§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."1344
§ Mr. McENTEE
With regard to sparkling wine, there is one firm which adopts a practice of making these wines in a manner similar in every respect to that in which they are made in France-and other countries. Grapes are used by this firm in this country and, as a consequence of their being used, there is naturally, a better type of wine produced than that made from the imported sort of stuff called "must." Encouragement should be given to any firm which makes-a real effort in this country to compete successfully with the foreign manufacturer of wine and, where grapes are used, some concession ought to be given so that there may be encouragement to the effort to build up the business of manufacturing an article equal in every respect to wines imported from abroad. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to give this matter his most serious consideration. By fresh grapes being used much better results are achieved and, as a result, we get some of the very best wine manufactured in any part of the world.
§ Mr. MALLALIEU
I do not know whether I caught accurately the remarks of the hon. Member for West Walthamstow (Mr. McEntee), but I understood him to say that there was only one place in this country, and that was in his constituency, where these wines are made on the same process as they are made in France. I cannot allow that statement to go unchallenged, for to my great surprise I found, when this tax was first mooted, that one of the chief places in this country where this sparkling wine was manufactured was within the Colne Valley. I want to put the point to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the basis upon which he is preposing to tax this excellent product of my constituency is entirely wrong. I cannot understand exactly why he is proposing to tax it on the basis that it can possibly compete with Empire wines.
I am informed that this product can never hope to compete with sparkling wines imported from the Empire or from other countries, and never intends to compete with them. The competition of this wine is solely with cider. It is a growing trade, and, if I am right—I have the strongest authoritative information 1345 to the effect—this tax will kill completely the trade in sparkling wines in this country, with the result that the Chancellor will not even get the present tax of 1s. 6d., let alone any increase which he may hope to get from the tax now proposed. My suggestion is he has misconceived the basis of the tax, and that if he proposes to tax this product, a most harmless product in its effect on the heads of those who make it, even less harmful than cider, it should be on a basis comparable with cider, and not with other sparkling wines. I hope he will consider that suggestion before Report stage and make some substantial reduction, in the amount of the tax, so as to put this sparkling wine more on a level with cider, with which I am informed it competes.
§ 7.17 p.m.
It is a little difficult to avoid mentioning names in a discussion of this kind when hon. Members are pushing the virtues of the wines made in their political constituency, but may I inform the hon. Member for the Colne Valley (Mr. Mallalieu) that the sparkling wines which I have in mind, the origin of which I will not name, and which are likely to produce a revenue to the Exchequer, are not wines which can be said to compete with cider. The sparkling wine which I have in mind is sold at 6s. 6d. per bottle, and any wine sold at 6s. 6d. a bottle cannot be said to compete with cider. The hon. Member for West Walthamstow (Mr. McEntee) has asked me to distinguish between wine made from grapes and wine made from mush. I have not to look at the origin of the wine, but as it appears as a sparkling wine which competes with sparkling wines imported from the Continent. I have to safeguard the revenue I obtain from sparkling wines coming from the Continent, and I cannot make an exception in favour of a particular kind of wine simply on the ground that it is made from imported grapes instead of imported mush. I do not apprehend what it is that the hon. Member desires to encourage, whether it is the production of wines from imported grapes rather than imported mush; but if he will give me some particulars about the matter I shall be happy to look into it.
§ Mr. MALLALIEU
I was not addressing my remarks to any eider which may be sold at 6s. 6d. per bottle. The sparkling wine of which I was thinking is an excellent wine sold at 9d. per quarter bottle, and which, therefore, competes only with cider. In regard to that type of wine I hope he will consider the point.
§ Clauses 8 (Power of Treasury to vary silk duties,) 9 (Repayment of Customs duty where goods returned by importer) and 10 (Valuation of goods for purpose of all ad valorem duties) ordered to stand part of the Bill.