§ Order read for the House to be put into Committee.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
There are several Instructions on the Paper in respect to this Bill. The first stands in the name of the senior Member for Merthyr Tydvil, and that Instruction, I think, is not in order. The Finance Bill, as is well known, is the Bill containing all the taxes to meet the expenditure of the year, as far as taxation is necessary: The Instruction proposes that the coal tax should be placed in a separate Bill from the six or seven other taxes embodied in the Finance Bill, and if this Instruction were in order it would be equally in order to move an Instruction as regards each tax in the Bill and propose that it should be put in a separate Bill. The ordinary practice of the House is to treat the Finance Bill as one Bill with one object, and this Instruction is out of order. The next Instruction stands in the name of the hon. Member for North Monmouthshire, and is also out of order. † Its object can be attained by an Amendment moved in Committee on the Bill, and it is therefore unnecessary. The next two Instructions are in the names of the hon. Member for the Eifion Division and the junior Member for Merthyr Tydvil. These are not in order; they propose to substitute for the coal duty other taxes, and to empower the Committee to put taxes in the Bill for which no preliminary resolutions have been passed. Therefore they are not in order.†This Instruction was as follows:—"That it be an Instruction to the Committee that they have power to provide that the duty to be charged, levied, and paid on coal shall be payable as to one-fourth of the amount of such duty by the coalowner or first vendor of the coal, being the person for the time being in receipt of any royalty or rent in respect of the coal on which the duty is charged." The remaining Instructions are not given, as their purport is explained by Mr. Speaker.
§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ [Mr. J. W. LOWTHER (Cumberland, Penrith, in the Chair.]
§ Clause 1:—
The first Amendment on the Paper, standing in the name of the hon. Member for Sheffield, is not in the right place.
§ MR. KEARLEY (Devonport)
said the object of the Amendment which he had to move was to distribute more evenly a tax which now fell with undue weight upon the poor people who consumed the cheapest tea. He had no doubt that many hon. Members who had not studied this question would consider that a 50 per cent. ad valorem duty was too high. Probably they would be more surprised to hear that the percentage of duty upon the cheapest tea consumed by the poorest people ran as high as from 100 to 150 per cent. The duty on other articles which appeared on the breakfast table, such as coffee and cocoa, the average cost price of which in bond was about the same as that of tea, was much lower. The average price of tea in bond was about 8d. per pound, and the average price of coffee and cocoa in bond was about the same; and yet the disparity in the duty levied upon these commodities was altogether out of proportion. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had said that it was in the true interests of economy that the labouring classes should bear their share of the cost of the war, but he submitted they were already taxed above their deserts, and 757 they were bearing their share with a vengeance. The Chancellor of the Exchequer pointed out that the money had to be raised, and it was useless to object unless they were prepared to find something else which could be conveniently taxed. He thought it was not the duty of the Opposition to recommend alternative taxes, but he might suggest that if the Government forewent the pleasure of renewing the Agricultural Rating Act they would have the £2,000,000 which the Chancellor of the Exchequer anticipated from the increased tea duty. In the days of the great French War the tax on tea never exceeded 100 per cent., and only then after it had been raised several times. Prior to the Crimean War the duty on tea was 1s. 6d. per pound, and in the first Budget after the war in 1855 it was raised to 1s. 9d. per pound. The effect, however, upon the consumption of tea was so marked that in 1857 the Chancellor of the Exchequer came down to the House and reduced the tea duty to 1s. 5d. per pound, which was 1d. lower than before the outbreak of the war. He did this because his own purposes were defeated by the higher duty. Although the duty was reduced to 1s. 5d., three years after the war the total product of the tea duty was much larger at the lower figure. Therefore it would be seen that when the duty was raised it had not the effect which the Chancellor of the Exchequer anticipated, but quite the contrary effect. The hon. Member for Flintshire suggested a graduated income tax, and he should have no hesitation in supporting that proposal. He might be asked how he proposed to levy the tax and collect it upon an ad valorem basis. Formerly the tea duties were collected on an ad valorem basis, and he suggested that we should revert to that basis. Probably 95 per cent. of the tea sold in this country was sold by public auction in Mincing Lane. It would be easy to ascertain the cost price of the tea, and on that cost price an ad valorem duty of 50 per cent. might be levied. Taking the average for the last three years, the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have realised from ad valorem duties the same amount as he had been receiving up to the point when the increase in the tea duty took place. When 758 the tea duty was reduced to 4d. about £1,000,000 was lost to the revenue, but he thought that if it had been continued at that figure the yield would have been as much with the 4d. duty as with the 6d. duty in a few years time. When the Chancellor of the Exchequer increased the duty on tea to 6d., the consumption of tea, which had previously grown under the stimulus of reduced duties, decreased, as was the case after the Crimean War. The consumption of tea last year amounted to 225,000,000 lb., as against 243,000,000 lb. the year before. The tendency must be in that direction, in view of the point which the duty had reached, coupled with other taxation which had been put on the working classes.
Then there was another matter which he wished to mention—the effect of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's proposals on a great British industry. A large amount of the tea imported into this country now came from India and Ceylon. Forty years ago nearly the whole of our tea came from China. The capital now invested in tea growing in Ceylon and India amounted to £30,000,000. The total trade amounted to 304,000,000 lb., of which India contributed 157,000,000 lb., Ceylon 115,000,000 lb., and China only 32,000,000 lb. The sudden falling off in the consumption of tea had brought about a most serious financial crisis in the tea industry in those countries. Fifty per cent. of the gardens there at the present time were estimated to be running at a loss. Year by year the tea-growers, anticipating the increased consumption, had put into cultivation larger areas. Suddenly the demand declined, and the extra tea grown had to be disposed of somehow, and, instead of being taken legitimately, it was sent over here and had to be sold at lower rates. The Chancellor of the Exchequer called this over-production, but he did not think it was fair to put the matter in that way, because for thirty, forty, or fifty years the growers had reasonably anticipated the demand on their production, and it was the Chancellor of the Exchequer's duty which had brought about the present serious state of affairs in India and Ceylon. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had received representa- 759 tions from different growers in India and Ceylon, and he was not unacquainted with this aspect of the question. Their property had been depreciated and a great financial crisis had overtaken them, and he submitted that, whatever might be the future value of the new colonies which they were annexing, it seemed to him to be bad statesmanship to get out of tune with their old and loyal colonies which had done them such good service. From that point of view it was bad policy to impose a tax which had brought about such disastrous results to those colonies. He thought he was quite justified in moving this Amendment inasmuch as tea could not be described as a luxury, for it was a necessity of the people, and therefore its consumption should be encouraged, and not discouraged by a high duty. He submitted that whatever the requirements of the war might be, there was nothing to justify the Chancellor of the Exchequer in levying a duty which imposed upon the food of the people a tax of from 100 to 150 per cent.
In page 1, line 20, after the word 'pound,' to insert the words 'fifty per cent. ad valorem, but not to exceed.'"—(Mr. Kearley.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
The hon. Member who has just sat down has an intimate knowledge, no doubt, of the trade to which he has alluded; but, in spite of that, I must say that I differ entirely from him in regard to his conclusions. He has made a proposal which, on the face of it, cannot be accepted, because it would reduce this year's revenue from tea by more than the amount of the extra 2d. which was proposed last year. The hon. Gentleman has made the proposal on grounds which appear to me to be entirely mistaken. His assumption is—and it is often the assumption of hon. Members who deal with this matter—that the poor man has a special inclination to consume the worst class of tea. I do not agree with that assumption, and I do not believe it, I believe that the poor man knows very well what is good tea and what is bad 760 tea. I know that he is able to purchase good tea, and he does purchase it. But let us assume that it is right that the tax upon tea should be lowered in order to induce people to consume the worst class of tea. I demur to the argument of the hon. Member that this is a question of percentage at all. A great deal has been made of the high percentage of the tax on tea of low quality. But what is the price of that tea, including the tax? That is the real question. The hon. Member has forgotten in his comparison of the percentage of duty now with that of many years ago that in those days the price of tea, apart from the duty, was very high indeed. Now it has fallen to a point so low that it is unfortunate for the interests on behalf of which the hon. Member spoke in India and Ceylon that by over-production they should have brought it down to that point. The hon. Member says that in the time of the Crimean War the duty was raised to 1s. 9d., and that the result of that was so disappointing that it was lowered very soon after the war by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. But it was lowered, I suppose, for quite another reason, and I think the hon. Member for Devonport is quite wrong in his comparison of the circumstances of 1856 with those of the present year. He says that the consumption of tea has fallen off on account of the high rate of duty, but that is not a fact. The hon. Member himself told the Committee that whereas the imports of tea for home consumption in the year before last, when the duty was 4d. per pound, were 242,500,000 pounds, last year they were nearly 250,000,000 pounds. I know he attributed that to a great extent to forestalments. But there were forestalments in the year before.
§ MR. KEARLEY
I said so. The right hon. Gentleman is not quite accurate, because the forestalling took place last year. I know that it has taken place this year, but there are no figures for this year at all.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
It is not a fact that the consumption has fallen off on account of the increase in the tea duty from 4d. to 6d. The imports of tea with a sixpenny duty have been 761 higher during the past year than they ever were before. The total imports in 1899 were 289 millions of pounds, and in 1900 they rose to 299 millions of pounds, which is higher than has ever been known before, and that in spite of the increase in the duty. The hon. Gentleman has said that the consumption of tea during the past year has decreased to 225 millions of pounds, but he has no proof whatever of that. You will see how the consumption goes on, and you can judge after a time of the effect of the duty; but there is no ground whatever for saying at the present time that the consumption of tea has been diminished in this country by the increase of duty from 4d. to 6d., because, as a matter of fact, owing to the lower price of tea only a small part of the increased duty has really reached the consumer. The average price of tea last year was nearly 2d. per pound less than it was two years before, and 1d. per lb. less than in the year before. The hon. Member desires to substitute an ad valorem duty in place of the present uniform duty, which has existed since the year 1835, but I cannot think that he will receive any support for that proposal from anyone who has really examined the question. Between 1721 and 1833 there was an ad valorem duty on tea. During that time the tea trade was a monopoly in the hands of the East India Company. The East India Company collected the duty for the Government, and carried out all the sales of tea in this country. All these sales were conducted by public auction, so that the price was easily ascertained. In 1833 that monopoly was repealed, and the tea trade was thrown open, as it is now, to the public at large. Directly that was done the impossibility of an ad valorem duty made itself felt, for there was no certain record of prices, and there arose all those disputes as to values between the Custom House officers and the importers of tea which are certain to occur in the case of an ad valorem duty, and which are as inconvenient for, and as injurious to, the trade itself as they are to the revenue of the country. The hon. Member will suggest, perhaps, that an ad valorem duty should be levied now on the price of tea at the date of import, but he knows 762 very well that tea is retained in bond for months, and during that time it changes hands over and over again at different prices. How are you ever, in these circumstances, to find out, without the greatest risk of fraud, what is the real, bona fìde value of the tea? You can only do it by a system which involved such temptation to dishonesty on the part of the Custom House officers, with whom it rested to say what the value of the tea was, that another plan had to be adopted. Under that plan tea was divided into three classes, and the duty was fixed at the rate of 1s. 6d. per pound on the first, 2s. 2d. per. pound on the second, and 3s. per pound on the third class; but that, too, was very soon found to be unworkable, because teas of very different values were included in the same class, and so in 1835 the whole system of an ad valorem duty on tea was abolished and a uniform duty instituted. During the interval, though the duty has been raised and lowered over and over again by different Chancellors of the Exchequer, no one has ever proposed to Parliament that an ad valorem duty should be substituted for the uniform duty. I oppose this Amendment on account of the loss of duty which it would cause, and also the impossibility of fairly levying an ad valorem duty. I trust that, whatever view the Committee may take as to whether the duty should be 6d. or a lower figure, it will not, at any rate, support the proposal of the hon. Member that it should be an ad valorem duty.
§ *MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
said his hon. friend the Member for Devonport deserved the thanks of the Committee for moving the Amendment, because it served to bring into prominence the different principles which the Government had introduced into the first clause of the Bill as compared with the second clause. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had stated his objections to an ad valorem duty, but in the next clause of the Bill it was proposed to put an ad valorem duty on sugar.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
said the duty on sugar was not an ad valorem duty at all. The duty on sugar was precisely 763 the same amount for the same quantity of pure sugar.
§ *MR. LOUGH
said that answer, which they had had before, was the most superficial that could be given. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that the graduated duty which he proposed in Clause 2 was a duty based upon the sweetening properties of sugar. The price of tea was based on the tea essence—the essential good quality of the tea itself. His hon. friend in making the proposal had submitted a perfectly clear way of arriving at the tea value, which represented the quantity of good tea which each parcel contained, but his plan was resisted by the Government in favour of the system of charging an equal duty regardless of the quality. The right hon. Gentleman's proposal with regard to the tea duty was perfectly inconsistent with the proposal he was going to take with regard to sugar. He was opposed to a graduated duty on sugar, and he was also opposed to an ad valorem duty on tea. It seemed to him that such a duty would expose both the tea trade and sugar trade to very serious risks, which Parliament ought not lightly to put upon them. The great difficulty about an ad valorem duty in this country on tea, or any other article, was that it would put a premium on low quality. The object of the Committee ought to be to pass such laws as would make all producers give to the people the best quality at the lowest possible price. If the Committee adopted the principle of giving a lower tax on a lower quality it would put a premium on the production of a low quality of goods. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said we must not assume that the poor consumed the cheapest quality. His experience confirmed that opinion. The cheapest quality was bought by mean rich people, who gave it to their servants. The poorest people often distinguished themselves by the excellent taste they displayed, so far as tea and, he believed, other articles of consumption were concerned. If they got little, they demanded that it should be good. This was a sound principle to go upon. There was no real economy in bad quality. A smaller quantity of that which was better gave more support to life and 764 went farther, It was this opinion that led him to take a very grave view of the proposal to put a graduated duty on sugar. He thought the Committee should recognise in dealing with these matters that its object ought to be to facilitate business, and particularly the staple businesses of the country. If anyone would think for a moment how the tea trade could be carried on with a graduated tax, it would be enough to make him support the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Such a duty would interfere with the immense trade done in tea in bond, because the seller, the second seller, or the third seller would have to produce the original invoice, so that the duty might be paid upon that. Thus he perceived the price that had been paid by all previous purchasers, It would give a most disastrous blow to the distributors of tea in England, and it would, he thought, accomplish the ruin of the grower of tea in India and Ceylon. He believed it would be impossible to carry on the trade under the scheme proposed by the Amendment.
§ MR. CAINE (Cornwall, Camborne)
said he hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer would see his way to make a reduction in the amount of the duty on the lower kinds of tea. He had given a good deal of attention to the tea trade, and he found that the tax weighed heavily on the poor people of the country, who consumed the low-priced teas. It was quite true that the well-to-do working classes liked good tea, and that they very seldom bought it under 1s. 8d. per pound, but there was a large class who used tea—that was almost the only luxury they possessed—who bought it at 1d. per ounce. They bought the cheapest quality in small quantities. He had been connected with some of the poorest unions in London, and he found from inquiry that paupers sometimes spent 4d. or 6d. a week on tea out of the small pittance they received. That tea would not cost the seller much more than 4d. or 5d. per pound in bond, and the poor people bought it at the rate of 1d. per ounce. It thus appeared that the sellers themselves had a tremendous profit on the article. He thought the Chancellor of 765 the Exchequer might have a small graduation of the tea duties, in order to give relief on the qualities which found their way into the homes of the poor.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ SIR HOWARD VINCENT
moved to insert words providing that, "in respect of goods from British possessions, one-fourth part or 25 per cent. shall be remitted." The ground on which he made this proposal was that there was enormous difficulty in getting finished British goods into foreign markets. Lord Salisbury made a declaration on this subject on November 10th, 1890. He said:—We know that every bit of the world's surface which is not under the British flag is a country which maybe, and probably will be, closed to us by a hostile tariff. It is to the trade that is carried on within the Empire that we look for the vital force of the commerce of this country.There could be very little doubt that there was a great deal of truth in the statement made by Lord Salisbury ten years ago, and recent events had given force to it. In recent years a great movement had taken place in favour of a closer union of the Empire. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies made a speech on 25th March, 1896, in which he said—If the people of this country and of the colonies mean what they say, and intend to approach this question of Imperial unity in a practical spirit, they must approach it from the commercial side.The commercial side was in favour of giving a preference to colonial trade over foreign trade. Until recently this was impossible, at least with regard to trade from this country to the colonies. There were two treaties, one concluded with Belgium in 1862, and one with Germany in 1865, which contained a clause prohibiting—articles, the produce or manufacture of Belgium (alternatively Germany), being subject in British colonies to other or higher duties than those which are, or may be, levied upon similar articles of British origin.Our colonies, so long as this clause existed, were prevented from putting a lighter duty on British than on foreign 766 goods, and in order to facilitate trade between all parts of the empire the Government, in 1897, after a considerable movement had taken place on this matter, not alone in this country, but also in the colonies, gave notice of the termination of these treaties. On July 28th, 1897, we wrote to our Ambassador to the German Emperor and to our Envoy Extraordinary to the King of the Belgians as follows—I have to request that you will at once give notice of the intention of Her Majesty's Government to terminate the Treaty of Commerce and Navigation between Great Britain and the Zollverein (alternatively Belgium). In virtue of the stipulations contained, the Treaty will accordingly terminate upon the expiration of a year, dating from the day upon which you give the notice.A very short time after these treaties terminated Canada admitted British goods at a reduction of 25 per cent., or one fourth the duty charged upon foreign goods, and it was exactly similar action he was anxious should be established in this country. Since 1898 they had enjoyed this advantage in the Canadian market. There must be a beginning somewhere, and he urged the Chancellor of the Exchequer to make a beginning in the tea duties. Owing to events in China, the production of tea in India and other parts of the British Empire had very considerably increased, and, although the loss to the Exchequer would be considerable—he thought about £1,687,000—he urged that the opportunity should not be missed. Let the Chancellor of the Exchequer put a tax on foreign manufactured goods imported into this country which we could produce ourselves, and which entered into competition with trade and labour here, and remit as far as possible the duties upon goods which were essential to the life of the people, but which our climate absolutely prevented us from producing. And, therefore, they ought to raise our public revenue, or that portion of it derived from Customs' duties, upon goods which entered this country in competition with the product of labour in this country, but which were goods that our climate absolutely prevented us from producing. That being so, we could not have a better article to commence with than tea. It could not be contested that tea was an essential 767 food with the people of this country, and that it could not be produced in the United Kingdom; and any remission that we could give to tea produced in any portion of the British Empire would be for the benefit of the people in this country, while, although the proportion of tea consumed here from our possessions abroad was very large, such remission could hardy fail to lead to a still further production of tea in India and Ceylon and other parts of the Empire almost equally suitable for the production of tea. There were parts of Australia, the West Indies, and Mauritius which were capable of producing large quantities of tea.
Now the point would arise, "Could we give preferential treatment to our colonies under our present treaties?" The answer to that given by the hon. Baronet the Member for Berwick, who was then Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, on 30th July, 1894, was conclusive. That hon. Member said that "Commercial Treaties"—referring particularly to the Treaty with Germany—Did not prevent differential treatment by the United Kingdom in favour of the British Colonies, but that it did prevent preferential treatment by the British Colonies in favour of the United Kingdom.That answer of the hon. Baronet clearly showed that the course which he suggested to the Committee was not contrary to any existing treaties. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had shown very little sympathy with preferential trade within the Empire. But there was a growing feeling in its favour, not only on both sides of the House but in the country generally. The denunciation of treaties with Belgium and Holland by Lord Salisbury was viewed with absolute favour by all the Chambers of Commerce of this country, and not a single resolution, so far as he knew, antagonistic to it had been passed in any part of the country. If that were so, it was perfectly clear that preferential trade within the Empire was growing in popular favour. Canada had increased her preference to British trade from 25 per cent. to 33½ per cent. He should have preferred to have made his motion 33⅓ per cent., but he had limited it to 25 per cent. because he recognised that the Chancellor 768 of the Exchequer was in urgent need of funds. His constituents were living by their labour and industry, and they echoed to the full the words of Lord Salisbury that foreign nations compelled them to look for trade to the countries over which the British flag flies. If we went on continuing, as for the past three years we had done, to accept favours from Canada and other British colonies without making any effort to reciprocate with them in their markets there would be a great revulsion of colonial feeling. The main subject of discussion on every platform last year in Canada was that the preferential tariff on British goods would not continue long if the old country would not reciprocate. The Prime Mimister of Canada was most anxious to give a reasonable preference to British goods, but His Majesty's Government showed an unreasonable obstinacy in the matter and would give no advantage. There could not fail to come a time when the colonies would not give any return if Great Britain and Ireland were so wedded to one-sided free trade. This was a matter of vital importance to the working classes. There were very few working men who had not kith and kin beyond the seas. He firmly believed that the sentiment of the mass of the working men in this country, in view of the attitude of foreign countries, and the increasing difficulties of trade with those countries on account of their increasing Customs restrictions, was to develope trade with our colonies and do what we could by that means to still further weld the Empire together. He appealed to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to make a sympathetic reply, because his words would be read and reread at every breakfast table on the morrow in every colony and throughout the Empire. If the tone of the reply of the Chancellor of the Exchequer showed him to be out of sympathy with colonial trade and wedded to the old-fashioned notions of trade which were repudiated by so many classes in this country and the colonies, then the feeling of the unity of the Empire, to which we owed so much in the last two years and which was absolutely essential to us, would be abated, and the effect would be disastrous. He appealed to the 769 Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he was unable to propose a duty on manufactured goods from foreign countries which came so much into competition with those of our fellow subjects, to at least express sympathy with the development of colonial trade.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND (Clare, E.)
asked, on a point of order, whether the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman would exclude the Amendment which stood in his name.
said that the Amendment of the hon. Member for East Clare had been passed over, because when called upon he was not present.
At end of clause, to insert the words, Always provided that in respect of goods from British possessions one-fourth part, or 25 per cent., shall be remitted.'"—(Sir Howard Vincent.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
I can assure the hon. Member who has just spoken that I am by no means behind him in my desire to promote closer relations with our colonies, but I do not find in the policy which my hon. friend has more than once put before the House anything that would be really advantageous to either our colonies or the mother country, On the contrary, I believe if his policy were adopted of placing Customs duties on a large number of foreign-manufactured goods and turning our revenue tariff into a protectionist tariff, to be dealt with as some of our colonies which have adopted a protectionist policy were able to deal with protectionist tariffs, by giving preferential rates, under certain circumstances, to the mother country, any such policy would be deeply injurious to this country. I hope my hon. friend will pardon me if I do not follow him into those large questions which he has raised. Even if I could agree with the hon. Gentleman in the principles he advocates I could not agree with him on the present occasion. Let the Committee consider what the proposal of my hon. and gallant friend means. He desires by the policy he 770 advocates to promote larger trade with our colonies. He desires, therefore, that instead of importing certain articles from foreign countries we should import them, to a large extent, from our colonies, and so promote mutual trade between our colonies and ourselves. I sympathise with my hon. friend's object; but what are the facts with regard to tea? The hon. Gentleman's proposal is to reduce the duty on tea by one quarter in favour of tea coming from our colonial possessions. As a matter of fact, at the present time India and Ceylon, under equal duties, have driven foreign producers out of the market. My hon. friend's proposal with the tea trade in that position would deprive the Exchequer, this year of all years, of one-quarter of the revenue from tea in order to do no good. I hope the hon. Member and the Committee will see that it is absolutely impossible for me to accept such a proposal.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Question proposed. "That Clause I stand part of the Bill."
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
said that, having missed the opportunity of moving the Amendment which stood in his name, he would now state what he proposed to say on that matter. It was perfectly obvious that the meaning of the Amendment was to exclude Ireland from the operation of the Act. All along, the Nationalist Members had protested against the treatment accorded to Ireland in the matter of taxation. They contended that, whatever fresh burdens might be put upon the people of England and Scotland, the Irish people ought to be exempted from these burdens for several reasons. What was at the bottom of the Budget proposals was of course the war in South Africa. But for that war these proposals would not be submitted to the House now. It was monstrously unjust and unfair to ask the taxpayers of Ireland to pay in any shape of new taxation a single farthing towards the cost of the war. The Irish people had protested against the war from the commencement as uncalled for and absolutely unnecessary, and that consequently it was a most 771 unjust and iniquitous war, but if the people of England and Scotland considered otherwise, if they had come to the conclusion that it was just and necessary, it was natural that they should take steps to provide for the cost of it, but what was most unnatural was that the people of England and Scotland who approved of the war should call upon the unfortunate people of Ireland to pay for that which they regarded as wholly unjust and unnecessary. He knew that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would say at once that it was impossible to make an exception of Ireland in schemes of this kind of general taxation for Imperial purposes, but that would not he an answer which could excuse the Irish Members from taking this and every opportunity of protesting against the fresh imposition of taxation in Ireland. He was reading the other day a very interesting return containing figures compiled by the hon. Member for Islington. In the course of his examination of what had taken place in Ireland he pointed out that while the population of that country had been decreasing to an alarming extent the taxation of the Irish people had been increasing to an equally alarming extent at the same time. He knew that it was hard sometimes for hon. Gentlemen in this House to follow the course of events in Ireland.
said the hon. Member was going beyond the question raised in the clause now under discussion.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
said if the Chairman had allowed him to do so he was going to point out in support of his argument that Ireland should not be included in the scope of this Bill. He was about to say that tea which was dealt with in the clause was one of those articles the taxation of which fell most heavily upon the Irish people. In the last five or six years the taxation of Ireland had been increased to the extent of a couple of millions a year. When they took into consideration the poverty of the Irish people as compared with the prosperous condition of the British people there was no man in the House with any sense of fairness who could deny that they had at least some case to put forward when they asked the Chancellor of the 772 Exchequer to make some exception in favour of Ireland. He was not going to discuss the broad question of the financial relations between Great Britain and Ireland, which had been brought about by the Act of Union, but he would say that it was laid down in that Act that the Irish people should get separate treatment and that consideration should be given to the taxable capacity of the Irish people. He objected to the tea tax last year, and he now repeated his objection. No article of consumption could be selected for taxation which would be more absolutely certain to bring about hardship to the Irish people. The consumption of tea was greater per head of the population in Ireland than in England and Scotland, and the consumption of alcoholic beverages was far greater per head of the population in England and Scotland than in Ireland. He urged that if additional taxation must be put on the Irish people to pay for a war which they hated and loathed, the Chancellor of the Exchequer should consider whether it could not be raised in some other way than upon tea, which was the common article of consumption by the poor people. As far as he was personally concerned, he would infinitely prefer to see the Chancellor of the Exchequer putting additional taxation on alcoholic beverages in Ireland than upon the tea of the poor people. Ireland was sometimes most unjustly taunted with being intemperate, but they were really more temperate than the English or the Scotch, judging by the amount they consumed per head of the population. He would conclude by saying that in his opinion it was a poor, contemptible and pitiable policy on the part of the people of England and Scotland to ask Ireland to pay for the war. Whatever little return might have come to Great Britain out of the war expenditure, Ireland had got absolutely nothing. The millions which had been spent might react in some small way for the benefit of the working people of Great Britain, but. Ireland got nothing at all. Apart altogether from the justice or injustice of the war, he maintained, from a purely material point of view, that the Irish people ought to be exempted, and it was downright mean and dishonourable to ask them to pay anything for the war. 773 There were very few jingoes in Ireland, thank goodness. The Irish people strongly adhered to the noble policy of conciliation preached by the late Mr. Gladstone. They were told that the English people were jingoes and that they were in favour of the war.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
said he was sorry the Chairman had not mentioned that before, as he was afraid he had already said a good deal about the war. He would only say that the Bill was introduced to meet the costs of the war. The Irish people had nothing to do with the war, and it was dishonourable to ask them to pay for it. He would ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to dismiss from his mind, if he could, the trouble which he might consider he was put to from time to time by the Irish members. He would ask him to put himself in, for instance, his position, as representing 12,000 electors in a country district in Ireland, who were hard pressed to make both ends meet. He would ask the right hon. Gentleman to sympathise with the Irish Members to the extent of at least allowing that they were justified in appealing to him that, if Ireland were to be taxed, it should be taxed in some other way than by a duty on tea. He moved the omission of the clause.
§ MR. POWER (Waterford, E.)
said his hon. friend who had just spoken stated that he would prefer that a tax should be imposed on alcohol rather than on tea, and he added that he did not know whether he was speaking on behalf of many of his colleagues. He would tell his hon. friend that, although he would object very much to an extra tax on whiskey, which he thought was already overtaxed, yet if it came to a choice between an extra tax on whiskey and an extra tax on tea he would prefer the extra tax on whiskey, because tea was a beverage largely used in Ireland, and by the poor more than by any other class. They had been told by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that indirect taxation was the worst system of taxation, and that it pressed more heavily 774 on the poor than did direct taxation, and therefore indirect taxation pressed more heavily on the people of Ireland, because they were poorer than the people of England. It had been stated on very high authority that the people of England did not pay more than 2s. in the £ on the taxable capacity of each individual, whereas Ireland paid 10s. in the £, taxable capacity being of course the surplus which remained over after the necessary deductions had been made for the support of the individual. The appeal of his hon. friend was that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should differentiate. He had to a certain extent differentiated, because he imposed a certain tax on a certain article which did not happen to be produced in Ireland. The war was the Alpha and Omega of the taxation they were considering. Ireland had already paid more than her share in the blood of her own people, which he was ashamed of and regretted extremely, and he thought it was rather hard that she should be now asked to pay in £ s. d. His hon. friend would be perfectly justified in going to a division. He was opposed to the tax because he believed indirect taxation was the worst system that could be adopted. It was decreasing in Great Britain, but increasing in Ireland, which was the poorest part of the United Kingdom.
§ MR. JORDAN (Fermanagh, S.)
said he thought it his duty also to protest against the increased duty on tea. At the same time he sympathised with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who had to get the money somewhere. But he would prefer that the money which was required had been made up in some other way than in taxing tea, sugar, or any other article of the breakfast table. He thought that the income tax was bad enough, but he would rather pay an increased income tax than have an increased duty on tea. When the Chancellor of the Exchequer introduced his Budget he ought to have made a clean breast of it and to have simply increased the income tax to 1s. 6d. in the £. and put 1s. a ton on coal, whether it was consumed in England or elsewhere. That would be very much better than taxing the food of the people. He understood the necessity 775 of the case, and was not arguing against the money being raised, but putting taxation on the poorer people was bad. It would have been much better to have put it on men who had comes. They would not want a breakfast or a dinner if they had to pay an income tax of 1s. 6d. They might not be able to go so often to the theatre, or to build a yacht, or to buy a carriage and pair, but those were luxuries which they could do without. A tax on tea and sugar, however, pressed heavily on the very poorest.
§ MR. FIELD (Dublin, St. Patrick)
said he objected to the increased taxation on much broader grounds than his hon. friends. He objected on constitutional grounds to the taxation of Ireland being increased, and he also objected from the Unionist point of view. According to the treaty which was entered into at the time of the Union, Ireland was to be subject to certain exemptions according to the taxable capacity of her people, and it appeared to him that in recent years Unionists had lost sight of that very important provision. Apparently the basis of taxation in Ireland was that as population decreased taxation should increase. The late Mr. Gladstone, who was in his opinion the greatest financial enemy Ireland ever had, introduced the income tax into Ireland, although Sir Robert Peel had refused to impose it. It was then said that that tax would only last for a short time, but it remained ever since. The tax which was now being imposed would follow exactly the same procedure. When an extra tax was put on whisky the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that it was merely a temporary expedient to raise the revenue which was necessary for the time being, but it had remained ever since. It was very remarkable that since the accession of her late Majesty the population of Ireland had decreased by one half, whereas the taxation had increased threefold. That was an extraordinary state of things. He would ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he would not adopt the ethics of taxation that were adopted by statesmen in constitutionally governed countries. His argument was that taxation should be imposed in 776 accordance with the ability of the people to bear it, and the income tax returns supplied the measure of the financial taxable capacity of the Irish people as compared with residents of Great Britain. He was prepared to argue the question on commercial lines, because he had a good case. He wished to direct the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the fact that in Ireland 78 per cent. of the taxation was indirect, whereas in England the indirect taxation was only about 50 per cent. The amalgamation of the Exchequers shortly after the Act of Union was one of the reasons why the Irish people came to be so heavily taxed. They in Ireland had no intense interest in the defence of the Empire, but yet they were charged for it, although they derived no benefit from it. He thought that even Unionist Members would admit that Ireland was bound to get some value for the taxation she paid. What value did she get? The Constitution was suspended, and they got no share of the expenditure on the Navy and Army. He thought a stronger case could not possibly be made out why this tax should not be imposed on Ireland. So far as he was concerned, he was, as a temperance man, entirely opposed to the tax on tea, which was almost one of the necessaries of life, particularly among the poor. He ventured seriously to suggest to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the tax should be put on something else. Hon. Members opposite did not quite realise that taxation which was grinding down the people of Ireland could easily be paid by people in this country. He would not go into the merits of free trade further than to say that the policy of the Government was not really a policy of free trade but a policy of free imports.
§ MR. FIELD
submitted it arose on the question of the duty on tea. He desired to know as a free trader why a tax was put upon tea, as he understood the principle of free trade was that no food should be taxed. In conclusion, he would say he declined to believe that the Chancellor of the Exchequer wished to press 777 hardly upon the people of Ireland, but he warned the right hon. Gentleman that, if taxation was unduly increased against the spirit and the letter of the Act of Union, a time would come when the people of Ireland would be obliged to fly from a country where they could no longer live. He was surprised at the attitude taken up by the Irish Conservative Members, because, after all, this taxation fell as heavily upon them as on any other section of the community. They paid an enormous sum of over taxation in this way. He trusted the Chancellor of the Exchequer would consider the points which he had raised.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
I am very far from feeling any desire to blame the hon. Member for East Clare for bringing the matter forward, but I would remind the Committee that it has already been discussed on the resolution on which the Bill was founded, and therefore I hope I am not unreasonable in asking that the discussion may not be prolonged. The hon. Member who has just sat down touched upon topics which I think he will agree could be more conveniently discussed on another occasion. There could only be but a fragmentary discussion of the financial relations between Ireland and Great Britain on a clause of this Bill, and therefore it would be more convenient to reserve the subject for a later occasion, when we can have a fair discussion upon it. The hon. Member for East Clare takes a primary objection to the duty on tea, because he says he objects entirely to taxation for the purposes of the war. No doubt the hon. Member and his colleagues are right from their point of view in taking that objection; but, as the hon. Member appealed to me to put myself in his place and to express some sympathy for the position in which he finds himself, I will appeal to the hon. Member to put himself in my place.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
For a moment, I would say, and ask him to consider this question from that standpoint. I must get the money from some source, and whatever the source I pro- 778 pose, somebody or other would raise an objection. I do on the other hand feel that the tax on tea is to some extent a greater burden on Ireland than on other parts of the kingdom I do not think implicit reliance can be placed on the statistics in this matter, but they seem to show a greater consumption of tea per head in Ireland than in Great Britain. That may be so or not. But in any case I am asked on account of the great consumption of tea in Ireland to refrain from imposing this extra taxation. I would remind hon. Members that the fall in price of the article has materially reduced the burden of the extra taxation. I think the hon. Member for Devonport will confirm me when I say that the average price of tea apart from the extra duty is now nearly 2d. a lb. less than it was two years ago, and 1d. a lb. less than it was one year ago, and therefore, although I do not deny that the extra taxation is an additional burden, it is not so great a burden as it was expected to be this time last year. I am glad to have elicited one opinion which seems to be very generally held by hon. Members below the gangway opposite, that they would prefer that taxation on beer and spirits should be raised rather than that on tea. I do not wish to hold out any hopes for the future which I might not be able to realise, but if it might be my happy lot to propose a reduction in taxation I shall certainly be disposed to reduce the duty on tea rather than on beer or spirits. I trust that hon. Members will see that, although I am unable to agree with them, I am not without sympathy for their views.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
I only rise to point out that the right hon. Gentleman is not to understand me to express the view that the increased taxation of spirits in Ireland is justifiable, I am against that also, and shall move against it at a later stage.
§ SIR THOMAS ESMONDE (Wexford, N.)
said that in view of the circumstance that a special day was to be set aside for raising the general question of the financial relations he did not propose to enter into it now, but he would like to make a suggestion to the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman, 779 if he could not do so now, might at some future date allow a rebate of 1d. or 2d. on the lb. to Irish tea merchants in view of the special circumstances of Ireland in regard to taxation. Such a policy was, he believed, carried out in the Isle of Man, and whatever method the authorities had of arriving at the amount to be allowed in rebate of taxation in the Isle of Man could very well be adopted with regard to Ireland. The question of the tea tax was a most important one for Ireland. This tax affected the poor people of Ireland to an enormous degree; to a greater degree, he believed, than any class of people in England or Scotland. Tea was the staple drink of the working classes of Ireland, who in many cases drunk it three times a day. Beer was not consumed in Ireland in the same way as in England. In England beer was the staple drink of the labouring classes, but that was not so in Ireland, and in view of the fact that Ireland was a much poorer country than either England or Scotland, taxation of any kind must fall upon Ireland much more heavily than on Great Britain. It was for that reason he suggested that a rebate should be allowed.
§ *MR. LOUGH
said in the general discussion which had taken place they had only heard one side of the tea tax—the Irish side. The tea tax in Ireland last year produced £877,000—an increase of £227,000, which was dragged out of Ireland by indirect taxation. He drew attention to that point because the Chancellor of the Exchequer often said he had a certain kindness for Ireland, but still the right hon. Gentleman at times did much to undermine the great case that had been built up for Ireland. To-night he had said that exact figures of the produce of the tea and other taxes could not be given because there were no means of ascertaining it, but it was unjust that Ireland should be taunted with the fact that she could not give accurate figures; the Government had figures under lock and key which they would not give to the House. There was a charge of £220,000 a year for collection of taxes in Ireland. That fact alone would show how easy it was for the Government, if it desired, to state the amount of tea brought into 780 Ireland. He believed this additional taxation would check the consumption of that commodity, and thus press very heavily upon the people. The right hon. Gentleman had said that this was not the time to discuss the financial relations between Great Britain and Ireland, which was perfectly true; but this was certainly the time to point out the effect of this particular tax. The large amount which was derived from taxes in Ireland was taken as a proof of the wealth of the country, but here it could be seen that that was not the case, and this increase of £227,000 obtained from the additional tax upon tea was ground out of the blood of the Irish people. The system of taxation was breaking the back of Ireland. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had said that the indirect taxation of the country was only 50 per cent. of the entire taxation, but in Ireland the indirect taxation amounted to 77 per cent.; therefore an equal tax between Great Britain and Ireland upon such articles as tea and tobacco did not produce an equal result, but an entirely opposite result. Even in Great Britain the result of this tax upon tea had been most unsatisfactory; the consumption of tea had diminished, and the growers had suffered heavily. A burden had been put upon the poorest classes of the population, the consumption of tea had been checked, and the people would now probably drink something worse. The right hon. Gentleman had admitted that on tobacco he had reached the limit of taxation; on spirits he had passed the limit; and that there was nothing more to be obtaned upon wine. He believed that this policy was a most unsatisfactory policy, and that the result of the first year of a high tea tax would not encourage further experiments in a similar direction. He had not had an opportunity of moving the Amendment he had intended to move, but he certainly thought that the cost of the war and the amount required to meet the increased expenditure of the country could have been found in some better way than the increase of indirect taxation. An illustration of the mistake the Government was making might be found by comparing the present methods by which money was raised for municipal 781 purposes in our own great cities as compared with the methods of former times which still existed in many Continental cities. The present system was by a direct rate on property. The fact of a large additional sum of money being required did not lead us to abandon that system, say in favour of an octroi, or duty on food coining into the city, which would be more injurious than beneficial. Money required was obtained by increasing the rates upon property, the burden of which fell upon the backs of the rich, but by this system of indirect taxation the burden fell upon the backs of the poor. It would be safer for us to stick to the methods which had produced such a splendid revenue during recent years rather than return to the worn-out expedient of taxes on the necessaries of life which had worked so badly in the past.
§ *MR. CHANNING (Northamptonshire, E.)
said that it was his intention to move an Amendment to reduce the amount of the tax upon tea, but he was detained in another part of the House by his duties upon a Committee, and had been unable to do so. He was, therefore, under the necessity of voting against the tea tax as a whole. There would be a disposition among those who strongly dissented from the proposals to meet the gigantic expenditure of this year to recognise that in dealing with this tax the Chancellor of the Exchequer had shown a wise moderation. There was a certain measure of equity and fairness to the poorer classes of this country, in so far as the increase in indirect taxation did not include any further increase in the duty on tea. He should vote against the clause upon two distinct and definite grounds—that all taxation of food was unjust and unfair to the poorest classes of the community, and, further, because all taxes upon food were open to the economic objection that such taxes, increasing as they inevitably did the cost of living, and increasing in the highest proportion the cost of living to the workers, were so much dead weight upon the productive, manufacturing, and the commercial power of the country in competition with other nations. It might be arguable that almost any kind of tax could rightly be had recourse to in special cases of grave emergency. But for an 782 industrial and a commercial nation any form of tax on food should only be resorted to when other resources were already exhausted. He did not wonder at the protest from Irish Members, but a high rate of indirect taxation was hurtful, not only to Ireland, but to the poorer classes everywhere in the United Kingdom, and upon that ground and the grave injury to trade he should resist the clause.
§ MR. CREAN (Cork, S.E.)
said he could not understand why the Chancellor of the Exchequer should take credit for the reduction in the price of tea, a fact with which he had had nothing whatever to do; the duty remained the same whether the price of tea was high or low, and the people were surely entitled to the benefit of the fluctuations of the market. If anyone was entitled to protest against so iniquitous a tax it was the Irish representatives. There might be some excuse for applying to the colonies, who had supported the policy of the war, but he protested against Ireland being taxed on account of a war for which she was in no way responsible, and against which she had always protested. If it were in the power of the people to defeat the collection of the tax, not one penny of it would be obtained within the four seas of Ireland.
§ MR. NANNETTI (Dublin, College Green)
said he only intervened in the discussion because he represented a number of poor people. The tax was instituted in order to pay for the war in which we were now engaged, but his constituency had one and all protested against that war. And, inasmuch as the people of Dublin and of Ireland generally had protested against the war, they ought not to be called upon to contribute anything towards the cost of it. He protested against the imposition of this tax because it would press more heavily upon the poor people whom he represented than upon the people of this country. Owing to their poverty the Irish people were compelled to adopt tea as their principal beverage, and it formed their staple article of food, whether for break-fast, dinner, tea, or supper. Why was not a tax put upon something in which mainly the rich were interested, such as 783 carriages, foreign wines, or foreign cigars? There might be something in the argument that those articles were already sufficiently taxed, but, at any rate, it would be fairer to place the burden upon those who could afford to pay rather than upon the unfortunate people who were not in that position. There might be some justice in placing the tax upon the people of England and Scotland, who had approved of the war, but the
§ Irish nation had, by every means in its power, protested against and opposed the policy of the Government in South Africa, and, therefore, as representing a portion of that nation, he should support the Amendment in the division lobby.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 192;. Noes, 108. [Division List No. 259.]785
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex F.||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward||Melville, Beresford Valentine|
|Allhusen, Augustus H. Eden||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Firbank, Joseph Thomas||Mitchell, William|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Fisher, William Hayes||Molesworth, Sir Lewis|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hn. John||Fison, Frederick William||Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)|
|Austin, Sir John||Fitz Gerald, Sir Robert Penrose-||Morrell, George Herbert|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Fletcher, Sir Henry||Morrison, James Archibald|
|Bain, Col. James Robert||Flower, Ernest||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)|
|Baird, John G. Alexander||Fowler, Rt. Hn. Sir Henry||Mount, William Arthur|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r||Galloway, Wm. Johnson||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. G. W. (Leeds||Garfit, William||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute)|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin||Gibbs, Hn A G H. (City of Lond.)||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol||Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick||Myers, William Henry|
|Beach, Rt. Hon. W. W. B (Hants||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John E.||Nicholson, William Graham.|
|Beckett, Ernest William||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Greene, Sir E W (B'ry S Edm'nds||Pierpoint, Robert|
|Bigwood, James||Grenfell, Wm. Henry||Pilkington, Lt.-Col. Richard|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Groves, James Grimble||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||Plummer, Walter R.|
|Brigg, John||Hain, Edward||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Hall, Edward Marshall||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Brookfield, Colonel Montagu||Hamilton, Rt Hn Lord G (Mid'x)||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edw.|
|Bull, William James||Hamilton, Marq of (L'donderry||Randles, John S.|
|Bullard, Sir Harry||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robt. Wm.||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Harris, Frederick Leverton||Reid, James (Greenock)|
|Batcher, John George||Haslett, Sir James Horner||Remnant, Jas. Farquharson|
|Carlile, William Walter||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Rentoul, James Alexander|
|Carson, Rt. Hn. Sir Edw. H.||Hermon-Hodge, Robt. Trotter||Renwick, George|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Hogg, Lindsay||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.)||Hope, J. F (Sheffield, Brightside||Ritchie, Hon Sir Chas. Thomson|
|Cavendish. V. C. W (Derbyshire||Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Howard, J. (Midd., Tottenham)||Rolleston, Sir John F. L.|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich||Hozier, Hon. James Henry Cecil||Ropner, Col. Robert|
|Chamberlain, J Austenc (Worc'r||Hudson, George Bickersteth||Round, James|
|Chapman, Edward||Hutton, John (Yorks, N. R.)||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-|
|Clare, Octavius Leigh||Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick||Saunderson, Rt Hn. Col. Edw. J.|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Sharpe, Wm. Edward T.|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir John H.||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Cook, Sir Frederick Lucas||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W (Salop.||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Lambton, Hon. Fredk. Wm.||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Law, Andrew Bonar||Smith, H. C (North'mb. T'nes'de.|
|Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool||Smith, Jas. Parker (Lanarks.)|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Lawson, John Grant||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Lee, Arthur H. (Hants Fareham||Spear, John Ward|
|Cross, Her b. Shepherd (Bolton)||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Stanley, Edw. Jas. (Somerset),|
|Crossley, Sir Savile||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Leveson-Gower, Fredk. N. S.)||Stock, James Henry|
|Davies, Sir Horatio D (Chatham||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Dickson, Chas. Scott||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Bristol, S||Stroyan, John|
|Digby, John, K. D. Wingfield-||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Strutt, Hon. Chas. Hedley|
|Dimsdale, Sir Joseph Cockfield||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Doughty, George||Macdona, John Cumming||Thomas, David Alfred (M'rthyr|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|Doxford, Sir William Theodore||M'Iver, Sir Lewis (Edinb'rgh, W||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin||M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray|
|Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir William Hart||Majendie, James A. H.||Tritton, Chas. Ernest|
|Tufnell, Lt-Col. Edward||Welby, Lt,-Col. A C E (Taunton||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Valentia, Viscount||Welby, Sir C. G. E. (Notts.)||Wylie. Alexander|
|Vincent, Col Sir C E H (Sheffield)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)||Young, Commander (Berks, E.)|
|Warde Col. C. E.||Wilson, John (Falkirk)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Warr, Augustus Frederick||Wilson, John (Glasgow)||Sir William Walrond and|
|Webb, Col. Wm. George||Wolff, Gastav Wilhelm||Mr. Anstruther|
|Abraham, Wm. (Cork, N. E.)||Hardie, J Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Harmsworth, R. Leicester||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Harwood, George||O'Connor, J. (Wicklow, W.)|
|Allen, Charles P (Glouc., Stroud||Hayden, John Patrick||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Ambrose, Robert||Helme, Norval Watson||O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Hobhouse, C. E. H. (Bristol, E.||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)|
|Black, Alexander William||Holland, William Henry||O'Dowd, John|
|Blake, Edward||Horniman, Frederick John||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)|
|Boland, John||Jones, David B. (Swansea)||O'Kelly, James (Rosc'mm'n, N.|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Jones, William (Carnarvonsh'e||O'Malley, William|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Jordan, Jeremiah||O'Mara, James|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Kennedy, Patrick James||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Kinloch, Sir John Geo. Smyth||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Burt, Thomas||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Price, Robert John|
|Caldwell, James||Leamy, Edmund||Reddy, M.|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Leese, Sir Joseph F (Accrington||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Leng, Sir John||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Cogan, Denis J.||Levy, Maurice||Rigg, Richard|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Lewis, John Herbert||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Crean, Eugene||Lough, Thomas||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Cullinan, J.||Lundon, W.||Sinclair, Capt. John (Forfarsh.|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A.||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Delany, William||M'Crae, George||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Doogan, P. C.||M'Dermott, Patrick||Spencer, Rt. Hn. C. R. (North'ts|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||M'Govern, T.||Sullivan, Donal|
|Duffy, William J.||M'Kenna, Reginald||Taylor, Theodore Cooke|
|Duncan, J. Hastings||M'Laren, Charles Benjamin||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan)||Mooney John J.||Weir, James Galloway|
|Fen wick, Charles||Morton, Edw. J. C. (Devonport)||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Ffrench, Peter||Murnaghan, George||White, Patrick (Meath, N.)|
|Field, William||Murphy, John||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Fuller, J. M. F.||Newnes, Sir George||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Gilhooly, James||Nolan, Col. John P (Galway, N.)||Young, Samuel (Cavan, E.)|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)||Sir Thomas Esmonde and|
|Hammond, John||O'Brien, K. (Tipperary Mid)||Captain Donelan.|
§ Clause 2:—
§ MR. D. A. THOMAS (Merthyr Tydfil)
said the Amendment standing in his name was not an important one, but he desired to move it formally in order to obtain some explanation from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and he had no intention of going to a division if the answer given was satisfactory. What he really wished to know was whether the duty upon sugar was to be paid as from the beginning of the 19th of April or the close, that was to say on the 20th. That was a point he desired to have made quite clear, because it made a difference of £20,000 in the amount to be obtained from the sugar duties. He begged to move—
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
As I understand it, the effect of the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman would be to make the duty leviable a day before it was legally leviable, and that you could not do without a resolution.
§ MR. D. A. THOMAS
said that was the form in which it appeared in the resolution, and it was for that reason he moved it in that way. The Budget resolution provided that the duty should be leviable on the 19th, but this clause did not carry out the resolution.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
The resolution applied to a future date, and, therefore, the words "on and after" were put in. This Bill authorises the collection of the duty from a past date, 787 and therefore it is properly set forth as from the 19th.
§ MR. D. A. THOMAS
Then do I understand that "as from" means from the beginning of the 19th of April?
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ *MR. CHANNING
said that the Amendment which he proposed to move was one which directly challenged the form in which this new tax and the coal tax also were put before Parliament. The sugar duty was proposed not in the form of the tea duty and other indireet taxes, but as a permanent tax. The usual and constitutional form was of a tax to be levied and paid for one year only, and subject to revision and reconsideration in this House in subsequent years. His Amendment should properly be moved after the word "paid," and not after the word "one," and he desired to move it in that form. He dissented entirely from the sugar duty. He did not raise the question of the excessive expenditure to be met by taxation this year, or where the money required should come from; it was sufficient for his purpose to argue that it was open to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to propose other taxation which would give him the amount which he proposed to obtain from the sugar duty. He wished to take the gravest objections to this tax, It was the reversal of the wise policy of a great Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer. It imposed a burden heaviest in proportion on the poorest classes, and it was open to all the economic objections to taxes upon food. It seemed to him that the form form in which it was laid before Parliament which made it a permanent tax added very materially to the objections he had to it. If brought in in the usual way for one year it would be perfectly easy to re-impose it, if necessary, in any subsequent year. But if imposed for ever and ever as a hereditary burden it was harder to get rid of it in future. This tax was a serious burden placed on what 788 was practically the raw material of many growing industries in this country. It was highly objectionable, having regard the way in which it would press upon the working classes of the country; it was still more objectionable from the manner in which it would interfere with many growing industries; but its most objectionable feature was the fact that it was to be a permanent tax. The most serious objection could be taken to its being made permanent on the specific ground that this or any similar source of taxation should only be drawn upon in case of the gravest emergency. He ventured to say that the objections to this tax were so serious that to deal with it in such a manner as to imply that the tax would be for ever imposed upon the community, was a very dangerous proposal to lay before the House, when regard was had to the fact that this tax came largely out of the pockets of the poor. To permanently ear-mark an obviously unjust proportion of the smallest incomes in the country in such a manner as this, was, in his opinion, a very dangerous course to adopt. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of widening the basis of taxation. He had agreed with many of his contentions on financial matters, but in regard to these words he had the greatest suspicion, doubt and dread. There was a section on the opposite side of the House who looked upon the sugar and coal taxes with satisfaction just because they had this element of permanence, and as driving in the wedge of protection into the fiscal system in this country. The form in which the proposals were laid before Parliament amounted to a sort of pledge to that party that the enormous expenditure in the future would be largely charged on indirect taxation. A direct tax was a thing which everyone could understand and measure, but indirect taxation largely escaped criticism. He ventured to say that the form in which these new taxes were proposed was a threat to the financial principles of this country.
In page 2, line 2, after the word 'paid,' to insert the words 'until the first day of August nineteen hundred and two.'"—(Mr. Channing.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."789
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
I recognise that the view of the hon. Member with regard to this tax is not my own. He objects to additional taxation here, he objects to the war in South Africa, and, if it were necessary for him to give his mind to the levying of additional taxation, he would no doubt raise it by an addition to the income tax rather than by this duty. No doubt we view this matter from entirely different standpoints. My own view as to the sugar duty is that it is a fair tax, having regard to the great expenditure of the country and to the necessity that that expenditure should be evenly divided between direct and indirect taxation. I have not scrupled to add largely to direct taxation in the last two years, and I felt myself bound, in fairness to all the taxpayers, to add also to indirect taxation. The hon. Member says that, whatever the merits of this tax, it ought to be only an annual tax. I never could have excused myself if I had proposed to Parliament a sugar duty as a tax simply for one year. It is impossible to propose any tax of that kind without very considerable trouble, inconvenience, and even disorganisation to the trade and industry of the country, and to undertake any proceeding of the kind merely for the purpose of one year's taxation would be, to my mind, entirely indefensible. I have already explained fully to the House that I have felt it is necessary to increase the articles on which our indirect taxation is at present laid not only in view of the war expenditure of the present year, but also in view of the largely-increasing ordinary expenditure of the country. I have proposed this tax as by no means a tax for one year. I have frankly told the Committee that to my mind this tax ought to continue, so far as I can see, as part of the general fiscal system of the country so long as our expenditure is on anything like the present basis. Whether the day will ever come when that expenditure will be reduced to what it was twenty years ago is a matter, of course, on which hon. Members can form their own opinion, but, having regard to the additional and increasing responsibilities of the country, and to the increasing demands for national expenditure of every kind, any such expectation as that is, to my mind, absolutely impossible to entertain. Under those circumstances 790 I have proposed this tax, and, as I have said, so far as I can see for the present, as a permanent part of our fiscal system. It may be possible for some future Chancellor of the Exchequer to repeal the tax, but it is not for me to forecast the future in that way. But there is no necessity, so far as I can see, for placing it on the same basis as the tea duty, so that by inclusion in the Finance Bill of every year it should be annually a matter for the consideration of the House of Commons. The tea duty has long occupied that place alone among indirect taxes. I hardly know why it was selected for that position, but it is right, of course, that one among our indirect taxes should occupy the place taken by the tea duty in order to maintain the control of Parliament on indirect taxation, but I do not see that it would be for the convenience of Parliament or any advantage to anyone concerned to place the sugar duty in the same position as the tea duty. If I had made any such proposal my action would have been taken as a suggestion that I had intended this merely as a tax for one year, and I should have been denounced, and rightly denounced, by the hon. Member for Devonport and other Members interested in this matter. It is impossible for me in these circumstances to agree to the proposal of the hon. Member opposite.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
asked whether this ought to be a permanent tax, placed entirely out of the purview of the House of Commons year by year? What they wanted to secure was that this tax should come every year within the purview of the House of Commons, so that they might reduce it if they thought fit, or abolish it altogether. It was obvious that, so long as this Government existed, this tax would exist. The intention of the tea duty was that the House of Commons should have full control over the taxation of the country. He thought it was a serious matter to ask the House to part with such a control over the sugar duty as it had in regard to the tea duty. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had stated that he wanted to keep the same proportions between direct and indirect taxation. He agreed with him in that, but what were they 791 doing now? They were voting direct taxation for one year, and they were voting additional indirect taxation in the shape of the sugar duty as a permanent tax. Surely it was only right, if they were to keep these proportions between direct and indirect taxation, that the House of Commons should have the opportunity of voting whether they desired a reduction of indirect taxation. This sugar tax was not merely a revival of an old tax; it was a new tax, and he thought the attitude of the Chancellor of the Exchequer with regard to it was rather hard.
§ MR. MCCRAE (Edinburgh, E.)
hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer would carefully consider this Amendment. He thought that a year hence the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he occupied his present position, would have to consider very carefully the whole question of taxation. What was the reason for the imposition of this sugar duty? It was not a war tax; it was a tax due to the ordinary expenditure of the country. Apart from those taxes imposed for the war, there would have been a deficit this year on ordinary expenditure and revenue of something like £9,250,000. There was no question that this increased taxation which had been imposed this year had not been imposed for war expenditure, but for the ordinary expenditure of the country. If that was the case, he thought there was all the more reason to consider the application of the principles of taxation. He held that the House should be given an opportunity twelve months hence to consider whether or not the tax should be continued. He held that the proposal to make the sugar duty a permanent one would not commend itself to the House.
§ MR. KEARLEY
said it was a new experience for him to find the Chancellor of the Exchequer solicitous to avoid the disorganisation of business. Two years ago, in spite of the good advice which he and others tendered to him, the right hon. Gentleman took off the tobacco duty. He arranged it so that the tobacco duty would go into the pockets of his Bristol friends and others. He found that he was wrong, and next year he put the duty back 792 again. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was not infallible, and he was a dangerous man to be entrusted with the levying of the taxation of the country. He was disorganising the sugar trade by the irregular way the duty was to be levied. It was quite fair on that ground alone that this tax should come up year by year, as other taxes did, for review. This was the first time in the history of the country that any Chancellor of the Exchequer levying a war tax announced simultaneously that it was to be permanent. He thought the Amendment of his hon. friend should be strongly supported.
§ MR. ARTHUR ELLIOT (Durham)
said the appeal that the tax should be confined to one year was one that would not be responded to. Surely it was fair to the House and the country that it should know that it would be necessary, in all probability, to maintain this tax for several years to come. That was the honourable course to pursue. He knew that there were some hon. Members who would take very strong measures for the reduction of taxation if the country or the House were to allow them, but they must deal with affairs as they found them. They saw that the expenditure must be very high indeed; and he confessed that he found some difficulty in quite understanding the position of those who were constantly arguing that the expenditure of the Government was right and were yet coming forward prepared to refuse permission to the Government to revise the taxation by which alone the policy could be carried out. They should not support the policy and cut down the means of carrying it out. Having listened to the remarks of speakers on the front Opposition bench, he could see that the expenditure was likely to last even if a change of Government took place.
§ COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
supported the Amendment because he fancied if they accepted the duty in the form in which it was now proposed they would require a special Bill to repeal it.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
said that the House of Commons had always reserved to itself sufficient power to secure its 793 privileges against any possible action by the House of Lords.
§ MR. M'KENNA (Monmouthshire, N.)
said he could not follow the argument of the hon. Member for Durham. If this were merely a war tax it must be obvious that it would be only necessary for one or two years; but it was brought forward in order to meet the increased ordinary expenditure of the Government. The normal expenditure of the country had increased under the present Government by twenty-eight millions a year, and there was no reasonable prospect of that expenditure decreasing so long as this Government remained in power. They, on that side of the House, were convinced that if the Liberals got into office there would be such economies as to permit of the sugar duty being done away with. Under those circumstances they did not look forward to the sugar duty as being necessarily permanent. There was another reason why he begged the Chancellor of the Exchequer to impose the duty for one year only. It was not wise in the House of Commons to make it possible for the Government to raise money readily. He would give the Chancellor of the Exchequer full credit for his desire to reduce expenditure, but if they made this tax permanent they would be putting an extra weapon into the hands of those Members of the Cabinet who were, to say the least, not exponents of economy. The House ought to retain its power over taxation, and if the present Government wanted the sugar duty continued next year let them come and ask for it.
§ MR. JOHN WILSON (Falkirk Burghs)
said that the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been perfectly frank and straightforward in his statement. He thought this was the proper time to refer to the coal duty.
§ MR. JOHN WILSON
said he was afraid he must vote against the clause, because otherwise it would carry approval to other parts of the Bill.
§ *MR. TAYLOR (Lancashire, Radcliffe)
said there was another reason why the 794 tax should only be made for one year. The changes which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had already made in the tax showed that the information that he had received had not been sufficiently considered, and that was a very potent reason why they should not put the tax upon a permanent form. As a believer in the control of the House of Commons over the national purse, he did not approve of making any duty permanent, but if any were to be made permanent it should be that on tea rather than that on sugar. They could not forecast the effect of the duty on the fruit and jam industries, and he was afraid that before a year was over even the Chancellor of the Exchequer would regret putting it on an article which would affect the very poorest in the land. Some hon. Members maintained that there should be a proportion preserved between direct and indirect taxation. For himself he did not hold any such proposition; he was in favour of direct taxation which would compel people to realise what the nation was really spending. In thinking over this question he wondered what the effect would be if a procession were to pass the Speaker's chair of the agricultural labourers and their families whose wages were only 12 s. to 14s. per week, and of those similar classes in our large towns whose high rents practically reduced the family income to a similar figure. He believed no Member of the House would he so hard-hearted as to vote for a tax which was to diminish an important article of food of these poor people. The fruit industry in this country had been steadily growing, and often large quantities of fruit had to be destroyed because the price of sugar was more than the jam makers could afford. If they taxed the sugar the jam makers would be compelled to give a less price for the fruit, and they knew that that was no means of encouraging an important industry.
§ MR. FIELD
said he would not have intervened in the discussion but for the fact that he had received communications from constituents in regard to the duty on imported molasses. He had forwarded these communications to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who had received them very courteously, and said he would give their contents his con- 795 sideration. The imposition of this tax ought to be subject to certain changes and modifications proved necessary by experience by working. He believed in the doctrine of direct taxation, and thought that they should substitute for the sugar duties a tax on land values, which would be felt, not by the poor, but by the rich. He protested against a system of putting into the hands of the Chancellor of the Exchequer the dangerous power of perpetuating taxation. At present the House of Commons was not a legislative machine, but merely an instrument to provide taxation for abnormal expenditure, of which the Irish people had to pay more than their fair share. The effect of granting a perpetual tax would be to encourage expenditure and discourage economy. He entirely agreed that the House of Commons should retain the control of taxation, more particularly indirect taxation, which was the most dangerous form of taxation of all.
§ *MR. HEMPHILL (Tyrone, N.)
said he had from the beginning most strongly opposed the imposition of the duty on sugar, and, a fortiori, he objected to its being made a permanent tax. He was very sorry to hear from the hon. Member for Durham that the country was threatened with an accumulation of taxation, increasing from year to year. He could not agree with the hon. Member that if the reins of Government were transferred from that to this side of the House there would not be a considerable improvement in that respect. He could not believe that the great Liberal party of this country would give up the cry of "peace, retrenchment, and reform." If he was not much mistaken, the time was not far distant when the constituencies would see the evils into which they had been led, and the expense which had been and was being accumulated on the country. The object of making this tax permanent was, he believed, to prevent the discussion of it from year to year, because if this Amendment was defeated it could not be got rid of without repealing an Act of Parliament. This tax would press most heavily on the poorest classes of the community, and upon the most helpless of those classes, 796 women and children, to whom sugar afforded nourishment and comfort. At one time there was great hope of the free breakfast table, but the present Government were destroying all hope of that being realised.
Order, order! The question is not the imposition of the tax, but whether it is to be imposed for a year or permanently.
§ *MR. HEMPHILL
said that if the tax were perfectly innocuous, of course no one would object to its being made permanent. He meant by his argument that a tax of this kind, which was so harmful and so very obnoxious, ought not to be made perpetual.
§ SIR JOHN BRUNNER (Cheshire, Northwich)
said he wished to put forward another consideration why the tax should not be made permanent. If they increased the taxes on wine, spirits, beer, and tobacco, they would reduce the consumption of these articles, and decrease the working power of the people. But in this case they were imposing a tax upon an article which was in large consumption, and which increased the earning power of the people. That was a reason to his mind of the last importance to consider. He desired with all the earnestness he could put into words to induce Members of the House to study this matter for themselves, and if they did so he believed that at the end of twelve months they would repeal the tax.
§ MR. CREAN
objected to the tax being made permanent, because it would press more heavily on the Irish taxpayers than on the English. The Chancellor of the Exchequer himself had no knowledge to what extent the ramifications of the sugar tax would go, and the fact that he had to change it so often proved that he was not sure of the ground on which he stood. That was one reason why the tax should only be imposed for twelve months, when they would be able to review the work of the year, and see whether the tax had not gone a great deal beyond what the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself intended. At any rate this was a tax which, of all taxes, ought not to be made perpetual. He 797 thought that the arguments were very strong in favour of not making the tax permanent, especially in a poor country. If it were a direct tax, the arguments of his hon. friends might not be as sound as they were, but people scarcely knew what they were paying on an indirect tax. If a direct tax were imposed people would know what they were paying, and that would be a curb on extravagant expenditure. He thought the Committee should be very slow to make an indirect tax permanent, whatever might be the case as regarded a direct tax.
§ MR. FLYNN (Cork, N.)
said it was obvious that the tax was experimental, because it was impossible to estimate what its result would be. It might be disappointing to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and in that event the clause would be repealed. How much more difficult that would be if another Government were in power. They would be very much handicapped and it would be very difficult for them to put back the tax in accordance with the wishes the people. If the tax affected the confectionery and other trades, and if there were great outcry against it another Government might desire to reduce it. But they could not do it in the ordinary way if the tax were made permanent. That would be making it very difficult for any future Chancellor of the Exchequer to reduce the tax, and he could not understand why the right hon. Gentleman would not accept the Amendment. If the tax were required again next year it could be reimposed in a small clause in the Finance Bill. He could not understand why the Chancellor of the Exchequer desired to make the tax permanent unless it were to burke discussion. It was obvious to the intelligence of the Committee that if the tax were found to be intolerable there would be a general desire to repeal it, and if it were found to be tolerable there would be no objection to putting in a clause in the next Finance Bill reimposing it. He thought the Amendment a very reasonable one.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
If the tax is found to be intolerable or if it is found not to be satisfactory the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the day can propose an alteration, and I therefore cannot see why this tax cannot now be made 798 permanent. I see great reason for not accepting the Amendment of the hon. Member, but after all the point is a narrow one, and I hope the Committee will now take a division on it, and then proceed with the discussion.
§ MR. BROADHURST (Leicester)
said that if the tax were imposed for one year only it could then be seen whether or not the Chancellor of the Exchequer was right. His hon. friend stated that the tax was a tax in favour of protection but the Chancellor of the Exchequer said it was not. The Chancellor of the Exchequer now said that if at the end of a year certain experiences were obtained the tax might be altered, but it could not be altered without legislation if it were a permanent tax. If the Amendment were accepted it could be altered without legislation.
§ MR. BROADHURST
said he failed to understand how legislation would be necessary for a tax which was not permanent. All the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have to do would be to drop it out of the Finance Bill. He hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer would accept the Amendment. It was laid down as a sound doctrine that the taxation of the food of the people was unconstitutional, and he thought the Chancellor of the Exchequer was very ill-advised in resisting the Amendment, as there was a great principle at stake. The explanation of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was no by means clear to the Committee, however clear it might have been to himself. He would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to tear himself away from the meshes of the Protectionist party behind him. If the right hon. Gentleman listened to the speeches and cheers and interruptions of his friends behind him he would surely be led into a course of legislation which he himself had again and again denounced and repudiated, and which would work great injury to the workers of the country. He hoped that even yet the right hon. Gentleman might accept the principle of the Amendment.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
I am obliged once more to appeal to the Com- 799 mittee to take a division. The hon. Member has charged me with Protectionist principles, but I can assure him they have nothing whatever to do with the Amendment before the Committee. I am absolutely following precedent. I find that in 1864 when, to the best of my recollection, a gentleman who was certainly not a Protectionist, was Chancellor of the Exchequer, the sugar duties were revised, and an Amendment was moved that words should be
§ inserted limiting the duties to one year only. That Amendment was rejected and the duties were made permanent. In 1870 the duties were again revised, but were not made annual. I am absolutely following precedent in this matter, and I would ask the Committee to take a division.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 155; Noes, 222. (Division List No. 260.)801
|Abraham, Wm. (Cork, N. E.)||Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herb. John||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Goddard, Daniel Ford||O'Dowd, John|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Grey, Sir Edward (Berwick)||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)|
|Allen, C. P. (Glouc., Stroud)||Griffith, Ellis J.||O'Kelly, J. (Roscommon, N.)|
|Ambrose, Robert||Haldane, Richard Burdon||O'Malley, William|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbt. H.||Hammond, John||O'Mara, James|
|Austin, Sir John||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Sir William||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Harmsworth, R. Leicester||Palmer, George Wm. (Reading)|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Harwood, George||Pearson, Sir Weetman D.|
|Bell, Richard||Hayden, John Patrick||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Black, Alexander William||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale-||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Blake, Edward||Helme, Norval Watson||Price, Robert John|
|Boland, John||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Chas. H.||Priestley, Arthur|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Hobhouse, C. E. H. (Bristol, E.)||Reddy, M.|
|Brigg, John||Holland, Wm. Henry||Redmond, J. E. (Waterford)|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Horniman, Frederick John||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Joicey, Sir James||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)||Rigg, Richard|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Jordan, Jeremiah||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Burns, John||Kennedy; Patrick James||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Burt, Thomas||Kinloch, Sir John George Smyth||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh)|
|Caine, William Sproston||Leamy, Edmund||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Caldwell, James||Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Cameron, Robert||Leigh, Sir Joseph||Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarshire)|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Leng, Sir John||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Levy, Maurice||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Lewis, John Herbert||Spence, Rt Hn C. R. (Northants)|
|Cawley, Frederick||Lough, Thomas||Stevenson, Francis S.|
|Cogan, Denis J.||Lundon, W.||Sullivan, Donal|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A.||Taylor, Theodore Cooke|
|Craig, Robert Hunter||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Thomas, David Alfr'd (Merthyr|
|Crean, Eugene||M'Crae, George||Thomas, F. Freeman- (Hastings|
|Cullinan, J.||M'Dermott, Patrick||Thomas, J A (Glamorg'n, Gower|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||M'Govern, T.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan||M'Kenna, Reginald||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Delany, William||Mooney, John J.||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan|
|Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.)||Morton, Edw. J. C. (Devonport)||Weir, James Galloway|
|Donelan, Capt. A.||Moulton, John Pletcher||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Doogan, P. C.||Murnaghan, George||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Murphy, John||White, Patrick (Meath, N.)|
|Dully, William J.||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Whiteley, George (York, W. R.)|
|Duncan, J. Hastings||Newnes, Sir George||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Nolan, Col. J. P. (Galway, N.)||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Evans, S. T. (Glamorgan)||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Fenwick, Charles||Norman, Henry||Wilson, F. W. Norfolk, Mid.|
|Ffrench, Peter||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Field, William||O'Brien, Kendal (Tipper'ry Mid||Woodhouse, Sir J. T. (Huddersf, d|
|Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|Flynn, James Christopher||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary. N.)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||O'Connor, J. (Wicklow, W.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Fuller, J. M. F.||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Mr. Channing and Mr.|
|Gilhooly, James||O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)||Kearley.|
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F.||Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Bailey, James (Walworth)|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Arkwright, John Stanhope||Bain, Colonel James Robert|
|Allhusen, Augustus Henry E.||Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Baird, John Geo. Alexander|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r||Greene, Sir E W (B'ry S Edm'nds||Pilkington, Lieut.-Col Richard|
|Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W (Leeds||Groves, James Grimble||Platt-Higgms, Frederick|
|Balfour, Maj. K. R. (Christchch||Hall, Edward Marshall||Plummer, Walter R.|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Hamilton, Rt Hn Ld. G. (Midd'x||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Bathurst, Hn. Allen Benjamin||Hamilton, Marq. of (L'nd'nd'ry||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H (Bristol)||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm.||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edw.|
|Beckett, Ernest William||Harris, Fredk. Leverton|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Haslam, Sir Alfred S.||Randles, John S.|
|Bigwood, James||Haslett, Sir James Horner||Rasch, Maj. Frederic Carne|
|Bill, Charles||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Reid, James (Greenock)|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Helder, Augustus||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Henderson, Alexander||Renshaw, Charles Bine|
|Brassey, Albert||Hermon-Hodge, Robt. Trotter||Renwick, George|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Hickman, Sir Alfred||Ridley, Hn. M. W (Stalybridge|
|Brookfield, Colonel Montagu||Hobhouse, Henry (Somerset, E.||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson|
|Brown, Alex. H. (Shropshire)||Hope, J. F. (Sheffield Brightside||Rolleston, Sir John F. L.|
|Brymer, William Ernest||Houldsworth, Sir William H.||Ropner, Col. Robert|
|Bull, William James||Hoult, Joseph||Rothschild, Hon. Lionel W.|
|Bullard, Sir Harry||Howard, J. (Midd., Tottenham||Round, James|
|Butcher, John George||Hozier, Hon. James Henry Cecil|
|Hudson, George Bickersteth||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Hutton, John (Yorks, N. R.)||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Saunderson, Rt. Hn. Col. Edw J.|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.)||Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse||Seely, Chas. Hilton (Lincoln)|
|Cavendish, V. C. W (Derbyshire||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick||Sharpe, William Edw. T.|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Jessel, Captain Herbert Merton||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc.||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H.||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, E.)|
|Chapman, Edward||Kenyon, Hon. Geo. T. (Denbigh||Smith, H C (Northmb, Tyneside|
|Clare, Octavius Leigh||Kenyon, James (Lancs., Bury)||Smith, James Parker (Lanarks|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W (Salop)||Smith, Hn. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Collings, Rt. Hn. Jesse||Keswick, William||Spear, John Ward|
|Colomb, Sir John Charles R.||Knowles, Lees||Stanley, Edw. Jas. (Somerset)|
|Cook, Sir Frederick Lucas||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Lambton, Hon. Frederick W.||Stewart, Sir M. J. M'Taggart|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Law, Andrew Bonar||Stock, James Henry|
|Cox, Irwin Edw. Bainbridge||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Lawson, John Grant||Stroyan, John|
|Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Lee, Arthur H (Hants., Fareh'm||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Cross, Herbert S. (Bolton)||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage|
|Crossley, Sir Savile||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Leveson-Gower, Frederick N. S||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Llewellyn, Evan Henry||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Davies, Sir Horatio D (Chatham||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray|
|Denny, Colonel||Long, Rt. Hn. W. (Bristol, S.)||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Dickson, Charles Scott||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward|
|Digby, John K. D. Wingfield-||Loyd, Archie Kirkman|
|Dimsdale, Sir Joseph Cockfield||Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Doughty, George||Lucas, Reginald J (Portsmouth||Vincent, Col. Sir C E H (Sheffield.|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred||Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)|
|Doxford, Sir William Theodore|
|Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin||Macartney, Rt. Hn. W G Ellison||Warde, Col. C. E.|
|Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir Wm. Hart||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
|M'Calmont, Col. J. (Antrim, E.)||Webb, Colonel William George|
|Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire||Welby, Lt.-Col. ACE (Taunton|
|Malcolm, Ian||Welby, Sir Charles G. E. (Notts.|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward||Massey-Mainwaring, Hn. W. F||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Finch, George H.||Melville, Beresford Valentine||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Firbank, Joseph Thomas||Molesworth, Sir Lewis||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)||Wilson, A. Stanley (Yorks, E. R|
|Fison, Frederick William||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Fitz Gerald, Sir Robert Penrose-||Morrell, George Herbert||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Fletcher, Sir Henry||Morris, Hon. Martin Henry F.||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh. N.|
|Flower, Ernest||Morrison, James Archibald||Wilson-Todd, Wm. H. (Yorks.|
|Morton, Arthur H. A (Deptford)||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath|
|Gibbs, Hn A. C. H. (Cityo'Lond.||Mount, William Arthur||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart-|
|Gordon, Hn. J. E (Elgin & Nairn||Muntz, Philip A.||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Gore, Hn G R. C. Ormsby-(Salop||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Wylie, Alexander|
|Gore, Hon. S. F. Ormsby-(Linc.||Myers, William Henry||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon||Young, Commander (Berks, E.)|
|Goschen, Hon. George Joachim||Nicholson, William Graham|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Graham, Henry Robert||Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)||Sir William Walrond and|
|Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Parkes, Ebenezer||Mr. Anstruther.|
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
said he begged to move the Amendment standing in his name to exempt Ireland from the sugar duties. He did not know how the bulk of the English Members regarded the sugar tax, but as far as Ireland was concerned there was absolutely no doubt whatever as to the injustice of the tax and as to the heavy way in which it would fall on the very poorest of the population, and he would say that he was greatly surprised that a more vigorous protest had not been made against the tax by the great majority of the Liberal party. In these matters they seemed to be going from bad to worse. It was a disgrace to raise money to be squandered upon war by imposing taxation upon the ordinary articles of food, and this was a proposal which ought to be resisted by the Liberal party. They had taxed tea, and now they were taxing sugar. With regard to the tax on sugar—
The hon. Member as mistaken in thinking that the whole question of the sugar duty is open for discussion. The only question before the Committee is whether there should be a differentiation between Great Britain and Ireland in regard to this duty.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
, who was frequently interrupted from the Ministerial side, said that if hon. Members opposite would allow him to take his own course in this matter it would be found in the long run to be the shortest. If the people of this country would tolerate the breakfast table articles of food being taxed, then they deserved to be taxed. Irish Members, however, would always protest against this tax being extended to their country. It was a tax which would fall upon the very poorest of the people, and one which would be felt at once by every woman who went at the end of the week to buy supplies for her family. The vast mass of the Irish people were strongly opposed to the causes which had necessitated the Chancellor of the Exchequer's present proposals, and they had a right to ask that they should be exempted from this tax. There was a strong feeling amongst the masses of the people in Ireland that articles should be selected for taxation which 804 would not place a burden upon the very poorest of the population. He should have preferred some form of direct taxation which would have made people enjoying large incomes pay in proportion for the expenses of the war. [Ministerial interruptions.] Hon. Gentlemen opposite by their demeanour seemed to think that the object of Irish Members was simply to obstruct the passage of the Finance Bill—[Ministerial cries of "Hear hear."]—and they gave them credit for doing nothing but obstruct the business of the House. [Renewed cries of "Hear, hear!" from the Ministerial side.] That confirmed his statement that they were simply credited by hon. Members opposite with a desire to obstruct. That was not a reasonable or a chivalrous view to take of the position of men who were voicing the opinions of their constituents just as much as hon. Members who supported the Government. It was one of the cruellest things in connection with the position of Ireland that, when Irish Members simply rose to voice the views of those they represented, they got no better reception than an intimation from hon. Gentlemen opposite that they were wantonly obstructing the business of the House and that their objections were not valid or real. If hon. Gentlemen opposite would visit Irish constituencies they would find that the objections to which Irishmen gave utterance in the House of Commons were felt throughout the length and breadth of Ireland. In protesting against this fresh taxation they were truly representing the views of their constituents. They had nothing to do with bringing about the war, and Ireland ought not to be charged with it. This tax would fall upon the poorest of the people; and whether the English Members protested or not, the Irish party would oppose it strenuously. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not accept his Amendment he would, if he had the power, organise a strike in Ireland against this tax, but he had not that power. The taxation of Ireland had increased by £2,000,000, while at the same time the population had gone down by a quarter of a million, and that was an intolerable state of affairs. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not give some attention to the voice of 805 Ireland upon this matter that voice would be raised a great deal more strongly by other Irish Members. He hoped his Amendment would receive at least some support from a considerable section of the Liberal party. If this kind of taxation could not be avoided in England he appealed to those hon. Members who held by the old doctrines of Liberalism to support the Irish Members and himself when they endeavoured to protect this country from fresh taxation imposed by the Tory party.
In page 2, line 3, to leave out the words 'or Ireland.'"—(Mr. William, Redmond.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'or Ireland' stand part of the clause."
§ SIR M. HICKS BEACH
I can assure the hon. Member that I am far from attributing to hon. Members from Ireland who are opposed to the taxation of Ireland a mere desire to obstruct. I am quite aware that they voice not only their own opinions, but those of their constituents, although I sometimes wish that they would do so with a less flow of eloquence—an eloquence to which I myself, unfortunately, am entirely unable to aspire.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
As to the terrible threat of the hon. Member that he would organise a strike in Ireland against the consumption of sugar, I believe that is beyond even his powers. The hon. Member could not succeed in persuading the Irish woman or child to deprive themselves of the luxury of sugar in their tea any more than he could persuade the Irishman to deprive himself of the luxury of sugar in his whisky. The hon. Member has suggested to hon. Members from England and Scotland who are opposed to this tax that they should support his Amendment in the lobby. I can quite understand that there are hon. Members representing constituencies in Great Britain who are opposed to the sugar duty, and who would vote against it in connection with the whole clause; but I 806 cannot quite understand anyone who opposes the sugar duty in Great Britain voting that it should not be applicable to Ireland, but that it should be applicable to Great Britain. The hon. Member in this and other proposals which he has from time to time made in this House always seemed to forget that it was practically impossible to make any distinctions between Ireland and Great Britain in the application of the Customs duty without establishing a Customs tariff as between the two countries. I venture to say that if we were to attempt, for the sake of this sugar duty, to make such a change in the fiscal relations of Ireland and Great Britain we should be doing something which would cause infinitely greater suffering to the Irish people than anything that could be caused by the sugar duty. The hon. Member complained that the sugar duty of 4s. 2d. in the cwt. would impose a great burden on the people of Ireland. In the year 1893 the price of sugar was as high without duty as it would be now with duty. Was the position of the Irish labourer, his wife, or child, with regard to the consumption of sugar, so very dreadful in 1893 as the hon. Member seemed to anticipate it would be in the present circumstances?
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
said it was only fair to bear in mind that since 1893 taxation had gone up in Ireland by over two millions a year.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
I might meet that by saying that the taxation of Great Britain has gone up considerably more, but I do not want to enter upon that question, which, as I have already said, can hardly be debated on an Amendment of this kind. It is quite natural that hon. Members representing Irish constituencies should be opposed to the imposition of this duty in Ireland, and that they should believe that they ought not to bear increased taxation for any purpose, and perhaps more particularly for a war, or preparation for war, of which they may not approve. I venture to say, however, that they ought not to exaggerate the effects of the burden of this tax upon their constituents. I am afraid it is quite impossible for me to 807 accept the suggestion of the hon. Member, and I hope he will pardon me if I do not enter at any greater length upon this subject, for I feel that I should only be wasting the time of the Committee and repeating arguments which I have already put before the House.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
said that the rate of wages was lower in Ireland than in England, and that the duty would therefore press more heavily on the population in the former country. The war had brought a good deal of increased employment in England, but Ireland merely contributed to its cost. A very large proportion of the war expenditure was spent in England, and trade in this country benefited by it, whereas Ireland scarcely got any benefit at all from this expenditure. That was one reason why the working classes in this country did not object to increased taxation. Taxes on food were always a great burden, and they were not only a form of taxation which was most objectionable, but they weighed very heavily upon the poor people of Ireland. He hoped if the Chancellor of the Exchequer could not see his way to remitting the tax on sugar he would make it up to the poor people of Ireland in some other way.
§ MR. O'MARA (Kilkenny, S.)
said that, so far as he was able to gather, the only argument the Chancellor of the Exchequer put forward against exempting Ireland from this tax was that the people did not suffer anything by its imposition, because four or five years ago the prices of tea and sugar were higher than at present. That was a very ingenious argument, but it was unsound. A logical case had been made out against the imposition of this tax in Ireland. The Irish people had had neither part nor lot in the war, and therefore should not be called upon to pay for it. Moreover, they were not in a position to bear additional taxation, as would be seen from the fact that in Ireland there were now, in proportion to the population, more aged people over sixty years of age and more young people under fifteen years of age than in any country in Europe. The fact that the tax was to be permanent made it even more objectionable. Of late years the manufacture of condensed 808 milk had been increasing in Ireland, but the tax on sugar would deal the industry a very heavy blow.
§ MR. POWER
did not agree with the Chancellor of the Exchequer that a separate system of Customs for Ireland could not be devised without great difficulty. He instanced the case of the Isle of Man, where he contended such a system was in force, and he had never heard that it caused any difficulty or upset the arrangements of the United Kingdom. As to the statement that the people would be no worse off as regarded this tax than they were in 1893, he asserted, having some knowledge of the question, that the Irish people, whether landlords, labourers, or artisans, were less able to bear taxation now than even as recently as 1893. That statement could be proved by statistics, and it was well known that while the taxation had increased the population had decreased. The Nationalist members spoke for the poorest of the people; they were proud of their position, and they would be false to their trust if they did not by every means in their power endeavour to safeguard the interests of the people whose cause had been confided to their hands.
§ *MR. COGAN (Wicklow, E.)
supported the Amendment for three reasons—first, that Ireland was on the verge of ruin and unable to bear this additional taxation; secondly, that the cause of the imposition of this tax was one which Ireland had opposed with no uncertain voice; and thirdly, that it was a tax on the food of the working man. The manner in which the tax had beer introduced was of a piece with the whole system of Tory finance, especially in relation to Ireland. Under the Local Government Act taxation was imposed upon the working man which he had never had to bear before, and now taxation was imposed indirectly which if imposed directly would be seen by him to be much heavier than in its present form it appeared to be. The Chancellor of the Exchequer used the absurd argument that because, with the addition of the duty, the price of sugar would not be greater than it was in 1893. The advance in the price of sugar in 1893 was due to the fact that the Bounties 809 Commission was about to sit, and the dealers and merchants were afraid that the bounty system on the Continent would be abolished; but before 1893 sugar was cheaper than at the present time. The argument of the Chancellor of the Exchequer on that point, therefore, fell to the ground. It was true that there had been no outcry against the tax from the sugar importers and merchants; the reason of that was that these gentlemen had forestalled the announcement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The imports of refined sugar alone from the 1st January to the 17th April this year were 5,209,220 cwts. in excess, or nearly
§ double what they were for the corresponding period of last year. This quantity at 4s. 2d. per cwt. would produce £1,085,000. Hence the patriotic silence of one interest affected. The public had not participated at all in this huge gain, because immediately the new duty was announced the price to the consumer had been advanced a halfpenny a pound. It was the bounden duty of Irish Members to resist to the utmost this unjust and intolerable tax.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 217; Noes, 88. (Division List No. 261.)811
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F.||Crossley, Sir Savile||Hobhouse, Hy. (Somerset, E.)|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Dalkeith, Earl of||Hope, J. F. (Sheffield Brightside|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Hy.|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Davies, Sir Horatio D (Chatham||Hoult, Joseph|
|Allen, Chas. P. (Glouc., Stroud||Dewar, John A (Inverness-shire||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick|
|Allhusen, Augustus Henry E.||Dickson, Charles Scott||Jessel, Capt. Herb. Merton|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Digby, John K. D, Wingfield-||Johnston, William (Belfast)|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Dimsdale, Sir Joseph Cockfield||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Doughty, George||Joicey, Sir James|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Kenyon, Hon. G. T. (Denbigh|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Douglas, Chas. M. (Lanark)||Kenyon, J, (Lancs., Bury)|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Doxford, Sir William Theodore||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W. (Salop.|
|Baird, John George Alex.||Darning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin||Keswick, William|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J (Manch'r.||Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir Wm. H.||Knowles, Lees|
|Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W (Leeds||Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.|
|Balfour, Maj. K R (Christchurch||Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||Law, Andrew Bonar|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan)||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen B.||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward||Lawson, John Grant|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol||Finch, George H.||Lee, A. H. (Hants., Fareham)|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)|
|Beckett, Ernest William||Firbank, Joseph Thomas||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Fisher, William Hayes||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie|
|Black, Alexander William||Fison, Frederick William||Leveson-Gower, Fredk. N. S.|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Fletcher, Sir Henry||Llewellyn, Evan Henry|
|Bond, Edward||Flower, Ernest||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Fuller, J. M. P.||Long, Col. C. W. (Evesham)|
|Brassey, Albert||Galloway, William Johnson||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Bristol, S|
|Brigg, John||Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick||Lonsdale, John Brownlee|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Gordon, Hn. J. E (Elgin & Nairn)||Lowther, C. (Cumb., Eskdale)|
|Brown, Alexander H. (Shropsh.||Gore, Hn G R C. Ormsby- (Salop)||Lucas Col. F. (Lowestoft)|
|Brymer, William Ernest||Gore, Hn. S. F. Ormsby- (Linc)||Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth|
|Bull, William James||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred.|
|Bullard, Sir Harry||Goschen, Hon. George Joachim||Macartney, Rt. Hn. W G Ellison|
|Butcher, John George||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Macdona, John Gumming|
|Caldwell, James||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)|
|Carson, Rt Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Greene, Sir E W (B'y S Edm'nds)||M'C'almont, Col. J. (Antrim, E.|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Gretton, John||M'Crae, George|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.)||Greville, Hon. Ronald||M'Kenna, Reginald|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh.)||Griffith, Ellis J.||M'Killop, Jas. (Stirlingshire)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Groves, James Grimble||Malcolm, Ian|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Hamilton, Rt Hn Lord G. (Midd.||Martin, Richard Biddulph|
|Chamberlain, J. A. (Worc'r.)||Hamilton, Marq. of (L'nd'nd'rry||Massey-Mainwaring, Hn. WF.|
|Chapman, Edward||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robt. W.||Maxwell, Rn. Hn Sir H. E Wigt'n|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Sir Wm.||Melville, Beresford Valentine|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Harris, Frederick Leverton||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Colomb, Sir John Charles Ready||Haslam, Sir Alfred S.||Molesworth, Sir Lewis|
|Corbett. A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Haslett, Sir James Horner||Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Moon, Edw. Robert Pacy|
|Cox, Irwin Edw. Bainbridge||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale-||Morgan, Hn. Fred (Monmths.|
|Craig, Robert Hunter||Helder, Augustus||Morrell, George Herbert|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Helme, Norval Watson||Morrison, James Archibald|
|Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Henderson, Alexander||Morton, Arthur H A. (Deptford)|
|Moulton, John Fletcher||Ritchie, Rt. Hon. Chas. T.||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Mount, William Arthur||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray|
|Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Muntz, Philip A.||Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter||Tufnell, Lt.-Col. Edward|
|Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute)||Round, James||Valentia, Viscount|
|Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-||Vincent, Col. Sir C E H (Sheffield|
|Newdigate, Francis Alexander||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander||Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)|
|Nicholson, William Graham||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Nichol, Donald Ninian||Saunderson, Rt. Hn. Col, Edw J.||Warde, Colonel C. E.|
|Norman, Henry||Seely, Chas. Hilton (Lincoln)||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay||Sharpe, William Edward T.||Welby, Lt.-Col. A C E (Taunton|
|Palmer, Geo. Wm. (Reading)||Simeon, Sir Barrington||Welby, Sir Charles G. E. (Notts.|
|Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)||Sinclair, Capt John (Forfarshire||Whiteley, George (Yorks, W. R)|
|Partington, Oswald||Sinclair, Louis (Romford||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Penn, John||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Pilkington, Lt.-Col. Richard||Smith, H C (North'mb. Tynesi'e||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Pirie, Duncan V.||Smith, Jas. Parker (Lanarks)||Wilson, A Stanley (Yorks, E. R.)|
|Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Plummer, Walter R.||Soares, Ernest J.||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Spear, John Ward||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh., N.|
|Pretyman, Ernest George||Stanley, Edw. Jas. (Somerset)||Wodehouse, Rt Hn. E. R. (Bath)|
|Price, Robert John||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)||Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart-|
|Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward||Stewart. Sir Mark J. M'Taggart||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Purvis, Robert||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.||Wylie, Alexander|
|Randles, John S.||Stock, James Henry||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Rasch, Major Frederick Carne||Strachey, Edward||Young, Commander (Berks, E.)|
|Reid, James (Greenock)||Stroyan, John||Younger, William|
|Remnant, James Farquharson||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Renshaw, Charles Bine||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Rentoul, James Alexander||Tennant, Harold John||Sir William Walrond and|
|Ridley, Hon M. W. (Stalybr'dge||Thomas, David Alfred (Merth'r||Mr. Anstruther.|
|Ridley, S. Forde (Bethnal Green||Thomas, F. Freeman-(Hastings|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.||Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Jordan, Jeremiah||O'Kelly, Jas. (Roscommon, N.)|
|Ambrose, Robert||Kearley, Hudson E.||O'Malley, William|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Kennedy, Patrick James||O'Mara, James|
|Boland, John||Layland-Barratt, Francis||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Leamy, Edmund||Pearson, Sir Weetman D.|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Campbell, John (Armagh S.)||Leigh, Sir Joseph||Priestley, Arthur|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Leng, Sir John||Reddy, M.|
|Cawley, Frederick||Levy, Maurice||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Lough, Thomas||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Cogan, Denis J.||Lundon, W.||Rigg, Richard|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A.||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Crean, Eugene||M'Dermott, Patrick||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Cullinan, J.||M'Govern, T.||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Delany, William||Mooney, John J.||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Doogan, P. C.||Morris, Hon. Martin Henry F.||Spencer, Rt. Hn. C R (Northants|
|Duffy, William J.||Morton, Edw. J. C. (Devonport)||Stevenson, Francis S.|
|Duncan, J. Hastings||Murnaghan, George||Sullivan, Donal|
|Elibank, Master of||Murphy, John||Taylor, Theodore Cooke|
|Emmott, Alfred||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Tomkinson, James|
|Ffrench, Peter||Nolan, Col. John P. (Galway, N.||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Field, William||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, S.)||White, Patrick (Meath, N.)|
|Flynn, James Christopher||O'Brien, K. (Tipperary, Mid)||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Gilhooly, James||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert J.||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)||Young, Samuel (Cavan, E.|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||O'Connor, Jas. (Wicklow, W.)|
|Hammond, John||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Hayden, John Patrick||O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)||Sir Thomas Esmonde and|
|Holland, William Henry||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)||Captain Donelan.|
|Horniman, Frederick John||O'Dowd, John|
Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress; and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer.) Put, and agreed to.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Thursday.
§ Adjourned at a quarter after Twelve of the clock.