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Administrative Expenses

Volume 154: debated on Tuesday 30 May 1922

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asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury if he can give an approximate idea as to the expenses caused to importers due to the collecting of the £21,000 under Part I of the Safeguarding of Industries Act for the month of April, seeing that the collection involved the opening of many thousands of packages, for which the Post Office charged 6d. a package, which in one consignment represented 15s. against an amount of duty of 11d., and that on the larger packages at the docks and wharves the average charge for opening is 3s. 6d. per package, plus 5s. for the forwarding agent's charge for attendance in clearing of documents, apart from the question of delays, breakages due to repacking by unskilled persons, and the providing of the cash for the duties which traders hitherto have not been called upon to provide; and whether he will arrange that one or more packages out of a group could be examined instead of the bulk?

I have no means of obtaining the information requested. As regards the charge made by the Post Office, I may refer the hon. Member to the reply given by the President of the Board of Trade to the hon. Member for West Derbyshire (Mr. C. White) on the 22nd instant. As regards the last part of the question, I would point out that while it is necessary for the protection of the revenue to maintain the right to require all imported packages to be opened for examination, it is the practice, in the absence of suspicion, and provided full particulars of contents are furnished, to require only a proportion of the packages of a consignment of goods entered as liable to Key Industry Duty to be opened, whether the importation takes place as cargo or by parcels post.