HC Deb 19 November 1919 vol 121 cc912-3

asked the Prime Minister whether he was aware that a num- ber of whisky firms holding big stocks of whisky sold these stocks at enormously enhanced prices and went into liquidation and so avoided payment of excess profits, and that the purchasing firms having paid the enhanced prices were in consequence not liable to pay excess profits on their purchases, whereby loss, injury, and damage accrued to the revenue; whether, as a result of these operations, the whisky trade was concentrated in a few firms who, owing to the restriction of issue, were enabled to dispense and had dispensed with the large body of travellers whom they formerly employed, who on their return from the War found their occupation gone and themselves reduced to penury; and whether he would make a levy on those firms or their beneficiaries who successfully avoided the Excess Profits Tax in the manner above mentioned to compensate these employés of the trade?


My right hon. Friend is aware that there have been a number of sales of stocks of whisky under such circumstances that the profits arising therefrom were not subject to the charge to Excess Profits Duty. Provision was made in the Finance Act of 1918 for charging such profits, so far as arising from sales after 22nd April, 1918. His attention has not been drawn to the results referred to by the hon. Member in the second part of his question. As regards the third part of the question, as the hon. Member is aware, a Select Committee of the House is about to be appointed to consider the practicability of the taxation of wealth accumulated during the War, but the object of imposing such a tax would be to reduce the national burdens, not to make grants to individuals.


Is the hon. Gentleman not aware that most of these profits were made long before 1918? Why is there any special sanctity attached to profits on whisky, whereas people who own coal have their profits cut down to almost nothing?