HC Deb 27 April 1863 vol 170 cc838-50

WAYS AND MEANS considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)


said, that the first Resolutions which should be taken were those relating to railway passengers, which stood 10th and 11th on the Notice paper; but the Gentlemen with whom he had communicated respecting them were not now in the House, and they might in the mean time stand over. He should begin with the 12th Resolution — that relating to Club Licences, He would move the Resolution— That, towards raising the Supply granted to Her Majesty, there shall be charged and paid for a Licence to be taken out, yearly, by or on behalf of any Club or Association, occupying a House of the rent or value of £100 a year, to authorize the selling and supplying by retail to the Members of such Club or Association, of Beer, Wine, Spirits, and all other Liquors, for the selling whereof an Excise Licence is required by Law to be taken out, and also Tobacco, the Excise Duty of £17 1s 0d. And 5 per cent thereon. And for every such Licence to authorize the selling and supplying as aforesaid, Beer and Tobacco only, £3 10s. 0d. And 5 per cent thereon.


said, he could not see the justice of the principle on which the Chancellor of the Excequer proposed to tax clubs. He took it to be that the tax was one on the retail profits of the spirit-dealer. In the case of clubs there was no profit whatever; there was no more profit on the consumption of a club than of a private house. The liquors were provided for the use of those who consumed them, and who banded together for the purpose of purchasing them for their own use. The Chancellor of the Exchequer might as well tax the machinery of consumption in private houses. Certainly, the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer had confined the Resolution to houses worth £100 a year, but he was at a loss to see how they were to distinguish under the Resolution between a club and a regimental mess, for the mess-room at Woolwich could scarcely be distinguished from a first-class club, and would certainly come within one of the two terms, club or association. Moreover, in many cases the messman was allowed to make a profit; the reverse was the case with regard to clubs. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would reconsider the Resolution.


said, he could not accede to the wish of the right hon. Gentleman. The question was not a large one, and he hoped they might be able to dispose of it summarily. The principle on which his proposal was made was, that it was an act of justice and equity between class and class. The co-operative principle had been adopted by the upper-classes, and applied by them to furnish them with strong liquors. He was perfectly certain, if the co-operative principle, which had assumed a very curious and remarkable development, had been applied by the lower classes to strong liquors, menacing the revenue derived from that source, they would very soon have found a way to bring it under taxation. That, as he had stated, had been done by the upper classes; and he thought it would be an ungracious act on their part if they declined to place the machinery whereby they were supplied with those liquors under the same amount of taxation as they applied to the machinery by which the lower classes were supplied. The hon. Baronet said truly that there was no profit in clubs, the profit was that of individual members; but what he stood on was this:—That the consumption of strong liquors by the richer class in places essentially of general resort should bear taxation equally with the consumption of strong liquors by the poorer classes. That was not so at present, and the inequality would be redressed by the very simple and just measure proposed in this Resolution. He was asked why he had fixed the value of the premises of the club at £100 a year. He did so because there were certain cases of clubs consisting of a very small number of members, and it would not be well to institute an inquisition, so as to be able to prove that a dozen gentlemen who met in a room, and had a stock of wine, were a club. That would be carrying the thing to an undesirable extreme. But wherever there was an establishment of a club occuping premises to the value of £100 a year, an inquisition would be unnecessary. In Scotland there had been some remarkable indications of a disposition to apply the co-operative principle to the supply of strong liquors to the lower classes, and it was very likely, indeed, that that question might come before the House before many years elapsed, for legislation; and when it did come before them, it would not only be in the fiscal but in the police aspect. He thought that the £100 a year test would separate the fiscal from the police question.


said, he wished to know what were to be the police arrangements under the new licence. He presumed, from what the right hon. Gentleman had said when making his financial statement, that it was intended to protect clubs from police visitation; but when they came to deal with the Bill, there must be some nice definition of what was a club. There were a good many houses in London frequented for purposes which he need not further indicate which were worth above £100 a year. Did the right hon. Gentleman mean to shut those houses against the police? Because, by paying £17 and £3 10s. for a beer licence every house would become a club as soon as the Bill passed, and no doubt the right hon. Gentleman would be elected an honorary member of all of them. As far as the tax was concerned, he did not care either way, but he thought the question of police visitation ought to be settled. He did not know whether the term "club" would extend to common rooms and messes, some of which permanently occupied buildings worth much more than £100 a year.


said, he was not aware that there would be any difficulty about common rooms or messes; because, although the building in which they were held might be worth more than £100 a year, yet they were not ratable, and would not come within the operation of the Resolution. As to the other associations to which the right hon. Gentleman had alluded, and upon which he had sought information, the right hon. Gentleman was much better informed than he was. The enigmatical language he used and the honorary distinction he promised him excited his (the Chancellor of the Exchequer's) curiosity, but he was not aware of any class of buildings now subject to the supervision of the police which would be able to escape from it under the operation of his Resolution. It was intended that no house or place should be liable to the visitation of the police in consequence of taking out a licence under the Resolution. With respect to the places which would be permitted to be licensed under it, the Excise Department would decide upon that.


remarked that the right hon. Gentleman had altered his Resolution by introducing a new qualification, that of rating. He would like to know whether the Excise Department—that was the Government— were to decide arbitrarily that A should have a licence, but that B should not.


said, the Board of Inland Revenue could not be said to hove an arbitrary power in the matter, as it must proceed according to law, and would be liable to be called to account in Courts of Law. An appeal would also lie from their decision to the executive Government, and from the executive Government to Parliament. A license would not convey an exemption from police visitation, but it was intended that no place should be liable to visitation merely on account of such licence having been taken out. In the case of a gambling-house or other illegal association it would be the duty of the Board of Inland Revenue to refuse a licence; but if one were granted, it would not exempt such a place from police visitation. As to the other matter to which the right hon. Gentleman had referred, he had to say that he did not wish to import into the law any new qualification, but he adopted the ratable value; and if the Resolution would not include the buildings to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, it would not be difficult to insert a more perfect definition.


said, that the police had power to go into certain houses solely by reason of their being licensed; and if these houses would be enabled to sell liquors under the new licence, they would be excluded from police inspection. He was desirous that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should reconsider what actually constituted a club. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford (Mr. Cardwell) would probably recollect what pressure was brought to hear upon magistrates ten years ago in one instance in reference to licences as to dancing; and if he did, he might he able to give his right hon. Friend near him some information as to what might be clubs for particular purposes.


said, he understood the nature of the proposition of his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to be this—that it was his intention to insert provisions in the Bill which shall take care that clubs should not on account of the licence be subject to the visitation of the police, and also to guard against any attempt which might be made to obtain that exemption by establishments now under the surveillance of the police.


said, he objected to the Resolution on other grounds than those so graphically stated by the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire. It was proposed that a club should pay a licence for the sale of wine. His first answer was, that a club did not sell wine at all in the sense in which that article was sold and for which a licence was required. The wine in a club was consumed by its owners at cost price, and where there was a small addition made to the charge it represented the trouble of keeping and serving the article. He might be told that the question of profit had nothing to do with the matter. In his opinion it made all the difference, for no person would be asked to pay a licence, or, if he were, he would never dream of acceding to the demand, for the sale of a thing on which he got no profit. No doubt, if the Resolution were passed, clubs would grumble and pay; but probably the next proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be that gentlemen should take out a licence if they invited a few friends to dinner and gave them a bottle wine in their own houses. Clubs, moreover, fulfilled social duties of great advantage to society, and on that ground alone it was inexpedient to discourage them. Some country clubs, consisting of very few members, had at present great difficulty in making both ends meet; and the Resolution would literally crush them. Another objection was one of feeling. He should not like to see such societies of gentlemen assimilated, as the Resolution would assimilate them, to pot-houses. A Bill was before the House for shutting up public-houses on Sunday. Care might be taken to prevent clubs coming under that regulation; but if so, then so much the worse, fur a very invidious distinction would thereby be created between the poor man's house of refreshment and the gentleman's club.


said, he wished to mention, in corroboration of the remarks of the last speaker, that within the last few days he had been asked to allow his name to be put over the door of a yacht club on one of the finest rivers in the kingdom. He wished to know whether, if two or three families associated together to take a house and eat their meals in company—no uncommon case—they would come under the designation of a "club or association." To such an association a tax of £17 a year would be a most serious charge. Another objection to the measure was, that although the police would not have the power of interfering, the Excise would have to ascertain whether a house was a club or not before they granted a licence. That would be an infraction of the liberties of the people living in the way he had described. Considering the small-ness of the tax to be gathered, and the great difficulty in raising it, he would oppose the Resolution.


admitted that the case of country clubs was, if substantiated, one of importance, but neither in the House nor out of it had any instance of grievance been brought forward so as to enable him to consider the subject. There was not the slightest idea of bringing the ease mentioned, of two or three families having a common table, under the operation of the new law; and if there were country clubs to which the payment would be wholly out of proportion to their means, they no doubt ought to be taken into consideration. What he said was this:—That under the present arrangement the supply of strong liquors to the upper classes in their associations and social meetings was conducted free from the pressure of the tax which attached to a similar supply to the lower classes when they went to meet their friends in the only places open to them. This inequality was a small matter, but it became greater when defended; and if this measure passed, it would be removed.


said, he wished to remark upon one phrase used by the right hon. Gentleman—"at the discretion of the Board of Inland Revenue." Now, he had no faith in the Board of Inland Revenue; and in that opinion many others concurred with him. County magistrates, as a rule, had no more troublesome duty to perform than that of deciding who were to keep public-houses. They were often compelled to refuse licences on the ground of character, but the same parties had no difficulty in obtaining beer licences from the Board of Inland Revenue, and very frequently their houses became the resorts of the most depraved people in the neighbourhood. By passing the Resolution before the Bill was submitted to them, the House to that extent would be supposed to agree to the principle; and on that ground he should be prepared to vote against the Resolution. All taxation ought to proceed upon a defined and intelligible principle, and the Resolution contained a new mode of taxation, based on no such principle.


said, he would heartily second the proposal to negative a Resolution embodying another of those petty and vexatious taxes for which the reign of his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been so remarkable. He remembered reading a maxim of Lord Bacon, that when it was necessary to economize it was better to look after petty savings than to descend to petty gettings; and that was a maxim which applied to public as well as to private finance. His right hon. Friend had used what might be called an argumentum ad invidiam when he told them that they were laying down one rule for the rich and another for the poor—one rule for the places of entertainment frequented by the poor, and another for those of the rich. But there was all the difference in the world in the nature of the two cases. The public-house was a. place to which every poor man had free access; a club was a private assembly of a very exclusive character; and if his right hon. Friend wanted to be consistent, he should provide that every member who blackballed a person applying for admission should be liable to a penalty; because, if clubs were turned into public-houses, the practice of blackballing must be put a stop to. In point of fact, his right hon. Friend, if he taxed the clubs, might just as well tax any private gentleman for drinking his own wine in his own house. A club was a place in which, from the necessity of the case, and for the accommodation of members, it was necessary to charge a certain price for the consumption of wine beyond what the wine cost; but when a gentleman laid down a pipe of port in his own cellars and drank it twenty years afterwards, he, in reality, paid for it a very much higher price and charged himself for it much more than its original cost. According to the reasoning of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that gentleman might just as well be called upon to pay a licence duty for drinking his own port wine in his own house. He did think that such a petty and trumpery tax should be withdrawn.


said, that the Resolution was founded on a false analogy. Nothing like a sale took place at the club. To constitute a sale you must have sellers as well as buyers; but at the club there were only consumers, who drank their own wine. The manager of the club did not sell. The Chancellor of the Exchequer might as well licence the servant of any private gentleman. He could not understand upon what principle the Resolution had been altered so as to apply only to houses worth £100 a year or more. Whatever the rent, the houses were of precisely the same character; and it was very invidious legislation to say that those who kept good houses should be taxed, and those whose houses were not so good should be exempt. The present proposition seemed to him to be utterly at variance with the principle, that in levying taxation they should get the greatest amount of revenue with the least amount of annoyance. If the right hon. Gentleman thought that from their wealth it was right to tax these establishments, it would be better that he should put a direct tax on clubs.


said, he trusted the Committee would not lay themselves open to the invidious observation, that when a tax was proposed which would press upon themselves, they were unwilling to bear a small burden lest they should be classed as publicans. Clubs were certainly originally intended to prevent gentlemen being obliged to resort to hotels. He thought the proposition was an equitable one, founded upon equitable principles, and as such he should support it, though he was inclined to think that no question of ratable value should have been introduced.


observed, that he should oppose the Resolution, upon the ground that the tax would press heavily upon small clubs.


said, he considered that they should not give colour to the opinion, whether true or false, that they were disinclined to tax themselves. There was one suggestion, however, which he would make. Clubs paid a house duty of 9d. in the pound, whilst licensed victuallers paid only 6d. in the pound and perhaps the Chancellor of the Exchequer would consider whether the tax should not be 6d. in both cases.


said, he wished to draw attention to the fact that the lower classes were exempt from income tax; and as that was so, it could not be said that the rich were attempting to impose taxation upon the poor and to exempt themselves.

10. Motion made, and Question put, That, towards raising the Supply granted to Her Majesty, there shall be charged and paid for a Licence to be taken out, yearly, by or on behalf of any Club or Association, occupying a House of the rent or value of £100 a year, to authorize the selling and supplying by retail to the Members of such Club or Association, of Beer, Wine, Spirits, and all other Liquors, for the selling whereof an Excise Licence is required by Law to be taken out, and also Tobacco, the Excise Duty of… … £17 1s. 0d. And 5 per cent thereon. And for every such Licence to authorize the selling and supplying as aforesaid, Beer and Tobacco only. …. £3 10s. 0d. And 5 per cent thereon.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 143; Noes 111: Majority 32.

Resolution agreed to.

Agar-Ellis, hn. L. G. F. Ewing, H. E. Crum-
Angerstein, W. Fitzroy, Lord F. J.
Atherton, Sir W. Foljambe, F. J. S.
Ayrton, A. S. Forster, C.
Bagwell, J. Forster, W. E.
Baines, E. Gavin, Major
Baring, T. G. Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.
Barnes, T. Gilpin, C.
Bazley, T. Gladstone, rt. hon. W.
Beamish, F. B. Glyn, G. G.
Beaumont, W. B. Goldsmid, Sir F. H.
Beaumont, S. A. Gower, hon. F. L.
Berkeley, hon. C. P. F. Gower, G. W. G. L.
Blake, J. Greenwood, J.
Blencowe, J. G. Gregson, S.
Bouverie, rt. hon. E. P. Grenfell, H. R.
Brown, J. Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.
Bruce, H. A. Grosvenor, Earl
Buckley, General Grosvenor, Lord R.
Butler-Johnstone, H. A. Gurdon, B.
Butt, I. Hanbury, R.
Buxton, C. Handley, J.
Caird, J. Hanmer, Sir J.
Cardwell, rt. hon. E. Hartington, Marq. of
Cavendish, Lord G. Hassard, M.
Clifton, Sir R. J. Headlam, rt. hon. T. E
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Herbert, rt. hon. H. A
Cowper, rt. hon. W. F. Hibbert, J. T.
Cox, W. Hodgkinson, G.
Crawford, R. W. Howard, hon. C. W, G
Dalglish, R. Hutt, rt. hon. W.
Davey, R. Ingham, R.
Dillwyn, L. L. Jervoise, Sir J. C.
Dodson, J. G. Kinglake, A. W.
Doulton, F. Kingscote, Colonel
Duff, R. W. Layard, A. H.
Dunbar, Sir W. Legh, Major C,
Enfield, Viscount Lewis, H.
Evans, T. W. Locke, J.
Ewart, W. Lowe, rt. hon. R.
M'Cann, J, Puller, C. W. G.
Mackie, J. Ramsden, Sir J. W.
M'Mahon, P. Ricardo, O.
Maguire, J. F. Rothschild, Baron M. de
Mainwaring, T. Russell, H.
Marjoribanks, D. C. Russell, A.
Martin, P. W. Russell, F. W.
Martin, J. Salomons, Mr. Ald.
Milnes, R. M. Smith, M. T.
Moffatt, G. Steel, J.
Moncreiff, rt. hon, J. Stuart, Colonel
Morris, D. Sykes, Colonel W. H.
Morrison, W. Thornhill, W. P.
North, F. Turner, J. A.
O'Brien, Sir P. Vernon, H. F.
Onslow, G. Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.
Osborne, R. B. Waldron, L.
Paget, C. Warner, E.
Paget, Lord A. Watkins, Colonel L.
Paget, Lord C. Weguelin, T. M.
Palmerston, Viscount Westhead, J. P. Brown-
Pease, H. White, J.
Peel, rt. hon. Sir R. White, L.
Peel, rt. hon. F. Williams, W.
Pender, J. Winnington, Sir T. E.
Peto, Sir S. M. Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
Pigott, Sergeant Wood, W.
Pilkington, J. Woods, H.
Pollard-Urquhart, W. Wyld, J.
Ponsonby, hon. A.
Potter, E. TELLERS.
Powell, J. J. Mr. Brand
Pritchard, J. Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen
Pugh, D.
Adam, W. P. George, J.
Annesley, hon. Col. H. Gore, J. R. O.
Barttelot, Colonel Greenall, G.
Beecroft, G. S. Griffith, C.D.
Beresford, D. W. P. Grogan, Sir E.
Bernard, hon. Col. Hamilton, Major
Brooks, R. Hankey, T.
Bruce, Sir H. H. Hardy, G.
Bruen, H. Hardy, J.
Burghley, Lord Hay, Sir J. C. D.
Burrell, Sir P. Hesketh, Sir T. G.
Cartwright, Colonel Hornby, W. H.
Cave, S. Horsfall, T. B.
Chapman, J. Howes, E.
Churchill, Lord A. S. Hubbard, J. G.
Clay, J. Hunt, G. W.
Cobbold, J. C. Ingestre, Viscount
Cochrane, A.D.R.W.B. Jolliffe, right hon. Sir W. G. H.
Cole, hon. H.
Collins, T. Kendall, N.
Cubitt, G. Ker, D. S.
Damer, S. D. Knatchbull, W. F.
Dickson, Colonel Laird, J.
Disraeli, rt. hon. B. Lawson, W.
Du Cane, C. Leader, N. P.
Dunne, Colonel Lennox, Lord G. G.
Du Pre, C. G. Lindsay, hon. Gen.
Edwards, Major Long, R. P.
Egerton, Sir P. G. Longfield, R.
Egerton, E. C. Lyall, G.
Egerton, hon. W. Lygon, hon. F.
Fellowes, E. Macdonogh, F.
Fenwick, H. Malins, R.
Ferrand, W. Manners, rt. hon. Ld. J.
Franklyn, G. W. Morritt, W. J. S.
Gard, R. S. Mundy, W.
Garnett, W. J. Naas, Lord
Nicol, W. Somes, J.
North, Colonel Stacpoole, W.
Northcote, Sir S. H. Stirling, W.
O'Conor Don, The Stracey, Sir H.
O'Ferrall, rt. hn. R. M. Taylor, Colonel
Pakington, rt. hn. Sir J. Tomline, G.
Parker, Major W. Trollope, rt. hon. Sir J,
Peacocke, G. M. W. Turner, C.
Phillips, G. L. Vance, J.
Pinney, Colonel Vandeleur, Colonel
Potts, G. Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.
Powell, F. S. Watlington, J. W. P.
Quinn, P. Whiteside, rt. hon, J.
Redmond, J. E. Whitmore, H.
Repton, G. W. J. Wyndham, hon. H.
Ridley, Sir M. W. Wyndham, hon. P.
Sclater- Booth, G, Wynne, W. W. E.
Scourfield, J. H.
Selwyn, C. J. TELLERS.
Smith, M. Mr. Liddell
Smith, Abel Mr. Walter

Resolution 11, That, towards raising the Supply granted to Her Majesty, there shall be charged and paid for and upon every Excise Licence to be taken out by any person who shall be duly authorized by Justices of the Peace to keep a common Inn, Alehouse or Victualling-house, and who shall sell Beer, Cyder, or Perry by retail, to be drunk or consumed in his, her, or their house or premises, and who shall not take out a Licence to retail Spirits, the Duty of…. £3 3s. 0d. And 5 per cent thereon. In lieu of the Duty now payable on such Licence to retail Beer.


said, he wished to know why the additional 5 per cent was retained in the present satisfactory state of the revenue. That system of adding 5 per cent to the taxes originated, many years ago, with a Chancellor of the Exchequer who was not celebrated as a successful financier.


said, that the additional 5 per cent was very little objected to at the time it was proposed. The case before them, however, was not a case where a new duty was created, but where an existing duty was imposed on a class who ought to pay, and in such cases it was usual to impose the additional duty. He might add that it was a common practice to take out a spirit licence, and then, after having obtained a beer licence, to go on with the latter and to drop the former. In that way a beer licence could be obtained much more cheaply than when taken by itself. The Resolution was intended to meet that case.

Resolution agreed to.

Resolution 12, That, towards raising the Supply granted to Her Majesty, where any person shall be duly licensed to sell strong Beer in casks containing not less than four and a half gallons, or in not less than two dozen reputed quart bottles at one time, there shall be charged and paid for every additional Excise Licence which, may be taken out to authorize such person to sell Beer in any less quantity and in any other manner than as aforesaid, but not to be drunk or consumed on the premises where sold, the Duty of. £1 1s. 0d.

And 5 per cent thereon,agreed to.

Resolution 13, That, towards raising the Supply granted to Her Majesty, the Duties of Excise on Sugar made in the United Kingdom, specified in Schedule (B) of the Act passed in the 20th and 21st years of Her Majesty's reign, chapter 61, shall be continued and be levied and charged until the 1st day of August 1804,agreed to.

Resolution 14.


said, that as he had modified his arrangement relating to constant licences for stage carriages, and it would now involve no imposition of a new charge, but, on the contrary, a mitigation of charge in respect to particular carriages not carrying more than a certain number of passengers, it would not he necessary to move a Resolution on the subject. The reduction of duty to the particular class of vehicles to which he referred could be included in the Bill without any preliminary Resolution. Under these circumstances, he hoped the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets would not persevere with his Amendment to the Resolution having reference to occasional licences. There were occasions on which an additional supply of public vehicles was required for, perhaps, one day. To meet such cases, occasional licences had been granted under an original system. If the Resolution which he was about to propose should be defeated, the only effect of that would be to continue an irregularity.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That, towards raising the Supply granted to Her Majesty, there shall be charged and paid for and upon every Occasional Licence to be taken out under this Act by any person to use a Carriage for the conveyance of Passengers at separate Fares, the Duties of Excise following:—

For a Licence for any Carriage drawn by one horse, for one day £0 3s. 0d.
For any Carriage drawn by two horses, for one day £0 5s. 0d.
For any Carriage drawn by more than two horses, for one day £0 10s. 0d.

And where such Licence shall be required for a longer period than one day, the further Duty of one-half the above-mentioned rates for each day after the first day.

15. Resolved, "That it is expedient to amend the Laws relating to the Inland Revenue."

House resumed.

Resolutions to be reported To-morrow; Committee to sit again on Wednesday.


said, he could not but think that the case of the proprietors of stage carriages had not been sufficiently considered by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Under the Resolution proposed, the charge for an occasional licence for a day where extraordinary profit was to be expected by the proprietor would be only truly what was charged per day for a constant licence; but after the intimation given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer it would be useless for him to propose his Amendment.

In reply to Mr. HUBBARD,


said, he had omitted to mention, in his general financial statement, that a part of his plan in reference to stage carriages was to reduce the duty on a class that did not hold more than a certain number of passengers. He should bring his scheme forward in the Bill.

Resolution agreed to,