HC Deb 26 June 1928 vol 219 cc449-53

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."


May I ask for examples of how this bears on the present state of the law?


The brewer at present has a right to deposit beer in a bonded warehouse for export without paying duty. Under this Clause, he receives a drawback of duty, which has already been charged, upon taking it out. Duty will be paid and given back instead of beer being put into store upon which duty has not been paid.


I regret that the explanation is quite inadequate. It does not deal with the various points raised by this Clause. I see that the Clause says that a dealer in beer will be entitled to add to the beer in the warehouse finings; for classification or any other substance sanctioned by the Commissioners for the purposes of preparing the beer for exportation or use as ships' stores, I do not profess to be an expert in beer. I would not claim that my knowledge of beer is more extensive than my knowledge of the Prayer Book. We ought to ask what is meant by those "finings." Authority has been given to dealers in beer to add some foreign substance to the beer. I want to know whether it is a harmful thing or not. It may be said that this is no concern of ours because the beer is beer for export or the use of ships' stores. I have always regarded myself as a friend of the seamen of this country. I do not want to see them have foisted upon them beer which may have been adulterated. I go further and say I am an Internationalist. I do not view with equanimity the possibility of adulterated beer being sent abroad to be consumed by all sorts of nationals. I do ask the Financial Secretary, who, I am sure, has complete knowledge of the subject, to get up and let us have a little more knowledge before we pass the Clause.


When the Financial Secretary replies, could he also give us some idea of the effect of this proposal, if any, upon the revenue? Is it going to mean more money into the Exchequer or less?


This country has a very lucrative and excellent business in the export of beer to His Majesty's Dominions beyond the sea, and, if this clarification would spoil the beer, we should not be able to sell it. It is to the interest of the brewers to see that the beer is wholesome and as pleasant as the customers like it. If it were of the nature of adulteration, the Minister of Health would not permit anything of the kind to take place. As to the question raised by the hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Beckett), if I cannot say that the change will bring revenue into the Exchequer, I think I can say that it will prevent a loss which we think does take place from time to time under the old system.


I think the hon. Member said that the change from the previous state of the law was that under this Clause the duty will be paid on beer when it is put into bond and returned when it is taken out for export, whereas previously the beer was put into bond without the duty being paid.


That is roughly right.


As I understand the equity of this business, the beer which is put into bond for export does not morally owe any revenue to the Government at all, because it was from the start doomed to export. Let me take those rich varieties of stout, which I understand are included in the term beer, which are sent to India for the use of invalids and others. They are much heavier and richer than ordinary stout, I am told. When beer has from the first been foredoomed to export, has the Revenue any right to collect money in respect of it at all? The hon. Member will say that it is perfectly true that beer put into bond and later exported has the rebate paid afterwards, but the hon. Member may have had the use of that money for two, three, four, five, or six months. The Government will be drawing interest on the money deposited, and never from first to last will they have had the slightest claim on the brewer. We all know that the brewer is a person engaged in a struggling industry; hardly, in some circumstances, able to keep his head above water. Yet here is the hon. Member coming down and saying: "You who brew this stimulating beverage for the sake of the Britishers in the far corners of the earth, although you do not owe any tax to us, we will charge you a certain amount in case you do not export this beer in the end; and, even if you do, although we have no moral right to the money, we shall have had it for months and have drawn interest on it." When the drawback or rebate is eventually paid back to the person who stored the beer in bond, will there be added interest for the period the Government have had the money?




I do not want to detain the Committee at this time, because I do not think that a subject like this ought to be dealt with after hours, but I do think that the Financial Secretary to the Treasury is very meagre in the information which he gives us. As the brewers are going to get considerable rating relief, I do not feel particularly inclined to worry if they have to pay a little more in taxation, but I do want to be quite sure that this process, which seems to be rather complicated, is not going to cost at least as much to carry through as the problematic interest and revenue which the hon. Member for West Walthamstow (Mr. Crawfurd) is afraid that the struggling brewer will have to pay. If there be one thing that is dear to the hearts of the majority of Members of this House, it is to keep the red tape of State enterprise from interfering with the sacred rights of private enterprise, but, if we are to have State officials interfering, with forms to fill up in order to persuade the Government Department to grant a drawback, the Committee are running a serious risk of restricting enterprise, and preventing us from conquering those great foreign markets and sending beer to the Dominions to provide Englishmen oversea with their true national draughts. Unless they are going to get some little additional revenue it is not worth while creating a fresh department, with a good many fresh jobs and a number of fresh forms to fill in, in order to draw money from a section of the community one day and pay it back shortly afterwards.

Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 140; Noes. 61.

Division No. 205.] AVES. [3.39 a.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Buchan, John Dawson, Sir Philip
Albery, Irving James Bullock, Captain M. Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert
Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l) Butler, Sir Geoffrey Edmondson, Major A. J.
Applin, Colonel R. V. K. Carver, Major W. H. Elliot, Major Walter E.
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.) Ellis, R. G.
Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover) Christie, J. A. Everard, W. Lindsay
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer Fairfax, Captain J. G.
Bethel, A. Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George Falle, Sir Bertram G.
Birchall, Major J. Dearman Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips Finburgh, S.
Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton) Cooper, A. Duff Fraser, Captain Ian
Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.) Cope, Major Sir William Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.
Blundell, F. N. Couper, J. B. Gadie, Lieut.-Colonel Anthony
Boothby, R. J. G. Courtauld, Major J. S. Ganzoni, Sir John
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L. Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John
Bowyer, Captain G. E. W. Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro) Glyn, Major R. G. C.
Braithwaite, Major A. N. Dalkeith, Earl of Goff, Sir Park
Briscoe, Richard George Davidson, Major-General Sir John H. Gunston, Captain D. W.
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)
Hammersley, S. S. Margesson, Captain D. Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
Hannan, Patrick Joseph Henry Mason, Colonel Glyn K. Spender-Clay, Colonel H.
Harland, A. Merriman, Sir F. Boyd Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Rt. Hon. G. F.
Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent) Milne, J. S. Wardlaw Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Harrison, G. J. C. Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M. Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)
Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M. Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C. Steel, Major Samuel Strang
Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley) Nall, Colonel Sir Joseph Storry-Deans, R.
Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P. Neville, Sir Reginald J. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J. Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Sugden, Sir Wilfrid
Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N. Oakley, T. Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, S.)
Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings) Tinne, J. A.
Hudson, R. S. (Cumberl'nd, Whiteh'n) Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple) Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Iliffe, Sir Edward M. Power, Sir John Cecil Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H. Preston, William Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.
King, Commodore Henry Douglas Radford, E. A. Wallace, Captain D. E.
Lamb, J. Q. Raine, Sir Walter Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.
Lister, Cunliffe, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Ramsden, E. Warrender, Sir Victor
Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley) Reid, Capt. Cunningham (Warrington) Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Loder, J. de V. Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ls'y) Watts, Sir Thomas
Long, Major Eric Roberts, Sir Samuel (Hereford) Wells, S. R.
Lougher, Lewis Ropner, Major L. Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)
Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A. Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)
Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham) Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)
Lumley, L. R. Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney) Womersley, W. J.
Lynn, Sir R. J. Sandeman, N. Stewart Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'dge & Hyde)
MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen Sanders, Sir Robert A. Wragg, Herbert
Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.) Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustavo D.
McLean, Major A. Savery, S. S. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Macmillan, Captain H. Shepperson, E. W. Mr. Penny and Captain Viscount Curzon.
MacRobert, Alexander M. Slaney, Major P. Kenyon
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Grundy, T. W. Purcell, A. A.
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Hardie, George D. Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)
Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro') Hayday, Arthur Scurr, John
Batey, Joseph Henderson, T. (Glasgow) Sitch, Charles, H.
Beckett, John (Gateshead) Hirst, G. H. Slesser, Sir Henry H.
Bromfield, William Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield) Thurtle, Ernest
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute) Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd) Tinker, John Joseph
Buchanan, G. Kelly, W. T. Townend, A. E.
Charleton, H. C. Kennedy, T. Varley, Frank B.
Compton, Joseph Lawson, John James Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities) Lunn, William Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Crawfurd, H. E. Mackinder, W. Wellock, Wilfred
Dalton, Hugh MacLaren, Andrew Westwood, J.
Day, Harry Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan) Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.
Dunnico, H. Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton) Whiteley, W.
Edge, Sir William Murnin, H. Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Fenby, T. D. Oliver, George Harold Windsor, Walter
Gibbins, Joseph Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan) Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Gillett, George M. Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne) Potts, John S. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Mr. Paling and Mr. Hayes.