§ 11.19 p.m.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD of TRADE (Dr. Burgin)
I beg to move,That the Additional Import Duties (No. 7) Order, 1934, dated the nineteenth day of March, nineteen hundred and thirty-four, made by the Treasury under the Import Duties Act, 1932, a copy of which was presented to this House on the said nineteenth day of March, nineteen hundred and thirty-four, be approved.I would suggest that this Order and the two following Orders—Orders 7, 9 and 10—might be covered by one discussion, on the understanding that there will be an opportunity for a Division on each Order separately. The three Orders are specific. No. 7 Order is merely a question of a definition; there is no alteration of the duty. No. 9 Order increases the duty on drums and barrels of iron or steel, and No. 10 Order actually reduces the duty. It substitutes for the existing specific duty an ad valorem duty. Theoretically to change a specified duty to an ad valorem duty might quite possibly increase the duty but as a matter of fact in this case it is reduced. Hon. Members will notice that No. 8 Order is not included, that is because it removes a duty. No. 7 Order deals will all forms of poultry liver, and its object is to find an additional duty of 20 per cent. on the luxury of paté de foie gras. If anyone wishes to object to that he can do so in a moment. With regard to Order No. 9, the reference to drums and barrels of iron and steel is a comparatively small matter, 856 but they are containers of merchandise and there is a home manufacture of hollowware of wrought iron and steel which could quite easily take up the home market. It is intended to stop the importation of foreign kegs of iron and steel at ridiculously low prices. The third Order is to vary the duty on fireproof non-vitrified earthenware cooking utensils, or, in other words, casseroles, and it reduces the existing specific duty of 25s. per cent. to an ad valorem duty of 33⅓ per cent. I do not think that anybody will want me to say another word about these duties, beginning with liver and ending with casseroles, and I have no doubt that the House will want to give me the three Orders.
§ 11.23 p.m.
§ Mr. DAVID GRENFELL
I do not rise to challenge the hon. Members right to do what he likes with these Orders but to protest against their being taken at this hour of the night, covering as they do a variety of articles, and with such meagre information as the hon. Member has given. The House has solid ground for complaint. These Orders change considerably the rate of tariff imposed on a whole range of commodities brought into this country. They may be unimportant taken separately, but in the aggregate they account for a considerable volume of trade, and no explanation has been given to the House. We were promised an opportunity for discussing the report and recommendations of the Advisory Committee, but in a somnolent House, tired after an exciting day's Debate, these Orders are placed before us without any opportunity of discussion, and, apparently, without any desire that they should be discussed. The hon. Gentleman has said 857 that he invites any one to object to the additional duty upon foi gras in Order No. 7. I am not very much concerned about that additional duty. It is a consolation to me to know that the unemployed in any case will not have to pay any more for it, as it is not one of their staple articles of diet. But we are entitled, having regard to the effect on poultry production, to know what is the volume of trade in poultry liver and how much is being imported in the form of poultry and meat pastes, how much is poultry liver mixed and not mixed, and how much is in the form of sausages.
§ Dr. BURGIN
Before I can answer that proper question, perhaps the hon. Member will tell me whether he means cooked or uncooked?
§ Mr. GRENFELL
These Orders are cooked in such a mysterious way that it is difficult to follow them. We find all these things lumped together, and I have not the faintest idea how much poultry liver is imported, where it is consumed, or how much it costs; but the duty is 30 per cent. I do not protest against that high rate of duty, for I do not see why we should pander to the luxurious appetites of people who do not find sufficient sustaining food at home. But one is entitled to information. Is it not possible to produce poultry liver at home in competition with the foreign product?
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade has explained the absence of Order No. 8. Let us come to Order No. 9. We find an additional duty is to be charged on drums and barrels of iron and steel. There is no information given here. What number of drums or barrels of steel is imported? What proportions do the imported barrels and drums bear to the home-produced article, and why do we now find, after the duties have been in operation, that we have to raise the duty further? Is this part of a general campaign for rendering negative the 10 per cent. standard duty which was fixed? We shall go on from stage to stage, not with a 10 per cent. general duty, but with a very high duty creeping up from 10 per cent. It is the introduction of Protection piecemeal after eleven o'clock at night when no one is looking on and there is no opportunity for debating the matter. It is changing the whole basis and incidence of the protective duties. We 858 protest very strongly indeed, and we ask the Government to give us a fuller opportunity for discussion. There is the name of Sir George May, and there are the names of two hon. Gentlemen who represent His Majesty's Household—quite honourable names, but no information. We do not know for what these drums are to be used. It may be early yet to beat the drums for the Conservative party. We would like to have much more information on Order No. 9, and, particularly, I would like to know in round figures the volume and value respectively of the home production and the importation of drums and barrels.
We now turn to that very useful household utensil, a casserole, and it very properly comes together with an Order dealing with poultry liver, which is probably cooked en casserole. Under Order No. 7 liver is to be raised in price; under Order No. 10 casseroles are to be made cheaper. I would like the hon. Gentleman to tell us whether this kind of non-vitreous ware can be adequately manufactured in this country and if not, is that fact due to the lack of suitable raw material or the lack of experience in manufacture or any special cause? The duty of 23⅓ per cent. is, I gather, supposed to be less than the 10 per cent. plus 25s. per cwt. which was the previous rate of duty. Has the hon. Gentleman any guarantee that when this has been changed, and when the rate of duty established at 23⅓ per cent. instead of 10 per cent. plus 25s. per cwt. that will not in fact mean an increase rather than a reduction in the duty? If the hon. Gentleman will answer the points which I have raised, we shall content ourselves on this occasion by protesting against the introduction of these Orders in this way, and with such scanty information, and we shall reserve to a further opportunity a general debate on the issues raised by these Orders.
§ 11.34 p.m.
§ Dr. BURGIN
I can only with the consent of the House reply to the absorbing interrogatory which has been addressed to me by the hon. Member. He asks me, can we not make pâté de foie gras at home, and the answer is Yes, but in order to do so we require a large quantity of raw foreign poultry livers. So this definition excludes from the operation of the duty raw poultry liver 859 and only subjects to the 20 per cent. duty, liver that has already been made into paste. We, therefore, are helping our local industry by importing the raw material but putting the duty on the manufactured article. That is in accordance with the ordinary practice of this country. The hon. Gentleman is one of the few who have had anything to do with military service who has asked for further particulars of No. 9. This Order deals with drums used for oils, greases, paints, and chemicals. There is a very highly developed local manufacture. Foreign imports are comparatively small. I have particulars of kegs and drums showing that they are something like a few hundred tons a month, of the value of between £2,000 and £3,000. The local manufacture is something between 20,000 and 30,000 tons, together with a further unknown quantity of the value of something like £600,000. With regard to the casseroles, there is a local manufacture, and I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the change in the duty will not amount to an increase, but will amount to a reduction.
That the Additional Import Duties (No. 7) Order, 1934, dated the nineteenth
day of March, nineteen hundred and thirty-four, made by the Treasury under the Import Duties Act, 1932, a copy of which was presented to this House on the said nineteenth day of March, nineteen hundred and thirty-four, be approved.
That the Additional Import Duties (No. 9) Order, 1934, dated the twenty-seventh day of March, nineteen hundred and thirty-four, made by the Treasury under the Import Duties Act, 1932, a copy of which was presented to this House on the said twenty-seventh day of March, nineteen hundred and thirty-four, be approved.
That the Additional Import Duties (No. 10) Order, 1934, dated the third day of April, nineteen hundred and thirty-four, made by the Treasury under the Import Duties Act, 1932, a copy of which was presented to this House on the ninth day of April, nineteen hundred and thirty-four, be approved."—[Dr. Burgin.]
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.
§ It being after Half-past Eleven of the Clock, Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House, without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.
§ Adjourned at Twenty-four Minutes before Twelve o'Clock.