HC Deb 09 February 1961 vol 634 cc616-7
37. Mr. Woodnutt

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will authorise the Customs and Excise to refund duty in respect of stocks of tobacco and cigarettes damaged by flooding.

Mr. Barber

No, Sir.

Mr. Woodnutt

Is it not extremely unfair and unreasonable that companies should be expected to pay Customs and Excise duties on cigarettes and tobacco destroyed by flooding? Does my hon. Friend agree that, if private commerce did such things, it would be regarded almost as sharp practice? Will he ask his right hon. and learned Friend to look into the matter again?

Mr. Barber

I appreciate my hon. Friend's concern but, of course, the matter does go much wider and includes, for instance, cases where goods are destroyed by fire. The fact is that there is no provision in the law under which the Department of Customs and Excise could allow a refund of duty in respect of stocks of tobacco and cigarettes damaged during the recent flooding. I looked into this very carefully when my hon. Friend wrote to me. I am sure that he will have in mind the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government on 2nd November, 1960, about the way in which people who have suffered as a result of flooding might be helped.