§ Considered in Committee:—
§ (In the Committee.)
§ [Mr. J. W. LOWTHER (Cumberland, Penrith) in the chair.]
§ Clause 2:—
§ MR. FLOWER (Bradford, W.)
moved an Amendment having for its object the exclusion of "His Majesty's colonies and possessions" from the proposed tax. He said the proposal he would make later on, if the Committee accepted this Amendment, to give the colonies preferential terms by admitting their imports of sugar at a reduction of 33½ per cent., might be approached from two points of view. In the first place it might be looked upon from the point of view of giving help to the colonial sugar industry. Practically he suggested that colonial sugar should pay 2d. where foreign sugar paid 3d. The market for colonial sugar in this country, under the operation of European bounties, had gradually fallen away almost to nothing. By the adoption of his proposal the market for colonial sugar would gradually revive, and cane sugar would take the place of foreign beet sugar in this country, a result which he was sure the House, without distinction of party, would welcome. Our West Indian colonies, which had been reduced from prosperity almost to the verge of bankruptcy, would become once more self-supporting and prosperous parts of the Empire. Time and again the condition of the West Indies had been brought before the House. It was an old and a very sad story. In answer to a question put to him on 29th April last the Colonial Secretary stated that, including the sum in this year's Estimates, the financial assistance which had been given to the West Indies amounted to about £320,000 in five years in carrying 930 out recommendations. That was in addition to £82,000 given in relief of distress caused by the hurricane in 1898. He certainly thought the West Indies should receive from this country better consideration in view of the fact that in the course of the next few years the American market would show the outlook to be even more dreary than it was at present. He could not help thinking that if by some means of adjustment of our fiscal relations we could do something to avoid on one hand the continual giving of doles to the West Indies and at the same time assist them to revive what was their natural and profitable industry, the growth of sugar, we should be devoting ourselves to a cause at once practical, profitable, and patriotic. The loss of revenue from the proposal which he made would not amount to more than £60,000 if the imports were on the scale of last year, and the ultimate increase in importation would be gradual.
One objection that was raised by the Chancellor of the Exchequer was the danger of fraudulent imports of foreign sugar being brought into this country as colonial. There was no commodity whose origin was more easy to trace than sugar. Did the Chancellor of the Exchequer seriously maintain that Germany could send huge quantities of sugar to Queensland or Jamaica and then be able to re-ship it as colonial sugar? Could that be done without the colonies knowing all about it? Would the colonies connive at it, or would it even pay Germany to do so? Was it seriously contended that sugar importers would arrange to forge bills of lading so that a cargo coming from France would appear in the ship's papers as hailing from Barbados? He submitted that such a contention could not seriously be entertained. There was a third objection which could be raised, and that was that the granting of this preference to colonial sugar would be an infringement of free trade. But was it not the acme of Cobdenite pedantry to object to freer trade in sugar between the colonies and the mother country? His Amendment did not propose to put an import duty on sugar, it only provided that certain import duties should be lower in the case of sugar coming from 931 British colonies than on that coming from foreign countries. British disciples of free trade had objected to countervailing duties against bounty-fed sugar because they would not have any import duty imposed on commodities; but when there was an import duty, surely they ought not to object to any reduction of it.
There was a question connected with this matter of sugar which it was almost impossible to avoid touching upon, he meant the question of bounties. He did not want to enter at length upon that question that day, partly because he quite understood it was a matter of the utmost difficulty and delicacy, as any one would realise who had read the French papers of the previous day; and partly because anything that might be said in the House of Commons might hamper the course of His Majesty's Government during the next few months—a course which he hoped they would enter upon with a strong desire and an earnest sympathy to do all that they possibly could for colonial sugar production. He would only say on this matter that he really did not see why they should not have preferential duties and the abolition of the bounties as well. The colonies needed badly all the help they could get, while he believed the bounty-giving States, particularly Germany, the most powerful of all, were heartily sick of the increasing drain on their treasuries involved in the bounty policy, and he fancied they were willing enough to withdraw the bounties whenever they could. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose, in a speech of power, eloquence, and ability which everyone of them admired, spoke about some inevitable consequences of the increasing expenditure of the country and amongst them the right hon. Gentleman said that it would be inevitable for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to widen his net. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had widened his net in the present case, and had re-introduced the tax upon sugar. The one great object that he had in moving his Amendment was to urge the Chancellor of the Exchequer to seriously consider whether in the imposition of fresh customs duties, he would look at the advisability of minimising the operation of these duties on goods which came to us from His 932 Majesty's colonies and possessions. The case of Canada had been mentioned by his hon. friend the Member for Sheffield. Canada had carried out a proposal which had extorted enthusiasm from us all; but, after all, he did not suppose we really built up an empire entirely by enthuthusiasm. He did not imagine that we consolidated our position merely by expressions of goodwill. Something more solid and practical than that was required; and he submitted to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that, in view not only of what Canada had done, but of what Australia was capable of doing, that he should make a serious attempt to consider the question of an inter-Empire preferential tariff. The question as regarded sugar was of the first importance in this matter, because Queensland and the other Australian colonies were exceedingly anxious to develop an English market, and such a proposal as he had made would be a great encouragement to them. If our colonies, as exemplified in the case of Canada, and as illustrated by the hesitating and waiting attitude of Australia, were prepared to meet us, ought we not to be prepared to meet them? He did not ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to plunge into the fiscal war—he should be sorry indeed to urge him on that course—but, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer had to spread his net further and further in search of additional revenue, he should see whether it would not be advisable to give preferential terms to our colonies. This was a question which would grow more and more acute in this country. He knew that a deep interest was taken in this question by the working classes of the West Riding of Yorkshire, and he was convinced that they felt, when the colonies were coming to us in a spirit of such loyal co-operation in our military difficulties in South Africa, and also in a spirit of willing and loyal co-operation in Imperial affairs generally, and for commercial federation, that the time was ripe for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to respond to their proposal in a sympathetic spirit, and to encourage the gradual formation of inter-Empire trade, which, he believed, would be the surest basis for the future consolidation of the Empire.
In page 2, line 3, after the word 'Ireland,' to insert the words, 'save from His Majesty's colonies or possessions.'"—(Mr. Flower.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ *THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir M. HICKS BEACH, Bristol, W.)
My hon. friend who has brought this very important subject before the attention of the Committee commenced his remarks with an observation with which all of us will sympathise. He regretted the present position of our West Indian colonies, and recommended his Amendment to the Committee mainly on the ground that its adoption would afford substantial relief and a prospect of improvement to those colonies which, in his judgment, nothing else would afford. I hope that my hon. friend will not for a moment suppose that I fail to sympathise with such a desire. I think that I have given practical proof of that desire in the large grants, amounting to £320,000, for the purposes of relief which have been presented to Parliament during the last five years for the benefit of the West Indian colonies. My hon. friend proposes that this sugar duty, imposed solely with the object of raising revenue which is sorely needed, and which will be paid by the consumer here and not by the producer, should be levied in such a way as to extract one-third less from sugar coming from the colonies than from sugar coming from foreign countries. There I must join issue with my hon. friend. I cannot believe it would benefit this country or benefit the West Indies to adopt that policy. It is the policy of forty years ago, and it was abandoned after long trial as benefiting neither this country nor our colonial possessions. Let me address myself to the arguments which my hon. friend adduces. In the first place, he said this would deprive the Exchequer of very little revenue, and that is quite true so far as the present is concerned; but, in passing, I ask my hon. friend to consider what the effect of adopting his proposal would be. It would not only deprive the Exchequer of a third of the revenue on sugar coming from British possessions; it would also impose that third upon the consumers 934 of sugar in this country, for it is obviously clear that consumers here would pay just as much for colonial sugar paying two-thirds duty as for foreign sugar paying the full duty. Therefore, while depriving the Exchequer of a certain amount of duty it would also take that amount out of the pocket of the home consumer for the benefit of the colonial producer. That is my hon. friend's object. But he would not have proposed this Amendment if he desired that the finantial effect should continue to be a small one. His desire is to encourage the production of sugar in our colonies, and to replace foreign sugar in this country by sugar produced in our colonial possessions. Therefore, he would be glad to see the day when a third of the whole revenue from sugar would be lost to the Exchequer to pass into the pockets of colonial producers. But I do not believe that anything of the kind would happen, and I will tell my hon. friend why. He ridicules the idea of any possible fraud in connection with these preferential duties. He asked how was it possible that sugar could be sent from Germany or France to Jamaica in order to be re-exported to this country as colonial sugar. I agree with him. Sugar is too bulky and freight too dear for that operation. But Cuba is almost within sight of Jamaica, other West India Islands belonging to foreign countries are very near our own possessions, and French Guiana and Dutch Guiana are very near British Guiana. If we establish this preferential duty, in view of what I have said, we should have to safeguard that system by certificates of origin, and other precautions against fraud, which were absolutely intolerable when they existed in past years, and which would be infinitely worse for the commerce of our colonies than the duty of which my hon. friend complains. Certainly I am not disposed to embark on such a policy as that, with the idea that it would benefit our colonies, because I believe it would be injurious to our colonial trade. My hon. friend in one part of his speech showed the true meaning of his proposal. It is not merely a proposal to aid the West Indies. My hon. friend admitted it to be the commencement of a new fiscal policy for this country. If we 935 adopt it with regard to sugar we should have to follow it out with regard to tea, with regard to spirits, and with regard to every other colonial product to be found on the tariff.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
I do not see how it would be possible to make distinctions in the treatment of colonial products. If one colony producing a certain article is relieved of a third of the duty, then other colonies producing other articles would also claim to be similarly relieved. If my hon. friend's proposal were to succeed there would be a very material reduction in the yield of our customs revenue. That would have to be made up by the imposition of new customs duties, in which the same principles must be followed. Suppose we put a duty on corn, flour, timber, wool, or meat, Canada would ask us to levy it on all corn and flour not produced in Canada which we import, and similarly with Canadian timber, Australian wool, meat from New Zealand, and so on to every article which we import into this country and to which we should have to give this preference for colonial produce. And what would be the effect of such duties on the cost of living, and therefore on the cost of production here? Would it not seriously injure our manufacturers in their competition, already hard enough, with foreign countries? But that is not all. When we have done all that, foreign countries would come to us and say they were prepared to make the same tariff concessions to us as our colonies if they were treated on equal terms. What would be the answer of my hon. friend. Would he say to foreign countries, "Oh, yes, we will do for you what we have done for our colonies if you will give us the same advantages." Then this fiscal policy within the Empire would at once disappear and we would be caught in the meshes of the "most favoured nation" clause, which would put an end to the whole thing. But if on the other hand my hon. friend said to foreign countries, No, you are not our colonies, we cannot give you the 936 same treatment. What then? Our export trade to foreign countries is more than double what it is to our colonies, and are we prepared to risk the loss of that trade by declining to give foreign countries in return for the same concessions the treatment we give to our colonies? I would warn the Committee that I am aware that even while I am speaking there is a strong feeling in Germany on this subject, and that if Parliament were so ill advised as to adopt the policy of my hon. friend we should run the serious risk of losing the "most favoured nation" treatment for our commerce with Germany which we now enjoy. Having regard to what I have said, I trust the Committee will refrain from imposing on future Chancellors of the Exchequer such difficult conditions as suggested by my hon. friend. I believe that they would be injurious both to the mother country and to the colonies. I say that not from any antiquated notions of free trade to which my hon. friend has alluded, but for the reasons that I have endeavoured shortly to place before the Committee. I will not detain the Committee further, except to say that I trust that the desire to assist the West Indies will not lead them into a path which would, to my mind, lead to as great a fiscal mistake as we could make. It would be the reversal of a policy which has been successful in promoting our trade and commerce with our colonies and with foreign countries for the last forty years.
§ SIR HOWARD VINCENT (Sheffield, Central)
said he regretted the speech which had just been made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It was most unfortunate that the Secretary of State for the Colonies was unavoidably absent. The right hon. Gentleman had made many speeches upon the commerce of the Empire, and through them all there ran the thought that the real foundation of the unity of the Empire lay in the development of its commercial policy, He would quote one extract from the Secretary of State for the Colonies—Experience has taught us that this closer union could be more hopefully approached in the first instance on its commercial side.When the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Budget speech announced his 937 intention to impose an import duty on sugar, he professed anxiety to do something practical to restore the refineries in this country and to revive the sugar industry in our colonies. The right hon. Gentleman stated to-night the enormous loss which the foreign bounty system had imposed on the Empire, and he also referred to the £400,000 granted to the West Indies during the last five years. That was entirely on account of the depression caused by foreign bounties. Here was the opportunity to save the taxpayers from these repeated grants, because everyone who had the slightest knowledge of the West Indies must know that that £400,000 had been paid by the taxpayers of this country to relieve the West Indies, and although there might have been some advantage in the cheapness of sugar, they paid away with one hand what they saved with the other. No one believed that the grants which had been made to the West Indies for the past five years would not have to be renewed from time to time if the policy of the Chancellor of the Exchequer of doing nothing to develop the trade of the Empire were to be pursued. He wished to call the attention of the Committee to two extracts from the report of the Strong Commission which went out to the West Indies to investigate the causes of the serious depression existing there. That Commission consisted of three very distinguished gentlemen—Sir Henry Norman, chairmon; Sir David Barbour, a distinguished financial authority; and the late Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, who threw so much light on any subject with which he grappled. The Commissioners unanimously stated that they could not close their Report without expressing strong sympathy with the many persons engaged in or dependent upon the sugar industry; not only the labourers but the higher social class which had been impoverished by the depression. Sugar was very cheap, and although he thought the colonies were exceedingly grateful for the sympathy expressed with them, it would have been much more to the point if the Government of the mother country had done something practical to remove the causes of that depression, and revive an industry which had suffered so severely. The chairman of the Com- 938 mittee, in a separate Report, differed from his colleagues as to the policy of imposing countervailing duties on bounty supported sugar, and he urged that a duty should be levied on such sugar to an amount equal to the bounty paid upon it by any foreign Government. That was a practical remedy. Now that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was proposing a duty upon all sugar coming into the country he had an opportunity given him of which he might take advantage without violently reversing what he called the policy of this country for the past forty years, and which he would tell his right hon. friend, whether he liked it or not, was going to be reversed in the very near future. It was being reversed to-day by the action of trade unions and large bodies of working-men acting within the law who viewed with disfavour the advantages foreigners at present enjoyed in our markets. He begged his right hon. friend not to delude himself with the idea that he, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, or any other right hon. Gentleman was going to retain the system of free markets in this country without reciprocity.
His right hon. friend had an opportunity now of giving an advantage to colonial-grown sugar, but did not avail of it. Why? First of all, he said that the consumer would not get any advantage and that the price of sugar would not be lower. But that was a matter for the consumer to consider, and if any serious evil were wrought by it his right hon. friend would be able to remedy it. His hon. friend, himself, and many other hon. Gentlemen representing populous constituencies, and representing, just as much as his right hon. friend did, merchants and manufacturers, asked, with the full knowledge and authority of their constituents, that that concession should be made in favour of trade with our colonies. It was not an argument against it that the consumer would get no advantage. His right hon. friend in the course of his reply evidently thought that the proposal, if adopted, would develop colonial trade to an enormous extent, because he contemplated a great ensuing loss to the public revenue if the policy of the Amendment were adopted in the near future. But if that were the result, his right hon. friend and his suc- 939 cessors would be quite capable of finding new sources of revenue. His right hon. friend had had to obtain increased public revenue, and he found no difficulty whatever in doing it. He did so with the approval of the great majority of the country, and if he also adopted a policy which would develop trade with our colonies, and if the public revenue were affected thereby, he would, with the power of the people, be able to propose new duties to counterbalance the loss incurred. Then his right hon. friend said that it would be no advantage to the colonies. Would he stand up now and say that the preference granted by Canada was of no advantage to British trade?
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
I do not think the hon. Member will find that any material part of the improvement in the trade between Great Britain and Canada is due to that preference, for the simple reason that the preference still leaves a protective duty as against the British manufacturer in favour of the Canadian manufacturer, and the result is that, although our trade with Canada has largely increased, the trade of the United States, which has not a similar preference, with Canada has increased almost as much as ours.
§ SIR HOWARD VINCENT
said he supposed that trade with the United States had also largely increased. His right hon. friend would not admit that our trade with Canada increased because of the institution of a preference in favour of British goods. Was his right hon. friend acquainted with the causes which led to that increase? The facts and figures published by the Canadian Government and the statistics of the Board of Trade showed that since that preference was granted British trade with Canada had increased. He deeply regretted to hear his right hon. friend's statement. What effect would that have on the Government and people of Canada? They owed an enormous debt to Sir Wilfrid Laurier for the boldness with which he came to England and advocated the denunciation of treaties, and also upon his firm attitude during the General Election last year. Why, the Cobden Club absolutely presented their gold medal to Sir Wilfrid Laurier mainly 940 because of his attitude in that particular. They did not hold a dinner because, he believed, there were no funds available, but they held a meeting at which Lord Farrer and the few other gentlemen who constitute the Cobden Club were present, and they voted Sir Wilfrid Laurier their gold medal. Therefore his right hon. friend had no reason to be so much afraid as he was of the Cobden Club. Then his right hon. friend held up the bogey of Germany. It was astonishing that his right hon. friend, connected with an Imperial Government for such a long series of years, should be so frightened of foreign Governments, or of what France or Germany might say or do. He wished his right hon. friend would try to think more about his own prople, about the needs of his own countrymen, the development of their own trade and of trade within the Empire. Germany could take good care of herself. She knew very well the advantages to be derived from their system. France knew it very well. Debates in the French Chamber and articles in the French press lately showed the reason why France should not quarrel with Great Britain, and that was because she was her best customer. Great Britain bought four times more from France than France did from Great Britain. How did Germany, France, Russia, and other countries show their gratitude for the policy of free imports into this country which was maintained by his right hon. friend? By increasing their duties almost every year, and by putting greater difficulties in the way of our trade. That was the way they showed their gratitude for the policy adopted by his right hon. friend who, in the British House of Commons, said that he could not adopt the policy advocated by his hon. friend the Member for Bradford, and voiced by working men throughout the country, for fear of what Germany might say or do. Lord Salisbury had pointed out the impossibility of negotiating with foreign Governments at the present time. They could not negotiate as long as their policy was that of statesmen, he would not use any adjective, like the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who in the British House of Commons trembled at the mention of the word "Germany." They had no power to 941 negotiate with foreign Governments. If they wanted to negotiate with the United States the British Minister would visit the Secretary of State at Washington, with a view perhaps to having a harassing impost removed from a British import, but the Secretary of State would say that if the United States gave England the concession she asked for. England had nothing to give in return. They had lost their bargaining power. It was not a question of goodwill, but of bargaining power, and a statement like that delivered by his right hon. friend—to which he listened with the greatest grief and pain—would do infinite harm. He feared there was no hope of turning his right hon. friend aside.
His hon. friend called the attention of the Committee to the small amount of revenue involved. The amount was small, because although various parts of the Empire were admirably adapted for the cultivation of sugar, the industry was entirely ruined by the policy adopted by foreign countries. The figures were most astounding. Last year they imported from foreign countries nearly twelve million hundredweight of unrefined sugar, while they imported from British possessions only 1,377,000 hundredweight. And the right hon. Gentleman could not give this little advantage to the colonies because of his fear of upsetting the fiscal system! As regards the West Indies the matter was most serious. A large sum, £400,000, had been given to them by the taxpayers of this country during the last five years—the right hon. Gentleman had been generous in this matter, it was true—but how much better it would be to give them a chance of being prosperous as they were before, and living by their own industry, than to compel them to live on doles given to them by the English people. The statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have a most serious effect in the West Indies, where there was already a strong movement to have done with a country which did so little for their commercial policy and ally themselves with a great continent which made commercial policy the first point of its programme. He urged the right hon. Gentleman to consider the effect which would be produced in the West Indies by the 942 observations he had just made, and to which the Committee had listened with so much regret. The right hon. Gentleman had spoken of his fear of fraud, but means could always be taken to prevent it; he was afraid of fraud owing to the proximity of the Danish, Dutch, and American Islands, but precautions could always be taken against it. The answer the Committee had received this afternoon would not only have a serious effect in the West Indies and in Canada, but also in Australia, where the question of tariffs was now being considered, Mauritius, Queensland, and other places. He greatly regretted that the right hon. Gentleman would not give the little advantage for which the hon. Member for Bradford asked, first because of his fear of Germany; secondly, because he feared it might reduce the revenue; thirdly, because he thought the consumer would not get the 2d. in the cwt.; and, fourthly, because he feared the Government would not be strong enough to prevent fraud. He could only express his intense regret that the right hon. Gentleman could not see his way to give this slight advantage to British import trade.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Monmouthshire, W.)
I really rise to express my sympathy with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who has brought such a pitiless storm about his head as that which has just come from the hon. and gallant Member for Central Sheffield. The hon. and gallant Member was so choked with emotion and indignation at the conduct of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he was almost unable to express his views, and I really trembled for the right hon. Gentleman, because I thought the hon. and gallant Member was on the point of calling him perhaps a pro-Boer! But speeches of the kind to which we have just listened really explain the true character of this motion. We know very well the opinions of the hon. and gallant Member, and we know the sincerity and have seen the fervour with which he has spoken. He talked about the feelings of the working classes on this subject. Now, I imagine the working classes know, or at all events will soon discover, that they are the persons who will have to pay the whole of this in- 943 creased expenditure. It is said that this enormous increased expenditure, both normal and for the war, is for the advantage of the Empire, but it is not the Empire that pays for it; it is that contemptible, miserable corner of the Empire called the United Kingdom that pays; it is the working man of the United Kingdom that pays the whole of this additional taxation. And what is the proposal with regard to those parts of the Empire that do not contribute? We all recognise the zeal and valour with which the Colonies across the seas have sent their forces to aid in this war; but the taxation for the war will not fall upon them, but upon the petty population of 40,000,000 who occupy little England. And the proposal is that the working men, on whom this taxation falls, are to have an additional burden put upon them in order to give relief to those who do not pay the taxes. ["No."] Members say "No," but it is the fact. Who is to get the advantage of this proposal? The sons of the Empire across the seas, who do not pay the interest on £150,000,000 of debt, the additional income-tax, the additional tea duty, and the additional sugar duty. We are to pay it all, and we are to make a gift to them, not only of this particular money, but the whole policy which it represents now. The working men of this country are not such fools as not to understand that perfectly well. The hon. and gallant Member spoke about receiving reciprocity. Unhappily, I regret to say, the West Indies are not in a position to grant any reciprocity at all, and therefore this would be a gift, so far as they are concerned, without reciprocity, and when the hon. and gallant Gentleman speaks of Australia, the Bill, at all events in regard to this clause, grants no reciprocity upon their part. The views of the hon. and gallant Gentleman as to reciprocity in this matter are entire delusion. On the part of the taxpayers of this country I protest against the claim which is made in the Amendment, and the much larger policy which it portends.
Now, I will say no more upon that. The burden on the British taxpayer is heavy enough now, but it is more than likely to be a great deal heavier in the future, and therefore we cannot afford to give away revenue. If revenue is 944 given away it must be found in some other quarter. So we may put that matter aside. The right hon. Gentleman referred to what he called the great dangers to this country. We have difficulties enough with our foreign trade already. We know that the foreign trade of this country as compared with that to British possessions is about as three to one, and we are to put to risk the whole of that trade by proposals of this kind. We must not suppose that there will not be retaliation the moment we alter the status in quo. It is all very well for the hon. and gallant Member for Central Sheffield to talk of not being afraid of Germany. The hon. gentleman is strong enough and brave enough to meet the whole German army in his own person, but when we come to business we cannot rely on his eloquence to overcome the views on trade which are entertained in the German Empire. And we may depend upon it that, not only in the German Empire, but in France and in other countries as well, this trade of ours, which is more or less in a critical position, and at this moment, is not so flourishing as we could desire, will be greatly endangered by what they might regard as a policy entirely disturbing existing relations. On these grounds I regard a motion of this character as of the most perilous description, and therefore I shall vote against it.
§ *MR. LAWRENCE (Liverpool, Abercromby)
said he had often thought that they showed rather too much consideration as to what other nations would do or think upon the question of our taxation, and he was not prepared to follow the right hon. Gentleman as to the danger to our trade with foreign nations. Speaking with some knowledge of the West Indian colonies which were concerned with this tax, he wished first of all to thank the hon. Member who had referred to these colonies for doing so, because, with the exception of his late lamented friend Colonel Mil ward, he was the only hon. Member who had referred the subject during the time this tax upon sugar had been on the tapis. The West Indies had been suffering from a tax on sugar very patiently for many years, in the matter of the bounties, and they would con- 945 tinue to suffer in patience, believing that every lane had an ending, and confident that His Majesty's Government were waking up to the seriousness of their needs and the duty of the mother country towards them. The West Indies were not asking for any preference for their industry. It was true that when His Majesty's Government came forward and put another burden upon them by the tax it caused the greatest disappointment amongst them, and they were at first inclined to resent it as thoughtless. To those hon. Gentlemen who did not understand the difficulties of the diplomatic situation it might appear inconsiderate on the part of the Government to spring this tax upon the staple industry of the West Indies; and while he sympathised with the hon. Member for Bradford, and thanked him for the sympathetic terms in which he had spoken of the condition of these colonies, he thought they were prepared to postpone to a more convenient season the great question which had been raised. They were satisfied with the opinion of His Majesty's Government, expressed in many public documents, to the effect that they believed that the bounty system was an injustice and ought to be abolished, and they looked anxiously forward to the time when the Government would do their best to negotiate with foreign Governments for the removal of those bounties. They were convinced that the industry to which those bounties were attached was perfectly able to hold its own in the markets of the world if it was fairly treated. The Chancellor of the Exchequer alluded to the fact that this country had expended within the last five years £400,000 for the benefit of these colonies, but the amount of money we had expended in the West Indies had not been at all commensurate with the charges we had levied upon them: Those debts would never have been incurred if their industry had had legitimate treatment at the hands of the mother country. When the tax of 4d. per gallon was imposed upon rum, a very heavy impost was placed upon another important product of the West Indies, and as long as that tax remained they might consider themselves very liberally treated by contributing only 946 £300,000 or £400,000 within the last five years. When gentlemen in the position of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Northumberland, and colleagues of his like Sir David Barbour were prepared to endorse that view it showed that the West Indies were justified in asking that after justice had been done them by the removal of the bounties at the hands of foreign nations the mother country should consider whether something could not be done in the direction of removing the impost upon rum. He would not detain the House any further, but he looked forward with confidence to the Government doing something in the direction he had indicated. Hope deferred had made the heart of the West Indies rather sick, and it was now time that justice should be done to them.
§ MR. BLAKE (Longford, S.)
said he was glad that the hon. Gentlemen who had proposed and supported this motion has put their views before the Committee very clearly. It was well that this should be so, as much mischief had been done, in his opinion, by coquetting with this question. Much mischief had been done at the meetings of the Conservative organisations by opinions expressed upon this subject which had received the approval of the chiefs of the party, and which had given hope and encouragement in that quarter which could never be realised in their time. His own view was not quite that of the Chancellor of the Exchequer with reference to the advantage which a colony might receive from the adoption of the principle of preferential tariffs. He believed some considerable advantage might be derived by a colony under these conditions. But that was not the question. The question was the price at which that advantage to the colony would be obtained. The great advantage of this country, whose trade was, they were told, in a somewhat critical condition, was the soundness of its position in reference to the question of duties. That was the great advantage of the position in which this country stood as a trading, manufacturing and carrying country. Great Britain was not dependent upon devices which rendered trade less free and interfered with its liberty 947 to obtain in the cheapest market whatever it wanted. They had much to fear in the future if they did not put their shoulder to the wheel. The advance made by foreign countries in technical education and the sacrifices they had made to improve their trade had produced a state of things which was not likely to render this country altogether happy. In the situation in which they were placed, to suggest that this country, instead of keeping fast by that which was good, holding to the solid element, and adding to its strength by diminishing its expenditure and duties all round, thus increasing its power as a manufacturing, trading, and carrying nation, should enter into this quixotic enterprise, which would produce disadvantages, far outweighing any possible advantages, seemed to his mind perfectly absurd. He trusted it would come to be understood that that was the definite policy of the leaders of opinion on both sides of the House. It was all very well for the hon. Member for Sheffield to say what was coming in the future. In the position in which this country stood—a state of things in which the concrete and the abstract ran together—no large departure could be made from the present system without increasing the price of raw materials. To suggest to the people of this country that a policy of this kind would have to be adopted was a sure omen for overwhelming defeat and disaster to those who brought forward such views as serious propositions for the welfare of the people.
§ MR. HENNIKER HEATON (Canterbury)
said that if the Chancellor of the Exchequer could see his way to agree to the Amendment the greatest enthusiasm would be felt. He was somewhat astonished at the views expressed by his hon. friend who had last spoken, because Canada had expressed the strongest opinion that any expression of views by the House of Commons such as had now been moved would create a kindly feeling in Canada towards England; and the rejection of such a motion, after the sacrifices which Canada had made in order to show her affection for the mother country, would cause the greatest disappointment to that part of the Empire. 948 Before this debate ended he trusted that his right hon. friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer would make matters clear upon this point, otherwise it might be thought that they did not care about the colonies when questions of taxation arose. He hoped that his hon. friend would go to a division.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
I feel strongly the kindliness and goodwill shown by the action of Canada. But I think that the action itself is of far more importance on that account than on account of the actual effect it will have upon our industry.
§ *MR. CHARLES WILSON (Hull, W.)
said that, having sat in this House for many years, he knew the opinions of the hon. and gallant Member for Central Sheffield. When the hon. and gallant Member said that "we" had heard with regret the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer he hoped the "we" represented a very limited number in the House. Personally he also represented a populous place, and he agreed with every word the Chancellor of the Exchequer had expressed upon this matter. He looked upon this as an all-important matter. It was not a question of the West Indies only, but of the entire commercial position of this country; and if we deviated in any way from the free trade principles which had made this country great, we would make the greatest mistake; that could possibly be made. He did not wish to say a single word offensive to the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Central Sheffield. He hoped the hon. and gallant Member had received a medal last week for his services from the King. He should also be decorated with a medal by the German Emperor for his action in promoting the Merchandise Marks-Act and the cry of "Made in Germany," which had made the commerce of Germany. When a Committee of this House sat on the Merchandise Marks Act two or three hon. Members opposite supported the action Mr. Wilson took, but unfortunately they were outvoted by other members of the Tory party. If they had considered the result of that action, perhaps they would act more wisely in future. We heard every day of the increase of German shipping, and as one connected with shipping he knew that 949 for the growth of that shipping the hon. and gallant Member for Central Sheffield was to a great extent responsible.
§ SIR HOWARD VINCENT
said he was in no sense responsible for the Merchandise Marks Act. On the contrary, he brought in a Bill in several successive sessions to improve that Act by doing away with "Made in Germany" and substituting "Foreign made."
§ *MR. CHARLES WILSON
said he would leave that point on one side. He could not think that the views of the hon. and gallant Gentleman could be believed in by the great mass of Members in this House who had had to rely for their condition in life upon their own commercial enterprise. He sincerely hoped that the views of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, so wise and so ably expressed, would not be in any way influenced by the speech of the hon. and gallant Member.
§ *MR. DAVID MACIVER (Liverpool, Kirkdale)
said no one could be more widely opposed to the views just expressed than he was. He, too, represented a very large commercial constituency, composed in a great measure of working men, and he knew their views on this particular question, and kindred questions, and certainly, whatever their politics might be, their views were those of the hon. and gallant Member for Central Sheffield. He was not one of those who saw any objection to the taxation of foreign imports, whether of sugar or anything else, but he objected to the taxation of the industries of our own people at home or in the colonies. He was altogether in sympathy with the Amendment of his hon. friend the Member for Bradford, and yet he could not help feeling that, if the Committee were asked to divide upon it, they would have a somewhat misleading division, and he should regret that any division should give the appearance—for it would not be the fact—that a majority of the Committee did not sympathise with their West Indian and their sugar-refining friends. He did hope that, if the colonies must, as foreign nations, have their sugar tax, it might be merely a temporary tax, and that the day was not far distant when we should see our way to give some kind of preferential 950 treatment to our own people. Now that the Government were in close negotiation with regard to the question of bounties, with a result, as they hoped, that might remove this iniquitous system which had done so much mischief, it would be a great mistake if a division should be taken which would in any sense weaken their hands. Many thousands of people in this country had lost their employment through the closing of sugar refineries on account of the bounty system in foreign countries. Some of them came from his constituency, and it was only right that he should express himself in favour of the views of his hon. friend the Member for Bradford.
§ MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
I think, whether we divide or not, this debate will have done some good—it will clear the air. As has been said, there have been a great many hopes held out and a great many projects suggested which those who have looked into the matter and know the state of the case in the colonies know to be altogether groundless. Anyone who has studied the history of the colonies knows that nothing in the world will be more difficult than to introduce a system of inter colonial tariffs between the colonies and ourselves, and I think it is very fortunate that this bubble has been so effectively pricked by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. If this was a question of having one authority for the whole Empire, imposing one system of duties, for every part of the Empire, there might be a great deal to be said for a project of that kind. It would be one of the greatest things that could be done to consolidate the Empire and propagate free-trade principles. But we all know the conditions of our colonies. We know the difficulties they have in raising revenue. They have different conditions and different difficulties which make a proposal of that kind at present impossible, although we may hope that at some distant date it may pass from the present stage to a case of probability. I think we should be grateful to the hon. Member for Bradford for putting his case so broadly. What would be the results of this proposal? The first would be that this sugar tax would have to become 951 permanent, because if we are going to confer this benefit on the West Indian colonies, holding out inducements to the planters to cultivate their estates and provide machinery, it would certainly be considered a great hardship and very unfair to them if we suddenly withdrew that advantage given to them and abolished the sugar tax altogether, and we should do a bad thing in the way of tying our own hands, if we were to give any such preference.
§ MR. BRYCE
That would be one result of adopting the proposal. What would be the second result? This is only intended for sugar coming from the West Indies, Queensland, and the Mauritius. I was struck with the observation of the hon. Member for Canterbury, who said the proposal would be received with enthusiasm in the colonies. I understood the hon. Member for South Longford to say that it would be received with enthusiasm in Canada.
§ MR. BRYCE
My hon. friend the Member for South Longford is very cautious. The hon. Member for Canterbury speaks for Australia, where he said the proposal would be favourably received. Why? Because they would immediately expect preference for some of their articles. They would expect preference for wine and brandy, and possibly some other products, but above all for wool. We should at once have to reduce all our tariffs on wine and brandy, and we should have to impose a duty on wool. But we could not stop there. Suppose we gave benefits to Australia by reducing the duties on wine and brandy, we should next have to deal with Canada. At present none of the large staple products of Canada are taxed, and if we gave benefits to the West Indies, to the Mauritius, to the Cape, and to Australia, we must do the same for Canada and put a tax on timber. Would that be regarded as good policy by the working men? Do you think we should have the working men of Yorkshire and Lancashire eager for a policy which imposed taxes 952 on wood and wool? No doubt we should also have to consider the case of New Zealand, so that we should be embarked upon a policy which would revolutionise our fiscal system, which would affect in the greatest way the food of the people and the raw material of our manufactures. We should have to embark in an endless set of bargains with the colonies the constant shifting of the tariff up and down, which would be not only the despair of the Chancellor of the Exchequer but which would make it impossible to conduct our fiscal policy on a sound and permanent principle. Further, we would be imposing the greatest possible difficulty on foreign Powers, and that at a time when our trade is threatened in other ways, requiring a policy of wisdom I think that the more this proposal is examined the more its impracticability is demonstrated, but it will be of great benefit if the debate and the firm stand which has been taken by the Chancellor of the Exchequer prevents these proposals from being put forward in the future.
§ *MR. CATHCART WASON (Orkney and Shetland)
said he trusted that the suggestion of the hon. Member for Liverpool would be accepted, and that the mover and seconder would be satisfied with the discussion and withdraw the Amendment. It had been well said that we should not swop horses in crossing the stream. We had a very difficult stream to cross just now. No one shared more strongly than he did the views of the hon. and gallant Member for Sheffield, but it was impossible to get a fair expression of opinion in that House at the present moment. There were Members who told them that free trade had made this country great. Was not this country great before forty years ago? Was it not great in the days of Queen Elizabeth and Oliver Cromwell? He did not think that the country was ever in a more critical position than it was at the present moment. [Nationalist cheers.] With regard to that cheer, and in spite of it, he believed that hon. Members below the gangway were in their hearts as bitterly opposed to free 953 trade as he was himself. This was not an opportune time to bring this Amendment forward, but he hoped it would be introduced again when the country was in a more settled state. As regarded the position of the West Indies, if something was not done for them they would gravitate naturally to the United States of America, and we would lose them just as we had already lost the Hawaiian Islands. The first necessity was to live. What had the policy of free trade done for this country during the last forty years? Had it not increased their difficulties? Had not the land gone out of cultivation day by day?
§ *MR. CATHCART WASON
said he did not for a moment dispute the ruling. This was a great question, and raised, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer had frankly admitted, not merely the relief of the West Indies, but the whole question of protection. That was one of the greatest subjects which this country had to consider. The colonies had been taunted with the fact that, although their energies were admired, they were not going to contribute to the cost of the war. To his own knowledge colonists had paid large sums of money in connection with the war, and he could tell the right hon. Member for West Monmouthshire and those sitting near him that it was possible to form a syndicate of colonists to-morrow who would take the whole of our responsibilities in South Africa off our hands for 150 millions, and think it dirt cheap at the price.
§ *MR. HOLLAND (Yorkshire, W.R., Rotherham)
said he should like as a business man to express his gratitude, in common with that expressed by several of the previous speakers, to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the very great stand he had made in the interest of Free Trade. Yet, of course, it was only the stand one would have expected him to make in view of his public utterances on this question. He remembered a short time ago hearing the Chancellor of the Exchequer address an important meeting in the city of Liverpool on that matter, 954 and on that occasion he referred to the question of an Imperial Zollverein. He thought he was accurately quoting the sense of the remarks when he said that he declared that he would only favour the idea of an Imperial Zollverein on the basis of free trade. He fancied that would hardly suit the desire of his hon. friends on the other side of the House. He remembered, also, that this question of an Imperial Zollverein had been brought before the chambers of commerce of the Empire on several occasions. There was an Imperial Congress of the chambers of commerce held about five years ago. On that occasion the subject was thoroughly debated, but it was found by practical business men who took part in that discussion that there were insuperable difficulties in the way of carrying out any scheme which could be laid before that congress, and for that reason the idea was abandoned, or, if not abandoned altogether, the original resolution was withdrawn, and an innocuous one substituted. It was seen, for instance, that we should have difficulties with our own colonies at once. There would be claims on the part of the Indian cotton-grower as against the American cotton-grower; and what would happen if we were to discriminate against the American cotton-grower? And he did not think that would suit the Lancashire mill-owner who used American cotton. The same difficulty would arise in regard to the great staple of wool if we attempted to discriminate in favour of Australia and against the Argentine and Turkey. It would be seen at once that insuperable difficulties would be placed in the way of the successful conduct of the wool spinning and weaving industries of the country. When these points were laid before the Imperial Congress it was seen at once that the scheme could not be proceeded with. He must say that he had a great deal of sympathy with the hon. and gallant Member for Central Sheffield when he referred to the preference which Canada had given to this country. He appreciated the spirit which had animated Canada in making a preferential arrangement in our favour; but he would like to point out to the Committee that that preference conceded by Canada was not limited to this country alone, or to the 955 Empire alone, but was to be conceded to any part of the world which conceded similar treatment.
§ *MR. HOLLAND
In the first instance it was. He thought it was under the influence of that feeling, and also with the knowledge that Sir Wilfrid Laurier, whose name had been so often quoted with sentiments of admiration and respect, was a Free Trader at heart, that the Cobden Club a few years ago voted him its gold medal. That gold medal was not to be interpreted as an approval of the whole of the fiscal policy of Canada, but merely as an acknowledgment of his splendid services and the stand he had made, surrounded as he was by Protectionists, in Canada. There had recently been a general election in Canada, and he believed with the hon. Member for Central Sheffield that this question of preferential trade was more prominently discussed than any other subject before the constituencies. He would like to ask whether those who were most strongly in favour of this country abandoning its system of free trade emanated from the polls with a satisfactory majority. They knew, as a matter of fact, that they came out very much worse than before, and therefore they found Sir Wilfrid Laurier again returned as the leader of the Canadian Parliament. It was true that British traders appreciated the action of Canada in making this preference in favour of British goods. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had expressed a doubt as to whether British trade had derived any benefit from it. As a trader himself, he must confess that he had derived considerable benefits which would not have been possible under previous conditions. What was proposed to be done by such an Amendment as was now under consideration was not to make any attempt at reparation to Canada for its treatment of the mother country. The Amendment proposed to confer benefits not on Canada, but on the West Indies. Now, although the condition of the sugar industry in the West Indies had been lamentable lately, many competent judges considered that that was owing to the antiquated 956 methods pursued there of producing sugar. He could quote authorities in support of that statement to which even the hon. and gallant Member for Central Sheffield would attach importance. The commissioner of The Times. newspaper declared that by better methods the cost of production of sugar in the West Indies might be reduced by 50 per cent.; and the commissioner of another London newspaper said that no well equipped and managed sugar estate in the West Indies failed to pay as well as any other well-managed industry at home. Therefore, before asking us to depart from our free-trade position, it would be well that there should be some attempt to modernise their methods in the West Indies; and if these failed, there might be some excuse for the question being raised again in the House. He could not share in the feeling of regret which the hon. Member for Central Sheffield had expressed that the price of sugar had been so low in this country during the last few years. He knew that the lowness of the price had been artificial, and that it had been caused by the bounties given by various states on the Continent. But he thought that the House ought not to lose sight of one particular effect of the bounties. It was that the low prices created by these bounties had enabled the Chancellor of the Exchequer to fasten on this cheap commodity, and put a duty upon it. If the price of sugar had been higher the right hon. Gentleman would have hesitated before putting on this tax. He believed that another convention was about to be held in Brussels in regard to sugar bounties, and he would not be sorry if the Continental nations which were giving these bounties decided to abandon them. We did not want gifts thrown at our heads as if we could not afford to pay a fair price for what we consumed. But the disadvantage had not been with us who had been receiving this bounty-fed sugar; it had been with the foreign nations which had been penalising themselves by giving the bounties. When goods were sold below cost price it was for the seller who was losing by that transaction to stop rather than the buyer who was gaining by it. I saw by the papers this morning that French Ministers were protesting against 957 the continuance of the bounties being given to the French sugar refiners, because they found that it was an expensive policy, and that by it France was impoverishing herself, and that it was to the interest of France to do away with these bounties.
§ MR. ALEXANDER CROSS (Glasgow, Camlachie)
said this question was not one, after all, of bounties. The Committee was face to face with a direct proposal—namely, that we should give an advantage of 4s. 2d. per cwt. to sugar coming from British colonies and possessions.
§ MR. ALEXANDER CROSS
said very well; but he wanted to know on what sugar that 33½ per cent. advantage was to be allowed? How did his hon. and gallant friend the Member for Central Sheffield know that sugar that came from Barbados had been produced there? Could they ear-mark sugar?
§ MR. ALEXANDER CROSS
His hon. and gallant friend said "Yes." He had a little knowledge on the subject, and he declared that sugar could not be earmarked. They would have a most extensive system of fraudulent trading at the other end. If an advantage of thirty-three and a half per cent. was given to colonial sugars, they would have all the sugar from Cuba going out to Australia and then being reshipped here as Australian sugar; and the hon. Gentleman could not prevent it. He maintained that those who wished to help the colonies were bound to go to a division. He asked the hon. Gentleman who they were going to help. He did not think that the hon. Gentleman and his friends knew themselves, or that they realised that it was impossible to help the producers of sugar in any part of the world as against the producers of sugar in another part of the world, for the articles were identical and could not be distinguished. He had heard with great regret hon. Members from great constitu- 958 encies like Liverpool had been giving a halting expression of opinion on this subject; and therefore he spoke for one of the great constituencies which had prospered under the beneficent effects of free trade, because they had always been able to buy their materials freely in every part of the world. They were told that they must help the West Indian colonies in their staple product, but if so they must deal in the same fashion with all British colonies and possessions, and thus they would be face to face with protection, which would lead to confusion with all foreign nations in the scramble for trade. If one industry were protected, all must be protected; and the first to demand it would be the wheat-growing industry. They ought to have a clear exposition of what a tax on wheat meant. It meant dearer bread. The farmer might benefit at first by such a tax, but before many years the main advantage would be reaped by the owners of wheat land. Not all of his hon. friends who supported this proposal were landowners, but they would all fight with each other as to how they could get most protection for the particular industry in which they were engaged, and the end would be that they would raise not only the rent of the land in this country which produced wheat, but the price of bread, and of every commodity which we manufactured.
§ MR. KEARLEY (Devonport)
said the only satisfactory speech which they had heard from the other side of the House, except that of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had been that from the hon. Member for Camlachie, who had denounced in strong and well-deserved terms the proposal of the hon. Members for Bradford and Central Sheffield. It was most desirable that those who had the courage of their conviction on this question should not shirk a division. This was a most opportune occasion; the issue was definite and specific; and good care would be taken that this Amendment was not withdrawn. We should be able then to see who were the protectionists on the other side of the House, and who came there to preach principles which they had not the courage to vote for. These speeches raised false hopes, that were impossible of realisation, and for that reason, if for no other, it was 959 as well that the motion should receive its quietus that night. During last Parliament, on the suggestion of the Colonial Secretary, £500,000 had been given to the West Indies under the pretext that it would revive their industry; and the first shot had been fired that night in this new Parliament in behalf of a similar campaign. If they did not resist this motion strongly and firmly, there would be a repetition of these gifts by the Colonial Secretary to the West Indies. If the House would bear with him, he would undertake to prove conclusively that the West Indian sugar planters had no case whatever. On the contrary, they were highly prosperous. [Cries of "Oh."] He meant those who conducted their business on proper lines. The groans and complaints came from a body of men who had got deep down in bad financial circumstances owing to the fact that when their trade flourished they charged their estates with all sorts of family settlements, and neglected to supply their businesses with modern machinery and to apply the best methods in growing the cane and manufacturing the sugar. We were being misled in this country as to the real facts of the case in the West Indies. He should prove that the West Indian sugar industry was highly prosperous and likely to continue so.
§ MR. KEARLEY (continuing)
said that those who talked about the depressed West Indian colonies always pointed to the producer of beet sugar as having brought about their distress. But what had the producer of beet sugar done? He had conducted his business on scientific lines, had built large central factories, and increased the extraction of sugar from beet double in fifty years. What was the state of the West Indies? Most of the planters had obsolete machinery, and although nature favoured them with soil and climate the extraction of sugar from the sugar cane had been much less than that from beet, unless on those plantations which had adopted the most modern machinery and the best methods. These were making stupendous profits. A large West Indian planter admitted himself in a memoran- 960 dum submitted to the Colonial Secretary in 1897 that he could produce cane sugar at £8 16s. 8d. per ton. We had it beyond dispute that no German beet factory could produce sugar under £10 per ton, but he was paid a bounty of 25s., so that the cost price for German beet sugar was £8 15s. per ton, as against. £8 16s. 8d. in the West Indies. Now, what was the relative market value of the two sugars? The bulk of West Indian sugar did not come to this country, but went elsewhere, but it invariably commanded in the market from £1 to £2 per ton more than the beet sugar. How, then, could an industry of that sort be in. a bad way? The truth was that the large West Indian companies were making at least 20 per cent. on their undertakings, and he hoped that the Committee would not listen for a single moment to the demand now made on it. It was said that prices were now lower than they were three or four years ago, but when the prices were higher the grumblers complained as much as they did now, and this was merely an attempt by those who were not sufficiently enlightened to conduct their business on proper and modern lines to extract a subsidy from the British taxpayer.
§ MR. FLOWER
asked how many West Indian companies produced their sugar at a cost of £8 16s. 8d. per ton.
§ MR. KEARLEY
said he referred the hon. Gentleman to the memorandum given to the Colonial Secretary in 1897. The principal market for West Indian sugar was the United States, where there was both an import duty and a countervailing duty. Now, if we gave a deferential duty to West Indian sugar the result would be that the West Indies would lose the American, which was their best, market. If anyone doubted what America would do he would refer them to the notification that had appeared in the Press as to the course the United States Government was adopting towards Russia. Russia was supposed to give her sugar exports a certain premium, but the United States Government got to know that Russia was giving these exports indirectly something more than was declared. The result had been that there was something like a tariff war at 961 present between the United States and Russia, which was very likely to spread into a very serious affair. The American Secretary to the Treasury said:—"When we find export bounties are given we must impose a countervailing duty." The French Government had adopted in recent years a policy of giving their colonial cane-sugar producers precisely the same bounty as to their beet-sugar producers. In 1885 the production of beet sugar in France was 140,000 tons, and the importation of French colonial cane sugar was 140,000 tons; but in 1900 the production of beet sugar had increased to one million tons, while the production of cane sugar in the French colonies, though it was granted the same bounty as beet sugar, had fallen to 80,000 tons. That proved conclusively that these bounties would not put an industry on its legs where there is not a power to compete with the rest of the world. That was the secret of failures in the West Indies. They had made money formerly very easily, and hoped that the good times would last for ever, and they had not been businesslike in their methods. He was perfectly certain that in years to come they would prove themselves as capable of making a profit on cane sugar as the best companies had been, and that they would continue to make that profit.
§ MR. HOULT (Cheshire, Wirrall)
said the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down undertook to prove to the Committee that the West Indian colonies were at the present time successful. He was very much interested when he heard that statement, and he thought he was going to be enlightened, but the hon. Gentleman had utterly failed to prove to the Committee that the West Indian colonies were in any way successful. Most of them were at the present time in a state of utter ruin. In Antigua sugar production had gone out; in St. Kitts it was the same; in Barbados it was almost entirely gone, too; and Trinidad was not much better. In Demerara it was true that sugar was still produced. If was a very curious fact that the distress in the West Indies commenced at the time when bounties on sugar were given by European countries. At that time he ran a line of steamers 962 to the West Indies. These steamers conveyed from this country all sorts of things required by the islands, and they brought back sugar. He had to give up that line of steamers because the trade no longer existed. He always had been a free trader, and he was a free trader still. He strongly believed in free trade, and he also believed in fairness in trade. He believed the sugar planters in the West Indies had not been treated fairly. They had to struggle under the bounties which were given by foreign Governments, and those bounties proved too much for them. The land went out of cultivation, and the planters lost the whole of the money they had invested. That was a matter which should have been dealt with by the Government at the time. He did not think it could be dealt with now. It seemed to him utterly impossible to do anything at the present time, but he trusted that somebody with energy and capital would go to the West Indies and make use of the productive land which was there, and the climatic conditions, which should bring about successful result in some way or the other.
§ MR. SCHWANN (Manchester, N.)
said he thought perhaps the discussion had been carried on by many hon. Members who had no practical acquaintance with the sugar industry. Now he owned a sugar plantation in Trinidad, and though he had not been able to make the profits which had been described by his hon. friend, at the same time he had not the slightest intention of voting for the Amendment, because the moment they made a preference in favour of colonial sugar they would open the flood gates on every other raw material. He thought it would be perfectly absurd to depart from their old and safe free trade principles. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Central Sheffield and other hon. Gentlemen spoke for large centres of industry. He did not know whether employers in Sheffield were wanting in that ingenuity which was necessary at the present time. He knew they were fairly reactionary, and not very much in favour of education, and it was very possible, perhaps, that they they were not keeping themselves in the van. But he objected to the House of 963 Commons being asked to legislate for every declining industry. He believed in industry and commerce being allowed to take care of themselves. If they invested their money in the Argentine or some other country and found it was not successful, they had no right to come whining to the House of Commons to alter the laws or turn them in their own favour. He was exceedingly glad that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had disclaimed any tendency to protection, because he was bound to say that the tax on sugar and coal seemed as if he were following in the direction which was urged by The Times. A year ago The Times newspaper fell foul of the right hon. Gentleman because he would not broaden his basis of taxation, and recommended sugar and wheat as points to which he should direct his attention. He had no faith in The Times, either as to its policy at home or its policy abroad, and he was glad the right hon. Gentleman had turned his back on that great and potent element for evil that existed in London. He trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would not listen to the counsels of the hon. and gallant Gentleman behind him, whose chief energies during his life had been turned in a different direction from that of industry and commerce.
§ *MR. TAYLOR (Lancashire, Radcliffe)
said that two very old and dangerous fallacies had been trotted out in the course of the debate. One was that it was the business of the Government to make the community at large pay extra in order to relieve industries which were not remunerative in themselves. The other fallacy was that they allowed raw materials to be imported into this country without duty for the benefit of foreign nations. The hon. and gallant Member for Central Sheffield asked what recompense did countries like Russia and Germany give this country for receiving their exports free. But this country received their exports free not for their benefit but for its own, and they knew it well. He hoped they had heard the last of these two fallacies for some time to come. He was not, however, surprised that hon. Gentlemen like the hon. and gallant. Member for Central Sheffield and the 964 hon. Member for Bradford should expect something in the direction of protection from a Chancellor of the Exchequer who had put a duty on an article of food. Those who had egged the right hon. Gentleman on to that duty might egg him on to put a duty even on bread. He came from the woollen district of Yorkshire, and had lived for fifty years within nine miles of Bradford, and he wondered what the working-men constituents of the hon. Member opposite would think when they read in the newspapers to-morrow that the hon. Member had proposed a policy which would mean putting a duty on wool, which was the staple of the Bradford industry. That would be a necessary consequence of the establishment of preferential duties. As a manufacturer, he himself had to compete under very difficult circumstances with German manufacturers of cloth in the markets of this country, and he had been often sorely tempted to throw in his lot with those who wished to make cloth dearer for the benefit of the manufacturer, but he resisted that temptation, and would continue to resist it, because, manufacturer though he was, he was an Englishman first. He did not believe that by making the cost of production dearer they would be in a better position than heretofore to compete with other manufacturing nations. What was the cost of manufactured goods? There were two elements. In the first place material and in the second labour. If a duty were put on their raw material it would not enable them to get a farthing more for their goods in competition with other nations. If their raw material cost more, the result would be that there would be less to pay in wages, and the working man would not only have his food taxed but his wages would be lowered. That was a working man's question as well as a manufacturer's, and he hoped that hon. Members who thought that the hon. and gallant Member for Central Sheffield was right would have the courage of their convictions, and vote with him in the division lobby, so that they might be able to see what backing the Colonial Secretary really had in the policy enunciated in his recent speech.
§ MR. MITCHELL (Burnley)
discussed 965 the question whether this country had enjoyed free trade or not in the past and was deriving as much advantage from our fiscal system as in times past. He contrasted the present condition of England and America, and said that he had heard some of Mr. Bright's speeches in which he predicted the failure of America through the adoption of protection. Could any commercial man deny that America to-day enjoyed absolute free trade with eighty millions of people, and that she commanded a free selling power to the markets of England?—a distinct and decided advantage which we ought not to forget or minimise. He could only say from his own experience that many of the advantages that we were supposed in times past to possess had vanished, and we now had to compete against heavy duties. What he desired to know was, could the free traders of this country influence foreign Governments to readjust those
§ duties in the way they had a right to expect? The duties were increasing, and the only trade which showed an increase was the colonial trade and the trade under the flag. England should, as far as she could, respect that which Canada had done, which was so much to the benefit of England. In conclusion, he asked the hon. Member for Central Sheffield whether it would not be a grave mistake to go to a division. He thought it would, because the result would not represent a correct decision so far as free trade or protection was concerned, and its import might he misconstrued. Under these circumstances he thought the decision might be postponed until the direct issue was in question, and therefore he appealed to the hon. Member to withdraw his Amendment.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 16; Noes 366. (Division List No. 263.)967
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Llewellyn, Evan Henry||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Brookfield, Colonel Montagu||Malcolm, Ian||Younger, William|
|Delany, William||Montagu. Hon. J. Scott (Hants.|
|Halsey, Thomas Frederick||Mooney, John J.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Kearley and Mr. Lough.|
|Hudson, George Bickersteth||Nolan, Col. John P. (Galway, N.|
|Hutton, John (Yorks, N. B.)||Reid, James (Greenock)|
|Lee, Arthur H (Hants., Fareh'm||Vincent, Col. Sir C E H (Sheffield|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.)||Bell, Richard||Cawley, Frederick|
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F.||Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Cayzer, Sir Charles William|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Bignold, Arthur||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Bigwood, James||Chamberlain, J. A. (Worc'r)|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Black, Alexander William||Channing, Francis Allston|
|Allhusen, Augustus Henry E.||Blake, Edward||Clare, Octavius Leigh|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Boland, John||Cogan, Denis J.|
|Ambrose, Robert||Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Colomb, Sir John Charles R.|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Bowles, T. Gibson (King's Lynn||Colville, John|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Brigg, John||Condon, Thomas J.|
|Arrol, Sir William||Broadhurst, Henry||Cook, Sir Frederick Lucas|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Brown, Alexander H. (Shropsh.||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Brown, George M. (Edinburgh)||Cox, Irwin Edward B.|
|Austin, Sir John||Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Craig, Robert Hunter|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Cranborne, Viscount|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Bullard, Sir Harry||Crean, Eugene|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Burns, John||Cripps, Charles Alfred|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Burt, Thomas||Crombie, John William|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Butcher, John George||Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r||Buxton, Sydney Charles||Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton|
|Balfour, Capt. C. B. (Hornsey)||Caine, William Sproston||Crossley, Sir Savile|
|Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W (Leeds||Caldwell, James||Cullinan, J.|
|Balfour, Maj K R (Christchurch||Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Cust, Henry John C.|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Dalkeith, Earl of|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Carew, James Laurence||Dalrymple, Sir Charles|
|Barry, Sir Francis T. (Windsor)||Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Dalziel, James Henry|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Causton, Richard Knight||Davenport, William Bromley|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H (Bristol)||Cautley, Henry Strother||Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)|
|Beach, Rt. Hon. W. W. B (Hants||Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.)||Davies, M Vaughan (Cardigan)|
|Beckett, Ernest William||Cavendish, V. C. W. Derbysh.||Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.|
|Dickinson, Robert Edmond||Hoare, Edw. Brodie (Hampst'd||Newnes, Sir George|
|Dickson, Charles Scott||Hobhouse, C. E. H. (Bristol, E.)||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Digby, John K. D. Wingfield-||Hobhouse, Henry (Somerset, E.||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)|
|Dillon, John||Holland, William Henry||Norman, Henry|
|Dimsdale, Sir Joseph C.||Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry||Nussey, Thomas Willans|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Hoult, Joseph||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)|
|Doogan, P. C.||Howard, J. (Midd., Tottenham)||O'Brien, K. (Tipperary, Mid.)|
|Doughty, George||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Jacoby, James Alfred||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.|
|Doxford, Sir William Theodore||Johnston, William (Belfast)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Duffy, William J.||Jones, David Brynm'r (Swansea||O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)|
|Duncan, J. Hastings||Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.)||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)|
|Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin||Jordan, Jeremiah||O'Dowd, John|
|Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir John H.||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)|
|Elibank, Master of||Kennedy, Patrick James||O'Kelly, J. (Roscommon, N.)|
|Elliott, Hon. A. Ralph D.||Kenyon, Hon. Geo. T. (Denbigh||O'Malley, William|
|Emmott, Alfred||Kenyon, James (Lancs., Bury)||O'Mara, James|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W. (Salop.||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens|
|Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan)||Keswick, William||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay|
|Fardell, Sir T. George||King, Sir Henry Seymour||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edw.||Kinloch, Sir John George Smyth||Palmer, Sir C. M. (Durham)|
|Fenwick, Charles||Knowles, Lees||Palmer, Geo. Wm. (Reading)|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith)||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Fergusson, Rt Hn. Sir J. (Manc'r||Law, Andrew Bonar||Partington, Oswald|
|Ffrench, Peter||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)||Pease, Alfred E. (Cleveland)|
|Field, William||Lawson, John Grant||Peel, Hon. Wm. Robert W.|
|Fielden, Edward Procklehurst||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Penn, John|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Leamy, Edmund||Pierpoint, Robert|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Lecky, Rt. Hn. William Edw. H.||Pilkington, Lt.-Col. Richard|
|FitzGerald, Sir Robt. Penrose-||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Leveson-Gower, Fredk. N.S.||Plummer, Walter R.|
|Fletcher, Sir Henry||Lewis, John Herbert||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Flower, Ernest||Lock wood, Lt.-Col. A. R.||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Foster, Sir Michael (Lond. Univ||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Bristol, S.||Pym, C. Guy|
|Fuller, J. M. F.||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Randles, John S.|
|Galloway, William Johnson||Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth||Ratcliffe, R. F.|
|Garfit, William||Lundon, W.||Rea, Russell|
|Gibbs, Hn. A G. H. (Cy. of Lond.||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred||Reddy, M.|
|Gilhooly, James||Macartney, Rt. Hn. W. G. E.||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert J.||MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A.||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Reed, Sir E. James (Cardiff)|
|Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk.||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Reid, Sir R. Threshie (Dumfries|
|Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin&Nairn||Maconochie, A. W.||Renshaw, Charles Bine|
|Gore, Hn G R C. Ormsby-(Salop.||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool||Rentoul, James Alexander|
|Gore, Hn. S. F. Ormsby-(Linc.||M'Arthur, William (Cornwall||Renwick, George|
|Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon||M'Dermott, Patrick||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Goschen, Hon. George Joachim||M'Govern, T.||Ridley, Hon. M. W. (St'lybr'dge|
|Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||M'Iver, Sir L. (Edinburgh, W.||Rigg, Richard|
|Green, W. D. (Wednesbury)||M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire)||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson|
|Greene, Sir E W (B'ryS Edm'nds||M'Laren, Charles Benjamin||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Greville, Hon. Ronald||Majendie, James A. H.||Roberts, John H. (Debighs.)|
|Groves, James Grimble||Manners, Lord Cecil||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)|
|Guthrie, Walter Murray||Mansfield, Horace Rendall||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Haldane, Richard Burdon||Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Hamilton, Rt Hn Ld. G. (Midd'x||Mitchell, William||Ropner, Col. Robert|
|Hamilton, Marq. of (L'nd'nd'rry||Molesworth, Sir Lewis||Round, James|
|Hammond, John||Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)||Russell, T. W.|
|Hanbury, Rt Hon. Robert W.||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Rutherford, John|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Morgan, D. J. (Walthamstow||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-|
|Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashf'd||Morgan, Hn. Fred. (M'nm'thsh.||Schwann, Charles E.|
|Harris, Frederick Leverton||Morgan, J. L. (Carmarthen)||Seely, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Harwood, George||Morley, Rt. Hon. J. (Montrose||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Haslam, Sir Alfred S.||Morrell, George Herbert||Shaw, Charles E. (Stafford)|
|Haslett, Sir James Horner||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)||Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew|
|Hay, Hon. Claude George||Morton, E. J. C. (Devonport)||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Hayden, John Patrick||Moulton, John Fletcher||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale-||Mount, William Arthur||Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarshire)|
|Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur D.||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Helder, Augustus||Murnaghan, George||Smith, H C (N'rth'mb. Tyneside|
|Helme, Norval Watson||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute)||Smith, James Parker (Lanarks|
|Hemphill, Rt. Hn. Charles H.||Murray, Chas. J. (Coventry)||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Henderson, Alexander||Myers, William Henry||Spear, John Ward|
|Hermon-Hodge, Robert T.||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Spencer, Rt. Hn. C. R. (N'th'nts|
|Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)||Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Stirling-Maxwell, Sir J. M.||Wallace, Robert||Wills, Sir Frederick|
|Stock, James Henry||Walton, John Lawson (Leeds, S.||Wilson, Chas. Henry (Hull, W.)|
|Stone, Sir Benjamin||Warr, Augustus Frederick||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Strachey, Edward||Wason, Eugene (Clackmamian)||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Strutt, Hon. Chas. Hedley||Wason, John C. (Orkney)||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Sullivan, Donal||Webb, Col. Wm. George||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath|
|Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)||Weir, James Galloway||Woodhouse, Sir J T (Huddersfd.|
|Taylor, Theodore Cooke||Welby, Lt-Col. A C E (Taunton)||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr||White, George (Norfolk)||Wylie, Alexander|
|Thomas, J A (Gl'morgan, Gower||White, Luke (Yorks, E. R.)||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Thornton, Percy M.||White, Patrick (Meath, North||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|Tomkinson, James||Whiteley, George (Yorks, W. R.|
|Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray||Whiteley, H. (Ashton-u.-Lyne)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Trevelyan, Charles Philips||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Tritton, Charles Ernest||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Tufnell, Lt.-Col. Edward||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Valentia, Viscount||Williams, Rt Hn J Powell-(Birm|
§ MR. KEARLEY,
in moving an Amendment to reduce the duty on sugar which indicates a polarisation exceeding 98 degrees from 4s. 2d. to 2s., said the Amendment he had the honour to move was one which affected the whole question. He was moving to reduce the duty by half. It was dear that the money would have to be raised somehow, and therefore he did not move the rejection of the duty altogether, but he thought it would be more convenient for the people if this duty was reduced to one farthing on the pound. He objected to the tax altogether because it increased the price of this food by 35 per cent.; it was contemptible in its character and most reactionary. Sufficient had been heard in the previous debate as to the tendency of taxation, and the taxing of bread-stuffs was only a question of time. So long as this great expenditure—the normal expenditure—went on increasing in this way there could be very little doubt that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, sooner or later, would be forced to come down to the House and propose a tax upon breadstuffs. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer would not admit it for a moment, because he rather prided himself upon the patriotism of the working man, who, he said, was proud of the amount he contributed to taxation. The President of the Board of Agriculture had taken the same line, and said that the working men of the country would regard it as an insult if they were not allowed to contribute. One hon. Gentleman opposite had also said he rejoiced in the tax because it would restrict the use of sugar. As regards the popularity of 970 this tax, one of the last public proofs with regard to that was given at Saffron Walden.
Order, order! The hon. Member is now attacking the whole tax. He is himself proposing a 2s. tax, and, therefore, all he is entitled to do is to discuss the merits of his proposal as compared with that before the Committee.
§ MR. KEARLEY
said he would endeavour to keep himself within the ruling of the Chair, and perhaps he might be permitted to refer to what had been said by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Leader of the Opposition, speaking in the country, had said that the cost of this tax to the working man would be about 4½d. per week per family, and the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had described that statement as being grossly exaggerated. He had, however, made an inquiry into this matter, and he found that the cost to a workman's family of six persons would be 5d. per week, or 21s. 8d. per year. That amount would probably be exceeded, because, although the Chancellor of the Exchequer only expected £5,000,000 from this tax, the consumers would have to pay £7,000,000. That was the direct effect of indirect taxation. The right hon. Gentleman had expressed the opinion that in the past the incidence of taxation had fallen unequally, and consequently unfairly, on the direct and indirect taxpayer, and had taken credit to himself that in his Budget he had succeeded in equalising matters. But that was a most fallacious line of reasoning, because the only 971 test of the burden of taxation was the taxable capacity of the individual. The amount paid was no test whatever. The man with £50,000 a year who paid 2s. in the £ income tax had still £45,000 to spend, and therefore would not feel the burden as it would be felt by a man whose income was very small. The point of equalisation was not arrived at by taking the direct and indirect taxation, but by taking the circumstances of each individual tax, and that was a point which was not recognised in this Budget in any way. The right hon. Gentleman had piled tax upon tax on the working man. Last year it was the tea, tobacco, beer, and spirit duties; this year there was to be a sugar duty, and the object of his Amendment was to induce the right hon. Gentleman to admit that, although he was obliged to get new revenue, he had put too heavy a burden upon the people by the imposition of this sugar duty, and that it was not equitable to place such a burden upon them. He admitted that the working classes should be made to feel the cost of the war, but they were feeling it with a vengeance, for half the national revenue was derived from taxes they paid; in fact, the working classes were being taxed to death. A tax upon the food of the population was hurtful to them directly and indirectly; they would have to pay a good deal out on the one hand, and they would suffer on the other because they would not be able to indulge to the same extent as they had done in the article taxed. Indirect taxation was tremendously costly for the consumer, and he objected to this tax for that reason. He objected to it also because it imposed a burden on the most important article of food after meat and corn, and it imposed a tax upon a raw material out of which industries had sprung all over the country. All of those industries—
Order, order! The hon. Gentleman is now using an argument just as applicable against his own proposal as against the Bill. All he can now do is to show good reason why his proposal of 2s. is better than the proposal of 4s. 2d.
§ MR. KEARLEY
contended that if the duty was 2s. it would be reduced by half 972 the amount, and only half the harm would be done. He moved the reduction because, he submitted, the working classes were too heavily taxed; because a tax upon food was a retrograde movement, the extension of which no one could foresee; and, finally, because indirect taxation was so costly to the consumer.
In page 2, line 8, to leave out '4s. 2d.,' and insert '2s. 0d.,' instead thereof."—(Mr. Kearley.)
§ Question proposed, "That '4s. 2d.' stand part of the clause."
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
The hon. Gentleman was good enough to say that the working classes are being taxed to death. That is one of the most absurd statements that has ever been heard in this House. I do not deny for a moment that the sugar duty of 4s. 2d. per cwt. is a tax which must fall upon the working classes; I have held that all along. I never said it was a popular tax, but I do say that, having regard to the circumstances of the time, the working classes are prepared to bear it. The hon. Gentleman says that for some reason a tax of 2s. would only be half as hurtful as a tax of 4s. 2d. With regard to the manufacturers, he knows as well as I do that the manufacturers who use sugar for export trade will have the duty back, whether it be 2s. or 4s. 2d.
§ MR. KEARLEY
May I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman intends to give a drawback on exported goods?
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
The hon. Member has stated that the working classes will pay two millions more than the duty yields to the Exchequer. Why? Because of the illegitimate profit of the dealers and grocers, a body of men of whom the hon. Member knows a great deal, and on behalf of whom he has often addressed the House. The result of reducing the duty to 2s. would be to put more money into the pockets of these gentlemen and less into the Exchequer. The retail price of sugar to the consumer is always varied by a halfpenny in the pound, and for that reason I carefully considered the matter, and am convinced that if I imposed a duty of 2s. 1d. instead 973 of 4s. 2d. per cwt. the price of sugar to the small consumer would be raised by a halfpenny in the pound just the same, and the balance would go to the dealer and the grocer, a thing which I desire to avoid.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
regretted that he was not able to agree with the Amendment. He objected to the tax entirely. As regards the merits of the tax itself, he was at one with the hon. Gentleman. His chief objection to the Budget was that, while the Government were incurring a war expenditure of £150,000,000, they were only imposing on the country additional taxation to the amount of £27,000,000, so that he for one should like to see the sugar duty increased rather than reduced; therefore he could not agree with the hon. Gentleman. He could not help feeling that there was a great deal of weight in what fell from the Chancellor of the Exchequer in reply to the hon. Member. Another objection to this Amendment was that the same inconvenience to the consumer and the manufacturer would be caused by a 2s. duty as by a 4s. 2d. duty, and the revenue would receive only half the amount. If the Amendment had been a proposal to increase the tax he should have been more inclined to support it. The principle of late years had been that when a tax was either reduced or increased it should be by a substantial amount, so that the amount actually paid by the consumer should be practically the same as that which went into the Exchequer. When the alteration in duty was a slight one the difference usually went into the pocket of the middleman, as was recently the case with regard to the tobacco duty. If the increase was a large one the Exchequer would receive almost as much as the consumer paid; and if trade was to be harassed and disturbed, as it would be by this tax, it was better that it should be for a large rather than a small amount. Holding this view, he could not support any Amendment which proposed to reduce the tax.
§ MR. BROADHURST (Leicester)
said the objection of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to a reduction of this tax on the ground that it would add to the profits of the middleman was derived 974 from his experience with regard to the tobacco duty. When a portion of that duty was remitted he (the hon. Member) warned the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the consumer would not obtain the slightest advantage, either in quality or in price. The right hon. Gentleman doubted that theory, but in the following year admitted its correctness.
§ MR. BROADHURST
contended that the experience of the right hon. Gentleman had taught him that that theory was a correct one. If, however, this tax was reduced from 4s. 2d. to 2s., he believed the middleman would not get all the advantage. During the last twenty years the cheapness of sugar had largely revolutionised the condition of poor homes as regarded the luxuries they were able to obtain. Cubes and sweet-stuff which, twenty years ago, it was impossible for the poorer classes to obtain, were now common articles of consumption in the homes of moderately-paid working people. If the tax was reduced from 4s. 2d. to 2s. these cubes and sweet biscuits and so on would be obtainable at practically the same prices as had recently been paid; because the extra cost of the sugar, in the quantities bought by the manufacturers, would be so small. In that case the reduction of the tax by one-half would be a distinct advantage to the working classes. The hon. Member for Devonport, an admitted authority on the subject, had stated that, after inquiries at 200 different industrial centres, the extra cost per family of six persons involved in this sugar tax was calculated to be 5d. per week. That was really equivalent to a reduction of wages. To a mechanic earning 40s. a week it was not an extraordinary, though still a great consideration, but to the casual labourer in towns whose average earnings were perhaps 16s. per week, and the agricultural labourer in the country, with his 12s. per week, it was a most serious matter. Agricultural labourers were 975 notorious for large families, and to deduct 5d. per week from their wages would frequently just make it impossible for them to maintain their sick club or benefit society contribution. While he was not averse to reminding those who had shouted for the war that they must pay for it, he thought this new sugar duty was levying an unfair proportion of the burden upon the part of the community who could least know for what they were shouting. It was a grave and serious injustice to impose this additional indirect taxation upon the classes who were already unduly burdened. Speaking from memory, he believed that wines, the drink of the rich, brought in only about £1,500,000 a year, while beer, the drink of the poor, benefited the Exchequer by about £14,000,000 per year. From that example, it could be seen how unfairly the burden of taxation fell upon the different classes of taxpayers, and on that ground he felt he was justified in supporting this proposed reduction. He was entirely opposed to any tax on sugar. Why had not the Chancellor of the Exchequer increased the duty on spirits, or doubled the duty on wines?
The hon. Member is now discussing the Budget as a whole: the time for that has passed.
§ MR. BROADHURST
fully recognised the correctness of the Chairman's ruling, but this was a very tempting subject. If the tax per family could be reduced from 5d. to 2½d. per week, it would be a consideration of enormous importance to a large portion of the community. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer could not agree to the reduction, would he assure the Committee that, if the tax was found to fall as heavily as it was feared it would do on the poorest classes, he would consider its readjustment next year?
§ MR. M'KENNA (Monmouthshire, N.)
pointed out that in the Bill as it at present stood the amount contributed by indirect taxation was about £7,000,000, while the amount contributed by direct taxation was only about £4,000,000. He asked whether this was an intentional departure from the principle of, roughly speaking, making direct and 976 indirect taxation equal. If it could be shown that on other grounds that general principle had been maintained, he for one should not be prepared to support the present Amendment, but if no explanation was given he should certainly vote for the proposed reduction, because its effect would be to put the direct and indirect contributions under the Finance Bill on practically the same footing.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
said he would not be in order in going into the point raised by the hon. Member, but, as he stated in his Budget speech, the effect of the proposals of the Bill, together with the existing taxation of the country, would practically equalise the amounts derived from direct and indirect taxation. The coal tax was of course left out of the calculation.
§ *MR. CHANNING (Northamptonshire, E.)
cordially supported the Amendment, because he could not agree with the principle that they should be content with merely balancing the products of direct and indirect taxation. The question should rather be considered from the point of view of the sacrifices involved in the proposals in proportion to the individual incomes of the classes who had to contribute to the revenue. According to a statement made in 1885 by the present Colonial Secretary, the taxes on articles of consumption amounted then to about 8 per cent. upon the average wages of working men. Since that date the percentage had largely increased, until it now stood at about 10 or 12 per cent. By the present proposals there was added what amounted to about 3 or 3½ per cent. of taxation if they took the average wages of agricultural labourers. Considering what these increases meant to men whose incomes were from 12s. to £1 per week, he thought the hon. Member was amply justified in moving to reduce this tax by one-hall In 1874 the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Stafford Northcote, took the greatest pride and satisfaction in sweeping away the sugar tax, his argument being that its abolition would mean the removal of a great hardship from the poorer classes and the removal of a serious interference with trade, and 977 Sir Stafford's forecast had been more than fulfilled by an immense development of important industries since then. The whole of these arguments applied therefore with even greater force at the present time, and therefore he should support the Amendment.
§ SIR THOMAS ESMONDE (Wexford, N.)
said he should vote for the Amendment, because the tax would fall very heavily upon the working population of Ireland. Tea was a necessity of life in Ireland, and therefore sugar was also a necessary, because tea could not be taken without sugar. However hardly the tax might fall on the agricultural labourers and artisans in England, it would fall with much greater force on the corresponding classes in Ireland, because Ireland was a poorer country. It was therefore only right that some Irish Member should associate himself with the mover of this reduction, and he should have pleasure in supporting the Amendment.
§ MR. JORDAN (Fermanagh, S.)
expressed his intention of supporting the reduction of the tax on the principle that half an evil was better than a whole evil. He should do this in the interests of trade as well as of the people generally. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer believed that in the event of the tax being reduced to 2s. the balance of 2s. 4d. would go into the pocket of the middleman, he had very little knowledge either of the middleman or the small trader, or of their customers. He was not ashamed to say that he was a
§ middleman himself, and he could assure the right hon. Gentleman that the consumers were too keen on getting their goods at the lowest possible price to permit this difference to go to the benefit of the small trader. If the small farmers and labourers found that by buying half a stone or a stone of sugar they could get it ¼d. or ½d. per lb. cheaper, they would buy the larger quantity instead of purchasing a single pound. The assumption of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was therefore altogether erroneous. The saving effected would go into the pockets of the consumers, where it ought to go. He repudiated entirely the position taken up by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in regard to middlemen, for he was a middleman himself. From what the right hon. Gentleman had said, they would be inclined to think that middlemen were Jews, who were always ready to grasp by force everything they could; but even in Ireland they had some sense of business morality, and the consumers were keen enough to prevent them doing what the right hon. Gentleman had insinuated. He repelled the accusation made by the right hon. Gentleman, because the middlemen could not get the advantage, and they would not do so if they could. When he heard it insinuated that middlemen were prepared to gobble up everything he felt that he must protest against such an accusation.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 177; Noes, 109. (Division List No. 264.)979
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F.||Beckett, Ernest William||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Bignold, Arthur||Cranborne, Viscount|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Bigwood, James||Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)|
|Allhusen, Augustus Hy. E.||Blundell, Col. Henry||Cross, Herb. S. (Bolton)|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Crossley, Sir Savile|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Bousfield, William Robert||Dickinson, Robert Edmond|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Dickson, Charles Scott|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Brookfield, Col. Montagu||Digby, John K. D. Wingfield-|
|Arrol, Sir William||Bullard, Sir Harry||Dimsdale, Sir Joseph Cockfield|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir E. H.||Doughty, George|
|Austin, Sir John||Cautley, Henry Strother||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh.)||Doxford, Sir William Theodore|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin|
|Bain, Col. James Robert||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Chamberlain, J Austen (Worc'r||Fardell, Sir T. George|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r||Clare, Octavius Leigh||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edw.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. G. W. (Leeds||Coghill, Douglas Harry||Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J (Manc'r|
|Balfour, Maj K R (Christch'rch)||Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen B.||Cook, Sir Frederick Lucas||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne|
|Beach, Rt Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol)||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Firbank, Joseph Thomas|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Richards, Henry Charles|
|Fletcher, Sir Henry||Leveson-Gower, Fred. N. S.||Ridley, Hon. M. W. (St'lybridge|
|Foster, Sir Michael (Lond. Univ||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson|
|Garfit, William||Long, Rt Hn Walter (Bristol, S.)||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Godson, Sir Augustus Fred.||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Ropner, Col. Robert|
|Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin&Nairn||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Round, James|
|Gore, Hn. G. R C Ormsby-(Salop||Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsm'th)||Rutherford, John|
|Gore, Hon. S. F. Ormsby-(Linc.)||MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Seton-Karr, Henry|
|Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John E.||Maconochie, A. W.||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Greene, Sir E W (B'ryS Edm'nds||M'Iver, Sir Lewis (Edin., W.)||Smith, H C (North'mb Tyneside|
|Greville, Hon. Ronald||M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire)||Spear, John Ward|
|Groves, James Grimble||Maiendie, James A. H.||Stanley, Lord (Lanes.)|
|Guthrie, Walter Murray||Malcolm, Ian||Stock, James Henry|
|Hamilton, Rt Hn Lord G (Midd.)||Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Hamilton. Marq. of (L'nd'nd'rry||Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)||Stroyan, John|
|Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert W.||Morgan, Hn. F. (Monm'thsh.)||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Hardy, L. (Kent, Ashford)||Morrell, George Herbert||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Harris, Frederick Leverton||Morton, Arthur H. A (Deptford)||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Haslam, Sir Alfred S.||Mount, William Arthur||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray|
|Haslett, Sir James Horner||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Heaton, John Henniker||Murray, Rt Hn A Graham (Bute||Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward|
|Helder, Augustus||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Hermon-Hodge, Robert T.||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)|
|Hobhouse, Hy. (Somerset, E.)||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
|Hornby, Sir William Henry||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney|
|Howard, J. (Midd., Tottenham)||Parkes, Ebenezer||Williams, Rt Hn J Powell (Birm|
|Hudson, George Bickersteth||Peel, Hon. Wm. Robert W.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Hutton, John (Yorks., N. R.)||Penn, John||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse||Pierpoint, Robert||Wills, Sir Frederick|
|Johnston, William (Belfast)||Pilkington, Lt.-Col. Richard||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)|
|Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H.||Plummer, Walter R.||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Kenyon, Jas. (Lanes., Bury)||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W. (Salop.||Pretyman, Ernest George||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath|
|King, Sir Henry Seymour||Pym, C. Guy||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Knowles, Lees||Randles, John S.||Wylie, Alexander|
|Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.||Reid, James (Greenock)||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Law, Andrew Bonar||Renshaw, Charles Bine||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)||Rentoul, James Alexander|
|Lawson, John Grant||Renwick, George|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.||Fenwick, Charles||Newnes, Sir George|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Ffrench, Peter||Nolan, Col John P. (Galway, N.)|
|Ambrose, Robert||Field, William||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Flynn, James Christopher||Norman, Henry|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Gilhooly, James||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Goddard, Daniel Ford||O'Brien, Kendal (Tipper'ry Mid|
|Black, Alexander William||Hammond, John||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Blake, Edward||Hayden, John Patrick||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)|
|Boland, John||Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir A. D.||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Helme, Norval Watson||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Brigg, John||Holland, William Henry||O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Jacoby, James Alfred||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)|
|Burt, Thomas||Joicey, Sir James||O'Dowd, John|
|Caldwell, James||Jones, David B. (Swansea)||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Jordan, Jeremiah||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N|
|Cawley, Frederick||Kennedy, Patrick James||O'Malley, William|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Kinloch, Sir John George S.||O'Mara, James|
|Cogan, Denis J.||Layland-Barratt, Francis||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Colville, John||Leamy, Edmund||Partington, Oswald|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Lough, Thomas||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Crean, Eugene||Lundon, W.||Rea, Russell|
|Cullinan, J.||MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A.||Reddy, M.|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan||M'Dermott, Patrick||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Delany, William||M'Govern, T.||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Dillon, John||M'Laren, Charles Benjamin||Rigg, Richard|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Mansfield, Horace Rendall||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)|
|Doogan, P. C.||Mooney, John J.||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Duffy, William J.||Morton, Edw. J. C. (Devonport)||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Murnaghan, George||Shaw, Chas. Edw. (Stafford)|
|Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan)||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Sinclair, Capt. John (Forfarsh.)||White, Luke (York, E. R.)||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|Soames, Arthur Wellesley||White, Patrick (Meath, North)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Spencer, Rt Hn C R. (Norchants)||Whiteley, George (York, W R.)|
|Sullivan, Donal||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Kearley and Mr. Broadhurst.|
|Taylor, Theodore Cook||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Thomas, David Alfred (Merth'r||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Weir, James Galloway||Woodhouse, Sir J T (Huddersf'ld|
§ *MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
said he had four Amendments on the Paper, but they all referred to one subject. It was the only legitimate Amendment, if he might say so apart from party purposes, that ought to be moved in regard to the proposals of the Chancellor of the Exchequer except the Amendment to oppose the clause altogether. They had in the clause a very ingeniously devised system of graduation of the sugar duty, and the object he had in view was to substitute for that a simple system which he would describe to the Committee. He moved to insert after "sugar," in line nine of Clause 2, the words "of a polarisation of ninety-eight degress or less, the cwt., 2s." He had adopted the figure 2s. because it was the lowest proposed in the Chancellor's scale. The simple system he proposed would involve only two duties, one of 4s. 2d., if they liked, on refined sugar, and 3s. 6d. on raw sugar.
A division has quite recently been taken, showing that there are more than forty Members in the precincts.
§ MR. LOUGH
said any Member of the Committee who had given the matter his attention would agree that the graduation of the duty was by far the most important consideration embodied in the sugar clause. His first reason for the proposal he made was that the history of the sugar duties favoured the adoption of a simple duty of this kind rather than a graduated system. During the last ten years of the graduated duty on sugar opinion in the House of Commons tended steadily towards a simple duty such as he now proposed. In the Budget of 1864 Mr. Gladstone made his great argument in favour of a graduated system of sugar duties, reducing at the same time the 982 duties to half the amount at which they stood before. It might appear to the Committee from the admission he had made that Mr. Gladstone was in favour of a graduated system of duties. He must go a little further back than that. A Committee of the House of Commons examined the matter in 1862, and reported in favour of the system of graduation to a certain extent. The sugar duties of this country had always been graduated, and the Committee reported that they should still be graduated, and Mr. Gladstone said it would be a ridiculous thing to abolish the graduation, but, with all that, he reduced the graduation to smaller proportions than ever before. The Chancellor of the Exchequer now proposed that the lowest duty should be 2s., and the highest 4s. 2d. That meant that the highest was more than 100 per cent. over the lowest. Mr. Gladstone's proposal was that the highest should only be a little more than 50 per cent. over the lowest duty. He would ask the Committee not to pay so much attention to Mr. Gladstone's arguments as to what happened during the last ten years the sugar duty was in force. He would point out what was the effect of the graduation proposed in 1864, because he was going to argue that the same effect would follow the worse kind of graduation which the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed now. Within two years after the Budget of 1864 the importation of the highest quality of sugar fell from 85,000 tons to 1,000 tons, and, on the other hand, the importation of a low grade, then admitted for the first time, rose to 53 per cent. of the sugar imported into this country. The evils arising from the 1864 scheme of graduation became so great that it had to be altered in 1867, again in 1870, again in 1873, and, finally, in 1874 the sugar duties were abolished. The graduation was reduced at every alteration, until in the scale of 1873 there was only a difference of 1s. between the highest and the lowest sugar duty, being a much smaller difference than was 983 established by the present proposal. He would suggest that a difference of about 6d. between raw and refined sugar would be sufficient.
§ *MR. LOUGH
Quite so. He was glad the Chancellor of the Exchequer had interrupted him. The right hon. Gentleman was now proposing twenty-four duties at which sugar was to be admitted to the country. There never had been so much graduation as the present Chancellor was giving. In the Budget of 1873 the Chancellor of the Exchequer alluded to the evils which arose from graduation. He would ask the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the admission made by the Government in 1873, through the mouth of the Chancellor of the Exchequer of that time, with regard to the question of graduation. The Chancellor said:—As we reduced the tax we reduced the range The effect has been considerable and very beneficial.He also gave this other reason—Refining gives rise to innumerable practices which I will not call by any harsh names.When he said he would not use any harsh name he meant adulteration. It was desirable to get rid of this practice, and they got rid of it by reducing graduation. The next point, which was the most important of all, was alluded to in the Budget of 1873, and it was one which the right hon. Gentleman would not be able to push entirely aside. The Chancellor of the Exchequer then alluded to the fact that, owing to the graduation of the sugar duties, the revenue of the country was subject to continual losses. These arose through the drawbacks which were given on sugar exported, being at a higher rate than had been received by the Exchequer when the sugar was imported. Dressing and other practices were adopted to improve the appearance of the sugar and make it pass as quality of a higher grade, so that the Revenue was greatly injured. Similar frauds would commence the moment a graduated scale was re-introduced. In 1873 the Chancellor of the Exchequer said this would 984 cease because "The scales will be so near that it will not probably be worth the while of anyone to take much trouble." so that the safety against fraud was that the graduation was slight. But here we had a worse graduation introduced. He had shown that the experience of the House of Commons was that these graduated duties tended to give an opportunity of defrauding the Exchequer, and opinion was against the repetition of them. His second objection was that the Chancellor of the Exchequer's proposed scheme had come from a bad quarter. He did not know whether any hon. Members were aware from where the Chancellor of the Exchequer had got his scheme. But he would tell the Committee that this was the American sugar tariff imported into this country. He would like to make that good. In the United States the sugar tariff began at a little less than a halfpenny and went up to a penny. The Budget proposal was that we should begin at a farthing and go up to a halfpenny—exactly the same scheme of graduation as in America. There was scarcely a doubt that if the Committee admitted the proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer this year of a graduation from a farthing to a halfpenny, a year or two hence we would get the full tariff of the United States. The Chancellor of the Exchequer might say what better origin could a proposal of this kind have? In the United States they had got smart business men, with very go-a-head notions. But he would remind the Committee that the United States was a protectionist country, and it was openly avowed that they had got a protectionist tariff. We were a free trade country, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that he was going to stick to free trade in all his proposals in his Budget; but if he was going to stick to free trade he would find some difficulty in defending his scheme of graduation. The United States scale had done every possible harm. Under it the American Sugar Trust had been founded, and of all the monopolies in the United States that was the worst. It controlled the production, importation, and distribution of all the sugar in the country. Nine-tenths of all the sugar distributed in the United States were touched by that Trust, and it avowedly prevented anything but the commonest 985 classes of sugar being imported into the United States. The origin of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's scheme of graduation ought to satisfy the Committee that it should hesitate before adopting it. His third argument was that sugar refining was an industry which could not be expected to flourish in the United Kingdom. It might be asked what had that to do with the graduation of the duties? The only reason we had yet had given for adopting this extraordinary scale was that the Chancellor of the Exchequer wanted to give "fair play" to the sugar refiners; but why not "fair play" to the public, the consumers of sugar? It was quite contrary to our system in this country for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to give "fair play" or protection to any manufacturing industry. It was said that the scheme was to do something to restore the sugar-refining industry in this country; but he maintained that nothing could set it up again. The proportion of refined sugar imported into and consumed in this country in 1860 was only 2 per cent., but last year it was 59 or 60 per cent., so that there had been a steady tendency to get a large proportion of refined sugar from abroad. But the Chancellor of the Exchequer was putting the highest duty, 4s. 2d. per cwt., on refined sugar and only 2s. per cwt. on raw sugar. Mr. Gladstone, in 1864, laid down a principle which the Chancellor of the Exchequer ought to adhere to on the present occasion. He said—The form of our duty should be such as to least interfere with the natural course of trade.And again it was said that the House—would have been left open to the charge of offering to the producer or manufacturer an opportunity of doing something different from that which he would do if there was no duty at all.There never was a better principle laid down, but Mr. Gladstone had not lived up to it. He had no experience of a period in which there was no sugar duty at all in this country. During that period the refining was done abroad. If the tendency of a graduated scale was to develop in this country an industry of this kind, which had failed once, and which would be contrary to the best interests of the country, then they ought 986 not to adopt the scale. But graduated sugar duties were not at all necessary to give fair play to sugar refining. In the period of free trade in sugar the largest and most productive sugar refinery in the country had sprung up in Liverpool and London—that of the Messrs. Tate, and it was never so successful and prosperous as it was to-day. Therefore none of these protective duties or "fair play" were necessary to build up the sugar-refining industry. But he asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer to think of the British public. The consumption of sugar had increased immensely in this country during the last forty years. In 1801 the consumption of sugar was 15 lb. per head of the population; in 1840 it was 16 1b.—practically no difference. In 1860 it was 30 lb. per head, and in 1900 90 lb.; that was, the consumption had trebled under free trade. He believed that the graduated scale would cause an immense interference with trade in this country. When there were five grades, five millions of samples had to be taken. How many millions would be necessary when there were twenty-three or twenty-four gradations? A maximum of interference with trade and inconvenience at the customs would be caused. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said he had got a correct instrument for testing the quality of sugar. He questioned whether the polariscope was a correct instrument. The operation of a graduated scale would depend upon the uniformity of the eyesight on the part of the Custom House officers, and he doubted whether that could be attained, and there would be a great deal of uncertainty about the exact amount of duty that would have to be paid on any parcel of sugar. He thought, even if it were a little unfair, it would be better if there were a fixed scale—so much on raw and so much on refined sugar. He had wanted to see a polariscope, but could not find one. He went into a shop and asked to see one, but the shopmen looked upon him as a person not quite right in his mind. The shopman called the proprietor, who asked what it was he wanted. He replied a polariscope. The shopkeeper asked him if he knew what a polariscope was, and he answered that it was an instrument which the Chancellor of the 987 Exchequer was going to test sugar with, whereupon the old man said that if he had had any idea of the mischief caused by Chancellors of the Exchequer he would not have come into the shop and asked for a polariscope. Then the shopkeeper, who had not even a picture of a polariscope, told him that if he really wanted one he would send to Paris for it, and that it would cost £20. He maintained that it was a pity to base customs duties in this country on such a complicated instrument as that. In conclusion he thought the main objection to the proposed new system was that if the graduated scale were adopted there would be a great loss to the revenue in the matter of drawbacks. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer took a simple scale of 3s. for refined and 2s. 6d. for raw sugar he would get as much money as by this complicated graduated scale, and would, moreover, save all the worry and inconvenience to the trade.
Amendment proposed—In page 2, line 9, to leave out from the word 'polarisation' to the end of line 15, and insert the words 'of ninety-eight degrees or less, the cwt. 2s."—(Mr. Lough.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
The hon. Gentleman ended his speech by saying that if a duty of 3s. was placed on refined sugar and 2s. on raw the result would be more agreeable to the trade and more beneficial to the revenue. I need not say that I have had many communications from the trade, but I have never heard from any quarter the objections which the hon. Member said the trade entertained to my proposal. The hon. Member denounces me for putting a protectionist tariff on sugar, and is apparently imbued with the idea that I have framed this scale in order to protect the refiners of this country. I have done nothing of the kind; I have simply framed a scale which, according to the words he quoted from Mr. Gladstone, will not interfere with the ordinary course of trade and will leave the refiners of this country and the trade generally, as far as possible, in precisely the relative position they were in before the duties were introduced. The 988 hon. Member seemed to ignore the extraordinary difference of quality and value and in the amount of crystallised sugar which exists between the kinds of raw sugar which are imported into this country, and the difference, therefore, in the duty that they can bear. If the hon. Member's proposal were adopted the affect would be that no raw sugar polarising below ninety-five degrees would be imported into this country at all, for if there was a fixed duty on all raw sugars importers would confine themselves to that class of raw sugar which contained the highest amount of pure sugar. The lower classes of raw sugar, which are about 95 per cent. of the 12,500,000 cwt. of raw sugar annually imported, would not be imported at all, the importation of sugar being thus confined to refined sugar and the very highest class of raw sugar. That, of course, would absolutely kill the refining industry in this country. The hon. Member has spoken of Messrs. Tate's refinery, which, no doubt, has prospered greatly in spite of the difficulties which have been put in the way of refining in this country by the bounties to refiners in other countries in Europe; but I will venture to say that it would be absolutely impossible for even that refinery to continue to exist under the proposal of the hon. Member. The hon. Member seems to think that there is no reason why sugar should be refined in this country at all, that it would be better if it was not so refined, and that foreign countries are the proper places where that refining should be done. Why should we destroy the industry in this country? I should like to quote to the hon. Member some words used by Mr. Gladstone in 1864, because I think they put the case so fairly and clearly that they are better than any words I could use myself. Mr. Gladstone was arguing infavour of a graduated duty on sugar as against a uniform duty such as the hon. Member suggests, and he gave an example of the operation of a uniform duty by comparing the effect of such a duty on 1 cwt, of refined sugar and on 2 cwt. of low-class sugar, which yielded, after being refined, 50 per cent. of crystallisable sugar. Mr. Gladstone said—These 2cwt will, when refined, yield, without including the minor profits of refining,989 1cwt. of sugar. The question is, Who is to manufacture the article, the refiner in India or the refiner in England?"
Mr. Gladstone was alluding to East India sugar, and therefore spoke of a refiner in India. He continued—The point for our decision is, how are we to adjust our law in such a way that we shall by means of the duty give no inducement to any man to refine in England rather than in India, or in India rather than in England? The Indian refiner buys this 2cwt. of sugar, refines them, and sends the refined sugar to this country, and if the duty in this country is 10s. a cwt. he pays 10s. for the introduction of the 1cwt. of sugar. The British refiner, under a uniform duty, when he has brought his 2cwt. here so that he can refine it, has to pay 10s. duty on each cwt., so that while the English refiner, to get his 1cwt. of sugar into the market, has to pay a duty of 20s., the Indian refiner sends it in for 10s. And yet we are told that that is the way to do justice and to escape the stigma of protection.That is a conclusive answer to the argument of the hon. Member.
§ *MR. LOUGH
Two cwt. of sugar would produce more than one cwt.; it would produce nearly one and nine-tenths cwt. of refined sugar. The illustration was wrong. Mr. Gladstone was not a refiner, although he had other great qualities.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
In all these technical matters of finance Mr. Gladstone thoroughly mastered the subject, and I venture to say he knew far more about it than the hon. Member. Mr. Gladstone went on to say—Now, Sir, our sincere and impartial desire is to consider the question without prejudice, but there is no doubt of what the operation of such a uniform duty would be; it would be simply equivalent to a bounty approaching, more or less, nearly 10s. per cwt. upon refining abroad as against refining in England. We are not willing to give any premium for the employment of capital and labour in England rather than abroad, but certainly we are unwilling to be parties to imposing a penalty upon labour and capital in England as compared with foreign countries, and this is what, in our view, would be the effect of a uniform duty.By killing the refining industry in England, the hon. Member would do 990 something more. He would distinctly diminish competition in the sale of sugar in this country, and consequently increase its price to the consumer, and therefore I cannot imagine a more unjust proposal than the hon. Member has made to the Committee. I will not go further into the arguments in favour of a graduated duty on sugar as against a uniform duty. I have quoted Mr. Gladstone, and I could also quote Mr. Cobden, a Committee of this House presided over by Mr. Cardwell, and also the opinions of representatives of the nations who discussed this matter in 1864. From that day to this there has never been a proposal seriously made for a uniform duty on raw sugar. The hon. Member finds fault with the particular mode which I have adopted of calculating the graduated duty. I admit it is difficult, and at first sight I thought it was more complicated than the proposal which existed in 1874, under which there were five graduations in the tariff: 3s., 2s. 10d., 2s. 8d., 2s. 3d., and 2s. But why was it impossible in these days to do more than adopt steps of that kind? The reason was that the test was a most imperfect one. It was not a chemical test, but a colour test, and depended entirely on trained eyesight, and the result of that scale was, I admit, not satisfactory. But under the system of the polariscope it is now possible to calculate accurately the amount of crystallizable sugar in any cwt. of raw sugar. The hon. Member created a laugh by the statement of his experiences with regard to the polariscope. I expect he went to the wrong place to find one. I have tested the polariscope myself, and I have seen it worked by a gentleman who thoroughly understands it, and he showed me how it was worked, and though I cannot profess to have any knowledge of chemistry, I think it was one of the simplest and easiest tests that any person with ordinary eyesight can conceive. There was nothing like the possibility of variation between the results of different persons using the polariscope that the hon. Member spoke of. The Customs Department have obtained a good many of these instruments, and they are now in use in places where raw sugar is imported. Of course 991 I do not say that the particular scale I have adopted in this Bill is absolutely perfect, but I do say, in spite of what the hon. Member has said, that it is the most perfect scale in use in the world.
The hon. Member blamed me for having adopted it from the United States, but the United States understand these things very well. [An HON. MEMBER: They are Protectionists.] What does that matter? What has that got to do with the adoption of a scale for the detection of the amount of crystallizable sugar in a cwt. of raw sugar? The hon. Member says that it is protection for the refiners. I have already told the hon. Member that I cannot believe it is anything of the kind. I have had remonstrances from refiners in this country against the scale, who contend that they are placed by it in a worse position than they were in before. On the other hand, I have had a very few objections that it would interfere with the importation of refined sugar. The hon. Member anticipates that the large imports of refined sugar into this country will be diminished by the operation of the duty, and that raw sugar will be substituted. That is a matter of opinion. I do not believe it; but it can only be tested by results. If it be found, by the experiences of time, that the scale works unfairly, why, of course, the scale can be altered. In the meantime I must ask the Committee to some extent to repose confidence in me in the matter. At any rate I have no Protectionist leanings. I have shown that, I think, this evening. I have done my best in concert with those able officers by whom I am assisted to make this scale fair to all parties and to all classes of sugar, and to the interest of the consumer quite as much as to the interest of the producer. I can only place my own authority and the authority of the Customs Department against the authority of the hon. Member in this matter. But I must say that I believe that the hon. Member has been entirely misinformed as to the operation of this scale. In my judgment it is fair to the trade, fair to the producers of sugar, and fair to the consumers.
§ MR. KEARLEY
said that he would remind the Chancellor of the Exchequer 992 that when the polariscope test was criticised during the discussion of the resolutions he then gave a certain pledge, if he might so term it. The right hon. Gentleman stated that he wished the Committee to understand that the scale which was fixed was only to be regarded as tentative. He said that he worked on the best material he could obtain, but that he would be perfectly ready to benefit by experience. There was a general feeling that the polariscope test was not reliable, and he would ask the right hon. Gentleman if he would consent to the appointment of a Committee of sugar experts—he meant chemists and others who knew the properties of various sugars—who would make an independent examination on behalf of the Revenue? He did not think the Chancellor of the Exchequer would deny that the sources of his information originally were the sugar refiners. He thought he knew where the right hon. Gentleman worked a polariscope. It was at a sugar refinery.
§ MR. KEARLEY
said of course he would accept that. The right hon. Gentleman stated that the new method was discovered in 1874. That was a long time ago in chemistry. He said: "Since 1874 a new method has been invented."
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
"Since" 1874. [The right hon. Gentleman added an observation which was not audible in the press gallery.]
§ MR. KEARLEY
said that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was distinguishing himself by being particularly polite to him that night. He thought, however, that he would make better progress with his Budget if he adopted the advice which was once given by the Colonial Secretary, and kept a civil tongue in his head.
§ MR. KEARLEY
said he used it under provocation and would withdraw it. He had no desire to misrepresent the Chan- 993 cellor of the Exchequer, and would put his words before the Committee. They were: "Since 1874 a new method has been invented by which the amount of crystallisable sugar in raw sugar can be ascertained." Whatever the date might have been, it had been conclusively proved since that time that the methods were not accurate. The right hon Gentleman had said that this scale had been adopted by the trade, but he did not explain what he meant by the trade. As a matter of fact, he meant the shippers of raw sugar to this country. It was true that the polariscope was used as the test to find the saccharine matter upon which revenue was to be paid. In the calculation the amount of ash had a very important bearing; it was assumed that the percentage of ash prevented five times its weight in crystallisation, but he was informed by two of the best chemists in this country that one per cent. of ash prevented only three times its weight, so that any sugar which did not crystallise was treated as molasses, and the refiner got a greater amount of crystallised sugar than was supposed. The right hon. Gentleman had admitted that he was open to criticism with regard to the polariscope, and he ventured to say that the suggestion he offered was a reasonable one, namely, that a Committee of experts should be appointed to test this instrument, to ascertain whether the deductions which had been arrived at were accurate. He expressed regret that he should have imported any heat into the observation he had made, and he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would take no notice of it.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
I should be very sorry to say anything to any hon. Member that was calculated to give offence. With regard to the suggestion of the hon. Member, I will say this, that it is to my interest more than that of anybody else that this test should be accurate and fair. I do not see how, prima facie, you could get a fairer test than one which is accepted by the seller of the article on the one side and the buyer on the other as the means of determining what is the amount of sugar for which the buyer pays. I am quite aware that there are differences of opinion as to the precise action of the 994 polariscope on certain kinds of sugar, and I shall carefully watch the matter, and if I see any cause for entertaining doubt upon the subject I shall be very willing to consider the appointment of a Committee of experts to inquire into it.
§ *MR. MOULTON (Cornwall, Launceston)
said that he hoped the hon. Gentleman would not press his Amendment to a division. They were now endeavouring to ascertain how best to arrange a tax which the country would have to bear, and to do this they must avail themselves of the known means of measuring the article taxed. It was ridiculous to discuss the polariscope, as if it were not an instrument of which the results were not perfectly well known as an instrument of science. It might be true that it was not more than fifty years ago since the rotary polarisation of sugar was discovered, and that in 1874 it was first put to practical use; but the reliability of the instrument had been fully established, and it was perfectly well known that one could now read off the degrees of polarisation upon this instrument just as easily as one could read off the results of any other instrument. In fact, the polariscope was to sugar what the hydrometer was to alcohol, and to quarrel with an instrument which was scientifically accurate, and which had been accepted as a practical test by buyers and sellers for twenty-five years, was surely a mistake for a Committee engaged in a task like this. If scientific men only were agreed upon this matter there might be room for the discussion, but when practical men also were satisfied with the instrument the Committee could not do better than to adopt it. With regard to the scale, in the schedule which was taken from the customs regulations of the United States of America, as representing fairly the amount of sugar which might bear taxation in mixed goods, he had not heard one word to lead him to think that that scale was inaccurate. It was not the interest of any Government, in collecting duties, to adopt an inaccurate scale, and therefore, as they must start with a scale of this kind, they could not do better than start with one which came from such a high authority. Personally so far as he could form an 995 opinion, he thought the scale was fairly accurate, but in any case he urged the Committee to adopt the polariscope, which the trade and the shippers had adopted, the gradations of which would neither favour the high or the low qualities of sugar. If they favoured the low qualities it was protection to the sugar refiners of England. If they favoured the high it was a distinct advantage to the foreigner. He thought the Committee could with confidence trust the right hon. Gentleman in this matter.
§ *MR. LOUGH
said he thought there was nothing more monstrous in this Committee than for hon. Gentlemen, especially lawyers, to plunge into a discussion in this way merely because they understood a scientific instrument possibly better than any other gentlemen on the Committee. The only argument for bringing an instrument of this kind into use was that it was accurate, but there had been business men who had been able to arrive at an accurate result of the quality of the goods they dealt in although they had no such scientific instrument. On Tuesday the Committee were proposing a graduated duty on tea and the hon. Gentleman who brought forward that proposal showed that the method which prevailed in the trade for testing tea was perfectly accurate, and although that was admitted, the Government rejected the graduated duty. The hon. Member did not prove his case when he said that this was an instrument scientifically accurate, He had to go further and prove that it was desirable to drag this instrument in at a certain stage of the production of sugar, and measure the duty by this instrument. In the earlier stages of the sugar industry the qualities were tested by taste, by colour, and by scent, and the man who was a large dealer in sugar tested it in that way. He did not know how many degrees of sugar it might contain, and he did not care, and when a man went about buying sugar abroad he knew what he could sell it for in England, but now with this complicated scale of duties they could not do that; they could only say that this will have to bear one of twenty-four duties, and we cannot tell which. 996 The argument of the hon. Member for Launceston was good so far as it went, but it did not go far enough. He did not prove that it was desirable to introduce this scientific instrument into the dealings of the market. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had quoted a passage from a speech which Mr. Gladstone made in 1864, and he then ventured to state that the right hon. Gentleman would find all the bad arguments for the policy which he was introducing in that speech of Mr. Gladstone's. In 1864 Mr. Gladstone said that 2 cwts. of low-class East Indian sugar would yield 1 cwt. of crystallised sugar. There were two mistakes in that statement, which showed that Mr. Gladstone had not gone to the bottom of the subject. Ten years later he would not have used that argument at all. In the first place, 2 cwt. of low-class East Indian sugar would yield 1½ cwt. of crystallised sugar; and, in the second place, the refuse would be of value, and taxable in the Budget. The mistake of the right hon. Gentleman was in thinking that it was necessary for him to mark by differential duties the differences in the value of sugar. But this was not so. The higgling of the market accomplished all that was necessary. The day these duties were proposed to the Committee the prices of sugar in England ranged from 8s. for the lowest to 13s. for the highest quality. This was a difference of 5s. per cwt. By putting a duty of 2s. on the lowest of these qualities and 4s. 2d. on the highest, in a single night the House of Commons bad established a difference in the price of sugar of 7s. 2d. a cwt. He submitted that nothing ought to be done in this House which would affect in this way the price in the market; and in his opinion the fair thing was not to differentiate between the qualities but to tax all alike. He had worked out what the effect would be of introducing 1 cwt. of sugar into this country and refining it if the same duty was paid upon all, and he found that, even where the lowest class sugar was dealt with, the duties being equal, a very respectable profit was left to the refiner. This system of taxation could only result in giving protection to the sugar refiners of this country. He had had the opportunity 997 of seeing an advance copy of a prospectus which was about being issued to the public, in which it was pointed out that the action of the Government had made it possible by imposing these duties for a sugar refinery which had not paid during the last ten years, and which was doing only half what it did before the Spanish and American war, to be worked at a profit. That single instance would show the foolish act which the Committee were hurriedly committing to-night, and would have its effect upon the consumers of this country before many months were over.
§ *MR. MOULTON
said the hon. Member for West Islington drew a piteous picture of the man who in the early years of sugar refining had nothing but his taste to trust to, and protested against the terrible accuracy of the polariscope being introduced as against this trade custom. But the argument answered itself. In those years people tasted to find what the sugar would sell for. But it was sold; by the polariscope, so that, in other words, they tasted in order to find what the polariscope would now tell them. It was because they found that their taste enabled them to anticipate what the polariscope would say that they trusted to their taste, and for the same reason they might trust to it now. The only change was that then it was used for determining the price; now it was to be used for determining the duty also.
§ MR. E. J. C. MORTON (Devonport)
said he was opposed entirely to the sugar duty, and this Amendment was neither more nor less than a red herring drawn across the scent which the Committee ought to pursue. Many speeches had been made to-night upon the subject, including that which had fallen from his hon. friend the Member for Launceston, who, perhaps, knew more about it than any other Member of the Committee. He might say with regard to the remarks of the hon. Member for West Islington that they clearly proved to him that the hon. Member did not know what a polariscope was. He was informed that there was only one firm in the world who made the polariscope for testing sugar, and that was a firm in Berlin, and their method was that instead of having to estimate when the light was darkest 998 there was a comparison between two lights, and one had to determine when those lights were alike, which everybody knew was the easiest thing in the world to do. That was the method adopted by that particular class of polariscope, and the whole argument as to the difference of human eyes went by the board. It was only since 1874 that the polariscope had been used to test the amount of sugar in various products, and 1874 was the last year in which a duty was levied upon sugar imported into this country, and that being so, he was right in assuming that until the right hon. Gentleman made his speech there was not a custom house officer who had used it. Under those circumstances the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have to organise a whole army of custom house officers who would be experts in the use of the polariscope, to test the sugar which came into this country. The right hon. Gentleman had said he was going to collect this £5,000,000 at an expenditure of £40,000. He did not know how many polariscopes the right hon. Gentleman would have to buy, but having inquired into the price of these instruments and of Iceland spar, he did not think his estimate of £40,000 would purchase the number that would be required, owing to the very limited supply of Iceland spar in the world. That limited amount of Iceland spar was hoarded by those who had it, and instead of being able to get a reduction of price by taking a large number of the instruments, the effect of trying to make a large purchase would be to raise the price enormously, because it would result in the taking of Iceland spar out of the kingdom. It was said that a concession was given to a particular firm in Iceland twenty-five years ago for the production of Iceland spar, and that that firm had gone on the economic principle of limiting the output, and that they, having got out a certain amount of Iceland spar, would not get out any more. Even supposing they could be compelled to increase the output by the Icelandic Storthing, that body only met once in three years, and their last meeting was during the late autumn, and, inasmuch as the present price of the polariscope was £30, he ventured to suggest the right hon. Gentleman would not collect his 999 £5,000,000 for a total expenditure of £40,000.
§ MR. ALEXANDER CROSS
did not think the right hon. Gentleman had appreciated the argument of the hon. Member for West Islington, which was that the use of this scientific instrument was an imposition on the trade; that when a foreign seller sold a fine class of sugar, and was asked to make a price, he would not be able to do so; that that was a serious impediment to place in the way of those introducing fine sugars into this country, and that it would make it impossible for them to introduce these fine sugars. The Committee would see that there was a distinct difference between a man who could say "I sell at 8s. 6d. per cwt." and a man who said he sold at 8s. 6d. per cwt. per cent. The accuracy of the test depended on the by-products which were to be obtained in the process of refinement, and he submitted that the result of the system to be instituted would be the giving of a certain stimulus to the refining industry in consequence of the profit that would be obtained in by-production. The molasses coming into the country were to be taxed, and he would like to know whether the molasses produced in the home refineries would be taxed to some extent.
§ MR. JORDAN
said that a great number of hon. Members interested in the sugar trade knew nothing whatever of the polariscope, which was a most costly scientific instrument. Would the right
§ hon. Gentleman place one in the tea-room for their examination and consideration?
§ MR. O'MARA
agreed with a great deal that had fallen from the hon. Member for West Islington, and that any graduation of sugar duties was bad, but he did not believe it would affect the sugar refineries. The right hon. Gentleman might be trusted so far that he would see that any graduation would be so directed that it would not afford any protection to the manufacturers of this Kingdom. This, however, did not reconcile him to any system of graduation in the sugar duties. The right hon. Gentleman on a previous occasion had strongly opposed any system of ad valorem duties, but this was an ad valorem duty on sugar. The right hon. Gentleman had said that an ad valorem duty would increase the cost of collection; this graduation of the sugar duties was of the same nature exactly as an ad valorem duty. But, apart from that, there was a much stronger objection against a graduation of any duty, which was that it raised the prices of the high-class article beyond the market value, and reduced the lower class to below the market value. The consequence was that a premium was placed on the low and a discount on the high class article. On these grounds he would support the hon. Gentleman if he pressed his Amendment to a division.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 226 Noes, 132. (Division List No. 265.)1001
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F.||Bignold, Arthur||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Bigwood, James||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Blundell, Colonel Henry||Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge|
|Allhusen, Augustus Hy. Eden||Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Cranborne, Viscount|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Bousfield, Wm. Robert||Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Brassey, Albert||Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Crossley, Sir Savile|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Burdett-Coutts, W.||Dalkeith, Earl of|
|Arrol, Sir William||Butcher, John George||Dalrymple, Sir Charles|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Dickinson, Robert Edmond|
|Austin, Sir John||Cautley, Henry Strother||Dickson, Charles Scott|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.)||Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh.||Digby, John K. D. Wingfield-|
|Baird, John G. Alexander||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Dimsdale, Sir Joseph Cockfield|
|Balcarres, Lord||Chamberlain, J Austen (Worcr'||Doughty, George|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r)||Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Douglas, Rt. Hn. A. Akers-|
|Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W (Leeds||Clare, Octavius Leigh||Doxford, Sir William T.|
|Balfour, Maj K R (Christchureh||Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Coghill, Douglas Harry||Fardell, Sir T. George|
|Bathurst, Hon. A. Benjamin||Colomb, Sir John Charles Ready||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edw.|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H (Bristol)||Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Fergusson, Rt. Hn Sir J. (Manc'r|
|Beckett, Ernest William||Cook, Sir Frederick Lucas||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst|
|Finch, George H.||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Richards, Henry Charles|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Firbank, Joseph Thomas||Leveson-Gower, Fred. N. S.||Ridley, Hn. M. W. (Stalybridge|
|Fisher, William Haves||Llewellyn, Evan Henry||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson|
|FitzGerald, Sir Robt. Penrose-||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.||Rolleston, Sir John F. L.|
|Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Long, Rt. Hn. W. (Bristol, S.)||Ropner, Colonel Robert|
|Fletcher, Sir Henry||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter|
|Flower, Ernest||Lucas, Col. F. (Lowestoft)||Round, James|
|Garfit, William||Lucas, R. J. (Portsmouth)||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk.||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-|
|Gordon, Hn J. E. (Elgin&Nairn||Macartney, Rt. Hon. W. G. E.||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Gore, Hn. G. R C Ormsby-(Salop||Macdona, John Gumming||Saunderson, Rt. Hn. Col. Edw J.|
|Gore, Hn. S. F. Ormsby-(Line.||MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Seton-Karr, Henry|
|Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon||Maconochie, A. W.||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Goschen, Hn. George Joachim||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||M'Iver, Sir Lewis (Edinbur'h W||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Green, Walford D (Wednesbury||M'Killop, Jas. (Stirlingshire)||Smith, H C (North'mb Tyneside|
|Greene, Sir E. W (B'ryS Edm'nds||Majendie, James A. H.||Smith, Jas. Parker (Lanarks.)|
|Gretton, John||Malcolm, Ian||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Greville, Hon. Ronald||Martin, Richard Biddulph||Spear, John Ward|
|Groves, James Grimble||Mellor, Rt. Hon. John Wm.||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Guthrie, Walter Murray||Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.||Stock, James Henry|
|Hamilton, Rt. Hn Lord G (Mid'x||Molesworth, Sir Lewis||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Hamilton, Marq of (Lnd'nderry||Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)||Stroyan, John|
|Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robt. Wm||Moon, Edw. Robert Paey||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashf'rd||Morgan, David J (Walthamst'w||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Harris, Frederick Leverton||Morgan, Hn Fred. (Monm'thsh.||Talbot, Rt Hn J G. (Oxf'd Univ.)|
|Haslam, Sir Alfred S.||Morrell, George Herbert||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Haslett, Sir James Horner||Morris, Hon. Martin Henry F.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward|
|Heaton, John Henniker||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Helder, Augustus||Moulton, John Fletcher||Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)|
|Henderson, Alexander||Mount, William Arthur||Walker, Col. Wm. Hall|
|Hermon-Hodge, Robert T.||Mowbray, Sir Rbt. Gray C.||Warde, Colonel C. E.|
|Hoare, Edw. B. (Hampstead)||Murray, Chas. J. (Coventry)||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
|Hobhouse, H. (Somerset, E.)||Myers, William Henry||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Hope, J. F. (Sheff'ld, Brightside||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Webb, Colonel William George|
|Hornby, Sir William Henry||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens||Whiteley, H. (Ashton-u.-Lyne)|
|Hquldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay||Williams, Rt Hn J Powell-(Birm|
|Houlb, Joseph||Parkes, Ebenezer||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Hudson, George Bickersteth||Pease, Herbert P. (Darlington||Wills, Sir Frederick|
|Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse||Peel, Hon. Wm. Robert W.||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)|
|Jessel, Captain Herbert Merton||Penn, John||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Johnston, William (Belfast)||Plummer, Walter R.||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Wilson, J W. (Worcestersh., N.)|
|Kenyon, Hn. Geo. T. (Denbigh)||Pretyman, Ernest George||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath|
|Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W. (Salop||Pym, C. Guy||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Keswick, William||Quilter, Sir Cuthbert||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Kimber, Henry||Randles, John S.||Wylie, Alexander|
|King, Sir Henry Seymour||Rankin, Sir James||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Knowles, Lees||Rasch, Major Fred. Carne||Younger, William|
|Lambton, Hon. Frederick W.||Reid, James (Greenock)|
|Law, Andrew Bonar||Remnant, James Farquharson||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)||Renshaw, Charles Bine|
|Lawson, John Grant||Rentoul, James Alexander|
|Lee, Arthur H. (Hants., Fare'm||Renwick, George|
|Abraham, Wm. (Cork, N. E.)||Burt, Thomas||Dillon, John|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Caine, William Sproston||Donelan, Captain A.|
|Ambrose, Robert||Caldwell, James||Doogan, P. C.|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Duffy, William J.|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Causton, Richard Knight||Esmonde, Sir Thomas|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Cawley, Frederick||Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan)|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Channing, Francis Allston||Fenwick, Charles|
|Bell, Richard||Cogan, Denis J.||Ffrench, Peter|
|Black, Alexander William||Colville, John||Field, William|
|Boland, John||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Flynn, James Christopher|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Crean, Eugene||Gilhooly, James|
|Brand, Hon. Arthur G.||Crombie, John William||Goddard, Daniel Ford|
|Brigg, John||Cullinan, J.||Hammond, John|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||Harmsworth, R. Leicester|
|Brown, George M. (Edinburgh)||Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan||Hayden, John Patrick|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Delany, William||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale-|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.)||Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir A. D.|
|Helme, Norval Watson||Norman, Henry||Shaw, Chas. Edw. (Stafford)|
|Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Chas. H.||O'Brien, K. (Tipperary Mid.)||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Hobhouse, C. E. H. (Bristol, E.)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Sinclair, Capt. John (Forfarsh.)|
|Jacoby, James Alfred||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Joicey, Sir James||O'Connor, Jas. (Wicklow, W.)||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Jones, David Brymor (Swansea)||O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)||Spencer, Rt Hn C.R. (Northants|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)||Stevenson, Francis S.|
|Jordan, Jeremiah||O'Dowd, John||Strachey, Edward|
|Kennedy, Patrick James||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)||Sullivan, Donal|
|Layland-Barratt, Francis||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N||Taylor, Theodore Cooke|
|Leamy, Edmund||O'Malley, William||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr|
|Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington||O'Mara, James||Thomas, J A (Glam'rg'n, Gower)|
|Leigh, Sir Joseph||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Tomkinson, James|
|Leng, Sir John||Partington, Oswald||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan|
|Lundon, W.||Pirie, Duncan V.||Weir, James Galloway|
|MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A.||Power, Patrick Joseph||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Price, Robert John||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|M'Dermott, Patrick||Rea, Russell||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|M'Govern, T.||Reddy, M.||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Mansfield, Horace Rendall||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Mooney, John J.||Redmond, William (Clare)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Morgan, J. L. (Carmarthen)||Rigg, Richard||Woodhouse, Sir J T (Huddersf'd|
|Murnaghan, George||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|Nannetti, Joseph P.||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Newnes, Sir George||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Nolan, Col. J. P. (Galway, N.)||Roe, Sir Thomas||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Lough and Mr. Kearley.|
|Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)||Schwann, Charles E.|
In page 2, to leave out lines 16 to 20, and insert the words:
|'Molasses (except when cleared for use by a licensed distiller in the manufacture of spirits) and all sugar and extracts from sugar which cannot be tested by the polariscope—|
|If containing 70 per cent. or more of sweetening matter||the cwt.||0||2||9|
|If containing less than 70 per cent. and more than 50 per cent. of sweetening matter||per cwt.||0||2||0|
|If containing not more than 50 per cent. of sweetening matter||the cwt.||0||1||0|
|—(Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer.)|
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ MR. ALEXANDER CROSS
doubted whether the right hon. Gentleman's desire to assist agriculture in this matter would be carried out by the method adopted.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
suggested that the discussion could better take place on the question of the insertion of the words proposed.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ *MR. LOUGH
pointed out that the words now left out established a maximum duty on molasses of 2s. per cwt. He understood that representations had been made to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that with regard to some of the qualities of molasses used for cattle feeding the proposed duty of 2s. was too high, and as a result the right hon. Gentleman had agreed that a lower quality of molasses than was mentioned in the original scheme of the Budget should be admitted at 1s. per cwt. That was a very proper decision to arrive at, but on the scheme being laid before the House it was found that, in addition to reducing the tax on the lower quality of molasses to 1s., the right hon. Gentleman proposed to charge 2s. 9d., or 9d. higher than was originally proposed, on the higher quality. If the amount charged for sugar on the polariscopic scale was compared with that suggested for molasses it would be seen that there was something very unequal in the two. Sugar polarising up to 76 per cent. was admitted at 2s., but molasses containing over 70 per cent. of sweetening matter was to be charged 2s. 9d. He could see no reason why that should 1005 be so, and therefore he desired to move to omit the words "If containing 70 per cent. or more of sweetening matter, 2s. 9d. per cwt." The effect of this Amendment would be that the highest quality of molasses, which did not contain more sweetening matter than the lowest mentioned quality of sugar, should pay 2s.
Amendment proposed to the proposed Amendment—In line 4, to leave out from the word 'containing,' to the word 'more,' in line 6."—(Mr. Lough.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the proposed Amendment."
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
was understood to reply that molasses was really a by-product of raw sugar, and that practically the first part of the proposal, referring to articles containing 70 or 75 per cent. of sweetening matter, would not apply to it. Extracts from sugar, however, which were extracts from fine sugar or sugar of high polarisation were not by any means by-products like molasses. The hon. Member was apparently under a misapprehension.
§ *MR. MOULTON
asked how it was that the extracts were charged a higher duty than the 76 per cent. sugar.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
said he understood that these were extracts from fine sugar or sugar of a very high polarisation, and that, therefore, they could not be contrasted with the article to which the hon. Member alluded. Sugar of 76 degrees polarisation would be a very low class sugar.
§ *MR.. MOULTON
certainly did not suppose that the term included invert sugar. Invert sugar was not an extract from sugar; it was a modified sugar. If the provision referred to invert sugar, surely the amount to be paid should be in proportion to the amount of invert sugar contained in the article; it should not stop short at 70 per cent.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
said the difficulty was that invert sugar could not be tested by the polariscope. It could only be tested by a chemical process, by which the amount of sweetening matter in it was ascertained. At present it was 1006 impossible to prepare a precise table for molasses, glucose, and extracts of the kind referred to which could compare with that for sugar itself, but it was hoped that in time something of the sort would be arranged. They had, therefore, to be classified in the way proposed, and he was advised that the words "extracts from sugar" would include invert sugar. If the hon. Member was of a different opinion he would consider the advisability of altering the words at a later stage.
§ *MR. MOULTON
did not think invert sugar could be classed as an extract from sugar. But the point to which he desired to call the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was that if the words "sweetening matter" referred to invert sugar and to some of the modified sugars, the clause might land him in considerable difficulties. Glucose might be called a "sweetening matter"—indeed there was a vast class of substances which might be called "sweetening matters." He had presumed the words referred only to cane sugar, but if they were intended to refer to invert sugar he thought there should be some more specific reference to it.
§ MR. KEARLEY
assured the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he was entirely wrong in stating that invert sugar could not be tested by the polariscope. Cane sugar rotated the plane of light to the right, while invert sugar rotated it to the left. That was the real explanation of the very term "invert." Probably what had caused the right hon. Gentleman to make this differentiation between common molasses, so-called, and high-class syrups was the fact that fine refined sugars were being inverted and used in syrups of a very high character.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
said that if they could be tested by the polariscope they would come under the sugar definition.
§ MR. KEARLEY,
to prove that invert sugar could be tested by the polariscope, mentioned an experiment he had made. He desired to watch the action of the polariscope in dealing with cane sugar 1007 and invert sugar. An equal amount of liquid of the same class of sugar was placed in each of two glass phials, one sample being of cane sugar not inverted and the other having in it one drop of acid which immediately inverted it. In the first instance, the polariscope indicated the degrees of sugar to the right, but in the other the polariscope rotated to the left. That was conclusive proof that invert sugar could be tested by the polariscope.
§ MR. FIELD (Dublin, St. Patrick)
was glad an arrangement had been come to with regard to the lower quality of molasses, but he could not understand why an additional 9d. per hundredweight could not be put on the higher quailty. The Amendment was an exceedingly moderate and reasonable one, and ought to be accepted in view of the technical difference which existed. He hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer would keep the range of taxation with regard to molasses as low as possible, as it would be a mistake to handicap manufactures which had but recently been developed.
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
said the term "sweetening matter" introduced in the Amendment proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not appear in the original Bill, and therefore the Committee should have some explanation as to the exact meaning of the phrase. To the ordinary man in the street molasses itself was sweetening matter. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would state what exactly was meant by "75 per cent. of sweetening matter," and how the amount of sweetening matter in molasses was to be ascertained?
MR. ALEXANDER ROSS
said he understood the Chancellor of the Exchequer intended to revise his first proposal in regard to molasses. Of the molasses imported into this country 95 per cent. were used for the feeding of cattle. All the molasses he had seen imported, with the exception of an inferior quality from Germany, contained over 50 per cent. of sweetening matter He trusted that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would inquire further into this matter.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH,
in reply, was understood to say that he could not 1008 allow molasses of a very high sweetening power to pay a low duty.
§ MR. DILLON
said that "sweetening matter" was a new term which had been introduced, and he hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer would inform them what it meant. The hon. Member opposite, who was an expert, had pointed out that there was a great difference and much uncertainty about the term "sweetening matter." They did not know whether it was to apply to the crystallisable sugar in the molasses or other substances which were not crystallisable, although they were sweetening matter. This was a very important point, for there appeared to be great uncertainty as to what sweetening matter meant.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
said he was afraid he could not give a technical definition of sweetening matter.
§ MR. O'MARA
said he should support the hon. Member for Islington if he pressed his motion to a division.
§ MR. DILLON
said the Chancellor of the Exchequer had stated that sweetening matter was not cane sugar, although it was the same as saccharine.
§ *MR. MOULTON
thought it was advisable that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should provide a clearer definition upon this point. The right hon. Gentleman was evidently using the term "sweetening matter" in a different sense from that which was implied by cane sugar. Therefore he ought to put in some definition, because there were many glucoses which had different sweetening properties. If the right hon. Gentleman was going to take the proportion of 70 per cent. of sweetening matter as 1009 fixing the duty, he ought to indicate the test by which it was to be taken. There ought to be reference to a schedule which gave the definition, otherwise it would be quite impossible to realise what was the exact substance for which they would have to pay duty. He thought the Chancellor of the Exchequer would find this an easy solution of the difficulty, for then they would have a perfectly clear scientific definition of the term "sweetening matter."
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
I shall be very glad to consider the suggestion made by the hon. Member, and I will communicate with him upon the subject.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling Burghs)
Whatever the right hon. Gentleman does upon this question I hope he will not amend the Bill under the gallery. The Committee is already
§ in a somewhat confused state of mind upon this point.
§ MR. KEARLEY
said he desired to point out how reasonable was his original request that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should appoint a Committee of experts to go into this question. He the ought the right hon. Gentleman now realised that he might be wrong in some of his deductions, and it would give confidence to the Committee if he would appoint a Committee of Inquiry. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would give an undertaking to call together a Committee of experts to consider this point, and if he did this he was sure they would accept with the greatest confindece the decision arrived at.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 215; Noes, 131. (Division List No. 266.)1011
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F.||Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Hardy, Laurence(Kent, Ashf'd|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Harris, Frederick Leverton|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Haslam, Sir Alfred S.|
|Allhusen, Augustus Hy. Eden||Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge||Haslett, Sir James Horner|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Cranborne, Viscount||Hay, Hon. Claude George|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Heaton, John Henniker|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Crossley, Sir Savile||Henderson, Alexander|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Cust, Henry John C.||Herraon-Hodge, Robt. Trotter|
|Arrol, Sir William||Dalkeith, Earl of||Hoare, E. Brodie (Hampstead|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Hobhouse, Henry (Somerset E.|
|Austin, Sir John||Davenport, William Bromley-||Hope, J. F. (Sh'ffield, Brightside|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Dickson, Charles Scott||Hornby, Sir Wm. Henry|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry|
|Balcarres, Lord||Digby, John K. D. Wingfield||Hoult, Joseph|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r)||Dimsdale, Sir Joseph Cock field||Johnston, William (Belfast)|
|Balfour, Capt. C. B. (Hornsey)||Doughty, George||Johnstone Heywood (Sussex)|
|Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W (Leeds||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Kenyon, Hn. Geo. T. (Denbigh|
|Balfour, Maj. K R (Christchurch||Doxford, Sir William Theodore||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W. (Salop|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin||Keswick, William|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen B.||Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir William H.||King, Sir Henry Seymour|
|Beach, Rt Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol)||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn E.||Knowles, Lees|
|Beckett, Ernest William||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Lambton, Hn. Fredk. Wm.|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Finch, George H.||Law, Andrew Bonar|
|Bignold, Arthur||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Lawrence, Joseph (Monmouth|
|Big wood, James||Firbank, Joseph Thomas||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool|
|Blundell, Colonel||Fisher, William Hayes||Lawson, John Grant|
|Bond, Edward||Galloway, William Johnson||Lee, Arthur H. (Hants, Fareh'm|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Garfit, William||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage|
|Bousfield, Wm. Robert||Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk.||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie|
|Brassey, Albert||Gordon, Hn J. E. (Elgin&Nairn)||Leveson-Gower, Frederick N. S.|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Gore, Hn G. R. Ormsby-(Salop)||Llewellyn, Evan Henry|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Gore, Hon. S. F. Ormsby-(Linc)||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.|
|Butcher, John George||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon||Loder, Gerald W. Erskine|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Goschen, Hon. George J.||Long, Rt. Hn. W. (Bristol, S.)|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Loyd, Archie Kirkman|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lanes.)||Green, W. D. (Wednesbury)||Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft|
|Cavendish, V C W (Derbyshire)||Greene, Sir E W (B'ryS Edm'nds||Lucas, R. J. (Portsmouth)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Gretton, John||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich||Greville, Hon. Ronald||Macartney, Rt. Hn. W G Ellison|
|Chamberlain, J Austen (Worc'r||Groves, James Grimble||Macdona, John Cumming|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Guthrie, Walter Murray||MacIver, David (Liverpool)|
|Chapman, Edward||Hamilton, Rt Hn Lord G. (Midd.||Maconochie, A. W.|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Hamilton, Marq. of (L'donderry||M'Arthur, Chas. (Liverpool)|
|Colomb, Sir J. Charles Ready||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robt. W.||M'Calmont, Col. J. (Antrim E.|
|M'Iver, Sir L. (Edinburgh, W.)||Randles, John S.||Stroyan, John|
|M'Killop, Jas. (Stirlingshire)||Rankin, Sir James||Strutt, Hn. Chas. Hedley|
|Majendie, James A. H.||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Martin, Richard Biddulph||Reid, James (Greenock)||Talbot, Rt. Hon. J. G. (Oxf'd U.)|
|Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Remnant, James Farquharson||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Molesworth, Sir Lewis||Rentoul, James Alexander||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray|
|Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)||Renwick, George||Tufnell, Lt.-Col. Edward|
|Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Ridley, Hon. M. W (Stalybridge||Valentia, Viscount|
|Morgan, D. J. (Walthamstow||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Morgah, Hon. F. (Monm'thsh.)||Rolleston, Sir John F. L.||Warde, Col. C. E.|
|Morrell, George Herbert||Ropner, Colonel Robert||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
|Morris, Hon. Martin Henry F.||Rothschild, Hn. Lionel Walter||Wason, John C. (Orkney)|
|Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptford||Round, James||Webb, Col. William George|
|Moulton, John Fletcher||Royds, Clement Molyneux||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Mount, William Arthur||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Murray, Rt Hn A Graham (Bute||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alex.||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Saunderson, Rt. Hn. Col. Edw. J||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.|
|Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)||Seely, Chas. Hilton (Lincoln)||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Myers, William Henry||Seton-Karr, Henry||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Nicol, Donald Ninian||Sharpe, Wm. Edw. T.||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh. N.|
|O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens||Shaw-Stewart, M. H. Renfrew||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath)|
|Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay||Simeon, Sir Barrington||Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart-|
|Parkes, Ebenezer||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Pease, Herbert Pike (Darling'n)||Smith, H C (Northm'b Tyneside||Wylie, Alexander|
|Peel, Hn Wm. Robert Wellesley||Smith, Jas. Parker (Lanarks.)||Wyndham, Rt. Hn. George|
|Plummer, Walter R.||Smith, Hn. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Spear, John Ward||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Pretyman, Ernest George||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Quilter, Sir Cuthbert||Stock, James Henry|
|Abraham, William(Cork, N. E.||Goddard, Daniel Ford||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Griffith, Ellis J.||Partington, Oswald|
|Ambrose, Robert||Haldane, Richard Burdon||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Hammond, John||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn Herbert Henry||Harmsworth, R Leicester||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Hayden, John Patrick||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Chas. Seale-||Price, Robert John|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Hayter, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur D.||Priestley, Arthur|
|Bell, Richard||Helme, Norval Watson||Rea, Russell|
|Black, Alexander William||Hemphill, Rt. Hn. Chas. H.||Reddy, M.|
|Boland, John||Joicey, Sir James||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Brigg, John||Jones, David Brynmor Swansea||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Brown, George M. (Edinburgh)||Jordan, Jeremiah||Rigg, Richard|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Kennedy, Patrick James||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Buxton, Sydney||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Caldwell, James||Leamy, Edmund||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Leese, Sir Joseph F. Accrington||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Leigh, Sir Joseph||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Leng, Sir John||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Cawley, Frederick||Lundon, W.||Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarshire)|
|Channing, Francis Allston||MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A.||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Cogan, Denis J.||M'Arthur, Wm. (Cornwall)||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Colville, John||M'Dermott, Patrick||Spencer, Rt. Hn. C. R Northants|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||M'Govern, T.||Stevenson, Francis S.|
|Crean, Eugene||M'Kenna, Reginald||Sullivan, Donal|
|Crombie, John William||Mansfield, Horace Rendall||Taylor, Theodore Cooke|
|Cullinan, J.||Mooney, John J.||Thomas, David A. (Merthyr)|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||Morton, Edw. J. C. (Devon port)||Thomas, J A (Glamorgan, Gow'r|
|Delany, William||Moss, Samuel||Tomkinson, James|
|Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.)||Murnaghan, George||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Dillon, John||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Warner, Thos. Courtenay T.|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Nolan, Col. John P. (Galway. N.||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan|
|Doogan, P. C.||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)||Weir, James Galloway|
|Douglas, Charles M (Lanark)||Norman, Henry||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Duffy, William J.||O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary Md||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Elibank, Master of||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan)||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.||Williams, Osmond Merioneth|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith)||O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Ffrench, Peter||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)||Woodhouse, Sir J T (Huddersf'd|
|Field, William||O'Dowd, John|
|Flynn, James Christopher||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Kearley and M. Lough.|
|Gilhooly, James||O'Malley, William|
|Gladstone, Rt Hn. Herbert John||O'Mara, James|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Question again proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
There has just been a division which was entirely unnecessary. My hon. friend rose for the purpose of asking leave to withdraw his Amendment, but it was not conceded. I rise for the purpose of supporting the appeal that has been made to the right hon. Gentleman to consider favourably the idea of having a Committee to inquire into these points. Some of these, which are of extreme technical interest, are matters upon which all of us are not qualified to form an opinion. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is advised, no doubt, by skilled chemists and scientific men, but there is another side to the question altogether, namely, the point of view of practical men of business; and might it not be possible to induce the right hon. Gentleman to consider whether a conference on the subject could be held between men of experience in the trade, who are not, after all, destitute of a certain sort of scientific knowledge and experience, and the purely scientific gentlemen, in order to adjust those questions of difference? I think if that was understood it would tend very much to facilitate the disposal of the Amendments to the clause.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
The right hon. Gentleman no doubt is not aware that for the last two months there have been constant conferences at the Customs between persons engaged in the trade affected by the sugar duties and experts highly qualified, and all these matters have practically been dealt with to the satisfaction of the trade. I do not wish to say that further consideration may not be required, and I am quite prepared to consider how that could be arrived at. But the right hon. Gentleman has been impressed unduly by the hostility to this measure displayed by two hon. Gentlemen sitting behind him. I do not find that other gentlemen engaged in the trade take at all the same view. Those two hon. Members may be right in some of the views they have expressed, and I should be very glad if they would communicate with the Customs. But I cannot say anything further than that. I would venture to say that if there had been any widespread objection in the 1014 trade against the manner in which it is proposed to deal with the sugar duties, it would have found expression in the press and in other ways.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
I do not owe my inspiration entirely to my hon. friends the Members for Devon-port and West Islington. I have received elaborate communications which are perfectly unintelligible to me from per sons in the trade, which are very much to the same effect as what my hon. friends have been saying. That was the ground on which I made the appeal to the right hon. Gentleman.
§ *MR. MOULTON
said he wished to point out a serious omission from the clause. He understood that the right hon. Gentleman now included in sweetening matter invert sugar. There was no mention of an import duty on invert sugar unless it was included in the "extracts from sugar," and anything above 70 per cent. only paid 2s. 9d. But if the invert sugar was made in England it must be made from cane sugar, and that cane sugar paid a very much higher duty. He was sure it was an omission, and that there was no intention to give a preference to the foreign over the English manufacturer. He thought the matter ought to be looked into.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
I am certainly advised that a tax of 2s. 9d. on invert sugar, having regard to its sweetening power, would place it on an equality with invert sugar manufactured here. I will think over what the hon. Member has said. It would perhaps be better to insert the words "invert sugar" in the definition clause.
§ MR. DILLON
said that after all that had occurred there were not two men in the House who could tell what sweetening matter was. He asserted that without out fear of contradiction. He defied all the Members of the House to get up and tell what sweetening matter was. He was not quite sure that it was clear to the Chancellor's own mind.
§ *MR. LOUGH,
who had on the Paper an Amendment to decrease the duty on saccharine from 1s. 3d. to 9d. an oz., said that saccharine was a substance with 300 times the sweetening property 1015 of sugar. The duty on saccharine was not more than 300 times the duty on sugar in the tariffs of foreign countries which he had examined.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
said saccharin was an extremely sweet article, and it was necessary to have a duty of 1s. 3d. on it.
§ COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
said he wished to know what saccharine was made of. He believed it was made of coal tar. That was an industry in this country, and they ought to encourage native industry. He thought this would lead to a good deal of smuggling. Therefore he trusted that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would explain this point, because it made a very great deal of difference.
§ MR. MOULTON
pointed out to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that saccharine embraced two qualities, one of which was 300 times and the other 500 times as sweet as sugar. He thought the schedule should show the test by which saccharine was to be determined, for it would be unfair to tax saccharin which was 300 times as sweet as sugar upon the same basis as sacharine which was 500 times as sweet as sugar.
§ MR. O'MARA
thought it would be better to endeavour to reduce the number of duties rather than increase them.
§ Question put, and negatived.
In page 2, line 25, at end, to insert the words, 'Provided that, as from the nineteenth day of April up to the eleventh day of June nineteen hundred and one the duties on molasses and glucose shall be deemed to have been chargeable at the rates specified in the Resolution of the Committee of Ways and Means of the eighteenth day of April nineteen hundred and one.'"—(The Chancellor of the Exchequer.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. CHARLES M'ARTHUR (Liverpool, Exchange)
appealed to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to reconsider this point. This duty was referred to by the Chancellor of the Exchequer as a temporary duty, and it was to be the maximum duty at the time when it 1016 operated. He thought it was only reasonable that it should be reduced. With regard to molasses; the Committee would remember that the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed a 2s. rate per hundredweight for all classes of molasses. When it was pointed out to him that a large proportion of molasses was used chiefly for cattle he introduced a differentiation, making the rate 1s. per hundredweight for the low class of molasses. He did not think that the importer should suffer through the want of information on the part of the Treasury upon this matter. Since the Chancellor of the Exchequer had made his statement a large quantity of this low grade of molasses had arrived and it was found by the importers that there were no bonded stores where they could put it in warehouses and the great bulk of it remained untouched. In reply to a question, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that if these importers had asked for bonding facilities they could have obtained them in their own warehouses. But they had not done so, and he did not think they ought to be penalised simply because they had not been as sharp as they might have been and because they had depended upon the good faith of the Government to treat them fairly. If the duty was to be levied at this higher rate and only reduced from the 11th of June it would be very unfortunate. They had paid the duty and they could not get it back.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
My hon. friend has brought this matter under my notice, and I may say that it relates solely to the action of one particular firm. It is impossible to make an exception for one firm alone, who, if they have done what is alleged, have suffered entirely through their own negligence. If I did what has been asked it would give an unfair advantage to the clients of my hon. friend. I believe that other firms have paid the duty and sold and delivered the goods to their customers.
§ MR. CHARLES M'ARTHUR
said that in the few cases where the goods had been sold they had been sold on the understanding that the duty would be returned.
§ *MR. LOUGH
said that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had given a pledge 1017 that a drawback would be given to the customers, but now the right hon. Gentleman seemed to have further complicated matters. In the case of certain firms who did not take the necessary precautions the right hon. Gentleman now refused the very moderate suggestion made to reconsider their case. He thought this was a very hard course to take because it would be impossible for these men to get rid of their stocks at the higher rates which they had paid.
§ MR. KEARLEY
said the Excise duty on manufactured glucose was not to be levied till 1st July according to the Bill as originally presented, but the Chancellor of the Exchequer came with a resolution the other day by which it was proposed that the duty should take effect in June. He asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why he did not impose the Excise duty on glucose on the same day as the import duty. The right hon. Gentleman imposed the coal duty on the very day it was proposed, but he allowed the manufacture of glucose to go on in this country free from any tax whatever up to a date in June. There had been an enormous amount of glucose manufactured for brewers. The hon. Member did not think it was fair that the right hon. Gentleman should levy a tax on one branch of industry at the earliest possible moment and defer the imposition of a tax affecting another industry.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
Whatever I do or whatever I don't do the hon. Member always differs from me. If the hon. Member had studied the history of the Excise duties he would have discovered that they cannot be imposed at once like Customs duties. Excise duties on manufactured articles cannot be imposed without very considerable preliminary arrangements, which can only be made after consultation with the manufacturers in order to see the best method by which they can be imposed. That could not be done before the day the Budget was introduced. The officers of the Inland Revenue told me that it would be impossible to make the necessary arrangements for levying the Excise duty before 1st July. I heard, however, that there was going on a considerable manufacture 1018 of glucose in the country, and having ascertained from the Inland Revenue that their arrangements for the Excise duty would be ready earlier I moved the resolution.
§ MR. KEARLEY
I imputed no motives whatever, and I do not think the observation of the right hon. Gentleman concerning me ought to have been made.
§ MR. DILLON
said the Chancellor of the Exchequer gave an unqualified pledge that if there was any alteration made on the duties, manufacturers or importers who had been unfairly charged would, as a matter of course, get back what they had paid beyond the amount due. There could be no doubt he used that language, and therefore any importer who had been charged a higher rate of duty than was now to be levied should receive back the difference.
§ *MR. LOUGH,
with the view of obtaining the opinion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, moved to insert a proviso to the effect that on sugar, glucose, or molasses used in brewing a drawback equivalent to the duty on the sugar, glucose, or molasses should be allowed to the brewer under such regulations as the Commissioners of Inland Revenue might make from time to time. The hon. Member explained that this was in accordance with a provision made in the early part of the Budget for distillers who used sugar, and while—if any good reasons were given against it—he did not wish to press the amendment to a division, he would like to know what was the reason for this differential treatment.
In page 2, line 25, at end, to iusert the words, 'Provided that on sugar, glucose, or molasses used in brewing, a drawback equivalent to the duty on the sugar, glucose, or molasses be allowed to the brewer, under such
regulations as the Commissioners of Inland Revenue may make from time to time.'"—(Mr. Lough.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
I have given a great deal of consideration to the subject, and I must resist the Amendment. It is to be remembered that there is nothing in what I propose which prevents brewers from using sugar or glucose or any other material in the manufacture of beer; all I ask is that whatever they use they should pay the same duty upon it which other manufacturers must pay. There has been a material change in the relative value of sugar and glucose which brewers use as compared with barley, and I do not think the brewers will be seriously affected by the proposal in the Bill.
§ *MR. MOULTON
asked why the Chancellor of the Exchequer made an allowance to the distiller and not to the brewer.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
The duty on the alcohol in spirits is so much more than the duty on the alcohol in beer that I do not like to add to the duty on spirits.
§ COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
said that in this case the Chancellor of the Exchequer was adhering to sound common sense, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would refuse any Amendment on the subject.
§ *MR GROVES (Salford, S.)
appealed to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to allow brewers a drawback on sugar used in brewing, on the ground that it was unfair to tax an article twice over. Some brewers might continue to use sugar and tax their profits twice over, but before the additional tax had been on for one year he felt sure that the use of English barley would be largely displaced by foreign barley. It was immaterial to the brewer what he used so long as he produced an article which was appreciated by the public. If he could not produce an article to please the popular taste under these new conditions he would have to fall back upon foreign barley. For these reasons he appealed 1020 to the Chancellor of the Exchequer not to be misled by his agricultural friends.
§ MR. CREAN (Cork, S.E,)
said that some of the brewers in Ireland boasted that they used no sugar at all, and that they used home grown barley. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would stick to his proposal, and not alter it for the reasons given by the hon. Gentleman opposite.
§ *MR. LOUGH
pointed out that foreign barley could be imported free, and owing to the conditions under which it was grown it contained more sweetening matter than the English barley. This was a very large matter, because no less than 150,000 tons of sugar were used every year by the brewers The right hon. Gentleman was now proposing to deal with distillers differently to the brewers. He did not think anything of this kind ought to be done by a side wind.
§ MR. CHARLES HOBHOUSE
said that this was a very important matter. As the representative of an agricultural district he had made inquiries in connection with a large brewing interest in his constituency, and he was informed that the effect of this proposal would be that the brewers would consume considerably less English barley. The figures put into his hands showed that whereas up to the present time they had been using 60 per cent. of English barley in future they would only use 30 per cent., and they would make up the difference by using foreign barley. He sincerely hoped that the agricultural interest would not be injured by this proposal.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.