§ WAYS AND MEANS—considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That, towards raising the Supply granted to Her Majesty, the Duties of Customs now chargeable on Tea shall continue to be levied and charged on and after the first day of August, one thousand eight hundred and eighty-eight, until the first day of August, one thousand eight hundred and eighty-nine, on the importation thereof into Great Britain and Ireland (that is to say):
Tea ߪ the pound .. Sixpence.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE (Edinburgh, Mid Lothian)
Sir, I believe it is entirely understood by the Committee that upon the Resolution which has just been proposed, either the Budget may be discussed as a whole, or any portion of it may be discussed. I have no intention, as there has been an expectation, which I gathered from an expression just used by an hon. Member below the Gangway, that I was about to enter upon a lengthened investigation of the Budget at its present stage—I have no intention, I may say, or hope of satisfying that expectation. It was quite right and in accordance with usage that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should propose his Budget as a whole, and recommend it as a whole to the notice of the Committee. But when I view it, I find that it contains a very great num- 731 ber and a very great diversity of proposals, that it involves a variety of principles and a variety of propositions of which I take different views; approving of some, but not being able to extend that approval to others. I should find it very difficult indeed, nor do I think it would be agreeable to the character of our proceedings, to treat the matter as if we were dealing with the second reading of a Bill. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has embodied in his measure some principles which I think to be of great value. I own I attach the highest importance to any arrangement which promises to put a stop to the continually growing system, and as I think the very faulty system—faulty both in principle and its details—of grants in aid. No Government in particular has been responsible for the growth of that system, although it is certainly true that at certain periods and for special purposes, enormous additions have been made to these grants. But still, on the whole, their extension has been one which has proceeded at a rapid rate during the last 40 years. They scarcely existed before 1846, unless for very special purposes indeed, such as the grant for Education. At that time, there was an enlargement by way of mitigating the severity of the transition—for it was expected that the transition would be severe, although it did not fulfil all the anticipations which were entertained in it—the great transition brought about by the repeal of the Corn Laws. I will not now repeat the arguments made with respect to them, because my purpose simply is to express the great satisfaction with which I contemplate a measure boldly addressed to putting an end to the system, and I must say that I expect, as the result of that, in one point of view, some economy of the public expenditure—that is the stoppage of a special source of waste; and in another point of of view, the restoration of a greater independence of the Local Authorities in the distribution of funds properly local; and, lastly, a most important object, I think, is to be gained, and, I think, will be gained by the propositions of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in clearing the Imperial and the local accounts. Nothing can be worse, I think, than a system under which the expenditure of the country is subjected 732 to factitious augmentation by including in it very large sums intended to go into the local treasury and to be disbursed for local purposes and then be employed in modes which have nothing to do with the public Exchequer or with Imperial purposes. I should be very sorry indeed if anything were to happen that would in any way endanger the fulfilment of this important proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which is vitally associated with the Local Government Bill, which has been introduced and laid before us. Then with respect to the reduction of 1d. in the Income Tax, that I hardly consider to be a question upon the disposal of which it is possible for an Opposition or even for independent Members of the House to exercise any serious influence. It is a measure the merit or demerit of which must in the main rest with Her Majesty's Government. I am not aware of any case in which it has happened that a diminution of the Income Tax has been proposed, whether rightly or wrongly, and in which it has either met with successful resistance or even been the subject of serious opposition. I shall, therefore, give an acquiescing vote with respect to the 1d. on the Income Tax which it is proposed to reduce; but I do not shut my eyes to the fact that the reduction entails upon us the necessity of providing an effectual substitute for the purpose of preventing a deficiency in the public revenue. With respect to the provision of that substitute, I know it is the fashion to say that that it is the business of the Government to find taxes to meet the wants of the country, and, no doubt, it is especially their business when they are voluntarily, and not under the pressure of Parliament, proposing a reduction of dm Income Tax. At the same time I shall feel it to be my duty when the time comes to exercise a free judgment upon the new taxes, whether Imperial or local, which has been proposed by the Administration. But I shall not in so doing forget that they are necessary, either they or something that will stand in their place, for the purpose partly of fulfilling the expectations held out to Local Authorities, and partly for the purpose of meeting the Imperial necessities of the Exchequer. Sir, upon these new taxes themselves I have little to say at the present moment, and that 733 little, I am afraid, is not very encouraging. I observe with considerable prudence and circumspection, at all events as far as the nature of the case admitted, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer dealt with a large portion of the new charges—namely with those which are to produce £800,000 a-year in aid of local expenditure as scarcely being fair. I may have misunderstood him; but what I understood him to say, with regard to these new imposts which are to be levied for the benefit of the counties and the towns—"What I have to say to you may be summed up in this dictum—Take them or leave them." I did not gather distinctly from the Chancellor of the Exchequer; but I have no doubt he will make it plain to us—either to-night or on some future occasion—what course he intends to take in the event of his failing to persuade the House to adopt any portion of these new charges, such as the Wheel Tax, which are to go in relief of local expenditure. Suppose, for example that the House of Commons should find on going over these charges, such as the Wheel Tax, or the tax upon heavy carriages, that, upon the whole, they are not expedient in the public interest, will the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Government think it their duty to fill up the gap caused by the defeat or withdrawal of such taxes for the benefit of the local expenditure? That is a question, undoubtedly, of considerable importance, but one upon which I do not think we have yet had the benefit of as much light as the Government can throw upon it. I have had some experience in doing what the Chancellor of the Exchequer has had to do with respect to the income Tax—that is, endeavouring to make up by a multitude and variety of small, and, as it is hoped, insensible, imposts a considerable sum, such as he has ingeniously put together, in order to enable him to part with the 1d. in the Income Tax. My experience in such cases, I am sorry to say, has been that while the satisfaction at the prospect of relief to the Income Tax was at the first moment apparently the dominant motive, and induced people to take a favourable first view of these particular proposals, yet, when the proposals came to be seriously examined by the light thrown upon them by experts who have practically had to deal with the subjects 734 they effect, it has been found very difficult to obtain the assent of Parliament to such proposals in a variety of cases. I must own that I think it requires a good deal of courage to attempt at the present time of day, unless we are driven to it by a great necessity, to revive and extend the taxes upon locomotion. It has been the great object of this House for a great number of years to reduce or abolish such imposts; and, I think, the working of the proposals which have been made in that sense has, on the whole, proved very satisfactory. I should be sorry to say or do anything which would give to the discussion of this portion of the Budget the smallest tinge of Party politics. What I hold is that the whole of these subjects ought to be discussed in the dry light of experience of public policy, with a complete estrangement, if we can exercise so much control over ourselves, from mere Party or Parliamentary considerations. Therefore, I desire to keep my own mind open and to pronounce no final opinion at the present moment upon any of the new taxes, local or Imperial, which have been proposed, with a single exception, to which I shall come by and by, and which falls in a different category; bat to say that I am apprehensive that considerable difficulties may be found to beset the path of the Chancellor of the Exchequer with regard to a variety of these taxes. The particulars of them will be bettor understood, I think, after they have been discussed by those who are termed practical men, and those who, after consultation with their constituents, have derived information upon their particular bearings, of which a Member of the Opposition is not antecedently to Parliamentary debate always in possession. I shall endeavour to give a fair consideration to the information, and for the present I reserve a liberty of judgment in respect of my final resolution. Well, Sir, I am sorry, I own, that circumstances have brought about a result in this Budget such as I do not previously recollect; but at the same time I am not at the present moment about to make this a matter of blame. With a surplus of £2,250,000, speaking in round numbers, we are about to dispose of funds at our command without doing anything for the relief of the general consumer. I do not remember that 735 there has been any such case before, and I am very sorry that such a case should have arisen. The answer will be, no doubt, that if the wants that have been met on previous occasions have on this occasion been overlooked, on the other hand wants have been met on this occasion for which on previous occasions no provision had been made. That is to say, the great necessity for affording relief to local taxation, by calling on personal property to bear a fair share of it, has absorbed a large portion of the means at the disposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and has crippled him so that he is unable to do anything. All that, Sir, is true; but when I look at that very fact, and when I bear in mind how large a proportion of what we are now giving in relief of rates will, in part, ultimately, and at a very early date, go in relief of the burdens now paid by property. I must come to this conclusion, that joining that fact with the circumstance that nothing is to be granted in respect of relief for articles of general consumption, I must tender this general criticism, that it is a measure too much in favour of property and too little in favour of the general consumer. I will exemplify what I have to say upon that subject by referring rather more particularly to one matter which is of the very utmost weight and importance—namely, the proposal made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer with respect to what are now generally known as the Death Duties. The measures of the Government are founded upon an assumption, which I believe in the main to be true, and which, likewise, has again and again received the approval and ratification of this House—namely, that there is a real inequality at present existing, to the great disadvantage both of real and likewise of visible personal property, in respect of the mode in which our local burdens are levied, and we are not innovating really in recognizing that principle by the measure that the Chancellor of the Exchequer now proposes to hand over certain taxes and portions of taxes from the Exchequer to the local spending bodies; because we are really giving effect in this matter to what was an ancient principle of English law. The English law made stock-in-trade in principle liable for the support of the poor, and I suppose I may say that in spirit it may 736 be considered to have constituted a liability for local charges more at large. It will be in the recollection of some connected with Scotland, and now within my hearing, that when the Poor Law was introduced into that country the very same law—namely, the taxation of moans and substances without reference to any distinction between realty and personalty, was theoretically in force, and serious endeavours were made by Local Authorities in different parts of the country to bring that law into practical operation. That was found to be impossible, and during the interval which has since elapsed, personalty has gone scot-free. Now, I wish to be assured that I am not wrong in the construction I put upon the Budget. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is going to give between £5,000,000 and £6,000,000—subject to a reduction of £2,600,000—from the public Exchequer to the local spending bodies. Of course, we must take into view that what he so gives will have to be supplemented by further gifts in respect of Scotland and of Ireland, and that probably the Exchequer will have to be sconced, if I may use the word, or impoverished to an extent of between £6,000,000 and £7,000,000—possibly to the extent of £7,000,000—before we are out of this business, whereas the relief that we shall receive will be a very considerable relief, amounting to a very large sum—I cannot say what, but perhaps £4,000,000 of pure gift from the Imperial to the local treasury. What I want to press is this—let us now make a clean job of this inequality in local taxation as between realty and personalty. We ought to understand that the proposals of the Government are intended to put an end to the complaint which is made on behalf of realty and of visible property in regard to local expenditure. That is the construction of it to which I wish to hold the Government strictly bound. We should make indeed, I think, a very unworkman like piece of business if we were to go into that matter to divide the Probate Duty, and make it over, and take the licences and a variety of other taxes, and make these in perpetuity the property of the local spending bodies, and still be liable to the complaint which has been urged from time to time that realty and visible property has a grievance to complain of, and that that 737 grievance has not been met. From this time forward—I mean from the time the plans of the Government are finally adopted and ratified—that grievance, as I hold, will at once and forever be disposed of. We shall have given to the different descriptions of property, so far as we are able, perfect fair play with respect to local taxation. If that is so, we must then consider what becomes necessary with respect to general taxation—whether there is any gross inequality palpable on the surface, either as between property and labour, or as between the different kinds of property, which it is our duty to satisfy and remove. No doubt, to make that operation complete is hardly the work of a day. To dispose of all the differences of opinion on the question whether personalty pays too much or too little to the State would be beyond any single effort that Parliament could make; and, therefore, I do not consider that the controversy or freedom of opinion upon that subject can be brought into such a condition at once that we shall hear no more of it. But the proposition I am going to lay down, an obvious and a reasonable one, that if there be any gross and palpable inequality in our Imperial taxation as between one kind of property and another, this is the time, when we are removing the grievance between realty and visible property, to ascertain the true and just principle of equality in respect of the taxation of property with a view to the purpose of the State. Now, the principle I have laid down has certainly been recognized in terms by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, because, although this portion of his speech was by no means so complete as other portions, or as one could have wished, yet undoubtedly he did appear to recognize that in some sense there must, as a consequence of his measure, be an equalization of what are termed the Death Duties. It is known that a very great inequality prevails as to the Death Duties as between realty and personalty, but it is not entirely known how great the inequality is. The Chancellor of the Exchequer appeared to think that he removed it by the proposition to raise the Succession Duty upon lineals from 1 to 1½ per cent, and on collaterals to make an addition of 1½ per cent to the various rates under the consanguinity scale. Now, this is a 738 very large question, which I shall not attempt to touch at all on the present occasion. There are Gentlemen who would make a clean sweep indeed with respect to the Death Duties, and initiate a very extensive change by the abolition of the consanguinity scale. I must own that long reflection has given me the impression that there is a great deal to be said in favour of the proposition to simplify to the uttermost the question of the Death Duties by the adoption of a single charge, and by the abolition of the consanguinity scale. But though it is the opinion to which I personally lean, it is not the proposition which at present I wish to urge upon the House. It is not a proposal necessary in order to satisfy the principle of public justice, which appears to me to be involved in the equalization of the Death Duties upon landed and personal property. Now, Sir, how do they stand at the present moment? First of all, there is a Probate Duty which is paid entirely by personalty. One-half of that Probate Duty has to go to local purposes—and here I must say that I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer has exercised a very sound discretion in making the Probate Duty a divided duty; and treating it as a fund out of which he is going to make large payments for the benefit of realty and visible personalty. I think that is exceedingly right and just, and far better than any attempt to appropriate a portion of the Income Tax to that purpose, which has sometimes been proposed; but I am sorry to say that if my right hon. Friend proposes his present plan in respect to these duties as a plan which is to satisfy the demands of justice and the principle of equalization—from that point of view I regard it as wholly insufficient, and, I must say, even illusory. The Succession Duty is, upon the face of it, small, and when examined it will be found to be a good deal smaller still. The lineal is supposed to pay 1 per cent as Legacy Duty, which is the basis of the present arrangement. There is another inequality between the Legacy Duty and the Succession Duty. The lineal in both cases is supposed to pay the same; but does he pay the same? In the first place, under the Legacy Duty, all personalty pays upon the capital value; under the Succession Duty payment is made upon the life interest alone. Pay- 739 ment on the life interest varies greatly. In the case of an old life succeeding the payment is very light indeed; in the case of a young life it is very much heavier; it goes up, I think, as high as 16 or 17 years' purchase; I am not quite sure whether that is the limit, but I may put it about that. On the whole, the payment of the life interest does net amount to more than half that on the capital value. Various circumstances show that this is not an over-statement, one of them being that realty descends to lineals in a much larger proportion than personalty, and, therefore, obtains a much larger benefit from the artificial arrangement of the consanguinity scale. But there is much more than that—first, the length of time to be allowed for the payment of the duty. I think that, in addition to the payment of ½ per per cent, my right hon. Friend likewise proposes to add to the length of time allowable for payment—in fact, to double it. At present the time averages 4½ years—that is to say, it begins to run at the first rent day, and runs four years from that rent day, Under the now arrangement there will be eight years instead of four. Well, Sir, as everyone knows, it is one thing to offer me a sum down, and another thing to offer me a sum available in 16 instalments—that, in point of fact, it makes a very large deduction from the capital value of what is offered to me. Among the alleviations which we offered in 1853 from the burden of the Succession Duty, which was regarded with a horror and apprehension which are now forgotten, but which I should find it difficult to describe—among those alleviations we introduced this—that, in the event of another death before the tax has been received, the whole of the outstanding payments should be abated. In a sensible proportion of cases it happens that there is more than one succession within four or five years. Where there are two successions within four or five years—suppose, for instance, there is another succession after 15 or 18 months, and only two instalments have been paid under the present law, the other six instalments disappear altogether, and the new possessor comes in scot-free as regards outstanding claims. That was a very serious loss to the Exchequer when the payments reached over four years; but with payments reaching over eight years 740 the loss will be very much greater—much more than double—and the deductions from the net receipts will be a very large one. There are other questions, such as the valuation of timber and what may be called secondary receipts from landed property, with respect to which there is a case given which I think has nothing strictly corresponding to it in the case of personal property. I will not enter into details upon this matter. I can only say that I feel that I have a fixed conviction, although I cannot present a mathematical demonstration, that the 1 per cent levied upon landed property under the Succession Duty Act, which appears to assert the principle of equality against the 1 per cent levied under the Legacy Duty Acts, is, in the first place, reduced to ½ per cent by the principle of taxing only the life interest, and, in the second place, is reduced to ⅓ per cent by the various allowances and alleviations to which I have referred. My right hon. Friend proposes to remove the inequality by raising the duty on lineals to 1½ per cent, and by raising the other duties also. Now this raising of the duty on lineals is really a substitution as far as comparison with the Legacy Duty is concerned; it will be raising 6s. 8d. to 10s., and leaving the payments made by land in the case of lineals 10s., as against 20s. Legacy Duty. But that leads to a review of the whole question of the Probate Duty upon personal property. I have gone through the case assuming that the Legacy Duty is yielding according to the figures presented to us. I apprehend that, instead of yielding as it does now between £800,000 and £900,000, when the plan is in full operation it will yield something more than £200,000. If we found our statement upon the figures before us, landed property will pay £1,200,000, while at the same time personalty will be paying more than £4,500,000, independently of the payments made in relief of local rates. Deducting that payment from the £4,500,000, £3,250,000 would remain as the inequality between the respective duties upon realty and personalty. Now, Sir, I admit that there is an element in that computation which is open to dispute—that is to say, I have assumed that the total value of landed property passing by death is about the same in total value of personal property 741 passing by death. In estimating the value of landed property passing by death I hope that one essential portion of the reform of the Death Duties, now in prospect, will be the extension of taxation to that portion which is held in mortmain for what are called charitable purposes. That is the basis on which I proceed, for otherwise I should appear to impair my calculation; but with regard to that basis there may be some difference of opinion. I will not, however, enter into any argument now. Assuming the values of the two classes of property passing by death to be somewhere about equal, then the inequality which the proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer leaves altogether untouched would be the payment of £3,250,000 per annum on personal property which is not incident on landed property after the local grievance on landed property and visible property has been redressed. From the beginning I have held that this is the main blot, as I must call it, in the proposal of my right hon. Friend. In my view it is not a question of principle. Upon the contrary, I should say, as far as I know the sentiments of those around me, and it is certainly my own sentiment, that I should propose to meet that inequality, not by diminishing the present payments on personalty, but by adding to the present payments on realty. The mode in which the levy can most conveniently be made is, of course, very serious, requiring careful consideration. The principle is inevitable, I think—and its acceptance must come now or at an early date—that the two properties must be taxed equally. Therefore, it may be our duty—and I think it probably will be our duty—to offer the House at the proper time some proposition in favour of equalizing the Death Duties on land and on personal property. We will not make the proposal at the present time, because I am desirous that the Resolution should go forward as speedily as is consistent with full and fair discussion, and that the Taxing Bill should be introduced. But at the proper time it will be our duty to make a proposition in favour of the principle of equalizing these duties. The effect of our proposal will not be, as is commonly the case with proposals proceeding from the Opposition, to impoverish the Public Exchequer, but to 742 pour treasure into the hands of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and so to enable him to dispense with some of the minor taxes he has proposed in case those taxes should be found by the House and by the country, upon full and fair and impartial consideration, to be exceptionally unsatisfactory. I shall not detain the House further upon this occasion. I hope I have not been too long. I should like to hear the proposals with respect to other taxes and the multitude of points with which a Budget of this nature necessarily bristles discussed, as far as possible, from a purely practical point of view. I shall, therefore, leave them, as far as I am concerned, intact. I hope and believe that the House will look at these matters in a practical spirit from first to last; but I certainly have the conviction that with respect to the subject on which I have last touched our first duty on the present occasion is to remove the grievance that exists with regard to local taxation, and that having removed that grievance our second duty is to assert and to give effect to in the best form we can devise that principle of equality in the Death Duties as between landed and personal property.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. GOSCHEN) (St. George's, Hanover Square)
I think the Committee will agree with me that it is only due to the respect we all entertain for the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) on these financial questions that, instead of entering into the debate at the close of the evening, I should rise at once to reply to the observations he has made. I must, in the first place, thank my right hon. Friend for the spirit in which he has discussed this matter. While he has criticized some parts of the proposals which the Budget contains, he has, on the other hand, expressed his approval of other parts, and I appreciate most highly the desire of the right hon. Gentleman to exclude as far as possible Party considerations from the discussion of the financial proposals of Her Majesty's Government. I will note in the first instance the points in which my right hon. Friend accepts—if I understand him rightly—our proposals. He considers that we have dealt rightly with the principle of grants in aid. He is in accord with us in substituting the 743 new system which the Local Government Bill contains for the mischievous practice hitherto followed of grants in aid, which he rightly says tend to extravagance and to diminish local responsibility. The right hon. Gentleman is pleased to see the Imperial accounts separated from those of local expenditure, so that the same expenditure is not presented twice over—once in the Imperial and a second time in the Local Budget. My right hon. Friend did not give a warm approval to, but he stated that he should not oppose, the reduction of the Income Tax by 1d. I was glad to learn that, and that he was of opinion that the proposal would be regarded with general satisfaction, at all events in the first instance, although he thought it might be different when the new taxes came to be substituted. No man speaks with greater experience on such a point. But with regard to these new taxes, possibly those who are satisfied are silent, while those who may suffer will make themselves extremely prominent. Therefore I do not admit that the number of objections or of letters which appear in the newspapers are conclusive on the subject, or give any indication of the general opinion. We have been enabled, or rather we hope to be able, with the assistance of this House, to reduce the Income Tax by 1d. At the same time, we hope to reduce the burden of the rates very considerably in all parts of the Kingdom, both in town and country, and I trust that those who may see some of their payments increased by these new taxes to which the right hon. Gentleman alluded will remember at the same time that they pay loss Income Tax and less rates upon their property. Then my right hon. Friend stated that from the great surplus at our disposal the general consumer on this occasion gets no advantage. But I think the right hon. Gentleman by no means wished to press either myself as Chancellor of the Exchequer or the Government too hard upon that point. He recognized that we were in a peculiar position—namely, that we had to fulfil pledges given by Parliament after Parliament that there should be some relief to local taxation. My right hon. Friend has been defeated upon that point in former times, and I myself have been beaten upon it when I was associated with my right hon. Friend. 744 As a matter of fact, successive Parliaments have declared that the time had come when the ratepayers must be relieved. And I entreat the Committee and the public not to be led away by the notion that the whole relief to be given to the ratepayers will be exclusively for the benefit of the owners of real property. My right hon. Friend was perfectly candid on the subject. He admitted that the ratepayers would be relieved at once, but he held that the whole benefit would ultimately go to the owners of property.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I am obliged to my right hon. Friend for the correction, because I hold myself—and we have often discussed this matter together—that while, no doubt, a portion of the relief will ultimately go the owners, a very large portion will go to the ratepayers themselves. The relief to the ratepayers from the proposals of Her Majesty's Government will be extremely sensible and important. It will reach the largest class of consumers; it will touch one commodity which is used as much as any, and that is the commodity of houses. It is not correct to say that the consumers will not be affected, because if all those who live in houses are benefited by the proposals of Her Majesty's Government, then almost all consumers will be benefited. It will be a wide-spread advantage, some of which will go to the working classes, as well as to the lower and poorer middle class. I believe that the advantage to be given to the ratepayers generally will be diffused—if I may use the term—over society at large. Therefore, it would be unjust to say that in the proposals of Her Majesty's Government the interests of the consumers have been neglected. The class benefited will be very much wider than that which my right hon. Friend seemed to think would derive most advantage from our proposals. Then my right hon. Friend turned to another point—the total of relief which would be given from Imperial general taxation to local burdens; and he put the sum at £4,000,000. He first took the total sum of £7,000,000, then he deducted the contribution to the rates of £2,600,000; and, on the whole, he came to the conclusion that the total gift would be £4,000,000.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Yes; but I do not think the total gift would amount to £4,000,000. The total gift to England would be £3,000,000; and the total gift to the United Kingdom under £4,000,000. But the right hon. Gentleman asks us—"Is this to be considered a final settlement?" He asks whether we consider that by these proposals we finally settle the question as between personalty and realty, and as between Imperial and local taxation. Well, so far as Her Majesty's Government are concerned, we consider that by these proposals we have met—and adequately met—the demands of those who have been called the reformers of local taxation. We have got no further plan behind us. Of course, we cannot bind future Parliaments—of course, the right hon. Gentleman understands that—but we have shown our whole hand on this occasion; and I must add, in so doing, we have looked not simply to the amount we have transferred to local taxation, but to the total results of our proposals as regards realty and personalty in general. [Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE: Hear, hear!] The right hon. Gentleman suggests that our proposals as regards Imperial taxation of realty are not final, but only an instalment. I am not prepared to accept that version of our policy. Our proposals must be looked upon as a whole. This is the essence of our proposals—that local taxation and Imperial taxation cannot be regarded separately, but must be treated together. We have laid personal property under substantial contributions to assist local taxation, and we have somewhat raised the amount which realty has to contribute for Imperial purposes. As I have said, we look upon our proposals as a whole. My right hon. Friend proposes to raise the Death Duties on real property for Imperial purposes further than the Government proposes. Of course, that would affect our judgment in relation to the contribution of personalty to local taxation. I do not know whether I have made myself clear on this subject; but I will repeat what I have said, in order that there may be no misunderstanding. We think we have rectified the anomalies in both directions; and if we should be pressed to increase 746 the burdens upon land, houses, or any other great interest, in consequence of some action which might be taken by right hon. Gentlemen, of course, we should have to consider whether the arrangements which we regard as equitable taken together would be equitable if disturbed by such further action. I come now to what I believe is the main argument of my right hon. Friend. He gave his chief attention to the question of the Succession Duty, and he insisted upon the great inequality which will still remain as regards the incidence of the Death Duties upon real property and upon personalty respectively. I have followed my right hon. Friend's argument as closely as I could, and I will very briefly deal with the various points raised by him. He illustrated the various anomalies that will still remain. He admits that, so far as the amount of taxation is concerned, it is now placed upon an equality—that there is 1½ per cent on lineals in the one case and 1½ per cent on lineals in the other—but he says there are certain anomalies, and he suggested that there was a difference amounting to 50 per cent in favour of realty. Now, I have inquired into the average age at which succession takes place in the case of land. That age is 46, and at that age the duty which is paid is upon an amount equal to about 13½ years' purchase. I do not think that that figure has ever before been placed before the public. The average on which Succession Duty is paid in the case of real estate is 13½ years' purchase. There were times when that, perhaps, was only half the value of the property; but hon. Members ought to take into consideration the enormous change that has now taken place in the prospective value of land—a change greatly affecting the number of years' purchase which it is worth. I wish to point out that if at the time when my right hon. Friend himself had to deal with this question he thought it necessary to continue Death Duties which gave some apparent advantages to land, circumstances which have occurred since have strongly increased the claim of land—if land ever had the claim—I will not say to more favourable treatment, but to different treatment from that accorded to personalty. One great point is this—I should think it influenced my right hon. Friend in 1853— 747 that a man has never the same power, and never can have the same power, of dealing with land as he has of dealing with personal property. He can carry his personally away; he can sell it and carry the price away to a distant land. But you cannot always sell your land, and you can certainly never carry it away. Those are considerations which appear to have influenced my right hon. Friend in past times, and I think that a certain advantage must still be left to land; but I do not think that that advantage ought to be pressed too far. I have given proof of that by the fact that I have myself proposed that these duties should be placed upon the same footing as regards their amount; but, at the same time, I am of opinion that the difference of conditions attaching to real property and personal property respectively cannot be entirely overlooked. My right hon. Friend assumed—I do not know upon what data—that he might regard the value of real estate and the value of personal estate as about equal, He then proceeded to show how much would—under our proposals, be paid by land, namely, £1,200,000, and how much by personal property—namely, about £4,000,000, and he argued that these figures disclosed a grievance, as they showed that the greater burden fell upon personal property. Now, of course, it is of the essence of the right hon. Gentleman's case that the values of the two kinds of estate are equal—that the saleable value of land is equivalent to the saleable value of all personal property. Unless that is so, the whole of my right hon. Friend's argument must fall to the ground. I presume my right hon. Friend will address himself to that point when the proper time comes; but has he borne in mind the extraordinary difference in the relations between realty and personal property at the present day, as compared with their relations 10, 20, and 30 years ago? I have been reminded by certain communications that in 1871 I considered that the burdens on land were not too heavy; but what a change has taken place in the conditions of landed property since then—an enormous change, which cannot be left out of account? I trust that this is an argument which even the right hon. Gentleman opposite will consider to be plausible. If it is true that land has fallen in value, while 748 personal property has been greatly increasing in value, then it is less possible than ever to contend that the landed property in the country is equivalent in value to the personal property. In 1871 lands were assessed, under Schedule A, at £49,000,000; in 1886–7 they were assessed at £45,000,000. Therefore the assessable value of land at the present moment is considerably less than it was. On the other hand, if you take the value of houses alone you find that it stood at £75,000,000 in 1871, and that in 1886–7 it stood at £117,000,000. All I have now to add is this—that we shall be prepared to meet my right hon. Friend, when the proper time comes, in the same spirit in which he has addressed us. With regard to his chief contention, which is that real property ought, under existing circumstances, to contribute more towards Imperial purposes, I can only repeat that we consider our proposals, viewed as a whole, to be as fair as we can make them, having regard to the various interests concerned, and we trust that, as a whole, they will be accepted by the Committee and by the House.
§ MR. PICTON (Leicester)
said, he wished to say a few words in reference to the Budget propositions before the Resolution was passed. He had ventured—after the statement made by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer in introducing the Budget—to characterize the right hon. Gentleman's proposals as somewhat retrograde, upon which an hon. Member on the opposite side of the House expressed surprise that he (Mr. Picton), as a Radical, should have called "retrograde" proposals which, in accordance with his views, were likely to lighten the burdens of the poor and increase the burdens of the rich. Now there was only one item of charge in the proposals which had been made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer which was likely to press with anything like exclusiveness upon the rich and luxurious. He referred to the 5s. duty upon bottled wine, which was estimated to produce the small sum of £125,000, and even as to that the exclusiveness of the pressure would disappear owing to the reduction of 1d. in the Income Tax. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was able to give an assurance that all those who had incomes of £2,000 or £1,000 a-year might go on drinking a 749 quart or a pint of champagne per day without incurring any additional expenditure whatever. He should endeavour to show that this was the only attempt which was made to shift the burden of taxation from the poor to those who were better able to bear it. The Horse Duty would press, as had already been shown, very heavily upon country doctors, country clergymen, and poor professional men of various sorts. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had promised to consider some of these grievances, and had further said that he thought he could see his way to afford partial relief. The right hon. Gentleman, however, would find it very difficult to spread that relief equally. A very large number of comparatively poor people had retired on their savings—including a considerable number of half-pay officers in the Army and Navy—in various parts of the country, at a distance from railway stations, and such persons might require to keep a horse, and the duty would press with great heaviness upon them. Then the revenue from stamps was to be increased in various directions, as, for instance, in regard to legal documents now practically free from them, and also certain bonds and contract notes. The proposals were simply a new mode of taxing business transactions. They would increase the friction in regard to many processes of business and create a great deal of annoyance. There were a largo number of thrifty people who had saved a little money by the time they had reached 50 or 60 years of age, and who were anxious to make prudent investments, yet all the operations by which such investments could be made were to be increasingly taxed by the proposals of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, notwithstanding the fact that they would involve a large number of widows and aged people who were ill able to bear the burden. He had received a communication on the subject from a certain firm of stock and share brokers who were among his own constituents. After referring to the contribution they made to the Exchequer by the enormously large number of telegrams they had to send, they went on to say that the 6d. stamp upon contract notes, in addition to other burdens, was more than their clients would bear. They added that they had many transactions of £100 which was 750 the sum taxed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer as that which should be required to pay the 6d. stamp on contract notes. In addition a sum of 2s. 6d. had to be paid upon foreign bonds; and, adding to these expenses and the telegraph charges a 6d. stamp on contract notes, it would leave them very little or nothing for their time and services. This firm also stated that there were a large number of other contracts entered into among the dealers and owners in connection with the woollen, yarn, and leather trades which now paid nothing, though they might be taxed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer hereafter. To take 1d. off the Income Tax was at first sight a popular measure; but was it right to relieve incomes by imposing on the commercial community harassing burdens such as this 6d. stamp on contract notes? And, no doubt, the decrease in the Income Tax was that part of the right hon. Gentleman's proposals which had been most eagerly welcomed by a large portion of the public, and especially by that class of the community on whom the burden pressed most heavily. He never expected to see that tax removed altogether; but he thought it might, by a sounder system of taxation, be much relieved. The experience of Sir Robert Peel's measures, and likewise the Budgets of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone), had shown that the payers of Income Tax might often derive great advantage from the leverage they got from this tax to sot free various articles of trade, so that their incomes lost nothing by the operation, but rather gained as a whole. He might be told that the 1d. of the Income Tax would enable men to enjoy more champagne. There were, however, many men who did not want it, but who did wish to make an investment of their savings. To such persons the imposition of the 6d. stamp upon contract notes would be a grievance. Let him take the case of the doctor and clergyman with an income of £500 a-year. The Chancellor of the Exchequer took off 1d. from their Income Tax by which they gained a little more than £2 a-year; but if the doctor or clergyman lived in the country and was obliged to keep a horse, half of it went off upon the horse at once; and if he kept a substantial 751 gig, he had to pay 5s. for the two wheels. Then, if he desired to invest his savings, certainly more than the remaining 15s. would go in Stamp Duty. Indeed, he would find it not only more profitable, but that it would give him less worry, to pay £2 on his income and have his business transactions left free. So far he maintained that there was no special consideration whatever for the burdened classes, and he thought he was justified in calling the proposals of the Chancellor of the Exchequer retrograde, seeing that the Cart and Wheel Tax took them back to the old turnpike system, which proceeded upon the erroneous principle that those who used the roads should pay more than those who did not, or who used them less. But that position assumed that roads were made in the private interest of those who kept carts or waggons. A Professor of Political Economy once said in the course of a lecture—"Civilization, gentlemen, means, in one word, roads." But civilization was not for traders only. The Roman Empire was distinguished quite as much by the perfection of its roads as by the discipline of its Army and the enterprize of its statesmen. Roads were made, not because they facilitated the gains of any one particular class, but because the whole community required them. They were undoubtedly a convenience to the butcher, to the baker, to the carrier, all of whom sent out their goods in carts. It was a convenience to them to have a good road to travel upon; but it was equally convenient to the buyer to have his goods sent cheaply and quickly. This attempt to apportion the burden of keeping up the roads was contrary to the whole social system of modern times, which, as regarded all such matters as lighting, paving, and even of elementary education, insisted that all should pay according to their means and should take according to their needs. He contended that this retrograde proposal was aggravated by the exemption of farmers. Why should farmers be exempted when they used the roads as well as other people? A gentleman with whom he had conversed in Liverpool—a coal merchant not in a very large way of business—assured him he would have to pay an additional £37 of taxation in consequence of this imposition on horses and wheels. A carter who conveyed 752 coal from a railway station would have to pay the Wheel Tax; but the farmer using the same road for the same purpose was charged nothing whatever. It was the old system of Protection. A trade that could not bear the ordinary burdens of citizenship had no right to exist at all. If agriculture could not be carried on profitably it was badly managed, or else it was enslaved by old traditions and hampered by old customs which made profit impossible. Whether they imposed taxation on the rivals of the farmers at the seaports, or whether they relieved farmers from the taxes that were paid by their own fellow-countrymen, in either case they resorted to Protection. He contended that agriculture would never prosper so long as it sued in formâ pauperis. The farmers ought to assume far more independence than they did. They ought to make common cause with their labouring brethren in all other industries to lift the burdens of taxation from the shoulders of the traders and the toilers, and put it upon accumulated wealth. The farmers should go in for a system of tenant right, for entire freedom in conducting their business apart altogether from the dictation of landlords. They would make far more profit by such a policy as that than by continually begging for doles that were not shared by their fellow-citizens. As long as the land was allowed to be a pasture for vermin to serve as sport for landlords, as long as fences and fields were ruined by the galloping of hordes of red-coated barbarians, farmers could not expect to have their full share of prosperity. The Welsh farmers were showing much more sense. They were insisting that the tithe which came from the land ought to be devoted to secular purposes. If the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had proposed to apply the tithe throughout England and Wales to the relief of the burdened multitude he would have found it a much better plan than any attempt to place taxes on wheels. But if the positive policy of the right hon. Gentleman was retrograde his negative policy was stolidly and despairingly Conservative. The right, hon. Gentleman had refused to follow the line of financial progress which had hitherto brought us prosperity. He made no attempt to relieve the working classes by cheapening their 753 food and so enabling them to compete on better terms with their foreign brethren. He (Mr. Picton) had hoped better things from the right hon. Gentleman in view of the speeches which he had delivered in bye-gone days. In 1885, speaking at Haddington, he said—I am one of those who believe that whatever happens this country must stand without any hesitation and without any qualification by the doctrines which made food cheap and which make all the first necessaries of life cheap to the consumer.In the course of the same speech the right hon. Gentleman remarked that the mind of Lord Salisbury was a mysterious mind, and said that he had not got the key to it. He had found the key to it now, but it was to be feared that he had lost the key to his own mind. Speaking at Glasgow the next day the Chancellor of the Exchequer said—There is one way in which we have increased, and I trust we shall continue to increase, the resources of the poor; it is by enabling every shilling earned to command a greater amount of necessaries in the market. The Liberal Party have for many years steadily kept one object in sight; they have endeavoured to make sure that the earnings of the working man should go as far as absolute liberty of purchase would make it possible for them to go. But we must not be content with what has been done. I entirely agree with those who say that the statesmen of the present day have no right simply to appeal to the services of those who have gone before. Forward we must go.But the right hon. Gentleman had not gone forward: he said that the relief of local taxation would lower the rates, and that the working men living in small houses would feel the advantage of it. He (Mr. Picton) very greatly doubted that. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had not sufficiently estimated the fierce competition there was amongst the poor for a place to lay their heads in. It was quite a common thing for them to pay a fifth of their income in rent, and oftentimes a considerably larger proportion. The fact was that the landlord or middleman took as much as the tenant could pay, and he (Mr. Picton) did not believe that one penny of relief would ever reach the pockets of the poor people who lived in those small tenements. He remembered a case in an outlying district in which, when a few pence were laid on the school board rate, the landlord of a number of cottages went to the tenants and assured them he would have to charge them 6d. 754 extra rent because of the increase in the rate. He (Mr. Picton) had never heard that when rates were lowered rents were lowered in accordance therewith. In the case of small tenements the rates were usually paid in the rent, and it was his strong opinion that the landlords would keep the decrease in the rates in their pockets. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer said they ought to be taught by the progress made through Liberal measures in past times. The right hon. Gentleman had had some important lessons in that respect from a great master. He (Mr. Picton) remembered a passage uttered by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) in 1864, which bore very strictly upon this subject. The right hon. Gentleman said—How many of the labouring classes are struggling manfully, but with difficulty, to maintain themselves in a position above that of paupers;and again—What is human life, but in the great majority of cases a struggle for existence, and if the means of carrying on that struggle are somewhat better than they were, yet the standard of needs rises with the standard of means, and sometimes much more rapidly, and it does not follow that because you have made additions to the means of subsistence and the comfort of the people, you can safely cease to care for the supply of other wants which demand your consideration.That was true. The necessities of life necessarily multiplied as civilization increased, and the Budget ought to keep that in mind, and as soon as possible all taxes ought to be removed from the necessaries of life, so as to enable the prudent and sober man with from £60 to £100 a-year to live without paying any taxes at all, directly or indirectly, in time of peace. He did not complain of the Customs and Excise Duties on intoxicating liquors; but if a poor man chose to abstain from such things he ought to be able to live tax free except when some great danger arose to the country which compelled the imposition of extra burdens upon all. Now, what did the right hon. Gentleman do in the direction of relieving the poor in this way? If he had abolished or even lessened the duties on tea, on coffee, and on cocoa, and recouped himself by a 5 per cent Succession Duty, by a heavier Probate and Legacy Duty on great fortunes, he would have been following the 755 lines of progress. The Chancellor of the Exchequer spoke with exultation of a cheque of £90,000 received from a great fortune of £3,000,000 which had been left. £90,000 on £3,000,000! He ought to have had £500,000 on such fortunes as those. He (Mr. Picton) would protect thrift and industry, but it could do nobody any good, and it could do no community any good, to pile up such enormous masses of wealth for the demoralization of descendants. [Laughter.] Gentlemen might laugh now, but he assured them in due time these would come to be regarded as commonplaces. Mr. Mill, in the second volume of his Political Economy, told them it was not fortunes which were earned, but fortunes which were unearned, that it was for the public good to place under restraint. The very reverse was done by this Budget. The miserable ½ per cent added to the Succession Duty was no answer whatever to the complaints that he made. They were told over and over again that the burdens on land were so grievous; but was this really the case? In 1870–71 the present Chancellor of the Exchequer himself pointed out that while local rates had increased 100 per cent the value of real property had increased 150 per cent. He then showed that real property contributed only one-third of all taxation put together, local and Imperial, and as to Imperial taxation he came to the conclusion that the circumstances of England were quite abnormal—that there were infinitely less demands made on that description of property in England than in the rest of Europe. Now they were told that circumstances had changed. He was not sure that they had quite changed in the degree or in the mode the right hon. Gentleman suggested to them. Agriculture certainly had decayed, but agriculture would never prosper by being coddled and protected. The increase of rates still continued to be the greatest in towns, and if they compared the progress in the value of real property on the whole, including houses, with the progress made by business, they would find that the advantage was not on the side of business. He found from the latest Statistical Abstract that the gross estimated rental of property assessed to poor rate in England and Wales in 1872 was £129,000,000 sterling; in 1886 it 756 was £175,000,000, an increase of about 37 per cent. The commercial exports and imports for the same period told a very different story. In 1872 the value amounted to £669,000,000, and in 1886 it was £618,000,000, a decrease of £51,000,000 or 7½ per cent. Marriages in England which were supposed to be indicative of the prosperity of the country numbered in 1872 254,000, as compared with 241,000 in 1886, a decrease of 5 per cent. He did not think, therefore, that it was true that real property had so much decreased in value compared with the profits of business that the House would be justified in burdening business for the sake of real property. When, the other night, he (Mr. Picton) referred to the Budgets of bye-gone days, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer very generously as well as justly said that no man might hope to rival the splendid achievements of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone). But it was not the brilliancy of those Budgets nor the eloquence of the speeches with which they were introduced that made those Budgets an epoch in the history of the country. Those Budgets in the good old times of Liberal faithfulness were not merely monuments of financial genius. They heralded a new era of finance. They had been called prosperity Budgets. Were they the cause or the consequence of prosperity? In part he thought they were the cause, the cause only in the sense that the opening of the flood gates was the cause of the advance of the tide into the dock. If they removed all the harassing burdens upon trade they would let in prosperity. The Budgets of old freed industry and enterprize; they abolished or reduced the duties on hundreds of articles consumed by the million; they confirmed our position as the emporium of the world. It was a very different policy which was now inaugurated. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was afraid of too much simplicity being introduced into our finance. Why? Because he thought the poor labourers might altogether escape what he thought their just burdens. He (Mr. Picton) was never afraid that the working man would decline to pay what was just. He believed that if dangers to the country justified an imposition of taxation even 757 upon labour the working classes would not shrink from it. But as long as no such dangers arose, and a wise policy would always keep clear of them, he could not see why there should not be a certain amount of industrial income altogether free from taxation. Therefore, he most earnestly regretted that no attempt had been made to abolish the taxes on tea, coffee, and other temperance drinks; and he trusted that, notwithstanding the discouragement they received at the present time, the day would come when no Budget could be considered satisfactory which did not leave the poor man's breakfast table entirely free of all taxation.
§ MR. ELTON (Somerset, Wellington)
said, the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Picton) had apparently not followed with very much attention the long debate which had gone on for so many years on the subject of the relief of local taxation when the time came for the reform of local administration. If he had done so, he would have been more familiar, perhaps, with the spirit of the speech which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone) delivered in 1883, and in which the right hon. Gentleman prepared the way for the financial changes which had now been introduced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He (Mr. Elton) desired to make a few remarks from another point of view, and that was from the point of view of a person interested in land and professionally concerned with land; but, before doing so, he desired to say a few words by way of congratulating the Chancellor of the Exchequer upon the clear and admirable manner in which he had laid the proposals of his most intricate Budget before the House. He rejoiced that the right hon. Gentleman should be proposing a Budget of this kind on an occasion which had been awaited for so many years. In season, and, perhaps, out of season, men had been insisting upon some relief being given to local taxation. Now the moment had arrived, and he quite admitted the justice of the principle which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian so long insisted upon—namely, that reform must accompany relief. The time for reform had come, with the common consent of all; and, besides that, an opportunity was afforded of setting the 758 proper limits of local and Imperial taxation. Whether they had been exactly settled might be a matter for difference of opinion. There was no doubt that the relief which could be afforded to local taxation was restricted by certain defined limitations. The first and foremost was that the system of subvention must go. No one knew better than the country gentlemen that the system of subvention was a system of stop-gap which it was necessary to keep up in part even this year, when they were all agreed that subventions were bad in principle. The reason why they were bad had been fully pointed out. He admitted, on behalf of those for whom he spoke, that the reason why the system of subventions was bad was because it pressed so largely on the payments made by the labouring classes. He supposed that every relief of local taxation must, to some extent, be a slight imposition on labour or the results of labour; but, of course, if they took away the burden from the ratepayer they put it on the taxpayer, and either they put it, which they ought to avoid doing, on the labouring class, or on realized property, which was personal property realized in most cases from labour. It had been admitted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian that in choosing realized personalty as the fund from which the relief must come the Chancellor of the Exchequer had gone on the right course. The least harm could assuredly be done when they touched the Probate Duty on realized property. The second limitation, of course, must be that the Income Tax must necessarily be relieved at the same time that they relieved local taxation; because one very good reason was that the Income Tax had been at such an outrageously high figure. It was quite obvious that if there were £3,000,000 or £4,000,000 sterling going it would be absurd to say that the Income Tax payers should have nothing; and if they were to have anything, they could not be offered anything less than the remission of 1d. in the pound. It was a custom which had become the established usage for the Income Tax to go up or down by 1d. The remission of 1d. the Income Tax made £1,500,000 difference, which had to be found before they could relieve local taxation. Let them see what the Chan- 759 cellor of the Exchequer had done for them in the matter of the relief of rates, in which the people in the country districts were greatly interested. The right hon. Gentleman had determined that if relief was to be given at all it should not be an illusory, but a substantial relief. Of course, they had all heard of the doctrine of hereditary burdens, about which there might be something said that evening; at any rate, they knew that some of the rates were very old and long standing—some of them might go back to the beginning of our recorded history, and some of the old taxes stood on a somewhat different footing to the now rates which had been imposed within the last 15 or 20 years. Besides that they had had the mortification, during the last 15 or 20 years, of feeling that everybody had admitted that personalty ought to be bearing part of the burdens in counties, while, at the same time, it was pointed out that the way could not be seen of bringing that about. All the time that the rates were increasing during the last half-generation it was admitted that personalty ought to hear some part of the local burdens. The sum at which the rates that had been added in the last 15 or 20 years had been put was about £10,000,000. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had given them to understand that, at any rate, he would not think of giving them more than a substantial part of that modern increase on the rates, which was the increase of which they had hitherto most complained. He had fixed the relief to be given at an amount corresponding to 2d. on the Income Tax, or at about £3,000,000. That was a substantial relief. He (Mr. Elton) thought they ought not now, after what had been said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, to go further into what he should certainly think would be interesting to both sides of the House, the discussion which must take place upon the comparative incidence of taxation upon real and personal property. Their opinion might be—and he thought it was—that realty felt it most. The Succession Duties might have some of the anomalies the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) had pointed out; but, on the other hand, the Succession Duty was a tax which pressed with uncommon severity on the person who 760 had to pay it. However, he would not pursue that topic; he would only say that it was very likely that it would turn out that realty paid in direct taxation nearly or about as much as personalty. He recognized with gratitude that what the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed to give them was a gift of £3,000,000, or if they did what was perhaps more sensible—namely, discard the stop-gap system altogether for the moment—it was a gift in aid of local taxation of £5,600,000 a-year. It was certain there must be taxation before they could, on the one hand, relieve the Income Tax payer, and, on the other hand, give this substantial relief to the town and country ratepayer. He supposed it was a proper financial method that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had adopted—namely, to tax on both sides. The right hon. Gentleman had given taxes towards local payments, and he had imposed new taxes on the Imperial side. He gave in local relief half of the Probate Duty, and imposed the Wheel Tax, about which they would hear more than they desired. ["Hear, hear!"] He did not mean to say that the arguments they would hear would be convincing, but that they would probably be reiterated. The half of the Probate Duty from realized personalty would go towards the relief of the poor, which was strictly Constitutional by an analogy of the Statute of Elizabeth; the wheel and horse money would go towards the maintenance of the roads. It was difficult for the country to carry three Budgets in their heads; there was a permanent Budget, and a provisional Budget. The permanent one could not be exactly defined, but only sketched out—it depended upon what was received in the coming year. He could not help thinking that the new taxes upon stamps and on bottled wines would be extremely good taxes, and, what was more, extremely popular, especially the Champagne Tax. The country had on many occasions pronounced that it would be a popular tax, and one very great proof of this popularity was the fact that the wine merchants load rushed in and urged the Chancellor of the Exchequer to extend the tax so as to include bottled spirits. He hoped that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would take the offer of a tax upon bottled spirits, which was so freely 761 offered him. The next year's income was computed to some extent, but if there were no windfalls and no new taxes there was going to be on the Budget £1,000,000 short. The Chancellor of the Exchequer did not tell them how he would raise that £1,000,000, but he had told them how he would not raise it, and that ought to content those who were afraid that labour would be touched. He had declared he would not raise it out of the Income Tax, or by taxes upon labour. There would be complaints as to the mode of distributing the benefits they had gained. He was sure they would hear a great deal about the justice of giving to the boroughs more in proportion than was given to the rural districts. It was said that boroughs had contributed far more to the rates than country districts did; but, on the other hand, they knew that the boroughs, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer pointed out, got their quid pro quo, and the rural districts could not afford to pay for the pleasure of the towns. He did not think the proposal as to the payment being settled by the numbers of indoor poor would be popular in the country; indeed, he knew it would be extremely unpopular. It appeared to be by a side wind putting an end to the system of giving outdoor relief where houses were cheap, and where the population was not crowded. If the object of the Government was to check the giving of outdoor relief, it would be better to do it by direct legislation than by the indirect method of varying grants with the numbers of indoor paupers. Complaints were made of the taxes on locomotion, and they had probably not heard the last of the points which the Chancellor of the Exchequer would reconsider. No doubt a multitude of complaints had reached the right hon. Gentleman. He had spoken of some of them, and had said he would give them his candid consideration. He (Mr. Elton) hoped that in some respects the right hon. Gentleman would be able to alleviate the burden of the Wheel Tax on the poorer classes, somewhat after the principle of the exemptions from the Income Tax. No doubt, the right hon. Gentleman had made his estimate very carefully; but, nevertheless, he might be able to grant exemptions to meet the case, for instance, of those who were obliged to keep spare vans for a press of business. He thought that people 762 who had to keep vans for occasional trade ought to be allowed to compound like horse dealers. Of course, they knew that the tax on heavy traffic would fall, in the timber trade, on the growers of trees, and in the case of the Railway Companies on the dividends of the shareholders. Furniture removers would put a slight increase on the charge for removing furniture, unless they considered it so abnormally high already that, perhaps, they had better throw the tax in as a been to their customers. He thanked the Committee for having allowed him to make these observations. He thought the local Budget and the provisional and permanent Budgets would give great satisfaction. They not only fulfilled the promise of many years in relieving land from the cruel burden which had laid so long upon it, and coming upon personalty in accordance with strict Constitutional usage, but it put the whole subject of the incidence of local and Imperial taxation in the surest possible train for settlement.
§ MR. PROVAND (Glasgow, Blackfriars, &c.)
said, he desired to add a word in praise of the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the great ability he displayed in the introduction of his Budget. He understood that the different proposals of the right hon. Gentleman would be debated at greater length upon a subsequent occasion, and, therefore, he would not trespass long upon the time of the Committee. The Budget was remarkably clear on many points; but there were one or two matters he did not understand. First of all, he did not understand how the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed to pay off £3,200,000 at present borrowed in respect of the Suez Canal Shares; and he did not understand by what process the right hon. Gentleman was going to mix up the Imperial and Local Budgets. Last year the thing he particularly admired in the Budget was the clear way in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that in the future there would be no mixing up of local and Imperial finances; but he could not see, from what the right hon. Gentleman had said, how he could avoid mixing them up in the future. It was proposed that 1d. should be taken off the Income Tax. He supposed there was no more unpopular tax, and they were all more or less delighted when they heard 763 of any remission of it. Of the new taxes proposed to be raised he would refer first to that on foreign securities. At the present time if any person invested money in enterprizes in this country he was taxed ½ per cent; but if he invested anything in enterprizes in foreign countries he was taxed nothing at all. There was, no doubt, very great unfairness there. Why we should supply other countries with capital which paid nothing to us, and charge capital invested in this country, was one of the things which he had never been able to understand. He regarded the tax of ½ per cent upon investments in this country as nothing more than a tax on industry, though so long as we taxed capital invested at home, we should, in common fairness, tax it when invested abroad; but the process by which the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed to tax foreign securities would not give him a large return. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had means of information which were not open to very many Members of the House; nevertheless, there were a few hon. Members who had spent all their lives on the Stock Exchange, and who would correct him if he was wrong, when he said the tax would not have the effect the right hon. Gentleman imagined it would have. At the present time most of the foreign securities—American Railway Stock, for instance—stood in the names of dealers in London. The proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have the effect of confirming that practice, to which he (Mr. Provand) thought no encouragement ought to be given. There were a great many people in the country who did not receive their dividends at this moment, and who would be more likely to lose them if the proposal were adopted. Again, the 1s. per cent was nothing like fair. He had asked several Stock Exchange men how many transactions there were for every one which was actually carried through? Some men said there were 20, while others said there were 50. Let them take the number at 30. If they adopted a small ad valorem rate of, say, 4d. per cent, and if 30 were the average number of transactions for each one which went through, they would get on foreign shares the same percentage they got on shares belonging to this country. He hoped the Chancellor of the 764 Exchequer would change the method in which the new tax was to be levied. The other Stamp Tax on brokers' contracts would fall on the public, because the brokers said they would not pay the 6d. They did not charge their customers the 1d. at present, but they said they would charge them the 6d. The tax on the issue of Companies would be, when the Company was a genuine one, a tax on industry. When the Company was not a genuine one, the tax would be a very good thing. He did not suppose there would be any great objection to the imposition. As to the tax on bottled wines, he really thought the right hon. Gentleman had been dealing with the Fair Traders. It appeared to him that this was a proposal just after the Fair Trader's heart. It was quite true, to a certain extent, that the tax was one upon a luxury. But the man who bought expensive champagnes would only pay 5 per cent, while the man who bought cheap sparkling wines would pay 20 and 25 per cent. The incidence of the tax would be altogether unfair. The bottling business in this country would be nursed until it was larger than at present, and some future Chancellor of the Exchequer would wipe the tax away, and then there would be great complaint from a suffering industry. The same thing had happened before, and in this case it would happen again. The tax was diametrically opposed to the principles of Free Trade. He did not speak of Protection; there was no question of Protection involved, because we made no wine in this country. The tax would affect Germany as well as France, and would, to a large extent, shut out their cheaper wines from our market. It would benefit the wines of Spain and Portugal, which we imported in wood. Besides, the tax being inequitable as between the buyers of the different qualities of wine, it would have an injurious effect upon our export trade. We only exported manufactured goods, and if we checked the purchasing power of other countries we should export so much less, and in that way we should do direct damage to our industrial enterprize. The Horse Tax was the re-imposition of an old tax. He was sorry it had been revived. It was given up before on account of the difficulty in collecting it. Besides, it was another tax on industry. Horse breeding was an industry. It 765 was, in some respects, a decaying industry; and the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, in order to assist it, decided last year to cease giving money as Queen's Plates to be run for, so that the money might be devoted to the encouragement of horse breeding. He thought this tax a most unwise one; and here, again, the right hon. Gentleman was providing material for some future Chancellor of the Exchequer to work upon, because some future Chancellor of the Exchequer was sure to take off this tax for the same reasons as it was taken off in 1874. Then there war the Wheel Tax and the Waggon Tax, of which they heard a great deal from those interested in agriculture and other industries. It was in reality a tax upon tools, and if the van and the cart was to be taxed he saw no reason why they should stop there, and why they should not tax the carpenter's axe or his saw. In many cases a workman could not do his work without these things. Some of the carts used for the purpose of obtaining a livelihood were of such a size that even the 2 cwt. limit would affect them. There were many costermongers' carts which were more than 2 cwt. In this matter the right hon. Gentleman seemed to have looked for microscopic sources of revenue; and here, again, he had provided work for some future Chancellor of the Exchequer, and in the meantime for the Civil servants of this country. The right hon. Gentleman himself had last year regretted how impossible it was to keep down the expenses of the Civil Service, for the reason that others, and not himself, were creating more employment for those servants every year. He (Mr. Provand), however, did not think the right hon. Gentleman would be able to say that after this Budget, for he imagined that it would take a small army of over-lookers, surveyors, collectors, and others to keep the accounts and to collect the money which he would raise from so many small sources in order to enable him to remit this 1d. in the Income Tax. There were some points in connection with the Wheel Tax with regard to which the right hon. Gentleman had given them no particulars whatever. The hon. and learned Gentleman who last spoke (Mr. Elton) said he should like to see an allowance made to those persons who kept several waggons. 766 Well, he (Mr. Provand) know that it was the practice of certain waggon builders to lend waggons to their customers whilst they were mending old ones, and yet no allowance was to be made in respect of these people. A concession had been made in favour of job masters in connection with the Carriage Tax, and therefore it was to be hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would agree that some similar concession was required in connection with the Wheel and Waggon Tax. He had intended to touch upon the Succession Duty as a means of raising fresh revenue; but after the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian on that point there was little left to be said about it; but, in looking around for fresh means of meeting his expenditure, he (Mr. Provand) was surprised that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had lost the opportunity of dealing with the Death Duties. The right hon. Gentleman could not get the credit of doing that now, although it had been a cry in this country for many years, and had been discussed over and over again in the House. It was considered one of those points which any Chancellor of the Exchequer having Liberal ideas still remaining to him would take advantage of—and he would credit the right hon. Gentleman the present Chancellor of the Exchequer with having a great many Liberal ideas still remaining—and, equipped as the right hon. Gentleman was to deal with a question of this kind, having lost his opportunity, he (Mr. Provand) regretted it very much for the right hon. Gentleman's own sake. To-night the right hon. Gentleman had pointed out that the average age they had to deal with in connection with the Death Duties was 46, and the average number of years' valuation 13½. Well, three men died last year, leaving about £12,000,000 of personalty. If that had been realty instead of personalty, the Exchequer would not have received one-fifth the amount of money it had received; if he (Mr. Provand) was wrong in this, he should be very glad to be corrected. He believed that the amount received from these estates was four or five times more than would have been received if the £12,000,000 had been realty instead of personalty. There were no taxes at the present 767 moment in this country so unfair as the Death Duties. There were no taxes looked upon as so iniquitous by the people generally, and the right hon. Gentleman, he maintained, had lost a magnificent opportunity of rectifying their inequalities. Then there were one or two other means by which the right hon. Gentleman might have raised his money very easily. It would take a long time to go over these in detail, and he would content himself with drawing the right hon. Gentleman's attention to one of them, dealt with in 1885 by the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the day,—namely, the right hon. Gentleman the present Member for South Edinburgh (Mr. Childers). That right hon. Gentleman had proposed a small extra duty on beer. The whole brewing interest rose up on both sides of the House, and were supported by people outside, and it was alleged that if the proposal were carried out the consumers would have to pay an appreciable increase for their glasses of beer. Such assertions were made inside, and repeated outside, the House; but they were entirely without foundation. In less than a year afterwards Guinness's Brewery was turned into a Company, and the facts which then came to light showed that the statements which had been made on behalf of the beer interest were altogether untrue. There was every evidence that the profits from brewing were enormous, and that a small additional tax upon brewers could be adopted without raising the price of beer to the consumer. An extra tax of 1s. a-barrel would realize something like £1,500,000, and would not cost the public anything for collecting it, as the same agency which collected the Beer Tax now would be able to collect the new tax. If the right hon. Gentleman had adopted this duty, he would have had at once a means of remitting 1d. in the Income Tax, and would have had nothing to pay on the other side. No doubt, right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite were reluctant to try the fidelity of their friends the brewers and licensed victuallers; but they might be perfectly sure that something of this kind would be proposed and would come some time or other. This was another opportunity which the right hon. Gentleman had missed to deal with a duty of this description, and he (Mr. Provand) thought the right hon. Gentleman 768 might have saved himself all the microscopic examination of resources which he had had to go through in order to obtain revenue to enable him to remit on the Income Tax—a remission which he proposed for no other reason than to make acceptable a Budget which, on other grounds, would not have been acceptable to the country. As he had said, he was sure the right hon. Gentleman had many Liberal principles still left, though he happened to sit on the other side of the House; but he did not give any indication of such in this Budget. He (Mr. Provand) had been particularly struck by this whilst the right hon. Gentleman was speaking on the introduction of the Budget. The right hon. Gentleman read a small paragraph towards the end of his speech, being very careful net to make a mistake in the matter when laying down the principles by which he said we should be governed when raising more money than was wanted for present purposes. He was certain that the principles the right hon. Gentleman laid down, with one small exception, about stamps, were those which he (Mr. Provand) hoped every future Chancellor of the Exchequer would adhere to; and he would read them three or four lines, to show how exactly and carefully the right hon. Gentleman stated at the end of his Budget Speech how money ought to be raised. The right hon. Gentleman said he wished to lay down certain propositions with regard to the way in which, if necessary, the sum with which he was dealing ought to be met, and these were his words. He said—I will state it in the strongest way negatively. It must not be met by any increase of duties which rest upon the industrial classes. It must not be met by any duties resting upon the earnings of the mass of the people. It must not be derived from duties contributed by professional men, by, industry and by skill. But it must be met by duties on property, or the result of property, or from that promising item of stamps.He (Mr. Provand) quite agreed with those proposals, and the right hon. Gentleman had had in this Budget an opportunity of securing a great deal of popularity in that way—popularity, however, which it was be regretted he had not taken means to secure. With regard to the Tea Duties, he thought the right hon. Gentleman 769 was very hard upon China. In that country our imports were taxed only to the extent of 5 per cent, and it took a great many of them; and we, on the other hand, taxed the chief import of China into this country over 60 per cent, and took less of it every year. The tea importation from China was a declining industry; and yet, by means of this heavy tax, we were assisting in keeping it out of the country, in this way forcing our people to use Indian tea. The tea we received from China was of a much more delicate character, and was also, in many respects, much cheaper; but the right hon. Gentleman had lost an opportunity of doing justice in this matter, and still allowed that country, which treated us with such fairness, to be hardly dealt with. The tax on Indian tea was in effect only two-thirds of that on Chinese tea, and India was our own. If we were obliged to tax Indian tea, that was our own affair; but we had no right to impose an outrageous tax on this import from a country which consumed a great and increasing quantity of our manufactured goods every year. The Budget seemed to him (Mr. Provand) to be a very small one. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer seemed to him to have been anxious to secure a little popularity by taking a 1d. off the Income Tax, although to do this he had to devise a number of small petty taxes, which would furnish some future Chancellor of the Exchequer with material to operate upon in the direction of reduction, and the immediate effect of which would be to render necessary the employment of more clerks and collectors and superintendents throughout the country on account of the unfair incidence of such taxes as the Wheel Tax and the Horse Tax. Altogether, he (Mr. Provand) regretted very much that when the right hon. Gentleman had had an opportunity of presenting them with a Budget which should have been a real genuine monument of his financial skill, he had only introduced a series of proposals which would harass various interests, and which, with all the advantages which the right hon. Gentleman claimed for them, would only be remembered to his disadvantage.
§ SIR RICHARD PAGET (Somerset, Wells)
said, he did not propose to follow the hon. Gentleman who had 770 just sat down over the vast range of subjects which he had dealt with in criticizing the Budget of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Still, he ventured to predict this, that the Budget of the right hon. Gentleman would stand out as a brilliant effort of financial genius, and that history would by no means take the desponding and depreciatory view of it which had been adopted by the hon. Gentleman. Now, his (Sir Richard Paget's) object in rising was to say a few words with regard to the very important speech which had been made this evening by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone). That speech was important in that it indicated to the right hon. Gentleman's followers the line of policy which was evidently intended to be adopted by the right hon. Gentleman with reference to the financial proposals of Her Majesty's Government. The line of policy indicated was very evident—first, it would be to deprecate what the right hon. Gentleman called the taxes on locomotion—to endeavour to establish that they were unpopular, and to endeavour to increase their unpopularity. He (Sir Richard Paget) had understood the right hon. Gentleman to give reasons why there should not be any increase of taxation on locomotion, and to assert that every kind of taxation in that direction was taxation in a wrong direction. Now, he should have liked the right hon. Gentleman to have been present to hear him (Sir Richard Paget) explain the change which had come over the right hon. Gentleman's mind with reference to this matter, for it was only so late as the Budget of 1882 that the right hon. Gentleman had said that it was, after all, a grievance that the roads were used and worn by carriages, and that it might be right to make a larger proposal and consider the present total exemption of all wheels and vehicles from taxation of every kind, and he did not exclude the prospect of dealing with this question at some future time, although it would present numerous difficulties. Here was the clearest indication that in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman in the year 1882, when he himself was dealing with these imposts on locomotion —when he was adding to them in order to find a sum of £250,000, which he was 771 bound to do in aid of main roads—he, himself, the imposer of a tax on locomotion, actually declared that in his view the question of a Wheel Tax was open for the future, and might be dealt with at some future time. And here, forsooth, to-night, the right hon. Gentleman, in furtherance of the new policy of the Liberal Opposition in dealing with the present proposal of Her Majesty's Government, endeavours to raise popular opinion against a tax on locomotion as a tax which ought not to be imposed. Then he (Sir Richard Paget) should like to draw the attention of the Committee, for a moment, to the other part of the indicated policy of the right hon. Gentleman. That policy was this. Let those imposts on locomotion be con-considered so objectionable that they were to be set aside, but he would offer them something in their place. What was the offer? It was an increase on the Succession Duty; and here the right hon. Gentleman gave them an elaborate comparison and statement as to the inequalities existing in respect of the Death Duties. No one who understood this matter in the very least doubted for a moment that, when they were considering the question of the imposition of taxes on real property and personal property respectively, if they turned their eyes in one direction, on the Death Duties, and took those duties alone, excluding everything else from their consideration, there was undoubtedly an inequality in the respective contributions of real property and personal property. But he contended that it was absolutely unfair, in dealing with this question of finance, to leave out of consideration the many other burdens not equally understood in this connection against the different classes of property. Take the Income Tax, for instance. What was the effect of the Income Tax? That was imposed on the gross value of houses and property. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian was the very man to point out that, when he handicapped real property, as compared with personalty, to the extent of no less than 16 per cent. In all honesty and justice and fairness, when they were making a comparison of the relative taxation which fell on realty and personalty, they had no right to exclude from their consideration a matter so important as the unequal incidence of the 772 Income Tax on those two classes of property. If that were brought into their consideration in casting up the balance it would present a statement of accounts very different from that which arose when they dealt alone with the Death Duties and refused to see that any other special tax was made on real property. He (Sir Richard Paget) was one of those who rejoiced to see that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had on this occasion obtained a substantial and real contribution from personalty in aid of the rates. That went some way to redress the grievance which had so long been complained of, and complained of with very good reason. He could not say yet whether this would be accepted as a final settlement of the difficulty. They still found that the balance of taxation attached with greater severity on real property, and when they considered, as they must consider, and as the Chancellor of the Exchequer had said to-night, they ought to consider local taxation as well as Imperial taxation, and take the burden of the two on realty and personalty, they would still find that more re-adjustment would be required before a balance of taxation was properly effected. Of course, he only asserted his own opinion in this matter, because, until they saw the figures, no positive statement could be ventured in the matter. He trusted the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer would, without delay, show them the figures as to the incidence of the amount of licence duty on the various areas of county government, because, until they know what they were going to receive from those areas, they could not take stock of their position and settle their accounts. He trusted, therefore, that this information would very shortly he given to them. There was another piece of information which he should like to see afforded—namely, that when they were getting these large sums in relief of local taxation which were to be given in connection with the great scheme of local administration about to be introduced, they should have some idea as to the extra expenses which would be thrown upon the Local Authorities. He wished to remark that that scheme of local taxation would undoubtedly give rise to a large increase of expenditure in several directions. For instance, the election expenses of the 773 new Local Authorities would be very heavy, and also the registration expenses. He wished to know whether they could be furnished with any kind of figures or estimate that could be relied upon as to the amount of expenditure on an election within an area containing a given population, an estimate to show how much per head or how much per vote the expenditure was likely to be in connection with the annual elections and with those elections which were to take place every three years. He had an impression that when this expenditure came to be summed up it would be found to present a vast area of figures which would make a hole of some magnitude in the taxation and in the increase of income which would be derived from the new sources of revenue. If such an estimate were possible, it ought to be made at once, and should not be left to the future. They should have the information before them altogether before they parted company with these Budget proposals. There was one argument used by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian upon which he thought a word or two should be said. The whole basis of the right hon. Gentleman's contention rested upon an assumption which he had not attempted to prove—namely, that the relative amount of personalty and realty on which the duties were separately levied must be taken as substantially equal. The right hon. Gentleman had made no attempt to prove that, and it was, therefore, nothing but a bare assertion that it would be found to be so, and under that circumstance his argument held good. But was that so? The only official estimate which existed, and which was given as an estimate and no more than an estimate, was one contained in a Return presented to the House at his (Sir Richard Paget's) instance. Now, this was an official estimate of the Treasury, compiled with all the advantages the Treasury possessed for such work, but still not presented by them as a matter of absolute accuracy, but simply as a matter of estimate. For the purposes of an estimate, the figures contained in that Return were probably, if not the best, at any rate, as good as it was possible to obtain them. Now what did this estimate put the figures at? The value of real property was put at £3,778,000,000. What was the figure 774 which, in the same Return, realized personalty was put at for the purpose of comparison? Why, £5,633,000,000. So that if the officers of the Inland Revenue, who had compiled this Return and presented it as the best estimate they could make, were in any degree correct, so far from these two sums being identical, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian assumed they were, there was a difference of nearly £2,000,000,000 between them, and in favour of personalty. Furthermore, they knew that houses were increasing in value from year to year, whilst more houses were being built, and that it could be shown, by the clearest figures, that so far as landed property was concerned, it was diminishing in value every year. So that when they considered that, on the one hand, they had personalty going up steadily in value, if not by leaps and bounds, at any rate going up gradually and surely—and they had the Schedules of the Income Tax to prove it—they had, on the other hand, realty going down in value year by year, and being only kept up as an aggregate by the addition of house property where each new house was brought in. When they made a comparison, they had a Return showing that personal property was considerably higher in value than real property, yet they were now told that the basis for the contention for a change in the Death Duties was that the two classes of property were substantially equal in value. He (Sir Richard Paget) contended that the position of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian entirely failed him, and that his argument was bound to go along with it; and, further than that, he (Sir Richard Paget) contended that even if the right hon. Gentleman were right in the matter, he left out of his consideration other elements of taxation which attached unfairly to real property. Now, he (Sir Richard Paget) was one of these who were anxious to see these anomalies settled. If they wanted to settle the matter with fairness, however, they must turn their eyes back over the long years during which real property had been taxed in a matter now admitted to be unfair. That unfairness was to be redressed. Why so? Because, when they were about to set up a body to administer the local rates, they were 775 obliged to admit the unfairness and inequality. He asked then, in fairness, that realty should be allowed arrears. Owners of real property might fairly put in a claim for arrears if they had been subjected to unfairness for years. They had a right to say—"Deal with us liberally, because for many a long year you have, on your own confession, improsed upon us taxation which was unjust." He did not desire to ask in this matter for anything beyond the most absolute measure of complete justice and equality of taxation. He should be glad to see every kind of distinction of Death Duty abolished, provided they could establish, as a matter of fact, a re-adjustment of the burden of taxation in the matter of land, houses, and personalty, whether from Imperial or local sources. Death Duties should be beyond all suspicion. There should be no differences whatever in them; and if the Government were obliged to continue the Death Duties for any reason, it should be known how much the balance was in favour of this or in favour of that, and that balance should be redressed by other taxation. He should like hon. Gentlemen opposite, who sometimes thought that hon. Gentlemen on that (the Ministerial) side of the House were led by a desire to obtain an unfair relaxation of taxation for real property, to consider these points. He contended that they asked for absolute justice, and no more. If it could be proved that any kind of property, he did not care what it was, was not bearing its full burden, he, for one, was ready that the taxes upon it should be increased; but he maintained that it was unjust to attempt to deal with this matter and shut their eyes to one class of considerations, looking at one point and banishing another altogether from their minds, because an anomaly existed in one class of Duty—namely, the Death Duty, pleading that there was an immediate necessity for dealing with that and leaving everything else alone.
§ MR. BROADHURST (Nottingham, W.)
said, that during the short time he would venture to occupy the attention of the Committee and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he hoped to be able to confine himself to one of the right hon. Gentleman's proposals only. He had never taken part in any Budget discus- 776 sion, nor would he have done so now but for the extreme wave of opposition which he found to be rising in his constituency in regard to the Wheel Tax. The correspondence reaching him by every post from Nottingham was truly alarming, and he was bound to say that he agreed with most of it. He had here a letter to hand to day, one amongst many others, in which it was announced that a large committee had been promoted on the subject, and in which he was assured by the writer that the Wheel Tax alone meant an impost upon the gentlemen concerned of from to £50 per year. Well, the sum of from £5 to £50 a-year, chiefly affecting struggling tradesmen, was a very serious impost indeed, and in many cases meant just the margin between the possibility of carrying on business with moderate profit and closing the business altogether. Those who complained of this tax described the right hon. Gentleman's proposal in language very strong and very striking indeed. He (Mr. Broadhurst) did not know whether he should like to adopt all of it. He scarcely thought he should. They called it a petty-fogging, they called it a harassing, and they called it a mean measure, and they called it also a small and unworthy proposal to come from hon. or right hon. Gentlemen claiming the least credit for being statesmen or financiers. Without adopting the whole of the phrases his friends used with regard to the right hon. Gentleman's proposal, he (Mr. Broadhurst) was bound to say that he largely agreed with their conclusion. With regard to the tax, he understood, from the right hon. Gentleman's statement the other day, that farmers' carts and waggons were to be exempted from the tax because they were employed in business.
§ MR. BROADHURST
said, he should like to know whether there was a single farm business in the country where waggons and carts were employed entirely on the farm, and were not also used on the roads in the neighbourhood. There was not such a farm in existence. He (Mr. Broadhurst) thought he had knowledge enough of rural life yet remaining with him to know that that was almost an impossibility. The Govern- 777 ment called these carts and waggons vehicles engaged in business. Would the right hon. Gentleman be good enough, when he got up to speak, to explain to the Committee why a farmer's cart or a farmer's waggon was more a vehicle engaged in his business than was the waggon or cart of the small builder, or, for the matter of that, of the large builder? Where was the difference? Whore was the distinction? Where was the difference between the waggon or cart employed, as they would find thousands of instances throughout the country, by a man who was a small jobbing builder and who was a small farmer at the same time? Where was the difference between his carts and the carts of the agriculturists to whom the Chancellor of the Exchequer had referred. One day the waggons and carts of such a man might be used in his building business and another day might be used in his farming business. [Mr. JACKSON dissented.] The Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Jackson) shook his head. The hon. Member was a very able gentleman, as they all recognized, but he (Mr. Broadhurst) would almost venture to put his experience on a level with that of the hon. Gentleman on this subject. Unfortunately, he (Mr. Broadhurst) had had experience as to how these two businesses were mixed up in one particular case, and he knew that the same thing happened in thousands of other instances. They would find it in the case of wheelwrights, and very frequently in the case of blacksmiths—these people carrying on their trades and at the same time conducting farming operations in a small way. How was the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer going to distinguish sufficiently between the vehicles used in these combined and composite instances, and those used solely by a farmer? Why was not a waggon which was constantly used for instance, a laundry waggon—in a business to be exempt as well as a farm waggon? It was quite as much an implement of trade to the laundry as was the waggon or cart an implement of the farmer. Take another illustration. He had not hoard the Chancellor of the Exchequer say he proposed to exempt market gardeners' waggons.
§ MR. BROADHURST
said, the right hon. Gentleman did propose to exempt them. Well, if he was going to exempt the market gardeners' waggons from the tax, how was he going to distinguish between such waggons and the waggons, say, of a boot manufacturer—a man who manufactured boots and carried them to the station in his own waggons, to be distributed throughout the country and the world. There was no possibility of drawing a clear and satisfactory distinction between the various industries. One might illustrate these anomalies in a dozen different ways, if it were not for the dislike one felt for occupying the valuable time of the House. It was impossible for the right hon. Gentleman to satisfactorily explain the matter, except in this way—that the farmer's interest was in association and alliance with the landed interest, and that the landed interest monopolized one part of our Parliamentary system to itself, and that the boot, building, laundry, and other trades had no such Parliamentary interest. [Mr. KNATCH-BULL-HUGESSEN (Kent, Faversham): Oh, oh!] The hon. Member for the Faversham Division of Kent said "Oh!" He should have thought that at least that hon. Member should have accepted the statement, for there was no county in the country where the people were better acquainted with this monopoly and with these privileges than the county of Kent, from which the hon. Member came. Now, the Chancellor of the Exchequer told them that he required this tax on carts and waggons in order to obtain the revenue necessary for carrying on the government of the country.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
No, not a farthing of this goes to carry on the government of the country. It is a question between the ratepayers on the one hand and the employers of carts and waggons on the other. This is kept out of the Imperial Budget entirely.
§ MR. BROADHURST
said, that was merely a technical point. Practically, this money would go to the county revenue.
§ MR. BROADHURST
said, that it was clearly money required, and if it were not obtained from that source, it would have to be obtained from some other source.
§ MR. BROADHURST
said, but who was going to pay this tax but the ratepayers, and amongst whom would be found some of the poorest and most incapable ratepayers. It was a fact that thousands of the people to whom this Wheel Tax would be charged were struggling people, who had the greatest difficulty to make a living out of their small businesses—such as coal sellers, hawkers, and carriers. There was no body of men in the country who had been more hardly pressed, or were more hardly pressed at the present time than that particular class which was struggling for existence with the aid of a heavy cart and one horse. They were a more shade removed above the status and position of a common labourer. There were few classes of people in the country who could less afford to bear an impost of this kind than this class to which he referred. In his opinion, and no doubt it was very bold on his part to express an opinion on a proposal emanating from a person of such eminence as the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but if he might for a moment in the presence of so great an authority venture to express an opinion, he would say that a tax on locomotion of any kind was a bad tax, and a tax which they ought not to be found either in the process of making, renewing, or enlarging in any degree whatever in these days. If the right hon. Gentleman was successful in carrying this tax in the form in which it was proposed, he might carry it by the numbers he had at his back on his side of the House, assisted by some on the Opposition side, but a success of that kind would lead the right hon. Gentleman to his final destruction [A laugh.] Well, he meant politically of course. There would be no reason why the right hon. Gentleman should not next year propose to re-establish the old navigation charges. There had never been a more essentially pure unadulterated Tory proposal submitted to this House for many years than the proposal to tax the wheels of a poor struggling industrial community. This was Toryism of the good old sort—Toryism undiluted. It was pure Toryism, and there was no mistake about it. 780 Everyone would understand that, and would know what it was all leading to. Now he had only one or two words more to say, and they were these. If the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer wished to know where to find revenues both broad and deep without interfering with the industrial interests of the country, he would advise him to turn his attention to the sources at his disposal, if he thought proper to direct his attention to them in ground rents and royalties. These things could be easily disposed of. No doubt the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be very severe upon him for mentioning these two subjects, but he could assure him that some Chancellor of the Exchequer, if not the right hon. Gentleman himself, would before many years were over, have to turn his attention to these two sources of revenue—those two enormous sources of revenue which at the present moment paid not one penny to the rates or taxes of the country, except in the form of Income Tax. The more they examined this Budget the more they would see that it was a rich man's Budget, and that it contained no relief for labour and no relief for the poor man. There was a penny to be taken off the Income Tax. Well, no doubt those who had incomes to pay on would be very glad to get this reduction, but there was no denying the fact that there were those who had no incomes to be charged. There was no assistance, no hope, not even a thought given to the overwhelming mass of the community in this country whose incomes were below £150 a-year. There were unfortunately tens of thousands of them with incomes of under £150 a-year. Not a thought, not a figure, not a line for them.
§ MR. BROADHURST
said, he knew that; but if the Chancellor of the Exchequer would take the two monopolies of which he had spoken, which for far too long had escaped their proper share of the burdens borne by the taxpayers of the country—if he turned his great mind to these two enormous sources of wealth, still remaining as it were virgin soil to some bold and courageous Chancellor of the Exchequer in the future, he would have done much to relieve even the class to which he (Mr. Broadhurst) 781 had referred from some of the burdens now imposed upon them by relieving articles of import. It was not sufficient to say that this class of citizens escape nearly all the taxation of the country. An hon. Member to-night had said that certain classes would be prepared to take their share of any grave danger in which the country might be placed so far as financial burdens were concerned. Well, the class of the community for whom he (Mr. Broadhurst) spoke were the class who took their share daily from generation to generation in the labour of the country, and in all that made the country great and powerful and wealthy. They were the classes of the community from whom they drew when their interests had to be defended either abroad or at home. It was the blood of these people, it was the bones of these people which were offered up in sacrifice by thousands and tons of thousands, and they must not be too hard in adopting these small and minute processes as a means of taxing the wretched, miserable little incomes, barely sufficient to find their families in bread and clothing. These were proposals unworthy of a Chancellor of the Exchequer of the British House of Commons, and especially unworthy of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, who knew perfectly well that much of what he (Mr. Broadhurst) was saying in the substance, if not in the form in which he had put it, was incontrovertible, and must be dealt with by himself at no distant date or by some of his successors. He (Mr. Broadhurst) apologized for occupying so much of the time of the Committee; but he hoped the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer would see how impossible it was for him to make a distinction between the carts and waggons used by farmers and those of persons engaged in other industries, and that he would take a bold, strong measure in omitting the whole tax altogether. If the right hon. Gentleman would do that, one of the greatest difficulties in his Budget proposal would be removed.
§ MR. HOWARD VINCENT (Sheffield, Central)
said, that the Motion before the Committee was for the renewal of the existing Import Duty of 6d. on tea brought into the United Kingdom, and to that subject he wished, in the first place, to address himself. It seemed 782 hardly credible that a proposal of this kind should be made in the name of Free Trade to a Free Trade Parliament. If the free and untaxed importation of any article of foreign production was desirable, he submitted to the Committee that it was pre-eminently desirable in the case of an article in daily consumption by the masses of the people, and which could not by any possibility be produced in this country. The importation of tea interfered with no British or Irish industry, and therefore he submitted the duty upon it had to be paid entirely by the consumer, which would not be the case if the price of the imported article had to come down to the price of native production. The hon. Member for Glasgow opposite (Mr. Provand) had mentioned the increasing quantity of tea produced in British. India by the aid of British capital. He (Mr. Howard Vincent) would call attention to the fact that British India was absolutely our only free market, either in our own Empire or in any other part of the world, for our productions, and yet, notwithstanding this fact, and what had been stated as to the facilities for British trade in China, duties amounting to from 30, as the hon. Member had said, up to 60 per cent was levied upon every pound of tea brought into Great Britain and Ireland. As the Committee knew, currants, coffee, chicory, and dried fruits were in the same category, whilst on tobacco, notwithstanding the concession and alleviation granted last year by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, duties going up to no less than 1,000 per cent were levied. Indeed, he was informed that the working man who paid 3d. for his ounce of tobacco contributed something like 2½d. of that amount, or five-sixths of the whole sum, to the Free Trade Government as a Free Trade duty. Now some right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite consoled themselves that the £14,000,000 which were annually derived by the Imperial Exchequer from these duties involved no breach in the canons of the principles of Free Trade, because, forsooth, they were derived for the purpose of revenue. Well, those hon. Gentlemen and those Associations in the country whose views on the industrial questions of the country were so often attacked, both in the Press and on the platform, were accused of having no policy and no agreement amongst themselves. Although he had 783 no warrant to speak for anyone but himself, he had no hesitation in saying that they were agreed on this, that it would be far better, and far more conducive to the welfare of the industrial population, whose welfare should be the first care of Parliament, that the duties for revenue purposes should be placed not upon non-competing articles in general use, but rather upon foreign imports competing with the industries, and above all competing with the labour of the United Kingdom. This would involve no serious departure from the present practice, because if hon. Members would look at the Schedule of the Customs Tariff Acts of 1876, they would see that duties were imposed on other articles, the very enumeration of which extended to three pages of the Statute Book, than those he had named, and the reason for raising these duties was given as being to countervail the Excise and Stamp duties that were raised on articles of a like nature of British manufacture. He did not hesitate to assure the Committee that they were agreed that it would be far better to extend the present admirable practice of countervailing duties. Surely those countries that kept out the productions of British or Irish labour by an overgrowing wall of tariffs, had no right whatever to a free market in these islands for competing with articles of our own production without indemnifying our own workpeople for the loss of employment, and still more for the loss of wages involved in the foreign production of such articles. Moreover, it would seem to be nothing less than a national scandal, that while thousands of unemployed were going about the streets and stood idle in our towns and country districts, no loss than £150,000,000 worth of competing foreign imports, without counting wheat, should have been brought last year into the home market without paying a single farthing to the alleviation of those heavy rates and taxes which every home industry, whether manufacturing or agricultural, had to bear. Surely, when hon. Members saw the wretched people in rags at every street corner in the Metropolis, they must feel something like indignation that the shops in the West End should be filled to overflow-in with articles of luxury of foreign production. It was a significant fact that the £20,000,000 sterling derived 784 from the Customs Duties in this country for so many years exceeded by £6,000,000 the amount derived from the same source by any other nation in Europe, and the amount per head was considerably higher than in any other country. It was possible that they might not be all agreed upon the details of a revised or improved tariff; it was not for the advocates of a general principle to discuss them; it was the function of Gentlemen now sitting, or who would hereafter sit, on the Treasury Bench to draw out the details of such a tariff. What they were agreed upon was that every possible impediment should be removed from British and Irish industry. It was easy for hon. Gentlemen opposite to call them Protectionists, or other meaningless names, but he invited the Committee to consider whether this country was or had ever been a Free Trade country or whether it had ever done anything more than give an unreciprocated free market to the productions of foreign labour. All that they sought was that the weight of Customs duty should be transferred from the back of the home consumer to that of the foreign labour which was producing such disastrous consequences. Hon. Members might perhaps ask why, if he held those opinions, he did not at once move a direct negative to the matter before the Committee. He confessed he had been sorely tempted to do so, more especially as his Friends had been advised by the Prime Minister in "another place" "to walk boldly up to the fortress they had to attack"—the fortress of foreign labour—"and lay Beige to it in due form." Having regard, however, to the circumstances of the day, they had to consider whether such action might not produce greater confusion in the House and in the country than the present grievous depression of trade and agriculture. But he asked the Committee to believe that it was from no feeling of timidity, want of courage, or any doubt whatever as to the ultimate triumph of their cause that he did not adopt that course, but rather from a sense of gratitude to and admiration of the Chancellor of the Exchequer for his efforts—he would say his preliminary efforts—to reduce the burden of internal rates and taxes and transfer it to those who should properly bear it. He had succeeded in discovering that the existence of which had been so frequently denied by the 785 enthusiasts of the Cobden Club—namely, a foreign luxury which offered a fitting object of taxation. He begged to assure his right hon. Friend that there were plenty more foreign luxuries waiting for taxation. His right hon. Friend had also mastered the problem of taxing those foreign securities which had of late, thanks to one-sided Free Trade, absorbed three-fifths of the available capital of the country. It was only to be regretted that the revenue to be levied on horses was to come from the home breeder rather than from the 11,000 or 12,000 foreign horses annually imported from abroad or from the foreign purchasers of some of our best stock. He confidently hoped that before another 12 months had passed the right hon. Gentleman would have made further progress in the path of that fiscal reform which was so urgently desired by great masses of the people, as shown by the Petition signed by 15,000 adult working men which he had recently presented to the House. There was no single country or colony which did not shut out British products. In the early days of the present system this country was the workshop of the world, but he doubted whether there was a single Member of the House who would venture to affirm that that was now the case. It was a very serious question at the present time whether the progress of the country might not have been greater, whether the position of the poorer classes might not have been higher, and whether we might not have freed ourselves from the burden of the National Debt, had it not been for the adoption of this principle of one-sided Free Trade. Let the Committee consider what the defence of national industry had done in Germany and Canada. The state of affairs was best described in a remarkable article in the current number of Whitaker's Almanack, which showed that Germany had acquired a practical monoply in the home markets, as was admitted by the hon. Member opposite. [Mr. PROVAND: I was not aware that I stated that.] If not, the hon. Member had stated something akin to it. The fact however remained, that Germany had, since the defence of its national industry was begun, obtained the practical monoply of the home market, and her export trade had increased in 20 foreign markets and had only de- 786 creased in three. In the same period, from 1880 to 1885, British producers had, to a great extent, lost the control of the home market, while the export trade of Great Britain had diminished in the case of 19 markets, and only increased in the case of two foreign countries, Spain and the Argentine Republic, and in three British possessions, Cape Colony, British India, and Australia. As the Chairman himself had shown in the current number of The Nineteenth Century, the agricultural and mining population had diminished, and every hon. Member knew well that much fewer hands were employed in almost every industry of the country. True, the amount of personalty valued for Probate Duty sometimes startled the imagination; but was inquiry ever made to what extent they were due to foreign investment? The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in a recent address to the Statistical Society, said that although the distribution of wealth had descended somewhat from the upper to the middle class, it had not yet reached the great mass of the labouring population. He would, therefore, earnestly and respectfully press upon the attention of the right hon. Gentleman during the coming year the consideration of those taxes on industry, which he ventured to say were a blight on our fiscal system, more particularly the prohibition upon the cultivation of tobacco, the Excise Duty levied upon the home manufacture of plate, and the taxes raised by stamps and licences upon hotel-keepers, house agents, auctioneers, pawnbrokers, tobacco dealers, and vendors of patent medicines, and above all the heavy rating of machinery which now existed. He took the opportunity of reminding his right hon. Friend of a declaration made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian in April, 1881, that "the principles of abstract political economy were more fitted for the inhabitants of Saturn and Jupiter than for the circumstances and condition of Ireland at the present day." From that statement it might be assumed that the same rule was applicable to the rest of the United Kingdom. If the right hon. Gentleman would bear that in mind he would be able, when he presented his next Budget, to show that he had succeeded in transferring a greater burden of taxation to the foreigner than was the case 787 at the present time, and he would then find that he had obtained, as the American statesmen had done, great fiscal as well as great general advantages. He would, at the same time, place in the hands of British diplomatists, who had been described by the Prime Minister as "unarmed men going forth to meet men fully armed," with a reliable weapon, the sword of reciprocity, which would enable them to pierce the armour of tariffs which had prevented the legitimate extension of British trade.
§ MR. WATT (Glasgow, Camlachie)
said, there was reason to believe that in the ratio of 20 to 1 the contracts on the Stock Exchange were of a speculative character. He suggested that an ad valorem duty of 1d. per £100 should be put on all transactions on the Stock Exchange instead of the tax of 6d. on each transaction proposed to be levied. Various estimates of the amount of business of this kind throughout the Stock Exchanges of the country gave totals of from £12,000,000,000 to £25,000,000,000. Assuming the minimum to be a fair estimate, it would give the Chancellor of the Exchequer a revenue of from £500,000 to the maximum exceeding £1,000,000 sterling per annum, instead of the £50,000 which the right hon. Gentleman estimated would be the amount derived from the tax of 6d. on each contract note which he proposed. But a difficulty would arise no doubt, because most of the contracts on the Stock Exchange were not committed to paper; the contracts between brokers or jobbers were simply entered in the memorandum books of the buyers and sellers, and the question arose how the tax was to be collected. Perhaps he might be allowed to suggest to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that in the event of the Government seeing their way, as in the case of the Berlin Stock Exchange and the Paris Bourse, to place the Stock Exchange under Government control, with a licence tax on brokers, that tax, he estimated, would bring in something like £500,000 sterling per annum, while the estimate from the 1d. per £100 would certainly amount to not less than £500,000. There would then be a revenue from these sources of £1,000,000 over and above the £200,000 estimated by the right hon. Gentleman to be produced by the duty on bearer 788 bonds. Then there was the question of taxing contracts for the sale of metals, produce, and other commodities. He had made calculations, and he was confirmed by gentlemen of larger experience than himself, which showed that a tax of 1d. on all such contracts, many of which were also of a speculative character, would realize nearly £250,000 sterling. There was probably a feeling on the part of the Government that speculative transactions ought to be heavily assessed; if so, he failed entirely to see any objection in equity to extending the tax in this direction. From these sources of revenue the right hon. Gentleman would realize an amount equal to what he obtained from 1d. of Income Tax. With regard to the Budget generally, it had been received on all hands with great favour, and it would, he believed, obtain the commendation of the great majority of the country. There was one tax, however, which had given rise to considerable dissatisfaction, and that was the Wheel Tax, and, notwithstanding the emphatic tone he had adopted, he trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would reconsider that question before the Budget arrangements were finally concluded.
§ MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
said, it had not been always borne in mind in the course of these discussions that the various additional items of taxation had not been proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer with a view to enable him to take off 1d. from the Income Tax. The right hon. Gentleman had taken off that amount, and could have done so without any additional taxation, but he had put on now taxes with the object of carrying out the provisions of the Local Government Bill which they all thought would be of very great advantage to the country. Looking at each of the items of additional expenditure, the proposed new taxes seemed to him to be fair in every way. No one could say that a duty of 6d. on Stock Exchange Contracts was unreasonable. It would produce £50,000, and considering the amount of business done on the Stock Exchange it was an almost infinitesimal tax. There was no reason whatever why this tax should not be charged and put down as a sum in the contract which should be paid by the purchaser of securities. The tax on Bonds was, also, in his opinion a most reasonable charge, and it was one which those who had to 789 deal with such securities had felt might reasonably be imposed. With regard to the Wine Tax, there of course most were agreed. He had heard of one or two objections that it would interfere with foreign Governments, but as the Chancellor of the Exchequer explained that while we did not want to injure our neighbours in any possible way, yet we must look to our own taxation without having any regard for them. No one could say that this was an unreasonable tax or that it was one which fell upon industry or would affect the poor. He had received only one letter from his own constituency with regard to the tax on wheels, but he thought they ought to bear in mind that this duty to which so much objection had been taken was not an Imperial Tax, and many hon. Members seemed to have forgotten that it was one which would go to the localities. When that was understood generally, the tax would be considered just and proper. Surely it was reasonable if two men lived side by side, rated at the same amount, and one had six or eight carts and the other none, that the man who had the carts should pay more than he who had no carts at all for the repair of the roads. He thought that although every one would wish to get rid of the tax on wheels as of every other tax, nobody would contend that it was an unfair tax, and although some Members of the Committee thought the Chancellor of the Exchequer had undervalued the amount he would get from it, still, if that were so, it would give all the more assistance to the local taxpayers, and would be hereafter regarded as a just tax. He understood the Chancellor of the Exchequer to say that market gardeners would be exempted. If that was to be the case, in the neighbourhood of London it would be a very large exemption; if all the carts which came up to London to Covent Garden and other markets were exempt it would be a very large one indeed. If that were so he could not see why the High Wycombe carts which came up week after week with chairs should not also be exempt. But he felt sure that the right hon. Gentleman would consider this matter if possible. With regard to the Income Tax, he trusted the right hon. Gentleman would carry out the pledge which he gave last Session to do away 790 with the system of poundage in the collection of the tax. He believed that all those who had gone into the question of the system under which the Income Tax was collected agreed that poundage was undesirable. An hon. Member opposite had said that the alterations in the taxation effected by the Budget did not in any way relieve the poor. He differed entirely from that hon. Gentleman. It seemed to him that the rates, especially in the suburban districts of London, were very high indeed, and he believed the system of this Budget, and of the Local Government Bill, which were closely allied, would largely affect the rates, and largely affect the payments made by very small tradesmen and small holders of property in our great towns. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) stated that the Budget gave no relief in respect to articles of general consumption. On that question, let him (Mr. Bartley) refer to one or two facts in connection with it. Articles of general consumption had been dealt with in late years, and to judge of that they must go into the subject for a moment of the incidence of taxation. He had looked up the incidence of taxation from the year 1841. The Committee would understand that Customs and Excise, which were the two great items under which all classes contributed, bore a very important part in relation to this subject. The amount raised in Customs Duties in 1841 was £3,250,000 more than was raised at the present time. That was to say, that in 1841 we raised about £23,387,000, and in 1887 we raised about £20,155,000. In Excise, the amount we raised now was £10,500,000 more than was raised in 1841; that increase had been due almost entirely to an increased consumption of wines, spirits, and beer. The Customs and Excise together amounted in 1841 to £1 8s. 6d. per head of the population, and in 1887 they amounted to £1 4s. 6d. per head of the population; therefore, although the amount of Imperial taxation had increased in 46 years to £2 8s. from £2 6s. 2d. per head, yet the Excise and Customs together had decreased 4s. per head of the population. This proved conclusively that, in spite of the enormous reduction in the price of wheat and other articles of consumption, the quota of the mass of the people, who 791 contributed largely, and perhaps more than their proper share, to Customs and Excise—to Imperial taxation—had decreased materially per head in the 46 years. Passing from the amount of tax absolutely paid into the Imperial Exchequer on taxable articles of consumption from Customs and Excise, they found that the amounts of those articles consumed—although the Customs and Excise had decreased per head of the population—had enormously increased. In 1841 the amount of sugar which was consumed was 5,000,000 cwt., it was now 22,000,000 cwt.; of tea, the amount consumed was 300,000,000 lbs., now it was 230,000,000 lbs.; of coffee there were 66,000,000 lbs. consumed, now there were 112,000,000 lbs.; of spirits, 7,500,000 gallons, now 10,750,000 gallons; and of tobacco, there were 46,000,000 lbs. consumed in 1841, and now there were 86,000,000lbs. Therefore, that showed that in spite of the amount which was paid per head in Customs and Excise by the mass of the people having decreased 4s. per head in the 46 years, the amount that they had consumed per head had enormously increased. There was only one other matter he desired to refer to, and that was the great question of personalty and real property. He believed there was still a good deal of dissatisfaction as to the way these two great branches of property were dealt with. However it might be proved that real property bore a larger share of the burdens of taxation than people thought, he believed the time was not far off when we should tax real and personal property exactly on the same lines. He could see no reason why this should not be done. Although it would be difficult, and the change would be somewhat far reaching, there was no reason whatever, even in the opinion of many men who were strong Conservatives, why the two sorts of property could not be assimilated and taxed on the same footing. He believed it would simplify to a great extent the whole fiscal system if this could be carried out. With reference to the reduction of the National Debt, he last year complained somewhat that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had reduced the amount fixed for the reduction of the National Debt. He was extremely glad to learn from the right hon. Gentleman's speech that in spite 792 of that reduction, a larger sum, if he understood the right hon. Gentleman aright, had been paid off the National Debt in the course of the past year than had been paid off for many previous years. He knew that the payment of Debt was not a very popular subject to discuss; it was not a subject on which much credit was obtained; but he was quite convinced of this, that it was a subject on which we had not been doing our duty in the past as we ought to have done. There was no doubt that should we ever have to engage in an European war, which God forbid we should, we might add to the National Debt as many hundred millions sterling in a few months as had been added to it in consequence of past wars extending over as many years. Therefore, if we were wise, we should in times of peace do our utmost to reduce the heavy burden which the Debt entailed upon us. He found that we were not now paying nearly as much towards the reduction of the Debt as we paid formerly. In 1841 we paid £29,500,000 for Debt out of a total expenditure of something like £53,250,000; that was 55 per cent of our whole Imperial taxation, or £1 2s. 0d. per head of the population for Debt alone. In 1887, when an Income Tax of 7d. in the pound brought in £13,000,000, whereas in 1841 it would only have yielded £5,250,000—instead of paying £29,500,000 for Debt, we only paid £28,000,000. That was to say, that out of £89,000,000 of expenditure, only 31 per cent of it went towards the interest and extinction of Debt. Per head of the population we last year paid 15s. for Debt, as against £1 2s. 0d. per head in 1841. He was aware that at present we had a number of other things to pay by way of taxation; but he hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer would next year, when he got the great benefit from the reduction of the interest on Consols, take at least some part of that gain towards increasing the expenditure for the reduction of Debt. It seemed to him that the present was not a rich man's Budget, but a fair Budget all round; it would relieve all classes, and he was sure it would be carried in its entirety. He trusted the Chancellor of the Exchequer would not give way on any point, except perhaps, it might be by way of relieving the country doctors of the tax on one horse. He 793 was afraid that if the right hon. Gentleman went in for exemptions, the list of the exemptions would increase very rapidly. He therefore trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would stick to his colours, and that they might have the Budget complete.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Derby)
I think it is the desire of the Committee that to-night, at least, we should not get into any heated controversy on the subject of the Budget, but that the real discussion of the questions at issue between us should be postponed until the Chancellor of the Exchequer has introduced his Bill. I was very glad to hear from the hon. Member who has just sat down (Mr. Bartley) what I venture to call such sound doctrines with reference to the reduction of Debt, and I hope the sentiments he has expressed will find an echo in the breast of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I regret very much the step that was taken last year which had for its object the reduction of the effort—I agree with the hon. Member—the inadequate effort we have been making for many years for the reduction of the Debt. I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will take that view also, because he is in the position of having committed, if he will allow me to say so, an unnecessary crime. It was quite unnecessary he should have reduced the provision for the Debt by £2,000,000, because, in point of fact, he had £2,000,000 more than he wanted, and, by a wise provision of law, that £2,000,000 has gone in the reduction of Debt. The real truth of the matter is that though some people think it is a great thing to have a surplus, that surplus is only the result of inaccurate estimating. Anybody can make a surplus who will take the expenditure of the country too high and the receipts toe low; because the difference between the two things constitute the realized surplus. Now, the Chancellor of the Exchequer was not sanguine enough with reference to the product of the Inland Revenue. The Inland Revenue, in point of fact, yielded very nearly £2,000,000 more than the right hon. Gentleman expected, and the expenditure was also less by about £500,000 than he calculated upon. There was consequently a surplus. I only refer to this in passing. I should not have risen at all if I had not desired to make one 794 or two very brief remarks upon the answer made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the observations of my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone). Now my right hon. Friend stated, in a very moderate manner, his feeling of regret that this Budget made no provision for the diminution of the burdens upon the consuming classes. To that the Chancellor of the Exchequer made the exceedingly plausible reply that the reduction of the rates was, in fact, a reduction to the consumer, because they were consumers of a commodity—namely, the house which paid the rates. The right hon. Gentleman referred to a question which has long occupied the attention of financiers—namely, as to who are the persons who derive the advantage of diminished rates, or who bear the burdens of increased rates. Probably, like the squaring of a circle, that is a question which will not be finally decided for many generations. In the long run the owner of the property either bears the burden of increased rates, or reaps the advantage of diminished rates. Whoever ultimately derives the advantage or feels the burden, there can be no doubt that in the interval, before things find their level, the persons who benefit or lose by the rise or fall of rates are those who actually pay the rates. But who is the person who pays the rates? He is not always by any means the occupier. Nobody knows better that the hon. Member (Mr. Bartley) that in the great towns the poorest people do not pay the rates at all; in the case of compound householders, with whom some years ago we were so familiar, the rates are paid by the owners of the houses. I think there are many hon. Gentlemen who, by experience, know that where the owner of the house pays the rate and the rate is diminished, it is not the least likely he will give immediately the benefit of that diminution of rate to the occupier of the house any more than if the rate is increased the rent is increased. Therefore, speaking of the poorer classes, whether in towns or villages, where the owner of the house pays the rate, the occupier will derive little or no advantage from the diminution of the rate. Looking at it from that point of view, I think my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian was entirely justified in 795 the remark that the character of the Budget is one of relief of property. This is manifest from the fact that even in that respect, which the Chancellor of the Exchequer relied on as refuting that statement, the provisions are exceedingly favourable to property. Passing away from this subject, I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer must have become aware by this time that some at least of his new taxes, especially the smaller ones, are not popular at all, certainly not popular in proportion to the amount which they yield. There are a good number of small taxes which irritate but which do not bring any very large sum into the Exchequer. I quite admit the distinction the hon. Member has just now drawn between the taxes which are to go to the Imperial Exchequer and those which are to go in contribution of the local rates; but people when they have to pay taxes are not very apt to distinguish where money is going to. The taxes upon locomotion are particularly unpopular. Of late years we have diminished the taxes upon locomotion. We diminished the Carriage Duty by a very considerable sum, and what is still more singular is that, upon locomotion by railway, we have sacrificed a duty almost as great as that which the Chancellor of the Exchequer is proposing upon wheels and horses. I forget at this moment what are the exact figures; but I know that when I was at the Exchequer I deeply regretted the constant fall in the yield of the Railway Duty. You are reversing that policy altogether in the course you are pursuing, and reversing it, I think, somewhat unfairly; because, while you diminish largely the taxes upon railways, you increase the taxes upon other classes of locomotion. I observed with very much surprise that the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not answer the question put to him by the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian—namely, "Supposing the House is indisposed to authorize the Wheel Tax and the Horse Tax and the tax upon locomotion, what are you going to do?" Upon the answer to that question will very much depend the course to be followed by the Opposition. Hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House will be glad to know what the alternative is. Then there is another new tax, and that is one for Imperial purposes—the stamp upon 796 foreign bonds and shares. I do not contend that these bonds and shares ought not to be taxed. I think it is very fair that they, like other property, should bear their share of taxation; but I have heard that in the City it is thought that the particular method proposed by the right hon. Gentleman is not convenient and hardly practicable. Now, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer is dealing with these Stock Exchange transactions, why does he deal only with transactions that result in transfers? An enormous number of transactions consist of time bargains for mere purposes of speculation. Why should those escape taxation? In other countries, such as France and Germany, they do not, But I only referred to this point, in passing, because the main question raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian has reference to the Succession Duties, and I share the disappointment of my right hon. Friend at the declarations of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I did hope that the old and tedious question as to the inequalities of taxation as between realty and personalty was at last going to be settled. The House of Commons has been wearied with this question for years. It has been alleged that land hears too great a proportion of the burdens of local taxation, and we hoped that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was going to put an end to it, and was going to establish a system of equal burdens upon real and personal property in respect of local taxation. Why, it is only upon that footing that you can really sever Imperial and local taxation. That is what everybody desired; that is what I hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer meant to propose. Upon this assumption the Chancellor of the Exchequer received the congratulations and compliments of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian. But the Chancellor of the Exchequer now explains that he has not settled the question at all; that there still exists an inequality in respect of local taxation; and that that inequality must be borne in mind in considering the contributions of realty to Imperial taxation. The question is therefore not settled at all. When the Chancellor of the Exchequer was challenged by my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian because, under his arrangement, realty will still 797 pay a much less share than personalty to Imperial taxation—a fact which cannot be denied—the right hon. Gentleman took refuge in generalities, and said—"Oh, you must look at the thing as a whole; and if realty is paying too little towards Imperial taxation, then you must fall back again on local taxation, as we did before." Now, we can never get a sound system of finance until we settle what is the contribution which realty ought to pay, as compared with personalty, in respect both to Imperial and local taxation. That is what we want to get at. When we have settled that, we may deal with our two Budgets as separate Budgets; but as long as we fail to do that, we mix up the two things inextricably together. I venture to say we shall never get rid of these constant controversies, which are injurious to both the classes who are interested in either category of property. We ought, therefore, now that we are dealing with the question of local taxation, to arrive at the due proportion to be paid by realty and personalty, in respect both to Imperial and local taxation. If you say that realty as compared with personalty is still paying too much in local taxation, bring forward your proposal for making the contributions equal, and then we shall know how to deal with realty in regard to Imperial taxation. My right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian gave not what he stated to be the strictly accurate figures, but rather a suggestion of the proportions in which realty and personalty were subject to taxation for Imperial purposes; and the Chancellor of the Exchequer met them by saying—"Oh, but personalty has been increasing and realty has been diminishing in value." That may be true; I dare say it is; but the Chancellor of the Exchequer never said what were the relative proportions between realty and personalty now. The right hon. Gentleman never denied the figures suggested. It might be that the value of the one was diminishing and that of the other was increasing. But what the Committee are entitled to know is, what are the relative proportions between the two now. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has better means of ascertaining that than anyone else; and I think, in coming to a conclusion upon this matter, we ought to hear from him—I do not say to-night, but before this 798 question is settled—some materials which would enable us to judge as to the proper burdens to impose on these two great categories of property. It is no answer to my right hon. Friend to say—"You have put the amount of realty too high and the amount of personalty too low." If that is so, let the right hon. Gentleman correct his figures; but that does net affect the substance of my right hon. Friend's argument. My right hon. Friend drew the conclusion, from the figures he had, that personalty is paying £3,000,000 or £4,000,000 more than realty. You may so alter the figures that the result may be £2,000,000 or £3,000,000, instead of £3,000,000 or £4,000,000; but still the argument of inequality and injustice remains. Even although you show that realty is less than the figures that my right hon. Friend indicate, the answer to that is that if it is less it will pay a less amount. The Chancellor of the Exchequer up to this moment has given no answer to the point made by my right hon. Friend—namely, that now, when you are proposing by your arrangements as to local taxation to redress the balance between realty and personalty, you ought to redress it in both cases. You ought, in the case of local taxation, to make the contribution of the two kinds of property alike; and you ought, also, in the case of Imperial taxation, to redress the inequality by making them both alike. Until that is done, we shall never get our local and Imperial taxation upon a sound basis, and we shall go on Session after Session with this perpetual squabble between parties interested in personal and real property as to whether one or the other is entitled to a greater remission of taxation. We know that, unfortunately, these questions are apt to assume the form of class questions, of Party and political questions, as between the Succession Duty and the taxes on consumption, and other taxes on personalty; and it is in the interest not only of the Exchequer, but in higher social and political interests, that this question should be finally settled, that we should have some reliable figures on which we Call proceed in order to put an end to controversies that are so tedious and so injurious.
§ MR. JEFFREYS (Hants, Basingstoke)
said, he desired to protest against 799 the tax on horses, which he thought would be detrimental to the breeding of horses, and also a great charge to those who lived in the country, and who were obliged to use horses for the purpose of locomotion. He thought the Government should do all in their power to encourage the breeding of horses; indeed, a man who kept a horse conferred a benefit on the country. In the first place, he encouraged farmers to breed horses; in the next place, he was obliged to buy forage; and, in the third place, he was obliged to employ some one to groom the horse; altogether, instead of taxing a man for keeping a horse, he, as an agriculturist, should be very glad to see a grateful Government give £1 to a man for every horse he kept. There was already a considerable number of horses imported into the country; we did not breed enough to supply our own wants. Last year there were no less than 11,649 horses imported into this country, of the value of £198,000. Now, if the Chancellor of the Exchequer wished to derive revenue from horses, he (Mr. Jeffreys) would rather that he taxed the foreigners' than our own. If the right hon. Gentleman was not willing to remit this tax altogether, he (Mr. Jeffreys) would put in a plea for those agriculturists who were obliged to keep riding horses as well as agricultural horses. He would ask the right hon. Gentleman to allow every agriculturist to keep one riding and driving horse for every 500 acres, or part of 500 acres, which he occupied. That would be only just, because a farmer was obliged to keep a nag to ride on about his farm and to carry him to market. In fact, this class of horse was quite as necessary for the purpose of his trade or business as any of his agricultural horses. He sincerely hoped the right hon. Gentleman would not be hard upon a very unfortunate and struggling race of men. He also desired to put in a plea for the country doctor, who was obliged to keep a horse to follow his calling; in fact, he could not do without one. Much, too, might be said as to the exemption from the tax of country parsons, who, perhaps, lived far from the station, and who must of necessity keep either a cob or a pony. Country doctors and country parsons could not possibly do without their useful horse, and although it might be a 800 very trifling tax for the rich people who lived in towns and kept luxurious carriages, yet for struggling people living in the country the tax would be a great hardship. He trusted the right hon. Gentleman would not add to their burdens by making them pay £1 for every horse they kept.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
said, he would only intrude himself upon the Committee for a few moments. In doing so, he was consoled by the fact that the point he wanted to refer to was one which no other Member had dealt with. The Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed a 5s. duty per dozen upon bottled wines. Of course, with reference to the higher classes of wine there was nothing to be said about it, except so far as one might object to particular taxation in the nature of Protection. But this 5s. tax would entirely prohibit the introduction into this country of cheap wines bottled abroad. Possibly, the class of wine of which he was about to speak did not come within the cognizance of the Chancellor of the Exchequer or any of his friends. But the right hon. Gentleman might, perhaps, not be surprised to learn that a good hock could be bought in Germany for 12 marks per dozen. If they put 5s. a-dozen duty on that they would prevent entirely the importation of that wine into this country. It was quite impossible to got such wine bottled here. If they brought a wine of that class over in the wood, the result certainly would not be healthy or satisfactory to the drinker. There was a class of claret—possibly the Chancellor of the Exchequer would not drink it—that might be bought at one franc 30, one franc 50 or 60 cents, a good drinkable claret, which if brought over in wood would be completely spoiled in any bottling; it certainly would not then be claret at ail. There was also the very light Italian wine of the Campagna, which he had never seen here in wood. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer wanted to prevent poor people, who could not afford dear wines, from drinking wine, he could not have taken a more effectual step. He would say nothing from the Alliance point of view; but speaking only from the point of view of those who were temperate, and who did not go entirely with the hon. Baronet the Member for the Cockermouth Division of Cumberland (Sir Wilfrid 801 Lawson), there was something to be said against a class of taxation which killed the sober drink and increased the worst form of drinking.
§ MR. KNATCHBULL-HUGESSEN (Kent, Faversham)
said, he would not have risen to take part in the debate but for the remarks which were made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for West Nottingham (Mr. Broadhurst). He was not aware that the hon. Gentleman was an agricultural authority, and certainly, if the hon. Gentleman had any experience in agricultural matters, his experience had not been obtained, at any rate, in the county of Kent. The hon. Gentleman was most unfortunate in mentioning that county to show that the people were dissatisfied with the proposed Wheel Tax. More especially was he unfortunate in selecting for the purposes of his argument that portion of the county which he (Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen) represented. The poor ratepayers were very well satisfied with the idea of a tax upon wheels. The hon. Gentleman thought that the privileges of the landowners and occupiers had been greatly misused in the county of Kent. What had some of these privileges been? For the last 10 or 12 years they had been to see their roads cut up by traction engines and other heavy vehicles which paid nothing whatever for the maintenance of the roads. He believed it would be a great boon to have the sound principle recognized, that those who used the roads should pay for them. While he was anxious to give support in the main to the Wheel Tax, he hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer would see his way to modify it in this direction. It was an excellent suggestion made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Nottingham (Mr. H. S. Wright) that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should increase the weight upon which it was proposed to assess the duty. If the weight upon carts and waggons upon which duty was payable were raised to 15 cwt. or one ton, the tax would at once catch the great men who were then ratepayers, and who would benefit by the relief of the rates, while it would exclude from the operation of the tax a number of small men who existed in all parts of the country, and had just managed to save enough to buy a cart or van for carrying out coals or removing furniture. That 802 would be a just relief to a large number of persons. He would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman two sources by which he could recoup himself to some extent. He had been sorry to hear the right hon. Gentleman say that he did not intend to tax bicycles. His (Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen's) view was that bicycles which used the roads, although they did not wear them, and which made the roads a source of pleasure to a large number of persons, might be very fairly taxed at the rate of 2s. 6d. or even 5s. a-year. Then, again, he was sorry the right hon. Gentleman had dealt with the question of hawkers' licences. It seemed to him that it would have been better to have remitted only part of the licence duty, so that the hawkers would have had to pay in regard to duty and wheel tax, a sum of £3 10s. a-year. By that means they would avoid increasing the large number of persons who went about from house to house, and were a pest to the rural communities. This class of persons rendered themselves a nuisance by pilfering under the pretence of selling, and it was most undesirable that they should have the whole tax taken off them. As to the tax on foreign wines, he welcomed it cordially. He was not only a Tory, but a Protectionist, and was glad to see taxation put upon foreign exports, and especially upon luxuries; and he hoped that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would see his way, as there were other luxuries awaiting similar treatment, to raise a substantial addition to the Revenue from those sources. While the right hon. Gentleman had been casting about for a source of revenue to enable him to take off a penny from the Income Tax, there was one subject that he regretted that the right hon. Gentleman had not thought of—namely, the re-establishment of the 1s. duty on corn. He (Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen) had been a farmer for some years, and some time ago that tax had been in existence without the circumstance having been appreciated by him, or without, indeed, his having been aware of it, although it brought in £1,000,000, and would probably, if now resuscitated, produce £1,500,000. If such a duty were imposed, no human being would be the worse for it—certainly not the farmer.
§ VISCOUNT WOLMER (Hants, Petersfield)
said, there was one thing he trusted the right hon. Gentleman the 803 Chancellor of the Exchequer would not do, and that was to follow the advice of the hon. Gentleman who spoke last, so far as bicycles and tricycles were concerned. These were fast becoming the chief form of amusement to those who could save a little money, not only in the towns, but he was glad to say in the counties also. There were only two points in regard to which, in addition to the various ones upon which the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had given way, he (Viscount Wolmer), as representing an agricultural constituency, should like to appeal to him. With reference to the first of those points, he would appeal to the experience of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) to support the truth of what he said. His contention was that in regard to a farm of over 500 acres, particularly when they got to the large down farms, a nag was quite as necessary to a farmer for his work as was his agricultural horses. Therefore, he would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to allow each farmer a nag to every 500 acres of land. The next point to which he would like to call the right hon. Gentleman's attention was one he could best illustrate by giving an extract from a letter he received only yesterday—a type of many other letters. A small tradesman had written to him to say that he was a struggling tradesman, possessing five vans, but that never by any chance were more than four on the road at the same time, the fifth being merely kept for cases of emergency. This person said—Would it not be hard if I had to pay the tax on five; whereas, as a matter of fact, I never have more than four going on the road at the same time.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE (Exeter)
said, he only rose to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he replied, to make an authoritative statement which would remove some misconceptions prevailing in the country. He would ask the right hon. Gentleman if he would be good enough to say to these Members who might vote to-night for these Resolutions that they would not be thereby pledging themselves to the proposal as to the Wheel Tax or the Horse Tax; because he agreed with what had been stated by hon. Gentlemen below the 804 Gangway on the Ministerial side of the House, when they expressed the hope that the right hon. Gentleman would be in a position to exempt doctors, and, if possible, ministers of religion, to some extent at all events. He (Sir Stafford Northcote) endorsed very much what had been stated just now with regard to the question of hawkers' licences, because he believed that there could be no doubt that the entire abolition of those licences would throw a good deal of extra responsibility on the local police, and would render it much more difficult for the police to cope with the evil of vagrancy than would be the case if the licences were not entirely abolished. As the constituency he (Sir Stafford Northcote) represented contained a considerable number of hawkers in its midst, he could bear testimony to the fact that very severe competition indeed existed between the hawkers and the small tradesmen, and he thought it would be unfair to these small tradesmen if the hawkers' licences were entirely done away with.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)
said, he did not propose to go over the ground which had been so well trodden by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone) and the right hon. Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt). He proposed to express a general approval of the proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to hand over to the local authorities a very considerable amount of Imperial taxation in aid of local rates; although when they came to the details of the proposal, there would be a great deal with which he should not be able altogether to approve of. He meant to confine himself that night merely to the subject of the Succession Duties, a matter to which he had given attention for some years past. The closing remarks of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his Budget Speech, in which he contrasted the assessment of the Income Tax upon House property as compared with land, and gave that as a justification for continuing the unequal treatment of personalty as compared with realty, appeared to him (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) to show that the right hon. Gentleman hardly sufficiently appreciated the fact that house property paid at the present moment Succession Duty — that all 805 house property, leasehold and freehold, paid the duty. Leasehold houses paid probate, as well as Succession Duty, but all houses paid Succession Duty. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer was quite right in saying that the increase had been very great, in the value of houses of late years, as compared with land. His (Mr. Shaw Lefevre's) impression was that at that moment not one-third of the Succession Duty was really paid by land in the ordinary sense of the term, and that more than two-thirds of the Succession Duty was paid by houses—whether freehold or leasehold. But the great inequality which existed at the present moment as to the Succession Duty arose in respect of the difference in treatment of freehold houses and leasehold houses, and he thought he should be able to show the Committee that the inequality in that respect was most galling, and one which, at all hazards, ought to be done away with. He would quote three cases which he had taken for purposes of illustration. First, the interest in a leasehold house valued at £5,000; secondly, a freehold house valued at £5,000; and, thirdly, a freehold ground rent which was worth £5,000, but of which the ground rent was only £50 a-year. The Committee would be surprised to hear what the difference of treatment between Succession Duty and Probate was in these three cases. In the case of the interest in a leasehold house worth £5,000 the Probate covered Succession Duty on lineal descendants, and the amount payable was £150. Take the case of a freehold interest in a house of the same value, and the duty was estimated on the interest of the owner and not on the actual fee value. He found that the amount payable in that case would be only £25 as compared with £150 in the other case. In other words, the owner of the leasehold must pay six times more than the owner of the freehold house.—[Mr. GOSCHEN: What age does the right hon. Gentleman take?]—He had taken the age at 45, which gave about half an average interest. He found that in that case the heir who came into possession of the freehold would pay only £25, as compared with £150 paid by the owner of the leasehold house. In both cases, the taxes were paid by the owners; therefore, whatever excuse there might be 806 arising out of the argument of payment to the local rates, applied to the leasehold house as well as to the freehold house.—[Mr. GOSCHEN: How does the right hon. Gentleman arrive at his amount?]—In estimating the life interest, he had taken the average at 45, which was about the equal of the actual value. One per cent upon £2,500 gave £25, and that was a sum he believed be was correct in taking. In the other case, he had taken the value of the interest, which was £3 per cent upon £5,000, and amounted to £150. Now, he came to the third case—that of the freehold ground rent of £50 a-year, the present value of which was £5,000, in consequence of their only leaving 15 or 16 years of the lease to run; and the amount payable for Succession Duty in that case was only £6 4s., the reason being that the Succession Duty was levied not upon the actual value of the property, but upon the capitalized value of the rent. There they had another great anomaly arising out of the Succession Duty. In other words, the amount was 24 times less than the amount paid by the owner of the leasehold house. These three cases, he thought, showed an extraordinary inequality and an extraordinary anomaly arising out of the present position of the law as to Succession Duty and Probate better and in more full argument than he could use. Of course, the whole subject of the death duties was full of anomalies. Take the case of collieries. As a general rule, collieries were leased subject to Royalties, and were generally carried on by partnerships. It was one of the anomalies of Succession Duty and Probate, that while the lessees paid not only all the local rates, but also Probate and Legacy Duty, the owner of the colliery, who received the Royalty, was subject only to Succession Duty. Let him take the case of mill property of manufacturing towns. There, again, the same principle came in, that being partnership property, whether leasehold or freehold, it was subject both to Probate and Legacy Duty, whereas if worked by a single person, the property, if a freehold, on the death of the landlord would pay only the Succession Duty, and not Probate. This appeared to him such an extraordinary anomaly that he really thought the Government should, when the case was actually 807 brought before them, do something to meet it. What was the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer? Why, practically, he proposed that ½ per cent additional Succession Duty should be paid in the case of lineal descendants; but he proposed to spread the payment over eight years, instead of over four or five years, as at present. The effect of that would be to reduce the actual present value of the payment, and to all intents and purposes, instead of adding ½ per cent to the Succession Duty, by spreading it over eight years, he added only about ¼ per cent. In case of collateral descendants, the right hon. Gentleman increased the amount somewhat more; but he (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) would like to know from the right hon. Gentleman what he expected to receive from the increase at the present moment—what the ultimate amount of increase would be. He (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) had been unable to make out, from the calculations he had been engaged in, that during the present year he would receive any increase at all, for the effect of spreading the payment over eight years would, he thought, somewhat reduce the present payments rather than increase them. After all, the main subject of inequality under the present levying of Succession and Probate Duty appeared to him to rise, as he had said, in respect of freehold and leasehold houses. He need not remind hon. Gentlemen that leasehold houses paid all the local rates at present; and if that were to be taken into consideration leasehold houses ought to be exonerated. On the other hand, if leasehold property was to be charged with taxes of that kind—namely, with Probate and Succession Duty—it appeared to him that freehold property ought to be subject to the same charge. It appeared to him that the Government in this matter were on the horns of a dilemma—either they ought to make exemption in the case of leasehold houses, or they ought to extend the same charge for probate to freehold houses as to leasehold houses. His own opinion was that it would be better to treat all these properties alike, and make them subject both to Probate and to Succession Duty, levied in the same manner as in the case of other property. In that way a considerable amount of money would be raised. It was extremely difficult to ascertain 808 what the actual amount raised in this way would be; but his own impression was that a considerable amount of revenue would ensue, the great bulk of which would not come from the land, but from freehold houses, ground rents, Royalties, and leasehold houses, and other property of that kind, and would go in aid of the Exchequer, and would, perhaps, enable the Chancellor of the Exchequer oven to do something more than he had done in the direction of giving additional aid to local rates.
§ MR. C. W. GRAY (Essex, Maldon)
said, that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) said that, perhaps, some hon. Members were not aware that when the Chancellor of the Exchequer found himself £2,000,000 to the good at the end of the year, it was owing to something faulty in the Estimates at the beginning of the year. That might be so to some extent; but it was also somewhat owing to the fact that we had gone through a peaceful period, and had not been put to a great expense, as we were not very long ago, in reference to Egypt. However, he had not risen to talk about that, but to answer one or two of the remarks which had been made by hon. Members opposite in reference to agriculture and farms. He had been very much surprised to hear more than one hon. Member opposite grudge the English farmer the present small measure of relief proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer in connection with this cost of keeping up the roads. Those hon. Gentlemen must know that they had been told by persons holding their political views over and over again that the farmers of the country must not drive their heads against the wall of Protection, or any nonsense of that sort. ["Hear, hear!"] Well, he was very glad that what he had read and heard, emanating from Radicals in the country, was not disputed in the House. But, then, they were told at the same time that what they should go in for was a re-adjustment of local burdens and local taxation. They were told that they should see that heavy drays and waggons were taxed. He had heard these speeches over and over again himself. It was said that these heavy vehicles were cutting up the roads, and should be called upon to pay something towards the expense of keeping up the 809 roads. But now hon. Members said—"Oh, but the farmers' waggons and the farmers' carts should be taxed." Surely, hon. Members must know that many a farmer's cart did not go on the road from the beginning to the end of the year. There were some carts and waggons that did, no doubt; but many of the farmers' carts and waggons merely crossed the road that might bisect a farm, or something of that sort, and yet they would tax those carts. Surely, it must be known to hon. Members why this point had been conceded. The farmer had been called upon for many years past, whilst he had been undergoing the slow process of ruin, to pay the surveyor's rates. He had been paying many pounds a-year in respect of the roads, which were used to a much greater extent by the heavy drays and waggons of his richer neighbours in trade — the brewers and the millers, who had not been contributing as many shillings as he had half-crowns to keep them in repair, although he was being ruined while some of the former were making immense profits. He was glad that somebody in the country was making profits; and whilst he did not object to seeing the brewer and the miller prosper, he was bound to say that the proper principle of taxation was to make those pay most who were most opulent and could best afford it, and to save those who were not in that happy position. So far as the roads were concerned, by all means come upon those people who used them and cut them up. As to the Horse Tax, he hoped they clearly understood the Chancellor of the Exchequer that no horse kept by a farmer would be taxed unless it was kept wholly and solely for the purposes of pleasure. He hoped that was clearly understood. If a farmer was lucky enough to get a rich wife, or to own a gold mine which brought him in an income, and enabled him to keep a hunting horse or a brougham horse, make him pay for them by all means; but if he only kept a horse or two for the purposes of riding or driving around his field and looking after his business, he (Mr. Gray) earnestly hoped the right hon. Gentleman would never dream of taxing such animals. If the right hon. Gentleman did so, although he (Mr. Gray) should be very sorry to take up such a position, he should be bound, in his humble way, to give the 810 right hon. Gentleman's proposal the most strenuous opposition. The hon. Member for West Nottingham (Mr. Broadhurst), having first of all sneered at the farmers, had gone on to say that he would not have anyone who had not an income of £100 or £150 taxed, and called upon to pay these heavy burdens. Well, the hon. Member surely must know that thousands and tens of thousands of our farmers of late years had not had anything like £150 a-year income. Under those circumstances probably the hon. Member would remit from those people all the burdens of taxation falling upon them. Then they had been told that there was nothing at all in the Budget which helped the working man. Well, his (Mr. Gray's) own opinion was that the working man's prosperity always had and always would depend very much on the prosperity of his employer. If a business paid well, he did not care what the business was—whether it was farming, or whether it was lace manufacture, or whether it was the manufacture of shoes—he was quite sure that when that business was doing well, it was a happy state of things for the operatives employed in the business, and that when that business was doing badly, the operatives suffered as well as the master. So that if they tried to oppress the farmer more than he was oppressed now, they could not do it without at the same time injuring the farm labourer. He (Mr. Gray) desired to see the labourer benefited and considered quite as much as any hon. Gentleman opposite did. He believed that the whole gist of this Budget was to equalize local burdens as much as might be. As to the idea of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, that in the Budget there should be a complete scheme for the weeding out of the difficulties and inequalities as to personal property, he was sorry to say he did not think any such gigantic attempt could or ever would be made in a Budget. He believed the present financial proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was a step in that direction; but he doubted whether any attempt would ever be made in one Budget to settle the whole of these inequalities. He hoped that personal property would be called upon to pay its fair share of all burdens; but he did not think that this great subject would ever be threshed 811 out in one scheme. He (Mr. Gray) and those who thought with him were often twitted with not having the courage of their convictions, but several hon. Members had spoken boldly from that side of the House to-night in support of them, and he did most anxiously look forward to the time when not only foreign champagne would be called upon to contribute to the revenue, but when many other foreign articles would be taxed for choice, certainly articles of luxury. He did not wish to see a poor man's food made dear, or anything approaching it; but there was a very wide difference between the 1s. loaf, of which they had heard so much lately and before the last Election, and taxing lace or taxing silk, or any of the long list of those articles which were imported from abroad. With regard to carriage wheels which the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed to tax, he must say he regretted that it had not been proposed to tax foreign wheels, and the parts of wheels which come from abroad. He had heard that the proposed Cart Tax would interfere with the business of cart-makers. He hoped not, but no one could deny that the importation of carriage wheels from abroad seriously interfered with our home businesses, and he trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would think over this subject and that the day would come when we Should have a really perfect Wheel Tax. Then there was always ready for the right hon. Gentleman, whenever he chose to turn his attention to it, their good old friend the Malt Tax. There was something to be done in the direction of taxing foreign barley. [A laugh.] He heard an hon. Gentleman opposite laughing; but the hon. Member knew very well that when his Party were in power a tax, equivalent to 80 per cent on its value on all the barley grown for making purposes, had been allowed to exist. ["Hear, hear!"] The hon. Gentleman assented. Then he said, shame to those hon. Gentlemen who agreed with Free Trade, and who now taxed beer, and yet admitted foreign barley and sugar used for beer free. He hoped that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or some future Chancellor of the Exchequer, would see what could be done in this matter. His remedy would be to reduce the Beer Duty of 6s. 3d., and put the tax on foreign barley and sugar entering 812 this country for brewing purposes. It might be difficult to do that, but it must be remembered that if his suggestion were carried out it would not have the effect of adding to the cost of a single pint of beer. All he proposed was to take the present charge, say on point A, and put it on point B, and if that were done, logically speaking, there was no reason in the world why it should raise the price of beer, He apologized for troubling the Committee so long, but he was naturally very anxious that everything should be done to equalize taxation and to uphold the interest of the working classes. He was most certainly anxious to advance the interest of the working classes, but never would they advance those interests, as they should do, in a thorough manner, particularly the interests of that most important class of British workmen, the agricultural labourers, until many of them on the opposite side of the House showed more sympathy with agriculture than they had done in the past. It was the fashion amongst hon. Gentlemen opposite to sneer at the farmers, and whenever a little tu'penny-ha'penny form of relief was given to the farmers, they at once said—"Oh, that will go into the landlord's packet." While they talked to them in that way, they were doing all they could to prevent the agricultural labourer from rising up the rounds of the social ladder, which he (Mr. Gray) was as anxious to see the agricultural labourer do as any hon. Gentleman opposite could be.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
said, the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Maldon Division of Essex (Mr. C. W. Gray) was extremely proud of the fact that himself and his Friends who were Fair Traders talked boldly; but if he had been in the House when his leader the hon. Member for Central Sheffield (Mr. Howard Vincent) was speaking, he would have learnt that the hon. Gentleman had such an absolute, intense admiration for the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that, with great regret, he had put his conscientious opinions into his pocket, and intended only to talk but not to act. The hon. Member who had just spoken (Mr. Gray) was a farmer, and complained of the position of the farmers. He (Mr. Labouchere) would tell the hon. Gentleman why that position perhaps was not as good as it 813 ought to be. It was because the hon. Member and his Friends would not act, but allowed themselves to be the slaves and servants of the landlords. He would recommend English farmers to take example by what was being done in the Sister Island. They would find there that the farmers had managed somehow to reduce their burdens, and that they had reduced that greatest burden of all upon the land—namely, the rent. Let them act together; let them inaugurate some little Plan of Campaign, and they would find themselves as fortunate as the farmers of Ireland. Now, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer seemed to be under the impression that they ought to be thankful to him whenever he put on any tax, because he had been good enough to take off a 1d. from the Income Tax. What he (Mr. Labouchere) liked was a Budget which took off taxes, but did not put any on. He should like to know how many people in this country paid the Income Tax. Not a seventh of the people—certainly not more than a seventh of the people would benefit by the right hon. Gentleman's proposal. The right hon. Gentleman had a surplus. He might have taken 1d. off the Income Tax without putting on fresh taxes; but the right hon. Gentleman had been anxious to make a present, which was variously estimated at £4,000,000 of money by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, and at £3,000,000 by himself, to the landed interest. They were told that they ought to look upon this Budget merely in its financial aspect, but he (Mr. Labouchere) was afraid he could not do that, because he saw that it was drawn up on the old Tory lines. It was a class Budget. Its object was the well-known object of the Tories and of the landed interest—namely, to pillage the masses for the benefit of the classes. What had preceded this Budget? The Local Government Bill. And it was said that it deprived the landed gentry of their position in the counties. The landed gentry did not like this; but the Government was willing to give them a sop, because they knew that they must make them some concession. [Cries of "Oh, oh!"] The Chancellor of the Exchequer said he was making a concession to them of £3,000,000. He should show before he sat down that 814 the greater portion of that relief went into the pockets of the landlords. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that he was merely shifting the burden from the shoulders of one class to the shoulders of another—that was to say, taking it from the ratepayers and putting it on the taxpayers. But the right hon. Gentleman knew perfectly well that he was not doing so. He said he was making a concession to the landowners because land had fallen in value, and because the burdens on land had increased. He (Mr. Labouchere) denied absolutely both those assumptions. He denied that the land had fallen in value, and he denied that the burdens upon it had increased. The question depended upon the time from which they started. If they said that land had fallen in value within the last two or three years he perfectly admitted it; but if they asserted that it had fallen in value since 1840, he absolutely denied the proposition. The capital value of land had increased between 1840 and 1871 by £360,000,000 sterling. Did any hon. Member assert that land had fallen by that amount between 1871 and the present time? The tax Returns showed that it has not fallen so much, and, consequently, he was right in saying that land had not fallen to the value it had before Free Trade was introduced. The landlords said they were badly off. No doubt that was the case, and he would tell them why. It was because they seemed to be under the impression that land was always to go up in value; they thought it was a nice thing for it to go up; they imagined that they could always spend the same amount of money and yet it would continue to rise in value; they mortgaged it exceedingly and spent money on it, and they had now to go back to its value before 1840. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) complained that this Budget secured to land a greater exemption from Imperial taxation than was secured to personal property. His right hon. Friend suggested that that was most improper; but he went much further than his right hon. Friend, and wanted to see the burden upon land very much greater than the burden upon personalty. Perhaps hon. Gentlemen opposite did not know what was the Radical doctrine with regard to land. He would explain it. It must be remembered that land 815 originally paid the entire expenses of the Imperial Government, with the exception of the amount levied upon Crown lands. This was not in the nature of a tax; it was in the nature of rent. The landowners managed to shirk the payment of this rent; but in 1698 an arrangement was made by which, in lieu of these general obligations, they should pay not as taxation, but as rent, the sum of 4s. in the pound on the income derived from land. That was a reasonable arrangement; but what did the landowners do? This rent was renewed by Parliament year by year; but the landowners always insisted that the assessment of 1698 should be taken. The land consequently went up in value; landowners were not assessed on the actual value of land, but they were assessed on its value in 1698. In 1780 Mr. Pitt made this land rent perpetual. It then produced about £2,000,000 sterling per annum, and at the present moment it produced only £2,000,000 sterling per annum. If, however, they took the yearly value of land, mines, quarries, &c., it would be found that its value amounted to £200,000,000, and consequently that land at the present time, without going into taxation, ought to pay to the State £40,000,000 sterling as rent. Land now paid £2,000,000 sterling. Landowners recognized that they ought to pay that, but they every year evaded the payment of £38,000,000 sterling. Now with regard to the Death Duties, the landed gentry were very indignant at the time at having to pay Death Duties, and they pleaded that they ought not to pay them, because the land rent of £2,000,000 sterling had been made perpetual. Mr. Pitt brought in a Bill taxing land and realty, and they insisted that the Bill should be divided; the Bill then went up to the House of Lords. The House of Lords then threw out the Death Duties on realty and passed them on personalty. The right hon. Gentleman the present Member for Mid Lothian in 1853 passed an Act imposing a Succession Duty of 1 per cent on land, but as had been stated frequently in the course of the evening the right hon. Gentleman did not have this levied upon the real value of the land, but upon a certain number of years' purchase, during which it was supposed it would be in the possession 816 of the successor. The Chancellor of the Exchequer put it down at 13½ years' purchase. The Chancellor of the Exchequer then made a most extraordinary statement. He said that as the land had gone down in value this Succession Duty of 13½ purchase was greater than it was before. But surely the right hon. Gentleman had made a mistake. The 13½ years purchase must be the purchase of yearly value, and if the land had gone down in value the rent must also have gone down in value. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that this distinction ought to be sustained because the person who inherited land was not in the same position as the person who inherited personalty; he could not sell the land at the price he choose to put upon it, but he could sell it at the buyer's price, which was the real price. The right hon. Gentleman went further and said that the successors to landed estates had four years in which to pay the Succession Duty in eight instalments, but he had converted these into 16 instalments. Why had the right hon. Gentleman made this extension? They were told that the landowner had difficulty in paying ready money, but he would point out that a man who was left a business with a certain amount of capital in it had a greater difficulty in paying in one sum the Probate Duty upon it. At the present moment land paid one-fifth of the amount paid by personalty; in round figures it paid £700,000 per annum as Succession Duty. On that principle he made the landowners a present of £3,200,000 per annum as against personalty. It was stated in an article in the Whitehall Review that four financiers had died during the last year who were worth £12,000,000 sterling, and that their successors had paid £360,000 in Probate Duty, but supposing that this had occurred 40 years ago they would have paid £60,000 per annum. He was taking that from the article referred to, but they might, at any rate, assume fairly that land paid one-fifth. With regard to local burdens these were also a portion of the rent which the land paid to the State and were not in the nature of a tax, and, therefore, the land ought to pay the whole of them. The question at the present moment was whether local burdens on land had gone up beyond other burdens upon the tax- 817 payers throughout the country. He thought that was exceedingly doubtful. Mr. Laing stated that in 1840 land paid 69 per cent of all local burdens, houses 28 per cent, and other properties 23 per cent. At present land paid 23 per cent, houses 53 per cent, railways 14 per cent, and other properties 10 per cent. In asking whether local burdens had gone on increasing, they must make a distinction between urban and rural property; it was perfectly true that they had gone up in past years, but he thought it was not correct to say that they had gone up more than very slightly in the rural districts. In 1871 the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that the urban rate averaged 4s., while the rural rate averaged 2s. 9d. in the pound. He believed the right hon. Gentleman then took in the rural rate the rent of small towns, but if he had eliminated that he would have found that the towns paid 5s., and that 2s. 6d. was paid in the rural parts. As a matter of fact the rate in towns was greatly increased, and in the rural districts the rate, although it was greater than it was 10 years ago, had been increased very slightly indeed. But there was no necessity for him to argue that point when he had the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself on his side, both with regard to Imperial and local burdens. The right hon. Gentleman had frequently made speeches in that House complaining of the disproportion which existed between Imperial and local burdens taken together upon land and upon personalty. He said that in 1826 charges on real property for local and Imperial taxation were 4s. 4d. in the pound, and that they had fallen to 3s. 3d. in the pound. It was quite true that the right hon. Gentleman was then arguing precisely the opposite to what he was now maintaining; but at that time he sat upon that side of the House, and, although the right hon. Gentleman argued very cleverly, still there was a distinction between the two statements. If they were to relieve local burdens at the expense of the Imperial Exchequer, the relief ought to be given to the towns rather than to the country districts, the rate in the former being double, and yet the Chancellor of the Exchequer went out of his way to relieve the rural rates. There was nothing more outrageous than the pro- 818 posal to give a large portion of the amount levied by Probate Duties to the rural districts, and yet to maintain the distinction between Succession and Probate. If they relieved them, then there ought to be no distinction, and if they retained the distinction between the two, then, he said, there ought to be no relief. Probate Duty came entirely from the towns, Succession Duty came entirely from the country; and yet the right hon. Gentleman said he would give this Probate Duty to the rural districts, and that he would maintain this iniquitous distinction between landed property and personalty. Against this enormous grant to the landlords, the Succession Duty was to be raised ½per cent, which would bring £350,000 per annum; but it was reduced, however, by the right hon. Gentleman having allowed it to be paid in 16 instalments instead of eight, and the probable amount of Succession Duty to be paid into the Imperial Treasury would, therefore, be reduced to £250,000. He was surprised to hear the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in reply to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, saying that this arrangement was final. He had hoped that it would be only temporary, and that the right hon. Gentleman would have come down and said that he was going to equalize the Succession Duty, and charge ground-rents, and that he was going to see that the mansions of the rich in the country districts were fairly assessed. But he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would say that he was going to do all this next year, and that, if he would do so, Gentlemen on that side of the House would take a different view of the objectionable points in the Budget from what they did at that moment. Why was it necessary to pass this Budget? It seemed to him that it was simply and solely because the landlords declined to give any credit to the Government; they said they must have their money down before they agreed to pass the Local Government Bill, and they insisted upon having it clearly and distinctly stated what they were to receive. He should have thought it would have been more proper to pass the Local Government Bill, and to have continued the grant in aid, and next year to have exhaustively looked into the matter—whether local rates ought to be relieved 819 at the expense of the Treasury, and in what proportion that relief ought to go to the towns and to the rural districts. They must remember that if they gave these taxes over to the counties they should never get them back; they parted with them, not for one year, but for ever. He would only ask those poor dupes, the agricultural labourers, and those poor dupes, the farmers, who were bamboozled by the Primrose League, not to believe that their interest was identical with that of the landowners, whose only object was to feather their own nests at the expense of the taxpayers.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I must apologize to the Committee for speaking so often; but it is necessary that I should employ some little time in answering the arguments and suggestions that have been made in the course of this discussion. On the other hand, I trust that hon. Members, who have spoken, will not consider it any disrespect on my part if I pass by some of the arguments which have been placed before the Committee, as I have but a limited time in which to deal with the great variety of subjects that have been brought to our notice. It is most important that I should say, in reply to the observations that have been made, that in voting for the Resolutions, hon. Members will by no means compromise their perfect freedom of action with regard to the second reading of the Bills which I shall have to bring forward, or with regard to any details which those Bills contain. I trust the Committee will see fit to pass these Resolutions this evening, so as to enable me to introduce the Bills at the earliest possible moment, in order that hon. Members may be enabled to judge what are the precise proposals of the Government, and in what degree and manner the Government have been able to meet the various remarks and suggestions which have been made to them for the modification of these proposals. There has been a long and interesting debate this evening, begun by the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian, and concluded by the speech of the hon. Member for Northampton who has just sat down. There is some contrast between those two speeches, both in tone and substance. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian approved of our assign- 820 ing the Probate Duty to the relief of local taxation, which proposal the hon. Member for Northampton entirely condemned. Nor did the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian think it necessary to denounce this Budget as a class measure, or to raise those class controversies which the hon. Member seems so anxious to drag into this discussion. The hon. Member for Northampton has embodied in an extreme form, and in a form which lends itself very favourably to reply, some of the fallacies which have run through one or two even of the more moderate speeches which have been delivered in the course of the evening. I would point out that very conflicting views have been expressed with regard to burdens upon property and the relief to be given to property. At one moment it is said that the landowners will be exclusively relieved, and the hon. Member for Northampton said that this relief was practically a bribe to the landlords. But why to the landlords and not to the householders? The hon. Member, who has been preceded in this matter by a portion of the public Press, says that it is a gift to the squires; but it has been pointed out, in some of the most impartial organs of public opinion, that the greater portion of the relief will go to the towns and not to the country. It has even been made a matter of reproach to us that the relief will go to the towns more than to the rural districts, and yet the hon. Member says—"Look at this great sum which you are going to give from personal property in order to relieve the land!" Does the hon. Member think it will be the landlords who will be relieved by the diminution of rates? The hon. Member implies that it is the landlords who pay the rates, because, if it were not so, the diminution of rates would be no relief to them. That being the view of the hon. Member, then it is the landlords who are paying £26,000,000 of rates towards local taxation, those very landlords, whom at another moment he represents as escaping from their just contribution to public burdens. It is to that point that the hon. Member is driven by his own argument, which shows that it is he, and not the Government, who are on the horns of a dilemma. Either the landlords are paying that enormous sum, or they are not exclusively the persons who will 821 be relieved. As a matter of fact, of course, it is the ratepayer generally who will be relieved, as was admitted distinctly by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, who pointed out to the Committee (and interrupted me, in order to correct the impression that I had not sufficiently explained his meaning) the impression that he did not intend to convey that it was the landlords who paid the rates. Yet in order to create a prejudice against the Budget, and to make an impression out-of-doors, the cry has been raised that this is a rich man's Budget, and that the relief of the rate-payers, in which all classes will share, is simply a relief to the wealthy classes of the community. I protest against that interpretation, which cannot be sustained in argument to the slightest degree. There is a similar juggle in regard to land and houses. At one time hon. Members add houses to land, and at another time they treat them separately, according as it suits the exigencies of their argument. In order to show what a large amount land is paying in proportion to personalty, and, therefore, what a large share it ought to bear in Imperial taxation, houses are added to the land, but the moment it becomes a question of relief they are entirely forgotten, and it is the land only which is said to be about to be relieved. Then there was a third juggle of the hon. Member for Northampton, who says that I myself admitted that we were going to give relief to the land. Yes, but the land does not simply represent the landowner, it represents the farmer as well; and, whatever the hon. Member may think, the farmers know that relief in the matter of rates means relief of the burden which is borne by themselves. The farmers know very well, from sad experience during many years, that they have been suffering from the increase of rates, and that they will be benefited by their reduction. The hon. Member has quoted the views held by me in 1871; but in an earlier portion of the debate I myself pointed out the difference in the situation as between 1871 and the present day. In 1871 the price of wheat was about 56s. 9.; now it is about 30s. or 31s. a quarter. Then the hon. Member alluded to the value of land in 1840, and said that he believed the price of land was then not higher than it is at present. I believe the hon. Member is totally wrong 822 in that view. I have heard of an instance of an estate in Wiltshire, which in 1835 was sold for £35,000, being lately sold for a sum of under £7,000; and I am told, also, that there are a vast number of cases where landed estates only sell at from 10 to 12 years' purchase. You must look at the number of years' purchase which land will fetch, and not merely at the annual value. So much in reply to the hon. Member. But I should like, in regard to the question as to who is to be relieved, to point out how extraordinarily the farmer is affected by even a slight reduction of rates. The farmer is rated on a much larger assessable value in proportion to his income than any other member of the community. The farmer who makes £100 a-year is often rated on a sum of £200, and he has, therefore, to pay rates on twice the amount of his income, while a resident in a town may be paying simply on one-seventh or one-eighth part of his income. It is for that reason that the agricultural interest, as regards rating, has a special claim. I commend that view, also, to the farmers when they look to the relief which they are going to get. If they get a relief of 6d. in the pound on the rates, it will make a greater difference to them than a relief of 2s. or even 1s. in the £1 would make to the householders in many urban districts, and when they are considering any trifling fresh burden that may be put upon them with regard to horses or in other respects, this is a matter which they ought not to forget. In the course of this debate many suggestions have been made as to better taxes which might be imposed than those which are now put forward, and the hon. Member for one of the Divisions of Glasgow has suggested the increase of the duty on beer. I should like to know what would be the attitude of hon. Members opposite if we had taxed beer. They would have said that we were attempting to relieve household property at the expense of the general consumer. At all events, we have avoided making, in the least degree, any increase of duty on articles of general consumption. The chief objections taken to our proposals have been with regard to the Wheel Tax and the tax upon vans. I do not know whether the hon. Member for West Nottingham (Mr. Broadhurst) was in 823 his place when I made my former statement, but I am glad he is here now. The hon. Member represents those who are mainly interested in this question as poor and suffering tradesmen. I have noticed that the clients of the hon. Gentleman, when he takes up any subject in this House, are always the poorest class in the community. Now, one of these poor struggling tradesmen to whom he has alluded, says, he will lose £50 a-year by the proposal of the Government. That means that he is the owner of 35 vans, because otherwise he could not have to pay £50 under the tax; and this man was held up to the Committee as one of the poorest class of the community who had to contribute to the relief of the bloated ratepayers.
§ MR. BROADHURST
I said this tax would hit many of the poorest classes of the community, and I spoke of one person who paid £50 a-year.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
My hon. Friend read some letters not particularly complimentary to myself, and he said that those letters came from poor struggling tradesmen, one of whom would suffer a fine of £50. I should like to know why we on our side would not be entitled to use the same argument, and to say that we have put a tax upon brewers' vans, belonging to the richest class of the community, upon the rich Railway Companies, and upon those great establishments which carry furniture from place to place, and that by this means we have relieved the poorest class of suburban ratepayers; and that it was just that these rich people should be taxed for tearing up the roads, instead of the burden falling upon the poor clerks who live in the suburbs and can scarcely make both ends meet. I suggest that my argument would be as sound as that of the hon. Gentleman. Of course, there are anomalies in all cases of this kind. Are there no anomalies in the Income Tax and the Tobacco Duty, where the higher kinds of tobacco pay the same as the lower? Are there no anomalies in the Tea Duty? Those whose unpleasant duty it is to impose these duties can invent no form of taxation which does not involve many anomalies in its collection. With regard to the Wheel Tax, I know that the estimates are extremely diverse, and some that have 824 been put before me seem to prove that there are more vans in the country than could be drawn if there were four times as many horses in it as are known to exist. I am perfectly ready to join issue with hon. Members on the subject; the Government will go fully into the statistics and take a census of the vans, and if it is shown that this is such a wide reaching tax, and that the total amount to be realized is nearer £1,000,000 than I put it, it would be perfectly fair to argue that the amount which I propose to levy should be reduced. I say this having knowledge of the subject, but in the meantime I maintain that those who use the roads are to contribute towards them. That is a doctrine which has not been rejected by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, who have themselves contemplated the imposition of a tax on those who use the roads. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) has spoken of our having removed some of the taxation from railways. Yes, but that is a perfectly different point, because there you have not the principle on which the tax on vehicles will rest—namely, that those who use the roads should in part pay for them. In 1882 the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, following that principle, gave a subvention of £250,000 in relief of highway rates by handing over a portion of the general taxation for that purpose, and I do not know that it was then contended that the relief was being given to the landlords. The right hon. Gentleman said he only proposed this as a temporary arrangement, and that if it were a settlement of the question it might be right to make a large proposal and to consider the present exemption of all vehicles except those which were called carriages, and that he did not at all exclude them from future taxation. It is clear, from this, that the right hon. Gentleman, although he did not accept the necessity, did not condemn this principle. However, I will give this question, with the assistance of my Colleagues, the best consideration; but I am certainly determined to retain the principle that there ought to be some contribution towards the maintenance of the roads by those who use them. I invite the hon. Member for West Nottingham to consider to what an enormous 825 extent his clients, the poor struggling men possessed of 35 vans, were relieved by the abolition of tolls. That abolition relieved them to a very much greater extent than they will be affected by the measure now proposed; and there are large firms who frankly acknowledge that they have been relieved at the expense of the general taxpayer to the extent of thousands of pounds. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) reminds me that I have not answered my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian as to what would happen if these taxes are not voted by the House. I am prepared to make the frankest declaration on that point. If in the conflict that will take place between the ratepayers and the users of horses and vehicles, those taxes are not passed, there will be so much less relief to the rates. We should not feel it our duty to substitute other taxes in their place. It remains to be seen, whether the general body of ratepayers consider these proposals just—apart from the question of what the amount of the duty should be—whether they are a fair contribution towards the highways. They do not affect the Imperial Budget; but we shall endeavour to the best of our ability to sustain our view that there should be these taxes on horses and vehicles in relief of the general ratepayers for the maintenance of roads and streets. Then we have been sharply attacked in regard to the Succession Duty. It is, I fear, impossible for me at this hour to reply to the right hon. Member for Central Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) on this question; but it is perhaps less necessary to do so, as I understand that it is to be one of the points upon which, at a later stage, right hon. Gentlemen opposite may be desirous to join issue with us. But I would just point out to the right hon. Gentleman that he omitted, in some of the figures he put before the House, to take into account the increase in the Succession Duty I propose. He also underrated the value of life interest in houses. He pointed out that in one case a freehold house would only pay £25, while a leasehold would pay £150. But under my proposal a leasehold will only pay £75, while a freehold, instead of £25, will pay £37 10s.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Half the Probate Duty must no longer be taken into account for Imperial purposes; it is taken as a contribution towards local rates, and is not by any analogy to be compared with the Succession Duty. It is essential to take that into consideration. It must never more be said that there is a Probate Duty of 3 per cent for Imperial purposes. It will be 1½ per cent for Imperial purposes; the remainder will go as the contribution of personal property to the relief of local taxation. I hear my right hon. Friend say there is still some difference between us; but then I dispute the figures by which he arrived at £25. I think he will find that the Succession Duty on a house of £5,000 would be more than £25, as he suggested. However, I will not stay to labour the point now. I have heard various suggestions in regard to foreign securities, and the difficulties in the way of carrying out that tax; but, generally, I understand, that the view of the Committee is in favour of the taxation of foreign securities. It is certainly extremely difficult to find a perfect method of carrying it out; but I think our method is practicable and will be found to work well. In Committee on the Bill, however, I shall be prepared to listen to any suggestions from experts and those thoroughly acquainted with the matter, and embody in the Bill any improvements on the proposals we make. I have only now to say that I must remember there was a very interesting speech from the hon. Member for Central Sheffield (Mr. Howard Vincent), who practically attacked the whole fiscal policy of the country; but I am afraid the hour is too late, and it would be an unprofitable task, to enter into the arguments of the great Fair Trade question, when there are so many matters to deal with; but, were I to do so, I am afraid that my hon. Friend would not find the slightest disposition on my part to meet him in the direction he seemed to anticipate—the reversal of our general fiscal policy. I think it is only frank to make that statement, and I can assure my hon. Friend that it is from no disrespect to him that I do not follow in detail his inte- 827 resting observations. I have now only to thank the Committee for the general kindly spirit in which the Budget proposals have been discussed. I do not consider that as an augury that some of them will not meet with strong opposition. But I have a strong hope that the Government will be able to pass the measures they have proposed to the House, and to carry out what has been their ambition—to settle and define the distinction between Imperial and local taxation.
§ MR. PROVAND
said, he only wished to remark in relation to what the right hon. Gentleman said, that his (Mr. Provand's) proposal would be a tax on consumers, that it would be nothing of the kind. The shilling tax on beer would be less than a farthing on each gallon, and therefore could not be charged on consumers, but would fall on the very class the right hon. Gentleman had himself described as the richest class—the Guinnesses and the other brewers.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, he did not say that it would be paid by the consumer; but he was perfectly certain it would be a tax on the consumer.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Income Tax.
(2.) Resolved, That towards raising the Supply granted to Her Majesty, there shall be charged, collected, and paid for the year commencing on the sixth day of April, one thousand eight hundred and eighty-eight, 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 Sixpence;
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,—
In England, the Duty of Three Pence;
In Scotland and Ireland respectively,
the Duty of Two Pence Farthing;
subject to the provisions contained in section one hundred and sixty-three of the Act of the fifth and sixth years of Her Majesty's reign, chapter thirty-five, for the exemption of persons whose income is less than One Hundred and Fifty Pounds, and in section eight of "The Customs and Inland Revenue Act, 1876," for the relief of persons whose income is less than Four Hundred Pounds.
§ Stamp Duties.
§ (3.) Resolved, That a statement of the amount of nominal capital to be raised by shares of any Company to be registered with limited liability shall be delivered to the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies, and a statement of the amount of any increase of registered capital of any Company now registered, or to be registered, with limited liability, shall be delivered to the said Registrar, and every such statement shall be charged with an ad valorem Stamp Duty of Two Shillings for every One Hundred Pounds and any fraction of One Hundred Pounds over any multiple of One Hundred Pounds of the amount of such capital or increase of capital, as the case may be.
§ (4.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
§ "That there shall be charged for the use of Her Majesty upon the instruments hereinafter specified the following Stamp Duties (that is to say):—
§ Foreign or Colonial Share Certificate or other document, being primâ facie evidence of, or certifying, the title of any person as proprietor of any share or shares, or stock, or debenture stock, or funded debt of any Foreign or Colonial Company or Corporation where such person is not registered in respect thereof in a register duly kept in the United Kingdom;—
§ On the occasion of the first delivery thereof in the United Kingdom after the first day of July, one thousand eight hundred and eighty-eight, and on the occasion of the first delivery thereof in the United Kingdom in any year after the year in which such first delivery shall happen—
|Where the nominal amount in money of the share or shares, or stock, or debenture stock, or funded debt, does not exceed Fifty Pounds||0||0||6|
|Where such nominal amount exceeds Fifty Pounds, for every Fifty Pounds and any fractional part of Fifty Pounds thereof||0||0||6|
§ Security for money of any Company or Corporation, being a marketable security and transferable by delivery, or security for money by or on behalf of any Foreign or Colonial State, Government, Municipal Body, Corporation, or Company, being a marketable security and transferable by delivery, whatever may be the date thereof, or of the issue thereof, and wherever it may have been made or issued, or the interest may be payable:—
§ On the occasion of the first transfer thereof by delivery in the United Kingdom after the first day of July, one thousand eight hundred and eighty-eight, and on the occasion of the first transfer thereof by delivery in the United Kingdom in any year after the year in which such first transfer by delivery shall happen—
|Where the amount secured does not exceed Fifty Pounds||0||0||6|
|Where such amount exceeds Fifty Pounds, for every Fifty Pounds and any fractional part of Fifty Pounds thereof||0||0||6|
§ Provided, that the last-mentioned Duty shall not be payable in the case of any security duly stamped with the Duty of One Shilling for every Ten Pounds, and also for any fractional part of Ten Pounds of the money thereby secured, in conformity with section twenty-one of 'The Customs and Inland Revenue Act, 1885,' but shall be payable upon every other security transferable by delivery, and, in the case of any Stamp Duty having been heretofore paid upon such security, in addition to such Stamp Duty.
§ Transfer, Assignment, Disposition, or Assignation, otherwise than on mortgage, of any mortgage, bond, debenture, or covenant (being a marketable security), or of any security for money by or on behalf of any Foreign or Colonial State, Government, Municipal Body, Corporation, or Company, (being a marketable security)—
§ Where the transfer, assignment, disposition, or assignation is on sale, the same ad valorem Duties as are now charged under 'The Stamp Act, 1870,' upon a conveyance or transfer or sale of any property by relation to the amount or value of the consideration for the sale—
|Where the transfer, assignment, disposition, or assignation is of any other kind than on sale or mortgage||0||10||0|
§ The last-mentioned Duties to be in substitution for the Duty of Six Pence for every One Hundred Pounds, and also for any fractional part of One Hundred Pounds of the amount transferred, assigned, or disposed in any case in which such Duty is imposed by The Stamp Act, 1870.
|Where such Note advises the sale or purchase of any stock or security of the value of one Hundred Pounds or upwards||0||0||6|
MR. BARING (London)
said, that in accepting at the present moment the passing of this Resolution, he wished to be understood as in no way debarring himself from making remarks upon it when the Resolution came before the House on the next occasion.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ (5.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
§ Succession Duty.
"That, in addition to the Duties chargeable in respect of Successions under section
ten of "The Succession Duty Act, 1853," there shall be levied and paid to Her Majesty in respect of every Succession therein referred to, upon the death of any person dying on or after the first day of July, one thousand eight hundred and eighty-eight, according to the value thereof, the following Duties (that is to say):—
Where the Successor shall be the lineal issue, or lineal ancestor of the predecessor, a Duty at the rate of Ten Shillings per centum upon the value of the interest of the Successor;
In all other cases mentioned in such section, a duty at the rate of One Pound Ten Shillings per centum upon the value of the interest of the Successor;
§ Provided, That such additional Duty shall not be payable upon the interest of a Successor in Leaseholds passing to him by will or devolution by Law, or in property included in an account according to the value whereof Duty is payable under "The Customs and Inland Revenue Act, 1881."
§ MR. HENRY H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
said, he had great difficulty in following this Resolution as read by the Chairman. It was much to be regretted that these Resolutions had not been printed. This Resolution was of a very technical character, and though he had listened with great attention, he could not gather that it carried out what the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Goschon) intimated was his intention. He (Mr. Fowler) understood that the addition to the Succession Duty on lineals was to be ½ per cent and 1½ on collaterals.
said, the Resolution was an addition to the duties now chargeable, that the lineal successor or ancestor was charged 10s. per cent, and in all other cases £1 10s. per cent on the interest of the successor.
Question put, and agreed to.
(6.) Resolved, That the Duties chargeable under the Acts now in force for charging Duties on Legacies and shares of the personal estates of deceased persons shall not be levied and paid under such Acts in respect of any Legacy payable, or having effect, or being satisfied, out of, or charged or rendered a burden upon, the real or heritable estate of any person dying on or after the first day of July, one thousand eight hundred and eighty-eight, or any real or heritable estate, or the rents or profits thereof, which such person shall have had any right or power to charge, burden, or affect with the payment of money, or out of or upon any moneys to arise from the sale, mortgage, or other disposition of any such real or heritable estate, or any part thereof, but the Duties under "The Succession Duty Act, 1853," and the additional Duties specified in the last preceding
Resolution shall be levied and paid in respect of every such Legacy (whether given by way of annuity or in any other form) as a Succession to personal property.
§ (7.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
§ Excise Duties,—Carriages, Trade Carts, Horses, &c., and Horsedealers.
§ "That the Duties of Excise for Carriages now payable in Great Britain shall cease to be payable on and after the 1st day of January, 1889, and on and after that day there shall be granted, charged, and paid for the use of Her Majesty in Great Britain in each year the following Duties of Excise (that is to say):—
§ For every Carriage as hereinafter defined—
|If such Carriage shall have four or more wheels, and shall be drawn, or be adapted or fitted to be drawn, by two or more Horses or Mules, or shall be drawn or propelled by mechanical power||2||2||0|
|If such Carriage shall have four or more Wheels, and shall be drawn, or be adapted or fitted to be drawn, by one Horse or mule only||1||1||0|
|If such Carriage shall have less than four Wheels||0||15||0|
|For every Hackney Carriage as hereinafter defined||0||15||0|
|For every Trade Cart as hereinafter defined of the weight of Two Hundred weight or upwards—|
|In respect of each Wheel thereof||0||2||6|
|And, also, where the weight of any Trade Cart Exceeds Ten Hundred weight, a further Duty of||1||0||0|
|For every Locomotive or Traction Engine propelled upon a road||5||0||0|
|For every Horsedealer||15||0||0|
|For every Horse which shall start or run for any plate, prize, or sum of money or other thing||5||0||0|
|For every other Horse or Mule||1||0||0|
§ Subject to exemption from the last mentioned Duty of One Pound in favour of Horses or Mules of the descriptions following (that is to say):—
- (1.) A Foal, Colt, or Filly, or Mule which shall never have been used for any purpose of draught or riding;
- (2.) A Pony or Mule under the height of Thirteen Hands of Four Inches to each Hand;
- (3.) A Horse or Mule kept solely for the purposes of trade or husbandry;
- (4.) A Hare kept for the sole purpose of breeding;
- (5.) A Horse or Mule kept by a licensed Horsedealer on his premises for sale, and which shall not be let for hire.
For the purposes of this Resolution the following terms therein used shall have the meanings hereinafter assigned to them respectively:—
'Carriage' means and includes any vehicle drawn by a Horse or Mule, or Horses or Mules, or drawn or propelled upon a road or tramway, or elsewhere than upon a railway, by steam or electricity, or any other mechanical power, but shall not include a 'Hackney Carriage,' or 'Trade Cart,' or 'Farm Cart,' as herein defined;
'Hackney Carriage' means any Carriage standing or plying for hire, which is drawn by one Horse or Mule only, and includes any Carriage let for hire by a coachmaker, or other person whose trade or business it is to sell Carriages or to let Carriages for hire, provided that such Carriage is not let for a period amounting to three months or more;
'Trade Cart' means and includes any Waggon, Cart, or other such vehicle drawn by a Horse or Mule, or Horses or Mules, or drawn or propelled upon a road or tramway, or elsewhere than upon a railway, by steam or electricity, or any other mechanical power, which is constructed or adapted for use, and is used, solely for the conveyance of any goods or burden in the course of trade, and whereon the Christian name and surname and place of abode, or place of business of the owner, or the name and style and principal or only place of business of the Company or Firm owning the same shall be visibly and legibly painted in letters of not less than one inch in length;
'Farm Cart' means and includes any Waggon, Cart, or other such vehicle according to the preceding definition of 'Trade Cart,' such definition being construed as if the words 'husbandry or the business of a market gardener' were therein substituted for the word 'trade.'
§ MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)
said, he wished to know to what Members were committed if they assented to this Resolution. Did they, by assenting to the Resolution, assent to the principle of the Wheel Tax? When the Resolution was embodied in a Bill, would Members be perfectly free to move the rejection of the Wheel Tax altogether?
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, certainly. He thought he had explained it must be distinctly understood that no one was in the slightest degree fettered by the passing of the Resolutions. Right hon. Gentlemen on the other side were perfectly aware that the Government were only following precedent in taking the Resolutions without discussion in the 833 same way that a Bill was received when introduced.
§ MR. PICKERSGILL
said, it was his intention to oppose the Wheel Tax. He might add it was exceedingly inconvenient that printed copies of the Resolutions were not placed in the hands of Members. Consulting, as he always desired to consult, the convenience of the Committee, he would not oppose the Resolution now; but he was utterly opposed to the Cart Wheel Tax in principle, and his opposition would not in the slightest degree be disarmed by any modification.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, in reference to what was made a complaint as of apparent neglect in not having the Resolutions printed, he might say it had been the invariable custom not to print them until after they were passed. He did not say it was a good custom and that it was not capable of modification, bat he had only followed the rule.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, it was evident there was objection to the Resolutions being printed before the Chancellor of the Exchequer made his statement, because that might very much affect the various trades on whom the taxes were to fall, but after the statement was made there could be no reason why, before the next stage, the Resolutions should not be printed.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)
said, it was a useful suggestion; but it was entirely novel and it had never yet been followed. However, so far as the Government were concerned, they would be glad to follow t in future.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, yes; he proposed to introduce a separate Bill containing the Horse and Wheel Taxes, separating them, as they were for local purposes, from the general Budget for Imperial purposes.
§ SIR WILLIAM PLOWDEN (Wolverhampton, W.)
said, there was one matter in reference to the Resolution on which he would be glad to be informed. Would a farmer who ran his horse, a hunter probably, in a farmers' race, be chargeable with the £5 as a racehorse?
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, the Resolutions were always drawn to cover generally the whole question, while exemptions and modifications were introduced in the clauses of the Bill. There was no intention that a farmers' horse, entered for a farmers' hunt race, should be treated as a racehorse.
§ MR. J. ROWLANDS (Finsbury, E.)
asked whether he understood rightly that hackney carriages were specially treated?
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, hackney carriages were under the Carriage Tax; they were not exempt, and they were already taxed.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ (8.) Resolved, That it is expedient to amend the Law relating to the Inland Revenue and the Customs.
§ Resolutions to be reported To-morrow.
§ Committee to sit again upon Wednesday.