MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he can now fix a certain day, or if not that an approximate day, when the Committee on the Finance Bill will be taken; if not, whether he can undertake that it will not be postponed to the end of the Session; and, whether, in any case, he will undertake that two or three days' previous notice shall be given before the Committee on this Bill is again taken?
§ SIR HENRY FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
Before the right hon. Gentleman answers that Question, I should like to ask him whether it is the fact that if the Finance Bill does not receive the Royal Assent before the end of June the Tea Duty will expire on July 1 and the Spirit and Beer Duties will expire on July 31?
§ * THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir MICHAEL HICKS BEACH,) Bristol, W.
That is an unpleasant suggestion, but to the best of my belief it is not well founded. The Tea Duty expires on July 31st. The Spirit and Beer Duties do not expire at all, with the exception of the extra 6d. on the latter, which expires on June 30th. The Duties are levied not upon the Act, but upon the Resolutions of the House, and, of course, they have been levied since the passing of the Resolutions, as has often been done in similar circumstances in past years. As to the Question on the Paper, of course, the hon. Member is aware it is impossible at present to fix a time at which the Bill will be taken, but I hope it will be a long time before so remote a period as the end of the Session. Reasonable opportunity for discussion will be given.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
Can the right hon. Gentleman undertake that the Bill shall be taken before the middle of July?
§ * THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
That is hardly a Question for me. It does not rest with me to arrange the Business of the House.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
May I ask the Leader of the House that the Finance Bill shall be taken, at any rate, before the middle of July?
THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUE,) Manchester, E.
I understand my right hon. Friend 970 has repeated the pledges he has already given to the House that the Bill shall be taken at an hour when there will be an opportunity for reasonable discussion, but I am afraid I cannot name the time of the year when such reasonable discussion shall take place.