HC Deb 30 March 1922 vol 152 cc1553-5
Lieut. - Colonel COURTHOPE

(by Private Notice) asked the Minister of Agriculture whether the Government have yet come to a decision on the proposal, placed before the Chancellor of the Exchequer recently by a large and representative deputation, to grant a temporary remission of the Excise Duty on home-grown sugar in order to assist the establishment of the sugar-beet industry in this country?

The MINISTER of AGRICULTURE (Sir Arthur Boscawen)

Yes, Sir. The Government have decided that, in view of the exceptional circumstances of this new industry, and the condition of unemployment in this country, no Excise Duty should be charged on home-grown sugar, and the necessary provision for the removal of the existing Duty will be made in the Finance Bill of this Session. It is, of course, impossible to bind any future Government, but, in view of the fact that the remission of Excise is intended to assist a new industry during the experimental period, it may be hoped that Parliament would not re-impose any Excise Duty until the industry has been firmly established.


Have the right hon. Gentleman's Liberal colleagues in the Government accepted this solution of the difficulty?


This is the decision of the Government.


May I ask when this decision was reached and when it became operative—whether it applies to this immediate financial year, or whether it will not become operative until a decision is reached by this House upon the proposals made in the Finance Bill for 1922–23?


Have any conditions been laid upon the firms in this industry in this country that the difference caused by the remission of the Excise Duty is not going to be imposed upon the consumers in this country, and thereby give a larger profit to those concerned in the industry?


There will be nothing imposed on the consumer. Unless this remission is made, the industry will not proceed. That is the only point. No special conditions have been laid down. As to when the remission comes into operation, the announcement which is made to-day will enable growers to plant their beet, but, of course, it cannot actually come into operation until it has been enacted by this House.



The answer to the last question makes it clear that a decision of this House will be necessary before anything can come into operation.


On a point of Order. If the matter is not to be discussed until the Finance Bill is introduced, are not these people going to receive the benefit in anticipation of the decision of the House?


That is really not a point of Order. It is quite clear that the Government have announced what they will propose to the House, and that is all they can do.