HC Deb 02 July 1923 vol 166 cc208-10

If any person proves to the satisfaction of the Commissioners of Customs and Excise that any spirits in respect of which the duties imposed by this Act have been paid have been delivered to him and used solely in the manufacture or preparation of perfumery, he shall, subject to such regulations as the Commissioners of Customs and Excise may prescribe, be entitled to obtain from the Commissioners repayment of the sum of thirty-seven shillings in respect of every gallon computed at proof of spirit so used.—[Mr. Lorimer.]

Brought up, and read the First time.


I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

The perfumery trade is one of those which do no harm and do a considerable amount of good. It is a trade which is essential to the manufacture of tooth pastes. It is by keeping the teeth clean that this country rears healthy children. I appeal with confidence to the Minister of Health on this point. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer grants this concession he will lose no revenue, but he will gain. The Minister of Labour will also benefit because of the increase in the number of men employed in the per- fumery trade which will reduce the number of doles. It is impossible at this late hour to go into this technical subject, but I am sure that the Financial Secretary knows all these points. Therefore, I content myself by moving the Amendment.


I beg to second the Motion.

In doing so, I wish to make a very earnest plea for one of the young industries started during the War. This is an industry which certain manufacturers undertook as a new branch of their business. Before the War it was practically non-existent in this country and very few people were employed in it. In view of the fact that nearly all these products, before the War, were imported from Germany and France, some enterprising manufacturers took up the business in this country, and up to 1918 the industry had increased by no less than seven times. On the application of this excessive duty it fell to one and a half times its original volume. The number of people engaged in the industry was increased by over six times, and now, owing to the duty, that has been reduced to only one and a half times. The amount of duty charged just before the War was 14s. 9d., which has been increased to 74s., and no other trade or industry has been penalised to such an extent. If this rate of duty is maintained, this struggling industry will be strangled and unemployment will be created. I hope my right hon. Friend after hearing this plea will soften his heart—that stony heart which has resisted so many appeals. I observe a smile flitting over his genial countenance, and possibility it is not too much to hope that he will say the simple word which will save this industry, preserve the employment which it affords, and give satisfaction to those engaged in it.


I should like to do so, on the ground suggested by the hon. Member for North Kensington (Mr. Gates) in regard to a previous Amendment. A great deal of this material is made in my own constituency, but a Financial Secretary of the Treasury must not think of his constituency. He must think of the Treasury. In this case the reduction of the duty by one-half would mean a loss to the revenue of about £1,000,000 per year.


We would be satisfied with less.


My hon. Friend has asked for the half, and I cannot give it.


Or a quarter.


If my hon. Friend wants to make a deal in that way, he will have to wait until the Finance Bill is introduced next year, when, perhaps, he may find a less hard-hearted Financial Secretary.


The right hon. Gentleman will be Chancellor of the Exchequer then.


I hope it is not too late to ask on what ground is the distinction made between spirit used for the manufacture of perfume and spirit used for other manufactures? Surely that is the basis upon which a decision must be reached. This perfumery trade is a very extensive trade in the country, and it is a perfectly reasonable thing for the perfumers and the large chemists to appeal to this House to lessen the burden of taxation upon their industry in the same manner as it is lessened in the case of other industries employing commercial alcohol. I beg the Government to reconsider the matter, and to meet the demand of the industry for relief.

Question, "That the Clause be read a Second time," put, and negatived.