HC Deb 04 June 1902 vol 108 cc1392-4
SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Monmouthshire, W.)

We have been informed that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is to make a statement on the financial condition of the country on the Loan Bill tonight, and I would like to suggest that, after the right hon. Gentleman has made his statement, he should adjourn the discussion on the Loan Bill, so that the House may have an opportunity of discussing that statement with its bearings on the Finance Bill. Not only the question of the loans, but the question of taxation also will probably be very much affected The Budget provides for the continuation of the war; but the situation has now entirely changed. It is obviously a matter that will require a great deal of consideration, and I hope, that, as the Third Beading of the Loan Bill affords the only opportunity on which the House can discuss the matter, the right hon. Gentleman will accede to my suggestion, so that the Chancellor of the Exchequer's statement may be discussed, and, if necessary, an Amendment moved.


What I had intended to do was to put shortly before the House what the necessities of the financial situation may be on account of the termination of the war. That cannot involve the smallest change in the Loan Bill; it might involve a change in the Tax Bill. But the right hon. Gentleman will have three days to consider any effect which it has on the Tax Bill before the Tax Bill is proceeded with. Perhaps I may tell the House frankly that I propose to continue the two additional taxes still remaining in the Finance Bill. I will state my reasons for doing so this evening. I cannot, of course, on that statement argue the merits of those taxes; that will be arguable on the Finance Bill, and the time will then come for any hon. Members who object to the continuance of those taxes to give their reasons for their rejection, and for me to defend my proposals. So far as the Loan Bill is concerned, the money has been borrowed. It will be required for the service of the State for the first nine months of the year, and any surplus after the expiry of those nine months will be proposed to be devoted to the redemption of the debt. I see nothing to justify the postponement of the Loan Bill, because under no circumstances can the proposal as to increased taxation be discussed on the Loan Bill.


Can such an Amendment be moved on the Loan Bill?


It would not be in order to discuss the merits of taxes which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has stated he does not intend to with draw. When the Government ask for a loan of £32,000,000, it is, of course, competent for hon. Members to use arguments to show that it is not necessary to raise that sum.


I can only just observe that the money has been raised.