§ 37. Sir W. DAVISON
asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether the duties now imposed on products from the Irish Free State entering this country are sufficient to make good the loss suffered by the British taxpayer by reason of the default of the Irish Free State on the land annuities; if not, what is the amount outstanding; and what action he proposes to take in the matter?
The SECRETARY of STATE for DOMINION AFFAIRS (Mr. J. H. Thomas)
The total default of the Irish Free State for the period up to the 1st April, 1933, was £4,774,000, and for the period 1st April-30th November, 1933, £2,579,000. The total amount collected in duties on imports from the Irish Free State, under the Irish Free State (Special Duties) Act and the Import Duties Act, was, for the period to the 1st April, 1933, approximately £2,518,000. For the period 1st April-25th November, 1933, the amount collected in duties was £3,034,000. With regard to the last part of the question, I would refer to the reply which I gave on the 30th November, to the hon. Member for Southampton (Mr. Craven-Ellis).
§ Mr. THORNE
Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that the consumers in this country have to pay that difference?
I do not know about that, but I know that if we do not collect the moneys due to us we are like a trade union and someone has to pay.
§ Sir W. DAVISON
Will my right hon. Friend consider increasing these duties, 1295 in view of the fact that there is some £2,000,000 difference between what is owed to us and what we have received?
I suggest to my hon. Friend that he should look again at the figures. He must remember that we did not impose the duties for some time after the default, because we still hoped and believed that the Irish Free State would meet its obligations. My hon. Friend will see from the latter part of the answer that we are getting our dues. I want to emphasise clearly now that we are concerned with getting the money due to this country rather than with imposing any hardship on the Irish Free State.