degrees per 100 pounds, the present tariff is 40| cents British preferential, and 571 cents general. The proposed tariff is $1.03! British preferential, and $1,371 general.
135a. Raw sugar as described in tariff item 135, when imported to be refined in Canada by Canadian sugar refiners, to the extent of the quantity of sugar refined during the calendar years 1912 and 1913, by such refiners from sugar produced in Canada from Canadian beetroot under regulations by the Minister of Customs, per one hundred pounds, testing not more than seventy-five degrees by the polariscope- British preferential, intermediate, and general, 88 cents.
And per one hundred pounds for each additional degree over seventy-five degrees-British preferential, intermediate, and general tariff, | cents.
Item I35a, under the present tariff, empires on the 31st of December, this year. It is part of the arrangement We have with the British West Indiets which relates to the beet sugar manufacturers, who have the right up to the 31st day of December, this year, of importing raw sugar no matter whence it comes at preferential rates. We haVe had to increase that.
I would like the minister to explain why the tariff which we are imposing by items 146, 147 and 156, dates from August the 7th instead of from August the 4th, when war was declared? Perhaps there may be some reason for arbitrarily fixing on the 7th of August.
dating this back to the 7th is in no wise connected with the war. It has come to our attention through the Customs and Revenue returns that abnormally large quantities of liquors and tobaccos have been taken out
of bond during the past two weeks. For the information of the committee, I shall give some figures which will show what has been done. The abnormal increases commenced about the 7th of August. Prior to that the situation was normal. The following statement gives the daily excise returns
The abnormal increases took place from tlhe 12th of August onwards. On the 13th of August, 1914, the returns were four times as large as the returns for 1913; on the 17th, nearly five times as large, on the 18th six times as large and on the 20th nearly four times as large. It is desirable that we should be fair to all concerned. A great number of dealers have taken goods out of bond in the usual course to meet the requirements of their business. On the other hand, there undoubtedly have been many who have sought to take advantage of the situation. It was known that the Government would have to impose additional taxation. The conclusion could be easily reached by experienced business men that resort would be had to an increase in the excise duties, and some have taken advantage of the situation to take out large amounts of these commodities which have been in bond. Some of what has been taken out has been sold at the usual price, some at a slight increase, and much no doubt is still in hand or in stock, and if the Government did not date this back to the 7th of August it would mean that very large sums of money would he made by certain parties who have taken goods out of bond, not to meet the ordinary requirements of their business but in expectation of a rise in excise duties. If the amounts were not large,
I would not be disposed to pay much attention to it, but the Government must deal equitably and justly with the situation. It would not do to penalize all, and it would . not do to collect the increased duties from 6i
those who in good faith and in the ordinary course of business have taken goods out of bond and sold, them to their customers in the usual way. The Government will have to investigate the situation through the officers of the Customs Department and do whatever may be just and equitable, but it seems to me that at a time like this, when the whole country is making sacrifices the Government would not be acting justly or fairly to itself or to the body of citizens it represents if it permitted undue advantage on a large scale to be taken of the situation which has been created by the increase in the excise duties. That is the position as it presents itself to me at the present time.
If a person withdrawing goods from a customs warehouse receives no additional profit although disposing of an additional quantity, would he be compelled to pay the duty? For in stance, the small dealers may have been shrewder to anticipate Government action than the wholesalers, and while the withdrawal of goods may have been very large they miay not have been sold at higher prices. What would you do in a case of that kind?
I appreciate the point that my hon. friend has made. It is quite probable that many smaller dealers, in anticipation of an increase in duties, and consequently of an increase in prices, have given their orders to the wholesalers. It is impossible to lay down any general rule. The Government must look into the whole situation and do whatever is just, fair and equitable.
from the city of Quebec a telegram signed by some of the most respectable commercial men in that city, whidh I will hand to my hon. friend the Minister of Finance. They make the complaint which has just been Stated by my hon. friend, that they have taken out goods in the regular course of their business, that they have disposed of them and that they axe subject to a very great loss. I think we have heard with great interest what has been said by my hon. friend the Minister of Finance that the Government intend to deal fairly in this matter. The difficulty is where to draw the line and how to define any rule which would apply, separating the wheat from the-draff, distinguishing betw.een those who have been honest in their transactions and those who perhaps have not been dishonest
but who have acted in a certain way for the purpose of making some money. My hon. friend has not given us any indication of what action he proposes to take, and I am sorry to say that at the present time I do not see what action he can take under the law. The law that he is introducing now says .that the revenue will be collected from such a date at such a rate. Does he think that he has the power to remit the duty to this, that and the other one? He might remit the duty to a class, or he might do it under a general rule, Ibut I do not know how, under the Law, .he will be able to remit duties .to an individual. This is a very serious question, and if any hon. friend could give us more information as to what he has in mind I think the committee would be obliged to him.
My view would be that the Department of Customs should make an investigation as to the withdrawals that have taken place, and, if it appears in particular cases as it well may that goods have been withdrawn and sold in the ordinary course of business, a remission of duty should be granted to those who will have to pay the increased duty from the 7th August. On the other haind, there is no doubt that there will be many cases in which it is clearly .apparent that goods were taken out of bond, not for the purpose of being sold in the ordinary course of business, 'but in order to take advantage of the situation; and in my view in these cases there should be no remission of the duty granted. The customs officers should not enforce the law in respect to the period between the 7th and the date of the delivery of the Budget speech until they can look into the matter fully and carefully. A deputation from Montreal waited upon me to-day and I have also received telegrams similar to that which my right hon. friend sent to me. I have indicated to all the view which I have expressed to the House. I think there is statutory power to enable the Government to deal with the situation. I think that the legislation should go as from the 7th and that the Government should redress any injustice that may result from such a retroactive law.
Does my hon. friend believe that the Audit Act gives
power to the Government to remit a duty to Mr. So-and-So and not to Mr. So-and-So? I think that the power is intended to apply to general oases and classes and pot to individuals. I would like to know if the officers of the department think that they could deal with cases individually? ~
We continually deal with individual cases, although we do strive in the Treasury Board to adopt some general principle so that there will !be a rule of action. I think without question that the power exists under the Audit Act. With regard to the results which my hon. friend apprehends, on the one hand we must endeavour to do no injustice to anybody, and on the other hand we must not allow individuals to defeat the purpose of the Government in respect to the levying of taxes so essential at this time in the public interest.
I have received the same telegram that my right hon. friend the leader of the Opposition has just communicated to the House from the leading merchants in Quebec. I at once communicated it to my hon. friend the Minister of Finance, and he gave me the same answer that he has given the House, that these people will be fairly treated. Moreover, I wish to draw the attention of the committee to the fact that the extra duties have not been paid which might facilitate dealing with them.
Does the Minister of Finance say that he would be justified in imposing the additional duty on a reasonable amount of goods that a man may have taken out of the warehouse? Take the case of an ordinary merchant who has been - drawing from the warehouse a thousand dollars a day on the .average, and who, since the 7th of August, has been drawing $2,000 or $3,000 a day; would the minister consider it fair that he should charge him the additional duty on a thousand dollars a day because that is the business which he ordinarily has done? It would seem to me more like a fine rather than a duty if you made him pay the additional duty on the whole amount of his withdrawals.
I think my hon. friend has in mind the very same thing that I have in mind. If a merchant, in the ordinary course of business, has taken these goods out of bond and sold them in the usual way and according to his usual requirements, I . am of the opinion that he should not be compelled to pay the additional tax.