§ MR. D. A. THOMAS (Merthyr Tydvil)
I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his attention has been called to the refusal of the Customs to remit the coal duty on 10,000 tons of fuel, shipped prior to the 31st December 1901, by the Nitrate Railways Company—a British Company, registered in the United Kingdom—for their own use under a pre-Budget contract entered into on 17th January 1901 with the Crown Preserved Coal Company, and whether he has any reason to doubt the banâ fide nature of the transaction; and, seeing that the difference betwen a free alongside and free on board contract, in so far as the contractors and contractees are concerned, is that the ship owner and not the shipper bears the cost of placing the cargo on board, will he say why the duty was not refunded in this case.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
My right hon. friend, who is temporarily detained elsewhere, has asked me to reply to this Question for him. There is no reason to doubt the bonâ fides of the transaction referred to; but, as the contract was for delivery "free alongside," and not free on board, the vendors were under no obligation to ship the coal or to pay the duty. It was made quite plain last year that there would be no† See (4) Debates, ciii., 189.521 exception from duty on "free alongside": contracts. The object of the concession then made was to avoid hardship to vendors in this country under pre-Budget contracts, and it was never intended to relieve purchasers abroad, whether British or foreign.