§ WAYS AND MEANS—considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
Mr. Playfair, Her Majesty's Government think it for the public advantage that they should call the attention of the Committee to the finance of the country for the current year, partly in connection with circumstances which they found ready made to their hands, but principally in connection with other circumstances which have been presented to them since their accession to Office upon which it has been their duty to form a free judgment, and which have been the main causes of the suggestions that I have to offer on this occasion, and of the proposals which I have to lay before the House. I have only to remind the House, with regard to the basis of the financial year, that, before the Dissolution of the late Parliament, my right hon. Friend the then Chancellor of the Exchequer estimated the Income of the year at £32,260,000, and the Expenditure of the year at £82,076,000, showing an estimated Surplus of £184,000. As far as the Estimate of Expenditure is concerned, I may take that as existent, the House having already sanctioned a large portion of it, having given its assent to its general scale, and it not being likely that there would be any material change in the Estimate of that portion—the main portion—of the Expenditure. As far as the Estimate of the Income was concerned, I have no fault to find with it relative to the time at which it was made. I believe it was made with sound discretion, and according to established rules. The two months which have since elapsed have not, however, supplied even that moderate improvement upon the figures of the Estimate which, in ordinary times, the Chancellor of the Exchequer may with good reason look for. Of course, it has happened that certain sums have come forward, and new demands have been made upon the public, in the shape of supplemental Estimates. We have adopted a rather rigid rule, not from convenience only, 1623 but from principle, with regard to the supplemental Estimates; that is to say, we are most unwilling, and, indeed, decline—I hope with the approval of the House—to raise new questions upon which no understanding has been established, and no conclusive engagements entered into in the way of supplemental Estimates for the present year, notwithstanding that there were certain transactions handed over to us, the result of communications that had been in progress before our accession to Office, with regard to which supplemental Estimates would be necessary. There is also a sum of £30,000 which we intend to ask the House to vote for the construction of Fishery Piers in Ireland, with respect to which I do not know whether we inherited that as an engagement from our Predecessors or not. I believe it appears to be the case that it was informally, if not formally, promised by the late Board of Treasury; but, at any rate, under the circumstances of the case, we are not all disinclined to adopt the proposal, inasmuch as these circumstances are altogether peculiar, and have reference to the painful and distressing position which does prevail in Ireland at the present time. Matters standing thus, the supplemental Estimates, so far as we know them, will amount to £200,000, which thus have swallowed up, and a little more than swallowed up, the moderate surplus of £184,000 that was expected by the late Chancellor of the Exchequer. The state of things, then, amounts to this—that there is no surplus whatever to meet any of those calls which may be made on the country in the course of the year; and that is not of itself a state of things altogether satisfactory, though I do not mean to say that it is one establishing a case of peculiar urgency. But, Sir, there is another topic which I must now mention to the House, although 1 only mention it for the limited purpose of establishing a general reason for our being intrusted with the command of a certain amount of surplus of Revenue over the Expenditure, and that is the condition of Indian Finance. The House will readily understand from what I have said that I have no definite proposition to make upon that subject at this moment. If indeed, Sir, it were in our power to determine that condition, and determine finally, and once for all, what course this country ought to adopt 1624 with respect to the Expenditure of the Afghan War, there would be an immense advantage on every ground in our submitting a proposition at once to the House, nor should we hesitate to do so. But this, Sir, is not the case, nor are we even able to say that at some time in the course of this Session we expect to have the facts of Indian finance so completely in our possession as to warrant our entertaining a hope that we might make an absolute and final proposition upon the subject. Neither of these conditions are open. We cannot even say when the great and heavy Expenditure that is now going on will be brought to a close, though we have given an engagement to the House that, so far as depends upon us, it shall be brought to a close at the earliest moment possible. In that state of circumstances, all that I would venture to say is this—that, though we cannot judge what may be the future duty of the House, and how far a further interference may be necessary, if that interference takes place, whether it is to be upon the grounds of justice on account of the origin and character of the war, or on grounds of prudence and policy, on account of the condition of Indian credit and finance; nor, again, in regard to the amount of any aid which it may or may not be the view of this House to afford, nor as to the form which that aid ought finally to take, can we at this moment offer any advice or suggestion to this House. It would be most unsatisfactory, as we think, to make a proposition to the House at this moment which would have further opened the question, and, at the same time, would not have closed it. To have proceeded by way of mere instalment, to have asked them to take a step which might appear to commit them to take other steps and not be able to define what those steps were, would not, in our opinion, have been consistent with the public advantage; and, therefore, I only proceed in reference to the subject of Indian finance to make this point, and not an inch further—that, viewing the state of facts so far as has been hitherto disclosed to us, it is desirable that we should, even were it upon that count alone, be intrusted with something in the nature of a surplus upon the balance of income and charge for the year of a certain Revenue 1625 over the Expenditure to which we are practically committed. These, Sir, are the questions, the general considerations not connected with any immediate responsibility of the present Government which we think render it desirable to bring the subject of finance before the House; but, as I have said, the main cause of our thinking it right to open this subject is connected with other propositions which have been brought before us for our own comparatively free consideration, and on which we have to form a judgment for which we are fully and exclusively responsible. The first of these subjects, Sir, relates to the very important matter of the wine duties. The House is aware that since the wine duties were altered fundamentally in 1860 great progress has been made in facilitating the consump of wine, of cheap wine, and of sound wine throughout the country. The character of the trade has been as I think fundamentally changed; and I am bound to say, though I do not claim the assent of all Members of this House, that I do think that the quantity of adulterated wine, properly so called, of the abominable compounds that used to circulate in this country whenever wine was sold at anything like a reasonable rate has been very greatly diminished, and that the consumption of sound wine and of cheap wine has been very greatly increased. Notwithstanding that there has been, in the first place, a great dissatisfaction, not, I think, a reasonable dissatisfaction, but still a dissatisfaction, which may perhaps form, to a certain extent, an element in our deliberations, on the part of certain countries, particularly the Peninsular countries where the strongest wines are grown and manufactured, with the existing tariff. The complaint is that the higher rate of wine duty—namely, the sum of 2s. 6d. per gallon—imposes an unfair burden upon the wines of these countries as compared with the cheaper wines of France. I do not admit anything like unfairness; but, on the other hand, I think it is quite open to us to consider whether, with the advantage of the enlarged experience which we now possess, a system more equitable, and, upon the whole, more advantageous to the consumer as well as to the importer of wine may not be devised—that is to say, so far as regards the higher portion of the scale. But, independently of the higher portion of the scale, we had 1626 to consider the lower portions of the scale; and on the part of the Government of France proposals had been addressed to us that we should go below the level, moderate as that level is, of the 1s. duty now applicable to the lighter wines of France. That is a subject which it is impossible fully to consider without taking into view the general condition of our commercial relations with France. At this time, as is known to the House, the French Chambers are engaged in considering—I am afraid I must say in passing—the details of what is called the general tariff under which very high rates of duty will be established upon many important articles of trade. The exact footing on which we stand at the present moment with France is this—that for six months, and six months only, after the passing of the enactment of the general tariff, the Commercial Treaty of 1860 remains in force. Beyond those six months we have no engagement or understanding whatever with the French Government. But the French Government have made propositions, the general effect of which is this—that they desire to improve their Customs arrangements for the purpose of preventing evasion, and giving full effect to such of their duties as are levied ad valorem which they think in some questions has not hitherto been secured. As regards that subject we have no doubt whatever that the Government of France have no object beyond that of an equitable and fair levy of the duties they may impose; and, consequently, such an overture, or the expression of such an intention on their part, offers no difficulty in our way. Again, Sir, it is proposed on the part of the French Government to increase their duties upon the importation into France of certain agricultural products, including, I think, live animals. Well, Sir, that is a matter which we may, as political economists, regret, that France should not set the example to the world, which we contend is the best and wisest example. But it is not a matter on which we have a right to set up, or on which we are called upon to set up, any especial separate interest in this country; and if France intends or is disposed to move in that direction, that does not, in our view, constitute any reason why we should not proceed to consider arrangements with her bearing directly 1627 upon those matters in which we have a deep and extensive interest. Well, then, Sir, shortly, it is asked on the part of the Government of France that we should introduce a sixpenny rate of duty on that portion of the scale of alcoholic strength which would enable the French grower and producer of wine to send us a considerable quantity of wine which does not now reach us at all. It has been found that the most convenient point for fixing the division, the limit up to which the duty of 6d. per gallon should run, provided we agree upon it, as to which we have now no engage-meat whatever, would be 20 degrees of alcoholic strength according to Sykes's hydrometer. That is the principal demand made upon us by the French Government as the motive which should induce them to enter upon negotiations upon the basis of renewing the Treaty of 1860, and of introducing into the Treaty ameliorations with regard to the principal articles of British produce, which would enlarge the facilities of supplying them to the French consumer. That, Sir, is the general state of what the House will feel to be a subject of great importance. The distinguished Gentleman whom to our regret, we are about to lose as Ambassador of France, M. Leon Say, has, during his too short stay in this country, laid before us the views of his Government on this subject. When he first opened the matter we were obliged to say that it was not in our power to propose to Parliament any commercial changes in the hope of meeting the cost of those changes out of the free disposable Revenue; that we had to address him, in fact, so far in formâ pauperis, and that if we were to negotiate upon any of these proposed subjects it must be by means of new proposals to Parliament, and by soliciting Parliament to place in our hands the funds which we did not then possess. Though, Sir, the interests of France are almost confined to the lower wines, the wines of lower alcoholic strength than 20 degrees of Sykes, yet it would be most desirable, if we are proceeding to make a change of that kind in our tariff of wine, that we should carry it through the whole scale, and establish such a system as would be most equitable itself, and likely to have a promise of endurance. The changes on the upper part of the scale would be changes in which 1628 the Governments of the Peninsula would have a special interest. We have received from those Governments also assurance of a disposition materially to amend their commercial legislation; and, as the hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Mac Iver)has signified, there is very little doubt that there is abundant scope for such changes. I do not understand quite, Sir, the meaning of the Notice given to-night by the hon. Gentleman. He says he hopes we shall not legislate in favour of stronger wines in such a way as to convey the impression that we are moved by the desire to get rid of opposing legislation. Well, Sir, what I should say is this—if the House of Commons is to be governed in its financial and commercial proceedings by minute calculations of what impressions must be produced in this quarter of the world and in that quarter of the world by the particular steps which we may adopt, I think it will impose trammels upon our own liberty in the way of prosecuting the public interest which I, for one, should be very loth to contemplate. These harassing proceedings are matters which ma}' be matters of very great consequence in view of the country that adopts them; but they are matters of very small consequence when they are considered in reference to the enormous scope and volume of the aggregate British trade. This country carries its produce, free from all fiscal restrictions, into all the markets of the world, and by encouraging imports from its creditors gives the greatest possible encouragement to our own exports in return. Having established that state of things, it is in a great degree beyond the necessity of considering what this or that Government may do in its efforts to construct an artificial system, and by that artificial system to act upon the policy of this country. I do not say, Sir, it is unworthy of the Government of this country to have regard, even in financial propositions, as one element in the case, to the proceedings of another country. I think particularly that, with regard to France, we must all feel that both commercial advantages, and the social, and moral, and political advantages of drawing closer and extending more widely our commercial relations with that country, constitute considerations of very great weight in matters of this kind. I must also say that we can propose 1629 nothing to the House upon that ground, except what is perfectly sound, and, above all, of what is essentially consistent with those fiscal interests which we have wisely, I think, taken for the ground and basis of our legislation in regard to duties upon imports. The plan, therefore, Sir, which we have in view, provided we are able to associate it with a satisfactory commercial arrangement for the renewal of the Treaty of 1860, and for the improvement of the Treaty; and likewise provided we are able to associate that with procuring other satisfactory changes in other quarters is in this nature; it will aim at cheapening the light wines, it will aim at giving the scale of wine duty a gradual application, instead of an application as now at intervals which we think may be beneficially dispensed with; and it will aim also at avoiding all special encouragement to the very highly fortified drinks which we should wish to leave liable to the full impost to the full extent of the present duty, and even at a higher point in the scale proposed, liable to a slight increase upon that duty. I may also say further that it would be wise to retain a considerable duty upon bottled wines, because bottled wines are almost in every instance wines of considerable value; they are not wines, it may almost universally be said, of the cheapest description; and while anything in the nature of an ad valorem duty is quite impracticable, and would be most unwise to attempt, yet a reasonable duty upon bottled wines would, to a certain extent and in a manner perfectly unexceptional, obtain the purpose of an ad valorem duty as appearing on the more expensive wines, and would also effect economy in the labour of the Revenue Department, because there would be no necessity to test the strength of the wines, for these wines as wines of considerable value are, in almost every case, not wines of any great strength. With this view the scale, which we ask the House conditionally to authorize, would run as follows—The tax would be 6d. per gallon up to the strength of 20 degrees; from 20 upwards to 35 degrees it would be 6d., together with 1d. for every additional degree—that is to say, it would be 1s. 9d. at 35 degrees. At the strength of 35 degrees, which includes the fractions upon it. so that if it is 36 degrees and up- 1630 wards from the high artificial fortification it becomes something in the place of wine, and almost ceases to be wine at all so fully is it charged with spirit. From that point upwards, instead of raising the duty at the rate of 1d. per degree, we propose to rate it at the rate of 2½d.; the effect of that would be there the same as now, and at 40 and 41 it would be higher. I think it is at about 37 the same as now; and at 39, 40, or 41 it would be rather higher than it is at present. We should propose, at the same time, to fix the duty upon bottled wines uniformly at 2.s. per gallon. But I do not ask, under the circumstances that I have described, for more than an empowering legislation upon this subject. The House will understand that it will be quite impossible, in the time at our disposal, for us to expect the French Government to conclude arrangements. As far as our operations are concerned in these matters, they are very simple in comparison. The emancipation of Governments from protected interests has not proceeded so far in other countries; and, consequently, we have been brought to this dilemma—that either we must postpone these propositions to an indefinitely late period of the Session, even to a period when the House would no longer be sufficiently manned to enter into them with full advantage, or else we must ask the House to do what we now ask—namely, to give us, as far as wine is concerned, power to enact the deductions of tax which I have specified by Order in Council. At the same time a power of that kind, it is quite clear, ought not to be indefinite in its operation as to time. On the contrary, the very effect of leaving a subject of this kind in suspense is a considerable disadvantage to a Treaty, and therefore, forming the best judgment we can as to the arrangement most convenient upon the whole, what we ask is that power be given to Her Majesty to reduce, within the limits I have specified, the duty upon wines; but that power can only take effect at some date not later than the 15th August this year—that is to say, supposing this plan did not become law before the end of the present month, the period of six weeks would be allowed within which we can be able to bring our communications with the French Government to a conclusion. The financial effects of 1631 such a measure would be probably, I think, to inflict upon the Revenue of the current year a loss of £230,000 to £240,000. In future that loss would be increased probably to something over £300,000; but I think £230,000 or £240,000 would be enough to debit against the charge of the present year. The House might perhaps wish to know in what condition this proposal would leave our legislation as to the tax upon wine when comparing it with the tax upon malt liquor. It would stand thus—The lowest tax upon wine is 6d., the medium tax upon wine, taking the strength at 30, would be 1s. 4d. Now, the duty upon beer, I mean per gallon, is as nearly as can be reckoned—I mean what the Exchequer derives from beer—is about 2d. per gallon, and the average strength of beer is 10½ degrees of alcohol. The duty upon beer is taken through the medium of the Malt Tax; and, therefore, for the purpose of comparison, you may quite well say that if you take the duty of 2d., affecting beer at the medium strength of 10½ degrees of alcohol, that you may then compare it—in order to show the point at which the wine duty commences nearest to the tax on beer—you may then compare it to the tax on wine at 6d. per gallon of something under 21 degrees of alcohol; so that, doubling the 10½ degrees in order to make the comparison, we should have 4d. upon a certain strength of beer, as compared with a certain alcoholic strength of wine at 6d. That is the point and the nearest approach between them; if we look at the same duty upon wine at perhaps the medium, I should take it at 1s. 4d.; such, I need not say, is more than three times as much as the duty upon the same amount of alcohol when administered in the shape of beer. That, Sir, I think is all the explanation with which I need trouble the House upon the present subject of the wine duties. I ask for an empowering enactment which will enable us any time up to the 15th of August to give effect to a reduced scale of duty, in order that within that time we may if we can proceed to make arrangements which we consider would be very extensively beneficial when contemplated in the aggregate to the general commerce of this country. Sir, the amount of demand which I have thus far established upon the liberality 1632 of Parliament it may be said is not very great; but I now approach a larger subject, and one which would more severely test the disposition of the House to grant public money with the view of the attainment of what they think a great public subject. This subject is the well known and familiar subject of the Malt Tax. It is a well understood farmer's grievance, and, if a farmer's grievance, then also undoubtedly, in the long run, a landlord's grievance, with which our ears have been familiar from childhood upwards, and which has so completely taken its place among the apparent common places of politics from the mere fact of repetition, that we are apt to assume that there is nothing in the matter. Now, Sir, the circumstances of the present time have made Her Majesty's Government consider it their very special duty to examine as well as they could the position of the cultivator of this country in relation to the laws of this country. We have exposed him in almost every case—I may say in every case—to a perfectly unrestricted competition. The effects of that competition have undoubtedly become more severe in the last two or three days than they have been found to be in any former period. They have likewise exhibited in important particulars a character of probable permanence such as they had not exhibited on former occasions, and I am bound to say, if reference was made by the Member for Birkenhead to opinions which I am supposed to have given utterance to that if America were to become a free trade country as I hope she may, and were to change from Protection to Free Trade that that would even enhance the pressure of this competition, that that is an opinion I do entertain. I do not dogmatise on the subject, but I hold that opinion, and it is one among many considerations which lead me to think that the farmer, as we use that phrase for the sake of convenience, has the strongest possible claim of justice upon any Government of this country at the present time to a careful examination of his position, and to see in what points the law bears upon him, and to be assured that, as we have exposed him to all the disadvantages of equal legislation, so he shall have all the advantages of fair and just and equal legislation. I am not going to anticipate the discussion which is at 1633 any rate, to be initiated at a later hour of this evening; but it is a branch of the same subject that I am now about to open. I wish to examine the condition of the British agriculturist all round, and to secure for him, if we can, the power of pursuing his ancient and noble industry, not under the fancied protection of any artificial advantages obtained at the cost of his fellow-subjects, but with every advantage that perfectly just and equal treatment can secure him. With respect to the objections to the Malt Tax, I am not about to revive all the topics of former debates; but undoubtedly there are some of those objections with respect to which I think it will be admitted that their weight has been a good deal overstated and overestimated in former times. For instance, when it was—as was not unfrequently the case—represented that were it not for the Malt Tax there would be a wholesale employment of malt for the food of cattle, I think that the experiments that we have made already by amending the law have done much to disprove that idea, although I do not mean to go so far as to say that the Malt Tax has no unfavourable operation in this respect; yet I venture to think, though I would not venture to predict, that in the event of the removal of the Malt Tax a fundamental revolution would not take place in the estimate of the respective merits or in the respective use of grain and malt for the purpose of feeding cattle. Without going into great detail on the Malt Tax, I will look at those objections which appear to me, I confess, to rest upon a very broad and strong basis. This is a tax upon a raw material; for although malt is a manufactured article, when you compare it with the grain from which it is made, just as the grain is a manufactured article, when you consider it in relation to the earth and the seed from which it is derived, so the Malt Tax only represents a later stage in the preparation of this commodity for human use. It has the disadvantages of the manufactured article in this, that when we charge our duties upon the intermediate stage, these duties enter into the price of the product at once, and they enlarge the demand for capital necessary for carrying on the trade. The profits of the tradesman must be had upon the duty no less than upon the ordinary price, and a much greater burden is 1634 inflicted upon the consumer than the benefit received by the Exchequer. Well, Sir, again I must own I am strongly of opinion 1hat a tax like the Malt Tax, so considerable in its incidence in relation to the value of the product, has undoubtedly a powerful effect in giving an artificial preference to a particular commodity grown by the farmer against all other commodities. It is true that we do not wholly prohibit malting from other substances than barley; but our legislative regulations are such that, though the object is not sought or perhaps intended, yet they have the effect of absolute prohibition. Practically, with the exception of sugar, malting is confined by law to barley; and as this heavy duty is applied to barley, the effect of it is that it gives a very strong and powerful preference to the highest qualities of barley, and the highest qualities of barley, on account of the Malt Tax, enjoy a superiority over the inferior qualities of barley greater than they would enjoy if the Malt Tax were not a part of the law. Well, Sir, the artificial preferences thus given are, in our view, a very serious evil to import into trade. There is nothing so mischievous as for the Legislature to point out, either by positive enactment or by fiscal arrangements, to the manufacturer or trader of this country, some particular line in which he must conduct his operations, or else that he must be content with a heavy tine if he deviates from it. Now, that is the effect of all the arrangements which put upon a particular material a premium or preference, and lead him to limit his operations to that material for fear of the pecuniary loss which the law would otherwise lay upon him. Twenty years ago, Sir, the belief was that paper was a commodity that could not be made from anything but rags, and those who recollect the paper duty controversy will remember the plaintive tones in which it was represented how every country would cherish its own stock of rags, would not part with this precious commodity to any other country that wanted it; how, in fact, rags were exalted to an elevation in the estimation of mankind which they never enjoyed before and never since. As the House well remembers, absolute ruin was to be the consequence of the removal of the paper duty and of the scarcity of rags. The paper duty was removed; the paper 1635 manufacturers, who said they would be ruined, are making nearly twice the amount of paper which they made before. The word rags is never heard in the debates of this House; those who wish to sell their rags are allowed to sell them, and those who wish to keep them do keep them, and there is ample material, as is proved by the fact that double the amount of the commodity is made. Well, Sir, that is an illustration of the mode and the effect of Excise duties in limiting the action of trade, even where, as in the case of paper, it did not indicate by preference the rags from which the paper was to be made. But here, as I have said, the law under which our taxes are at present levied has practically the effect of a prohibition as between malt made from barley and every other material for the manufacture of beer, and, as between different kinds of barley, it has the effect of giving artificial elevation to the value of the best barleys and artificial depression in the same degree to all other kinds of barley. Well, then, Sir, the law under which our Malt Duty is levied, I am bound to say is a very remarkable law in this respect. It is borne with the greatest patience, I admit, by the traders, and this ancient and venerable tax has been so long in existence—for it now counts its duration by centuries—that they have become accustomed to arrangements which, if they were proposed now for the first time to any trader in this country, would not for a moment be submitted to. By the enactment of the Malt Tax we interfere with the building of premises by the malster, we prescribe the times at which he shall take the various stages of his process, and we indicate that he shall put the grain which it is intended shall become malt through processes with regard to some of which many hold that he would never put them through at all were it not for the absolute injunctions of the law. All these are restrictions upon British industry. Well, Sir, I must say also that independently of all this, though it is difficult indeed to speak with absolute clearness, that it can hardly be doubted that the Malt Tax is open to a fundamental objection in this respect—that it adds so much more to the price of the final commodity consumed than it brings to the Exchequer. How much more is a question. There is no doubt, practically, 1636 about what the Exchequer profits from the Malt Tax. The profit which the Exchequer obtains, as I have said, from every barrel of beer through the medium of the Malt Tax, may be taken at 2d. per gallon. I believe I might take the average price of beer—of a barrel of 36 gallons—at 36s. Now, much of that price of 36s is due to the Malt Tax is a question very difficult to answer. Exaggerated estimates, no doubt, have been made in former times by opponents of the Malt Tax. I see one hon. Member present, the Member for Derby (Mr. Bass), who has borne testimony upon the subject, and I am bound to say that I attach very great weight indeed to his estimate, both from his ability and his long experience and skill in the great industry of which I may say he is head. My hon. Friend, speaking on this subject on the 5th July, 1850, is reported in the Blue Book to have used these words—With respect to the case of the consumer, he had looked with some care to that part of the subject, and was of opinion that the very lowest reduction to the consumer"—that is from the total abolition of the Malt Duty—"would be from 30 to 35 per cent.Now, it is a matter of curious interest to consider what is the meaning of these words. I believe the value of beer, made annually in this country at the price which the brewer receives for it, may be taken at about £50,000,000 sterling. Well, but the price in the case of the retailer is about £70,000,000 to £75,000,000 sterling. Now, just think what must be the incidence and the cost of a tax of this kind. I will not say if my hon. Friend is precisely correct—that is a matter of estimate—but what must be the operation of a tax of this kind, if a man of my hon. Friend's ability and experience can come forward in this House and say that he believes about one-third of the price which the consumer pays for his beer is due to the Malt Tax. That is to say, that if the beer consumed in the country be sold at the retail price of £75,000,000, that £25,000,000 of that sum are due to the tax. Even a sum considerably less than that will well illustrate the very serious addition made to the cost of what is a prime convenience, and even to a great extent a necessary of life, by the operation of this tax. Well, Sir, there have been three modes in which, from 1637 time to time, it has been proposed to deal with the Malt Tax. One of them has been the reduction of the tax. I can recollect in the year 1833, when the Marquess of Chandos, who was then the leader, as it was termed of the agricultural interest, made an assanlt upon the Malt Tax, and induced the House of Commons, by a hasty Vote, to determine that one-half of it should be surrendered; but, within a very few days, after that, the House of Commons was called upon, by the monitory arguments of Lord Althorpe and Sir Robert Peel, to undergo the unsatisfactory and almost the humiliating duty of rescinding that Resolution on fiscal grounds. But there are other than fiscal grounds for objecting to a reduction of the Malt Tax, although I admit that that reduction has had authority given to it from time to time. In the year 1852, the first Government of Lord Derby proposed to reduce the Malt Tax by one-half, and at different times, I think, that proposition has been laid before the House; not, perhaps, very frequently, but still occasionally, and possibly with the hope and expectation that if the House could be induced to part with a moiety, it would finally find itself obliged to give up the whole. Nothing can be clearer than that if you have an Excise duty of this kind it ought to be a considerable duty; because if you are driven to the mischief of inflicting upon trade all these hampering annoyances, it is evident that that is a course you should never prefer except where some great public benefit of the highest importance is in view, such as the raising of a very great revenue. The raising of a revenue, comparatively insignificant, is not such an imperative public object, and consequently for the raising of a revenue of secondary amount this inconvenience ought never to be imposed upon the taxpayer. I therefore think, Sir, as I have always thought, that the reduction of the Malt Tax would be a most unsatisfactory proceeding, deranging our finance, giving a very partial relief, of which it would be very difficult to say how much would roach the consumer, and leaving all the main objections to the Malt Tax in its interference with trade, and in disturbing the equality and openness of the market for agricultural produce, exactly where they were. But, then, it will be said that this does not apply to the 1638 abolition of the Malt Tax, and I think that last year the hon. Gentleman the Member for Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) himself proposed that the Malt Tax should be abolished. I have no doubt that he made that recommendation in perfectly good faith; and yet I am bound to say it appears to me that though a man may recommend the abolition of the Malt Tax without substituting anything for it in good faith, yet that he certainly cannot recommend it in good faith, and, at the same time, with the usual exercise of that common intelligence such as I freely admit my hon. Friend possesses with every other Gentleman in this House.
My recollection refers me to a speech made by the hon. Gentleman last year when proposing the Commission of Inquiry into Agriculture, and at that time I certainly thought he had said that the sum raised upon the Malt Tax was to be raised by a duty upon foreign barley, or on some other foreign product.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
I placed a Motion on the Paper last Session and the Session before, advocating the transference of the duty on malt to the duty on beer.
I am very glad, however, to find that my hon. Friend did place a Motion upon the Paper; but after the Motion had got upon the Paper it remained there, and appeared to be a sort of dead deposit. However, that is a subject which it is not necessary for me now to pursue. I withdraw altogether any personal reference, and shall argue the matter without alluding further to anyone hon. Member or another, because it is an opinion widely—more or less widely—entertained in this country, that the Malt Tax ought to be abolished. Now, let us consider what that entails. It means, in the first place, that we are to do away with a revenue approaching £8,000,000. It is quite evident that £8,000,000 are not to be had to fill a gap of that kind without financial changes of the most formidable kind—I would say, in a financial sense, of a revolutionary kind. Even this is not the greatest objection. Let us consider the gross inequality which would be established by such a measure, and that in more senses than one in a country like this, where we raise one-third of our 1639 Revenue, or something like it, by taxing alcoholic drinks. You would say, in respect of one of these alcoholic drinks, that it should be set entirely free, and that the other two should be made subject to a heavy duty; so that the man who drinks a glass of whisky-punch, even though he dilutes his spirit with water down to the weakness of beer, would be subject to an enormous tax, while the beer-drinker would pay nothing at all. The inequality would be so gross that such a proposal would be inadmissible. But the inequality is not only between the different kinds of alcoholic beverages, but the inequality goes much further. Consider what it would be between the three countries which make up the United Kingdom. Beer is the standing and staple drink of the people of England, but whisky is the standing and staple drink in the same proportion of the people of Scotland and the people of Ireland, and you would be about to establish a state of things in which the staple drink of England should been tirely removed from a tax, and in which the staple drink in Ireland and Scotland should continue to contribute many millions to the English Revenue. That would, in my opinion—though this is not a matter on which it would be warrantable to detain the House at any length by the result—(I mean the abolition of the Malt Tax and the entire liberation of beer from duty)—be a thing which is absolutely impracticable, and can never by a responsible Government be submitted to this House. Well, then, Sir, the third matter is that of proposing the substitution of a duty upon beer. That proposal has been before the House—and I am very glad it receives the assent of the hon. Member for Lincolnshire—from time to time for a great period. Not very long ago. I think in the year 1875, a formal application was made to the late Chancellor of the Exchequer upon this subject by the Central Association of the Chamber of Agriculture. Their demand—which I imagine expressed the deliberate view of the agricultural cultivators of this country—was in favour of the substitution of a beer tax for a Malt Tax, and that Sir, is the plan to which I now invite the serious and careful consideration of the House. As the hon. Member for Lincolnshire has alluded to this subject, I may be, perhaps, allowed to 1640 refer to a speech of my own, delivered when I first had the honour to hold the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer in this country, in July, 1853. The abolition of the Malt Tax was then advocated, and I then ventured to state the case in this way—There was a great question which had been considered for upwards of a quarter of a century, and that was whether it was most expedient that the tax should he levied upon beer itself or upon the malt. That was an open question. If the regulation could be made with regard to private growers—with due regard to private brewers—which if it did not establish exact justice, would, at all events, make a close approximation to it, he was not prepared to say that it would not confer a great public benefit, and prove of advantage to all persons engaged in agricultural pursuits and connected with the preparation of malt.In my opinion, the point upon which the whole of the controversy turned was, whether or not it was possible to lay a fair tax upon private breweries without subjecting the owners of them to the vexation and annoyance of Excise restrictions. I would not have quoted those words, but they represent, as I believe, the established official opinion of that time. I bound myself by that, not merely as the opinion of political functionaries but as the opinion of the best and most experienced minds of the Revenue Department. Looking to the extent of private brewing as it then existed, and the other conditions, they were not then prepared to face the great difficulties of this subject; while, on the other hand, it was admitted that if it were practicable, and the difficulty could be encountered, that the substitution itself would be most desirable. Well, now, Sir, I wish to call the attention of the House to the very remarkable progress that has been made towards the diminution—I might almost say the annihilation—of private breweries. I say the diminution—that is, the diminution of one of the two difficulties—for besides the difficulty with regard to private breweries, there was also at the time of which I speak another serious embarrassment connected with the enormous number of breweries which it would have been necessary to inspect. That, of course, did not involve political difficulty; but it would have involved very great expense, and it seemed to be almost beyond the strength of any Revenue Department. Now, I call the attention of the House to the change that has taken 1641 place in this respect. First of all, as regards the number of brewers. The number of breweries for sale, which in 1853 was 45,294, in 1879 was 22,278—that is to say, the breweries in this country had diminished about 23,000 in 26 years, or very nearly at the rate of 1,000 per year. This diminution is still continuing; it would be very difficult to set a limit to it, except this limit—that there are certain breweries with regard to which we have not the least reason to suppose that at any time they will be extinguished; and, on the contrary, we shall place these among our most permanent and respected institutions. Well, Sir, as the brewers of the country have diminished by the natural workings of an economical law in the last 25 years by one-half, I do not believe it would be at all an extravagant opinion to utter that in the course of the next 25 years, or perhaps a smaller period of time, they may again diminish by one-half, or that, at any rate, a great further diminution is possible and probable. That is the opinion of those upon whose judgment I very much rely; but the difficulty of private brewing was a most serious difficulty, and it appeared, certainly, to me in 1853, to involve a decision upon the whole question. Now, there has been an extraordinary diminution in the amount of private brewing. It still subsists, and there are still those who think it may be encouraged by great legislative facilities so as to become practically far more widely diffused. But I have assumed all along that this House will never consent to a general inspection of private breweries—that I take for granted is impossible. There is one class of brewing, that among cottagers, which prevails only in certain districts, but does prevail to a certain extent in a few districts. If the question were simply of brewing among cottagers, it would be a very simple one; because they brew for domestic use, and that would be no very great matter. But, looking at private brewing generally, it is quite impossible to arrive at that conclusion. I pass over the case of farmers, who in many cases, to a certain extent, brew for the purpose of supplying their labourers as well as their families with beer; but I take two others which make it quite impossible to establish a system under which brewing for sale should be taxed, and the brewer for home use re- 1642 main free. Those two cases are, first of all, the case of great houses, and secondly, the case of great establishments. Those who have seen, as I have, not many years ago, the almost endless stores of Belvoir Castle, know what private brewing is in certain cases; and the noble Duke who owns that building would be the last man either to desire or even to admit of any system under which he should be allowed to brew those enormous stores of ale—which are intended to excite, and do excite, the admiration of all visitors—free of charge, while the brewer in the very village underneath the shadow of his princely residence was liable to pay so much upon every gallon of beer brewed. Another class of private brewing which must also be considered is the brewing in what are called public institutions. I believe at Hanwell Asylum, in Middlesex, for instance, brewing is largely pursued. A right hon. Friend near me also reminds me that in Colleges the surreptitious practice of brewing is still carried on; although I must say, from my experience, that the practice of that operation has by no means the merits of wholesome-ness once ascribed to it, and that the sooner they got rid of it the better. However, Sir, the point comes to this—is it impossible to adopt a system under which brewers for sale shall be universally taxed and the brewers for use shall not be taxed? I think it is impossible, and that we cannot entertain any proposition of that kind. But with regard to the decrease of private brewers, I am now going to quote, and fortify myself with the authority of, my right hon. Friend the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, who had occasion not very long ago to refer to this decrease. My quotation is from the year 1875; and I believe that, probably, even since that date, there has been a permanent decrease in the amount of private brewing. He said, with perfect truth, that he had no official means of estimating exactly the extent of private brewing; but we have official means of estimating exactly the quantity of malt which is used in breweries, and by comparing the quantity of malt used in breweries with the total quantity of malt produced, it represents three tilings—the malt used by the maker of vinegar; the malt used by the maker of yeast, which is a limited quantity; and also the malt 1643 used in private brewing. In 1862 the total of these three amounted to 2,700,000 bushels. I believe I should be quite right in saying that the vinegar and the yeast makers did not consume nearly so much as the 700,000 bushels, and, consequently, that private brewing at that date consumed something considerably more than 2,000,000 bushels. But how did it stand in 1874—only 12 years later? The total quantity of malt consumed in these three ways had fallen from 2,700,000 bushels to 400,000 bushels. Of these 400,000 bushels, at least 200,000 were represented, and probably more, by the vinegar and the yeast trades; so that it was likely that private brewing, which in 1862 had consumed more than 2,000,000 bushels, had in 1874 sunk to a tenth part of that quantity, and, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer then observed, did not constitute ½ per cent of the total consumption of malt. In that state of things it appears to Her Majesty's Government sufficiently clear that, if private brewing is not dying a natural death, it is at any rate shrinking within limits so modest and so narrow that they can no longer regard it as an obstacle to prevent us from going forward to effect an important change, provided we are satisfied that that important change is on other grounds beneficial to the country. I will describe very shortly the manner in which we propose to deal with private brewing. It is this. It is necessary to keep it under the eye of the Revenue Department—so much, I think, will be generally admitted—and that can be done very simply. We propose that it shall be done by a licence. Everybody who means to brew must take out a licence to brew in the same manner as he takes out a licence to keep a dog or for any other purpose under the present law. It is to be hoped he will take it out, and it will be our duty to see that he takes it out rather more regularly than is done in the case of dogs. A licence costing a few shillings is to be taken out by every person who desires to brew. It will be procurable either from any Revenue office or any Money Order office; and we hope to make it procurable at almost every place. Practically, as there are 6,000 to 8,000 Money Order offices, it is obvious that there will be no difficulty in obtaining these licences. In cases where the labourers are in the habit of brewing the Revenue officers 1644 are well acquainted with the fact, and they will take the greatest care, so that no one shall be embarrassed through any regulations of this kind. With the taking out of the licence we propose, if the person who takes it resides in a house under £20 in value, that he shall hear no more about the Malt or Beer Tax; when he has paid for his licence he may brew for his own domestic use without any other payment whatever. Of course, I anticipate cases in which that indulgence might fraudulently be used for the purpose of establishing a large brewery operation, or for the supplying of a great number of persons. The cases I speak of are the brewing for domestic use; and, after the payment of a few shillings for the licence which would bring the person within the view of the Revenue Department, there will be no further call whatever on the person so long as he brews for the use of himself and his family. Nor am I in the least degree afraid that any alarm will be created among those who are connected with the brewing trade by the proposals I now make. If the holder of the licence resides in a house above £20 in value, then our proposal is that he will be served from time to time with a paper, and on it it will be his duty to enter the materials which he has employed in brewing—so many quarters of malt, so many pounds of sugar, or whatever it may be—and on those materials he will be charged. He will not be followed in his manufacture, he will not be asked how much beer he has brewed from it. There is a practice, well established in the Revenue Department, of making what is called a presumptive charge; it is now made in every brewery in the country, and, although not precisely accurate in its results, it is approximately accurate, and the Revenue Department are perfectly content to rely on that presumptive charge as an adequate means of ascertaining what the private brewer ought to pay, and as an adequate means of securing substantial justice with regard to the tax he should be liable to on those duties. I have said, already, that there will be a power of inspection in cases where there may be reason to suppose that the premises were fraudulently used, or that the beer was being used for other than domestic use. But this, I think, is a sufficiently full and complete account of the substance of the regula- 1645 tions under which we propose to place the system of private brewing. Now, with regard to the brewing for sale, it is important to consider what methods would have to be adopted. The experience of other countries is of considerable interest in these matters, although, as we think, we are more advanced in our fiscal arrangements than most of them, and, consequently, may hope to conduct them with a much smaller amount of burden and interference with the operation of trade. In America there is a system which is of beautiful simplicity. It is a stamp upon every cask of beer. This stamp, I believe, is affixed to every cask of beer, and it is found there is no fraud, because no retailer can buy the article unless it has a stamp upon it. That system is inapplicable in this country, because it presumes either that the beer is uniform in quality and strength, or that we are content to take it to be so. But our beer is very various in quality and strength, and probably tinder the change now proposed, or at any rate I hope so, will become much more various in quality and strength than it is now. Independently of that, that stamping system could not be applied in this country, because we have in this country such a largo number of persons who brew for sale and on their own premises for retailing to the consumer—namely, in shops licensed for the retail of strong liquor. In Austria a system is adopted of a beer tax such as we are now proposing to lay upon the trade; but that is a method which, in Austria, is carried into effect with a much greater amount of interference than can be necessary in this country. What we propose is this, and only a single word of technical expression must I use. We propose that the beer shall be guaged for the purpose of the duty when it is in the fermenting squares. It might be guaged after it has been entirely finished and put into the barrels; but I am given to understand that that would be a more operose process, and I do not know that it would bo attended with advantage so far as the brewer is concerned. It is quite true, we must be prepared to face for a time increased expense in the Revenue Establishment. Were we to impose very rigid legislative regulations upon the brewer, we might proceed more cheaply; but we prefer to go upon this principle—that it is far better to make our ar- 1646 rangements most easy and liberal as regards the conduct of trade, and to secure ourselves by having a sufficient number of Revenue officers, whoso duty it will be not to interfere, but only observe, rather than to save ourselves a limited expense by requiring traders to conform to certain conditions of time and process which might materially interfere with the free application of their capital. In the case of the brewer, while his beer will be tested in the manner described, I can say confidently that there will be no interference, as there is in the case of the Malt Tax, with the premises he thinks fit to build to carry on his trade; there will be no interference with the times at which he shall proceed with one step of his process or another, as there is in the case of the Malt Tax; and there will be no interference with the kind of process which he may be pleased to adopt, as there is in the case of the Malt Tax. He will brew from what he pleases, and he will have a perfect choice both of his material and of his methods. The only condition that we shall make is that we shall have power to observe what he does, of interposing when he passes beyond the limits of the law, and of testing the strength and saccharine qualities of the liquor at the particular stage most convenient for all parties. I have said there will be no interference as to time; but I believe it is thought necessary that there should be, in the case of the smaller brewers, a stipulation for a particular hour to be fixed with regard to the process of fermentation. But that is an exceptional matter, and it is so insignificant that I do not think it has any particular bearing in connection with the spirit of all I have said. While we do not hesitate to incur some expense for the purpose of reducing interference to a minimum, the immediate effect of this change will be that the aggregate interference of the Revenue officer will be less-—materially less—than the amount of interference which we are now obliged to enforce upon the maltster and brewer, considered together under the Malt Tax. Then comes a question of great interest—the important question, What is the fair equivalent tax for the present Malt Duty? I do not, Sir, propose to diminish the tax which is payable on alcohol taken in the form of beer; and while I must frankly admit that I think there 1647 will be a tendency in this measure to the cheapening of beer, still I do not propose—after what I have said about the burden entailed by the Malt Tax it will be understood that we may get fully the profit we now derive from the article, and yet leave room for the cheapening to the consumer—I do not propose, on the other hand, to make a sensible augmentation of the duty. I propose to aim at a fair equivalent of the present tax, and, as far as there is a turn in the scale, I propose to give it in favour of the Revenue. It would be a most un-filial act for anyone who bad the honour to be a Chancellor of the Exchequer if he did not make that choice which I have described. In order to make this calculation fairly, I must ascertain as closely as I can what is the amount of the relief I am going to give, and then I must set against it the burden that I ask the House to impose. The amount of relief, then, is as follows:—The Malt Duty is 21s. 8½d. per quarter, and the maltster's profit must be added to that duty. I find that Mr. Prentice, in his evidence before the Committee, has recently placed the profit of the maltster at from 2s. to 2s. 6d. per quarter upon his operations, and one-third of that sum, or say 10d., would be his profit upon the duty, because the duty forms one third of the price. That sum, therefore, of 10d. would disappear along with the duty. The brewers' licence, long the subject of grief and complaint—I do not take into account that licence of a few shillings which I shall ask everybody who brews to pay—but the brewers' licence, commonly so-called, and very well known in that character, to particular persons especially, will disappear. That is 1s. upon the quarter, or 3d. upon the barrel of beer. Well, Sir, then we are going to destroy all the Excise restrictions in the nature of interference with trade, and those Excise restrictions, we were always told by many people who were called upon to put a money value upon them when the question was one of foreign competition, was 1s. 9½d.per quarter. I have no doubt that a very liberal estimate was made of the amount of the burden, and, therefore, now that I am approaching the question from a very different point of view, I only estimate the effect of these restrictions—and I really believe it be a moderate estimate—at 1s. per quarter. 1648 When we consider the interference with time and business, I think I am safe in that. The effect is, Sir, that the amount of relief which is to be given by the abolition of the Malt Tax under the circumstances I have described is 24s. 6½d. per quarter. The quarter of malt is estimated to produce four average barrels of beer, and when I speak of the tax upon a barrel, I mean upon an average barrel of beer. One-fourth of 24s. 6½d. is something more than 6s. 1½d. per barrel. As I propose, as I have said, to give the turn in favour of the Revenue. I propose to fix the duty at 6s. 3d. upon the barrel of beer; but, at the same time, to introduce into the Bill a provision by which an allowance, which I believe will be equitable, may be made to the brewer for waste in the process subsequent to that by which the duty is imposed, and that would be limited to 4 per cent upon the value, and would, with almost precise exactitude, reduce the duty to 6s. That duty of 6s. 3d., with the allowance for waste, is the duty which I shall ask the House to grant, and that will be virtually a duty of 6s. against the relief which we estimate at certainly exceeding 6s. There may, Sir, be an objection taken to this amount on the ground that the drawback upon the value of beer when exported is only 5s. 9d. That, Sir, is true; but I am bound to say that the trade of exporters of beer down to the present time has not had full and absolute justice done it by the law. Although the Excise restrictions were allowed to stand at a considerable value when we were fixing the duty upon foreign malt, no account was taken of restrictions in fixing the drawback upon beer, and, what is more important still, no account was taken of the maltster's profit upon the Malt Duty. That is obviously an inevitable item in the question, and cannot possibly be evaded more than the other constitution of the charge which we propose. It will be our duty, undoubtedly, to propose to make the drawback payable upon the exportation of beer in fair proportion to the duties as they will now stand. And I have the satisfaction of thinking that under the new system the export trade in beer will receive decided benefit, and I hope it may assume a more general character than it has done, because, although it is very con- 1649 siderable in itself, I believe it is almost entirely confined to one or two descriptions of malt liquors. Now, Sir, I will just run over the advantages of this scheme. There is a great advantage in liberating capital. There is a great act of justice to be done both to the makers of vinegar and yeast, who at present pay duty for malt although they do not produce what is called alcoholic liquor, and are the only persons so liable. The woes of yeast have never been made known to this House, although they are the most touching that have ever come to my notice. The producers of yeast in this country are absolutely liable to a differential duty. When they make their yeast from malt it pays duty as if it were intended for beer; but the foreign yeast, which comes in largely from Germany, and which is now beginning to come in largely from France, where it is said to be of superior quality, pays no duty whatever, and I believe, as a consequence, the yeast of this country has pined and languished. To do an act of justice to this limited industry is, so far as it goes, a satisfaction in the change we now propose. Then we are going to put private brewers in a better position. We are going to assist the export trade in beer and to bring the beer licence to an end. But there are advantages which are greater still. I do not hesitate to say, although I shall have a painful disclosure to make to the House by-and-bye, that this measure is a good measure considered as a financial measure. It is advantageous to the Revenue because the arrangements will be simplified, because we shall eventually work at a reduced cost, and because, as I think, without any burden to anybody, we shall be able to enlarge our receipts from those resources. There is a still greater advantage which is, that if unhappily in time of war, or in time of great emergency, it becomes necessary for any Financial Minister to ask this House for a great increase in the taxes of the country, he will no longer be perplexed by the unfortunate connection that has always subsisted between the Malt Tax and the interests of the cultivators of the soil. The beer duty will stand exactly as the spirit duty stands. When we have raised the spirit duty, we have never been met by any objection on the ground of the supposed interests of agriculture. 1650 It has been looked upon as that which it is, a consumer's tax, and in the case of the Malt Tax—which has always been disputed whether it was a consumer's tax or whether it was a producer's tax—that dispute will entirely disappear. Although I do not contemplate any measure of the kind, yet, with the view of possible future changes, I hold it to be a great advantage that this powerful arm of the Revenue can be operated upon for the purpose of augmentation—if this House should so think fit—independently of all except fiscal considerations. I am of opinion that it is of enormous -advantage to the community to liberate an industry so large as this with regard to the choice of those materials. The tax upon the fiscal product we must retain; but when we remember that £50,000,000 is the value of the article produced, I would ask the House whether it is not a great object of policy, whether it is not a great step towards a more perfect fulfilment of those principles of freedom of commerce we have been endeavouring to maintain for the last 40 years, to liberate—as to the choice of materials and as to the process of manufacture—an industry so vast in its scope as is this particular industry? With regard to the effect upon sobriety, it may be that hon. Gentlemen will say that this measure is a bad measure because it tends to cheapen beer. I do not doubt it will tend to cheapen beer, because I think it will bring in a variety of kinds of beer, and especially the use of lighter and cheaper beers than are ordinarily consumed. I doubt, however, whether we are justified in priding ourselves as much as we sometimes do upon the general quality of British beer. Particular brands of the trade are admirable; the admirable nature of the product is decided by its going forth to all the countries of the world. But the ordinary article called British beer never leaves its native soil. I passed, Sir, last night along the Strand coming, I am sorry to say, from a place of entertainment, but the first I have visited for a long time, and I was struck by an inscription on a shop showing that a company had been established there for the sale of Bavarian beer. I should like to know in what town in Bavaria you will find a company or an undertaking established for the sale of British beer? I think all that is wanted is freedom of 1651 trade throughout all the material processes, in order to enable others to do that which has been done at Burton-on-Trent and at Dublin in superior branches of the trade, and possibly to make ordinary beer to far more considerable an extent part of the export trade of the country, as well as of its domestic trade. Well, Sir, now comes the question of finance, and there I shall be compelled to tell the darkest part of the story. The Malt Tax cannot be commuted for a Beer Tax without a heavy charge to the year in which the change takes place. If you say to me, this is not a good year for effecting the commutation, because it is a time when the country is not rich; on the other hand, I beg you to bear in mind that it is a good year for effecting the commutation, on this particular ground—that the malting season has been one of the worst known, that the malting stocks are extremely low, that the malt drawback will be in proportion to the stocks on the 30th September next, and that, consequently, we shall get off this year by a payment very considerably lower than you would have to make in any other year. Thus far I have endeavoured to show the House that it was our duty, in the first place, to establish a Surplus Revenue; in the second place, to provide a moderate sum for a contingent reduction of the Wine Duties; and now I ask a larger sum in order to meet the charge of the malt drawback on the stocks in hand on the 30th September. I do not know whether the House will be shocked when I state that I cannot safely estimate the sum at less than £1,100,000. I will ask them now to look at it in the light of an investment, and, considering it as an investment, I beg them to take these considerations into view. I think I have shown that a duty of about 6s. a-barrel will impose no additional burden upon the trader, while I believe it will leave a margin of profit to the consumer. But, while imposing no additional burden on the consumer, by escaping from those unfortunate arrangements which now make the Malt Tax a matter of accumulated profit, it will yield the Revenue certainly not less than £300,000 or £350,000 additional solid permanent revenue after the present year. After my allowance for that additional charge in the Revenue Department to which I 1652 have already made allusion, which will be at first £40,000 a-year, it appears to me that that, considered in itself, is no bad investment. It obliges me, however, to ask the House whether they are prepared, it being absolutely necessary for the purpose I have described, to give me, for the present year, an addition of 1d. to the Income Tax? I think, Sir, I can make this proposal with the satisfaction, or with the comparative satisfaction, that I should not entertain if I were asking the House to give me this tax for the sake of an augmented expenditure. This was the original purpose and distinction of the tax. This is the great glory of the tax—that it has been the means of enabling us thoroughly to reform our commercial system, thoroughly to relieve the industries of the country, and to bring back into the Treasury of the community £10 and £20 for every £1 that has been levied in the form of Income Tax. If the House is prepared to meet us on this ground, the form of proceeding will be this. It is so late in the year, that it would be inconvenient to the House to pass this Bill before 5th July. I propose, therefore, to adopt the exact mode of proceeding followed in the year 1859. In that year it was my duty to submit a Financial Statement as late as July to the House. It was also my duty to ask the House for an augmentation of the Income Tax. The plan we then adopted was that we levied twice the tax on the half-yearly Estimate where the payment was made half-yearly. At present, a much larger proportion is now paid annually than was then the case, and, as far as this is so, the rate will be If?. But where it is half-yearly, and taken upon one half-year of demand, it will be taken at 2d., as equivalent to 1d. over the whole time. The effect of that will be to supply me with the sum of £1,425,000. I have a further proposal to make, not of a very large financial consequence, but yet which I think the House will see is sound in principle and in the nature of a practical improvement in our system. It is a proposal to increase, and otherwise to alter and re-adjust, the licence to sell retail alcoholic liquor. I do not know whether hon. Gentlemen have had much occasion to consider the state into which these licences have got; but having been dealt with piecemeal for a series of years, 1653 they are now a mass of intricacy and confusion, as between trade and trade, and they really need the careful attention of the Legislature. That, however, is not a reason for increasing them. I think, however, it will be admitted that we are going to cheapen, and I have no doubt the effect will be to cheapen, the price of two kinds of alcoholic liquor; and therefore I think this is an appropriate period of considering whether there might not be some increase in the charge for selling them. As to the licence for spirits, there is no doubt that those licences are too low, and that they are often ridiculously low. Take the case of the common beerseller, who is obliged to go before the magistrate like a licensed victualler, and he must pay £3 6s. for his licence. But that is all the publican pays to sell beers and spirits—£1 2s. for his licence to sell beer, and £2 4s. for his licence to sell spirits—against £3 6s. which the beerseller pays for his license to sell beeralone. These licences ought, I think, to be raised, and I am going to quote an authority which founds itself, as all authorities ought to do, on reason. It is the Report of the Lords Committee on Intemperance, and they state the case for this part of our proposition in language which I am quite satisfied to adopt—It has been already said that one effect of the changes made by the Act of 1872 in the manner of granting such licences has been practically to prevent the increase of their number, while the operation of the Act of 1869 had been considerably to decrease the number of beerhouse licences. The effect of this legislation has been largely to raise the value of this property, and it would seem hut just that the public should receive a greater proportion than hitherto of the profits of a monopoly that is artificially created almost everywhere. It appears that those premises in respect of which the licences have been granted whilst stationary in number have increased in size and value. The Committee recommend that a considerable increase should be made in the duty on those licences; but whether that increase should be uniform or graduated in proportion to the rateable value of the premises, as recommended by several witnesses, is a question the consideration of which they thought should be left to the Government.We propose to ourselves this general object, that, while we aim at increasing these licences, we wish to gain a gradual uniformity as between the countries, and greater simplicity in the arrangements, and a better proportion between the re- 1654 spective charges that are laid upon different kinds of licences. The effect of this plan would be to give us in the present year £305,000 of revenue, and in future years not less than £350,000. The proposals with regard to it I will run over very rapidly, because it is a matter of interest to a large number of persons. With regard to wholesale licences, it should be understood that we let them alone. With regard to cider and sweet licences, we put them at the lowest sum of 25s. everywhere; but that is a very small matter. Then we aim at uniformity in the Three Kingdoms. We propose that every spirit licence henceforth shall also be a licence to sell beer and wine as well as cider and sweets. We shall have separate licences for beer and wine, but none for spirits. We propose that there shall be a scale for licensed victuallers; but that will be the only scale, and all other distinctions as to premises will be got rid of. The scale will be a minimum of £5 in houses under £10 value, and that is not a great increase; but it will rise by steps of £3, until the sum of £20 in houses between £40 and £50 value is reached. So, far, that is applicable to all licensed victuallers; but we are desirous to take this graduation somewhat higher. The objection to taking it higher is, that you should come to hotels where there is, besides the trade in liquors, a very large trade which is not trade in alcohol at all, and ought not to taxed as such. Consequently, we do not propose to carry the tax higher than £20 for any hotel or place where accommodation for the night is found, and where provisions as well as cider are supplied. But for houses that sell liquor alone, we propose to carry it to £25 in houses of between £50 and £100, and to carry it to £30 for houses above £100. The magistrates will determine the distinction between new liquor houses and hotels. So much for licensed victuallers. With regard to the beer licence, which carries cider along with it, we propose it shall be put at £3 10s., instead of £3 6s., which is a considerable sum already. But the wine licence, which carries cider and sweets along with it, or British wines, we propose to put at £3 10s., and the two jointly we propose shall be put at £4. We propose that Sunday licences and early-closing licences shall continue as they are, with a deduction of one-seventh for each, and we propose to 1655 make these deductions applicable to Scotland, which at present they are not. They apply to Ireland; we propose to carry them into Scotland also, and it is highly satisfactory to me that the first act of justice to Scotland falls to my lot to perform. Then, Sir, the only thing that remains to be mentioned is the price of retail licences for sale off the premises; and we propose that for beer and cider they shall be 25.s., for wine and sweets alone 50s., or, for the two, 60s. Now, Sir, I have only to detain the House longer to give them very briefly the account of the balance-sheet as it will stand, and I hope that they will think the demands that I make are proportionate to the need which I have shown to exist, and the benefits we consequently hope to attain. On the debtor side we have Supplementary Estimates of £200,000. We have the malt drawback, which I cannot safely take under £1,100,000. It may even exceed that, or it may also fall short of it, and the only thing that can be done is to take a fair and sufficient estimate. If the Wine Duty is to be reduced in conjunction with the satisfactory commercial arrangements with France, that will result, I think, in a reduction of £233,000. On the credit side I have also three items—the Surplus of £184,000, Income Tax £1,425,000, and increased proceeds of licences on the retailing of alcoholic liquors £305,000. That makes a total of £1,914,000; and deducting the debtor side £1,533,000, it gives me a surplus of £381,000. With regard to the mode of proceeding with these proposals, I should be glad if the House were disposed to allow the Resolutions to pass, and to take the discussion—which I think might be done with the greater advantage as the proposals involve so much practical legislation—after the Bill has been in the hands of Members. That, I believe, would be the most convenient course for all parties. At the same time, I am bound to admit that I do not see the urgent and imperative reason for asking expedition, which happens when it is proposed instantly to create an increase of Excise or Customs Duty. In that case, the House always, as a matter of fact, allows the Resolution to be passed at once. At present, I leave it to the discretion of the House; only venturing to give my judgment that, if it is thought fit to take the discussion after 1656 the Bill has been printed, it will be the course most convenient for all parties. Sir, I am very sorry in one point of view that it should devolve upon me, partly from political necessities and partly in prospect of prospective financial advantages, to offer any increase, even a temporary increase, in the public burdens; but I rest confidently in the belief that, while one item of that increase—namely, the charge upon the Wine Duties, offers to us a prospect of benefits in connection with the maintenance and expansion of our trade far beyond the temporary burden it entails, on the other hand, that larger change which I ask the House to adopt in the abolition of the Malt Tax and the substitution of a Beer Duty, will operate on behalf of trade and industry at home to an extent which will render the results highly satisfactory; and that it is alike recommended to us by considerations of policy and prudence with a view to the wealth of the country, and by yet more urgent considerations of actual justice as connected with the cultivator of the soil in the situation he at present holds, and under the pressure of the competition to which he is now, and is likely for a long period of time to be, subjected—possibly for a period even with some increased pressure.Motion made, and Question proposed, "That, towards raising the Supply granted to Her Majesty, in addition to the Duties of Income Tax granted by 'The Customs and Inland Revenue Act, 1880,' there shall be charged, collected, and paid for the year which commenced on the sixth day of April, one thousand eight hundred and eighty, in respect of all Property, Profits, and Gains mentioned or described as chargeable in the Act of the sixteenth and seventeenth years of Her Majesty's reign, chapter thirty-four, the following Duties of Income Tax (that is to say):For every Twenty Shillings of the annual value or amount of Property, Profits, and Gains chargeable under Schedules (A), (C), (D), or (E) of the said Act, the Duty of One Penny;And for every Twenty Shillings of the annual value of the occupation of Lands, Tenements, Hereditaments, and Heritages chargeable under Schedule (B) of the said Act, the Duty of One Halfpenny:Provided always, That, with the view of securing the additional Duties and affording the proper right of deduction in respect thereof, where any Dividends, Interest, or other annual sums are due or payable half-yearly or quarterly in the course of the said year, and one of the halfyearly payments, or two of the quarterly pay- 1657 merits, shall have been made, and Duty at the rate of Five Pence shall have been deducted therefrom, the other half-yearly payment or quarterly payments shall be charged with the additional Duty of Two Pence for every Twenty Shillings of the amount thereof.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
I need scarcely say that I do not rise to enter into any discussion with regard to the important statement which the right hon. Gentleman has just made; I only wish to say that I entirely concur in his suggestion as to the time at which it will be convenient to take this discussion, for when the Bill is before us we shall have an opportunity of studying the details of it, many of which have an important bearing on this scheme, while much of its value must depend on the manner in which those details are to be carried into effect. I will only ask one question in reference to the earlier portion of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, as I do not exactly understand what is to be our position with regard to the Wine Duties as at present explained. I understand that we are to give the Crown a discretionary power by Order in Council up to the 15th of August to make certain reductions contingent upon Her Majesty obtaining certain reductions from other countries. I gather from what was said that actual negotiations are at present in progress with the French Government with regard to certain Articles, and I understand the intention of the Government to be that, if we can obtain satisfactory terms from France with regard to certain English manufactures, that Her Majesty will he authorized to reduce the duties upon the lower class of wines from 1s. to 6d. per gallon. But, with regard to the other end of the scale, I do not quite comprehend whether negotiations were also going on with Spain, Portugal or other countries; because, of course, any change that is made in the scale will affect not only the wines of the Peninsula, but those of Italy, Austria, and, I apprehend, of our Colonies and of other parts of the world? We were not told, perhaps, so clearly as we might have been, what is the precise condition of the negotiations that are going on, and to what extent the powers conferred upon Her Majesty will be exercised by her. I do not understand the right hon. Gentleman to say that he intends to reduce the Estimates of Revenue. He 1658 simply says that there is nothing which induces him to think that they are insufficient, and that he supposes we shall receive about the estimated Revenue.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
said, he did not know whether to be more pleased or surprised at the language used by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer that evening. He could not refrain from comparing that language with some other statements made by the right hon. Gentleman last year. Earlier that night he had affirmed the accuracy of a report in which he was represented as having said that the Royal Commission was the grossest delusion that ever entered into the mind of man. When, however, the Motion for the appointment of the Agriculture Commission was before the House, he acquiesced in the proposition without a single word of objection or disapproval. He reserved for some radical meeting at Maryle-bone, the last place where he was likely to meet any gentleman acquainted with agriculture, or with any Member of the Tory Party, a denunciation of that Commission, of which he would only say that, if the language really expressed the confirmed opinion of the right hon. Gentleman, it was not worthy of his position in that House. He would rather believe, however, that this was another specimen of that polemical and painful language which the right hon. Gentleman had permitted himself to use in the Recess and during the late Elections, but of which it was to be hoped he would not repeat or even attempt to justify by argument in that House. With regard to the Malt Tax, that well-understood and long-established Parliamentary grievance, the right hon. Gentleman had referred to the Motion which he himself gave last Session; but, in order that there might be no mistake as to what that Motion really was, he would read its terms as follows:—That the Malt Tax is unjust, and an exceptional burden on agriculture, and this House considers that all unnecessary and injurious restrictions should be repealed, and an equivalent tax substituted on beer or some other manufacture; and this House is of opinion that if it is necessary for the purpose of Revenue to continue to tax agriculture produce at all, that the tax should he levied on produce from abroad, and not upon the produce of the fanner at home.It would not, of course, now be necessary for him to proceed with that Resolution; but he must say that his as- 1659 tonishment exceeded his delight when he heard the recent speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, especially in view of his addresses in Mid Lothian. In one of those delivered at Dalkeith, the right hon. Gentleman said—One of the great hopes held out to the English farmer has been the repeal of the Malt Tax, and when Liberal Governments are in Office there is great activity in bringing forward motions for the repeal of the Malt Tax. I see behind me my friend, Mr. Cowan. I have no doubt he has often voted with me on the question of the repeal of the Malt Tax, against one of those sham Motions from the Conservative side of the House which were always brought forward under Liberal Governments. Just as Parliament was going to be dissolved, another great Conservative and great farmers' friend, Mr. Chaplin, forgetting that he had been asleep for six years, gave notice of another Motion for the repeal of the Malt Tax. When there was a surplus of £6,000,000, and the question might have been raised, he forgot all about it; but when there was a deficiency of £3,500,000 on the income and expenditure of the year, then he gave Notice of his Motion to repeal the Malt Tax.In that quotation the Prime Minister had said nothing about his proposal to transfer the tax to beer; and was such language calculated to lead any man to believe that the speaker, a month afterwards, would propose the repeal of the Malt Tax? Was it astonishing that he was much surprised at the announcement of the right hon. Gentleman's intention? But, at the same time, he was truly delighted. He might have put a wrong interpretation on the former language of the right hon. Gentleman, and he certainly did think that he would have been the last man to propose this repeal. Oddly enough the last time this question was raised, the House happened to be discussing the question of rabbits, and the present Home Secretary then taunted him and his hon. Friends with bringing forward questions which were merely flashes in the pan. So far as he was concerned, he never placed a Motion on the Paper without a determined intention of bringing it to an issue; but, certainly, there could not be a more complete vindication of the course he had pursued. He felt that he had a right to ask the right hon. Gentleman to give an assurance that this Motion was not a flash in the pan. If that were given, it would be the most complete contradiction of the charge that he and his Friends brought forward Motions which were mere shams or 1660 flashes in the pan; nor had there ever been established a more complete instance of inconsistency on the part of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. STORER
observed, that, as the seconder of the Motion for the repeal of the Malt Tax, he remembered very well that it met with but indifferent success, as only 17 Members followed him into the Lobby. He now, however, desired to say, on the part of the farmers of England, whose feelings he understood and whose representative he was, that he was sure they would accept the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman with feelings of the deepest gratitude. The repeal of this tax was most important to them. They had been asking for it for years, and he was entitled to speak with authority as to their wishes, because he was at one time chairman of the Anti-Malt Tax Committee. He would, therefore, say that hardly any suggestion could be more acceptable to the men who were cultivating the strong clays of the country, and he was sure that they would accept such a relief with rapture from whichever side of the House it came. At the same time, he must think that the right hon. Gentleman, on the one hand, had underrated the importance of malt for the feeding of cattle, and the extent to which the Malt Tax, by creating a preference for superior barley, discouraged the cultivation of inferior kinds. He must add, also, that he believed the remission of this tax would not only be a boon to the farmer, but would be also a distinct advantage to the agricultural labourer, because it would give him a better chance of obtaining, whether from the farmer or the brewer, that wholesome beer which his labour made necessary.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, he was not surprised at the satisfaction with which his hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. H. Chaplin) had hailed the announcement made by the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government with regard to the Malt Tax. He (Mr. Newdegate) remembered, however, that on former occasions the necessities of the Exchequer were urged by the right hon. Gentleman against such a measure, and he did not see that the Exchequer was particularly wealthy now. Nevertheless, having voted for the repeal of the Malt Tax, he (Mr. Newdegate) rejoiced that the 1661 right hon. Gentleman had thus far considered the distress which had fallen upon the agriculture of the country, and had admitted that the competition to which that interest was exposed was greater, as he (Mr. Newdegate) had reminded the House a day or two ago, than was anticipated in the year 1846, either in this country or in the United States of America. But representing, as he did, the Northern Division of Warwickshire—which included the large industrial centres of Birmingham and Coventry—he did not feel confident that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Bright) remembered the baleful effects of the last Treaty with France upon one portion of his constituents. For three years he (Mr. Newdegate) was chairman of a committee for the relief of distress, which was the consequence of that Treaty; and he wished to repeat the question, which had been put by the Leader of the Opposition, as to whether or not, by passing the Resolution now before the Committee, the House would be held to have abdicated its functions in supervising, and, if necessary, of revising, a large portion of the taxation of this country, which would be the effect of a fresh Treaty with France, when once concluded by Her Majesty's Ministers? In 1860, the House of Commons absolutely refused to be committed for 20 years to the large financial operation then involved in the Treaty of that date, until it knew what were to be the terms of the Treaty; and he (Mr. Newdegate) held that the House would be abdicating its functions, and compromising itself, if it at once sanctioned a reduction of the Wine Duties, for, after what had been said by the right hon. Gentleman, the House might be held to have accepted by inference the Treaty which had not yet been negotiated. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister had admitted that France, now a Republic, was Protectionist in her commercial policy, just as Protectionist as was the great Republic of the United States of America. It could not be said, therefore, that a Protectionist policy was alien to the feelings of democratic nations, and he should be wanting in his duty if he were not now distinctly to repeat the question, Was this House, or was it not, to be considered pledged to whatever Treaty might hereafter be ne- 1662 gotiated; or, to use a homely and familiar phrase, pledged "to a pig in a poke," by consenting to the Resolution with respect to wine now before it, for, in many cases, it was the practice of the Financial Departments to change the rate of import duties as soon as a Resolution to that effect had been adopted by that House? He did not know what the advocates of temperance would say to this Budget, which was throughout a reduction of the duties on drink; but this he knew, that they had before them the prospect of being committed to a Treaty with France, that the last French Treaty was held to be the basis of all the subsequent Treaties, and changed the effect of previously existing Treaties. By the operation of the most favoured nation clause, the right hon. Gentleman asked the House to present itself—to use the expression of the right hon. Gentleman—in forma pauperis to negotiate commercial Treaties with the nations of the world. What a reflection was that upon the position to which this country had been reduced by the present commercial policy. He should not comment at any length upon the able statement of the right hon. Gentleman—equal to the ablest of the many able statements he had heard him make—but, again, he would ask him distinctly not to attempt to pledge the House now, on the plea that later in the Session the House might not, to use his own words, be more fully manned, to the conditions of a Treaty which was yet in embryo, which was to be negotiated on one side by a Government that had adopted a Protectionist policy, at the instance of the people of France, with the Government of this country, which stood pledged—so far as the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury was concerned, he feared, hopelessly pledged—to the principles of free imports. He was the more impressed with the necessity for an answer to his question, because, throughout the changes which the right hon. Gentleman had proposed in his Budget, he had abandoned the financial restrictions of the Excise, but proposed in lieu of them direct taxation. The House was asked to substitute for the restrictions of the Excise, so far as the home brewer was concerned, a system of domiciliary visits. Such would be the effects of the contemplated fiscal measures. Once more, he 1663 (Mr. Newdegate) asked the right hon. Gentleman, whether the House, on assenting to this reduction of the duties on French wines, would be held pledged to any Treaty with France that might hereafter be negotiated by Her Majesty's Advisers?
§ MR. J. W. BARCLAY
said, he had heard the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister with very great pleasure. The abolition of the Malt Tax would, in his opinion, result in a decrease in the cost of beer; but he did not think that, taking into account the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman that substitutes for barley would be employed in the production of beer, that there was likely to be any greatly increased demand for barley in this country. He did not think that the Malt Tax affected the price of the higher qualities of barley, but might raise somewhat the price of inferior qualities, and bring them nearer the price of the intermediate qualities. The experience of Scotland, where they paid on whisky four times in proportion more than beer, showed that the abolition of the Malt Tax would not necessarily affect the price of barley. He thought that a great boon would be given by the abolition of this tax to the agricultural labourer, for he would have the advantage of beer at a much cheaper price than at the present moment. There was not much in the argument that the removal of the tax would cause any great quantity of barley to be malted for the purpose of feeding cattle, because, in his opinion, the advantages of feeding cattle with malt were inconsiderable. It had been ascertained that there was more nutriment in barley than in the malt from it. No doubt, malt was advantageous for feeding cattle for show purposes, and also in the case of disease. The best feature of the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer was not the abolition of the Malt Tax, but the substitution of a tax upon beer for the malt duty. He believed that hon. Members on the other side of the House would have been delighted to have seen their way to accomplish this work; but it had been reserved for the financial genius of the right hon. Gentleman the present Prime Minister to propose a way whereby the great advantages in the production of beer might be realized without risk to the Revenue of the country. He thought that that 1664 was a matter as to which the country at large was greatly indebted to the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. HERMON
said, that he should like to know when the additional 1d. to the Income Tax would take effect? Would it attach to the dividends in the Three per Cents becoming payable in October? If the tax were to attach to those dividends, some holders of Government Securities would pay, while others would not be brought into the meshes of the net. He did not say whether this was right or wrong, but he should like to know when the increased tax would become payable? There was another question to which he wished to allude. The right hon. Gentleman was now carrying a system of licensing into the homes of the poorer population of this country, who brewed their own beer; he was also increasing the tax upon the licensed victuallers throughout the country. He would wish to ask whether it was intended to administer fair play all round, and whether the tax was to be placed upon everyone who sold wine and spirits throughout the country? He had had calculations placed in his hands which showed that if all establishments selling wines and spirits had to pay licences, the amount received from the Club houses alone would amount to between £30,000 and £40,000 a-year. He should not object to seeing Clubs made to pay, because at the present time there was great objection throughout the country to the Clubs being allowed to sell wines and spirits without having to contribute to the Revenue by taking out a licence. Moreover, the licensed houses were obliged to close at a certain hour, and the Clubs were enabled to supply their customers after those houses were closed with everything that was required. If the right hon. Gentleman had thought upon this subject, he should be glad to know whether it was contemplated that the tax should fall upon Club houses throughout the country? If so, it would remove a grievance that was now felt by a large class—namely, the licensed victuallers—and would, at the same time, produce considerable addition to the Revenue.
said, he should like to know whether the figures of the Resolutions placed in the hands of the Chairman, marking the different gradations or degrees in the scale of duties, 1665 were to be considered as definitely fixed, or whether they would be subject to discussion or alteration.
§ MR. R. PAGET
said, that there were one or two points in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister upon which he wished to make some observations. First he must say that he noticed in the earlier part of his speech that he told them that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was bound to provide himself with a larger surplus than he required, in order to supply any unforeseen want that might arise. He had always maintained that one of the first principles of Conservative finance was that Estimates should be so framed that Revenue and Expenditure should be brought as close as possible together, and no surplus should be left, so that not a halfpenny should be taken from the pockets of the taxpayer more than was absolutely necessary. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to him to have laid down as a cardinal principle of finance the necessity of placing in the hands of the Chancellor of the Exchequer a considerable sum ready at hand to meet any emergency that might arise. Passing from that point, he wished to obtain information upon two other subjects alluded to by the right hon. Gentleman. One was with regard to the considerable alterations in the ad valorem duties, which the right hon. Gentleman had touched on merely to pass them by, and of which he had given no explanation. They, however, occupied the important place of being the first of the three distinct propositions that he had mentioned with regard to proposed modifications in the French Treaty. The next point to which he desired to refer was this—the right hon. Gentleman proposed that they should intrust to him the power, by Order in Council, to alter the scale at any date not later than the 15th of August. He should like to know whether he intended that the power should be exercised entirely free from any responsibility to that House? If the moment arose when, in the right hon. Gentleman's, opinion, it would be desirable to issue such Order in Council, would it then be in his power to issue it under the powers of the Bill without coming to that House for authority, or without having to lay the Order of Council upon the Table of the House for consideration? With regard to the 1666 abolition of the Malt Tax and the placing of the tax upon beer, he thought it would be a doubtful advantage to the consumer. He did not pretend to be acquainted with the mysteries of brewing; but it was very much to be desired that the articles used should be of the best and soundest description. How could they hope that the beer of the future would be of that degree of purity which it was before? Would it not most likely happen that the result of throwing open to the maltster and the brewer all substances whatever which they might choose to employ would cause considerable adulteration? He feared that the time might not be far distant when they might sigh in vain for the pure old English beer of the past. It was a matter of great interest to hear the right hon. Gentleman refer with so much satisfaction to a speech he delivered so long ago as 1853, and adhere to that historical speech. It was impossible to avoid the passing thought—Would that other opinions which he held in those bygone days were still adhered to by the right hon. Gentleman! But he did not grudge the right hon. Gentleman the credit of being able to point to one speech in 1853 with which he still agreed. There was one other matter to which he should like to refer. They were told that the changes proposed would entail an increase in the number of Revenue officers. If they must have a greater number of Revenue officers they should not shrink from the necessity. He thought, however, there would be objections in the country to the maintenance of an additional host of Revenue officers. It was said that they would not interfere, but would only observe; but the process of observation was not one that the independent men of England were very fond of. The less interference and the less observation they got from the officers of the central authority the better they were pleased. He could only express his satisfaction at hearing that the right hon. Gentleman had seen his way to carrying out that which he had always been ready to support—namely, a tax upon beer instead of upon malt. It hardly wanted the ability of the right hon. Gentleman to discover so obvious an elementary truth in political economy that it was entirely opposed to its first principles to tax the raw material instead of the manu- 1667 factored article. For that reason alone he had always maintained that the Malt Duty was wrong in principle. He was very glad, however, that the change was now proposed. He hoped that the details would be found satisfactory. There was one point in the right hon. Gentleman's proposals which, however, he did not think quite so satisfactory. If he remembered aright, it was in the year 1874 that the country was startled one morning by the strange announcement that its finances had hitherto been conducted on a wrong principle, and that the one thing needful to set them all to rights was the abolition of the Income Tax. They had never heard a recantation of that point; and now the right hon. Gentleman, as his first act in this new Parliament, proposed not to abolish, but to add 1d. to the Income Tax. He feared it must have been a bitter pill for the right hon. Gentleman to have realized the stern necessity of setting aside his cherished schemes for the abolition of the Income Tax, and have to make up his mind to swallow an additional penny. In conclusion, he must express his great admiration at the lucid and plain exposition which the right hon. Gentleman had given to the House, and which he had listened to with admiration and every for two hours.
§ MR. JAMES HOWARD
said, the hon. Member for Forfarshire (Mr. Barclay) had not apprehended the scope of the arguments of the Prime Minister. If he (Mr. Howard) understood the argument of the First Lord of the Treasury it amounted to this—that the producers of beer were to be left free in respect of the materials used in their trade, and this was no little advantage. He would point out that there was an additional reason for the abolition of the Malt Tax which had not been mentioned by the First Lord of the Treasury or by any subsequent speaker—namely, that since the abolition of the Sugar Duty, sugar had become a formidable competitor of malt in the manufacture of beer, and it was said that the growers of barley stood at a disadvantage because it answered the purpose of the producer of beer, financially, to use sugar instead of malt. The announcement of the Government had come upon him, as on hon. Members opposite, with great surprise, and with a corresponding amount of pleasure; and he believed that 1668 to-morrow morning it would be read throughout the barley-growing districts of England with the utmost satisfaction. The hoc. Member for Mid-Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) had complained of the terms in which the Prime Minister had alluded to the Committee appointed to inquire into the condition of the agricultural interest; but he thought the term employed was a very fitting one, because the farmers of the Kingdom were under the impression that the Commisions had been appointed to recommend remedial measures for the existing distress. Now, he understood that the Commission was not likely to report for the next two, or, perhaps, three years. Some hon. Members questioned that statement; but he could assure them, upon the authority of persons qualified to offer an opinion upon the subject, that it would be at least two years before the Report was issued. Therefore, at all events, the farmers of England had been under the delusion that the Committee was to report upon remedial measures for the removal of existing distress. He was glad, however, that the Government had not waited for that Report, but were using the golden days of the Session at their disposal in attending to the demands of the farmers, and that they had already dealt with two important questions connected with the agricultural interest in a very trenchant manner, and upon which he ventured to congratulate the Government.
§ MR. WHITWELL
said, it was a matter for rejoicing that the right hon. Gentleman had been able to accomplish, in the abolition of the Malt Tax, an object which was so much desired. It was also a most satisfactory circumstance for the mercantile interest of the country that at the very moment when the new Treaty with France had to be made, the plan of the right hon. Gentleman had been introduced, which he trusted would enable us to offer to France certain concessions which the people or that country desired, upon the basis that they should be returned upon the part of France in a manner which he trusted would be most satisfactory to the commercial interests of this country. There was one question which he would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman, and that was with reference to the reduction of the duty on wine. Did the right hon. Gentleman intend by the 1669 Orders in Council which, he asked the House to give power to the Government to issue, to make the changes successively with one country and with another, as circumstances might arise? If the whole of those changes of duty were to be made by the 15th of August, he thought it would be found utterly impracticable, in so short a period, to settle the concessions with the various countries which ought to be made to the trade of this country by them in return. The Orders in Council ought certainly to be so timed as to give sufficient delay for the completion of negotiations. He trusted the question would receive an answer when the House was called upon to vote the Resolutions.
§ MR. J. W. PEASE
said, he congratulated the right hon. Gentleman on the Budget generally, and also upon the fact of his having secured so considerable an ally as the hon. Member for Mid-Lincolnshire in the carrying out of a large portion of his scheme; but there was one portion of the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman which he regretted, and which he thought the country would believe required extreme care in its application. He referred to that portion of the scheme by which the right hon. Gentleman proposed that cottagers of under £20 rental should receive brewing licences to brew at the comparatively low charge of a few shillings, and then be able to brew without accounting in any way to the Excise. In the district in which he resided there was a large mining population. They had had great difficulty at one time in putting down what was called she beening among the class of houses which existed in that district, and which were, most of them, below the rental of £20. He thought the magistrates and the police would be perfectly at sea if the proposed system of granting licences were carried out. Because, when a man obtained a licence of that kind, who could tell whether all the beer on his premises was of his own brewing for the consumption of his family, or whether it had been supplied by brewers in the neighbourhood? He believed that that difficulty would entirely frustrate the efforts of the magistrates and police to put an end to the system of she which they were endeavouring to prevent, and of which they had already got the upper hand. Another point to which he would refer 1670 was that of the alteration of licences which the right hon. Gentleman proposed to make in the case of retailers of beer, spirits, and wine. He believed that if anyone in the House had the opportunity of looking at the Return moved for by the late Member for Manchester (Sir Thomas Bazley), he would see that the present system of granting licences was in a state of inextricable confusion, and that no one out of Somerset House could say at what amount licence a house of a given rental would require to sell spirits, ale, and cider. As to the general statement of the right hon. Gentleman, he thought it would be received, on the whole, with unmitigated pleasure.
§ MR. GILL
said, he wished to call attention to what seemed to be a discrepancy in the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman, by which the Revenue might be cheated. He understood that 6d. per gallon was to be charged upon wine of 22 degrees; and with regard to wines above that, and up to 35 degrees of strength, 1d. per degree of strength would be charged, while upon all the degrees above 35 there would be a charge of 2½d. He had also understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that there would be a charge of 2s. per gallon upon all wines coming into this country in bottle. As far as he could understand the plan proposed, it would appear that wines of higher strength, some of which, it had been pointed out, went as high as 41 degrees, could be imported in bottles instead of in casks. Supposing the wine contained 41 degrees of spirit, there would be first the 6d. rate, then there would be the 1d. per degree up to 35 degrees, and then the 2½d. for the degrees above 35, which would make the duty 2s. 9½d. in the case of the wine being imported in casks, while if the same wine were imported in bottles, the duty would only be 2s., so that, on every gallon imported in that manner, the Revenue might be cheated to the extent of 9½d. With regard to the beer question, the right hon. Gentleman had stated that he believed the new plan would tend to bring weaker and milder classes of beers into use in this country. He questioned that opinion very much, because he believed that publicans catered most to the taste of their customers when they supplied them with the strongest drinks at the lowest pos- 1671 sible price. He believed that the decrease of duties on wines would have the effect of interfering with the interests of the home manufacture in the East, West, and South of Ireland—namely, that of whiskey, which was taxed at the rate of 10,?. per gallon, while the three and two-third gallons of alcohol contained in 36 gallons of beer was to pay a duty of 6s. 3d. only. With regard to the Income Tax, Ireland, and perhaps Scotland, ought to be exempted, in his opinion, from the additional 1d. which it was proposed to impose. There was no doubt that the changes in the Beer and Wine Duties would be of very great advantage to the English manufacturer; but he did not think that they would be of like advantage to the Irish manufacturer. The trade of Ireland was to be injured, in order that the loss on English Revenue might be made good. A penny was to be put on the Income Tax not only for England, but for Ireland. It certainly seemed very hard that the English manufacturer should be relieved of a tax to the detriment of the Irish manufacturer. But, unfortunately, it had been done ever since the Union, and the plan had been resorted to many times in order to drive any little industry and manufacture that they had in Ireland away from it; and he thought that not only Ireland, but Scotland, was injured in this matter, for Scotland also drank whisky, and not beer. She would not be relieved of taxation, but, like Ireland, would have to pay an additional 1d. of Income Tax. Considering the present state of things in Ireland, and the fearful distress existing there, he thought this extra 1d. on the Income Tax would press hardly upon it. He thought that both Ireland and Scotland should be exempted from the additional 1d. of Income Tax, and that it should be only imposed in England.
§ MR. ANDERSON
said, that imposing 2s. per gallon upon wines from abroad, without requiring the strength to be examined by the Customs, would have the effect of causing more strongly fortified wines to be imported into this country than at present, and seemed to risk fraud on the Revenue. That was not, however, a point upon which he would very particularly speak. The right hon. Gentleman proposed to abolish the tax upon malt and to place it 1672 upon beer. That was a perfectly right thing to do as regarded principle, and in that respect he fully approved of it; but it seemed to him that the detail of the scheme was not so satisfactory. The right hon. Gentleman had him self spoken of the great injustice that would be caused to Scotland and Ireland if he were to abolish the Malt Tax and not to put a tax upon beer. And he showed that the discrepancy between Scotland and Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom would be so great, because the former countries would pay 10s. per gallon on their whisky, while the drinkers of beer in England would escape. That would be an injustice almost intolerable; but even at present a very great injustice existed, and the proposal now made, instead of reducing that injustice, seemed to him to be likely even to increase it. The charge to be placed on spirits was to be as great as ever; the charge upon alcohol in beer was to be less than ever. The right hon. Gentleman himself had shown that the Revenue was to lose a large sum, which he presumed meant that the alcohol in beer was to be relieved of taxation through the change made to the extent of £1,100,000, and that the beer-drinkers were to pay £1,100,000 less than at present. The right hon. Gentleman said that was only to be for the first year, which made it not so bad; but in Scotland they had always looked forward to the time when the Malt Duty would be abolished and a tax imposed upon beer, as the right time to remedy the great injustice that existed between the way in which alcohol in beer and alcohol in the shape of spirits was now taxed. It was felt to be a great injustice that alcohol in its pure state should be taxed at such a high rate, while alcohol diluted with hops and water should escape so lightly. It did, indeed, seem very hard that now the change had been determined upon, and the duty was to be removed and placed upon beer, that the injustice that existed was not removed, or even lessened, while, on the other hand, beer was let off more cheaply. He regretted that the Government had not availed themselves of the opportunity that had presented itself of redressing this inequality; but, instead of doing that, had compelled the people of Scotland, as well as of Ireland, to pay more 1673 in the shape of Income Tax in order to enable English beer-drinkers to buy their beer at cheaper rates.
§ MR. BIDDELL
regretted that he could not join in the shower of thanks with which the agricultural Members had received the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as he could see no such immense benefit to the farmer in them. The remission of £300,000 off French wines would bring them into closer competition with our pale ales; but he supposed it was a card the right hon. Gentleman wished to play in fresh negotiations with France, aiming to draw great advantages to this country—thus he was confirming the benefits of Reciprocity. The substituting the beer duty for the Malt Duty was a principle he (Mr. Biddell) highly approved of; but the right hon. Gentleman was going to impose on beer a tax greater by 10 per cent than the malt and present beer duty, which was now equivalent to 22s. 8d. per quarter, whereas his beer duty would amount to 25s. a quarter—that was, 6s. 3d. per barrel on four barrels of beer the make from a quarter of malt. [Mr. GLADSTONE dissented.] The right hon. Gentleman dissented from that; but he (Mr. Biddell) should be glad to be set right if wrong. The exemptions he approved of; probably the higher ones would be challenged; but he hoped that acting on the principle of "not muzzling the ox which treaded out the corn," the right hon. Gentleman would allow the agricultural labourer to brew free of any tax.
§ DR. LYONS
said, he thought this would be an historical debate. He had taken the trouble to turn up the Journals of the House, and he found that so long ago as 1698 there was a discussion upon the Malt Tax, and he thought that this debate would rank with that in the importance attached to it. With regard to the effect of the abolition of the Malt Duty in Ireland, he must say that as Ireland was not a very great barley-growing country, he did not think there would be very much advantage to it through the abolition of the duty on malt. The practical point to which he should ask the right hon. Gentleman to direct his attention was this. He thought it would be hard in Ireland, at a time like the present, with so much suffering existing, to place an additional 1d. on 1674 the Income Tax, particularly when it would be payable at the fall of the year. That would be a particular evil. Owing to the distress in Ireland, they were, in many instances, paying Income Tax and other charges upon incomes which were purely fictitious. In a large part of the country, incomes had not been received even to the extent of half their nominal amount. It might be said those so aggrieved could appeal to the Income Tax Commissioners; but they all knew, as a matter of fact, that the Income Tax was levied upon an average of three years, so that, practically, there was no remedy to be had. It must also be borne in mind that, at the fall of the year, those same incomes which were so largely fictitious became subject to a very heavy claim for tithe rent charge. It was a fact that in Ireland at the present moment many persons were paying tithe rent charge on incomes that they had actually not received. Anyone who knew the condition of things throughout Ireland would be aware that rents were considerably in arrear; and he must say great generosity and forbearance had been exercised by individual owners of land throughout Ireland with respect to their overdue rents. In some cases he believed many landowners, and those connected with land, had not received any rent from so long ago as March, 1879. Yet those persons it was now proposed should pay out of their own pockets an additional 1d. of Income Tax, and also the tithe rent charge becoming chargeable on their holdings at the fall of the year. It was a matter of serious consideration for those people to pay what would practically be an additional Income Tax of 2d. in the pound, at a time when they had not received the income in respect to which it was payable. They could not, perhaps, now expect that Ireland or Scotland should be exempted from the Income Tax; and probably it was idle to ask for it; but he believed, from the statements of the right hon. Gentleman—and he had the fullest confidence from the almost unanimous expressions of opinion from hon. Gentlemen on the opposite Benches—that a very material benefit would be conferred on the agricultural interest in England from the alteration of the Malt Duty. In regard to barley, no doubt some benefit would also be conferred upon Ireland if the expectations raised were 1675 in any manner realized. It ought not to be forgotten that while they had a large distilling interest in Ireland they had also a large brewing interest. The suggestion he would venture to make to the right hon. Gentleman would be that he would be good enough to consider whether he could make the incidence of the Income Tax in Ireland fall in such a manner as, under the special circumstances of Ireland, would render it more tolerable. If the payment of the additional 1d. tax were postponed for a time—until things had become more prosperous, and a good harvest had been gathered—it would do much to relieve the present state of affairs in Ireland. He believed that if the additional 1d. of Income Tax were levied in October it would produce £750,000; but the amount required to make up for the relief from the Malt Duty was £1,100,000. It appeared to him that if the right hon. Gentleman, who was so fertile in his financial resources, were to devote his attention to it, he could easily arrange some way, either by a temporary loan from the Consolidated Fund or otherwise, to supplement the proceeds of the Income Tax in October so that the second 1d. might be collected half a year later. He did not think it would make any practical difference to his calculations if the second 1d. were taken later; but, on the other hand, it would make a most material difference in Ireland to people who were hardly pressed owing to the distress prevalent there. He should not have ventured to interfere in a debate of such importance as this except for the purpose of offering the suggestion he had done. He would venture strongly to appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to give it his favourable consideration.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT
said, that they had had a most clear and lucid statement from the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister. He must congratulate the right hon. Gentleman upon the possession of those great faculties at the age at which he had arrived. He did so with all frankness and with all respect, and he hoped that he might for many long years remain in the possession of that intellect by which he was so greatly distinguished. It was a curious thing that in the year 1880 they should have had two important Budgets introduced to their notice. He would venture to say, however, that the present Budget 1676 was the most important that had been introduced to the House for many years. The repeal of the Malt Duty, and the placing of the amount hitherto raised for the Imperial Exchequer from that source upon beer, had for some years been a project of his own. He had ventured to place it before the House previously, he had had also the honour of being the Chairman of a Committee which recommended—-he would not say exactly in the same way, but very nearly—the same Resolutions as the right hon. Gentleman now proposed to the Committee. He, for one, remembered perfectly well the arguments used on previous occasions by the right hon. Gentleman himself against the change which he now brought forward. The right hon. Gentleman had now come round to the view that a measure of this kind was desirable in the interests not only of the agriculturist, but also in that of the consumers of both beef and beer. He would also at once meet the charge of why he had not brought this question forward when his own side were in power. The reason was a very simple one. He had not brought the question forward since 1872, when the price of barley had begun to improve, and since that time had reached the high price of 50s. a-quarter; and agriculturists had thought that that price might be injured by the abolition of the tax. It was very different when barley ranged from 26s. to 30s. a-quarter, with a duty of 21s. 8½d. upon it. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had stated that he wished to free them from the trammels under which they were, and he said distinctly that it was unfair to hamper the trade, which was confined to barley and sugar alone. He knew, and so did all those who had considered the matter, that where barley was used, now sugar, having come into competition with it, was employed to an enormous extent; and he would venture to say that the substitution of sugar for barley was to the detriment not only of the beer itself, but also of the people who drank the beer. No doubt, formerly malt was made mainly from barley, and good hops were used in the making of beer; but what would be the state of things for the future? It would be found that Indian corn, beans, and possibly oats, would be used. He felt sure that the articles put into beer would not be of the 1677 same quality as they had been hitherto. He should like to know what his right hon. Friend the Member for Derby (Mr. Bass) would say to those Resolutions. His belief was that he (Mr. Bass) would continue in that same course that he had followed for many years, and would purchase the best article he could find; but would that be so, he ventured to ask, with everyone that brewed? With reference to his next point, he should like to have some explanation from the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He understood him to say that he was going to charge all classes of beer at the same rate. He should like an explanation upon that point, because he thought it most detrimental to those Resolutions. If 6s. 3d. were to be charged per barrel for all classes of beer, what would become of the light beers, and of what would they be made? That was a most important matter, and one that he should like explained; and he trusted that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer would favour them with a few remarks upon the subject, if his proposal was not to deal with that question in the way he had indicated. There was another question which he should like the right hon. Gentleman to consider, and that was what quantity of foreign malt and barley of an inferior quality would be imported? Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would say that had nothing to do with the question; but if he were to turn to his old speeches he would find that that was one of the arguments he himself used against the repeal of the Malt Tax. Now that the duty was taken off, the barley of inferior quality grown in other countries, and which was never in a fit condition to travel, could be malted, and then transmitted in that state. There was one other point with which he must trouble the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and that was the point raised by the hon. Member for Dublin (Dr. Lyons). It was the question of raising the Income Tax 2d. during the last half of the present year. They were now in the sixth month of the year, and had experienced depression during two or three years, especially during last year; and he ventured to say that an increase in the Income Tax at this particular juncture was the most unpopular measure that the right hon. Gentleman could have suggested.
MR. MAC IVER
said, representing as he did a constituency which was largely interested in the sugar trade, he had listened to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the expectation that when he spoke of the negotiations with the French Government he would have made some allusion to the Sugar Bounty Question. Considering the value of the sugar industry of the country, he should be glad if the right hon. Gentleman would be able, when next he addressed them, to say whether, in the negotiations with the French Government, anything was being done with a view to remedy some of the difficulties which now opposed the progress of the sugar industry of the country. He was quite aware that a Committee was sitting then on the sugar question; but he was afraid it was of the same kind as the Committee on Agricultural Distress the right hon. Gentleman had referred to as very much of a delusion. He found no representation at all of the borough, for which he himself sat, upon that Committee, although in that borough the sugar industry was largely carried on. Except in what he had stated, he fully approved of the Financial Statement made by the right hon. Gentleman. One of the Members for Glasgow had spoken about the increase in Income Tax in order to relieve English beer-drinkers. One would suppose from that statement that there was no beer drank in Glasgow, and that there drinking was confined to native whisky. But such was not the case, and he considered it impolitic and unwise to make any difference in the Income Tax for England, Ireland, or Scotland.
§ COLONEL BARNE
said, that as he represented a great barley district he ought to say a few words. He was fully in favour of the Budget of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer; and he could not help remarking that, having adopted the Conservative foreign policy, he was then adopting their home policy also. He wished to make one short remark upon the Budget of the right hon. Gentleman, and that was with reference to his statement that he would allow us to make beer out of anything. He should like to call attention to the fact that the effect of a large increase in the amount of sugar used in brewing would be a 1679 great injury to the barley-growing interest, besides the beer made from sugar being of a worse quality than that made from barley. The amount of sugar used in brewing in 1867 was £26,000,000; in 1868, £38,000,000; and in 1879, £123,000,000; that showed an increase of four times the amount used 10 years since. He hoped the removal of the Malt Tax would raise the price of barley and thus benefit the farmer. For his own part, he had some slight doubts whether that would be so.
§ MR. LAING
said, he had one remark to make totally different from any that had been made during the discussion. The statement made to-night he understood to be a complete Budget of the financial situation of the country for next year. With reference to the expenses going on for war in Afghanistan, as it was undertaken for Imperial purposes, he thought that was a proper occasion to raise the question of the contribution which was to be paid by England. He simply wanted to have an assurance with reference to that point, and he was not precluded from asking for it by anything in the Resolutions; on the contrary, a question of that kind could be duly considered by the Government, and a proper time would, no doubt, be given before too late for deciding the question. At the same time, the question ought not to be mixed up with the others, because, unfortunately, such an expenditure required an adjustment of taxation in order to meet it. As regarded the Budget, he felt bound to say that he thought it would be accepted by the country as being worthy of the high financial reputation of the right hon. Gentleman who had introduced it, and he was the more convinced of that when he listened to the amusing criticism of the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Chaplin). He had one other remark to make. Being a Scotch Member he had heard Irish Members and some Scotch Members refer to the hardship, because it was proposed to remove the tax from malt and place a uniform rate on beer; and they said that it would bear hardly on the national beverages of Scotland and Ireland. He must say he could not agree with that. Whisky and ardent spirits of all sorts stood quite on a different footing from such simple commodities as tea, coffee, &c. With regard to these latter articles, it was the 1680 object of the Government to have as large a revenue as possible with as large a consumption; but nobody could say that with regard to whisky. On the contrary, with regard to ardent spirits, the object was to have a large revenue with a high duty and small consumption. There was no comparison, he contended, between the alcohol of ardent spirit and that of such material as German beer.
§ MR. J. G. HUBBARD
said, he trusted that when the right hon. Gentleman did rise he would tell the Committee that he would postpone the consideration of those Resolutions, inasmuch as they were all of an unexpected character; and he thought it only fair to the Committee to have time to consider them before coming to a distinct determination. There were some points that were fully satisfactory, and others that he felt sure required consideration. He had been in that House a good many years, and had heard discussions on the Malt Tax which left him under the conviction that the Malt Tax was one of the most convenient modes of raising a large revenue obtained by a large consumption which caused the taxation to be spread over the community at large. As regarded the collection of the tax, the system of raising the Malt Tax was attended with less expense than would attend a beer duty. It was quite true that the number of brewers had diminished, yet, at the present moment, the number of maltsters' licences was only 4.000 over the whole of the United Kingdom, whereas the number of brewers' licences was 24,000. He was afraid that the extremely light charge for a licence for small premises would be greatly abused, and that there would be a large beer traffic of a surreptitious character. He trusted, though he hardly expected, that the system if carried out would prove satisfactory to the English agriculturists, in whose behalf the measure had been brought forward; but he confessed that he thought that any benefit derived from the abolition of the Malt Duty would inadequately compensate the land for the additional Income Tax of 2d. on the half-year when they considered the serious distress in recent seasons, the high wages, and increasing rates. He trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would not ask for an affirmation of the Resolutions that night.
§ MR. WATNEY
asked the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer if brewers' licences would be paid in advance or not?
said, with regard to the payment of the Beer Tax, it would be levied in advance and in the following manner. There would be a monthly collection, and as a consequence the beer would be charged from month to month, and the tax would be payable the following month. Therefore there would be an interval of four weeks on the average between the time of charge and that of actual payment. The interval in the case of the malt was longer being now six weeks; but it was, in fact, about nine weeks taking the average between the charge and full conversion into beer, that being a stage during which nothing was paid to the Revenue on account of a drawback being allowed. The levy of the Beer Tax would now take place monthly instead of at periods of six weeks as in the case of the Malt Tax. He must decline to adopt the suggestion of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Hubbard) not to proceed with the Resolutions that night, because he thought that they were generally agreed upon them, and that their import was perfectly well understood. As was usual in the case of such financial propositions, therefore, he proposed that they be accepted that night, so that the Report might be taken to-morrow (Friday) with a view to getting the Bill printed at the earliest possible moment, and by that means to allow an adequate time for consideration before the next discussion would take place upon them. The question of the hon. Gentleman behind him as to the Expenditure showed that he had not heard distinctly the part of his statement which referred to it. That was the reason that induced him to think that it could be better discussed when the Bill had been printed. With regard to the question put by his right hon. Friend (Sir Stafford Northcote) with reference to the debate, that Gentleman had asked what impression he (Mr. Gladstone) intended to convey with regard to the Estimates of Revenue which his noble Friend (Lord Frederick Cavendish) had submitted to the House. He was bound to say that that question was one of perfect propriety, and put in the exercise of sound judgment. What he had intended to convey was that upon the whole there was no 1682 strong reason to suppose that the Revenue would fall short. They were all in hopes of an improvement in the condition of the country, particularly with reference to the agricultural condition, and they trusted there would be a good harvest and that nothing would happen to mar the present satisfactory prospect. But he must say that, as far as the two months had gone, as to which alone they could form a positive judgment, the actual receipts did not allow even of that expectation of a moderate increase which even moderate Estimates were usually framed to admit of. With regard to the condition of the negotiations, they stood thus as far as he was able to describe it. Spain and Portugal were the two countries most considerably concerned after France. Spain had declared that she was anxious to negotiate upon the subject of the wine duties, and Portugal had expressed a similar desire. With regard to Austria, she did not wish to negotiate, and there had been no reply from Italy. But neither of the latter countries entered materially into the question. The most important matter in connection with the negotiations was the initative taken by France, and the desire expressed by her for a change in the wine duties of this country. That change might be defined as a reduction to 6d. duty upon the weaker wines which did not exceed a strength of 20 degrees. That was the point up to which arrangements had been made with reference to those duties. That, he thought, was all he could say with regard to the national negotiations. The hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) had asked whether the House would be pledged to the Vote if the form of the Resolutions was agreed to. In reply he would say that under the circumstances, for reasons which he had already explained to the House, he asked them to accept the Resolution formally, and thus far to place confidence in the Government. At the same time he must say that he believed the hon. Member would have every security against being entrapped; for, in the first place, he would have other opportunities of passing a more serious judgment upon the proposals; and, secondly, in the case of any negotiations upon the subject of a levy upon British products of that kind, all such negotiations must be carried on from the necessity of the case in constant communication with the 1683 representatives of the manufacturing and trading interests of the Midland and Northern counties; and, therefore, there could be no secrecy about the matter, and there would be ample opportunities of expressing disapproval in that House. His hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow (Mr. Anderson) following the remark of another hon. Member, said that if they laid a duty of 2s. upon bottled wine there would be a great inducement to introduce highly brandied wines in the form of bottled wines. The Government had no apprehension of that kind. That duty would not accrue on any wine until above 37 or 38 degrees, and to put wine into bottles when in the course of trade it was always sent out in cask was an operation which would entail such trouble and expense that he believed there was not the smallest fear of its being done. That hon. Gentleman had also observed that it was rather a hardship upon Scotland to have to undergo a loss of £1,100,000 in regard to Revenue which was to be made up by an Income Tax to be paid not by England alone, which would have the principal advantage of the exchange of a Beer Duty for a Malt Tax, but also by Scotland and Ireland. He could only say that as regarded Scotland and Ireland the financial operation would be a good one. If it were treated as a Scotch or Irish question he should put it in the following way. £1,000,000 were to be invested this year, and for that amount they were to have a return of from £300,000 to £400,000 in perpetuity. If they could contrive to obtain an interest of that kind, he thought his hon. Friend would see that that was a matter in which neither Scotland or Ireland had any reason to complain, provided the expectations he had ventured to hold out were fully realized. It had also been suggested with reference to our arrangements with regard to the Income Tax that at least one moiety might be made to fall upon the Revenue of the coming financial year. That was a proposal which he begged to say would entirely defeat the purposes with which he had made that application to the House. They were obliged to proceed of necessity from year to year and a practice certainly existed of drawing drafts upon the Revenue receivable in the next year in order to meet the exigencies of the present one. He was afraid that that mode of procedure was of a demoralizing nature, and one that 1684 ought, if possible, to be avoided. It had been asked by an hon. Member whether the gradations fixed upon with reference to the wine duties would suit the purposes of the wine trade. In answer to that question he would say that the only important point was the 20 degrees by Sykes's hydrometer; and that point they knew was perfectly satisfactory to those who were materially and exclusively concerned. The hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Her-mon) had referred to the time when the Income Tax would be levied. They had in that respect a precedent to follow—namely, one in the year 1859. He (Mr. Gladstone) would rather refer to that precedent than trust to his own knowledge of particulars merely. His impression was that the half-yearly Income Tax which was the subject of his proposal would be taken on the reduced new 3 per cent Stocks due in October. He was sorry to have to ask for increased taxation at all; but he did not wish, at any rate, to be misunderstood, and for it to be considered that the tax was greater than it really was. The fact was that the Income Tax on the year would be at the rate of 1d. increase; but when payments-out were made half-yearly it would be 2½d. and 2d. for two quarters. The hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Hermon) had also said that all persons selling wine in retail ought to be charged the increased licence duty, and he had referred to the case of the London clubs. He once made an attempt to get the facts of the case from the London clubs, and that attempt prospered for a certain time. When, unfortunately, a Gentleman who sat behind him at that time drew his attention to the fact that if the London clubs were called upon to pay for licences they would probably ask to be remitted the House Duty, or, at any rate, that it be reduced to the rate that publicans paid. On finding that to be the ease, his proposal came to an untimely end. The hon. Member for Mid Somerset (Mr. R. Paget) had asked him whether he had intended to convey that there was on the part of the French Government a desire to make changes in ad valorem duties of an unfavourable character as against ourselves. What he wished to convey was that the French Government had stated that they intended to adopt some new regulations with regard to the application of ad valorem duties. The arrangement under the Treaty of 1860, by which ad valorem 1685 duties were commuted into rateable duties, had given rise to the opinion of the French Government that they were in some cases evaded. Under those circumstances, he thought it right that new regulations should be framed. He felt convinced that upon that subject they might feel perfectly satisfied. The hon. Member for Kendal had inquired whether it would be possible to operate piecemeal upon one scale, or whether the power to be given would be exercised once for all with regard to the wines of all countries. He imagined there would be a great difficulty in attempting to draw a broad distinction between countries with regard to the qualities of their various wines. It might be advisable to give power to operate on wines of one strength; but it seemed to him that distinctions between countries could not conveniently or advantageously be drawn. The hon. Member for Plymouth had asked whether, in the negotiations with France, the question of the sugar bounties had been included. The negotiations with France stood thus—We were waiting to know what it was that the French Government were prepared to do on behalf of British commerce; if the House should accept these Resolutions, the French Government would then know what England was prepared to do on her side in favour of French commerce. He had no doubt, then, that the French Government would go to work, and would soon be in a position to enable him to state whether it was their desire to negotiate with regard to the sugar bounties; but upon that point he wished to remain uncommitted. The hon. and gallant Baronet opposite (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) had asked whether it was intended that the charge of 6s. 3d. per barrel should be uniform. Certainly not. The quality of the beer would be ascertained by a double test, first by reference to the alcoholic strength, and, secondly, to the saccharine matter and constituents which determine the strength of beer, together with the alcoholic test. That test would be so applied as to give an average result which would be about 6s. 3d. per barrel, liable to deduction for waste, which would bring it down to within a fraction of 6s., and that 6s. per barrel he had dwelt upon, not because it was a uniform rate, but because it expressed the average on a barrel of beer, like the drawback amounting to 5s. 9d. per barrel claimed on beer exported. He had been asked how ho 1686 justified a tax amounting to 6s. per barrel of beer. He thought he dwelt upon that subject at such length in his opening statement that he hardly expected to be asked for a farther explanation. Undoubtedly, the result would be that in relief to the maltster and brewer the new law would distinctly and decisively give more than 6s. 1½d.; all he could say was that the sum they were about to levy would be less than 6s. 1½d. With regard to sugar used in brewing they had no intention of altering the law. Their intention was to admit all materials whatever to perfectly free and open competition. He thought with the hon. Member that it was perfectly possible that sugar might have an undue advantage, and might be used to a degree which its intrinsic merits did not justify. Nothing but the free choice of the producer was really an adequate test for determining the relative value and efficiency of the articles in use for producing beer. He did not undertake to say what commodity might rise in price; but a free and open market would tend to give all commodities their proper value, and best provide for the interests of all. Having said this much, he had only to thank hon. Members for their frank, friendly, and kindly remarks in commenting on the proposals made to them; and he hoped when they come to read the proposals, and when the Bill was placed in their hands, they would find their friendly temper justified.
§ SIR EARDLEY WILMOT
said, he was satisfied that the Budget would give satisfaction to the whole community. It had been said that the right hon. Gentleman had taken the wind out of the sails of the Conservative Party; but he was obliged to confess that during the time he had been in the House of Commons the sails of the Party with reference to this question had never been set. The right hon. Gentleman had found a good ship at sea abandoned and without a pilot, "The British Farmer," and had put a crew on board with which he would have an opportunity of taking her into harbour. They knew at the present time that there was an enormous growth of wheat in America and Canada, and that so great were the advantages of those countries in respect of climate and transit that it was considered next to impossible that in future times the farmers of England could raise wheat so as to compete with the produce of those countries. Therefore it was that his 1687 constituents wished to see a greater growth of barley, which, as hon. Members knew, was grown of better quality in this country than in any other, and they considered that any system by which the increase of the growth of barley could be promoted would be of enormous advantage to the agricultural interest. Therefore, as regarded the farmer, it could not be doubted that this plan of the right hon. Gentleman would give great satisfaction. Again, with regard to its effect upon the price of beer, that matter had also been fully discussed in Warwickshire, where it was said that, no doubt, the labouring population would be greatly benefited by the large increase in the beer brewed, while its cheapness would ensue from the duty on malt being taken off. There were, therefore, two classes which would be materially benefited—namely, the farmer and the labourer. But did the right hon. Gentleman propose to benefit the landlord? He had held out very little hope of that. He had increased the Income Tax; but of that he did not complain, inasmuch as he believed it would be but a temporary tax, and that the advantages which would accrue from the other parts of the Budget scheme would give satisfaction to the community. But, as regarded the cheapening of wines, he could not suppose that there was any intention of benefiting the landlord in the proposal, because he did not believe the landlords would be satisfied with a larger quantity of the beverage which passed as "claret" under the name of the right hon. Gentleman. In other respects, however, it was probable that the cheapening of light wine would have a beneficial effect, for he had had the opportunity, in foreign countries, of seeing how greatly the consumption of that kind of light wine tended to do away with intemperance, which great evil, he believed, might be advantageously effected at home by the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman. As an independent Member of the Conservative Party, he tendered his acknowledgments on the Budget of the right hon. Gentleman, and could only express his regret that during the time he had been in the House that Party had not had the time, he would not say the opportunity, of doing what the right hon. Gentleman had proposed to do that evening.
§ MR. BYRNE
said, he thought the Income Tax was, perhaps, the easiest and best means to be adopted under the present circumstances. He believed, however, it would be admitted by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer that good finance was not the imposition of new or increased taxation, but the abolition of all unnecessary expenditure, and the reduction to a minimum of expenses that were necessary. But he desired to make an observation with respect to the imposition and collection of the Income Tax, which was, that it pressed very unduly on a large section of the community. As a short illustration, he would suppose three gentlemen living in adjoining houses perfectly similar, and having each an annual income of a £1,000; one of them derived his income from real property, or money in the funds. The next gentleman derived his income from the investment of, say, £20,000 capital in his business, which was managed by his clerks; while the last was a professional man, living by brain work, the hardest of all hard labour. Now, it struck him that the imposition of an equal tax of 6d. in the pound income upon each of these three gentlemen was manifestly unjust. For, suppose the case of their deaths. The first gentleman would leave behind him the property which he possessed and the income derivable there from; the next left his capital and his business. But what became of the professional man? He died and left a family behind him, and in too many instances, it was, he was sorry to say the case, that the income of the family ceased altogether. It therefore appeared to him that a just imposition of the tax was a matter of the greatest importance. He would suggest, therefore, that the gentleman whose income was derived from real property or money in the funds should be charged 6d. in the pound, the person engaged in business 4d in the pound, and the professional man 2d. in the pound. Some modification or adjustment, he thought, might be introduced with respect to the Income Tax; and if the matter were to receive the prompt attention of the Government the announcement would be approved by the people of this country. He approved of the spreading of the tax over Ireland and Scotland, because it applied the principle of extending to 1689 all equal law and justice; and, although on this occasion Ireland would receive the worst of the bargain, at a future time she would receive compensation. With reference to the proposal affecting the trades of brewing and malting, he was bound to say that it was, in his opinion, a step in the right direction, inasmuch as it abolished many things which pressed hardly upon those trades; amongst others, the feeling that they were watched as suspected persons by the officers of the Revenue.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
said, he thought that there was one point in connection with the Budget speech upon which everyone interested in commerce was to be congratulated, and that was the proof now afforded them that the era of progress in English finance had not closed. He believed that during the last seven or eight years the country had sunk into a state of despondency, owing to the heavy financial requirements of the nation, during which time the country's finance had been nothing more than a juggle upon the Income Tax; for to put a 1d. on, or to take one off, seemed to have been the highest effort of our financiers for some time past. But now the right hon. Gentleman had opened up to them the prospect of lightened burdens upon the people by the changes which he had proposed, as well as an increase in the income of the country. He was delighted to see a return on the part of the Liberal Party to what he would venture to call the principles of common sense with reference to the tariff. He recollected very well how Mr. Cobden had been decried by those who called themselves the Free Trade Party, because he had made the French Treaty the object of negotiations. Those were the days of leaps and bounds in our prosperity, when they were told to stick to their principles, and not care for the question how solid results were to be obtained. But the right hon. Gentleman, by now taking power from the House to negotiate with the French and Spanish Governments, had brought to bear upon them the only argument to which they had ever listened—namely, the argument of giving something in return for something. By lowering the duty on foreign wines the right hon. Gentleman had in his hands a lever which would give an immense impetus to the trade of the coun- 1690 try, and it was also to be hoped that by means of that lever even more would be effected. He had not gathered from statements of the right hon. Gentleman what number of gallons of beer he calculated were brewed in this country in the course of the year. He had ventured, last year, to propose a mode of doing away with the various taxes on tea, coffee, brewers' licences, and the Malt Duty, by imposing a tax on beer, to be levied in the way it was done in America—namely, by means of stamps affixed to the casks. The right hon. Gentleman, however, had rejected that plan. But he would like to know how many gallons of beer the right hon. Gentleman supposed were brewed in this country in the course of the year. So far as he had been able to calculate, the Budget would impose 2d. on every gallon of beer brewed; and, upon information from persons of great experience, he had arrived at the conclusion that 1,000,000,000 gallons were produced annually. Now, he ventured to think that by dividing that beer into different standards, according to alcoholic strength, a very much larger income could be derived from beer than the right hon. Gentleman proposed to extract from that source. Indeed, he believed it would be found to amount to a larger sum than hon. Members had any idea of, and that from £10,000,000 to £12,000,000 a-year could easily be derived from this tax. But he must ask the right hon. Gentleman to go a little farther, and to do something towards redressing that gigantic grievance which pressed upon the people of Ireland and Scotland—namely, the difference between the duty on alcohol in its various forms. If he would only take up that subject, and it was to be hoped that the present proposal was the prelude to a step in that direction, he would, in his opinion, heal a very sore grievance pressing upon the people of Ireland and Scotland. The right hon. Gentleman had absolutely admitted the reality of that grievance; he had shown that the beverage of one part of the United Kingdom was taxed at a much higher rate than the beverage of the other; and the worst of that inequality was that its effects pressed most upon the poorest portions of the community. The poor in Ireland could not get beer, because breweries, which were expensive 1691 establishments, were not to be found there as they were in this country. Nothing could be more striking than the statement of the right hon. Gentleman as to the decline in the number of breweries in the country, which meant that the capitalist had driven out the small brewer from the country districts. That was why the Irish and Scotch people could not get alcohol in the shape of beer, but had to take it in the cruder form of whisky, which they diluted with water. Was it not a giant evil that in this respect the people of Ireland and Scotland were taxed to a four-fold degree as compared with the people of England? He trusted that this Budget would be the commencement of a new era in taxation. He hoped, however, that the grievance of Scotland and Ireland, in respect to the incidence of taxation on alcohol, would receive the serious attention of the Government. If beer was proportionately taxed three times the present Revenue might be raised.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, that he had understood the right hon. Gentleman that the reduction of the duty upon French wines was practically a condition preliminary to the negotiation of a new Treaty with France. But he should like to know whether the new duties would take effect immediately upon the passing of that Resolution, and whether the Treaty was to be immediately negotiated on the footing of the Resolution?
said, he would venture to ask whether by passing these Resolutions the Committee would be bound to recognize the gradations in duty which had been indicated, or whether it would be open to any hon. Member to put questions concerning them?
§ MR. O'SULLIVAN
said, he approved of the right hon. Gentleman's proposals, so far as they referred to the introduction of light wines from France. He also approved of the abolition of the Malt Tax, and also of increasing the Income Tax, for, in his opinion, no tax was more fair if fairly levied; but he should like to see it levied on lower incomes than at present. He thought that incomes of very low amount ought to contribute to this tax. The reason he should like to see the tax levied in that way was that at present a large portion of the taxation of the country was paid by the pauper who walked in the streets. The man with £50 a-year 1692 paid nearly 10 per cent of taxation, while the man of £50,000 a-year did not pay 5 per cent of his vast income in taxes. He would ask if that were a fair state of things in a country which professed to do justice to all classes? He thought that the Income Tax should be raised in the ascending scale, so that men who had the highest income in the country should pay the largest percentage of taxation. The man who got his income easily should, he thought, pay a higher tax than the man who earned it by his head or his hands. It was a most unfair thing to charge a man who worked by his head and hands the same as a man who did nothing at all, and would receive the same income if he passed all his time in bed. He expected that when the right hon. Gentleman dealt with the question of taxation on alcohol he would have dealt justly with all three countries. He would tell the Committee how the tax was levied at present. If he took the case of malt it would be found that one barrel of the ordinary ale or beer, produced from two bushels of malt, in this country paid a duty of 5s. 5d. and 3d. per barrel duty. By the abolition of the Malt Tax it would remain very much the same. Practically, therefore, the duty was now 5s. 8d. upon two bushels of malt. The same two bushels of malt, however, if manufactured into alcohol, produced 4½ gallons of proof spirits, upon which the duty was £2 2s. 6d. against 5s. 8d. on the same article when manufactured into beer. In other words, the same quantity of alcohol, when made into whisky—generally the drink of Irishmen and Scotchmen—was charged five times as much when made into the beer usually drank in England. Supposing two men went into a house, and the one had a pint of beer and the other a glass of spirits. The man who had a glass of spirits would pay 2d. duty—perhaps he would be an Irishman or a Scotchman. The Englishman who had a pint of beer containing the same quantity of alcohol would pay only ¼d. duty. Was that a state of things that ought to be continued? It was well for the House to know, while decreasing the duty on beer, that in 1830 a reduction of duty was made upon it. Up to that time 9s. per barrel was charged on the beer of this country and Ireland. He found that in 1814 the tax on beer amounted to 1693 £300,105. If there was a tax of 9s. per barrel on beer, during the last financial year it was in operation, £446,137 was produced by that tax. According to that consumption, if they had the same duty on English beer that was levied previously to 1830, an addition of £ 10,000,000 would be made to the income of this country. In 1864 the duty on spirits was increased from 3s. 4d. to 10s. per gallon. At the time of the Union—namely, 1800—one of the great arguments in favour of Federation used by Fitz Gibbon and the notorious Castlereagh was, that taxes in Ireland would be far less under the Union than under the Irish Government. Was that the fact? In 1800 the tax upon spirits in Ireland was 2s. 4½d. per gallon, and after 80 years of union the tax was now 10s. per gallon. He was not going to ash the Committee to reduce the tax, but to ask them in common justice and common honesty to his country to spend some of that excessive taxation in his country. Two millions and a-half a-year were taken in excessive taxation from Ireland, and what was given in return? They were offered £30,000 for fishery harbours. What was that in comparison with the £2,500,000 which had been taken from Ireland for the last 16 years? He asked that some of the taxation so taken from Ireland might be given back to it for the reclamation of waste lands. Hon. Members might say that the duty on spirits was only the same in Ireland as it was in England; but it should be remembered that in 1864 the duty on spirits in Ireland was raised from 3s. 8d. to 10s. per gallon, whereas the duty in England was only increased from 7s. 8d. to 10s. Thus they had an increase in the taxation of spirits in Ireland of 6s. 8d. per gallon, against an increase in England of 2s. 4d. That change might have been proper with the view to the equalization of duty; but the practical result was that it took a vast amount of additional taxation from Ireland. In levying a tax it made a very great difference upon the commodity upon which it was placed. If they were to levy a tax on cheese, that would affect the English working man very seriously; but it would not make much difference to the Irishman. On the other hand, if they were to put a tax upon oatmeal, the Scotchman would be very seriously affected, while the Irish- 1694 man and the Englishman would not be touched by it. If they put a tax upon hob-nailed boots, such as used in Lancashire for kicking wives to death, only that portion of England would be affected. He made these observations for the purpose of showing that it made a very great difference upon what commodity the tax was placed. The tax, therefore, of a large amount upon spirits, affected very seriously Scotchmen and Irishmen, who principally drank them; whereas reducing the duty on beer was an advantage only to Englishmen, and a corresponding disadvantage to Scotchmen and Irishmen.
said, that some hon. Members were of opinion that upon dividends payable in July there would be only 5½d. in the pound to pay for the whole half-year. He understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that there would be 2d. additional to pay, but that it would not apply to the July dividends, but only to the dividends which would be received in October. It was not clear from the statement of the right hon. Gentleman how the 2d. additional would operate, and whether it was to apply to the whole half-year or not. It would be well if the right hon. Gentleman would more clearly indicate how that would be. They all felt satisfied that the Government had come forward in the position of farmers' friends. It was singular for Gentlemen on his side the House to take up that position instead of hon. Gentlemen opposite. The hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) spoke with great indignation of the Royal Commission upon Agriculture being called a delusion. He must say that some effectual remedy for the grievances of the farmer would be of more value than any Report, and one important step had now been taken even before the Report of that Committee had been made. Many gentlemen outside the House would feel that far more had been done for the farmers by the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman than could be done by many Royal Commissions. If the Conservative Party had been really desirous of relieving the farmers of this tax, they had an opportunity in 1874, when there was a great surplus, and when they had a powerful majority in Parliament. The time now was less convenient than it would have been, for there was a deficit and not a surplus, and he hoped that the 1695 agriculturist interest would not lose sight of that fact. They should remember that even in a less favourable period than was possessed by the Conservatives the Liberal Administration had yielded to their just demands. The hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Eardley Wilmot) regretted that his friends had not had an opportunity of doing this thing instead of leaving it to be done by the Liberal Party. The fact was that there was the opportunity in 1874, as he had shown; but, for some reason or other, there was not the inclination amongst the Conservative Leaders. He thought the farmers would now see who were really their "friends."
said, he would gladly make inquiries and would answer the questions asked him by hon. Gentlemen. For the present he could only give his own impressions. His belief was that they would levy 2d. upon dividends payable in January; but, at all events, he could assure hon. Members that the practice followed this year would be the same as that adopted in 1859.
§ MR. T. D. SULLIVAN
said, that the financial proposal brought forward that evening made a considerable difference to Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman proposed the abolition of the Malt Duty, and a reduction of the duty on foreign wines; and he expected that the arrangement would result in the development of British industries. On the whole transaction there were certain losses of Revenue which it was proposed to make up by imposing an additional 1d. on Income Tax. It seemed to him that that was only a part of the scheme that would affect Ireland. Ireland would get no advantage from the abolition of the Malt Duty, or the reduction of the duty upon French wines, but would have to pay an additional 1d. of Income Tax. Inasmuch as taxation from Ireland had ere now been considerably augmented by the hands of the right hon. Gentleman, he thought they were entitled to some consideration from him on that occasion.
§ MR. PELL
said, that as repeated remarks had been made with regard to to the farmers' friend he felt compelled to make one or two observations. He believed that the agriculturists as a body would be, on the whole, gratified by the repeal of the Malt Tax. He was an old Member of that House, and during the 1696 time he had been in it he had persistently demanded the abolition of the tax and placing it upon beer. When credit was claimed on behalf of the present Government for having done this in the interest of the farmers and land-owners, he must remind the Committee that the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman was one which had been asked for over and over again from both sides of the House. He was very glad that the proposal which had been so long advocated had at last been adopted, although he should have been better satisfied if the concession had come from his own side of the House. But, at the same time, he did not forget that while the agricultural interest, the landlords, and especially the tenants were pressing for some change in the Malt Tax, they had also urged the desirability of making some change in the method of raising local taxation. They must not forget—and he was surprised that no hon. Member had risen to remind the Committee—what had been done by his right hon. Friends on the front Opposition Bench for the landed interest and for the benefit of the urban districts by the reduction of local taxation. They had really done a great deal, and they went as far as they could with the limited means at their disposal in meeting the requests made to them. He was now going to make an appeal to the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister. He stated very truly that agriculture in England, as in America and in Europe, had undergone very trying times. No one knew better than the right hon. Gentleman that he was, in the case of the occupiers of the land, going to add an additional 1d. to a tax upon what were wholly fictitious incomes. Agriculturists did not, as a rule, ask for a remission of the Income Tax, because it was assessed upon the rents they paid. The upshot was that the farmers would have to pay ½d. in the pound more Income Tax, assessed upon the rents of their farms, when their incomes were in many cases absolutely nil. It would be nothing more than fair and just to suspend collection under Schedule B for this year, though he believed it was necessary to resort to the Property Tax in order to make this great change in the Malt Tax. The right hon. Gentleman had not that night reminded them of the speech he made in 1865, when he controverted 1697 most strongly and forcibly the propositions which were then brought forward in favour of the change which he was now making. If the change had been made at that time, he believed farmers would have been able to turn the circumstance to better account than now. All over the country a great many malt-houses had been recently pulled down that would have been exceedingly useful at the present time for malting inferior qualities of barley. For his own part, while he did not believe that this change would make any very great difference in the position of the grower of the best sort of barley, he imagined that the farmers who grew barley upon land hardly adapted for the better sorts would have a new outlet for their produce, and would in time, if not at once, find another market for their produce. He should not have risen to make any observations on this occasion had it not been for the remarks of the hon. Member for Cambridge and others, that the Leaders of the Opposition had not done so much for the farmers as the present Liberal Government was now doing for them.
§ MR. GREGORY
said, he wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer to consider whether he could not make some relaxation of the rule laid down in the case of bottled wines of the lower standard of alcoholic strength? There was a large trade in cheap bottled wines from Bordeaux, which would be seriously affected by the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman. He could not help thinking that, when the right hon. Gentleman had through satisfied himself upon the matter, he would see that the rule was not applicable in the case of wines of a light character.
§ DR. COMMINS
said, that the Budget of the right hon. Gentleman was of a particularly reasonable nature. There could be no doubt that to remove the tax from an important production, and, at the same time, not to impose a more mischievous taxation to the same extent on another article of production, must be a considerable advantage to the producer. He should like to know to what extent, if any, it was expected that consumption would be increased by the removal of the tax? The consumption of beer was large at the present time, and he wished to know what increase in the number of gallons consumed there was 1698 likely to be? The present consumption was, in round numbers, about a billion gallons a-year. Suppose that such consumption were increased one-fourth—and Sir Wilfrid Lawson would be very delighted at the prospect of that increase—was there any reason to believe that such increase would be in beer made entirely out of malt, without the use of any of the substitutes lor it? But if it could not be shown that a considerable proportion of the increased supply was made out of malt, the benefit to the farmer would be very slight indeed. For his own part, he did not believe that there would be any increase in the consumption of beer after these Resolutions had been adopted by the House; but he did believe the consumer would be likely to get a article of a better quality. There was another matter to which he wished to call attention, and that was the inequality in the incidence of the Income Tax. Everybody acknowledged the injustice of taxing a man who had nothing to do but to hold out his hand and receive his income exactly in the same ratio as the man with a similar income who had earned his money by the sweat of his brow or brain. The injustice of that taxation had been often the subject of discussion, and many essays and pamphlets had been written in order to show the necessary and proper remedy for that injustice; and yet, although the remedy was easily found if sought for, and was very plain, still he was surprised that advantage was not taken of it by the present Government. The principal quality in taxation, as everyone who had read the subject knew, was that there should be equality of sacrifice. If they took, for example, two incomes earned by muscle or brains, and others unearned, the men who had earned theirs had to make a double sacrifice in comparison with the men who had not done so; for the first sacrifice was that of the labour required to earn the amount paid, and then there was the sacrifice of enjoyment which the amount so paid would have purchased. That was provable by the simplest rules of arithmetic. Wherefore, the man who did not earn his income, and who only made one of these sacrifices, ought to pay double the amount of the man who did if there was to be a real equality of taxation between them. Now, that was a solution that 1699 he offered, and although it came from so humble a Member of that House as himself, he believed it was a question worthy of the financial genius of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of Her Majesty's Government. Another matter he wished to refer to was the nominal equality of taxation that existed between England and Ireland, but which was rather an inequality of the worst kind. It had been pointed out by a previous speaker that the taxes were practically of equal proportion so far as the individual payers were concerned. But, though that might be so, the burden of such apparently equal taxation fell very unequally on the two countries. The reason was this—that in Ireland they were all merely taxpayers, but in England a large proportion were tax-consumers; in fact, all the tax consumption existed in one country, whilst there was nothing but tax-paying in the other; and, surely, the tax-paying country was entitled to some further relief from taxation, when relief was granted, than the other country? But it had been pointed out that the taxation in Ireland was raised from year to year principally, and by small amounts, such as the Dog Tax. He was informed that such a paltry tax as that worked in a most unjust manner, and was not satisfactory in the returns which it gave. The agricultural labourer was taxed for the dog he had, which was as much a necessary to him as his horses to the farmer, although the English agriculturist had been exempt from any tax upon his horses. He was satisfied that such taxes as those caused a vast amount of dissatisfaction in Ireland; and there could be no doubt that nothing could be worse than increasing taxation from year to year, when the ability to pay was diminishing. He begged to ask the attention of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of Her Majesty's Government to that matter, for he was sure that the spirit of equality which was shown in all the measures proposed by him was the best evidence that he would do something to relieve Ireland, overburdened, as she was, with taxation.
§ MR. FINIGAN
said, as an Irish Member resident in England, he was bound to say that it appeared to him that he took much more interest in the people—the working classes of England—than he believed hon. Members did 1700 in the people of Ireland. He held in his hand a book known as the "Financial Reform Almanac," patronized by three right hon. Gentlemen opposite and 16 hon. Members. He found in that book that the reduction of taxation upon land was advocated. He did not know, with reference to the doctrine laid down in that almanac, whether it was popular with the Liberals on that side of the House when they sat in Opposition, and became unpopular to them when they found themselves in Office; at all events, he thought it was only fair, as one taking a deep and practical interest in the English people, to point out to the Chancellor of the Exchequer a means of procuring a Revenue for the country without taxing the people unduly. He should like to bring to the Notice of the House some curiosities of the Land Tax. He thought that when he had brought certain passages of the book under their notice, they would admit the importance of what he had suggested; and he begged right hon. Gentlemen and hon. Members, who had patronized the work, to listen to a few sentences. ["Oh, oh!"l He found that in the 4th year of William & Mary—that was, in the year 1692—[Cries of" Agreed!"]—he was not beginning with the Deluge, and he would soon arrive at the year 1880; and, therefore, he must ask the Committee once more to listen while he read—By 4 William & Mary, passed in 1692, a rate of 4s. in the pound was levied on the full yearly value of lands, tenements, and hereditaments, without any abatement of charges whatever, exceptions in favour only of universities, schools, and hospitals. The valuation then taken was believed to have been attended with fraud; and the assessment realized £1,922,000, which was £824,278 more than had been previously raised.Now, he held that this was a serious matter, and should be seriously taken into consideration by that Committee, in order that it should be in a position to render to the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer some statistics upon which he might amend his Budget. He would not detain the Committee long. ["Divide, divide!"] He trusted that every Englishman there present would take as deep an interest in Irish matters as he himself was anxious to take, and did take, in English matters; and he should feel bound to listen. He found that, in the year 1798, the Land Tax continued to be annually 1701 levied by Act of Parliament at the same rate; but that it was occasionally reduced, at one time to 3s., at another to 2s., but always on the valuation of 1692. By 38 Geo. III. c. 5, and another Act of the same Session, the Land Tax was made perpetual at 4s. in the pound, on the valuation before mentioned, for lands, tenements, and hereditaments, wages of officials, and annuities. The amount raised in England and Wales was £1,980,673. Provision also was made for sale or redemption of the Land Tax at 18 or 20 years' purchase, according to the value and to the circumstances of the person who was to be paid. Those who were in want of money, and were not particular about the mode of raising it, said that the measure passed at the time would not preclude them from imposing another Land Tax or from augmenting or re-adjusting the existing one. He did not think that the House of Commons, with the assurances they had received, would be likely to be betrayed in that matter; but, perhaps, the time would come when they would make a stand against imposing a tax of 4s. in the pound which had been first levied some 200 years since upon the annual value of the land. He had before him there, but he would not trouble the Committee with them, long and dreary statistics of the whole matter; but he would read to them what he might term a synopsis of the entire question. In England the amount levied at the present moment annually averaged £1,128,000; but if the Land Tax of 4s. in the pound had been levied justly upon all the land in England and Wales, as it ought to have been, it would give the Chancellor of the Exchequer a revenue of £29,000,000 of money annually. Instead of having to raise, and being compelled to impose, large taxes on tradesmen, by that means a levy might be made which would be perfectly just to the people of England. The mass of the people would escape undue taxation, and the impost on the land at 4s. in the pound would give to the Revenue a decent and respectable income. He found that the taxes at present levied on land presented the following anomalies:—The highest tax was paid in Glamorganshire, where it was as high as 8d. in the pound. In Cumberland it was less than half that, and in Lancashire only half-a-farthing in the pound. Rich Lancashire, 1702 where gentlemen made large fortunes by industry and speculation, and occupied land for purposes of pleasure and objects of ornament, and not for farming or agricultural purposes, instead of figuring, as it did in the list with such a sum as half-a-farthing for a Land Tax, would be justly mulcted and compelled to pay 2s. in the pound. He found that Yorkshire stood at seven-eighths of a penny, while other counties averaged from 5d. to 1d. He would not trouble the Committee any further; but he would simply beg them to consider whether money could be raised by any means so easy and just as by taxing the land of the country. He thought it most unjust that the middle classes of the country should be taxed upon many articles, besides Income Tax, much beyond their means of paying; and he thought it was very wrong that the upper classes of England, and the large salaried officers of the Government, and the pensioners that surrounded the Court, and the hireling pensioners of all kinds, were not taxed, but that they should enjoy, as they did, the fruits of the industry of the masses of the people of England. He trusted that when the Government brought in its annual Budget next year, it would, at all events, give some attention to that great question of the Land Tax, and thus withdraw, to a legitimate extent, taxation from the shoulders of those who were already overburdened. He felt it incumbent upon him to speak at that juncture, and to remind them of the taxation in his own country, where the people, from the condition of affairs, were utterly unable to pay the taxes imposed on them; and he trusted that Her Majesty's Government would see their way to reduce the amount, so as to compare more favourably with that drawn from England. Ireland was solely dependent on the production of the land, and what little industries there were the Government were about to again tax; and he considered it unjust and, therefore, unworthy of the present Government, professing as it did so much sympathy for Ireland. One ounce of real practical good work towards Ireland was worth more than a ton of sympathy. In conclusion, he trusted that the Liberal Government would strive to do justice and exhibit real sympathy towards his country.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said, he had a few observations to make, but he should not 1703 detain the Committee long. He must say he had listened with great interest to the financial arguments of his hon. Friend the Member for Ennis (Mr. Finigan); at the same time, although he ordinarily agreed with him on matters of reform, he could not see how the Irish were prepared to adopt the suggestions in the present crisis of Irish agrarian history. He found at that moment there was a national demand in Ireland distinctly for that arrangement of land known as peasant proprietary; and he could not see how that could be furthered by taxes being placed upon it. He was afraid, if the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer ever brought in a Bill for the purpose of raising the taxation of the Empire by taxation of the land, the hon. Member for Ennis would fail in his duty to his constituency, and would probably move that the Land Tax be not extended to Ireland. However, he wished to make a few observations on the general subject of the Supplementary Budget. He could not but think that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as his Irish Colleagues had stated, had, unfortunately, left Ireland out of consideration altogether. There was a political motive, he would venture to think, in one of his proposals. He thought, by the abolition of the Malt Tax, that process familiarly known as dishing the Whigs had been reversed, and that he had now been skilfully dishing the Tories. But he was afraid that another advantage resulted to the British workman and to a few of the British tradesmen. If the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had failed to consider Ireland in that Budget, he thought that he was certainly open to take into consideration the question of more equitable distributin of interior expenditure. If the taxation from Ireland amounted to so much, let some equivalent be given when the Estimates came on for discussion, and when the vast sums which were raised impartially came to be considered. But these sums were not raised so. When the Estimates came to be considered, and the disbursement of the Revenue, then it would be the duty of the Irish Members to point out that they might at least be exempted from the share of taxation that they now bore to excess, and for them to call attention to the expenditure of the income of the 1704 country. He did not wish to trespass on the time of the Committee; but the few words he had given vent to just expressed the heads of the objections he had to the Budget of the right hon. Gentleman. He certainly felt deeply on the question, whatever objections might be made to the methods of raising Public Revenue. Unfortunately, it appeared to him that, from an Irish point of view, the system of expenditure of the Public Revenue did not at all tally with the amount of taxation of that misused country.
§ SIR JOHN LUBBOCK
said, he was surprised to hear the complaints of hon. Members for Ireland, for he could see no real grounds for saying that the Budget was in any way unjust to that country. The bulk of the Income Tax was paid by England, and there was nothing to lead to the belief that the people of Ireland would not benefit by the alteration of the Wine Duties as much as those in the other parts of the Kingdom. As regarded beer and porter, though they did not consume as much as was consumed in England, still there was a very large beer trade in Dublin. He did not think the hon. Member for Leicestershire had replied to the arguments of the hon. Member for Cambridge. No doubt, Conservative Members had often asked to have the Malt Tax replaced by a tax upon beer; but this great boon to the agricultural interest, which had always been refused by the Conservative Leaders, had now been granted by a Liberal Administration.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, it was clear that Ireland and Scotland were very much worse treated than England with regard to taxation. It was well known that the bulk of the population of Ireland did drink wine, and that the English people of the same class got off with a very much lower rate of duty on their alcohol, which they took in the shape of beer, than the Irish who consumed a cheaper and coarser quality of drink. Beer and porter, it was well known, were largely consumed in this country, while it was drunk in Ireland and Scotland in a very much smaller proportion. Again, the Irish people were paying eight times as much for their alcohol than did the people of England in the shape of beer and porter. The Chancellor of the Exchequer would, he thought, do well to 1705 take care that taxation was more fairly apportioned between the two countries.
§ Resolutions 1 to 9 agreed to.
§ Resolution 10
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
said, he wished to ask whether there would be an opportunity in Committee on the Bill to consider the scale of Wine Duties proposed, or whether they would be at all committed by the Resolution now about to be passed? It struck him that the scale would require consideration, especially with reference to this point; that if there were to be a different rate of duty on every degree, there would be the necessity of testing a great many more samples of wine than was the case at present.
There will be full opportunity given to the House for considering this matter; but it is well known that every shipment of wine is tested now. There is also a separate testing at the warehouse, but that we shall get rid of altogether.
§ Resolution agreed to.
(1.) Resolved, That, towards raising the Supply granted to Her Majesty, in addition to the Duties of Income Tax granted by 'The Customs and Inland Revenue Act, 1880,' there shall be charged, collected, and paid for the year which commenced on the sixth day of April, one thousand eight hundred and eighty, in respect of all Property, Profits, and Gains mentioned or described as chargeable in the Act of the sixteenth and seventeenth years of Her Majesty's reign, chapter thirty-four, the following Duties of Income Tax (that is to say):
For every Twenty Shillings of the annual value or amount of Property, Profits, and Gains chargeable under Schedules (A), (C), (D), or (E) of the said Act, the Duty of One Penny;
And for every Twenty Shillings of the annual value of the occupation of Lands, Tenements, Hereditaments, and Heritages chargeable under Schedule (B) of the said Act, the Duty of One Halfpenny:
Provided always, That, with the view of securing the additional Duties and affording the proper right of deduction in respect thereof, where any Dividends, Interest, or other annual sums are due or payable half-yearly or quarterly in the course of the said year, and one of the half-yearly payments, or two of the quarterly payments, shall have been made, and Duty at the rate of Five Pence shall have been deducted there from, the other half-yearly payment or quarterly payments shall be charged with the additional Duty of Two Pence for every Twenty Shillings of the amount thereof."
(2.) Resolved, That on the first day of October, one thousand eight hundred and eighty, the following Duties of Excise shall cease to be payable (that is to say):
The Duties on Malt;
The Duty on Sugar used by any Brewer of Beer for sale in the brewing or making of Beer, or in the preparation there from of any liquor or substance to be used as colouring in the brewing or making of Beer;
The Duties upon Licences to be taken out by
(3.) Resolved, That there shall be paid or allowed to every Maltster or Maker of Malt, Dealer in Malt, Roaster of Malt, Brewer of Beer for sale, and Vinegar Maker for all dry unground Malt produced to, and taken account of by, the proper officer of Inland Revenue, and the quantity thereof ascertained, between the twenty-seventh and thirtieth days of September, one thousand eight hundred and eighty, both days inclusive, as his Stock and in his custody and possession, and for which Duty shall have been paid or charged, the several Allowances and Sums of Money following (that is to say):
For every bushel of such Malt made in England from Barley, or any other Corn or Grain, Two Shillings and Sevenpence, with five per centum thereon;
For every bushel of such Malt made in Scotland or Ireland from Barley, or any other Corn or Grain, except Beer or Bigg, Two Shillings and Sevenpence, with five per centum thereon;
And for every bushel of such Malt made in Scotland or Ireland from Beer or Bigg only, without any mixture of Barley or any other Corn or Grain therewith, Two Shillings, with five per centum thereon;
Provided, That, from the quantity of all Brown or Porter Malt, and roasted or Black Malt, there shall be deducted twenty per centum for the swell and increase thereof over the quantity of such Malt charged with duty; but, if such Malt shall be screened and cleaned, there shall be deducted fifteen per centum only, and from all other unscreened or partially screened Malt there shall be deducted five per centum, and the allowance shall be computed and paid or allowed only on the remaining quantity of such Malt, after making such deductions respectively.
§ (4.) Resolved, That, towards raising the Supply granted to Her Majesty, there shall be granted and paid, on and after the first day of October, one thousand eight hundred and eighty, in and throughout the United Kingdom, the following Duties of Excise upon Licences to be taken out annually by Brewers of Beer (that is to say):
|On a Licence taken out by a Brewer of Beer for sale.||1||0||0|
|On a Licence taken out by any other Brewer||0||6||0|
(5.) Resolved, That, towards raising the Supply granted to Her Majesty, there shall bo charged and paid in respect of Beer brewed in the United Kingdom, on or after the first day of October, one thousand eight hundred and eighty, a Duty calculated according to the specific gravity thereof (that is to say):
Upon every thirty-six gallons of a specific gravity of 1,055 degrees, the Duty of Six Shillings and Three Pence;
and so in proportion for any difference in gravity or quantity.
(6.) Resolved, That, on and after the first day of October, one thousand eight hundred and eighty, there shall he allowed and paid in respect of Beer which shall be exported from the United Kingdom to Foreign parts as merchandise, or shipped for use as ship's stores, a Draw-back calculated according to the specific gravity thereof (that is to say):
Upon every thirty-six gallons of a specific gravity of 1,055 degrees, the Drawback of Six Shillings and Three Pence;
and so in proportion for any difference in gravity or quantity.
§ (7.) Resolved, That on and after the first day of July, one thousand eight hundred and eighty, in lieu of the Duties of Excise now payable, the following Duties of Excise shall be payable upon the Licences hereinafter mentioned (that is to say):
|Licence to a Retailer of Cider in England||1||5||0|
|Licence to a Retailer of Sweets.||1||5||0|
|Licence to a Retailer in England of Beer to be consumed on the premises||3||10||0|
|Licence to a Retailer in England of Beer not to be consumed on the premises||1||5||0|
|Licence (additional) to a Licensed Dealer in Beer in England or Ireland for sale by retail of Beer not to be consumed on the premises||1||5||0|
|Licence to a Licensed Keeper of a Refreshment House in England or Ireland to retail Wine to be consumed on the premises||3||10||0|
|Licence to any Person in England or Ireland to retail in a Shop Wine not to bo consumed on the premises||2||10||0|
|Licence to a Retailer of Beer and Wine to be consumed on the premises||4||0||0|
|Licence to a Retailer of Beer and Wine not to be consumed on the premises||3||0||0|
|Licence to a Retailer of Spirits—according to the annual value of the premises in respect whereof the Licence is granted:|
|If under £10||5||0||0|
|If £10 and under £20.||8||0||0|
|£20 and under £25.||11||0||0|
|£25 and under £30.||14||0||0|
|£30 and under £40.||17||0||0|
|£40 and under £50.||20||0||0|
|£50 and under £100.||25||0||0|
|£100 or above.||30||0||0|
§ The holder of the last-mentioned Licence is not to be required to take out any further or other Excise Licence to enable him to sell Beer or Wine by retail.
§ The grant of the Duties on such Licence is to be subject to the provisions following:
- 1. The expression "Retailer of Spirits" does not include a Spirit Grocer in Ireland, as defined by section eighty one of "The Licensing Act, 1872," nor a Dealer in Spirits selling Spirits in bottles under an additional Licence authorising him in that behalf;
- 2. Where, in the case of premises of the value of One Hundred Pounds or upwards, it shall be proved to the satisfaction of the Commissioners of Inland Revenue that the premises are structurally adapted for use as an Inn or Hotel for the reception of guests and travellers desirous of dwelling therein, and are mainly so used, the amount of Duty to be paid on the Licence shall not exceed Twenty-five pounds.
§ Note.—Unless otherwise specified, the Duties mentioned in this Resolution extend to Licences throughout the United Kingdom.
§ For the purposes of this Resolution—
§ "Cider" includes Perry;
§ "Sweets" includes made Wines, Mead, and Metheglin;
§ "Boer" includes Cider;
§ "Wine" includes Sweets.
§ (8.) Resolved, That, on the first day of October, one thousand eight hundred and eighty, the Duties of Customs on Malt, Vinegar, and Pickles preserved in Vinegar shall cease to be payable.
§ (9.) Resolved, That it is expedient to amend the Laws relating to Customs and Inland Revenue.
§ (10.) Resolved, That, in case Her Majesty shall, by Order in Council, be pleased so to appoint, the Duties of Customs now chargeable on Wines imported into Great Britain and Ireland shall cease and determine on a day to be named in the said Order, and not later than the fifteenth day of August, one thousand eight hundred and eighty, and that, in lieu and instead of such Duties, there shall be charged on and after the day so named, the Duties following (that is to say):
|Imported in Casks—||—||s.||d|
|Wine up to a strength of 20 degrees of proof spirit per gallon||0||0||6|
|Wine exceeding 20 degrees; additional for each degree up to a strength of 35 degres of proof spirit per gallon||0||0||1|
|Wine exceeding 35 degrees; additional for each degree up to a strength of 41 degrees of proof spirit per gallon||0||0||2|
|Additional for each degree of strength beyond the highest above specified per gallon||0||0||3|
|The strength in each case to be verified by Sykes' Hydrometer.|
|Imported in Bottles—Wine per gallon||0||2||6|
|Lees of Wine shall be charged with the above-mentioned Rates of Duty according to the ascertained degree of strength.|
§ House resumed.
§ Resolutions to be reported To-morrow, at Two of the clock;
§ Committee to sit again To-morrow.