HC Deb 22 May 1890 vol 344 cc1609-32

As amended, considered.

(5.31.) MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)

I beg to commend to the kind notice of the Chancellor of the Exchequer the Amendment which stands in my name. The object is to secure a more equitable distribution of the Liquor Tax, by securing that it is divided among the three countries proportionately to the yield. Such a proposal as this ought to have been made by the Government rather than by a private Member. The only reason given for this distribution of the tax is, that it is on the same lines as the distribution of the Probate Duties proceeded with two years ago. But had the course proposed in regard to this Spirit Duty been adopted in relation to the Probate Duty it would have been violently opposed. There are funda- mental differences between the two cases. The Probate Duty was strictly an Imperial subvention, while we are now discussing a purely local Budget. Although the fresh burden imposed forms part of an Imperial tax, collected for convenience by Imperial officers, it is in reality a local impost, intended to be devoted to local purposes by a Local Authority. Again, so far as Ireland and Scotland are concerned the charge upon them in connection with this duty is an excessive one and, indeed, an oppressive one. I admit that if the Scotch and Irish contribution to the Imperial Revenue were no more than it ought to be the question would be far more difficult, and I would not feel entitled to move this Amendment. But the condition is not satisfied. Scotland's contribution is excessive, and Ireland's grievously burdensome, and, therefore, I contend that the re-distribution of the proceeds of the additional tax should be in proportion to the yield from each. By the plan proposed under this Bill you are putting a burden on the poorer countries for the benefit of the richer one. Then the local uses of the three countries do not correspond; each country has its own independent local uses, and it is just, therefore, that the money raised by special taxation in one country should be devoted in unimpaired proportions to the local uses of that country. Ireland and Scotland are entitled to liberal treatment in this matter, because not only is their contribution to the Imperial Revenue already excessive, but the new Spirit Tax will be especially burdensome in their case. The Government ought not to forget that Scotland and Ireland are being made victims in consequence of local wants felt in England. If it had not been for the complaints and demands of the English County Councils the Chancellor of the Exchequer would not have found it necessary to propose this tax at all. Therefore, England having been the cause of the imposition of the tax, she ought to be satisfied if she receives what England yields and no more. How will the proposed division work?The Returns which have been presented by the Secretary to the Treasury, whom I congratulate upon his new dignity—for I think the dignities of the State have not been often so well earned—show how England, Scotland, and Ireland will fare if the proceeds of the duties are divided as the Government propose. England will pay £953,000 towards the duty, and will receive £1,043,000. That is to say, as a result of the imposition of a tax particularly burdensome on Scotland and Ireland—a tax imposed, too, for the convenience of England, that country will gain £90,000 at the expense of Scotland and Ireland. Scotland will pay £196,000 and receive back only£142,000, thus losing £53,000; and Ireland will pay £154,000, and receive back nearly £117,000, losing £37,000 by the trans-section. This matter ought, I contend, to be considered separately from the question of the duty of two years ago. Scotland is only moderately wealthy as compared with England, and Ireland is by far the poorest of the three countries; yet they are to los3 by this transaction. I may frankly say that I do not view these Returns with unqualified confidence, for, according to another calculation, which appears to be very exact, Ireland will pay £195,000 and lose £77,000.


What figures does the hon. Member refer to?


They are contained in a Report in a wine and spirit paper, and evidently are the result of very careful calculations.


I have not seen that article, but the author may possibly have fallen into the error of not distinguishing between duty paid on spirits manufactured and the duty on spirits consumed in each country.


I shall be happy to send the right hon. Gentleman a copy of the article. I think, on examining it, he will find that this distinction is drawn, and that the conclusion arrived at is that Ireland, as a consumer, will pay £195,000 towards this tax. Now, if the Government give a favourable reception to the Amendment I have to propose, I shall be disposed to accept the basis of incidence stated in the first page of the Return pending the inquiry which, I am glad to say, we are to have regarding the financial relations of the three countries. I may, however, point out that the basis of incidence according to notes in this Return, is founded on principles favour- able to the English and unfavourable to the Irish account. For example, the incidence of taxation in regard to foreign spirits is calculated upon the basis of collection, which is not a sound basis. Consumption is the sound basis, and the calculation according to collection is favourable to England and unfavourable to Ireland. Then the calculation in the case of beer is based on the consumption which is favourable to England. I think we ought to have further statistics upon which to form an opinion. If, as has been suggested in the article I have referred to, Ireland will contribute £190,000 in the shape of the new Spirit Duty, her loss will be £155,000, and that is not a sum which ought to be jauntily disposed of. I am not pressing this Amendment on purely technical grounds; I do so rather upon the large principles of liberal and equitable dealing towards Ireland. These are facts which constitute a special hardship in the Irish case, and which justify an appeal to the liberality of the Government. The incidence of this liquor tax is particularly hard. You are going to hypothecate the whole of Ireland's share for the purposes of a guarantee, which we entirely disapprove, and you are going to lock up and render completely useless a sum of £40,000 for a period the duration of which we cannot limit. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer will give a favourable consideration to the subject-matter of my Amendment, I will not press it; and if the Government will make that concession it will probably facilitate the progress of business, while it will tend to greatly moderate that feeling of indignation felt in Ireland because you are increasing the burden of the most inequitable tax in your system of finance. If the right hon. Gentleman will go on the principle of giving back to each country what it pays, he will avert conflicts which otherwise will wage around this Bill.

Amendment proposed, in page 3, line 9, to leave out from the word "proportions," to the end of the clause, and insert the words "in which they are raised in England, Scotland, and Ireland respectively."—(Mr. Sexton.)

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


The hon. Member has temperately moved this Amendment, but the Government cannot accept it in the form in which it stands; nor can I see any possible modification of the Amendment which would remove the objections to it. As the Amendment stands it would appropriate this revenue, not according to consumption, but according to collection. That would work gross unfairness, because large quantities of spirits which are made in Scotland and Ireland are consumed in England.


The right hon. Gentleman will have judged from my remarks that I am willing to accept any fair basis.


The difficulty is that it is not possible to get at the exact amount of spirits manufactured in Scotland and Ireland and consumed in England. Some calculations have been made, and the effect, so far as has been ascertained, is that at least £63,000 would be paid in Scotland and £76,000 in Ireland for spirits consumed in England. The hon. Member has sought to separate the proposed tax from the Probate and the Beer Duties on the ground that it is a new tax. But the Beer Tax of last year was also a new tax, and of that Ireland has had the benefit.




It was a tax raised upon an article of ordinary consumption in England, and which was devoted to Imperial purposes. The hon. Member has suggested that Ireland was unfairly treated in the matter of the Beer Duty, but he is mistaken in that. We have taken the best figures at our disposal. In 1886 the quantity of beer exported from Dublin was 390,000 hogsheads, equal to 585,000 barrels; in 1887 it was 105,000 hogsheads, or 608,000 barrels; in 1888 424,000 hogsheads, or 636,000 barrels. On the other hand, it is difficult to estimate the export of beer from England to Ireland, but we have every reason to believe that the figures contained in the Report may be taken as accurate. My right hon. Friend has assented to an inquiry, and that inquiry will show what are the real facts of the case. My right hon. Friend has also said that should it be shown that the basis of distribution adopted is unfavourable to Scotland and Ireland, it will be the duty of the Government to endeavour to meet the justice of the case. If the result of the inquiry is to show that the general system of taxation and finance as between the three countries is unfair towards Scotland and Ireland, it will be the duty of the Government to rectify the system. This my right hon. Friend has undertaken, and in this I really think hon. Members will admit that my right hon. Friend has gone as far as he could be expected to go.

(6.0.) MR. FLYNN (Cork, N.)

The right hon. Gentleman has not touched that part of the speech of my hon. Friend in which he spoke of the basis of the division; he has evaded the whole kernel of my hon. Friend's Amendment. Of course, we receive with satisfaction the explanation of Table 3, relating to the Beer Duty, and I have no doubt, as regards exportation of beer from Ireland to England, the table is correct. But, with regard to the other item in the column—the export of beer from England to Ireland—I think we have reason to question the correctness of the information supplied to the Government, and I hope some more satisfactory information may be forthcoming when next this question comes before us for discussion. It does not lie within my competence to closely follow the figures given from time to time as to the incidence of trade between the two countries, and I should like to have them set forth in a form more easily to follow; but I take the Return of the incidence of taxation supplied to us within the last few days, and I will undertake to prove, as briefly as possible, that on the division based upon the Probate Duty, the allocation of the grant will be most unfair to Scotland and Ireland. I take the figures of collection and consumption, as set forth, without comment or query, from the Return of 1888–9, and, basing the proportion upon these figures, the result works out upon the new tax as follows: England, £891,137; Scotland, £182,371; and Ireland, £146,007. The right hon. Gentleman contends that the new duty should be apportioned on the basis of the division of the Probate Duty; but we contend that this new 6d. tax on an already over-taxed commodity is regarded in Ireland and Scotland with the greatest possible distrust and dislike, and that if it is imposed at all, you are bound, on the principles of justice and equitable treatment, to divide the revenue so raised in the proportions in which it is raised in the three countries, and I think the Amendment of my hon. Friend ought to commend itself to the sense of fair dealing in the House. I do hope that before we proceed to a Division, or press this matter further, we shall have some more satisfactory answer than we have had from the Secretary to the Treasury. These figures I have taken from this Return can be proved by any hon. Member who will employ his industry for half an hour over it, and the figures cannot be controverted, and they show conclusively that England's proportion of the new duty upon the basis of the Return of 1888–9 should be 73, Scotland's 14.9, and Ireland's 12.1; but you are going to divide the money so raised in the proportion of 80, 11, and 9 respectively, so that the loss to Scotland will be 3.1, and to Ireland 3.9, while England gains 7 per cent. We are promised a Committee to inquire into the incidence of taxation and revenue in the three countries, and we welcome that inquiry, believing it will show there has been great fiscal injustice to Ireland; but, pending the result of that inquiry, surely it is not unreasonable to ask that the proceeds should be divisible in the manner proposed by my hon. Friend.

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

I regret that this most reasonable proposition is refused by the Government. I give the right hon. Gentleman full credit for the appointment of the Committee, but this Committee cannot touch this money which will be raised. The only influence of the Amendment of my hon. Friend will be that Ireland will get a sum of £70,000, which, taking the Government Return, we are clearly entitled to. The Secretary to the Treasury was well advised in gliding over the argument of the Chancellor of the Exchequer advanced on a previous occasion, that we are getting more than our share of the Probate Duty. The Government contended in former debate that the reason Ireland does not get her proper share in the new duty is that she has the benefit of the over plus in the Probate Duty; but the Secretary to the Treasury has now only alluded to that by saying it has already been discussed. Now, I would reply to that argument, "Take away your Probate Duty and only tax Ireland on the basis upon which you say the Probate Duty should be given to us; that is, 4½ per cent." But, of course, the Government will not do that.


I do not quite follow the hon. and learned Gentleman.


I understand the contention is that Ireland contributes 4. per cent. to the Probate Duty and to the Imperial Revenue, and I say, if that is so, then take this 4½ per cent. as the basis generally of Ireland's contribution to the Imperial Revenue. We should then be saved something like £3,500,000 a year.


We do not make it the basis.


It is very difficult to fix you to your basis—very difficult to say under which thimble is the pea. My hon. Friend deserves great credit for the skill with which he has brought the matter forward. For myself, I have no financial ability of any kind, and find great difficulty in even adding up the figures, and will not venture to discuss the matter in the manner my hon. Friend has; but, looking at the arguments like a juror, I am quite capable of appreciating the points, and I say my hon. Friend's argument has not been met. We base ourselves on your own Return; we build on your found adation, and we find this difference between what you raise in Ireland upon spirits and beer and the proportion you return;. and when we ask for this difference, you meet us with a reference to the over plus paid on the Probate Duty. Then, I say, withdraw the Probate, and recognise the 4½ per cent. which you say should be the basis of Irelands contribution to the Imperial Revenue; but still you decline. Now, though I am not capable of undertaking a scientific examination of the figures, I can see that my hon. Friend's argument has not been met. It is some alleviation to our complaints that these financial arrangements will be subjected to examination by a Committee, but that does not deal with our grievance in 1890. Furthermore, let me point out that here, as in many former instances, the injustice that is inflicted upon Ireland arises out of circumstances founded upon the exigencies of England without any reference to the wants of the Sister Country. Because you failed in your Van and Wheel Tax we pay 6d. more per gallon on our whisky in 1890. But we did not get a County Council Bill. Because you have set up County Councils in England and Scotland and need to erect a fiscal system for them, Ireland is called upon to pay this extra taxation ! I can quite appreciate your difficulties in attempting to govern Ireland; you cannot do it, and you meet our arguments as to equitable treatment by saying that the whole fiscal arrangements of the three Kingdoms cannot be disarranged, and, sometimes, in an unguarded moment, you advert to the difficulties in setting up a fiscal zone for Ireland. Now, if you simply take the argument of the sword, and impose your taxation upon us, that is intelligible; but if you desert that, and talk about general convenience, we ask how is it that we are always to suffer in the business?While England and Scotland are gainers by a large and generous extension of Local Government, the fact is Ireland, while having no Local Government, has suffered from the extension to the other countries. If the English and Scotch Local Government Acts had not passed, we should not have heard of this extra 6d. upon whisky. We are deprived of Local Government, and we suffer because you get Local Government. I say in all this Budget— I do not accuse the Government of any intention and desire to make it unjust to Ireland, it almost arises out of the necessities of tyranny and under the necessities of the Union—you make your arrangements according to the interests of England, caring nothing about those of Ireland. If ever there was a case to prove the way in which a conquered country can be robbed it is this Budget. We have gained nothing under this Budget except upon tea. I challenge the Chancellor of the Exchequer to give in a compendious form the comparative benefits of his Budget proposals to the people of the three countries. He had a surplus, and we ask for £70,000 from that surplus as the proportion of Ireland's contribution towards it. You give us 2d. on tea, but you put 6d. on whisky. We do not get the benefit of the Inhabited House Duty or any other remission under the Budget. It is a fair challenge. Show us in a Return the figures giving in each country the creation and distribution of the surplus. I say the past financial history of England and Ireland since the Debt was consolidated, which I take to be the true point of departure in the matter, should come under the consideration of the Financial Committee, and I am sure it will disclose a long course of fraud and plunder.

*(6.25.) MR. KNOX (Cavan, W.)

I do not think the argument in the beginning of the speech of the Secretary to the Treasury had that force he seemed to think it possessed. No doubt a certain amount of duty is paid on whisky in Ireland, which whisky is consumed in England; but that does not necessarily prove the unfairness of my hon. Friend's Amendment. I should say consumer and produce)' have both to be considered; but the interest of the producers is as important as that of the consumer. By the producer, I do not mean merely the distiller, but every man engaged in the trade, who will suffer from the additional taxation on the article produced. Consider these arrangements for a moment as about to be embodied in a Treaty between two nations, two separate Governments. Suppose we were entering into a Treaty of Commerce; do the Government suppose that any Independent State would consent to such terms as they seek to impose upon Ireland?Many English manufacturers come into Ireland, but there is no considerable Excise Duty on any of them. There is an enormous Excise Duty on goods made in Ireland for the purpose of export to England. If Ireland were in the position of Greece, and able to make a bargain with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, she would obtain very different terms. Greece would not take off the duty on English goods until the duty was taken off goods sent here by Greece; and if Ireland were in the same position, she would maintain a duty on English goods until a similar advantage was given by England to goods of her manufacture. Ireland, however, is not in that position, and the Government propose to put an enormous tax on one of the chief articles of Irish manufacture imported into England, although there is practically no tax upon goods exported from England to Ireland. Looking at this matter from an international point of view, as I am entitled to do for the sake of argument, the distribution of the taxation is grossly unfair. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury has said that £76,000 of the extra duty will be paid in Ireland on exports exported to England; that is, l-20th of the duty now paid on whisky exported to England. If we take the amount at 20 times £76,000, we find that £1,520,000 worth is paid in Ireland in the shape of duty on the article manufactured in Ireland and exported to this country. That is a very considerable sum. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has pointed out that it is not by any means the whole of the tax put upon Irish manufactures in this respect, because there is also a large amount of Irish whisky bonded in England on which duty is paid in England, but nevertheless the duty is put upon an article of Irish manufacture. It is difficult to ascertain what the real proportions are; but, broadly speaking, I think the greater part of the whisky manufactured in the North of Ireland has duty paid upon it on the spot, while the greater portion of that which is manufactured in the South of Ireland is exported in bond. We may assume that this £1,520,000 at present paid on whisky exported to England is only one-half the tax which England puts on the main staple of Irish manufactures imported by this country, and I think that this is sufficient to show the great unfairness with which Ireland is treated. I am glad the Government has consented to the appointment of a Committee to arrange, as it were, a Treaty of Commerce between Ireland and England, and we trust that that arrangement will lead to a settlement on more equitable terms than the Government seems willing to consent to adopt. I trust that my hon. Friend the Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton) will press this matter to a Division, for, as I have already said, it does seem grossly unfair that Irish manufactures should be taxed to so enormous an extent when goods manufactured in England and exported to Ireland are not taxed at all.

*(6.38.) SIR J. M'KENNA (Monaghan, S.)

I desire to point out to the House that if the Irish people were only taxed for Imperial purposes in proportion to the amount levied by the Income Tax, the incidence of taxation in that country would be much fairer than it is at present. For if an arrangement were made at the present moment under which Ireland were obliged to raise her present quota of Imperial taxation by a charge under the Income Tax, she would have to raise as much as 5s. 3d. in the £1. This, I venture to say, can be proved to the hilt, that 2s. 6d. in the £1 would suffice for Great Britain; which fact affords a sufficient illustration of the unjust taxation under which the people of Ireland are labouring.

(6.40.) MR. PARNELL (Cork City)

Before the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer replies I desire to say that I think some consideration is due to Ireland in regard to the distribution of this money. It is not a sufficient answer to say that the right hon. Gentleman takes as the proportion of the distribution of this extra tax the proportionate amount which Ireland pays to the Imperial Revenue from all sources of taxation. That is not a sufficient answer to us, because we dispute the justice of the proportion we pay to the Imperial Revenue, for, so long as I can remember, Motions have been annually brought forward by Irish Members, in reference to this question, and they have conclusively proved that we in Ireland are paying at least double as much as we ought to pay in proportion to our wealth, a large amount of this extensive contribution being derived from the duty imposed upon spirits. But, Sir, the claim we make to-day is still stronger than our old claim, because this is a tax which is voted, not for Imperial purposes, but for local purposes, and of the total amount Ireland contributes 16.4 per cent. For this contribution the right hon. Gentleman only purposes to give us 5 percent., and he justifies the wrong he has done because successive Governments have succeeded for years past in wringing from us a taxation utterly disproportioned to our means, and double the amount we ought to pay as compared with England, and "because we have robbed you in the past we have a right to rob you in the future." This proposal is a fresh injustice, added to the already great injustice under which Ireland was suffering. But even if, for the sake of argument, we were to allow the contention of the right hon. Gentleman that Ireland is not being unjustly dealt with in the contributions she makes to the Imperial and general expenditure, we can at least show by the right hon. Gentleman's own figures that we shall only receive one-half of the proceeds of the new tax as compared with the amount we ought to receive. In addition to this, we have to submit to the further outrage that our proportion of the subvention intended for local purposes is to be locked up and not used for any purpose during an indefinite period. I think the figures show for themselves that this is a question on which the Government ought to yield to the claims of Ireland and Scotland. It is an evident injustice that you should use the tax obtained from alcoholic products in Ireland for the relief of local burdens in England, while no portion of it is to be applied to the relief of local burdens in Ireland. Why, I ask, should Ireland not have a fair proportion of this money?Why should you not adjust the relative proportions among the three countries, namely, 61.3 to England, 22.3 to Scotland, and 16.1 to Ireland?I think the claim which has been made by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Longford is a reasonable one. Surely at a time when you are boasting of your policy of justice and equality to Ireland—nay, more than justice, generosity to Ireland—you cannot, with any face, come to this House and ask us to support you in taxing the Irish people to an unfair extent on a special article of Irish manufacture, while at the same time you only propose to give back to Ireland one half of the proceeds of that taxation as compared with what you give to England. I say you have no right to ask this House to support you in this unjust and unequal treatment, which deprives us of our fair share of the tax raised in such large proportions from the chief article of Irish manufacture.

*(6.52.) MR. GOSCHEN

I am glad to hear from the hon. and learned Member for Longford that he acquits the Government of an intention of doing injustice to Ireland in this matter. If there is an injustice to Ireland through the manner in which she is taxed, it would have to be redressed by other means than by drawing a fiscal zone. Hon. Members have spoken of the injustice of the taxation of Ireland, but that subject is too large a matter to be entered upon in a Bill of this kind. In reference to the Committee which I have promised, I do not see what purpose would be served by extending the inquiry as far back as 1817, and, in my opinion, it would be sufficient to inquire into the relative financial position of the three countries as it now exists. The hon. and learned Member for Longford admits, as has always been admitted, that a much larger contribution from the Imperial Revenue goes to Ireland than is proportionately her due. If Ireland contributes more to the Common Fund than she ought to, that is balanced by the fact that she draws more contributions from it in proportion than any other portion of the United Kingdom.


What are they? We never heard of them.


I have already given the particulars of those contributions, and shown in respect of education how much per child is paid to Ireland, in comparison with population, as compared with the sums paid to the other portions of the United Kingdom.


Why do you not let us manage our own affairs?


Speaking individually, I am in favour of the Irish nation receiving the whole of the grants, and managing education in their own way. Personally, I do not see any objection to that. Coming to the Amendment that has been moved, the hon. and learned Member for Longford has said that, instead of taking 4½ per cent, as the amount of the Probate Duty which Ireland contributes, the Government ought to take as a basis for distribution the whole of the taxation of Ireland.


What I said was that the Government have selected an unfair basis.


The basis taken by the Government is 80 per cent. for England, 11 per cent. for Scotland, and 9 per cent. for Ireland. The hon. and learned Member has challenged me to show that Ireland has obtained any benefit whatever under the Budget except under the Tea Duty. Well. there is the Currant Duty


Ireland does not pay more than £5 a year in respect of the Currant Duty.


I expected the hon. Member would say that. The Government has credited Ireland with so much having been paid as its share of the Customs Duty, and is it now to be understood that the whole of the Currant Duty is paid by England and Scotland?If that be the case, I might withdraw the sum of £500,000 from the account, and say that Ireland contributed nothing under that head to the Imperial Revenue. The hon. Member for Belfast questioned the accuracy of the figures of the Government relating to beer and foreign spirits He maintained that foreign spirits were more consumed in England than in Scotland or Ireland, because in those countries they produced their own spirits. I am unable to accept the Amendment of the hon. Member. To show hon. Members opposite that I wish to deal fairly with them, I will undertake to have this question of the Beer Duty and the duty on foreign spirits carefully examined into, and if it can be found that our figures are wrong in any respect, and that Ireland has been prejudiced by the distribution we propose, I will move a Supplementary Estimate, the proceeds of which shall be paid to the National School Teachers in Ireland. I propose this in order to rectify any injustice which any error in our figures may have occasioned to Ireland. I must say, however, that I believe our figures are correct. I took the best means I could to have the details prepared with accuracy, but they may be wrong, and therefore it is that I tender this promise to hon. Members opposite. I am unable to accept the Amendment because, in the view of the Government at the present time, the distribution must be made as we propose. But, as I say, if there are any mistakes in our Estimates as to the consumption of foreign spirits or beer I undertake that they shall be remedied, not by striking off anything given to England or Scotland, which would have the effect of disarranging our finance, but by bringing in a Supplementary Estimate in favour of Ireland. This, I think, if not entirely satisfactory to hon. Members opposite, will show them that we have an earnest desire to be fair.

* (7.2.) DR. CAMERON (Glasgow, College)

The so-called concession that the right hon. Gentleman has just announced is the most illogical and absurd proposition that ever came before this House. The Irish Members tell him, as they have been telling him during the course of the last week, that Ireland has been unjustly treated.

*(7.3.) MR. GOSCHEN

I have not made a concession. I do not know whether the hon. Member was in the House during the major portion of my remarks. If not, I will inform him that hon. Members opposite complain that certain figures which we have given are wrong, and whilst I make no concession on the general question, as we maintain our argument so far as the Probate Duties are concerned, what I say is that if the figures should be found to be erroneous we will rectify them, and will do so in the case of Scotland as well as in the case of Ireland.

*(7.4.) DR. CAMERON

The illogical and absurd nature of that proposition springs from the fact that these figures were never the basis of the right hon. Gentleman's proposal at all. Many days after the Budget proposals had been laid before the House the Secretary to the Treasury, replying to attacks which had boon made on this particular portion of it, quoted certain figures to show that, on the whole, Scotland and Ireland would receive more than their share of the taxes allocated in aid of local taxation. When challenged for particulars, the Secretary to the Treasury promised us that the figures should be more carefully considered, and given in the form of a Return, and that is the history of the document to which reference has been made, but it was not submitted until some time after the right hon. Gentleman made his Budget speech. The right hon. Gentleman understands logical consequences as well as any one in the House, but I must say that in these Debates he has shown much more power of evasion and ability to drag red herring's across the trail of the argument than desire to meet plain arguments by germain and sufficient answers.

*(7.6.) MR. WEBB (Waterford, W.)

For my part, in any final settlement of these matters between England and Ireland, I trust there will not be a fiscal zone established between us. What we desire is simply to remedy defects in the present abnormal condition of affairs. I would point out that there would be no difficulty whatever in making a separate estimate of the Revenue from spirits in Ireland, because during the past 25 years we have had a most careful examination instituted there with regard to the importation of arms and ammunition. There would bo nothing in the examination of vessels for spirits carried between the two countries which could not be covered by the present system of examination. To show the thorough nature of the search instituted in Irish ports, I may say that, in my own case, after having been on a visit to America, and having brought away with me a few relics from the scene of the battle of Gettysburgh, I had the greatest difficulty in getting them into Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman says we enjoy certain advantages in regard to taxation. Well, we enjoy nothing whatever in the matter of grants we receive. The money we receive for education is given us for a system which is altogether out of accord with the wishes of the people. That for the Constabulary is for a military system, which we hate and abhor. It is necessary, as far as the Government are concerned, that we should have those grants in order to keep up an appearance of fairness; but the Irish people certainly do not "enjoy" them, and we claim to be put upon a footing similar to Scotland.

(7.10.) The House divided:—Ayes 152; Noes 87.—(Div. List, No. 105.)

(7.20.) Amendment proposed, In page 4, line 5, at the end of Clause 9, to insert the words "but nothing in this section shall prevent a person from holding more than one such excise licence in his own name."—(Mr. Jackson.)

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


It seems to me that these words render the original objects of the clause entirely nugatory.

(7.21.) MR. JACKSON

Exception was taken to the clause as it stood. I did not think the objection was a sound one, because I believe the clause really carried out what was intended, but it was thought the words used might be read as preventing an individual taking out more than one licence, and the object of the present Amendment is to make it clear that a person can hold more than one excise licence in his own name. Unless that is made clear the clause would be unworkable in such cases as that of Messrs. Spiers & Pond, and those of Railway Companies. There are excise licences for the sale of Patent medicines, and for the manufacture of playing cards, and the Amendment will make it clear that future licences shall specify upon their faces the premises in which the business is to be carried on.

SIR WILFRID LAWSON (Cumberland, Cockermouth)

Is it not the case that Judges have recently made very strong statements from the Bench about the great evil that arises from one person having a number of licences for the sale of drink. It seems very extraordinary that the Government now come forward to give an official sanction to that which is understood to be a grave abuse.

(7.24.) MR. WADDY (Lincolnshire, Brigg)

This Amendment, if passed, would allow a publican to have any number of licensed houses in his own name, and to obtain compensation for licensed houses in different parts of the country whenever he might choose to give them up. It has over and over again been held in Courts of Justice that one of the great securities we have under the present very faulty system for the decent management and proper government of licensed houses is the actual personal supervision of the man to whom the licence is granted. This will be done away with if one man may have a number of licences in different places. The Government are establishing an entirely new principle.


It leaves the law exactly as it stands.


Then all the Judges I have ever heard speak about it have been entirely in the wrong.

*(7.27.) MR. WINTERBOTHAM (Gloucester, Cirencester)

I apprehend that the answer of the Government will be that the words "excise licences" cover the clause, and that the publican's licence is not an Excise licence, but a Magistrate's licence. If, however, the Government really intend by the Amendment to allow public house licences to be given in any number to one person, I hope the Amendment will be opposed, not only by every man on this side of the House, but by every Licensing Justice opposite. I would point out that even as regards Excise licences they are granted to grocers for spirits, and the Amendment would allow a big grocer to take out half a dozen spirit licences in half a dozen branch establishments in the same town. I hope such a proposal will be resisted on all sides of the House.

*(7.29.) MR. GOSCHEN

All the Amendment says is, "Nothing in this section shall prevent" &c, and I do not see that it alters the law at all. It really does not authorise a person to hold more than one Excise licence. The Amendment, however, appears to excite some apprehension, and we will not press it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

(7.32.) MR. JACKSON

I desire now to move in Clause 14 to omit the words "payment of the allowance is made," and to insert "the certificate is granted." When the Bill was in Committee the question was raised whether it was necessary for the Inland Revenue Officers to have power to enter premises up to the time when payment of the allowance was made. It was suggested that the power should be limited to the time when the certificate was granted, and this Amendment is brought forward with the object of carrying out that suggestion.

Amendment proposed, in Clause 14, page 6, line 19, to omit the words "payment of allowance is made," and to insert the words "the certificate is granted."

Amendment agreed to.

(7.34.) MR. T. M. HEALY

I rise to complain that the Government have given no consideration whatever to the arguments that were put forward respecting Clause 24. I see the English Solicitor General in his place, and I challenge him to define the word "assessment" as used in this section. I say an assessment is a personal assessment, and implies personal responsibilities and liabilities. I raise this question simply in my Imperial capacity. It is not a National question. The clause may produce possible injustice to the executors and administrators of poor persons. It is a remarkable thing that though we have had the Income Tax for the last 50 years it has never hitherto struck anybody that such a clause was necessary. I think it is a pity that, for the sake of stopping some twopenny-halfpenny leakage which may have accrued to the Treasury, such a clause should be inserted. It would be some mitigation of the section if it were confined to estates of over £1,000 a year. I would point out that Income Tax is collected sometimes at Petty Sessions, sometimes at Quarter Sessions, sometimes in the High Court. You might, however, almost have a Chancery suit arising under this clause, which has been drawn in the most unscientific and hasty manner. Of course, the Crown debt, which is here referred to, will take precedence of all other debts; but notwithstanding that the Government wish to come down upon the poor widow, perhaps, or the orphan, and make them personally liable, the assessment might be an assessment made at a time when the man was prosperous, and his circumstances at the date of his death might be very different. I can really see that there are endless objections to this clause—it is thorny with objections. The Government seem to be in a needless hurry in this matter. We have been half a century without this clause; surely, therefore, it can wait until the next Budget. The clause is inadequately drawn—it is drawn without regard to what are really the facts and problems of life. It is drawn without regard to the difficulties of the situation, and I certainly think it might very easily be dropped out of the Bill. How is it going to work?You surely would not follow a man into his grave, and make a poor woman pay a few pounds which might have been due in the man's lifetime. I can see the difficulties in this clause are endless, but in this House nothing small receives consideration. There is no way of getting-anything little attended to. I do not suppose the Government will give this matter the smallest attention, but I beg to move the omission of the clause.

Amendment proposed, "to omit Clause 24."—(Mr. T. M. Healy.)

Question proposed, "That Clause 24 stand part of the Bill."

*(7.43.) MR. GOSCHEN

The hon. and learned Gentleman says there is no hurry in this matter. This clause has been before the public and the House, in which there are a great many legal Gen tlemen, and they have had plenty of time to look at it. With the exception of the hon. and learned Gentleman, no one has taken exception to the clause. The hon. Member seems to think that no attention has been given to it and that it is simply the drafting of the Department. A very high authority on law, perhaps equally as high as the hon. and learned Member for Longford, namely, the Attorney General for Ireland, has expressed himself satisfied with the clause.


Because he is satisfied with getting the money for the Government.


The hon. Gentleman is entirely mistaken. I asked my right hon. and learned Friend whether he saw any objection to the clause. The hon. Gentleman must not presume that he is the only person in the House who has any anxiety as regards administrators, Trustees, and others. Depend upon it, if there had been all the dangers surrounding the clause which the hon. Gentleman fears, we should have heard a great deal more about it from solicitors and others. I must ask the hon. Gentleman to agree with other Gentlemen equally as conscientious as himself in the passing of this clause.


You did not answer my arguments though.

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

There is one blot in the clause which] think the Government might put right. In the last two lines it is said that the assessment shall be made upon the executors and administrators, and then that the amount shall be payable out of the estate. There is an ambiguity which it would be well to remove. As the clause now stands, it is possible that a claim might be made againstthe executors personally. That doubt, however, can be removed by the insertion of a single word—namely,"only"after"due,"so that the clause would read "due only from and payable out of the estate."


Really the Amendment is not necessary. It is perfectly clear as it now stands. The amount has to be paid out of the estate. No claim can be made against the executors or administrators apart from the estate.

(7.47.) MR. P. POWER (Waterford, E.)

I wish the Government would explain what has made this clause necessary. If it is necessary now, I suppose it was equally necessary years ago. A gentleman of high authority told me only the other day that the leakage has been comparatively little. Why the Government should endeavour to make the position of executors or administrators more difficult than it is already I fail to see. So far from making the position more troublesome I think the Government should do what they can to facilitate the duties of the executors. My own experience goes to-prove that the position of an executor is not an enviable one. Of course, I regard it as an honour that the late Mr. Biggar should have shown his confidence in me by appointing me as one of his executors? but even in the case of his estate, which was fairly well managed, the trouble is considerable. I hope my hon and learned Friend will press this matter to a Division.

*(7.50.) MR. WEBB

I am very glad this matter has been brought up again by my hon. and learned Friend. There are few men of my age who have had to do with more small executorships than myself, and, therefore, I am in a position to urge that the trouble and annoyance is very great. Executors are not paid, and I consider it rather too bad of the Government to throw additional trouble upon them. I can imagine that endless litigation will result from the adoption of this clause, and I must earnestly point out that the remedy is entirely in the hands of the Government. Income assessments are sent out in the early part of the year. I always feel bound to make my return within the time specified, but the Government are very apt to allow people to dally in making their returns. It is hardly fair that they should throw additional work on executors in order to make up for their own laches. Legislation ought rather to proceed in the way of lightening the duties of executors than of adding to them. It is because I believe this clause will add to their trouble that I mean to-oppose it.

(7.53.) The House divided:—Ayes 96; Noes 52.—(Div. List, No. 106.)

(8.0.) Amendment proposed, in Clause 26, page 11, lines 1 and 2, leave out all after "shall certify the same accordingly," and insert — Provided that the authority, if they are of opinion that the duties which would devolve on the medical officer of health under this section could not be performed by him without interference with the due performance of his ordinary duties may appoint some other legally qualified medical practitioner having the qualification required for office of medical officer of health of the district to make such examinations and give such certificates as aforesaid, and may pay him reasonable remuneration for his services. As respects Scotland the expression 'Medical Officer of Health' means a medical officer within the meaning of 'The Public Health (Scotland) Act, 1–67.'"—(Mr. Jackson.)

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

This Amendment is entirely in accordance with the wishes we expressed, and I desire to acknowledge our indebt-ness to those who assisted us in obtaining this concession.

Amendment agreed to.

(8.1.) MR. CHANCE (Kilkenny, S.)

In Committee on Clause 32 I draw attention to the fact that the clause enabled the Customs Authorities to render illegal the use of any substances in methylating spirits used under the Spirit Act of 1880, and I asked the Secretary to the Treasury whether this was the intention, and I understood his reply to be that it was not; but as there appeared to be some doubt about the effect of the words, he undertook to look into the matter. I am sure he does not wish to do anything unfair, but it would be unfair for the authorities to frivolously, or without sufficient cause, take from a trade the right to use substances they have legally used since 1880. It is to meet this that I propose to substitute the words "addition to" for the words "lieu of."

Amendment proposed, Clause 32, line 13, to omit the words "in lieu of," and insert the words "in addition to."

Question proposed, "That the words in lieu of stand part of the Bill."

(8.2). MR. JACKSON

I have considered this question with the officers of Inland Revenue. The hon. Member is correct in saying that the intention is not to limit what has hitherto been done; it is intended to take further powers in reference to making more nasty, if I may say so, this spirit, and so to prevent, as far as possible, the spirit being consumed as drink. The Inland Revenue Commissioners are given the power of approving of the mixing of more nauseous materials in certain cases. I understand there is a difficulty about the use of certain materials in certain trades, and this is to give the Commissioners more power to authorise the use of other substances in addition to those now used. As the result of my discussion with the Commissioners, it appears that the present words fit the meaning and intention of the clause and that the Amendment is not necessary.

(8.3.) MR. CHANCE

I am ready to withdraw the Amendment, though I confess I am not convinced that it is not desirable.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Bill to be read the third time to-morrow at Two of the clock.