§ First of all, there is a little duty, a very small one, to which I observe my predecessor in office is beginning to pay a good deal of attention—the cocoa duty.
§ *MR. ASQUITH
The cocoa duty produces, I think, about £250,000. It is a very small and not very productive tax. I think, if you ask me the question, as the right hon. Gentleman did, by implication, this afternoon, that there is a good deal of the flavour of protection about the present scale of cocoa duty. I should not defend it myself from the point of view of a free-trader, and I do not think it is defensible; but it is a very small affair, and you must notice this about it, that this duty, with its protectionist flavour, has stood the scrutiny, and has been preserved, at any rate, with the connivance 1194 of Mr. Gladstone, of Sir William Harcourt, of Sir Stafford Northcote, of Mr. Goschen, and of Sir Michael Hicks-Beach, who slightly increased its protective character—a string, I should think, of as good and severe free-traders as have over been responsible for the finances of this country. I might say that what was good enough for them is good enough for me. At any rate, I think that, with that history behind the cocoa duty, I may safely postpone, as I propose to do, the expurgation of this very small protectionist taint, which, I admit, still lurks in this particular part of our fiscal system. So much for the cocoa duty.