§ Mr. Maudling
asked the Minister of Food what amount of sugar was imported into the United Kingdom during the last 12 months for which figures are available; what part of such imports came from Empire and non-Empire sources respectively; what quantity of the non-Empire imports was subsequently exported in a refined form; and, having regard to these figures, what is the estimate of his Department of the benefit received by the British beet sugar industry during 1949–50 from the indirect subsidy resulting from the fact that the Excise duty on home-produced sugar is less than the Customs duty on non-Empire sugar.
§ Mr. Webb
The total imports of sugar into the United Kingdom during the financial year 1949–50 (the last year for which figures are available) and the part thereof which was subsequently exported as refined sugar were, according to the records of my Department:
Approximate tonnage in terms of Raw Sugar From the Commonwealth 985,000 From non-Commonwealth sources 1,142,000 Less re-exports as refined sugar 630,000 512,000 Net imports 1,497,000
Our total purchases of Commonwealth sugar during that year were in excess of total net imports into the United Kingdom and amounted to 1,565,000 tons. In order, however, to keep freight charges to the minimum and to supply the Canadian market from its normal 94W Commonwealth sources, we diverted some 580,000 tons of these purchases to Canada and other destinations for which we have a responsibility, the remaining 985,000 tons being actually imported into the United Kingdom. Of the 580,000 tons of Commonwealth sugar so diverted 512,000 tons were replaced by imports of non-Commonwealth sugar for United Kingdom consumption.
Notionally, then, the consumption needs of the United Kingdom in 1949–50 were met entirely from Commonwealth sources, since the diversion of Commonwealth sugar to other destinations (with replacement from non-Commonwealth sources) was only arranged in order to secure the objects already mentioned. The benefit received by the British beet sugar industry during 1949–50 from the indirect subsidy resulting from the fact that the Excise duty on home-produced sugar is less than the Customs duty on imported sugar should be calculated, therefore, on the basis that all sugar imported for United Kingdom consumption in that year was derived from Commonwealth sources. On this basis the total indirect subsidy was about £500,000.
The cost to the Exchequer of the total 1949–50 net imports for United Kingdom consumption was not higher than it would have been if all the imports had been actually from Commonwealth sources.