§ On the Order for the Second Reading of the Bill,
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that the hon. Member would see; it was about the House Tax. [Laughter] A Consolidation Bill was a most useful form of legislation.
§ CAPTAIN BETHELL (York, E.R., Holderness)
asked how many house taxes there were to be consolidated? [Laughter]
The CHANCELLOR OF THE EX-CHEQUER
said, that there was only one tax, but a great many Acts relating to it. [''Hear, hear!" and laughter.]
§ MR. TOMLINSON
asked what course the Government proposed to take with reference to this Bill after the Second Reading.
§ Mr. J. PARKER SMITH (Lanark, Partick)
said, that there were certain points which ought to be considered and dealt with in connection with this Bill. It was very important that there should be a, definition of an "inhabited house" for taxation purposes. At present, if any persons lived in a corner of a large building, which was otherwise unoccupied at night, it was liable to inhabited house duty. There was a case of a large swimming bath attached to a club house, in one corner of which the teacher of natation lived. This was held to be an inhabited house, and duty was exacted. That this should be possible was in his opinion unfair. The same unfairness existed in the case of banks and warehouses which the owners did not like to leave unprotected at night. If anyone above the position of a caretaker lived in any part of the building the whole of it became liable to the duty. He trusted that in Committee some Amendment would be accepted by the Government which would prevent the continuance of this hardship.
§ MR. GEORGE HOWELL (Bethnal Green, N.E.)
observed that to amend the Bill in the way suggested by the hon. Member would not be within the power of the Committee to which the Bill was to be referred, as it was a consolidated measure only.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Sir JOHN HIBBERT, Oldham)
explained that in drafting this Bill every endeavour had been made to exclude any 1731 amendment of the law. The measure consolidated eight Acts and portions of five other Acts. The Government would not be disposed to proceed with the Bill if advantage were to be taken of it to amend the existing law. The sole object of this Consolidation Bill was to minister to the convenience of the public. It was proposed to refer the Bill to the Statute Law Revision Committee.
§ MR. ALPHEUS MORTON
said, that he had always contended that the assessment for house duty was wrong, being upon the gross value instead of the rate able value. He hoped that nothing would be done to prevent the consideration of this question in Committee on the Bill. Though the consolidation of laws might sometimes be a good thing, the consolidation of bad laws might be a waste of time.
§ Bill read 2°.
§ On the Motion to refer the Bill to the Joint Committee on Statute Law Revision, &c., Bills.
§ MR. PARKER SMITH
said, there were various Amendments which ought to be considered, and, therefore, he suggested, that the Bill should be sent to the Standing Committee on Law, which had nothing more to do. While having no objection to consolidation, he thought the opportunity should be taken to make Amendments in the incidence of the tax felt as a grievance. He moved that the Bill be referred to the Standing Committee on Law.
§ MR. ALPHEUS MORTON
seconded, in order that they should not be shut out from the opportunity to consider questions which were believed to be important.
§ * MR. TOMLINSON
said, there appeared to be a misapprehension as to the effect of the proposal of the Government. Consolidation Bills were usually sent before the Joint Committee, whose function was to see that they were purely 1732 Consolidation Bills and nothing else. It was not a substitute for the Committee Stage in the House itself.
§ SIR JOHN HIBBERT
said, the hon. Member would have an opportunity of making Amendments when the Bill was brought back from the Joint Committee.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Bill referred to the Joint Committee on Statute Law Revision, &c., Bills.