New Clause. — (Excise duties on homegrown tobacco to cease.)

Part of Orders of the Day — Finance Bill. – in the House of Commons on 28th June 1922.

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Photo of Captain William Benn Captain William Benn , Leith

Before the Clause is withdrawn I think some attention ought to be drawn to the position of the Government. There is not a single argument which the Noble Lord has brought forward to-night for the protection of tobacco which was not brought forward with success by the promoters of homegrown sugar. I listened with great interest to the Chancellor of the Exchequer's speech at that time. What were the reasons he urged for extending protection to the industry? He said, first of all, that there was nothing to be gained by imposing the duty. Does he allege that the excess duty imposed on tobacco is something that he is looking after? Then he went, on to say that he received a deputation from this interest and have no doubt that the tobacco industry will also send a deputation. He also said that sugar was suitable for growing in this country. That point was also made by the Noble Lord. Then the Chancellor went on to say that the sugar industry was an infant industry, and employed a large number of people, and he quoted us these words: In the present circumstances this is not the time to give up an industry which has made a promising start and that has been helped by the extraordinary circumstances of the times, and this industry has not much chance for the future unless it is assisted, otherwise it would deprive people of employment. What single argument is there which is not a good argument for the protection of tobacco or any other industry which can bring sufficient pressure to bear upon the Government? The Government have entirely given away their position about. Protection. Bit by bit they are carrying out a Protectionist policy. There is no logical reason why, having given the remission of the excise to the home-grown sugar, they should not. give it to homegrown tobacco or anything else. The only thing that surprises me is that the Postmaster-General, who is a Free Trader, should continue to support a policy of this kind, and that others who also call themselves Free Traders should continue to support a Government which is a Protectionist. Government.