HC Deb 16 July 1855 vol 139 cc947-9

Order for Committee read.

House in Committee.


said, as it had not been expected that the Bill would come on at so early an hour—as several hon. Members who objected to some of its provisions might not be present—and as notice had been given of a Motion for the rejection of the 6th clause, he proposed to proceed with the first five clauses in Committee, and that progress should then be reported.

Clauses 1 to 5 inclusive having been agreed to.


said, he had hoped his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have withdrawn the 6th clause, but if he did not adopt that course he thought the Committee ought to proceed with the Bill.


said, he had merely suggested the postponement of the clause because some hon. Gentlemen, who took an interest in the subject, might have left the House in the belief that the Bill would not come on at so early an hour. He would move that the Chairman report progress.


said, he thought that the Government ought not to have proceeded with as much of the Bill as it suited their purpose to take, and then propose to postpone the remainder.


said, he must express a hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would reduce the duty on stage horses from 1½d. to ½d. He thought the duty imposed by the 6th clause upon building societies was unfair and unreasonable.

Motion reporting progress withdrawn,

Upon the 6th clause,

Clause 6. (Provides that exemptions from Stamp Duty on behalf of Building Societies shall not extend to any conveyance, mortgage, transfers, or agreement made after the passing of this Bill to or on behalf of any Benefit Building Societies by members of such societies to whom sums exceeding 240l. are advanced by such society).


in moving the omission of the clause, said, that he had received communications from the members of numerous Benefit Building Societies throughout the country, complaining of the manner in which the clause would affect such societies. These persons represented that, in their opinion, the clause had been introduced under some erroneous view of the nature of those, exemptions from stamp duties which were enjoyed by the members of Benefit Building Societies, and also of the character and operation of such institutions. Upon every transaction of an extraneous character the stamp duty was at present paid by the society, and on that ground he appealed to the Committee to support the rejection of the clause.


said, he thought it was the general wish of the Committee that this clause should not be pressed, and he, therefore, hoped that his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer would withdraw it.


said, he must confess that he felt himself placed in circumstances of considerable difficulty with respect to the clause now under consideration. In the situation which he had the honour to hold he felt it his duty not to allow important branches of the revenue to he undermined by proposals which would have the effect of making large breaches in the productiveness of certain taxes, contrary to the intention of the Legislature at the time such taxes were imposed. From many representations which had been made to him, he was aware that strong objections were entertained to the clause, but he believed that those objections rested in a great measure upon a misapprehension of the true state of the facts of the case. The only means of ascertaining the true facts of the case was by an impartial inquiry, to be conducted, not under the direction of the Government, but by the Members of that House. He was, therefore, willing to consent to withdraw the clause for the present Session on the understanding that next Session the House would not object to the appointment of a Select Committee to investigate the subject, and to ascertain by a minute examination, and by the evidence of competent and impartial witnesses, whether or not those societies were justly entitled to immunity from stamp duty. No doubt a Select Committee would come to a perfectly impartial decision upon the subject.


said, he thought that the right hon. Gentleman had taken a very judicious course, for two reasons; in the first place because he would not have been able to carry the clause, and next, because he (Mr. Bright) thought there was a great deal in the complaint which had been made, that the Government, in a clause like this, had attempted to impose a new tax upon a large portion of the people in a Bill which had no reference to the matter on which the tax was proposed to be levied. With regard to the tax itself, he was not one of those who thought that various classes of society, under one pretence or another, ought to be exempted from taxation. In the present case, however, there was the difficulty—namely, that thousands had entered those societies under the impression that they would have no taxes to pay on the little property which they would acquire, and he thought that nothing could tend more to improve the condition of the artisan classes of society than to offer every facility to a great number of persons in the receipt of weekly wages to save those wages and invest them in houses or land.

Clause withdrawn; Preamble agreed to.

House resumed. Bill reported without Amendment.