§ 53. Captain BOWYER
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that a considerable number of workers in the motor industry have already been dismissed, and that others are now working a short week of seven hours a day, as a consequence of the threatened repeal of the McKenna Duties; and what steps the Government propose to take to find fresh employment for the men thus dismissed and thrown into unemployment?
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of LABOUR (Miss Bondfield)
I have been asked to reply. I have seen statements of prospective dismissals of workers in the motor industry. Some suspensions or cases of organised short-time working attributed to the repeal of these duties have been reported to the Employment Exchanges, but the evidence so far available does not satisfy me that the effect will be so great as has been alleged.
§ Captain BOWYER
Might I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps 2002 he is taking, in collaboration with other Ministers, to help those men who have been deliberately thrown into unemployment?
§ 55. Lieut. - Colonel HOWARD - BURY
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that, in view of the repeal of the McKenna Duties, large numbers of foreign watches, clocks, and motor cars are being re-exported out of the country with a view to their re-importation free of duty after 1st August; and whether he can state the amount of money that the Exchequer will be called upon to refund in consequence of this?
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
Under Section 13 (1) of the Finance (No. 2) Act, 1915, on proof to the satisfaction of the Commissioners of Customs and Excise that an article on which a new import duty has been paid has been exported as merchandise, a drawback equal to the amount of duty paid is allowable, provided the article has not been used in Great Britain or Ireland. I am unable to forecast the extent to which advantage may be taken of this provision in connection with the abolition of the duties as from 1st August, but I would point out that it is obviously limited to the excess of the duty paid stocks in the hands of merchants over the expected consumption up to 1st August after which fresh importations will be available free of duty.
§ Lieut.-Colonel HOWARD-BURY
Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether this liability will be in addition to the 2½ millions he has thrown away?
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
No; because, as a matter of fact, we have already, since the end of the financial year, collected upon those duties practically the Estimate.
§ 59. Brigadier-General MAKINS
asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether, in view of the great importance of correct information to the motor industry in this country, he will reconsider whether it is possible to supply the desired guidance as to the number of light cars placed by the Disposal Board on the market since the Armistice?
As stated in my reply to the hon. and gallant Gentleman on the 8th May, I regret that, with the 2003 depleted staffs at present available, it is not possible to undertake this work, which would involve an examination, not only of accounts at home for a period of 5½ years, but also accounts in respect of Iraq, India, Salonika and other theatres of war.
§ Brigadier-General MAKINS
Will the hon. Gentleman undertake not again to use the argument in regard to these 60,000 commercial cars in connection with the McKenna Duties since he refuses to give the information asked for?
I could not promise to do that; I am very anxious to meet the hon. and gallant Gentleman, but the difficulty here is that the information simply cannot be obtained.