HC Deb 18 May 1898 vol 58 cc41-68

Amendment proposed— Page 23, line 5, leave out sub-section (1)."—(Mr. M. Healy.)


I wish to raise on the first sub-section of this clause the question of whether Ireland is fairly treated in the matter of these grants. The right honourable Gentleman the Chief Secretary told us, when this question was being discussed on the Resolution, that Ireland was not merely being treated fairly by the provisions of this clause, but that the Treasury were treating Ireland with generosity. Mr. Lowther, when the Treasury say they are treating Ireland fairly, I always regard the matter with some suspicion; but when they go further and allege, that they are treating Ireland generously, it is fair to assume that there is some swindle concealed in the transaction. I have subjected the provisions of this clause to such examination as I was able to give it; and I venture to say that I can demonstrate that, so far from Ireland being treated either with justice or generosity, Ireland is getting—having regard to the principle on which local grants have been given to the three countries for the past 10 years—the sum of about £40,000 less than she ought to get. I understand the argument of the right honourable Gentleman was this: England, he said, in 1888 got, in lieu of certain local taxation grants, her licences. By this Act we take away local grants of an analogous character, and we give to Ireland, in lieu of this grant, her licences. But, says he, the argument against that course of proceeding is this: in England the amount of the local licences exceeded the amount of the local grants; in Ireland the amount of the licences is less than the amount of the local grants, and accordingly, he went on to say, we have taken that into consideration, and we have found that the amount by which the English licences exceeded the amount of the English grant was 14½ per cent.; accordingly, says he, we have calculated how much would be a fair allowance for Ireland, so as to give her in respect of this grant a similar excess, and we have calculated that amount to be £79,000. The amount of the licences would be about £200,000, and this £79,000 would not merely make up the deficiency as between the former sum and the amount of the local grants, but would give an excess of something like £35,000, or about 14½ per cent. The right honourable Gentleman claims that by this grant of £79,000 he will do for Ireland exactly what was done by giving England the licences. That, I understand, is his view of what is just. He goes on to say that we are not only just, but generous, because, when we were making this grant in England in 1888, we took into consideration that the making of that grant was doing Ireland some injustice. We then measured out the sum of £40,000—called since the Exchequer contribution. We gave that grant to Ireland ever since to compensate for the 14½ per cent; and we now give, her the 14½ per cent, excess, irrespective of that £40,000. That is his justification for the contention of the Treasury that it has not only been just, but generous. Well, I wish to observe that all that is founded on a complete fallacy. When we are dealing with the British Treasury we may always fairly rely that the figures they give us are tolerably accurate. What we always have to apprehend when we are dealing with the British Treasury is not falsification of figures, but juggling in the method of calculation. The Treasury is always trying to find out some method of calculation which will servo England and injure Ireland. I claim that in this alleged generous proposal involved in this grant they have followed this well-recognised principle, and that the generosity consists simply of their having derived a method of calculation calculated to injure Ireland to the extent of £40,000 per annum. Our position is this: the principle on winch local grants ought to be made from the Imperial Exchequer was fixed in 1888. It was fixed, not haphazard, but as the result of an elaborate series of calculations, made not by us but by the then Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer; and the principle on which the contribution was fixed was this that whenever the Imperial Parliament was from Imperial sources making a grant in aid of local rates, this grant should be given on the ratio that England should get 80 per cent, of the total grant, that Scotland should get 11 per cent., and that Ireland should get 9 per cent. Observe that that method of calculation takes no cognisance whatever of the sources from which local grants are derived. I remember a year ago, when I had less knowledge of this subject than I have now, I thought that on the question of the probate grant the Treasury was doing Ireland an injustice. I put a question to the Chancellor of the Exchequer directed to show that the 9 per cent, ratio did injustice to Ireland on the ground that Ireland's proportion of the duty was more than 9 per cent. The right honourable Gentleman said that was a complete mistake, for if Ireland's share of the local grants was to be measured from the amount contributed by her to the probate duty she would be getting, not 9 per cent., but a great deal less; because, he said, Ireland's contribution to the probate duty was far less than 9 per cent., and that Parliament in the year 1888 fixed the ratio of Ireland's share in the probate duty grant, not with reference to the amount of Ireland's contribution to the probate duty, but with reference to Ireland's contribution to the whole taxation of the country; and the point, of course, is an obvious one. Ireland is oppressed in the matter of taxation, not by her contributions to direct taxes, but by her contributions to indirect taxes. In England, as we know, during the last 50 years, the total proportion of indirect taxation compared with the direct taxation has been reduced, as I understand, from something like 50 per cent, to something like 20 per cent. I think I am right in saying that 50 years ago the proportion of direct and indirect taxes in England was about half and half. Of course that was a most oppressive system for the poorest class. By a beneficial fiscal change since then England's burden of taxation has been entirely shifted, and now indirect taxes in England yield something less than 25 per cent., and the direct taxes something like 75 per cent. At the present moment Ireland's contribution in indirect taxes is something like 75 per cent. To estimate Ireland's share in any local grant, therefore, on the basis of the particular tax, out of which the local grant is given, would be most unjust and unfair, because the tax selected for the purpose of making a local grant is always one of the direct taxes. It is always either probate duty or something of that kind, which is a direct tax on wealth. If Ireland's share of local grants were estimated with reference to contributions to particular direct taxes, Ireland would be wronged on every occasion. Accordingly, in 1888, in estimating Ireland's share of the probate duty grant, her ratio was fixed at 9 per cent., because she contributed 9 per cent, of the total tax of the country. What I have to ask the Government is this: do they adhere to that principle of 9 per cent. or not? If they do, the grant made by the present clause to Ireland is £40,000 short of what it ought to be. I have gone into the figures very carefully, and I will state them to the House. The English licences are shown by the Report of the Commissioners of National Debt to have amounted last year to £3,288,000. The right honourable Gentleman has stated that that revenue is a growing revenue. I am entitled to assume that it is, and the licences in England this year will be something more than that—I think £5,000, or £6,000; but I am willing to take the figure of last year for the purpose of my calculation. The Scotch contribution was £347,000. That was the amount of the contribution made in lieu of Scotch local licences. The amount given to Ireland by this clause is £279,000, and in addition to that there is this amount of the Exchequer contribution of £40,000. All these four sums together give us a total of the local grant made by virtue of the English, Scotch, and Irish Local Government Bills of £3,954,000. The question is, does Ireland get 9 per cent. of this grant? She does not, Mr. Lowther. Her share of this grant is £40,000 short of 9 per cent. Instead of getting £355,923, Ireland is getting £319,000; she is getting £200,000, £79,000, and £40,000, the amount of the Exchequer contribution. I am segregating the probate duty as being a distinct thing. We are getting out of the probate duty grant what we are entitled to get as fixed in 1888–9 per cent. Therefore, for the purpose of this calculation, I am leaving the probate duty grant entirely out. I am not now considering any question of probate duty grant; I am considering whether the grant made by this clause 42 is a fair grant, having regard to the similar grants made to England, and Scotland by the Local Government Acts. In Ireland, under the Act of 1888, the share which Ireland should get in any grant made by the Imperial Parliament for local purposes should be nine one-hundredths of the total grant. Ireland is not getting nine one-hundredths of the total grant; she is getting £40,000 less than that. Ireland is getting in respect of this grant three sums: £200,000, the amount of the licences, £79,000, the amount added to make up the deficiency, and £40,000 which she got in 1888, and which has since been called the Exchequer grant. These throe sums make up altogether £319,000; and Ireland, instead of getting nine one-hundredths in this particular form of local grant, is getting £36,933 short of that amount. In making that calculation I am taking into consideration the £40,000 which we were told the British Treasury was so generously making us a present of. I do not want generosity from the Treasury, I want justice; and I say, Sir, that so far from giving us justice, the right honourable Gentleman and the Government are, by this clause, departing from the principle solemnly established in 1888—a principle by which, when the Imperial Treasury made grants from Imperial sources for the purposes of aiding local rates, Ireland's share was fixed at nine one-hundredths. Now, I have one further comment to make on this. That is a strong case as I have put it, but the case is stronger when you consider this clause as a whole. What is the principal grant which is being taken away from us under this clause? It is, of course, the grant of 4s. a bead for lunatics. That grant, as originally computed, was computed on principles unjust to Ireland. It was granted by Sir Stafford Northcote in the year 1894. What is the principle on which he granted it? The Conservative Government had come into office with a big surplus of £5,000,000 which the previous Liberal Government had left behind them an a legacy. Sir Stafford Northcote, in his Budget speech, proceeded to state what he should do with this£5,000,000, and he decided, in view of the agitation then being carried on in England by the Conservative Party, that some of the surplus should be allocated to the relief of local taxation; and when he proceeded to examine the principle on which he should allocate it, he said that one way in which this money must flow must be towards the aid of the charges in respect of lunatics. What is the principle on which he treated England? He said, in regard to a pauper lunatic, that in so far as he was a pauper the locality should maintain him, and that in so far as he was a lunatic quâ lunatic the Imperial Government should come to the aid of the locality. Accordingly he made a calculation that in England the average pauper cost 5s. per head per week to maintain; in England the average lunatic cost 9s. per head per week; and what he proposed to do was to leave to the locality the burden of maintaining the lunatic quâ pauper—that is 5s. per week, and the Imperial Government would come to the aid of the locality and pay the difference between what would be the cost of maintaining the lunatic quâ pauper and the amount it would cost to maintain him quâ lunatic, namely, 4s. Having laid down that principle, he proceeded to give 4s. per head for lunatics. Well, Mr. Lowther, in Ireland at that date, a pauper did not cost 5s. per week to maintain, he only cost 3s. a week. At the present day in Ireland a pauper costs not 5s. per week to maintain, but if you look at the Local Govern- ment Board's returns, last year, you will find that he costs only 3s. 4d. per week to maintain. In Ireland in 1874 a lunatic did cost 9s. per week to maintain, and at present he costs 8s. 8s. per week. If Sir Stafford Northcote had treated Ireland as he treated England in 1874 he would have made a grant per head for lunatics not of 4s. per week, but of something like 6s. per week. Therefore this lunatic contribution made in 1874 was made on a principle that was unjust to Ireland. Of course, in 1874 this principle of nine one-hundredths had act been invented. But take it either way; take it on the principle which Sir Stafford Northcote adopted in 1874, or on the principle adopted by the late Chancellor of the Exchequer in the year 1888. On either footing Ireland did not get a proper share in the amount of the local grant. Now I ask the Committee why, in estimating the amount which Ireland should get as her share of this particular local grant, they have departed from the principle of nine one-hundredths which we accepted in 1888? That principle of nine one-hundredths has been a very convenient principle for the Government. It has since been adhered to in the case of every grant made in aid of local taxation. It was adopted when the grant was made for free education. If she had been treated as England was treated she would have got 10s. per head per scholar. But no; it was stated that Ireland was not entitled to 10s. per head per scholar—she was entitled to nine one-hundredths of any local grant made by the Imperial Exchequer out of the Imperial taxes for local purposes. This is a grant made by the Imperial Parliament from Imperial sources in aid of local taxation, and the source from which the money is to come is absolutely immaterial. The point is that until 1888 these licences went into the Imperial Revenue. They were surrendered by the Imperial Revenue in 1888 in aid of local taxes. They are being surrendered in Ireland in aid of local taxes. I need hardly say there is no connection between licence duties and the support of lunatics. I ask again, is the Government going to depart from the principle of nine one-hundredths in the case of local taxation? If they are, I promise that, they are establishing a most dangerous precedent for themselves, and one which on some other occasion we will be able to use against them. If they are not, instead of doing us justice, much less treating us with generosity, they are depriving us by this clause of £40,000, which we would be entitled to get as our nine one-hundredths of the money which is being surrendered out of the Imperial resources in aid of local taxation.


I am really beginning to think that had we doubled, or trebled, or quadrupled, or quintupled, the amount to be devoted to Irish purposes from the Imperial Revenue under this Bill, Members from Ireland would still have argued and asked for more. It is absolutely impossible to satisfy their demands. What is the point which the honourable Member has put forward with such ingenuity? He has claimed in the first place that the grant of 4s. per head for lunatics is an inadequate grant.


It was originally.


Well, that was settled as long ago as 1874, and no complaint has been made for all these years. I believe it was fairly settled originally, when the question of maintaining lunatic paupers in Ireland was taken into consideration, and we are not going to depart from that basis now. The honourable Member goes on to say that we ought to make the grant proposed by this section on the basis on which the probate duty grant is made; but this section has nothing whatever to do with that basis. It never had anything to do with that basis in Eng- land. What happened in 1888? There had been certain grants made in Enplane and in Scotland by the Exchequer for various local purposes—such as maintaining lunatics and other matters of that kind—to the local authorities. These grants were abolished by the Act of 1888 In place of them the proceeds of these licences were given to the local authorities; and, as the estimated proceeds of these licences considerably exceeded the annual grants, which had been previously made, the case of Ireland was taken into consideration at the same time, and another £40,000 a year was then devoted, and has ever since been devoted by the Imperial Exchequer to Irish purposes, because it was considered that the Act of 1888 placed Ireland at a disadvantage by giving England and Scotland larger sums than they had previously received for local purposes. Now, what do we do? That arrangement in regard to England and Scotland had no reference to any proportion of the kind the honourable Member mentions—no relation to the accepted proportion of 80, 11, 9. Absolutely none.


Is not it a grant in aid of local taxation?


No; it was not a grant in aid of local taxation. It was a, transfer of local licences to compensate for certain grants in aid of local taxation which had been previously given, and which were taken away; and, in order to make up for the extra amount thus given to England and Scotland, a sum was given to Ireland from the Imperial Exchequer. The proportion of 80, 11, 9 related to the probate duty and to the additional sums subsequently given from the beer and spirit duties: and in making that calculation, so far as not only the probate is concerned but also so far as regards all these taxes put together, Ireland was treated with singular liberality by the Imperial Government, because the yield of these taxes in England and Scot- land, compared with their yield in Ireland, would give Ireland much less than the proportion actually assigned to her.


I said that.


At any rate, so far as regards these three taxes, Ireland benefited by the arrangement. I have already explained to the Committee the process adopted in 1888, with reference to these local licences. Now, we propose to deal with them exactly the same as we did in 1888. We propose to take away this annual grant, and we propose in lieu of that to give to Ireland the proceeds of these local licences, and in addition to give her a sum which, together with these proceeds, is proportionately as much in excess of the annual grant as the sum which was given in 1888 to Great Britain; so that Ireland will receive an increased grant in precisely the same proportion now as Great Britain received in 1888. But that is not all. As I have said, the claim of Ireland on this ground was satisfied in 1888 by a grant at that time, and yet we make this additional grant now; so that Ireland is on the whole £40,000 a year better off under our proposal than England and Scotland were in 1888. What are these local licences? They are licences for public-houses, and for the sale of intoxicating liquors off the premises, and so on. But the yield of these licences in Great Britain is much larger proportionately than the yield of the same licences in Ireland, because the taxation under that head is heavier in Great Britain, where it includes assessed taxes, than it is in Ireland, where assessed saxes do not exist; and, therefore, again there is a direct benefit to Ireland, because we transfer taxes from the Imperial revenue which, if they were levied on the same basis in Ireland as in England, would produce more than they do under the present system in Ireland, and therefore Ireland would receive a smaller grant in addition to them in order to make up the amount she receives under this clause. Now, if ever there was a case where the needs of the present only should be looked to it is this. We can say nothing of the future. A point of that kind was raised by the honourable Member for East Mayo, when he spoke of the anticipated increase of lunacy in Ireland in years to come. We cannot deal with matters of that kind now. What we are dealing with, and what honourable Members must deal with, are the needs of the present. So far as the needs of the present are concerned, we have dealt in this matter most liberally and generously with Ireland, and we absolutely must decline to increase the grant.


When we were discussing this question on the financial resolution I complained—and I think with justice—that the Government were called upon to arrive at a final decision upon a very important financial matter which will affect Ireland for many years to come, without giving us the necessary figures, in order that we might understand exactly where we stood And here we are now debating a clause which will put that financial resolution into effect, as regards the substitution of the local licences without having those figures before us. If I am right, a great deal of the evil alluded to by the honourable Member for Cork arises from the fact that when in the Bill of 1883 the local licences were transferred to the English local authorities in place of certain grants in aid which were then withdrawn, instead of transferring a certain fixed sum, or a revenue bearing some proportion to the grants which were withdrawn, there were transferred all these kinds of revenue which at that date gave a considerable surplus, but which were a growing and increasing revenue. In that respect I contend that that has been at the root of a good deal of the injustice which has been done to Ireland. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has just stated that Ireland has no cause of complaint, and one of the many grounds on which he based his contention was, that in this local taxation which was transferred to local bodies in Ireland in 1888 were included certain assessed taxes which were paid in England and not in Ireland. That contention is no ground whatever to stand upon, because in dealing with this question we have to consider Imperial taxation as a whole, and these taxes to which he alluded were part of the Imperial revenue of this country. We know from other sources that, allowing for these extra taxes, Ireland has had to pay a great deal more than her fair share of taxation. In 1888 a revenue was granted in place of certain grants in aid to the local bodies in England. That revenue has increased. I think it has increased very largely since 1888, but the Government have placed no figures before us. The most important element in coming to a decision upon this question as regards the treatment of Great Britain and Ireland is to know not only what that revenue for the present year is, but what its prospects are in the years to come. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that in 1888, it having been found that the local licences transferred to English bodies gave a considerable surplus over and above the rants which were withdrawn, a sum of £40,000, known since as the Exchequer contribution, was given to Ireland, to balance that surplus. He said that the calculation of that £10,000 had nothing to do with the principles of 9, 11, 80 whatever. I should like to know upon what principle he arrived at that sum of £40,000. He must have had some method, some principle by which the specific sum of £40,000 was selected.


The principle was this, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer calculated by how much the licences given to England and Scotland exceeded the grants in aid which were formerly given. He considered the grants in aid in Ireland, and he took the same proportion in fixing that sum of £40,000 over and above the existing grants in aid for Ireland.


That is what I want to know. In that case, in fixing the grants for Ireland, he made absolutely no allowance whatever for an increase in the English revenue, and if I be correct in saying—and I do think we have great reason to complain that the Government have given us no figures—that this revenue was a rapidly expanding revenue, then it is perfectly manifest that a great injustice was inflicted upon Ireland, because here was the principle upon which the Treasury acted, and which, taking them on their own principle, they must have considered just. They offered us £40,000 as an equivalent grant for a particular year in respect of the services of that year, but they made no provision for what I believe to be the rapidly increasing surplus of the local licences in Ireland.


It is not possible to ascertain what the local expenditure is up to date, but of this I feel very sure, that although the receipts from the licences have undoubtedly increased in England and Scotland, the local expenditure has increased in a much greater proportion.


It is rather hard to ask us to discuss this matter without any information at all. I put down a return some days ago, asking for these facts, which ought to have been obtained before the Government put this Irish local Budget before us. I am told that the figures can be now given up to a certain point, but the return is not ready yet, and when the Chancellor of the Exchequer gets up and says that he believes certain things, and the figures are not before us, I think that is not a very sound method of argument. I believe that in that one subject alone an injustice has been done to Ireland. And now I come to another point: the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that a grant of £40,000 was particularly given to Ireland to make up for the surplus of these local licences with the grants. As well as I remember, speaking from recollection, that is not the case, because my recollection is that the Exchequer contribution was not given to Ireland till 1891, and it was then tied up, if my memory serves me rightly, by the Land Act of 1881, as a cash guarantee for some years, until a certain sum was realised for the advances made for the purchase of land in Ireland. So that, as regards that sum of £40,000, two or three years' arrears were due, which were never paid; and, as is always the case in those equivalent grants to Ireland, the Treasury managed, in process of making them, to filch away from Ireland a year or two of arrears. So much for the question of the Treasury grant. Now I come to the question of the proportion—a question which was dealt with by the honourable Member for Cork at the commencement of his speech. As to the proportion between the proposed grant in this clause and the present contribution of the local licences in Ireland, the honourable Member for Cork argued that the proposed grant is short of the proportion due to Ireland, under the system which has been long in force, of 9, 11, 80. The Government, Sir, have not answered that contention. They have practically admitted that it is so. But let us look at it for a moment in another light. It is short, and will be short when this Act is passed. But let us take the 10 years that have elapsed. During these years it was not only short by £40,000, but it was short by something nearer £80,000, because under this present Act it is proposed to give £35,000 in addition to the grants which are being withdrawn; so that for the last 10 years all that Ireland has obtained, as an offset to the local licences given to England, were the grants which are now being withdrawn, which amounted to £244,000 this year, and only amounted to £220,000 two years ago, and the Exchequer contribution; so that for a period of nearly 10 years it would appear, roughly speaking, so far as we have been able to ascertain, that the Irish were short of their proportion by something like £70,000 or £80,000. I have another illustration of the extreme inconvenience and difficulty under which we are called upon to debate this particular clause and the financial provisions which it embodies. When we were discussing this matter on the financial resolution I ventured to say that I doubted very much whether the local licences, now estimated to produce £220,000, were an expanding revenue; and I was met by the Chief Secretary for Ireland, who said that they were rapidly expanding. He said that in 1888 they were £155,000 a year, whereas in the present year they were estimated to produce £200,000. Since then I have received a message from the right honourable Gentleman saying that he was mistaken. In 1888 they were £183,449, and last year they were £199,000; or, in other words, in the 10 years from 1888 to last year they only increased by £17,000 a year. Now, I should like very much to compare this with the English figures—this improvement of £17,000 a year, which is so small an increase that it can hardly be described as an expanding revenue at all; in view of the fact of the decrease in population, it is a revenue which may become at any moment stationary. I am waiting for the accurate figures, and when I get them I shall be surprised to find that the local licences form a rapidly expanding revenue or a buoyant revenue. Considering the position in which we are placed, we are asked to accept now what I must describe, in spite of the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as a sum far short, whatever the exact figures may be, of our fair grant, looking at the present year, in proportion to what has been given to English local bodies; and not only are we asked to accept, on the figures of the present year, a grant far short of our fair proportion, but we are asked not to look forward to the future, and I notice that the Chancellor of the Exchequer said we must take care of the present. This is supposed to be a substitution for the land tax revenue, under which, automatically, we are to take the hard and fast revenue, which will depend upon the local licences, and we are asked to accept a sum, calculated on the present year; and, looking into the future, the annual licensing balance of revenue is a revenue at present very slightly increasing, and which may become stationary at any moment, whereas the revenue of England, which forms the whole basis of the English corresponding grant, is an elastic revenue, a rapidly increasing revenue, and a revenue which may be looked to to increase in the future. That is a very unjust and unfair condition of things, and I think we are entitled, before we pass from this part of the Bill, to hear from the Chancellor of the Exchequer some very different declaration from that which we have just listened to. We are entitled to hear that this arrangement shall not be made a hard and fast one What I would prefer to see would be that one of two things should happen; either that this part of the Bill should be postponed for future consideration until the figures have been fully looked into, or that we should be assured of an opportunity, within the next year or two, of a revision of the whole question, so that if it shall be proved that in this particular matter Ireland had been most unfairly treated, and that we were liable to suffer even greater injustice in the future, we might have an opportunity of coming before the House and obtaining, in this matter, better treatment when that treatment is compared with the treatment of England and Scotland.


The honourable Member for East Mayo has justly complained of the lack of information which we have on this matter. I must also complain of the lack of information given by the Government, and of data to guide the Committee in coming to a conclusion whether or not the proposals are fair. One very strong objection to the proposed arrangement is that whereas, under this clause, you propose to relieve England from liability in regard to certain increasing charges in Ireland, you have given us a revenue about which we are not at all certain that it is not going to be a diminishing revenue. My honourable Friend the Member for the Birr Division of King's County has drawn up the budget of the new Irish county councils. He shows that the Imperial Treasury contribute towards half the expenses of medical officers of workhouses, half the salaries of medical officers, half the salaries of schoolmasters and mistresses in workhouses, half the expenses of medicines and medical and surgical appliances, half the expenses of sanitary officers, and half the expenses of pauper lunatics, the total amount being £244,000. These contributions are now to cease. But we believe there is no doubt on the point that all these expenses will be increasing expenses. Certainly, the cost of administration of our workhouses will become more expensive, and the cost of administration in respect of lunatics in Ireland will also become more expensive. Then, on the other hand, we have a list of these grants which are supposed to be given to us in view of the contributions which are taken away. We have reason to fear that the revenue from these grants will prove a decreasing one. There is one point which I should like to say a word upon, and that is that I think it is rather an improper thing to base the revenue of the Irish county councils upon the consumption of drink in Ireland. I do not think it is a desirable thing that there should be an increase in the consumption of spirits in Ireland. But I am not at all sure that the revenue in connection with the spirit licences and the beer licences in Ireland is going to be increased. I do not myself see how the figures which are put down under this head are likely to increase in the future. I think, on the other hand, they are very much more likely to decrease. Well, Sir, this question of the finance of Irish local government is, of course, the backbone of the Bill, and I think the suggestion thrown out by my honourable Friend the Member for East Mayo is a very proper suggestion—namely, that there should be some provision for the revision of these proposals. If the Government have it in their minds some years hence to make changes in lunacy administration of Ireland, of course that would affect our position in this matter; and if the Government propose to continue their inquiry into the general question of local taxation in Ireland, and as to the revenue under the various heads of finance, which are now going to be dealt with by the Irish county council, that, of course, will influence our position. But, Sir, in the absence of any hint or suggestion to that effect, I think that my honourable Friends are perfectly right in their opposition to these proposals of the Bill. Now, Mr. Lowther, the Chancellor of the Exchequer talked about assessed taxes, and this is a point which is constantly made against us in debate on the financial question in this House. I should like once and for all to explain to the House what is the situation with regard to assessed taxes. There are, practically, no assessed taxes in Ireland at the present moment, with the exception of the dog tax and some local taxes. But, Mr. Lowther, there were assessed taxes. There were for instance, on windows, and there were assessed taxes on servants, carriages, horses, dogs, and hounds. The aggregate payment of those taxes amounted to £300,000. These taxes were removed in Ireland in the period from 1819 to 1842; but the reason why those taxes were taken away from Ireland was not because the English Treasury were generous, or particularly anxious to alleviate the burden on Ireland, but because they were no longer producing a revenue; in short, they were not productive taxes; and that is why this £300,000 was taken off Ireland, not because of the generosity of England, but because these taxes did not pay. And in the same period England removed taxes, and paying taxes, of her own to the amount of £5,000,000 a year. I have thought it only right, as the question of assessed taxes has been raised, and there has been a great deal of talk about Ireland's freedom from taxation under this head, to bring these details of the ease before the Committee.


It would appear from the speech to which we have listened from the right honourable Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer that Ireland has been a very ungrateful country, and that we ought to be engaged in perpetual thanksgiving for the manner in which we are being treated. The right honourable Gentleman has replied in common Treasury form by saying non possumus to the Irish demand. But I would call the attention of the Treasury to the fact that what the right honourable Gentleman is doing to-day as regards this particular grant, he did two years ago as regards the grant for free education. He and the Secretary of the Treasury came down night after night and endeavoured to brazen out the attempt of their Department to keep Ireland out, so to speak, of the education grant. But, Mr. Lowther, the continued discussion in this House drove the right honourable Gentleman and drove the British Treasury from the position which they originally adopted, and they had ultimately to concede to us the claim of the Irish teachers, which should have been recognised originally as a matter of justice. Now, Mr. Lowther, I take the liberty to say that what happened as regards the grant for education two years ago will ultimately happen as regards this matter which we are pressing upon the attention of the Treasury to-day, and that in two or three years' time the then Chancellor of the Exchequer will be obliged to come down to this House and acknowledge, in the case of this particular grant, the injustice which he had two years ago to admit in the case of the teachers. Now, Mr. Lowther, I have no desire to continue the discussion on the point raised by the Amendment, but there are one or two points I wish to press upon the attention of the Committee. It is entirely in the discretion of the Chancellor what particular tax he will select for the purpose of providing these local grants. It happened in 1888 that he selected the probate tax for the purpose of making this grant. But supposing he had adopted the whisky tax? Do you suppose for a moment that he would in that case have admitted that, because Ireland contributed an abnormal amount in the direct taxation, therefore they should obtain in the case of the local grant an amount corresponding to that contribution? No. The fair and just principle is that you should not pay any regard to the tax from which you drew your contribution, but to the total contribution made by each part of the United Kingdom towards the total taxation of the kingdom. Otherwise, of course, when you are allocating your local grants, you will have to take into consideration all those questions of fairness or unfairness of indirect taxation which are avoided when you take as your basis of contribution the total revenue of the three kingdoms and the total contribution to the revenue that each of those three kingdoms contributes. The right honourable Gentleman says that there are in England assessed taxes that there are not in Ireland. What has that to do with the matter, Mr. Lowther? That would be a perfectly good argument if you adopted the principle that the amount of your grant must depend on the amount of the contribution to the tax supplying the grant. But that is not what Parliament did in 1888, and has never done since in the case of any local grant. Therefore it is immaterial to say that the fact that there are not the assessed taxes in Ireland that there are in Eng- land should be considered in any way when you are dealing with this question. No, Mr. Lowther, the fair way of settling this matter is that which was adopted in the year 1888. If there were some necessary connection between these local licences and the particular purpose to which they were devoted when these grants came into the lands of the local bodies, then there, may be something to be said in favour of the argument of the right honourable Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The fact is this: these grants all came into the Imperial Exchequer in 1888. In 1888 Parliament decided that it would surrender these Grants for local purposes. The matter, therefore, Mr. Lowther, stands exactly in the case of these licences on the same footing that it stands in the case of any other local contribution, and we certainly will not be satisfied with the answer which has been given to us by the right honourable Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer today. "We adopted a method with regard to the allocation of these grants in 1874, and that method, just or unjust, we will not depart from," says the Chancellor of the Exchequer. That is an answer which we on these benches will never accept, and the Treasury may rely upon it that we shall keep dinning this question into their ears until complete justice has been done to Ireland.


It would be hopeless to expect the right honourable Gentleman the Chief Secretary to regard himself as an advocate for Ireland. We suffer from the fact that we have not a single friend in the Cabinet and not a single friend in the British Government. The right honourable Gentleman the Chief Secretary regards the Imperial system as one that ought to be preserved at all hazards, and, that being so, he takes everything from the Treasury officials as gospel, and accepts without question everything they have to say. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has made a remarkable offer. He has offered us, forsooth, if we like to accept a further levy on assessed taxes in Ireland, the benefit to be derived from any further local taxation in years to come. Why does he not give us the benefit of the assessed taxation in existence? There are three important details which ought to have been included in the schedule, and which are not included in it. I take, in the first instance, the hackney car or carriage tax for Dublin. Why did he not give us that tax, which is levied alone in the city of Dublin, and is not levied in any other city in the three kingdoms? Then there is the charge for pawnbrokers' licences within the Dublin metropolitan area, which brings in a very large sum to the Imperial Exchequer. Will the right honourable Gentleman give us that? Then, again, there is the dog tax. In England you have the whole of the dog tax, but it is not even mentioned in our schedule. I would ask the right honourable Gentleman why he persists in keeping these three taxes in this extraordinary and unparalleled manner? We are suffering in this respect because the Irish account is kept by an alien country. I must say that the Government, in dealing with this matter, have had neither argument nor have they had justice. But we have laid the foundation for further Debates, and for a further claim, and I can assure the Government that though, for the sake of the Bill as a whole, we are overlooking a great many things with regard to the present Session, the matter in question is one which they will again and again hear of during this Parliament.


said the honourable and learned Member had asked him why these licences were not included in the schedule of the Bill. The reason why these licences were not included in the schedule of the Bill was because they were already given exclusively to local taxation. He hardly liked to take up the time of the Committee with reference to matters which his right honourable Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer had already dealt with, but there was one point which he desired to draw attention to in the speech of the honourable Member for East Mayo—namely, that results showed that at the present time Ireland was being defrauded in respect of contributions to local taxation to the extent of £80,000. At any rate, the honourable Member must admit that that amount was now to be reduced by the £35,000 given under the Bill. The honourable Member's calculations, however, were based on premises which the Government could not admit. To this question of contribution in respect of local licences the proportions of 80, 11, and 9 for the three kingdoms did not apply. If those propositions were to be applied to every contribution from the Imperial Exchequer, it would be found that Ireland was receiving very much more than her fair share.

Question put— That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause. The Committee divided:—Ayes 245; Noes 112.—(Division List No. 110.)

Amendment moved— Page 23, line 12, after 'and' insert 'all penalties and forfeitures recovered in respect of the same duties and.'"—(Mr. T. M. Healy.)

This is in the English Act, and I do not know why it is not in the Irish Act. I suppose it is not inserted in the Irish Act for some curious reason I do not understand. It is unintelligible to me why the words are omitted, and I think the English words ought to be put in the Irish Bill.


The Amendment is already cohered. If the honourable Member will look at section 20 of the English Act he will see that it contains the words.


I saw that, but I mistrust everything that comes from the Treasury. We have been swindled too often, and we must deal with these gentlemen as what they are, who try to commit a fraud upon every possible occasion. The words are in the English Bill, and if the Government mean honestly, they will take these words out of the English Bill and put them in the Irish Bill.


Assuming that the gentlemen connected with the Treasury are actuated by the motives which the honourable Member imputes to them, this clause says, referring to the licences specified in the third schedule, "and such amount shall be ascertained in like manner as under section 20 of the Local Government Act, 1888," and if the honourable Member will turn to the Local Government Act of 1888 he will find that in sub-section 2 it provides the mode in which the amount of these licences is ascertained. The amount of these licences is to be ascertained in the same manner as in the Act of 1888, and it is impossible to escape from the meaning of the section to which. I allude.


They will discover some little slip, and then you will find there will be an action in the county court, and the judge will say there is a slip somewhere, and we shall lose these amounts. Why not make the meaning1 plain? We have fair ground for our suspicion. If we got fair play and justice, things would be decided as the right honourable Gentleman says, but I have no confidence that we shall get that fair play or justice.

The Amendment was, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment proposed— Page 23, line 28, leave out 'said salary of one trained nurse,' and insert 'salary of the trained nurses.'"—(Sir T. Lea.)

* SIR T. LEA (Londonderry, S.)

Some two years ago there were a good many questions asked in this House on the subject of nursing in Irish workhouses, and a Special Commissioner from a medical journal was sent over to Ireland to investigate matters. Since then the Local Government Board of England as well as of Ireland has taken note of the importance of the matter, and they have both issued orders forbidding the employment of pauper nurses. The right honourable Gentleman the Chief Secretary has taken notice of the subject, and in order to provide for efficient nursing has put in this provision, that there shall be one trained nurse in each workhouse. That is sufficient, no doubt, for a good many of the workhouses in Ireland, but in the large workhouses I fear more will be required, and I cannot see why the regulation which gives one nurse for a small workhouse should not give us two nurses for a large one. The honourable Member for Dublin has put down an Amendment making the law in Ireland equivalent to what it is in Scotland, which asks for rations as well as salary. I have taken the more moderate line, and asked that, wherever a second nurse is required, the Imperial Treasury shall grant half of the money required for the payment of that nurse. It will not take a very large sum of money to do this, because out of 159 workhouses in Ireland not more than half would ever require a second nurse; sometimes they may be required in exceptional cases of epidemics of fevers or special sickness; but, even in that case the amount of money to meet this state of things would be very small. I believe the payment to a trained nurse is not more than £24 or £25 a year, and, if the Imperial grant were responsible for half of that payment, it would simply take £12 or £13 a year for the payment of the second nurse. The payment will not be required for more than 70 or 80, or at the most 100 workhouses. It cannot be construed in an extravagant way, because the guardians will have to pay half the salary and all the rations as well. All that the Imperial Exchequer has to do will be to pay £12 or £13 a year whenever a second nurse is required. The scandals which arose under the system of pauper nursing cannot arise again, because the Local Government Board Order which forbids it is now well carried into effect. But it will be impossible for one nurse to do all the work when there is a considerable amount of sickness about, and a second nurse will probably be found a very cheap investment. Under these circumstances, I think it is necessary for the efficient working of the institution that two nurses should be had occasionally for the smaller workhouses, and permanently in the larger workhouses, and thus the Government would assist that care of the sick poor in the way it ought to be encouraged.


I cannot recommend the adoption of this Amendment to the Committee; the result of it, if it were adopted, would be that we should be having two trained nurses in many workhouses where one would be quite sufficient. What I am very anxious to do, and what this Bill does, is to secure that in every union in Ireland there shall be one trained nurse, and if the large unions require more than one for any special emergency they can very easily arrange to do so. There are. other difficulties in the way of adopting this Amendment—difficulties which it would not be very easy to explain to the Committee; but I may say that if we were at the present moment to ask for all the trained nurses in Ireland—that is, trained nurses coming within the recognised definition of a "trained nurse," and as laid down in the regulations in Scotch workhouses—very serious difficulties would undoubtedly arise. Under these circumstances, I do not think that this is a question which it is desirable that we should raise here.


It is the same old story; the Chief Secretary has made up his mind, and the Amendment, reasonable as it is, will not be adopted. I can adduce at least one reason why I think the Amendment of the honourable Baronet opposite is a reasonable one. To my certain knowledge I know that the Local Government Board in Dublin at present are insisting upon the guardians appointing additional trained nurses in workhouses. If the Local Government Board are insisting on that, they have a right to pay part of the salary. In the union I am connected with there are three trained nurses, and recently the Local Government Board insisted upon us appointing a trained night nurse. The tendency of the Local Government Board is to altogether supersede the system of pauper assistance by a system of trained nurses. They insist upon guardians appointing trained nurses, and if the guardians do not want them the Local Government Board ought to pay something towards the expense they are causing.

MR. JOHNSTON (Belfast, S.)

While I hardly think it is desirable to introduce these contentious things into the House, I would ask the Chief Secretary whether it would not be possible for him to give this matter some further consideration. I must myself confess that it seems to me that some further extension of the system of trained nurses is very desirable. I am sure we all admire the careful consideration which the Chief Secretary has given to the whole question, and I would earnestly ask him to consider whether some extension of the provisions of this clause could not be made. One trained nurse, I admit, is quite sufficient for some institutions, but it is not sufficient for all institutions. I would again ask the Chief Secretary if he cannot consider this Amendment favourably.

MR. CAREW (Dublin, College Green)

After the speech of the Chief Secretary it will be taken as an authority by every union in Ireland that no more than one trained nurse is necessary on any occasion. An infirmary requires separate nurses by day and separate nurses by night. Now that the guardians know that the cost will be cast upon them, they will be very much opposed to getting a proper nursing staff. I had an Amendment down extending the Amendment of the honourable Baronet, and following the Scotch precedent of the Treasury not only paying half the Salary, but also the rations, as well. I am sorry that the Chief Secretary has opposed this, and I hope that the honourable Baronet will go to a Division upon it.


said that he did not think the right honourable Gentleman's arguments at all conclusive, and that he should not withdraw the Amendment.

Question put— That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 199; Noes 150.—(Division List No. 111.)

And it being Half-past Five of the clock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.

Committee report Progress; to sit again to-morrow.

House resumed.