§ Considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ [Mr. STUART WORTLEY (Sheffield, Hallam) in the Chair.]
§ Clause 1:—
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND (Waterford)
The object of the Amendment which I have put upon the Paper, and which I now move, is to exempt Ireland from the reimposition of the tea duty. In the first instance, the history of this tea duty in Ireland is rather interesting. Before 1817 the tea duty in Ireland was, compared with that of England, very small indeed. As well as my recollection serves me, it was four or five times as large in England as in Ireland, but in 1817, as part of the scheme of robbing Ireland, as we believe, this tax was equalised in the two countries. In 1890 the tax was reduced to 4d., and now it is proposed to increase the existing taxation 50 per cent., and raise it to 6d. As well as we can estimate, the additional amount raised from Ireland will be £250,000. The production from this tax in the year ending 31st March, 1899, in Ireland was £564,000, and therefore it is a fair estimate to say that the amount produced in Ireland from this addition to the taxation on tea may be about £250,000. I am glad to have an opportunity of very briefly alluding to one or two matters raised by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the debate 338 upon this Irish financial question the other night. At the close of the debate, and without any warning or notice whatever, he put forward a number of entirely new statements and quoted a number of figures which, on the spur of the moment, it was impossible for us on these benches without examination and inquiry to deal with. On this question the right hon. Gentleman laid it down that the English consumption was 5¼lb. per head of the population, producing a tax of 1s. 9d., and that the Irish consumption was 6½ lb. per head, producing 2s. 2d.* That is to say, that, taking the case of an Irish family, say, of six persons, the amount paid under the old tax would be 13s., and now, under this proposal, that tax is to be raised on the Irish family to 19s. 6d. The right hon. Gentleman laid down, I think, an extraordinary proposition when he argued that the larger consumption of tea in Ireland was, forsooth, something in the nature of an argument in favour of Irish prosperity and Irish ability to pay the tax. The large consumption of tea in Ireland is a proof of the poverty of the people instead of a proof of their prosperity. It is the very cheapest drink they can obtain—something like 2d. a gallon—and it is probably the cheapest food upon which any human being can maintain life. It does seem to me that the argument is entirely the other way, and that the large consumption of tea in Ireland is a proof of the poverty and not the prosperity of the people, and of their inability rather than their ability to bear this additional impost. The right hon. Gentleman laid down and elaborated the principle which underlies really the whole or a very large part of the financial injustice under which Ireland suffers, when he propounded the old doctrine that identity of impost is the same as identity of burden. That was the fallacy underlying Mr. Gladstone's policy in 1853. It is the policy which underlies the policy of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to-day. In his speech he declared that anything in the nature of differential taxation of the same articles as between England and Ireland was a principle which could never be accepted. He went on to say—That is a demand on the part of Ireland to occupy the position and to exercise the power of a governing part of this great Empire, and* See page 123 of this Volume.339not to bear an equal share in its burdens. That is a demand which strikes at the root of our whole system of common taxation… that system is essential to our common welfare.He then went on to make the utterly erroneous statement that the principle of identity of taxation, under the Act of this Parliament in 1816, had been agreed to, forsooth, by the Irish people through their representatives. Let me ask upon that question, first of all, what was the contract—if it can be dignified by the name—entered into under the Act of Union? It was that Ireland, with a population of about one-half as large as that of Great Britain, was to pay two-seventeenths of the total taxation, or about one against three and a half per head paid by the inhabitants of Great Britain. That was a ridiculously unfair proportion to fix, and every financial authority who has spoken or given evidence on this question—even those against our claim at the present moment—admits that that was an unfair proportion when it was fixed. As a matter of fact, Ireland was never able to pay it. But let us imagine for a moment that it was a fair proportion. Having regard to the change in the number of the population of the two countries, we are paying very much more than that proportion to-day. Taking into account the population of Ireland, the proportion, which was one against three and a half at the time of the Union, had altered by 1859 to one against two, while in 1897 it was one against 1.6. If the Irish demand to-day were strictly limited to that contract, which was admittedly an absurdly unjust and unfair one, our position to-day would be that we are treated even on the standard of that contract unfairly and unjustly. Could anything have been more ridiculous than the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the imposition of identical taxation in 1816 had the consent of Ireland? As was pointed out on the spur of the moment by one of the Irish Members, in 1816 we had not Catholic emancipation. That was answered by the Chancellor of the Exchequer with an allusion to something done in the sixties. But Ireland in the sixties was not represented in this House any more fairly than she was before Catholic emancipation. It was not until 1885 that the masses of the Irish people were really represented in this House. The 340 right hon. Gentleman would lead the House to believe from his argument that the assent of Ireland to this arrangement in 1816 was an essential condition of the contract. If it was, we have a right to withdraw from the contract now, when we find that it is unjust and oppressive. The Chancellor of the Exchequer complained that this was an attempt of the Irish people to fix the taxation on Great Britain. He denounced that as a ridiculous and unjust thing. But what is he doing? He is allowing Great Britain to fix the taxation of Ireland. If one is unjust, I contend the other is equally so. Let me say one word in continuation of this point. What has been the result of this imposition of identical taxation upon Ireland? It has been absolutely ruinous. I never heard a more superficial and unsatisfactory speech than was the speech of the right hon. Gentleman upon this point. He attempted, forsooth, to prove that Ireland is to-day rapidly increasing in prosperity and wealth, when it is common knowledge that by comparison with any other nation in the world, Ireland has been retrograding instead of advancing. The right hon. Gentleman alluded with pride and satisfaction to the fact that emigration from Ireland was diminishing. Yes, thank God, it is. The emigration cannot go on for ever at the rate it has been going on for many decades past. Naturally it must, to some extent, diminish in volume, because the population left in the country has diminished by one half. But even this consolation the right hon. Gentleman is not entitled to. He quoted the emigration figures for 1898, and pointed to the fact that only 32,000 had emigrated in that year, fie did not give the figures for 1899, which show an increase of emigration from 32,000 to 42,000. So that even upon that point the right hon. Gentleman's figures were misleading and inadequate. In talking of this question of depopulation, he alluded to some rural parts of England in which he knew the agricultural population was diminishing. Did he really put that forward as a reasonable argument? We are not talking about the depopulation of any particular district in Ireland. We are talking of the depopulation of the country taken as a whole. The country taken as a whole shows a terribly diminishing population, and to say because in England, where the population is increasing from year to year by leaps and bounds, there 341 may be a particular rural district the population of which is diminishing, that that is any answer, is really unworthy as an argument of the right hon. Gentleman. He spoke also of the receipts from railway traffic——
Order, order! The hon. Member must be aware that the rules of the House preclude references to previous debates in the same session. The hon. Member must also understand that in strictness he is bound by the limits of the present Amendment to the position of Great Britain and Ireland with regard to the increase of the tea duty.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
To take the second point first, I am arguing that this additional impost upon tea should not be put upon Ireland, because of the poverty of her people which makes them unable to bear it. With regard to the other point, I will not further allude to the right hon. Gentleman, but I will say that a distinguished financier has recently made these statements. A distinguished gentleman recently stated that the railway receipts in Ireland had increased by 25 per cent. in ten years.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir M. HICKS BEACH,) Bristol, W.
I rise to order. What on earth has this to do with the tea duty?
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
I do not understand. The point put to you, Sir, as a point of order, is, whether I am entitled to discuss the question of the receipts for railway rates. On that point I would submit to you that anything which shows the inability of Ireland to bear taxation is a relevant argument on the proposal to increase her taxation.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
Then, Sir, if anyone says that these receipts from railway traffic have increased in the last ten years by 25 per cent., I should call attention to the fact that mileage has increased by 12½ per cent., and that the 342 rate of increase per mile has in ten years been only 4 per cent.—a smaller increase than will be found in any other country in Europe or in the world. Take the case of joint-stock companies in Ireland. It is said as a proof of the prosperity of Ireland that they have doubled in number in the last ten years, but it is left out of account altogether that included in that category are those innumerable co-operative societies which have been established in Ireland, the establishment of which, though they may be most useful in their way, cannot be regarded as in themselves a proof of the increased prosperity of the people. Savings bank deposits have been alluded to as a proof of increased prosperity and of Ireland's ability to bear taxation. Savings bank deposits show in ten years an increase of 4¼ millions, but in the same ten years there has been a decrease of 6½ millions in Government funds and Indian stocks, so that if you take the question of the prosperity of the country as a whole, the decrease in this kind of investments may be set against the increase with regard to savings banks. I content myself with this general statement: that the picture which was recently put before this House and the country of Ireland as a rapidly improving and prosperous country is a grossly exaggerated one, and by every test which the ingenuity of man may suggest Ireland is unable to bear this additional taxation which is proposed. This Budget, even if it were a fair one for Great Britain, is a glaringly unfair one for Ireland. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has defended this Budget on the ground that he is raising £8,000,000 from direct taxation and only £6,000,000 from indirect. This is 57 per cent. from direct and 43 per cent. from indirect taxation. I admit candidly that for a War Budget that is a very plausible statement to be able to make. If the right hon. Gentleman has to provide a War Budget, then I think the proportion of direct to indirect taxation which he lays down is a reasonable one. But so far as the application of this Budget to Ireland is concerned, that statement is an absolute and complete misrepresentation. In Ireland the application of the Budget will work out in this way. The direct taxation raised will be only 33 per cent. of the whole, and the indirect taxation will be 67 per cent. of the whole. I have endeavoured, as far as possible, to 343 get accurate figures and accurate estimates. The income tax produced in Ireland last year £704,000. It is proposed to increase it by 50 per cent., producing £300,000. The tea duty produced last year £564,000; the increase of 50 per cent. will be £250,000. Tobacco produced £1,201,000, and the increase of 12½ per cent. will produce £150,000. Beer produced £773,000; an increase of 15 per cent. gives £100,000, and an increase of 5 per cent. on spirits gives £100,000 more, making in all about £900,000 as a result of this increased budget upon Ireland. These figures, if they are correct, show that Ireland will be paying £300,000, or 33 per cent., of direct taxation, and £600,000, or 67 per cent. of indirect taxation, whereas in Great Britain the proportions are reversed, and Great Britain will be paying only 43 per cent., of indirect and 57 per cent. of direct. So that the main argument upon which the right hon. Gentleman defended this Budget, namely, that there was a fair and equitable distinction between the amount to be borne by indirect and direct taxation, falls to the ground altogether when you apply it to the case of Ireland. It seems to me that in itself is a strong argument why this increase of the duty on tea should be omitted. I would suggest what would be a fair thing for him to do. Why cannot Ireland be treated the same as Great Britain in this Budget? Why cannot the right hon. Gentleman be content to raise only the same proportion of direct and indirect taxation that he is raising in Great Britain? If he would be content to do that, he would to some extent at any rate mitigate the injustice which I think he is perpetrating on the country. If he did that, he could do it by levying direct taxation in Ireland as it is under his proposal at £300,000, and by keeping only the beer and spirit duties—£200,000 more—and confining his demand upon Ireland to these three items. Then the taxation upon Ireland would fall in exactly the same proportion as he proposes it should fall upon England, and he would in that way save Ireland from the imposition on her poor people of this harsh additional tax on tea and on tobacco. Of course we take the position that we object to pay a single penny of additional taxation, for the double reason that we think we are overtaxed already, and that we object 344 to the object to which the money is to be devoted. Of course, we know as practical politicians we cannot defeat this Budget. We are powerless to do so. All we are able to do is to register our protest in the division lobby. If we, as practical men, can get any alleviation for Ireland, I think we ought to do our best, and if the Chancellor of the Exchequer would do what I think is a reasonable thing, let the taxation direct and indirect fall in the same proportion as in England, that will be a relief to our country. It will diminish the total amount of the additional taxation, and it will remove to some extent the sense of injustice under which we suffer. For these reasons, I beg to move this Amendment, and I invite the serious and sympathetic attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ Amendment proposed—
§ "On page 1, line 16, to leave out the words 'or Ireland.'"—[Mr. John Redmond.]
§ Question proposed—"That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL (Donegal, S.)
said that having no special knowledge in matters of finance he should not have intervened in the debate except for the fact that the increase on the duty upon tea very greatly affected a large number of the inhabitants of Donegal, to whom tea was not so much a luxury as an actual article of food. The class of people whom he represented were the poorest in the world. In this question of finance he noticed one of the most cruel instances of the injustice which was done to Ireland by the Government, as was shown by the fact that the whole of the Irish representatives were voting against the extra taxation of their own country, and being out-voted by the majority of the House, who would not have to pay the tax which they were imposing. With regard to the way in which it affected his constituency, he drew attention to the fact that in 1896 a Committee sat to consider the incidence of taxation between the two countries, and in the Majority Report, which was signed by Mr. Childers, one of the greatest financial authorities of his day, it was stated that the same system of taxation falling on the two countries had the effect of making Ireland contribute about £2,500,000 in excess of what she 345 ought to contribute. The Report pointed out that, if the wealth per head of one country was much less than that of the other, the tax upon taxable articles would fall very heavily upon the poorer country of the two. The main cause of the inequality of taxation between Great Britain and Ireland might be said to be tea, tobacco, and spirits, which were all heavily taxed, and the consumption of which in Ireland was equal to the consumption in Great Britain, except in the case of tea, which was consumed to a larger extent in Ireland than here, and in the case of all these articles, while the tax remained the same in both countries, the wealth with which to purchase them was less in Ireland than in Great Britain. To refer to the effect of the tea duty in Donegal, he called attention to the fact that Mr. O'Donnell gave evidence before the Commission, and he insisted strongly on the fact that tea was the food of the Donegal peasant, and that it was cruel to exact a large duty in regard to it. His evidence showed that there was a large increase in the consumption of tea even in the congested districts, and that it was not unusual for the peasants to have tea and bread at two out of their three daily meals. How could the Chancellor of the Exchequer tax those unfortunate people by an additional two pence a pound on tea? They had heard a good deal about the scarcity of milk in Kimberley during the siege, but the peasants of Ireland could not get milk because it had to be sold for the benefit of the landlord. The evidence proved that the poor people of Ireland did not have meat more than two or three times a year, while in Great Britain the great mass of the population habitually consumed butcher's meat, and even in Scotland the food of the poor was much superior to what it was in Ireland. Those poor peasants were the persons who were to be the victims of the extra taxes in order to support the stockjobbers in the City. Tea was absolutely vital to the very existence of the poor in Ireland, and Dr. O'Donnell was not the only person who bore testimony to this fact. Sir Edward Hamilton was examined by Mr. Sexton, and he was asked, if Irishmen were unable to indulge in luxuries which paid no taxes such as beef and bacon, and had to resort to tea and dry bread, how could that be proof of the taxable capacity of Irishmen, and he replied that he hardly 346 thought that tea was a substitute for beef or bacon, and that although he would not say that tea and alcoholic drinks were luxuries yet they were rather expensive tastes in which Irishmen indulged. With what heart could men who in the whole course of a long life never knew what it was to be hungry, increase the burdens on those poor people who were in a chronic state of want—a condition, too, which was the direct result of English misgovernment? To gentlemen in easy circumstances of life it was, he knew, very difficult to realise that one shilling, sixpence, or even one penny made a vast difference with these poor peasants. An increase of two pence in one pound of tea was of far more consequence than £10,000 to many Gentlemen on the other side of the House. They were taxing these peasants with a high hand as much against their wishes as if all the Irishmen were expelled from the House. To talk of the grievances of the money-grubbing Uitlanders in the Transvaal in the same breath when they were imposing this additional taxation on the poor Irish peasants was cruel hypocrisy. He never spoke in a debate of this kind without recollecting reading of the historic scenes when Daniel O'Connell—who was praised now so much for his moderation and loyalty—made his last speech in the House. By the courtesy of the House he was permitted in his weakness to address the House from the seat on the Treasury Bench where the Chancellor of the Exchequer was now sitting, and, in accents nearly inaudible, he said, on the eve of the famine, that he was asking for bread for his people. And now the Government, whose members never knew what want was, had the face to prey on the vitals of the Irish poor to pay for a vile and infamous war.
§ MR. FLYNN (Cork, N.)
said it had been proved to demonstration that tea was a necessity of the Irish people. It could not be called an expensive taste or, least of all, a luxury. If there was one axiom in regard to general taxation more than another conceded by all authorities, it was that, as far as possible, the indirect taxation on commodities which were necessaries of life should be reduced, and on the other hand that direct taxation on property and wealth should be increased, so far as consistent with justice. That principle was grossly violated in 347 the present Budget, and, in regard to Ireland, violated in the most unconscionable manner. It had been proved that the increase of 2d. in the lb. on the tea duty would amount in Ireland to £250,000, which was a startling sum to levy from the very poorest of the poor. If tea was a necessary to the poor washerwoman and the factory hand in this country, it was an article of still greater necessity to a much larger proportion of the population of Ireland at the present moment. Milk was scarcer in Ireland than in London, because the great portion of it was exported or converted into butter, and the consumption of tea was therefore cheaper than milk, and it had become the staple food of the people eked out with potatoes and Indian meal. It was said by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the enormous consumption of tea in Ireland was a proof of the prosperity of the country; but he had never heard a more fallacious argument from an intelligent statesman. Instead of that, it was a proof directly the other way—that the poor people had been driven to the use of tea as a substitute for other things. If they could eat their own bacon, or beef, or mutton, as the prosperous working classes in Great Britain did, tea would not form such a large item in the expenditure of the households of Ireland. Sir Edward Hamilton had furnished some figures to the Royal Commission as to taxation from 1819 to 1894; and these figures had been scrutinised by Treasury experts, who could not be accused of sympathy with Irish views on the matter. These figures proved that the indirect taxation on commodities had increased from about 11s. per head of the population in 1819 to something like £1 2s. at the present day; whereas there was an enormous decrease during the same period in the taxation levied on commodities in Great Britain. How could they with any justice or sense of fair play ask an increase of 100 per cent. on the indirect taxation of the poor people of Ireland? It might be said that if they were not to impose the tea duty in Ireland they would have to establish a Customs barrier between the two countries. Well, why not? That was, one of the things Irish Members were contending for. Their complaint was, when the old Customs regulations were abolished in the twenties, Ireland was 348 deprived of the great part of the trade between Great Britain and Ireland. They could not at present tell whether Irish exports were or were not progressing. The argument might be used that the abolition of the duty on tea in Ireland would involve a separate Irish Custom House or department, but at present Customs officers in Ireland were underworked, their duties were light, and their hours were short, and there ought to be no difficulty whatever in the way of establishing regulations which would permit of a higher duty on tea in Great Britain than in Ireland. He thought an unanswerable case had been made out as regarded that aspect of the case. If there were one thing more striking than another in the Budget it was that the present time should have been selected in order to increase the duty on tea. Not long ago one of the great principles of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was to give a free breakfast table; instead of that he now proposed to increase its cost. But, of course, they could not have their cake and eat it—they could not go to war and expect not to pay for it. What had become of all the economic reformers who were so earnest for the reform of finance ten or twelve years ago? Was no protest to be raised except by the Irish Members against this system of taxation? They might naturally expect the help of their friends the Irish Unionists, who a year or two ago with commendable public spirit joined them in an endeavour to reform the financial relations. Surely they ought to come forward and join in protesting against all the increases, not least against the increase of duty on an article which was a necessary article of food to the great bulk of the Irish people.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
The hon. and learned Member for Waterford, who moved this Amendment, has paid me a very high compliment, because he occupied practically the whole of his speech not with reasons in support of the Amendment, but in replying to some observations which it was my duty to address to the House on Thursday last on the debate on the Financial Relations between Great Britain and Ireland. The hon. and learned Member did not reply on that occasion, although possibly his reply might have influenced the result of the debate, so that I can only suppose that 349 my statements were so difficult to answer that he postponed replying until this evening. I will not follow the hon. and learned Member for Waterford into the subject, which is indirectly connected no doubt—but only indirectly connected—with the Amendment before the Committee. The standpoint from which he and hon. Members below the gangway approach this matter is utterly different from mine. They persist in all matters of taxation in treating Ireland as a separate country. I treat it as part of the United Kingdom, and from that point of view I am utterly unable to see why the poor man in Ireland should pay less duty on tea than the poor man in either England or Scotland. The hon. and learned Member for Waterford was good enough to make a proposal to me. He said that result of this increased taxation Ireland would have to pay £900,000. I think it is extremely difficult to tell exactly how much will fall on Ireland, or, as I would prefer to say, on the Irish taxpayers, but that is not an unfair estimate. The hon. and learned Member says that this additional taxation is too much for Ireland, but he is good enough to offer me £300,000 from the income tax, and £200,000 from indirect taxation, reducing the contribution of Ireland to £400,000. The total additional taxation levied in the United Kingdom would then be £13,800,000, and of that Ireland would pay about one-twenty-seventh or considerably less than according even to the much quoted Report of the Royal Commission on the Financial Relations her taxable capacity would enable her to pay. I do not think I need dwell; on the fairness or unfairness of that proposal. The hon. Member for South Donegal said that as his constituents were exceptionally poor and excessively fond of tea the tax was exceptionally hard on them. I said on Thursday last that the amount of tea consumed in Ireland per head of the population was very considerably greater than in England and Scotland, and that that was no proof of the poverty of Ireland. That view is, I think, one that would have been accepted by the framers of the Act of Union, because it is a curious fact that among the alternatives which the framers of the Seventh Article of the Act of Union suggested to the proportion of 2 to 15 as the respective contributions of Ireland and Great Britain was a calcu- 350 lation based on the amount of tobacco, tea, spirits, wine, beer, and sugar consumed in the respective countries, and therefore obviously at that time they did consider that the amount of the consumption of these articles was a test of the taxable capacities of the two countries.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
I cannot agree in that opinion of the hon. Member. I did not quote the extra consumption of tea in Ireland as a proof of the prosperity of Ireland. What I said, if I remember aright, was that the fact that a greater amount of tea per head was consumed in Ireland was certainly, as far as it went, a proof that the tax upon it did not fall harder on Irishmen than on Englishmen or Scotchmen. I think that is a perfectly fair argument, to deduce from the fact to which hon. Gentlemen have referred. There is one part of this question which was not referred to by the hon. and learned Member for Waterford, though it was referred to by the hon. Member for North Cork. The hon. and learned Member did not refer to the fact that if we were to have one rate of duty on tea in Great Britain and another rate in Ireland, we must have a system of custom houses between the two countries. The hon. Member for North Cork suggested that the old system of separate custom houses should be restored in order that more accurate statistics might be obtained of the commerce of Ireland. But under that system it is perfectly obvious that, Ireland, as far as trade was concerned, would be a foreign country as compared with Great Britain, and that the trade between Ireland and Great Britain would have to be dealt with as a foreign trade. That we should have to establish custom houses between the two countries is not, in the opinion of hon. Gentlemen opposite, an objection at all. For my part I think that no more fatal proposal either for Ireland or Great Britain could be suggested. It may be felt by the poorer classes in Ireland that the addition of 2d. per lb. to the duty on tea is a serious burden, but it would be an infinitely worse thing for them to have separate custom houses.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
Because separate custom houses between the two countries were found intolerable in days when communication and trade between them were as nothing compared to what they are now. We have now all kinds of facilities by railways, steamships, and other means of communication between the two countries which did not then exist, and nothing could be more destructive of Irish commerce and industry than separate custom houses between Great Britain and Ireland. I am told, for example, there is an important establishment in Belfast, a great part of whose business is concerned in the distribution of tea in small quantities in Scotland as well as in Ireland. Separate custom houses would absolutely stop this, and really I am unable to understand the desire which some hon. Members from Ireland seem to entertain to establish what, from my point of view, would be a far worse thing for Ireland than any of the increased taxation proposed in this Budget. I think if hon. Gentlemen from Ireland object to this additional tea duty, their simpler course is to divide against the clause. Their proposal is absolutely impracticable, and would be an injury and not a benefit to Ireland.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Monmouthshire, W.)
I confess that although I am going to support this clause and this duty in the Budget proposal, I support it most unwillingly. But this is part of a war taxation, and it seems to me essential that all classes of the community should contribute towards it. It would be a very great encouragement to war if you exempted a large class of the community from all the burden of the war, and that being so it is quite plain that there would be a very large class in this country who would not pay income tax, who would not pay beer and spirit duty, and who would not pay tobacco duty. It is no doubt a misfortune, but one of the misfortunes that accompanies this war is that this tax falls upon the poorest class of the community, both in Ireland and in England. I have always recognised the fact that Ireland is a poor community. You may say of it that it is part of the same nation, but you must distinguish it as a poor community. We have poor communities of the same kind, though more scattered, in England, but you are unable to make 352 a differential taxation for a poor community in England, or, for the same reason, for a poor community such as Ireland. But no doubt it is much more easy where you have a poor community collected as it is collected in Ireland. There are large bodies quite as poor in the metropolis and in other towns in England who would equally deserve exemption; I have stated that reasoning before, and I will not enlarge on it now. I was very much struck with the argument stated this afternoon by the hon. Member for Waterford as to the contrast between the relative incidence of direct and indirect taxation in England and in Ireland. I have always attributed great importance to the keeping up of a due proportion between direct and indirect taxation. We have been labouring in that direction and not without success in England for many years. I do not say that we have accomplished all that is to be done in that direction in England; but there is not the smallest doubt that from the character of the population of Ireland indirect taxation falls there with a much heavier proportionate weight, and if I saw any method of correcting that in Ireland I should be very much disposed to support it. But I have always felt exactly what has been stated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer just now, that you could not create a differential duty on tea or any other commodity in England and in Ireland without bringing back the old customs system between the two countries. The removal of that inconvenience did not go as far back as the Chancellor of the Exchequer said. It was only removed when the English and Irish duty on spirits was finally equalised in 1858, followed by what was done by Mr. Gladstone in previous years. Therefore, down to that date there did exist a customs barrier between England and Ireland. I admit that this is a very great fiscal inconvenience, and until you can arrive at some method by which you can relieve the poorer classes of the community from the weight of indirect taxation that falls upon them as a much heavier burden, both in England and Ireland, we must seek some remedy which has not yet been proposed. Therefore, I should have been very glad if, both for the sake of the poorer classes in England and Ireland, I could have voted against the increase of the tea duty, but for the reason I have stated, this being a war tax, which must press, and which ought 353 to press, upon all classes of the community, I feel bound to support the proposed increase in the duty.
§ MR. MAURICE HEALY (Cork)
said the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had stated that this was a war tax, and that the imposition of a war tax upon all classes of the community was necessary in order to inculcate upon them a proper sense of the responsibilities of war. They wanted no such stimulus in Ireland in regard to this war. They were not responsible for the war. They did not believe in it. There was an old maxim that said, "He that calls the tune must pay the piper." This was a case of making the party pay the piper who had no voice whatever in calling the tune. The right hon. Gentleman must not expect that those at any rate in that quarter of the House would regard it as any consolation for the increase of the tea duty that it was calculated to impress upon individual Irishmen a proper sense of responsibility in connection with this war. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had found out a new consolation for the injustice of this tax. He told them that it was a tax not upon Ireland but upon Irishmen. That was the sum and substance of the argument upon which he had founded his refusal to recognise Ireland as a separate fiscal entity. He said that to raise this question of the fiscal separation of Ireland in this debate was to renew the question of the financial relations between the two countries. If this tax was unjust, he could hardly expect them to be reconciled to it when he told them that it was not Ireland that was being unjustly taxed, but that it was individual Irishmen who had the burden to bear. He could wish no worse fate to the Unionists in that House than that they should be compelled to acknowledge that they could not maintain the Union except in the manner in which this tax had been inflicted upon Ireland. That was what the right hon. Gentleman's argument came to on this point. He said that as long as Ireland was a portion of the Empire they could not differentiate England and Ireland in this matter. It had been demonstrated that this, amongst other incidents of their fiscal system, was unjust to Ireland. It certainly would not in the least reconcile them to that state of things to be told that injustice 354 was a necessary incident of the relations between the two countries. On the contrary, they believed that this fiscal injustice which was inflicted upon them was one of the strongest reasons for impressing upon the House and the country the demand they had made in regard to the relations existing between the two countries both in point of finance and in point of legislation. He did not quite understand what the Chancellor of the Exchequer said in respect to the question raised by the hon. Member for Waterford. The hon. Member for Waterford took occasion, as was inevitable, to reply to some observations which the Chancellor of the Exchequer made in a previous debate. Whatever the rules of the House might be, it was almost impossible to debate the question raised by this Amendment, without referring to topics dealt with by the Chancellor of the Exchequer the other night. He did not understand whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer that night did or did not continue to maintain the view that the increased consumption of tea in Ireland, and the increased proportion in which tea was consumed in Ireland as compared with England was a proof that Ireland had become more prosperous, and was not in a position to refuse to pay the tax. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said the makers of the union would have recognised that argument, and he said that one of the alternatives proposed by the authors of the Act of Union was to take a number of articles and estimate the relative consumption of those articles in the two countries, and base the fiscal system on the relative consumption. The hon. Member could understand that that would be a fair and proper method of calculating taxation, because it would take a very large number of different articles, or at any rate more than one, and the fallacy——
§ MR. MAURICE HEALY
said the right hon. Gentleman did not appreciate the point he was making. He was demonstrating the fact that the consumption of tea in Ireland had increased, and that its consumption in Ireland was relatively greater than the consumption in Great Britain. He believed it was a fact that the consumption of tea had increased 355 in Ireland. Perhaps it was also true that the increase in the consumption of tea had been coincident with somewhat increased prosperity amongst the labouring class in Ireland, but he did not think there had been any increase in the rate of wages amongst the labouring class in Ireland if they took the last twenty years. If they took the last fifty years there had been a substantial increase in the rate at which the labouring class had been paid, but was it just to connect these two phenomena—the increase in wages within the last fifty years, and the increase in the consumption of tea—and argue that the one was the result of the other? The fact was quite the opposite. The increased consumption of tea by the Irish labourer indicated a worse condition of the people. It meant a transition from a healthy diet to an unhealthy diet. Now the food of the Irish labourer was very largely bread and tea. Could anyone argue that this state of things represented an improvement in diet. Any doctor, and any man who had studied the subject of diet, would say that a diet of potatoes and milk aided by meal was a far more healthy diet than a diet of white bread supplemented by tea. The past fifty years had seen an entire change in the conditions of local life. Increased facilities of transit enabled farmers to get much better prices for milk, eggs and butter. As long as the farmer was not able to get these better prices, milk was a common article of diet with the labouring people, but that was no longer the case. The same might be said with regard to eggs and butter. The general diet now was bread and tea, and that could only result in the deterioration of the mental and physical capacities of the Irish labouring population. Tea was the vulnerable point of the Budget. Less could be said in favour of this tax than of any other which it was proposed to increase, and if the Budget in this particular was unjust and mischievous to the poorer classes in England, it was much more so when it came to be applied to the poorer classes in Ireland. No one could read the evidence given before the Financial Relations Commission without being struck by the enormous proportion of the population of Ireland who lived in a condition of abject poverty such as was not known in England. Tea entered into the domestic life in Ireland to a degree not at all equalled in any other part of 356 the United Kingdom. It might be argued that if the people abstained from drinking tea or whisky they would be relieved of these taxes, and it might be better for them, but these financial questions had to be argued with regard not to the moral results produced by the taxes, but to the fiscal effects. This increased tea duty would further impoverish the people of Ireland, especially the poorer classes. The Irish Nationalist representatives would never regard as a reason for not protesting against such a tax, the fact that the Chancellor of the Exchequer could not redress the injustice without changing his fiscal system, or without ceasing to regard Ireland as a part of the United Kingdom. If such an injustice as that against which he was protesting could be remedied only by granting Ireland Home Rule, or by establishing a separate Customs House, that was the strongest possible reason why those demands should emanate from the Irish Members. For the reasons he had given, he should heartily support the mover of this Amendment.
§ MR. DOOGAN (Tyrone, E.)
could not see, judging from the position taken up by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that the people of Ireland need expect any redress from the present Government of the financial injustice under which they suffered. England had enormously increased in wealth and population, while Ireland had greatly diminished in those respects, and yet they were to be treated on exactly the same basis as when a different state of things obtained. Any taxation which aggravated the wretched condition of the Irish people was an evil and a crime. No juggling with figures could convince anybody who knew Ireland that the people were not miserably poor. The number of paupers in the workhouses and of lunatics in the asylums was increasing in an enormous degree year by year, and he believed that the lunacy was largely attributable to the wretchedness of the diet. The physique of the Irish people was suffering from the same cause, combined with emigration. The best of the bone and sinew of the country went to other lands, leaving behind the weaker and unhealthy members of the community. The Chancellor of the Exchequer apparently pinned his faith to the doctrine that the present system of indirect taxation was fair to the people 357 of Ireland, but it was admitted by most students of political economy that identity of taxation did not imply equality of burden; and that was one of the points of view from which this question should be considered. Where there were two countries in which the habits and tastes of the respective peoples were altogether different, it was very difficult for a Chancellor of the Exchequer to sit down and select articles on which to impose taxation which should be felt equally in both countries. When the union between England and Ireland was discussed——
§ MR. DOOGAN
said he wanted to explain how difficult it was for a Chancellor of the Exchequer to find articles common to both countries, upon which the same tax could equitably be imposed. In Ireland, tea as an article of cheap diet has become a necessity to the bulk of the people, and more of it per head is consumed than in England. The poor of Ireland mainly subsist on tea and bread; they very rarely indeed are able to procure animal food. Hence the poor of Ireland will be harder hit by this war tax on tea than the people of Great Britain. Was it not an irony of fate that the people of Ireland, who opposed this war as being unnecessary and unjust, should be more heavily taxed than the rest of the United Kingdom in order to contribute towards its enormous expenditure? He protested against the proposed extra tax upon tea, and heartily supported the Amendment of his hon. friend.
§ MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
No doubt it is true that the proportion of indirect to direct taxation, to a certain extent, has been altered by this particular Clause in the Bill. I have taken very great interest in these forms of taxation, and I have always felt that the true policy should be to read just them equally, and that we have done now for several years. It is true that this Budget alters that, more especially in the poorer districts, where the increased taxation falls more heavily upon the poor than upon the rich, although it is, to some extent, counterbalanced by other duties. But this is quite as true in the poorer districts of England, and in many parts of my own 358 constituency and other places the change which this Budget involves does largely increase the relative proportion paid by indirect to direct taxation. Where the poor live very largely upon certain articles which are heavily taxed, and where they consume alcohol and spirits, any alteration of the taxes upon those articles must largely affect the relative proportion of those two items of taxation; and although my right hon. friend says we have adjusted it by the large increase in the income tax, still that does not affect the poor in any way. But the fact remains that nobody can suggest any possible scheme which would do away altogether with this anomaly; and so long as that is the case no one can claim that in order to get an accurate tax all round we should do away with this taxation upon alcohol. We should keep our eyes most carefully upon the relative proportions of direct and indirect taxation, because any increase of indirect taxation is a great hardship on the poor. The present Budget is fair because it tends to make every class pay their share towards this war. Although the people do not like to pay taxation, it would be very unwise if, after having indulged in a war, we allowed any section of the community to avoid any part in the payment for that war.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND (Clare, E.)
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down said that all classes of the community should be called upon to defray some portion of the cost of this war, and that all classes were ready if not anxious to do so. As far as the Irish people are concerned that statement has no foundation. We are not anxious to contribute one shilling towards the cost of this war, which we regard as iniquitous and unjust, and we think it is an intolerable grievance that Irish taxpayers should be called upon to pay for it. But if Ireland is to be taxed for this war and further bled, why, in the name of all that is humane and reasonable, do you not endeavour to raise your taxes in Ireland in some way which will not fall heavily upon the very poorest class of people in the country? It would be quite out of order to allude at any length to the proposed taxation in this Bill upon spirits and beer. I do not propose to do so until the proper time comes. But whatever is to be said against the taxing of alcohol, there is 359 nothing to be said for putting an increased tax upon tea, especially in Ireland. Tea in Ireland is almost as necessary as bread, for it is the common article of diet from one end of the country to the other; and if the Chancellor of the Exchequer were to spend all his intelligence in endeavouring to discover what would be most disastrous to the people of Ireland, and fall most heavily upon them, he could not have made any greater discovery in that direction than by coming to the conclusion to put a tax upon tea. We are often told that the Irish people indulge too much in alcohol. That is a statement which is perfectly untrue, and which the figures will not for a moment support. But, whether it be true or not, why, if you believe it to be true, should you discourage temperance by putting a tax upon what is the substitute for alcohol, and that is tea? It is a most unjust and unfair thing, and it is a surprising thing to me that the whole Liberal party are not prepared as one man to resist the imposition of taxation upon an article consumed by the poorest of the people. The late Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Member for West Monmouthshire, spoke of the hardship that would be inflicted by this and other taxation on the poorest communities, and the right hon. Gentleman said he would be glad to have the poor communities relieved to some extent. We deny altogether the right of any statesman on either side to refer to Ireland as a poor community. The hon. Member for North Islington admitted that this would fall heavily upon the poorer classes in Ireland, but he said that there were equally poor classes in this country and amongst a portion of his own constituency. That is perfectly true no doubt, but the Irish people are entitled to separate and special treatment in the matter of taxation under the Articles of the Act of Union. I know that it would not be in order for me to discuss the provisions of the Act of Union, but I give it as one of my reasons against this fresh taxation that under that Act we were entitled to have special treatment, and under the special circumstances which exist I say it is a most unfair thing to put this additional tax upon the Irish people. I do not know exactly how much it is estimated that this fresh tax upon tea will realise, but I am perfectly certain that the amount required could have been obtained by taxing some other commodity 360 which would not fall so heavily upon the poorer classes as the tax upon tea will do. I cannot describe this tax as anything but a cruel proposal, because it says to the very poorest people of the country that, in order to defray the expenses of this war, we will put a tax upon that article which you consume at every one of your meals. If this tax is carried through, I hope that every Irish man, woman, and child, whenever they taste a cup of tea, either in the morning, midday, or evening, will remember that while doing so they are compelled by the Government of this country to help to pay for the slaughter of their own kith and kin in South Africa. You talk about the valour of Irish soldiers abroad, and that valour is now to be rewarded by putting fresh taxation upon the Irish people, and you are making them pay for the blood of their own brave fellow-countrymen which has been shed in South Africa. This is not only cruel, but it is the height of meanness. It is about the meanest thing England has done towards Ireland—and that is saying a very great thing indeed—to say that the Irish people, the great majority of whom are utterly opposed to the policy of which this taxation is the outcome, should be called upon to pay for it This is not Ireland's war, but it is England's war, and the Irish people ought not to be asked to pay more for their tea in order to pay for the cost of a campaign with which they have had nothing to do. Why does not England accept this Amendment and exempt Ireland from fresh taxation on tea? Why does not England have the common decency to pay for her own bloodthirsty transactions without asking us to do so? If the people were in a position in Ireland they would be amply justified in refusing to pay a single penny of fresh taxation, and I believe that if you taxed any other article not so necessary as tea the consumption of that article would fall off. You know perfectly well that the people must drink tea, because there is no substitute to be had for it; and, therefore, I believe that tea is selected by the Government in order to wring fresh taxation from the Irish people. I can only say that the whole of this thing, in my opinion—and I do not care what hon. Gentlemen opposite or around me may think of my statement—is what I regard as common brigandage and plunder 361 and pillage, and it is a cruel attempt to make people pay for transactions of which they do not approve. Although there is no doubt that this Finance Bill will pass, and Ireland will be taxed to the tune of an additional million of money to keep this war going, I say that sooner or later the time will come when not merely the people in Ireland, but the working classes of this country, will also object to be called upon to have their breakfast table taxed in order that a war for the benefit, not of the masses, but for a gang of millionaires may be carried on.
§ MR. PINKERTON (Galway)
I think if the Chancellor of the Exchequer had increased the tax upon wine we should have had a much more lively discussion in this House. I do not look at this matter from an Irish standpoint. I think it was a great mistake to put a tax upon tea either in England or Scotland. The extra tax should have been put upon intoxicating drinks which are so largely consumed by the drunken patriots who sing "The Absent-minded Beggar" at music halls. You are now putting a tax upon the very men who are opposed to this war. I have a very strong personal feeling upon this matter as one who does not drink tea, as a non-smoker, and also as a non-drinker of alcohol, and I feel that I have been treated very badly in this matter. It is not necessary for the right hon. Gentleman to suggest to me that we are paying the penalty for this war policy of the Government. The Chancellor of the Exchequer turns to Ireland, and he finds there that the consumption of tea is larger than in England and Scotland, and so he puts his finger upon our country in order to raise this amount of money to defray the cost of this very unjust war. The hon. Member for South Belfast is now supporting a tax which presses very heavily upon the very poorest people in Ireland, and so he is as much to blame as any of the drunken jingoes who go to music-halls. Upon this question I agree in the main with what has been said by previous speakers. I remember a time not long ago when farm labourers used to consume wholesome food which would not have caused them to be overtaxed, but owing to changes over which the people themselves had no control tea has been substituted as an article of food. I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer might have avoided this difficulty by 362 putting a tremendous tax upon wines and spirits and other commodities of that kind, and I hope my hon. friend the Member for South Belfast will rise and support what I am putting before the Committee now. In Ireland we are opposed to this war. It is true that in certain parts of Belfast they have said that they are in favour of this war; but, nevertheless, they refuse to enlist. When I look through the lists of those who have been killed and wounded in this war——
§ MR. PINKERTON
I was only following in the lines of previous speakers. The tea-drinkers will find this tax press very heavily upon them. Nine-tenths of the people of Ireland are opposed to this war, and it is only in those parts of Ireland where they do not drink tea, but something stronger, that the war policy is supported.
§ MR. PINKERTON
I have no desire to run counter to the ruling which has just been given. I look upon this tax upon tea not only as disastrous to Ireland, but also as having a very bad effect in England and Scotland, because you are showing to every sober man and woman in England, Scotland, and Ireland that the jingo policy of the present Government is one that presses unduly upon the people, and that the men who have been instrumental in causing this war are now trying to frame the Budget so as to escape taxation.
§ *SERJEANT HEMPHILL (Tyrone, N.)
As I understand this Amendment, its object is to enter a protest against the imposition of this additional duty upon tea so far as Ireland is concerned. That Amendment has been met by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer in a two-fold way. First he argued that this imposition was a just one, and he put the case assuming that it pressed unfairly or unequally on Ireland, yet he said that there were no means of rectifying it, because it was impossible to differentiate the duty on the same article in the two countries. If that 363 were really so, I think it is particularly unfortunate that an article like tea should have been selected for this additional duty, so far, at all events, as Ireland is concerned, because of all the articles which could be made subject to duty there is none that the poorer classes of Ireland, from the north to the south or from the east to the west, will feel more severely. The tax will be felt not merely by those classes which have been referred to by my hon. friends below the gangway, but by innumerable other hardworking and most respectable people who are sure to feel this tax of two pence a pound on an article which is in constant daily consumption, and for them this tax becomes indeed a very large burden at the end of the week upon their small earnings of perhaps only a few shillings. These are the very people who, from a proper pride, shrink from going into the workhouse, while their position will be very seriously affected by this tax. That fact has not been controverted, and it will be no consolation to the classes to whom I have referred to hear that, in regard to this expensive war which has been embarked upon, every member of the community should feel the burden of it. I do not think that is an argument which will commend itself to them, while they feel more or less keenly its burden. Surely the resources of a Chancellor of the Exchequer in this great Empire are not so scanty that some other tax could not have been devised which would have brought in the same amount of money. Even at this moment is it not possible for the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider this particular tax upon tea as he has done in the case of brokers' notes? I challenge any hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite to deny that, having regard to the peculiar circumstances of Ireland, this tax will press more severely upon them than if it had been placed upon any other article, and more than any other species of taxation which could have been devised. If that be so, is it any argument to say that no matter how unjust or heavy this tax may be, inasmuch as you are linked with Great Britain, and inasmuch as this tax is just towards Great Britain, you must also bear it in Ireland, and bear it without murmur and complaint? You may make us bear it, but you cannot make us bear it without murmur or complaint. Is that a fair and statesman like argument? It ignores the fact altogether that, up to a 364 very recent period, the duty on spirits was differentiated between the two countries, and there was no inconvenience resulting from it. For other purposes it became advisable to equalise those duties, but it was never put forward for the greater part of this century as an argument that it was impossible to differentiate between the two countries with regard to taxation upon spirits. Why the whole foundation of our fiscal system involves differentiation, and it is impossible to rely on that argument. The abatements and exemptions were specially provided for as between England and Ireland by the Act of Union and by the Act of 1816, and it was never contemplated that there should be a hard and fast rule which would make it imperative that whatever taxes were imposed in wealthy England they should also be equally borne by impoverished Ireland. There is nothing in the law which has altered that principle, and there is nothing in our constitution which provides that the taxation in Ireland should be equal. There is on the contrary a qualification that there should be certain abatements and exemptions under the different circumstances of the two countries. But if it were necessary to differentiate it most certainly ought to be done by selecting some other subject of taxation by which the evil complained of might be avoided, because a reduction of the taxation on tea is necessary not only in Ireland, but also in Great Britain. Is it right that hon. Gentlemen opposite, who I admit are actuated by a strong sense of justice—although their judgment may sometimes lead them astray, but I give them credit for having their hearts in the right place—should support this tax and this policy in regard to their dealings with Ireland? I would venture to remind them that taxation, of course, goes with representation. Ireland is represented in this House chiefly by the hon. Gentlemen below the gangway, with some sixteen or seventeen exceptions. Therefore, the voice of Ireland should be listened to with reference to taxation, and the Treaty of Union would only be binding upon the Irish people upon this principle. The Irish Parliament had 300 Members, and they gave up about 200 Members upon the express condition that the articles of that treaty would be observed. One of those conditions was that the taxes should not be necessarily equal, but subject to exemptions and 365 abatement according to the different circumstances of the country. That was a solemn compact between the representatives of the people of Ireland and the British Parliament, and that compact is now being departed from. While I admit that it is a difficult matter to distinguish between the two countries in reference to this particular tax, I say that some means should be devised to prevent this injustice upon Ireland, because no argument has been advanced from the other side to show that it is an unavoidable tax.
§ MR. DALY (Monaghan, S.)
I have very great pleasure in supporting the Amendment of my hon. friend the Member for Waterford. I cannot, however, agree with some of the remarks made by the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. He regretted, as I regret also, that there should be a tax upon tea. He suggested that the tax should be taken off England as well as Ireland, but the people of England are not making any objection to it, and I take it for granted, as hon. Gentlemen on the other side have not made any objection, that they are quite satisfied with the proposals of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. We protest, and protest bitterly and strongly, against this tax, because it will strike very hard on poor people in Ireland, and because it is imposed for the purpose of carrying on a war which seven-eighths of the people in Ireland protest against and abhor. According to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, more tea per head of the population is used in Ireland than in England, and therefore the tax will be greater on Ireland than on this country. I have had, from time to time, an opportunity of seeing the food of labourers and poor people in Ireland, and I can assure the Committee that tea is used at almost every meal. It might be said that milk should be used more than tea, but the farms in many parts of Ireland are very small, and it is more difficult to got milk in many country places than in the City of London. Since the creameries have been established in Ireland nearly all the milk is sent to them, and the consequence is that tea and tea alone is the beverage used at almost every meal. Labourers working in the fields and on the roads have for their dinner meal a pot of tea and a bit of bread. Another objection I have to this tax is that it will add a 366 quarter of a million to the taxation o[...] Ireland, which has been already proved beyond all contradiction to be over-taxed to the extent of three millions. The right hon. Gentleman stated that it would be very unfair to tax labourers in England more heavily than labourers in Ireland, but wages in this country are better than in Ireland, and labourers can afford meat, whereas there is no such thing as meat used by labourers in small farms in Ireland. Potatoes and "stirabout" and tea are what they live on. I think, therefore, the Chancellor of the Exchequer would do well not to impose this extra tax on Ireland. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that many manufactures are carried on in this country which benefit the labourers, and therefore it would not matter so much if labourers were taxed in this country as it would in Ireland. Scarcely any of the money of the Government is expended in Ireland for the purposes of the war, and I hope, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman will recognise that it is not fair to put Ireland on a comparison with this country.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
I desire to say one or two words with regard to the argument of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in connection with the present proposals in reply to observations addressed to him from these benches. First of all, he dwelt upon the fact that the taxation on the consumption of tea among the poorer classes was the same in this country as in Ireland. I think a very great distinction ought to be drawn between the two countries in respect of the present taxation. The distinction is founded on the fact, that whereas the £250,000 extra which is imposed on the taxpayers of Ireland is drawn away from Ireland, the extra taxation imposed upon the taxpayers of Great Britain is not drawn away from Great Britain. It is paid in Great Britain, and is spent in Great Britain, but the extra quarter of a million is drawn away from Ireland and is spent in this country. It is one of a large number of taxes all filtering in the same way, and constituting a stream which is always running to the depletion of Ireland and the enrichment of England. What is the necessary economic result? Let me take as an illustration two adjoining areas. Supposing that from them we have a constant process of 367 evaporation, and that the moisture from that evaporation is condensed in the higher regions, and then falls as rain on one, and only one, of these two areas; what is the natural result? Clearly that one area becomes arid, while the other is moistened and fertilised and made rich. That is precisely the position in which Ireland and Great Britain stand to each other. The taxation drawn from Ireland and Great Britain is combined in one great reservoir, which, however, is opened only for the purpose of irrigating one country and one country only. That is the great distinction between the effect of taxation in Ireland and in England. Then the right hon. Gentleman suggests that because this tax is paid equally by all poor people in England and in Ireland there is therefore nothing more to be said. That is no answer whatever, and for this reason: we have a good ground for our complaint. Have the poor people of England no ground for complaint? Yes, they have, but, unfortunately for them, they have no spokesmen. The people of England are in many respects very astute, and the ruling classes are very good politicians, but there is probably no population on the face of the earth which is, from a political point of view, more intensely stupid and doltish than the people of England. I say so for this reason. The people of England in the mass have the power, if they will, to return to this House their own representatives and to dictate to them what taxes shall be imposed. No one will deny that proposition. But what do they do? They send back, election after election, men who have assented to the imposition of burdens entirely in the interests of the privileged classes and entirely at the cost of the industrial community. The great mass of your income is raised from indirect taxation, and if the aphorism of Carlyle that the great majority of mankind are undeniably fools were not true the people of England would not be guilty of the folly of sending to Parliament men who allow taxation to be imposed always for the relief of the privileged classes. We Irishmen witness it from year to year with astonishment as well as with regret. Our interests and the interests of the English working classes are identical, but the British being a stupid people take long to learn. We have above the gangway on this side hon. Gentlemen sup- 368 posed to represent the intelligence of the commercial community. What do we hear from them with regard to the incidence of direct or indirect taxation? Nothing more than a pious opinion from an ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer, who rises merely to say that because this is a war tax the people should bear it. Why should the working people of England and Ireland, who do not want to be at war, be called upon to pay an extra tax to meet its expenses? Why should not those who want the war bear the cost of it? Why, the consumers of wine in this very Budget do not contribute a farthing. Are not they concerned in this war? Why should they be let off, while the consumers of tea are compelled to pay twopence in the pound? It is because the people of England are not properly represented in this House of Commons.
§ DR. AMBROSE (Mayo, W.)
Anyone who has studied the question must admit that the financial case of Ireland is as different from that of England as chalk is from cheese. You have been found guilty by a Commission of your own financial experts, with your own paid servants of the Crown as witnesses. They have admitted that Ireland is already over-taxed to the extent of 2¾ millions, and yet for the purposes of this war, which is condemned by the people of Ireland (except by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for North Armagh, who would not go out except Her Majesty made him a field marshal), you propose to impose an additional quarter of a million. I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be better advised if he put a tax on other things, for example on property. Property is handed down from one generation to the other, and why should it not be taxed, instead of putting an additional tax upon the poor people of Ireland? If property were taxed the Chancellor of the Exchequer would probably be putting his hand in his own pocket. In Ireland tea is the only beverage of the people; there is no milk, owing to the creameries, and the milk that is returned from them is not fit for drinking purposes. As an Irish Member, I object to this additional taxation on the people of Ireland.
§ MR. J. F. X. O'BRIEN (Cork)
The Chancellor of the Exchequer is certainly 369 dealing very hardly with the people of Ireland. The taxation of tea is entirely out of proportion to the other taxes he is dealing with. Tea is an article in very extensive consumption among the people of Ireland, and more consideration for them ought to have been shown. It is not a luxury, it is an absolute necessity. If the money is required it ought to be obtained from taxation on articles much better able to bear it than tea; such as wines, especially expensive wines. In connection with the increased taxation on tea I notice a peculiar omission. I would like to understand why the Chancellor of the Exchequer is dealing with tea in a different manner to that in which he is dealing with spirits, and why he has not included a clause similar to Clause 8 with regard to tea. If not too late, I would now move such a clause.
§ *MR. FLAVIN (Kerry, N.)
Ireland already contributes about three-quarters of a million of duty on tea to the British Empire. With the addition now proposed we may estimate that the aggregate tea duty which Ireland will be compelled to pay for the year 1899–1900 will amount to a million of money, and we believe that that taxation will press very severely on the poor of Ireland. Of course the argument may be used that if the Irish people cease to consume tea they will save the expense. The same kind of argument has been used in connection with the Catholic university question. You ask us to enter Trinity College, and we refuse. We have come to the conclusion that this tax is imposed on tea simply because the Irish people in proportion to their population consume a larger quantity of tea per head than you consume in England. It has been estimated that every inhabitant in Ireland consumes 7 lb. of tea per annum, as compared with 5½ lb. consumed per head in Great Britain. Therefore, not only is every man and woman in Ireland compelled to pay a larger amount per head for their tea, but also an increased amount in duty as compared with Great Britain, although in Great Britain the average income of a family is larger. If you take the average wage of an agricultural labourer in Ireland and in 370 England the difference will be, roughly speaking, 100 per cent. in favour of the latter. Personally I can state that the average wage of an agricultural labourer in the county of Kerry does not reach 10s. a week throughout the year, and how much harder, therefore, is it for the poor labourer, who generally has a larger family than the English agricultural labourer, to bear this increased duty. We have made our protest and have refused by our votes in the division lobby to agree to this increased duty, and we have also refused to associate ourselves in any way in discharging the debt you have incurred in endeavouring to suppress the freedom of the Transvaal.
§ MR. JORDAN (Fermanagh, S.)
said he joined with his hon. friends in protesting against this additional tax of two pence in the pound on tea. He was in Ireland when the Budget speech was delivered, and when he opened the newspapers the next morning he was amazed and indignant that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should have thought of raising a quarter of a million on tea. This tea tax would fall much heavier on Irishmen than on Englishmen or Scotchmen; for the average wage of an Irish labourer was not more than two shillings a day, compared with the average wage of four shillings of the English or Scottish labourer, while the Irish labourer's family drank far more tea than the English or Scotch. The poor people of Ireland had now no milk, and had to take to tea, and therefore the Chancellor of the Exchequer might as well have taxed milk, since tea was the substitute of milk. Instead of increasing the tax on tea it ought to have been reduced; in fact, there ought to be no taxation on tea whatever to pay the expense of this most unjustifiable and iniquitous war. They ought to tax the capitalists who promoted the war. It surely ought not to pass the wit of man to make tea as free of taxes as bread. Luxuries and the property of the wealthy ought to be taxed for the whole expenses of this war. Some of the ardent enthusiastic jingoes ought to have their property taxed, instead of the poor Irish peasants who were eking out a miserable existence, scarcely knowing how they were to get a bite on the morrow. He entered his protest against the increase of the tax on tea, which, indeed, should be free.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided.—Ayes, 204; Noes, 49. (Division List No. 79.)373
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir A F.||Fardell, Sir T. George||M'Arthur, William (Cornwall)|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Martin, Richard Biddulph|
|Allison, Robert Andrew||Fellowes, Hn. Ailwyn Edward||Maxwell, Rt Hn Sir Herbert E.|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith)||Mellor, Colonel (Lancashire)|
|Arnold, Alfred||Finch, George H.||Melville, Beresford Valentine|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.|
|Austin, Sir John (Yorkshire)||Fison, Frederick William||Milward, Colonel Victor|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmund||Monk, Charles James|
|Baillie, Jas. E. B. (Inverness)||FitzWygram, General Sir F.||More, Robt. Jasper (Shropsh.|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J.(Manch'r||Fletcher, Sir Henry||Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptf'd|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Forster Henry William||Moulton, John Fletcher|
|Barry, Rt Hn A H Smith-(Hunts||Foster, Colonel (Lancaster)||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Galloway, William Johnson||Murray, Rt Hn A. Graham (Bute|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol||Garfit, William||Myers, Wm. Henry|
|Beckett, Ernest William||Gedge, Sydney||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Bethell, Commander||Gibbs, Hn. A. G. H. (City of Lond.||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay|
|Biddulph, Michael||Giles, Charles Tyrrell||Pease, Joseph A. (Northumb.)|
|Billson, Alfred||Gilliat, John Saunders||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Blakiston-Houston, John||Gladstone, Rt. Hn. H. John||Pierpoint, Robert|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Pilkington, Sir G. A. (Lancs S W|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Godson, Sir A. Frederick||Plunkett, Rt. Hn. H. Curzon|
|Bousfield, William Robert||Goldsworthy, Major-General||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Bowles, T. Gibson (King's Lynn||Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon||Purvis, Robert|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Goschen, Rt Hn G. J. (St George's||Pym, C. Guy|
|Bullard, Sir Harry||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Quilter, Sir Cuthbert|
|Burt, Thomas||Grey, Sir Edward (Berwick)||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne|
|Butcher, John George||Gull, Sir Cameron||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord Geo.||Rentoul, James Alexander|
|Caldwell, James||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Win.||Richards, Henry Charles|
|Carmichael, Sir T. D. Gibson-||Hanson, Sir Reginald||Ridley, Rt. Hn. Sir Matthew W,|
|Cavendish, V. C. W (Derbyshire||Harcourt, Rt. Hn. Sir William||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, East)||Hare, Thomas Leigh||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Haslett, Sir James Homer||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.||Hayne, Rt. Hon. C. Seale-||Round, James|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc'r||Heath, James||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Hermon-Hodge, R. Trotter||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Charrington, Spencer||Hoare, E. Brodie (Hampstead)||Savory, Sir Joseph|
|Clare, Octavius Leigh||Hoare, Sir Samuel (Norwich)||Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Holland, William Henry||Smith, J. Parker (Lanarks)|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Hozier, Hon. J. H. Cecil||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart|
|Colomb, Sir John Charles R.||Jebb, Richard Claverhouse||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Colston, Chas. E. H. Athole||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick||Strauss, Arthur|
|Cook, Fred, Lucas (Lambeth||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Cornwallis, Fiennes S. W.||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray|
|Courtney, Rt. Hon. L. H.||Joicey, Sir James||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Cox, Irwin Ed W. Bainbridge||Kay-Shuttle worth, Rt Hn Sir U||Wallace, Robert|
|Crombie, John William||Kearley, Hudson E.||Walton, J. Lawson (Leeds, S.)|
|Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Keswick, William||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Kimber, Henry||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Curzon, Viscount||Knowles, Lees||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
|Dalbiac, Colonel Philip Hugh||Lafone, Alfred||Wason, Eugene|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Laurie, Lieut.-General||Webster, Sir Richard E.|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Lawrence, Sir E. Durning (Corn||Welby, Sir Charles G. E. (Notts.|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)||Wharton, Rt. Hn. John Lloyd|
|Davies, Sir Horatio D. (Chat.||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Davies, M. Vaughan (Cardign.||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cumb'l'nd||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Denny, Colonel||Leng, Sir John||Williams, J. Powell-(Birm.)|
|Dewar, Arthur||Llewelyn, Sir Dill wyn-(Sw'nsea||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath|
|Dickinson, Robert Edmond||Lock wood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.||Wrightson, Thomas|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Wylie, Alexander|
|Dixon-Hartland, Sir F. Dixon||Long, Rt Hn Walter (Liverpool)||Wyndham, George|
|Dorington, Sir John Edward||Lowe, Francis William||Young, Commander (Berks, E.)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Lowles, John||Younger, William|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Dunn, Sir William||Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Mr. Anstruther and Mr. Fisher.|
|Dyke, Rt Hn Sir William Hart||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N.E.||Harwood, George||O'Connor, J. (Wicklow, W.)|
|Ambrose, Robert||Hayden, John Patrick||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Baker, Sir John||Healy, Maurice (Cork)||O'Malley, William|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Chas. H.||Parnell, John Howard|
|Blake, Edward||Hogan, James Francis||Pinkerton, John|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Jordan, Jeremiah||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Labouchere, Henry||Redmond, John E. (Waterf'rd)|
|Crean, Eugene||Lough, Thomas||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Curran, Thomas B. (Donegal)||Macaleese, Daniel||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.)||MacDonnell, Dr M. A (Queen's C||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Daly, James||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Wilson, Frederick W. (Norfolk|
|Dillon, John||M'Dermott, Patrick||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbro'gh)|
|Doogan, P. C.||M'Ghee, Richard||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|Field, William (Dublin)||Molloy, Bernard Charles|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Moore, Arthur (Londonderry)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Morris, Samuel||Captain Donelan and Mr. Patrick O'Brien.|
|Gibney, James||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)|
|Hammond, John (Carlow)||O'Connor, Arthur (Donegal)|
The next Amendment on the Paper, by the hon. Member for Bolton:—"Clause 1, page 1, line 20, leave out 'Tea, one pound, sixpence,' and insert 'Coal, for export, one shilling the ton,'" is not in order, as it proposes a new tax.
§ MR. LOUGH
said he had handed in an Amendment to substitute on page 1, clause 1, line 20, the word "four" for the word "six." The effect of that Amendment would be to keep the tea duty at the present figure. He had already stated on the Second Reading of the Bill that he believed the increase on the tea duty was not necessary, and that other taxes might have provided the Chancellor of the Exchequer with all the money that he required. His objection to the increased duty on tea was that it was out of all proportion to all other indirect taxation. It was an increase of 100 per cent., while the other increases were only 12½ per cent., and it went against the policy pursued by the House of Commons during the last fifty or sixty years. Since 1837 the tea tax had been gradually reduced, and he was sure that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in reversing that policy, would not realise from it what he expected. It would be the same as in the case of the tobacco tax. A great many Members believed that the best policy to pursue was that of the free breakfast table. Owing to the reduction in the tea duty and the increased consumption of that commodity in this 374 country, a great new industry had sprung up in the colonies—especially in the island of Ceylon, where tea cultivation rivalled that of the tea gardens of India; and the raising of the tea duty would be a great blow to the industry in that colony. No loss than 250,000,000 lbs. of tea were distributed in this country, and on account of this new duty the whole course of that trade would be altered, and the public would have to pay for it.
In page 1, line 20, to leave out the word 'six' and insert the word 'four' instead thereof."—(Mr. Lough.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'six' stand part of the clause."
§ MR. BUCHANAN (Aberdeenshire, E.)
said that his hon. friend the Member for West Islington had not put the case too strongly, as it affected not only Ireland, but the whole country. The Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed to raise £5,500,000 additional from indirect taxation, and a third of that, or £1,800,000, was to be taken from the tea-drinkers, who were the poorest class of consumers in the country. Of course, women largely drank tea, to whom it was not a luxury, but a necessity of life, as well as to a large proportion of the industrial community. What they ought to consider was the proportion which this tax bore to the value of the commodity itself. When Mr. Gladstone reduced the tea duty in 1865 to 1s., and afterwards to 6d., it was on the ground that the proportion of the duty to the wholesale value of the tea was too great. The Chancellor of the Exchequer himself admitted that the value of tea averaged 9d. 375 in the pound, and a duty of 6d. on 9d. was 166 per cent., and it was regrettable that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should have come down so heavily on that particular article. He could only surmise that political reasons had had more influence with the Chancellor of the Exchequer than financial reasons. He remembered that when the Chancellor of the Exchequer came into office he said that tea was drunk by Radical teetotalers, and perhaps that idea was in his mind when he proposed to increase the duty on tea; for it was a matter of common knowledge that the tea industry was not politically organised as was the liquor traffic, and could not bring the same influence to bear on the Chancellor of the Exchequer, He thought this was a most unequal method of dealing with taxation in this country. In conclusion, he hoped, though the increase of taxation might be only temporary, the Chancellor of the Exchequer would refrain from commenting upon that fact. The scheme on which taxation ought to be raised was that the taxation was permanent, as indeed the present increase might be, because no one could say how long the war would last.
§ COLONEL MILWARD (Warwickshire, Stratford-on-Avon)
said he had listened in vain to see what alternative would be suggested by the last speaker in place of the tea duty, because if the tax was taken off tea, he presumed it must be placed upon something else. The hon. Member for West Islington had said it could be made up from another source—that meant that it could be made up by direct taxation. The Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed to raise £6,667,000 by direct and £5,000,000 odd by indirect taxation, but if the proposal of the hon. Member for West Islington were followed £8,000,000 would be raised by direct and only £3,000,000 by indirect taxation. In his opinion tea was a perfectly fair subject for taxation, and in times of emergency such as a war the Government were quite justified in putting a considerable portion of the money required upon tea. Tea was a source of indirect taxation which bore upon everybody throughout the country.
§ COLONEL MILWARD
said that at the time of the Crimean War tea was taxed 376 at 1s. 2d. a pound, and when it was reduced to 1s. that was said to be the final reduction that could be made. It was not the backbone or a component part of any other article of consumption, it was an article consumed by itself, and that was the one reason why it was a fair subject of taxation. The only other article of food which had in times of emergency been pressed into service was sugar, but there was one great difference between sugar and tea. Sugar was largely used in the manufacture of many other articles of food, and you could not tax it without taxing, for instance, confectionery, jams, sweets, chocolate, and even beer. A large trade had grown up in this country in the manufacture of jams, one of the reasons being that the ingredients thereof were not taxed. If sugar was taxed at twopence a pound it would raise £28,000,000. It had been suggested that it might be possible at this time to put a duty on sugar, and so get rid of the sugar bounties.
Order, order! The question of sugar does not arise, and I must ask the hon. Gentleman to confine his illustrations entirely to tea.
§ COLONEL MILWARD
said, that being so, he could only reiterate the statement that tea was a fair subject of taxation. The taxes proposed were war taxes, and would be borne by the country without a murmur, and he congratulated the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and desired to support him in the proposals he brought forward.
§ MR. J. A. PEASE (Northumberland, Tyneside)
opposed the increased duty on tea because he believed it interfered with the trade in India and Ceylon which he desired to see developed, and he wished to know from the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, before he increased the tax upon tea, he had conferred with the authorities in India and Ceylon as to what would be the effect of his proposals there. The right hon. Gentleman would no doubt remember that a suggested tax upon cotton brought about a very great displacement in that particular trade, and resulted in a Committee being appointed to inquire into the matter. He thought the present proposal was likely to have a corresponding effect in India and Ceylon.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
The only way in which I can answer the question is by saying that I do not believe it will have any effect at all. The reduction in consumption in consequence of the increase of duty will, I believe, be very small, and in proof of that I may say, although the subject has been before the country now for some weeks, I have not had a single representation against the tax from anyone interested in the cultivation of tea.
§ CAPTAIN SINCLAIR (Forfarshire)
said he desired to protest against the remarks of the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite, who justified the proposals of the Chancellor of the Exchequer by the fact that they were extraordinary proposals. He could not forgot the warning given by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer some years previously, when he said that if the expenditure was not kept within limit the country must be prepared at some time to bear new burdens. The increase of the tea duty was to be regretted not because of the amount of duty imposed, but because of the fact that an impost of this kind always fell most heavily on the poorest in the land. Although the richer classes, no doubt, drank tea in about the same quantity as the poorer, the tax fell much more heavily on the cheaper qualities of tea than on the dearer, and taking the tax as a whole, there was no doubt that the poorer classes contributed a greater proportion of the amount raised by such a tax than the rich. The arguments advanced years ago
§ in favour of a reduction in the tax on tea were just as applicable now as then, and he regretted it was necessary to reimpose a burden of this character.
§ MR. DALY
was of opinion that direct taxation should be adopted to raise the larger amount of the money required. It was the action of the hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House which had caused the war for which the money was now asked, and he thought that it was only right that they should pay the larger share of the cost. It was perfectly true that at the time of the Crimean War tea was heavily taxed, but the consumption was at that time only one pound per head, whereas now it was six, and consequently the tax now would bear more heavily upon the people. He thought the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer was very ill advised to say that this tax was only for a year, because if any war like that of the Transvaal broke out, or a general election occurred, the duty on tea might go up to 1s. 6d. the pound. There was no knowing what the present Government would do, and to say the tax was going to be temporary to meet an emergency when no one knew how long the war would last was absurd. The right hon. Gentleman would be well advised to drop the tax altogether and thus do what would be a most popular act
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 135; Noes, 62. (Division List No. 80.)379
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir A. F.||Clare, Octavius Leigh||Flannery, Sir Fortescue|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Coghill, Douglas Harry||Fletcher, Sir Henry|
|Arnold, Alfred||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Flower, Ernest|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Colomb, Sir John Chas. Ready||Forster, Henry William|
|Austin, Sir John (Yorkshire)||Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Foster, Colonel (Lancaster)|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth)||Galloway, William Johnson|
|Baillie, J. E. B. (Inverness)||Cornwallis, Fiennes Stanley W.||Garfit, William|
|Baird, John G. Alexander||Cox, Irwin Edwd. Bainbridge||Gibbs, Hn A. G. H. (City of Lond|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r)||Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Giles, Charles Tyrrell|
|Barry, Rt Hn A H Smith (Hunts||Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Gilliat, John Saunders|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Curzon, Viscount||Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick|
|Beach, Rt Hn Sir M H. (Bristol)||Dalbiac, Col. Philip Hugh||Goldsworthy, Major-General|
|Bethell, Commander||Davies, Sir Horatio D. (Chat'm||Gordon, Hon. John Edward|
|Biddulph, Michael||Denny, Colonel||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon|
|Blakiston-Houston, John||Dickinson, Robert Edmond||Goschen, Rt Hn G. J, (St George's|
|Blundell Colonel Henry||Dorington, Sir John Edward||Goulding, Edward Alfred|
|Bousfield, William Robert||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir Wm. Hart-||Hamilton, Rt. Hn. Lord George|
|Bullard, Sir Harry||Fardell, Sir T. George||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm.|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh.)||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edw.||Hanson, Sir Reginald|
|Chamberlain. J. Austen (Wor.||Finch, George H.||Hardy, Laurence|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Finlay, Sir Robt. Bannatyne||Hare, Thomas Leigh|
|Charrington, Spencer||Fison, Frederick William||Haslett, Sir James Horner|
|Heath, James||Melville, Beresford Valentine||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye|
|Houston, R. P.||Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.||Round, James|
|Hozier, Hon. James Henry C.||Milward, Colonel Victor||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)|
|Jebb, Richard Claverhouse||Monckton, Edward Philip||Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)|
|Johnston, William (Belfast)||Monk, Charles James||Smith, James Parker (Lanarks.|
|Kay-Shuttleworth, Rt Hn Sir U||More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire)||Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart|
|Keswick, William||Morrison, Walter||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Kimber, Henry||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)||Strauss, Arthur|
|Knowles, Lees||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr|
|Lafone, Alfred||Myers, William Henry||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Laurie, Lieut.-General||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Tomlinson, Wm. Ed w. Murray|
|Lawrence, Sir E. Durning-(Corn||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
|Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)||Pierpoint, Robert||Webster, Sir Richard E.|
|Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Plunkett, Rt Hn Horace Curzon||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Llewelyn, Sr Dillwyn-(Swans'a||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Pretyman, Ernest George||Williams, Joseph Powell-(Birm|
|Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Liverpool)||Purvis, Robert||Wrightson, Thomas|
|Lowe, Francis William||Pym, C. Guy||Wylie, Alexander|
|Lowles, John||Rasch, Major Frederic Came||Wyndham, George|
|Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Richards, Henry Charles||Young, Commander (Berks, E.)|
|Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Ridley, Rt. Hn. Sir Matthew W.|
|M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Mellor, Colonel (Lancashire)||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney||Mr. Anstruther and Mr. Fisher.|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.)||Goddard, Daniel Ford||O'Connor, Arthur (Donegal)|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Hammond, John (Carlow)||O'Connor, J. (Wicklow. W.)|
|Ambrose, Robert||Harwood, George||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Baker, Sir John||Hayden, John Patrick||O'Malley, William|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Healy, Maurice (Cork)||Parnell, John Howard|
|Billson, Alfred||Hemphill, Rt. Hn. Charles H.||Pease, Joseph A. (Northumb.)|
|Blake, Edward||Hogan, James Francis||Pinkerton, John|
|Caldwell, James||Holland, William Henry||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||Redmond, John E.(Waterford)|
|Creane, Eugene||Joicey, Sir James||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Curran, Thomas B. (Donegal)||Jordan, Jeremiah||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Curran, Thomas, (Sligo, S.)||Leng, Sir John||Sinclair, Capt. John (Forfar)|
|Daly, James||Macaleese, Daniel||Sullivan, Donsl (Westmeath)|
|Dalziel, James Henry||MacDonnell, Dr MA (Queen's C||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Dewar, Arthur||MacNeill, John Gordon S.||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Dillon, John||M'Dermott, Patrick||Wilson, Frederick W. (Norfolk)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||M'Ghee, Richard||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|Doogan, P. C.||Molloy, Bernard Charles|
|Dunn, Sir William||Moore, Arthur (Londonderry)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:—|
|Field, William (Dublin)||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Mr. Lough and Mr. Pickersgill.|
|Flynn, James Christopher||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)|
|Gibney, James||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
§ Question proposed, "That Clause 1 stand part of the Bill."
I beg to move the omission of Clause 1. I do so because, first of all, I object to this tax on a ground of principle. I believe it is a wrong policy to pursue at this age to increase an indirect tax. In my opinion, direct taxation is the proper method by which such money should be raised, and the incidence of taxation generally should press fairly upon the rich and the poor. In the history of the Reform Party the great programme was a free breakfast-table. It appears to me that the policy of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer is taking a retrograde direction, because everyone in the country knows that tea is an abso- 380 lute necessity, and by this tax we are falling back on the old exploded system of putting taxes on food. An hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite assured the House that, as well as he could recollect, the reduction in regard to the taxation on tea at a certain period came to a finality. So far as I can understand the policy of this House in regard to taxation, there is no such thing as a finality to the reduction of taxation to be laid down, nor could the doctrine of a limit to the increase of taxation be upheld. If ever the hon. and gallant Member who proposed such a doctrine as that comes to be Chancellor of the Exchequer he will find out that it would not be easy to act up to those dogmas. Tea is the beverage of the poor, especially in Ireland, and that is one of the reasons 381 why I object to this clause in toto. I have been in the West of Ireland during the time of the distress, and I have seen the poor people there drinking tea at all hours of the day and in the evening. They could obtain neither meat, cocoa, nor coffee, and it is because I feel so strongly that tea is the beverage of especially poor people that I am impelled to object to this clause. The better classes have a great many other beverages to which they can adhere if they choose, but, and particularly in Ireland, the poorer people have nothing to drink but tea. Tea is the very worst article on which an increased tax should be levied. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer is desirous of levying a new tax I would suggest that it should be put on some imported manufactured articles, and not on an article of food generally consumed amongst the poor. I have another objection to this clause from a temperance point of view. I hold, as a temperance man, that the Government ought to encourage sobriety, and not to tempt or drive people to the use of alcoholic drinks. Tea is undoubtedly the safest beverage of which the people generally can partake, and it is a step altogether in the wrong direction that the tax thereon should be increased. Particularly at this present moment and for the present purpose do I object to any such taxation. One of the reasons why the consumption of tea has increased is because the amount of duty has been so much reduced that it has enabled tea to come into more general use amongst the poorer classes. I think that is a reason why the right hon. Gentleman should accept the arguments and considerations which have been advanced by Irish Members. I quite admit that the amount of the present increase is not in itself such as will prevent poor people buying tea, but I would like the right hon. Gentleman to remember that, if you begin on a wrong principle, and if it is found an easy matter to levy an increased duty on tea, the probability is that that duty will continue to go up. I am altogether opposed to that, and I am convinced that this is a step in the wrong direction. The right hon. Gentleman told us just now that no strong representations had been made to him from any part of England against this increase of taxation.
§ SIR M. HICKS BEACH
was under- 382 stood to say that he alluded to India, where tea was cultivated.
Probably he has not had representations from India about matters of this kind, but, unfortunately, India has a famine on hand, which at the present time takes up all her energies. However, I would not be surprised if in this country there were very few representations made on this point. My reason for holding that view is that the expenditure, to meet which taxation is levied on the community at large, is generally made in England and on English work, and therefore, if a small additional tax is put on tea, the English people are somewhat repaid by the employment which is provided in this country. But that argument does not hold good with us. One of the reasons why we are so much opposed to this over taxation of Ireland is that we get no share whatever in the expenditure, whether with regard to militarism or anything else. Moreover, as an Irishman I protest against any increase of taxation for the purpose of carrying on a war which certainly is not popular in Ireland. We Irish Members and the Irish people, taken as a whole, are opposed to this war, and we have a right to protest against a war undertaken against our wishes. Naturally, as we are a minority in the House, we are obliged to bow to the will of the majority, but this House of Commons is apparently the only place in England at the present time where this right of free speech can be exercised, because if a man goes to a pro-Boer meeting outside he is exposed not only to insult and calumny but also to personal danger. Perhaps I am getting rather outside the subject, but I think it is a useful thing to be able to exercise that privilege in this House when we are not allowed to do so outside. I will not pursue the subject any further than to say that I am sure the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he had the power, would not desire to deny us the privilege of expressing our opinions in this House, and as an Irish Member, representing a not unimportant constituency, I must protest against a further tax being levied on tea in order that this war may be carried on. I trust the right hon. Gentleman will consider these arguments, which I have endeavoured to put before him with toleration, and I trust with a certain amount of completeness, from the point of view from 383 which I have looked at the subject—namely, as a temperance man, as one opposed to the war, and as an advocate for the poorer classes.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
There is a geniality about the hon. Member which compels me to say a few words in regard to this Amendment. I can assure him it is no agreeable thing for me to be obliged to impose additional duty on tea. I know that throughout the United Kingdom it is the drink of many persons, especially of the poorer classes. Though I do not happen to drink it myself——
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
I know it is a very material comfort to them in their lives, which are often hard enough, and it is with very great regret that I feel myself obliged to impose this additional duty. But the hon. Member does me an injustice if he thinks that I look upon this as an instalment towards high taxation upon tea. I should be very sorry to consider it in any such light, and I am sure that in saying that I am voicing the opinion of practically every Member of the House. This extra twopence is purely, in my opinion, an exceptional tax, levied for the purpose of the present war. I have already expressed to the House my view on the subject. In our judgment—and that judgment has been confirmed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Monmouth to-night—it is absolutely necessary that, having to levy additional taxation for the purposes of the war, that taxation should be so levied as to apply practically to the whole country. We have levied the bulk of it on the income-tax payer; we have levied the remainder on alcohol, on tobacco, and, finally, on tea. If tea had been omitted there would have been a very large part of the population of the United Kingdom who would have contributed practically nothing towards the expenses of the war. I am bound to say that, in my judgment, for every fiscal reason and for every political reason, such a policy would have been a grave mistake, and I could not have consented to anything of the kind. Perhaps I may be asked why I did not choose some other article than tea, but no hon. Member had suggested any such article.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
That suggestion is met with a negative even from the colleagues of the hon. Member himself. It appears to be thought that I might have placed it upon alcoholic liquors; but I have not spared the trade in alcoholic liquors in this Budget. I do not wish to detain the Committee any longer, but I thought it right to make these few observations in reply to the hon. Member. The subject has been thoroughly threshed out, and I hope we may soon be permitted to come to a decision upon it.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
The Chancellor of the Exchequer says that this tax on tea was an absolute necessity. Does he mean to say it was impossible to obtain the money in any other way? The right hon. Gentleman asks upon what other articles taxes could have been levied. There are hundreds. I could give the right hon. Gentleman a list of a great many taxes which to my mind would be much fairer and more equitable than this tax on tea. So far as I am concerned, I shall take a division against this clause. One of my reasons is the general one that I am opposed to the whole system of indirect taxation. I do not believe in indirect taxation. By indirect taxation you get a large amount of money out of the people, without their really realising that it goes into the Treasury, and therefore they do not pay sufficient care and attention to the expenditure of the country. When I came into Parliament the whole taxation of the country was about £50,000,000, and if you had levied direct taxation I am perfectly convinced you would never have arrived at the point when a Chancellor of the Exchequer might propose a Budget of about £100,000,000, and when there was a surplus not take off any taxation. I would have direct taxation for everything, except in regard to those who have only the absolute necessaries of life. When a person has a struggle to keep himself and his family going I do not think the State has any right to take anything from him, because by so doing it is taking away from what is necessary for life. I would have a proportional income tax, if you like to call it so, charging more and more according to the amount the individual has. In that way I would put the burden on the right 385 shoulders, whatever that burden might be. But if you have indirect taxation it appears to me that to impose it upon tea is one of the most unfair modes in which you can levy it. As has been said again and again, tea is really the beverage of the poorest in the country. A great many depend for their enjoyment of life on their being able to get this tea. There is another reason why I should not put it on tea, and that is that you do not have an ad valorem duty on tea. I perfectly admit that there would be the greatest possible difficulty in imposing an ad valorem duty on an article such as this, but that would be rather a reason for not having a tax on tea. Take tea at 10d. per pound; that would be only 3s. per annum to the individual. But take a family of six persons; it then represents 18s. per annum, and 18s. is a very large sum to levy on a family in this way, when the family has perhaps a wage of £50 a year or something of that sort, and they have to pay rates and so on in addition. There is one argument which has not yet been stated, and I am bound to say it is rather a difficult one to meet. I think the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer entertains the same sound practical view with regard to the enfranchisement of women that I do. But has he considered this point—that no special tax should be levied on women if they are not represented? I come forward as the advocate of women in this House because I am opposed to them having votes. Women are the great tea-drinkers of the country, and you are really imposing a larger tax upon the female sex than upon the male sex proportionately when you put a duty on tea. The right hon. Gentleman has said that the increase will not be lasting, and that this is not an instalment of a high duty on tea. I quite agree with him; I do not suppose it is; but still it is not a step towards doing away with the duty on tea altogether. One of the reasons I am absolutely opposed to this is that a Chancellor of the Exchequer will naturally seize upon an existing tax when it is necessary to raise extra money. So long as there is a duty on tea there will always be a strong inclination to increase that duty if it is necessary to impose additional taxation. Therefore the only way to put an end to these increases of the tax upon tea is to do away with the tax altogether. We did away with the tax upon sugar. A Con- 386 servative Chancellor of the Exchequer did away with it. At that time it was said that sugar was necessary in so many ways, but the confectionery business was not then so large as it is now. It was said that a tax upon sugar was a tax upon the poorest people, and upon that ground it was done away with. What is the result? The Chancellor of the Exchequer does not now dare to come forward with a proposal to put a tax upon sugar; he would be imposing a new tax. But because there happens to be a duty upon tea he thinks there will be no difficulty in getting the extra twopence from that source, and therefore it is imposed. I am, as I have always been, opposed to this tax upon tea. I am in favour of direct taxation; but, if you have indirect taxation, for goodness' sake do not take the one article which is the most used by the very poorest in the country. Take it from the rich. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is always boasting that the wealth of the country is going up by leaps and bounds. It is not going up so far as the poor old woman in the workhouse is concerned; it is going up with the richer class. When the Chancellor of the Exchequer says he has done his duty by calling upon the rich to pay a certain portion of this amount, and then calling upon the poor, I say that the rich would be able to pay without any difficulty far more than they at present do pay, whereas when you come down upon the poor and ask them to pay this extra tax you are asking them really to limit the only comfort they have at the present time. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer says he has received no objections from India, but it is an obvious economic fact that if you reduce the taxation upon an article of this kind the consumption of that article increases, and if you put on taxes the contrary is the result. Therefore, India will suffer to a certain extent. During the Crimean War the case was different, because we got most of our tea from China and not from India, and it does seem to me preposterous while we are hearing so much about Imperial Federation and the "union of hearts" among our colonies that we should put an import duty upon the articles which are grown in one part of this area of the "union of hearts." I intend taking a vote against this clause, and whether it is carried or 387 not, I shall then have the satisfaction of registering a protest against it.
MR. JAMES LOWTHER (Kent, Thanet)
Although I do not agree with some of the arguments used by the hon. Member, I may say that I heartily endorse his concluding remarks. I think in regard to this question that the sins of omission far exceed any possible errors of commission. The hon. Member who has just sat down has given expression to some very sound sentiments, for there are many people who fail to realise the importance of this question. I am glad to notice that in our great self-governing colonies these questions have been very prominently considered. I do not know whether hon. Members observed in their newspapers to-day, and also in Saturday's newspapers, reports of a most important discussion in the Canadian House of Commons. I think it is worth while referring to what took place there. The Canadian Budget was under consideration. It was not a Little Canadian Budget, as this is a Little England Budget. It was a great Imperial financial statement, which aimed at drawing closer the ties between the mother country and the colonies. A resolution was submitted providing that after the 1st of July next preferential duties should be imposed in favour of British products to the extent of 33⅓ per cent. So that, for every three dollars imposed upon the products of foreign countries, only two dollars would be imposed upon those from Great Britain. After that I take it that the teas from Ceylon and other portions of the British Empire will have an advantage over the tea from China. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will read the speech of Sir W. Laurier in detail, for I gather that similar facilities to those which have been offered to Great Britain are to be granted to those portions of the British Empire which reciprocate. If this is so, Ceylon teas, which are now taxed higher, will get into Canada for two dollars, as against three dollars placed upon China teas. I may point out that not long ago the Prime Minister of Canada was the recipient at the hands of my right hon. friend the Member for Bodmin of the gold medal of the Cobden Club. I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer would do well to imitate this Canadian Budget, which has been promoted under the 388 Government of a gold medallist recently decorated by the Cobden Club.
I think the right hon. Gentleman is going away from the subject before the Committee, and his arguments are too remote.
MR. JAMES LOWTHER
This question has been debated all round on very general lines. I complain in this clause of the sins of omission quite as much as any hon. Member has complained of sins of commission. Taxation ought to be without a preferential element——
MR. JAMES LOWTHER
My right hon. friend is intensely a Little Englander in finance. [An HON. MEMBER: A new version.] I say it is the true version of it. I contend that, when all parts of our Empire are co-operating in a great national movement, the Chancellor of the Exchequer is in duty bound to consider the rights and interests of our various colonies. I have shown that in arranging their duties the Legislature of Canada has given preference to British products, and I think one good turn deserves another. I say that all Budgets framed by any Government ought to be constructed upon lines of general policy and not merely upon isolated circumstances which concern only the community which have to provide the taxes. It is time that the customs arrangement between Great Britain and her colonies, by which our trade is carried on, should be placed on a more favourable footing. The Prime Ministers of the various colonies in 1897 had a conference on this question, and what was the result? They passed the following resolution—In the hope of improving the trade relations between the mother country and the colonies, the Premiers present undertake to confer with their colleagues with a view of seeing whether such a result can be properly secured by a preference being given by the colonies to the products of the United Kingdom.That brings the matter more and more home to this House. This was a resolution unanimously adopted by all the representative Prime Ministers of all the self-governing colonies of the Empire, and they entertained this view——
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
I must rise to order. The colonial Premiers passed the resolution which the right hon. Gentleman is discussing represented colonies not one of which produces tea.
MR. JAMES LOWTHER
I accept that ruling. I am aware that Ceylon is not a self-governing colony, and, perhaps, on these technical grounds it is not desirable that I should go deeply into the subject. But if the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer thinks he is going to burke a great question like this by rising to a point of order he is very much mistaken. My right hon. friend has introduced a Little England Budget, and has defended it by Little England arguments, and he is now running counter to the policy adopted by the colonies of the Empire.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON (Dundee)
I am afraid the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has prejudiced a good case by too much generalisation. But I am sure that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will not be deterred by the taunt of the right hon. Gentleman that he has produced a Little England Budget.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
Others as well as himself have had to bear the brunt of that epithet. I again say that the right hon. Gentleman has prejudiced a good case by indulging in this incursion into generalised finance. I think there was a certain amount of truth in the protest he made on behalf of Indian tea. He referred to Ceylon tea, but I presume he meant India tea as well. I think that case was well stated by my hon. friend the Member for Northampton. I understand that hundreds and thousands of our Indian fellow-subjects live upon the tea industry, and I should be very 390 sorry to do anything which will add, as this Budget does, an obstruction to the development of that industry. I do not at all agree with the larger views which the right hon. Gentleman indulged in, and I will not follow him into those points. On every possible occasion for many years I have voted against this, duty, and I have always voted in favour of the reduction of the tax upon tea. I should have voted against this increase which is now proposed in the division which I understand has taken place, but unfortunately I was not present when the division was taken, and the only opportunity I have of recording my opinion is by voting against the clause as a protest against any portion of this war tax being laid upon the tea-drinkers. I sympathise with what has been said by the hon. Member for Northampton in the speech he has just made. Considering the resources of this great country and the other means which might have been brought under taxation, it is most hard and unfair that any portion of this tax should be placed upon the very poorest of the poor. But it is no use enlarging upon that topic. I suppose the principle which the right hon. Gentleman goes on is that, as far as possible, you ought to deduct from the supposed income of every individual taxpayer what is necessary for the maintenance of life, and that taxation should have reference to this theory. Nevertheless, I think fourpence a pound on tea is too much, because you put a large responsibility for this war upon the very people who are least able to bear it. There is one fact I have gathered with regard to Ireland, and it is that an Indian tea merchant tells me that the very best teas have their best market in Ireland, and that Indian teas, will not, after all, suffer so much by this taxation. With reference to other sources of taxation, I refer to licensed duties. I think the proper occasion to deal with this matter would be on the additional taxation which is proposed on liquor under this Bill, and I do not propose to discuss it at this stage, only to say that I do not agree that an increase of the duties on licences for the sale of intoxicating liquors would be a tax upon the commodity itself. It would be a tax on the monopoly, but not on the commodity, and I hope to have an opportunity when the right hon. Gentleman proposes to increase the tax on that com- 391 modity to say that I do not propose to accept it. [Cries of "Divide, divide!"]
MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
I am very much surprised to hear the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer join in the cry of "Divide, divide," because I have not discussed this question at all. The hon. Gentleman (who has just spoken does an injustice to the Chancellor of the Exchequer by reproaching him with not having levied the tax upon those responsible for this war. I say the women are more responsible for this war than the men, for it is the women who drink tea. The hon. Member also said that there are other taxes which the right hon. Gentleman might have levied in preference to this. He forgets that in order to do what he suggests he would have to provide a Chancellor of the Exchequer with an imagination and a capacity for estimating the different values of different taxes, and the different capacities of the taxpayers of the Empire to pay them. The Chancellor of the Exchequer will not consider any other forms of taxation, and he rejected some very modest suggestions which I made with regard to furs and feathers, and other things. The hon. Gentleman opposite truly observed that 90 per cent. of the tea which comes into this country is furnished by growers of tea in British possessions. That is a strong argument for increasing the tax on tea. It would not be in order for me upon this clause to go into the question, which has been so fully debated by the Irish Members opposite, as to whether some part of the Empire should be exempted from this tax. Still I do say that the fact that this tax affects to a large extent the Queen's subjects abroad is a strong reason for voting against this clause. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer always insists upon piling his taxes upon existing sources of taxation. He has had to meet a large increase in the expenditure, and he does it first of all by frittering away his surplus. Then he puts fourpence upon the income tax and twopence on tea. This is a most stupendous and enormous tax upon tea. It is, taking the average, an increase of sixty per cent., for there is a great deal of tea comes into this country which is 392 only worth sixpence a pound or less, and on the whole of that tea which is drunk by the poorer classes the increase in the tax to them must be quite 100 per cent. Fine teas fetch 4s. and 5s. per pound. In the case of tea at 5s. per pound, which is the sort that some of us drink, the increase in the tax is only about ten per cent. instead of 100 per cent. The Committee will see the stupendous difference in a tax which imposes an increase of only ten per cent. in the case of the rich people and a tax which practically amounts to 100 per cent. in the case of the tea mostly used by the poor. Surely there is something wrong in a taxation which taxes per pound weight instead of per pound value. This is only another instance of the extraordinary way in which we deal with our indirect taxation, and we profess to be a Free Trade country. I think we have the most insane customs revenue in the world. We levy more duties than any other country in the world, except the United States, and we levy our taxes upon three or four articles alone on the most extravagant and outrageous rates. Under these circumstances our system taxes the producers in our colonies and our own consumers, and if the Chancellor of the Exchequer had considered some other class of the community besides the landed class I think he would have reconsidered this clause in regard to tea, and he would have had some patience for those who desire to discuss it. Why he should have thought it necessary to interrupt me before I had said a word I am still unable to imagine, and I can only suppose that it was owing to the irritation caused by the thrust of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Thanet, which he endeavoured to parry by directing a thrust at me. I am not prepared to vote against the clause, because the country is in difficult straits and we must find the money. But I do feel that the tea duty cannot go on as it is now, and that at some future time we shall have to consider the whole bearing of our taxation and especially the extraordinary and outrageous amount of our indirect taxation as compared to direct taxation.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 172; Noes, 69. (Division List No. 81.)395
|Acland-Hood, Capt Sir. Alex F.||Fletcher, Sir Henry||Lowther, Rt. Hon. J. (Kent)|
|Allison, Robert Andrew||Flower, Ernest||Loyd, Archie Kirkman|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Forster, Henry William||Macartney, W. G. Ellison|
|Arnold, Alfred||Foster, Colonel (Lancaster)||Mellor, Colonel (Lancashire)|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Galloway, William Johnson||Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.|
|Austin, Sir John (Yorkshire)||Garfit, William||Milward, Colonel Victor|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Gedge, Sydney||Monckton, Edward Philip|
|Baillie, James E. B. (Inverness)||Gibbs, Hn. A. G. H (City of Lon.||Monk, Charles James|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Giles, Charles Tyrrell||More, Robert J. (Shropshire)|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Gilliat, John Saunders||Morrell, George Herbert|
|Barry, Rt Hn A H Smith-(Hunts||Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Goldsworthy, Major-General||Moulton, John Fletcher|
|Beach, Rt Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol)||Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.|
|Bethell, Commander||Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon||Murray,' Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute)|
|Biddulph, Michael||Goschen, Rt. Hn. G. J. (St. Geo.||Myers, William Henry|
|Blakiston-Houston, John||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay|
|Bonsor, Henry Cosmo Orme||Green, W. D. (Wednesbury)||Pierpoint, Robert|
|Bousfield, William Robert||Greville, Hon. Ronald||Plunkett, Rt. Hn. H. Curzon|
|Bowles, Capt. H. F. (Middlesex)||Grey, Sir Edward (Berwick)||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Bowles, T. Gibson (King's Lynn||Gull, Sir Cameron||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Hamilton, Rt. Hn. Lord George||Purvis, Robert|
|Bullard, Sir Harry||Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robert Wm.||Quilter, Sir Cuthbert|
|Burt, Thomas||Hanson, Sir Reginald||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne|
|Carlile, William Walter||Harcourt, Rt. Hn. Sir William||Richards, Henry Charles|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.)||Hardy, Laurence||Ridley, Rt. Hn. Sir Matthew W.|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbyshire||Hare, Thomas Leigh||Ritchie, Rt. Hon. C. Thomson|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, East)||Haslett, Sir James Horner||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon J. (Birm.||Hayne, Rt. Hn. Charles Seale-||Rollitt, Sir Albert Kaye|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc'r||Heath, James||Round, James|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Helder, Augustus||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)|
|Charrington, Spencer||Henderson, Alexander||Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)|
|Clare, Octavius Leigh||Hoare, E. Brodie (Hampstead)||Smith, Jas. Parker (Lanarks.)|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Hoare, Sir Samuel (Norwich)||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Horniman, Frederick John||Stewart, Sir M. J. M'Taggart|
|Colomb, Sir John Charles Ready||Houston, R. P.||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Hozier, Hn. James Henry Cecil||Strauss, Arthur|
|Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth)||Jebb, Richard Claverhouse||Thomas, D. Alfred (Merthyr)|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Cornwallis, Fiennes Stanley W.||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray|
|Cox, Irwin E. Bainbridge||Kay-Shuttleworth, Rt Hn Sir U||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
|Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Hearley, Hudson E.||Webster, Sir Richard E.|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir. John H.||Welby, Sir Chas. G. E. (Notts.)|
|Curzon, Viscount||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William||Wentworth, Bruce C Vernon-|
|Dalbiac, Colonel Philip Hugh||Keswick, William.||Wharton, Rt. Hon. John Lloyd|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Kimber, Henry||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Knowles, Lees||Williams, Joseph Powell-(Birm|
|Davies, Sir H. D. (Chatham)||Lafone, Alfred||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath)|
|Denny, Colonel||Laurie, Lieut.-General||Wrightson, Thomas|
|Dickinson, Robert Edmond||Lawrence, Sir E. Durning-(Crn.||Wylie, Alexander|
|Dorington, Sir John Edward||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Wyndham, George|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn (Swansea||Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy|
|Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir William Hart||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.||Young, Commander (Berks, E.)|
|Fardell, Sir T. George||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Younger, William|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward||Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham)|
|Finch, George H.||Long, Rt. Hn. W. (Liverpool)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller||Mr. Anstruther and Mr Fisher.|
|Fison, Frederick William||Lowe, Francis William|
|Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Lowles, John|
|Abraham, Wm. (Cork, N. E.)||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Field, William (Dublin)|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Crean, Eugene||Flynn, James Christopher|
|Ambrose, Robert||Curran, Thos. R. (Donegal)||Gibney, James|
|Baker, Sir John||Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.)||Goddard, Daniel Ford|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Daly, James||Hammond, John (Carlow)|
|Billson, Alfred||Dalziel, James Henry||Hayden, John Patrick|
|Blake, Edward||Dewar, Arthur||Hazell, Walter|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Dillon, John||Healy, Maurice (Cork)|
|Burns, John||Donelan, Captain A.||Hogan James Francis|
|Caldwell, James||Doogan, P. C.||Holland, William Henry|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Douglas, Chas. M. (Lanark)||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)|
|Joicey, Sir James||Morgan, J. L. (Carmarthen)||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.||Morris, Samuel||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)|
|Jordan, Jeremiah||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cumb'land||O' Connor, J. (Wicklow, W.)||Runciman, Walter|
|Leng, Sir John||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Lough, Thomas||O'Malley, William||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Macaleese, Daniel||Parnell, John Howard||Wason, Eugene|
|MacDonnell, Dr. M A (Queen's C||Pease, J. A. (Nortumberland)||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Wilson, Fredk. W. (Norfolk)|
|M'Dermott, Patrick||Pinkerton, John||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|M'Ghee, Richard||Power, Patrick Joseph||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Molloy, Bernard Charles||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Mr. Labouchere and Mr. Mendl|
|Moore, Arthur (Londonderry)||Redmond, William (Clare)|
§ Clause 2:—
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
, in moving the Amendment standing next on the Paper in his name, said that he moved it because he believed that next to the tax upon tea the tax upon tobacco would fall more heavily upon the poorer classes in Ireland than anything else. He had no objection whatever to the increased tax on cigars and the better class tobaccos, such as cavendish and negro head, because those who smoked those classes could afford to pay; what the people of Ireland did object to, and object to most strongly, was the increased taxation of the cheaper kinds of tobacco consumed by the great majority of the poorer classes. He was not surprised at hon. Gentlemen opposite, who both inside the House and elsewhere were in the habit of indulging in the luxury of a cigar costing 1s. 6d. or 2s. [Cries of Oh, oh!]—Hon. Gentlemen need not attempt to stop him; he was a member of the Kitchen Committee, and he knew what he was saying. It was a common thing for hon. Gentlemen, both inside the House and elsewhere, to smoke quantities of cigars at the prices he had stated, and he was surprised to find that there was only an extra sixpence on the pound put upon these imported cigars, whilst on ordinary manufactured tobacco there was an increase in the duty of four pence. Such taxation was altogether unfair and unjust, and, not only so, but from the information which he had received from people interested in the tobacco trade, it was unnecessary, inasmuch as imported cigars would easily bear an increased duty of 2s. on the pound, whilst the extra four pence on the pound on the cheaper tobacco would press most unfairly and out of all proportion upon the class of the people who smoked it. It was an altogether unfair arrangement that the imported cigars of the rich people of the country should be increased by so 396 small an amount, whilst the tobacco of the poor——
The hon. Gentleman's argument would be more relevant to the Amendment which follows lower down in the clause than that at present before the House.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
Might I ask you, Mr. Stuart-Wortley, to point out the Amendment to which you refer?
The hon. Member's Amendment is to omit the words "or Ireland," and his observations are not relevant to the Amendment.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
said he was, by his observations, endeavouring to show his objection to the increase of taxation in Ireland, because it pressed not so heavily on imported cigars but on unmanufactured tobacco of a cheaper character, which was smoked by the great bulk of the people of Ireland. He submitted with great deference that he was in perfect order in the remarks he had made. Had a proportionate amount of 1s. or 1s. 8d., or even 2s., a pound been put on imported cigars, he would not then have moved to remit this tax, as it would not in that case have been so unfair, but, in his opinion, it was monstrously unfair to say that those who could afford to pay extravagant sums for a cigar which they could smoke in ten minutes should only pay an extra duty of sixpence on the pound, and that the poor man, who could only afford to smoke tobacco of the cheapest kind, should pay fourpence. It was, to his mind, a most unequal proposal, and one which did not hold a just balance between the consumers of high-class tobaccos and those who could only afford to consume the cheaper kinds. He desired to know whether the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had re- 397 ceived any representation from those interested in the tobacco trade, upon the subject of the increase in the duty on tobacco as against that imposed on cigars. Whether the right hon. Gentlemen had representations made to him or not, he (Mr. Redmond) did not know, but he did know that he (Mr. Redmond) had been asked by persons connected with the largest houses in the tobacco trade whether arrangements could be made for a deputation to wait upon the right hon. Gentleman to point out the injustice of these new impositions He could not understand the principle upon which the right hon. Gentleman had acted, because those who smoked cigars were far better able to bear the burden than the persons who smoked tobacco. The least that the right hon. Gentleman might have done would have been to make the duty on cigars double that which he proposed to put on tobacco. In moving to exclude Ireland in regard to this he was dealing more particularly with the comparative unfairness between the duties on cigars and tobacco, because it was evident that the duty was so arranged, not that the burden should fall equally upon all classes, but that it should lay lightly on the rich and heavily on the poor. Clause 1 of the Bill dealt with the increase of the duty upon tea, and Clause 1 had been disposed of. This clause dealt with the increase in the duty on tobacco, and he thought that the greatest hardship that could be inflicted on the poor, after increasing the duty on tea, was to increase the duty on tobacco. It would no doubt be argued that the people would be better off if they did not smoke, and that no doubt might be true; but we must take the world as we find it, and every class required some little enjoyment and relaxation from their daily toil, and that they found in the morning going to work, and in the evening returning therefrom, in smoking a pipeful of tobacco. Tobacco is a thing that exists, it is a thing we send to our soldiers in South Africa, and is an article of consumption among the working classes. If the Government taxed it they were entitled to do so, but he challenged the Liberal party to say that it was fair to tax the higher classes of tobacco at sixpence while the lower classes were taxed at only twopence less. There were few industries in Ireland, but tobacco manufacture was one. There were several large and 398 flourishing establishments in Ireland, giving employment to a large number of people, and this industry was directly attacked by the measure before the House, and it seemed to him that the main object of the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been to single out the few remaining industries which flourished in Ireland and attack them. There was a proposal to tax beer and brewing which was well known to be among the few remaining industries of the country, and all these taxes would strike a fatal blow to the taxes that remained. It was the duty of the Irish representatives to protest against their imposition with voice and by vote. He could assure the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he had received from an organisation of the tobacco industry a representation that imported cigars could much better afford to pay 2s. than the cheaper forms of tobacco could pay the 4d. proposed by the right hon. Gentleman. He invited the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the interests of fair play, to consider whether it would not be possible to remodel the clause so that a tax might be put on expensive cigars, and a reduction made of the duty on cheap forms of tobacco. Such a plan would arouse no opposition whatever. Irish Members were sometimes severely criticised in the newspapers and held up to public odium for statements made in the House, but at the same time they repeatedly received from the representatives of large interests in the country commendations of what they had said, and strong advice to continue to make the protests they had already made. He would not have interfered at this stage had he not been encouraged to do so by a representative organisation of the tobacco trade of the country, which asked him to suggest a 2s. tax on foreign cigars, and a reduction of the duty on the cheaper forms of tobacco. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was putting an additional tax of 8¼ per cent. on the commodity which was used by the industrial classes, and only 1¼ per cent. on foreign cigars, which were consumed by the richer classes. He smoked himself; he was not one of those who believed that tobacco was injurious, in moderation. He liked to see a working man smoking his pipe—he thought it good style; but at the same time he had often thought there was no form of extravagance more un- 399 reasonable than that indulged in by a man who smoked a cigar which cost 1s. or 1s. 6d., or even 2s.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
said that nothing was further from his intention than to transgress the ruling of the Chair. His particular reason for moving the exclusion of Ireland from these proposals was that they were unfair, because they put a comparatively light tax on expensive cigars used by wealthy men, and a comparatively high one on cheaper forms of tobacco. He was pleading for increased taxation on foreign cigars, because he had often felt that there was no form of luxury indulged in more unreasonable and more deplorable than smoking expensive cigars.
I invite the hon. Member to give to the Committee some proof that the lower class of tobacco is more largely consumed in Ireland than in England.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
said that he hoped the Committee would bear with him, and listen to his argument. He did not think it required any words to prove that cheap tobacco was more consumed in Ireland than imported foreign cigars. He held that it was an abominable form of luxury which ought to be highly taxed, for a man to smoke in ten minutes or so a cigar which cost 1s. 6d. or 2s., the amount which would pay for the working man's tobacco for ten days. The Government professed to hold the scales equally as between all classes, and that all classes should pay something towards the cost of the war; but he maintained that the Chancellor of the Exchequer's proposals in regard to cigars and tobacco did not do equal justice to all classes. He begged to move that on Clause 2, line 22, the word "Ireland" be left out. He would be extremely disappointed if there were not a few members of the Liberal party untainted with the war fever who would support him.
In page 1, line 22, to leave out the words 'or Ireland.'"—(Mr. William Redmond)
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'or Ireland' stand part of the Clause."400
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
The hon. Member has moved to exclude Ireland from the operation of the new tariff, and he has done so because he considers that the tax on unmanufactured tobacco is too high as compared with that upon cigars. It may be right or wrong to keep up the proportion between cigars and tobacco as is proposed by this clause, but what has that to do with the proposition whether Ireland should or should not be included in the new tax upon tobacco? I am sure the hon. Gentleman fairly stated the representations which had been made to him by tobacco manufacturers with regard to their desire to have increased taxation on foreign cigars. I have had a good many representations of the same kind made to me, and I understand what they mean. It is a very natural thing for tobacco manufacturers in Great Britain or in Ireland to desire that such a tax should be placed on foreign cigars as practically to protect their own industry, but I have not made that proposal, and I do not propose to make it now. I am pretty sure that the tobacco manufacturers who approached the hon. Member never suggested that it would be advisable that there should be one tax on tobacco in Great Britain and another tax in Ireland. The hon. Member stated, I believe quite correctly, that the manufacture of tobacco is a flourishing industry in Ireland; but I cannot conceive anything more likely to injure that industry than differential duties in Great Britain and Ireland. If you had a lower tax in Ireland than in England you would require to have different Custom House regulations in the two countries, which would greatly interfere with the trade. If the hon. Member is anxious that the tobacco manufacture of Ireland should prosper he could not do it a worse service than to propose this resolution.
§ MR. LOUGH
said there was no tax which pressed so severely on the poor of Ireland as the tobacco tax; and there was no grievance which appealed more to the imagination of the Irishman than this high duty on tobacco which the House had imposed for about seventy years. The reason why no one complained of the tobacco tax in Great Britain was because it was as low to-day as ever it had been in Great Britain, but the reason why the Irish objected to it was that it was higher in Ireland now than when the tax was 401 first imposed in 1819, when there was a very cruel stamping out of the growth of coarse tobacco in the West of Ireland. He would ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he could not accept the Amendment in the form in which it was moved, whether he could not do something to remove the grievance of the Irish people in regard to the high duty on a common article of consumption. The consumption of beer in England was very like the consumption of tobacco in Ireland. Now, all people in England who lived in houses under a valuation of £8 were allowed to brew beer free of duty for their own use. Why, then, not allow the poor people of Ireland to grow tobacco for their own use free of duty? The Chancellor of the Exchequer's objection to different duties in England and Ireland was that it would involve different customs regulations, and the right hon. Gentleman also talked about the evils that would ensue from it. That was not so easily proved. If the custom house would cause some inconvenience, it would bring enormous advantages as well. The Chancellor of the Exchequer did not know how much tobacco was consumed in Ireland, and how much was collected from tobacco duties; and he never could know until he had got a custom house. The custom house was the brains of a commercial nation. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!" and laughter.] He knew that was a most unpopular argument, but surely he might be allowed to make use of it. Until the custom house was re-established they could never know anything about the social and economic conditions of Ireland. They could not tell without a custom house how much food went into Ireland, nor how much of any product went out of Ireland; and want of knowledge in regard to these essential facts was one of the reasons why the House was so deplorably weak in its attempts to deal with Ireland. A custom house was only denied to Ireland through the ignorance of the House in these matters. They had no custom house, because their commerce was with Great Britain. Every foreigner know how much goods went into his country or out of it; the only man who knew nothing about that was the Irishman. (Laughter.) This was no joke. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Agriculture had done more for Irish industry than any other man; but he could not tell, and no man could tell, 402 whether he had added one pound of butter to the exports from Ireland, and all because there was no custom house in Ireland. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer or any other wiseacre opposite would kill the evils he spoke of without a custom house, then he would admit that he was wrong; but until they restored the custom house to Ireland, all the social and economic facts bearing on the condition of the country could not be made known to the House, or to anyone else. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was one of the most admirable men he ever met with when he spoke on British subjects; but when he talked in regard to Ireland all his natural intelligence deserted him. Then he ceased to be Chancellor of the Exchequer or the Member for Bristol, and became merely the mouthpiece of the prejudices and folly of the English Parliament. The right hon. Member for West Monmouthshire, who was one of the Chancellor's chief supporters in the House, was as much to blame as the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself if there was anything wrong. In England the proportion of indirect taxation is 48 per cent., whereas in Ireland it is 60 per cent. That would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Monmouthshire. He said it was serious evil, but why had he not courage enough to suggest a means of dealing with it? In a speech he made on this very subject when referring to the Report of the Financial Relations Commission——
The question of the financial relations between Great Britain and Ireland cannot be debated on each separate duty. I must ask the hon. Gentleman to confine himself to the tobacco duty.
§ MR. LOUGH
I bow with respect to the ruling of the Chair. My point is that if the Chancellor of the Exchequer would accept this Amendment it would remove the existing inequality to the extent of £150,000 a year. I was speaking of the tone of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Monmouthshire, and I remember he said in this House that equalisation of rates did not mean equalisation of burden. The right hon. Gentleman admitted that this was a great grievance, but it is a grievance that might be corrected to some extent if this tobacco tax were not applied to Ireland. If the right hon. Gentleman the Mem- 403 ber for West Monmouthshire sees great difficulty in the way of differential taxation, and yet admits the grievance of Ireland, then I would ask him or the Chancellor of the Exchequer to suggest some other remedy. For my part I think these grievances are real grievances, and that the Irish Members who are voicing the opinions of the Irish people are met with only feeble excuses. This Budget is not a fair Budget. It is unfair to Ireland especially, and if the Chancellor of the Exchequer cannot see his way to accept the amendment, I would appeal to him, by the good disposition which he has displayed towards Ireland, whether he cannot do something to mitigate what is an undoubted hardship.
§ *SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
I will respond to the appeal of my hon. friend. I admit that a tax of this kind falls with the greatest weight on the poorest people. There is a large concentrated accumulation of poor people in Ireland, but there is also a large number of poor people in England, more scattered in their distribution, and I will answer my hon. friend, who is a very fervent and ingenious financier, by asking him another question. How does he propose to deal with the poor people in England with reference to the tobacco duty?
§ *SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
The poor people do not pay direct taxation, therefore I do not know how we are to deal out justice to the poor in both countries by excluding the people of Ireland from this taxation. On the subject of customs my hon. friend seems to desire that custom-houses should be set up for the purpose of obtaining statistical information with reference to the trade of Ireland. The Scotch people are a very practical people; how would they like to have a cordon stretched from Berwick-on-Tweed to the western coast of Scotland for the purpose of obtaining statistical information as to how much of their produce went to England, and how much English produce came into Scotland? I think they would be of the opinion that that would do them a great deal more harm than the statistical information they might obtain would do them good.
§ MR. LOUGH
This is a most interesting point, but the answer is as easy as A B C. The trade of Scotland is mainly with foreign parts and the colonies. She depends on minerals, and her trade is export trade from Glasgow, Leith, and Aberdeen, just as the English export trade is from London, Liverpool, Cardiff, and other ports. I can show the right hon. Gentleman books issued by this House, in which every fact is recorded with reference to England, Scotland, and Wales, which I now ask should be recorded as regards Ireland. There is no record of the great trades in Ireland because the trading is with this country, but as regards the great trades in England and Scotland, correct records are kept, because the trading is with foreign ports.
§ MR. FLYNN
I do not know whether I can agree with the hon. Member for West Islington that a custom-house is the brains of the commerce of a country. To some extent it is an indicator of how commerce is going, especially articles paying excise or customs duties. In previous years the customs authorities in Ireland used to go to the trouble of obtaining from shipping and railway companies the amount of the exports and imports and of furnishing a weekly return, but that has been discontinued because the staffs are too lazy. But I do not think that that quite meets the custom-house cordon. There is a difference in establishing a custom-house cordon between England and Ireland, especially with regard to tobacco. The reason why my hon. friend has moved this Amendment is because he represents an Irish constituency. The grievance presses hardly on the Irish people, and therefore his arguments have greater cogency and force than if they referred to Great Britain, though there is no reason why the English working man should not be excluded also. We have no objection at all, and should be glad if the tobacco duties were abolished altogether. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer had deliberately set out to levy indirect taxation upon commodities largely consumed in Ireland, and which would therefore press more heavily on the Irish people, he could not do better than he has done—namely, to select tea, tobacco, beer, and spirits. Indeed, it almost looks like a re-enactment of the sumptuary laws. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says the Irish people cannot be poor because they smoke so much tobacco. He has not, 405 however, levied the taxes from philanthropic or temperance motives, but in order to raise money, and if he found that with the increased duties the consumption of tea and tobacco goes down in Ireland, no one would be more disappointed than the right hon. Gentleman. The policy which appears to underlie the arguments on both sides of the House is that these things are luxuries, or, at any rate, not necessaries, and that, therefore, you are justified in taxing them, whereas you would not be justified in taxing flour, bread, or meat. But you did not discover that until the repeal of the Corn Laws. Prior to the repeal of the Corn Laws an enormous amount of taxation fell on commodities consumed by the English working classes, and also on articles used in connection with manufacture. You abolished all that, and therefore the burden of indirect taxation now falls more heavily in Ireland than ever before. In the year 1819–20 it was 11s. 11d. per head, and in 1893–94 £1 0s. 9d, or an increase of 90 per cent. Indirect taxation in Great Britain was in 1819–20 £2 8s. 7d.; in 1893–94 it was reduced to £1 4s. 1d. That means that indirect taxation per head in England has decreased 50 per cent., whereas it has increased 90 per cent, in Ireland. Could not you find other sources of direct taxation in order not to have to increase indirect taxation in a country like Ireland? In a damp country like Ireland very much more tobacco will naturally be smoked than in a warmer country. There is no doubt about it that the working man consumes in proportion to his means more tobacco than the rich man. Surely a man with £1,000 or £10,000 a year could more easily afford 6d. on his cigars than the poor man can afford an addition of 4d. per pound on his tobacco. The increase in this Budget on cigars is only 1½ per cent., whereas it is 8 per cent. on tobacco. In pleading for the Irish
§ working man we are also pleading for the British working man. There is no doubt that tobacco is no longer a luxury; it is practically a necessity, and without dropping too much into autobiography I may say that for the short month I was confined in one of Her Majesty's prisons I think I bore three days bread and water with equanimity; I bore the plank bed with a certain amount of stoicism, and I managed to get through the plum-duff without very much discomfort and certainly without grumbling; but I would have been prepared to forego two of those miserable meals for a pipe of tobacco or a cigarette. To deprive the working man of his pipe and tobacco is a great deprivation indeed. I have often heard a working man say that he would prefer to go without his breakfast rather than a pipe of tobacco, and when a man is not well fed, or fed on coarse food, or when perhaps he cannot get a proper breakfast until a late hour, then a "shough" of the pipe, as it is called, is more gratifying and grateful than perhaps dainty food. If this argument of taxing tobacco, beer, and spirits is pushed too far, you will be re-enacting the sumptuary laws. We cannot forget that the British Treasury wishing to retain indirect taxation has, by some peculiar species of ingenuity, succeeded in retaining those articles of common consumption which fall more heavily on Ireland. Under these circumstances we are entitled to claim this exemption for Ireland. We should be willing to claim it for all classes in Great Britain as well, but as the representatives of Irish constituencies, who are averse to all taxation in connection with the war, we certainly claim that this Amendment should be accepted by the Committee.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 210; Noes, 36. (Division List No. 82.)407
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir A. F.||Bethell, Commander||Causton, Richard Knight|
|Allison, Robert Andrew||Billson, Alfred||Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lanes.)|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Blakiston-Houston, John||Cavendish, V. C W. (Derbyshire|
|Arnold, Alfred||Blundell, Colonel Henry||Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, East)|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Bousfield, William Robert||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. (Birm.|
|Baird, John Geo. Alexander||Bowles, Captain H. F. (Mid'sex||Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc'r|
|Baker, Sir John||Bowles, T. Gibson (King's Lynn||Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry|
|Balcarres, Lord||Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Charrington, Spencer|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Man.||Bullard, Sir Harry||Chelsea, Viscount|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Buxton, Sydney Charles||Coghill, Douglas Harry|
|Barry, Rt Hn A H Smith-(Hunts||Caldwell, James||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Br'tol||Carlile, William Walter||Colomb, Sir John Charles Ready|
|Cook, Fred Lucas (Lambeth)||Heath, James||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow||Helder, Augustus||Pease, Joseph A. (Northumb.)|
|Cornwallis, Fiennes Stanley W.||Henderson, Alexander||Perm, John|
|Courtney, Rt. Hon. Leonard H.||Hermon-Hodge, Robert Trotter||Plunkett, Rt Hn Horace Curzon|
|Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Hoare, Sir Samuel (Norwich)||Powell, Sir Frances Sharp|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Holland, William Henry||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Curzon, Viscount||Horniman, Frederick John||Price, Robert John|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry||Purvis, Robert|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Houston, R. P.||Quilter, Sir Cuthbert|
|Davies, Sir H. D. (Chatham)||Hozier, Hon. James Henry Cecil||Rasch, Mr. Frederick Carne|
|Davies, M. Vaughan (Cardigan)||Hutchinson, Capt. G. W. Grice-||Rentoul, James Alexander|
|Denny, Colonel||Jebb, Richard Claverhouse||Ridley, Rt Hon Sir Matthew W.|
|Dewar, Arthur||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Ritchie, Rt. Hon Chas. Thomson|
|Dickinson, Robert Edmond||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Disraeli, Conings by Ralph||Joicey, Sir James||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)|
|Dorington, Sir John Edward||Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.)||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Kay-Shuttle worth, Rt Hn Sir U||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Kearley, Hudson E.||Round, James|
|Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Hart||Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir John H.||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Emmott, Alfred||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William||Seely, Charles Hilton|
|Fardell, Sir T. George||Keswick, William||Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn E.||Kimber, Henry||Smith, James Parker (Lanarks.|
|Fergusson, Rt Hn Sir J. (Manc'r)||Knowles, Lees||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Finch, George H.||Lafone, Alfred||Stephens, Henry Charles|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Lambert, George||Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart|
|Fitz Wygram, General Sir F.||Lawrence, Sir E. Durning-(Corn||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Fletcher, Sir Henry||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Strauss, Arthur|
|Flower, Ernest||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cumbl'la'd||Talbot, Rt Hn. J. G. (Oxf'd Univ.|
|Forster, Henry William||Lecky, Rt Hon William Edw. H.||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr|
|Foster, Colonel (Lancaster)||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Galloway, William Johnson||Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn-(Sw'nsea||Tollemache, Henry James|
|Garfit, William||Lock wood, Lt.-Col. A. R.||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray|
|Gedge, Sydney||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Gibbs, Hn. A. G. H. (City of Lon.||Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hon. Herbert J.||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Liverpool||Warner, Thos. Courtenay T.|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
|Godson, Sir Augustus F.||Lowe, Francis William||Wason, Eugene|
|Golds worthy, Major-General||Lowles, John||Webster, Sir Richard E.|
|Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Welby, Lt.-Col. A. C. E. (Taunt.|
|Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon||Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Welby, Sir Chas. G.E. (Notts.)|
|Goschen, Rt. Hn G. J. (St G'rge's||M'Arthur, Charles, (Liverpool||Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||M'Arthur, William (Cornwall||Wharton, Rt. Hn. John Lloyd|
|Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Malcolm, Ian||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Green, Walford D (Wednesbury||Martin, Richard Biddulph||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Gretton, John||Massey-Main waring, Hn. W. F.||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset)|
|Greville, Hon. Ronald||Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand||Williams, J. Powell-(Birm.)|
|Grey, Sir Edward (Berwick)||Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.||Wilson, Fredk. W. (Norfolk)|
|Gull, Sir Cameron||Milward, Colonel Victor||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh. N.)|
|Gurdon, Sir Wm. Brampton||Monckton, Edward Philip||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath|
|Hamilton, Rt. Hn. Lord George||Monk, Charles James||Wrightson, Thomas|
|Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm.||More, R. Jasper (Shropshire)||Wylie, Alexander|
|Hanson, Sir Reginald||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Wyndham, George|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Sir Wm.||Morrell, George Herbert||Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy|
|Hardy, Laurence||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)||Young, Commander (Berks, E.)|
|Hare, Thomas Leigh||Moulton, John Fletcher||Younger, William|
|Haslett, Sir James Horner||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Hayne, Rt. Hn. C. Seale-||Murray, Rt Hn A Graham (Bute||Mr. Anstruther and Mr. Fisher.|
|Hazell, Walter||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Abraham, Wm. (Cork, N.E.)||Field, William (Dublin)||M'Ghee, Richard|
|Ambrose, Robert||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Molloy, Bernard Charles|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Flynn, James Christopher||Morris, Samuel|
|Blake, Edward||Gibney, James||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.|
|Burns, John||Hammond, John (Carlow)||O'Malley, William|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Hayden, John Patrick||Parnell, John Howard|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Healy, Maurice (Cork)||Pinkerton, John|
|Crean, Eugene||Jordan, Jeremiah||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Crilly, Daniel||Lough, Thomas||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Curran, Thomas B. (Donegal)||Macaleese, Daniel||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Daly, James||MacDonnell, Dr M A. (Queen's C||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:—|
|Dillon, John||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Captain Donelan and Mr. Patrick O'Brien.|
|Doogan, P. C.||M'Dermott, Patrick|
§ Question proposed, "That Clause 2 stand part of the Bill."
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
moved the omission of the clause. He said his Amendment would simply have for its effect to leave the tobacco duty at the same figure at which it now stood. It would be in the memory of the House that two years ago he raised the question on two or three occasions, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer at last saw his way to reduce the tobacco tax by 6d. During the debate that took place on that occasion the Chancellor of the Exchequer admitted that the tobacco tax was one that bore unfairly on the working classes, and that it was a tax also open to the objection that it was of all taxes, with possibly the exception of the tax on Irish spirits, the highest tax in proportion to the cost of the article taxed. The tax on tobacco was a tax of 300 or 400 per cent. on the cost of the article, and that was a monstrous impost. When the fact was kept in mind that this article was consumed mainly by the poorer classes, it did appear, on that ground alone, that it was an unfair article to select for a special emergency war tax, because while it was an article which was almost a necessity to the poorer classes, it was taxed far in excess of any other article of consumption that could be named. Therefore, on the general principle affecting the whole of the United Kingdom and all classes in the United Kingdom, he thought the Chancellor of the Exchequer was very badly advised in deciding to withdraw the concession which he made some two years ago in the case of the tobacco tax. While he had no intention of discussing the financial relations of Ireland, he was distinctly entitled to point out the special reasons from the Irish point of view why the concession made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the tobacco tax was a good one. It was small, but so far as it went, it went towards undoing the injustice they had complained of so often. The tobacco tax had a very curious history. It was a very old English tax, but it was a very modern Irish tax. It was only brought up to the English figure in Ireland in 1842. There was another fact in connection with the history of the tobacco tax in Ireland worth bearing in mind. Up to the year 1827 Ireland grew tobacco on a considerable scale, and not only was that the 410 case, but up to that year, while the duty on all foreign grown tobacco was 3s. 6d. per lb., the duty on tobacco grown in Ireland was only 1s. 3d., and consequently the Irish had the advantage of growing tobacco under a protection of 2s. 3d. in the pound, and it did a very profitable trade. When the Act of 1827 was passed, withdrawing this protection from Ireland, the Government had to buy up the Irish crop of tobacco at a cost of many thousands of pounds. In 1896 the figures of the tobacco tax were as follows:—In England and Wales the tax produced £8,400,000, in Scotland £1,100,000, and in Ireland £1,200,000, so that of the total tobacco tax Ireland paid one-eighth. They all knew that the total proportion of the tax revenue of the United Kingdom paid by Ireland at that time was only one-twelfth—a vastly too great proportion—but when they compared it with the total of one-eighth produced by the tobacco tax it was easy to see how unfairly that tax bore on the people of Ireland. It was one of the taxes, also, which illustrated most clearly the extraordinary fallacy of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and of all the hon. Gentlemen on that bench, who argued against the fact of the Irish people having any grievance. An equal tax on tobacco, levied on a country like Ireland, afforded the most clear and absolute answer to the argument that the tobacco tax was levied equally all over the United Kingdom. He ventured to say that the average Irish labourer did not earn half the wages of the average English labourer, taking all classes of labourers together, and yet he had as great a passion for tobacco as the English labourer. Anyone had only to work the thing out as an arithmetical sum to see how enormously greater a proportion of his yearly revenue went upon this practical necessity—he hardly cared to call it a luxury. They could easily see how monstrously hard it was upon the Irish labourers to have to spend such a proportion of their income on the tobacco tax as compared with the labourers or workmen of this country. He might say the same of the small farmers in Ireland. It was perfectly astonishing the amount of taxation one of these small farmers paid in Ireland through this tax. It had been said that these men need not consume so much as they do. The complete answer to that was this: If such an argument 411 was to be accepted no tax need press upon them, because whatever was taxed they could do without. It was notorious, that the habits of the people were such that tens of thousands of poor men who were utterly unable, even when in work and in good years, to afford for themselves and their families a sufficient supply of decent food, would still indulge in their allowance of tobacco. It was the duty of a statesman to arrange the taxes of the country, but he was not entitled to look into the habits of the people in that critical way, and to say that they could escape taxation if they would only cease consuming so much of the article. It must be admitted that no tax weighed so heavily on the poorer classes of the community in the United Kingdom, especially in Ireland, as the tobacco tax, and it was for that reason that he objected to this change of policy on the part of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It was said that this was a temporary increase, but he was greatly afraid, in view of the enormous pressure brought to bear on the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that when the Chancellor of the Exchequer was asked for the withdrawal of the increase, it might be many years before they could extract it from him again. The Chancellor of the Exchequer last year or the year before, when asked to reimpose this tax, said it was undesirable to be continually disturbing the trade. It was a trade which took a considerable time to adjust itself to any alteration of taxation on the raw material of the manufacturer. When they altered the tea duty they did not affect the trade so much. When they made a change like this it could not be immediately expressed in the price of an ounce of tobacco to the consumer. When they made a change of that kind they disturbed the trade. From the point of justice to the working classes of this country, and to the Irish people, looking to their special financial grievance, it was peculiarly unfortunate that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had decided to increase the tobacco tax. His attitude regarding the war had been fully expressed already. It was, of course, a great additional bitterness to have this tax imposed in Ireland, and to be compelled to pay money the people could ill afford for a war which they condemned as cruel and unjust.
§ MR. DALY
said, if once this tax was imposed, it was very doubtful whether it 412 would ever be removed again. The hon. and gallant Member for Eastbourne, in a speech which he made on an Amendment to the Address, condemned the Government for reducing the tobacco tax two years ago. When statements of that kind came from thick and thin supporters of the Government, it would be very difficult for the Chancellor of the Exchequer at any future date to reduce the tax. Some of the Jingo papers next morning referred to the statement, and commended the hon. and gallant Member for striking the right note. He felt that in making this protest the Members from Ireland were acting on behalf of the poor people of that country. Tea and tobacco were commodities which were used by nearly every poor man in Ireland, and he thought the Chancellor of the Exchequer would do a gracious act, which would be hailed with delight by the people of Ireland, if he would omit this clause. This tax of fourpence per pound on tobacco would strike much harder on the poor than a sixpenny tax on cigars. To a man who smoked cigars he believed double the tax would not be so much as one penny on the tobacco of the poor man. If double were put on cigars it would please the people of the country much better, and it would show that the right hon. Gentleman was discriminating more between the poor and the rich.
§ *MR. FLAVIN (Kerry, N.)
said the increase of fourpence per pound on the tobacco tax was likely to cause a severe strain on the Irish taxpayer. From the Report for the year 1896–97 he found that the duty paid by Ireland on tobacco was £1,227,000. That was an extraordinary amount of money for a poor country like Ireland to be compelled to contribute—not for the price of the article, but for duty on the article. The people of Ireland found that the longer they continued attached to this vast Empire, the greater was the amount of money they were compelled to pay. Tobacco, like tea, was one of the pleasures of the poor people of Ireland, and they felt it was a great grievance to be taxed upon that commodity for the purpose of filling the war chest. People would be asked to pay the tax who did not approve of the war. He admitted that smoking was a pleasure, but it was not so expensive a pleasure as some gentlemen in this country indulged in when they smoked 413 a 1s. 6d. cigar, or drank champagne at 7s. 6d. a bottle. Amongst the working classes in Ireland a cigar was an unknown enjoyment. He considered therefore that sixpence per pound on the duty on cigars was altogether out of proportion to the fourpence per pound on common tobacco. While they knew that their protest would not prevent the imposition of the duty, they felt nevertheless that it was their duty to stand up and make the protest. The tobacco duties in Ireland would average 5s. 5d. per head per annum, and when he remembered that the country was not able to afford the taxation, he considered that by every fair means and every reasonable means—[laughter]—Yes, he said reasonable means when experts in the Royal Commission had adjudged this country the guilty party. They had been tried by their own court and jury, and now they refused to give Ireland the benefit of the verdict. He thought the representatives of Ireland were simply doing their duty in refusing to support additional taxation on any enjoyment of the people in order to pay for an unjust war.
§ MR. EDWARD BARRY (Cork County, S.)
said smoking tobacco was a consolation to the poor people of Ireland, but it would not add to their consolation to remember that the smoke they took would contribute so much to the cost of a war which they heartily condemned. For that reason he associated himself with the protest that had been made. It might be considered that this was a tax that the Irish people could easily get rid of, but if the Chancellor of the Exchequer knew the long confirmed habits of the people, which were not likely to be altered on account of the tax, he would not have included the tobacco tax in his Budget. He was not a smoker himself, but he could understand how the poor people would feel this tax most severely. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had already refused to alter his proposal with regard to tea, but he would do well if he could make an exception in the case of the tobacco tax.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 179; Noes, 29. (Division List No. 83.)415
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir A. F.||Colomb, Sir John Chas. Ready||Grey, Ernest (West Ham)|
|Allison, Robert Andrew||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow||Green, Walford D (Wednesbury|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Cornwallis, Fiennes Stanley W.||Gretton, John|
|Arnold, Alfred||Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Greville, Hon. Ronald|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Curzon, Viscount||Grey, Sir Edward (Berwick)|
|Bainbridge, Emerson||Dalkeith, Karl of||Gull, Sir Cameron|
|Baird, John Geo. Alexander||Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Gurdon, Sir Wm. Brampton|
|Balcarres, Lord||Davies, Sir Horatio D. (Chath'm||Haldane, Richard Burdon|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Man.||Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan||Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord G.|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Denny, Colonel||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. R. W.|
|Barry, Rt Hn A H Smith-(Hunts||Dewar, Arthur||Hanson, Sir Reginald|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Br'tol||Dickinson, Robert Edmond||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Sir W.|
|Bethell, Commander||Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph||Hardy, Laurence|
|Billson, Alfred||Dorington, Sir John Edward||Haslett, Sir James Horner|
|Blakiston-Houston, John||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Hayne, Rt. Hon. C. Seale-|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark||Heath, James|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Fardell, Sir T. George||Helder, Augustus|
|Bousfield, William Robert||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edw.||Henderson, Alexander|
|Bowles, Capt. H. F. (Middlesex||Fergusson, Rt Hn. Sir J. Manc'r)||Hermon-Hodge, Robert T|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Finch, George H.||Hoare, Sir Samuel (Norwich)|
|Bullard, Sir Harry||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Holland, William Henry|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Fitz Wygram, General Sir F.||Horniman, Frederick John|
|Caldwell, James||Fletcher, Sir Henry||Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry|
|Carlile, William Walter||Forster, Henry William||Jebb, Richard Claverhouse|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Foster, Colonel (Lancaster)||Johnston, William (Belfast)|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.)||Galloway, William Johnson||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. Derbysh.)||Garfit, William||Joicey, Sir James|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, East)||Gedge, Sydney||Jones, W. (Carnarvonshire)|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Gibbs, Hn A. G. H.(City of Lond.||Kay-Shuttleworth, Rt Hn. Sir U|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Kearley, Hudson E.|
|Chamberlain, J. A. (Worcester||Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk.||Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H.|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Goldsworthy, Major-General||Kimber, Henry|
|Charrington, Spencer||Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Knowles, Lees|
|Chelsea, Viscount||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Eldon||Lafone, Alfred|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Goschen, Rt Hn G. J. (St George's||Lambert, George|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Lawrence, Sir E. Durning-(Corn|
|Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Moulton, John Fletcher||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cumb'land||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||Tollemache, Henry James|
|Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Murray, Rt Hn. A Graham (Bute||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray|
|Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn (Swansea||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Lockwood, Lt.-Col A. R.||Pease, Joseph A. (Northumb.)||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Penn, John||Wason, Eugene|
|Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham||Plunkett, Rt Hn Horace Curzon||Webster, Sir Richard E.|
|Long, Rt Hon Walter (Liverpool||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Welby, Lt.-Col. A. C. E. (Taunt.|
|Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller||Pretyman, Ernest George||Welby, Sir Chas. G. E. (Notts.)|
|Lough, Thomas||Purvis, Robert||Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-|
|Lowe, Francis William||Quilter, Sir Cuthbert||Wharton, Rt. Hon. John Lloyd|
|Lowles, John||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Rentoul, James Alexander||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Ridley, Rt. Hn. Sir Matthew W.||Williams, Joseph Powell-(Birm|
|M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Ritchie, Rt. Hon. Chas Thomson||Wilson. J. W. (Worcestersh. N.)|
|Malcolm, Ian||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath|
|Martin, Richard Biddulph||Round, James||Wrightson, Thomas|
|Massey-Mainwaring, Hn. W. F.||Samuel, J. Stockton-on-Tees)||Wylie, Alexander|
|Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand||Seely, Charles Hilton||Wyndham, George|
|Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.||Sinclair, Capt John (Forfarshire||Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy|
|Milward, Colonel Victor||Smith, James Parker (Lanarks.||Young, Commander (Berks, E.)|
|Monckton, Edward Philip||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire||Stephens, Henry Charles||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Morrell, George Herbert||Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart||Mr. Anstruther and Mr. Fisher.|
|Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptford||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf'd Univ|
|Barry, K. (Cork, S.)||Gibney, James||Parnell, John Howard|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Hammond, John (Carlow)||Pinkerton, John|
|Crean, Eugene||Hayden, John Patrick||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Crilly, Daniel||Healy, Maurice (Cork)||Price, Robert John|
|Curran, Thomas B. (Donegal)||Jordan, Jeremiah||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Daly, James||Macaleese, Daniel||Sullivan, Donald Westmeath)|
|Dillon, John||MacDonnell, Dr. M A (Queen's C||Wilson, Fredk. W. (Norfolk)|
|Doogan, P. C.||MacNeill, John Cordon Swift|
|Field, William (Dublin)||M. Dermott, Patrick||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||M'Ghee, Richard||Captain Donelan and Mr. Patrick O'Brien.|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Morris, Samuel|
§ Clause 3.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress; and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. William Redmond.)—Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again to-morrow.