HC Deb 05 April 1869 vol 195 cc141-2

said, he wished to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, Whether any and what arrangements have been made to carry into effect the Resolution of the House— That the expenses of the Copyhold, Inclosure, and Tithe Commission, Inclosure and Drainage Acts, and the expenses of the Charity Commission, ought not to be borne by the public?


I have to inform the hon. Member and the House that the Inclosure Commissioners have made provision by fees in their office for raising £ 17,000 towards their expenditure, which is a little more than £ 20,000. I hope this arrangement will prove a satisfactory one. I am sorry to say that I cannot give as favourable an account with regard to the Charity Commission. Wishing to carry out the Resolution of the House, I put myself into communication with that body and begged them to consider any means which might occur to them for providing the sum required to defray their expenditure, but after a good deal of consideration they reported that they did not see how by fees in their office they could raise much more than £1,000 a year, and from what I know of the Commission I believe that statement is true, because the proceedings in the office are of a very informal nature, and it is difficult to require that stamps should be used for the purposes of revenue. The result is that the only way in which the Charity Commission can be made to pay its expenses is by subjecting charities to an income tax. Now, I have found myself in considerable difficulty on this point, because, although the House resolved that the Charity Commission should pay its own expenses, yet the House was not aware that the income tax on charities; and I believe only way of doing so is by putting an that a Resolution was passed by this House on a former occasion, negativing such a tax. [Mr. GLADSTONE: There was no Resolution.] At all events, there was a debate on the subject, and the House did not seem to look very favourably on a tax of this nature. As far as I am concerned, I should be glad to see an income tax imposed on charities. But it appeared to me that my duty was not to take any action at all until the pleasure of the House was more distinctly known. If it be the opinion of the House that such a tax should be imposed, I shall give my hearty assent to it. In the meanwhile I shall propose the Estimate as it stands, and the House can do whatever it thinks right in the matter.