§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer.)
§ SIR HENRY WILLOUGHBY
said, he rose to express a hope that the question of the taxing of the clubs would be considered, as the subject was exciting much dissatisfaction, and it would be difficult to define what a club was.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he understood that the question was to be raised at a future stage. He regretted to find that an objection was felt to the substance of the enactment, but he did not think there would be any difficulty in defining clubs.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, he wished to know on what principle the Chancellor of the Exchequer confined the taxation of clubs to those above the rental of £100 a year, and whether he contemplated any taxation of those under that rental? He was not aware that £100 a year was a criterion for any purpose whatever. He should be glad to have some indication of the course the right hon. Gentleman intended to pursue. There was another point. One of the Resolutions had reference to occasional licences; he doubted whether the clause in the Bill did not go beyond the Resolution on which it was founded. He intended to bring under the consideration of the Committee the whole question of the licences of carriages; and he wanted now to be informed what course the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed to take. Again, with reference to the duty on railway passengers, he wished to know whether the right hon. 1366 Gentleman had given that up altogether? He should move that the Bill be read a second time that day six months, to enable the Chancellor of the Exchequer to give the information he wanted.
§ LORD ROBERT CECIL
said, he would second the Amendment. A horrible doubt had crossed his mind, whether public dinners would not be clubs for the purpose at which the right hon. Gentleman aimed. The stewards of a dinner were an assemblage of gentlemen who bought wine of the dealer, and then retailed it again to the guests at one guinea a head. He was afraid the stewards of every public dinner under the Bill would have to pay £17 10s. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman's intention was that that should be another form of taxing charities—only in that case the impost would fall upon voluntary contributions.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ MR. HODGKINSON
said, he thought the Chancellor of the Exchequer could hardly have considered the effect of imposing this tax on clubs. By the 14 & 15 Vict., c. 36, houses licensed to sell beer, wine, &c., were charged at the reduced rate of 6d. in the pound to the house duty, whereas clubs now paid the full duty of 9d. in the pound. The proposition of the right hon. Gentleman was couched in nearly the same terms as those contained in the Act to which he referred. He did not know what might be the effect as regarded other clubs; but having the curiosity to make inquiry at the Reform Club, to which he belonged, he found that it was assessed to the inhabited house duty in the sum of £2,900. At the rate of 9d. in the pound it was paying £108 15s. annually; but if, in consequence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's proposal, the rate was reduced to 6d. in the pound, there would be a saving to the extent of £36 a year, and it would only have to pay £17 1s. licence duty.
§ MR. CONINGHAM
said, there was a club at Brighton which could hardly maintain itself, on which the tax would bear in 1367 a peculiarly onerous manner. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would abandon what he regarded as a rash step; but as regarded carriages, he regretted that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had not succeeded in his proposal.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, the clause relating to occasional licences and the Resolution which he had submitted were intended to be an equivalent one for the other. Being unaware of any difference between them, he was not able to satisfy the doubt felt by the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets. He had not proceeded with the Resolution affecting railways, because he was waiting for some statistical information which the public accounts did not supply, and which the railway companies had promised to afford. With regard to clubs, he had stated that any case involving practical difficulties would receive due consideration, on a representation of the facts being made. Notwithstanding this invitation, no statements of the kind had been furnished hitherto; but if the hon. Member for Brighton and the hon. Member for Newark would supply him with the particulars, he should be able to deal with the points which they had raised. He did not contemplate any legislation with respect to clubs which occupied houses of a rental under £100 a year.
said, he had asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer on a former occasion what amount of income he expected to derive from the tax upon clubs. The right hon. Gentleman was then unable to return an answer; but he hoped his researches in the mean time enabled him to do so. To enable him to furnish the desired information to the House he begged to move the adjournment of the debate.
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Debate be now adjourned,"—put, and negatived.
§ Question again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read 2°, and committed for Monday next.