§ MR. GENT-DAVIS(for Mr. KELLY) (Camberwell, N.)
asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Whether, in view of the very serious remonstrances which have appeared in the public Press, and which have been addressed to him, against the proposed new taxes on carts and wheels, 597 he has any intention of abandoning them, or, at any rate, so modifying them as to prevent their proving an oppressive tax upon industry, and being the means of throwing a very large number of artisans, more especially in the van-building and wheelwright trades, out of work.
§ MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)
asked, whether the right hon. Gentleman adhered to his Estimate of £300,000 as the produce of the Wheel and Cart Tax; and, whether he was aware that, outside official circles, it was almost universally considered that the Estimate was much too low?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. GOSCHEN) (St. George's, Hanover Square)
, in reply, said, he was quite prepared in the case of this tax, as in others, to listen to all the remonstrances that might be made; but a great many of those remonstrances which he had seen had been somewhat exaggerated—such, for instance, as the suggestion that artisans in the van-building and wheelwright trades would be thrown out of work. The hon. Member dealt with two questions, which were really distinct—the small Wheel Tax which was proposed, and the heavier tax which was put upon vans. While, no doubt, he had received remonstrances from the owners of heavy vans on the one hand, he had, on the other hand, received strong expressions of approval on the ground that these heavy conveyances, which caused immense expense in repairing the roads, should contribute to their repair. As attention had been drawn to the remonstrances in the Press, he wished to point out that when any particular interest was hit it was certain that they would write to the newspapers, while the vast number of those who would benefit by the remission of rates were silent; and in that way sometimes a false public opinion was created. With reference to the point most properly brought to his attention by the hon. Member (Mr. Pickersgill), he was making inquiries into the subject; and it was very possible that a considerably larger revenue might be derived. It was perfectly right that officials should generally be moderate in their Estimates. While he should be glad to meet any specific grievance, evidence had come to him that this tax—namely, that on heavy vans—was considered to be a fair tax; 598 and at present he saw no reason to modify the resolution at which the Government had arrived to propose this tax.