HC Deb 09 April 1902 vol 105 cc1355-427


Order for Second Reading read.

*(12.10.) MR. CHAPMAN (Cheshire, Hyde)

In rising to move the Second Reading of the Rating of Machinery Bill I must claim the indulgence of the House, inasmuch as the exigencies of the ballot have placed this Bill in my hands. I feel myself unworthy of the position in the presence of so many hon. Members who have taken up this question in times past, and I feel my inability to do justice to the subject as I am addressing the House for the first time. The practical issue is of great importance, and yet the subject is so complicated and so technical that I fear I cannot hope to invest it with anything like interest. All I can hope to do is to place the matter before you in a plain, straightforward, business-like speech. The Bill has been called a "hardy annual," so that it is difficult to say anything which has not been said, and better said, before. But it has had the support of so many Chambers of Commerce, Trades Union Congresses, and Assessment Committees, and is so important to the manufacturing industries of our country, that I hope its very hardihood will gain for it a place on the Statute-book. The Bill is intended clearly to define the law on the rating of machinery. The Second Reading has always been carried by large majorities, but, owing to the difficulties attending private Members' legislation, it has never yet became law.

With the permission of the House, I will give shortly the history of the Bill. In 1890 it was passed by a majority of 152, but was blocked in Committee. In 1891 it was carried without a division and again blocked in Committee. In 1892 the Second Beading was moved by Mr. Gerald Balfour and carried by a majority of 110, but further progress was stopped by the Dissolution. In 1893 the Second Reading was moved by Mr. W. H. Holland and passed by a majority of 153, but the Bill was blocked on the Motion to send it to the Grand Committee on Trade. In 1894 the Second Reading was carried by a majority of 91, but the Bill was again blocked on the Motion to refer it to the Grand Committee on Trade. In 1895 the Second Beading was carried by a majority of 51, and the Bill passed through the Grand Committee without alteration, but then the Government took the whole of the time of the House, and so again it was blocked. In 1896 the Second Beading stage was not reached. The Bill was not introduced since 1899, because we awaited the Report of the Royal Commission. I may say, in passing, that that Royal Commission adopted our Bill en bloc, and I shall have more to say about that hereafter.

The well-known Tyne Boiler case, in 1886, decided that machinery was not rateable per se, but certain classes of machinery were to be taken into account in estimating the rateable value of the building containing it. The question how it was to be taken into account has become the battle ground of assessment committees and manufacturers. Actions at quarter sessions are abundant and very costly, and manufacturers have many times submitted to surcharges rather than continue the fight. The assessment committees settle the valuations, and the manufacturers come before them, and, if no agreement is come to, the manufacturer has to appeal to quarter sessions. The costs of these appeals are very great, but what is worse than that, is the fact that the decision of one Court of quarter sessions is not binding on another. Lord Es her, in the Tyne boiler case in 1886, said, in effect that the machinery found on the premises, that is, on the rateable hereditament, for the purpose of making the premises fit for any particular purpose for which they were used, and was to be taken into account as enhancing the annual rental value of the premises. He expressly said, however, that machinery was not to be rated per se, but he was not asked to say how the enhancement of the rateable premises was to be arrived at. This has given rise to divergent methods of carrying out the judgment, causing much confusion and litigation. It is this confusion and litigation which we hope to put an end to by means of this Bill. The rating authorities have separately valued the machinery, taking a percentage on the value, and have added the annual value so obtained to the annual rental value of the premises, and thus they arrive at the enhanced value of the buildings due to the presence of machinery The manufacturers contend that it was the suitability of the premises for the reception and working of machinery placed there by the tenant, that enhanced the annual value of the buildings considered as bricks and mortar, the fact of the machinery being present proved the suitability. Quarter sessions, in deciding as a question of fact, the annual rental value of premises containing machinery, have substantially adopted this contention. The two opposing methods were clearly set out by the Recorder of Northampton. There was a factory fitted with sewing machines driven by power, and used in the manufacture of boots. The Lord Chief Justice, quoting from the special case, said— The appellants stated that they had taken into account the tenants' machinery so far as the law allows or requires it to be considered as enhancing the value of the premises; that is to say, they have taken into account the suitability of the premises to receive such machinery and the tact that such machinery was to be found on the premises. He then said— I think that that contention of the appellants is in substantial conformity with the rule laid down by the Court of Appeal in the Tyne boiler case. The appeal of the manufacturers was allowed with costs. This is the first time that the issues raised by the Tyne boiler case have been so clearly reviewed by one of the superior courts, and the effect is to stop the practice of Eating Authorities in enhancing the value of the premises by making a separate valuation of the tenants' machinery contained in the premises. The Bill is on these lines, and it means that any machinery or machines which the tenant would provide are not to increase the value of the buildings and first motive power which the landlord will provide.

What are the objections made to this Bill? The first is, that it is said to be an attempt to shift the burden of taxation from one set of taxpayers to another—i.e., that the great capitalists will be relieved from taxation they are at present paying, and that others, the poorer classes, will have to bear the burden I think that is fairly put. Now, we do not want to alter the statute law; we only desire to bring matters to that state of uniformity which prevailed before the varying decisions were given. We are not advocating the abolition of a tax, but it is very important that we should provent the smaller industries from being burdened and affected by higher taxes and rates than they have hitherto had to pay. I should like to quote here a case referred to by the hon. Gentleman the present Member for Rossendale some time ago. He said— Take the case of a man, probably a foreman, who has saved a little money. He and his friends start a small works of their own. He finds on a piece of land a building which can be tented for next to nothing, and in that building he places the whole of his machinery necessary to make the article by which he hopes to create a fresh industry. But if he has to encounter not only the expense of building but also the great difficulty that every machine he puts down will be taxed, a serious impediment is thrown in the way of his entering upon these small industries. He is very much hampered, and the upshot will be that other people under similar conditions will be prevented starting like industries. We are trying to avert the burden which threatens to weigh on the smaller industries of the country. Large industries have been built up from small beginnings, and, as the flow of talent, energy, and enterprise has generally been from below upwards, I say that such talent, industry, and hard work should not be strangled by undue taxation at its very beginning. When we are taxing an industry of this kind, I am reminded of an old saying—"Tax the honey when the bees have made it, but do not stop the making of the honey by taxing the bees." Then there is the objection of the agricultural industry. I do not see how that industry will be affected, except favourably, by this Bill. If it becomes law, surely it would be to the interests of the agriculturist to get manufactories established in country districts. It cannot be so at present, on account of the way in which the Tyne boiler case has been interpreted. It has an important bearing on the housing question, also, for if manufactories were established in country places they would gather round them skilled artisans, houses would be built for them, and the congestion of our cities would be removed, to the great advantage of the agricultural districts. It may be worth while to quote the names of a few men of weight who have assisted in bringing this Bill before the House of Commons. The late President of the Local Government Board (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) I believe voted for it; so also did Sir Henry Fowler, who likewise filled that office. The present President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Gerald Balfour) also brought the Bill in and spoke at length in its favour. I say that no injury can be done by passing this Bill. It will legalise the present system of rating in Lancashire and the West Riding of Yorkshire, and it is necessary as a safeguard to that practice. The hampering of our manufacturing industries by interference with the machinery of our mills is simply a policy of killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. In these days of unlimited competition at home and abroad I think that every effort should be made to cheapen the means of production, and not to restrict the quantity by vexatious taxation.

I now come to what I think is the strongest argument in favour of the Bill, and that is that it is almost a reprint of the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Local 1891 Taxation, presided over by Lord Balfour of Burleigh. We have adopted the very words of the Report of that Commission in our Bill, and I think no stronger argument could be put forward in support of a measure than that. I will read a very few paragraphs from the Commission's Report to illustrate my meaning— It is beyond controversy that, in any amendment of the existing law, the main object to be aimed at must he the removal of all uncertainty as to what kinds of machinery are, and what are not, to be taken into account in estimating the rateable value of factories. To attain this object by any sort of definition or enumeration would be wholly impracticable. …. Having regard to all the history and circumstances of the case, we are of opinion that the adoption of the proposals contained in the Bill introduced into the House of Commons in 1899, as to the class of machinery which should be taken into account in estimating the rateable value of premises containing machinery, would be a fair solution of this difficult problem. These proposals exclude the classes of machinery which, in our opinion, it is desirable should be exempted. The law as to what machinery should be included in the assessment of premises containing it would also he more precise; greater uniformity in practice among Assessment Committees would be secured, and the probability of litigation lessened. We therefore recommend that in estimating the rateable value of any hereditament occupied for trade, business, or manufacturing purposes, there shall be excluded from the assessment any increased value arising from machines, tools, or appliances which are not fixed or are only so fixed that they can be removed from their place without necessitating the removal of any part of the hereditament. But the value of any machinery, machine or plant used in or on the hereditament for producing or transmitting first motive power, or for heating or lighting the hereditament, should be included. That, Sir, is our Bill. I represent a constituency consisting largely of manufacturing towns and villages, containing much valuable machinery and numerous working artisans. I can only-say that I have brought this measure forward at their express and earnest request, and I submit that it offers a fair solution to a very difficult problem. I beg to move the Second Reading of the Bill.

*(12.30.) MR. HOLLAND (Yorkshire, W.R., Rotherham)

I have the honour of seconding the Motion. Unlike my hon. friend, I cannot myself lay claim, at the present time, to a mandate from my constituents to support this Bill. My constituency happens to be a great mining constituency, and so far as the mining industry is concerned, it is not directly affected by this Bill either one way or the other. My only title to address this House, in regard to this measure, is that I happen to know something of the difficulties under which the textile industries of this country; are carried on, and I am able to assure the House that those industries—or at any rate certain branches of them—would be gravely imperilled by revolutionising the rating practice of the country in those districts. I hold that if a Member of this House sees as clearly as I do that a great danger would accrue to an important industry by the adoption, or non-adoption, of a certain measure, it is his duty to speak out and warn the House of the perils that may be incurred. I have further, for a great many years, taken considerable interest in this particular Bill, and, as the hon. Gentleman has just said, I had the honour of introducing it in the year 1893, when it passed its Second Reading by the largest majority it ever received in Parliament. I introduced several deputations to members of the Government at that time, and the arguments which were then used in pressing it upon the President of the Local Government Board were, in his view, so strong and so irresistible that Sir Henry Fowler, who at that time filled the office, expressed himself in favour of the proposals contained in the Bill. I remember that the strongest arguments which were used in connection with those deputations came from labour leaders, who in one instance represented no fewer than three-quarters of a million of Trades Union workers throughout the country. Why was it that those Trades Union leaders were so anxious to have this Bill passed? It was because they knew that there was an identity of interest between Capital and Labour on a, question of this kind. You cannot by any action of the House injure Capital without in the long run injuring Labour, and it unfortunately often happens that instead of being a long run it is a very short run indeed. The hon. Member who has just sat down mentioned that this Bill had repeatedly passed its Second Leading stage, and I hold it is somewhat humiliating that we should have to fight these old battles over and over again—that we should give a Bill a Second Reading, not merely once or twice, but, as in this case, half-a-dozen times, and yet seem to be making no progress whatever in legislation in that particular direction. This leads me to a proposal which I know meets with cordial approval in many quarters of this House, viz., that it would be a great advantage if in our Procedure we could have some system of carrying-over Bills from one session to another which do not happen to have passed their Third Reading stage, or to have got through both Houses of Parliament. If we had had that carrying over principle at work, this Bill would have become the law of the land many years ago. I know from my experience of this House that it never wittingly inflicts injustice upon anybody. It is true that sometimes legislation is passed which may have that effect, but it has been passed usually through inadvertence or because no one of sufficient authority had clearly pointed out what would be the effect of passing such legislation. Who are more likely to know what the effect of this Rating of Machinery Bill would be on the great textile industries of this country than those who either own the factories on the one hand—but I will not lay much stress upon them, because they will naturally be suspected as being by no means impartial witnesses—or the men who are engaged in working in those industries day by day or who live in the immediate neighbourhood of the factories, as do the members of the various assessment committees throughout the country? I think it is obvious that such men must be better informed as to the effect of legislation of this kind than those who, living in a remote part of the country, perhaps have hardly ever seen a factory in their lives, and if they saw one, would hardly be able to distinguish it from a lunatic asylum. The assessment committees in the textile districts are very strongly in favour of this Bill. And why? Obviously they would naturally be glad to see the rateable value of their respective districts increase by leaps and bounds, for it would be likely to mean lower rates on individuals. But they have stayed their hands and have not adopted that system of rating which has been enforced in a few parts of the country, because their knowledge of the facts has convinced them that it would be unjust and even dangerous to adopt those principles, as their adoption would play havoc with the welfare and prosperity of the industries with which they are concerned.

We all know that when this Bill has been introduced in this House on previous occasions, the burden of nearly every speech delivered in opposition to it has been that we had better not pass the Bill just now, but wait until the Royal Commission on Local Taxation has made its Report, and then we shall be better informed and better able to take some steps in regard to the measure—better able to decide whether it is a good one to pass, or whether it is desirable to reject it. I hold that no higher tribute could be adduced to the value of the Bill than the fact that it bears upon it now the seal and sanction of the Royal Commission, which has been sitting for a period of five years, which examined the whole case with the utmost minuteness, and which was constituted of impartial men of the highest eminence in different walks of life, not one of whom, so far as I know, was a manufacturer who might be assumed to be prejudiced in one direction—that of self interest. What was it that the Royal Commission did? It recommended absolutely everything that the promoters of this Bill had been urging the House to adopt whenever in years past they brought this measure forward. It declared that in the judgment of the members the Bill offered a fair solution of this very difficult problem. It declared that the Bill would make the law more precise than it had hitherto been, and that there would be less litigation if it were passed, while there would also be this great concurrent advantage—viz., greater uniformity in the rating of industrial concerns throughout the country. If uniformity is so essential, it is natural to inquire whence it is to be derived; is it to be derived by absorbing the minority in the majority, or by imposing the will of the majority on the minority? I fail myself to see either the reasonableness or the justice of revolutionising the whole rating practice of 95 per cent. of the unions of this country at the bidding of only 5 per cent., especially as the case of the 5 per cent. is not altogether parallel with that of the other 95 per cent. The minority is only a small fraction, but small as that minority is, it is sub-divided into several sections. There is a wide difference between the practice which obtainsat Birmingham and that which obtains in other parts of the country. Are Lancashire and Yorkshire to be called upon to follow the lead of Birmingham 2 A good many people do follow the lead of Birmingham nowadays, and if we were to ask that the textile districts should follow that lead on the present occasion, I do not think they would be penalised at all. I feel quite sure, indeed, that the Lancashire and Yorkshire textile factories would be advantaged rather than disadvantaged by the adoption of the Birmingham methods.

I have made some careful calculations, and that is the result I have arrived at. If the case of Birimingham is eliminated from the minority which opposes this Bill, that minority is still further weakened, and it makes the case all the stronger why the enormously preponderating majority should not have their practice upset at the bidding of that small divided minority. I believe myself that if this Bill were passed it would not make one penny difference to me as a mill owner, but it would remove that element of uncertainty which is at present unfortunately so injurious and paralysing. I could quote many industrial concerns in Lancashire, and could, if desired, give the House figures in connection with the present assessments, which would show how enormously those assessments would be increased if the practice which now obtains in those districts in regard to rating were revolutionised as the opponents of this Bill desire. I do not propose, however, to detain the House with these details, but I do maintain that this House could render no greater dis-service to the industrial classes in our great manufacturing districts than to reject this Bill on the present occasion.

I mentioned just now some reasons why the Labour leaders in the textile districts were strongly in favour of the Bill, but there is another reason I did not mention. I do not presume, of course, to speak on behalf of other districts of which I have no immediate knowledge. I prefer to confine my remarks to those districts with which I am well acquainted. Now, the Labour leaders of those districts know that capital may very easily be transferred from this country to other countries. They know that constant temptations are being put before manufacturers in this country by other nations with the idea of inducing the transfer of British capital to foreign lands. They know, I believe, that offers are made to British manufacturers of free sites in other countries, with exemption from rating and taxation for a period of twenty years, and with the advantage of protected markets. These are inducements which are constantly being held out to British manufacturers with the idea of persuading them to transfer their capital from this country. I am glad to say that the patriotism of those manufacturers has, hitherto, almost uniformly withstood that strain. They preferred to remain in the old country where they have been born and where they have their friends. They preferred to remain where they could build up British commerce and employ British labour, rather than seek their fortunes in a new land where they would have to make new friendships and break with old ties. We hear a good deal nowadays about the question of the immigration of pauper aliens, and if concurrently with that we are by legislation going to encourage the emigration of capitalist employers, the old country would certainly be a distinct loser by the change. We also hear a good deal about foreign competition, and I hold that if we by withholding this Bill revolutionise the rating practice which now obtains, we shall be taking a, step which will hopelessly handicap the home producer, and we shall be playing into the hands of our foreign competitors. I am glad therefore to second the Motion of my hon. friend the Member for the Hyde Division of Cheshire.

Motion made and Question proposed.—'" That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Chapman.)

(12.45.) SIR JAMES JOICEY (Durham, Chester-le-Street)

I rise to move that this Bill be read a second time this day six months. I congratulate both the mover and the seconder on the speeches they have delivered, and on the moderate tone they have adopted in connection with this matter. For many years I have been a persistent opponent of this Bill, and I am bound to say that in my judgment the more people get to know what it means the greater becomes the opposition to the measure in all parts of the country. This Bill has always, by-reason of its title, given a wrong impression to the people as to its real object, and, although that title has on the present occasion been changed, and, although it is called the Rating of Machinery Bill, it is not as many may be led to suppose, a Bill for the rating of machinery which has not hitherto been rated, but it is practically a Bill to exempt from rating a certain class of machinery. Judging from the speeches of the two hon. Gentlemen one would imagine that there was almost complete friendliness on the part of all local authorities towards this measure. But only yesterday I was present at a gathering of local authorities which represented a very large population living in all parts of the country and which passed a very strong resolution indeed against this measure. At that Conference there were representatives of thirty-one unions and corporations which have petitioned against the Bill. Thirty-four other unions and corporations which have also petitioned were not represented directly, while twenty-three have decided to take no action either one way or the other. Now, some very large towns were represented at that Conference, among them Gateshead, Newcastle-on-Tyne, Tyne-mouth, Jarrow, Sheffield, Portsmouth, Bishop Auckland and West Ham, and besides the opposition on the part of dwellers in these various localities we have petitions against the Bill coming from the Associated Chambers of Commerce, from the Mining Association of Great Britain, and from the Durham and Northumberland Coal Owners' Association, as well as from various Miners' Associations.

There has been a great deal said about revolutionising the system of rating. I protest against that. The law has been clear and well defined for the last two centuries upon this question, and the decision in the Tyne boiler case simply upheld what had always been the law previous to its being brought into court. But I am bound to say that there are many parts of this country which do not conform to the law; that there are many rating authorities which do not recognise the law, and do not carry it out as we have done in the North of England. I am quite prepared to admit that the practice has not been uniform. But in the North of England we have carried out the law very strictly, and we have borrowed money on the strength of the existing state of the law. We look, in consequence, with some degree of alarm at any attempt to alter the law. What this Bill wants to do, so far as I can gather, is to punish those who have conformed to the law and to commend those who have ignored it and failed to carry it out. As I have already said, there have been enormous sums of money borrowed by local authorities on the law as it stands. I am not going into the question of the Tyne Boiler case. I think it is admitted that the judges have distinctly laid down the law, and those who are promoting this Bill are simply attempting to get that law altered. The judges not only maintained that the system of rating pursued in the Northern counties is correct but they refused to give any facilities whatever for changing that system. I could, if necessary, quote cases to show that the system pursued in the North of England of rating machinery in connection with hereditaments is practically nothing but common sense and a very proper thing to do. Although machinery is not rated per se it is in fact always rated. A mill has been rated as a mill for whatever purpose it was used, whether for the manufacture of flour or for the production of textile goods. What this Bill wants to do is to say that in certain industries, such as the textile industries, there is a class of machinery which must be exempt from taxation. I believe it is a fact that the borrowings of local authorities at the present time represent three hundred millions sterling, and hence it is not unnatural that those concerned should look with alarm on this attempt to change the law. The authorities recognise that they have made bargains with the people from whom they have borrowed the money. They have given them a certain security which is based on the system of rating in vogue at the present time, and if you alter the law you compel them to break their bargain with the lenders of the money, and you reduce the value of the security. There are some districts which this Bill would very seriously affect, such for instance as the large manufacturing towns in the North of England, Sunderland, South Shields, Jarrow, Newcastle-on-Tyne, and Gateshead, and, according to statements which I have received from these places, the passage of the Bill would involve an enormous addition to the rates, varying from 3d. to 8d. in the pound. When you consider that many of these towns are for the most part inhabited by artisans, I think you will agree with me it would be a very unreasonable thing indeed and relieve the large manufacturers, who are the employers, at the expense of the work- men in the locality. It is practically equivalent to a reduction of their wages. Many men have bought their houses, a practice which we ought to encourage, and they will suffer from this increase of rating, while it is a well-known fact that rents also go up in proportion to rates. I was somewhat surprised to notice that both the mover and the seconder of this Bill were under the impression that it would only affect the textile industry. We have no textile industry in the North of England, and yet the Bill will seriously interfere with our rating arrangements. There are many other parts of England which will also be affected, and only yesterday I had put in my hands some figures from a London constituency—West Ham—which show that there they have a rateable value on premises containing machinery of £200,000, and if this Bill were passed that value would be lessened by £54,000.

MR. GEORGE WHITELEY (Yorkshire, W.R., Pudsey)

What class of machinery is rated in Gateshead and Newcastle?


All classes of machinery. I am not dealing with any particular class of machinery. It may suit my hon. friends coming from the Lancashire district to say that a particular class of machinery should be exempt while all other classes of machinery should pay. But why should there be any difference made between machinery permanently fixed and machinery fixed by means of bolts? The present law has always rated machinery that forms part of a mill or what is necessary to form part of a mill, or which is necessary to carry on any productive industry, and we contend that that state of the law should be maintained. Let me return to the case of West Ham. The rates there already total 10s. 8d. in the pound. The reduction of rateable value by £54,000, which would be involved by the passing of this Bill, would inflict a loss of at least £27,000, equivalent to 7d. in the pound on the individual ratepayer. In view of that, is it not extraordinary that the Bill should be pressed in the way it is? Reference was made by the mover to the fact that the Bill proceeded on the lines of the Report of the Royal Commission. I am not one of those who believe that a decision of a Royal Commission contains all the wisdom and should be treated as final. I have known many Royal Commissions that have come to wrong decisions and that have been proved to be wrong. I have known many, too, whose decisions have been ignored by this House. With regard to what occurred before that Royal Commission, I must say I think the local authorities whose interests are threatened by this Bill should have had the foresight to send competent experts to give evidence. With respect to the recommendations of the Royal Commission. I fail to see why there should be any distinction between machinery which is permanently attached to the hereditament and that which is affixed by bolts. We all know what skilled engineers can do, and you may depend upon it that if this Rill passes many heavy machines now permanently attached to hereditaments will be made in such a way as to make it possible to bolt them down, and thus enable the owners to get exemption from rating. Nowadays people build houses to avoid rates and ships to avoid dues, and my hon. friend, as a practical man, must know that manufacturers are always glad to adopt any means they can to avoid paying rates. The promoters of this Bill say that they want to produce uniformity. In my judgment, however, the law is perfectly clear, and they only want uniformity in not carrying it out. I do not believe this Bill would have been brought forward if it had not been that one of the unions in the Lancashire district had employed a North of England valuer, who knew what the law was, and who, by including machinery in his assessments, created a great scare among mill-owners.

This Bill will affect one manufacturer as against another. It is all very well for Gentlemen to say that it will not do any harm. As a matter of fact, it will take away a large slice of rateable value from many of our local authorities, and place an increased rate upon the remaining rateable property. Who is to pay that increased rate? The other ratepayers. You are simply relieving one class of ratepayers at the expense of the rest.

With regard to this Royal Commission, there are many recommendations. The Commission was intended to deal with not only the rating of machinery, but the whole question of local taxation. I protest against a measure being brought forward to deal with only a small part of the recommendation of that Commission, leaving the others to be dealt with or not, as the Government decides. The Government in the King's Speech gave a distinct pledge to improve the system of valuation. This Bill directly affects the system of valuation, and the Government have no right to support the measure. What they ought to do is to bring in a Bill of their own, dealing with the whole of the subjects brought within the purview of the Local Taxation Commission. That would undoubtedly be a large Bill, as the question of rating is very intricate, complicated, and difficult. But I object to this patchwork sort of legislation; it will create much greater difficulty than we are now in, and set up greater anomalies than at present exist. Instead of uniformity being greater than in the past, it will be much less. I represent an important district in my part of the country, and I feel sure there is a practically unanimous feeling in the North of England against this measure. ["No."] Of course, there is no part of the country perfectly unanimous, but there is as great a unanimity in the North of England against this Bill as you can get on any question. I think the measure ought to be opposed by the Government until we have an opportunity of dealing with the whole question of local taxation, and I beg to move that the Bill be read a second time this day six months.

*(1.5.) MR. CRAWFORD SMITH (Northumberland, Tyneside)

In rising to second the rejection of this Bill, I wish to speak from the point of view of one who represents a constituency in the North-East of England. Many of the authorities there are strongly against this Bill passing into law. The hon. Member who seconded the Bill spoke about the revolution it would effect. It will indeed be a revolution, but from another point of view. If this Bill passes, he personally will not be affected in any way, so far as his rating is concerned, but in our district all the authorities will have their rating values so reduced that the extra amount to be paid by the other ratepayers will vary from 3d. to 6d. in the pound.

I may, perhaps, go back to the question of who is this rating authority. I happen to have been chairman of the Assessment Committee of a very large union for several years. The rating authority from which the valuers come is, of course, the poor law union, who relegate to a Committee of the union the power to assess property. Naturally, members of a Board of Guardians are to a large extent chosen from those who have little time to give to looking after the valuation of property, so we have to appoint expert valuers to go round to the different workshops and value the machinery in operation. In Lancashire we have heard that machinery has been exempt from valuation in the past, but in our district all machinery has been taken into account. Naturally, we have very many appeals when new machinery has been placed in the works. The present law is in a chaotic condition. I am glad the hon. Member who moved the rejection of the Bill has taken into consideration the pledge of the Government to bring in a Bill to improve the law of valuation. There is no more thankless task a man can have than that of sitting upon the Assessment Committee of a Poor Law Union. He has claims made upon him by personal friends; he has all kinds of deputations waiting upon him; and, although there are many cases which go to quarter sessions to be tried, there are very many who come before the Assessment Committee, in which a compromise has to be made. What we want from the Government is a definite Bill, laying down the law in reference to valuations.

The promoters of the Bill say that all machines which are fixtures should be rated, and that all machines which are not fixtures should be free from taxation. In our district, we have hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of machinery, a large proportion of which is not fixed. As I understand the law, all machinery can be taxed ["No."] If this Bill is carried, we shall have a large proportion of our machinery taken out of our rateable value, and we have to consider upon whom this burden will fall. The money must be procured from somewhere, and, in our district especially, where we have large numbers of the population living in small rented houses, if the money is not procured from the large manufacturers, it must be taken from those who live in small rented houses. That will be a very severe burden to be borne by those who are less able to bear it than those who are carrying on our large manufactures. After all, when a man sends in a tender for goods to be supplied, he takes into consideration the rates he has to pay—they are standing charges; and if he is to be relieved of those by the passing of this Bill, it means so much more money going into his pocket. If a man gets a machine into his place which does away with the work of twelve men, he thereby saves what those men might have paid if they had been taxpayers.

In seconding the rejection of this Bill, I beg to assure the House that there is complete unanimity on the part of authorities, so far as the North-Eastern district is concerned. One has received many letters from large manufacturers, such as Messrs. Armstrong, who employ 25,000 men, and who, if this Bill is carried, will save many thousands of pounds in rates; but we want to look at the question from a broad point of view, and I say that the question is not to be decided by a Bill of this description. What we want is a Bill taking into consideration the whole system of taxation, so that the Assessment Committees in the different unions may he on firm ground when they make these valuations, and not have these continual appeals to quarter sessions and to private individuals to have the valuations reduced. I beg to second the rejection of the Bill.

Amendment proposed— To leave out the word 'now,' and at the end of the Question to add the words 'upon this day six months'"—(Sir James Joicey.)

Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."

(1.12.) MR. EMMOTT (Oldham)

I desire to say a few words on this question, because it is one in which my constituents take a very great interest. In my own district employers and employed are absolutely unanimous in regard to the question, and the rating authority and their officials who have to deal with the matter are also unanimously in favour of the Bill.

The Second Heading and the rejection of the Bill have been moved in speeches of ability and moderation. I was glad to notice that the seconder of the rejection spoke in a very half-hearted way against the measure. He said that the law wants to be made more definite and certain, and that he, as the Chairman of an Assessment Committee, and the officials of the Committee, want more guidance than they at present have. As to that point I think we are all agreed. My hon. friend the Member for the Chester-le-Street Division, who is a very cheerful representative of a much persecuted, but, I am glad to think, a not quite moribund trade, has given us a very doleful account of what would happen if this Bill became law. But I should like to protest in the strongest manner against my hon. friend appropriating to the few hundred thousand people who live on the East side the title of "the North of England." In population, rateable value, and everything else, Lancashire, which claims to be part of the North of England, is far ahead—so far as this is any test of the matter—of the district represented by my hon. friend. He mentioned certain rating authorities who have petitioned against the Bill. I think he named Sheffield.




I would only say in regard to that, that whatever the Sheffield local authority may say, the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce is strongly in favour of the Bill, and the Associated Chambers of Commerce are absolutely unanimous in the matter. I think the hon. Baronet is fully justified in claiming any support he can from the fact that the Mining Association is absolutely opposed to this Bill.


Certainly a majority opposed the Bill, but a strong minority supported it, and I have always contended that the associations were not justified in presenting that petition for the majority.


I am glad to hear that I exaggerated even the unanimity of the Mining Association.


They presented a petition against the Bill, and I contend that we are entitled to get all we can out of it.


I am anxious to give my hon. friend all he can get, but I have had a, consultation with an eminent valuer of great ability, and I want to point out that, according to his opinion, there are many collieries in which some portions of the machinery, instead of tending to increase the rateable value, tend rather to diminish it. The rating of collieries is generally calculated upon their yearly output, and some additional charge is made in regard to the machinery necessary in an average way to get the coal. Some collieries suffer from a large amount of water where extra pumping is required, which necessitates very powerful machinery, and I am informed that this extra machinery is taken as a reason for the diminution of the ratable value and does not increase it. In regard to this Bill, many of the old objections have disappeared. We have heard from the hon. Baronet that we still want a comprehensive Bill for rating, but what is the use of asking for a comprehensive Bill upon any other subject this session? The old demand for a comprehensive Bill means a desire on the part of many hon. Members that we should adopt some method of rating personalty, but the report of the Royal Commission on local taxation has settled that, and it has been made clear that we cannot wisely rate personalty, however much we may desire to do so; and we ought to meet this difficulty by an increase in Imperial subventions to local authorities. That is the meaning of the Report of the Local Taxation Commission. Now that that Commission has reported, I am happy to say, with entire unanimity in favour of this Bill, we are able to dissociate it from the larger question of the reform of local taxation, which in various ways we are all strongly in favour of; and this Report lays stress upon these points. It says amongst other things that— It appears proper to refrain from in any way increasing the burden which the law now lays on manufacturers in respect of their machinery. The opponents of this Bill want the present unsatisfactory state of things to continue. [Cries of "No, no!"] That is the meaning of their opposition, but the Report says that this uncertainty should be removed, and if we are going to remove this uncertainty we have to decide whether we are going to invite rating authorities to rate all the machinery possible or make legal the present practice which I maintain obtains in nine-tenths of the great industrial districts of this country. A great deal of confusion exists upon this matter. Let me remind the House that in great industrial centres everything is very highly rated and assessed. In the rural districts the rates are low and the assessments also are comparatively low. There is much machinery now rated, and there will be if this Bill is passed, because not only machinery for motive power, heating and lighting arrangements, but heavy machinery like steam hammers and other things, will continue to be rated in the future if this Bill passes. Many manufacturers think, and many Boards of Guardians also think, that much of the machinery now taxed would cease to be taxed if this Bill is passed, but I do not think the difference would be so great as some hon. Members make out.

Opposition to this Bill has always come from the district of Birmingham, which has a kind of rule-of-thumb system of assessment. I do not know how that system would affect other districts, but I agree with the hon. Member for Bother-ham that it would cause us no inconvenience; but that is not a system which can be adopted throughout the whole of the country, and it does not show that machinery is rated in the district of Birmingham. I repeat again that in the great centres of industry in this country the practice advocated in this Bill prevails at the present time, and no other system can be introduced without causing a very serious extra burden to fall upon some of our manufacturing centres. I ask—Is this a time to put a serious extra burden upon the manufacturing classes of this country? The prosperity of England at the present time depends upon our foreign trade, and we are by far the largest exporters of manufactured goods in the world. But our position is being challenged in iron and steel, machinery and chemical industries, and in all these classes of goods the United States and Germany are pressing us very hard. Nevertheless, we are still in the front rank as regards the export of textile goods, and last year £104,000,000 out of £230,000,000 were exported from this country. Of this total £66,000,000 were cotton goods. Nearly a quarter of our whole export trade consists of cotton manufactured goods.

Therefore in our textile districts the plan which this Bill recommends is absolutely universal. If you refuse this Bill, that plan must become altered. In my own constituency, and immediately surrounding it, there are more spindles engaged in the production of cotton yarn than in the whole of Germany, and if you assess all machinery, you would raise the valuation of the cotton mills in my district from about £300,000 to £600,000 or £700,000 per annum. That would be a huge burden to impose upon a trade which cannot bear any extra burdens. There are no cotton lords produced in the district of Manchester, where they are now as dead as the dodo. New millionaires may be made by soap or beer, but they certainly are not made by cotton. The trade has passed into other hands, and has become almost entirely a joint stock trade; and those representatives of families who have been in the trade for fifty years or more are probably struggling against adversity to which their forefathers were happily strangers. There is a struggle to make a fair return in regard to this trade, and I venture to say that if you take the records of the last fifteen or eighteen years in the Oldham joint stock mills, you will find that not more than three per cent. has been paid on the share-capital during that period. This is not a local question, but it is, because of its size, a national question. Alter your plan and double your rates on cotton mills, and it means that you will add one half per cent. on the whole capital, or 1 per cent. on ordinary share capital per annum, and this out of a miserable average return of 3 per cent. This is something which I venture to say the trade cannot bear. This is our greatest export trade, and it would be sheer national folly on the part of this House to jeopardise that trade.

On the other hand, I admit that this Bill, if passed, will, to a certain extent, alter the incidence of taxation. There will be some diminution of assessments here and there, no doubt. I cannot check the figures given by my hon. friend, but I do not believe that if you add up all the figures he has given, they would amount to as much as the increase of the assessment that you would have in the district of Oldham alone if you change your system in that district. On the whole this is a conservative measure proposed to avert a most mischievous change which is possible under the present law. It is no question of a wider change in our old rating system, but it seems to me that this is a Bill to bring forward a principle of simple justice and expediency. If you want the question dealt with in a wider way, I venture to say that our great industrial centres would be the very first to welcome it of all other people. Our assessments are high, and our ratable value per head of the population is low. Our industrial centres, compared with the country as a whole, are poor, and our Imperial subventions are inequitably made, in my opinion, and these centres suffer from this.

There is one other question in regard to this matter. After all, there are two classes of people who practically make the land in our towns valuable, and they are the captains of industry, and the workmen. But three people get the benefit, and they are the landlord, the captain of industry, and the worker. I am not going to deal further with this question, but in regard to the taxation of land values there is something which the community might claim out of the profits, which go entirely to the landlords. In all these ways our great industrial centres are heavily taxed at the present time. But from this wider question we have nothing to fear, and everything to hope. This is a necessary matter for us to deal with, and I do earnestly hope that the House will pass this Bill by a very large majority.

(1.30.) SIR SAMUEL HOARE (Norwich)

The hon. Baronet who moved the rejection of the Bill stated that the law is clear and well-defined. It is because, in my own estimation and in the estimation of my constituents, and apparently of a great number of the Members of this House, the law is not clear and well-defined, or, at any rate, has not been carried out on a clear and well-defined system, that I venture to ask the attention of the House for a few moments, expressing at once the hope that this Bill will be read a second time. The hon. Baronet who moved the rejection of the Bill, and the hon. Member who seconded, both spoke, if I may say so, from the same district; and I think that, perhaps, looking at the prosperous state of trade in that district, they do not fully realise the effect which this question has, not upon one district or another, but on the whole of the country, and more especially on those districts, such as the great constituency I represent, where manufactures are carried on under the greatest disadvantages as compared with those on the Tyne, without coal and without iron except at great cost, and which are really carried on owing to the enterprise of those who embark on the undertakings. They are carried on with great advantage to Norwich, and if it were not for that enterprise the city would be left without employment for a vast number of its inhabitants. The hon. Baronet spoke of the various memorialsand petitions against this Bill. It is enough for me if I speak as representing my own constituency alone in this matter. The hon. Baronet was uncertain as to which Chamber of Commerce addressed a memorial against the Bill. I am quite clear, from an interview I had with the Chamber of Commerce at Norwich only yesterday, that that Chamber is strongly in favour of the Second Reading of the Bill. The hon. Member talked of the manufacturers as a wealthy class, and as objecting to this uncertain rating of machinery; but it is not merely the capitalists, for I have had during the last twenty-four hours some fifteen memorials from the men working in the manufactories of Norwich. There are a great number of names on those memorials—as many as 400 on one, down to 50 or 60 in the smaller manufactories—asking me to support the second reading of the Bill.

It may be desirable that I should call the attention of the House to the absolute necessity of something being done in the way of legislation with reference to this question of the rating of machinery. I think no hon. Member who has spoken has called the attention of the House to the fact that the rating of movable machinery has been carried out in very few places. I believe I am even right in saying that it has only been carried out in five, six, or seven places, and it is because it has been carried out in the city of Norwich that I venture to beg the House to take some step to alter a system by which in five, ten, or twenty manufacturing districts movable machinery may be rated; and yet those other districts, which have far greater advantages than possibly they may have, are free and exempt from that rating. In justice to all manufacturers, there should be one system as to the rating of machinery. The Royal Commission points out clearly that one of the most important reforms which is necessary is the settling of the question what machinery should be rated and what should not. Now, if I may call attention to my own constituency, I would point out what are the difficulties which arise. There has recently been a new assessment, and in that assessment movable machinery has been included in the rating. We all know that when a new assessment is made, it must inevitably lead to some irritation and possibly disappointment. When any person, be he private individual or manufacturer, finds his rates going up, he may possibly think it desirable to appeal against it. But if the manufacturers and the people working in the manufactories who have memorialised me to take part in this discussion feel that their rates are to be put up because their movable machinery, on which they depend for work and a living, has been rated, it is not wonderful if the irritation is greater, and if the consequences are more serious. The result has been that controversies have arisen at the present time and legal proceedings are pending on the question. Now, I maintain that, beyond the natural question that may arise as to the amount a man should value his house at for the assessment of it, there should be no doubt whatever as to the property which ought to be rated, putting aside the question whether it is machinery or; anything else. At the present time, in the city of Norwich, a rate which apparently is perfectly legal is put upon movable machinery which is not put on it in the case of the large manufactories of Lancashire. I feel sure that the Assessment Committees who carry out the law at the present time are pursuing, as the Assessment Committee of Norwich has done, the course which probably is the right course according to law, but what I want to ask my right hon. friend the President of the Local Government Board is—How is it that in the great majority of places this rate is not put upon movable machinery, if the law is that it should be? It seems to me a very curious state of affairs, that at a time when we desire to see our manufactures prosper in the face of all the foreign competition, there should be so much uncertainty about the duties of the Assessment Committees, and that we should find a rate imposed in one place which is not imposed in another. I do earnestly hope that we may see some uniformity of the law, and, more than that, uniformity of action. It is true, as has been said, that, if movable machinery were exempted, the incidence of the rates might fall more on other quarters. I am speaking at the request of a very large body of working people, who expect that the rating of movable machinery will be of the greatest-disadvantage to them, and that it will entail very serious loss to them in their work. It is for them I speak, as well as for those who are responsible for the manufacturers. There are others in the House who know the circumstances of this special case. But I mention it to the House because I feel that it shows the importance of passing some measure so that everyone may know what the law is, and that there may be one law for every place. I should be glad indeed if the President of the Local Government Board could state that the Government-would undertake to deal with this question. The chances of a private Members' Bill are small. The matter is one of great importance, and although hon. members from Tyneside, coming from a prosperous manufacturing district, may look at it from their point of view, I hope that they and other hon. Members will remember that there are places where thousands of working people are employed in manufactures not so great and not so prosperous as many of those in the North of England, but which are still of importance to the country. I think that by giving a Second Heading to this Bill we show, at any rate, that in principle a change is necessary. By voting in favour of it, I shall show that I do not think it is fair that one city should have the rate imposed on movable machinery, while another district has not. I hope that my right hon. friend will encourage us to hope for something from His Majesty's Government.

(1.44.) MR. MARKHAM (Nottinghamshire, Mansfield)

I have no knowledge of the textile trades to which reference has been made, but I can speak of the effect of the proposed legislation on the mining industry with which I am connected. The promoters of the Bill have not stated who is to bear the burden of the rates from which, if the Bill passes, the owners of machinery in many parts of the country will be relieved. I am going to say now what I have always said in my own constituency, which is entirely a working class constituency—there is no class so selfish as the working classes in their relations to each other. The hon. Member for Oldham, and other Members representing Lancashire Divisions, can speak on behalf of the trades unions in connection with industries where labour is organised, but the unorganised workers who have no voice to represent them in this House will have to pay the cost. You are going to put the burden of this legislation on the unorganised workers, who at the present time are receiving low wages. The effect of that will be to lessen the amount paid by the manufacturers, and to put it on the poorest-section of the community—the unorganised section. But the question goes much farther. The promoters of this Bill are very clever in the manner in which they have brought it forward. What do they mean by saying that movable tools should not be rated? I do not understand what "movable tools" means. It is quite clear that the promoters understand it, because in the last section of the Bill they make an exception in favour of machinery used in transmitting power. In my experience in the Midlands heavy machinery—indeed, all machines, are held down in their bed-places by bolts and nuts, and they can be shifted in half an hour. Are all these machines—say in such towns as "Sheffield—which cost from £5,000 or £6,000 to £8,000—going to be relieved from taxation, and the burden put on the unorganised sections of the working classes, and therefore the poorest in the community, who are unable to speak for themselves? I do not see how the sense of justice in the House can agree to a proposition of that kind. An hon. Member opposite stated that the heavy machine makers in this country were not holding their own against the manufacturing competition of the United States and France; but in my experience the competition of these countries with our manufacturers is, with the exception of electrical machinery, not of a very serious character or such that we cannot reasonably meet. The cost of production and of laying down these heavy machines had all been calculated, and the manufacturers went into the business knowing that they would be rated upon them. Why, then, should they be relieved of the obligations which they undertook open-eyed, and why should these obligations be put on other people? If this Bill were passed, the manufacturers of Lancashire, who are now receiving three or four per cent. dividends on their capital, would have these dividends increased by a quarter per cent. Is that reasonable? In behalf of the unorganised labourers, I maintain that this House should not pay attention to the demands of a single section, but should look to the interests of every section of the community and do full justice to all.


We have had to deal with this Bill on many occasions. As the hon. Gentleman who moved the Second Beading said, it is a "hardy annual." and we have heard of it so frequently that, to use the classic language of the Leader of the House, it almost bores us. The machinery possessed by the hon. Baronet who moved the rejection of the Bill—that is the machinery of the coal trade—is of the nature of heavy plant, and not movable machinery at all. The hon. Baronet is too wary a Parliamentarian to attempt to define what is heavy machinery, for if he did, he would he immediately placed out of court. I ask him and other colliery owners what movable machinery they possess. What they have is a fixed plant, and that it is necessary to assess and rate; but because the bon. Baronet does not possess any movable machinery, that is no reason why he should argue that our movable machinery should be rated. What we want is a definition of what movable machinery is. Take the ease of a man in Lancashire who runs a mill. The landlord supplies the motive power, while the tenant supplies all the movable machines. The landlord should be rated on his heavy fixed plant to its full annual value. But the tenant's machines fall into the same category as the furniture in a house. An hon. Member behind me says "No"; but I say it is. It is movable machinery owned by the tenant, and is no part of the heritage. If the ideas of the hon. Baronet were carried out, the furniture in a house would have to be rated. The hon. Member for Oldham mentioned the case of a brewer, but if the hon. Baronet's view were adopted, the brewer would have to be rated not only on his fixed machinery, but also on his barrels and on his horses and carts. Take, again, the case of a shipping company which owns wharves and ships. The company, of course, ought to be rated on their wharves, but docs any hon. Member ask that then-ships should also be rated, although wharves would be without value without the ships? The Report of the Royal Commission has been cited; but I am myself inclined to ignore it altogether, because I have always regarded that Commission as entirely one-sided, and have looked askance at all their deliberations. But, at any rate, we cannot get away from the fact that, although it was a strongly biased Commission, representing the agricultural more than the manufacturing interests, they suggested to the House of Commons that movable machinery should not be properly rated. Are hon. Members for the colliery districts rated on their trucks? And yet these are part of the necessary machinery of a colliery. It seems to me that the law of Parliament must be brought into consonance with practice. The hon. Baronet says that 95 per cent. of Unions adopt his view, and yet that it is not the law. I entirely deny that the law recognises the rateability of movable machinery. If that were the case in the cotton and textile industries, a burden would be immediately placed on their shoulders which they could not possibly bear. When the Agricultural Rating Bill was before the House, I made use of the argument that if Parliament was going to relieve the landlords of these rates, on whose shoulders were they going to place them? I pointed out that 75 per cent. of the ratepayers were living in towns, and that Parliament was transferring a burden from the country to the towns. If this Bill is a just one, the question of the incidence of the taxation is a matter of indifference to me. If it imposes rightly a burden upon certain people, it is just that it should be so imposed. If the rating of movable machinery is wrong, unjustifiable, and inequitable, then it is to me absolutely of no moment on whom the burden is to be placed. As a matter of fact, however, the increased burden, on whomsoever it fell, would only be a small one. I venture to hope that the House will pass the Second Reading of this Bill by a very large majority.

(1.58.) MR. JOHN WILSON (Durham, Mid)

I was surprised at two statements made by the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down; and my reason for saying so is the expedition with which he jumped from one set of arguments to another. I remember the occasion when the Agricultural Rating Bill was before this House, and when the hon. Member was one of the strongest opponents of that measure. He now says that since the landlords and the clergy are relieved of half their rates, therefore the capitalists with movable machinery ought to be relieved of half their rates.


What I said was that it was a question whether this alteration of the law was right or wrong. If right, then it should be made, no matter on whom the burden is to fall.


If the hon. Member desires to be consistent and righteous in his advocacy in this House, he ought to oppose this measure. If it is a wrong thing to relieve one part of the community of their rates, then it is wrong to relieve another. Then the hon. Member said further that the change would be small. Sixpence or a shilling to a man who has a very small income is a great deal. Sixpence or a shilling to a capitalist does not mean much, and I rise this afternoon to take the labour side of the question. The difference is simply between movable and irremovable machinery. The hon. Member for Pudsey asked what machinery coal mines had. He knows that no mine in this country can be worked without machinery. How is coal got up 300 fathoms? There is not a single large engine round any mine in this country that cannot be moved on the instant without moving the building at all, and therefore the question of movability is simply the time it takes to move. If the large machine that can be moved in a mine is to be taxed, why should the smaller machine in a factory which can be moved with the greatest ease not be taxed at all? The promoters of this Bill are not dealing fairly with this question. This is really a Bill, if we read the title, to promote the rating of machinery. Any man of common sense—not a Member of Parliament—taking this Bill in his hands would see in a moment that the Bill is for the purpose of rating machinery. But that is exactly what it is not. The title ought to be "To exempt certain portions of machinery from being rated," and then everybody would know exactly what they were going to do. The hon. Member for Rotherham in a very important portion of his speech dealt with two classes of the community interested in this matter. He left the employers out, and said the men were in favour of this measure. Yesterday I met one of the most prominent leaders in Yorkshire of the textile workers in this country, and being interested in this matter I naturally asked him whether he was for or against the Bill and what were his views upon it, and what the men thought of it, and that gentleman said— To tell you candidly, John, the men don't know anything at all about it, and don't think about it. Then, how can any Gentleman in the House venture to say that the trade unionists in Yorkshire are in favour of the Bill? Why should the working men be in favour of it? What is there enticing and attractive about it? It has been said that the working men are selfish towards one another. I accept that view. They are not so selfish as I would like to see them, but assuming that they are selfish, what is there in this Bill to allure and attract them? Upom whom will the rates fall if this Bill is passed? I am simply repeating ad nauseam statements that have been and will be made. If this machinery, be it large or small in quantity or rateable value, is relieved from rates, the rates are bound to fall on the houses in which people live in in the large districts round the factories where workmen work. Who are the dwellers of those houses? Not the employer; there is not an employer of labour who lives near his mill or within the rateable area of his own mill. It is the men who live near the mills in the cottages and tenement dwellings who will feel the rates, and no person else will feel them. It is not a small matter. If any Gentleman in the House will put himself for a moment, if he can, oven in imagination, in the position of a labourer working for 23s. a week, and if he was compelled to meet a shilling advance in rent—for 3d. on the rate will increase the rental out of all proportion what would he do? Hobson's choice was before him, and he could take the house or leave it, and if he would not take it he might travel for miles before finding a dwelling. It is incumbent upon Members who represent a large working class community to be careful what they do before they give this Bill their adhesion. It is a matter of wages, nothing more or less. If we are to relieve machinery anywhere, in whatever proportion it is relieved, that relief must find incidence in some other direction, and there is no other place where rates can fall except upon the dwellings of people who live near these mills. (2.13.)

*(2.30.) MR. BRIGG (Yorkshire, W.R., Keighley)

said that, avoiding the theoretic generalities which had been more or less dealt with, he wished to take a more detailed view of some points which he thought would be of interest to the House. He thought the House would be influenced more by a few facts than by the large amount of theory which had been put before thorn. He wished to say a word or two on behalf of the worsted silk and woollen industries. Fortunately for the district in which he lived, the same rules applied as in Lancashire, and textile machinery was not rated. For those who opposed the Bill it was simply a question of reducing the rates in some way. Fortunately, it was considered in his part of the country that the prosperity of the employer was also to a largo extent the prosperity of the workers. Therefore, if manufacturers and producers were to be prosperous it was necessary that they should have as few drawbacks to trade as they possibly could. There had been no outcry from the particular district he represented in favour of this Bill, but it arose from the fact that the people did not quite understand the matter. They knew that rates were not paid upon the machinery, and having no grievance they did not complain.

There was another point to be considered, and that was the exceeding difficulty of the system of carrying on this rating of machinery. There was a great variety in the kinds of machinery employed. In some parts of his district they had handlooms at work in the cottages. If it was considered desirable that machinery should be rated there was no reason why the handloom should not be rated. There was in his district, and also to a large extent in Scotland, a large quantity of hand-winding machinery. The people put in their spare time upon this sort of work, which proved a considerable source of income to them. This class of machinery would come under the same rule as those machines which were driven by steam power. Then there was agricultural and domestic machinery and he did not see how any difference could be drawn between one kind of machinery and another. If one kind of machinery was to be rated he did not see any reason why every kind should not be rated. For his part he did not think there was any need to hamper trade or hinder small traders in the textile industries by increased rating of a vexatious character. It was all very well to talk about cheapening the cost of living as far as possible, but this meant more than that, it was a question of putting a tax upon the productive power of the country. It was all very well for a man to earn £1 a week, but if he spent £1 a week he was not any richer. It was not so much a question of a man being careful not to spend more than he could help, but it was a question of having something to spend. It was only by economy in manufacturing that they were able to produce that excess of capital which made so much for the prosperity of the country. The hon. Member for Oldham said that trade was going abroad. That was a fact; trade was going abroad very fast. He knew that in Bradford recently a considerable number of factories had been transplanted from that immediate district. Their trade was going to Spain and Russia and Bulgaria, to say nothing about America. He need not mention Germany, because it was well known that that country was an active competitor in our trade. Even in Egypt there was now an attempt being made to introduce machinery to take away our trade, and, consequently, he considered it was the duty of the House of Commons to make every possible effort to keep trade in this country.

*(2.40) SIR WILLIAM HOULDS WORTH (Manchester, N.W.)

said he would not intervene for long in the debate, and he only rose to correct one or two misapprehensions, which were perhaps natural to those who had not taken part in this discussion before. He was not, however, going to argue the merits of this Bill, on the ground of the advantage it would be to the textile industries of Lancashire and Yorkshire. It was a much larger and wider question, and really, as a matter of fact, it affected other districts more important than Lancashire and Yorkshire. This was a national question, and not one affecting any particular part of the country. He wished to refer for a moment to a statement made by the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street with regard to the support which was being given to this Bill. The hon. Baronet claimed to represent the North of England, but that claim had already been disposed of in debate, and he also read out the names of a considerable number of institutions and associations which he said were against the Bill. He (Sir William Houldsworth) held in his hand a long list, which he would not venture to read in detail, of various important associations, which had either presented petitions or sent representatives to support this Bill. The hon. Baronet seemed to think that only the textile industries were affected, but it also affected the Engineering and Shipbuilding Employers Federation, which extended all over the country, including shipbuilders, iron and brass founders, and other kindred trades, representing 850 firms paying over £30,000,000 in wages. His list also comprised the Paper-makers Association of Great Britain and Ireland, the Agricultural Engineers Association, the Printing and Allied Trades Association, the Sugar Refiners Association, the Hat Association, the Manchester Guardian Society, the Oldham Master Cotton Spinners Association, the Silk Association of Great Britain and Ireland, the United Bleachers Association, the Soapmakers Association, and the Associated Chambers of Commerce. This was a very serious question, which affected all the industries throughout the country.

There was another fallacy, or at any rate another point upon which there was a little misunderstanding on the part of hon. Members, with regard to the actual position. There was no question whatever that machinery in a factory was not rated per se. That fact had been declared over and over again. If machinery was put in the valuation lists, and machines were enumerated, values put upon them, and then a percentage taken to represent rent, there was no difficulty whatever in dealing with this case on a account of the decisions which had been given. The decisions which had been given placed them in the position that while the assessment surveyor was not allowed to value machinery he had to give some consideration to it—to take it into account—and that was where the difficulty arose, and it was one which they had to get over. The Bill was not to make any change in the law, because all the decisions were in favour of the principle of the Bill, but to define what machinery should and what should not be rated, or rather taken into account, so as to avoid the inconveniences that arose at present. It was not as though these in conveniences could be decided by a test case. The question at present was resolved in this way. The assessment committees adopted some principle as to the value of the land and buildings, and as to taking into account the machinery, whatever that might be. That was a very vague method for any assessment committee to adopt. The hon. Member for Norwich in his excellent speech showed clearly what the position of the manufacturers in Norwich was, and he said he was quite sure that the assessment committee in taking into account movable machinery were acting bona fide. What was the effect? In one case which was brought before the law courts, although the machinery was not put down as a separate item, the argument for the appellant showed that the assessment committee must have taken a considerable portion of the machinery into account, and consequently the appellant won. This showed that really the assessment committee did not know how to make the valuation. Here was an assessment committee who, with no desire whatever to injure industries, but rather to act in accordance with the law took a course which showed that the law, or the application of the law, was so vague that it was impossible for them to apply it properly, and ultimately it was decided in a court of law that the course they took was illegal. The process of litigation involved cost to the ratepayers and the manufacturers. Every case must be decided on its own merits, and the consequence was that an infinite number of cases had to be decided before the question could be settled.

The Royal Commission had declared in the most unmistakable language that it was perfectly impossible as things were for any assessment committee to decide what they were to do. He would read one sentence from the chapter in the Report of the Commission on the rating of machinery— From the authoritative expositions of the existing law which have just been cited it will readily he seen that under the law, as it now stands, the line between the kinds of machinery which are, and those which are not, to be taken into account in ascertaining the rateable value of a factory is one which it is practically impossible to draw with any approach to distinctness. That was the case which the promoters of the Bill were now putting to the House. It had been shown over and over again that the law was not clear even to lawyers, for they also found difficulty in applying it in individual cases as to what machinery should be taken into consideration. It had been said in the course of the debate that the law being clear, there was no necessity for its alteration or amendment. Sir H. Poland, in his evidence before the Commission, being asked if it was not the case that the law was very differently interpreted by different overseers, replied— Yes, and perhaps also, I might say, by legal tribunals very often. Anyone who knew anything of the subject was aware that there were no two decisions which were consistent with each other in the practical application of the law, and that they gave no guidance to assessment committees. There was a very remarkable instance of this kind in Scotland, which illustrated the uncertainty of the law. Scotland had hitherto been considered to be in a very happy position, but in the last week or two a decision had been given which had completely altered the position of things in that country, and a number of gentleman had been brought to London in a state of alarm, desiring very much to be brought under the wings of this Hill if it was possible to do it. This led to a great deal of injustice as between one district and another. For instance, they might have a warehouse which, while it was a warehouse, was only valued according to the value of the building and land and its suitability for the purpose of a warehouse; but in the event of a few sewing-machines being introduced a different value was at once put upon the premises.

The main question was that they wanted to secure a clear definition of the law, and unless that was secured confusion would become worse confounded. He thoroughly agreed that the time had come when the Government should take this question in hand, and he hoped that the President of the Local Government Board, if he could not give any great support, would at least take the matter into consideration as one that had for many years past been agitating this country and was now agitating Scotland also. He did not know any district which was satisfied with the present state of things except the north-east corner of England—which was in this matter a sort of Garden of Eden—but the ideas of a great revolution taking place in the incidence of taxation if this Bill were passed were entirely chimerical, because in the great bulk of the cases no change would take place. There might be a little disturbance on Tyne-side, but they would soon get over any difficulty connected with a, definition of the law, and at any rate that part of England should not have a dominant voice in the matter.

*(3.10.) MR. BELL (Derby)

I rise, to support the Amendment moved by the hon. Baronet the Member for the Chester-le-Street Division. I do so, not because I am one who supports any taxation upon industry, but as one who is very much against all kinds of taxation on industry, and upon food stuffs. The reason why I object to this Bill becoming law is that it simply asks that a burden shall be removed from the shoulders of one class without making any preparation whatever as to the shoulders on which the burden must fall. This Bill, so far as I understand it—I may be under a misapprehension, and if so I hope I shall be put right before the discussion has been brought to a conclusion—this Bill does not in any way incur new taxation upon industry, but simply asks that certain taxation already upon it shall be removed. If it was to impose new taxation upon industry I should most strenuously oppose it. I have been unable to find from what has been said by anyone who has spoken in regard to this Bill, that any machinery which is not at present rated, will be rated unless this Bill becomes law. I would be glad to get that matter made clear. As I understand, the machinery at present rated will continue to be rated if this Bill does not become law, and that the Bill does not impose any taxation on that which is already assessed under the existing condition of things. That being the case I see no reason, until something has been provided by which the amount of rates now collected from machinery shall be made up in the various unions, for supporting this Bill. I am told that in some districts of the country from £20,000 to £50,000 are raised by rating machinery and if we relieved machinery from that amount of taxation the money would have to be found from some other source. Now, I have not been able to find any other source from what it can be drawn except the middle and working classes who would have to pay for it in increased rents. I have every sympathy with the object of the Bill, although I may differ from hon. Gentlemen opposite in regard to my own peculiar views on taxation. If I had my way I should certainly make the land bear its proper share of taxation, which it does not do at present. But the very Members who are supporting the present Bill would give a most strenuous opposition to any such proposal. I represent a constituency containing a very large number of working men, and I venture to say that they would resent having to pay an additional rate, equivalent to a shilling a week on their rent in order that machinery might be relieved from rates. I am bound to offer my opposition to the Second Reading of this Bill until I find where the burden is going to fall. I am sorry for this, because I am one of those opposed to any taxation of industry and food stuffs. It was stated by the hon. Member for Keighley that much of our trade was leaving this country in consequence of the high assessment of machinery. The hon. Member has done a very good thing in saying that, because I have always understood that the contention of hon. Gentlemen opposite was that trade was leaving the country because of the action of trade union agitators.

(3.25.) MR. CRIPPS (Lancashire, Stretford)

This is a rating question, and like all other rating questions it is rather technical and complicated. All I intend to do on the present occasion is to explain the Report of the Royal Commission, in which I heartily concur, and which, of course, was given in favour of the proposals contained in the Bill before the House. I should like to say at the outset that we ought not to approach a rating question from the point of view of rival interests of rival industries—of whether one Party may suffer or another Party may gain by a proposed alteration of local burdens. Every change in local taxation must, of course, make some alterations in the incidence of the burden of local taxation. The real point I would like to bring before the House is not whether any particular interest or class will gain, but whether the proposal in the Bill is in itself a fair and reasonable solution of what undoubtedly is a difficult and complicated problem, and whether it should be accepted in that sense by passing the Second Reading of the Bill. The considerations which ought to weigh in the discussion of a Bill of this sort, and which certainly weighed very strongly with the Royal Commission, are two-fold. First of all, the law ought not to be left as it is at the present time. The Royal Commission had almost unanimous evidence that although judges of the highest capacity had attempted to make some definition of the existing law which would constitute a working scheme, they had not succeeded. The difficulty arose not from their want of power in defining legal principles, but because the subject in itself had been left by Parliament in such a vague condition that it was impossible to deal with it in a satisfactory manner. There have been a, great many definitions, spread over a century or more, as regards what machinery ought or ought not to be rated, or taken into consideration in assessing the value of premises; but the leading definition is as follows— In estimating the rateable value of premises used as a factory, machinery placed on the premises fit for the particular trade or manufacture carried on there, and intended to remain there permanently, and the suitability of the premises for the machinery, ought to be taken into account as enhancing the value of the premises, though such machinery is not attached to the premises; but the machinery must not he separately valued, and a percentage thereon added to the rateable value of the buildings. Now, just conceive the difficulty of using that definition for practical purposes. If logically applied, it would include a hand-loom in a cottage, or a threshing machine on farm premises, because it is quite immaterial whether the machine has been brought into the premises by the tenant or the landlord. You might have two farms of which the natural ratable value was practically the same. On one of them you might have an excellent tenant, with a large amount of machinery, which he had introduced for the purposes of scientific farming, and because he intended to remain there permanently. Now, ought that farm to be rated very much higher, because the tenant had introduced machinery, greatly to the advantage of everybody, than the other farm on which little or no machinery had been introduced? The difficulty in this case is not the difficulty as regards the textile industries, or the shipping industry, but the difficulty necessarily incident to the imperfect definition of what is fixed and movable machinery. Every member of the Royal Commission suggested that that ought to be put right in the form in which it has been brought before the House by this particular Bill. You cannot fairly allow the present condition of things to remain, because of the unfair way of applying the definition of machinery in various localities. The question is whether the solution of the problem proposed by this Bill is a right one. I think it is a scandal to put the difficulty of applying the definition on to the assessment officers. It leads to their shirking the matter altogether, or to their decisions involving costly litigation. Fixed machinery and loose tools do not come into the question at all. But between these two categories there is an endless variety of machinery, and the difficulty is that all these varied kinds of machinery are dealt with for the purposes of rating on a theory which does not provide a sufficient definition to guide the rating authorities.

There are two ways of cutting the Gordian knot in regard to rating law. The first is that all machinery, outside loose tools, should be taken into consideration for rating purposes. That would be one possible solution of the difficulty which has to be met, but I think myself it would be an absolutely wrong solution. The difficulty has arisen from the fact that up to 1840 machinery itself was rated, or largely rated, and it was not until 1840 we had the change which made stock-in trade no longer liable to rating. In my view, the difficulty which has arisen is because the change in the law in 1840 was not fairly and properly applied as regards machinery, and machinery which per se was rated before 1840 was afterwards indirectly and improperly rated. That was nothing more than doing indirectly what the law said was not to be done directly, and the difficulty has arisen because the courts have followed the decisions before 1840. Let us consider how in fairness we ought to deal with this matter. Of course, if personalty was liable to rating—and I wish it could be made liable, although the Royal Commission failed to discover any means by which it could be done—machinery, loose tools, and stock-in-trade ought also to be liable; but if personalty is not to be rated under the existing law, it is grossly unfair, in my opinion, to pick out a particular class of personalty, such as machinery undoubtedly is, and rate it. Although personalty generally is not rated, yet this important part of personalty is picked out, and, in my opinion, improperly rated. Just let us test that for a moment, to see what are the illogical consequences of the existing law. If we were to try and alter it in the direction of making this machinery definitely liable to rating, it would mean that, instead of rating what may be called hereditament, you would rate the manufactory equipped for the purpose for which it was going to be used. But if you are going to rate an equipped manufactory, why should you not also rate an equipped, or in other words, a furnished house? I am not now talking about pictures, or anything of that kind, but of beds and chairs and tables, which are just as necessary to enable a house to be used as machinery is to enable a manufactory to be used. To my mind, it is extremely unfair to sick out the manufacturer and put a special and exceptional burden upon him which is not put upon the ordinary householder. You must either have one principle or the other. You must either act on that principle, or you must keep to the narrower principle of only rating real property, and if you keep to that principle, the present law as regards rating machinery is wholly wrong and wholly inconsistent.

I have already said a few words as regards what may be called the agricultural interest in this business. I dislike myself intensely the idea that there is any friction between rural and urban districts on what are called rating questions. There ought to be none, and it only arises, in my opinion, because we have not put straight some anomalies in our rating law. But suppose we apply the principle of an equipped manufactory to an equipped farm. Let us take a farm in which there is a great deal of machinery, which, to use the words of the Lord Chief Justice, is placed there for a particular business and intended to remain there permanently. Does anyone say that that machinery ought to be taxed? It has been said to me that as regards this so-called permanent machinery, it, does not belong to the landlord, but to the tenant. That is a great mistake. Such machinery is nearly always treated as a fixture, and when we are dealing with hereditaments and fixtures we do not know the landlord and tenant principle at all. We look at the realty of a thing in order to apply the law as it ought to be applied. I do not wish to detain the House, but I would wish to ask whether these two reasons are not a sufficient justification for the Second Reading of the Bill. The first is that owing to the necessity for definition, some change must be made, because it is wholly wrong to leave assessment committees and their officers under existing difficulties. That was the opinion of the Royal Commission, and I believe it is the opinion of everyone who has thought out this rating matter. Are you going to put on one particular form of personalty a liability to rating as distinct from all others? That appears to me to be grossly unfair. Secondly, if it is unfair, we must proceed in the direction of the recommendation of the Royal Commission which is contained in the provisions of this proposed Bill: that is to say, we must put machinery in our great manufactories on the same footing as other personalty, and as long as other personalty escapes rating, so ought this machinery. We ought to take the simple test which the Bill proposes, namely, to rate fixed machinery, which is really part of the hereditament, and therefore part of the realty in law, and not allow other machinery which is really personalty to have a special burden put upon it, especially with reference to our great industries and great manufactories.

*(3.44.) MR. WILLIAM ALLAN (Gateshead)

I have listened to every speech which has been made for and against this Bill. Personally, if I were consulting my own interests, I would support it, as I happen to be a pretty large ratepayer for engine works in Sunderland. But I look at this question from a broader standpoint, and not from a purely personal selfish motive. That being so, this Bill presents to me two phases—the legal and the practical. I do not profess to be a lawyer, nor shall I attempt to refute the remarks of the hon. and learned Member who has just sat down, but I will confine myself to certain eminent jurists who have given opinions on this question in years past. I will take the Chard case first. I sincerely hope I will not be out of order, Mr. Speaker, in mentioning your name, but I find it in the report of the trial— Mr. Gully: The passage I am going to refer to your Lordships is that in which Lord Esher lays down—'I believe that that case and all other cases will be found to come under this rule, that things which are on the premises to be rated, and which are there for the purpose of making and which make them (that is, the premises) tit for the particular purpose for which they are used, ought to be taken into account in ascertaining the value of the premises for rating purposes.' But there was an intermediate case where the machinery was not so fixed as to form part of the freehold, but the question was—Were the things requisite to make the premises suitable for a particular business, and so long as they were used for that purrpose they would be rateable. That is the legal decision of Lord Esher. Lord Justice Lindley and Lord Justice Lopes concurred. I will not read the whole of their judgments, but Lord Justice Lindley said— Now we are asked to fall back and say that nothing ought to be taken into account in ascertaining the rateable value of this property except that which is so physically attached that it becomes part of the land. It appears to me that the true test is that which the Master of the Rolls endeavoured to lay down. Lord Justice Lopes said— It is said, however, that, although that may be the principle deducible from these long series of eases, it is a law which this court ought to overrule. I can see no ground whatever for such a suggestion. It appears to me that these decisions are founded on good sense, and are good law. These are the decisions of legal luminaries in connection with this question. I have heard during the speech of the hon. and learned Member some remarks about a house with its furniture being compared to a manufactory and its machinery. There is no comparison at all. That was brought in in the Chard case, and the same expressions were used then as have been used today by the hon. and learned Member. But what did the Attorney-General say in reply? Furniture is not driven by shafting and engines. A factory is simply built in order that machinery may be used in it. A house is not built in order that a carpet should be put down. It is put down, as a matter of fact, but that was not the object with which the house was built. That is a sufficient answer to all the legal quibbles we have heard today. I find, in a decision given the other day in a Court of Appeal, the Lord Chief Justice said— He thought it was a question of fact as to whether the presence of machinery enhanced the value of premises. The learned Recorder held that there should be a special valuation, and that such valuation should be for each machine. He thought the valuation should not be separate, but that it should be based on how much the value of the premises had been enhanced by the presence of the machinery. How can hon. Members get over that? We have heard various definitions of movable, immovable, and fixed machinery. I am afraid that many hon. Members do not realise exactly what machinery is when it is fixed. A machine can be put down without any fixing at all. For instance, take a loom. I put many of them down myself, and they are never bolted to the floor at all the a punching machine, or take an engine in a boat, which is only fixed by a few bolts and can be lifted out. Co into a shipyard and see all the punching machines laid down. Their own weight keeps them in their place, and they are driven by electricity. Are these machines put down on the ground and not bolted not to be a rateable quantity? I come now to a cotton factory. Take a spinning frame. That lies on the ground by its own weight, and the looms are also on the floor.

MR. HERBERT WHITELEY (Ashton-under-Lyne)

The looms are all fixed by bolts to the floor.


All I can say-is that I have put down hundreds in my early days, and I never bolted one of them. I do not know what looms the hon. Member is referring to, but canvas looms are never fixed at all, because they are driven from below and kept down by the tightness of the belt. But apart from that altogether, my point is—why should I, as one who runs machinery of a certain class, have to pay rates upon it, whereas the users of another class of machinery in spinning mills are exempt? We obey the law according as it has been laid down by Lord Esher. Who is it that is breaking the law? I think I have shown that the legal aspect is perfectly clear; and that we are bound to rate machinery—whether it be a spinning frame, a power loom, or a punching machine.

There is another aspect of the question. I have often heard of a Member of Parliament loving the working classes, especially when it comes to election times and when he is looking for votes. What is the position of the supporters of this Bill? There is a dead machine made of cast iron, or steel, or whatever it may be. There is also a man—a human machine—and you want to take taxation from the dead machine and put it on the man. That is what hon. Members want to do. [An HON. MEMBER: "No, no!"] The hon. Member says "No, no," but will he tell me how he is going to get the money? You have not shown how you are to raise the money. That ought to be done, but it has not been done. If machinery were not rated, it would mean in my own town of Sunderland an increase in the rates of 4d. in the pound. At Gateshead, which I have the honour of representing, and where nearly every working man owns his own house and works hard, morning, noon, and night, it would mean an increase in the rates of 5d. in the pound. And, forsooth, hon. Members come here and ask to be relieved of their legitimate burdens. It is not fair, and it is not right. The title of the Bill is not honest, because a good many Members thought that it proposed that machinery was to be rated.

Now I come to the practical point of view. It is very strange that the textile trade has opposed every progressive measure that has ever been introduced. It opposed the Factory Acts, the restriction of child labour, and now it wants to be relieved of its rates. Why should it be relieved, and the burden put upon working men and working women in this country? That is not human progress. That is not human weal. The manufacturers want to make bigger dividends; but I am not afraid to pay my rates and take my chance, although others come to the House whining about foreign competition, and declaring that they will have to shut up their mills, and that Lancashire will be turned into a desert. I should like to see these Gentlemens bank balances. I have no right to be asked to pay my rates if they are to escape. I have shown conclusively that the Lord Chief Justice. Lord Esher, Lord Justice Lindley, and Lord Justice Lopes are opposed to the principle of this Bill, and the contrary cannot be proved. Why have hon. Members introduced such a Bill? I could understand it, if they could show how the money was to be raised otherwise, without oppressing the working classes of this country. If this Bill passes, it will mean an increase in West Ham of 7d. in the pound and in Battersea of 4d. in the pound. That is not right. The House of Commons was never meant to put oppression on the working classes of this country. We in the North of England are obeying the law according to the decision of the judges I have read, and I would appeal to hon. Members on both sides, in the interests of the benefit and the weal of the workers of this country, to reject this Bill.

*(3.56.) MR JAMES HOPE (Sheffield, Brightside)

After the highly dramatic character of the speech to which the House has just listened, hon. Members will, I am afraid, be indisposed to attend to the few dull remarks I intend to make. Although I do not feel justified in voting against the Second Reading of this Bill, at the same time I am bound to say that unless it is very materially changed, or unless it is demonstrated that the evils apprehended from its adoption are unfounded, I shall feel it my duty, though with great reluctance, to oppose it assiduously at its later stages. If it be true that, under this Bill, costly plant which has been rated for years, and which is more valuable than the buildings which contain it, will he entirely exempt from rates, and if in consequence, in certain unions, the rateable value will be reduced by no less than from 20 to 30 per cent., I do not think that the House would have any right to pass this Bill into law, and thereby transfer a burden from an industrial concerns to the shoulders of the poorer classes of ratepayers. I listened with great interest to the speech of the hon. Member for the Pudsey Division, because from it I detected a possibility of some agreement being arrived at at a later stage. He said it was a matter of definition, and if at a later stage some definition can he framed which would exempt machinery, which I think most of us would wish to see exempt, such as machinery in the textile industry, which is of very small value as compared with the structure which covers it, and would not exempt heavier and more costly machinery, that would, I believe, be a satisfactory solution. If this is impossible, I shall vote against the Bill at a later stage. I fully sympathise with the industries which are suffering from the great burden of local rates, and I think that that burden ought to be largely reduced by imperial subventions. But, however that may be, I should not he justified in taking any part in supporting a Bill the result of which would be to lay heavy and grievous burdens upon the shoulders of other ratepayers.

*(4.2.) SIR EDWARD STRACHEY (Somersetshire, S.)

It so happens that I represent the part of the country concerned in the Chard case, to which reference has been made. Chard is a small borough of about 5,000 inhabitants, in an agricultural district. In his remarks on the Chard case, which is considered to be the test case in this matter, my hon. friend the Member for Gateshead no doubt did not wish intentionally to mislead the House. But when that decision was appealed against, the Assessment Committee did not venture to carry their case to the House of Lords, but a compromise was come to, by which the rating was reduced to a very great extent, this showing that the Chard Assessment Committee did not venture to enforce the extraordinary doctrine laid down by the then Master of the Rolls as regards the rating of movable machinery. The hon. Member for Gateshead, in his speech, suggested that hon. Members made very different speeches in the House from those they delivered before their constituents. All I can say is that I, at any rate, am clear from that charge. I have no interest whatever except in the land; I have nothing whatever to do with any manufacture; therefore it cannot be said that I am supporting a Bill which will put money into my pocket by exempting machinery from rates. The hon. Member argued that if any kind of machinery were put into a building, the value of that building would be increased, and that therefore the assessment should be increased. No doubt he was referring to large buildings and large machinery. But his argument would apply equally to sewing machines, and, if his doctrine were carried out, you ought to tax at a higher rate a cottage in which a woman has a sewing machine, because she is certainly making more money in that house than she would without the machine. To a certain extent, indeed, that is being done at the present moment. In a small agricultural village in my own constituency, the sewing machines, thirty-six in number, used in connection with the gloving industry, have been put into an old stable. The girls had formerly been in the habit of doing the gloving in their own homes. But it was found more convenient that they should bring their own sewing machines on to their employers' premises to be worked by a motor. In consequence of this removal, the Assessment Committee have nearly doubled the assessment. It is therefore ridiculous to say that this question applies only to the large industries of our great towns. If the present law is maintained, it will strike at the small industries, such as that of gloving, and the chances are that they will be destroyed by excessive rating.

Then I should like to look at the matter from the agricultural point of view. We are constantly having complaints from all over the country of the depopulation of the rural districts. We are told that we ought to revive village industries, and keep the people on the land. There is no doubt that, owing to the large amount of land laid down in grass, it is much more difficult to get continuous employment on the land, both for the men themselves and also for the boys and girls. But these village industries, such as gloving, lace making and webbing, and so on, have a direct effect. It is a great advantage to the working men in these districts if their girls are able to go into these small factories or buildings and take their own sewing-machines. It keeps the population together; it keeps the people on the soil; and it certainly increases the amount of money going into the homes, because the girls can earn good wages. If, however, you shut up these factories by over-rating or over-assessing them, the girls will lose their employment, with the result that, a certain amount of money being required to keep the home going, and the men not being able to get it owing to agricultural depression and bad prices, the men will be forced into the big towns, where they can get higher wages and find employment for their boys and girls. While the large factories might stand the increased rating, the small factories cannot.

The hon. Baronet the Member for the Chester-le-Street Division stated that the Chambers of Agriculture were opposing this Bill. I think he must have been referring to the fact that the Council of the Central Chamber of Agriculture had again passed a resolution opposing the Bill. That is so; but, on the other hand, it is to be noted that many leading members of the Central Chamber of Agriculture, who before opposed the Bill, have expressed their intention of not opposing it this session. Only yesterday, the hon. Member for South Kent, who before opposed the Bill, announced his intention of not opposing it; and I believe my hon. friend the Member for East Northamptonshire, who also opposed the Bill before, is now prepared to support it. I believe the ground on which they have come to that decision is this: that, as the Royal Commission on Local Taxation have made it clear that a change is required in this matter, and that is they are prepared to support the Royal Commission generally, and to ask the House of Commons to make changes in the incidence of local taxation as regards agricultural land, it would not be fair, they think, to pick and choose, to ask for relief from rates on land, and at the same time refuse to support that part of the Royal Commission's Report which says that movable machinery ought not to be rated. One cannot help hoping that the Government will also not pick and choose in this matter. If they are going in the future to adopt the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Local Taxation in order to give relief to the agricultural interest, they ought at the same time to give relief to the manufacturing interest, if it is unfairly taxed; they should treat all sides on the same footing. It has been urged that "you are relieving personal property." Nothing of the sort. At the present moment, one kind and a very small percentage of personal property is taxed, while the rest is not. That is not fair. If it was proposed that all personal property should bear its equal together with realty of local rates, I should be the first to support the proposal, but until such a system is adopted I do not see the justice of taxing one form of personal property only. I shall, therefore, heartily support the Bill.

*(4.13.) MR. ERNEST GRAY (West Ham, N.)

I represent a district where it is the practice to rate machinery. During this debate, there has been placed in my hand a Return from which I should like to quote a short passage. The rateable value of the county borough of West Ham is £1,200,000. The rateable value of premises within the county borough containing machinery, in addition to the plant used for first motive power, is just over £200,000. I am told, on the authority of our Borough Accountant, that if this Bill were passed, and the exemptions provided for allowed, the rateable value of that property would be reduced from £200,000 to £146,000. Inasmuch as a penny rate produced annually £5,000, we should need a 5½d. rate to make good the loss so sustained. The rate for the last half-year is 5s. 4d. in the pound, and I have to face the fact that if this Bill were adopted, the artisan population, the small shopkeepers, and all those outside the manufacturing class, would have to bear this additional burden of 5½d. in the pound. The total rateable value of West Ham is £1,200,000, and the rateable value of the buildings containing machinery within the borough is just over £200,000. The passing of this Bill would reduce this last figure to £146,000, and to make up the difference would necessitate an extra rate of 5½d. in the pound. If I stop there, I shall be driven to the conclusion that I ought to vote against the Second Reading of this Bill. But I do not think that that is by any means the end of the story. I have first to look at the influence of the present system upon the borough itself, and then I think one is bound to take more than a mere local view, and look at the question from a national point of view. What are the results of taxing our machinery as heavily as we are doing at the present time? We are at a disadvantage with the whole of our competitors in districts where machinery is not taxed. Tender after tender is thrown back at us because we cannot quote on the same terms with districts which are favoured in this matter; and whatever is done, there is one thing on which there can be no doubt—that one system, and one only, should prevail throughout the whole country, and that that system should be clear and well-defined, presenting no difficulties whatever to assessment committees, and giving every merchant and manufacturer full knowledge of what fate will befall the introduction of every new machine into his premises.

Everyone in the same trade should be on a similar footing throughout the country, but they are not at the present time. We rate machinery, and the artisan does not bear the tax which otherwise he would do. But we shall not have the machinery to rate much longer at the rate we are going on; and the position I am forced into is that, in the interests of the artisans themselves, and in order to provide employment for the district, we must take care that we do not drive the machinery out of the country. The tale comes to me over and over again from my own district that it is more profitable to establish new developments abroad than at home. I believe that we are manufacturing a greater variety of articles in my constituency than in any county borough in the kingdom. It is no uncommon practice amongst manufacturers in that district to have one depôt at home and another abroad. In some cases part of the work is carried on in Germany, Belgium, and elsewhere, and part at home; and it is the fashion nowadays to turn firms into limited liability companies. It is also a common practice, when new machinery is to be laid down, to consider carefully whether it should be laid down in England or abroad, and the course which is being taken with alarming rapidity is to lay down new machinery abroad, where it will be free from objectionable restrictions.

In my own district in many cases it has been proved to be more profitable to establish new developments abroad than at home, and there are at this moment works being completed outside my own borough with the object of ultimately shifting from the district firms which have been established there for over a century, but who now find the existing taxation utterly intolerable, and they must go farther afield. The result of retaining such a system will be that the artisan will have to bear the existing taxation and the additional taxation, and he would have to bear it with a diminished chance of securing employment. What is it that we are lamenting day by day? We are declaring that our manufacturers are slow to introduce the most modern machinery, and that our American competitors are going ahead of us at a rate which creates considerable alarm. Our competitors are going ahead because they are always ready to adopt improvements in machinery, and because they are always ready to take up every appliance which will increase the output and diminish the cost of production in any particular trade. Is it to be wondered at that our English manufacturers hesitate to introduce new machinery and carefully count the cost when some new invention is brought under their notice? They are bound to add up what it will cost to introduce new machinery and calculate what the local rate upon it will be, and consider what the margin of profit will be after those rates are paid. The rate in my district at the present time on the assessed value of every new machine brought into every one of those West Ham factories is 10s. in the pound.

The result of carrying the story a little bit farther than my hon. friend the Member for Derby carried it, draws me to the conclusion that I am bound to support the Second Reading of this Bill, in spite of the fact that I am the representative of a large industrial population, for it is in their interest that the work should remain in their own district. This drift of work abroad may not be going on in other parts of the country to the same extent as in my constituency. I know that it is well known in the House that this Bill cannot proceed any farther this year. It is not likely to be placed upon the Statute book this session, but my interest is not diminished in it on that account. I am glad that this debate has arisen and that this subject has been brought before the House, because I want to impress strongly upon the Government the fact that they ought to take this question in hand. Such questions as rating and valuation ought not to be left for private Member's to deal with. This is an Imperial matter, and it is a question for the Imperial Government, which ought to be taken in hand by them boldly and without any further delay. We have been put off year after year, and we have been constantly told "You must wait for the Report of the Royal Commission." The Royal Commission has reported, and it has recommended this course amongst other changes. This is not the only change, and I want to see the whole of their recommendations put into force, for I can hardly think that the Royal Commission had in their mind the adoption piecemeal of their policy. Part of their policy was that certain local rates should be nationalised, that personalty should bear its full share, and in particular that our School Board rate charge for popular education should be a charge upon the National Exchequer and not upon the local rates. I appeal to the President of the Local Government Board to look into the matter more closely than I gather he has done from his speech which is reported in the Press this morning.


There was no speech reported, for I made no speech.


Then shall I say comments?


I simply received the deputation, and they put their case before me, and the remarks I made were simply in reference to their statements.


I am glad to hear this statement, because I gathered from the reports in the papers that the right hon. Gentleman was opposed to the passage of this Bill, and therefore I am delighted to have the assurance he has just given us. I hope we may have his actual opinion in the course of this debate. I have urged him to recommend the Government to deal with this question as a whole and without any unnecessary delay. There are many districts where bankruptcy is staring them in the face, if some of the factories are allowed to be removed, and West Ham may easily be in this position. My right hon. friend knows full well that we cannot maintain our position under present circumstances, and our future is in jeopardy. We seek relief on lines which can be applied to the country as a whole. I realise that not only will this be to the benefit of our own people, but also that you cannot impose this tax throughout the textile districts without inflicting great misery there. It is, however, our duty to deal with this question from a national and not a local paint of view. As the hon. Member for Derby put it, I would gladly see the means of production exempt from taxation so that, free and unfettered, our country may hold its own and secure comfort for the artisan population and prosperity for the country as a whole.

*(4.27.) MR. H. J. WILSON (Yorkshire, W.R., Holmfirth)

This is by no means so simplea problem as has been represented. The question of personal interest has been introduced into this matter, but I may point out that my own constituency is divided in opinion upon this subject. When the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street was speaking, the hon. Member for Pudsey asked him to define "machinery," but when the hon. Member for Pudsey spoke he made no attempt himself to define machinery, and we have not been told by anybody what kind of machinery is to come under the operation or is to be excluded if this measure passes. In the Brightside Division of Sheffield there is a very large amount of heavy machinery, but it is not so attached, as I understand the term, to the soil or the buildings that it would be excluded from the operation of this Bill. A large hole is dug in the ground, and a large quantity of brickwork or concrete with iron rods coming up to the level of the ground is constructed, and then very heavy machinery is screwed down upon that foundation. Nothing needs to be done to remove it except to loosen a few nuts and take it away, and I do not see how you are going to draw a distinction between machinery fixed in this way with bolts perhaps as thick as my arm, and the light machinery used so hugely in Lancashire which is fastened with much smaller bolts. I will give two or three actual cases of the enhanced rateable value of buildings by reason of the machinery they contain. A small building, which is only rated at £15 a year, is increased to £41 a year, that is to say £26 is added. I will take one or two other cases. There is a case in which the building itself, irrespective of machinery, has a ratable value of £90. By reason of machinery being in it, there is an added value which makes it altogether three times as much. I take a larger building which has a rateable value of £7,000. By reason of the value of the machinery the increase is over £20,000, making altogether nearly £28,000. In this Brightside position of the union of Sheffield I find that buildings, having a rateable value of £55,000 the added value created by the machinery is £77,000. The machinery, therefore, represents 58 per cent. of the assessment, and the buildings only 42 per cent. The exemption of machinery from rating in this part of the union of Sheffield would increase the rates on the rest of property from 9s. in the £ to 11s. 3d. That is a very serious matter. I ought, however to say that this district does not comprise the whole of the Sheffield union, and I am unable to say what the increase in the rate would be if it were spread over the whole union, it would certainly be considerably more than the 4d. or 5½d. in the pound mentioned by previous speakers as the probable amount of the increase in the rates. The deficiency that would I have to be made up might amount to £29,000 or £30,000, and the question would be—Who is to find the money? Obviously it must come from somewhere, and, therefore, I want to urge what has been urged by many others—that the question should not be dealt with in this piecemeal way, and that the Government should take it up and see whether they could not find some way by which the rating system of the whole country could be harmonised without doing the gross injustice which I think would be done in the district I live in if this Bill were passed. The manufacturers would gain £29,000, and they show no systems of deep poverty. They appear to be getting on very comfortably indeed. Some means should be found by which this glaring anomaly would be removed, and at the same time there should not be such an utter dislocation of rating as would put a lot of money into the pockets of wealthy men and necessarily take it out of the pockets of those who are less wealthy. I am told that is not intended to apply to the kind of machinery I am talking about. I do not know what is intended. I know what is in the Bill; and I know that it must inevitably have that effect. If the Government would take it up in earnest they might be able to find some way in which the change could be brought about possibly by a somewhat gradual method, which would not cause the same inconvenience as must necessarily be caused if the Bill were passed in the form in which it is now presented.


It is not because I have anything to add to what has been said on either side that I now take part in the debate. It is because I am prepared to announce on behalf of His Majesty's Government that we do not propose to take any action different from that which has been taken by all previous Governments on this question. The question has always been loft to the House to decide; and I do not propose to advise the House to take any different line to-day. Appeals have been made to the Government that they should take this particular matter up and deal with it as part of the revision of the whole system of valuation and assessment. On the general question I would express the opinion that if Parliament is to be asked to give direction to assessment authorities it should be in the form of a Bill altering the assessment authorities of the country, and seeking to secure uniformity amongst them, rather than by trying to define what shall be rated and what shall not be rated. It seems to me that the very interesting debate to which we have listened has fallen very short of what those of us who have been anxiously waiting to get some information might naturally have expected. We have heard a great deal on both sides as to rating from hon. Members representing certain districts. Earlier in the afternoon we on this side of the House had the monotony of the proceedings relieved by a lively conflict as to whether some hon. Members who had spoken were entitled to represent the North of England. Be that as it may, nobody represents a particular district in a matter of this kind. The Bill is supported by hon. Members who represent constituencies where they believe injustice is being done by the rating of machinery. On the other hand, where the local assessment committees do not rate machinery, and where there is no feeling of injustice at present, the Bill is supported in some cases, because it is believed that if this legislation is not passed the example of the other districts will be followed throughout the country. It is opposed by those who naturally and rightly hold that if this Bill passes and gives relief to those who now pay rates, the money they pay must be paid by somebody else. I am not going to depart from the rule I have laid down, the rule followed by my predecessors, and attempt to influence the House on one side or another.

My duty, it seems to me, is to briefly summarise the facts for and against the Bill, and leave the House to decide whether they think this change is one which it would be right to make, I am bound to emphasise the fact that there is no intention on the part of His Majesty's Government to propose now, or at any future time, that the gap left by the exemption of machinery from rating will be filled by contributions from the Imperial Exchequer. It is not alleged that this machinery, which is rated in certain places, does not form a very important part of the premises in respect of which it is rated, but it is urged that the machinery is rated as it ought not to be rated. I cannot admit that there is any doubt as to the law. The direction to assessment committees is perfectly clear. The direction to the assessment committees is to make such an assessment as is in their opinion fair, based on the rent which the hereditaments would let for. The assessment committees now take the property as they find it. No one has shown that premises, say in Norwich, of equal value and character to premises in another town where machinery is not rated, are assessed higher. No individual case of hardship has been advanced, except by the hon. Member for North-West Ham, and in the hon. Gentleman's statement I cannot help thinking there is some element of exaggeration. At all events, I have never heard that the disasters which many foresee impending over British industry are caused or accentuated by the fact that in some parts of England machinery of a movable character is rated. But if the House see fit to adopt the Bill today, they must do it bearing in mind the fact that a very large amount of rates is now produced from property which would cease to be rated if this Bill became operative, and that that money will have to be found by somebody, and that it will not be found out of the Imperial Exchequer. Other classes of property, therefore, will have to pay the rates now paid by machinery; and of that fact I wish to remind hon. Members as plainly and forcibly as I can.

It is twelve years since I first took part in a debate on this question from the Treasury Bench. On that occasion I spoke both from the Local Government Board point of view, and also from the point of view of an agricultural Member, as I then was. I felt bound then, as an agriculturist, to offer my opposition to the Bill upon two grounds. The first ground I have already stated; and the second is that, if an extra charge has to be borne by one class of property as distinct from another, I was not prepared to let agriculture take over the extra share. I admit that from the agricultural point of view the case has materially improved, because the passing of the Agricultural Rating Act has largely removed the grievances of agricultural ratepayers in regard to the incidence of rating. Therefore I will not now dwell upon the position of agriculture. I had also on a recent occasion to approach this question from the point of view of the general principles of local taxation, and from that point of view I would say a few words. Appeals have been made to the Government to take up this question. My hon. friend the Member for North West Ham made a forcible appeal, and expressed regret, if he did not complain, that we had not already dealt with the question. I am sure that my hon. friend will admit that we already have enough legislation on hand for this session. The Government, in dealing with local taxation, would, I think, be compelled to approach it from a general point of view, and to deal with it as a whole; and I regard with some apprehension proposals to deal with part of the question in a somewhat novel way. The hon. Member for Gateshead, in a very animated speech, pointed out that the effect of the Bill would be to exempt certain machinery from rating, and that therefore it ought to be called a Rating Exemption Bill. But that involves a novel practice. Hitherto it has been left to assessment committees to decide what should be the basis of their assessment. Now it is proposed, in the interest of the owners of a particular class of property, to enact that certain machinery shall not be rated, and we are told that legislation of that kind will prevent litigation. But are the promoters of the Bill certain that in avoiding existing dangers and difficulties they are not running the risk of dangers at least as great by their new legislation? They proposed that machinery capable of being removed from the premises without necessitating the removal of any part of the hereditament should not be rated. It is, however, easy to conceive of machinery of a very valuable kind which can be taken in and out of premises without any alteration of the premises at all. On the other hand, there may be machinery of a heavier character which would require considerable alteration to the premises before it could be taken in or out. That heavier machinery would be liable to be rated, whereas the machinery producing the larger revenue would be exempt. That does not appear to me to be a satisfactory solution of the difficulty.

This is not really a national question; it is a question of injustice as between people in districts where machinery is rated and people in districts where machinery is not rated. It is essentially a local question, which can be dealt with by the people in the localities and by their representatives. It is no injustice to the ratepayers in a particular district that they should be rated in a particular way. They send their own representatives to the assessment committee, and if they are not satisfied, either with their own assessment or that of their neighbours, they can appeal; and if they still disapprove they can turn out the assessment committee. Therefore I do not think it is quite right to regard this as a national question. Further, it is only in a limited number of cases where this machinery is rated; and consequently it is only a question between different parts of the same country. I can understand the grievance of the hon. Member for Norwich, who contends that in Norwich they have to pay an extra rate on machinery, and that therefore they cannot compete with their neighbours who do not pay that rate. That is not a national question, but a question between the people of Norwich and the people in places where machinery is not rated. The hon. Member's argument tended to this—not that there should be exemption from rating of different kinds of machinery, but that the principle which applies in Norwich should be applied all over the country. This is essentially a local question, which can be dealt with by the people themselves in the localities and by their representatives. It is not a case in which the Government can take up the Bill and deal with it themselves; because, if they did not make up the deficit which would be created, there would be the strongest opposition from all parts of the country, and they would be told they ought to make up the deficit out of the Imperial Exchequer. That is a proposal which the Government are not prepared to make.

MR. McCRAE (Edinburgh, E.)

Why? You did it in the Agricultural Rating Bill.


I have already told the House that the Government adopted that policy because they believed the incidence of rating upon a particular class of property was unjust, and that they were contributing altogether out of proportion to their ability. It has not been suggested in this case that these industries were rated beyond their means. I confess there is a great deal to be said for and against the Biil, but the Government are absolutely neutral in the matter. I cannot hold out any hope that the passing of the Bill would impose on the Government the obligation of giving it any further assistance this session. The Government have quite enough to do of their own without adding to their programme, and however pathetic the appeal may be, they would have to turn a deaf ear to it.

(4.58.) MR. MATHER (Lancashire, Rossendale)

I am very anxious that the House should come to a decision, but I wish to call attention to one or two misunderstandings which were patent in the course of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. The right hon. Gentleman assumed that all machine makers and machine users are at the present time taxed according to law for rating purposes; and that this taxation is practically universal throughout the country, though on different scales and under different rules. I should also like the right hon. Gentleman to understand that we are not seeking by legislation to prevent an entirely new and unaccustomed tax being placed on machinery of all kinds.


I am afraid I cannot accept either of these interpretations of my speech.


For the last sixty years, and, in fact, ever since the Act of 1840 was passed, we have been prepared to take the law as it is interpreted by the common sense of the country, and by the common action of the assessment committees throughout England, Scotland, and Wales. We have no desire to alter the law. We pay our tribute as manufacturers to the general taxation of the locality in entire conformity with the interpretation of the law since 1840. The difficulty has arisen by the intrepretation which has been recently put by certain judges on the law, though not by the common sense of the country. On all the occasions on which this Bill has passed its Second Reading, we have been accustomed to receive from the respective Governments of the day a certain amount of benevolence, and they have not interfered with the option of the House in passing this measure. I am sorry that on this occasion the right hon. Gentleman has given a lead to the opposition to the Bill, which I have no doubt will be taken full advantage of. I do not suppose that any words of mine will alter the effect of the right hon. Gentleman's words on the House, but should like to say that it is impossible to conceive such an alteration taking place as that mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman, or that in certain districts the burden of taxation will be shifted from the manufacturers to the working classes. The passing of this Bill will make no difference whatever in the incidence of taxation. Manufacturers will continue to pay the same rates to local government. Owing to the recent judgments, encouragement has been given to assessment committees to assess each machine individually, and if that practice is continued, nine-tenths of the industries throughout the country will have to bear a burden not carried by any other industry with which I am acquainted. If all the small machines, tools, and appliances required to carry on a scientific industry nowadays, with much greater precision and much greater economy than was thought of sixty years ago, are to be taxed, it will place an additional embargo on these industries, to the disadvantage of the English manufacturer. I would urge the House to pass this Bill for the simple reason that it will prevent a large and unnecessary burden being put on manufacturers who are already paying their fair share of local taxation. It will not alter the condition of things on the Tyneside or elsewhere. Buildings, and what they contain, will be valued as they are today, though not each individual machine. That is all that is asked for. If the decisions recently given are to be adopted by assessment committees, then an enormous amount of money will have to be raised by the manufacturers, who should have every relief they can, in order to enable them to compete with their rivals all over the world. I earnestly hope the House will look at the Bill in that broad spirit and give it a Second Reading.


rose in his place and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put;" but Mr. SPEAKER withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.

Debate resumed.

(5.8.) MR. DAVID MACIVER (Liverpool, Kirkdale)

I am one of those, and I think there are many others outside the House, who would wish to see the industries of this country relieved as far as possible from the burden of taxation. I certainly wish to see the manufacturer and the agriculturist relieved; but how can it be done? If the view of the President of the Local Government Board be correct, that machinery can only be relieved at the expense of the ratepayer, I certainly should not vote for this Bill; but I believe there are other shoulders who can very much better bear the burden than manufacturers. The looker-on perhaps sees most of the game. I am not a manufacturer, and I represent a constituency where there are no manufactures, but where there is a very strong objection indeed to paying rates. My constituents are perfectly right, and I entirely sympathise with them in that respect; and if the effect of this Bill would be to put the burden on other sections of the community I would very strongly oppose it. But I do not believe that that need be the case. I welcome this Bill and the source from which it comes. It comes from a more or less Free Trade source, and yet it is a Bill to protect the manufacturers by relieving them of part of their machinery rates. I am one of those who believe that the British manufacturer and the British agriculturist should be helped, and I think it is perfectly possible to help them without putting any additional burden whatever on the rateyayers of the country. Many of my constituents think they are paying rates which might well be regarded as Imperial charges, and my constituents are not singular in that respect. Let me look at this Bill from a manufacturer's point of view. I have in my hand a statement carefully prepared from the Board of Trade Returns for the year 1890, and it shows that our imported manufactures in that year amounted to £139,708,000. Nearly all of that was in competition with British labour. I am in favour of every possible exemption from taxation in the interests of the industries of this country, and for that reason I will support the Bill.


again rose in his place and claimed to move "That the Question be now put;" but Mr. SPEAKER withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.


My constituents are very much interested in this question, and I am sure I am doing my duty to them in saying a few words in favour of it. Not only from the factory owners in Norwich, but also from the factory employees I have received urgent appeals to support this measure. Norwich is peculiarly situated in being the metropolis of an agricultural district, and agriculture is not what is called booming at the present

time. As a result of recent decisions there have been frequent appeals in connection with this matter, and I am told that if these appeals go on, something like £20,000 or £30,000 will have to be expended by the manufacturers in defending their interests. What we as traders say, is that the House of Commons should make a law which should be the law for all the land. We do not think that we should be required to spend large sums of money in defending the question as to whether we have machinery fixed or not, and I regret very much that the Government have not seen their way to give the proposals of this Bill a leg up, so to speak, and to help the measure being passed into law this session.

(5.13.) Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes, 182; Noes, 143. (Division List No. 94.)

Agg-Gardner, James Tynte Churchill, Winston Spencer Fuller, J. M. F.
Aird, Sir John Clare, Octavius Leigh
Allen, Charles P (Glouc., Stroud Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.
Anson, Sir William Reynell Coddington, Sir William Galloway, William Johnson
Austruther, H. T. Coghill, Douglas Harry Gibbs, Hn A. G. H. (City of Lond.
Arrol, Sir William Cohen, Benjamin Louis Goddard, Daniel Ford
Austin, Sir John Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick
Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow Gordon, Hn J. E. (Elgin&Nairn)
Craig, Robert Hunter Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon
Bailey, James (Walworth) Cripps, Charles Alfred Gray, Ernest (West Ham)
Baird, John George Alexander Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton) Groves, James Grimble
Baldwin, Alfred Crossley, Sir Savile Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill
Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton
Banbury, Frederick George Guthrie, Walter Murray
Banes, Major George Edward Dalrymple, Sir Charles
Bartley, George C. T. Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)
Bentinck, Lord Henry C. Denny, Colonel
Bignold, Arthur Dickson, Charles Scott Hall, Edward Marshall
Black, Alexander, William Dixon-Hartland Sir Fred Dixon Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F.
Bond, Edward Dorington, Sir John Edward Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil
Bowles, T. Gibson (King's Lynn) Doughty, George Hardy, Laurence (Kent Ashford
Brigg, John Doxford, Sir William Theodore Harwood, George
Broadhurst, Henry Duke, Henry Edward Haslam, Sir Alfred S.
Brotherton, Edward Allen Duncan, J. Hastings Haslett, Sir James Horner
Bryce, Rt. Hon. James Dunn, Sir William Hay, Hon. Claude George
Bullard, Sir Harry Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale-
Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur D.
Emmott, Alfred Helme, Norval Watson
Caine, William Sproston Hoare, Sir Samuel
Caldwell, James Hornby, Sir William Henry
Campbell, Rt. Hn. J A (Glasgow Farquharson, Dr. Robert Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry
Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H. Fergusson, Rt Hn. Sir J. (Manc'r Hoult, Joseph
Canston, Richard Knight FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose- Howard, J. (Midd., Tottenham
Cavendish, V. C W. (Derbyshire Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond Hozier, Hon. James Henry Cecil
Cayzer, Sir Charles William Flannery, Sir Fortescue
Chamberlayne, T. (S'thampton Flower, Ernest
Channing, Francis Allston Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.) Jackson, Rt. Hon. Wm. Lawies
Charrington, Spencer Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Johnston, William (Belfast)
Kemp, George Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay Stevenson, Francis S.
Knowles, Lees Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart
Stone, Sir Benjamin
Partington, Oswald Strachey, Sir Edward
Lawrence, Joseph (Monmouth) Penn, John
Layland-Barratt, Francis Perks, Robert William
Leigh, Sir Joseph Pilkmgton, Lieut.-Col. Richard Thornton, Percy M.
Levy, Maurice Powell, Sir Francis Sharp Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray
Logan, John William Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Lonsdale, John Brownlee Tuke, Sir John Batty
Lough, Thomas Ratcliff, R. F.
Lowe, Francis William Rattigan, Sir William Henry
Reid, James (Greenock) Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)
Reid, Sir R. Threshie (Dumfries)
Macdona, John Cumming Richards, Henry Charles
MacIver, David (Liverpool) Ridley, Hon M. W. (Stalybridge Wallace, Robert
M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool) Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield) Walrond, Rt. Hn. Sir William H.
M'Crae, George Robertson, Edmund (Dundee) Walton, John Lawson (Leeds, S.
M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire) Robertson, Herbert (Hackney) Wanklyn, James Leslie
M'Laren, Charles Benjamin Rolleston, Sir John F. L. Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)
Malcolm, Ian Royds, Clement Molyneux Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)
Massey-Mainwaring, Hn. W. F. Runciman, Walter White, George (Norfolk)
Mather, William Russell, T. W. Whiteley, George (York, W. R.)
Maxwell, Rt. Hn. Sir H E (Wigt'n Rutherford, John Whiteley, H (Ashton und. Lyne
Mildmay, Francis Bingham Willox, Sir John Archibald
Milvain, Thomas Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)
Morley, Rt. Hn. John (Montrose Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel) Wilson, John (Falkirk)
Moulton, John Fletcher Schwann, Charles E. Wilson, John (Glasgow)
Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C. Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh) Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath)
Murray, Rt. Hn. A. Graham (Bute Seely, Charles Hilton (Lincoln) Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm
Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath) Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford) Wrightson, Sir Thomas
Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew
Shipman, Dr. John G.
Nicol, Donald Ninian Sinclair, John (Forfarshire) TELLERS FOR THE AYES— Mr. Chapman and Mr. Holland.
Norman, Henry Smith, James Parker (Lanarks.
Nussey, Thomas Willans Spencer, Rt Hn C. R. (Northants
Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.) Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan Hermon-Hodge, Robert Trotter
Abraham, William (Rhondda) Delany, William Hobhousa, C. E. H. (Bristol, E.)
Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F. Donelan, Captain A. Hobhouse, Henry (Somerset, E.
Allan, William (Gateshead) Doogan, P. C. Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)
Ambrose, Robert Horniman, Frederick John
Atherley-Jones, L. Hudson, George Bickersteth
Edwards, Frank
Elliott, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas
Bain, Colonel James Robert Fenwick, Charles Jacoby, James Alfred
Barry, E. (Cork, S.) Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith) Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick
Bell, Richard Ffreneh, Peter Jordan, Jeremiah
Blake, Edward Field, William Joyce, Michael
Blundell, Colonel Henry Finch, George H.
Bolton, Thomas Dolling Fisher, William Hayes
Bowles, Capt. H. F. (Middlesex) Fitzroy, Hon. Edward Algernon Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir John H.
Brand, Hon. Arthur G. Furness, Sir Christopher
Brymer, William Ernest
Bull, William James Lambert, George
Burns, John Garfit, William Lawson, John Grant
Butcher, John George Gilhooly, James Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie
Gordon, J. (Londonderry, S.) Leveson-Gower, Frederick N. S
Gore, Hn G. R. C. Ormsby-(Salop Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine
Campbell, John (Armagh, S.) Goulding, Edward Alfred Lowther, Rt. Hon. James (Kent)
Carvill, Patrick Geo. Hamilton Grant, Corrie Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft)
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Green, Walford D (Wednesbury Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth
Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry Gunter, Sir Robert Lundon, W.
Clancy, John Joseph
Cogan, Denis J.
Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Hammond, John MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A.
Colomb, Sir John Charles Ready Harris, Frederick Leverton MacNeill, John Gordon Swift
Corbett, T. L. (Down, North) Hayden, John Patrick MacVeagh, Jeremiah
Crean, Eugene Heaton, John Henniker M'Calmont, Col H. L. B (Cambs.
Creamer, William Randal Helder, Augustus M'Kean, John
M'Kenna, Reginald Palmer, George Wm. (Reading) Spear, John Ward
M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North) Pease Herbert Pike (Darlington Spencer, Sir E. (W. Bromwich)
Majendie, James A. H. Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden) Sullivan, Donal
Markham, Arthur Basil Pemberton, John S. G.
Montagu, Hon. J. Scott (Hants. Percy, Earl
Mooney, John J. Pickard, Benjamin Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Moore, William (Antrim, N.) Power, Patrick Joseph Tennant, Harold John
Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptford Price, Robert John Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr
Morton, Edw. J. C. (Devonport) Priestley, Arthur Tollemache, Henry James
Murphy, John Tomkinson, James
Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)
Randles, John S.
Reddy, M. Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)
Nannetti, Joseph P. Redmond, John E. (Waterford) White, Luke (York, E. R.)
Nicholson, William Graham Robinson, Brooke White, Patrick (Meath, North)
Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South) Robson, William Snowdon Whitmore, Charles Algernon
Round, James Williams, Rt. Hn. J Powell (Birm.
O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork) Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)
O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)
O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.) Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford- Wilson Todd, Wm. H. (Yorks.)
O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W. Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander Younger, William
O'Dowd, John Sandys, Lieut.-Col Thos. Myles
O' Kelly, James (Roscommon, N Sheehan, Daniel Daniel
O'Malley, William Simeon, Sir Barrington TELLERS FOR THE NOES— Sir James Joicey and Mr. H. C. Smith.
O'Shaughnessy, P. J. Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)
O'Shee, James John Soames, Arther Wellesley

(5.27.) Main Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes, 170; Noes, 135. (Division List No. 95.)

Agg-Gardner, James Tynte Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow) Harwood, George
Aird, Sir John Craig, Robert Hunter Haslam, Sir Alfred S.
Allen, Charles P.(Gloue., Stroud Cripps, Charles Alfred Haslett, Sir James Horner
Anson, Sir William Reynell Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton) Hay, Hon. Claude George
Anstruther, H. T. Crossley, Sir Savile Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale-
Arrol, Sir William Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur D.
Austin, Sir John Dalrymple, Sir Charles Helme, Norval Watson.
Denny, Colonel Hoare, Sir Samuel
Bailey, James (Walworth) Dickson, Charles Scott Hornby, Sir William Henry
Baird, John George Alexander Dixon-Hartland, Sir Fred Dixon Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry
Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r Dorington, Sir John Edward Hoult, Joseph
Banbury, Frederick George Doughty, George Howard, J. (Midd., Tottenham
Banes, Major George Edward Doxford, Sir William Theodore Hozier, Hon. James Henry Cecil
Bartley, George C. T. Duke, Henry Edward
Bentinck, Lord Henry C. Duncan, J. Hastings Jackson, Rt. Hon. Wm. Lawies
Bignold, Arthur Dunn, Sir William Johnston, William (Belfast)
Black, Alexander William
Bond, Edward Emmott, Alfred Knowles, Lees
Brigg, John Farquharson, Dr. Robert
Broadhurst, Henry Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Manc'r Lawrence, Joseph (Monmouth)
Brotherton, Edward Allen FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose- Layland-Barratt, Francis
Bryce, Rt. Hon. James Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond Leigh, Sir Joseph
Bullard, Sir Harry Flannery, Sir Fortescue Levy, Maurice
Flower, Ernest Logan, John William
Caine, William, Sproston Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Lonsdale, John Brownlee
Caldwell, James Fuller, J. M. F. Lough, Thomas
Campbell, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Glasgow Lowe, Francis William
Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H. Galloway, William Johnson
Causton, Richard Knight Gibbs, Hn. A. G. H. (City of Lond Macdona, John Cumming
Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbyshire Goddard, Daniel Ford MacIver, David (Liverpool)
Cayzer, Sir Charles William Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)
Chamberlayne, T. (S'thampton Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin&Nairn) M'Crae, George
Channing, Francis Allston Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire
Charririgton Spencer Gray, Ernest (West Ham) M'Laren, Charles Benjamin
Churchill, Winston Spencer Groves, James Grimble Malcolm, Ian
Clare, Octavius Leigh Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill Massey-Mainwaring, Hn. W. F.
Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E. Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton Mather, William
Coddington, Sir William Maxwell, Rt. Hn. Sir H E (Wigt'n
Coghill, Douglas Harry Hall, Edward Marshall Mildmay, Francis Bingham
Cohen, Benjamin Louis Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F. Milvain, Thomas
Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil Morley, Rt. Hn. John (Montrose
Moulton, John Fletcher Rolleston, Sir John F. L. Tuke, Sir John Batty
Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C. Runciman, Walter
Murray, Rt. Hn. A. Graham (Bute Russell, T. W. Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)
Rutherford, John
Nicol, Donald Ninian Wallace, Robert
Norman, Henry Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel) Walrond, Rt. Hn. Sir. William H.
Nussey, Thomas Willans Schwann, Charles E. Walton, John Lawson (Leeds, S.
Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh) Wanklyn, James Leslie
Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay Seely, Charles Hilton (Lincoln) Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan
Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford) White, George (Norfolk)
Partington, Oswald Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew Whiteley, George (York, W. R.)
Penn, John Shipman, Dr. John G. Whiteley, H (Ashton und Lyne
Pilkington, Lieut Col. Richard Sinclair, John (Forfarshire) Willox, Sir John Archibald
Powell, Sir Francis Sharp Smith, James Parker (Lanarks) Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.
Speneer, Rt. Hn. C. R. (Northants Wilson, John (Falkirk.)
Ratcliff, R. F. Stevenson, Francis S. Wilson, John (Glasgow)
Reid, James (Greenock) Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R (Bath)
Reid, Sir R. Threshie (Dumfries Stone, Sir Benjamin Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm
Richards, Henry Charles Strachey, Sir Edward Wrightson, Sir Thomas
Ridley, Hn. M. W. (Stalybridge
Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield) Thornton, Percy M.
Robertson, Edmund (Dundee) Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray TELLERS FOE THE AYES— Mr. Chapman and Mr. Holland.
Robertson, Herbert (Hackney) Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.) Grant, Corrie O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork.)
Abraham, William (Rhondda). Green, Walford D. (Wednesb'ry O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny.)
Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex F. Gunter, Sir Robert O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)
Allan, William (Gateshead.) O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.
Ambrose, Robert Hammond, John O'Dowd, John
Atherley-Jones, L. Harris, Frederick Leverton O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N
Hayden, John Patrick O'Malley, William
Bain, Colonel James Robert Holder, Augustus O'Shanghnessy P. J.
Barry, E. (Cork, S.) Hermon-Hodge, Robert Trotter O'Shee, James John
Bell, Richard Hobbouse, C. E. H. (Bristol. E.)
Blake, Edward Hobhouse, Henry (Somerset, E. Palmer, George Wm. (Reading)
Blundell, Colonel Henry Hope, John Deans (Fife, West.) Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlingt'n
Bolton, Thomas Dolling Horniman, Frederick John Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)
Brand, Hon. Arthur G. Hudson, George Bickersteth Pemberton, John S. G.
Bull, William James Pickard, Benjamin
Burns, John Jacoby, James Alfred Power, Patrick Joseph
Butcher, John George Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick Price, Robert John
Jordan, Jeremiah Priestley, Arthur
Campbell, John (Armah, S.) Joyce, Michael
Carvill, Patrick Geo. Hamilton Randles John S.
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor.) Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H. Reddy, M.
Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry Redmond, John E. (Waterford)
Clancy, John Joseph Lambert, George Robinson, Brooke
Cogan, Denis J. Lawson, John Grant Robson, William Snowdon
Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie Round, James
Colomb, Sir John Charles Ready Leveson-Gower, Frederick N. S. Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-
Corbett, T. L. (Down, North.) Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander
Crean, Eugene Lowther, Rt. Hn. James (Kent. Sandys, Lieut.-Col. Thos. Myles
Cremer, William Randal Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft. Simeon, Sir Barrington
Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth Smith, Abel H. (Hertfort, East.)
Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan Lundon, W. Soames, Arthur Wellesley
Delany, William Spear, John Ward
Donelan, Captain A. MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A. Spencer, Sir E. (W. Bromwich.)
Doogan, P. C. MacNeill, John Gordon Swift Sullivan, Donal
MacVeagh, Jeremiah
M'Calmont, Col. H. L. B. (Cambs Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester.)
Edwards, Frank M'Kean, John Tennant, Harold John
Elliott, Hn. A. Ralph Douglas M'Kenna, Reginald Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr
Fenwick, Charles M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North.) Tomkinson, James
Ffrench, Peter Majendie, James A. H.
Field, William Markham, Arthur Basil Walton, Joseph (Barnsley.)
Finch, George H. Montagu Hon. J. Scott (Hants.) White, Luke (York, E. R.)
Fisher, William Hayes Mooney, John J. White, Patrick (Meath, North)
Fitzroy, Hn. Edward Algernon Moore, William (Antrim, N,) Whitmore, Charles Algernon
Furness, Sir Christopher Morton, Edw. J. C. (Devonport Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.
Murphy, John Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)
Garfitt, William Murray, Charles J. (Coventry.) Wilson-Todd, Wm. H. (Yorks.)
Gilhooly, James Younger, William
Gordon, J. (Londonderry, S.) Nannetti, Joseph P. TELLERS FOR THE NOES— Sir James Joicey and Mr. H. C. Smith.
Gore, Hn. G. R. C. Ormsby-(Salop Nicholson, William Graham
Goulding, Edward Alfred Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South.)

Bill read a second time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be committed to the Standing Committee on Trade, &c."—(Mr. Chapman.)

Debate arising; and, it being after half-pa-it Five of the clock, the debate stood adjourned.

Debate to be resumed upon Monday next.