§ Considered in the Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Schedule 1:—
§ (9.0.) MR. FLYNN (continuing his speech)
said that when just before half-past seven the Chancellor of the Exchequer made a concession in regard to offal he must have had in his mind that the tax on offal fell largely upon those who were engaged in cattle rearing and pig feeding. It was also a tax which fell on the consumer in Ireland, and if the right hon. Gentleman would not exclude maize altogether from his schedule, at least he might reduce the tax by one-half and thus lighten the burden which would, as a fact, fall upon the poorest of the poor in Ireland. This duty on maize would extract £187,500 annually from the pockets of the Irish people, and in Cork alone, taking the average importations for the last five years, the burden would represent £22,500 annually. As he had said earlier in the evening, this duty pressed most heavily on the very poorest in 774 Ireland who largely consumed maize. Ireland was already admittedly overtaxed as compared with England and Scotland, and surely this was not the time to impose additional taxation. He hoped he had been able to make some impression on the somewhat flinty conscience of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and he begged to move the reduction of the tax on maize by one-half.
In page 5, to leave out 'the cwt. £0 0s. 3d.,' and insert 'the ton £0 2s. 6d.'"—(Mr. Flynn.)
§ Question proposed, "That the cwt. £0 0s. 3d. stand part of the schedule.
§ SIR M. HICKS BEACH
said the Amendment would lower the duty on all grain, and was therefore one which it was obviously impossible to accept. He had already made a considerable concession, and he could not understand the grounds on which the hon. Member made his proposal. It was a difficult thing to make a difference in the rate on one kind of corn, and for several reasons it was desirable that the tax on all corn should be the same. He did not think it could be shown that 3d. in the hundredweight would have any influence on the price to the consumer.
§ SIR M. HICKS BEACH
said if the hon. Member only wished that the duty on maize, and not corn generally, should be reduced to 1½d. the hundredweight, he would be glad if he could see his way to aid him. He certainly could not at the moment accept the Amendment, because it was absolutely necessary before he could reduce the duty on maize that he should consider what the result would be upon other kinds of corn. Offhand he could not enter into any promise, and he must resist the Amendment, which went far beyond that single reduction. He would consider whether it would be possible to make a distinction between maize and other kinds of corn. There was, no doubt, this to be said, that, so far as Great Britain was concerned, it was a feeding stuff for cattle rather than human food, while in Ireland it was the food of the very poor. If, consistently with the fair working of the whole duty, he could 775 make the alteration he would be very glad to do so. Beyond that be could not go, and he would ask the hon. Member not to press his Amendment.
§ MR. T. W RUSSELL
thought this a statement of the utmost importance, and that it was an enormous advance on the right hon. Gentleman's afternoon speech, though anyone could have seen even then that had he foreseen the effect of the tax on maize the right hon. Gentleman would have had some difficulty in imposing it. If the Amendment of the hon. Member for North Cork simply meant the reduction of the duty on maize by one-half he would gladly support it, but, according to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Amendment would actually go much further than that reduction, and in view of the statement he thought it should not be pressed. The concession as to offal already made was not to be scouted as a matter of no importance. But this went further. The putting of this tax on the food of the poorest of the poor was a sad business. It could not be said it was a blunder from want of knowledge If the potato crop in the west of Ireland failed, as probably it would with the present weather—and he heard that in many places the potatoes were being literally washed out of the ground in the west of Ireland—there would be a serious condition of things to be faced by the Government of the day. He was sorry the hon. and learned Member for Waterford was not present, but he hoped the Amendment would not now be pressed.
§ MR. LEAMY (Kildare, N.)
said the hon. Member who last spoke had made a very serious statement as to the position of affairs in the west of Ireland. There could not be the slightest doubt that there would be severe distress there. Unfortunately, maize was the food of the poorest of the poor, and yet, at the very time these people were called upon to face bad harvests, the price of their food was to be increased. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was, however, a sympathetic man; the First Lord and the President of the Board of Trade had both had experience of what distress in the west of Ireland really was, and he would make a special appeal to them all not to enforce this tax. He regretted 776 the absence from the House of the Chief Secretary, who ought to be there to tell the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the real position of affairs was; but he felt confident that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would not press this tax on the food of the poorest of the poor.
(9.25.) SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNER-MAN (Stirling Burghs)
I am not surprised that the right hon. Gentleman hesitated to give a positive assurance to the House, because the more we examine this duty and the nature of the different articles to which it refers, the more they appear interlocked, and the greater seems the difficulty in making such a distinction. So the right hon. Gentleman is wise in not making an offhand promise, though it is obvious that so far as his disposition goes, it is in favour of making the concession—a concession not only in the interest of the farmer, but a concession which affects the interest of the breeder of cattle, and (above all this is present to my mind) of the underfed and destitute people in the West of Ireland, whose cause has been put before the Committee with so much force. Every Member of the Committee will congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on having taken the course he has taken in showing so much direct sympathy with the case put so plainly before him. With those who have already spoken, I hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer's wish and hope will be something more than a wish and hope, and that, when he has looked into the matter and avoided any possible dangers connected with the concession, he will be able to make this substantial concession, and thereby afford, not the complete relief some of us would like to have seen, but, at all events, a considerable relief to those who so much require it.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. KEARLEY (Devonport)
said the right hon. Gentleman had made considerable Amendments in regard to the 777 correlative duty on offal, and the Motion he desired to bring forward was one raising the question of the correlative duty as between flour and wheat. In olden times the duty on wheat was 3d., and the correlative on flour 4½d. According to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, those figures were based on a calculation of the average quantity of corn required to make a certain amount of flour. It might be assumed that that was the basis upon which the right hon. Gentleman was now proceeding, but he had raised the correlative from 4½d. to 5d. One of the reasons put forward for the change was that since the repeal of the registration duty the circumstances of the milling industry had undergone a great change; and that under the present process there was a yield of only about 72 per cent. of flour as against 80 per cent. under the old process; and that in order to equalise the duty as between flour and wheat, the duty on the former must be somewhat higher than was formerly the case. In making that statement the right hon. Gentleman had gone on a fanciful assumption. The duty was never levied on the basis of an 80 per cent. extraction of flour, the old process of stone milling never produced such a percentage, and the modern process of roller milling had always produced more than the old process. It was not a difficult matter to find out the basis upon which the duties were formerly levied. In 1828, when the Corn Law was passed, a barrel of flour weighing 196 pounds was deemed to be the product of 298 pounds of wheat. That gave an extraction of flour of 66 per cent., and that basis was taken right through the continuance of the corn laws and the maintenance of the registration duty. In 1864, when Mr. Gladstone adopted the plan of assessing wheat by weight, instead of by measure, he established the wheat duty at 3d. and the flour duty at 4½d., thus adhering to the 66 per cent. basis, and if the Chancellor of the Exchequer now intended to make it 5d. he was certainly going in for Protection. A hundred cwt. of wheat at 3d. came to 25s., while the 72 per cent. of flour at 5d. represented 30s., or a clear discrimination of 20 per cent. against flour—leaving out of the question altogether the duty on offals which was all 778 to the good. Even if the correlative were maintained at the old figure of 4½d., there would still be a discrimination of 8 per cent. against flour. The right hon. Gentleman had declared there was no Protection in the present Budget. If he really meant that he should establish the true correlative by making the duty on flour exactly equivalent to that on the amount of raw material necessary to produce a certain amount of flour, taking the yield of flour as being 72 per cent., the respective figures ought to be 3d. and 3¾d. His Amendment proposed to reduce flour to 4d., because the fact had to be taken into consideration that the right hon. Gentleman would get something additional from the importation of offals. In reply to a deputation, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had justified his correlative on the ground that the duties related to all kinds of grain, and to all kinds of meal manufactured from that grain, and that it was impossible for him to consider these duties entirely from the point of view of the importers of wheat flour. But wheat flour bore an overwhelming proportion to all other flours, and it had quite enough burden of its own to bear, without having to carry that of any other flour. There were about 22,500,000 cwts. of flour imported, from which the right hon. Gentleman would receive a revenue of about £500,000. Why should that flour have to bear an unjust incidence? Why should not the duty be levied exactly on the basis claimed for it? The right hon. Gentleman had said that it was not to the interest of the country that those large importations of flour should continue, and that it would be better to import the grain, and grind it here. What right had he to make such statements? The right hon. Gentleman had challenged the Opposition to prove that this was a Protectionist Budget, and all the time his mind was working in the direction of arguing that it was not to the interest of the country that we should have free importations of flour. If it were not a Protectionist Budget, he should not be concerned at all with what came into the country; all he had to do was to fix the true correlative, and let the trade of the country please itself as to whether it imported the raw material or the flour. This discrimination of 20 per cent. would deal a heavy blow to the milling industry 779 in the Colonies, and he was perfectly certain that the Colonial Premiers would have something to say on the subject. The right hon. Gentleman would also miss his mark if he hoped by this tax to benefit the English miller. There were two classes of English millers—the port millers and the country millers. The former were no friends of the English farmer, because many of them did not grind a single pound of English wheat. But the discrimination against wheat would do a great amount of harm to the country millers, who milled the English wheat crop. That crop when ground would not compete with other flours unless mixed with stronger flours, such as those from Manitoba. He understood that the country millers blended 30 or 40 per cent. of those stronger flours with their English flour, and they would soon cry out if the Chancellor of the Exchequer handicapped the importation of those particular flours, of which they were in so much need. The fact that three-fifths of the English wheat crop was grown in the home counties, and that into the home counties and the Port of London came 40 per cent. of the importation of flour, tended to prove that where the production of English wheat was greatest, there was also the greatest demand for these stronger flours from abroad for mixing purposes. The Chancellor of the Exchequer thought he had made a good point by asking why country millers did not import American grain and grind it, but the reply to that was that they had not the necessary machinery for the purpose like the port miller. The country miller did not possess all the modern machinery for milling, and his machinery was only fit to deal with soft wheat. In arguing in favour of this Amendment his object was first of all to come face to face with this question of Protection. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had told them over and over again that he really desired to keep flour from coming into this country, and it would be very interesting to hear what he had to say in favour of imposing this high correlative tax. This was a tax which ought not to be tolerated, and he begged to move his Amendment.
In page 5, to leave out '5d.,' and insert '4d.'"—(Mr. Kearley.)
§ Question proposed, "That '5d.' stand part of the Schedule.'"780
§ (9.55.) SIR M. HICKS BEACH
In this matter it is now, as in former years, the corn duty from which is deduced the duty on flour of all kinds, and the proportion of that duty is settled according to the following considerations: First, according to the relative value of flour and of the grain from which the flour is made; secondly, according to the additional value conferred on flour by the process of manufacture; and, thirdly, with regard to the economic effect of importing into this country flour without the offal, which is undoubtedly a great loss to agriculture here and a great gain to the country where the offal was retained. Those views practically were acted upon by Sir Robert Peel in 1849 and by Mr. Gladstone in 1864, and the hon. Member now calmly proposes to give a bonus to importers of foreign flour into this country, as compared with the former duty. He proposes that the duty on flour, which was then fixed at 4½d., as compared with the duty of 3d. on corn, should be reduced to 4d. The hon. Member has spoken solely in the interests of a few agents of foreign importers into this country and of the foreign importers themselves.
§ SIR M. HICKS BEACH
And I venture to say, on the other hand, that I have made this proposal in the interests of the people in this country, and it is contrary to those interests that the Amendment should be adopted. In the year 1867, the year before this duty on corn was abolished, out of our total imports of breadstuffs not more than a one-twenty-second part consisted of flour. Last year one-eighth of the total import consisted of flour and I think that is a very bad thing for this country. We want the whole grain, and I have made this proposal in order to get the whole grain, and I have raised the old 4½d. to 5d. because the amount of flour produced from a hundredweight of grain has been considerably lessened since the days of stone-milling. The average value of a hundredweight of flour is now more than 50 per cent. above the average value of grain, and therefore the average duty upon flour ought to be more than 50 per cent. 781 above the duty upon grain. For that reason I have fixed the duty at 5d., in order that it may be equalised with the duty on corn. I am bound to say that the hon. Member is more in favour of the foreign exporter than the foreign exporters themselves. I hold in my hand a quotation from a leading trade journal at Minneapolis, which is the headquarters of the export trade in flour. The North Western Miller says—Allowing that the British miller can make a barrel of flour out of 4½ bushels of wheat, which is about the yield the American gets, the tax on his product made from imported wheat would be about 14½ cents the barrel. The tax on a barrel of imported flour slightly exceeds 17½ cents. It is probable that the average British miller uses more wheat to the barrel of flour than his American competitor. On the whole it would seem fair to estimate 3 cents per barrel as the handicap which the new duties place on imported flour. The American miller is, on the whole, relieved to find that he has escaped the Budget with nothing worse than this comparatively small difference in favour of his British competitors. In fact, if it were not for the far more serious handicap to the export of flour made by the American railways in their differential rates against flour and in favour of wheat, the British duty would not be worthy of consideration. If the transportation interests east of Buffalo placed Hour and grain for export on a parity, this would overcome the adverse effect of the British duty.They have done so since those words were written. The quotation concludes—Minneapolis millers are generally of opinion that the duty will have no serious effect on their trade with the United Kingdom.In the face of that statement the hon. Member tells me that this duty is Protection in favour of the British miller against the American miller. The statement is, I venture to say, absurd, and I decline to accept the Amendment.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
said the Chancellor of the Exchequer had often thrown out an insinuation that hon. Members, in opposing this tax upon corn, were representing special interests. Personally he did not represent any special interests, but, in his opinion, this duty should be levied without any Protective basis at all. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that he had based his proposals on the principles which animated Sir Robert Peel and Mr. Gladstone in 782 1864. That was a very long time ago, and the right hon. Gentleman said he did not think those were precedents which they required to follow at the present moment. The Chancellor of the Exchequer quoted Sir Robert Peel and Mr. Gladstone, but it was a very great pity that he did not follow their examples, because Mr. Gladstone placed this duty at 4½d., and the right hon. Gentleman was placing it at 5d. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had described this as a discriminating duty at 4½d., but if that was so, surely it must be very considerably more discriminating at 5d. It seemed to him that the whole point of this particular argument turned upon the question of what amount of flour could be produced from a given quantity of grain. The whole question was what was a fair proportion to put on the Hour. The right hon. Gentleman said the other day in one of his speeches that he based this proportion on 72 per cent. of flour per cwt. of corn. That would work out at a little over 4d., and the old tax was based upon 66 per cent. which worked out at 4½d. The right hon. Gentleman practically worked this out at something not between 4d. and 4½d. but at 5d. The Chancellor of the Exchequer now said that this was due to the improved process of milling, but it seemed a very curious thing that the millers should produce less flour from a given amount of corn than under the old system. They all knew that the old system did not produce anything like the amount of flour from a given quantity of corn as millers did at the present time with their more modern machinery. He was more concerned with what fell from the Chancellor of the Exchequer in this debate, and the other day in reply to a deputation of millers. He did not care two straws about the millers or the importers, but what he did care about was that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should keep to the position which they certainly understood he laid down when he asked them to pass this bread tax. The right hon. Gentleman had endeavoured to obtain a large majority on previous occasions by informing the Committee that this was a Free Trade tax, with not a shadow of Protection about it; but he now admitted that it was a discriminating duty in favour of 783 corn as against flour. He, therefore, did not think the right hon. Gentleman had treated the Committee fairly. More than once, and with some indignation, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had repudiated the idea that there was any Protection or any discrimination in this grain duty, and he had practically said just now that the imports of flour were a very bad thing, and that he did not desire to disguise from the House the fact that he had put this duty high in order that he would get more grain introduced into this country instead of flour, which he thought would be a great advantage. In the course of the debate upon this tax, he ventured to ask the First Lord of the Treasury to give thorn some definition of what was meant by a Protective duty. The right hon. Gentleman, however, refused to be drawn, and declined to say at what particular level he considered that a tax became a Protective duty. The right hon. Gentleman did give a definition of what he considered was a Protective duty, and he said—The hon. Gentleman asked me to say when was a tax a Protective tax? When it is a tax which protects. A tax which protects is a tax which discourages imports and encourages home manufactures.He did not consider that a complete definition of a Protective duty, but he was prepared to stand or fall by it in regard to this particular question. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer practically told the Committee a few minutes ago that he was going to encourage the home manufacture of flour and to discourage imports of foreign flour.
§ SIR M. HICKS BEACH
said that what he did say was that he would not encourage the imports of foreign flour as compared with the imports of corn.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
said upon this point he was within the recollection of the House, and what he understood the Chancellor of the Exchequer to say was that large imports of flour were a very bad thing for this country, and he now said that what he wanted was the grain. To his mind, and apparently to the mind of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the 784 House this was a Protective duty. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had not been content with 4½d. on flour as against 3d. on corn. He had increased the former figure to 5d. He had admitted that the duty was a discriminating duty in favour of corn. According to the definition given by the Leader of the House this was Protection. For this reason, and on account of the extraordinary complications to which this duty led, he was opposed to the proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ (10.15.) MR. HUNTER CRAIG (Lanarkshire, Govan)
said the Chancellor of the Exchequer had accused certain hon. Members of sinister motives in standing up to defend their views, but he bogged leave to repudiate any such insinuations. He had been a member of the corn trade all his lifetime and he had, standing in his name on the Paper, an Amendment upon the point now under discussion. He could assure the right hon. Gentleman that as far as he was personally concerned this tax on corn and flour would be a benefit rather than otherwise to the large importers in this county because of the additional capital necessary to finance this tax. It was decidedly Protective as regards flour. He would give an illustration. Take for an example a cargo of 4,000 tons of wheat which, at 3d. per cwt. duty, would pay £1,000. The foreign or colonial miller who milled 4,000 tons of wheat and shipped the equivalent in flour and offal—that was 2,880 tons of flour and 1,120 tons of offal—instead of paying the duty of £1,000 on the wheat cargo, paid duty on the manufactured articles at 5d. on flour and a 1½d. on bran, amounting to £1,340, being a discrimination against the Canadian, Australian, and foreign millers, and in favour of the home miller to the extent of £480 per cargo of 4,000 tons, or 34 per cent. more duty on flour and offal than on wheat. The country millers bought foreign flour largely to give strength to flour made from English wheat, and they would be hit by this 5d. tax on flour. All that the Chancellor of the Exchequer claimed in his Budget speech was a correlative duty on flour and meal equal to that on wheat, but he was now giving a preferential rate of 34 per cent. in favour of wheat with 785 offal included. He would consider for a moment the duty on flour alone, leaving offal out of the question. Four thousand tons of wheat paid £1,000. The equivalent of that quantity of wheat was 2,280 tons of flour, which at 5d. paid £1,200, being £200, or 20 per cent. in favour of the home miller, besides which he got his bran free of duty. This enabled him to reduce the price of flour, giving the home miller an additional advantage over foreign flour. If this Amendment were accepted, making it 4d. on flour, which with 1½d. on offal, 4,000 tons would pay £1,100 or 11 per cent., or £100 more than the same quantity of wheat. This tax would be a great hardship upon the Colonies. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer insisted upon this tax of 5d. on flour then he ought to come out into the open and declare himself no longer a Free Trader but a Protectionist. He was sure all hon. Members felt that Canadian and Foreign millers would be terribly handicapped by these discriminations and this Protective duty against the colonial and foreign millers. He hoped that what he had said would carry some weight and would have some influence upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ MR. BOUSFIELD (Hackney, N.)
said that he was not a corn dealer, and was not interested in the corn trade, but he had taken some trouble to find out the proportion of flour produced from wheat. As he understood the argument put forward, it was that Mr. Gladstone fixed the proportion at 4½d., but since then the process of milling had so much improved the proportion of flour produced, that the figure ought to be less than 4½d. rather than more. He wished to point out that that argument was entirely based upon an erroneous conception. Some twenty years ago from 100 lbs. of wheat millers would produce 75 lbs. of flour and 25 lbs. of offal, but owing to the demand of the public for a finer flour which made whiter bread, the practice of millers had during the last twenty years entirely changed, and instead of producing 75 lbs. of flour and 25 lbs. of offal their practice today was to produce about 65 786 lbs. of flour and 35 lbs. of offal. He knew that the best mills in this country were, at the present time, only producing from 67 to 68 per cent. of flour from 100 lbs. of wheat. These figures had been given in evidence as being the result of the practice at some of the best mills in the country. Against the 4½d. duty which Mr. Gladstone fixed, certainly 5d. was not too large a figure in proportion to the demands on the miller at the present time. The whole question seemed to be whether the proportion should be between 4½d. or 5d. He thought the Chancellor of the Exchequer was right in looking to the low price of offal, and considering whether the fraction in dispute should be up or down. In his judgment the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had fixed the nearest figure which represented the equivalent in price. The hon. Gentleman opposite had asked that the tax should be taken of offal as compared with wheat. It was a matter of the highest importance if this extra fraction would have the effect of bringing grain instead of flour into this country, for this would be an advantage to everybody, and it would also enable the farmer to produce live stock at a cheaper rate. He thought that was an admitted fact. It had been said that this tax was dealing a blow at the Colonies, but he denied that statement, for on the contrary he believed it would be a distinct advantage to them. He was not frightened at the bogey of Protection, and he did not worship the idol of Free Trade. He believed that common sense was superior either to Free Trade or Protection. If this tax did give them some chance of doing their Colonies a good turn then it would be an advantage. What he submitted to the Committee was that the nearest fraction had been fixed upon having regard to the improvement in the process of production which had taken place since the time when Mr. Gladstone fixed the duty. He would remind the Committee that there was such a thing as encouraging imports, and the argument was that they were encouraging the importation of grain as against the importation of flour. When it was a question of encouraging one, and discouraging the other, as was the case in regard to this tax, the difficulty was 787 not solved by appealing to words like Protection and Free Trade, but by appealing to common sense.
§ (10.30.) MR. MOULTON (Cornwall, Launceston)
said he was puzzled with the speech which had been made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He did not expect that the taxes chosen by the right hon. Gentleman would please him, but he was surprised to hear him say that this was not a Protective tax. The right hon. Gentleman said it was absurd for hon. Members on this side of the House to call this a Protective tax. In his opinion it was not absurd to say it was Protective, because to make that assertion was simply true. They did not need to go to the organ of the Minneapolis millers in order to find this out, for it was only necessary for them to go as far as the multiplication table to see clearly that this was a Protective tax. He would take the figures given by his hon. friend opposite in order to show that his statement was correct, although he thought the figures chosen were far too favourable to his own case. Two-thirds of the weight of corn became flour. The tax on flour was 5d., and the tax on corn 3d. Therefore flour paid more than the corn from which it was made. There was one halfpenny against the import of flour, apart from any tax on offals. What did it matter to the agricultural interest whether the flour and the offals came in the same or in different packages? Yet the Chancellor of the Exchequer put a preference of 20 per cent. in favour of corn, as against flour and offals. That was simply to protect the trade which divided the flour from the offals. Instead of calling it absurd, would the Chancellor of the Exchequer answer that argument? He had not dared to go into the question of cargoes like his hon. friend behind him, but it was a mere question of reckoning small figures. It was a simple calculation that one and a half times 3d. was 4½d., and that one-third of 1½d. was ½d. That was all the mental arithmetic which he asked the supporters of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to do. The consequence was that if they imported corn in the 788 shape of flour and offals, so that it came in to the benefit of the British consumer and the British farmer, they would find that they paid 20 per cent. more than if imported in the state which required the assistance of the British miller. In other words, this tax was heavily in favour of the British miller, and had nothing whatever to do with the desire to get offals into England. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer merely wished to get offals into this country, he could have afforded to allow them to come in untaxed, because he was getting more by the tax on flour than upon the corn from which it was produced. They would be quite content if they would leave the tax on the flour and take it entirely off the offals. This proposal was nothing else but Protection.
§ SIR M. HICKS BEACH
I will answer the Question put to me by my hon. and learned friend opposite. The tax on flour and offals separately ought to be greater than the tax on corn, for the simple reason that those articles are manufactured abroad, and come to this country as manufactured articles. I demur to the hon. Member's 20 per cent.; but if the manufactured articles are allowed to come in at the same rate as the raw material a premium is given to the foreign manufacturer.
§ MR. ROBSON (South Shields)
said he did not think that the last argument of the Chancellor of the Exchequer ought to be allowed to pass without some observations. At first it was stated that this was imposed as a war tax, but now that argument had gone. They were also told that this was the proposal of a Free Trader, but now that argument had also gone. It was now clearly and frankly admitted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that this was a Protective tax, and he hoped that the debate would not stop where it was at present. He hoped that some hon. Members opposite, and more especially the Unionist members, would get up and express their opinion as to this change of policy indicated by the right hon. Gentleman. He did not think that a 789 change of this kind ought to be allowed to pass sub silentio, especially when the statement was made so frankly by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. For the first time for fifty years they were face to face with the fact that a Minister of the Crown was found defending a tax on distinctly Protective grounds, and he
§ hoped Liberal Unionists opposite would remember that fact.
§ (10.38.) Question put.
§ Committee divided:—Ayes, 216; Noes, 145. (Division List No. 228.)793
§ Question proposed, "That Schedule 1 stand part of the Bill."
§ SIR M. HICKS BEACH
said the Schedule was perfectly clear, and now stood exactly as it did, with the exception of the duty on offals. Everybody interested knew exactly how the Schedule stood.
§ MR. KEARLEY
said that that was by no means the case. He wished to know whether manna croup was to disappear from the Customs Schedule.
§ SIR M. HICKS BEACH
If the hon. Member wants information on a particular subject of that sort which must necessarily be a very small import indeed, and puts a Question to me in the ordinary way I will answer it.
§ Schedule 2:—
In page 6, line 7, to leave out from 'Schedule' to 'a' in line 8."—(Mr. Kearley.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Schedule."
§ SIR M. HICKS BEACH
said that what was proposed here was in accordance with the usual practice. If the hon. Member thought that facilities were wanted in regard to any particular article he had in his mind, and would communicate with him, he would inquire into the matter.
§ Schedule agreed to.
§ Bill reported; as amended, to be considered tomorrow, and to be printed. [Bill 235.]