§ Mr. HOGGE
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why it has been found necessary to establish a Department, with a chief at £1,500 a year, to deal with matters relating to the ad valorem duty on champagne; whether he is aware that, as a consequence, leading champagne houses are not now selling to British importers, but are instead shipping to London to their agents at a lower rate than the old shipping prices; whether these agents clear from bond and sell to the trade at a duty-paid price; and whether a better revenue could be obtained by abolishing this Department and instead putting on a flat rate of duty?
The hon. Member has been misinformed. It has not been necessary to set up any special Department, or branch of a Department,1478W to deal with the ad valorem duty on champagne. I am informed that the practice referred to in the second part of the question existed long before the duty was imposed, and, so far as shippers have reduced their prices, it confirms the opinion which I expressed during the passage of the Finance Bill in regard to their profits. As regards the third part of the question, no doubt some importers are selling duty paid, but I see no objection to this course. I can add nothing to what I said in the course of the Debates on the Finance Bill as to the comparative merits of an ad valorem duty or specific duty on sparkling wines.