HC Deb 16 June 1870 vol 202 cc305-9

Bill, as amended, considered.


said, he had taken the opportunity of placing on the Notice Paper three Resolutions in relation to the inhabited house duty. It might seem an unusual thing to bring them up at such a time; but he thought that the subject had been treated in a somewhat unusual manner by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He (Mr. Alderman Lawrence) thought that the duty fell more heavily upon houses as they descended in the social scale, whether they looked at the amount of rent paid, or the amount of income of the occupant. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, however, said that there was not the slightest reason why the tax should be remitted. Small as was the boon he (Mr. Alderman Lawrence) asked, if it were granted it would be a great concession to the general community. He hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer would not lose a great opportunity of doing justice. He moved to insert the following clause:—

(Exemption of certain houses from Inhabited House Duties.)

"From and after the fifth day of April one thousand eight hundred and seventy, every dwelling house let out in tenements or separate lodgings where the rent of each separate tenement or holding does not exceed the sum of seven shillings and eight pence per week, or under twenty pounds per annum, shall be exempt from Inhabited House Duties whether such dwelling house has or has not a front door."


seconded the Motion, in order that the Chancellor of the Exchequer might have an opportunity of speaking.

New Clause brought up, and read the first time.


said, the proposal was, that when a man possessed a house which was divided into separate tenements, for each of which the tenant was charged less than £20 a year, such house was to be exempt from the tax. Every shopkeeper who lived in a house of £20 a year had to pay house duty; but if a man happened to possess a house worth hundreds a year the hon. Member would exempt him from the tax, in the event of the house being let out to tenants each of whom paid less than £20 rent. His opinion was that the house duty ought to descend much lower than £20. It would be in the highest degree unjust for the House to accede to the Motion.

Motion made, and Question, "That the said Clause be now read a second time," put, and negatived.


said, he had another clause to move with respect to the house tax. This one applied to houses used as temperance hotels and coffee-houses. At the present moment every house licensed for the sale of ale, wine, or spirituous liquors was liable to a house tax of 6d., whereas hotels not so licensed were treated as private houses, and had to pay 9d. in the pound. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving the following clause:—

(Reduction of Inhabited House Duties on certain houses.)

"From and after the fifth day of April one thousand eight hundred and seventy, every inhabited dwelling house which, with the household and other offices, yards, and gardens therewith occupied and charged, is or shall be worth the rent of twenty pounds or upwards by the year, which shall be occupied by any person who shall carry on in the said dwelling house the business of an hotelkeeper, or an innkeeper, or coffeehouse keeper, although not licensed to sell therein by retail beer, ale, wine, or other liquors, there shall be charged for every twenty shillings of such annual value of any such dwelling house the sum of six pence."

New Clause brought up, and read the first time.


apprehended the reason the clause was brought forward was that the law imposed a tax of 9d. in the pound on houses which were not used as shops, and 6d. in the pound upon those which were so used. In the case of public-houses and temperance hotels the line drawn was, perhaps, a somewhat thin line; but one reason why the charge on a public-house should be less was, that it already contributed in many ways to the Revenue. So far as he could see, it did not appear to him to be worth while to make the change proposed.


supported the Amendment.


said, one reason for not dividing the House was that it was the custom of the House to deal with the Budget proposals of the Government as a whole; to reject, or it might be to modify them, but not to introduce new proposals. Another reason was that the case as between the public-houses and the temperance hotels was not at the moment so much before the House as his hon. Friend seemed to think. Without speaking of the taxes on the articles consumed, the taxation on the public-house for licences was much heavier than on coffee-shops and temperance hotels. In the interests of temperance his hon. Friend would be very unwise indeed if he instituted a comparison between the taxation of public-houses and temperance hotels. He would remind the House that a large measure dealing with the licensing question generally had been undertaken by the Government, and that it was much more desirable that any changes which it might be found desirable to make should be made by its means rather than in a temporary and discursive manner.

After a few words from Mr. MONTAGU CHAMBERS and Mr. ALDERMAN LUSK in support of, and Mr. PEASE against it,

Motion made, and Question put, "That the said Clause be now read a second time."

The House divided:—Ayes 35; Noes 68: Majority 33.


said, there was another clause which he wished to submit to the House. Under the existing law premises used for purposes of trade were exempt from inhabited house duty although a servant resided there merely for purposes of protection. But the Inland Revenue Department held that if a solicitor, an architect, an engineer, or any professional man occupied offices in a block of buildings otherwise exempt, such occupation not being for the purposes of trade, rendered the whole block liable to duty. Under these circumstances solicitors and professional men would be driven out of the chambers they occupied if the house duty were to be imposed. In order to obviate all difficulty for the future he moved the insertion of the following clause:—

(Exemption of houses occupied partly as a warehouse, &c. from Inhabited House Duties.)

"Whereas doubts hare arisen with respect to the exemption from Inhabited House Duties (under the Act thirty-second and thirty-third Victoria, chapter fourteen, section eleven) of a house occupied partly as a warehouse or shop or counting-house, and partly as an office for a solicitor or architect or engineer, or for a person engaged in other professional pursuits, and in which house a servant or other person dwells for the protection thereof, Be it enacted, That, from and after the fifth day of April, one thousand eight hundred and seventy, every such house as aforesaid shall be exempt from Inhabited House Duties, whether such house be partly or wholly occupied for professional or trade purposes, when a servant or other person dwells therein for the protection thereof."

New Clause brought up, and read the first time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the said Clause be now read a second time."


said, he would answer the clause instead of the speech of the hon. Gentleman, for the former he could understand, but the latter he could not. The clause, in effect, proposed that if a house were occupied by a professional man all day and by a servant at night—circumstances which constituted the strongest grounds for taxing it—it should, therefore, be exempt from duty. He was reminded by hon. Friends near him of the case of Box and Cox, which was very nearly that defined by the clause.


expressed surprise at the inability of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to comprehend the meaning of the clause itself, which was framed in almost the same words as the clause of the Bill of last Session, which was evidently intended to relieve such houses from the inhabited house duty. The proposed clause was not new, except so far as it sought to interpret the existing law, and to put an end to the litigation and the annoyance occasioned by the sudden action of the Revenue authorities in exacting house duty in cases in which it had never been intended to be imposed.


considered that the clause went farther than was intended by the hon. Gentleman who had framed it, because it really said that by reason of a servant occupying a house at night such house should be exempt from the duty.


said, he was of opinion that the clause was drawn up by a man of business, and was perfectly intelligible. Was it right, he asked, that a house otherwise exempt from this duty should, from the fact of a policeman or other guardian being hired to protect it at night, be made liable to the inhabited house duty?


said, he would withdraw the Resolution. He might not have drawn it correctly; but he had proved a grievance, and he would leave the matter in the hands of the Government.

Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

Bill to be read the third time Tomorrow.