§ In addition to the duties of Customs payable on coffee imported into Great Britain or Ireland there shall, as from the twenty-second day of September, nineteen hundred and fifteen, until the first day of August, nineteen hundred and sixteen, be charged, levied, and paid the following additional duties, that is to say:—
|Coffee (not kiln-dried, roasted or ground), the cwt.||0||7||0|
|Coffee (kiln-dried, roasted, or ground), the lb.||0||0||1|
§ The CHAIRMAN
Does the hon. Member intend to move an Amendment or to speak on the Clause as a whole?
§ Mr. LOUGH
When I spoke just now I also mentioned coffee, and I would like my right hon. Friend to consider it for one moment. I do not agree with his arguments with regard to cocoa at all. I gave very fair figures of the revenue that could be obtained if a heavier tax were imposed. The duty on coffee is only increased by ¾d. I believe that seven-tenths or seven-eighths of the coffee comes from South 1666 America. The duty at present is only 1½d., and that is to be increased by ¾d. The duty at present realised is £220,000 on coffee. As regards my right hon. Friend's remark about consumption increasing, I do not say it will increase as rapidly as tea, but it is increasing this year. This country is happily situated in regard to coffee, because the great coffee drinking countries of Europe cannot get their coffee now, and there is a great store of it in this country. If the duty on coffee were made something like sixpence in the pound a substantial increase in revenue might be obtained. I would ask my right hon. Friend whether he is inclined to increase the three farthings in the pound having regard to the serious increase he has made in the Tea Tax. Coffee is the luxury of the rich just as tea is the necessity of the poor. Seeing that the poor have to pay so much for their drink, you might put a little more on coffee, which is the drink of the rich.
§ Sir J. D. REES
I should like to associate myself with what the right hon. Gentleman says, and to deal with one argument of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. His argument gives an air of specious fairness to an increase of 50 per cent, on these different products, and in the case of coffee, as also in the case of cocoa, it is 50 per cent, increase on a low tax, instead of, as in the case of tea, 50 per cent, on a high tax. Therefore there is no real equality, it is a case of piling tax upon tax in regard to tea, and I venture to think that coffee, like cocoa, could stand a higher tax.
§ Mr. McKENNA
If in consequence of these taxes there is any shifting of taste from tea to coffee we should unhesitatingly increase the duty on coffee. We do not want any increased duties on coffee, chicory, or any other article which we think would have the effect of reducing our revenue. If we find we have reasonable grounds for thinking that it will not reduce our revenue, we shall add to it.
§ Mr. W. THORNE
I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will not take it upon himself to increase the price of coffee. My right hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Lough) is wrong as to the consumption of coffee. I asked the Chancellor to consider the case of the vast number of workmen who have a cup of coffee at a coffee stall in the early morning, for instance, in a munitions area. If the price of coffee is increased, the result will be that they will be charged an increased price, and where they are 1667 now charged 1d. a cup they will be charged 1½d. Anybody who uses coffee knows that to use a pound of it costs more than to use a pound of tea, because you have to use more sugar to sweeten coffee. I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will not increase this duty.
§ CLAUSES 4 (Additional Duties on Chicory), and 5 (Additional Excise Duty on Coffee Substitutes, etc.), ordered to stand part of the Bill.