HC Deb 04 July 1933 vol 280 cc148-9

asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs what bounty is paid by the Irish Free State Government on butter exported from that Dominion into the United Kingdom; what duty had been imposed thereon before the grant of the bounty; and whether this duty has been increased in proportion to the said bounty?


The Irish Free State Government announced that as from the 1st April, 1933, a subsidy would be paid on butter. The general effect of the arrangement is, I understand, designed to afford to the Irish Free State exporter a return of 130s. per cwt. on creamery butter and a somewhat lower price on farm butter. This arrangement replaces a previous subsidy (somewhat lower in amount) granted as from the 1st August, 1932. The duty imposed in the United Kingdom under the Special Duties Act on butter imparted from the Irish Free State was at the rate of 20 per cent. ad valorem as from the 15th July, 1932. This rate was increased to 30 per cent. ad valorem as from the 9th November, 1932. In addition a duty of 10 per cent. ad valorem has been charged as from the 15th November, 1932, under the Import Duties Act, 1932.


Does it not amount to this, that the Free State exporter of butter to this country now receives about 30s. per cwt. more than he used to receive before any duties were put on in the United Kingdom against Irish Free State butter; and, if so, why has not the right hon. Gentleman kept his policy up-to-date?


The policy from the commencement was not to introduce any protective tariff, either for the benefit of Northern Ireland or of this country, but to obtain, as far as we could, the revenue due to this country. That has been the main and the only consideration.


Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that the result so far has been to improve the prospect of the exporter of Irish Free State butter into this country by 30s. per cwt.; and will he not, at all events, maintain the status qua ante before any duties were put on at all ?


I will, in all these matters, consider one question only—how to obtain for British taxpayers money to which we believe they are entitled.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a cwt. of Free State butter, sold in Dublin at 132s., is now being sold in Belfast at 78s. Does he consider that that is a reasonable state of affairs ?


Has the right hon. Gentleman had any interview recently with Mr. de Valera about outstanding questions; and why does he not put his trade union principles into operation by blending and bending the differences with a view to ending the dispute.?


I have had no meeting direct or indirect, with Mr. de Valera. I have stated publicly across the Floor of the House, that the British Government have never closed the door. So far as my trade union principles are concerned, I have always associated myself with the hon. Member in securing the rights of those entitled to them. In this case, it is British rights that I am fighting for.