HC Deb 08 May 1890 vol 344 cc478-551

Order for Committee read.

(4.40.) MR. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.)

The question raised by the Instruction I am about to move is one of considerable gravity to the Division which I have the honour to represent. I trust that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will not be prejudiced against the subject because it is brought forward in the shape of an Instruction, and I hope it will be considered in a non-contentious spirit. A Bill embodying a similar provision was read a second time-in 1879, with the approval of a Conservative Government, and the then Secretary to the Treasury, the hon. Baronet the Member for the Epping Division of Essex, said he saw no objection to the proposal. The Bill was also supported by Mr. Wheelhouse, a staunch advocate of the Licensed Victuallers interest, by the Member for Carlisle, and by Irish Members, Conservative and Liberal. Seeing that the Government are now imposing a heavy duty on spirits, what objection can there be to breaking the blow inflicted on Ireland and Scotland by adopting this proposal? If consumers are to pay more for their whisky, they ought, at any rate, to be sure of getting a better article for the money. I do not ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to at once express a definite opinion on this subject. I shall be content if he says his mind is open to consider it when the Bill is in Committee. There is, of course, the question of rectifying. It is true rectifiers may have some objection to the proposal. A rectifier wants new whisky for his purposes, but I think this difficulty would be met if he were allowed to rectify in bond. Now, we import millions of gallons of German spirits at the present time, and the whisky distillers of Scotland and Ireland have no protection against this spirit, which is sold at 1s. 6d. This is a crying evil, which is going on under the eyes of the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself. The Chancellor of the Exchequer comes down to the House to propose an addition of 6d. per gallon to the tax on spirits, and I may say comes here reeking with German spirits—in this sense, that there being a drawback now allowed of 2d. per gallon on all spirits sent abroad, in order that German spirits should not get the benefit of that Jubilee drawback, Excise officers are appointed not only to watch the blending of spirits, and to see the blending of the German spirits with the English, Irish, and Scotch spirits, but to see that our whisky, which is sent abroad, plus the German spirits, does not enjoy the benefit of the drawback. That, I say, is in reality a fraud, or rather a recognition of fraud, because these German spirits are sent abroad as English, Irish, and Scotch spirits, while all the time the Chancellor of the Exchequer has men who are watching the fraud, and whoso duty it is to protect the Revenue, and see that these German spirits do not get the benefit of the drawback. How, I ask, does the Merchandise Marks Act work for home protection in other matters? I read the other day that a revolver was being sent from Birmingham to Mexico, and finding that although it was made in Birmingham or Sheffield, or in some other part of this country, it was marked as an American revolver, Her Majesty's Government would not allow the Mexicans to be defrauded by having that revolver marked as of American manufacture, whereas it was of English origin. I ask why do you not treat the whisky in the same way as you treat other articles, especially when you are so alarmed at the idea that the Mexicans should be allowed to shoot each other with fraudulent revolvers? I do not think it would matter very much to a Mexican whether he was killed by an American or English revolver; but if you are going to be so careful in regard to a matter of this sort, I say yon ought to exhibit the same amount of caution with regard to spirits. The protection of the Merchandise Marks Act is not given to these manufactures because they happen to be liquids, and the Government allow the system of blending to go on for the benefit of the Germans, and to the detriment of the native taxpayer. I think you would, to a large extent, check this fraud if my proposal were adopted; but the result would be that the Germans would have to bring their spirits over here to cool for a whole twelvemonth in bond, the 1s. 6d. stuff thus greatly benefiting by the air in which it would remain for that period. One consequence of this would be that the Germans would not be likely to send over here spirits that would have to be retained in bond for so long a time. Doubtless there might be some loss to the Revenue, but the pocket of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is one thing, while the stomachs of the lieges are another, and the right hon. Gentleman ought to do all he can to prevent needless adulteration. But there is another point. I have not argued the merits of the question, because everybody admits the merits. The Reports that have been presented amply show the great benefits that would accrue from the adoption of a proposal of this sort. Well, let me ask what are the objections? First, however, I should say on behalf of the Irish distillers, who have a high reputation, I believe they would all gladly welcome this proposal. Take a man like John Jamieson. His spirit is never drunk until it is seven years old, although it would, undoubtedly, be far better when only 24 hours of age than some of the German stuff would be if kept for 24 years. However, the German spirit is never allowed to attain its majority. I say the respectable distillers would welcome a proposal of this kind, because they already carry out its principle in their own practice; and the objections that may be urged on the ground of storage will not lie on their account. With regard to the less reputable distillers—though I ought hardly to say that, and should more appropriately term them the distillers of less capital—it is possible that some of them might object to Government storage. I was lately reading a Return obtained by Mr. Boord in 1877, and, as far as I could gather from that, there is annually stored in bond no less than 40,000,000 of gallons of spirits. I do not know how the Scotch distillers view my proposal, but I know that some of the Scotch Members are in favour of it. Looking at the matter as a whole, it can only be a question of a very few additional officers of Excise, and perhaps a small additional cost to the Treasury. I put it to the Government that, without adopting the motto of Mr. Disraeli, "Health before everything," they ought to do something for the con sumer, especially as he is now having an additional tax imposed upon him. Nobody recommends the drinking of whisky, and I am not putting the matter in that sense, because I think it would be much better for everybody to do without it, but, at the same time, we know that there are oceans of stuff sold under the name of whisky which would not be available if this Instruction were adopted, and I am convinced that its acceptance would do a great deal towards promoting the interests of law and order. Many of the crimes now committed are perpetrated under the maddening influences, not of ordinary drink, but of the adulterated liquids that are allowed to be sold. I hope I have said nothing of a controversial nature, and I trust the Government will see their way to do something towards protecting the people on whom the tax they are imposing will fall. I do not say that some distillers may not have objections to my proposal: but, in my opinion, if the distilling interests of Scotland are opposed to the Bill their views ought not to prevail; because we have the consumer to consider more than the manufacturer. I think the Government might regard favourably a proposal like this, which had the assent of a Conservative Government in 1879. I do not know whether the hon. Member for South Tyrone is opposed to spirits in bond or out of bond; but I think anybody who has considered the question must deplore the kind of whisky which everybody must agree the poorer people have to consume. I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will, in the interest of the consumer, give attention to this proposal.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That it be an Instruction to the Committee that they have power to insert a provision that spirits he kept in bond for a year after manufacture."— (Mr T. M. Healy.)

(7.57.) MR. SEAGER HUNT (Marylebone, W.)

Mr. Speaker, with a great many of the remarks of the hon. Member I cordially agree, but his proposal would be calculated to cause very great inconvenience to the rectifier. It is by the very process of rectification that impurities of this kind are removed.


The rectification could be carried on in bond.


But that would necessitate an alteration in the present system of working. I would go further than the hon. and learned Gentleman goes, because if keeping the whisky in bond improves it, I think it should be kept in bond for at least seven years.


I should be delighted.


But the spirit bonded by the malt distillers would have to be distinguished from that of the whisky distillers, and the former should certainly be sent out of bond as soon as possible. If the hon. Member will agree to that, I am prepared to support his Motion. Before I sit down I should like to call attention to the quantity of impure spirits imported into this country—


The hon. Member is not permitted to travel outside the actual discussion on spirits in bond for one year.

*(5.0.) MR. GOSCHEN

Mr. Speaker, I am certainly disposed to view the proposal of the hon. Member for Longford in a favourable manner. The question has been brought before me before, and I take a great interest in it. There is a great desire that spirits should be kept longer in bond, but a distinction must be made between the various forms of spirits. The hon. Member has based his arguments upon the distillation of whisky. I am informed that the Instruction would apply not only to whisky but to gin and other spirits, and I do not know how far the hon. Member wishes to go in that direction. I am told that there is not the same objection to the mingling of foreign spirits in these cases as in the case of whisky. The matter is already tinder my consideration. I have directed my attention to the bearing of the Merchandise Marks Act, and if there is any fraud or deceit going on with regard to the mingling of foreign spirits with Scotch or Irish spirits it ought to be dealt with in a similar manner, if it can be done, to that adopted with regard to the Merchandise Marks Act. I am looking at the matter from really the same point of view as the hon. Member has put before the House, but it is very complicated and could not be dealt with in one or two clauses. If we were to lay down a rule that spirits are to be kept in bond for a considerable time the result would be to keep the whole business in the hands of those who have capital, which would enable them to wait. Some could keep their spirits in bond for six or seven years, but there are others who, if they kept their spirits long, would suffer considerable inconvenience. I cannot consent to accept clauses which might be proposed to effect the object in view; but if the hon. Member will be satisfied with my assurance that I will endeavour, in the next few weeks, to arrive at a conclusion and to introduce a short Bill, if I see that there is any chance of passing it, I will see that the whole matter is examined and put it in a practical form before the House. It will be most inconvenient to spring the matter on the trade. I suggest these considerations in order to show that it will be unwise to deal with the matter in such haste as would be involved in accepting clauses without consideration where there are so many interests concerned. In many ways I sympathise with the object of the hon. Member, and will endeavour to meet it.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2.

MR. PICTON (Leicester)

I rise to move the Amendment of which I have given notice, and I have to say a word in explanation of the form it takes. The Division which I propose to take will necessarily be on this formal Amendment, substituting the word "ninety" for "ninety-one;" the effect of which, of course, would be that the Tea Duty would come to an end in the month of August in this year, instead of August of next year. I think that every year a Division should be taken upon the question whether tea is a proper commodity for taxation or not. If hon. Members would only vote as Members of the different Parties have spoken out of doors, I have no doubt whatever I should carry my Amendment. Of course, the question is an old one, and it is associated with some of the most memorable names we have known in this House. I need scarcely refer to the interest taken in the question of a free breakfast table, of which this subject is a part, by the late Mr. John Bright, whose memory is fragrant to every one of us, however much we may have differed with him in some of his opinions. For years he laboured on this question. Recently it has been taken up not by one great Party in the State, but by two great Parties respected on both sides of the House. The Liberal Federation in Manchester unanimously passed a resolution affirming that the duty should be taken off tea. As far as I know there was no opposition whatever. Several leaders of the Liberal Party have taken their places on the platform of this Federation at their meetings, and the resolution has been prepared with great deliberation by the Council of the Federation. Not only was that the case, but in the Conservative meetings at Nottingham, as is very well known, there was a strong desire to have a resolution on this subject brought forward and passed. Why the rank and file of the Party were prevented from bringing it forward by their leader I do not know; at any rate it is certain they were all strongly in favour of it. We are told we ought to be content because the Tea Duty has been reduced. But, as the hon. Member for Oldham said the other day, it is extremely problematical whether the small consumer will ever receive the benefit of the reduction. Certainly we ought to be satisfied upon that point. The right hon. Gentleman has said that already the price of tea is being brought down. Yes, we see advertisements everywhere of enterprising grocers who are advertising their tea at 2d. per lb. less. But that is for the people who buy their tea by the pound; it is certainly not for the poor,' who buy their tea in small packets, such as the right hon. Gentleman himself described in his speech. I know from what I have heard from merchants doing a large business that they expect to get a large part of the reduction into their own pockets, and certainly very little of it will reach the poorer classes. The right hon. Gentleman made a correction in his statement as to the small packets the other day. He told us that, owing to the hurried manner in which the information had been prepared for him, his informants had fallen into an error, and that we ought to reduce by half the prices which he gave. But that makes in my favour. Taking the price that still remains there is a larger percentage of duty on the tea as sold to the poor. In making the correction, he told us that tea which was sold in penny packets to the poor, when properly reckoned out, came to 1s. 4¼d. per lb., and that the price would run up from 1s. 4¼d. to 1s. 11 ½d. It is evident, taking the duty at 4d., that the duty on tea to the poor ranges from 20 to 26 per cent., according to the price of tea. The merchants and those concerned must get their profit out of the Customs Duty, and also out of the price they pay for the tea without the duty. Therefore, it is reckoned by some that the duty, instead of being 8d. was 6d., and, if that were true, it may be said the duty instead of being Id. would be 6d. I believe the 4d. duty will still cost the consumer 4d., 5d., or (id. The right hon. Gentleman, in reply to some remarks of mine, said my argument would go to this point, that the consumer would gain very little indeed even if the duty were taken off altogether. I do not quite see that. It is so much cheaper to collect 6d. than 3d.; but, besides that, if you make the commodity free of duty altogether, you save a considerable amount in Custom House officers, and bonded warehouses, and interest on money, and a variety of channels of expenditure. Therefore, it is quite clear that if the whole of this reduction will not go to the consumer, he would be more benefited if the whole amount were taken off, than when you merely take off a small amount. An indirect tax costs a great deal more in collection from the people who consume the commodities than it gives to the Government who collects the tax. This may be tolerable, and is tolerable with regard to luxuries, but I say it is utterly intolerable, when we have to do with the necessaries of life. However, the more substantial issue which I raise on this occasion is that the tax on tea is a tax on a very large number of people indeed; it is a tax on the narrow income which is absolutely essential to live in peace and comfort. The right hon. Gentleman did not hesitate to describe afresh the duty on tea as a Poll Tax, if it were taken in this sense. It is a tax which nearly every member of the community is called upon to pay. Well, Sir, that is precisely what I object to. The right hon. Gentleman truly said that a very large question is opened up. "I desire to protest" he went on to say, Against the view that this tax ought to be swept away, because it rests, to a certain extent, on the working classes and upon those who are in straitened circumstances. I desire to note these words—"those who are in straitened circumstances." Yes, the sort of straitened circumstances in which a considerable number of our population are found are described in the Report of the Committee of the other House on the subject of sweating. And those who read that Report and the description of misery which it gives of many of the consumers of tea will be able to give an interpretation of the phrase "straitened circumstances." But there is another thing that the Government can do, and. that is to take the taxes off all necessaries of life. I think the very least the Government can do is to make life easier for the poor. It may be answered that there is not the money to do this That may be; but a great deal too much is spent. All we ask is that the burden shall be taken off the necessaries of life and put on property and the accumulated wealth of the country. I hold that the minimum of income necessary for subsistence in peace and comfort ought to go untaxed altogether. That is the main reason why I urge that this duty on tea should be taken off. If I err in this I err in very good company. The right hon. Gentleman has, I am sure, great respect for the authority of John Stuart Mill, and I call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the second volume of his work on taxation. In that work he refers in no critical spirit to the proposals with reference to a graduated Income Tax, and suggests that the tax should fall on the richer classes more heavily in proportion to the amount of wealth. It is also suggested that incomes not exceeding £50 should not be taxed at all, either directly or by taxes on the necessaries of life; and that in the case of the small incomes earned by labouring families, the Government ought not to be a party to making them smaller. I think I have the authority of John Stuart Mill for this argument; but I have also another authority, and a more modern one, for the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, who last night seems to have bidden a final adieu to the Liberal Party, but who was formerly one of the pioneers of Liberal progress, speaking in Birmingham on the 29th January, 1885, used words, according to the authorised edition of his speech, to the effect that a certain income was necessary for subsistence, and that it ought not to be heavily taxed, but that the burden of taxation ought to fallon incomes above that amount. Now what did he mean at that time by heavy taxation on a minimum of income? It is evident that he included the Tea Duty in his observations, for a little further on he said that if Parliament would only support the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and would give him leave to equalise the duties on land and on personal property, he would soon impose a higher tax upon incomes exceeding a certain amount, and Mr. Childers would be able at once to remedy the injustice and to give a free breakfast table the next day, as well as enable people to put double and treble the quantity of currants and raisins usually put in the Christmas pudding. I think, therefore, I have the authority of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham on my side. I cannot help thinking that the arguments about taxation and representation are often used in a very fallacious way and in a manner entirely inconsistent with the original circumstances to which they were applied. If I mistake not, the principle was first applied on the occasion of the attempt of the Imperial Parliament to lay a tax on the colonies in America. It was always intended that colonies which had no representation in the Imperial Parliament should not be taxed by the Parliament, and I do not think that the principle was applied in any other way at that time. The question was the relation of communities to the Imperial Parliament, and I do not think the right hon. Gentleman can fairly press arguments in favour of the Tea Tax on that principle. When a child is born into this country his destiny is bound up with it. If the country prospers, he also prospers; and if the country suffers, he is the poorer for it and suffers accordingly; and that is the practical bond of citizenship which unites all classes. It is said that the poor have votes as well as the rich, and that if they have nothing to pay for expensive wars they will be ready to hurry us into war regardless of the consequences; and therefore it is necessary to tax the tea in order to keep them from rushing into war. But who suffers most from the extravagance and follies of war? It is not the rich. The rich man may occasionally have to put down a carriage or a horse, or to spend less on hunting and luxuries of that kind, but he never suffers in his breakfast or dinner table. He always has enough to eat and drink, and the evils of war fall by the natural process of gravitation upon the poor. It is always the poor who have to put up with the ultimate consequences of misgovernment, and they are learning that lesson now. We are told that in times past when they were not properly instructed they howled for war. But they are learning better than that now; and it is to instruction that we may look for them to gain political wisdom. We arc told that in the days of the Crimean War large numbers of the working classes were bitterly bent on carrying on the war. The Tea Tax at the time was increased from 1s. 6d. to 1s. 9d. I do not think that the extra 3d. had any effect on the opinion of the working classes. It is not to the increase of taxation, but rather to the extension of schools like the Board Schools, to the exercise of the franchise, and to the advance of public enlightenment on political matters that we may look for the extension of political wisdom. I contend that this Tea Tax is a shameful remnant of the old times. It is a relic of the mischievous and wicked system of taxing the necessaries of life—necessaries which ought to go untaxed. I earnestly appeal to my hon. Friends to vote against this Tea Tax, and in so doing I assure them they are carrying out Liberal principles. I also appeal to hon. Gentlemen opposite to exhibit for once freedom and independence, and to support principles of which, I am sure, they are in favour.

Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 23, to leave out the word "ninety-one," and insert the word "ninety."—(Mr. Picton.)

Question proposed, "That the word 'ninety-one' stand part of the Clause."

*(5.27.) MR. GOSCHEN

I trust that the hon. Member will not consider me to be discourteous if I refrain from entering at any length into an examination of the arguments which ho has adduced. I have already endeavoured to reply to the hon. Member, who seemingly is not satisfied with it. I think that the arguments for and against are well-known on both sides; and as I have not been moved by what the hon. Member has just said, while the hon. Member remains equally unmoved by the arguments I employed the other day, I hold that no useful purpose is to be served by delaying the decision of the House upon the point.

*(5.29.) MR. JACOB BRIGHT (Manchester, S.W.)

We have no right to expect that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will accept the advice tendered him by the hon. Member for Leicester; but I think that nobody knows better than the right hon. Gentleman that if the duty on tea were taken off there would be a much larger consumption, and that it would be to the benefit of the trade of the country. I think that if my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester will only in the future be as persevering in this matter as he has been in the past, he will be successful in securing the end he desires to attain. It would be pleasant to feel that the poor people get their tea without duty, and it would be equally satisfactory to know that, as this country has compelled the people of India to take everything we produce free of duty, we should take their tea free of duty in return. At present we take plenty of tea from India, and the carrying out of this suggestion would tend to stimulate commerce.

(5.30.) MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)

I do not rise to contest the question of the Tea Tax. I merely rise to say that, in supporting the Amendment of my hon. Friend, I do it because I regard indirect taxation as unfair upon the poor as against the rich, and I wish to see everybody contribute a fair share towards the burdens of the country. So far as I am concerned, I shall always vote for the abolition of indirect taxation.

(5.30.) The Committee divided:— Ayes 228; Noes 163.—(Div. List, No. 75.)

(5.45.) MR. T. M. HEALY

I beg leave to move, after "tea," in line 24, to insert "valued over one shilling." Tea is sold at various prices in this City, from 2d. up to 2s. or 3s. per lb., and I have seen samples sold wholesale at as high a price as 6s. per lb. As I understand the proposals of the Government, a rich man who buys tea retail, possibly, at 7s. 6d. per lb., will pay the same amount of taxation on that tea as the poor man who buys his tea at 2d. or 3d. per lb. 'The Amendment I propose may be regarded as against the interests of Ireland, because in Ireland they drink the best tea. Those who would chiefly benefit from the Amendment would be the people of London, who, I understand, drink the worst tea in the world. If a person buys tea which, but for the tax, would be sold at 2d. per lb., he will have to pay a 4d. tax on that tea. Possibly another year, if not now, the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be able to consider the proposal. I think the people of London ought to take up this question, and get their Members to press it on the attention of the Government. Personally, I am not interested in the question, because I drink no tea; but I think if you are going to make reductions in the Tea Duty, you should make them in such a manner that the poor man will get something out of them. I would suggest to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he should re-impose the duty of 6d. on highly-priced teas, and reduce it on the cheaper teas.

Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 24, after the word "tea," to insert the words "valued over one shilling."— (Mr. T. M. Healy.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

*(5.50.) MR. GOSCHEN

The hon. Member raises a very large question, because the principle underlying his Amendment would apply practically to all the Customs Duties quite as much to the duty on tea. It would apply to coffee, fruit, wine, and tobacco. I remember when I sought to reduce the duty on cheap classes of. wine, the right hon. Gentleman opposite(Mr.W. E.Gladstone) opposed my proposal on the ground that the return to an ad valorem system would raise all kinds of difficulties. I would point out that the cases in which tea is sold at 6s. per lb. arc very exceptional.


I can give you a sample of the tea now.


I think the difficulties in the way of adopting the ad valorem system in regard to tea are too great to be overcome.


I proposed the Amendment in the interests of the poor; and if it does not meet with any support, I have no option but to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

(5.53.) MR. BLANE (Armagh, S.)

I beg to move the Amendment which stands in my name, namely, in line 24 to leave out "pound," and insert "chest of one hundred pounds."' My object is not so much to obtain a reduction of the duty on tea as to abolish it altogether.


I must point out to the hon. Member that we already have had a Division on the abolition of the Tea Duty; and if the hon. Member's motive now is to abolish the Tea Duty, he cannot raise that question again, nor would it do otherwise than by abusing the powers of the Committee to propose to reduce the duty to an infinitesimal amount.


My point is that the tax bears unequally on the poor as compared with the rich. In the City of London a poor workwoman in her garret possibly pays as much of this tax as the Duke of Bedford, who draws £250,000 or more from his property in the Metropolis. I contend that the taxation should be placed on those who are best able to bear it. In this instance it is placed on those who are least able to bear it. In many families the 6d. per lb. on tea amounts to 26s. a year, and, in some cases, to 30s. a year.

Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 24, to leave out the word "pound" and insert the words "chest of one hundred pounds."—(Mr. Blane.)

Question proposed, "That the word 'pound' stand part of the Clause."

DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)

I think we ought to have some answer from the right hon. Gentleman. My hon. Friend, in bringing this question forward, is trying to do his best for the working classes, not only of our country, but of this country; and I think the right hon. Gentleman, as a salaried Minister of the Crown, would do well to make some reply to his proposal.

*(5.59.) MR. GOSCHEN

The hon. Member proposes to reduce the duty from 4d. per lb. to 4d. per 100 lbs. The proposition is nearly identical with that made by the hon. Member for Leicester, and I certainly thought, under these circumstances, I was not wanting in courtesy in making no reply.

*(6.0.) MR. S. BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)

I appeal to my hon. Friend not to press his Amendment. I, for one, would vote against it, because the effect of it would be absurd.


In consequence of the appeal made to me I will not press the Amendment to a Division. I merely moved it in order to elicit an expression of opinion from the Government.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 2 agreed to.

Clause 3.

*(6.3.) MR. S. BUXTON

By this clause it is proposed to reduce the duty on currants from 7s. to 2s., and therefore to reduce the revenue from currants from £350,000 to £140,000. It seems to me the Chancellor of the Exchequer might go a little further and abolish the whole of the duty. The cost of collecting £140,000 will be the same as that of collecting the existing revenue of £350,000, and the hindrance to trade, which is caused by any Customs Duty, will be just as great with the collection of the smaller as of the larger revenue. If he abolished the duty entirely he would only have to provide £140,000, and that ho could easily provide out of the balance he proposes to carry over until next year. The whole taxation on dried fruits is full of anomalies, and this appears to be a good opportunity of getting rid of another small item of taxation. I therefore move the omission of the clause on the understanding that the Amendment must be taken in connection with the clause I propose to move later on.

Amendment proposed, "To leave out Clause 3."—(Mr. S. Buxton.)

Question proposed, "That Clause '5 stand part of the Bill."

*(6.5.) MR. GOSCHEN

I am not prepared to accept the suggestion of the hon. Member. In the first place, I have not got £140,000 to give away; in the second place, I do not wish to totally abolish the duty on this article of consumption; and, in the third place, the difference between the duty on raisins and currants is already made very considerable by the alteration I have made, and I do not wish to make the difference wider. I do not propose to abolish the duty on raisins: but if any additional reduction was made in regard to currants, we should have to deal with raisins.

*(6.6.) MR. PROVAND (Glasgow, Blackfriars)

The remarks of the right hon. Gentleman really go to support the Amendment. He says that to reduce the duty on currants to 2s. leaves a very remarkable anomaly between the duty on currants and raisins. At present the duty on many qualities of raisins is equal to 30 per cent. on the wholesale value; it adds more than 1d. per lb. to the retail sale price of the article. I feel confident the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be compelled next year to remove the duties from these articles altogether, and he might as well begin now when he has a surplus in hand to wipe away these anomalies. The right hon. Gentleman does not wish to abolish the duty altogether. He desires to retain some duty which he might increase in a time of emergency; but no Chancellor of the Exchequer dare—not even in the case of war —increase the duties on food. The people would argue that they have nothing to do with the making of wars, and would revolt against such a proceeding. But one of the safest ways to prevent anything of the kind is to remove altogether these vexatious imposts.


I desire, in a few words, to explain why I intend to vote for this Amendment, and why I went into the Lobby with the hon. Member for Leicester just now. I object to the fiscal policy of this country, a policy which, under the false name of Free Trade, is producing incalculable injury to our trade and agriculture. I am against the duty upon tea and currants. I contend there is not the slightest reason for taxing these articles of universal consumption. I believe that if we followed the example of every other civilised nation and helped our Exchequer by Import Duties upon articles of luxury and articles which compete with our trade, we should have quite sufficient money without taxing necessaries of life. For these reasons I shall vote with the hon. Member for Poplar.

*(6.10.) SIR J. LUBBOCK (London University)

If the hon. Gentleman makes Protectionist speeches, but gives Free Trade votes, I do not think we shall have much reason to complain. But I regret to be unable to follow him into the Lobby. The hon. Member objected because he said that if we abolish any of these duties it will be perfectly impossible to re-impose them; but surely that is a reason which ought to make us pause before we take the step advocated. My right hon. Friend, in reducing this taxation, has succeeded in inducing another country to reduce taxation which presses on our manufactures, and I hope he may continue to obtain similar advantages to manufactures of the country. I hope, therefore, that my hon. Friend will not press his Amendment to a Division.

(6.12.) MR. J. LOWTHER (Kent, Thanet)

While I agree with every word uttered by my hon. Friend the Member for Faversham, I cannot see my way to support the Amendment. I agree that the fiscal policy of this country is altogether wrong. I am of opinion that duties ought to be removed from all articles which cannot be produced here, and that duties ought to be placed upon products which can be produced here, thereby obtaining revenue and at the same time promoting our own industries. Hon. Members opposite have spoken of the determination on the part of the working classes of England under no circumstances to have recourse to a Protectionist policy in regard to food. But would hon. Members go so far as to say that the working classes were thoroughly opposed to Protectionist principles when applied to commodities they themselves produce? I think they will find that Protectionist views, so far from being relegated to the limbo they desire to send them to, are rapidly spreading day by day. But I think the entire abolition of a duty like this which produces a very substantial addition to the Revenue, would be an unwise step, and ought not to be taken until the Committee is prepared to substitute for it something which will raise a similar amount to the Revenue. Personally, I would be glad to propose as a substitute a tax upon ready-made goods now imported into this country without paying duty, to the great detriment of the interests of the working classes. With my hon. Friend I protest against our present mischievous fiscal policy, which is utterly repudiated in every part of the entire world, civilised and uncivilised; and I trust that before long it will be in the power of the House of Commons to provide some fair and proper substitute for that which is open to great objection.


The policy of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in regard to currants is next door to Protectionist—it is based upon commercial reciprocity—and, therefore, I should have thought the right hon. Gentleman would have obtained the support of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Thanet. [Mr. J. LOWTHER: I am going to support him.] Before we quit the question of currants, I should like to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he really imagines that the consumer in England will gain anything by this reduction. In order to make a good pudding you require currants and raisins. Raisins come from all parts of the world. If you had taken the duty off raisins there would have been a reduction in the price charged to the consumer owing to the competition. But currants come from Greece only; if the vine is taken to any other country it produces a large grape instead of this small grape without stones. The Greeks have the production of currants absolutely in their own hands, and we know they are a very intelligent commercial people; and, if they can, they most undoubtedly will take the whole of the benefit from this reduction without giving us a share in it. The grocers of Northampton asked me to move an Amendment to leave out "May" and insert "August." I do not desire to raise that question now, but perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will state whether he has taken into consideration the complaints of a considerable number of grocers in this matter. What they say is, that the stock comes over in September and that they have quantities of currants on hand in the mouths of May, June, and July. They desire that, as in the case of tea, the reduction in the duty should commence on the 1st August.

(6.20.) MR. ESSLEMONT (Aberdeen, E.)

I must say, for myself, I feel certain that the consumer will always benefit in the market by the reduction given in taxation. There is, to my mind, a very strong reason why we should not impose small taxes, namely, the large amount they cost to collect. I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer should take that into consideration.

*(6.21.) MR. S. BUXTON

This proposed reduction has nothing to do with the question of Fair Trade or Free-Trade, for our Custom Duties are imposed for revenue purposes alone. I must say I have been glad to see, in this short discussion, that the Fair Traders are unable to agree on any policy—and that, I hope, is the state of mind in which they will approach every fiscal question. I cannot agree with the hon. Member for Northampton, that if this small duty is abolished the consumer will not get the benefit. He seems to be such an epicure that he requires raisins as well as currants in all his puddings; but I am sure that the great bulk of his fellow citizens do not do that, and that the reduction will be a great boon to them. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has moved in the right direction, and all we ask of him is that he should go a little further and abolish, the duty altogether, so as to do away with the expense of collection. I hope the hon. Member opposite will tell with me—though I should not like it to be thought that this Division will have anything to do with so-called "Fair Trader."

(6.22.) MR. O'HANLON (Cavan, E.)

I must say I think it a good thing to levy a reasonable tax on currants. They are largely used in London, but it is a fact that the worst kinds of flour can be blended with currants. Currant bread made of bad flour is sold to the poor, and these people, therefore, get no benefit— rather the reverse.

*(6.22.) MR. GOSCHEN

It is an error to suppose that currants are consumed by the poorer classes only, as they are in large general consumption. It is not the opinion of the grocers that the Greeks will raise the price of currants because the duty upon them has been remitted. As to the date at which the reduction should conic into operation, I have received a great number of communications, and the large majority of my correspondents are in favour of an immediate reduction of the duty. I have given the closest and most careful consideration to the matter, and the course I have proposed seems to me to he the fairest and best which could be adopted in the interests of all concerned.

(6.23.) DR. TANNER

Every Member of the House knows that currants are more consumed by the juvenile portion of the community at certain seasons of the year than they are by adults. And every medical man inside the House and outside it will corroborate me when I say that a large number of deaths annually occur in consequence of and in connection with this consumption of currants. I do not know whether it is the desire of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer to back up the Malthusian theory that the Chief Secretary gave vent to the other day in connection with the congested districts of Ireland, but it certainly seems to me that the course he is taking in cheapening the price of currants is fatal to juveniles. After all, this is a very small matter this tax on currants, and the House at this moment somewhat resembles the mountain in labour bringing forth a mouse. I shall certainly vote for the remission of the clause, inasmuch as I believe that this remission of duty will be of very little benefit to the country, whilst it will prove seriously detrimental to the youthful portion of the community. It will provide them with more currants, and consequently there will be more deaths.

(6.25.) The Committee divided:— Ayes 275; Noes 164.—(Div. List, No. 76.)

Subsequently, Mr. AKERS-DOUGLAS and Mr. PROVAND, the Tellers in the No Lobby in the Division on the Question "That Clause 3 stand part of the Bill," came to the Table and stated that they had, through inadvertence, reported the number of the Noes as 164 instead of 156, which corresponded with the Division List, and was the proper number upon which they were both agreed.

Whereupon, the Chairman directed the Clerk to correct the number of the Noes in that Division accordingly.

Clause 4.

(6.38.) MR. STOREY

Heretofore we have been dealing with clauses which propose remissions of existing duties, and we now come to that part of the Bill which proposes the imposition of new duties. In a very few words I shall urge that this clause be postponed, and I shall give what I hope will be even to the Chancellor of the Exchequer a powerful reason why this course should be adopted. This clause deals with the increase of the duty on spirits. Well, the common practice since I have been a Member of the House has been this: The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in making his Budget Statement, informs the House what the income has been and what his expenditure, and what he proposes to expend in the coming year on the various Services. Then, having told us this, he proceeds to make his suggestions for raising the money to meet this expenditure. But on this occasion the plan of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was entirely different from this. He adopted an unusual and unprecedented course; he gave us his Estimates for the year; he provided for the whole of the money; he left himself with a surplus, and after that he proposed to the House certain additional expenditure, which he was hereafter to ask the House to commit itself to. Now, my objection to this proposal of the Government at this stage is this: that the House has not yet in principle agreed to the expenditure of this money. I believe the Chairman would agree with me if I could appeal to him, which, of course, I cannot, but I do not know that I have need to appeal to any great financial authority. I will ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in the course of his long and varied experience on the one side or the other, he has known of an instance in which a Chancellor of the Exchequer has proposed to the House a new duty which he admitted he did not need for the service of the year, and proposed this without first getting the assent of the House to the object of the new duty? For what purpose does the Chancellor of the Exchequer want this additional Spirit Duty? He wants it for the purpose, as he tells us, not of the Public Services for the year, but to hand over large sums to Local Authorities, to be used by them in a manner not yet determined by Parliament. Now my contention is this: According to all usage, according to all principles— certainly the sound principles — of English finance, the granting of the new duty ought to be postponed until the House has determined the principle upon which this duty should be employed. I do not ask for much. The Bill which allocates this fund is set down for Monday next; it is a Bill for providing for the superannuation of the police, or helping to superannuate the police, for helping to compensate publicans, and for helping County Councils by additional grants for local finance. I do not know how it may be as to the opinion of the House upon giving assistance to County Councils; but for myself I am not willing to contribute towards the superannuation of police in boroughs well able to take care of themselves.


The hon. Member is not entitled to discuss the particular arguments for or against the application of the money, although allusion to it is not precluded.


I will content myself with saying there is an object to which this money has to be applied, and that object is now under discussion in the country. It has never been discussed in this House; it has not been accepted by this House, nor do I believe it ever will be accepted by this House of 'Commons. That being so, and putting it as a mere matter of business, I say we should not grant the Executive Government money which we have not ordered the Government to employ. On that, as I think, all sufficient ground, I rest my contention that the clause ought to be postponed. I am not asking for much, because on Monday, according to present arrangement, we shall proceed to the discussion of the Bill which allocates the money. Suppose the House, after discussion, does agree to the application of funds in a particular way, then it will be time for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to come to the Committee and ask for this additional Spirit Duty. I am not going into any of the bitter contentions that gather round the imposition of the Spirit Duty on the one hand, or the compensation to publicans on the other. I confine myself to the business-like proposal that this clause shall be postponed (and, of course, this applies to Clauses 5, 6, and 7 also, which deal with the imposition of new taxation) until the House shall come to a determination upon the principle of the application of the new revenue.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be postponed."—(Mr. Storey.)

*(6.51.) MR. GOSCHEN

I am sorry I cannot agree with the hon. Gentleman. As I understand him, he rests his contention upon this: that it would be a new principle to vote money, to sanction taxation without sanctioning the principle of the expenditure the taxation is to cover. My reply is that we adopt that course every year. Every year in April, and sometimes earlier, the Budget for the year is voted, while the expenditure has not been voted. There may be large questions of expenditure before the House, but upon which the House has not decided, and yet this has never been used as a reason for not granting the taxation proposed.


I do not wish to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, but I think he mistakes my point. This is not money necessary for the Services in the year; it is special taxation outside the ordinary requirements of the year.


We must admit there are often large amounts in the Estimates which many hon. Members think are not necessary for the year's Services.


That is not the point.


I deny that this is not a necessity. It is, on the contrary, a necessity to deal with the superannuation of the police; we look on that as quite as necessary as many other Services included in the Estimates. We are, in principle, following the normal practice of the House. Looking to the amount we propose to expend during the year, we propose taxation to cover the Expenditure, and this is exactly what we are doing now. Suppose a Bill had not been necessary, and we had simply a Vote in the Estimates for the superannuation of the police, it would equally be the hon. Member's ease that the House had not voted this, but we should be following' the usual practice in asking the House to vote the necessary taxation, the foundation for which we had made known to the House.

(6.55.) SIR W. HARCOURT (Derby)

I am surprised and disappointed that the right hon. Gentleman does not accede to this proposal. Nothing could have been more clear than the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Budget speech that there was a. Budget for the Service of the year, and then there was a Supplementary Budget. I think he actually used that phrase, but he certainly conveyed that idea. When there was a question of this Bill being brought forward, I remember speaking to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Baying, "I presume the Spirit Duty will be in the Supplementary Bill." As you have a Supplementary Bill, then the taxes to meet it should be included in that Bill. The right hon. Gentleman says that very often the Budget is voted before the financial proposals in the Estimates are accepted, but that is not the question here. The House, before it votes the Budget, is placed in possession of the view of the Government upon the Expenditure of the year, and the Budget is voted upon that basis. But here there is no proposal as to the Expenditure of the year on the Services of the State for which this money is raised; what is now proposed is that we should impose certain duties on articles of consumption before the House has had an opportunity of considering the purposes to which the money is to be applied. If the Estimates are before us and they affect the imposition of the taxation, of course we can discuss these Estimates in voting the taxation. For instance, if in our view the Army and Navy Estimates are too high, we may discuss this question in voting the taxation required for the purpose. You, by your ruling. Sir, have made it clear, for you have said we may not even allude to the purposes to which this money is to be applied.


No: I expressly said that the hon. Member for Sunderland was not entitled to go into the arguments for or against the proposed appropriation of the money, though he was entitled to allude to it.


That strengthens what I have said. Your ruling is more fatal to the clause.


I was referring to that point in the right hon. Gentleman's speech in which he said I had forbidden allusion to the purposes for which the money is intended.


But in an ordinary Budget proposal we do a great deal more than allude. It has not been the habit in these financial discussions to make allusions simply; and I am sure, Sir, when, prior to your accession to your present high office, you were Secretary to the Treasury you would have acknowledged that allusion to the Estimates was not sufficient in a Budget discussion. Upon the Budget, when we vote the taxes we do not allude to the objects for which the taxes are voted— we discuss them. If we are of opinion that the expenditure proposed by the Government is improper or is extravagant we may reject it. But here we are actually asked to vote taxes independently of the regular Budget, and are not to be allowed to discuss the objects for which the taxes are raised. I say there is no precedent, or anything like a precedent, in the financial practice of the House for such a proposition. It is most material, as I conceive, when we are asked to vote these taxes, that we should consider whether the purpose to which the money is proposed to be applied is a proper purpose, and that, according to your ruling. Sir, we shall be precluded from doing. The House of Commons would be stultified in its action if it were to be called upon to discuss the question of voting this money with only allusion to the objects for which it is intended, and which, after all, may not be necessary or approved. What is the position in which we are placed by the Government to-day? Neither the Chancellor of the Exchequer nor the First Lord of the Treasury can quote any precedent for such a course in the financial practice of the House. I defy them to produce any precedent for a tax being voted when the House is not at liberty to discuss it. I do not see what advantage the Government will gain by snatching a decision in an im- portant question of this kind, which affects the community at large, and by trying to hoodwink, as it were, hon. Gentlemen by shutting them out from discussing an Imperial question. From the nature of the proposals the two things must proceed pari passu. The tax and the policy must be decided upon together. The proposal of my hon. Friend seems to me so fair a proposal and so entirely in accordance with all the financial habits of the House that I cannot help hoping that the Government on reconsideration will agree to it.

*(7.3.) MR. GOSOHEN

I think the right hon. Gentleman should remember that on Monday, when the Government proposed to put their Bill down for Tuesday, objection was taken, and we were asked to give further time for the consideration of the subject. An agreement was then coma to across the Table. My right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Treasury then asked whether, if the Government cons anted to postpone the Bill till Thursday, we might then hope to receive fair treatment. Now, having postponed the Bill, an objection is raised for the first time which might just as well have been raised on' Monday, and the non-contentious part of the Bill might have been taken on Tuesday. In these circumstances, I think it is rather hard that the Government should be pressed now. In my judgment the House has before it as complete a statement of the principles of the Government expenditure with reference to the superannuation of the police and the endowment of County Councils as it has in the estimates of the expenditure on other matters.

(7.5.) MR. J. MORLEY

With regard to what took place on Monday night the Chancellor of the Exchequer seems to forget that the Budget Bill was read a second time by an operation which I ventured to characterise then and characterise again as unprecedented on the part of the Government. It is quite true that the First Lord of the Treasury assented to the appeal of the Opposition on the assumption that the conduct of the Opposition would be fair. I then said in reply that the conduct of hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House was always fair; but I declined altogether to enter into any understanding whatever with the right hon. Gentleman, and declared that the Opposition would reserve to themselves the right of full and complete discussion.

(7.7.) SIR G. CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)

I shall vote for the postponement of the clause on the ground that it requires re-casting. We ought to have the courage to put an extra tax on the drinkers of beer as well as on drinkers of whisky, and I therefore think the present proposal a gross injustice.


Order, order ! The hon. Member is not now discussing the question of the postponement of the clause.

(7.8.) MR. W. E. GLADSTONE (Edinburgh, Mid Lothian)

I think the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland was an excellent speech, and set forth the truth of the case; but, the Motion being made from this side of the House, and opposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it more or less bears the aspect of an ordinary Party question. My opinion is that in the regulation of questions of finance Party considerations ought, as a rule, to be laid aside. But it is out of all common-sense that the House should be called upon to vote a specific sum for a specific, purpose altogether new and unknown to previous practice, without being accorded the power of discussing the merits of the application. The contention of my hon. Friend is that the House ought to be allowed to sift and discuss and consider the purposes of a tax before they vote it. The Chancellor of the Exchequer's reply to that is that when the House passes the Taxation Bill under the Budget of the year hon. Members do not absolutely know whether they themselves or the House of Commons will approve every item of the multifarious and multitudinous expenditure.


That is not my answer. I meant that there might be some large item of expenditure just as important as that before the House, with which the House would have to deal upon the Estimates. I could mention several cases in which money has been raised for a particular purpose before the principle has been decided on by the House.


That is so; but if the House finds it to be its duty to resist a tax it will be in its power to found its resistance upon the nature of the tax to which the money is to be applied; and so we can discuss the merits of the proposals of the Government in dealing with the taxes of the year. That is exactly what we cannot do now. I think the best speech in favour of the Motion of my hon. Friend was that made by the Chairman. I hope I was not misunderstood, but I could not kelp uttering a cheer when I heard it, because it appeared to me a capital argument against the proposal now made. I voted with the Government on the last Division, and would have voted with them in this Division if I had thought they were acting in conformity with usage and principle. But they are neither acting in conformity with usage and principle nor in conformity with commonsense. I hold this distinct principle with regard to the general taxation of the country, that when money is voted for the general service of the year it is voted under a legal system completely organised. In so far as the money is not disposed of according to the proposals of the Government it is disposed of by the provisions of the law, and goes towards the reduction of the National Debt. But what is the case of the tax under discussion? On Monday next the House will have to discuss the purposes of the tax; and, to judge from the state of feeling in the country, it is possible that the House of Commons may come to the conclusion that those purposes, or the most important of them, are indefensible. What, then, is to become of the money? The House will have actually voted an imposition on the people when there are no means for its legal application. Why should not the clauses be postponed? What can it matter, as there is no disposition to treat the question except with perfect regularity and fairness? The Chancellor of the Exchequer himself must feel that the subject of compensation is one of enormous weight and of enormous consequence — of enormous weight both as to principle and as to amount. Some of the difficulty in which the House is now placed has arisen out of a provision which the House of Commons found it necessary, about 30 years ago, to adopt in self-defence, namely, to combine together all the taxes of the year. It is most necessary that that principle should be maintained; but it has nothing whatever to do with the question of a tax, such as the one under consideration, voted for local purposes. It is analogous to the raising of the local rate, and there is no reason why it should be included in the Tax Bill at all. I sympathise with the difficulty of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who, together with the Revenue Department, very properly wishes to get the Tax Bill voted as soon as possible. Let him, then, include the Compensation Clauses in a separate Bill, against which course there is no reason of principle or convenience. If the right hon. Gentleman succeeds in carrying a vote of this kind in defiance of all usage, he will not find his subsequent path, on the subject of compensation, one whit smoother, or his progress more rapid. The question should be treated simply as a financial question, on which there ought to be no difference of opinion on the two sides of the House; and that method of procedure should he adopted which is obviously dictated both by principle and the expediency of the case.

*(7.20.) MR. GOSCHEN

I understand the right hon. Gentleman to rest his main contention on the point that the proposals in the clauses cannot be discussed. I confess that I have not been aware that it is not as open to discuss on these clauses the purposes to which the tax is to be applied as it is to discuss any expenditure to be incurred during the course of the year. A new element has been introduced by the ruling to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred; and, under these circumstances, the Government do not wish to force the right hon. Gentleman and his friends to discuss the point. Hut the Government may appeal to the right hon. Gentleman that, if the purposes to which the tax is to be applied are fully discussed on the Bill to be read a second time on Monday, the same discussion shall not be raised again on the clauses of the Bill before the Committee. If there is some hope that this will be the case, the Government will be disposed to give way to the views of the right hon. Gentleman, The right hon. Gentleman, as well as everyone who has filled the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer, must recognise that there is great inconvenience in postponing Budget proposals. It disturbs trade and all the interests concerned, and therefore it is the duty of the Government to bring the matter to a conclusion as rapidly as possible. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will use his great influence to insure that the Budget proposals shall not be indefinitely postponed, as may be the case if the whole discussion is to be raised a second time.


I am glad to hear so conciliatory a statement from the right hon. Gentleman. The Chancellor of the Exchequer will best facilitate the passing of the Bill if he withdraws from it the compensation clauses and puts them in the other Bill, to which they properly belong. The reason for putting all the taxes into one Bill only applies to taxation for Imperial needs. In this instance you are raising a tax for local purposes, and, surely, the more logical and sensible course is to raise your tax in the Bill which appropriates it. If you do that you will get your Budget Bill through without delay, because it will not be tied up with the compensation controversy.

*(7.25.) THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH,) Strand, Westminster

The Government will be very glad to meet the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman, but they must adhere to the plan they have adopted. The Government are prepared to postpone the consideration of the clauses until after the Second Reading of the Bill which appropriates the money to be raised under the clauses. I hope that this proposal will recommend itself to right hon. Gentlemen opposite, because, after the question has been fully considered on the Second Reading of the Bill, they cannot wish to raise the same discussion immediately afterwards.

(7.27.) MR.W. E. GLADSTONE

I am totally at a loss to understand why these clauses should be included in the Tax Bill. I cannot understand why they should not be included in a separate Bill. Still, I thankfully accept the postponement of the clauses. I certainly shall be no party to any merely obstructive dealing in any stage of business. The separation of the clauses would, I think, be the best solution.

(7.28.) MR. P. MDONALD (Sligo, N.)

Will the postponement apply to Clauses 4 to 7 inclusive?


Yes, Sir.

The clause was then postponed, as were also Clauses 5, 6, and 7.

Clauses 8 and 9 agreed to, with some verbal Amendments.

Clause 10.

MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)

The duty on tea is a matter in which there is very little interest felt in Ireland, although, I think, the remission is one of which the Irish people will get their full share. I would point out with regard to the remission of duty on gold and silver plate the amount raised is £90,020 in England, while in Scotland it is only £312, and in Ireland £34; consequently the remission will be of no benefit to Ireland, and of very little to Scotland.


I would point to the House that this is one of the few taxes on luxuries, and, as such, I think it might very well have been left to itself; but as the Government propose to remit the tax, and as it will help to further Free Trade between this country and India, I shall not oppose that remission. At the same time, I think the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer ought to tell the House what he proposes to do with regard to hallmarking. We should be glad to know where the standard mark is to be applied, and under what circumstances; whether, having applied it in India, the silver wares of that country are to be imported free into this country without the necessity of any hall-marking when they get here? The junior Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) has taken great interest in this matter, but I do not see him in his place at the present moment. He has stated that the silverwares of India are of a very fine character and very expensive. With regard to the latter part of that statement I hope the proof will go the other way. For my part, I am inclined to think that, although they are undoubtedly of a very fine character, they are extremely cheap, and if Free Trade can be made to prevail between this country and India a very large trade will result. At the same time, the hon. Member for Northampton is quite right in saying that these articles are of a very delicate character —so delicate, indeed, that in most cases, it would be impossible to impress upon them any hall-mark without injury. The consequence will be that, supposing them to have been marked in India, if they are to be submitted to the tender mercies of the hall-markers of this country it will be impossible to continue their free importation. Therefore, I think that, inasmuch as I can find nothing in this Bill on the subject of hall-marking, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer ought to tell us what are his proposals with regard to hallmarking. I may add that I confine my desire for information principally to the case of India. I should like him to inform the Committee whether, in case these delicate wares are marked by the Indian Authorities, he will arrange that they shall not be interfered with by the Goldsmiths' Company or by any other hall-marking authority in England. What I want to know is why this hallmarking should not be altogether—


I would point out to the hon. Member that the Committee is discussing the Customs and Inland Revenue Bill, and that there is no mention in it of the hall-marking of silver in its provisions. Therefore, to discuss that question is entirely irregular.


Of course, Sir, I how to your ruling; and I will conclude by saying I am much against this clause, unless arrangements are made the result of which would be that the operation of the clause would lead to Free Trade in silver.


In reply to the hon. Gentleman the Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon), and the hon. Baronet the Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir G. Campbell), I have to say it is not the intention of the Government to propose any measure for the abolition of compulsory hall-marking; but I may state that we are in communication with the Government of India, and we hope to be able to make successful arrangements with regard to the hall-marking of Indian plate. We know that it would be unsatisfactory to India if we were simply to abolish the Plate Duties without being able to amend the present law with regard to the admission of goods from India. If assay offices should be established in India, under the auspices of the Indian Government, we should be perfectly satisfied, and should not regard it as necessary that the hall-marking should be repeated here. I am just informed by my right hon. Friend the Under Secretary for India that the establishment of an assay office in India is under consideration, and that, in fact, it is proposed that an assay office should be established there. That being the case, I trust the hon. Gentleman will be satisfied.


I cannot say that I am entirely satisfied, because I have gathered from what I know of the Government of India that there would be great difficulty in establishing assay offices there. It may be that it is considered the game is not worth the candle.

* MR. CHILDERS (Edinburgh, S.)

I am very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the proposal he has made on this subject, but I should like to ask him a practical question, which is this: We understand that after the present time no duty will be payable on imported silver, but I want to know whether the right hon. Gentleman proposes in any sense to retain imported silver under the charge of the Government?


I think that the matter must remain very much as it is as long as compulsory hall-marking is continued; but the matter is under consideration.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 11.

MR. H. J. WILSON (York, W.R, Holmfirth)

I wish to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what interpretation is to be put upon the wording of this clause; whether, for instance, it is intended that goods in the care of a traveller should be treated as goods in stock; also whether goods sent for exhibition, or old goods which are taken back unsold, are to be treated in the same manner and are to receive drawback?


Travellers' stock not having passed from the manufacturer to the customer, I should presume, would be still regarded as manufacturers" stock, but in that case it must come back from the custody of the traveller into the manufacturers' hands, when it would be entitled to drawback.

MR. MALLOCK (Torquay)

I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether a similar drawback to that which is to be allowed in silver will be allowed on silver plated with gold?


Silver has always been put upon a different footing, in some respects, to gold. As I have already explained, wedding rings, which form one of the principal items in the gold trade, have never been entitled to drawback in exportation, as is now proposed with regard to silver plate. There may be some hardship in certain cases, but, as in the case of the Tea Duty and the duty on currants, it is impossible to avoid some hardship being entailed on those engaged in the trade.

SIR A. ROLLIT (Islington, S.)

I trust the right hon. Gentleman will take this subject into further consideration, and that, if he finds it possible, he will make some arrangement that would give satisfaction to those engaged in the trade, as it is a matter of great importance to a large number of them.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 12.


Before moving the longer Amendment which stands in my name, I wish to direct attention to the Amendment of which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has given notice, and to point out that it would occasion serious difficulty by requiring that each article should be weighed. There are some stocks containing as many as 5,000, 6,000, and 7,000 articles, most of them of small weight; and it would be a source of great trouble if the trade were compelled to get the Excise officers to attend at their place of business, and weigh each of those articles before they could be disposed of. I move, therefore, to leave out the word "each," and insert the word "the," in line 7, which would leave it open to them to arrange such a classification of the articles to be dealt with as would be found reasonable.

Amendment proposed, in page 5, line 7, to leave out the word "each," in order to insert the word"the."—(Mr. H. J. Wilson.)


I cannot see the necessity of omitting the word referred to in the hon. Gentleman's Amendment. We have already, in concert with those engaged in the trade, endeavoured to arrange a limit which I believe will meet the case.


I would point out that the manufacturers complain that it is chiefly the views of the shopkeepers that have been met, and that the views of the manufacturers have not been dealt with at all. I believe the hon. Gentleman has been in communication with a committee of the trade, but the committee only contain the names of two manufacturers, only one of whom manufactures for sale, the other manufacturing entirely for his own purposes, the rest being shopkeepers. The manufacturers in Birmingham say that this proposal would be exceedingly oppressive.


It is impossible for the Government to accept the hon. Gentleman's Amendment without first knowing the full effect it would have, and, in order to do this, they must consult the officers to whom these matters are entrusted. If the hon. Member will postpone his question to the Report stage, I will, in the meantime, make inquiry with a view of ascertaining whether anything is necessary to be done.


I thank the right hon. Gentleman, and, under the circumstances, will not press my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


I now move my Amendment, in line 8, to leave out the words "and the place where this is deposited." But I would point out that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has also given notice of two Amendments, one of which proposes to leave out the words, "the place," while the other proposes to omit the word "deposited." Those engaged in the trade say it is impossible to know where articles are deposited when they are going about the country.


Does the hon. Member accept the words put upon the Paper by the Chancellor of the Exchequer?




I think the hon. Gentleman will find that they quite meet his objection.

Amendment proposed, in line 8, to leave out the words "the place" and the word"deposited,"—(Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer,) —Agreed to.

(7.48.) MR. H. J. WILSON

The next Amendment on the same clause, of which I have given notice, has reference to exportation. I use the word "selling" instead of "exporting," and I have taken the word from the sub-section as it stands in the Bill. There is a feeling that the clause of the Chancellor of the Exchequer will cause the greatest difficulty to the trade. As I understand the operation of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's clause, it is that where the manufacturer or wholesale dealer is desiring to sell he has continually to give notice to the Revenue officers of that desire, and those officers would be continually coming to his place of business. What I aim at is to get over a. difficulty of that kind, by providing that it should be arranged for the officers to go to the warehouses of the dealers, or to the works of the manufacturers, and there mark the plate, showing that it had been weighed and passed. That having been done, the plate should be at once liberated. An enormous amount of the time of the manufacturers and of the officers would thus be saved. I have letters from 95 per cent. of the trade urging this matter very strongly indeed. The method I propose would be a great convenience to the traders. It is said that my plan does not provide adequate guarantee against the fraud of sending in old plate. I have not had time to go into that subject, but I should have thought the ingenuity of the trade and of the officers would have been sufficient to devise some means of protection.

Amendment proposed, in page 5, after line 17, to insert the words— (2.) Provided that if any such person shall be desirous of selling any article of plate of silver belonging to him in respect of which an allowance might be claimed, without losing the right to the allowance he may give to the proper officer of excise twenty-four hours previous notice in writing, setting forth the particulars of, and the weight of silver in, the article to be sold, and such officer shall cause a distinctive mark to be engraved on such article in his presence; and a certificate from such officer of the correctness of the particulars and weight and of due marking sent to the Commissionners shall have the same effect as if an account of such article as forming part of the stock of the person had been taken for the purpose of the allowance under this Act."—(Mr. Henry J. Wilson.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

*(7.55.) MR. GOSCHEN

There is no limit of weight in the hon. Member's Amendment, and that makes it impossible for me to accept it in the form in which it is put. But the clause has been framed, to a great extent, to meet the views of the hon. Member. It would be quite impossible to apply the method he proposes to numerous small articles in the trade. Of course, the Officers of Inland Revenue will be prepared to consult with representatives of the trade, the only desire being to meet their convenience.

(7.57.) MR. H. J. WILSON

I quite recognise the desire of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to meet the point, but I do not fully understand what is meant by the limit of weight. As I pointed out, the officers, under the clause, would be constantly going to and from the business places.

(7.58.) MR. MUNDELLA (Sheffield, Brightside)

The aim of the hon. Gentleman is to prevent giving unnecessary trouble to the manufacturers, and to the officers of the Crown, and my hon. Friend being an eminently practical man in this matter. I should have thought that the Chancellor of the Exchequer might have seen a way to meet the convenience of the manufacturers and the officers.


The officers of Inland Revenue are in favour of the plan I propose, and, as the hon. Gentleman knows, we must, in these matters, be guided to a. great extent by the officers of the Department.

Question put, and negatived.

Amendment proposed, at the end of the clause, to add the words— (3.) Provided also, that if any such person shall sell to a person, not being a licensed dealer in plate, any article of plate, or any combination of articles usually sold in a set, or any number of knives, or forks, or spoons, not less than a dozen at one time, and such article, or combination of articles, or knives, or forks, or spoons contain a weight or aggregate weight of silver not less than five ounces, he may, be-fore delivery of the article or articles sold, give to the proper officer of Inland Revenue, notice in writing, setting forth the particulars of and the weight of silver in such article or articles, and his desire that an account of the same should be taken by such officer, so that delivery may not be unduly delayed, and a certificate from such officer of the correctness of the par- ticulars and weight, and of the fact of sale sent to the Commissioners shall have the same effect as if an account of such article or articles, as forming part of the stock of the person, had been taken for the purpose of the allowance under this Act."—(The Chancellor of the Exchequer.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there added."


I bog to move to omit from the Amendment the words "not being a licensed dealer in plate." I do not understand how, with those words in the amendment, it will be possible for a manufacturer to get rid of his stock.

Amendment proposed to the proposed Amendment, in line 1, after the second word "person," to leave out the words not being a licensed dealer in plate."— (Mr. Henry J. Wilson.)

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


I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will S3e his way to accept this Amendment, because the manufacturer sells to licensed dealers and not to private persons who have no licence.


I understand that if the words are omitted it will be possible for the duty to be paid twice over by different persons. The whole of this provision applies to intermediates. The moment the interval is over the business will go on in the ordinary way.


How long is the interval to be? The last day mentioned in the Bill is September. Already trade is nearly paralysed, and people do not know how to get rid of their stock.


The amount is to be paid in September, but practically everything is to be arranged in June. It is evident that in all alterations of duty a certain amount of vexation must be caused in all trades. I think this trade has been extremely fortunate in obtaining a drawback; although, here and there, there may be cases of hardship, I think the hon. Member will see that it is scarcely well to push this matter too far.


The interests of a great number of people are deeply concerned in this matter. I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say that the manufacturers cannot part with their stock to the licensed traders until the end of June.


No: June is the last date. The whole thing must be arranged by June. I may say we have been in communication with a large number of persons in the trade, and have endeavoured to make arrangements which will suit the convenience of the trade. We are certainly under the impression that the arrangements we have made will be satisfactory.


I believe the right hon. Gentleman has not been in communication with a single manufacturer in the town of Sheffield, which is a very important centre of the plate trade.

(8.7.) The Committee divided—Ayes 140; Noes 94—(Div. List, No. 77.)

Words added.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 13, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 14.

(8.19.) MR. H. J. WILSON

I have given notice of an Amendment to leave out Sub-section I., but if that cannot be accepted I want to move to leave out in line 9, page 6,"payment of the allowances made, "for the purpose of substituting the words" certificate is granted." Shall I, Mr. Courtney, move the omission of the sub-section first or the Amendment?


The hon. Member should move the Amendment first.


Then I move the omission of the words I have mentioned. I can hardly believe that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer intended what the clause says. I do not know why he should desire the power of search after the Excise officer is satisfied and has given a certificate. It seems hard to expose the manufacturers and dealers to this power of search by carrying it over until the payment of the allowances.

Amendment moved, in page 6, line 9, to leave out the words "payment of the allowance is made," in order to insert the words "certificate is granted."—(Mr. Henry J. Wilson.)

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

*(8.21.) MR. GOSCHEN

I do not see why an officer should waste his time in making the search after payment is made and the whole matter is arranged. It does not seem to me that there need be any fear of these visits being paid. However, I do not think the Amendment can do any harm, and I, therefore, consent to it. Of course if, later on, it should seem to those familiar with these operations that the Amendment is one that should not be retained the matter will have to be re-considered on Report.

(8.21.) MR. MUNDELLA

If the right hon. Gentleman can facilitate the settlement of this matter in any way by introducing an Amendment on Report I hope he will do so.

(8.21.) MR. H. J. WILSON

If the right hon. Gentleman will introduce an Amendment on Report I will withdraw my proposal.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 15 and 16 agreed to.

Clause 17.


What is the class of the articles which are liable to assay? Jewellery, I understand, is not liable; and what I want to know is whether silver articles are liable to be pulled to pieces and assayed before they can be brought into the country?


This is merely a. formal clause.


I know it is formal; but I think I am entitled to ask for an explanation of the point to which I have referred.

*(8.26.) MR. GOSCHEN

What is reserved here is not the power to assay, but freedom from assay. There is no change in the law.


May we take it that jewellery, as distinguished from plate, is free from assay, and that silver jewellery is as free as gold jewellery?


The hon. Member must not take for granted anything more than is in the clause. I might only be misleading him if I were to give him a specific answer to his question. The clause cannot do any harm as it is, seeing that it only maintains an existing principle.


I look upon the clause as unfortunate, as we shall not have free trade. We shall sacrifice revenue, but not the interests of the monopolists.


The clause will have a wide application, as it will cover any misdemeanour or felony which may have been committed—and we must remember the bearing of this upon anyone aiding or assisting the officers of the Inland Revenue. I think that to ask us to believe in the necessity for this is to make a large demand upon our credulity.

*(8.28.) MR. GOSCHEN

A drawback is going to be given to silversmiths and that may involve a certain cost to them, and what we wish to provide against is the expense incurred in giving the drawback. I see nothing about felony in it.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 18.

(8.29.) MR. BLANE

I feel convinced the Committee will not pass the clause in its present state. It is in this form an impost on thrift and industry, and it will be hard to charge this amount on a large class of poor people who wish to make provision for old age.

*(8.29.) MR. GOSCHEN

This clause is only to clear up a doubt as to the existing law. It does not provide an increase of duty.


I do not say it does impose an increase of duty; but I object to the duty to which it refers.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 19, 20, and 21 agreed to.

Clause 22.

(9.0.) MR. BLANE

The Amendment which stands in my name to this clause is to omit the words "profits and gains," and my object is to secure that the tax should fall upon what can rightly be described as property; I mean that we should not impose any taxation upon industry.

Amendment proposed, in page 8, line 5. to leave out the words "profits and gains."—(Mr. Blane.)

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


I think the hon. Member scarcely appreciates the practical effect of this. Schedules C, D, and E have no reference to property at all, and I am sure he does not mean to exempt all profits and gains under these Schedules.

Question put, and agreed to.


I have to propose the substitution of "ownership" for "occupation" in lines 7 and 8 of page 8. My object simply is to make taxation fall upon those persons in the community who are best able to bear it. At the present time it falls upon those least able to bear it, and practically an immense amount of property in land escapes taxation. Landlords in former times held their lands upon condition that they should defend or contribute towards the defence of the land of the country; but in a Parliament composed of landlords the burden was adroitly shifted from this class on to the shoulders of those least able to bear it. Statute 12 of Charles II., cap. 24, was slightly amended by the subsequent Act of 1692, but practically the Land Tax remains as it was in 1660. The predecessors of those who are now owners of land were not "owners" of land but "holders" of land, and in lieu of the obligation of defence, upon which condition they held the lands, they charged themselves 4s. in the £1 towards Imperial taxation; but subsequently, and in successive Parliaments, they have lowered it to what we find it now—6d. It shows that landlords are very modest men when it comes to claiming their share in taxation. By reason of this exemption of land the burden of taxation is upheld by the industry of the country.


I do not think the hon. Member is quite aware of the nature of the Amendment he proposes to move to the clause we are dealing with. It is a tax upon farmer's profits under former Acts of Parliament, and only provides the rate of the tax.


Quito so, Sir; but I, in moving the insertion of the word "ownership," am entitled to show how then the tax would fall.


If the hon. Member will excuse me for interrupting him, the owner pays under Schedule A; the farmer's profits are assessed under Schedule B. With the hon. Member's Amendment the owner would be required to pay on his land as well as on the profits of the occupier. I do not know whether the hon. Member appreciates this?


Quite so; he pays taxes on two separate items if my Amendment is carried. The owner-would pay twice, but he would not be handing away his own money; he would only be handing away with his right hand that which he appropriates with his loft. There are two ways of acquiring property, either by earning it or appropriating it. But these men do not pay taxes at all on—


Will the hon. Member allow me to point out that if a tenant farmer has not made any profit, he is not called upon to pay the taxes for which he is assessed under Schedule B.


If the tax falls on the tenant at all, it is a tax on the industry of the country, and to the taxation of the industry of the country I am opposed, and hence it is, I propose to substitute ownership for occupation. At the present time, the owner does not get the profit; it is the great ground landlord who gets the profit, and so it comes about that people are swept away from the land into large towns, where they have to engage in fierce competition for a bare existence. One of our financial journals has well discussed this question, and shown how this freedom of the land from taxation is a prime cause of the pauperism in the country. As the writer points out, a solution of the difficulty would be found in the acquisition of lands, at nominal value, by authorities empowered to allocate such lands to those able to work and procure a livelihood from them, subjecting-these and all other lands to the 4s. tax. Thus would rates and rents both be reduced.

Amendment proposed, in page 8, lines 7 and 8, to leave out "occupation," and insert"ownership."—(Mr. Blane.)

Question proposed, "That the word 'occupation' stand part of the Clause."

Question put, and agreed to.

MR. T. FRY (Darlington)

Before we pass from the clause, I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman a question in reference to the rebate allowed for insurance. There are certain American Insurance Companies carrying on business in this country who make their reports to the Board of Trade, and are in every way amenable to the laws that govern insurance in this country, and yet the Commissioners will not allow. these companies to be placed on the list of those for which rebate on Income Tax assessments is allowed. This amounts to a tax of 2½ per cent. on the premiums of these companies, by whom it is regarded as a great hardship. This question has been raised on several occasions, and when I last heard of it it was under consideration. Has the consideration had any result? What is the ground of the refusal?


I can assure the hon. Gentleman the question is not one of administration, but of legal interpretation. There are statutes which direct the action of the Commissioners, and I am given to understand that the point, which I know has excited much interest, is now being argued in a Court of Law.


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman, if the decision should be adverse to the claims of these companies, will he be prepared to take steps towards a legislative remedy for the complaint?


I am not prepared to undertake that. I can assure the hon. Member there is much to be said on both sides.

* MR. MORTON (Peterborough)

May I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer why it is that the gross estimate is taken as the annual value? For all local rates there is another assessment, or what is called the rateable value. A good deal of trouble is caused to the taxpayers in consequence of this distinction.


The hon. Member raises an immense question involving a modification of the produce of the tax and its relation to taxation generally. The hon. Gentleman asks me why it is that the tax is so levied, but I am afraid I can only now refer him to his knowledge of the fact. It is a grievance that is often alleged by the owners of real property, but it is a matter of such very wide scope that I can scarcely do justice to it merely by answering a question. It was calculated, I think, by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian that in many eases the difference between the rateable and gross value amounted to as much as 17 or 18 per cent. This grievance, under which owners of real property labour, must be sot against the advantage they gain under the Succession Duty. If, as regards Succession Duty, realty should be put on the same basis as personalty, then the time will come when realty should be put on the same footing as personalty as regards Income Tax.


I am aware that the change in the assessment would involve a loss to the Exchequer, but it would be a justice to the taxpayers. Of course, the same remark applies to the Inhabited House Duty, which is charged on the same value. But may I ask the right hon. Gentleman to give the subject his consideration?


I may say that I have often considered it and spoken upon it. It is a matter of great importance. I can promise the hon. Member it shall continue to occupy my consideration, and not without some hope that it may be possible to deal with it some day.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 23.

(9.17.) MR. T. M. HEALY

I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer may accept the Amendment of which I have given notice, and I need not detain the Committee at any length. It is not often that opinions expressed in this part of the House are regarded as moderate by hon. Gentleman opposite, but when, as between the proposal in the Bill for a period of three months and the opinion among many hon. Members opposite that it should be extended to 12, I suggest six months, I think it is a reasonable compromise. Then I would suggest that there should be an appeal from the Commissioners to some other tribunal. I do not say that the Commissioners are not excellent men, but I am sure that farmers and business men who are entitled to relief from taxation on account of losses incurred will have more confidence in the consideration their claims will receive with the knowledge that an appeal is open to them. As to the period I think we shall all agree that three months is too short. I do not know exactly what is meant by the expression "year of assessment." I am not sure when the year is supposed to commence. But it is impossible for me to say, within three months, how trade transactions may turn out, nor can a farmer say as to his crops, which may be all right one day but spoiled the next. So, also, in the brewing trade, a man cannot tell within a short period whether his whole brew may not turn out an entire loss. Three months is an inadequate period. The Ratepayers' Association want 12 months, but I think the Government are more likely to concede the compromise I suggest of six months.

Amendment proposed, in page 8, line 23, to leave out the word "three," and insert the word"six."—(Mr. T. M. Healy.)

Question proposed, "That the word 'three' stand part of the Clause."

*(9.21.) SIR E. BIRKBECK (Norfolk, E.)

I hope my right hon. Friend will agree to this modification of the clause. What the hon. Member says is perfectly true. I am sure that, within so short a time it is quite impossible for a large number of persons to obtain the relief they are entitled to, because it will not be possible to get the accounts definitely made up. The hon. Member has proposed six months, but I would go much further. It is impossible for those on-gaged in agriculture to know within a limited time what their losses are-profits they do not make nowadays. I would strongly urge my right hon. Friend to agree to the proposal.

(9.22.) MR. CRAIG (Newcastle-upon-Tyne)

Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will explain what is meant by the year of assessment.

*(9.22.) MR. GOSCHEN

The year ending March 31st. This is really a case of "looking a gift horse in the mouth." It was a concession often demanded, and, being made, gave great satisfaction at the moment. But then the hon. Member has raised a new question. I do not complain of the proposal for six months, but he has mixed it up with the question of an appeal. That is important, no doubt, but it does not arise here, and I hope he will not ask me to deal with it now. Three months was the time inserted, because it is the usual period for various Departments in respect to Income Tax, but if hon. Members attach importance to it, I have no objection to six months. We are anxious that traders should have the means of relief—it is merely a question of machinery—we only took three months as being the usual time in analogous cases.

Question put, and negatived.

Question "That the word 'six' be-there inserted," put, and agreed to.

Question proposed, "That Clause 23, as amended, be added to the Bill."

(9.28.) MR. T. M. HEALY

Of course we take the warning and must not look a gift Chancellor of the Exchequer in the mouth. I refrain from saying anything about an appeal, but perhaps another year, when the right hon. Gentleman has had some experience of how the change works, he will not blame us —should he be in office, which, with all respect to him, I hope he may not be—if we raise this question of appeal.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 24.


I must apologise for not putting my Amendment on the Paper, but, anticipating we should have a lively night upon the Spirit Duties, I did not think this part of the Bill would have been reached so early. The effect of the clause, so far as I can see, is to make an addition to the Death Duty, because a person is to be assessed for Income Tax after his death. It is to be left over for a period of a year, when he, not living, derives no benefit from the expenditure of the Income Tax. If that is not so, then I should be glad of an explanation. It also imposes an indefinite liability, extending over an indefinite period, upon the executor of the deceased. I propose to limit the period of the assessment to that during which the deceased was living, and, secondly, I shall propose that the claim made shall extend over a period of a year, in order that an executor may have some idea as to the extent of the time of his liability.

Amendment proposed, in page 9, line 11, after the word 'administrators, "to insert the words" but for such period only of the financial year as the deceased was living."—(Mr. Sydney Buxton.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

*(9.30.) MR. GOSOHEN

All that is proposed under this clause is, that when a person has died without being assessed such an assessment as might have been made if he had lived may be made upon his executors. The Amendment is quite unnecessary.

(9.32.) MR. CRAIG

I do not think the right hon. Gentleman's explanation advances the question very much. Any one reading the clause and knowing the habits of the Revenue officers might think—I do not say rightly, but might think—that the intention is to make the executors of a, man who dies, say, on the 1st of May, pay a whole year's Income Tax. If that be the meaning I hope the Committee will either accept the Amendment or exclude the clause entirely. It is quite a new provision. The Income Tax officers always take advantage of the Act, especially in the case of dead persons. They always try to screw out of the executors more than they are entitled to. I want to know what is the meaning of the clause, and how it will operate.

*(9.34.) MR. GOSCHEN

I am sorry I did not make my meaning clear. The clause is merely intended to rectify omissions. If an assessment has not been made during the life of a man, the clause provides that his estate shall not obtain any advantage from the neglect to make the assessment. I do not think the Committee would wish that the fact of a man not having been assessed should free the estate from the Income Tax.

*(9.35.) MR. H. H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)

I quite concur in the necessity of the course the right hon. Gentleman desires to follow, but I do not think the clause, as worded, will really carry out his intention. I understand the right hon. Gentleman to mean that if a man dies between, say, the 5th of April, 1890, and the 5th April, 1891, and no assessment has been made upon him for the portion of the year during which he may have earned his income, executors shall pay Income Tax in respect of that portion of the year. If that be the meaning, there can be no two opinions about it, because unless that intention be carried out there would be an evasion of the duty. But I would point out that the clause does not carry out that intention, and it seems to me we should be opening the door to great difficulties if the present wording were adopted. If the right hon. Gentleman will submit this question to the draftsman of the Treasury, all mistakes will be avoided. I would also draw attention to the fact that this is retrospective legislation, which might affect a great many estates which have been wound up, and the property of which has been distributed. Some alteration is, therefore, required in this respect also.

(9.38.) MR. GEDGE (Stockport)

When I first read this clause the same objections occurred to me as have been stated by Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House; but I took the trouble to obtain an explanation from the Surveyor of Income Tax in my district, and I also looked up the Act. I then came to the conclusion that I had been mistaken, and that the clause properly carries out the intention of the Government. Under the law, as it stands at present, the executors of a man who, if he had lived, would be liable to be surcharged, cannot be surcharged. This clause will remedy that defect of the law. I may say now—to avoid the necessity of rising a second time—that there is an objection to the last four lines of the clause. We are told that the amount is to be paid out of the estate, and that, in default, the executors will have to pay-— and that is making the executors liable for an amount which may be beyond the sum in their hands. That ought not to be. Words should be inserted in the clause to make the estate liable, and not the executors.

*(9.42.) MR. GOSCHEN

The question before the Committee will be looked into, so as to see whether the executors should be held liable for anything above the amount which the estate is capable of yielding. The Exchequer has the common interest at heart; it is not the enemy of anyone, and I trust that no one will look upon it as a thing to be opposed, even should it make a mistake. Supposing a mistake to he made, that should not relieve the estate from liability, and the only object of the clause is to enable property to be assessed, which has not been, but which ought to be, assessed. I will undertake that the Solicitor General and other Legal Authorities shall be consulted, and that, so far as legal knowledge can do it, the clause shall not be carried beyond the necessities of the case.


It seems to me that the words in the clause "in case he was living" will make an estate liable to pay Income Tax not only far the portion of the financial year during which the person assessed is living, but for the part after his decease. An ordinary person would suppose that on a man dying, his income would be assessed only for the period during which he had lived, and not for the whole year, regardless of the length of time he had lived during the year.


The Chancellor of the Exchequer has met us very fairly in this proposal; therefore, I will not press my Amendment. If I understand the right hon. Gentleman aright, he will submit the matter to the Law Officers of the Crown.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


The proper course would be to withdraw the clause.

(9.46.) MR. FLYNN

No doubt it would be an easy thing to assess, under this clause, the income of a wealthy business man whose books have been accurately kept, and, in the case of default, if the collector is to blame, seeing that he is a Government servant, I think the loss should be borne by the Treasury. There are many people who do not keep books, and in such cases probably the only man who would have been able to give the necessary information would have been the deceased. These cases, which have not been urged on the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, are worthy of consideration. I would support the proposition of my hon, and learned Friend that the clause should be withdrawn, on the understanding that on the Report stage the matter will be put in a clear and intelligible form by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

(9.49.) MR. GROTRIAN (Hull, East)

The question of the power of the Income Tax Commissioners or Surveyors of Taxes to assess retrospectively should be looked into. I am not sure that it extends to one year, and if that is the case I know instances in which the law has been overstepped. I know of cases where the assessors have gone back 10 years. I would ask for an assurance as to what the law really is, and if there is a doubt about it I would ask that the clause should be amended so as to make the retrospective power one year.

*(9.50.) MR. JACKSON

The point under discussion is met by what my right hon. Friend has said. There is at present power to proceed against the executor for Income Tax in the event of the person from whom the money is due and who has died having been duly assessed. There is no power in the event of the assessment not having' been made to assess for the full amount which may be due, and all that is intended by this clause is to give power to proceed against the executor in such a case —such power as there would have been to proceed against the deceased had he been alive. Any difficulty there may be, so far as justice to the executor is concerned, will, as my right hon. Friend has said, be duly considered.

(9.52.) MR. FLYNN

I would ask the hon. Member to take into view a case that might easily occur. The right hon. Gentleman says the clause is to provide for the assessment of a man who ought to have been assessed, but has not been. Well, supposing a man dies who has not been assessed for a number of years, but is assessed the year of his decease. There may be nobody left behind to give evidence as to the income of the deceased. What should be done in that case? Generally "speaking, no difficulty would arise in the case of people having-large incomes, and there is no danger in those instances of executors being surcharged. In Ireland, however, there are a danger of a large number of persons being wrongfully assessed, and of executors having to pay large sums which they ought not to be called upon to pay; and I maintain that if there is neglect of duty on the part of Government officials to make a proper assessment, any loss that may result should fall upon the Exchequer.

*(9.55.) MR. KIMBER (Wandsworth)

I think the difficulty in this case might be met by leaving out the last four lines of the clause.


I protest against this clause. The Secretary to the Treasury has let the cat out of the bag in saying that the power to be conferred by this clause is to have effect when the Income Tax has not been properly assessed.


I said duly assessed.


Well, I say that if you have failed to make arrangements to get the money when the assessment is completed you ought not to have it. If you have the income duly assessed you should get the money, but if the income is not duly assessed you should go without the money. I would ask the Solicitor General, whom I see opposite, what he thinks of the proposal to charge an executor with the Income Tax of a deceased person who has not been duly assessed? Would the charitable gentlemen who conduct these operations on behalf of the Treasury expect the executor to stump up? Supposing the executor is a poor man, if a charge which he deems unjust is made he will object to pay, and will go to an attorney, who will advise him to fight the matter, and, if he does so, he may have to pay £50 or £60 in costs in regard to a claim of £10. Surely nothing more oppressive could be imagined. If all executors were rich men there would not be so much to complain of, but such is not the case, and I hold that by your proposal not only will the life of an administrator be rendered a terror, but death itself will be made a terror to him. You are going a length with this Income Tax which has never yet been suggested. The point raised by my hon. Friend has not yet been answered. An executor who, from charitable conscientious motives, acts on behalf of a defenceless widow and children, may be let in for a largo bill of costs —an Attorney General or Solicitor General having, perhaps, been engaged to argue a matter of principle against him. This clause involves gross injustice both to the living and the dead, and, there- fore, I think it should be omitted from the Bill.

*(9.59.) MR. T. H.BOLTON (St. Pancras, North)

It seems to me that the powers contained in this clause might operate oppressively and unfairly. If an executor is to be personally liable, it will, no doubt, be desirable to have an official paid executor, as is proposed in another Bill shortly to come before the House, because if you have a law of this kind it will be found very difficult to get men to act as executors. I would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that he should go further than he has indicated, and put a limit to the time within which a claim can be made, so that an executor may not have a possible claim for unpaid Income Tax hanging over him for a\n unreasonable time.

*(10.0.) MR. GOSCHEN

I have said that I will deal with this point. The Inland Revenue officers, in doing their duty, think that there is a certain loss of duty which onght not to occur in the distribution of estates. These cases rarely occur, but it is the duty of the Inland Revenue officers to see that they shut the door on all possible evasions. I am, however, prepared to postpone the clause, hoping that when the question is submitted to the House they will support the Exchequer in this matter.

Question, "That the Clause be postponed," put, and agreed to.

Clause 25.

(10.2.) MR. BLANE

I beg to move, in page 9, lines 21 and 25, to leave out "two-pence," and insert "one penny." The object of the Amendment is to relieve the occupier of the tax, which, properly, ought to be paid by the landlords, for the homesteads do not belong to the occupier, but the Duke of Norfolk, the Duke of Bedford, the Duke of Westminster, and others. That the occupiers and not these men should be charged with the duty is, to my mind, an iniquity.

Amendment proposed, page 9, line 24-25, to leave out the word "two-pence" and insert the words "one penny."—(Mr. Blane.)

Question proposed, "That the word 'two-pence' stand part of the Clause."


I should like to say a few words as regards the Inhabited House Duty. I presume that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will not accept this Amendment, but I wish to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to a Memorial which I presented from my own constituents on behalf of a class of men who may be said to have got beyond their first black coat, namely, those traders who are rated for premises which are to all intents and purposes unoccupied. In that constituency there is a leading firm who have three buildings —one shop and two warehouses. The two rooms above the shop are occupied by assistants, and the two warehouses have separate party walls and separate entrances. They are totally and absolutely disconnected from the shop. The shop is rented at £300, and the warehouses at £270 and £180. Now, the owners are already paying duty for their own private residences, and they claim that the accommodation of their assistants, for which they are taxed, is a business expense, and part of the assistant's salary. That they are taxed for the warehouses is a matter which they feel very keenly. There are a number of similar cases with which I will not trouble the Committee, but I think I have stated a fair ease for my right hon. Friend to entertain. I am very grateful to him for the relief he has given the small owners of inhabited houses, but I do hope he will be able to consider cases such as I have brought before him. I trust that during the discussion of this clause he will be able to give us some satisfactory assurance that he will consider the subject next year.

*(10.8.) MR. GOSCHEN

I am afraid that I cannot pledge myself to any dealing with the House Tax next year. I quite understand the difficulty which the hon. Member's constituents feel, but it is impossible to see where the reform will stop, short of that total abolition of the House Duty to which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby referred the other day. [Cheers.] I am glad to hear from that cheer that the abolition of the House Duty is not held as a boon to the landlords, as some hon. Gentlemen opposite maintain it would be. With regard to the Amendment to reduce the duty on houses under £40 to 1d., I cannot go beyond the concession which I have proposed to the House. It is an important concession, which I hope the House will appreciate.

Question put, and agreed to.

(10.11.) MR. DILLON

Sir, before the clause is passed I wish to make some observations as to the manner in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer disposes of his surplus. Naturally, the Bill is not unpopular with English Members, but the more the Irish Members study it the more they dislike it. The surplus is raised from the one particular class of tax to which the Irish people contribute more than their fair proportion, and it is used for the reduction of a class of taxation from which the Irish people got no benefit whatever. I protest against the nature of these remissions, as being little short of an outrage and a robbery of the Irish people. We have come to the last of the remissions, and, according to a Return issued yesterday, Ireland obtains absolutely no benefit whatever. There is an enormous consumption of currants in England, and Ireland does not eat one-sixtieth part of what is consumed here. Ireland gets no benefit from that remission, nor does she benefit by the remission on silver plats. Then, again, as to the Inhabited House Duty, the remission is to be given to England. Is it reasonable to expect the Representatives for Ireland to accept a Budget of this kind in silence? Ireland contributes considerably more than her fair proportion of the surplus, and she only gets one-thirteenth part of the relief, whereas, according to Mr. Giffen's statement, her proper proportion would be one-tenth. The surplus has come from the increased consumption of various kinds of wines and spirits. On all kinds of drink, including beer and foreign and home spirits, the amount contributed by Great Britain is less than £22,000,000, while the contribution of Ireland was over £4,000,000, so that Ireland contributes between one-sixth and one-fifth, while they do not get l-20th of the remission. I will say no more at present. I have only thought it my duty to make this protest against the Inhabited House Duty, not because I regard it as unfair to the people of England, but that I consider it an just to the people of Ireland; and I warn the Chancellor of the Exchequer that we shall feel it our duty at a further stage of the Bill to raise the whole question of the way in which Ireland is being treated by this measure.

*(10.16.) MR. GOSCHEN

I think if the hon. Member opposite were to examine the grievances he alleges he will find that they come to this, namely, that we have not reduced the duty on spirits in Ireland, because I do not know that there is any other way in which we could meet the complaints he makes.


Yes, by reducing the duty on tobacco.


But if we had done that, the same arguments would have been used against the proposal as have been used with regard to the reduction of the Tea Duty


Not at all; the right hon. gentleman will find that the Irish people pay a much larger proportion of the Tobacco Duty than any other portion of the community.


The hon. Gentleman forgets that a large proportion of the tobacco consumed in Ireland is consumed and paid for by English people.


I am speaking from tables which have been corrected by allowance being made for that.


The hon. Gentleman is the first person who has suggested the reduction of the Tobacco Duty, and apart from that, or a reduction of the Spirit Duty, there is no way in which we could have met the right hon. Gentleman's views. If we had reduced the Income Tax, the hon. Member would have made a similar complaint, and that was one of the alternative proposals which I have been censured for not adopting. Had I proposed a reduction of the Income Tax, the hon. Gentleman would have had the same grievance as now. It is impossible, in dealing with the whole fiscal situation of the Kingdom, to look simply at the condition of Ireland. If Ireland has not had full advantage in the reduction of taxation, we are making it up to to her in other ways. With regard to the Tobacco Duty I would remind the hon. Gentleman that I did reduce that some time ago, and it is too much to expect that we should go back to that duty again. I venture to think, whatever hon. Members may say, that I have not been chary in affording such relief to Ireland as might be reasonably expected at our hands. In all the fiscal changes we have made we have abstained from any remissions of which Ireland could not have full share. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has an exceedingly difficult task to perform, and I hope hon. Members will not think I have selected the reduction of House Duty because that is a relief in which Ireland would not share, although the hon. Member has almost suggested that I have done so. Fortunately for Ireland, she is relieved from this tax, but as I shall have to meet the Irish Members-on the question of the general taxation of Ireland on another occasion, I will not now further continue the observations, and I trust hon. Members opposite will not think it desirable to plunge into that discussion at the present moment.

(10.20.) MR. DILLON

I do not wish to go into the whole question, but I would refer the right hon. Gentleman to the Return obtained by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle, showing the proportions of the several items of Revenue contributed by England and Ireland. On that Return it will be found that while England contributed £6,500,000 of Tobacco Duty, Ireland's-contribution was £1,300,000, that is to say, that the Irish contributed one-fifth of the amount paid by the people of England, which is a far larger proportion than they ought to pay. The right hon. Gentleman has said, if he had reduced the Income Tax the Irish people would have have had a similar grievance. So we should, because the Income Tax contributed by Ireland is only one-twentieth part of that paid by England, which shows that the Irish people are only one-twentieth part as rich as the people of Great Britain. What I complain of is that the Chancellor of the Exchequer derives an enormous surplus from a tax to which the Irish people contribute more than their share; and he has not given them back their fair proportion in the shape of a corresponding reduction of the duty on tobacco, which is preeminently a tax on the poor of Ireland.

(10.23.) MR. J. O'CONNOR (Tip perary, S.)

The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer boasts that he has generously given to Ireland a large sum. What are the facts? He has given one sum of £4,000, which he has carefully tied up, and £70,000 for National Education.


I would point out that in those cases there could be no generosity at all, because Ireland is entitled to those allowances. But the hon. Member does not refer to the light railways.


We shall have something to say about the light railways hereafter, and the manner in which it is intended to expend the money. As to the Tea Duty, it is calculated that Ireland will benefit to the extent of £105,000 a year; but what the right hon. Gentleman gives with one hand ho takes away with the other, because the increased Spirit Duty will increase the taxation of Ireland by up wards of £106,000. As to the Tea Duty, that is given out of the surplus extracted from our staple manufacture, namely, Irish whisky. Therefore, there is no ground for the boast of the right hon. Gentleman. If he will refer to the Tables which have just been published, he will see that the money raised by the Excise and Customs on licences amounts to £28,000,000 for Great Britain, while—


Order, order The Question under discussion is Clause 25, which makes provision for the Inhabited House Duty, and the hon. Member is wandering from that Quesstion.


I am aware of that; but the Chancellor of the Exchequer has boasted of his generosity to Ireland, and I thought I was entitled to answer him by reference to these facts. I only desire to say that while the licences produce £28,000,000 in Great Britain, or £1 per head of the population, the taxation raised from the same sources in Ireland amounts to about £5,000,000, which is also about £1 per head, which is contrary to the maxim of finance, that the incidence of taxation should fall with greater weight on those who are best able to pay.

(10.26.) MR. T. M. HEALY

I only wish to say a few words. My hon. Friend contends that the Irish people are being-robbed, and if that be the case they are being robbed by the Imperial Government, who say, "We belong to the bigger country and we do as we please." We are told that we enjoy the benefits of the Army and Navy and Volunteers, and we are also aware that we enjoy the great privilege of having the Union Jack noting over us, and of being ruled by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 26.

(10.28.) MR. STOREY

In moving, as an Amendment, to substitute the word "used" for the word "constructed," I would remind the Committee that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer has said we ought not to look a gift horse in the mouth. I shall at once disclaim any such intention by saying that I thank the right hon. Gentleman on behalf of myself and constituents for the reduction he has made in the House Duty. It is a reduction that has been long looked for, and at length it is in part obtained. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not think I am acting wrongfully if, like Oliver Twist, I ask for more. I am not asking, as Oliver did, for what was not his, but for what is not only ours, but what the Chancellor of the Exchequer has already promised to give. I say it is ours, because the owners of houses and tenements never ought to have had to pay House Duty. It was never intended by the original Act that they should, and it has been levied upon them improperly during a long series of years in utter defiance of the law. The right hon. Gentleman the present leader of this House, when on the Opposition side, said— That it was contrary to the spirit of the Act of Parliament by which it was intended that separate tenements of below £20 annual value should be exempted from the tax. And I believe the Chancellor of the Exchequer did intend to exempt those houses; but the 2nd sub-section of the clause does not carry this intention out, and therefore does not touch the case of hundreds of thousands of houses in this country. We in the North have ways of our own, and one of our ways is that we have large numbers of houses in our towns which used to be occupied in single tenements, but which are now let out in flats. The tenants all use one front door, and as a consequence the landlord has to pay the Inhabited House Duty. Yet on the other side of the street may be found a row of cottages which are each let at under £20 per annum, and which consequently are exempted from payment of the Inhabited House Duty. Now I think that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should grant some relief in these cases. I beg, without further remarks, to move the Amendment in my name, to insert after the word "House" the word "used." I think the adoption of this Amendment would assist in providing dwellings for the working-classes. I do not think that there is any danger we should be encouraging rookeries, because a duty is imposed on the Medical Officer of Health to certify that the houses arc fit for human habitation. I beg to move my Amendment.

Amendment proposed, in page 10, line 13, after the word "house," to insert the word"used."—(Mr. Storey.)

Question proposed, "That the word 'used' be there inserted."

(10.38.) SIR C. RUSSELL (Hackney, S.)

I wish to remind the Chancellor of the Exchequer that a large number of Metropolitan Members are interested in this matter.

(10.39.) MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)

May I point out that the wording of the clause as it stands is neither sense nor grammar? It reads— The assessment to Inhabited House Duty of any house constructed (whether as originally built or by subsequent alteration)," &c. I do not know who is the draughtsman of the Bill; but unless we want to put a conundrum to the Judges we must alter the words.

*(10.41.) MR. GOSCHEN

I am quite clear as to the policy which ought to be adopted. The concession ought only to be given to those houses which, by original construction or by subsequent alteration, are adapted to the housing of the working-classes. The deputation which has waited on me was largely composed of owners of very inferior property, who frankly admit that they wish to get the benefit of the exemption for themselves. The Government do not wish to grant relief to cases where the house, designed for single occupation, has been so patched up as to supply inferior and inadequate accommodation for the working-classes. In the North of England a large number of private houses have been changed into dwellings for artisans, and there can be in them no proper sanitary accommodation. The only effect of the concession asked for would be to put the remission into the pockets of the landlords. The Government wish to encourage-the building of suitable artisans' dwellings, by exempting only such from the duty.

(10.45.) MR. STOREY

I also desire to see the working-classes properly housed; and I am as anxious as the right hon. Gentleman that rookeries should be rooted out, and if I had thought the Amendment would have a contrary effect I would not have suggested it. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says these people want to put money into their pockets; but the right hon. Gentleman has been taking money out of their pockets unfairly and against the spirit of the Act of Parliament. There are hundreds of decent houses in the North, fit for the habitation of the working-classes, which will not be relieved by this clause. I must press this matter, because it amounts to a very serious grievance in my own town. The burden, in fact, runs up to hundreds and thousands of pounds; and if the Secretary to the Treasury will only visit Sunderland—I can promise him he will be courteously received and courteously sent away—we shall be able to convince him of the real nature of this hardship. I make this appeal in the interests of the working classes. If the owner of three cottages is not called upon to pay Inhabited House Duty, why, I should like to know, must the duty be paid by the owner of a house which is let out to three working class families?


Because one lives in a house and the other does not.


Oh, yes, he does; he lives in a house according to Act of Parliament. I press this matter, because it is a case of serious hardship.

(10.52.) MR. CRAIG

The arguments which apply to Sunderland apply with equal force to Newcastle; and I therefore join heartily in the appeal made by my hon. Friend to the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the interests of the working classes.

(10.53.) MR. JESSE COLLINGS (Birmingham, Bordesley)

The Corporation of Birmingham have tried hard to discourage the state of things which my hon. Friend seems to want to continue. If an owner has a large house into which he wishes to put half a dozen families, that Corporation has not objected, provided each dwelling is made suitable in respect of water supply, and so forth, for each of those families. But in many of those tenement houses there is only one supply of water, and—


Where do you put the cow?


I do not propose to take notice of the insolence of the hon. Member, whose conduct is apparently approved by some hon. Members sitting around him. It does not affect me personally, but it does affect me as a Member of this Assembly.


Why do yon not sit on the other side?


It reflects disgrace—


Sit with your friends.


I will tell my hon. Friend that I sit in my place.


Order, order! The hon. Member for Mid Cork will be good enough to restrain himself, and the hon. Member for Bordesley will proceed.


I only spoke—


The hon. Member's conduct is really passing Parliamentary tolerance.


Of course, I bow to your ruling, knowing you side with the hon. Member. [An hon. MEMBER: "Name."]


Order, order ! Mr. Collings.


I trust that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the interests of the working classes, will remain firm. Our object in Birmingham has been to induce owners of property in the large towns to make suitable provision for the working classes, and I think the attitude of the right hon. Gentleman will prove an incentive to owners in other largo towns.

(10.59.) MR. ESSLEMONT

While I have great sympathy with the object which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has in view, I must say I do not think he will fulfil his purpose by this clause, and I deprecate most strongly his dealing with questions of sanitation in a clause of this kind. By merely altering the amount of duty the right hon. Gentleman is not likely to ensure proper measures of sanitation. The Government ought to see that the Medical Officers of Health and Sanitary Inspectors do their duty by these tenements. Knowing very well the habits of those who live in flats in the North of Scotland and other towns in Scotland, I maintain that the object the Chancellor of the Exchequer has in view will not be accomplished by this clause. On the contrary, by this clause a system of oppression will be practised upon a class of individuals who are not well able to bear it.

(11.2.) Question put:—The Committee divided:—Ayes 148; Noes 207.—(Div. List, No. 78.)


Perhaps it will meet the views of hon. Gentlemen if we leave out the words "constructed (whether as originally built or by subsequent alterations),"and insert "originally built or adapted by subsequent alterations and used."

Amendment proposed, in page 10, line 13, to leave out the words "constructed (whether as originally built or by subsequent alteration),"and insert "originally built or adapted by subsequent alterations and used."—{The Chancellor of the Exchequer.)

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


Are we to understand that there is to be a separate entrance?


The hon. Gentleman will see that no such words are in the clause.


Will there have to be a separate entrance?


Why should the hon. Gentleman wish to have the words? I believe, as I propose to amend it, the clause will meet the views of the Committee. It will be for the Sanitary Officers to decide whether the houses are properly adapted.


The proposed alteration is a substantial one, but let me point out that it is not necessary there should be a subsequent alteration. I suggest that the clause should be altered so as to read "originally constructed or adapted and used for the sole purpose." Additional sanitary arrangements in the yard might be required, and that would not be an alteration but an addition.


I will agree to add the word "addition;" but I am not prepared to omit the word "alteration."


How will it read then


The assessment to Inhabited House Duty of any house originally built or adapted by addition or alteration and used for the sole purpose.


I have to express my obligation to the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Question put, and negatived.

Question, "That the words originally built or adapted by addition or alteration and used,' be there inserted," put, and agreed to.

Amendment proposed, in page 10, line 20, to leave out from "of" to "authority," in line 21 inclusive, and insert "other medical practitioner appointed as hereinafter provided."—(Mr. Jackson.)

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


No notice has been given of this Amendment, and I should be glad to know what is meant by it.


It is to carry out more fully what is in the Bill itself.


What is in the Bill?


This Amendment is for the purpose of explaining more fully what will be the duty of the medical officer.


May we hear how the clause will road, if amended as proposed?


It is considered that the words of the clause are too narrow and do not sufficiently explain what is intended. We merely amplify the powers we propose to insert in the Bill.


I doubt very much whether there is any necessity to go beyond the recognised Medical Officer of Health, who is a public officer. We have had some experience in this matter, and we know it is never very well to have private practitioners giving these certificates. Cannot the right hon. Gentleman see ho is holding out a premium to private practitioners to give certificates to their clients? I think certificates should only be given by public officials, who are directly responsible to the authorities.


The object of the Government is to provide that there shall be no delay. It is quite obvious that in a very large district the Medical Officer of Health may not be able to cover the ground as quickly as it is desirable he should. If the hon. Gentleman objects I do not know we need stick out for the appointment of additional Medical Officers. I think the hon. Member desires to omit the words "or of some other medical practitioner," &c. We agree to that.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment proposed, in lines 20 and 21, to leave out the words "or some other medical practitioner appointed by him, with the consent of the Sanitary Authority."—(Mr. Jackson.)

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

Amendment proposed, in page 10, line 25, to leave out from "fee" to "Board," in line 27 inclusive, and insert "Medical Officer of Health of a district on request by the person who would be liable to pay the house duty were not discharged as aforesaid, shall examine the house for the purpose of ascertaining whether such a certificate can properly be given, and if the house be constructed so as to afford such accommodation and due provision be made as aforesaid, shall certify the same accordingly and for such examination he shall be entitled to receive from the person so requiring him a fee of five shillings together with an additional fee of one shilling for each dwelling if the number of separate dwellings in the house exceeds five, provided that the total fee shall not in any case exceed two pounds. The Medical Officer of Health may with the consent of the authority by whom he was appointed, no minat some medical practitioner having the same qualification as that required for the office of Medical Officer of Health to make such examination and give such certificates in his stead."— (Mr. Ritchie.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."


I beg to move to omit from the proposed Amendment all the words after "accordingly," for the purpose of preventing Medical Officers charging any fees. I never knew a more extraordinary proposal than that which is made by the Government. They propose to remit the Inhabited House Duty. Take a case to see how it will work. If a house be rated at £20, under the now scale there will be 20 times 3d., or 5s., to pay. Duty amounting to 5s. will be remitted, but 5s. will be charged for the certificate upon which it is remitted. The Government, therefore, take off the tax with one hand and put it on with the other. In our town we pay our Medical Officer of Health £500 a year. Would you have a man in that position, when he goes to make this examination, charge the occupier a fee of 5s.? In my view, it is improper to charge a fee at all; and, therefore, I move the omission of the words after "accordingly," so that it will yet remain the duty of the Medical Officer to examine, report, and certify, but he will be expected to include this in the duties for which his salary is paid.

Amendment proposed to the proposed Amendment, to leave out all the words after the word "accordingly."

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

*(11.30.) MR. RITCHIE

The only reason why a fee should be paid to the Medical Officer is that at present this forms no part whatever of the Medical Officer's duty. If you impose on an officer entirely new duties, which in many cases will take up considerable time, it is hardly fair to do so without offering him a fee, and a very moderate fee this is for the service performed. I hardly think the Committee will be disposed to grudge such a fee for these new duties, a fee which will relieve the occupier of the house at once from the payment of an annual duty.

(11.31.) MR. STOREY

For a £20 house the duty would be 5s., and the occupier gets no relief if you charge him a 5s. fee.


He pays it once for all, that is my answer; and for that payment becomes relieved of an annual payment.


The right hon. Gentleman cannot have much anxiety to establish sanitary conditions in houses if that is his view. Though a house may not be fit one year it does not follow that the state of things will continue. Clearly the examination must be annual, if at all genuine.


There is another point to consider. The proposal is that a fee of 5s. should be paid when ever a certificate is granted; but it must be remembered the examination is the same whether a certificate is or is not granted. If the fee is only to be charged when a certificate is granted, that may act as an inducement to grant certificates. I think the fee, if charged, should attach to the examination, not to the granting of the certificate of exemption.

(11.33.) MR. HUNTER

I assume it is the intention of the Government that a certificate should last more than one year; but I would draw attention to the fact that there is nothing in the clause to that effect. The assessment is annual; but there is nothing in the clause to justify the view that the Commissioners would accept the previous years' certificate as an exemption. It will be necessary to introduce some words to make the intention clear.

(11.34.) SIR W. HARCOURT

The right hon. Gentleman says the reason for this fee is that it is no part of the duty of a medical officer to make these inspections, but why should it not be? I cannot conceive anything more essentially part of a medical officer's duty than the investigation of the sanitary condition of houses in his district. If the salary of the medical officer does not admit of this additional duty, then let the salary be raised. I quite agree with my hon. Friend that the fee attached to the granting of a certificate might be considered an inducement to a medical officer to grant a certificate in doubtful cases where otherwise he might not grant a certificate. Clearly these examinations fall naturally within the duty of a medical officer and should be covered by the salary.

*(11.35.) MR. RITCHIE

I hope the Committee has noted the opinion the right hon. Gentleman has expressed that medical practitioners might be induced for the sake of a fee of 5s. to grant certificates when they ought not to do so. What we say is that by this Bill we are imposing a new duty on Medical Officers of Health, and that, therefore, the fee—which is a very small one—should be paid them. Surely it is not too much to ask the person who secures this exemption to pay a fee when he receives his certificate? I do not believe that any officer would be induced by this consideration to give a certificate he was not justified in giving.


Nobody said so.


We do not think the fee is by any means too large for these new duties of the medical officer.

*(11.36.) MR. H. H. FOWLER

The right hon. Gentleman completely misapprehends the objection. It is not the amount of the fee that is in question, and my right hon. Friend's remarks were not open to the construction the right hon. Gentleman put upon them. But certainly, as the clause stands, the fee is only given when a certificate of exemption is granted. But let me point out this as affecting not only medical officers, but legal officers, and all officers in the Public Service, that we hold the doctrine that when you pay a man a salary you are [laying him for the whole of his time.


The right hon. Gentleman is entirely mistaken. Nine-tenths of the medical officers do not devote their whole time to She service.


I understood the hon. Member (Mr. Storey) to say that at Sunderlar the Medical Officer of Health is pa £500, and devotes the whole of his time to the discharge of his duties.


I have no knowledge of what salary the Medical Officer at Sunderland gets; my memory does not enable me to say; but I do know that in a very large number of a cases a Medical Officer does not get more than £50.


Let there be a distinction made. Surely in the cases where, for the whole of his time, an officer received a salary you would not have him exact a, fee. It is part of the duty of a Medical Officer to examine the sanitary condition of houses, and our contention is that, instead of paying by foes, the salaries should be sufficient to cover duties like these.

(11.40.) MR. BRUNNER (Cheshire, Northwich)

I think it will be found that the places where Medical Officers are paid for the whole of their time are the places where 99 per cent. of these insanitary tenements will be found. In regard to these examinations, I certainly think we should encourage the appointment of medical officers who will devote the whole of their time to the service, and discourage the system of paying a man a small salary for part of his time. I am sure in the latter case you get a bad bargain.

*(11.42.) SIR WALTER FOSTER (Derby, Ilkeston)

I did not understand that any reflection was cast upon Officers of Health by my right hon. Friend (Mr. H. H. Fowler); but, on the contrary, I thought his remarks went to strengthen the opinion of those who hold that the proposal of the Government would be dangerous in the interest of public health. It is necessary that these examinations should be made by an expert, and it is desirable that an occupier should not be deterred by the fee charged. In large centres of population the Medical Officer is usually paid a good salary for the whole of his time; but Rural Sanitary Authorities often pay very low sums indeed for the services of their Medical Officer. It is, nevertheless, desirable that medical officers should discharge this duty of inspection both in rural districts and in boroughs; and it must lead to Rural Sanitary Authorities increasing the salaries paid to their medical officers. But the money will be repaid by the improvement in the health of the population.

(11.45.) MR. ESSLEMONT

In districts where such tenements exist the Medical Officer of Health should be required to place the whole of his time at the disposal of the authorities, and be paid a sufficient salary without charging fees. The contention which often exists between the medical officers and the persons whose houses are inspected will be march aggravated if the officers are allowed to collect fees. The Medical Officer should have an independent position and have a fixed salary. The clause, doubtless, was introduced with good intentions, but with imperfect acquaintance with the condition of thing's.

*(11.46.) MR. RITCHIE

I am perfectly prepared to admit that there is a distinction between Medical Officers who devote the whole of their time and those who devote only a portion of their time to this work. If the House will allow the words to be inserted I will undertake to introduce on the Report stage some words with reference to Medical Officers who give up the whole of their time to the performance of those duties.


And the amount of the fee?


I give no undertaking as to that.


I will not press the matter further now. Let matters stand as they are until Report stage. We must not be considered open to the charge of obstruction if we then raise the question of payment of fees, the amount of the fees, and the question of payment whether a certificate is granted or not.

(11.50.) MR. J. G. FITZGERALD (Longford, S.)

I regret the Government should have given way in this matter. New duties are imposed upon professional men, and yet you object to an extra fee for extra work, such a small fee that no other professional man would accept it. I certainly shall resist any proposal to impose new duties upon a body of men beyond their conditions of service without extra payment.

Amendment to Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Question again proposed.

*(11.51.) MR. MORTON

I object altogether to the payment of Medical Officers by fees; it is a bad system, and in all intelligent communities it has been abolished. [Interruptions.] I do not know why I should be interrupted in this way by hon. Gentlemen who have returned to the House after passing the evening elsewhere. [Interruptions.] I have found, from experience, that if you give increased duties to a Medical Officer yon are sure to have an application for increased pay. [Interruptions.] If these officers have a fair claim for increased payment, let it be granted, but not by way of fees.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, added to the Bill. Clauses 27 to 31 agreed to without amendment.

Clause 32.

(11.55.) Amendment proposed, in line 37, to leave out the words "must not sell methylated spirits in a less quantity than a reputed quart and."—(Mr. Jackson.)

* MR. CREMER (Shoreditch, Haggerston)

Will not the last two lines of the clause also have to be omitted? It appears to me if these are retained, notwithstanding the concession made, the clause will be incongruous.

* MR. BIGWOOD (Middlesex, Brentford)

May I ask what is the specific object of this Amendment? Is it with the object of doing away with the drinking of this class of spirit? Might not some arrangement he made by which double the amount of methyl in methylated spirit might be sold under the 10s. licence as compared with the indulgence licence?


If the earlier portion of the sub-section is omitted why retain the subsequent part?


There are very good reasons. It is necessary to have such a provision, and that Revenue officers should have such powers of investigation so that other spirits may not be sold.


Ave there not many chemists who hold licences to sell spirits, and will they not come under this restriction, so that a chemist who does not hold a licence to sell spirits will be able to sell methylated spirits in smaller quantities than the chemist who does hold a licence?


it is an important question I raised just now. The amount of spirits purchased in London in very small quantities exceeds the knowledge of the Secretary to the Treasury.


I would suggest that we omit the clause altogether. I have tried to understand it and cannot, but I think it will inflict considerable inconvenience and hardship upon a numerous class of furniture makers and workmen, such as French polishers, who largely use methylated spirits.

(12.0) MR. JACKSON

It has been pointed out to me that some alteration of the words may be necessary, and I will undertake between this and the Report, stage to consider the matter.


Does the hon. Gentleman consent to withdraw or postpone the clause? If not. I shall move its rejection.

(12.1.) MR. JACKSON

No; my suggestion is that the Amendment should be withdrawn, that the clause should be passed over as it stands, and I will consider the matter before Report.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

(12.2.) Question, "That Clause 32 stand part of the Bill," put, and negatived.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Committee do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again on Thursday next."

*(12.6.) MR. CHILDERS

I should like to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what course he intends to take in the matter of the postponed clauses? Two years ago, in 1888, when for the first time certain revenues were appropriated for local purposes, Resolutions for additonal taxation in the nature of Excise Duties were taken in the ordinary way, and, after being taken, were not included in the Budget Bill, but were put into another Bill. Will the Government now adopt that course, and discharge the postponed clauses from the present Bill, and incorporate them in a new Bill, following the precedent of 1888? In that year the Chancellor of the Exchequer said I ought to add that I propose to introduce the Horse Tax and the Wheel Tax in a separate Bill, as they do not affect the Imperial Budget at all. Now, these postponed clauses do not affect the Imperial Budget of this year; and, therefore, the same reason that induced the Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1888 to put those two taxes into a separate Bill is in full force at the present time. I, therefore, would ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will not follow that course?

*(12.9.) MR. GOSCHEN

The result of not putting the Horse Tax and the Wheel Tax in the Budget Bill in 1888 was that those taxes were not carried at all. I think that that is not a very encouraging precedent to quote, as we desire to see these taxes carried. To follow the course suggested by the right hon. Gentleman would necessitate the introduction of a fresh Resolution, a First and Second Reading, and Committee; and, wishing to do business as shortly as possible, we think the course we are pursuing is the best.

(12.11.) SIR W. HARCOURT

I agree that the precedent quoted by my right hon. Friend is not encouraging. The right hon. Gentleman has appealed to us on this side of the House not to delay the Budget Bill, and I would suggest to him that if the Government take the course which my right hon. Friend suggests they may pass their Budget Bill to-morrow. On the other hand, if these matters of compensation, which are hotly contested, are introduced, the Government cannot complain if the wheels drag heavily. Now, I have pointed out a course which will enable the Government to get the Budget Bill through without delay. It is impossible, if they keep the postponed clauses in the Bill, to avoid delay, because the proposals are regarded with great anxiety in the country, and must necessarily lead to prolonged discussions.

*(12.15.) MR. W. H. SMITH

The Government, of course, desire to get the Budget Bill passed without delay. I must refer the right hon. Gentleman to the course taken this afternoon in deference to the wishes of hon. Members opposite. There was an understanding come to that after full and ample Debate on the proposals embodied in those clauses they should be incorporated in the Bill, and further progress should not be delayed by obstruction.

Question put, and agreed to.

Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Thursday next.