HC Deb 16 June 1925 vol 185 cc389-91

"As from the thirty-first day of August, nineteen hundred and twenty-five, the duties chargeable upon sugar, molasses, glucose, and saccharin, in pursuance of Sections four and five of the Finance Act, 1924, and the First Schedule to that Act, shall cease."—[Mr. W. M. Adamson.]

Brought up, and read the First time.


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

There is not time to enter into details on this question, but in the moment or two that are at my disposal I would point out that the relevant Clause in this year's Budget contains two references, one to the 1919 Act, dealing with Colonial Preference, and another to the Finance Act of last year. I hold the opinion that the Clause dealing with Preference is an infringement of the Rights of Parliament, because it extends for a period of 10 years and to some extent stabilises Customs Duties which the House of Commons is entitled to modify, reduce or increase every year, or, as we hope, even to abolish. It must be obvious to the Treasury that if for a period of 10 years these preferences are to be given upon Colonially-produced sugar, it would be impossible for any future Chancellor of the Exchequer to repeal those duties during that period of 10 years. It is certainly going to be very difficult for a future Chancellor of the Exchequer to do other than continue what might be the stabilised Customs Duties on sugar. I hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will deal with this matter more fully than he did when it was last discussed in the early hours of the morning. I would like to recall the main points in the history of the Sugar Duty so that we may appreciate more fully the position in which the Budget places us. A Clause of the Finance Bill refers to the 1924 Act. It is timely to remind the House of what took place with regard to the reduction of Sugar Duties in the Budget of last year. The duty per cwt. of sugar was reduced from 25s. 8d. to 11s. 8d. That was a reduction of the Customs Duty upon a lb. of sugar from 2¾d. to 1¼d., or a reduction of 1½d. a lb. That was done at a loss to the revenue of—

It being a quarter past Bight of the Clock, and there being Private Business set down by direction of the Chairman of Ways and Means, under Standing Order No. 8, further Proceeding was postponed without Question put.