HC Deb 02 May 1856 vol 141 cc1944-5

Order read for resuming adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to be made to Question [21st April], "That the Bill be now read a second time;" and which Amendment was, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."

Question again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question.

Debate resumed,


said, the Bill was a clumsy expedient for the attainment of the object of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and he should support the Amendment for reading it a second time on that day six months.


said, he also thought that the Bill would not effect the object for which it was intended, and that it was entirely worthless.


said, he could not avoid expressing his surprise at the course pursued by hon. Gentlemen who opposed the Bill. For his part he should support it, on the ground that it was necessary for the protection both of the Inland Revenue and of the trade of English Insurance Companies, in reference to foreign competition. It had nothing whatever to do with the question of a reduction of duty. A reduction ought to be pressed upon the Government, not now, but at a proper time. No doubt the primary cause of the small proportion of insurances effected in England in comparison with France and Holland was the high rate of duty. But they must also remember that in France and Holland what was called "the average clause" was part of the law of the land. The meaning of that clause was, that when an insurance of £3,000 was effected upon property worth £9,000, and £3,000 worth of that property was destroyed, the office was bound to pay only the proportion of the loss that the amount of insurance bore to the total value of the property; whereas in England, without "the average clause," the office was bound to pay the whole amount of the loss. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer would reduce the duty and the offices would, at the same time, reduce their premium, he believed the system of insurance would be so much extended that neither the Revenue nor the companies would suffer any loss. But that measure was quite unconnected with the question of the amount of duty.


said, he was of opinion that it was quite competent for the House to introduce a clause into the Bill to reduce the duty. He believed that the Bill, as at present framed, would be mere waste paper, and he should vote against it; but if the second reading should be carried he would in Committee propose to reduce the duty from 3s. per cent to Is. per cent.


said, he should move the adjournment of the debate.


said, he trusted the Motion for the adjournment would be withdrawn. He did not understand what possible objection there could be to the Bill, the object of which was to prevent the revenue from being defrauded, and also to protect the English Insurance Companies from the unfair competition of foreign agencies, which were carrying on a contraband trade in this country. If the Bill should not be found sufficient for its purpose, it would be competent for hon. Gentlemen on another occasion to propose a reduction of the duty.


said, he thought the Bill, as it could not make the matter worse than it was, should be allowed to undergo consideration in Committee, and then a proposition could be made for the reduction of the duty.


said, if the Bill were passed, which he believed would be useless, great obstacles would be opposed to the consideration of the reduction of the duty.


said, he would propose that the Bill should be deferred till after the budget, otherwise he should divide the House.


said, he thought the duty should be reduced, for he believed that a shilling duty would be found quite as profitable to the revenue in a very short time.

Motion made, and Question, "That the Debate be now adjourned," put, and negatived.

Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes, 133; Noes, 31: Majority, 102.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read 2°.