HC Deb 15 November 1934 vol 293 c2128
23. Mr. THORP

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the reasons for the instructions given to the various customs houses that the import duties on hardwoods shall be paid on the American lumber code price or the contract price, whichever is the higher; if he is aware that this American lumber code price has been declared illegal by the courts in the United States, at Memphis, Tennessee, that this code price is not now operating, and that purchases are being made by timber merchants in the United Kingdom at 10 per cent. to 20 per cent. below this code price; and if, in view of the fact that this in effect is an increased import duty on timber arriving from the United States and therefore discriminates against that country, he will give the necessary orders to have this instruction cancelled?

The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Chamberlain)

The statutory value for duty of imported goods is the price an importer would give in the open market, which is not necessarily the same thing as the price a particular importer has actually given. On the information before me the decision of the Memphis court is not correctly described in the statement of my hon. Friend, and there appear to have been decisions by other courts upholding the legality of the Code prices. There appears, however, to be some reason to think that the Code prices are not at present generally operative, and accordingly, until the position is clarified, the Customs will not apply them in fixing values. There is no question of discriminating against the United States of America.