HC Deb 13 March 1952 vol 497 cc1554-5
29. Mr. Dodds-Parker

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that, since the sugar agreement with Cuba in 1951 to purchase 1,500,000 tons of Cuban sugar over a three-year period, the Cuban Government has continued to levy a freight tax of 6⅓ per cent. of the gross freight on all shipments of sugar to the United Kingdom; and what expenditure in dollars has been incurred so far to meet this freight tax.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

I understand that this tax is a revenue tax levied on all exports irrespective of destination. It is a combination of taxes on income and on freight and passenger fares which date back to 1928 and 1932 and have been several times increased, and it has no particular relevance either to sugar or to the Anglo-Cuban Trade Agreement. My right hon. and gallant Friend the Minister of Food estimates at 364,789 dollars the element in the freight charges for our purchases of Cuban sugar which is attributable to this levy between 10th August last, the date of the trade agreement, and the 29th February, 1952.

Mr. Dodds-Parker

In view of this new tax—I think my right hon. Friend agrees that it is a new one—and the dollar cost of loading sugar, would the Minister consider doing all possible to switch our purchases of supplies of sugar to non-dollar sources, particularly from the Commonwealth and Empire?

Mr. Thorneycroft

This is not a new tax; it has been on for a very long time.