§ (Mr. Raikes, Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. William Henry Smith.)
§ Order for Committee read.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that in his speech in introducing the Budget he made a proposal with respect to the alteration of the stamp duty on appointments, although the present Bill contained no such provision. The explanation of the matter was, that he was not at first aware that it was necessary to put all matters of that nature in the same Bill. That, however, he had since ascertained ought to be the mode of proceeding, and he had, therefore, to move that it be an Instruction to the Committee to insert in the Bill a provision with respect to the repeal of the stamp duty on appointments. He had also stated that it was the intention of the Government to convert the 5 per cent stamp duty, into a 5s. per cent duty, which should apply to all appointments. Now, a good many clauses had been under consideration with the view of carrying out that object; but when they came to be considered in detail they appeared to him to be of a somewhat vexatious character, and as being likely to operate inconveniently on the junior members of the Civil Service. Having looked carefully into the Estimates of the Inland Re- 928 venue Department, to ascertain the amount produced by the stamp duty, he had therefore come to the conclusion that it would be better to do away with the duty altogether, and a clause would be proposed having its repeal for its object. He found that on a change of Ministry the stamp duty produced only £2,200, and that, taking all the different classes of appointments, the average loss to the Revenue would not exceed £6,000 a-year. He begged, therefore, to move, as the simplest course to take, that it be an Instruction to the Committee to insert a clause in the Bill for the repeal of the duty on appointments.
§ Ordered, That it be an Instruction to the Committee, that they have power to make provision for the repeal of the Stamp Duties on appointments to offices or employments.—(Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer.)
§ Motion made, and Question proposed," That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON
rose to move—That, in the opinion of this House, the remission of taxation to the extent of £60,000 per annum, arising from the proposed alteration in duties on licences for brewers would be suitably met by an equivalent increase in the malt duty.In making this proposal he had no wish to delay the House from going into Committee, to hamper the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or to harass the brewers, though he was not particularly partial to their employment. He had no desire to throw difficulties in the way of anybody. It was with admiration and considerable interest that he had listened the other evening to the right hon. Gentleman's brilliant defence of his Finan- 929 cial Statement. That Budget, in his humble opinion, as times went, was a tolerably fair one, but nothing nowadays was perfect. There was one blot, however, in the scheme to which he wished to call the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The right hon. Gentleman's proposal was that for the present sliding scale of duty there should be one of uniform character—namely, 12s. 6d. on every 50 barrels brewed, and he went on to say that this would not effect anybody injuriously, that the brewers and the public would be equally benefited. The Revenue, however, stood to lose £60,000 a-year by the contemplated change. Now, he asked the right hon. Gentleman if it would not be better to save the Revenue £60,000, and provide for himself a better chance than he had at present of obtaining a safe and moderate surplus next year. He threw out the suggestion in a friendly spirit, and with not the least hostile intention. Let him not merely alter the sliding scale of duty as he proposed, but let him do away altogether with the licence duty which was imposed in 1862. He, upon that occasion of course, felt great hesitation in opposing the scheme of the late Prime Minister, the greatest financier of our time, who put it on instead of the hop duty. Now, however, they would, in his opinion, be acting more wisely if they were to increase the malt duty and do away with the scale which was then introduced. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer were to increase the duty on malt from 2s. 8½d. per bushel to 2s. 11d. he would be able to save the £60,000 which he proposed to give away. A great bone of contention would be removed, and a serious grievance, of which the brewers themselves frequently complained, and which made the life of the Chancellor of the Exchequer a burden, remedied. Last March the right hon. Gentleman was waited upon by a deputation consisting of no less than 208 brewers and 58 Members of Parliament, and it spoke well for him that he came safely out of such contact. Then there was an Anti-Malt Tax Association, which comprised 200 Members of Parliament, all bent on getting rid of this tax, and representing pretty equally both sides of the House. Yet when the question came before the House of doing away with this licence all the votes they could muster among them was 83. That, no doubt, was very 930 disheartening. Afterwards they complained of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and said that the mantle of Sir Wilfrid Lawson had fallen upon him. It was a grievance for the public brewer to be called upon to pay this duty on an article while it was in process of being manufactured. Another grievance was that the licence duty had to be paid by the public brewer, while the private brewer was exempt from payment. If they adopted his proposal, they would get rid of every difficulty. He did not expect, of course, that it would meet with approval from all parties in the House. [Colonel BARTTELOT: Hear, hear!] He saw opposite the hon. and gallant Member for West Sussex, who, of course, would not like to see the malt duty increased. Although, however, the hon. and gallant Gentleman had great courage he had not many troops, for last year, when the anti-malt-tax army went into battle they could make but a small muster, while the hon. and gallant Gentleman himself was a deserter on that occasion. Indeed, he must be aware that, with the present high price of barley, an anti-malt-tax agitation could be made nothing of by himself or his friends. If this £60,000 was to be a present to the brewers, he did not see that they had done anything to deserve it. It might be said, and, indeed, he perfectly believed, that the brewers did not pay that duty at all, and that it was the consumers who paid it. He believed that the consumer paid all indirect taxes just as certainly as that water run down hill. That being so, he wished to know why beer-drinkers should be handicapped more lightly than spirit-drinkers. In fact, they were more lightly handicapped already, in the proportion, he believed, of 20 to 80 per cent, and the proposed concession would materially increase the inequality. As the House well knew, he was no friend to drinking. Nothing, to his mind, could be more horrible than the spectacle of the Chancellor of Exchequer coming down to the House on Budget nights and telling of the large amount of Revenue drawn from that source. They all seemed to rejoice at it, forgetful of the very great misery caused in the country by reason of its consumption. As long, therefore, as they raised their Revenue by that great taxation 931 upon drink he did not see why they should favour beer as they had been doing. Hon. Members, surely, did not wish to increase its consumption. If they referred to the history of the Beer Act, they would see what evil effects that beverage had wrought in the country. Sydney Smith, referring to the cheapening of beer, said—"The sovereign people are in a beastly state "—and they had remained more or less in that state ever since. On the present occasion, he thought, he was entitled to the support of the Irish and Scotch Members, for not long ago the hon. Member for Youghal (Sir Joseph M'Kenna) brought it forward as a grievance and an argument for Home Rule that more duty was paid on whisky in Ireland than on beer in England, or, in other words, that the Englishman could get drunk at a cheaper rate than the Irishman; and the hon. Member for Dumbarton (Mr. Orr Ewing) followed in the same strain, making a most pathetic speech, to the effect that whisky was the national beverage of Scotland—the joy of the Scotchman's youth, the sustenance of his middle age, and the support of his declining years—and pointing out how cruel it was to favour the English sot at the expense of the tippling Scot. He need say no more. He thought he had made his case plain. He thought it was a pity to throw away £60,000 a-year. His proposal was simple and equitable, and would make the Budget more symmetrical and satisfactory.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the "words" in the opinion of this House, the remission of Taxation to the extent of £60,000 per annum, arising from the proposed alteration in Duties on Licences for Brewers, would he suitably met by an equivalent increase in the Malt Duties,"—(Sir Wilfrid Lawson,)
§ —instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, the hon. Baronet's speech went further than his Resolution. His Motion led one to believe that he proposed to substitute an increase of the malt duty for the precise amount of £60,000 a-year, about to be remitted in 932 the case of the brewers. But his speech proposed that the licence duty imposed in 1862 to make up for the loss of the hop duty should, after having been borne by the brewers for the last 15 years, be imposed upon the maltster. The hon. Baronet seemed to think that the brewers had borne the burden long enough, and, therefore, out of kind consideration for the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who, he found, had been harassed a good deal by brewers' deputations, he proposed that the much-enduring maltsters should bear it in their turn. His impression seemed to be that if that were done the brewers would be satisfied and the maltsters would not complain. Now, he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) was pretty well convinced that the dead horse of which they had heard would be very likely to come to life again if the proposed transfer were made. No doubt he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had suffered a good deal from the interesting interviews he had held with the brewers, but he had had a certain amount of compensation. A very great deal of excellent argument and good temper had been displayed, which would doubtless yet bear good fruit. But it seemed to be forgotten that he had also had to receive the representatives of the malting interest, whose view was that it would be better to get rid of the malt tax altogether and turn it into a beer duty. Now, he had never been able to see his way to that. The hon. Baronet had said the other day that he was prepared to withdraw his Motion "on one condition." Well, he would be perfectly willing to accept the Motion before the House "on one condition," and that was that his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for West Sussex (Colonel Barttelot) should second it. He was quite willing to accept the proposal, if it received unanimous support; but there was not the slightest prospect of that. The real fact was that the brewers did not desire the duty, and the maltsters would not have it; but the simple proposal in his (the Chancellor of the Exchequer's) Budget was, to put all brewers on the same footing, and to give small brewers the same advantage which large ones enjoyed, and of which they had hitherto, as he conceived, been unjustly deprived. When the subject was previously before the House, the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. J. Holms), who was a sort of representative of the 933 brewers, gave Notice of an Amendment precisely similar to the present one. He might be called, in fact, the "owner" of the Amendment, and after it had stood on the Paper some time in his name, he, in obedience, probably, to representations from the brewers, "scratched" it. There was some agitation on the subject, because the Amendment had several "backers," and the hon. Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson), not wishing to spoil sport, had the Amendment entered in his own name for another race. Having brought the proposal forward, the hon. Baronet supported it by the curious argument that beer ought not to be lightly handicapped in the race with spirits. He was surprised to hear such an argument from such a quarter. Many Members very plausibly urged that beer as a beverage was less injurious than spirits; and, for his own part, he had always recognized that there was some weight in the argument. He should be exceedingly sorry, indeed, to add to the malt duty. The case on which the Resolution was based lay within an exceedingly narrow compass. An admitted grievance existed between the large and the small brewer. Well, he found himself in the position of being able—without any inconvenience to the Revenue—to remove this grievance, by simply taking off a certain amount of duty at a yearly sacrifice to the Revenue of £60,000. He was happy to say that the Revenue was in a position which rendered him perfectly comfortable in making this proposal, and he preferred dealing with the matter in his own way to adopting the proposal of his hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle and placing the payment upon the maltsters instead of upon the brewers, as at present.
§ COLONEL BARTTELOT
said, he was never more surprised than when he heard the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) proposing an increase in the malt tax. It could scarcely be that the hon. Baronet had been squared by the brewers, and, from advocating ginger-beer, soda-water, and tea, induced to urge upon the House an increase in the tax on malt for the reason that it was less heavily burdened than spirits were with imposts. There must be something behind what the hon. Baronet had openly urged to induce him to take this course; and he should very 934 much like to know whether the action taken by the hon. Baronet had or had not been influenced by the tone of a meeting which he addressed some time back in his own park in Cumberland. He strongly and emphatically denied that it would be either wise or prudent to tamper with the malt tax, and so unsettle all existing arrangements as to render it almost impossible for people to know what was the exact position of the question. He remembered that some time back, when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) introduced a Bill in reference to this question in order to make a concession to the agriculturists, his hon. Friend (Mr. Bass), whom he would call the prince of brewers, came down to the House and said that if the Bill passed beer might be brewed with anything the brewers pleased to use, and nobody would be able to tell what beer was made from. By way of illustrating his contention, he had two specimen barrels of beer rolled down to the corridors of the House, and he invited the right hon. Gentleman outside to taste them. First of all he opened the barrel containing beer of the kind he was ordinarily in the habit of brewing. That was pronounced good. Then the second barrel, containing linseed, was opened, and Mr. Gladstone declared it was better than the first. Well, his (Colonel Barttelot's) opinion was, that if they increased the malt tax brewers would use all sorts of horrid stuff, and people would be poisoned ten times more than they were at present. The burden had been placed to a great extent upon the brewers, whose shoulders were quite strong enough to bear it, and it would be monstrous now to increase the amount exacted from those who were already too heavily burdened by the operation of the malt tax.
§ MR. CHILDERS
recommended his hon. Friend to withdraw his Motion, and not divide the House upon it, as after the statement made by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he could not support it. He (Mr. Childers) wished to correct what he believed to be a general misapprehension with regard to Brewers' Licences. It was by many supposed that the brewers paid their licence duty on the basis of the number of barrels of beer they manufactured, whereas the 935 fact was that they paid upon the quantity of malt used. This was practically the imposition of a second malt tax, and involved both inconvenience and injustice to the brewers and large increased expenditure to the country for the cost of collection. He would, therefore, suggest to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he should, as early as possible—next year if it was not possible at present—get rid of an anomalous state of things involving inconvenience and expense by levying the whole duty in one sum.
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON
said, after what the Chancellor of the Exchequer had just stated, he did not wish to waste time by going to a division, and he would therefore, with the permission of the House, withdraw his Motion. He was sorry to lose the £60,000, but he hoped that he might get it next year.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.
§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clauses 1 to 4, inclusive, agreed to.
§ Clause 5 (Provisions of Income Tax Acts to apply to duties to be granted for succeeding year).
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
moved, in page 2, line 32, to leave out from "Provided" to end of Clause, and insert—And the surveyors of taxes acting in the metropolis, as defined by 'The Valuation (Metropolis) Act, 1869,' shall be the assessors for the duties to be granted and payable under Schedules (A) and (B) of the said Act of the sixteenth and seventeenth years of the reign of Her Majesty, chapter thirty-four, upon any property in the said metropolis, and shall also be the assessors for the duties on inhabited houses in the said metropolis; and in lieu of the poundage granted by the several Acts in that behalf, to be divided between the assessors and collectors for such duties respectively in the said metropolis, there shall be paid a poundage of three halfpence to the said collectors thereof.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Clauses 6 to 8 agreed to.
§ Clause 9 ("Wine dealers' licence to include sweets).
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clause 10 agreed to.936
§ Clause 11 (As to licences for carriages hired).
§ MR. HANKEY
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he had had any application made to him by coach-makers to allow persons hiring carriages to pay the duties thereon?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
replied in the affirmative. A deputation of coachmakers had been to him on the subject; the matter had been considered, and the arrangement come to was that persons hiring carriages for a year or more should pay the duties.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clause 12 (Spirit grocers and beer dealers' licences in Ireland to expire on the 10th of October).
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
moved, in page 5, line 31, to add—Provided always, That nothing in this Act contained shall continue in force any such licence granted in pursuance of a justice's certificate requiring to be confirmed under section twelve of 'The Licensing Act (Ireland) 1874,' after the time limited by the said section for the continuance of such licence, unless such certificate shall be confirmed in the mariner by the said Act prescribed.
§ Proviso adopted.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clause 13 agreed to.
(Repeal of stamp duties on appointment.)
After the passing of this Act the duties specified in the Schedule to this Act shall cease to be payable.
§ To move the following Schedule:—
§ Stamp duties repealed charged under 33 and 34 Vic. c. 97.
§ Admission and appointment or grant by any writing,
|To or of any office or employment—|
|Where the annual salary, fees, or emoluments appertaining to such office or employment do not||£||s.||d.|
|Exceed£100 and do not exceed£150||4||0||0|
|Exceed£150 and do not exceed£200||6||0||0|
|Exceed£200 and do not exceed£250||8||0||0|
|Exceed£250 and do not exceed£300||10||0||0|
|For every £100, and also for any fractional part of £100.||5||0||0|
|Commission or deputation granted by the Commissioners of Inland Revenue.||1||10||0|
|Charged under 35 and 36 Vic. c. 20, s. 3.|
|Commission or deputation granted by the Commissioners of the Customs||1||10||0"|
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, he did not object to the principle of the clause, but he thought it inconvenient that the Committee should be called upon to make such a sweeping change with only three-quarters of an hour's notice. In 1866, when he was at the Treasury, a small Committee was appointed, which went into the whole of these appointments, and it became evident that the question was altogether a very large one, going a great deal further than certain charges on appointments to civil offices; and that it could not be dealt with piecemeal, but must be dealt with as a whole. He wished to know whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed that all stamps now payable upon appointments of a high class, such as those of Colonial Governor and of Judges, were to be abolished, and also whether he intended that the stamps payable upon the appointment to livings should be retained? In the latter case the Committee were entitled to further and fuller information on the subject before they were required to come to a decision upon it.
said, he thought the question before the Committee was one of more importance than the Chancellor of the Exchequer appeared to attach to it. He had heard, he confessed, with the greatest surprise, the statement that the whole of the charges in the form of stamps upon appointments only amounted to £6,000 per annum. He was persuaded that there must be some misapprehension upon the subject. He really thought that it was required almost by propriety that the Committee should have some farther information on the matter before being called upon to vote upon it. They had no returns, no knowledge, and no comprehensive and exhaustive statements from the Finance Minister as to the character of the appointments which paid those duties. Apparently they were going to relieve all the highest salaries in the Civil Service of the country of a very considerable charge. Forty years ago he was a Member of a Government which lasted from three to four months; and in the case of a Government so circumstanced these were by no means inconsiderable charges, and he did not deny that they might be fairly re-considered and readjusted. But he did not wish to be committed without full consideration to a proposition which would practically 938 relieve the highest salaries in the country from a charge imposed upon them for the benefit of the State. For example, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland received £20,000 a-year, and he would be relieved from a payment of £1,000. He (Mr. Gladstone) wished to know why this should be done suddenly at a time when very great sensitiveness prevailed in all ranks of the public service with respect to salary, and when there was a disposition to press for augmentations of salary. He was by no means convinced of the propriety of giving relief to this especial class of salaried officers; but they might find, when information had been given, that a considerable proportion of these duties was paid by persons holding offices at low salaries. That, however, had not been brought before them. It was important to know whether the exemption was to extend to the stamps upon appointments to ecclesiastical benefices. If not, he must say that to take off £1,000 from the appointment of a Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, with £20,000, and to say to a clergyman appointed to a benefice of £150 a-year—"You shall continue to pay stamp duty to the Exchequer," was neither just nor politic. He could not assent to such a proposal unless it was of a comprehensive character, and made to apply to those who had a very much stronger claim to relief than the officials who it appeared were alone to benefit by this clause. He thought the request for more information could not be refused.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he had already explained the circumstances under which the Government proposed to make the contemplated change in the charges on appointments, and, in fact, he had called attention to the matter last year when a question arose with reference to the very appointment to which the right hon. Gentleman had referred—namely, that of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. The circumstances of that case were somewhat peculiar, because it appeared that in the old times the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland had to pay on his appointment a certain fee of something like £250; but that three or four years ago, when the late Government was in office, an Act was passed consolidating the Stamp Laws, and by the Schedule of that Act it was enacted that an ad valorem duty, at the rate of 5 per cent, should be pay- 939 able on admission to any office by writing. One of the consequences of the passing of that Act was that the Lord Lieutenant, very much to his surprise, found himself compelled to pay £1,000 on his appointment. He (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) brought the matter under the notice of the House last year, and with general approbation it was agreed to refund the Lord Lieutenant the difference between the amount of the stamp duty which he had paid and the duty paid by his predecessors. In point of fact, it would be very unfair that a nobleman who undertook to discharge duties which involved a very considerable expenditure should be mulcted in a large sum on his appointment, which he might be called upon to resign within a month. The case, however, which had been even still more pressed upon the attention of the Government was one of a different character. As he had already said, this alteration in the Stamp Laws, requiring stamps to be paid on all appointments in writing was made a very few years ago, and for a year or two it did not appear to have had any particular effect; but last year or the year before the Controller and Auditor General took notice of the appointment of Mr. Rivers Wilson to the office of Secretary and Controller of the National Debt Office, and contended that Mr. Rivers "Wilson was appointed by writing, and that therefore he was liable to pay the stamp duty on his appointment. As this was a case of an appointment which had never been subject to such a charge previously, Mr. Rivers Wilson had disputed his liability. The question thereupon arose as to what was an appointment in writing, and whether by the fact of the appointment being entered in the Minute Book of the Treasury it became an appointment in writing. The case of Mr. Rivers Wilson raised the whole question throughout the civil service. There appeared to be a large number of appointments in the civil service, such as those of Permanent Secretary to the Treasury, the Under Secretaries of State, and a large number of other offices of greater or less importance, on which no stamp duty was paid; while, on the other hand, when the case with regard to political appointments came to be looked more carefully into it was found that after a change of Government, the First and the Junior Lords of the Treasury, the 940 Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Lords of the Admiralty, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and he thought a very small number indeed of gentlemen who held political appointments did pay these charges under the recent Act. He was informed that it had not been usual for the Secretaries of State, the Lord President of the Council, the Lord Privy Seal, the Lord Chancellor, and some other persons holding highly paid offices to pay this duty upon appointment. When a patent appointment was made there was a stamp on the patent, and that duty he did not propose to touch. When the Lords of the Treasury, for instance, were appointed they paid a certain stamp duty on the patent, and in addition 5 per cent on the annual value of their appointments. On the patent they would have to pay some £20 only; whereas the 5 per cent might amount to £250. It was evident that there was very great inequality, and the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown was taken with regard to the liability of particular appointments to be subject to this charge. It appeared to the Government that the existing system was very unsatisfactory, and that the best way of getting out of the difficulty was to put the whole of the service on the same footing. It was very difficult to say what was the amount of revenue from these stamps, because no separate account was kept. From the information, however, which he had received from the Stamp Office, he was induced to think that by imposing a duty of 5s. per cent on all appointments the Exchequer would gain as much as would be lost by foregoing the 5 per cent. If the duty were enforced everywhere it would have to be paid by secretaries of railway companies, secretaries of all kinds of joint-stock companies, and clerks in banks, indeed, a very large number of persons would be caught by this duty if it were rigorously enforced; but there would be very great difficulties in so enforcing it. Even in the Civil Service difficulties arose which the Government endeavoured to meet; but at last it became doubtful whether the sum raised was really worth all the trouble and annoyance it occasioned. After very careful consideration had been given to the question by the Treasury, it was thought that about £6,000 a-year would be the amount produced on the average. If 941 they had a change of Government every year, of course the amount would be greater. Under all the circumstances, it seemed to him that the simplest and best course would be to let such a vexatious, unnecessary, and petty tax go altogether, as it only led to a great deal of inequality, and sometimes to rather curious scruples of conscience. He hoped, therefore, the Committee would accept the proposal which was made.
In reply to Mr. GOSCHEN,
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
explained that at present, if an appointment were made by patent, there were two charges—namely, the stamp duty on the patent, which it was intended to retain, and, in addition, the ad valorem duty on the appointment. It was the latter duty that he proposed to remove.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, the subject had been brought forward so suddenly that hon. Members had not been able to inform themselves respecting it in the usual manner. It seemed to him that there would still be a stamp on patents which were given in cases conferring a certain status. One anomaly in regard to stamps on patents was the following: when there was a change of Government every Lord of the Admiralty paid his share of the patent by which all the Lords were appointed; but if afterwards a change occurred in the constitution of a Board the new Lord had to pay stamp duty not only for himself, but also for the re-appointment of his Colleagues.
said, the anomaly referred to by his right hon. Friend furnished a reason why the question should receive full and separate consideration. He was not satisfied that it was expedient or politic to make a remission of this kind, which in practice would almost exclusively affect the very highest salaries. The discussion this evening showed that hon. Members were not prepared to legislate at this moment on the question. It was a new subject, and it would be far better if his right hon. Friend would deal with the whole subject, although he (Mr. Gladstone) did not blame him for not having submitted a more comprehensive proposal.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER,
in reference to the observations of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Goschen), said, that when a new Lord of the Admiralty 942 was appointed, he had to pay, not the whole, but only a proportionate part of the expenses of his patent. He must apologize for having brought the matter forward in this rather hasty way, because it was really a question very difficult to understand. Under the Act of 1870 there was a special scale of duties on Letters Patent under the Great Seal. There were certain fees payable on succession to Peerages, to Bishoprics, and in certain cases of promotion, the payment in each case being £30. That was a fixed sum. The Lord Lieutenant of Ireland was appointed by patent, and he had to pay £30; but that had not been his only payment. This amount would still continue to be paid. Over and above that, however, came an ad valorem charge, the amount of which depended upon the emoluments of the office. It was obvious that Her Majesty's Government, in proposing to abolish that charge prospectively, were not acting in their own interests, but rather in the interests of right hon. Gentlemen opposite, when they came to succeed them. The question was this—whether a man who was appointed to a particular office, and who was to receive a salary commensurate with the duties he was to perform, should have to submit to a reduction of that salary equal to 5 per cent on the first year of his appointment. He thought the Committee would agree with Her Majesty's Government that such a charge ought not to be continued.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, that the Royal Commission, by their Report of February, 1866, recommended that the entire subject of fees and stamps should be considered by a Committee. The change of Government prevented that recommendation being carried out, and he thought it was worthy of consideration whether it should not now be given effect to.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he was quite prepared to look into the question—which was quite distinct from that before the Committee—of stamps on patents and on appointments, and always intended to do so.
§ Clause read a second time, and added to the Bill.
§ Schedule and Preamble agreed to.
§ Bill reported; as amended, to be considered To-morrow.