HC Deb 06 April 1948 vol 449 c65

As the Committee is aware, the increases in Tobacco Duty last year were made with a view to producing a substantial fall in consumption, put by my predecessor as at least 25 per cent. This reduction in consumption has not been fully realised, and it is as necessary as ever that we should keep down the consumption of this imported article. It would not be advisable, I feel, to make another very large increase in the duty; but it is necessary to bring to smokers' attention once again the need for economising in tobacco, and I therefore propose to raise the Duties on leaf tobacco by 3s. 4d. a lb. and to make corresponding adjustments in the rates chargeable on imports of cigars, cigarettes, and other manufactured tobacco.

This will mean an increase in the price of cigarettes at present sold at 3s. 4d. for 20, to 3s. 6d. for 20. Those now sold at 2s. 6d. for 20 will go up to 2s. 7d. It is estimated that this increase in duty will yield £20 million in a full year and £19½ million this year. The new rates of duty will come into effect as from tomorrow. In the absence of special action, this increase in the duty would give the tobacco manufacturers a substantial and fortuitous profit. It would not be right that, in present circumstances, they should retain this, and I therefore propose to place a corresponding Excise Duty on stock held by manufacturers on Budget day. I am considering what arrangements shall be made to extend the scheme for relief of habitual smokers amongst Old Age Pensioners to take account of the present increases.

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