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Volume 229: debated on Thursday 25 May 1876

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Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clause 1 (Short title) agreed to.

Part I.

Customs and Excise.

Clause 2 (Grant of Customs duties on tea.)

protested against the clause because it continued the duty on tea. His objection to this was on the ground that it limited the consumption of tea, which was a necessary of life, and raised the price of it to the consumer to an amount larger than that of the duty itself. The effect a reduction of the duty produced upon the consumption was shown by the fact that while in 1840, when the duty was at a high rate, the quantity consumed per head of the population was 1·22 lb., now it was 4·23 lb. per head, an increase in the consumption of four-fold. He trusted that the duty would be repealed at the earliest possible moment.

thought that before the tea duty was further reduced there were other small duties which might with advantage be swept away—the duty, for example, on marine insurances, which, he contended, had a tendency to drive business out of the country. He would remind the hon. Member for Burnley that the general increase of wages in the country no doubt had much to do with the increased consumption of tea.

admitted the right of the hon. Member for Burnley to call attention to the tea duty on a proposal to re-impose it without alteration; but he thought the hon. Baronet was hardly in Order in introducing on a clause relating to the tea duty the question of marine insurance; and it would be very inconvenient to discuss the whole question of our taxation with the relative incidence of direct and indirect taxation upon that clause. They were not now in a position to deal with this subject; but he might remind the hon. Member for Burnley that the present Government, since they had been in office, although they had not reduced the tea duty, had taken off the whole of a very cognate tax—the sugar duty—a measure which had a considerable effect in stimulating the consumption of tea.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 3 (Customs duty on cocoa paste and chocolate.)

moved the omission of the clause, which had been originally introduced to regulate the duty on chocolate and cocoa paste after the repeal of the sugar duties. Inquiries had shown that a large proportion of these substances did not contain sugar, and the Government had come to the conclusion that they would by this clause create a great inequality on one side by attempting to remedy one on the other.

Motion agreed to.

Clause struck out accordingly.

Clause 4 (As to bottling spirits in a Customs or Excise warehouse for expor-

tation only); and Clause 5 (Restriction of term "male servant," in s. 19 of 32 & 33 Vict. c. 14) agreed to.