HC Deb 22 April 1850 vol 110 cc624-7

said, he wished to give notice, that, on that day week, he proposed to move for leave to bring in a Bill, which, although on a subject of great interest, he had not been able to do up to the present time—namely, a Bill for the future regulation of savings banks. He would here observe, that he thought it better that no discussion should take place on the introduction of the Bill, and he, therefore, hoped the House would allow him simply to make an explanatory statement on that occasion. He asked this because it was very desirable that no misunderstanding should exist upon a matter of so much importance; and as the Bill would interfere with former Acts, he doubted whether it would be properly intelligible to the public without such explanation. He would, therefore, propose to make his Motion on this Bill before the Orders of the Day. He would now also notice, as had been promised for him by his noble Friend at the head of the Government, the course proposed to be taken by the Government, in respect to the Stamp Duties Bill. The House was aware that they had gone through the clauses of the Bill, and however imperfect they had been said to be, he must remark, that there had been only one Amendment made. In the first item of the schedule, the proposal had originally been to tax mortgages and bonds at half per cent. He had received several deputations on that subject, and on the very morning he proposed it he had received a representation from parties who considered themselves more injured by the operation of the tax than any others, namely, the great railway companies: they had shown him that they must be greatly injured thereby, but would be perfectly satisfied with a quarter per cent. That was the reason he was prepared to state his willingness to reduce the duty to a quarter per cent. The House, however, thought otherwise, and a Motion was made and carried which reduced these duties on stamps and mortgages to a tenth per cent. The vote to which the House came, reduced the duty on all those securities not exceeding 50l. to 1s. If that principle, however, were to be carried out and applied to all kinds of stamp duties, such a loss would be entailed upon the revenue, that, unwilling as he should be to do so, he should be obliged to abandon the Bill. He held in his hand a report from the Board of Inland Revenue, which would shortly be printed and in the hands of Members, in which this would appear. The objection stated in the House was not to the stamp duty being reduced on smaller amounts, but that carrying up an unvarying and uniform percentage up to large amounts would be too heavy a pressure upon the parties at the higher end of the scale, and that a graduated scale ought not to be adopted. He proposed an uniform, and not a graduated, scale. The existing scale was, indeed, graduated; but it was graduated the other way—pressing infinitely more upon the smaller than the higher amounts. For instance, if a man borrowed 10l. he paid 10 per cent duty upon it, but if he borrowed 100,000l. he paid only 6d. per cent; it was, therefore, a graduated scale, pressing severely upon the poor man, and operating inversely as to the extent of the transaction. He did not propose to ask the House to impose upon small sums as much as they already paid; but unless he could retain that part of the measure with regard to the quarter per cent, he feared that he must abandon the Bill, as it would be impossible to forego the amount of revenue that would be lost. He had heard complaints that it was hardly fair that the duty should be carried uniformly up. The House of Commons had objected to that principle; and the objection being taken, he would submit to it. He proposed, therefore, to abide by the vote of the House for 1s. duty upon sums under 50l., and to raise the duty is. 6d. for every 25l., but to adhere to his own scale of a quarter per cent from 200l., and carry it uniformly up to 100,000l. In the present scale of duty there was a limit of 1,000l. duty upon conveyances of 100,000l., which was one per cent. He proposed to adopt the same limit, and to confine the maximum duty payable upon borrowing to the sum chargeable on borrowing 100,000l. That would be 250l. With regard to some other questions that had been raised in certain notices of Amendment given by the hon. Member for Cirencester, he had stated before that he proposed to accede to the principle of nearly the whole, with some slight alterations, and also to the hon. Gentleman's proposed Amendment on the subject of agreements. A point had been raised about settlements and capitalised annuities. Those he did not propose to insist upon; but he did propose to introduce some alterations with regard to certain stocks now exempt from duty, which, consistently with the claims upon others, ought to be called upon to pay. The right hon. Gentleman concluded by laying upon the table returns from the Inland Revenue Office on the subject of stamp duties on mortgages and conveyances.


begged to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, upon the scale he proposed, the highest stamp duty of 250l. would be payable upon a transaction of 100,000l.?


said, he had already stated that upon transactions of 100,000l. a duty of 250l. would be payable.


inquired whether it was proposed to continue or abandon the duty with regard to contingent annuities?


I propose to give that up. I also propose to have the new scale printed. From 200?. the duty is a quarter per cent up to 100,000?., and there it stops.


suggested that the subject would be simplified if there were printed in opposite columns the amount of the duties realised by each class under the existing law, and the amount expected to be realised under the new law. He understood that, upon the whole, there would be a loss upon the new scale. At any rate it was desirable the two scales should be before the House; but he hoped the new one would not stop at 100,000l., because it would not be doing justice to minor interests.


inquired from the right hon. Gentleman whether he intended to make any alteration in the stamp duty upon memorials?


Not beyond that stated in the schedule


Then I give notice that I shall move it be reduced to 1s.

Subject dropped.

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