HC Deb 28 April 1881 vol 260 cc1313-4

asked the First Lord of the Treasury, When the Customs and Inland Revenue Bill will be brought forward; and, whether the attention of the Government has been directed to a resolution of the members of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce to the effect that they would rather have no Commercial Treaty with France at all than one that contained unfavourable terms?


Sir, I should say first that there is at present no relation whatever between the Customs and Inland Revenue Bill and the French Treaty. The Customs and Inland Revenue Bill contains no proposals respecting the duties upon articles imported into this country from France, with the exception of the rectification of the differential spirit duty, which, of course, is quite a different matter—a mere matter of regulation—and, moreover, Her Majesty's Government have no communication of a recent date with the French Government which would lead them to suppose that the French Government were disposed to press for anything of the kind, consequently the subject, so far as it is at present before Her Majesty's Government, is entirely French, and has no relation whatever to any question of duties in this country. I assure the hon. Member that the resolution to which he has referred will receive the most careful attention of the Government, and that there will be no disposition at all to force on communications, except it be with the full assurance that we are proceeding according to the general sense of the commercial community. The hon. Member has also asked when we will proceed with the Customs and Inland Revenue Bill. The Bill does not raise any question of principle new to the House, and it would certainly be convenient to take it tonight, unless there is any real objection to it.