HC Deb 06 April 1888 vol 324 cc595-6
MR. HOZIER (Lanarkshire, S.)

asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Whether he can see his way to permit medical men to keep at least one horse each free of Horse Tax?

DR. FARQUHARSON (Aberdeenshire, W.)

asked the right lion Gentleman, Whether such horses as were used by medical men, more especially by country doctors, for professional purposes, might not be described rather as trade than as pleasure horses; and whether it was not the fact that such men, although they used, did not abuse the roads, inasmuch as they drove very light traps?


I find that there is a precedent for such an exemption as the hon. Member's Question suggests. Up to 1869–70, when the Horse Tax stood at one guinea, doctors and ministers of religion paid only half the duty, and this continued till the duty was reduced to 10s. 6d. for everybody. The question whether one horse ought to be exempted in the case of doctors and ministers of religion is receiving the most careful consideration of the Government; but it must not be forgotten that exemptions are almost always of an insidious nature, and that it is difficult, when once you begin making exemptions from any duty, to know where to draw the line. There is some force in the observation of the hon. Member opposite (Dr. Farquharson) that doctors in the country districts do, to a certain extent, come under the definition of "traders." I must take this opportunity of reminding the House that the question of exemptions from Horse or Wheel Tax, and, indeed, the question of these taxes generally, is one between the interests of persons using horses and carts and that of the general body of ratepayers. It is not a question between the former and the National Exchequer. I mention this, because I see that in many quarters the idea still prevails that these taxes are in some way connected with the reduction of 1d. in the Income Tax. At the same time, the Government feel that it is essential that these taxes, purely local as they are, should be placed upon the justest possible basis.


asked, whether the right hon. Gentleman had also considered the case of farmers' horses?


said, he was giving that matter his most careful consideration. What he was anxious to do was to carry out the view that what the French called "horses of luxury" were to be taxed; but that horses required for any particular trade should not be taxed. That was the theory of the tax, and he hoped it might be carried out in that sense and in that spirit.