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New Clause—(Allowance For Spirits Used For The Manufacture Of Perfumery)

Volume 155: debated on Wednesday 21 June 1922

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Subject to such regulations as the Commissioners of Customs and Excise may prescribe, the reduction and allowance of duty in respect of spirits provided for in Section four of the Finance Act, 1918, and Section four of the Finance Act, 1920, shall apply to any spirits used for the manufacture of pertumery.—[Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

A certain allowance is made to manufacturers who use spirits, which would otherwise be exciseable, for making medical or scientific preparations, and we wish the same allowance to be applied in the case of perfumes manufactured in this country. Hon. Members will at once say scent is a great luxury and is obnoxious and all the rest of it and ought to be taxed. That is an obvious criticism, but as a, matter of fact very little of the scent used in this country is made here. We mostly use imported scent—eau de Cologne and the like. We use French and German scent. But there is a small industry in this country which is engaged in manufacturing perfumery which we export. The trade is not without importance, and in these days any trade which will give honest employment should be encouraged. Certain countries take a great deal of our manufactured perfumery. For example, in Abyssinia, where there is a great shortage of water, there is a lot of perfume used. It would surprise hon. Members to hear the figures of export of perfumery to Abyssinia. An even less number of women use scent in this country, thank goodness. The use of scent is not fashionable to-day. No decent man uses scent to begin with, and a less and less number of refined women, but there are women abroad who buy our perfumery. I am sorry hon. Members will not treat the matter seriously. We pay for our imports of raw material and food by exporting machinery, gramophones, boots and shoes.

These economic considerations are too general to connect specially with perfumery.

If a man manufactures medicine, some of which may be harmful, he gets a rebate on the spirit he uses. If he manufactures perfumery, which is harmless as long as you do not drink it, he gets no rebate. This is a small industry, employing a small number of people, but it would be a help, and in these days of great unemployment an industry which gives employment is worthy of consideration. The loss to the Exchequer would be, at the outside, about £12,000 a year, whereas it would give a help to a British industry which is honest and above-board.

I am sure the Committee will agree that the hon. and gallant Gentleman has introduced this topic with more enthusiasm than we have ever heard him display. We are thankful for the illumination he has cast on the subject and the indications he has given us of the habits of our people and those of Abyssinia, but not all his eloquence has succeeded in moving me. He indicates that it would only cost a very little revenue. Unfortunately the perfumery trade has been mixed up with essences and perfumery, and essences are so intertwined that we could not give this relief except at the cost of £1,500,000. That would be too great an expense, and it would be well to reject the Clause.

Question, "That the Clause be read a Second time," put, and negatived.

The new Clause standing in the name of the right hon. Member for Derby (Mr. J. H. Thomas) (Duty on payments for admission to entertainments) might increase the charge, and is therefore out of order.

I beg to move, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."

In view of the fact that we have had two late nights, I venture now to move to report Progress.

Question put, and agreed to.

Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next (26th June).