Clause. 3 — (Reduced duties on Coffee, chicory, and coffee substitutes.)

Part of Orders of the Day — Finance Bill. – in the House of Commons on 19th June 1922.

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Mr. MACLEAN:

This Clause imposes a duty upon coffee, and the argument, which I used earlier in the Debate, might easily be applied also to this Clause, that we have for many years been desirous of a free breakfast table. I have a new Clause on the Paper having for its object the entire repeal of the duty upon coffee. We at least upon these benches have no desire to continue the imposition of taxes of this nature. The duty on coffee not only presses hard upon the people of this country, but, if the old argument of the Tariff Reformer holds good, that the country which sends the commodity pays the tax, there is bound to be a considerable amount of friction between this country and the countries from which we import the chief quantities of coffee. If there be any truth in the statement that the foreigner pays, we know where we are; but I am rather inclined to believe that it is the consumer who pays, and that Members opposite themselves realise that, when they are at such pains, at varying intervals, to reduce the taxation upon those articles, and then come before this House, and through this House assure the country that they have conferred a boon upon the taxpaying community by reducing taxes. As the Chancellor of the Exchequer has told us already to-day, our tea is cheaper because we have reduced the duty upon it. All the arguments that are put forward by Members on the opposite benches with regard to the taxation of food or other commodities which are brought into this country are certainly very contradictory when we view them in the light of actual experience.