon. Member refers. The War Cabinet have recently sanctioned an increase in the release of spirits from bond and it is considered that the present supplies should be sufficient to meet the reasonable requirements of the public. It is not possible for the Food Controller to undertake the establishment of centres for the sale of spirits in the manner suggested, and he regrets that any reduction in the price of spirits is impossible for the present.
Did the hon. Gentleman hear the answer of the Chancellor of the Exchequer this afternoon?