§ 9.20 p.m.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
I beg to move, in page 7, to leave out lines 27 to 29.
Sub-section (1) of this Clause deals with certain provisions as to goods becoming, or ceasing to be, exempt from the general ad valorem duty and what in that event shall happen as regards orders imposing additional duties to the ad valorem duty, and it lays down that in those cases the additional duty shall cease to have effect as respects the goods when they cease to be chargeable to the general ad, valorem duty. I understand that that provision is made because the provisions of the original Act are not clear as regards what shall happen in such an event. Then comes the proviso that we wish to omit, which is as follows:Provided that nothing in this subsection shall affect the provisions of proviso (b) to subsection (4) of section one of the Ottawa Agreements Act, 1932.I find it a little difficult to find out why it should affect the provisions of the Ottawa Agreements Act and, therefore, what the object of this proviso is. Section 1 of the Ottawa Agreements Act, 1932, is the Section which gives power to make a charge of Customs duty on 688 certain specified goods, and Sub-section (4) says:Subject to the provisions of this Act, the duties of customs chargeable on any goods under this section shall be charged in addition to any other duties of customs for the time being chargeable thereon or on any of the components thereof "—which means that the Ottawa duties would be in addition to the general ad valorem duty and in addition to an additional duty, if there were one. Then comes the proviso, which is under two sub-heads. Paragraph (a) is as follows:(a) nothing in this subsection shall affect the provisions of paragraph (a) of subsection (2) of section one of the Import Duties Act, 1932 (which exempts from the general ad valorem duty certain goods for the time being chargeable with a duty of customs by or under any enactment other than that "Act) "—which means to say that you are now dealing with a proviso to a Sub-section which itself is a proviso which is dealing with the Act under which this, as an Amendment, is purporting to deal with a Customs duty. We have now gone round the circle, as it were, twice, and I am not quite certain—perhaps the hon. Gentleman opposite will tell me—at what point we have arrived, whether we have got back to where we started or only halfway back. Then you proceed with the second proviso, and this is the one which is not to affect Clause 10, Sub-section (1) of the present Bill, namely:(b) while any goods are chargeable with duty under this section, any order in force under the Import Duties Act, 1932 "—689 that would be an ad valorem duty or an additional duty—at the date when those goods become so chargeable "—that is, under the Ottawa Act—shall, if and so far as it imposes an additional duty on those goods, cease to have effect.That is to say, as I understand it, that although the Ottawa Agreements Act imposes a duty in addition to any other duty, this says that if there is an additional duty, this shall not be in addition to the additional duty; in other words, that this shall take the place of the additional duty. In these circumstances I fail to understand why this proviso is necessary, because it says nothing shall affect the provisions in proviso B of Sub-section (4). Nothing can conceivably affect the provisions, because all we are dealing with is Clause 10, Sub-section (1). Therefore, it is meaningless to say that a Clause only dealing with an ad valorem duty shall not affect another proviso dealing with other duties altogether. The proviso only serves to cause confusion. This is one of the best bits of legislation by reference. By the time the ordinary trader had studied this Section, I think he would form another problem for the Minister of Health.
§ 9.26 p.m.
§ Mr. HORE-BELISHA
The ordinary trader should be more than usually grateful to my hon. and learned Friend for having elucidated that which is somewhat complicated. The Sub-section, as the hon. and learned Member, following it closely, will appreciate, is aimed at securing that any additional duty on goods under the Import Duties Act will cease when those goods become free from the basic duty. The case we have more particularly in mind is when goods are put on the Free List. Goods on the Free List are obviously in a different category from goods subject to Ottawa duties. The proviso referred to says that:while any goods are chargeable with duty under this Section, any Order in force under the Import Duties Act, 1932, at the date when these goods become so chargeable shall, if and so far as it imposes an additional duty on these goods, cease to have effect.In other words, there is a plain distinction between goods put on the Free List, with the intention of keeping them on the Free List permanently, and goods 690 relieved temporarily by virtue of the fact that they come under the Ottawa Agreements Act. If put on the Free List, they shall be permanently free from additional duties; if they come under the Ottawa duties, as in the case of plums, additional duty shall revive as soon as the Ottawa duties lapse.
§ 9.29 p.m.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
I am afraid I do not understand this explanation of Clause 10, Sub-section (1). It does not deal with the Ottawa Agreements at all. Why is it necessary to put in a proviso that it shall not affect the Ottawa Agreements if it does not affect them? Sub-section (4) of Clause 5 of the Ottawa Agreements Act is not a charging Sub-section at all. All that it says is that while goods are chargeable under the Ottawa Agreements Act, the additional duty shall not be charged. If it is intended here to preserve some charge made under the Ottawa Agreements Act, surely a proviso in the form of preserving a charge, not an exception, is all that is required. With great respect, surely it cannot be the intention to preserve the proviso and not the charge.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ Mr. HORE-BELISHA
The hon. and learned Gentleman has made himself as clear as I have. The first part of the Section deals more particularly with goods on the Free List. Owing to a curious lacuna in the law, goods subject to additional duty put on the Free List are not freed from additional duty without express order, and we desire to remove an obvious omission in the law. Goods subject to the Ottawa duties shall be subject once again to additional duty at the moment the Ottawa duties lapse—that is the whole point of this Section and proviso. I trust that I have made myself plain.
§ 9.31 p.m.
§ Major MILNER
I do not think the hon. Gentleman has made himself plain at all. He will forgive me, but I think he has put the Committee in a complete fog. The hon. Gentleman speaks of so many different things, the ad valorem duties, additional duties, articles on the Free List and yet not on the Free List, duties under the Import Duties Act, lacunae, plums and half-a-dozen other things. As I understand the position, Subsection (1) of Clause 10 merely says, when ad valorem duty falls 691 additional duties will similarly fall. What possible relation has the proviso to proviso (6), sub-section (4) of Section 1 of the Ottawa Agreements Act, 1932? That proviso, as I understand it, says that when the Ottawa duties come into force, then existing duties under the Import Duties Act shall cease to have effect. What relation has a provision affecting an additional duty with an ad valorem duty, to the fact that when the Ottawa Agreements Act comes into effect imports duty shall have no effect? That is where the lacuna is. There is no relation between the two provisos. I would ask the hon. Gentleman to be good enough to make the matter more clear, if that be possible.
§ 9.34 p.m.
§ Mr. HORE-BELISHA
I am only too ready to respond to the Member for South East Leeds (Major Milner). When goods subject both to an ad valorem and additional duty are put on the Free List, they still remain owing to some omission in the law, liable to additional duty. That is an obvious mistake in the original Act, and it is that which we desire to rectify, providing at the same time that the change in the law shall not affect the Ottawa position. If goods liable both to ad valorem and additional duty come for a time under the Ottawa Agreements Act, the mere fact that they come under it shall not prevent the ad valorem and additional duty from reviving when the Ottawa Agreements Act ceases to apply. I trust that is perfectly clear.
§ Amendment negatived.