HC Deb 14 April 1930 vol 237 cc2682-5

Motion made, and Question proposed, That in addition to the duty of Excise now payable in respect of beer brewed in the United Kingdom, there shall on and after the fifteenth day of April, nineteen hundred and thirty, be charged 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, a duty of 0 3 0

and so in proportion for any difference in quantity or gravity.

And it is declared that it is expedient in the public interest that this Resolution shall have statutory effect under the provisions of the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act, 1913."—[Mr. Snowden.]


It is a wise convention which has gradually grown up in our proceedings which renders it unnecessary and inopportune for me at this moment to express any opinion upon the grave and formidable proposals which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has thought it his duty to place before us. For such expression of opinion, there will be ample opportunity. We must have time to consider the full implications and character of what he has just unfolded. We must have time to consider what reactions these proposals will produce, not only upon the affairs of individuals or of classes, but upon the general position of trade and industry throughout this island. For that, I say there will be time enough. And I shall not do what I have sometimes seen done, begin by saying that this is not the time to discuss these matters and allow myself to be tempted piecemeal into touching upon them one after another. There has also grown up a custom which I think should be observed of offering some tribute to the Chancellor of the Exchequer upon the form and mariner of his statement, upon the care and zeal which he has brought to the study of the great problems with which he is concerned. I will also add my congratulations to him upon the manner in which he has so tersely compressed the survey of this vast field into a moderate compass, and, lastly, I congratulate him upon the physical vigour which has enabled him to go through an ordeal which both in the preparation and at the moment is certainly one to tax a man's strength to the full.


I propose to follow the very prudent example of the right hon. Gentleman the late Chancellor of the Exchequer and not in the least endeavour to engage upon any survey or examination of the very important proposals which have been placed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer before the Committee. I should like, first, to see the White Paper and prepare what I have to say in regard to it. Meanwhile, I should like whole-heartedly to Join the late Chancellor of the Exchequer in felicitating the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Committee upon the most admirable statement which the right hon. Gentleman has placed before us. In lucidity and compression it was the same miracle of compression as a six-inch shell, and it had the same shattering detonation in its effect upon some of my hon. Friends on this side of the House. It was very clear. It made complicated finance intelligible to our ears. I congratulate the Chancellor of the Exchequer upon a very fine statement.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

I hope that I shall be in order in raising a matter of detail on the Chancellor of the Exchequer's statement. I do not expect the Chancellor of the Exchequer to stay to hear my remarks, but the point which I desire to raise affects the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. The Chancellor of the Exchequer claimed that none of these new taxes would hamper or affect industry and production. He spoke of the tax on petrol and said that he was not going to increase it by the 2d. per gallon for which the newspapers had prepared the country. I personally thank him for that. I never liked that tax, because I think it is a direct tax on transport. When that tax was first put on it was applied to a number of other oil products, amongst them paraffin—this tax was taken off in four days—white spirit and turpentine. I expected the Chancellor of the Exchequer to give some concession in regard to the two latter taxes.

There was an outcry among the cottage dwelling population when th3 first Petrol Duty was applied to paraffin, and, although paraffin can be used in certain forms of internal combustion engines, the tax was taken off paraffin. It has, however, remained on white which cannot be used in any internal combustion engine, and also on turpentine, which cannot be used for fuel purposes whatsoever. As these taxes remain, I should like to know whether the matter has been considered. The Chancellor of the Exchequer spoke very briefly and concisely, and it may not have been possible for him to mention it. I should like to know whether we can hope for any concession with regard to these taxes in the near future. They represent a very heavy impost on the raw material of an important series of industries, including the paint and colour industry, which is largely represented in my own constituency. This industry, which does a large export trade and gives employment to a great many people at good wages, feels this tax very heavily. We can produce no turpentine in this country, and yet we have to pay 4d. a gallon on imported turpentine which cannot be used in internal combustion engines, while our competitors on the Continent and in America get their turpentine without tax. This is a most mischievous impost in regard to industry and the amount of revenue which it brings in is negligible. It only produces £83,000 in a full year.

I am glad that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer is not waiting to hear this appeal. Before he goes, I should like to congratulate him on the very concise, interesting and statesmanlike speech that he has made. I have to think of the interests of the manufacturers in my constituency who are affected by this particular tax, and would ask the Financial Secretary to the Treasury to give us some hope. The matter will come up on the Finance Bill, and I and a great many other hon. Members of all parties are absolutely pledged in regard to the matter. We have promised our constituents that we will exert every form of legitimate pressure on the Treasury to get the tax removed. Vegetable turpentine cannot be produced here, and this taxation is unjust. In regard to white spirit, the amount involved is rather heavier. The total amount produced by the tax is over £200,000, so I am advised. This white spirit is very largely used in a number of industries and, therefore, the tax is a direct tax on industry and production. It is not necessary, however, to press this matter in detail at the present time. It will be pressed on the Finance Bill, and I ask for the most sympathetic consideration. I hope that the Financial Secretary will be able to say that there will be a rebate. I notice that in the Isle of Man Customs—the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly) will bear me out in this statement, because he can always give expert advice concerning the Manx customs—a rebate has been given this year on imports of white spirit, for the benefit of a small growing industry in the Island. I beg for sympathetic treatment in regard to similar imports into this country. I have not delayed the Committee unduly, and I hope that the Financial Secretary will be able to give a favourable response.

Question put, and agreed to.