HC Deb 22 April 1947 vol 436 cc918-9

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."

Mr. Assheton

There have been certain comments on the preferential duty in the course of our discussion, and we should like to hear the view of the Solicitor-General on this Resolution.

The Solicitor-General

Drawback rates are increased correspondingly, subject to this, that there are increases of three-pence in the case of stalks ranging up to Is. a pound in the case of cigarettes. Hon. Members will be able to make the calculations from the Tables in the Resolution. The margins are fixed as being adequate to compensate the home manufacturer for the expense to which he is put in having to handle the duty payable.

A considerable element is the expense of interest on the money he has to allow to pay the duty before he gets it back when the drawback is paid. It is in regard to that sort of expense that it has been thought appropriate to put the manufacturer in a position in which he can reimburse himself for the extra expenditure which is occasioned.

Mr. C. Williams

It is a pity that we should have this Resolution. I should not like it to go through without some of us expressing our grave doubts whether, in this matter, we are dealing altogether fairly with those whom it may concern. I quite realise that there are difficulties of negotiations and other matters at the present time, and I have no wish to prevent our being receptive to any proposal, but it is most discouraging that there should not be a more adequate margin, because of the height of the duty, than the one we have at present. It is typical of what is happening today. We are promised something; then comes a Resolution, with only a very narrow margin allowed. There will be no vote against the Resolution, and I do not think that there is much hope of getting the Government to look into this. It is not the sort of thing they would look into. It would be helpful if they did so, but that is not their line at present. I thoroughly dislike the Resolution, and I accept it only with grave reluctance. I am strengthened in my opinion of the Resolution by the apparent pleasure of one of the very junior Whips, who is obviously glad to have this Resolution.