HC Deb 15 April 1878 vol 239 cc1321-51

Clause 17 (Increase of duty imposed by 30 & 31 Vict. c. 5).

MR. MONK moved, in page 7, line 38, to leave out from the word "seventy-eight" to the words "chapter five," in line 40. The hon. Gentleman said, he was in favour of keeping the duty as it then stood. He thought there was really no good reason for increasing it from 5s. to 7s. 6d., and that the police could accomplish the object of the tax, which was to diminish the number of stray dogs, and insure the regular collection of duty, as well under the former as under the increased rate of 7s. 6d.

Amendment proposed, in page 7, line 38, to leave out from the word "seventy-eight" to the words "chapter five," in line 40.—(Mr. Monk.)

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."


would support the Amendment in place of his own, of which he had given Notice; because it equally raised the point which he had desired to raise—namely, that the duty should remain where it was. On a previous evening he had had the opportunity of saying something on this subject, and did not feel himself precluded from repeating some of the observations he then made. He claimed, in that instance, with the aid of some Friends about him, to represent a sentimental grievance—in his opinion, a very strong one. The tax which it was proposed to increase already pressed heavily on men of humble position in society, who had just the means of keeping a dog, possibly half-starved, possibly fed by chance contributions furnished by the sympathies of neighbours; but still a valued, and sometimes useful, member of the household. He wished to know whether it was worth while, or whether it was wise, of the Finance Minister to resort to this method of raising the Revenue? There were plenty of other taxes which might be resorted to—in fact, there was nothing, however low in degree, upon which Revenue could not be raised, if they chose to do so. He was speaking on behalf of a great number of persons who, though of poor estate, were as much the admirers of the dog as those of larger fortune. Was it to be supposed that the duty could be got from those people? Or was it that the right hon. Gentleman was making the tax rather in the interests, say, of the farmers or game preservers? If that were the case, let him be candid, and say so. But, even so, would the tax produce the results which were intended—either the extermination of stray dogs, or the collection of the money? He thought not. He did not believe that the dogs would be exterminated by imposing a tax which the poorer class of owners could not possibly pay. The man who was indifferent to the laws of society would assuredly let his dog—perhaps a fine bull-terrier—shift for himself. The policeman would go to his house, and when asked—"Is that your dog?" he would answer—"It is not mine." The policeman could, of course, go and take it if he liked—a dangerous duty—but the dog would not be paid for. He thought it was a grievous thing, out of so many sources of Revenue, to select anything so paltry as the imposition of a tax of 7s. 6d. on the dogs; which, however it was collected in the household, would allow the stray dogs to escape, as they had escaped hitherto. With regard to the immunity for 12 months allowed to fox-hounds, it was, in his opinion, quite unjustifiable; and were it extended to the dogs of the poor, it would include the whole term of their natural lives. Having made these observations, he hoped that the words would be omitted from the clause.


There are two questions which the Committee will have to consider; one, whether any alteration shall be made in the mode of levying the duty on dogs; the other, as to the increase in the tax itself. The arguments of the hon. and learned Member for Stockport (Mr. Hopwood) are arguments against altering the mode in which the tax is recommended to be levied. Nearly all that he said referred to the manner in which the persons he described would be affected, and is just as applicable to the tax at 5s. as to the tax at 7s. 6d. I cannot doubt that one effect of the alteration will be to diminish the number of dogs kept, a matter which has given rise to serious complaint. In the course of the last year or two, and before that time, complaints, which I venture to say are serious, and which cannot be overlooked, have been made of the great increase in the number of dogs, and they are increasing every succeeding year. I have received numbers of letters from all parts of the country, and from persons of different classes, all urging upon me the consideration of this question of the dog tax. They have not come from persons interested in sporting only—they have come from persons of all classes—clergymen, medical men, farmers, and fathers of families, who said that their children were alarmed and frightened. I have also had a good many complaints of the rough and improper manner in which a large number of dogs are used. I need not remind the Committee of the various representations which have been made as to hydrophobia, and other matters of that kind, which are possibly exaggerated; although considerable uneasiness is felt by large numbers of persons throughout the country on this subject. I think that the conclusion to which we are forced is—that it is really necessary to introduce a somewhat stricter principle in the collection of the dog tax—the effect of which will be to reduce the number of dogs kept, and that we should somewhat increase the rate of the tax itself. Hon. Members present will bear me out in saying that when I first made that intention known to the House, I was met by a great many cries that I should double this tax. I have resisted these representations, and have rather taken the line of keeping the tax to a moderate rate, and not causing unnecessary interference with those to whom keeping of dogs is a necessity.


said, from the remarks of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it was clear that the object of the right hon. Gentleman was restraint rather than Revenue. It seemed to him that his wiser course would have been to effect this, rather by greater strictness than by additional taxation; which would, no doubt, diminish the number of dogs for which the tax was not paid, but not the number of tax-paying dogs. Many people were affected by this tax, and he appealed to Her Majesty's Government not to impose an additional burden on the owners of what were called "poor men's dogs." Nothing was more irritating than the ravages of these stray dogs; and he quite admitted that it was extremely necessary that there should be some means of repressing them, although he did not see the necessity for altering the tax itself. He would vote for the Motion of the hon. Member for Gloucester.


said, he fancied the object of the Amendment was really to show the Committee that a great number of hon. Members considered the proposed increase of 2s. 6d. too much. Many hon. Members on that side considered that the tax should have been increased to 10s., and he had himself placed an Amendment on the Paper to that effect. About 10 years ago, he was one of those who objected to the proposed modification of the dog tax, which then stood at 12s. He had contended that by abolishing all exemptions, a great hardship would be placed upon a number of poor trades people and farmers, to whom a dog was essential in their vocations, and that the number of useless dogs would be augmented. His prophecies had been fulfilled, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer had increased the tax to get rid of some of these worthless dogs which roamed about the country. He had heard that it was not an uncommon thing in the mining districts for dogs to be fed while children were starved. He did not believe that any sort of dog could be kept upon less than 1s. a-week, and that—or, as some hon. Members said 1s. 6d. a-week—was the rent of a cottage in some of the agricultural districts. Whenever dogs were multiplied either in town or country, they became a very great nuisance. It was to this class of dogs, not to the pet dogs, that the right hon. Gentleman referred as being the subjects of hydrophobia. It was these dogs that worried the farmer's sheep and disturbed the landlord's game, besides causing serious accidents. He considered the dog to be a fair subject for taxation, and would have been glad if the Chancellor of the Exchequer could have seen his way to increase the tax to 10s. He believed the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman would be a benefit to the country, but wished the Revenue had received a little further increase.


considered, that unless a more stringent system of collection was adopted under the new system than prevailed under the old, the Chancellor of the Exchequer would find that his proposal had made very little increase in the Revenue. The officers who collected the Revenue had no means of ascertaining who were and who were not keeping dogs, and it was certain that many owners of dogs would not pay the tax. Hence, the Chancellor of the Exchequer would find, when he came to make inquiries, that to render the taxation really effective, he must place larger powers in the hands of the police. It must, in fact, be made part of the duty of the police to ascertain who were, and who were not, keeping dogs, and then the Chancellor of the Exchequer would get the increase of Revenue he calculated upon. He agreed with the suggestion of the hon. Member for South Norfolk (Mr. Clare Read) that the tax ought to be increased from 5s. to 10s., instead of to 7s. 6d., and then the Chancellor of the Exchequer would cause a still greater gain to the Revenue.


said, the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Stockport (Mr. Hopwood) had spoken the other evening on the poor man's dog. This was a creature in whose existence he did not believe, and he had hoped that this evening, when the hon. and learned Gentleman had again referred to the tax, that they would have heard something about a real bonâ fide poor man's dog. The hon. and learned Gentleman, at the commencement of his speech, had spoken of dogs kept by people in humble positions in life; he had talked of the half-starved dog, and then he began to speak of the highly-cultivated dog, whose keeper had some idea of sport. Then he (Mr. Assheton) began to see daylight, and he became still more enlightened when the hon. and learned Gentleman had said something about dogs kept for racing by the poorer classes. Those were the dogs that he believed were kept by the men who starved their children and beat their wives, but who fed their dogs on new milk and legs of mutton; and he felt strongly that, if any tax would suppress that sort of thing, it ought to be imposed by Parliament. He felt that he was now no nearer than he had been a few nights ago to finding out—what he still believed to be a mythical creature—the poor man's dog.


failed to see how an addition of 2s. 6d. to the tax upon dogs would decrease their numbers, especially of those who were fed upon new milk and mutton. It appeared to him that, if this tax were directed against any particular class of dogs, it must break down. It could only diminish the number of dogs in one way—that was, if people were able to pay 5s. in the form of a tax, but could not afford 7s. 6d., and gave up their dogs rather than pay the increased sum. But this would not diminish the number of stray dogs, upon which no tax at all was paid. Nothing would be more proper than to prevent unowned dogs running about, but that could not be affected by the proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The tax would have this effect—that all those who could afford to pay, and to whom it made no difference to pay 7s. 6d., would continue to keep their dogs in unabated numbers; but a number of persons would not keep dogs in future, because they could not afford to pay the increased amount. He believed the proposal would have the effect of diminishing the number of dogs kept by poor people. He did not believe what had been stated as to the brutalizing effect of dogs; on the contrary, he considered that they had—if there were no bull in the expression—a humanizing effect upon their owners; and it would be most undesirable that it should be thought that the House desired to diminish the number of dogs kept by the poorer classes. There seemed to be a desire to take advantage of two currents of opinion—one to prevent hydrophobia, and the other to stop poaching; and, under these two influences, the tax on dogs was to be increased; but the feeling would be that the tax was not to be raised so much for fiscal purposes as to diminish the number of dogs kept by the poorer classes.


believed that no part of the Budget would be more popular than that increasing the tax upon dogs. That the general feeling of the House was in favour of an increase was shown during the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Budget speech, when, having proposed 7s. 6d., he was met with a cry of "Ten shillings" from both sides of the House. He sincerely hoped that the right hon. Gentleman's proposition would have the effect of diminishing the number of dogs. If half of them were destroyed it would be a benefit to society, and the Government would get nearly the same Revenue; but, of course, nothing like so many dogs as one-half would be actually got rid of. The decrease would result, not from the increase in the tax under the new system but from the operation of the more stringent manner in which the duty was to be collected. Many a man kept a dog now without paying a tax upon it because the chance of detection was small. If a man had a useful dog he would just as willingly pay 7s. 6d. to the Revenue as 5s. This was not a question affecting the country alone; it had just as much bearing upon the inhabitants of London, in whose streets no one could have walked without being struck by the immense number of ownerless dogs that were running about. There was one city in Europe—Constantinople—where the dogs were remarkably numerous, and he thought London was getting very much like it in relation to useless dogs. The proposition of the Chancellor of the Exchequer would cause no loss to the Revenue and be productive of general benefit.


thought the Constantinople dogs were not useless but useful, as they cleared away the rubbish from the streets. He should be obliged to the Chancellor of the Exchequer if his proposition reduced the number of useless dogs and increased the Revenue, but doubted if it would have that effect. The additional tax did not appear to have been imposed to get more money, but rather on the ground that it would diminish the number of dogs; but he questioned whether it would bring more money to the Revenue than the present system, and did not see how useless dogs would be put down by it. The class of dogs that should be put down was that which was owned by nobody and paid no tax; but the new system would affect a different kind of animal. The hon. Member for Clitheroe (Mr. Assheton) had said he had been unable to discover the poor man's dog; but there were, undoubtedly, poor men's dogs, and there were also poor children's dogs. Hon. Members must know the pleasure the possession of a puppy gave to poor children; but poor parents would have to deny them this pleasure if they could not afford to pay the tax. The particular dog it was desirable to put down was the animal that belonged to no one, or that was, at all events, owned by nobody—the dog that went wandering about without a local habitation, or was unowned directly the taxgatherer applied. That class of dog would not be affected by the imposition of a higher tax, the tendency of which might, perhaps, be to increase its numbers; while the pleasure of a great many poor people, who were unable to pay the additional tax for some favourite, would be spoiled without there being any increase in the Revenue. Therefore, the object of the tax would not be attained, because the dog would not be put down whose numbers ought to be diminished; while the tax would have the effect of lessening the number of dogs which were not unnecessary, and which gave a great deal of pleasure to a class of persons whose feelings the House ought to consult.


said, he thought that the thanks of the country were due to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for having directed his attention to a question which, however small a matter it might appear to some persons, was a source both of danger to individuals and of injury to property. The late lamentable outbreak of hydrophobia had caused a great deal of suffering and the loss of many valuable lives. The county which he represented had escaped that great evil, but being a pastoral district, it had suffered much from the injuries inflicted by wandering dogs—for bands of men and lads were in the habit of going out from the towns on Sundays and other holidays, accompanied by a numerous following of dogs, which they did not attempt to control; but allowed them to hunt and range about the fields, doing much injury to sheep, particularly in the lambing season, and later to fattening cattle, by chasing and disturbing them.


said, they had heard a great many speeches on this clause, which proposed to increase the duty on dogs by 2s. 6d.; but no one had yet shown how that increase would operate. The Chancellor of the Exchequer's speech appeared, as far as he could understand it, to be in favour of the extermination of dogs; but the right hon. Gentleman had not shown how the imposition of another 2s. 6d. on the tax would effect that object. The hon. and learned Member for Marylebone (Mr. Forsyth) had spoken in favour of reducing the number of dogs, but his whole argument had been that what was wanted was better police supervision. The additional 2s. 6d. would, as far as it would have any effect at all, be quite as likely or more likely to increase as to diminish the number of stray dogs; because, when the time approached for paying the duty, the owner of a dog who was not inclined to pay 7s. 6d., would be as likely to turn it adrift as to put it to death. He thought the tax came from two causes—one, the general objection on the part of country gentlemen, which he could perfectly understand, and to a certain extent sympathize with, that dogs running about loose got into covers and disturbed the game; the other was the apprehension, particularly on the part of dwellers in towns, of the danger of dogs. Last Autumn there had been an unusual alarm of hydrophobia, and, in consequence of the dread of the disease which existed, there was an extraordinary quantity of correspondence in the newspapers on the subject. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had stated that one of the great inducements he had had to make his proposition on the subject of the tax was the number of letters he had received on the subject. But, in the dull season, newspapers must have something to fill their columns. The subject last Autumn had been hydrophobia; the Autumn before it, was the comparative charges and badness of English and foreign hotels; and the Autumn before that, it was the dangers of the Alps, or something else. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer desired to put down dogs, let him make the tax 10s. or £1 at once; but, if his object were to have a reasonable tax, he could not do better than keep it at 5s. If the Amendment were pressed, he should vote for it.


felt rather surprised that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Dodson) should have suggested that the stories in the newspapers about hydrophobia were altogether illusory; because, if one thing was established more than another by statements independent of those of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it was that there was, in both town and country, a large number of useless dogs. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer could increase the Revenue and at the same time decrease the number of dogs, the public would be under great obligations to him. The right hon. Member for the City of London (Mr. Goschen) had offered the best argument in favour of an increase of the tax, when he had stated that there were people who were willing to pay 5s. who could not afford to pay 7s. 6d. So much the better, if the increase compelled them to part with their dog; because, if they could not afford to keep their families properly and pay the tax, the sooner, in the interests of their wives and families, that they gave up the luxury the better. The right hon. Gentleman had gone on to talk about the humanizing influence of dogs, but that entirely depended upon the sort of dog. He had heard of a dog, whose master was Bill Sykes, and that was not a humanizing kind of animal. There were a great many dogs of that type, he thought, in the district in which the hon. and learned Member for Stockport (Mr. Hopwood's) constituency was situated. He could never see the humanizing effect of ladies' lap-dogs; but, of course, that was a matter of opinion. The curse of dogs in towns was greater than in the country. In the country, if a man kept a lurcher it was pretty well known, and if the keeper knew his business he could keep such dogs out of the covers. Looking at the new proposition from all points of view, he believed that, in a small way, the proposition of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was about as acceptable as any the right hon. Gentleman could make.


thought that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Goschen) had put the question on a false issue. He approved the increase of the duty, and did not think it was fair to object to it after the Chancellor of the Exchequer had consented to an allowance off income tax for depreciation of machinery, and to a diminution of the house tax. He believed that the Revenue would be increased by the tax, just as the Chancellor of the Exchequer contemplated. Hon. Gentlemen in the habit of sitting as magistrates must repeatedly have had children before them, dreadfully bitten by dogs, and there was little power to punish the owners in such cases. Great injury to the public was done in this way. He did not believe the increase in the tax would decrease the number of dogs on which it would be paid.


differed with the hon. and learned Member opposite (Mr. Rodwell) as to the influence of the society of dogs upon men. Nearly all dogs were humanizing, but there were some men who could not be humanized. The hon. Member would recollect that Bill Sykes's dog would not come to him after the murder had been committed. That showed that Bill Sykes's dog was really a very superior dog indeed. The condition of the dog depended not so much upon the dog itself as upon the master. All dogs were capable of being more or less civilized, but there were some men who could not be humanized. However, to return to the subject, it was to be noted that the Chancellor of the Exchequer practically admitted that the object of the increase in the tax was not so much to augment the Revenue as to diminish the number of dogs throughout the country. Now, he (Mr. Parnell) protested against this round-about method of doing business. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer wished to act straightforward, and to diminish the number of dogs at large, he ought to have introduced a Bill for that purpose. If they came to consider the subject fairly, they would not, practically speaking, put a stop to the dogs they saw running about in every town, and they were the dogs to be most dreaded. It turned out, from the course the debate had taken, that the country Gentlemen opposite did not desire to get rid of the dogs because they were disagreeable in the country, but only because they were disagreeable in towns and villages. He (Mr. Parnell) admitted, to the fullest extent, that stray dogs were exceedingly disagreeable in towns and villages; but then the question came, whether the means which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had adopted would remedy the evil? All of them who had from time to time walked about London had certainly been confronted by dogs seemingly mad. It was when dogs were lost, when they had been driven out of their houses, that they got into that state which generated madness. It was when they were tortured by thirst and hunted in the streets by boys that they went mad. He admitted that the object which the Chancellor of the Exchequer appeared to have set before himself for attainment was a very proper one; but he could not agree that the way he proposed to effect it was the correct way. The Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed to attain his object by letting loose hundreds of thousands of dogs all over the country. That was, practically speaking, the proposition he had submitted to the Committee. He had told the Committee that he thought that the dogs would be reduced by one-half if this extra tax was levied, and if the police exerted themselves to prevent dogs from escaping the payment of the tax. If the police really did the duty that was imposed upon them, the owner would be driven to the choice of three courses. He could, in the first place, endeavour to either sell his dog or get rid of it by giving it to his neighbour. If the dog happened to be of a worthless description, or if he had not got a good-natured neighbour, he would be unable to sell it, or even give it away. If he could not do that, he would have to adopt one of two measures; he would either have to drive it into the street, or else to poison or shoot it. He submitted, that the owner of a dog, in nine cases out of 10, would prefer to drive his dog into the streets, than to hang it or to put an end to its life by some other method. Had the Chancellor of the Exchequer ever seen a dog hanged? It was one of the most painful sights conceivable. He (Mr. Parnell) saw one once, and it certainly made a very painful impression upon his mind, that could not be easily erased. It was shortly after the dog tax was introduced into Ireland, at which time a great many dogs were hung in that country. He (Mr. Parnell) recollected taking a walk at that time, in the course of which he saw a man hanging a fine sheep dog. The dog was swinging at the end of a rope; and the unfortunate owner, who was very fond of it, and who was only doing away with it because he could not pay the tax, was standing with his back turned to it, and with tears in his eyes. Anything more cruel than the spectacle he then witnessed he could not imagine. What was then done in Ireland was what the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed to do now in England. He was going to adopt almost the identical measures to bring about a diminution in the number of dogs; for he placed it in the hands of the police to see that these taxes were collected, and empowered them to summon the owners when the taxes were not paid. Of course, the result of that action would be that dogs would be hung in all directions. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer confined himself to raising or increasing the Revenue, it would have been far better. The right hon. Gentleman had admitted that he did not propose this additional tax for the purpose of increasing the Revenue. The fact was, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been pressed by numerous letters from all parts of the country, and that had led him to propose this addition. He (Mr. Parnell) did not believe hydrophobia would be diminished one bit by the increased tax, but that, on the contrary, it would be increased very much; for more stray and mad dogs would roam about the streets than hitherto, because their owners, not caring to kill them, would turn them adrift. Under these circumstances, he felt bound to support the Motion before the Committee.


as a lover of dogs, thought it rather hard that an addition should be made to the tax upon them without any intention on the part of the Government of obtaining an increased Revenue. He did not believe that the outcry against hydrophobia last year was at all warranted. He had inquired into the matter a good deal, and his conviction was that the apparent increase in the number of cases of hydrophobia was due to the greater attention which was paid to them, not a single case being allowed to pass unnoticed. Besides, dogs were often said to have hydrophobia when their malady was nothing of the kind. So far as game was concerned, he did not think the proposed tax would effect any good. The most dangerous dogs were those which accompanied carts, &c., from town to town, and which were put through every bit of cover on the roadside by their masters. Now, over these dogs, the police would have little or no control. His chief objection to the proposed tax, however, was that it would give rise to a number of new offences, causing men to be summoned and fined who at present never appeared in a police court.


remarked, that a good many hon. Members seemed to be out of sympathy with those for whom they had to legislate. For instance, the hon. and learned Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Rodwell), arguing in favour of the proposed tax, said it would take away dogs from families who had no business to keep them. He (Mr. Hopwood) should like to ask him, with all respect, what right he or that House had to decide what the number of mouths should be in a particular household, and who was to prevent the children, if they chose, from giving a morsel of their bread and butter to the household favourite?

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 122; Noes 30: Majority 92.—(Div. List, No. 104.)

MR. PARNELL rose to move, in page 7, line 40, after "dog," to insert— belonging to any person who has the necessary qualification for voting for Members of Parliament, and whose name is on the list of Parliamentary electors for any borough or county. The Amendment, he explained, was for the purpose of excluding from the operation of the Bill all dogs not belonging to registered Parliamentary voters. The Chancellor of the Exchequer hoped, by means of this tax, to put an end to a vast number of dogs throughout the country. Now, the people unable to pay the tax, would be chiefly those who did not possess the Parliamentary franchise, and it was they whom he (Mr. Parnell) proposed to exempt. It appeared to him that if the tax were intended not to increase the Revenue, but to diminish the number of dogs in this country, the object in view might be better attained in some other way. In the city of New York, it was the duty of the police to arrest all stray dogs, and take them to a place set apart for their reception. That was the course of procedure in all American towns. In some of the States, however, different laws existed, and the regulations partook of a local character. Therefore, the law as to stray dogs in the State of New York was entirely different from that prevailing in Cincinnati. The career of stray dogs was, however, effectually put a stop to. The proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, however, would not increase the Revenue, neither would it carry out the objects which many of his supporters had in view. The danger to the public would not be diminished; on the contrary, he was of opinion that it would be very much increased. Instead of having dogs arrested, as in New York and Cincinnati, they would be allowed to run about the streets, thus becoming a nuisance and a danger to the public. The proposal, therefore, he had to submit to the House was simply this—that the class of dogs which was not likely to be taxed under any circumstances, and which would not, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer had admitted, contribute to the Revenue, should be omitted from the Bill. Dogs not expected to contribute to the Revenue ought not to be included in the Budget proposals. He submitted that hon. Members on the other side of the House—Representatives of the counties—ought to support his Amendment, inasmuch as they had said that they did not wish to get rid of the dogs in the counties, but simply desired to have security against the numerous stray dogs of the towns and villages. Of course, the class of dogs that would not be exempted under the provisions of his Amendment, would be very much more numerous in the towns than in the counties. Hon. Members from the country ought, if they were consistent, to support the Amendment. It had been said that the House of Commons laboured under a very great disadvantage in not having Representatives of the classes whose interests were affected in the House. For instance, if the representatives of the dogs, which were to be exterminated by the Budget proposals of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, were in a position to state their views with regard to those proposals, it would be a very great advantage to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He believed that those proposals would be met with a great amount of opposition, and that they would be most unpopular throughout the country. He would not go the length of saying that they would have their influence at the next General Election, but thought that the action which had been taken in that direction would diminish the popularity of the Government of this country. Therefore, from that point of view, the Government ought, in its own interests, to support the proposal he had to bring forward. He begged to move, in Clause 17, page 7, line 40, after "dog," to insert— belonging to any person who has the necessary qualification for voting for Members of Parliament, and whose name is on the list of Parliamentary electors for any borough or county.


begged the hon. Member to treat the matter in a serious manner. The effect of the adoption of the Amendment would really be to impose a fine upon persons who were qualified to vote for Members of Parliament, and who placed their names on the list. It would be a most extraordinary violation of Constitutional doctrine, if they tried to discourage voters from voting.


said, that the only objection which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had brought forward was not a very valid one. In fact, it was a very Conservative reason why the right hon. Gentleman should support the Amendment before the House. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had said that the effect of its adoption would be to prevent people from placing their names on the register of voters. Why, that was the very thing that the Conservative Government had been trying to do. All their Registration Acts were framed so as to prevent people from placing their names on the register.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

MR. CHAPLIN (for Earl PERCY) moved, in page 8, line 3, after "sixpence," to insert— Provided always, That no person shall be chargeable with Duty to any greater amount than thirty pounds for any number of hounds kept by him in any one year, and. He said, that the object of the Amendment was a very simple one, and he hoped that it would not be considered an altogether unreasonable proposal. It was to enable the owners and masters of packs of hounds to compound for them by paying one sum for the whole of the pack. There was a precedent for this course. In 1853, when the tax on dogs was 12s. 6d., masters of hounds were able to compound for 66 hounds by a payment of £39 12s. 6d. What reason existed for the selection of 66 as the number, he was really not in a position to state. In the present case they had selected 40 couple of hounds; because, taking all the packs throughout the country, that appeared to be the general average. He knew that there were certain objections raised a few nights ago with reference to a proposal of this kind. He was sorry that he was not in the House on that occasion. He gathered, however, that those objections were, in the first place, that there was no reason for the exemption; and, in the second place, that the objection really amounted to the statement that it was a piece of class legislation. With regard to there being no reason for the exemption, he thought that he should be able to show to the Committee that that was an entire mistake. On a former occasion, the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated that one of the main—if not the main—objects of the tax was to reduce the number of stray or wandering dogs. But packs of hounds, it must be remembered, were always kept under the most careful and vigilant supervision. The proposal he had brought forward could certainly not be accurately described as a piece of class legislation. Hunting, so far from being a class amusement or pursuit, was the most public and popular recreation in this country. So far from being discouraged, everything ought to be done to encourage it. In the hunting field all were on the same level, enjoyed the same support, jumped over the same fences, and very often alighted in the same ditch.

Amendment proposed, In page 8, line 3, after the word "pence," to insert the words "Provided always, That no person shall be chargeable with Duty to any greater amount than thirty pounds for any number of hounds kept by him in any one year, and."—(Mr. Chaplin.) Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."


regretted that he could not accept the proposal. He fully recognized all that had been said with regard to hunting. It was, undoubtedly, a national sport, and one which might be regarded as very different from class interests. At the same time, however, he thought that they ought to take care that they were just in their proceedings, and he confessed that he was unable to see the justice of the proposition. Of course, the matter was wholly different from the question which would come up by-and-by with regard to dogs not yet entered. Of course, there were circumstances which they would consider with regard to the number of hounds actually entered. The House, however, must, in justice, see that it would be impossible to have a compounding of the kind proposed, with the arbitrary line of 40 couple, without leading them into difficulties.


could not consider as satisfactory the reasons advanced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The right hon. Gentleman had said that it was impossible that he could accept the Amendment, and that he should not be acting justly if he did so. The Amendment, however, only contemplated a reversion to the old principle of years gone by. It was abandoned in 1867, because the tax was lowered to a very small sum. It appeared to him, therefore, that the tax being now raised again, it was only reasonable that, in the interest of the sport they all desired to uphold, they should revert to the old state of affairs. He should be compelled, reluctantly, to divide the House on the subject, if his proposition was not accepted by the Government.


pointed out, that, with regard to small packs, the sum proposed would be rather in excess of the amount; and that, in the case of large packs, it would be rather curtailed. Though he thought it was a fair amount to be paid by a three-days-a-week pack, it would hardly operate fairly as a whole. A fair system of compounding could be arrived at, if a certain standard were taken for a pack which hunted three times a-week; and that it should vary according to the number of days which a pack hunted in the week.


said, that it was not only a question of small and large packs. It was a question of the millionaire's pack and the pack of the small owner—the ratcatcher, for instance. When the proposal was first suggested on the other side of the House that a special remission should be made in favour of the rich man's hounds, he did not think that it would be seriously persevered with. It would be an atrocious piece of class legislation, that a tax should be imposed upon the dogs of the poor which was not imposed upon the dogs of the millionaire.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 40; Noes 129: Majority 89.—(Div. List, No. 105.)

Clause agreed to.

Clause 18 (Repeal of 30 and 31 Vict. c. 5 s. 10, and 32 and 33 Vict. c. 14 s. 38)agreed to.

Clause 19 (Exemption of dog under two months old) agreed to.

Clause 20 (Provision as to hound-whelps).


said, he understood the object of the clause to be to exempt hounds from any tax until they were entered and used in the pack. In his opinion, however, that object would not be completely effected if the words "under the age of twelve months" were retained in the clause; and he should, therefore, move that those words be struck out.


said, he could not assent to the omission of the words, because to do so would interfere with the proper adjustment of the tax.

Amendment negatived.

On Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill?"


said, he should propose that the clause be omitted. When the Chancellor of the Exchequer suggested that the age of exemption in the case of dogs generally should be fixed at two months, instead of six, there might have been some reason for the special exemption provided by that clause for hound-puppies; because there was, he believed, a necessity for maintaining a large number of young puppies, in order to keep at its proper level the strength of any pack of hounds. Now, however, as the age of six months was to be retained for dogs in general, there existed no good reason for any such exemption. For many years past—certainly since 1853—there had been no exemption of the kind. In that year the masters of fox-hounds had been allowed to compound for the tax; but that privilege had been done away with in 1859, and they were required to pay the tax on their dogs like the rest of the community. But now it was proposed, while requiring the owners of all other classes of dogs—even of that formerly favoured class, the greyhound—to pay the tax for them after the age of six months, to make an exemption in favour of hound-whelps up to the age of 12 months. The hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) had a few minutes before stated that the main object of increasing the tax from 5s. to 7s. 6d. was to keep down the number of stray dogs, but that hounds were always kept under the most careful and vigilant control. He would, however, remind the hon. Gentleman, that the proposed exemption did not apply to hounds, but to whelps, which had not been entered with the pack. As to fox-hunting, while he did not wish to say a word against it, he would point out that there were numbers of persons who did not agree with those who entertained a very great admiration for the sport. A Member of that House, he might add, had told him only the other day that he had lost a very large proportion of his lambs owing to the hounds in his neighbourhood going across his farm two or three days in the week, doing a larger amount of damage than would be likely to be caused by a great number of stray dogs. He need not press the argument further, and would conclude by observing that he looked upon the exemption provided by the clause as a gross piece of class legislation.


said, the principle of the clause was, in point of fact, the very same as that upon which exemption had been claimed the other day for all puppies under the age of six months. The truth was, that it was impossible, with regard to a large number of young hounds, to tell whether they would be kept or not until they were brought into the pack and tried in order to see what their probable value might be. The practice had been, and still was, that those young hounds were sent to various parts of the country to be kept, and it was only when they were brought back that it was decided by the master of the pack whether he should keep them or not. The hon. Gentleman wished to know why any change should be made in the practice which had been settled with respect to the taxation of those puppies? and he had to inform him, that it was not intended by means of the clause to make any change, but merely to retain the present practice. In all such matters, the Excise had regulated the manner in which the tax should be levied, and it had always been the practice to exempt young hounds until they were brought into the pack for work. Now that legislation on the subject was being made more stringent, it had been deemed necessary to accommodate the laws to the practice which, in his opinion, was a reasonable one. For these reasons, he could not assent to the omission of the clause.


maintained that it was equally impossible to tell whether setters, pointers, retrievers, and, indeed, all sporting dogs, would be useful or not until they were 12 months' old, and that it was monstrous to exempt from the operation of the tax one class of dogs to the exclusion of other classes. He did not know by what right, so-called, the Excise had hitherto exempted young hounds from the tax, and it was absurd to suppose that they were the only description of dog whose qualities for usefulness it was impossible to determine until they were 12 months' old. He hoped his hon. Friend (Dr. Cameron) would take a division on the clause, unless the Chancellor of the Exchequer signified his willingness to extend the exemption which it provided to all dogs.


wished to say a word on behalf of a class of dogs which did not come within the category of sporting dogs. If the probable usefulness of hounds, setters, and pointers could not be ascertained until the age of 12 months, neither could that of the collie; and he hoped, that if the clause were retained in the Bill, the exemption would, on Report, be extended to young shepherd dogs also.


said, it was quite impossible for a master of hounds to know whether he ought to be liable to the tax or not on young puppies while they were out at walk until he had an opportunity of inspecting them and ascertaining whether they were fit to take their place in his pack or not, in the room of old and worn-out hounds. The fair arrangement was that the master should pay the tax only for those hounds which he kept, and such a proposal was certainly not justly open to the charge of being class legislation.


said, it would assist the Committee very much in coming to a decision on the clause if the Chancellor of the Exchequer would inform them what was the law at the present moment with respect to the taxation of fox-hound whelps. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that they had hitherto been exempted by the Excise; but were the Committee, he should like to know, to infer from that statement, that the law had given the Excise a discretion with respect to this particular class of hounds, or that an exception had been made in their favour contrary to law? Upon what authority had the exception been made?


said, he was informed that it had not been the practice to enforce the levying of the tax on those hounds. He did not know on what authority that course had been pursued.


thought it should be ascertained whether there had been any breach of duty on the part of the Excise officers in the matter—for the exemption was either legal, or it was not. It would, he thought, be productive of great inconvenience, that it should go forth to the public that a particular class of dogs had been exempted from taxation at the discretion of the Excise, and that new legislation had to be founded on a custom which had thus grown up, and which was not in accordance with the law. He was sure the Committee were anxious to allow the Chancellor of the Exchequer to make progress with the Bill; but he would, perhaps, think it well to re-consider whether, under the circumstances, he would persevere with the clause.


said, the practice referred to was one which had existed before the present Government came into Office. Packs of hounds were different from setters and pointers, which were only kept for private sport; and he would also remind the Committee that a hound was really of no use until it was entered in the pack, at the age of 12 months—until that time he was quite untrained. He might further observe, in reply to the remarks of the hon. Member for Perth (Mr. C. S. Parker), that it was the general custom in Scotland to put collie dogs to use at six months' old, and that that could not be done with hounds. If too high a tax were imposed on hound-puppies, masters of hounds would be very much limited as to the number which they could send out to be reared, and the packs all over the country would, in consequence, become very much deteriorated. That he did not think was at all the wish of the Committee; and he, therefore, hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer would stand by the clause. If he did, he would have the public with him.


expressed his great regret that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should have retained in the Bill a proposal, which must be a great blot on his Financial Scheme, inasmuch as it would be regarded by the country as a piece of class legislation. The argument of the right hon. Gentleman involved the doctrine that no dog ought to be taxed until it was fit for the purposes for which it was intended. Now, if that were so, the exemption ought to be extended to other classes of dogs besides hounds. He was afraid he might be charged with irreverence, if he introduced the name of the ratcatcher again; but the principle of the clause was, in his opinion, clearly as applicable to the ratcatcher's young terrier as to hound-puppies, for the former could not be employed for the purposes for which he was intended until he had reached a certain degree of maturity. If the exemption were not based on principle, then it could be defended only on the ground that fox-hunting was a national amusement which deserved to be encouraged. Well, it could not, at all events, be denied, that it was a rich man's amusement; and that, for every hound that paid the tax under the operation of the Bill, there would be one, or two, or three men, who would spend hundreds or thousands a-year for the purpose of keeping horses to follow the hounds. Well, if a man could keep a horse to do so occasionally, he would be enjoying, no doubt, a very healthy exercise; but there were, on the other hand, gentlemen who made a business of hunting, and who spent month after month, and year after year, following a beast he did not wish to catch. Foxhunting, pursued in that way, he, for one, looked upon as a most contemptible occupation.


said, the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, and who had, in his hearing, spoken twice that evening, had, on both occasions, informed the Committee that he addressed the Government with very great grief. If, however, the hon. Gentleman would only take to fox-hunting, he would be doing something to relieve that grief. But, be that as it might, the clause was one which he hoped the Government would adhere to; for it was entitled to the support of hon. Members, whether they were admirers of fox-hunting or not. It was a pity that some of those who complained of the provisions of the Bill should not have taken the trouble to read it. The hon. Member for Perth (Mr. Parker), in his most persuasive manner, pleaded on behalf of collie dogs; but he seemed to be unaware that they were exempted from the operation of the Bill. As to the observations of the hon. Member for Gloucester (Mr. Monk), he really was surprised to hear that hon. Gentleman talk as he had done about pointers and setters, forgetting that it was the amusement of their grandfathers to go out shooting with pointers and setters, and that no sensible man would think of doing so at the present day. Pointers and setters were probably a sort of recreation to the hon. Member; but the sport now, as the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) had said, was fox-hunting, which was a truly national sport. For that sport, hounds had to be educated; and he felt sure the Committee would not refuse to give its assent to the proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, by adhering to the clause which he had inserted in the Bill—a clause, not making any class exemption, as some hon. Members had endeavoured to show, who were jealous of fox-hunting, probably, because they were too heavy to get over the fences, and unmindful of the fact that it was a sport which more than any other tended to bring all classes together.


said, he was not going to make an appeal to the prejudices of the Committee, either against class legislation or in favour of fox-hunting as a national sport. What he wished to do, was to put the point under consideration before them, calmly, as a matter of legislation. From the reply given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, a few moments ago, the Committee were left in the dark as to whether the clause was unnecessary, as merely re-enacting that which was already the law, or whether it was a piece of new legislation, which was to sanction that which had hitherto been done contrary to law. If the latter, the Committee ought to know clearly what they were about; and he should, therefore, suggest to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that he should withdraw the clause without prejudice, and bring it up on the Report, when he would, perhaps, be able to tell the House exactly what the state of the law really was.


said, there was no doubt that the state of the law at present was that there ought to be a licence taken out for every dog over six months' old, unless in the case of certain exemptions. The system, however, on which the law had been administered was by no means strict, and one of the objects of the Bill was to make it so. It would introduce the action of the police, and would throw the onus of proof as to the age of a dog on the owner. It would, in short, make the administration of the law stricter in various ways. Hitherto, the practice had been to send hound-puppies out to different farms, to be kept there until the time arrived for bringing them back to kennel. When sent out, they would, of course, be very much under six months' old. It had not been the practice of the Excise officers to look after them; and they, as well as, he dared say, a great number of other dogs, had escaped the tax, because the system under which it was worked was a lax system. Under that lax system, puppies only a few weeks' old had been left at the farms at which they were placed, and had not been charged with the tax until brought into kennel. Their case being a peculiar one, he proposed to meet it by the present clause, which, in his opinion, was a reasonable one. He did not, therefore, see any good ground for withdrawing it.


said, he could not admit that fox-hunting was an amusement exclusively for the rich, as was proved by the great numbers of foot-people who embarrassed a popular master of hounds. Indeed, he did not think there was any sport which gave so great an amount of pleasure to so large a number of people of all classes. He could not, at the same time, support the clause; for he could not see the justice of making an exemption in the case of masters of hounds, which was denied to the poor man who kept dogs.


expressed his astonishment at one observation which had fallen from the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell). He understood him to say that fox-hunting was a contemptible amusement.


pointed out that that was not a correct version of what he had said.


had understood the hon. Gentleman to say so; but he would remind him that the Duke of Wellington had kept a pack of hounds in the Peninsula.


contended that there was no justice in making an exception in favour of hounds to the exclusion of the poor man's dog. Equal justice should be extended to all kinds of dogs. Whether it was a pointer, a setter, a retriever, or a hound, a dog was a dog for all that. Here was an exemption asked for in favour of noblemen's and gentlemen's hounds. He said it was most indefensible, and he was astonished that sporting gentlemen should ask for so mean an advantage.


said, that the speeches which had been made in supporting the exemption had been marked by a plentiful lack of argument. There should be no difficulty in collecting the tax on fox-hounds. They did not belong to poor or sordid people, to whom a half-crown was a serious object; but they belonged to gentlemen to whom 50 half-crowns could be no object. And what was the amount of the encouragement it would offer to fox-hunting, looking on it as a national sport? It would not affect a master of fox-hounds to the extent of a £5 note. There could not be the shadow of a doubt as to what the law on the subject was, and the true course would be to collect the arrears due; but he did not propose that-it might bear too hardly on the national amusement—but he would suggest that, for the future, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer should take care that every dog had his due. If the Excise had allowed these exemptions, they had exceeded their duty.


observed that there was only one pack of hounds in Ireland that was not kept up by subscription, and that was the pack kept by the Marquess of Waterford. All other packs were subscription packs, and everybody paid his half-crown towards them, whether he had on a red coat or a black one—showing that it was really a national sport.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 147; Noes 48: Majority 99.—(Div. List, No. 106.)

Clause 21 (Mode of obtaining exemption in the case of shepherds' dogs).

MR. E. S. HOWARD moved to insert, in page 8, line 39, after "number"— or in the case of a farmer the extent of whose farm obliges him to employ one or more shepherds in respect of two dogs in addition for each shepherd so employed. The hon. Gentleman said, he was glad the Chancellor of the Exchequer had recognized the claims of shepherds' dogs to exemption; but he could not understand why the right hon. Gentleman should stop at the number two. Many sheep-farmers in the North of England, and in Scotland, required more than two dogs to carry on their sheep-farming. He proposed by this Amendment, therefore, to extend the number to as many as might be necessary, and he proposed to allow two dogs for every shepherd or guide so employed. He was not wedded to the particular Amendment he had drawn, however, and if the Chancellor of the Exchequer could devise any better mode of giving effect to his intentions, he should be very glad.

MR. WHITWELL moved, as an Amendment in page 9, line 2, after "following," to insert— Where the owner or occupier of a sheep farm, the sheep belonging to whom feed on common or unenclosed land, proves to the Commissioners that it is needful for the exercise of his occupation to keep more than two sheep dogs; the Commissioners may grant a certificate of exemption from duty in respect of such dogs, to the extent of three dogs when the number of sheep on such farm exceeds four hundred; and, further, to the extent of one other dog for every five hundred sheep so kept over and above the first five hundred, but in no case to exceed eight dogs so exempted on any one farm. He was glad to see that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had realized the importance of the question before the Committee, as he had done in the case of horses. Dogs were really an instrument of the shepherd's trade. He could not do without them. One hon. Member had spoken of the influence of dogs, and he might say they were sometimes more humane in their instincts than were men. But, more than that, the dog became the shepherd's trusty companion in the darkness, in the cold, and in dry and sultry weather. The shepherd roamed about the hills, and needed for many purposes the help which the dog gave him. Without that help his sheep would go astray, and oftentimes get into danger. And, since the alarm caused by the spread of foot-and-mouth disease, it was the more necessary that the sheep should be constantly brought under the inspection of the shepherd, and looked after by him, which he could only do by means of dogs. In fact, he could not do without his dogs; and he, therefore, trusted the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be as large in his views as he possibly could. He had made investigations among farmers in the North of England, more especially in Cumberland and Westmoreland, with respect to their wants; and from the statements they had made, he thought the Amendment he had proposed would meet their case. He did not think they could do with less than he had proposed; but he was satisfied with the observations of the hon. Member for East Cumberland (Mr. E. S. Howard), that the hired shepherd should also have his two dogs allowed him.


said, he doubted whether there should be any alteration in the clause as it was drawn; for, as he understood the practice, it was that in taking out licences for shepherds' dogs in Scotland, usually the shepherd was allowed his two dogs, and under the clause, as it stood, the shepherd would be entitled to have his licence for those two dogs without being required to pay extra in respect of them. He had considered the matter with the Inland Revenue, however, and proposed to move an addition to the clause, which, he thought, would be preferable to the Amendments either of the hon. Member for Kendal (Mr. Whitwell), or of the hon. Member for East Cumberland (Mr. E. S. Howard), though it went very much on the lines indicated by the proposal of the hon. Member for Kendal. What he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) proposed, was to move, at the end of the clause, as a separate sub-section—sub-section 3—that, where the keeper of a sheep-farm, having more than 400 sheep, which fed on common or uninclosed land, so that more than two dogs were required to be kept by him for tending them, and that being stated by him in a declaration, he should be entitled, on that statement, to exemption in respect of a third dog kept by him solely for such purpose; and if the number of sheep amounted to 1,000, then in respect of a fourth dog; and the same in respect of an additional dog for every 500 sheep kept by him on the farm above 1,000, provided always that there should not be exempted more than eight dogs in respect of the sheep kept on the farm. He thought that proposal would meet all the wants of the case.

Amendments (Mr. Stafford Howard and Mr. Whitwell), by leave, withdrawn.

THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER moved the insertion of the following sub-section at the end of the clause:— Where the occupier of a sheep farm owns more than four hundred sheep which feed on common or unenclosed land, so that more than two dogs are required to be kept at a time for the purpose of tending the sheep, he shall be entitled to receive a certificate of exemption in respect of the third dog kept by him solely for such purpose, and if the number of sheep amounts to one thousand in respect of the fourth dog so kept, and in respect of an additional dog for every five hundred sheep over and above the number of one thousand, provided that not more than eight dogs are exempted on one farm.


said, he was willing to accept the Chancellor of the Exchequer's proposal; but he wished, that in place of his limit of 1,000, the right hon. Gentleman would consent to say 750.

Amendment agreed to.

Sub-section inserted.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Remaining clauses agreed to.

THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER moved the insertion of a new clause, exempting from tax the dogs used by blind persons.

Clause agreed to, and ordered to stand part of the Bill.

MR. J. P. CORRY (for Mr. CHAINE) moved, in page 8, after Clause 19, to insert the following clause:—

(Exemption in England for dogs taxed in Ireland.) It shall not be necessary for a licence to be taken out in respect of any dog for which the licence for the current year shall have been paid in Ireland.


opposed the Motion, observing that those dogs had not contributed to the Revenue, and if they were brought over to this country they should pay.

Amendment negatived.

Preamble agreed to.

House resumed.

Bill reported; as amended, to be considered To-morrow, at Two of the clock.

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