Clause 4. — (Application of Custom Acts to Land Frontier.)

Part of Irish Free State (Consequential Provisions) Bill. – in the House of Commons on 28th November 1922.

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Photo of Mr William Pringle Mr William Pringle , Penistone

The hon. and gallant Member for Burton (Colonel Grebton) has spoken of this Clause as a very unusual arrangement. Under the Clause we are told that the Commissioners of Customs and Excise are empowered to make regulations with reference to the importation and exportation of any goods into and from Northern Ireland, in the event of an Address being presented to His Majesty as prescribed in Article 12. They will make the regulations on the basis of the existing boundary. They may arrange for places for purposes of importation, but they may set up a network of machinery which, when the Boundary Commission makes its Report, may be rendered totally obsolete and useless for the new condition of Ireland. I would suggest that it is premature to take any steps until the Boundary Commission has reached a decision as to the final boundary between Northern Ireland and the Free State, otherwise a great deal of expense may be incurred and the whole of the machinery may have to be scrapped. There is another point in connection with this, and that is as to the working of the preferential tariff. It is a very interesting point. We know that under the Budget of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. A. Chamberlain) in 1919 great credit was given to the right hon. Gentleman for carrying out a policy with which his father's name was associated. It was a very poor thing to associate with the name of the late Mr. Chamberlain, but, nevertheless, it was put forward on that basis. Preference is given under it in regard to certain existing duties. I assume if those preferential duties are applied in relation to goods exported from the Free State either into Northern Ireland or into Great Britain, it will require a considerable amount of discrimination on the part of the Customs Authorities. There are sundry things to encourage the production of which in Ireland great efforts have been made, and I hope that either the Attorney-General or the Under-Secretary for the Colonies will be able to give us some information as to what it is proposed to do on this point.