§ Resolution reported.
§ CUSTOMS—CORN, GRAIN, AND MEAL, &C.
§ "That there shall be charged on and after the 15th day of April, 1902, the following Customs import duties—
|Corn and grain of all kinds, and peas, beans, and lentils the cwt.||0||0||3|
|Flour and all kinds of meal and prepared grain, starch, and all farinaceous and starchy substances used as articles of food the cwt.||0||0||5.'|
§ Resolution read a second time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."
§ *(4.42.) SIR EDWARD STRACHEY (Somersetshire, S.)
I think it will be generally admitted that it will be more convenient that upon this question of the tax on corn, grain and flour no Amendment should be moved, and that we should deal with the question upon a broad issue. After a great many years we have again raised in this Budget the question of the corn laws. My right 955 hon. friend the Member for West Mon mouth, the very first moment this tax was proposed, declared emphatically that it was his intention, and the intention of those who sit on this side of the House, to offer the strongest and the most decided opposition to once again placing a tax upon the food of the people of this country. While there will be no Member on this side of the House, whether he sits for a manufacturing or an agricultural constituency, who either by voice or vote will support this iniquitous proposal of His Majesty's Government, we already know from the debates which have taken place that His Majesty's Government cannot depend upon a united following, and that already some of their supporters have announced their intention of voting against the corn duty. I think there will be other hon. Members who will join the three Unionist Members who voted upon the very first opportunity they had against the re-imposition of the corn duties.
We oppose this tax on the ground that it is a tax upon the poorest of the poor, and because it is a tax upon the first necessity of life, and as convinced free traders we see no cause whatever to depart from that doctrine which we have been brought up in, and which we have practised, and which for a generation has been the law of this country. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that these duties would not affect the price of bread because it was so small. I ask hon. Members whether that is not exactly the old fallacy of the old Protectionists? The right hon. Gentleman again said nobody ever objected to the registration duty on the ground of its being a protective duty. The House will remember that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has prided himself upon the idea that this is not a duty upon corn but that it is a mere administrative registration duty. When the right hon. Gentleman says that nobody ever objected to the registration duty his contention is not founded upon fact. Before the corn registration duty was repealed by the Budget of Mr. Lowe in I860, that repeal had been the subject for many years of an agitation by free traders, who declared that this duty though small was a hindrance to trade, and it could not be said while that duty existed that this country was one which allowed free imports. [Ministerial cries of "Quote!"]
§ * SIR. EDWARD STRACHEY
Yes, I will quote the opinion of the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce. They sent a deputation asking Mr. Lowe to abolish the registration duty. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has said that Mr. Gladstone did not object to this registration duty and did not regard it as a tax upon corn, as a tax upon the food of the-people, or an interference with free trade. But in 186G, three years before the registration duty was repealed, Mr. Gladstone in reply to a memorial from the same Chamber of Commerce said this tax was protective in its nature and one that would not be permanently retained as a source of revenue. I think that shows exactly the truefeeling of Mr. Gladstoneasregards that matter, and it is just the sort of feeling we on this side of the House should expect on the part of Mr. Gladstone, who was as strong a free trader as any of us. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has said that the price of bread does not follow small changes and variations. That may be true if you take the small changes and fluctuations of the market from day to day and from week to week. I am ready to grant that that may be so, but that is a very different thing from a permanent increase in the price brought about by the imposition of a duty which will not vary from day to day, but will go on from year to year as a permanent tax, and the consequence will be naturally that the price which is to be paid will be permanently increased by the duty put on by the Government. It is all very well for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to declare that this is a small duty, and that therefore it will be innocuous in its effect upon prices. But the baker will not be able to charge ⅛d. or d. for the reason that there is no coin of the realm of that kind. He must of necessity, in order to meet the extra charge which is put on the price of flour as a permanent charge, either charge ¼d. or ½d. more per quartern loaf, and as a matter of fact this is. exactly what the bakers are doing. Already in London there has been an increase in the price of the quartern loaf of ½d., and I see it reported that in some 957 districts actually the price is increased by a 1d., showing that the bakers are well alive to the fact that they will have to pay more for their flour.
Well, it may be said that the foreigner will pay this. I would like to point out to the right hon. Gentleman that a paper, which I believe supports His Majesty's Government, the Economist, and which has called this Budget a most vicious and reactionary Budget. It says—The very convenient theory that the: foreigner will pay has been promptly negatived by the advances in the prices of wheat and Hour that have taken place since the Budget was introduced. In spite of all Sir M. Hicks Beach had to say thereupon the new duties must constitute a tax upon the food of the people.Then again, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has told us that the object of His Majesty's Government in the reimposition of the tax upon corn and flour is to broaden the basis of indirect taxation. He says it is not a war tax. It is not a tax which the country is asked to submit to on the ground that it is a hateful necessity when we are at war, and because we are so crippled in our resources that it is absolutely necessary to tax the bread of the people, and to tax the feeding stuffs of the farmers. Well free trader as I am, I admit that if His Majesty's Government had come down here and said that, in consequence of the war and of the great difficulty we were in, that we were on our knees, and that it was a matter of life and death, I, for one, having always supported the Government in carrying on the war, and having been always ready to support them in every possible way in carrying on the fight to the finish, would nave voted for this tax, but it would have been only, under such circumstances, as an absolutely hateful necessity. But that is not the case at the present moment. We are not asked to vote this tax for the purpose of carrying on the war. There is no difficulty in this great and powerful country carrying on the war to a successful issue without descending to the mean necessity of taxing the poor man's bread. But it is to be a means of broadening the basis of taxation. That may be necessary because of the extravagant way in which His Majesty's Government have spent the money of the taxpayer, quite apart from the war. In 958 addition to the Sinking Fund now suspended, the annual expenditure has increased by 32 millions. This was recognised by the Junior Member for Oldham, who said—Besides, when the war was over, the Sinking Fund would have to be revived, and the income tax reduced. in fact, future expenditure meant serious taxation of bread and meat, and other necessaries of the people. It also meant the raising of Fair Trade issues. (VINCENT: Hear, hear!) A tax honestly imposed merely for revenue would become Protective in its character.Then, again, the sentiment that this is-a Protectionist tax is recognised by my hon. friend the Member for Lincoln. He said—It was Protection of the worse kind. When they saw with what pleasure and gratitude it was received in certain quarters, it was difficult not to say it was not Protective to a great extent.Well, it is clear that even on the Government side of the House, as well as on this, it is recognised that this is a Protectionist tax, and the object of it not so much to raise revenue as to insert the thin end of the wedge in order that we may once more return to Protection not only of corn and flour, but probably of all kinds of food and manufactured articles as well. I am glad to notice that exactly the same view is taken by the great newspaper which represents the Liberal Unionists in the Midlands. Referring to the Budget Speech of the Chancellor, the Birmingham Daily Post says—The remedial measures he prescribes for the national exigencies display little resource for ingenuity, and are calculated, we think, to inflict the maximum suffering for the minimum result…His proposed corn duty is, nevertheless, a reactionary measure, because it is not only a tax upon food, but one that will impose a burden upon consumers out of all proportion to the gain to the Exchequer. In other words, the middleman will share with the Government in the proceeds of the new impost, and his portion will assuredly not be the smaller one.If this is only a revenue tax, and not a Protective duty, I think we might very well ask—Why not tax other imports? Why not tax meat, bacon, pork, butter, cheese, and margarine: and also cattle and sheep which are imported for slaughter for the purpose of food? If the Government honestly say, "We have no idea of Protection: this is not Protection at all." why have they left out all 959 the other agricultural produce coming from abroad? It is not the case that they are of little value.
Its value is over £76,000,000 as against £61,000,000 value of corn, grain, flour and meal.
If the Government had put a duty on meat and dairy produce, they would get double the amount they are asking for, reckoned on the ad valorem duty. I am not for one moment saying that that ought to be done. I think we, as agriculturists, must not oppose free imports, whether they be corn, meat, or dairy produce, because I believe this country will not give up the great advantages of free trade. If those advantages are given full play, and the greatest opportunity taken of them, farmers in this matter need not fear. I think it is very significant the way in which in the last ten or twenty years in this country farmers have turned to the producing of daily produce and the raising of stock in order that they may make this country, as regards stock, one in which pedigree animals are raised—a country to which buyers come from South America and all over the world and give large prices to breeders. This can only be done by farmers having free imports of feeding Stuffs for their animals, whether for stock or dairy produce. That is shown by the fact that agriculturists in the West of England, a part of which I represent, recognise this fact. Only in the last few days I have got a copy of a petition which has been, or will shortly be, sent to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The petition emanates from a body called the Western Counties Co-operative Agricultural Association, which embraces my own county of Somerset, Devon, Cornwall, Wiltshire, and Gloucestershire. That is an association of landlords and farmers working on co-operative principles, and not for profit. Only 5 per cent. is allowed on the shares, and the rest is divided as a bonus among the purchasers. Now, what is the attitude of these owners and occupiers? They entirely oppose the duty upon feeding stuffs, and the line they take is that the tax will constitute a heavy burden on the farmers of the counties referred to. 960 It may interest the House to know what are the actual amounts imported of offals used for feeding stock into this country—
We shall have in future this tax of 5s. on grain and 8s. 4d. on milled feeding stuffs, and at the same time we shall have to compete with foreign countries, such as Denmark, where there is no tax of this kind. The dairy farmer in England who makes butter has now to compete with butter coming from Denmark, and in doing so in the future he will have an additional tax of 8s. 4d. on all the feeding stuffs he takes to further increase the difficulties of such competition. In Denmark the farmer will be able to import identically the same feeding stuffs as the British farmer without an import tax, and thereby getting his feeding stuffs 8s. 4d. a ton cheaper. There again the House will see that it is a serious tax. The Exchequer is giving a bounty to the Danish farmer, because this tax will enable him to send butter here from his cows fed on untaxed feeding stuns to compete with that made in this country. That is exactly the same case with Holland. In Germany there is a duty on corn of 50s. a ton and 105s. a ton flour, yet as far as the farmer is concerned they quite recognise that it is of the utmost importance, if he is to compete with other countries abroad, he should be enabled to get feeding stuffs at a low price without any duty. It is important to the farmer that his food stuffs should be imported absolutely free of duty. I have quoted the case of Denmark as a competitor in butter. There is also France, which competes with us very much, too, in the matter of butter. Their wheat duty is 56s. per ton, and flour rises from 80s. to 128s. perton. Offals are allowed to be imported at the comparatively small price of 4s. 10d. Even in France itself, with high Protective duties, the farmer pays 3s. 6d. per ton less than the English farmer, and will thus be at an advantage in producing his butter. Then, undoubtedly, those countries which at the present moment send large exports of feeding stuffs to 961 this country, such as South America, Canada, and India, finding that our markets are shut to them, will be compelled to send to Denmark and Germany, where there is free import, with the result that the price will go down in those markets and we will get even cheaper feeding stuffs than now. The English farmer will be handicapped from the agricultural point of view. You may say that the effect of the 8s. 4d. per ton will be to increase the cost of production of meat and bacon and dairy products.
IMPORTED OFFALS, 8s. 4d. A TON. Tons. Wheat Offals … 128,700 Other Offals … 150,000 Rice Meals … 150,000 428,700=£211,958
Now, what is it really that His Majesty's Government are doing? They are once more raising the old banner and the old cry of "Protection." They are' playing into the hands of Gentlemen like the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sleaford and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Thanet, who have in the past advocated a duty of 5s. on every quarter of corn.
MR. JAMES LOAYTHER (Kent, Isle of Thanet)
I never advocated a specific duty on corn.
§ * SIR. EDWARD STRACHEY
I quite understand that the right hon. Gentleman would prefer a sliding scale going much higher; but I desire to rather understate than overstate the case. Then the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Sleaford Division some years ago dealt with this question in a very straightforward manner at a great meeting of farmers at Lincoln. He said on that occasion—With regard to foreign competition, the remedy which he knew perfectly well would find favour in their eyes before all others was Protection. On that point he would add nothing to what he had said in London, but they must not suppose for a moment he was in any degree hostile to protection. On the contrary, all his sympathies were very much with them, and very much in that direction.When the right hon. Gentleman was President of the Local Government Board he spoke in 1899 at an agricultural dinner in the park of the Postmaster General in the North of England. He referred to the question of a duty on corn, and he suggested that it might be well to impose a duty of a shilling on corn in order to form a fund for old age pensions. That suggestion very much alarmed many hon. Members on both sides of the House; because 962 many of us, although very anxious to have old age pensions established, were not prepared to abandon our Free Trade principles for them. We were not prepared to say that it was desirable to tax the working man's bread during his youth and the time he was able to work, in order to provide him with a pension in old age. That suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman is very important, viewed in the light of the present day. It was delivered in the presence of another Cabinet Minister, and has never been repudiated by any Cabinet Minister. The Spectator newspaper, though it has always advocated Free Trade principles, supports the Government, but it now even says that it would have been much better if the Government had chosen some other tax. Commenting on that particular suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman, the Spectator said it hoped some Member of the Cabinet would take the first opportunity of repudiating the idea of a tax on corn, however small. That suggestion was never repudiated, and we can now quite well understand why it was not. However, what was more significant still, the hon. Baronet the Conservative Member for Wigan, after the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, wrote to the Times in August, 1899, a letter, in which he said—For my own part I should feel bound to resist to the uttermost any duty on corn supplied to my hard-working constituents, and sincerely hope that the Government will take warning in time and will not submit so fatal a proposal to the House of Commons.The Government are now supporting this proposal. The hon. Baronet proceeded—Representing as I do a large industrial constituency, I feel that I should be failing in my duty if I did not, at the earliest opportunity, make a firm although most respectful protest against such a proposal.This is the important point in the hon. Baronet's letter—There must be no duty, no Custom-house officer, between the corn at the ports of Liverpool and Manchester and the Lancashire population.Commenting on this important letter of the hon. Baronet, the Spectator said—No better confirmation could be found for the anxiety we have expressed elsewhere in regard to Mr. Chaplin's reckless and unfortunate scheme for a renewal of the Corn Laws, and we most sincerely hope that the next member of the Cabinet who speaks in public will reassure Unionist opinion by repudiating all idea of a tax on corn, however small.963 I ask hon. Members on this side of the House, is there anyone who will differ from that declaration that there must be no Customs officer and no duty between our constituents and the ports of this country through which com enters. I will not venture further to trespass on the time of the House. I will only again say, as a Free Trader, I most strongly oppose this tax, which undoubtedly in its incidence, as the hon. Baronet the Member for Wigan pointed out, must fall on the working classes. I also oppose it as a farmer, knowing froth practical knowledge that our remedy for agricultural depression is not Protection in these days but dairy farming, stock breeding and grazing, and the production of milk, which at the present moment is the one article we can produce without having to meet competition from abroad. But if the Chancellor of the Exchequer really intends to carry this duty, we are to be further handicapped by having this heavy tax of 8s. 1d. a ton put on feeding stuff's. I venture to protest on behalf of my fellow agriculturists against this tax, as one that will seriously cripple our most paying industry, milk selling, and which up to now has had no competition from abroad.
§ *(5.13.) MR. A. B. LAW (Glasgow, Blackfriars)
As my hon. friend and colleague one of the Members for Glasgow spoke yesterday against this tax, I am very glad to have an opportunity of saying a few words in its favour. Hon. Members who have spoken against this tax have tried to persuade themselves that this Budget provokes the old controversy between Free Trade and Protection. Of course there are people in this country with whom the principles of Free Trade have assumed all the sanctity of a religion, and as happens with all religions there has grown up around Free Trade a bundle of superstitions not less tenaciously held than the central doctrines themselves. Among the superstitions associated with Free Trade is the idea that it is wrong, indeed almost sacrilegious, to tax particular commodities. But, surely, if it is admitted that indirect taxation is necessary, and that a particular tax is not in its effect Protective, then the wisdom or unwisdom of that tax is not a question of principle but a matter of expediency. I think everyone will agree with the principle laid down by 964 the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Budget Speech, that in imposing indirect taxation it was his duty to put the tax on as few articles as possible, to tax nothing which did not yield an amount of money worth collecting, and above all to disturb the trade of the country as little as possible. I think it would be extremely difficult to find any tax which would better fulfil these conditions than the tax we are now discussing. Everyone admits it is convenient. The hon. and learned Member for South Shields admitted its convenience so fully that he referred to that as an argument against the tax, because it was so very convenient that it would be a temptation to future Chancellors of the Exchequer. What is the inference? That, in the opinion of the hon. and learned Gentleman, the proper indirect taxation is taxation that is not convenient and which therefore presents no such temptation. It is quite possible that the struggle between Free Trade and Protection may come again in this country, though I hope it will not, but it certainly will not come under the old conditions. I remember two years ago, when American pig iron was first introduced into this country, the leaders of one of the trades unions approached the ironmasters with a view to trying to boycott that import. That is the direction from which the cry of Protection will come, if it ever comes again. It will come from the working man when he sees his employment disappearing and the articles he himself makes made in other countries and sold at his own door at a lower price. It is obvious that the tax on corn will present no temptation to those who desire that kind of Protection. The interest of the working man will still be to get his bread as cheaply as he can, and it will be from other directions that the temptation will come.
I should like to say a few words on the question as to the incidence of this tax. The hon. and learned Member for South Shields—I refer to his arguments, because they were the clearest I heard from hon. Members opposite—pointed out that as this duty was a fixed charge, consequently it meant a permanent addition to the cost of production of the article. That is as obvious as that two and two make four. But does the hon. and learned Member think that because he has proved that, he has proved 965 also that that additional cost of production must add to the selling price of the article. Such an idea is contrary to the experience of everyone who has dealt in commodities which fluctuate. Take coal, which was discussed at great length in this House last year. Will anyone say that the cost of production is the ruling factor in regulating the selling price of coal? If so, how will it be explained why two years ago the coal masters got profits to the extent of shillings, when they only get profits to the extent of pence as a rule I A coal owner does not say, "Coal costs me so much, and I can sell at such and such a price, and make such and such a profit." No, he says, "People want coal, there is a demand for it; what is the highest price I can force people to pay for it?" Take another illustration. Suppose the United States had put an export duty on corn to the same extent as this tax, would the consumer in this country pay for that? Hon. Members opposite last year proved to their own satisfaction that the duty on coal would fall on the exporter, and they cannot say one thing in regard to coal, and an entirely different thing in regard to corn. It is obvious that the price is regulated by supply and demand, and the cost of production has only this indirect effect in the price: if the price is very profitable, the supply increases, if it is unprofitable the supply diminishes. I would ask the House to apply that to the subject we are discussing. This tax can only add to the selling price of grain in this country if the supply is less than it would be if it were not imposed, and it can only add to the selling price to the extent of the supply being diminished on account of this tax. Can anyone contend that 3d. per cwt. will cause land in America or elsewhere to go out of cultivation, or any part of the grain which would ordinarily come to this country to go to other markets which are taxed much more heavily than ours? I do not want to try to prove too much. I do not want to prove that the cost of production will never affect the price of an article: but I think I can say this at all events, that no one who is not blinded by party prejudice, or who looks at this matter impartially, will contend for a moment that the whole of this additional 'tax will fall on the consumer and none of it on the producer.
966 Let me look at it from the worst possible point of view. Suppose the whole of this tax falls on the consumer, it will only amount to a quarter of a farthing per 21b. loaf. Will anyone say that that is an unfair tax, seeing that indirect taxation is necessary, to lay upon the people of this country? I know that the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down says that a halfpenny, and perhaps a penny, will be charged, as our coins are not small enough. But I prefer again to take the argument of the hon. and learned Member for South Shields. He said that as there were no small coins a halfpenny would at least be added to the setting price of the loaf. That is the same hon. and learned Gentleman who. in talking about the cost of production, says that these things are governed by natural laws which are as inevitable as the law of gravitation. What about natural laws now? Do they only apply when they support the arguments of hon. Gentlemen opposite? Do they cease to operate when they tell against these arguments? Perhaps he thinks that a baker is above these laws; that he is outside the law of gravitation. That is an opinion which has been held at different periods in the history of the world. It was held at the time of the French Revolution, and to some purpose. for in Paris they strung up a baker about every second day in order to lower the price of bread. The hon. Member said the additional charge is halt a farthing, but the baker will charge a halfpenny.
§ MR. ROBSON (South Shields)
The hon. Gentleman misunderstood what I said. I said one thing must happen—either the added price must be in the form of a known coin of the realm, or the loaf must be diminished in size; and the added price would depend, not only upon the amount of the tax, but also upon the extra capital called into the business in order to pay the tax, and the general derangement of business caused by the tax.
§ * MR. A. B. LAW
I do not think I misunderstood the hon. Gentleman. My recollection is that he said the baker would charge a halfpenny profit. Other Gentlemen opposite made exactly the 967 same statement, and I am quite willing to meet it. This means an additional profit on what bakers are making now of fully twenty per cent. If that were possible, should not we all become bakers? Why, Sir, whatever else is possible, this at least is certain—that the additional cost to the loaf will not on the average exceed the additional cost which the baker has to pay for it. I notice there was a good deal of enthusiasm among hon. Gentlemen opposite. They imagine they are going to raise the country to the old agitation. They are going, perhaps, to send out pictures of the big loaf and the little loaf. If that is their idea, I would say to them that they are like what was said of the Stuarts: they have learned nothing and have forgotten nothing. Times have changed—such an agitation would be an artificial agitation; it would deceive nobody, it would excite nobody.
§ (5.26.) SIR HENRY FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
I have listened with great pleasure to the exceedingly eloquent speech of the hon. Member who has just sat down; but, if he will allow me to say so, I think he stated rather apologetically there was a danger of his proving too much, and I think he fell into that danger before he called our attention to it. He was running on two parallel lines, which could never, I think, cross one another, in reference to the cost of manufacturing an article. The cost of its production, I venture to submit, must consist of the cost of the raw material, of the cost of the labour employed, and of the interest upon the capital necessary for the carrying out of that industry. These are fixed, invariable laws from which there can be no departure. This cost will vary from time to time according to the varying conditions of the market. On the other hand, he is perfectly right in saying that the ultimate sale or non-sale of that article will depend upon the supply and demand; if there is an excess of supply over demand, the price will fall; but if the demand is larger than the supply, the price will rise. But these are two totally distinct considerations which do not cross one another at all with reference to a question of this description. What we have to consider in this case is his allegation that this tax does not fall upon the consumer, and that it will not really affect the 968 price of the article. I must make one other remark to the hon. Gentleman. He said we were attempting to revive the great controversies of bygone years, and that if the arguments which were so powerful in the mouths of Sir Robert Peel, Mr. Cobden, and Mr. Gladstone, and of their great confreres, were brought up today, they would meet with no response. Weil, I venture to tell him that the arguments he has used in the House of Commons this evening were used in the House of Commons in the year 1846. They are precisely the same arguments Mr. Cobden and Sir Robert Peel were met with in those days; and I think the verdict the country gave then, and from which the country has never flinched since then—the Chancellor of the Exchequer bases his proposals on the contention that they are not a departure from that verdict I think the same verdict would be given again if it were called for in the same conditions.
Now, Sir, I come to the speeches of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in framing this tax. I notice that, both last night and the night before, he appealed on these proposals to the two great authorities—Sir Robert Peel and Mr. Gladstone. He was walking in their steps, preaching their doctrine; and he said whatever fallacy was to be found in his argument was to be found in theirs. Now, I should like to challenge that statement at once, and I should like the House to consider the true position which Sir Robert Peel and Mr. Gladstone took on this occasion. When Sir Robert Peel was dealing with his great measure in 1846 it was not a question of revenue—it was a question of Protection. Under the Protective system which then prevailed the object was not to get revenue. An exceedingly small amount was received from the corn duty during Sir Robert Peel's lifetime. The object was to keep corn out of the country.
§ SIR HENRY FOWLER
Yes, up to a certain figure—to ensure that it should not go below a certain figure. Now, Sir Robert Peel, it is perfectly true, put on for the purposes of registration Is. a quarter on wheat, and at that time the nation was much more anxious 969 to get rid of Protective duties than to obtain revenue. My own opinion is that Sir Robert Peel regarded it entirely as a registration duty and nothing else, and, having regard to ascertaining what foreign corn would come in and what would not, he placed a registration duty on corn. When the three years had elapsed, during which he had reduced and finally abolished the corn laws, the duty of Is. was to come into force. The imports of wheat and flour that were brought into this country then amounted to 35,000,000 cwt. The imports of wheat and flour for 1900, which was the last year for which we have a Return from the Board of Trade, amounted to 189,636,000 cwt. In dealing with this matter, the question to be asked with regard to Sir Robert Peel is this—What would Sir Robert Peel have done if he had conceived the possibility that the time would arrive in this country when proposals would be made in this House to put a tax on corn which would produce between £2,000,000 and £3,000,000? That he would never have regarded with anything but the strongest dislike. That is a speculation with regard to Sir Robert Peel; but with regard to Mr. Gladstone's attitude, that is very clear. The right hon. Gentleman said that Mr. Gladstone remained in office for many years, and was always a great Free Trader, and did nothing to remove this tax. Let us go into the figures. Sir Robert Peel was in office in 1849. Mr. Gladstone was not in office until 1853, when he came in as Chancellor of the Exchequer. He then produced his celebrated Budget, with its great fiscal changes, which altered the whole system of taxation with regard to imports the greatest Budget, in my opinion, that was ever brought into this House; and this duty was too trifling to take any notice of. What was £500,000 a year to Mr. Gladstone in the great changes he was making in the financial policy of this country? He was imposing fresh taxes on the country in order to free the springs of industry in other directions. But soon after he came into office, be, like the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was faced with a war. This tax had fallen then to£300,000, and that was the sum to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer 970 alluded as the contribution to the Crimean war. In 1855 Mr. Gladstone went out of office, and he did not return until 1859, when he had again to undertake the completion of this great financial policy. In 1864 this question was raised in the House for the first time and for the destinct purpose of altering this duty, and Mr Gladstone very promptly and clearly dealt with this question, and left on permanent record what his view was. He said—The acceptance of the proposal to re-model the duties would appear as if we were deliberately setting about the construction of a regular system of corn duties.This was on a reduction of 3d. to 2d. on a certain class of wheat. This was Mr. Gladstone's reason for refusing to accept the proposal. He said—I should be reluctant to see Parliament committed to any plan which might appear to assume that a duty of this kind on corn (not a very heavy impost, but still something more than a nominal one, which in principle it would be difficult to defend) should be regarded as a permanent imposition upon the greatest article of human subsistence among us.Now, to say that Mr. Gladstone sanctioned such a proposal is obviously incorrect. [The Chancellor of the Exchequer dissented] That was in 1861. In 1865 Mr. Gladstone left office, and he did not return until 1868 when, for the first time, he was Prime Minister, and Mr. Lowe was his Chancellor of the Exchequer. In the very first year of his Premiership Mr. Lowe brought in his Budget and removed this tax. It would be impertinent to lift the veil which shrouds the proceedings of the present Cabinet. We do not know who is responsible for some of the steps which are taken and upon which we look with wonder and amazement. We do not know whether it is the Budget of the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the Budget of the Cabinet. But those of us who had the honour of being colleagues with Mr. Gladstone know that no Chancellor of the Exchequer under him ever submitted any financial proposals to the House of Commons I that had not his full approval, and we may take it as proved to demonstration that that was Mr. Gladstone's Budget and not the Budget of Mr. Lowe, and that in reality it was Mr. Gladstone who removed the shilling duty on corn, though Mr. Lowe has been held up to us 971 as rather a sort of financial pedant for so doing. Let me read what Mr. Lowe said when he asked the House to abolish the tax, and what were the grounds on which Parliament accepted it in 1869, and adopted it as our uniform policy from that year down to 1902. Mr. Lowe said it was clearly the intention of its founder that this tax should operate only as a register, but that it had really ceased to do so and had now come to be regarded as a source of revenue. The amount received from It at that time was £800,000 or £900,000.And what sort of a source of revenue is it? It is impossible to imagine any tax which combines more of the qualities which make a "ax odious—that is, it is a duty on an article that is produced in England with no countervailing Excise duty upon it; it is, therefore, effectual as a Protective duty—that is to say, not merely raises the price of the portion of the article that pays it, but also raises the Mice of the portion of the article that does not pay it. It therefore inflicts on the subject a burden much more considerable than the benefit it confers on the Revenue. If we want to get at the real evils of the tax, let us imagine ourselves applying to it the same rules that we apply to all other Protective taxes and put a countervailing Excise duty on the home-grown article. Just fancy the Excise man let loose upon the barns and the stores of the farmer and the corn-dealer, collecting a tax of 3d. per cwt. on their corn all over the country.That, of course, is Mr. Lowe's opinion; he was a very great authority on these matters, and I commend it to the House for its consideration. The right hon. Gentleman said that there was no evidence that there was any reduction in price by the abolition of the tax—that read was no cheaper, and that wheat was no cheaper: but I venture to sub-nit for his consideration that that is no proof that the price would not be raised the tax was re-imposed. To take off tax is one thing; to put it on again is mother, and a very different, process. As a matter of fact, the process is often gradual, before the price of an article alls, and some time necessarily elapses: but the moment a tax is imposed, say, in addition to the tax on tea, within twenty-four hours the price is raised in respect of the article upon which the tax is to be levied.
That brings me now to the question which has been raised and argued with so much ability by the hon. member opposite—By whom is the duty 972 paid? Now, somebody is going to pay it. It is not going to drop from the clouds, and it is not going to grow up from the earth. In one shape or another, the Chancellor of the Exchequer expects to get 2,600,000 additional sovereigns into the Bank of England. Who is going to pay, then? [An HON. MEMBER: The foreigner.] The foreigner? I remember once asking in the House, who pays the additional tax upon tea, and the hon. Member for Central Sheffield immediately answered me and said the exporters would pay it—it would be paid by the Chinese-exporter.
§ SIR HOWARD VINCENT (Sheffield, Central)
No, no. My right hon. friend's memory deceives him. I said that in the case of tea, the consumer paid, because we produce no tea whatever in this country.
§ SIR HENRY FOWLER
I am delighted to hear that the hon. Member holds that opinion now; but I remember very well that I asked him whether, if the Chancellor of the Exchequer had put 6d. on tea in his Budget, the price of tea would not have been raised 6d. in every grocer's shop the following morning. Possibly that illustration made some impression upon him.
The price of wheat and the price of flour, after all, is the market price of the world. There is practically for all purposes but one corn market in the world. You will get neither more nor less for your wheat here, in New York, or San Francisco, than the price of wheat in the market of the world at the day; and the wholesale importer who buys wheat at the market price, subject to a duty, has, before he sells it cither to the merchant or retailer—I quote the words of the Chancellor of the Exchequer last year in dealing with the sugar duty—He has to pay for the Customs handling, for the expense of agency, for the interest on the duty, and any other charges which he may have to bear.Those must all be added to the duty. There must be an addition to capital. Of course, corn and flour are imported in enormous quantities by merchants with very large establishments, and very large sums are paid. At all events, somebody will have to find money to pay for the interest on this sum of 973 £2,630,000 which is to be extracted from the article. In the case of wheat and flour this operation will be repeated more than once. The original importer will have to be recompensed for this burden; the large merchant to whom he sells will also have to be re-imbursed, and so on: and we know that when it is a case of re-imbursing, there is a tendency to put on a little additional profit to cover the loss and the risk they have to incur. Then, when you come to the baker, the same process will be repeated. To attempt to measure the burden on wheat or flour by the figures we are going to vote for tonight in this Resolution, is a fallacy. You must add the cost of manipulating, the cost of advancing money, and the cost of additional risk in respect of bad debts. I think my hon. friend the Member for South Somersetshire, and the hon. Member for South Shields, put the case very fairly—I think very much under the mark—when they mentined the figure which they did. An hon. Member said with great truth that you could not make an addition to the price less than that of the current coin of the realm. The difference may be an eighth of a penny or a fourth of a penny, but the trade of this country will, in dealing with the retail article, recognise the halfpenny as the smallest coin. [" A farthing."] No, I say a halfpenny. It is a question of opinion, but I think if any addition is made to the price of the quartern loaf it will be an addition of a halfpenny, and I think a halfpenny will be requisite in this case to cover all the cost. It is easy to smile at halfpennies and farthings. The wages of this country are paid in shillings. The coins which are perhaps most familiar to Members of this House are unknown to the vast mass of the population, so far as their practical use is concerned. When you levy a tax upon bread, although it may be in facthings, still it is, as Mr. Gladstone put it, upon the greatest article of human subsistence, and if people are mainly eating bread, that tax will amount to a very serious sum to them, although it may seem a very small sum to us. I cordially endorse what has been already said—that this is a tax upon the poorest of the poor, and that they will have to pay it.
974 I have another objection to the proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, It has been argued that, although it may be a violation in theory of the principle of Free Trade, it is not so in practice. What is Free Trade? It certainly is not fair trade. There is an opinion abroad that it is a violation of Free Trade to impose any duty on an imported article. Nothing of the sort. The question of Free Trade does not arise on imposing Customs duties. You may have a system of absolute Free Trade, so far as the principles of Free Trade are concerned, and every variety of Customs duty. No doubt it is embarrassing to business; it is adding to the cost, and trouble, and delay of business transactions; but it in no way a fleets the principle of Free Trade. The principle of Free Trade is that where a tax is levied on the import of any article from a foreign source, and the same article is made in this country, you should levy an excise duty of equal amount upon the home-made article. If you do not do so, that is a violation of Free Trade. I suppose it is a very small matter to steal a shilling, and a large matter to steal a hundred pounds. But the principle is the same. If you violate Free Trade to the extent of one or two shillings, it is a violation of the principle, notwithstanding the figure. The price is raised all round. It really comes to this—that you are calling upon the consumer to pay upon all corn and flour, whether it be foreign corn directly taxed, or home - grown corn indirectly protected, but the Exchequer will only receive the amount paid on the corn imported. The home-grown corn will not pay, and the foreign-grown corn will pay the duty, and that is to all purposes a Protective duty.
§ SIR HENRY FOWLER
The proprietor of home-grown corn may have to pay a variety of other disbursements which the foreign producer does not pay, but that is not the question. The question is the price to the consumer. That is the essence of this Protective legislation. Protective legislation is the taxation of all consumers for the benefit of a class. You have the burdens of a tax levied on 975 the whole of the community, and only a very small portion of it finds its way into the hands of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Does anybody think that it will stop with this proposal? Does the hon. Member for Central Sheffield think this is the end of his "well done"?
§ SIR HENRY FOWLER
Does the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sleaford look upon this as the final step in the controversy between Protection and Free Trade? I am sure the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Thanet looks upon this as a very small step taken in the heavenward direction. No, Sir, you cannot stop here. Sir Wilfrid Laurier has said that the policy of England is Protection if this Budget passes. I admit that this tax is a small matter, relatively speaking, although three millions is a large sum to raise; but it is Protection begun, and the appetite once gratified will very soon want more. A shilling duty will very soon become an additional number of shillings, and, as my friend the hon. Member for South Somersetshire pointed out. why not extend it to ham, cheese and other articles of food? It is very easy to collect, as the hon. Member said just now as a defence of his tax. Put a tax upon the general food of the British people, and what an enormous revenue you will receive! But I venture to doubt whether that is within the power of even a Parliamentary majority of 130. There are limits to the powers of the strongest majority, and I think that will not be seen in the present, Parliament.
My third and last objection is this. The proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is a violation of the principle that taxes ought not to be levied on the necessities of life. I am not quarrelling just now with the principle of indirect taxation. I think we shall have to have recourse to it again, and we have a good deal of it at the present time. But I say that the sound principle which we have maintained for many years is not to tax the absolute necessities of life. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said in his speech that when it is essential to increase the yield from indirect taxation, it is the time also when a tax on corn should be 976 re-imposed. I say when that time has arisen—I do not agree with him that it has arisen—the essential, indispensable food of the people ought not to be taxed until every other sort of indirect taxation has been exhausted. That is a clear principle which I submit to the House. If you are going to have indirect taxation, the last thing taxed must be the food of the people. The Chancellor of the Exchequer last night took up the point, and he said there was only one alternative—to increase the sugar duty. The hon. Member for one of the Divisions of Stirlingshire last night spoke very ably on the question of sugar. I am not going to argue that point tonight. I do not urge putting any additional tax upon sugar, but I wish to urge that there are two alternatives. I am not going to suggest a Budget, or a variety of things which are not taxed at present and ought to be taxed. But in reply to the challenge of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to those who oppose this tax, that there is only one alternative, I say there is something else.
The first thing I would venture to mention to the Chancellor of the Exchequer is tobacco. The House will remember that in the Budget speech the Chancellor of the Exchequer had a very thin piece of ice to skate over, and he skated over it with very great dexterity. I must ask the House for a minute or two to recall to their recollection the history of our recent doings with the tobacco duty, and a very extraordinary chapter it is in our financial history. The Chancellor of the Exchequer himself in 1898 stated the history of the Tobacco duty down to that time. He said—The tobacco duty "—(that was in 1898)—"has remained the same as now, 3s. 2d. in the lb. on unmanufactured tobacco, for a period of fifty-six years, except during the; short interval in which it was attempted to raise it by 4d. in the lb., an attempt which, I think, practically failed.I do not agree with him upon that point, but that is, of course, a matter for argument. He then proposed that it should be reduced by 6d. a lb. That is the Chancellor of the Exchequer's short account of the history of the tobacco duty. But if we go back fifty years—that is, to the time of Sir Robert Peel, and including that of Mr. Gladstone, and through a long succession of Chancellors 977 of the Exchequer—it was 3s. 2d. a lb.; and it was so up to the close of Lord Beaconsfield's Administration, until Sir Stafford Northcote in 1877 for war preparations increased the tax by 4d. It remained at that figure for ten years, from 1877 to 1888, when Mr. Goschen took off the 4d., and the tax went back to the figure of 3s. 2d. The Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1898 reduced the tax by 6d., making it 2s. 8d. It is not ancient history yet, but I think the judgment of the country, of the trade, and of the public, was that that was a mistake: because the money which the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I believe, intended to go into the pocket of the consumer of tobacco went entirely into the pockets of the manufacturers and retailers. When the war broke out in 1900 the right hon. Gentleman did not do what everyone expected he would do. He did not restore the 6d., but only put on 4d., making the duty 3s., and thus the House will see that at this moment tobacco is paying no war tax at all, but 2d. less than it was in the days of Sir Robert Peel and Mr. Gladstone. Therefore I think I may say that a tobacco tax is at all events preferable to a bread tax. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that it was not a growing trade or a growing revenue. He gave us no arguments or figures or opinions of exports to bear out that statement. I must trouble the House to look at what the revenue from tobacco has been. In 1896 the revenue from tobacco was £10,748,000; in 1897 it was £11,000,000; in 1898 it was £11,433,000. In 1899, when the right hon. Gentleman took the duty off, it dropped to £10,900,000. In 1900 it was £10,885,000. In 1901, after the duty was increased by 4d., it rose to £12,838,000, and last year he told us in his Budget speech that it had dropped to £10,565,000; that was his justification for saying it would bear no more. That, however, is not correct. He himself told us last year that this enormous sum of £12,838,000 included £1,500,000 of forestalment duty that did not belong to that year; so that if you take the accurate figures of two years you will find that the amount of revenue produced by the tobacco tax was considerably over £11,338,000 in 1901 and £12,065,000 in 1902. It is, therefore, not a decreasing trade nor a decreasing revenue. The House will 978 bear with one figure more. In the calculations with reference to revenue there is one thing which does not admit of forestalment, and that is manufacture, the amount retained for home consumption; that is regulated by the calendar year and not by the financial year, and the figures we have are significant. In 1898 the tobacco manufactured for home use was 66,479,000 lbs., in 1899 70,108,000 lbs., in 1900 it was 73,032,000 lbs., and in 1901 it was 76,851,000 lbs.; and the Commissioners of Customs report that, notwithstanding that there was an increase in the duty in 1901, there was an increase in consumption of 5 per cent. It is not, therefore, a decreasing trade or a decreasing revenue, nor is the trade in a state of distress. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said there was an internecine warfare going on in the trade. Yes a warfare that not only has disclosed the colossal fortunes that have been made, but indicates also that the competitors for English custom are prepared to give enormous bounties to obtain it. I do not know a more legitimate subject for taxation, and it is one which ought to be used long before we come to bread.
Then, Sir, I do not know what reason the right hon. Gentleman had for not putting an additional tax on beer. The right hon. Gentleman did what such a wise and astute Chancellor of the Exchequer as he is seldom does. He unfortunately went down to a dinner at Bristol, and no doubt he did admit there that it was undesirable to add to the taxation on beer, but beyond that I know of no earthly reason why he should not tax beer. He has told us that there was a decrease in the revenue from beer for the first time for many years, but surely an article which produced the enormous revenue of £13,500,000 last year is worthy of the consideration of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Before the war the duty on beer was 6s. 9d., and it was raised to 7s. 9d., at which it now stands. I think the figures speak for themselves. The revenue from beer which was £10,494,000 in 1895 reached £12,345,000 in 1900—in 1901 it was £13,940,000. The Chancellor stated that the revenue of 1902 was £200,000 less than that of 1890–1. The number of barrels charged with duty was, in 1895, 979 31,382,000; in 1900, 36,578,156, and in 1901, 35,993,246. The Commissioners of Inland Revenue attributed the decrease to the war, to the scare about arsenic, and to the abnormal price of coal.
Who is going to feel this bread tax? The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that bread is so cheap that it is sometimes wasted, and that the tax would be a very trifling contribution towards the cost of the war. Where are the houses in which bread is wasted? Not in those of the people who will feel this tax, with whom bread is a necessity of life, and who have not anything else to eat. Do you suppose it is wasted in those homes? No, Sir; it may be wasted in the West End of London, but it is not wasted in the East End. I saw that one of the great restaurant companies in Piccadilly, which divides between 25 and 30 per cent. in dividends, announced that they would not increase the price of bread in consequence of this tax. It will not be wasted in Piccadilly, but the people you have to consider are the poorest of the poor.
I do not know whether hon. Members have read Mr. Booth's valuable report on the poor of London, or Mr. Rowntree's valuable contribution with reference to the poor of York. Without troubling the House with many figures, I may say that those two statements show that there are large numbers of the population of this country whose wages are not more than 18. per week. It is not a question of thousands, but of millions; and there are still larger numbers whose wages run between 18s. and 25s. a week and they also point out the awful poverty in the slums of London and of our large towns. The smallest addition to the price of bread in these wretched homes is a calamity. I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer, at the conclusion of his speech last night, said that in making our choice of indirect taxation we should choose that which would press least heavily on the people. I agree with him in that, Sir; but he cannot tell the House of Commons that this is a tax which will press less heavily on the people than any other tax. My hon. riend below me said he would not absolutely prohibit the possibility of a tax 980 on bread. I can conceive a great crisis. in the history of a nation, when its very existence is tottering in the balance, when it might be necessary to widely extend the limits of taxation; but I say that a bread tax should be left to the very last. I say nothing personal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, because for him I have the greatest respect, but I do say that this is about the meanest tax I have ever heard of for a nation which has the almost boundless wealth of Great Britain. The hon. and learned Member for Haddington gave some extraordinary statistics upon this question, and whether they were correct or not I do not know. We know from the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Budget that within the last two financial years the estates of people who have died in this country have been valued for death duty at £520,000,000 sterling. We know, too, that a penny on the income tax produces £2,600,000, and the nation in order to get £2,600,000 ought not to break down a great principle. I say, Sir, that to put on a tax which will press most heavily and injuriously on the humblest class of the people in order to get money is not worthy of this prosperous and wealthy nation, and is not statesmanlike. Do not tax necessaries; if you must add to taxation, tax luxuries. If the choice is between bread and tobacco, I say tax tobacco. If the choice is between bread and beer. I say tax beer. If the choice is between bread and the income tax, I say increase the income tax.
§ *(6.15.) THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir M. HICKS BEACH,) Bristol, W.
The right hon. Gentleman at the close of his speech has been good enough to favour me—and I am very much obliged to him for it—with alternative suggestions to the tax now under discussion. He said—If the choice is between bread and the income tax, increase the income tax.I have increased the income tax. I have increased it to 15d. in the pound. I can remember the day, not so very long ago when nobody in this House more strongly denounced the great increase in the income tax than the right hon. Gentleman. How far are we to go on increasing the income tax? Are we to tax a single class of the people—not by any means all of 981 them wealthy—almost out of existence by that one tax; or are we to ask the people at large in time of war, in time of increasing expenditure in other ways, to bear a small share of the general burden of taxation?
The right hon. Gentleman suggests that I should have increased the tax on tobacco. I had to raise £2,500,000. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Fife told me it was a trifling sum. I do not think it is a trifling sum; but of this I am quite sure, that no increase in the tobacco duty could by any possibility have produced it. The right hon. Gentleman, I think, will give me credit for having studied how to raise money by increasing duties on such articles as alcohol and tobacco before applying myself to other and newer articles of taxation. I did it in the first year of the war. He said I had not raised the tobacco duty beyond the point at which it was before the reduction. But why? Because I was convinced that by raising it I should lose more than I should gain to the revenue.
The right hon. Gentleman has himself quoted the figures I gave to the Committee the other day. He has said that in the year 1900–1 the tobacco duty produced £12,839,000, and in the following year, the year just closed, it only produced £10,565,000. That was due to the forestalment of taxation in 1900–1 which properly belonged to the later year, to the extent of £1,500,000. That is true, but if he will be good enough to take £1,500,000 from the produce of the first year, he will find the produce of the second year was something like £800,000 less "than it ought to have been after allowing for that deduction. Tobacco is not a growing revenue—from what cause I cannot say; but it would be absolutely impossible, in my humble judgment—and I can only give the best of my opinion to the House—that any possible increase of the tobacco duty could have raised anything like the sum of £2,500,000. The right hon. Gentleman says, Why not increase the beer duty? The beer duty was increased two years ago, and what has been the result? Not by any means the amount I had hoped for. As I pointed out to the Committee the other day, the consumption of beer is actually decreasing; and I should have deceived the Committee had I, in the face of 982 the decreasing consumption of an article, suggested that by nominally increasing the tax I should raise anything like £2,500,000. I have proposed this duty because I believe it is one which can fairly be borne by the country without any such interference with trade as the right hon. Gentleman has suggested. Corn and flour and meal, with rare exceptions, are not articles used as raw materials in manufacture, and therefore a tax on them does not interfere with industry in the way in which a tax on such a raw material as cotton undoubtedly would.
But I turn from that part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech to his general attack on the tax on its merits. He has three objections to my proposal. The first, and I believe in the minds of all hon. Members opposite, by tar the most important, is the rooted belief that they seem to entertain that in the first place this tax is a Protective duty, and that, in the second place, to use his words, if this Budget passes, the policy of England will be a policy of Protection in the future. Well, Sir, I must say that for convinced Free Traders, for those who inherit the traditions of the Liberal Party with regard to economic questions, the amount of timidity with regard to the future of Free Trade which is shown by right hon. Gentlemen opposite is absolutely astounding. Do they really believe that the country is attached to that principle or not? [Sir H. FOWLER shook his head.] The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head. Does not he believe it? He said just now that, in spite of our great majority, neither we nor any other Government; could really lead the country into a policy of Protection. Very well. if that I be so, why all this alarm as to the future of Free Trade? I agree with the right hon. Gentleman. I do not believe that the country would accept Protection for a moment, and that being so, I cannot understand the extraordinary alarm which is manifested by hon. Members.
But now let me see. Is this a Protective duty or not? [An HON. MEMBER: "Yes."] The right hon. Gentleman contends, and it has been contended throughout, that in its essence it is a Protective duty. Nobody has 983 attempted to show that it was a Protective duty in practice while it existed. Mr. Lowe made the assertion, and that was all. Nobody has attempted to show in these debates that the registration duty, as it is called, on corn and Hour was, in fact, Protective. The right hon. Gentleman says that where the Customs duty is levied on an article imported and also produced here, and no Excise duty is imposed, that is a violation of Free Trade. That is the principle which, he says, ought never to be violated. Has it always been adhered to? Is it adhered to now, apart from this duty altogether? In 1860 Mr. Gladstone proposed a new duty. It was called the unit of entry duty. It was a very small Customs duty upon every article that was imported—of a penny a package and of ¼ per cent. ad valorem on articles imported in bulk. That was a Customs duty to which there was no correlative Excise duty. It lasted for two years. Was that a violation of Free Trade? Every single thing that was imported into this country, produced, or not produced, also in this country, was liable to that duty. That duty was imposed by Mr. Gladstone himself as a new duty—by the apostle of Free Trade. Was it a violation of Tree Trade or not? Why, Sir, of course it was not a practical violation of Free Trade, for the simple reason that it was so small that the effect of it. on the price of the articles imported and also produced in this country was practically nil. But does not that show that the right hon. Gentleman has carried Free Trade doctrine to a ridiculous extreme? That duty was subsequently got rid of, not because it was found in its operation to be Protective, but because it was found to be harassing to the general operation of trade. That was why it was abolished by Mr. Gladstone himself. At the present moment we have a Customs duty which is a Customs duty only, and which is not imposed on corresponding articles made in this country which may, to some extent, compete with them. What about the wine duties? The wine duties are very heavy duties imposed on all foreign wines. There is no corresponding Excise duty on wine manufactured in this country. Is that a violation of Free Trade or not? I daresay hon. Gentlemen think it is not, 984 because they firmly believe they can distinguish between foreign and British wines. I very much doubt if there is a single Member of tins House, who is not an expert in the trade, who can with certainty make that distinction. But, at any rate, I will venture to say that there is no greater difference in kind between foreign and British wines than there is between, let us say, maize and rice, which are not produced in this country, and upon which, therefore, this very duty, according to the right hon. Gentleman himself, cannot be Protective, and the kinds of corn that are produced in this country.
Hon. Members may think that this argument is splitting hairs. Very well; but I am endeavouring to show the absurdity, if the right hon. Gentleman will forgive the term, of the extreme doctrine which he laid down. The question with regard to this duty on corn and flour is, whether it is of an amount that is sufficient to make it really, in practice, a Protective duty? I say it is not. What did the hon. Gentleman who opened the debate say? He said we were waving the flag of Protection. But almost in the next breath he said—You are not going to do any good to the British farmer; on the contrary, you are going to injure him, because your duty may raise the price of the foodstuffs he imports.Then there is no actual Protection about the duty at all. Now let me refer to the history of the past The right hon. Gentleman could not refute what I said on this point with regard to Sir Robert Peel. "Sir Robert Peel instituted this duty and maintained it as avowedly a nominal duty: and the mere fact that it produced a small sum then because a comparatively small number of quarters of corn and of cwts. of flour were imported into this. country, has nothing to do with the great question of principle which the right hon. Gentleman has brought before the House. Why is it worse in principle to ask Parliament to renew a duty which will make a really substantial contribution to the revenue because the amount of the articles imported on which it is imposed has enormously increased? On the contrary, if you are to argue this on the ground of principle, it was an infinitely worse Protective duty in those days than it is now, because a much less proportion of any increase in price which it caused went into the Exchequer. 985 The right hon. Gentleman went on to combat my assertions with regard to Mr. Gladstone. He quoted a statement by Mr. Gladstone in the year 1864, when he renewed and remodelled this duty. It was precisely to the effect which I had previously slated to the House. I had stated that Mr. Gladstone then said that he did not propose that the duty should be permanent, but that it was a duty producing considerable revenue which it would not be convenient then to part with. What does that mean I think it means simply this, that Mr. Gladstone, while he wanted the revenue himself, was perfectly willing to overlook the theoretical violation of Free Trade, but that he had in his mind that possibly at some future day, when somebody else might want the revenue, the theoretical violation of Free Trade might seem more important than it did to him when he required it. But I turn from what Mr. Gladstone said to what he did. Mr. Gladstone, while Chancellor of the Exehequer, for something like eight or nine years, maintained this duty in all his Budgets; and when the hon. Gentleman who commenced this debate says the duty was objected to by the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, I say the duty was not objected to by the great Free Trade politicians of that day. We set: now a manifesto by the Cobden Club against this proposal. Can they quote a speech by Mr. Cobden against a registration duty on corn and Hour? No, Sir, I venture to say they can quote nothing of the kind. Can they quote a denunciation by Mr. Bright of a registration duty on corn and Hour as a tax on the food of the people.? No, Sir, there is no such denunciation to be found. And that is what I say with regard to all this talk as to the Protective nature of this tax—that no one of any authority objected to it on that ground throughout all those twenty-three years, until Mr. Lowe abolished it on the ground of pure theory, and without any proof beyond his bald assertion that it imposed any practical charge on the food of the people.
But the right hon. Gentleman has said, and I am bound to say with reason, that though a duty may not be Protective while it lasts, and though its abolition may not benefit anyone by lowering prices, yet, if you re-impose it, it may raise prices. Very well, that is precisely what I had in 986 my mind when introducing the Budget. I said that, in my belief, this duty had no practical effect on prices. I said also that it might be a contribution, though I thought a trifling contribution, towards the expenditure of the country from the working classes. I have been twitted since with having made two statements absolutely inconsistent with one another. Those statements are perfectly consistent. When this duty was imposed, as I anticipated, the dealers in corn or Hour raised their price by the amount of the duty, and in some cases, though by no means in many cases, there has also been a rise in the price of bread. It is a very natural thing that both these things should happen when the duty is first imposed. But directly the ordinary conditions of the trade—that is to say, a new harvest, or some variation in the price of the article due to the fluctuations of demand and supply—have time to assert themselves, then this duty will cease to count for anything more than the proportion of the price of the article to which it is properly entitled. That I believe to be absolutely certain, How is it there has been this inciease in the price of bread, about which so very much has been said I have had the opportunity of looking through the Bakers Trade Journal on this matter. I need not say that I found myself pretty well denounced for having interfered with their trade. That I take as a matter of course. But then I went on to examine the general opinions quoted in the journal of members of the trade with regard to the effect of this duty on the price of bread; and I found that their general opinion was that the duty was not sufficient to justify an immediate advance in the price of bread: that there was no real excuse for a halfpenny advance; that the whole rise that would be justified would be only one-eighth of a penny on the 4lb. loaf, as a sack of 2½ cwt., on which the duty would be 1s. 0½d., would make eighty-eight 4lb. loaves. I daresay the right hon. Gentleman opposite will ask, if those opinions were correct, why is it that in some cases the price of bread has been raised? I must say that the explanation seems to me to be very natural. It is said that the low-price bakers, who are actually stated to be selling bread at 3d. per quartern loaf in parts of South Essex, will probably have to raise their prices because of the 987 continuous rise in all other ingredients in bread-making—coal, salt, wages, taxes, and the improvements of premises required by law—and that they will take advantage of this opportunity in order to do it. But then the journal goes on to say that this would mean a serious loss to many of them, as most of them, especially the large firms, depended for the majority of their custom on being able to sell one halfpenny or a penny lower than the district prices, showing plainly what I said just now, that it is a temporary rise wherever it has occurred, and that it cannot permanently extend beyond the small proportion which this tax may bear to the total cost of flour, and of labour in making and distributing the bread.
The right hon. Gentleman has made a great deal of this tax as a heavy burden on the working classes. Let it be remembered—he cannot have forgotten it—that when it existed before, the price of wheat was something like half as much again as it is now. With the price of wheat now at about 31s. a quarter, it is surely so cheap that anything which may be added on account of the tax would still secure to the working classes an extremely cheap loaf as compared with former years. The right hon. Gentleman referred to persons earning wages between 18s. and 25s. a week. I have made this calculation. Take a man earning from 24s. to 25s. a week with his wife and three children. Say that they consumed 10 cwt. of flour and I cwt. of rice, sago, and food of that kind in a year. The permanent effect of this duty could only be a charge on them of Id. per week. But does the right hon. Gentleman think that such a family will consume nothing but bread? I could take the right hon. Gentleman to cottages of agricultural labourers in my own neighbourhood. men who are earning perhaps 13s. a week themselves, and a few more shillings among their families, where you find not only bread, but butter and everything that a man could want, including meat every day, upon the table at dinner. Yes, but it is true: and why is this? The hon. and learned Member for Haddington alluded last night to the vast increase in the wealth of 988 the country, with special reference to the income tax payers. I should like to refer tonight to the class below the income tax payers, and I would venture to say that there has been an increase in the comfort and means of that class greater in proportion than there has been in the class above it. Wages have increased on an average by something like 33 per cent., and if you consider also the effective value of these wages in the purchase of everything I except rents, which no doubt have also increased—I believe it is true to say that the average effective value of the wages of the working classes is not far short of 50 per cent. more now than it was forty years ago. And with increased means, the working classes have to bear a lighter burden of necessary taxation. I wish the House would consider what is the relative burden of direct and indirect taxation at the present time compared with what it was forty years ago. That is a question which must be considered when you are dealing with the great question of whether we are by this new duty imposing on the working classes more than they can fairly bear. I have taken the amount received by the revenue from what is called indirect taxation—that is, taxes on consumable articles—in the year 1861–62, and I have taken on the other side what was received by the revenue from all other taxation—in other words, from direct taxation. I find in that year indirect taxation contributed 61.7 per cent. of the total, and direct taxation 38.3 per cent. of the total. Last year indirect taxation contributed 47.7 per cent. of the total, and direct taxation 53.3 per cent. The indirect taxation per head of the population in the year 1861–62 was 27s. 3d. Last year it was 29s. 11d. per head of the population, an increase of no more than 10 per cent. The population had in the same time increased 43 per cent. In the year 1861–62 direct taxation was 16s. 11d. per head of the population, and in 1901–1902 it was 32s. 11d. per head of the population, an increase of 94.2 per cent.
There is a very remarkable fact in regard to indirect taxation to which I draw the attention of the House. What was the indirect taxation derived from forty years ago? Does it press more heavily now than it did then? There has been, as I have stated, an increase of 2s. 8d. per 989 head of the population in its amount, but what has that increase been in? Indirect taxation in 1861–62 amounted altogether I to £1 7s. 3d. per head, and of that, 13s. Cd. per head came from alcoholic drinks, and 13s. 9d. from the rest of the indirect taxation. Last year indirect taxation amounted to £1 9s. 11d. per head of the population, and 18s. 6d. per head came from alcoholic drinks and 11s. 5d. from the rest of indirect taxation. This has been due to two causes. The rate of taxation on alcohol in various forms has, been increased, on spirits by 10 per cent., on beer by 24 per cent., but if you allow for the increased yield due to that higher taxation, and for the same amount of drink per head of the population as was consumed in 1861–62, the revenue that should be produced now from beer and spirits would be £29,697,000. The actual yield from these two articles last year was £36,990,000. In other words, there has been an increase in the revenue from alcohol of no less than £7,293,000, due solely to increase in the drinking habits of the people. Well, I am bound to say if our working classes, who are the main consumers of beer and spirits, can afford to expend so large a sum in drink as this, is it not a little exaggeration to talk about the tax I now propose as one that will result in human hunger, and produce, as I have seen it argued, a future of poverty for a quarter of the community and open the door to the greatest social disorder? If our people only consumed as much alcohol now as they consumed forty years ago, the result would be that they would pay only £1 6s. yd. per head now in indirect taxation, as against £1 7s. 3d. in 1861–2.
I hope I have said something to show to the House that there has been a vast increase in the means of the working classes of the country as well as in the community above them who pay the whole of the direct taxation. I hope I have shown to the House that in making this small proposal to increase the indirect taxation of this country I am not imposing on any class that enormous burden suggested by so many speakers and writers. Of this I am confident—while it existed, the duty was never considered by those who had to deal with the finance of the country as either in practice a Protective duty or as weighing heavily on the people until the year 1869: 990 and when it was abolished not a sold was bettered, but there was a loss to the revenue. Now we have a necessity for additional revenue; it is proposed to obtain that revenue by a slight extension of the area of indirect taxation, involving less strain on the people, less injury to any manufacture or industry, and less hardship to any one than any other tax that will produce as much; and in spite of all that has been said, I believe it will receive the assent of the country.
§ *(6.54.) SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
The champagne argument by which the Chancellor of the Exchequer tried to confute the view of my right hon. friend, that we always accompanied import duty with a countervailing Excise duty, is so weak that the House must have seen it proved the case of my right hon. friend. The Chancellor of the Exchequer named two exceptions—he named a tax which was impracticable in its working, and which was repealed more than a generation ago, and he named the manufacture of British wines, which had seriously competed with the wine we taxed at our ports. He seems to live under a curious delusion in regard to the wine trade. In his Budget speech the other night he actually said that Members frequently drank British champagne while under the impression that it was imported wine. I should have thought the right hon. Gentleman would know that the enormous value of the brands of foreign houses led to frequent inspection and legal proceedings preventing such occurrences. The childishness of such an argument needs not exposure, but the serious arguments of the Chancellor of the Exchequer are well worthy of attention. He has denied that this duty will cause any serious disturbance of trade, and on that point I take issue with the right hon. Gentleman. The present duty, if it remains as small as it is, may be discussed from the Protection point of view without any great feeling, and may be allowed to remain without much disaster resulting. It is chiefly as an indication of a change of policy, as giving encouragement to Protection, that it is dangerous, but as regards the disturbance to trade, there can be no doubt in the mind of the House as to how great the disturbance to trade will be. I should like to ask the 991 Chancellor of the Exchequer as to the agricultural feeding stuffs. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has argued with great force his belief, which the future will prove or disprove, that this tax will produce no permanent rise in the price of grain; but does he apply that to farmers' feeding stuffs, on which the duty will be much greater? If he does not anticipate a rise in these, few will agree with him.
* SIR. M. HICKS BEACH
I think it might facilitate the progress of debate if I say that in dealing with the speech of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, I forgot what I intended to say on this point. Of course, this is the revival of an old tax. Offal was regarded in the old tax as meal, and at that time the amount of imported offal was very small: now it is considerable. Certainly it is not our intention that offal shall be included in the higher taxed imports, and we propose to place it in the class charged at threepence.
§ * SIR. CHARLES DILKE
What the right hon. Gentleman has said affects a great part of my argument. There can be no doubt that as the duty stood—I have not examined the new proposal—there would have been a rise in the price of feeding stuffs of the cheaper kind, and that can be proved by the example of a similar tax imposed abroad. As to the bread argument, the right hon. Gentleman tells us of labourers in his own neighbourhood in Wiltshire earning 13s. a week, who enjoy meat every day: but if they do that, it is because of the strenuous fashion in which the people of this country have maintained Free Trade principles. which have caused food to pour into this country, enabling them to live on wages of this kind. The right hon. Gentleman says there will be no disturbance of trade, and that Mr. Gladstone maintained the duty: but the argument of my right hon. friend on this point has been complete, and I doubt if the House will think it has been answered. In 1864, when Mr. Gladstone said the duty could not be permanent, and said so in strong language, he was Lord Palmerston's Chancellor of the Exchequer; but when Mr. Lowe brought forward the Budget which was cheered by Mr. Gladstone at his side, Mr. Gladstone was for the first time 992 his own master; and being his own master, can any one doubt, that the violent language in which Mr. Lowe attacked the tax had the complete concurrence of Mr. Gladstone? The tax was unanimously repealed at that time—there was not a voice raised against the repeal by the whole House of Commons: but the tax now put on is very much heavier than the tax then repealed.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has widened his net, and included duties that were not in existence in the tax repealed in 1869. He has given some curious replies to Questions on this subject during Question time. He told the House that rice, which is for the first time included in a grain tax, was included because it was grain. It was not a grain for the purposes of taxation in 1869, but he tells us that he has included locust beans because they were included in the old tax. Locust beans are the fruit of a tree, and are in the nature of a date, and if you are to include locust beans as an extension of grain, you might just as well include cocoa-nuts. The cocoa beans are much more in the nature of beans than the locust bean; therefore, why not include cocoa beans apart from the cocoa tax? The locust bean is as much a bean as the Scotch woodcock is a woodcock, or the Welsh rabbit is a rabbit, or an angel on horseback is an angel. The locust beau is not a bean at all. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has spread his net much more widely on this occasion. Not only is the duty imposed now much higher relatively to price than it was, but many articles are included in it that ought not to be included in it.
Now I would like to address myself to the point as to the disturbance of trade by means of this duty. This duty is a crude duty, and is a source of ridicule on the part of foreign financiers, statesmen, and professors, and observers of foreign systems who have undertaken the duty of studying tariffs for themselves. A tariff cannot be made on these easy terms without inflicting great hardships on certain trades, and crushing and destroying trades that have come into existence. Since the duty was repealed in 1869, not only have prices fallen, but an infinite number of small trades have sprung up, so that the disturbance to trade must be vastly greater than it was when the duty was in existence before. Now, the ordinary notion that the British farmer is the 993 person who sells the articles which are the subject of this duty is a pure fallacy: the British farmers are persons who buy them. The announcement now made by the right hon. Gentleman will no doubt reduce the burden that will fall on the British farmer; but none the less it will be a very serious burden, particularly in the Midlands, the Western part of England, Wales, and Ireland—a burden which is thrown directly on the farmers, and which will result in crushing out the infant industries which are coming to the farmers' assistance at the present time. The tax is not balanced with that dexterity with which all similar duties are balanced in other countries, and will fall most heavily on the cheapest articles. Holland and Belgium have Free Trade in grain, but Germany and France are Protectionists; but in both Germany and France most careful attention has been had to the interest of the farmer on this point. What has been the experience of Germany on this matter? It is well known that although we look on Germany as a grain country where the doctrine of heavy duties on wheat is deeply ingrained, it is a very modern fact indeed. When Prince Bismarck first introduced the grain duties in Germany—and in introducing them he supported them by the same arguments by which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has supported this tax—the first duty on wheat was a very light duty, and he said it was to be a statistical and registration duty, and for revenue, and was not to be Protective. What was the result? That duty was better adjusted, yet it was found to disturb trade so heavily that that fact was made an argument by the Protectionists, who said that it was not worth collection as a revenue duty, and that if it was to continue it would be better to have it for good and as a Protective duty. Accordingly, in 1885 and 1887 it was increased to the present heavy Protective duty. The result is seen in the enormous Social Democratic vote throughout the German towns and the present tremendous Free Trade agitation in Germany. And there is no doubt that if those towns bore the same relation to the German Parliament as English towns to this House, that duty would long ago have been swept away.
Now, I say this duty has an interest to this House. It is of some interest as a 994 Protective duty. If men like the Chancellor of the Exchequer remain at the head of affairs, this duty will probably not develop into a Protective duty: but there are those behind the right hon. Gentleman who will, if they can, develop the Protective policy and bring about the result which I have deprecated. There are differences among Free Traders, but every Free Trader must agree that complicated tariff treaties, if they are consistent with prosperity in some countries, are fatal to our position in the manufacturing world. At the next general election you will see the strongest and best organised attempt by the working classes to secure representation in that House by men of their own class. At that moment you have chosen to commence an experiment in the taxation of the food of the people! The gradual adoption of a Protective system will be fatal to our manufactures, and if adopted it will probably come at the same time that the United States chooses the policy of Free Trade, and in that event it will be the destruction of our Empire.
§ *(7.12.) SIR MARK STEWART (Kirkcudbrightshire)
We have listened to many speeches of a most pessimistic character, and the one to which we have just listened is of that class. I do not know why we should feel so despondent in reviewing the question before the louse. The characteristic attitude of the Mouse during the debate has been an absolutely false one. This tax has been regarded as a strictly Protective duty instead of as a registration duty. That it is a Protective duty has been officially denied by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and also by other speakers who have ventured to support the Government. I certainly cordially support the Government in this matter. A war Budget must necessarily be unpopular. There has never been a class who. when called on to pay increased taxation, has not murmured and grumbled at it. This war has been approved by all classes and sections of the community, and they desire to see their wishes fully realised. The hon. Member for South Somerset said that, instead of being a boon to the farming community, which he in part represents, this tax would be a most odious impost. I do not agree with him. It will not be any great immediate benefit to the 995 farmer, but I do not think the farmer's position will be as bad as the hon. Member described. No doubt the increased price of feeding stuffs will be a hardship, and I would ask my right hon. friend to consider whether these feeding stuffs could not be, at any rate partially, freed. If the right hon. Gentleman could see his way to allow this meal to rank the same as grain at 3d. per cwt, it would be a great boon to the farming community.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE (Mr. GERALD BALFOUR)) Leeds, Central
That is the intention.
§ * SIR MARK STEWART
I did not understand that. I am glad it is so, and I shall not have to argue that question any further. The whole point of the matter is that this is not a tax by way of Protection, or one which will at all press on the people. It is distinctly a registration duty, and does not violate any principle which has been again and again endorsed in this House. The duty was not really done away with until 1869, but if it had been of the character described by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, it would have been abolished long before that. I believe all this hue and cry to be a false agitation, and one which will not carry conviction to the minds of the people when the question is thoroughly understood in the country. It is true that in certain instances bakers have raised their prices, and wheat has gone up Is. or Is. 6d; but what does that prove? Merely that we are very short of foodstuffs, which is so far unfortunate for the Government, and that if you propose any tax whatever bearing on the food of the people there must be an agitation in the trade affected, and prices will go up.
It has not been suggested with any force that the Chancellor of the Exchequer could have proposed any other tax. He had already dealt with coal and sugar, and he was justly unwilling to increase the tax on tea or tobacco, beer or spirits. Had he put, as many Members urged him to do, any further tax on sugar, working men would have had to pay 40 per cent. instead of 20 per cent. on that article. Surely that is of far more consequence to the working men 996 than ⅛d. on a 4lb. loaf. I am satisfied that when trade resumes its ordinary position you will find there is very little increase in the price of the loaf. I am not the least afraid on this question, even supposing there should be an election tomorrow. Although the farmers will not benefit much by it, they will see, at all events, that it is only just that a part of the enormous taxation of the country should be raised in the manner proposed.
I wish some distinction could be made with regard to our colonies. If they could be freed in some measure from even this small impost, it would serve to strengthen the bonds of sympathy which have grown up of late years between the mother country and her colonies; and it would do a lot of good in more firmly uniting the component parts of this great Empire. By the adoption of some such principle, the Government would have a power of reciprocity by which they could counteract some of the prevailing imposts levied by foreign Powers.
I should like to say another word on the question of feeding-stuffs. I am not much afraid of this 8s. 4d. I think we should still be able to compete with foreign nations in the raising of meat. If due precaution is taken to tax only what is absolutely necessary to secure a fair amount of taxation, I think the country will be more satisfied with this, as a fair tax which presses most lightly on every class, than with another penny on the income tax, which already grinds down many a humble home, reducing the inmates to difficulties. I trust the Government will obtain a large majority on this question—not because it is a question of Protection, but because it is simply the registration of corn, which I and many others have looked forward to as being a very good and useful tax.
§ (7.22.) MR. KEARLEY (Devonport)
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in introducing the Budget, told us that his ideal was to find a tax which would yield a considerable sum of money without causing any great inconvenience to trade or the community generally. We remember the cheer with which this particular proposal was received by the hon. Member for Central Sheffield. That cheer was taken to mean that the proposal would involve the taxation of a number of articles; but the right hon. Gentleman rejected the 997 idea, and, in support of his rejection, called in the wisdom of two of his great predecessors, Mr. Gladstone and Sir Robert Peel. But what did the right hon. Gentleman do? He immediately selected an impost that taxes all sorts of articles, small and large together, and that is where he claims to be imitating Mr. Gladstone and Sir Robert Peel. When the right hon. Gentleman introduced the tax, the impression left on our minds was that it was purely a grain tax. The Chancellor of the Exchequer in his speech did not make it clear that these multifarious articles were to come within his net. It will be found that the Resolution embraces all starchy substances used as articles of food. That I believe to have been the intention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but he has gone much beyond that. We ought to know the principle upon which this tax is imposed—or has the right hon. Gentleman abandoned all principle? It cannot be argued that Mr. Lowe scheduled these articles, because the right hon. Gentleman has included many articles which Mr. Lowe did not contemplate at all. But, even supposing it was Mr. Lowe's schedule, that was merely a remnant from the bad old times when taxes were put on without discrimination, and without knowing the effect they would have. It ought, therefore, to be stated upon what principle this tax is to be levied.
I wish briefly, but completely, to show that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is acting this year precisely as he acted last year. He has not taken pains to investigate what the effect of these duties is going to be, or where their incidence will fall. He has not been well informed as to his case. Last year we had extraordinary anomalies cropping up, many of which were rectified in Committee. Now, at the very outset, before the Bill has been introduced, we have had the right hon. Gentleman relinquishing one of his positions. He admits he has made a mistake as regards offal, and has announced his intention of diminishing the duty from 5d. to 3d. The knowledge of the right hon. Gentleman in regard to this tax is imperfect, as it was in regard to the sugar duty of last year. In the first place, in the classification of grain, Class I., he has not included in his schedule articles which ought to be included. For example, there is millet, though I heard this morning that it was 998 added last night. I do not know whether that is so, but if he is going to include all grains under Class I., certainly millet "night to be included. Then there is canary seed, which, as a matter of fact, represents a large amount in bulk, though, as I shall presently prove, the right hon. Gentleman has included taxes which can only be described as mean, using the word in the sense that they are insignificant. In Class II, which deals with starchy food substances, he has also omitted many articles which ought to be included. for example, he includes potato starch, but there is no duty on imported potatoes. Hon. Members may think the importation of potatoes an insignificant item, but I find that it amounts to 7,000,000 cwt. in the year. Then, pepper contains an enormous percentage of starch—as much as 66 per cent., while ginger contains from 65 to 75 per cent. Can anybody say that these are not foods? In Section:26 of the Act of 1899 there is given a legal definition of "food," and it is there laid down that any substance used in the preparation of foods comes within the definition. This tax is intended to include all starchy food substances, and yet those articles which I have named are omitted. On the other hand, it manifestly includes many articles which are not starchy food products, and which are not food at all. Take the article of locust beans, referred to by the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean. Locust beans are nearly all sugary material, and they are made into feeding stuff's for cattle. Again, this shows a lack of information on the part of the right hon. Gentleman. Look where this policy will lead us to one of those days, because we are not going to slop where we are. Next year probably there will be some sort of duty on butter, and perhaps the following year we shall get a tax on milk. Probably the Chancellor of the Exchequer will put in his list everything called milk, which will include milk of sulphur milk of lime, and probably he will put into the schedule an article called the milk of human kindness. The right hon. Gentleman has taxed articles which are not food at all. There is in the list dextrine, and this article is not a food. It was starch once, but so was whisky, and dextrine is simply a substitute for gum arabic. 999 The right hon. Gentleman does not tax gum arabic, and I give this as another instance of the lack of knowledge of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I know that little fish are sweet to the National Exchequer. and anything he can tax is not beneath his notice. He has levied a duty upon an article called mannacroup, which is a miserable, wretched food which Russians in time of famine have to resort to. I do not think there is a bag of this article imported into this country. When there is a serious famine in Russia this mannacroup forms the dietary to which the people are reduced. The right hon. Gentleman considers this wretched food, as well as dextrine, as a fair article upon which to levy taxation. All such articles ought to be beneath the notice of the right hon. Gentleman. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman is aware that the Germans living in this country are in the habit of importing foreign-made bread. If he taxes dextrine, why not tax pumpernickel? which, I think, would produce more revenue than dextrine.
The right hon. Gentleman has stated over and over again, and I think he repeated it in his speech tonight, that this tax will not be felt, and that the levying of this £2,500,000 will not be felt. All I can say is that the country will be most thankful to any Chancellor of the Exchequer who can give us some more of that sort of taxation, and who can keep on imposing upon us taxes that will not be felt But this is not a tax which will not be felt. Last year we contested the Chancellor of the Exchequer's statement that the sugar tax would not be felt, and it was only owing to exceptional circumstances in the trade that it was not felt, and no one could argue that that state of things would be likely to continue. There have always been great fluctuations in the price of sugar, and there will be again; and the other taxes which have been levied will also be felt. My 'right bon. friend has suggested that this tax will rain down money from the skies like manna, and he continues to assert that there is no Protection in this tax. Perhaps I may be permitted to read two telegrams which have passed between this country and America dealing with this tax. The House well knows that the importation of 1000 flour from abroad, from our Colonies, and more particularly from America, has assumed gigantic proportions, and I will read a copy of a telegram sent by some of the most important representatives of the milling trade in the United States. [The hon. Member read two telegrams.] Therefore, the opinion of the American miller is that this duty discriminates in favour of the English miller to the extent of 6½d per sack. These millers would he glad to contract for supplying flour at something less than 6½d, per sack profit. That is the extent to which the English miller is being protected. Last year the right hon. Gentleman refused to appoint a Committee to inquire into the sugar refining industry, and this year I accuse him of protecting the English miller to the detriment of the Colonial and American producers. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had a great deal to say against Mr. Lowe's decision when he decided to withdraw this duty. I have taken the two ports of London and Liverpool in regard to rice. These two ports import 200,000 tons of rice per year, of which I 10,000 tons are re-exported. The right hon. Gentleman does not seem to have any idea as to the quantity of these goods which are re-exported. The right hon. Gentleman simply looks at wheat and flour and all sorts of subsidiary articles which are now being taxed and re-exported, and unless we give a rebate upon some of these articles I am certain that much of the trade will pass away from this country altogether.
We have no doubt on this side of the House as to where this policy is loading, and we see in this proposal the beginning of a renewed system of Protection. Last year sugar was taxed, and this year starchy material is taxed. Next year possibly fatty materials will be taxed, and the year after nitrogenous materials. Then perhaps the Chancellor of the Exchequer, having run through the whole gamut of our food products, will turn his attention to clothes. We are determined to fight this Budget, because we consider that it is reactionary, and I am perfectly certain that, although the Chancellor of the Exchequer has told us that the working man is proud of his contribution to this war, he will not feel much pride when he finds the price of his bread is raised, and 1001 when he finds that not only will his I bread be taxed but sooner or later his meat and his clothes also.
§ *(7.46.) SIR JOHN ROLLESTON (Leicester)
No one can approach the consideration of the important proposals of the Chancellor of the Exchequer without a sense of great responsibility, and sharing as I do in the representation of a large town composed for the greater part of working people dependent upon commerce for their daily bread I can assure the House that I do not presume to express an opinion upon those proposals without careful and anxious consideration. I therefore say at once that I am prepared to give them hearty and cordial support except the increased tax upon cheques which I find to be very irritating to my constituents. I shall not attempt to enter into details. I will confine the few brief observations I have to make to general principles.
My hon. colleague who shares with me the representation of Leicester accused the Chancellor of the Exchequer of want of originality in his Budget. My view is that this Budget, and also the Budget of last year, show very great originality indeed, both in the adaptation of the principle that the groundwork of taxation must be considerably widened, and as indicating that this country must look in the future for the vast revenue we now need to a considerable extension of our system of tariff for revenue purposes. I could have wished myself to see that groundwork extended in the direction of imported manufactures, for which there is ample scope, rather than of food stuffs: but this duty on corn and flour is so small that I do not think it will injure anyone whatever. I do not think that it will raise the price to the consumer in any way, and he will not know that it is there at all. It is quite possible that the price of wheat may rise from other causes: there is plenty of room for it; but it will not be because of the registration duty, which is to be charged to the foreign exporter. I conclude, therefore, that this tax, which is expected to produce £2,650,000, is not one winch will have the effect of raising the price. But even if it should raise the price in a small degree, which I believe it will not, it will still be a fair tax under the circumstances. The principle that all should 1002 contribute to the upkeep of the nation, although in the direction of Socialism, yet is yet a sound principle, which I do not think will be objected to by any section of the community. I am aware that this tax will be used in the constituencies to raise a cry against the Government, but I venture to say that there will be no sincerity or reality in it, and that the people, who are now more educated and advanced every day, will be able to analyse for themselves and estimate at its true worth any agitation which may froth up for the moment in opposition to a duty which, while contributing materially both to the normal and abnormal expenses of the country, yet can do no possible harm. I can only express the hope that taxes upon food may not he extended in that direction, but rather in the direction, if revenue is wanted, of taxes upon imported manufactures, which offer a fertile field for Chancellors of the Exchequer in future.
I was very much interested, and no one could help being interested, in hearing the speech last week of the hon. Member for Oldham, in which he quoted figures showing the progress of our national expenditure, and, so far as he indicated the desirability of our getting the best cable for our money and the preventing of waste, his suggestion was one which, in my opinion, is well worth attention, but I am unable to agree that economy, or even frugality, means necessarily the cutting down of expenses. Our Navy is an instance of that. In my view, the country will need more and more an ample revenue for domestic expenses which cannot be cut down in any way. We have a better educated people and a higher standard of requirement altogether. For instance, I think that all parties are agreed that poor old people should have a weekly pittance from the State, but everyone shuns the question of cost. In my opinion, expenditure in this case would be true economy. There is nothing so stimulating, nothing so preservative of mental and bodily vigour, as the assurance that abject poverty is not necessarily the accompaniment of declining years, and I believe that this assurance on the part of the State to its working people would not tend to produce a thriftless race, but rather a more vigorous, a more hopeful and ambitious people. I do not wish to argue 1003 the question, but only to mention it to illustrate my argument that a very much larger revenue will be needed in future. The hon. Member for Oldham quoted figures, and I think there are other sets of figures which are equally worthy of the attention of the House. I believe that fifty years ago we imported manufactures to the extent of £20,000,000 annually; today we import something like £110,000,000 annually. It is this which offers a great resource in this country, which I hope Chancellors of the Exchequer will not hesitate to cultivate in future. We have an object lesson in our own Empire. The last time hon. Gentlemen opposite sat on this side of the House, India was in sore need of money, and what expedient did they resort to? Not to the taxation of ground values, or such fancy expedients as that, but they put on import duties all along the line, and the result has been most successful, because India has had magnificent surpluses in consequence. Although the duties are largely paid by the exporters of the United Kingdom, we have not heard much grumbling about them, and yet the time is approaching when the Secretary for India will be asked to remove those taxes, which are a hindrance to our trade. I think hon. Gentlemen opposite cannot express disapproval of our system of tariffs for revenue purposes That would be a misnomer in the case of the boot and shoe trade, with regard to which the tax operates—
§ * SIR. JOHN ROLLESTON
I was only referring to the system of tariffs for revenue purposes. I hope that it will not be contended that when the imposition of a duty hurts our own exporters it is right in principle; and that when it might do them some good it is wrong. There can be no doubt that by their action in India the Liberal Party have driven a nail into the coffin of Free Trade, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer—unconsciously, perhaps, and unintentionally—has assisted in the preparations for the burial of that policy, which appears to be beginning to die slowly a natural death, and Sir Robert Giffen has clone more than any living person to attract the approval of the country to his pro- 1004 posals. For what they have done in that direction that great Party opposite, and these eminent Gentlemen, in these fits of absence of mind, have, in my opinion, earned the thanks of the country, to which I, as a humble member of this House, beg to give expression by offering to the financial proposals now before it my hearty and cordial support.
§ *(7.58.) SIR JOSEPH PEASE (Durham, Barnard Castle)
I do not propose in the few remarks I have to make to go into those questions which have been handed backward and forward across the Table as to whether there is a breach of Free Trade, or merely a registration duty. My objection to the tax, whatever it be, whether larger or smaller, is that it involves the principle of taxing the greatest necessity of human life. I think that is an argument which ought in itself to have prevented the Chancellor of the Exchequer from trying to impose it. It is perfectly true that it is only a small sum as compared with the enormous expenditure of the country. It is proposed to raise £2,650,000 by taxing this necessary of life. I do not think that the argument which has so often been used that it will never be felt is any argument at all. Adam Smith and all his successors have laid it down that the consumer must pay the duty which is added to the imported article. The tax falls upon the very poorest classes. At present twenty-one persons are in receipt of indoor or outdoor relief to every 1,000 of the population, or one in fifty: and above these there is a stratum who get very little but bread and lard, and articles of that character, on which to keep life going. My right hon. friend the Member for East Wolverhampton spoke of Mr. Rowntree's most wonderful and excellent work of investigation into the state of the city in which he lives. York is the centre of a large railway organisation, and in regard to that city Mr. Rowntree found that 30 per cent. of the whole population were living in families who do not earn more than 11s. 9d. per week, and of that sum, if I recollect the figures correctly, 2s. 4d. was paid in rent. The number of the average 1005 family was 4.74. The people were living almost entirely on bread and those other cheap articles to which I have referred. He analysed this again, and said he found out of the 30 per cent. 26 per cent. were living in this great poverty, on account of the death of the breadwinner, and 22 percent., from the largeness of the family and the insufficiency of the wages earned by the man to maintain his family on anything else than a meagre diet. Then 52 per cent. of the:50 per cent. had low wages, through irregular work. Now, if that happens in a place like York, which has all the advantages of the labour market, surely it must be the case with the lower stratum of the people throughout the country.
I maintain that the tax fallsvery heavily on the poor people, since it affects the main, and in some cases, the sole, article of their diet. That at once raises my great objection to this tax. One might have been selected which would fall on people better able to pay it. Its effect must be to raise the price of wheat one shilling more per quarter than the present price. We should then be able to do away with the duty on produce coming from our own Colonies, particularly from Canada, one of the most loyal of them. In my own district the moorland farmers buy Russian oats and other feeding stuffs; and as to maize, I find in many little shops in Ireland that for every sack of oatmeal four sacks of maize are sold, because the poor people cannot buy the more nourishing oatmeal. Yet the maize and the Russian oats are going to be taxed. The fact is the Government are going to break the rules of Free Trade, and are going to impose a tax which will be very much felt indeed by the very poorest portion of the community, and by the large farming interest. Poor people in Ireland, because they could not buy the more nourishing food of oatmeal, had been driven to maize, which would now be taxed. Farming has been a depressed industry for some time. Two of the largest Chambers of Agriculture in the North of England recently made returns to the Central Chamber showing that the only prosperous farmers are those who have moorland sheep farms and are able to work them with the assistance of their own households, and those who have turned their attention to the milk trade. I know a tenant of my own who has raised a 1006 milk trade on a farm of 400 acres by buying these food stuffs. I also knew a widow who started with a 200 acre farm; later she became tenant of two or three farms in the immediate neighbourhood, and before she died she had established her three sons on these farms; and it was all done by buying artificial feeding stuff's, because otherwise 80 or 90 cows could not be kept on the farm to supply neighbouring towns with milk. The quantity of maize imported is 51,000,000 cwts. It is now to be charged 3d. per cwt., to the great detriment of the agricultural interest and many of my constituents. I oppose this tax much on the grounds that were stated by my hon. friend the Member for South Somersetshire in the most excellent speech with which he opened the debate. For the sake of £2,600,000, the Government is going to put a tax on the very poorest portion of the community, and is putting it on to the detriment of the farming interest, which has felt the low price of corn and other things so materially in recent years. I cannot help stating, in my protest against this tax, that it has every disadvantage which a tax can have, and that it will have to be repealed sonic day,; because of the injury that it will inflict on the people whom it should be the first duty of the Government to protect. (8.15.)
(8.45.) MR. LLOYD MORGAN (Carmarthen, W.)
It seems to me that the proposals of the Government are viewed by the country with profound dissatisfaction, and there is an evident feeling of alarm at the great and increasing national expenditure. I have often thought that the great mass of the people outside have been for a long time labouring under the erroneous impression that the increased taxation meant that the war was being paid for in that way. They are now coining to appreciate that it is nothing of the kind, but that the war is being paid for by loan, that if peace came tomorrow the taxation would remain almost where it is at present, and that consequently they can look forward to nothing except a serious burden of taxation which is beginning to press heavily on almost every class of the community. It is to be hoped that in the confusion of the war expenditure and the way in which that expenditure I has been met, the people will not forget 1007 one or two facts. The first is, that before the war commenced there were fat years, in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer, instead of having to meet a deficit, had a surplus, but that, instead of applying that surplus to alleviating the burden of taxation, the Government spent it in doles to the classes who least deserved them. Perhaps, when the farmer is paying a higher price for his feeding-stuffs, when men with small incomes are paying an increased income tax, and when the poorest class of all are laying more for their bread than they have done for many years past, then maybe they will remember that their money has gone not towards paying for a war with which possibly they agree, but to pay those doles which were handed out so freely in the early years of the last Parliament.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has been very anxious to make out that this tax on corn, grain, and flour has nothing of a Protective character about it. Strange to say, however, the most rapturous applause, which greeted his proposal came from a body of gentlemen about whose opinions we, in this House, have no doubt. They, at any rate, to their credit be it said, have never concealed their opinions with regard to Protection. In season and out of season they have advocated a return to that system, and when the right hon. Gentleman stated that he was going to tax corn they greeted the statement with rapturous applause. And they were entitled so to do. I have no sympathy with their political views, but I admire the pluck and persistency with which they have carried on their cause, and they, at any rate, felt, when the right hon. Gentleman made his statement. that up to that point they had won the day. The Chancellor of the Exchequer objects to any reference to the thin end of the wedge as far as Protection is concerned. But the gentlemen to whom I have referred know perfectly well that, though this is a small thing now, it is an instalment in the direction they advocate, and I very much mistake their calibre if they do not take great care, by bringing all the pressure they can on the Government and they have considerable influence—that this little wedge should be driven in a 1008 good many pegs before they have finished.
It has been said that the poor people will not suffer—that this is one of those wonderful taxes by which the Chancellor of the Exchequer will raise some millions of money without anybody knowing where the money comes from. There is one class, however, who are bound to be affected by this tax, viz., the agricultural class. It may be that the tax is not a heavy one, but it means that they will have to pay more than they did before. The right hon. Gentleman said today, that so far as grain offal was concerned he would be prepared at the proper time to move the reduction of the tax from 5d. to 3d. As one representing an agricultural constituency, I heard that pronouncement with much pleasure. I hope he will give the matter further consideration, and in a short time be able to state that, in view of the condition of agriculture, he is not justified in imposing any additional taxation on the farmers. If he is correctly reported, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Aberdeen stated last night that the main opposition to this proposal would probably come from the agricultural classes. I think he is right. The British farmer has had the greatest possible difficulty to meet his liabilities of late years. I know it is fashionable in these days to say that farmers are much better off than they used to be. I do not assent to that view. They may not be quite so badly off as they were some years ago, but the condition of the ordinary farmer today is anything but satisfactory. To impose upon him an additional burden seems to me to be doing him a wrong. One cannot spend his life in an agricultural district without knowing the great difficulties which farmers have to meet their liabilities. One of the greatest difficulties with which they have to deal is foreign competition, as well as the railway rates. I would not be in order in referring to the question; of railway rates, but it goes almost to the root of the agricultural difficulty in: this country. But apart from that, there is the difficulty of foreign competition. What is the Chancellor of the Exchequer doing by proposing this tax of 3d. on grain? The principal countries with which the farmer has to contend, 1009 so tar as competition is concerned, are Holland, Denmark, and Belgium. In each of those countries there is no tax whatever on offal. Therefore, while, even at the present time, the farmer has this increasing foreign competition to deal with, the Government, which has always prided itself on helping the farmer, comes down to the House of Common and says that in future they are going further to penalise the farmer instead of helping him.
But it is not only in the way I have pointed out that the Government injures the farmer. This proposal hits the farmer all round. I am not dealing with the corn farmer in Kent, Berkshire, Surrey, and the home counties. I admit at once that they are hound to get some advantage out of this tax. But it must be remembered that the great mass of farmers in this country are not corn-farmers. There are a certain number of large farmers who are corn-farmers, but the great mass of the small farmers have very little to do with corn. If you go down to the Western counties of South Wales, which are purely agricultural counties, you will find a great many farmers—I should not like to say the majority—grow no corn at all. What are you doing for these men? You are penalising them so far as their feeding stuffs are concerned; you are penalising them for every ounce of flour and grain that they have for use in their farms and for the food of their stock. There is nothing done for them; everything is done against them. As for the labourer, the proposal docs not profess to do anything for him. The area of arable land in this country has been steadily going down. It has diminished from 9,500,000 acres in 1872 to 7,335,000 in 1900; and in the same period in which there has been a great diminution of the corn-growing area there has. been a great increase in the grass area, the figures being 12,500,000 areas in 1872, and 16,750,000 in 1900. The Government will therefore see the serious injury they are inflicting on this class. It is all very well to say that it is a small amount, but it is the last straw that breaks the camel's back. I have had many opportunities of conversing with I farmers, and I have been surprised at the sums of money which they consider to be 1010 substantial. I will give one illustration; it is of a somewhat personal character, but it will describe what I mean. A farmer came to me some years ago and said his farm was to be sold. He was in a very uneasy state about it. Me had worked hard on the farm, and wanted, if he could get assistance, to buy it. I asked how much his rent was. and he said it was £65 a year, but it was too high. I asked him to what extent he thought it ought to be reduced, and said, What would you say to a £10 reduction?" "Oh, no," he said, "if I could get a reduction of £4 or £5 I would he satisfied." The right hon. Gentleman will see that a very small sum of money to that class of man is a considerable sum. I hope the Government will consider the total withdrawal of this tax so far as it refers to corn, or food, or food stuffs for cattle. I agree with the statement that a larger contribution should be made out of current revenue to meet the war expenditure. I do not think the Government have gone far enough in that direction. I feel the force of the argument that every class of the community should contribute to the war according to their ability to pay, but at the same time I think it is quite right that the consequences of heavy national expenditure should be brought home to the greatest possible number of people. I cannot agree with this tax on corn, because I believe it is a duty which will hit the very poorest of the poor, and it will hit severely that class who have a constant daily struggle to supply themselves with the absolute necessaries of life. I regard as a pure Protectionist fallacy the statement that this tax is so small that nobody will be affected by it, and that it will not injure anybody. In my judgment, tin-consumer in the long run is bound to pay for it, and so far as one can judge that ran does not appear to me to be a very-long run in this case. I read in one of the daily papers the statement, of a baker as to the absolute impossibility of bakers continuing to supply bread at the same price, and he said—Is it reasonable that the bakers are going to supply the Government with £2,500,000?It seems to me that that man was talking sound common sense. The consumer will have to pay in the long run, and it is because this tax will fall upon the poorest classes of the community, as well as on 1011 the small tenant farmers whom I represent, that I propose at every stage of these proposals to offer my strongest opposition.
§ *(9.4.) MR. GARDNER (Berkshire, Wokingham)
I desire to express my general approval of the proposals of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. As well as to Members opposite, this particular tax is unwelcome to me: so are most taxes, and most certainly new ones; but I have to remember that, as well as direct taxation, indirect, too, is necessary to the finances of the country, and the question is Which is the least unwelcome? and I support the choice of the Chancellor in this matter. Much controversy appears to rage around the question as to upon whom the Hour tax will fall. Hon. Members opposite contend that the tax will fall upon the consume)-. I agree that it will to the extent of the tax. If I may say so without offence it appears to me contrary to common sense to endeavour to maintain otherwise; but are hon. Members and their friends dealing quite fairly with this question? A manifesto of the Cobden Club, signed by Lord Welby. declares that—The price of home-grown grain will he increased proportionately, and will add half as much again to the impost as it affects the people. Thus only two-thirds of the total tax will reach the Exchequer. The total charge on the people cannot be estimated at less than £4,000,000.I do not appreciate the reasoning, and I think it fallacious, misleading. To consumers, bread will increase in price to the extent of the tax on flour, modified, in my opinion, by the influence which the untaxed English wheat may have. I admit this latter factor to be obscure, but even without it the tax amounts to half a farthing on a 4lb. loaf; or, in case the influence of untaxed English wheat has the effect I attribute to it, one-third of a farthing on the 411). loaf. And this fraction of a farthing can, over a length of time, be paid to its fraction thus: that no baker raises his price of bread on Is. a sack, or on 2s., and very few on 3s., but always on 4s., and then to the extent of ½d. on the 4lb. loaf. This tax will simply accelerate a rise or delay a fall in price. I admit that the burden is on the consumer, but I do not believe it will be 1012 resented by any, however poor, in this time of financial necessity.
There is the case of the farmer. In some directions he will, no doubt, be hit. In feeding stuffs and foreign corn he will suffer, and in the matter of wheat offal. In the latter there is a case, I think, for consideration, for the 5d. a cwt. on flour covers in relation to wheat at 3d. a cwt. not only the flour but the offal derived from wheat necessary to produce the flour. I therefore submit that wheat offal at any rate should be admitted duty free. But to these taxpayers are there no compensations? The fanner is hit by the tax on some corn and feeding stuffs, but he will or should gain by the tax on flour, and in my opinion the one about balances the other. To the working classes there would be, could it he brought about, both in town and country, much benefit by the keeping going and setting going again of the small country mills. I much fear the time has gone by; this tax twenty years ago might have been of benefit in this direction. Could it now have the effect, young men would be, to some extent at any rate, kept from crowding into towns. The movement from country to town is caused not only by shortness of employment, but by a want of variety. In any purely agricultural district, should any young man quarrel with his employer or his work, movement into a town is his only alternative. With the country nulls again in full work, some opportunity is given to vary his occupation, and stay in his own village, and though I admit the remedy in tin's direction to he only small, I. believe the case impossible to be dealt with by any one large measure, but rather so by many small ones. I represent a constituency comprising much of agriculture and many of the working classes, and have no fear of being able to defend this tax on com and flour in a time of difficulty in which I think the Government are entitled to our support.
§ *(9.16.) MR. REA (Gloucester)
I rise to oppose the imposition of a duty on corn, not as an undiscriminating opponent of all proposals of taxation that are made, or could be made, by His Majesty's Government. We have got to pay for the war and I have never refused to vote for any of the vast demands that have been made upon us for carrying it on. More than 1013 this, I have been among those who criticise the Chancellor of the Exchequer for his timidity in the matter of taxation and his courage in the matter of borrowing. I have voted for the increases of the income tax, and if he had proposed double these increases, I should have supported him. I have voted for the new stamp duty, although I consider it a bad tax. But the sugar tax last year I opposed, and more strongly still I oppose the revival of the corn duty. I oppose them because I regard them both as excessive demands upon the people, not the people as a whole, not on the prosperous artisan and the small tradesman, but on the poorest classes.
It is said this war is a national war. It has the support of all classes—of the man in the street, the man in the workshop, the man in the mine—and they ought to pay their share, I agree. But what is their fair share? What is the fair share of the third of the population of these islands, which live all their days below the poverty line, people who have not a sufficient income to maintain them in fit physical condition for efficient labour. Men, women, and children who are always hungry, and who cannot be reached by taxation, except by reducing still further their scanty breakfast, which is also their dinner and their supper—bread, sugar, in one of its forms, and tea; taxed tea, taxed sugar, and taxed bread, that is all. To these people the indulgence in the extravagance of a halfpenny papier, or a rare penny stamp for a letter, reduces the children's food. For it is when a family rises to humble luxuries, when it can indulge in meat and fish, vegetables and fruit, butter and milk, it rises to free and untaxed food. What is the fair share for these unfortunate people? Surely no one in this House will maintain that; these people should pay out of their life-blood as we in this House should pay out of our superfluities and luxuries. But by the last Budget, this—and much more than this—has been demanded of them, for these people not only consume nothing but these heavily taxed articles, but they consume the bulk of these articles. Per head, their consumption is far greater than that of the average Member of this House: little bread and no sugar is probably our portion. Out of all proportion to the average of the whole nation per head is the 1014 consumption of corn and sugar by the poor. In this bottom stratum of society the Chancellor of the Exchequer has found his "thick seam," his "bonanza." He is broadening the base of taxation, and this is the basis of the new finance. I must consider the taxes on corn and sugar together, for they are the same tax as far as the payers are concerned. I do not agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Monmouth that in taxing sugar you were taxing the comfort of the poor only, and that now you are taxing their necessities. When you taxed sugar, you taxed the most important article of their food, and physiologically, I believe, the most valuable except corn only. It is more to them than meat or fish, vegetables or fruit, butter or eggs—for those to them are rare luxuries. The poor, the really poor—a third of our population—live on bread and sugar (with sugar I include treacle and jam) and tea. Probably jam is, at this moment, the cheapest food, calculating its effective food value, the poor can buy. The value of sugar as food has been demonstrated by careful experiments in the Italian and German armies.
§ * MR. REA
I was maintaining that the same classes are affected by the corn and the sugar taxes. And it is to an income wholly devoted to these items of expenditure the Chancellor of the Exchequer is taking the heaviest toll of all. It is surely idle to argue that a duty does not increase the retail price, as if a tax were not one of the factors in the cost that determine price as much as labour a freight. It is true the glut of beetroot sugar in the market last year prevented a rise in price, but it is just as true that the duty prevented a fall, and it is as certain the poor have paid a id. per pound more for their sugar as it is that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has received it. And it will be the same with the corn duty. Already the wholesale market has responded with exact accuracy. The retail market will respond, not with exact accuracy, but with a retail profit added. The Chancellor of the Exchequer admitted this in the case of beer, which he is not going to tax further, in his Budget speech. It is doubtless more difficult to add to the retail price of beer 1015 than of bread; "fourpenny" ale remains "fourpenny," and "sixpenny" remains "sixpenny." But the Chancellor of the Exchequer told us what happens when a beer tax is increased. What is altered is not the nominal price, but what he euphemistically termed the "gravity" of the beer. The consumer pays—always, pays generally more than the tax and never less. I yield to no Member of this House in my admiration of the ability of the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, but even he has yet to discover a tax that can be collected from nobody.
That the consumer will pay more than the Chancellor of the Exchequer will gain, in the case of the corn tax, which is also a Protective duty, every supporter of this tax knows well, and that is his principal reason for supporting it. Else why the exuberant delight of the hon. Member for Central Sheffield and his friends? They know it will not only pay the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but it will pay others too. And the poor—they will not feel it—nobody will feel it! This stale defence of indirect taxation means only this, and in the mouths of those who use it consciously means only this—they will feel the pressure, but they will not know who oppresses. They will feel the blow, but they will not see the hand that deals it. It is interesting to compare the statements about this tax-made by two different Chancellors of the Exchequer. It is true one is putting it on, and the other was taking it off. The present Chancellor of the Exchequer says competition will prevent it reaching the retail buyer—in effect, that it is not a tax on bread at all, but a tax on bakers. What said Mr. Lowe in 1869?—It has to bear the profit of the miller, the retailer, etc., before it reaches the poor in the form of a loaf. Why, it is a kind of poll tax, of which we hear so much in olden times, but it is graduated in a peculiar fashion, because it falls heaviest upon the poorest of your people. It has been computed by those who have inquired into the subject that if a man and his family ate nothing but bread—which is the case of the very poor-this duty would be equal to something like an income tax of 1½ per cent. upon the whole means of the family. But if a man rises in his scale of diet, and eats meal, eggs, batter, and the like, he then lives on articles that are duty free, and, therefore, this tax presses with its greatest severity on the poor—that severity increasing in the ratio of their poverty.1016 The Chancellor of the Exchequer called it a little tax—but what did Mr. Lowe say upon this point?—The only thing that can be said for it is that it is a little tax. If, however, the argument that the tax, being small, can, therefore, do no harm, is to prevail, then I can say we have found the philosopher's stone of finance, because whatever may be the difficulty of putting on a good tax, nothing will be so easy as putting on a little tax, or a number of little taxes.But I dispute that it is a little tax. I maintain it is a big tax, and. when added to the sugar duty, is a burden upon the poorest, not only oppressive, but intolerable. Mr. Lowe, himself, showed it was a very big tax to the really poor. For what is 1½ per cent. of your income? It is an income tax of more than 3½d. in the pound, and the sugar tax may be said to be a tax of at least 4d. in the pound—that is, together, 7½d. in the poor man's single pound per week. The measure meted out is 3d. more income tax to ourselves (for our share of these articles of prime consumption is in reality infinitesimal, and must be put down at a small decimal of a penny)—3d., I say, to ourselves, and more than double this tax on the very humblest class.
And to reconcile Members of this House I to the last penny on the income tax. the Chancellor of the Exchequer has practically pledged himself that the first remission of taxation shall be given to the income tax payers. Hon. Members on the opposite side of the House cheered that announcement with unanimity, just as they cheered the imposition of these taxes on the special food of the very poor. I do not doubt they would cheer the doubling of these taxes. Their financial prophet and teacher says, income tax must go down to 6d., and the "financial basis of taxation enlarged." The last part of this policy has been begun, the first is promised. I have been trying to explain to the House what, in my opinion, this course means. In opposing this tax, and that on sugar, I have been pleading the cause of the very humblest of the people - people with slight influence politically: for even in these days of extended franchise, the class I speak for is still politically the most inarticulate. They are not the intelligent working classes, but the unskilled and helpless, who yet number one in three, and who live on bread and sugar and grain and tea.
*(9.36.) MR. GRIPPS (Lancashire, Stretford)
I do not intend to detain the House at any length, and I hope I shall not follow the example of the hon. Member who has just sat down by reiterating arguments and reading passages which have already been laid before the House by former speakers, and more particularly passages from Mr. Lowe, which were read by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton.
§ * MR. CRIPPS
Now, Sir, I submit that the question here, as it seems to me, is whether the allegations made against the proposals of my right hon. friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer can be substantiated or not. Two allegations have been made here—first, that the duty is Protective in character, which is an economic question, and must be approached on economic grounds; and second—and this is a much more practical question—whether the incidence of this tax will fall on the working classes, and especially, or particularly, on what has been called the poorest of the poor. I approach this question as a Free Trader. Without discussing the more general principles on which Free Trade has been justified from time to time, I think as regards the condition of our English industries Free Trade is absolutely essential, and while we have the world-wide industries and interests which we possess, and while we seek to become the workshop of the world, it is impossible to contemplate anything like Protective duties as against the principles of Free Trade, which have prevailed in this country, to the great advantage of this country, for a very great number of years.
Now just let us see whether this is a. Protective duty or not. In the first place, it is not a duty of which the object is Protection, or a Protective duty within the ordinary sense of the term as it was used by the older economic writers, even if we go back as far as Adam Smith. I do not think that even the most determined opponent of this duty has suggested that this is a Protective duty in that sense, and that is the true sense in which we ought to apply the word "Protective." But it is said it is Protective in another sense. It has been stated 1018 by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hast Wolverhampton. He says this:—You have a Protective duty wherever you place a duty on some product which is manufactured here, or which is produced in this country, without you have a corresponding excise charge as regards that product or manufacture.That is the test of the right hon. Member for East Wolverhampton. First of all, I demur to the doctrine that Free Trade brings about any such necessary consequence as regards our methods of taxation. Of course, Free Trade in its wider sense is based on two principles with which I am thoroughly in accord. First, it is the general doctrine that Governments should interfere as little as possible; with trade, and from that point of view the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean attacks the proposed duty, because he thinks it will unduly interfere with industrial freedom. I think it is extremely important to extend Free Trade as far as possible in industrial directions, and that you should restrict industries as little as possible, but you cannot carry out the principle on strictly logical lines. The Free Trader in that sense would object to all factory legislation and all sanitary legislation, and it is quite impossible, however we may wish to interfere as little as possible, to keep from doing so altogether. There are certain necessary restrictions, and the question is whether those restrictions can be justified or not. What is the other principle as regards Free Trade? The general doctrine expressed in its widest form, although probably not accepted in that form at present, is that apart from any Government interference you have got by means of Free Trade production under the cheapest conditions. Without interference, you have a natural tendency to produce things when they can be produced under the cheapest conditions. If I thought this duty would interfere in any serious degree with cheap production, I think it would; come under the category of Protective duties.
Now, can it be said that it attacks either of those principles—that this duty is in any sense a Protective duty? Does it interfere unfairly as regards trade restrictions? I listened with great attention to the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean. Part of his argument was that he objected to 1019 this tax because it would cause unnecessary interference and dislocation of trade. How can he say that a tax of this kind is an unnecessary interference with trade, or that it is likely to lead to industrial dislocation in the country? If you take a test of this kind, I think a tax such as is proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer—I mean this particular duty called the corn duty—is as calculated to interfere to a minimum extent with trade. 80 far from this being a Protective duty, in this sense it is a duty which interferes as little as possible with industrial conditions and regulations.
Let us consider for a moment the other point of view. Can any man say there is the least possibility that this tax will lead to the production of corn under the worst instead of the best economic conditions? Is it conceivable that the production will be interfered with at all? When we get away from those two tests, which I say are the right tests, then we come back to consider the basis on which we ought to consider a tax of this kind, namely, if you have to produce a revenue, which you undoubtedly have for the purpose of a War Budget, is this the best expedient? Is there any other way in which it would be possible to obtain it with less friction or less industrial dislocation? I think it is not possible that you could obtain a fund with less industrial dislocation. Now, we have had two means suggested for raising this tax, beer and tobacco; but my right hon. friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has answered these suggestions, and therefore I will not refer to them. There is a very important point raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton, because if his point is right it really would be a blow to ever enlarging the basis of that which we may call indirect taxation. The right hon. Gentleman's view was this: you are always pursuing a Protective and therefore a false policy whenever you place a tax on a commodity largely produced in this country without at the same time placing an excise duty on the production of this commodity. Now, it is impracticable to suggest that where you have any large manufacturinginterests of any kind, you are going to put on them an excise duty. Therefore, if this view is to be accepted, you can never put an indirect tax on any 1020 commodity produced by a manufacturing process that happens to be imported, and at the same time is largely produced in this country: in other words, you are only to put such a tax on manufactures only slightly produced in this country.
§ * SIR HENRY FOWLER
Unless you put an excise duty on the same article—for instance, beer, or spirits.
§ * MR. CRIPPS
Beer does not come into-this matter at all. What I am putting is this—as regards any manufactured product of this country which has to compete with foreign competition, and has to bear all the ordinary incidence of competition—whether you take iron, or cotton, or any great industry of that kind—it is practically impossible, in regard to that industry, to put on anything like excise duty. If the right hon. Gentleman is right—and I think in this matter, although I am a sound Free Trader, he carries the doctrine of Free Trade too far; because every economist has to consider questions of expediency—if you take the right hon. Gentleman's view, it means this: In regard to indirect taxation you must impose excise duty if you put a tax on a commodity that is largely manufactured in this country. I do not agree with that. Although I am a Free Trader, I think in the process of fair taxation you cannot put on one side that large class of commodities which the right hon. Gentleman's argument would exclude: therefore I think, on economic grounds, that there is no interference here with the Free Trade principle, nor is it a Protective duty. It is not a duty for the purpose of Protection, which is Adam Smith's test, which is the only true test, and I do not think a Free Trader is bound to accept the argument of the right hon. Gentleman, that you cannot place a duty upon a commodity largely manufactured in this country unless you place a corresponding excise duty upon it.
Now, only one or two words on the other principle, which is, perhaps, equally important, but more governed by practical considerations. On whom does this tax fall? Is it true that this tax, to a large degree, falls harshly and unjustly on the working classes, or, 1021 at any rate, on the poorer portion of the working classes? That is the one-third which the hon. Gentleman takes out of Mr. Rowntree's hook. I may say in passing I do not agree with Mr. Rowntree's figures, but that is a matter that we cannot go into now. We must have the economic side as well as practical application. Now, we have had two views of value put forward this evening, one of which I hardly agree with, and one which I should be very much inclined to contest. The hon. Member for the Black-friars Division of Glasgow took as the test of value what is often called scarcity value—that is to say, the value arrived at by supply and demand. This is a sufficient test in economics as regards value, although cost of production is an element whether you have scarcity or not. I do not believe economists are right who take that test. In a case of this kind there is not the remotest chance of there being scarcity value as regards corn. Of course if you had the tax so high that you limited the production, you would at once have the risk of creating a high scarcity value, bur, nobody supposes that this shilling per quarter on corn is likely to produce any reduction in the supply, or produce anything like a special scarcity value, and a shilling per quarter will be the outside extra price which is ever likely to be permanently added. Now, who pays that shilling? We have had a most extraordinary variety of arguments upon this point. We have been told that the producer pays it, that the consumer pays it, and—most remarkable of all—the hon. Baronet the Member for the Barnard Castle Division of Durham said one of the reasons against the tax was the large amount of corn produced and imported from Canada, and that it was a very hard thing that we should place a duty of this kind on our loyal colonists. We have therefore boxed the compass in endeavouring to find on whom the ultimate payment of this tax falls. I do not think myself that any appreciable amount of this tax will fall upon the consumer. That is a matter of opinion, and nothing is more difficult in economic questions than to discover where the incidence of a tax is. Sometimes in the haggling of the market the consumer gets the better bargain, and sometimes the producer gets the better bargain, and therefore you cannot lay down any general principle on 1022 a point of this kind. If one considers the conditions under which corn is imported into this country, it is, at any rate, highly probable that the main portion of this charge will not fall upon the consumer at all. The hon. and learned Member for South Shields seemed to think that it would fall upon the consumer in a singularly hard degree, because the amount of the duty is so small that it cannot be expressed by the smallest coin of the realm—that, I think, is a reason why it should do nothing of the sort. I believe, on the other hand, having regard to the very small duty, and having regard to the conditions under which corn is imported into this country that the probability is that none of this tax will fall upon the consumer at all. It is on these grounds that I think the proposals of the Chancellor of the Exchequer ought to be supported merely as a proposal in the interests of revenue. If I thought it was against the interests of the production, I should certainly oppose it. I represent a very large industrial division in Lancashire, which has long supported Free Trade, and which believes that any departure from the main principles of Free Trade would be disadvantageous to this country, and I should raise my voice against such departure.
§ (10.0) MR. FIELD (Dublin, St. Patrick)
So far this has been a British I debate. You have had no Irish Member voicing Irish opinion speaking upon this matter. Now, as an Irish representative, I entirely object to any increase in taxation, because our population is diminishing, our wealth is decreasing—we are already overtaxed; and this is a matter upon which the Financial Relations Committee have delivered a verdict several years since that Ireland was overtaxed to the amount of two and three quarter millions sterling per annum, and this overtaxation has been largely increased. Last year Ireland paid £11,888,000 imperial taxation from a reducing population of less than four and a half millions. Sir, it is admitted that no fiscal law is universally applicable; and with regard to the doctrine of Free Trade, of which we have heard so much in this debate, there is really no such thing as Free Trade in existence. Hon. Members may differ from me: they have a right to their opinions, I have a right to mine: and I will prove it to the Committee. You 1023 have here a system falsely designated as Free Trade, but which in reality is a system of Free Imports. What is the meaning of Free Trade? It is free interchange of all commodities. Does that exist in any country in the world? One hon. Member, with a wealth of language about scarcity value has confused our thoughts on the ground of Free Trade as it strikes him from the Conservative point of view. You have Free Trade with a tax on sugar, tobacco, beer, wine, whiskey, and with an export tax on coal, and with a tax upon everything else likely to realise sufficient to make it worth while to be taken into the Exchequer. I wonder that Englishmen, who generally look on matters of finance in a level-headed kind of way, regard this as Free Trade. Every person who has studied and understands the subject knows that your policy is Free Imports, not Free Trade. When it suited England to penalize Free Trade in Ireland it was done. Now you force a policy of Free Imports because it is convenient to Great Britain. Sir, Irish opinion with regard to Free Trade is this. It has been a main factor of the agriaultural ruin of Ireland: and since the introduction of Free Imports, nominally in 1846, but not really until many years after that date, the population of Ireland has diminished year by year, because Ireland being an agricultural country the people work under different conditions, and it is only natural the population should decay, and wealth and work decrease. Our economic conditions are such that we are entitled to special treatment in this matter. What are we Irishman here for? We are here to voice the opinion of our constituents and to guard the interests of our country. There is little about Ireland in this debate or this Budget, and I feel bound to say, in considering this matter, Irish opinion ought to be at least consulted, because if you expect us to remain loyal to the British nation we ought to get an equivalent for it to which we are constitutionally entitled. Loyalty is a contract. If hon. Members think I am laying down any unconstitutional doctrine, I can refer them to authorities which will convert them. Loyalty is a contract. Rulers are bound to govern those who pay taxation, so that they may enjoy freedom and prosperity. We have neither freedom nor prosperity, and yet you expect us to be loyal; you expect us to pay in a greater degree 1024 through over taxation for being exterminated than Great Britain does where you are increasing in numbers and in wealth. Hon. Members have spoken in this debate upon the wonderful prosperity of the British nation. The hon. Member for Haddingtonshire gave a long and learned disquisition last night about the British annual income amounting to something like £175,000,000 per annum, and he calculated the percentage of taxation, but he did not inform the House that the annual income of Ireland is under £10,000,000, and the percentage of taxation is much higher than that paid by Great Britain. He also expatiated about War expenditure. It would not be in order to enter into a discussion about the war—further than to say it has materially increased Imperial taxation in our impoverished country, and I assert that the British people ought to bear the expenditure of this war themselves, because it was popular with them, they voted for it, and they ought to pay for it: and we Irishmen, who have always protested against it, ought not to be made to pay for a war of which we have never approved. The main proposition of this Budget is a tax upon corn. I am not in favour of a tax upon it because corn is a raw material, and should be admitted without registration duty owing to the extraordinary condition of the agricultural position of the three kingdoms, but I would tax flour to a greater degree than the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposes. But corn, being a raw material, if it were allowed to be imported free, would help industry in the direction of making flour, which would keep down the price of bread, also providing offal for feeding stuff such as bran, pollard, and sharps. This important Supply has apparently been lost sight of by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I heard some hon. Member on this side of the House give the enormous figures of the output of foreign mills, especially the gigantic mills of Minneapolis. Are you prepared to support by your custom, and perhaps bring into this country, the trusts and monopolies of America, which are the bane and curse of the country? Are we to understand that you are not prepared to protect our own miller? If all your mills were going, there would be employment 1025 for thousands of people. One cannot travel alongside a river, large or small, in almost any part of the three kingdoms, without coming across scores of ruined mills which have been abandoned. If these mills were set going, they would give employment to thousands of people, and to a large extent prevent emigration from rural districts, at the same time providing flour for bread and offal for live stock. Hon. Members who have grand ideas of Free Trade take a peculiar view of this question. I know what the Free Traders are. They imagine that nobody knows anything but themselves. The Manchester School of Free Trade apparently act as if God gave them the monopoly of knowledge. But I have the courage of my convictions, and I believe the time is coming when the people will think that the principle of free imports called Free Trade will have to be largely revised if there is to be anything like prosperity in this country. Let hon. Members look up the returns for the last year, and what do they find? America has beaten you. Your assumed commercial superiority is being threatened in every quarter by the Protective countries, and, above all, you find that from Ireland and Great Britain men are emigrating from their own country to America, that is to say, from the country of Free Trade to the country of Protection. The balance of exports and imports is entirely against you, and they have been increasingly so for years.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! I think the hon. Member should come a little nearer the concrete case of corn.
§ * MR. FIELD
I will return to corn. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer is in a mood to receive a hint from an Irish Member, I would suggest that there should be no duty on wheat or Indian corn, or on bran, pollard, or sharps, and that the duty should be put principally on flour. I wish to state a fact which is probably unknown to many Members of the House. An enormous quantity of imported corn is ground in Liverpool. The offal of that corn is actually exported to Denmark, Holland, and other places, where it is used for the feeding of live stock, to produce milk and butter to be imported into Great Britain, and sometimes to feed cattle for importation 1026 into this country This is a strange method of international business. Now why is it so exported? Because the railway rates are so high that it is cheaper to take the offal right over the sea than to send it a few miles inland. But if imported in a manufactured condition it would receive the preferential treatment accorded to foreign produce. However, the foreigners are intelligent enough to keep their employment and offal at home. May I seriously suggest to the House and the Chancellor that there ought to be some intelligent settled principle guiding the imposition and incidence of National Taxation. The right hon. Gentleman calls himself a Free Trader. It is almost political blasphemy to call him anything else. He has taxed sugar and coal, and now he taxes corn. He really does not know where he is. But if we are going to tax corn, why do we not tax frozen meat? Live stock imported gives employment and provides hides and offal. Frozen or refrigerated meat does neither, and a moderate impost would not largely influence its price or consumption. Besides, the export of frozen and refrigerated meat is frequently subsidised by the Governments whence it comes. We do not tax bacon or butter, which ought to be produced to a large extent at home. What you call Free Trade is really Protection to the foreigner. You not only give the foreigner preferential rates, but you find a market for his goods. If you introduce a Budget with a tax on corn, these other matters ought to be taken into consideration. A right hon. Gentleman on this side made an intellectual speech about Socialism on the Continent, and he said it all came from dear bread. I have studied Continental politics, and know that political differences are at the bottom of all these questions. In most of those countries the people who are protected are, in ratio, better off than the people of England. I believe an hon. Member here, who claimed to represent the poorest, or, as he put it, the largest constituency in the country, said that one-third of that constituency were on the verge of starvation. I have been all over Europe, but I never saw anything like one-third of the population in those countries on the verge of starvation.
I have taken an original, courageous, and commonsense view of this matter, 1027 and I hope other hon. Members will take up my line of argument. I maintain that no country in the world can be permanently prosperous with ruined agriculture and land going to waste. That is a proposition which may be safely accepted on both sides of the House. Hon. Members may say that if there are prosperous manufacturing industries, agriculture does not need to be looked after. That doctrine may appear to suit certain portions of Great Britain, but it is not generally applicable to Ireland. The history of all ages proves that in due course, within a cycle of a few years, a country undoubtedly becomes weakened unless care is taken of its agriculture. That will be true of this country. One of the great reasons why the labour market becomes over-stocked is that there is no employment for the agricultural labourer.
§ * MR. FIELD
Sir, I have been perfectly sincere in making these suggestions, though I am quite aware that some of my hon. friends, and especially my own colleague, may think that if such a policy were adopted, rents would be raised in Ireland and in Great Britain. I do not think that is likely to occur in the immediate future. The people of this country had to be forced into what is called Free Trade, the conditions have changed—productions, transit, electrical power, consumption and supply are all improved. But it will take some time to educate popular opinion. A modified enlightened policy of Protection can at the same time maintain cheap food and give employment by keeping our own market. I am the first Member in this House who has had the courage to put forward these ideas, but time will show the wisdom of advancing them in order that they may be discussed. In conclusion I would say that if I were allowed to follow my own opinion I would vote against the corn tax, or any tax on live stock or raw materials, but I would put a tax on flour and on all manufactured articles which come into this country. For the time is coming when the existing 1028 system of Free Imports will have to be modified in order to protect the industries, the agriculture, the workers, and the finances of the three Kingdoms.
§ (10.22.) MR. CHAPLIN (Lincolnshire, Sleaford)
The hon. Member who has just sat down has told us that in theory he is a Free Trader, but whether he is a Free Trader or a Protectionist in practice, I find it rather hard to discover; but, judging from the speech he has just delivered, he appears to me to have very decided views in favour of Protection. However that may be, I am well aware that I am among those who have always been regarded as suspect in the matter of Free Trade. I do not quite know why. I defend and support this proposal tonight, as I have frequently defended and supported it before, both in and out of Parliament, on the ground of revenue alone, and I shall be glad to be permitted to reply to some of the critics of the proposal. The hon. Member who moved the Amendment referred to me as one of those who had always been ready, with great frankness, for which he complimented me, to advocate a 5s. duty on corn. The compliment was entirely undeserved. To the best of my recollection, and I am pretty certain I am right, I have never, before any audience, either in or out of Parliament, advocated a 5s. duty on corn. The statement has been so often repeated that I have no doubt a great many people believe the legend to be true, but, as far as I am concerned, it is entirely without foundation. The hon. Member cited in support of this view a speech which he said I made at a northern meeting two or three years ago, under the auspices of the present Postmaster General. I recollect the occasion, and it is very curious that the hon. Member should have referred to it. I will tell the House exactly what did occur. It was at a time when we were much engaged in the discussion of old age pensions, and just after I had had—for my sins, I suppose—to preside over a Select Committee of this House on the subject. One of the leading newspapers in the Metropolis had taken up the matter very strongly, and was advocating right and left the imposition of a 5s. duty on corn in order to supply the needful means for a scheme of old agepen- 1029 sions. I had to speak to a large agricultural audience; I did not arrive there until two or three o'clock in the morning, it was only after that that I was asked to peak, and, for something to say, I referred to this proposal. I strongly repudiated it. What I did say was that if the advocates of this view had confined themselves to the re-imposition of the old Is. duty on corn, there would have been a great deal more to be said for the proposal, and it is upon that very slight foundation that charges of this kind re levelled against me.
I pass to the Resolution more imlediately before the House. So far as can gather from the course of the debate, the objections to the proposal are based mainly on four different grounds. First of all, I take the complaint of the mover of the Amendment that this proposal will, in reality, be more an injury than an advantage to the farmer, because of the duty imposed upon imported feeding stuffs. When this argument is examined, what does it amount to? The right hon. Gentleman has already made considerable concessions upon that point tonight which should go far to remove whatever objections were entertained before. I have looked into this question carefully, and what I find is that the amount of feeding stuff imported in the form of grain and meal is roughly 80,000,000 cwts. and in addition to that there must be 7,000,000 cwts. of what is called offal. Upon this point I may observe that complaints in regard to this foreign offal among farmers are numerous. They say that these foreign food stuffs have often been found to be injurious to the stock which feed upon them owing to the way they are prepared. This imported stuff is to be the subject of a trifling tax.
Let us look on the other side of the question. What is the amount of feeding stuffs produced at home on which animals are fed in this country? Take, for instance, grain and meal again to begin with. I have obtained the estimate from the most reliable authorities I can, and the amount of home-grown grain and meal used for feeding is put at 70,500,000 cwts. and offal 7,000,000 cwts., making 77,000,000 cwts., as against 87,000,000 cwts. from abroad. Hut there is a great deal more 1030 to be taken into account. There are all the root crops which are grown in this country, and which are estimated at 630,000,000 cwts. Then there is hay, which is estimated at 227,000,000 cwts., making a total from grain, offal, meal, roots, and hay produced at home, of 995,000,000 cwts. Besides this there is all the straw, which was estimated in 1895 at 10,000,000 tons or 200,000,000 cwts., of which a large proportion is used for the feeding of stock. Then there is all the grass and green crops which are fed off. not to speak of other things, such as carrots and lucerne, and the total can not be less than 12,000,000 or 13,000,000 cwts.
Against this the foreign is less than 100,000,000 cwts: and we are asked to believe by the hon. Baronet the Member for South Somerset that the trifling duty imposed on this foreign import is to complete the ruin of the British farmer. Surely the farce of absurdity could hardly go farther.
What is the second objection? The hon. Member who opened the debate said that it was iniquitous to raise so large a sum as nearly £3,000,000 a year on what he called the food of the people. But the Chancellor of the Exchequer is not raising anything approaching that sum on food, for only a third of the tax falls on wheat, and by far the larger proportion falls on grain and meal other than food. Hon. Gentlemen opposite say they warned us it would raise the price of bread, and now with exultation they point to the fact that it has done so. I admit that there have been a good many quotations published in the papers showing a rise in the price of bread, but it has yet to be proved that these enhanced prices have been obtained up to the present time. I am not surprised. I always thought it probable that the bakers would try it on; but one thing is absolutely certain that unless there is some failure in the wheat crop of the world. or some other cause entirely apart from this duty, there will be no permanent rise in the price of bread, and no rise at any time that can be justly ascribed to the duty which my right hon. friend has proposed. Hon. Members appear to have forgotten altogether that the price of wheat is subject to constant and perpetual fluctuations, which occur not only from 1031 month to month but often from week to week, which are often more than Is. a quarter. The price of bread does not vary with these fluctuations, and never varies at all unless the price of wheat falls or rises to a very considerable extent: and there are various reasons for this. One is that wheat is so cheap in these days that the main cost of bread is in the manufacture and not in the material. Wages and the cost of machinery have a great deal to do with it, and it requires a very considerable rise in a quarter of wheat to make any practical difference in the price of bread on account of the very large number of loaves made out of it. It is perfectly true that there is no coin in existence which is small enough to express the fractional difference which could be created in the cost of a loaf of bread by the imposition of this trifling duty on wheat. It is exactly like the case of beer if a small additional duty is added to the barrel. It cannot be divided glass by glass, because it is too small, and the price of this glass to the consumer remains the same. So it will be also with the loaf. Go to the corn merchants or the bakers, and they will all toll you, as a matter of practical experience, that the price of bread does not change unless the price of wheat rises or falls to something like 4s. or 5s. per quarter. Whoever else, then, is to bear the burden of this duty, one thing-is certain, and that is that it will not be the consumer of bread; and the answer to the question of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton, when he says, "We want to know, then, who is to pay the duty," is this: So diminutive will be the burden upon those on whom it does fall, that it will probably be impossible to trace it. In confirmation of what I have said, perhaps I may be allowed to read a telegram which has been placed in my hands only this afternoon. It comes from one of the largest bakers, enjoying the largest trade in the City of Glasgow, who is a well-known man. It reads:No advancen, or any chance of an advance, in the price of bread in Glasgow.And yet Glasgow is the largest city, with the exception of the Metropolis, in the United Kingdom. Amongst the men 1032 of business in Glasgow I think it is well known that there are men who are as shrewd and acute in conducing their business as in any class throughout the whole of the country, and the telegram I have read represents the opinion of the bakers of Glasgow. If this be true, what becomes of all the predictions we have heard from the other side of the House? Perhaps I ought to say that this telegram was not sent to me, but to my hon. friend the Member for the Black-friars Division of Glasgow. who made such an able and admirable speech to night, and who, unfortunately, forgot to quote this telegram before he sat down.
The fourth objection is, that in adopting this duty the House of Commons is being asked to take the first step in a return to the old bad days of Protection. Do hon. Gentlemen opposite who make that assertion remember what those old bad days of Protection really were? For a moment I will remind them. The sliding scale of 1828 affords, perhaps, the most remarkable instance of all. In that year the duty was 20s. 8d. upon corn whenever the price of wheat was less than 66s a quarter, and it was to be increased by Is. for every Is. below 66s. What is the average price of wheat today? The average price for the last six months has been about 26s. 8d. per quarter. Under these circumstances, what would the duty have been today under the sliding scale of 1828? It would have been no less than £3 a quarter. In the face of this fact, do hon. Gentlemen opposite really think that we are on the high road to a return to the old evil days of Protection, which would have imposed, if it had been in existence now, a duty of £3 a quarter on corn? Let us go back to 1842, and what was the old bad system then? It was a considerable improvement on 1828, but even then the maximum duty was £1 a quarter, and it was to take effect when wheat was less than 51s. a quarter. Are we seriously to be told in the year 1902 that we are embarking upon a course which is to take us to those old and evil days which prevailed in the years to which I have just referred? Surely no hon. Gentleman opposite believes in his own heart for a moment that there is any serious danger or apprehension of anything of the kind. No Government would dare 1033 to impose a duty which would seriously enhance the price of the food of the people, and if they did, the people would be perfectly well able to take care of themselves. The people have the power, and they would resist and defeat any Government which attempted it.
I cannot help re-echoing my right hon. friend's expression of amazement at the attitude of hon. Gentlemen and right hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side; and when they are so apprehensive as to the future of Free Trade, I ask—Where is the faith that is in them? Why have they so little belief today in the fetish of Free Trade which they have worshipped so long? Has it all vanished, and has it all been driven away by the re-imposition of an old registration duty of Is. on corn, which was concurred in for twenty-five years before by their great leader, Mr. Gladstone, which was remodelled by him at one time before the repeal of that duty, and for the repeal of which there never was any demand throughout the whole of those years? The hon. Member who moved this Amendment said that there was an agitation for its repeal, and when he was asked by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dartmouth to name a single politician who had taken part in it, all he could do was to mention some Liverpool Association. I will tell hon. Gentlemen opposite this—that if any Government were to propose any tax on food which would seriously interfere with the wellbeing and comfort of the people, I should be among the first—Protectionist as I am alleged to be—to come to their assistance and resist it. But as for this tax which is now under the consideration of the House, I have a good deal more faith in the people than you. I deny that it will fall upon them; but if it did. I am sure that their patriotism is as great as that of any other section of the people of this country, and that they would be perfectly ready and willing to bear their legitimate share of any burden which may he imposed on them for the cause and for the sake of the Empire, which they value quite as much as the Member for East Wolverhampton himself.
I hope that I have answered most of the objections which have been taken to this tax. I have only this to say in 1034 conclusion: What is the alternative that has been suggested to this tax? That right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton proposed two things in the course of his speech. One was the proposal to re-impose the duty on tobacco, and the other to put a further duty on beer. I think these two suggestions were effectively disposed of by my right hon. friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton spoke of a bread tax. In my humble opinion, that is an entire misnomer. He draws no distinction whatever between a tax upon wheat and upon bread. He treats them as identical, whereas all experience in the past has shown up to now, while a shilling duty on wheat is a tax no doubt on that commodity, and probably will raise to that extent the price of wheat, I am right in my view, and I think it will be demonstrated by the result, that it will, and can, have no permanent effect at all on the price of the bread. The only other suggestion was that there should be a further addition to the income tax. Is that put forward really as a serious proposition? That would be an undoubted grievance to thousands of people in this country: and unless you do more than allege, unless you can absolutely prove that the duty proposed by my right hon. friend will seriously affect the price of the food of the people, that, I say, is an impossible alternative also. With all respect, then, I affirm that all the arguments which have been used against this proposed duty by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, and by a few on this side of the House as well, are entirely beside the mark, and when this duty is carried, as I have no doubt it will be, then I think we shall have reason to congratulate ourselves that Parliament at last, after many years, took courage to itself and decided to raise the revenue which is absolutely necessary for the country by proposing a tax which is open to fewer practical objections than any other tax that could be levied at the present time.
§ (10.54.) SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Monmouthshire, W.)
There is something, I think, highly refreshing in the appearance of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sleaford as a leading advocate of Free Trade in this House. 1035 If we could only hear him followed, cither' tonight or on future occasions, by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Thanet and the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Central Sheffield, we shall then feel secure for the future.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
The right hon. Gentleman has stated that if he considered the measure tended in any respect to raise the price of bread he should be against it. Well, bread, after all. has a close connection with corn. The Chancellor of the Exchequer thought it necessary, at considerable length, in referring to this question in his Budget speech, to found himself on the history of the tax, and he took shelter under the gabardine of Sir Robert Peel and Mr. Gladstone. I think that has been pretty well disposed of satisfactorily by my hon. friend who so ably opened the debate, and still more by my right hon. friend the Member for East Wolverhampton. I will only add one contribution to it. In the discussion on the removal of this duty by Mr. Lowe, Mr. Cross (now Lord Cross) spoke. He spoke for Liverpool and South-West Lancashire, and he had the singular distinction in the election of 1868 of having defeated Mr. Gladstone. So far from treating this as a foolish bit of pedantry on the part of Mr. Lowe he welcomed it in these words—He rejoiced that even the suspicion of a tax on the food of the poor man should 1" taken away by the Budget.I wonder whether he would rejoice at the suspicion that a tax on the food of the people is being replaced by the Budget of the right hon. Gentleman? That a suspicion, well founded or not. has been raised, and will be raised, cannot, I think, be denied. We have been wanting an answer all this evening from the Government and their supporters as to who is going to pay this tax. It is not a trifle. You may talk about a farthing or an eighth of a farthing on the quartern loaf, but what you are going to raise upon the imported corn and what you will necessarily raise on the corn grown in this country when you have followed the rise of the imported 1036 corn will amount to nearly £1,000,000. Somebody is going to pay that. We have had most elaborate demonstrations to the contrary. We have had a most ingenious agreement from the hon. and learned Member for the Stretford Division of Lancashire. He went on with an elaborate economical discourse showing that the consumer would not pay, and then I expected he would go on to tell us who would pay. But we are in this position—that,£1,000,000 is going to be raised on these articles.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
I take £2,600,000 for what you raise here: then we are taking a third as the quantity that will be raised in this country. I believe, of course, that will follow—that that also will be raised, though it has this advantage—it will not go into the Exchequer at all. I should like also to have a second question answered—not merely who will pay, but who will gain in this matter. We know that the Exchequer will not gain the whole; who will gain the rest? These two questions remain totally unanswered up to the present in this discussion. The right hon. Member for Sleaford has made some remarks which do not come to a conclusion on this question, but which, I think, may help us to a conclusion. He said, and I agree, that the price of corn is mainly regulated by demand and supply: and if you have a bad harvest you have a high price, if a good harvest a low price. That is what my right hon. friend called "the world price of the commodity." But when you put a tax of this kind on a commodity, you add a fixed quantity to the price. For instance, the world price of corn rises 4s., and then it comes to a country which puts on an additional shilling, and therefore the price rises 5s. If, on the other hand, the price falls 4s., and comes to a country which puts on a shilling, the price in that country only falls '5s. That isexactly what the Chancellor of the Exchequer told us happened in the case of sugar. He told us that the price of sugar did not rise. But why did it not rise? Because there had been a very superabundant crop of beetroot, the consequence of which was that the price fell a great deal more than, or as 1037 much as, the tax would have raised it. Therefore this shilling is additional to the market price, which is determined by supply and demand. That is extremely simple. Then the right hon. Gentleman tells us that the baker does not raise the price of bread unless there is a difference of 3s. or 4s.
It is quite plain, therefore, that this particular tax will determine the rising of the price, because it may bring the rise just to that point where the higher price is imposed. That is what exactly happens, and what always will happen. It may be a contribution to that rise in the market price which leads to the change in the price upon the small quantities distributed by bakers. Now, I affirm that in taxes of this kind they must and always will ultimately fall on the consumer. That is our proposition, but if you deny that, tell us on whom it will fall. We have a doctrine which we affirm and you deny. Here are three or four millions imposed by taxation, and you cannot tell us on whom the burden will fall. You have no views on the subject. The right bon. Gentleman the Member for Sleaford says that no one can tell on whom it will fall, but surely that is a very important matter. It is quite plain that it goes through a number of different hands. First of all there is the importer on a large scale. Well, of course, he will try to get rid of the Is. It is an article you want, and there is the market price determined by supply and demand at the time, and you put Is. tax against the market price of the day and you have to pay it. Some say that the tax will be paid by the foreigner. Why should he? I should like those people who think that taxes put upon commodities are paid by the foreigner to go and ask some man in the United States, or, better still, some lady who lives there, whether the duties which are put there on articles of dress that come from Paris or London are placed upon the foreigner; and if, on the other hand, they are not paid by the husband. I think that might dispose of the doctrine that taxes of this kind are paid by the foreigner. However, I dispense with this matter for the moment.
I will ask who is going to pay for it in England. The importer, who has to pay for it, will put it on somebody else. He probably puts it on the corn factor, who will put it on somebody else. He 1038 puts it on the miller, who, having turned it into flour, puts it on the baker; and then the baker has nobody else to put it on except the consumer. The consumer is the man who must have it in the end. There is an old and rather vernacular saying, "The devil take the hindmost," and it is the consumer who is the hindmost in this case. We, at least, have an intelligible doctrine on the subject, but what is yours? It is that you are to levy a great sum of money, and that it is not to fall on anyone, or, at all events, you do not know. I will not say you do not care. Before this change is made, we ought to have some clearer understanding on this subject. I am not going into any elaborate, economical speculation regarding it. I only wish to put the matter as it presents itself to me, in a commonplace, commonsense view, which, I believe, is consistent with the course of trade. Of course. I admit that the principal factor in this matter is the question of demand and supply—that regulates the market price. But I say that an artificial or exceptional charge of this character is a fixed aggravation of the price as determined by demand and supply, and that, therefore, in all cases, it must either add to the rise of the price, or diminish the fall of the price according to the variation of the market. The right hon. Gentleman said, "Oh, yes, that is all very well, but it is a theory." He might just as well say the multiplication is a theory. So it is, but it is a theory founded upon fact and observation. All these economical propositions are merely generalisations upon the observation of facts which everybody is now acquainted with. There is the theory of Protection. We have found out what that theory is worth: we found out what its consequences were. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sleaford very frankly told us what he thought of Protection when it existed. That is a theory which has been exploded by the experience of facts. Free Trade is a theory also. That is quite true. It has to be judged by the experience of facts, and it is experience of facts that induces us to maintain the theory of Free Trade and the propositions and conclusions to which it necessarily leads. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer was very confident on the night of the Budget that it was quite out of the question that there should be any rise in price.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
I think you have become a little less confident since. I noticed a singular change of tone. The right hon. Gentleman said, "Oh, yes, that is the usual consequence of the imposition of a tax." What is the usual consequence? He said, "There is a rise." He says bakers have only been waiting for his tax in order to raise the price of the lowest price loaf. Why has he given them that excuse, if without this tax they would not have done it? It is exactly what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sleaford said just now. He said, "It is not until the market price has risen to a certain point that the price of the loaf will he increased by the baker." Yes, and that is just what you have done. The cup was nearly overflowing: you have poured more into it, and it has overflowed. because the price is raised. And the right hon. Gentleman says the thing will not last. How does he know that? In my opinion, whether it lasts or not, depends upon the question. What is the market price of corn? If the market price of corn goes up, of course it will last—the condition to which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sleaford alluded will have been fulfilled—that is to say, there will have been that rise in the price of corn which leads necessarily to an increase in the price of bread. It is perfectly well illustrated, as I venture to say, in the case of the sugar duty. You were not sensible of the increase in the price of sugar, because the fall had been so great that the increase due to the tax was lost in the fall which was due to the increase of the produce of beet. That illustrates, I think, extremely well what would happen. But allow me to say another word upon the absurdity of what I would call the small coin argument. It is said because the coin must be so small that therefore it is impossible that it ever can be levied. If that is so, that is a splendid principle to go upon. Only levy small taxes which will necessitate infinitesimal coins, and then nobody will pay because no coin is small enough. Put a small tax upon everything, arrange it so that when it comes ultimately to the consumer, the tax is so small that you cannot collect it, and then nobody will be hurt, and everybody will get rid of 1040 it, including the consumer, because the coin will be so small he will not pay it. Therefore you have any amount of millions, and you will not want the income tax or anything else. In the lines of the poet—My wound is great because it is so small.But this wound, being so small, is represented not to be a wound at all. These discussions are founded upon jokes-rather than upon real argument. However, all this is done upon the principle of "broadening the basis of taxation." That seems to be a comfortable phrase with a good many people. It is really an euphonism for multiplying taxes: by broadening the basis of taxation you multiply taxes. The more you broaden the basis the more taxes you have. Well, Sir. if there is anything which I thought I learnt in the last half-century it was that, if progress was to be made and if there was to be an improvement in finance effected, it was not by multiplying but by minimising the number of taxes. That was the policy of Sir Robert Peel. That was the policy of Mr. Gladstone, who took off more than 100 taxes, and now you are beginning to encumber your tariff which was the envy of the world. How many new taxes are there to be What is the condition of the wealth of your country and the flourishing nature of the finances on that narrow basis of taxation compared with what they were when you had taxation on the broadening basis? We know what the condition of the country was when the taxation was on a broadening basis. In my opinion, if you have to add additional taxes to your tariff—if the necessities of your position, if the waste of the war, make that necessary—it is a great misfortune. It is a very evil reaction in regard to your taxation, and it is a thing to be repaired as soon as possible and not to be taken as a principle on which you desire to embark. I am extremely desirous not to detain the House on any hair-splitting argument. I wish to treat this matter upon its broad basis, if I may be allowed to borrow a phrase. But do not imagine that because this is a small tax, therefore it involves only a small question. In my opinion it is a very great financial question, and in another sense, and in a 1041 greater sense, it is a great moral and political question and one of great importance to the people of this country. When the policy of Free Trade was established it elevated the people out of the condition of misery in which they were and which it is shocking to think of now. The misery of the people in this country when I was a youth, in 1843, when I lived in Lancashire was shocking. Starving mobs were tramping through the country and people were shot in the streets. That was not merely a shocking spectacle, it was a most alarming political and social evil. It is to Free Trade that we owe not only the change from all that, until we have from the right hon. Gentleman the picturesque scene which he described to us, when he talked of people with wages of 18s. a week—[An HON. MEMBER: Thirteen Shillings.]—yes, 13s. a week, having not only bread but butter and meat every day of the week. I therefore admit that, upon his facts, they will not suffer much from his tax. They will only have to spare a joint or two every day. But there are tens of thousands, I fear hundreds of thousands, of people who have not even 13s. a week, and who do not have butter every day, who do not have meat every day, and who are not in a position of that comfort which we are happy to think the great mass of the population of this country enjoys. It is to that class that this tax will have its most dangerous application. Sir Robert Peel, speaking of the repeal of the corn laws, said that the daily labourer in his toil would eat his daily bread unleavened with a sense of injustice. I say that the proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is an act of injustice to people who are living on the margin of starvation; and if you believe that there are not thousands and thousands of such people in this country, you know nothing of the condition of things which exists. There are many homes in which very little else but bread is seen. I know it is a fact. In many houses both in the country and in the slums of our great towns the people can ill afford the smallest coins with which they can deal. This country is divided into various classes. There are people whose domestic economy is measured by the sovereign; there are people whose domestic economy 1042 is measured by the shilling: and there are people whose domestic economy is measured by the penny. I cordially agree with the statement which has been made that you ought to have had recourse to any and every tax before you descended to a tax on the food of the poorest of the people. The difference between wealth and poverty depends upon the margin: and there are many thousands of people in this country who have no margin at all, who do not know when they get up what they will have to live on during the day. You talk of the housing of the poor. Yes, Sir, these houses are wanted by the poor. But food also is wanted by the poor. I believe there are in this House many Members sitting on the opposite side whose sentiments do not differ from those which I have endeavoured to express. I know well enough the pressure of Party ties. I believe that not a few hon. Members on the other side have an uneasy feeling as to the results of this proposal, not only its political results but its social and material results upon a great number of the poorer of their fellow-citizens. I do not know what course they will think it their duty to take: but this I do know that the Party which sits upon this side of the House has its profound conviction of what is right in this matter and of the course which it will pursue. To this tax I feel confident that Members on this side will offer a resolute and persistent resistance. Though they maybe defeated on this occasion and even in the contest upon this tax, the feeling of those who suffer and those who sympathise with them in their sufferings throughout the country will remove the injustice which this tax will impose, and relieve those who ought not to have their food taxed from the dangerous proposal contained in this Budget.
§ (11.29.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Mr. Speaker, I gather from the general tenour of the debate tonight that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite think they have an excellent platform case, which may serve them in the somewhat embarrassing position in which from other circumstances to which I need not further refer they at present find themselves. I have nothing to do with the platform case at 1043 the present moment. I have to do now with the House of Commons case, the case which is offered to an audience in which there are critics and in which an answer may be expected, and I confess that so far as that case is concerned I think hon. Gentleman opposite cut rather a sorry figure. The truth is they are placed at a very great disadvantage. for they have not only the fiscal history of the country but the fiscal history of their Party to deal with: and the most honoured names in their Party are against them in this matter. They have struggled against adverse circumstances with remarkable courage, and the right hon. Gentleman has gone to the very verge of—I do not know how to put it—what is proper in this kind of controversy in one of the contributions he has made to the history of the question. He made a quotation from my noble friend Lord Cross, who interposed in the debate of 1869 upon the repeal of the Is. duty. The words he quoted from Lord Cross were quoted accurately, as we might expect; but he forgot to quote the sentence which immediately preceded his quotation. The words were as follows—Mr. Assheton Cross"—as he then was—"observed that the total abolition of the Is. duty on corn, not that he believed that the Is. duty had the effect the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have the House to suppose. or that it had increased the price of wheat throughout the country.The rest is what the right hon. Gentle man quoted. Lord Cross was quoted as having approved the abolition of the Is duty, and he did approve it; but in the sentence in which he expressed his approval he said that the duty did not have the effect the right hon. Gentleman says it has; and if it did not have that effect the whole scaffolding of the argument falls to the ground.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
All I said with reference to Lord Cross was that he said that one of his principal reasons for approving the abolition of the duty was that it would remove the suspicion that it had that effect.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Well, then the right hon. Gentleman will stump the country on a suspicion. If he is prepared to go down to the constituencies and say that Lord Cross said that the Is. duty 1044 did not raise the price of corn, but that its abolition would remove a suspicion that it did, he and I, after all, are not so very far apart. But hon. Gentlemen opposite have got to deal, from their own point of view, with more formidable figures in the history of this tax, than Lord Cross. They have got to deal with Sir Robert Peel and Mr. Gladstone, and it is really very entertaining to hear the principles they have thrust into the mouths of those eminent financiers and the version they have given of their opinions and objections. I think it was the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Last Wolverhampton who said that Sir Robert Peel was perfectly justified in imposing a Is. duty as a registration duty, but that had be foreseen how much it would firing in be would not have imposed it. In other words, the tax would have been condemned by the very fact that it was fruitful. As long as it was a statistical tax, as long as it brought in no profit to any-body but the tramer of economic statistics, it was perfectly legitimate, but when it brings in something considerable to the revenue it is a tax to be condemned. Is not that a most amusing view to put forward to a reasonable body of gentlemen? We are now told, mark you, to use the words of the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, that we are injuring that vast class of the population who are living on the margin of starvation. We are told that we are injuring them by this duty on corn, which was passed by Sir Robert Peel, and which was supported and amended by Mr. Gladstone. It at least had the same effect in those years as it has at the present time: and it had not the same excuse in those years, for in those years it was put on as a registration duty. Now it is put on as a great source of revenue. Therefore you are driven to this astounding conclusion-that it was justifiable to injure that class of the population living on the margin of starvation so long as your sole motive was curiosity about your statistics: but that directly it comes to dealing with a great financial difficulty in which the country finds itself, and which on all hands is recognised as requiring new financial methods, then what is legitimate as a registration tax becomes illegitimate as a source of revenue.
So much for Sir Robert Peel as he appeared in the version of his fiscal 1045 policy presented by the right hon. Gentleman. Now I come to the equally astonishing version of Mr. Gladstone's financial policy as presented to the House of Commons. In this case the facts are, of course, beyond dispute. They are on record, and nobody attempts to controvert them. The facts are these—that Mr. Gladstone not only accepted the tax, not only imposed it year after year during his Chancellorship of the Exchequer, but actually remodelled it and introduced into it some kinds of grain that has I not been introduced into it when left by Sir Robert Peel. He ceased to be Chancellor of the Exchequer; he became Prime Minister, and Mr. Lowe as his Chancellor of the Exchequer repealed the tax. These are the facts. At first sight they are embarrassing to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. [An HON. MEMBER: Not at all!] I said at first sight. How do they deal with them I How did the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean, and in part the right hon. Gentleman for Wolverhampton deal with them? "Oh,' says the right hon. Member for the Forest of Dean, "when Mr. Gladstone was Chancellor of the Exchequer you must remember that Lord Palmerston was Prime Minister." And, no doubt, it was owing to that maleficent genius's suggestion that Mr. Gladstone was induced to retain, reform, and remodel the tax so injurious to that large portion of our population who live on the margin of starvation. But then he became Prime Minister. Then he was the real financial genius shining forth unobscured, and then he abolished it by his Chancellor of the Exchequer. I do not think that those who have most at heart Mr. Gladstone's financial fame will be induced in their more sober moments, in heir more careful moments to endorse this theory: for what does it do 2 It wipes out of Mr. Gladstone's political career all these years in which he made his great reputation as a financier, all the years of the great Budgets, all the years on which I venture to think his most solid title to the gratitude of his countrymen and his great fame in the history of his country will be founded—wipes these out and puts the credit of them down to Lord Palmerston, and rests his reputation on a. Budget which, no doubt, as one of its 1046 incidents, did abolish the duty on corn, but which is better known to history as the Budget in which the match tax—that inopportune and unhappy match tax—was proposed. [HON. MEMBERS: No, not that year.] I apologise for the error; but I rather think that much cannot be made of it by hon. Gentlemen who remember that when the match tax was proposed Mr. Lowe was still Chancellor of the Exchequer, still subordinate to the dominating genius who we are given to understand was always responsible for the Budgets of his Government, whether Chancellor of the Exchequer or not. Therefore, we are to regard Mr. Gladstone as not really responsible for the shilling duty on corn while he was Chancellor of the Exchequer; but only to regard him as responsible for the abolition of that duty when Mr. Lowe was Chancellor of the Exchequer, and all the other and unsuccessful eccentricities of Mr. Lowe's régime. I do not advise the admirers of Mr. Gladstone's financial fame, of whom I count myself one of the greatest, to rest their case upon the history of Mr. Gladstone as presented by the right hon. Gentleman on the other side of the House in the course of this evening's debate. Considering merely the history of this tax, I cannot say that their efforts, strenuous as they have been, to extract themselves from the toils woven around them by that undeniable history have been very successful.
I now turn to what is more important than the history of the tax—namely, its merits. I agree that we are not bound in 1902 by the reputation of Sir Robert Peel, or of Mr. Gladstone, or of Mr. Lowe, or of Mr. Cross, or of anybody else. We have to consider this tax on its merits; and I should like to ask the House to consider for one moment on what grounds do they suppose that this tax is really going to make any important difference in the price of grain. Does any human being suppose that the imposition of a shilling duty on corn will bring into cereal cultivation in this country a single acre not under cereal cultivation at the present time? Does any one suppose that a single farmer in this country will say: "I could not grow wheat, barley, or oats at a profit before this tax was put on, but now I will try my hand at it?" I do not believe that 1047 a single Gentleman acquainted with the conditions of agricultural life will advance that proposition. If, then, no new land will be brought under corn cultivation in this country, I ask the converse question—Is there a single acre in the United States, in Canada, in Russia, in India, in any country whence we draw our supplies, is there a single acre in any of these countries which will go out of cultivation because we put this duty on corn? Or is there a single quarter of corn which in consequence of this tax will be diverted from this country to any foreign port? I do not believe there is a single Gentleman in this House, whatever may be his prejudices in this matter, who will venture to answer those questions except in the negative. If then, that is so, what is the only conclusion to be drawn? If there is no more corn to be produced here, and if there is no less corn to be produced abroad which finds its way here, why is the price to be altered to the consumer? [Laughter.] I gather from these ironical cheers that I am speaking to a body of expert economists who have considered the question, and are perfectly capable of telling us on whom the incidence of taxation falls whenever a tax is imposed. Indeed, the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken declared that his Party had a creed, that creed being that the consumer always bears the tax, and he dared us to advance any dogmatic theory in the opposite direction. Well, I hope there is a larger knowledge of political economy diffused throughout the House than appears to be concentrated in some very high authorities on the other side. There is not a single student of political economy who will venture to say that the question can be answered a priori or dogmatically in regard to any tax. I suppose the right hon. Gentleman knows exactly who pays the export coal tax. He told us last year, I believe, the producer would bear that. Therefore, we have this interesting conclusion drawn from the economical studies of the right hon. Gentleman, speaking for his Party, that if America puts an export duty on corn, they would pay it, and if we put the same duty on in our ports we should pay it, that a shilling duty in New York is paid by Americans, and a shilling duty in Liverpool is paid by Englishmen. That is the doctrine of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ * SIR. HENRY FOWLER
I never said that the producer paid the export duty. Ultimately the consumer pays the cost of the production, if any, upon an article.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I entirely dissent from that as a doctrine of economics, and I can quote on my behalf every single speaker against the coal tax in the debate last year. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman was one of them. But was there a single Gentleman on that side who came down and said—" Whatever happens this mouth or next, or this year, the consumer will ultimately pay." If the doctrine of the right hon. Gentleman is sound, ought we not to upset our whole system of finance and have only export duties? If the consumer in all cases pays the whole tax, it is simply a mathematical corollary that whatever tax, we put on ought to be an export tax. I really think if the right hon. Gentleman will consider the conclusions to be drawn from his dogma he will be involved in more doubts and difficulties than he supposes.
The real truth is, putting aside these repartees across the floor of the House, in all seriousness, I do not believe any economist will dogmatically say how a tax is ultimately paid. It is wholly-absurd to suppose that in all cases it is paid by the consumer. In this case, so far as I understand the circumstances, I believe only a fraction will be paid by the consumer. ["Oh, oh!" "Who pays the rest?"] The producer, the middleman, the other parties in the transaction. The idea that it must fall on the consumer I can assure the hon. Gentleman who interrupted me is an economic heresy of the grossest character, and he really ought to brush up his political economy, which at one time I am sure, was all that could be desired.
I think it is sometimes forgotten that the doctrine of Free Trade is not a mere speculative hypothesis, that it is not a metaphysical theory, and it is not even a theological dogma, but that it is a practical thing. Protection, be it good or bad, is only Protection when it prevents the foreigner from importing that which he can produce more cheaply than your own people, and 1049 enables your own people to produce that in regard to which in the open market the foreigner would have an advantage. That is Protection. Free Trade is the converse of that; and really and truly, unless you can show that something of that kind will occur in this case, it is perfectly absurd to say that the doctrines of Free Trade are impugned. Unless you can show, with some measure of plausibility, that the English farmer will grow what without this tax he would not otherwise have grown, or that the foreign farmer will cease to grow what without this tax he would have grown, Free Trade is not touched: and I have only to ask that practical question to show that Free Trade is wholly outside the purview of this tax. Does any human being suppose that there is an English farmer so abandoned—his enemies accuse him of not always being animated with infinite wisdom—but is there a farmer so foolish, with wheat oscillating as it has, not by shillings, but by five, ten, and twenty shillings, as to alter his system of cultivation because a shilling duty is put on corn? Or, conversely, is there a single farmer in America, Canada, or elsewhere, who, in consequence of this shilling duty, is going to alter his system of cultivation or the amount of land he has under tillage? If those two questions are answered in the negative, as they must be, then, except as mere metaphysics, as a mere abstract speculation, and not as a practical matter, the doctrine of Free Trade or of Protection is not touched upon one way or the other. May I just read these figures to the House. The average price of corn for 1894 to 1900 were as follows:—23s., 26s., 30s., 34s., 25s., 26s. It will be observed that in a succession of years, from 1894 to 1900, the variations in the price of wheat were from 23s. to 34s. as the highest. ["It is falling."] What has that to do with it? That is a difference of 11s., and that difference was in only one element that goes to make the price of bread. There are a great many other elements, wages, rents—["Taxes"]—and many others, and corn is only one of them, though no doubt the principal one. But did we hear, in the year 1897, for example, when wheat was at 30s., 5s. above its present price, that the large portion of our population, which, in the language of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, are now living on the margin of starvation, were nearer that margin than 1050 they were before? It had absolutely no effect on subsistence at all. There you had a variation incomparably larger than, even on the most extravagant hypothesis, can be possibly produced by the present tax, and yet there was not a single complaint of the price of bread rising in all those years. ["Oh!"] Not a single complaint, and the idea that this population on the margin of starvation were going over that margin was never made by any human being. ["Oh!"] They were years of prosperity and of good trade; and I defy hon. Gentlemen opposite, from any authentic source or responsible quarter, to produce a single complaint that the condition among the poor of our people was aggravated by the high price in that year. If that be true, and I do not think it is seriously disputed, what, nonsense it is to allege that all these tragic consequences are going to follow from a variation—if it be a variation—which is lost among the innumerable causes by which bread now rises, now falls—the harvests of the world, the course of commerce, and all the other great modifiers of trade. I do not mean to do more than warn the House, because I want to draw this debate to a conclusion, against the supposition that every step in the alteration of the price of bread up or down, which must be done in fractions not less, obviously, than a farthing or a halfpenny, necessarily acts in favour of the baker and against the consumer. That is not so. On an average of years I take it that the trade would lose as much as it would gain: sometimes they would I greatly gain by it, at other times they would lose. But I caution hon. Gentlemen against the fallacy of supposing that the fact that the step must be a larger step in each case than is actually warranted by the change of price, shows that the step is always to the disadvantage of the consumer.
I would really ask whether, in the line taken up by hon. Gentlemen opposite, they are not really acting—I hope I may say so without offence the part of demagogues rather than of statesmen. If I have used a word which they may perhaps think offensive, and they know I never desire to do so, perhaps they will allow me to explain exactly what I mean by demagogue in this case. I do not in the least mean an agitator, a man 1051 who goes down to platform after platform and advocates his views; that is a perfectly legitimate operation carried on by all parties and sections in a free country [Ironical National cheers.]—yes, in a free country—within the limits of the Constitution. [Ministerial cheers.] No man, I think, will take exception to it. What I mean is something different. Those on whom I venture, with all respect, to pass a condemnation are those who go down, not counting on the intrinsic strength of their case, or on the legitimate arguments that they can bring before the people they address, but who rouse the ancient memories of old controversies and old wrongs, who hope that they may revive on the Is. duty on corn all the passions legitimately loused by the Corn Laws, and by a duty which brought the price of corn up to 80s., and brought want and semi-starvation to many a cottage. There is not a man in this House who in his conscience thinks that such a state of things is going to be restored, or even approached, by anything that is being done under this tax: and to go down to a constituency and talk about the big loaf and the little loaf, to try to rouse popular feeling and passion, not by what is being done now, but by what was done-fifty, sixty, or seventy years ago, that is the part of a demagogue, and that, in my opinion, deserves the condemnation of every honest man. I have confidence enough in the common sense of my fellow-countrymen, to feel convinced that, even if these courses are followed, and I hope they will not be, they will prove ineffectual. I do not believe that they will object to pay this tax. [Opposition cries of "Who?"] The working men of this country. I do not believe they will object to pay a tax which, in its effect upon them, in my opinion, will probably be nothing. [Opposition laughter.] I do not quite understand this laughter. [Opposition cries of "Hear, hear," and renewed laughter.] I have tried with such small gifts as Heaven has provided me with to indoctrinate hon. Gentlemen opposite with the reasons for my opinions: but fear they have failed to comprehend arguments which must be familiar to all students of these subjects.
I do not mean to trouble them with a repetition of those reasons. But I may 1052 repeat my opinion. My opinion is that at the most this tax is small; that in all probability it will be absolutely insignificantly imperceptible to the consumer: that I do not believe that in either of these events, whether the whole of this tax falls on the working men, as the right hon. Gentleman opposite supposes. or only a fraction of it, as I contend, I do not believe that the working men will object to it. They are the great body of voters of this country. They have in their hands the destinies of parties and. the ultimate control of the policy of the nation. They have endorsed, as I think, by enormous majorities the course of public events which have made the imposition of this tax necessary. I do not share the opinion of them held by the hon. Gentleman opposite. I do not think so ill of them as to suppose for one moment that, having endorsed the policy, they are not prepared to pay their contribution, which, at all events, so far as this tax is concerned, is a trifling contribution, towards the expenses of the policy which they have favoured. Remember, they bore this very tax when wages were lower, when public prosperity: was not at its present level, when there was no great crisis, no war—[An HON. MEMBER: And no votes.]—no reason why it should be imposed, and they bore it without murmuring. Those who had the greatest title to express their views and to speak for them, never raised their voices against it. And am I to suppose at the present time, when the circumstances are reversed, when wages are high, when there is a great crisis, when that crisis is of their own creation—[Opposition cries of "Oh. oh!"] when they have endorsed it, that our countrymen are going to shrink from a burden which forty years ago they bore with absolute cheerfulness?
§ *(12.10.) MR. BELL (Derby)
It has been said by many hon. Members opposite that the working men of this country will raise no objection to this proposal. One evening last week when the question of Labour representatives was mentioned, it was asserted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he could not recognise Labour representatives in this House. I am not going to force myself upon the House as one tonight, but I will distinguish myself from hon. Gentlemen 1053 opposite who support this tax upon corn and flour by saying that I am one of those persons who have worked for 22s. a week, paid 8s. of it for rent, and maintained a wife and family upon the balance, and I venture to say that that is something which no hon. Gentleman on the other side who so heartily supports this tax has ever done. Consequently, from that point of view S claim that I can speak with greater, authority as to the effect of a corn duty upon a four pound loaf. It is from that point of view that I speak tonight and offer my protest against this tax. Last night I supported the income lax, and I did so because I believe that is a proper source of taxation, providing it is placed upon a proper basis, but I do protest against taxation of any description being placed upon the food of the poorer classes of the community. In this respect I am able to speak with authority on behalf of a large body of men, 150,000, of whom many do not receive more than 20s. per; week, the majority of them being married, men with families. It has been contended by some of the speakers on the opposite side of the House that this tax on corn and flour, small as it is, will not affect the price of bread, but either their contention is wrong, or else the statements which have appeared in the Press are wrong. From the statements which appear in the Press tonight we find that bread has been raised in price in different parts of London. This is a serious matter for the poor people. Not only are there a large number of workmen employed at 18s. and 19s. a week, but here in London alone there are about 500,000 people always out of employment, and taking the whole country throughout we find by the returns that there are nearly 1,000,000 workmen always out of employment. Those who are only partially employed, and earning a wage less than £1 a week, are unable to bear even a tax of a halfpenny on a loaf of bread. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House said these people had something to do with creating this war, and the necessity for this taxation. I have a very vivid recollection that when the present Government were returned to power nearly two years ago, it was distinctly on the understanding that the war was then over, and if that had proved to be correct the necessity for this increased taxation could not have arisen. I venture to say that the working men have been very much misled in this 1054 matter. Many in this country never knew the facts with regard to the origin of the war, but they heard statements made by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen, men who have been great supporters of the war throughout. I, at any rate, have not taken very much part in the war debates, but I cannot, on this occasion, when this taxation is placed on the food of the people, allow it to be said that the working men of the country really created the necessity for it by supporting or causing the origination of the war. That I totally deny, and I fail to find any one on the other side to support the statement which has been made. If we are going to have taxation to support wars of this description I venture to say that there are other sources open for it which have hitherto not been taxed, and I would certainly say before I could support the taxing of the poorer classes food, first of all those who can better afford it should be taxed. The Chancellor of the Exchequer rightly said that his Budget was very unpopular. No Chancellor of the Exchequer can ever introduce a popular Budget, be he whom he may, but the unpopularity may effect a larger or lesser number of people. Taxation such as is now imposed by the Chancellor will certainly touch the greater number, and, therefore, the unpopularity will be all the greater. I think the Chancellor might have arranged an equal standing if he had taxed the land of this country—the ground rents, royalties and way leaves. If he had done so his Budget would have been unpopular with those taxed, but the number would have been considerably less than those affected by the taxes now introduced. I offer these few remarks as a protest against taxing the peoples food. I do so as one of the working class who knows something of their wants, how they have to live and how much value they place on a halfpenny on the loaf of bread. I ask hon. Gentlemen opposite to place this matter before working men in a fair way. and if they do so I venture to say that they will get their answer.
§ *(12.20.) MR. WHITLEY (Halifax)
I oppose this tax tonight, and I hope to; have the opportunity of doing so in future discussions of the Budget. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House said that when the price of corn rose to 34s, per quarter, it did not decrease consumption. That is perfectly true, 1055 but the reason of that is, that bread is the main staff of life, and that it is the irreducible minimum which people must have before they starve. Every luxury, and even every other comfort disappears before the consumption of bread begins to go down. I represent in this House a great industrial community, which is interested in one of the most important industries of this country, namely, the textile trade. I say that every additional shilling on the cost of the price of bread must come from somewhere, and it comes out of those things which can least be dispensed with. It comes out of the fund for the clothing of the people, and I maintain that a tax of this nature, not only will bring a greater number of the people of this country within reach of the workhouse, who now by strenuous struggle are able to maintain themselves just above that level, but it will also have a seriously damaging effect on the home trade of the country. Hon. Members who are connected in any way with the great textile trade of this country, will be in agreement with me when I say that a great change has come over that trade in recent years in the shape of an advance in the home trade. While in years gone by the great bulk of the manufactures went to India, China, and the uttermost parts of the earth, what has saved the textile industry during the last ten years has been the increase in the home trade. That increase has been due very largely to the cheapness of food, and I say that the greater part of the £2,500,000 which is expected to be received from this tax, will be withdrawn from the Exchequer in indirect ways. It will reduce the power of expending money on clothing: it will reduce the amount of employment: it will reduce the wages to be drawn by the workers: and it will reduce the income tax payable by the employers. I venture to say that not one-half of the amount of the duty will be net profit to the Exchequer.
We are often taunted by hon. Members on the other side of the House that we do not suggest an alternative to this tax. I venture to say that there is one very plain and simple alternative which ought to have presented itself to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. We have complaints continually with regard to the income tax, that it bears unfairly between the earned and the unearned income. It is perfectly true that it is 1056 unfair in that respect, but there is a way of redressing that unfairness which would produce a vastly greater sum to the Exchequer than this miserable tax on corn. In my opinion, as the income tax rises so ought also the death duties to rise. If in place of this tax, which is necessarily a restraint upon trade and a reduction of the consuming power of the people of the country, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as the income tax rose from 8d. to Is. 3d. in the £1, had raised the death duties in the same proportion, there would have been produced, not a miserable £2,500,000. but over £12,000,000 extra revenue to the country. He would also by that means have redressed the injustice and inequality between the earned and the unearned income. We have had strange theories of economics brought before the House tonight, but none, I think, stranger than the one adduced by the noble Lord the Secretary for India in this House not very long ago, when he maintained in regard to India, and also in regard to this great city, that the increase of poverty and the increase of riches were signs of the prosperity of the State.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (Lord G. HAMILTON.) Middlesex, Ealing
I said nothing of the kind.
§ * MR. WHITLEY
If the noble Lord will look back to his speech on that subject he will find it is so. I made a note of it at the time. I was only precluded by the closure at the time from replying.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
If the hon. Member is referring to a speech delivered during the present session, that will be out of order.
§ * MR. WHITLEY
I was only giving it to the noble Lord as an illustration of the strange economics which seem to have found a home on the Treasury Bench at the present time. There is a second alternative which might have been brought forward to produce the increased revenue required by the war without this tax on bread. If the Chancellor had graduated the taxes on licences he would have produced an 1057 income, not of £2,500,000, but of over £6,000,000 towards the cost of the war. There were plenty of alternatives ready to the hand of the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he had had the courage to use them, which, instead of hitting the poorest of the poor, instead of hitting the trade of the country, and dealing an indirect blow at the prosperity of the country, would have raised the necessary income without any difficulty at all and
§ without causing the slightest hindrance to trade.
§ (12.28.) Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 285; Noes, 195. (Division List No. 126.)1061
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F.||Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Groves, James Grimble|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Colomb, Sir John Charles Ready||Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton|
|Allhusen, Augustus H'nry Eden||Compton, Lord Alwyne||Hain, Edward.|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Cook, Sir Frederick Lucas||Hall, Edward Marshall|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Halsey, Rt. Hn. Thomas F.|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Cranborne, Viscount||Hambro, Charles Eric|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Cripps, Charles Alfred||Hamilton, Rt. Hn Lord G. (Mid'x|
|Arrol, Sir William||Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton)||Hamilton, Marq. of (L'nd'nderry|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Crossley, Sir Savile||Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robert Wm|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline Fitzroy||Dalkeith, Earl of||Hardy, Laurence (Kent Ashford|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Hare, Thomas Leigh|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Davenport, William Bromley-||Harris Frederick Leverton|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Davies, Sir Horatio D. (Chatham||Haslam, Sir Alfred S.|
|Balcarres, Lord||Denny, Colonel||Hatch, Ernest Frederick Geo.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r||Dickson, Charles Scott||Hay, Hon. Claude George|
|Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W (Leeds||Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Heath, Arthur Howard (Hanley|
|Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christch.||Digby, John K. D. Wingfield-||Heath, James (Staffords, N. W.)|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph||Heaton, John Henniker|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Dorington, Sir John Edward||Helder, Augustus|
|Beach, Rt. Hn Sir Michael Hicks||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Henderson, Alexander|
|Beckett, Ernest William||Doxford, Sir William Theodore||Hermon-Hodge, Robert Trotter|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Duke, Henry Edward||Hickman, Su Alfred|
|Bignold, Arthur||Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin||Higginbottom, S. W.|
|Bigwood, James||Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir William Hart||Hobhouse, Henry (Somerset, E.|
|Bill, Charles||Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Hope, J. F.(Sheffi'd. Brightside|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||Houston, Robert Paterson|
|Bond, Edward||Faber, Edmund B. (Hants., W.)||Howard, John (Kent, Favershm|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward||Howard, J. (Midd. Tottenham)|
|Bowles, Capt. H. F. (Middlesex)||Fergusson, RtHn.SirJ.(Mane'r||Hozier, Hon. James Henry Cecil|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Hudson, George Bickersteth|
|Brookfield, Colonel Montagu||Finch, George H.||Hutton, John (Yorks, N. R.)|
|Brown, Alexander H.(Shropsh.)||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse|
|Brymer, William Ernest||Fisher, William Hayes||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick|
|Bull, William James||Fison, Frederick William||Jessel, Capt. Herbert Merton|
|Bullard, Sir Harry||Fitzroy, Hon. Edward Algernon||Johnston, William (Belfast)|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Flower, Ernest||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)|
|Butcher, John George||Forster, Henry William||Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir. JohnH.|
|Campbell, RtHn.J.A.(Glasgow||Foster, Philip S. (Warwick, S.W.||Kenyon, Hon. Geo. T.(Denbigh)|
|Carlile, William Walter||Galloway, William Johnson||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W. (Salop.|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Gardner, Ernest||Keswick, William|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Garfit, William||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.)||Gibbs, Hn. A. G. H. (CityofLond.||Law, Andrew Bonar|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbyshire||Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick||Lawrence, Joseph (Monmouth)|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Gordon, Hn.J. E.(Elgin&Nairn||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Gore, Hn.G.R.C.Ormsby-(Salop||Lawson, John Grant|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Gore, Hon. S. F. Ormsby-(Linc||Lee, Arthur H (Hants Fareh'm|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J.(Brim.||Goschen, Hon. George Joachim||Lees, Sir Elliot (Birkenhead)|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc'r||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Leveson Gower. Frederick N. S.|
|Chapman, Edward||Green, Walford D. (Wednesbury||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.|
|Churchill, Winston Spencer||Greene, Sir E W. (B'ry S Edm'nds||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine|
|Clive, Captain Percy A.||Greene, Henry D.(Shrewsbury)||Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Grenfell, William Henry||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Bristol, S)|
|Coddington, Sir William||Gretton, John||Lowe, Francis William|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Greville, Hon. Ronald||Lcwther, C. (Cumb. Eskdale)|
|Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Parker, Gilbert||Stanley, Edward Jas. (Somerset|
|Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft)||Parkes, Ebenezer||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlingt'n||Stewart, Sir Mark J. M 'Taggart|
|Macartney, Rt. Hn. W G Ellison||Pemberton, John S. G.||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.|
|Macdona, John Cumming||Penn, John||Stock, James Henry|
|MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Percy, Earl||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Maconochie, A. W.||Pilkington, Lieut-Col. Richard||Stroyan, John|
|M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|M'Calmont, Col. H L B (Cambs.||Plummer, Walter R.||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf'd Un.|
|M'Calmont, Col. J. (Antrim, E.||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Thornton, Percy M.|
|M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire||Pretyman, Ernest George||Tollemache, Henry James|
|Majendie, James A. H.||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray|
|Malcolm, Ian||Purvis, Robert||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Manners, Lord Cecil||Quilter, Sir Cuthbert||Tufnel, Lieut-Col. Edward|
|Martin, Richard Biddulph||Randles, John S.||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Massey-Mamwaring. Hn. W. F.||Rankin, Sir James||Valentia, Viscount|
|Maxwell, W.J. H. (Dumfriessh.||Ratcliff, R. F.||Vincent, Col. Sir C.E.H.(Sh'ffi'ld|
|Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.||Reid, James (Greenock)||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Middlemore, J'hn Throgmorton||Remnant, James Farquharson||Warde, Col. C. E.|
|Milner, Rt. Hon Sir Frederick G.||Renshaw, Charles Bine||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
|Milvain, Thomas||Renwick, George||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney|
|Molesworth, Sir Lewis||Richards, Henry Charles||Welby Lt.-Col. A. C. E (Ta'nton|
|Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)||Ridley, Hn. M. W. (Staly bridge)||Welby, Sir Charles G. E (Notts)|
|Montagu, Hon. J. Scott (Hants.||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson||Wharton, Rt. Hon. John Lloyd|
|Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|More, Robt. Jaspe (Shropshire)||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Morgan, David J.(Walth'mst'w||Robinson, Brooke||Williams, Rt Hn J Pow'll (Birm.|
|Morrell, George Herbert||Repner, Colonel Robert||Willoughby, de Eresby, Lord|
|Morrison, James Archibald||Round, James||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptford||Sackville, Col. S. G Stopford-||Wilson-Todd, Wm. H. (Yorks.)|
|Mount, William Arthur||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander||Wodehouse, Rt Hn. E. R. (Bath)|
|Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||Sandys, Lieut.-Col. Thos Myles||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Murray, Rt Hn A Graham (Bute||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Seely, Charles, Hilton (Lincoln)||Wyhe, Alexander|
|Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)||Seton-Kair, Henry||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Myers, William Henry||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Nicholson, William Graham||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Nicol, Donald Nmian||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir William Waliond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)|
|Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)||Smith, HC(Northamb, Tynes'de|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. K.||Crean, Eugene||Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Cremer, William Randal||Fuller, J. M. F.|
|Allen, Chas. P. (Glouc., Stroud||Crombie, John William||Gilhooley, James|
|Asher, Alexander||Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Goddard, Daniel Ford|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Dalziel, James Henry||Gra
|Asquith, Rt Hn. Herbert Henry||Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||Grey, Sir Edward (Berwick)|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan||Haldane, Richard Bourdon|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Delany, William||Hammond, John|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Harcourt, Rt. Hn. Sir William|
|Bell, Richard||Dillon, John||Harmsworth, R. Leicester|
|Blake, Edward||Donelan, Captain A.||Hayden, John Patrick|
|Boland, John||Doogan, P. C.||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Douglas, Chas. M. (Lanark)||Hayter, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur D.|
|Brand, Hon. Arthur G.||Duncan, J. Hastings||Helme, Norval Watson|
|Brigg, John||Dunn, Sir William||Hobhouse, C.E. H. (Bristol, E.)|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Edwards, Frank||Holland, William Henry|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Elibank, Master of||Horniman, Frederick John|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Ellis, John Edward||Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Emmott, Alfred||Jameson, Major J. Eustace|
|Burns, John||Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Joicey, Sir James|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Evans, Sir Francis H (Maidst'ne||Jones, D. Brynmor (Swansea)|
|Caine, William Sproston||Evans, Samuel T. (Glanmorgan)||Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.|
|Caldwell, James||Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Jordan, Jeremiah|
|Cameron, Robert||Farrell, James Patrick||Joyce, Michael|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Fenwick, Charles||Kearley, Hudson E.|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Fergusson, R. C. Munro (Leith)||Kennedy, Patrick James|
|Cawley, Frederick||Ffrench, Peter||Kinlock, Sir Jno. Geo. Smith|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Field, William||Kitson, Sir James|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Fitzmanrice, Lord Edmond||Labouchere, Henry|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Flynn, James Christopher||Lambert, George|
|Craig, Robert Hunter||Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Langley, Batty|
|Layland-Barratt, Francis||O'Brien, Patrick, (Kilkenny)||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)|
|Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Leigh, Sir Joseph||O' Connor, Jas. (Wicklow, W.)||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Leng, Sir. John||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Spencer, Rt. Hn. C. R (N'thants)|
|Levy, Maurice||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)||Stevenson, Francis S.|
|Lewis, John Herbert||O'Dowd, John||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Logan, John William||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo. N||Sullivan, Donal|
|Lough, Thomas||O'Kelly, James Roscommon N.||Tennant, Harold John|
|Lundon, W.||O'Malley, William||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen. E.)|
|MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A.||O'Mara, James||Thomas, Alfred (Glam'rgan. E.)|
|MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Thomas, F. Freeman-(H'stings)|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Palmer, Geo. Wm, (Reading)||Thomas, J A (Gl'm'rg'n, Gower)|
|M'Cann, James||Partington, Oswald||Thompson, Dr. E C (Monagh'n N|
|M'Crae, George||Paulton, James Mellor||Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.)|
|M'Govern, T.||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)||Tomkinson, James|
|M'Hugh, Patrick A.||Pease, Sir Joseph W. (Durham||Trevelyan, Charles Phillips|
|M'Kean, John||Perks, Robert William||Wallace, Robert|
|M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North)||Pirie, Duncan V.||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|M'Laren, Charles Benjamin||Power, Patrick Joseph||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Markham, Arthur Basil||Price, Robert John||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Mather, William||Priestley, Arthur||White, Luke, (York, E. R.)|
|Mooney, John J.||Rea, Russell||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen||Reddy, M.||Whiteley, George (York, W. R.)|
|Morley, Charles (Breconshire)||Redmond, John E, (Waterford)||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Morley, Rt. Hn. Jno.(Montrose,||Rickett, J. Compton||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Morton, Edw. J. C.(Devonport)||Rigg, Richard||Wilson fired W. (Norfolk, Mid)|
|Moss, Samuel||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Moulton, John Fletcher||Robson, William Snowdon||Woodhouse, Sir. J T Huddersf'd|
|Murphy, John||Roche, John||Young, Samuel|
|Nannetti, Joseph P.||Roe, Sir Thomas||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Newnes, Sir George||Runciman, Walter|
|Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)||Russell, T. W.|
|Norman, Henry||Schwann, Charles E.|
|Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Herbert Gladstone and Mr. William M'Arthur.|
|O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|O'Brien, Kendal,(Tipp'ery, Mid||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
§ (12.43.) Question put accordingly. "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution.1062
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 283; Noes, 197. (Division List No. 127.)1065
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex F.||Brookfield, Colonel Montagu||Cranborne, Viscount|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Brown, Alexander H. (Shropsh.||Cripps, Charles Alfred|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Brymer, William Ernest||Cross, Hbt. Shepherd (Bolton)|
|Allhusen, Augustus Hy. Eden||Bull, William James||Crossley, Sir Savile|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Bullard, Sir Harry||Dalkeith, Earl of|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Burdett-Coutts, W.||Dalrymple, Sir Charles|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Butcher, John George||Davenport, W. Bromley-|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Campbell, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Gl'sg'w)||Davies, Sir Horatio D (Chath'm)|
|Arrol, Sir William||Carlile, William Walter||Denny, Colonel|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Dickson, Charles Scott|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Cantley, Henry Strother||Dickson-Poynder. Sir John P.|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Cavendish, R. F. (N, Lanes.)||Digby, John K. D Wingfield-|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Cavendish, V. C. W.(D'rbysh.)||Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Dorington, Sir John Edward|
|Balcarres, Lord||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A Akers-|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J.(Manch'r)||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Doxford, Sir William Theodore|
|Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W. (Leeds||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.||Duke, Henry Edward|
|Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christch.||Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc'r||Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir Wm. Hart|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Chapman, Edward||Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton|
|Beach, Rt Hn Sir Michael Hicks||Churchill, Winston Spencer||Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas|
|Beckett, Ernest William||Cliye, Capt. Percy A.||Faber, Edmund B. (Hants, W.)|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Fellowes, Hn. Ailwyn Edward|
|Bignold, Arthur||Coddington, Sir William||Furgusson, Rt Hn Sir J (Manc'r)|
|Bigwood, James||Coghill, Douglas Harry||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst|
|Bill, Charles||Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Finch, George H.|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne|
|Bond, Edward||Colomb, Sir Jn. Charles Ready||Fisher, William Hayes|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Compton, Lord Alwyne||Fison, Frederick William|
|Bowles, Capt. H. F. (Middlesex||Cook, Sir Frederick Lucas||Fitzroy, Hon. Edward Algernon|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Flower, Ernest|
|Forster, Henry William||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Rankin, Sir James|
|Foster, Phillip S (Warw'k, S W)||Leveson-Gower, Fredk. N. S.||Ratcliff, R. F.|
|Galloway, William Johnson||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.||Reid, James (Greenock)|
|Gardner, Ernest||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Garfit, William||Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham||Renshaw, Charles Bine|
|Gibbs, Hn. A. G. H. (City of Lon.||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Bristol. S||Renwick, George|
|Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk.||Lowe, Francis William||Richard, Henry Charles|
|Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin & Nairn||Lowther, C. (Cumb., Eskdale)||Ridley, Hn. M. W. (Stalybridge|
|Gore Hn G. R. C. Ormsby-(Sal'p||Lowther, Rt. Hn. James (Kent)||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson|
|Gore, Hon. S. F. Ormsby-(Linc.)||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)|
|Goschen, Hon. George Joachim||Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft)||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth||Robinson, Brooke|
|Gray, Ernest (West Harn)||Macartney Rt Hn. W G. Ellison||Ropner, Colonel Robert|
|Green Walford D (Wednesbury||Macdona, John Cumming||Round, James|
|Greene, Sir E W (B'ryS Edm'nds||MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-|
|Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury)||Maconochie, A. W.||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander|
|Grenfell, William Henry||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Sandys, Lt.-Col. Thos. Myles|
|Gretton, John||MCalmont, Col. H. L. B (Cambs||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Greville, Hon. Ronald||M'Calmont, Col. J. (Antrim, E.)||Seton-Carr, Henry|
|Groves, James Grimble||M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire)||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill||Majendie James A. H.||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Hain, Edward||Malcolm, Ian||Sinclair, Louis, Romford|
|Hall, Edward Marshall||Manners, Lord Cecil||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F.||Martin, Richard Biddulph||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford. East|
|Hambro, Charles Eric||Massey-Mainwaring, Hn W. F.||Smith, H. C. (Nth'mb-Tyneside|
|Hamilton Rt Hn Lord G (Middx||Maxwell, W. J. H. (Dumfriessh.||Stanley, Edward Jas.(Somerset|
|Hamilton, Marq.of (L'nd'nd'rry||Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Hanbury, Rt. Hon Robert Wm.||Middlemore, Hn Throgmorton||Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart|
|Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashf'rd||Milner, Rt. Hn. Sir Frederick G.||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.|
|Hare, Thomas Leigh||Milvain, Thomas||Stock, James Henry|
|Harris, Frederick Leverton||Molesworth, Sir Lewis||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Haslam, Sir Alfred S.||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Stroyan, John|
|Hatch Ernest Fredk. George||Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Hay, Hon. Claude (George||Montagu, Hn. J. Scott (Hants.)||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Ox'd Univ.|
|Heath, Arthur Howard (Hanley||More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire)||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Heath, James (Staffords., N W)||Morgan, David J. (Walthamst.||Tollemache, Henry James|
|Heaton, John Henniker||Morrell, George Herbert||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray|
|Helder, Augustus||Morrision, James Archibald||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Henderson, Alexander||Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptford||Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward|
|Hermon-Hodge, Robt. Trotter||Mount, William Arthur||Take, Sir John Batty|
|Hickman, Sir Alfred||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||Valentia, Viscount|
|Higginbottom, S. W.||Murray, Rt Hn A Graham (Bute||Vincent, Col Sir C. E. H (Shef'ld.|
|Hobhouse, Henry (Somerset. E.||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Hope J. F (Sheffield, Brightside||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)||Warde, Col. C. E.|
|Houston, Robert Patterson||Myers, William Henry||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
|Howard, John (Kent, Fav'rsh'm||Nicholson, William Graham||Wason, John Cathcart, (Orkney|
|Hozier, Hon James Henry Ceeil||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Welby, Lt-Col. A. C. E (Taunton|
|Hudson, George Bickersteth||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens||Welby, Sir Charles G. E. (Notts.|
|Hutton, John (Yorks., N. R.)||On-Ewing, Charles Lindsay||Wharton, Rt. Hon. John Lloyd|
|Jebb Sir Richard Claverhouse||Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick||Parker, Gilbert||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset)|
|Jessel, Captain Herbert Merton||Parkes, Ebenezer||Williams, Rt Hn. J P'well-(Birm|
|Johnston, William (Belfast)||Pease, Herbt. Pike (Darlington)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Pemberton, John S. G.||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir John H||Peon, John||Wilson-Todd, Wm. H. (Yorks.)|
|Kenyon, Hon. Geo. T (Denbigh)||Percy, Earl||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R.(Bath|
|Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W. (Salop||Pilkington, Lieut.-Col. Richard||Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart-|
|Keswick, William||Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.||Plummer, Walter R.||Wylie, Alexander|
|Law, Andrew Bonar||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Lawrence, Joseph (Monmouth)||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward|
|Lawson, John Grant||Purvis, Robert||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Lee, Arthur H (Hants, Fareham||Quitter, Sir Cuthbert||Sir William Walrond and|
|Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)||Randles, John S.||Mr. Anstruther.|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.||Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Brigg, John|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Broadhurst, Henry|
|Allen, Charles P. (Glouc. Stroud||Bell, Richard||Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson|
|Asher, Alexander||Blake, Edward||Bryce, Rt. Hon. James|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Boland, John||Burke, E. Haviland|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry||Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Bums, John|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Brand, Hon. Arthur G.||Buxton, Sydney Charles|
|Caine, William Sproston||Jameson, Major. J. Eustace||Palmer, Georgo Wm. (Reading)|
|Caldwell, James||Joicey, Sir James||Partington, Oswald|
|Cameron, Robert||Jones, David Brynmor (Sw'nsea||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Jones, William (Carnarv'nshire||Pease, J. A. Saffron Walden)|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Jordan, Jeremiah||Pease, SirJoseph W. (Durham)|
|Cawley, Frederick||Joyce, Michael||Perks, Robert William|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Kearley, Hudson. E.||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Kennedy, Patrick James||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Kinloch, Sir John George Smyth||Price, Robert John|
|Craig, Robert Hunter||Kitson, Sir James||Priestly, Arthur|
|Crean, Eugene||Labouchere, Henry||Rea, Russell|
|Cremer, William Randal||Lambert, George||Reddy, M|
|Crombie, John William||Langley, Batty||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Leese, Sir Joseph F.(Accrington||Rigg, Richard|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||Leigh, Sir Joseph||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs)|
|Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan||Leng, Sir John||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Delany, William||Levy, Maurice||Roche, John|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Lewis, John Herbert||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Dillon, John||Logan, John William||Runciman, Walter|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Lough, Thomas||Russell, T. W.|
|Doogan, P. C.||Lundon, W.||Schwann, Charles E.|
|Donglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A.||Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh)|
|Duncan, J. Hastings||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Seeley, Charles Hilton (Lincoln|
|Dunn, Sir William||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Sheehan (Daniel Daniel|
|Edwards, Frank||M'Cann, James||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Elibank, Master of||M'Crae, George||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)|
|Ellis, John Edward||M'Govern, T.||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Emmott, Alfred||M'Hugh, Patrick A.||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas||M'Kean, John||Spencer, Rt. Hn. C. R (Northants|
|Evans, Sir Francis H (Maidst'ne||M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North)||Stevenson, Francis S.|
|Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan)||M'Laren, Charles Benjamin||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Markham, Arthur Basil||Sullivan, Donal|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Mather, William||Tennant, Harold John|
|Fenwick Charles||Mooney, John J.||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen E.)|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith)||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen||Thomas, Alfred (GlamorganE.)|
|Ffrench, Peter||Morley, Charles (Breconshire)||Thomas, F. Freeman-(Hastings|
|Field, William||Morley, Rt. Hn. John (Montrose||Thomas, JA (Glamorg'n Gower)|
|Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Morton, Edw. J. C. (Devonport)||Thompson, Dr. E C (Monagh'n, N|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Moss, Samuel||Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.)|
|Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Moulton, John Fletcher||Tomkinson, James,|
|Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Murphy, John||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Fuller, J. M. F.||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Wallace, Robert|
|Gilhooly, James||Newnes, Sir George||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)||Warner, Thomas CourtenayT.|
|Grant, Corrie||Norman, Henry||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Grey, Sir Edward (Berwick)||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)||White, Patriok (Meatb, North)|
|Haldane, Richard Burdon||O'Brien, Kendal (Tipp'rary Mid||Whitley, George (York W. R.|
|Hammond, John||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Sir William||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)||Whitta'ker, Thomas Palmer|
|Harmsworth, R. Leicester||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.||Wilson, Fred. W.(Norfolk, Mid|
|Hayden, John Patrick||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Hayne, Rt. Hn. Charles Seale-||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)||Woodhouse, Sir J. T (H'dd'rsti'd|
|Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur D.||O'Dowd, John||Young, Samuel|
|Helme, Norval Watson||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Hobhouse, C. E. H. (Bristol, E.)||O'Kelly, James (RoscommonN.|
|Holland, William Henry||O'Malley, William||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—.|
|Horniman, Frederick John||O'Mara, James||Mr. Herbert Gladstone|
|Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||and Mr. M'Arthur.|