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 Sir Douglas Hogg Sir Douglas Hogg , St Marylebone

The answer to the first questions asked by the hon. and gallant Member for Burton (Colonel Gretton) is that Clause 4 is a machinery Clause and nothing else. As soon as the Irish Free State comes into existence it becomes a separate Customs entity altogether, and therefore it is essential that some provision shall be made for some Customs frontier between Southern and Northern Ireland, because if none is made, dutiable articles which went into Southern Ireland paying, possibly, no duty, would come into Northern Ireland without duty and then be passed over to this country. As soon as we make a contract with the Irish Free State under which they become a Customs entity with a separate tariff and separate provisions as to Customs, it becomes necessary to provide some machinery by which we can levy the duties which are imposed by law on such goods as come into Great Britain and Northern Ireland by the land frontier. This Clause 4 only enables the Customs to set up such machinery as seems best fitted for carrying out that necessary purpose. The provisions they have in mind are set out in paragraph (b), which prescribes the places where the entry of goods imported or exported shall be made, and they will be able to fix the hours at which they shall come in. It is essential to have some such provision, but the exact details are left to be worked out by the Customs authorities. I need hardly assure the Committee that in setting up these Regulations they will have regard to the most economical way of carrying out the object which we have in view. Then it has been suggested by the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Pringle) that we should do nothing until the Boundary Commission has rectified the boundary. I venture to think that the Committee will realise that that is a wholly impracticable suggestion. It would involve this, that until the Boundary Commission had been set up and had reported, all goods coming from Southern Ireland into Northern Ireland would come in duty free, because there would be no one to collect the duty.