HC Deb 28 July 1953 vol 518 cc1076-7
23. Mr. Stokes

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what Excise was raised by the sale of 6,300,000 gallons of whisky in 1952.

Mr. R. A. Butler

About 3.8 million proof gallons of whisky were consumed in the United Kingdom in 1952, and the resulting Excise revenue was a little more than£40 million.

Mr. Stokes

May I ask the Chancellor this Question: As 6,300,000 gallons was precisely the amount exported to America, would not it have been better if rather less had been exported to America and rather more consumed here, and a higher price charged to America, thereby benefiting the dollar balance and the Exchequer at this end?

Mr. Butler

From the Excise point of view the shortage of whisky in this respect has been largely, if not entirely, made good by the increased consumption of other spirits, mainly gin, so that the Excise have nothing to complain of. In regard to the American trade, I am glad to say that we have made a large number of dollars, and the more we make the better.

Mr. Stokes

Has the Chancellor really taken the trouble to examine the whole question of the export of whisky to the United States? Is he really satisfied that distillers in this country charge enough for their exports and are not maintaining an unnecessarily low price in order to assist the distributors in America?

Mr. Butler

Yes. I have been following with fascination the Questions which the right hon. Gentleman has put, mainly to my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary, by whom I have been fully briefed on the subject. I shall accept any further information which the right hon. Gentleman can give me so that I can watch this question of dollar trade.

Mr. Duthie

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Scotch Whisky Association is a body of extremely able men, who have the advantage over the right hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) of knowing all the conditions appertaining to their business?

Mr. Stokes

Before the Chancellor answers that question, is he aware that I am perfectly aware of the ability of the Scotch whisky distillers, but I want to know if he is satisfied that we are not being prejudiced by their distributing all their Scotch whisky through their competitors in the United States?

Mr. Butler

I am always willing to take the advice of my hon. Friend the Member for Banff (Mr. Duthie) on this matter, particularly as I have had the opportunity of meeting the distillers and learning their wisdom. However, I shall add to that anything which the right hon. Gentleman can supply.

Mr. Gower

Will the Chancellor bear in mind that in the late 18th Century, at Boston, we priced ourselves out of the market for tea in the United States?

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