HC Deb 08 December 1931 vol 260 cc1763-5

I beg to move, in page 3, to leave out lines 40 to 42.

The lines we wish to delete read: Subject to compliance with such conditions as to the security for the re-exportation of the articles as the Commissioners of Customs and Excise may impose. We desire an explanation on this particular point. The Minister of Agriculture, dealing with the Bill yesterday, skipped over this Clause very lightly. He did not explain much about it. In fact, the only words he used were: Clause 5 exempts from duty articles imported for re-exportation after transit or shipment."—[OFFFICIAL REPORT, 7th December, 1931; col. 1541, Vol. 260.] That was all he said in reference to this Clause, and I take it he expected some questions would arise during the Committee stage which would give him a further chance to state what the Clause means. We on these benches are not quite satisfied that it ought to be left in the hands of the Commissioners of Customs and Excise, because we think the matter is much too important, and that the Minister himself should be the person to determine the articles that are for re-exportation. We also wish to know the terms and conditions which will govern these particular items, because in the previous Act, the Abnormal Importations (Customs Duties) Act, there is some difficulty at the present time. We wish to make sure that no similar difficulty arises in regard to this Measure. It is for those reasons that we are anxious that the Minister should give a fuller explanation of the position. and then, if he satisfies us, probably the Amendment may not be pressed to a Division.

7.0 p.m.


This Clause, as I think the hon. Gentleman realises, is identical with Section 5 of the Abnormal Importations (Customs Duties) Act. As far as I know, all those who deal in any goods which are subject from time to time to Customs and Excise, and all those who operate transport or transshipment are fully aware of the circumstances and the methods employed. There is nothing new here, and the power is essential if the provisions in relation to transport and transhipment of goods are to be operated at all. It is quite clear that we cannot accept the Amendment suggested. I hope the hon. Gentleman will realise that this is not a new method in dealing with these matters, that it is in actual operation at the present time and is well understood by those who come under it.


The right hon. Gentleman will appreciate that already vexatious and troublesome conditions have been imposed on traders under the Abnormal Importations Act. While the right hon. Gentleman suggested that there was nothing new in the wording of this Clause, it is a new innovation to put an import duty on imported foods such as are mentioned in the Schedule. The right hon. Gentleman will recognise that if in the hard industrials import duties have been troublesome, with regard to vegetables and fresh fruit, unless the right hon. Gentleman takes every precaution to see that the work is made smooth and is facilitated rather than harassed, one can readily understand that disturbance is bound to take place where there is any re-exportation of any of these articles. All we ask the right hon. Gentleman to do is to make doubly sure that the conditions when made will be such as to facilitate re-exportation rather than create trouble and disturbance in the trade. If the right hon. Gentleman assures us that everything that can be done will be done to make conditions decent and smooth, we shall not press this Amendment.


Of course, I give that assurance at once. It is not the desire either of myself or of those who will operate the machinery to cause unnecessary trouble, and I shall certainly see that everything possible is done.


On that understanding, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 6 (Short title, construction and extent) ordered to stand part of the Bill.

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