HC Deb 08 July 1924 vol 175 cc2091-2

In lieu of the duty of excise payable in respect of beer brewed in Great Britain Northern Ireland there shall, as from the first day of June, nineteen hundred and twenty-four, be charged, levied, and paid the following duty (that is to say):

£ s. d.
For every thirty-six gallons of worts of a specific gravity of one thousand and fifty-five degrees 3 10 0
and so in proportion for any difference in quantity or gravity.


This Clause has been put down in order to draw attention to the fact that the tax upon beer at the present time is about ten times what it was before the War, and is a very heavy burden upon such members of the community as desire to consume that commodity. Two years ago an Amendment of this sort was put down by some hon. Members who are now supporting the Government, but on that occasion, as it was thought by some who had gone into the figures carefully, that a reduction of ld. a pint could be obtained by a lower reduction of taxation and by some contribution being made by the trade, the Amendment was resisted. Last year a rebate of 20s. was made, and the licensed trade made some allowance out of their profits towards the reduction of 1d. a pint, which was brought into operation. It is felt that if no notice was taken of this high taxation this year, and if the matter was allowed to go entirely by default without any reference being made to it, it might be considered that the people who consume this commodity are satisfied with the price they have to pay. Somebody has said that, at the present time, the article which is sold as beer is made up of three things, water, science and tax, and that the greatest of these is tax. Certainly, far the most expensive part of it is tax. It is desired by those who are interested in this matter that the question should not go entirely by default. In that respect I should like to say that, as my name has appeared in connection with one or two of these Amendments, I have not the slightest interest in the licensed trade, either in the brewing or the public-house trade. In fact, I am fully qualified to be a licensing magistrate, because I have no personal interest in the matter. I realise that a concession was made last year and that no Chancellor of the Exchequer presenting a Budget this year would be able to accept this Amendment, that the amount involved is a very large sum. Therefore, having stated the facts and put in a sort of caveat, I do not propose to move the Amendment.