§ Considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ [Mr. J. W. LOWTHER (Cumberland, Penrith) in the Chair.]
§ Clause 1.
§ MR. HUGH LAW (Donegal, W.)
said in their endeavour to take Ireland out of the purview of this taxation his colleagues and he were not actuated by any unworthy motive. They had always consistedly opposed all proposals which tended to increase the burden on the poor of both Islands, and they had always opposed extravagant expenditure and the heavy taxation which vas the direct consequence of such expenditure. The charge that the people 708 supported the war could never be made against Ireland, and he was not altogether certain that it was entirely true to say that the working classes of Great Britain supported it; but even if there were parts of Great Britain where it was true to say that the working classes desired extravagant expenditure, the inevitable accompaniment of an increase in the military establishment, that did not apply to Ireland. Such a fact would in itself justify the Irish representatives in asking that Ireland should be specially exempted from this tax. But there was another fact, which was that the expenditure on tea in Ireland per head was far greater than it was in any part of Great Britain, and the burden far heavier. He had made very careful inquiries and had been astonished to find how large a place tea occupied in the dietary of the poor of Ireland. An ordinary breakfast of the poor in the part from which he came was tea and bread, composed in part of flour and in part of Indian meal, butter when they could get it and tea; whilst dinner consisted of potatoes, milk, and on very rare occasions a piece of bacon, and tea. At six o'clock there was a meal like breakfast, tea and bread; and the supper consisted of Indian meal porridge. It would be obvious, therefore, to the Committee that tea occupied a place in the dietary of the poor of Ireland which it occupied in no part of Great Britain. This was a matter of great importance to Ireland. It was, of course, quite easy for hon. Members to say it would be better for these people not to drink so much tea, but what was to be given to them in exchange? He had heard it said thatitwould be far better for these people to eat oatmeal porridge, but oatmeal was rather an expensive article of diet and not one which was particularly palatable when eaten with water or goat's milk, and very often the only milk they were able to afford was goat's milk. One hon. Member on the previous day had said that the increase of taxation on tea and sugar during the past three years was equivalent to a week's wage of the working men of this country. In Ireland the case was even worse. There the wages of agricultural labourers did not in many districts exceed 9s. a week. Therefore this single increase upon tea now under discussion 709 would, upon the figures he had quoted, be very nearly the equivalent to a whole week's wages in the case of their people. He hardly ventured to hope that the right hon. Gentleman would listen to his appeal; yet he thought both he and the other Irish representatives who thought with him would be neglecting their duty if they did not take every opportunity of protesting against any additional burden being placed on the shoulders of those who were least able to bear it. He begged to move.
In page 1, line 17, to leave out the words "or Ireland.'"—(Mr. Hugh Law.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'or Ireland' stand part of the clause."
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN,) Worcestershire, E.
said he had listened to the hon. Member, who had placed before the Committee a very painful picture of the poor people of Ireland. He hoped that nothing which he might say would lead the hon. Gentleman to suppose that he was without sympathy for the very poor, whether they were in Ireland or in Great Britain. Whilst he was bound to maintain this tax before the House, he was not without feeling for those who had a hard struggle for existence and who felt the least pinch of taxation. But the hon. Member was asking the Committee to exclude from the burden of this taxation not the very poor but the whole of Ireland. The effect would be to exclude many people in Ireland who were as well able to pay as any one in this country, and to leave subject to the tax many people in England and Scotland whose lot in life was no easier than that of many people in Ireland. As to the financial relations of Ireland with the other parts of the United Kingdom, he could not usefully go over the ground which he traversed in the discussion on the Second Reading of the Bill. The more complete inquiries to which he referred at the earlier stage of the Bill would, when the results were published as Returns, as he promised they should be, show that the grievance of Ireland in respect to this particular tax was not so great as had hitherto 710 been supposed. It had been assumed that the consumption of tea per head of population was greater in Ireland than in the rest of the kingdom. That was a misapprehension. That impression was due to the imperfect method by which statistics were at first collected and upon which subsequent calculations had been based. A Memorandum which would accompany the next Financial Returns would explain the steps taken to ensure accuracy, and it would be seen that the actual consumption per head of population was fractionally less in Ireland than in England and Scotland. Such taxation was undoubtedly a burden on the poorest classes of the community anywhere. It was not a tax he lightly chose, he was not insensible to the objections that could be urged against it, but he had not a very wide field of selection. Revenue had to be raised, and he felt that besides asking a contribution from income-tax payers he should make some demand from the masses of the population, and the tea duty appealed to him as the easiest and most reasonable way of raising part of the money required. The Committee on the previous night had agreed that the tax should be so raised, and he conceived they would also agree that the tax should be levied equally, for separate Exchequers, Customhouses, and financial systems could not be set up for different parts of the United Kingdom.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Monmouthshire, W.)
said he had voted against an increase of the tax on tea because it was a tax on the poorer classes of the community, and he should vote against the increase of the duty in Ireland for the still stronger reason that Ireland was the poorer nation. It was a part of the Empire in which, in his opinion, it was singularly unstatesmanlike to increase such a duty. Our financial system did not necessarily require uniformity, and it would not be impossible to exempt Ireland. It was the fault of our fiscal relations that Ireland was not treated as the poorer country. The curious argument of the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not assist him. Of course a poor man it Ireland did not drink more tea than a man in the same position in England, and 711 no doubt because of his poverty he consumed less of many of the necessities of life.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND (Waterford)
said he could not quite understand why the Chancellor of the Exchequer had imported the question of the financial relation* between Great Britain and Ireland into the debate. The hon. Member who moved the Amendment had abstained from doing so although he would have been perfectly within his right if he had raised the question on every Amendment moved to the Finance Bill. He objected to the Chancellor of the Exchequer doing so; at the same time it was only fair to have a general discussion. It might have been claimed that they had no right to go into the general question on this Amendment, but the right hon. Gentleman thought otherwise and had introduced the general financial relations into this question. The right hon. Gentleman had spoken from figures which he said strengthened him in this matter as it affected Ireland. He objected to a Minister quoting from Returns as to the consumption of tea in Ireland which had not been distributed to Members. They had had reason to object to the right hon. Gentleman doing that a month ago when he made his speech upon the Second Reading of this Bill. A month had passed and his figures had not yet been published, and he complained seriously of the right hon. Gentleman after a month quoting these figures again without producing them. If he had those figures a month ago why did he not produce them and why were they not in their hands? What did those figures mean? He said those new figures showed that compared with the population Ireland did not drink more tea than the rest of Great Britain. What did that prove even if the right hon. Gentleman's figures were correct, which he did not at all admit? How did that advance his case? The Irish case was this, that there were in Ireland, in proportion to the whole population, more people to whom tea was absolutely a necessity of life than there were in this country, and if that statement was true, and he did not know how any man could controvert it who was acquainted with the facts, how did the figures of the right hon. Gentleman help him? His 712 figures did not show that there were many poor people in Ireland to whom it was a necessity of life, or that there was a much larger number of such people than in the rest of Great Britain, and their contention was that there was a much larger number of people in proportion to whom tea was a necessity of life than there was in this country, and that, therefore, the burden that fell upon Ireland was proportionately heavier and greater than the burden that fell upon Great Britain.
There was another matter that differentiated the case of Ireland from that of this country. In this country the invariable financial policy of Government after Government had been to bring down the proportion of indirect taxation, and they boasted that in this country the direct and indirect taxation were about equal. But in Ireland the indirect taxation was something like 80 per cent, of the whole, and, therefore, any general increase of indirect taxation was an additional grievance to Ireland. What did this country do when they wanted additional taxes for the war? They went to the very poorest of the poor, to the people least able to hear them. The Irish people were paying at that time at least 75 per cent, in indirect taxes of the whole taxation of their country. First they went and taxed sugar, then corn, then tea, and then they went to tobacco, and in that way they raised their war taxes in Ireland. They did not raise their war taxes by income-tax. The income-tax yield was found to have fallen away—a pretty good proof of the poverty of the people; whereas its yield in Great Britain had gone on and on increasing, in Ireland it went on diminishing, and so the additional war tax was raised altogether from this indirect taxation. That was to say that Ireland, the one portion of the Empire that was practically unanimously against the war, was the one portion of the Empire where the whole cost was borne by the poorest of the population. That was an additional reason why Ireland had a separate case altogether from Great Britain.
He was sure the Chancellor of the Exchequer remembered what took place when the corn tax was proposed, when the right hon. Member for West Bristol was Chancellor of the Exchequer. Although the Irish representatives did not find that right hon. 713 Gentleman very easy to get round on financial matters, still he was bound to say that on more than one occasion the right hon. Gentleman showed himself in a sympathetic spirit when a strong case of grievance was made out on behalf of the poor of Ireland in those discussions. What did the right hon. Gentleman do when the corn tax came on—and it was one of the rare cases he remembered when the policy and the taxes and Ministerial legislative proposals had been actually changed by the force of the arguments addressed to Ministers—what happened in the course of the discussion on this corn tax? It was pointed out to the right hon. Gentleman that maize, or Indian meal as it is known in Ireland, formed a large portion of the dietary of the very poorest classes of the population of the South and West and North of Ireland. That was shown to him conclusively, and it was proved to him that the tax on corn would inflict a hardship upon Ireland quite different in its character to any hardships that might be imposed upon this country. The right hon. Gentleman listened and attempted to resist the argument for some time, but he was eventually convinced and he came down to the House and reduced the maize tax by one-half entirely upon the strength of the case made out from Ireland. A similarly strong case had been made with regard to tea. It was as much a necessity of life in the poorest parts of Ireland as maize, and if any one would take the trouble to read the budgets of families given by the Congested Districts Board they would be appalled to find what a large proportion of the whole expenditure of these poor families was made up of tea. Both he and his hon. friends had quoted these budgets over and over again in this House. It was sufficient now to point out here that, in the case of the congested districts, in what was called a well-to-do family with an income of £26 a year as much as £7 or £8 a year was spent on tea. In these circumstances was it not a monstrous hardship that this additional tax should be put upon those poor people—a tax which would wring from them an additional two or three hundred thousand a year. It was a cruel injustice to the poorest of the population, and he congratulated his 714 hon. friend on having put his case so strongly before the House. He appealed to hon. Members in all parts of the House who had any spark of feeling or sympathy with the poor to assist them in the demand which they made.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
said he did not think it would be right to leave all the discussion on this Motion to Nationalist Members. He represented a different part of Ireland, and he could assure the House that the tea tax was as acutely felt in Ulster as in any other part of Ireland. He did not accuse the Chancellor of the Exchequer of any want of sympathy, but he had heard the statement of the right hon. Gentleman with something like astonishment. This was not a proposal for altering the whole system of Irish taxation—he wished it was. The position of Ireland with regard to the question of taxation had become intolerable. There was the rich country England, where taxation was going up by leaps and bounds, and where the population and wealth were increasing; and opposite to that was the poor country Ireland, where the population and wealth were decreasing, and it seemed to be expected that the poor country could keep up with England in the mad race of armaments and taxation. The thing was not possible, and he wished to tell the House frankly that this question of Irish taxation was becoming a serious one in Ireland, and the strain could not much longer be borne. He knew all the difficulties of the Chancellor of the Exchequer; he knew that they were subject to the law of indiscriminate taxation, and the great difficulty there would be in changing it. But, whether the House of Commons liked it or not, they would find speedily that, if the country went on in this mad race of armaments to tax the Irish people as they were doing, and expected Ireland to keep up with England, they were mistaken, and they would plunge Ireland into bankruptcy. The right hon. Member for West Monmouthshire had plainly shown that the question was not whether Ireland consumed more tea per head of the population than England or Scotland, but Ireland's capacity to bear the tax. No doubt there were very poor people 715 in Scotland and England, but at any rate those people managed to get on pretty-well as compared with poor Irish people. In thousands and tens of thousands of Irish homes they never saw meat from one year's end to the other. What they lived upon was wretched yellow meal, still more wretched tea, inferior bread, and potatoes. It was thus all nonsense to compare their case with that of the people in England and Scotland. He appealed to hon. Members who advocated preferential treatment for the Colonies to let some preferential treatment be given to Ireland by leaving the tea tax there at 6d. It was not too much to ask that the poor of Ireland should not be subjected to this additional tax. English representatives were responsible for what caused this tax, because they voted for the Boer War, whereas the great bulk of the Irish representatives voted against it; it was only fair therefore that there should be some differentiation in regard to the payment of taxation. Ireland could not afford the reckless extravagance pursued by England. He would vote for this reduction in the taxation of Ireland, and he felt perfectly; certain that the day was not far distant when the House would have to face the whole question of the financial relations between England and Ireland.
§ MR. FLYNN (Cork County, N.)
agreed with the chairman of the Irish Nationalist Party that it was most unfair for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to quote figures from a Return without giving copies of that Return to the House. It was a Rule of the House that a Minister should not quote from any Paper unless copies were in the hands of the House. He could in a very few words prove from such Returns as they had that this increasing of the tea duty was growing more and more intolerable, and becoming a great burden on the poorer classes, not only of Ireland, but of England and Scot land. Hon. Members were entitled to rely on the Treasury Returns. It was not fair that when they had been allowed j to wander for ten or twelve years through a maze of figures, they should be suddenly told that those figures were not to be relied upon. Where were hon. Members to get these figures if not from the Treasury; 716 and if the Treasury could not rely on their own figures how were hon. Members to do it? Looking at the last Treasury Returns it was found hat in 1898–9, when the duty was 4d. per 1b., the amount of tea tax collected in Ireland amounted to £345,000 and in Great Britain to £3,805,000. Of the total amount collected Ireland contributed 8.75 per cent. In 1901 the duty was increased to 6d. per cent, and the amount raised from Ireland rose from £345,000 to £570,000; I and in Great Britain the amount collected was £5,957,000. Ireland contributed 8.73 per cent, of the entire revenue from tea. The last Return for 1902–3 showed that with a continuance of the duty at 6d.— it pressed heavier on Ireland in proportion than on Great Britain. The amount I produced by the tax in Ireland was £549,000, and in Great Britain £5,687,000. Ireland paid 9 per cent, of the whole of the tea tax levied in the United Kingdom. The increase in the levy in the four years from 1898–9 to 1902–3 was 50 per cent., amounting to over £200,000, and that from the poorest population in Europe. Was that a fair tax which commended itself to the sym pathetic judgment of the Chancellor of the Exchequer? It was not necessary to labour the point. The hon. and learned Member for Waterford brought to the recollection of the House that similar case submitted to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol, in regard to Indian corn. The Tight hon. Gentleman recognised, after prolonged debate, the justice of the Irish case, acknowledged that it had been made out, and consented to reduce the duty on maize by one-half. That was the reason why the Irish Members pleaded with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Members of this House on this occasion—the more especially as the figures prepared by the Royal Commission on the financial relations of the two countries showed that Ireland was overtaxed already to the extent of £3,000,000 a year. That grievance in. stead of being abated, had been increased during the nine years that had elapsed since the issue of the Report of the Royal Commission, and the case was becoming more indefensible and the burden heavier year by year.
§ MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
said he agreed with all that had been said by the hon. and learned Member for Waterford as to the figures. He himself had put a Question to the Secretary of the Treasury and got a very courteous reply, but the hon. Gentleman did not account for the disappearance of this important Memorandum. These figures should have been forthcoming before this debate, seeing that the Chancellor of the Exchequer six weeks ago said the old figures were wrong.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
said that on that occasion he had told the House that he would not present a document the absolute accuracy of the figures in which he could not guarantee. The Returns were not then complete. He had no desire to keep information I back a moment after he was in possession of it. He had no information since the debate to which he had alluded; but he would put hon. Members in possession of the information as soon as possible.
§ MR. LOUGH
said he had no desire to introduce this matter in a controversial spirit, but they had been told that there was a Paper in existence which would reconstruct the whole basis on which the case for Ireland had been built up. He himself did not at all believe in the new figures any more than in the old figures. They never had had a fair statement of this matter. Every figure given by the Treasury as to the taxation of Ireland was doctored. The truth was there was no means of getting correct figures on this matter. By a Treasury Minute, which the House had never sanctioned, in 1823 all the trade in Ireland was treated as coast trade, and the result was that Ireland was the only part of the British Empire, the only island or province, which was cruelly deprived of all information on these vital matters. Would the right hon. Gentleman say that he had told the Customs authorities to obtain the absolute figures as to the consumption of tea and any other articles in Ireland? He knew that the House was going to have another set of fictitious figures presented, and when they came to study them a new Chancellor of the Exchequer would start up and say, "Oh, 718 these figures are wrong." He hoped the Committee would get from some responsible member of the Government a promise that these vital facts relating to Ireland' would be given in a correct form and in the only way which would make them valuable.
He was unable entirely to agree with the way in which the case was presented in the eloquent and touching speech of the hon. and learned Member who moved the Motion. The hon. and learned Member expressed sympathy with the poor both in Ireland and in this country as the foundation of the case. That was not the foundation of the case. The hon. and learned Member did not touch the great principle on which his Motion could alone be defended from an Irish standpoint. Of course the Chancellor of the Exchequer took advantage of that, and told the Committee that he felt the sufferings of the poor as much as any one. They believed that. And then the right hon. Gentleman went on to say that the burden of this tax fell with equal weight on persons who were equally poor in both countries. Quite true. But suppose there were 20 per cent, of the very poor in Great Britain who felt this tax as a horrible oppression; and then suppose that the proportion of the very poor in Ireland was 70 per cent., that made all the difference. If the whole of the valuation of Ireland was taken it was found to be only three-eighths per head of what it was in Great Britain. Therefore the whole question depended on what was the proportion of these poor people to whom this tax was oppressive. That raised an important question; but it was equally right for the Committee that night to look at the case not from the standpoint of the individual but from that of the nation. Ireland was a separate entity with separate rights as well as Great Britain. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Monmouth had shown that there had been a complete difference between the taxation of Ireland and Great Britain till 1853, and that there was still a difference. It should be realised what a fearful instrument of oppression it was for one country to select the taxes for another country. The tobacco tax, for instance, had formerly been only one-fourth in Ireland what it was in England, and why should. 719 not the tea tax in Ireland be made one-fourth what it was in England? With regard to the collection of the tax the British considered they had a right to collect it. They assumed that as the proportion of men in Ireland to those in England was one to eight, that they should collect what Ireland had to pay. Why did the position of the large country give it a right to fix the tax of the small country? No other island but Ireland had been treated in this way. In this question the relationship of tea as an article of food to the diet of the country had to be considered, and if it stood in a different and more intimate relation to the diet of that country than it did in this the tax became very oppressive. Twenty times as much coffee, five or six times as much cocoa, and more than three times as much meat per head were consumed in this country as was consumed in Ireland. Those facts in themselves showed that the diet of the two countries were essentially different, and this principle of paying an equal tax on staple articles must be very harsh and cruel in its effect. The Government inevitably without knowing it favoured their own country. Take the case of the duty on beer and spirits; they taxed beer low because it was the national drink of the country, and they taxed whiskey high; but whiskey was the national drink of Ireland. The whole case had been summed up by the hon. Member for South Tyrone who had shown that the effect of an equal system of taxation between the two countries was to make the richer country more prosperous and the poorer country still more poor. He opposed this tax because it was cruel and unfair to Ireland.
§ MR. HEMPHILL (Tyrone, N.)
said he joined with his countrymen in the House in applying to the Government to yield to this Amendment. He was against this increase in the tea duty and had voted against it in every division which had been taken on the subject. He strongly objected to its being imposed on Ireland. Already the indirect taxation of Ireland amounted to 80 per cent, of the total taxation, and inasmuch as it was the working classes and the poorer classes upon whom this tax must fall the burden must be exceedingly heavy. 720 The argument that the working classes supported the war and therefore must assist in paying for it could not be held to apply to Ireland, which was unanimous in opposing it, besides which he did not think they should make a tax a punishment. Nor was it any argument to say it would be very difficult to differentiate between Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom in this matter, because up to a certain period the taxes were altogether different in the two countries and no inconvenience resulted from that experience. It was within the recollection of some in this House that when the income-tax was revived by Sir Robert Peel it was not revived in Ireland for many years after, and that when it was imposed on Great Britain, Ireland was exempted until 1853. The spirit and beer duties were also different, and there were other variations. Was it fair or reasonable that a tax which pressed so unfairly on the people of the two countries should be imposed? Was it fair that the Irish peasant with an income of £12 a year should pay the same direct taxation as the English peasant with an income of £40. It was all very well to speak of equality of taxation, but the fundamental principle of the economic law was that equality of taxation meant equality of sacrifice and not burden. A tea duty of 6d. in Ireland was equivalent to a tea duty of 8d. in this country, and on that principle this Amendment ought to be considered. The Irish peasantry was the worst fed, worst housed, and worst clothed peasantry in Europe, and, notwithstanding that, they were supposed to be equal to bearing the same burden as that borne by the richest peasant not only in Europe but in the whole world. That was the misfortune of the position of Ireland with regard to England. Every year she fell backward in the race of nations whilst England progressed by leaps and bounds in the opposite direction, yet no difference could be made in favour of Ireland when it came to taxation to meet the enormous expenditure.
After hearing the figures quoted by the hon. Member for Donegal and by the hon. Member the Leader of the Irish Party, could it astonish any fair-minded man to find that after so many centuries the Irish 721 people should be dissatisfied and discontented when no effort was made to lift the in up from the slough of despondency into which they were cast by poverty? The more they went into the history of Ireland and examined what was now going on and had been going on for the greater part of the last century, they would find that, the origin and fountain of it all was the poverty of the people and the difficulties they had to meet in their struggle for life. He had mixed with every class in Ireland and was not a blind observer, and to his own knowledge in the poorest parts of Ireland one of the necessaries of life was tea. Formerly they had potatoes in abundance, but that article of food had almost disappeared; formerly they had in the farmhouses quantities of milk, but they could not now afford to partake of it themselves or give it to their children. As to meat, they formerly perhaps were able to have a small portion on n Sunday, but now they had none. Their whole nourishment was now derived from yellow meal, maize, and inferior flour, baked as well as they could bake it, and tea was the liquid that washed down that not very appetising food. Not only the peasants—not only the workmen— not only their wives and children, but all classes of struggling people in Ireland who were on the very verge of starvation used largely as their beverage tea, which could at once cheer and not intoxicate, and surely that should be the very last subject of taxation. Temperance was preached on every side of the House, and they had rich and wealthy people coming forward to denounce the vice of intemperance, but was the way to promote temperance to put a tax on what alone could be a substitute for alcoholic liquor. Coffee was out of the question in Ireland, and yet the main source of the comfort and almost the subsistence of the Irish people was selected by the present Government to be the principal instrument for swelling up the revenue and enabling them to maintain that waste and extravagance which characterised the whole of their expenditure.
§ MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL (Oldham)
called upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer to give to the Committee the figures to which reference had been made that day. The right hon. Gentle- 722 man interrupted the hon. Member for Islington to explain how it was that he had not hitherto produced those figures, but he (Mr. Churchill) did not hear the right hon. Gentleman say when he proposed to produce them.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
Will the right hon. Gentleman give us the figures he quoted a month ago and to which he again referred to-day?
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I can repeat the figures, subject to the qualifications that obtained a month ago, and if the hon. Gentleman wants them he shall have them. I said, then, I was trying to give the best information in my power and hon. Gentlemen opposite expressed their gratification that I had done the best I could to give them the latest figures. I said those figures were subject to revision and that I could not pledge the authorities to the exact figures I then mentioned. As soon as I am able to give the exact figures they shall be in the possession of the House.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
On a point of order, Mr. Chairman, I would ask whether any one is entitled to quote figures from any Government Return that he does not lay on the Table of the House?
The Rule has hitherto been that if any Minister quoted from a document he must eventually lay that document on the Table of the House, and I have no doubt that the same rule will apply to the figures quoted in this case. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer quoted certain figures from an official document, it will be his duty to lay those figures on the Table of the House.
§ MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL
said after that ruling he concluded that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would at once take steps to lay on the Table of the House the document which a month ago he considered sufficiently complete and accurate to use for the purpose of debate. The 723 right hon. Gentleman had said that he would lay the figures on the Table as soon as possible, but they were entitled to insist that they should be laid, not sooner than possible, but forthwith. It might be quite true that some note would have to be appended qualifying the figures and explaining that there might be some possibility of error. If that proved to be the ease the House would not complain of the information being in an incomplete form. In his short experience of the House he had found Ministers ready to say they would produce something as soon as possible. They were going to produce the Army scheme as soon as possible, but the House was put off from day to day, from week to week, and from month to month, and they had never succeeded in arriving at anything definite. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was not even so definite about these figures as the Prime Minister was about the date of introducing the Army scheme. He (Mr. Churchill) did not suppose that the figures in the admittedly incomplete and inaccurate form were of vital importance, but as a point of order and in defence of the rights of the Committee and of the House of Commons they were bound to insist that the rules should be carried out and that documents from which Ministers quoted should be produced and laid on the Table of the House.
His hon. friend the Member of Tyrone used an expression which encouraged him to intervene a moment in this discussion. The hon. Gentleman said this was a preferential Amendment and proposed a preference to Ireland. It was quite true that this Amendment sought to limit and impair the operation of the tea tax by excluding from its scope one part of the British Empire. The hon. Member who moved the Amendment could not have been encouraged by the treatment meted out to a similar Amendment which he (Mr. Churchill) had ventured to move on the preceding night. He hoped the hon. Gentleman's Amendment would meet with more respectful treatment than was accorded to his own, which was designed to exempt Ceylon and our possessions in India. There was a very good reason why this Amendment should be treated with more respect and should meet with a greater 724 measure of support in the division lobby than was accorded to that designed to give colonial preference, because, comparing the claims of Canada and Ireland to a preference, there could not be the slightest doubt that with regard to Imperial taxation the claims of Ireland were far greater than those of Canada. Ireland contributed very much more to Imperial taxation than did all the Colonies put together. Ireland sent more soldiers to South Africa for the war than went from the Colonies, and in addition to those reasons Ireland was a much poorer country than Canada. The latter was a progressive country, whilst Ireland alone amongst the ancient civilised nations in Europe was declining in wealth and general prosperity. Those were sufficient reasons to compel him, as he voted on the previous night for the exemption of Ceylon and India from this tax, to vote for the exemption of Ireland. Frankly, he was against this great increase of tax on tea. He thought it would have been very much better, more prudent, and would have conduced to content and financial economy if the burden thrown on the country at large had been defrayed much more substantially out of the income-tax. He would have liked to see the expenditure on our vast armaments thrown to a far greater measure on the more wealthy people of this country. That class was amused and interested by international complications to a much greater degree than was the great democratic class who had not the leisure to study the questions. If the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had chosen to meet the deficit with which he was confronted—not through his own fault, but through the policy of which he heartily approved—by making a greater demand on the direct taxpayer—
The hon. Member is making a Second Reading speech. I must ask him to confine himself to the subject of the Amendment.
§ MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL
said he was explaining to the Committee the reasons which induced him to accept every opportunity of expressing his hostility to the tea tax. The argument 725 brought forward by the hon. Member for Waterford was familiar to the House and had been submitted on many occasions. So long as taxation was at a low level it might be possible that the Same system of taxation that was adapted to England was also adapted to Ireland, but in proportion as the expenditure increased it was quite certain that an increased measure of suffering must fall on the weaker partner. He felt himself bound to point out how it was that the height to which they had raised expenditure brought much sooner to the arena of practical politics the questions of having a separate Exchequer for Ireland, and a fixed contribution paid at stated periods. They would, no doubt, have a future opportunity for discussing those questions, but he ventured to say that the treatment which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had accorded to the Amendment had been hard, unbending, and unsympathetic, and he did not think the tone he had adopted, any more than the frequent use of the Closure, was likely to facilitate the passage of the Budget Bill.
§ MR. CLANCY (Dublin County, N.)
said there were two matters in connection with the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to which he wished to refer. The first was the curious fact that the information which had usually been furnished before the present period of the session had been delayed until after the discussion in Committee. It looked very like a deliberate delay in order to deprive Irish Members of the opportunity of examining the document to see whether or not the figures were accurate. The second matter was more important. As he understood, the right hon. Gentleman had announced that these Returns were in future to be drawn up on a different basis. That not being contradicted, he assumed that, without notice to Parliament or any Irish Member, the Treasury, at the direction of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or somebody else, had entered upon an important alteration in the method of calculating the financial relations between England and Ireland. He objected to any such swindle being perpetrated where such vast interests were at stake. ["Order, order!"] If it was not a swindle let the right hon. Gentleman explain what it was. In the 726 Second Reading debate the right hon. Gentleman said that the results of the annual Returns would be somewhat different this year, but nobody gathered from that statement that a change would be made in the method of calculation. The right hon. Gentleman now plainly declared that the method adopted in the past inaccurately showed the movements of trade, and that a new method was to be adopted in the future. Such a fundamental alteration made by one of the parties to an agreement, without notice to the other party or to Parliament, was capable of covering any swindle, and in these circumstances he felt it his duty to put certain questions which he would not otherwise have asked in regard to these Returns. Who initiated the change about to be affected?
§ MR. CLANCY
said that his excuse, in fact his justification, for what he had said was that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had introduced the matter.
I took no exception to what the hon. Member had said hitherto, but when he proceeded to say that he intended to make a series of inquiries as to the method in which these Returns were prepared, and so forth, I thought those matters would be outside the subject matter of the discussion raised by this Amendment.
§ MR. CLANCY
said that as a matter of fact he had not intended to submit a catechism on the present occasion, but merely to suggest one or two points to which the right hon. Gentleman might turn his attention, and to which Irish Members would undoubtedly give consideration. After the Chairman's intimation, however, he would not pursue the subject further. As to the rest of the case, the speech of the right hon. Gentleman was of the old familiar type, beginning with expressions of sympathy, but containing no practical suggestions for giving effect to those sympathetic utterances. Not only was the case proved for the Amendment, but the time was 727 opportune for granting some measure of justice to Ireland in this matter He said that the case was proved, because neither on the Second Reading nor on the present occasion had the right hon. Gentlemen attempted to answer the arguments put forward by the representatives of Ireland. The exemption of Ireland from the operation of the increase of the tax was said to be impracticable, but how could a scheme which had been in operation for many years be impracticable? This sort of legislation was usual up to 1853. Even after the amalgamation of the Exchequers taxes were levied in England and not in Ireland, and other taxes levied in England at one rate were levied in Ireland at a lower rate; and this Amendment merely proposed that in the case of a tax which affected the poorest of the population there should be a reversion to that practice on a small scale. What had been done once could be done again; therefore there was no weight in the argument of impracticability. But if the right hon. Gentleman regarded it as an impracticable proposal, why did he not suggest some other method to give effect to the sympathy which he had expressed. He had at his command an abundance of the best paid legal expert assistance to be obtained in the British Empire, and if he liked he could within a very few hours produce an alternative scheme by which Ireland would be given the relief she desired. A man who expressed sympathy, and practically admitted the case to be a just one, but failed to take advantage of the expert assistance at his command with a view to giving practical effect to his sympathy, seemed to be convicted of something very like hypocrisy. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to admit the whole case when he admitted that this tax on tea affected the poor. That was the very point of the whole case. This tax affected Ireland more than was the case in England and Scotland, because there were more poor in Ireland. The Tight hon. Gentleman said he had selected this tax because it was the fairest and the easiest way of raising the additional taxation he required. It certainly was the easiest way, but he questioned whether, after that debate, anyone would venture to say that it was the fairest. He wished 728 to allude to the motive underlying this persistent treatment of Ireland for the last sixty or seventy years. They had often been reproached for imputing to successive Governments malignant intentions towards Ireland. But supposing he withdrew that charge, what remained? Simply that the Chancellor of the Exchequer and successive British Governments had acted with an entire absence of regard for Ireland, that they had never considered the true interests of Ireland; had paid no regard to her needs, circumstances and requirements, and had never realised that—Evil is wrought by want of thought, as well as want of heart.Therefore they need not be surprised when Irishmen endeavoured to make the strongest protest they could against the continuance of this policy.
§ MR. FIELD (Dublin, St, Patrick)
said that Ireland had always been regarded as a separate fiscal entity in matters of taxation according to the union treaty and the findings of the Royal Commissions on the Financial Relations, therefore Ireland was entitled to separate treatment. Anyone who studied current politics at home or abroad must be aware that political oppression had not always taken the form of shooting down the people, but in civilised communities when the strong desired to oppress the weak that oppression generally took the form of taxation. Those who inquired into Irish history would find that notwithstanding Coercion Acts, the most fatal legislation passed for Ireland was that which instituted a system of taxation by which they were absolutely being taxed and emigrated out of existence. This was being very cleverly accomplished and it was being done in a way that enriched England. Ireland complained that the present system of national book-keeping had been erroneous and ruinous. With regard to this question of tea, the Committee should remember that just as the Irish and the English Exchequers were amalgamated, so were other Departments. They had no separate branch of the Board of Trade for Ireland, consequently all exports and imports were treated as coasting trade, and they had no reliable information as to what was imported into Ireland or what was 729 exported from it. That showed the necessity for a new system being adopted whereby they could separate the Irish exports and imports from those of Great Britain. If they wished to have a correct system of taxation, whereby the incidence of taxation would be just and fair, some such system would have to be devised. The result was that in Ireland the whole system of taxation had become more or less discredited. There was one point of view which had not been touched upon. Recently they had had in the House a great deal of temperance oratory in regard to the licensing question. This tax upon tea would undoubtedly have a certain amount of influence upon temperance, for anything that would cause tea to become dearer would have the effect of driving people to imbibe spirituous liquors, and from this point of view the tea tax was entitled to more consideration than it had yet received. The effect of taxing tea might be that the retailer would not increase the price, but the tea would be reduced in quality, and therefore an inferior quality of tea might be sold and there would be a smaller consumption. This tea duty affected a greater number of people in Ireland in ratio to the population, by reason of the fact that the Irish people consumed more tea proportionately than any other part of the three kingdoms. He was intimately acquainted with the habits of the poor people in Ireland and he wished to impress upon the Committee that in recent years the whole system of living in the country districts had changed, and the element of tea now entered much more largely into consumption than it used to do in former years.
There was one other point he wished to impress upon the Committee. He warned hon. Members in all seriousness that this question of taxation in Ireland had become so intolerable that really the burden was almost impossible to bear, and it was driving the people to seriously consider whether they ought to resist in future the collection of Imperial taxation. What they objected to was that they had not the management of their own affairs in this matter. He warned the right hon. Gentleman that if the taxes in Ireland were increased to such an intolerable ex- 730 tent undoubtedly public opinion would be exercised to know what would be the best way of meeting the difficulty. He had always the courage of his convictions, and he declared that, in his opinion, the proper way for the Irish people to meet the question of over-taxation would be to strike against the payment of all Imperial taxation. He was quite aware that was an unconstitutional idea, and that if he were to give utterance to it outside this House he might be subject to prosecution and imprisonment. But in that ease he would not be the first Irishman who had been imprisoned in a good cause. It might come to that, because undoubtedly the burden of Imperial taxation had become so great that people were being taxed and emigrated out of the country. They did not know how to get a remedy. It might be said that this was the mother of Parliaments and that the British people would see that Ireland got fair play. One of the main planks in their system of Government was that there should be no taxation without representation. Ireland had representation here, but it was always over-ruled. No matter what view the Irish Members might take, their opinion was voted down. Although in theory they might be represented, in fact the representation had no effect. He hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer would give due consideration to the views which had been put forward from the Irish Benches that afternoon.
The right hon. Gentleman might usefully remember that the enforcement of a tax upon tea was the lever which operated to raise the American Republic, and history had a habit of repeating such occurrences.
§ CAPTAIN NORTON (Newington, W.)
said that though he represented a London working-class constituency he desired, as an Irishman, to take part in this debate. If the protest against this tax on the part of English working-class constituencies was a good one, it must necessarily be a very much better one with reference to the poor of Ireland. His experience went to show that the working classes of this country desired to do common justice towards the working classes of Ireland. If, as had been stated, the working classes of this country 731 supported the Government in regard to the South African War. it should be remembered that the Irish people almost to a man had protested against the war. In fairness it must be acknowledged that, in a certain sense, no portion of the people did their duty better than the Irish in South Africa. They gave all they had to give. They gave their blood. Yet their friends were to be taxed, not in the same proportion as English working men, but in a far heavier proportion. They were to have a tax of 8d. on tea which was not worth 8d. a pound in itself. The working classes in England lived far better now than forty or fifty years ago, whereas the Irish people lived far worse. Tea of the worst quality was substituted now for milk and other articles of diet. Porridge of Indian meal or oatmeal, when coupled with milk, was a fair diet, but when it was coupled with tea it was practically no diet at all. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had expressed sympathy with Ireland, but if he had any real sympathy he might forego the £200,000 he was going to get through this tax from the peasantry of Ireland when he could get the money with great ease from some other sources. A few years ago he went to Ireland after an absence of many years, and he was shocked at the state of the country. There was no improvement of any kind. There had been not only a tremendous decrease in the population, but what was worse a decrease in the character of the population. There were old people and young children in the country. The remainder of the population of mature years were those who were kept in the country from some special motive, or who had not the courage and determination to go to America and the Colonies in order to better themselves. By increasing the duty on tea the Government were putting a crushing tax on the poorest of the poor in Ireland. It was said that tea was a wholesome beverage. It might be so. It was not detrimental as prepared in Russia where the peasantry consumed it in large quantities. In Ireland it was a rank decoction of the worst quality of tea. According to some authorities the increase of insanity in Ireland was due to the consumption of immense quantities of a decoction of low-class tea. There could be little doubt that insanity had been accentuated to a 732 very great degree in Ireland in consequence of the people not having sufficient nourishment. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that the tax was fractionally lower than in England. That was certainly not the case if they took into consideration not only the quantity but the quality of the tea. It was a monstrous thing that, for the sake of a few hundred thousand pounds, considering the injustice Ireland laboured under, this extra tax should be imposed-
§ MR. SLOAN (Belfast, S.)
said Ireland as a whole was against taxation. Taxation of any description was a most unpopular thing. In fact England was-against the enormous taxation at the present time. It was inconsistent for hon. Members opposite to be against preference in other parts of His Majesty's dominions and yet to favour preference for Ireland. A great deal, however, had been said from the Irish Benches that he entirely agreed with. Ireland being a part of the United Kingdom she should pay her part of the taxes. The hon. Member for the St. Patrick Division of Dublin said that what they objected to was that they had not the management of their own affairs. That was just the crux of the whole thing. Every injustice that was done to Ireland was, according to some hon. Members, because there was not an Irish Parliament. The hon. Member who had just sat down had said that this tax could be taken from other sources with ease. If that was the fact he was quite willing that it should be taken from other sources, and that tea not only in Ireland but in this country should be left alone. It must not be forgotten that while Ireland was the poorest part of the United Kingdom, there were other poor people in this country who would also suffer through this taxation — people who went for their halfpennyworth of tea. It was a universally unpopular tax for the poor, and if something else could be substituted it would mean a great benefit to the poor, and certainly it would be acceptable to the Irish Members in the House. He was always glad to associate himself with any legitimate and fair demand made from the Irish Benches. This Government had done some unpopular things for Ireland, it had done some unpopular 733 things for England, and it would perhaps do more unpopular things before it had done with the country; but what he maintained was that while they remained a Unionist Government, and while there were Unionist Members representing constituencies in the North of Ireland, they had a perfect right to say that Ireland had no more claim for differentiation in this particular case than England or Scotland. They felt, he admitted, taxation was a most unpopular thing, and, although they desired to make the course of the poor of Ireland more smooth, when it came to a proposal for differentiating between Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom, it was time a line was drawn, and that Irish Members from the Unionist Benches should get up and make a protest. He wished to make a simple and humble protest against this idea of preference, and he hoped that some hon. Gentleman would give some idea as to a plan for a substitute for the tea tax which the Chancellor of the Exchequer might consider. If that were done and some other reasonable tax were selected instead of the present proposal he would be glad to give it his support.
MR. SHEETIY (Meath, S.)
said that the objection to giving preference to Ireland was, to his mind, ridiculous. At present the only preference given to Ireland was the preference of burden. The sympathy of the Chancellor of the Exchequer for Ireland was spoiled by the right hon. Gentleman's remark in his speech that it would be inconvenient to the Government to frame regulations by which Ireland would be free from this tea tax. The tax was imposed to pay for the South African War. This country had started that war gaily, but Ireland had protested against it. England had called the tune and ought to pay the piper. It had been acknowledged that the Irish soldiers had fought the Boers with bravery, and the relatives of the Irish soldiers who bled for England in that war were now being called upon for a double dose of bleeding—a bleeding of their sons and brothers and husbands and a bleeding of taxation—all to forward Imperial interests. Ireland derived no benefit from that war in any shape or form, and yet to pay for it the poorest of the poor were to be exceptionally taxed on their main articles of consumption. 734 Surely the Chancellor of the Exchequer could have found another method of raising the few hundred thousand pounds he wanted. He did not think even if the Amendment were carried that the right hon. Gentleman's Finance Bill would be wrecked. It was the bounden duty of the Irish Members to insist, although they were in a hopeless minority, on making a protest against this treatment so long as they had the misfortune to come to this House at all.
§ MR. POWER (Waterford, E.)
said it had been generally acknowledged that the present system of taxation had done infinite harm to Ireland. They had had a speech from the Chancellor of the Exchequer in which that right hon. Gentleman expressed sympathy for Ireland; but he also used an argument: which they had heard so often before, and which had been largely used in this country during the last ten years. The right hon. Gentleman said that there were various taxes which were levied in England and not in Ireland, and he argued that, therefore, Ireland was exceptionally treated. But, as his hon. and gallant friend below him had shown, these taxes, such as the tax on armorial bearings and menservants, were not imposed in Ireland because they would not be worth the cost of collection. The Union had ruined the gentry of Ireland, or had driven them from the country. They had all listened with interest to the speech with which the hon. Member for Donegal had introduced his Motion. It commanded the attention of the House all the more because of its very moderation. But, speaking of the condition of the people of Ireland, the hon. Member alluded to the fact that the peasants used butter almost daily at their meals. He himself could not speak for the people of Donegal, but, in his own part of the country, he knew that butter was an unknown food for the peasants. Their breakfast, dinner, and supper consisted altogether of tea and very indifferent bread. Further than that, a number of small farmers in his own constituency did not use butter, and he knew of cases where they had not even milk to their tea. Consequently, his hon. and learned friend had understated his case. Personally, he did not approve of the large 735 amount of tea that was consumed by the Irish people. He thought that both morally and physically they were better men and women when they lived on a vegetable diet. But that diet was out of the question at the present time. It was all very well to say that they should drink cocoa, but every halfpenny was of importance to these people whose wages were often not more than 6s. a week. Tea was cheaper than cocoa or coffee, and people in Ireland drank tea for that reason. Although he objected to the large consumption of tea in Ireland, he was afraid that the effect of this tax would be that the quality of the tea used would be very much inferior to that now used. He differed to some extent from the remarks of his hon. and gallant friend, because he thought that, considering the means of the people, the quality of the tea now used was remarkably good. The effect of the imposition of this extra taxation would be, not to reduce the consumption of tea, but the quality of the tea consumed, and he feared that the general health of the people would not be improved.
Why was indirect taxation increased as it was being increased? It had been proved beyond aye or nay that indirect taxation weighed most heavily on the poor and on the poorest parts of the country, and consequently hit Ireland severely. But how did the right hon. Gentleman deal with direct and indirect taxation? At present direct taxation was 20 per cent, lower than it was during the war, whereas indirect taxation was 33 per cent, greater than during the war. The increase in indirect taxation was, no doubt, imposed in the first instance as a war tax. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol, when he introduced it, said it was a war tax, and that it was only fair that teetotalers who approved of the war should be called upon to pay something towards the expense of the war. He did not, however, understand why indirect taxation should be increased and direct taxation reduced. The present position in Ireland recalled to the mind of every student of history what was predicted with regard to taxation. Cur-ran said that the Union would mean British taxation without the advantage of British trade. That turned out to be 736 true. As had been pointed out by various Members, Ireland occupied an an exceptional position. She was exceptionally poor, and rightly or wrongly— he believed rightly—she protested against the war for which this taxation was imposed. She had no act or part in the origin of the war, and it was monstrous that she should be called upon to pay a large penalty in connection with it.
§ MR. MURPHY (Kerry, E.)
said that his hon. friend who stated that every Irish Member should take part in this debate gave very good advice; because it seemed to him that the grievance which had been brought forward had been so well sustained by argument that no answer could be given to it. One fact that struck him in connection with the debate was that the Chief Secretary, the Irish Attorney-General, and the Solicitor-General for England who represented an Irish constituency, did not think it worth their while to be present to hear arguments connected with the taxation of Ireland. That remark also applied to hon. Members from Ulster, with the exception of the hon. Member for South Tyrone and the hon. Member for South Belfast. No one, however, expected the hon. Member for South Belfast to give any light or leading in connection with a financial discussion; and he did not think that the hon. Gentleman's remarks in the debate disclosed any knowledge of the circumstances connected with the taxation of tea. Even his leader—if he were his leader—the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Armagh, attended a meeting in Ireland connected with the financial relations, in which he declared that Ireland was overtaxed to the extent of £2,500,000 per annum. It seemed to him that the arguments that had been advanced were unanswerable. The hon. Gentleman the; Member for West Islington, who always said something interesting when he spoke on Irish financial questions, pointed out; that whereas this tax affected 50 per cent, of the population of this country, it affected 70 per cent, of the population of Ireland, owing to their extreme poverty. The hon. Member who initiated the discussion spoke of Donegal. It was the same in Kerry. Tea was one of the necessities of life for the poor; and the. 737 imposition of this additional tax would press very heavily indeed upon them. As one who had some connection with the retail trade in Ireland, he was perfectly confident that the result would be that the quality of the tea would be reduced. The debate disclosed how really hopeless it was for Irish Members to seek a solution of the financial grievance or any other grievance until they had a Government of their own, that could understand Irish questions and apply proper remedies. They could not expect a British Government, ill-informed, and out of touch with the country, to deal with these questions. He could only repeat what had been said by a hon. friend that the imposition of taxation had become such a grievance in Ireland that the people were justified in striking against taxation altogether. They were told by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that an inquiry would be put in operation by the Treasury in order to ascertain how taxation affected people in Ireland. The Irish Members ought to make a strong protest against any such proceeding, adopted behind their backs, and without their being given any means of discussing the proposal or the methods to be pursued. From experience they knew very well that when the Treasury came to deal with Ireland, it would deal with the country in an improper and unjust manner. They knew very well that the additional taxation was a result of war expenditure, over which the Irish Members had no control and against which they protested. It had been remarked that Irish soldiers had participated in the successful fight which had been waged on behalf of England in South Africa; but there were very many Irishmen who, like himself, regretted that Irish soldiers had been engaged in such nefarious and improper proceedings. If Irish soldiers only realised how little success attended appeals from Ireland in consequence of the assistance they had rendered during the war they would come to the conclusion that it would be much better for Irishmen to remain outside the Army.
§ MR. MURPHY
said it might not have anything to do with the Amendment in a 738 direct sense; but he was referring to arguments which had been used by other speakers. He only wished to emphasise the fact that they regretted that Ireland had had any connection with the war, through Irish soldiers or otherwise. Because of the large amount of improper taxation which would be dragged from Ireland, he hoped that every Irish Member would protest against this additional duty.
§ MR. HAVILAND BURKE (King's County, Tullamore)
said the whole argument of the hon. Member for South Belfast was based on the assumption that Ireland had not been joined to England bran Act of Union which was as solemn, emphatic, and distinct a treaty as was ever contracted between two nations. A reference to the Parliamentary Debates of the period during which Pitt brought forward his famous eight Resolutions for the Act of Union would show that even Pitt, whatever his sins against Ireland and the Irish might have been, and however base might be considered the methods by which he achieved his object, argued, as regards to financial relations between the two countries, that they should not be in common, that Ireland should be treated as a separate entity, and that the proportion of taxation should be considered as separate and apart. For a Unionist Member of Parliament to attempt to go back upon William Pitt on one of the most important and essential parts of the treaty was an extraordinary line to adopt. Some hon. Members seem to labour under the impression that the Act of Union converted Ireland into thirty-two British counties. It did nothing of the kind. It made a separate entity of Ireland, with a separate Government, a separate Executive, and a separate everything, and it acknowledged that taxation was to be levied on a separate basis. He submitted, therefore, that to adopt the line of argument followed by the hon. Member for South Belfast was not only morally unfair, but constitutionally wrong. So far from differentiation being an absurd claim, it was per se an essentially constitutional claim, warranted in every possible way.
§ MR. JOSEPH DEVLIN (Kilkenny, N.)
as an Ulsterman, though not an Ulster 739 representative, protested against the absence of almost the entire representation of the North of Ireland from the discussion of this important question. Whenever a further lease of coercion was under consideration, the Unionist Party of Ulster were present in solid array, but when the question under discussion was one affecting the conditions and necessities of the poorest of the people, and when there was an opportunity for them to utilise the influence which they unquestionably possessed in order to secure a reduction of taxation, those hon. Members were not in the House of Commons at all, but selected as the one financial representative of intelligent Ulster the hon. Member for South Belfast. The hon. Member had put forward the extraordinary proposition that the true function of an Irish Member was to accept every impost put upon Ireland by the British Parliament. A more preposterous proposition was never placed before the House of Commons. The business of all Irish Members, whether Unionist or Nationalist, was mutually to protect their country from the terrible drain, both in taxation and population, placed upon it by England. The proposal of the Amendment was that Ireland ought not to be called upon to bear an increase of taxation, but here was the democratic Member, returned against the old gang to represent the enlightened principles of the new and glorified democracy of Belfast, actually putting forward a preposterous argument in favour of the continuance of heavy taxation. The hon. Member had said that it was his duty to support everything done by a Unionist Government. Why, then, did he revolt on the question of the drainage of the Bann? If it was necessary to revolt on that simple question, surely it was far more important to revolt against an attempt still further to tax the poor of Ireland. It was satisfactory to know, however, that when the hon. Member spoke of the Unionist Party in this House he spoke of a force which soon would be non-existent. The day of the Unionists in Ulster was over; the people in the North of Ireland were beginning to recognise that with the passage of landlordism the necessity for the maintenance of an ascendancy force to back up and defend the continued Mr. Joseph Devlin. 740 robbery of an impoverished country was no longer necessary. He protested against the increased duty on tea because it was an additional tax upon not only a luxury but a necessity of the people, and because it imposed a further burden of £250,000 per annum upon a country already overtaxed. A Commission of financial experts had decided that Ireland was overtaxed to the extent of £2,500,000 a year, but in four years, in consequence of a war for which the Irish people were not responsible, an additional sum of nearly £8,000,000 would have been imposed. He made his protest merely as a matter of form, as no logic, however irresistible, coming from the Nationalist Benches would have any effect upon the Government. But by his speaking he had done his duty to his constituents, and no desire for favours to come would prevent him from raising his voice against what he considered to be a public robbery.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
said the Nationalist Members had completely made out their case, and he should certainly support the Amendment. On the first opportunity of protesting against this additional duty on tea, those with whom he acted spoke and voted against it on the general ground that if additional taxation was required this year, it ought to be obtained not by indirect taxation at all, and certainly not from an article of consumption used by the poorest of the people, but by another Id. on the income-tax. He should support the Amendment, in the first place, because, the addition to the tea duty being in itself an evil, he desired to limit the evil as far as possible, and, in the second place, because it had been conclusively proved that this additional 2d. would fall with special severity on the Irish peasant and the poorest people of the country. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had argued that if the 2d. were remitted in the case of Ireland, there would be cases in Ireland in which people would be relieved who were perfectly able to pay the duty, while, on the other hand, there would be people in the United Kingdom paying the duty who were just as poor as some of the peasants of Ireland who would be relieved. That was perfectly true. Any proposal 741 of this sort was bound to create certain anomalies, but taking the whole situation in Ireland, it was clear to his mind that the extra 2d. would fall with much greater severity on the population of Ireland as a whole than on the population of England as a whole. It had also to be remembered that this was not really a question of the amount of revenue involved. An hon. Member had placed the amount at £250,000. As far as he could make out the reduction of revenue involved was about £180,000, but even if it were £250,000 it would be a very small amount if something considerable was to be gained by the concession. He desired to make an appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the same way as an appeal was made two years ago to one of his predecessors. In that case the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol had proposed to include maize in his taxation on corn, but on its being represented that the duty would fall with special severity on the poorest inhabitants of Ireland, he recognised the justice of the contention, and reduced the duty on maize by one-half. That was practically on all fours with what the Chancellor of the Exchequer was now asked to do, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would see his way to meet the special circumstances of the present case in a similar manner.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I beg to make an urgent appeal to the Committee to come to a decision on this question. It has been very fully discussed, the tax is not a new one, there is simply an addition made to it this year, it raises no new principle, and we have spent the whole of yesterday and the whole of this afternoon without making any but the smallest progress with the Bill. Under these circumstances I venture to ask the Committee to come now
§ to a decision, at any rate, upon this Amendment.
§ MR. CULLINAN (Tipperary, S.)
thought it was the duty of the Nationalist Members to continue the debate as long as they possibly could in order to extract from the Chancellor of the Exchequer something more than an expression of sympathy and a request to be silent. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that the figures quoted in past years were misleading, and that he had now obtained a new set of figures which altered the situation. Those figures, however, had not been placed before the Committee, and until the Return was published they would adhere to their former arguments. The arguments put forward in the present debase had been quite as strong as those used in regard to the corn duty, when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol gave way to the views of the Irish Members, and the present Chancellor of the Exchequer would act wisely and well in following the precedent then set by his predecessor. The tax on tea involved a very great hardship on the poorest people in Ireland, and by increasing the duty the right hon. Gentleman would reduce the quality of the tea consumed and seriously injure the health of the people. He entered his strongest protest against the proposal of the Government, and hoped the Amendment would be supported.
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 260; Noes, 194. (Division List No. 163.)745
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r||Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Balfour, Capt. C. B. (Hornsey)||Boulnois, Edmund|
|Aird Sir John||Balfour, Rt. Hon. G. W. (Leeds)||Bousfield, William Robert|
|Allhusen, Augustus Hen. Eden||Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christch.||Bowles, Lt.-Col. H. F. (Middlesex|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Brassey, Albert|
|Arrol, Sir William||Beckett, Ernest William||Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Bull, William James|
|Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hn. Sir H.||Bignold, Arthur||Butcher, John George|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Bigwood, James||Campbell, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Glasgow|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Bill, Charles||Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.|
|Balcarres, Lord||Blundell, Colonel Henry||Cautley, Henry Strother|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lanes.)||Hamilton, Rt. Hn. Lord G. (Midd'x||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbyshire||Hardy, L. (Kent, Ashford)||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Hare, Thomas Leigh||Pease, Herb. Pike (Darlington)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Harris, F. Leverton(Tynem'th)||Peel, Hn. Wm. Robert Wellesley|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Haslett, Sir James Horner||Pemberton, John S. G.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. (Birm.||Hatch, Ernest Frederick Geo.||Percy, Earl|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Worc.||Heath, James (Staffords., N. W.||Pilkington, Colonel Richard|
|Chamberlayne, T. (S'thampton||Heaton, John Henniker||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Helder, Augustus||Plummer, Walter R.|
|Chapman, Edward||Henderson, Sir A. (Stafford, W.||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Charrington, Spencer||Hickman, Sir Alfred||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Clive, Captain Percy A.||Hoare, Sir Samuel||Pym, C. Guy|
|Coates, Edward Feetham||Hobhouse, Rt. Hn H. (Somers't, E||Randles, John S.|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Hogg, Lindsay||Rankin, Sir James|
|Coddington, Sir William||Hope, J. F. (Sheffield, Brightside||Rasch, Sir Frederic Carne|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Hornby, Sir William Henry||Ratcliff, R. F.|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Horner, Frederick William||Reid, James (Greenock)|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry||Renshaw, Sir Charles Bine|
|Colomb, Rt. Hn. Sir John C. R.||Hoult, Joseph||Renwick, George|
|Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Howard, Jn. (Kent, Faversham||Richards, Henry Charles|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Howard, J. (Midd., Tottenham)||Ridley, Hon. M. W. (Stalybridge|
|Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Hozier, Hn. James Henry Cecil||Ridley, S. Forde(Bethnal Green|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Hudson, George Bickersteth||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson|
|Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Hunt, Rowland||Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)|
|Crossley, Rt. Hon. Sir Savile||Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Jefireys, Rt. Hon. Arthur Fred.||Robinson, Brooke|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Rolleston, Sir John F. L.|
|Davenport, William Bromley||Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H.||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye|
|Denny, Colonel||Kenyon, Hn. Geo. T. (Denbigh)||Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert|
|Dewar, Sir T. R. (Tower Hamlets||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W. (Salop||Round, Rt. Hon. James|
|Dickson, Charles Scott||Kimber, Henry||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||King, Sir Henry Seymour||Rutherford, John (Lancashire)|
|Digby, John K. D. Wingfield-||Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow)||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-|
|Dimsdale, Rt. Hn. Sir Joseph C.||Lawson, J. Grant (Yorks., N. R.||Samuel, Sir H. S. (Limehouse)|
|Dixon-Hartland, Sir Fred Dixon||Lee, A. H. (Hants., Fareham)||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert|
|Doughty, George||Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead).||Saunderson, Rt. Hn. Col. Edw. J.|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Leveson-Gower, Frederick N. S||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Doxford, Sir William Theodore||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Bristol, S.||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin||Lowe, Francis William||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir William Hart||Lowther, C. (Cumb., Eskdale)||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Smith, Abel H.(Hertford, East)|
|Fardell, Sir T. George||Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth||Smith, H. C. (North'mb, Tyneside|
|Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Manc'r||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Smith, James Parker (Lanarks.|
|Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Macdona, John Gumming||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.||MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Spear, John Ward|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Maconochie, A. W.||Spencer, Sir E. (W. Bromwich)|
|Firbank, Sir Joseph Thomas||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Stanley, Hn. Arthur (Ormskirk|
|Fisher, William Hayes||M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire)||Stanley, Edward Jas. (Somerset|
|Fison, Frederick William||Majendie, James A. H.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Lanes.)|
|FitzGeraid, Sir Robert Penrose-||Malcolm, Ian||Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart|
|Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Martin, Richard Biddulph||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.|
|Flower, Sir Ernest||Melville, Beresford Valentine||Stock, James Henry|
|Forster, Henry William||Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Foster, P. S. (Warwick, S. W.)||Milner, Rt. Hn. Sir Frederick G.||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Galloway, William Johnson||Milvain, Thomas||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)|
|Gardner, Ernest||Mitchell, William (Burnley)||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|Garfit, William||Molesworth, Sir Lewis||Tollemache, Henry James|
|Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin & Nairn)||Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)||Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M.|
|Gordon, J. (Londonderry, S.)||Montagu, Hn. J. Scott (Hants.)||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Gore, Hn. G. R. C. Ormsby- (Salop||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Valentia, Viscount|
|Gore, Hon. S. F. Ormsby- (Linc.)||Morpeth, Viscount||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Morrison, James Archibald||Walrond, Rt. Hn. Sir William H.|
|Graham, Henry Robert||Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer||Wanklyn, James Leslie|
|Greene, Sir E. W. (B'rySEdm'nds||Mount, William Arthur||Warded Colonel C. E.|
|Greene, Henry D.(Shrewsbury)||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||Webb, Colonel William George|
|Grenfell, William Henry||Muntz, Sir Philip A.||Welby, Lt.-Col. A. C. E. (Taunton|
|Gretton, John||Murray, Rt. Hon. A. G. (Bute)||Welby, Sir Charles G. E.(Notts.|
|Greville, Hon. Ronald||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Wharton, Rt. Hon. John Lloyd|
|Gunter, Sir Robert||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)||Whiteley, H. (Ashton und. Lyne|
|Hain, Edward||Myers, William Henry||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Hall, Edward Marshall||Newdegate, Francis A. N.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F.||Nicholson, William Graham||Wills, Sir Frederick|
|Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir|
|Wilson, John (Glasgow)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart||Alexander Acland-Hood|
|Wilson-Todd, Sir W. H. (Yorks.)||Wyndham-Quin, Col. W. H.||and Mr. Ailwyn Fellowes.|
|Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath||Younger, William|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.)||Grant, Corrie||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir E.(Berwick)||O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Griffith, Ellis J.||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)|
|Allen, Charles P.||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||O'Kelly, Jas. (Roscommon, N.)|
|Asher, Alexander||Hammond, John||O'Malley, William|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herb. Henry||Harcourt, Lewis V.(Rossendale||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Harcourt, Rt. Hn. Sir. W. (Monm't||O'Shee, James John|
|Austin, Sir John||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Palmer, Sir Charles M. (Durham|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Harwood, George||Parrott, William|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Hayden, John Patrick||Partington, Oswald|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur D.||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Helme, Norval Watson||Philipps, John Wynford|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Black, Alexander William||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Blake, Edward||Holland, Sir William Henry||Price, Robert John|
|Boland, John||Horniman, Frederick John||Priestley, Arthur|
|Brigg, John||Hutchinson, Dr. Charles Fredk.||Rea, Russell|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||Reckitt, Harold James|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Jacoby, James Alfred||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Rigg, Richard|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Joicey, Sir James||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Jones, D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Burns, John||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)|
|Burt, Thomas||Joyce, Michael||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Kearley, Hudson E.||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Caldwell, James||Kennedy, Vincent P. (Cavan, W.||Runciman, Walter|
|Cameron, Robert||Kilbride, Denis||Russell, T. W.|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Labouchere, Henry||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Lambert, George||Shackleton, David James|
|Cawley, Frederick||Langley, Batty||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Law, Hugh Alex. (Donegal, W.||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Cogan, Denis J.||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cornwall)||Sheehy, David|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Craig, Robert Hunter (Lanark)||Leamy, Edmund||Slack, John Bamford|
|Crean, Eugene||Leese, Sir Jos. F. (Accrington)||Smith, Samuel (Flint)|
|Cremer, William Randal||Leng, Sir John||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Cullinan, J.||Levy, Maurice||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Lewis, John Herbert||Spencer, Rt. Hn. C. R. (Northants|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||Lloyd-George, David||Stanhope, Hon. Philip James|
|Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan)||Lough, Thomas||Stevenson, Francis S.|
|Delany, William||Lundon, W.||Sullivan, Donal|
|Devlin, Chas. Ramsay (Galway||Lyell, Charles Henry||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Devlin, Joseph (Kilkenny, N.)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Tennant, Harold John|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||M'Arthur, William (Cornwall)||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Doogan, P. C.||M'Crae, George||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||M'Kenna, Reginald||Thomas, D. Alfred (Merthyr)|
|Duncan, J. Hastings||M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North)||Tomkinson, James|
|Dunn, Sir William||M'Laren, Sir Charles Benjamin||Toulmin, George|
|Edwards, Frank||Mansfield, Horace Rendall||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Elibank, Master of||Mappin, Sir Frederick Thorpe||Wallace, Robert|
|Ellis, John Edward (Notts.)||Markham, Arthur Basil||Walton, J. Lawson (Leeds, S.)|
|Emmott, Alfred||Mooney, John J.||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)|
|Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan)||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Morley, Rt. Hn. John (Montrose||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Moulton, John Fletcher||Whiteley, George (York, W. R.)|
|Fenwick, Charles||Murphy, John||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith)||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Field, William||Newnes, Sir George||Wilson, Chas. Henry (Hull, W.)|
|Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Nolan, Col. John P. (Galway, N.)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)||Woodhouse, Sir J. T. (Huddersf d|
|Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Young, Samuel|
|Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Freeman-Thomas, Captain F.||O'Brien, K. (Tipperary, Mid.)|
|Gilhooly, James||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert Jn.||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)||Thomas Esmonde and Cap-|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||O'Connor, James(Wicklow, W.)||tain Donelan.|
§ Question put accordingly, "That the words 'or Ireland' stand part of the clause."748
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 270; Noes, 185. (Division List No. 164.)751
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Dimsdale, Rt. Hn. Sir Joseph C.||Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph||Jeffreys, Rt. Hon. Arthur Fred.|
|Aird, Sir John||Dixon-Hartland, Sir Fred Dixon||Johnstone, Heywood, (Sussex)|
|Allhusen, Augustus Henry Eden||Doughty, George||Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H.|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers||Kenyon, Hn. Geo. T. (Denbigh)|
|Arrol, Sir William||Doxford, Sir William Theodore||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W. (Salop.|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Duke, Henry Edward||Kimber, Henry|
|Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hn. Sir H.||Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin||King, Sir Henry Seymour|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir William Hart||Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow)|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Lawson, J. Grant (Yorks., N. R.|
|Balcarres, Lord||Fardell, Sir T. George||Lee, A. H. (Hants., Fareham)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r||Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Manc'r||Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)|
|Balfour, Capt. C. B. (Hornsey)||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Leveson-Gower, Frederick N. S.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. G. W. (Leeds)||Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine|
|Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christch.||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Bristol, S.|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Firbank, Sir Joseph Thomas||Lowe, Francis William|
|Beckett, Ernest William||Fisher, William Hayes||Lowther, C. (Cumb., Eskdale)|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry G.||Fison, Frederick William||Loyd, Archie Kirkman|
|Bignold, Arthur||FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose||Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth|
|Bigwood, James||Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred|
|Bill, Charles||Flower, Sir Ernest||Macdona, John Cumming|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Forster, Henry William||Maclver, David (Liverpool)|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Foster, P. S. (Warwick, S. W.)||Maconochie, A. W.|
|Boulnois, Edmund||Galloway, William Johnson||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)|
|Bousfield, William Robert||Gardner, Ernest||M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire)|
|Bowles, Lt.-Col. H. F. (Middlesex||Garfit, William||Majendie, James A. H.|
|Brassey, Albert||Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin & Nairn)||Malcolm, Ian|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Gordon, J. (Londonderry, S.)||Manners, Lord Cecil|
|Bull, William James||Gore, Hn G. R. C. Ormsby-(Salop||Martin, Richard Biddulph|
|Butcher, John George||Gore, Hon. S. F. Ormsby-(Linc)||Melville, Beresford Valentine|
|Campbell, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Glasgow||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon||Megsey-Thompson, Sir H. M.|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Milner, Rt. Hn. Sir Frederick G.|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Graham, Henry Robert||Milvain, Thomas|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lanes.)||Greene, Sir E. W (B'rySEdm'nds||Mitchell, William (Burnley)|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbyshire||Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury)||Molesworth, Sir Lewis|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Grenfell, William Henry||Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Gretton, John||Montagu, Hn. J. Scott (Hants.)|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Greville, Hon. Ronald||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. (Birm.||Gunter, Sir Robert||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)|
|Chamberlain, Rt Hn. J. A (Worc.||Hain, Edward||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Chamberlayne, T. (S'thampton)||Hall, Edward Marshall||Morrison, James Archibald|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F.||Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer|
|Chapman, Edward||Hamilton, Rt Hn Lord G (Midd'x||Mount, William Arthur|
|Charrington, Spencer||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.|
|Clive, Captain Percy A.||Hare, Thomas Leigh||Muntz, Sir Philip A.|
|Coates, Edward Feetham||Harris, F. Leverton (Tynem'th||Murray, Rt. Hon. A. G. (Bute)|
|Cochrane, Hon. ThosH. A. E.||Haslett, Sir James Horner||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)|
|Coddington, Sir William||Hatch, Ernest Frederick Geo.||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Heath, James (Staffords., N. W.||Myers, William Henry|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Heaton, John Henniker||Newdegate, Francis A. N.|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Helder, Augustus||Nicholson, William Graham|
|Colomb, Rt. Hn. Sir John C. R.||Henderson, Sir A. (Stafford, W.||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens|
|Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Hickman, Sir Alfred||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Hoare, Sir Samuel||Pease, Herb. Pike (Darlington)|
|Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Hobhouse, Rt Hn. H (Somers't, E||Peel, Hn. Wm. Robert Wellesley|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Hogg, Lindsay||Pemberton, John S. G.|
|Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Hope, J. F. (Sheffield, Brightside||Percy, Earl|
|Crossley, Rt. Hon. Sir Savile||Hornby, Sir William Henry||Pilkington, Colonel Richard|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Horner, Frederick William||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry||Plummer, Walter R.|
|Davenport, William Bromley||Hoult, Joseph||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Denny, Colonel||Howard, Jn. (Kent, Faversham||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Dewar, Sir T. R. (Tower Hamlets||Howard, J. (Midd., Tottenham)||Pym, C. Guy|
|Dickson, Charles Scott||Hozier, Hn. James Henry Cecil||Randles, John S.|
|Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Hudson, George Bickersteth||Rankin, Sir James|
|Digby, John K. D. Wingfield-||Hunt, Rowland||Rasch, Sir Frederic Carne|
|Ratcliff, R. F.||Simeon, Sir Barrington||Walrond, Rt. Hn. Sir William H.|
|Reid, James (Greenock)||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)||Wanklyn, James Leslie|
|Remnant, James Farquharson||Skewes-Cox, Thomas||Warde, Colonel C. E.|
|Renshaw, Sir Charles Bine||Sloan, Thomas Henry||Webb, Colonel William George|
|Renwick, George||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)||Welby, Lt. -Col. A. C. E(Taunton|
|Richards, Henry Charles||Smith, H. C (North'mb. Tyneside||Welby, Sir Charles G. E. (Notts.|
|Ridley, Hon. M. W. (Stalybridge||Smith, James Parker(Lanarks.)||Wharton, Rt. Hon. John Lloyd|
|Ridley, S. Forde (Bethnal Green||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)||Whiteley, H.(Ashton und. Lyne|
|Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson||Spear, John Ward||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)||Spencer, Sir E. (W. Bromwich)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)||Stanley, Hn. Arthur (Ormskirk||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)||Stanley, Edward Jas. (Somerset||Wills, Sir Frederick|
|Robinson, Brooke||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Lanes.||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R)|
|Rolleston, Sir John F. L.||Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.||Wilson-Todd, Sir W. H. (Yorks.)|
|Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert||Stock, James Henry||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath|
|Round, Rt. Hon James||Stone, Sir Benjamin||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Royds, Clement Molyneux||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart|
|Rutherford, John (Lancashire)||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth||Wyndliam-Quin, Col. W. H.|
|Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford||Thorbnm, Sir Walter||Younger, William|
|Samuel, Sir H. S. (Limehouse)||Tollemache, Henry James|
|Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert||Tomlinson, Sir Win, Edw. J.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir|
|Saunderson, Rt. Hn. Col. Edw. J.||Tritton, Charles Ernest||Alexander Acland-Hood|
|Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)||Valentia, Viscount||and Mr. Ailwyn Fellowes.|
|Seely, Charles Hilton (Lincoln)||Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. H (Sheffield|
|Sharpe, William Edward T.||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.)||Dunn, Sir William||Kearley, Hudson E.|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Edwards, Frank||Kennedy, Vincent P. (Cavan, W.|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Elibank, Master of||Kilbride, Denis|
|Allen, Charles P.||Ellis, John Edward (Notts.)||Labouchere, Henry|
|Asher, Alexander||Emmott, Alfred||Lambert, George|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry||Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan)||Langley, Batty|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Law, Hugh Alex. (Donegal, W.)|
|Austin, Sir John||Farrell, James Patrick||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cornwall)|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Fenwiek, Charles||Layland-Barratt, Francis|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Ferguson. R. C. Munro (Leith)||Leamy, Edmund|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Field, William||Leese, Sir Jos. F. (Accrington)|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Leng, Sir John|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Flynn, James Christopher||Levy, Maurice|
|Black, Alexander William||Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Blake, Edward||Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Lloyd-George, David|
|Boland, John||Freeman-Thomas, Captain F.||Lough, Thomas|
|Brigg, John||Gilhooly, James||Lundon, W.|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert. John||Lyell, Charles Henry|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Goddard, Daniel Ford||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Grant, Corrie||M'Arthur, William (Cornwall)|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir E. (Berwick)||M'Kenna, Reginald|
|Burns, John||Griffith, Ellis J.||M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North)|
|Burt, Thomas||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||M'Laren, Sir Charles Benjamin|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Hammond, John||Mansfield, Horace Rendall|
|Caldwell, James||Harcourt, Lewis V. (Rossendale||Mappin, Sir Frederick Thorpe|
|Cameron, Robert||Harcourt, Rt Hn Sir W (Monm'th||Markham, Arthur Basil|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil||Mooney, John J.|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Harwood, George||Morley, Rt. Hn. John (Montrose|
|Cawley, Frederick||Hayden, John Patrick||Moulton, John Fletcher|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur D.||Murphy, John|
|Cogan, Denis J.||Helme, Norval Watson||Nannetti, Joseph P.|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.||Newnes, Sir George|
|Craig, Robert Hunter(Lanark)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Nolan, Col. John P. (Galway, N.)|
|Crean, Eugene||Holland, Sir William Henry||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)|
|Cremer, William Randal||Horniman, Frederick John||Nussey, Thomas Willans|
|Cullman, J.||Hutchinson, Dr. Charles Fredk.||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||O'Brien, K. (Tipperary, Mid.)|
|Delany, William||Jacoby, James Alfred||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Devlin, Chas. Ramsay (Galway)||Johnson, John (Gateshead)||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)|
|Devlin, Joseph (Kilkenny, N.)||Joicey, Sir James||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W)|
|Doogan, P. C.||Jones, D. Brynmor (Swansea)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)|
|Duncan, J. Hastings||Joyce, Michael||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)|
|O'Kelly, Jas. (Roscommon, N.)||Roe, Sir Thomas||Thomas, D. Alfred (Merthyr)|
|O'Malley, William||Russell, T. W.||Tomkinson, James|
|O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Shackleton, David James||Toulmin, George|
|O'Shee, James John||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)||Wallace, Robert|
|Palmer, Sir. Charles M. (Durham||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel||Walton, J. Lawson (Leeds, S.)|
|Parrott, William||Sheehy, David||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)|
|Partington, Oswald||Shipman, Dr. John G.||Wason, Jn. Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Philipps, John Wynford||Slack, John Bamford||Whiteley, George (York, W. R.)|
|Pirie, Duncan V.||Smith, Samuel (Flint)||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Power, Patrick Joseph||Soames, Arthur Wellesley||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Price, Robert John||Soares, Ernest J.||Wilson, Chas. Henry (Hull, W.)|
|Priestley, Arthur||Spencer, Rt. Hn. C. R (Northants||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Rea, Russell||Stanhope, Hon. Philip James||Woodhouse, Sir J. T (Huddersf'd|
|Reckitt, Harold James||Stevenson, Francis S.||Young, Samuel|
|Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Sullivan, Donal||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Rigg, Richard||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||Tennant, Harold John||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir|
|Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)||Thomas Esmonde and Cap-|
|Robson, William Snowdon||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)||tain Donelan.|
§ MR. SOARES (Devonshire, Barnstaple)
moved an Amendment for the purpose of limiting the operation of Clause 1 (duty on tea) to 1st May instead of 1st August, 1905. He said he did not desire to adhere to the word "May" if the Chancellor of the Exchequer would accept the word "June." His argument was that this was a bad tax and that the sooner it was off the better it would be for the country. Another consideration which he wished to place before the right hon. Gentleman was that by keeping the clause in operation until August he might be binding the Government which was to succeed the present one. Of course, he admitted that he did not know when the general election would take place, but the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham had stated that it must come within a "reasonable time." His ideas and the Prime Minister's might not coincide in regard to that matter. He himself should have thought that if the right hon Gentleman believed in the policy he was advocating a reasonable time would have meant the earliest possible moment.
The point the hon. Gentleman has raised is really not relevant to the Amendment. If he means that another Government will be in power next year, this clause will not tie their hands. It would be perfectly open to any subsequent Government in their next Budget to introduce an Amendment.
§ MR. SOARES
said he was pointing out that the proposal in the clause would put the succeeding Government to the 752 trouble of repealing the tax. He bowed to the ruling, and he would not pursue the point further. If the right hon. Gentleman should be in office at this time next year this tax would enable him to bring in, perhaps, what might be called, with all due deference, an electioneering Budget. If the tax remained on till August next year the right hon. Gentleman would get the benefit of the tax for a third of the ensuing financial year. Supposing he came to the conclusion that this was a tax which should be taken off he would announce, with a great flourish of trumpets, that he intended to take off 3d., though he would be at the same time receiving the benefit of it. He would really be only taking off 2d. That might be good electioneering, but it would be bad finance. There was another objection to the proposal in the Bill. By permitting taxes of this kind to run until August they delayed the bringing in and passing through all its stages of the Finance Bill, and that had a detrimental effect on the course of trade. To his mind the Finance Bill ought to be brought in and passed through all its stages soon after the introduction of the Budget. There was on the Notice Paper now an Amendment standing in the name of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in regard to the tobacco duty, showing that the Budget Resolutions on that point were not quite clear and conclusive. They knew that sometimes it might be necessary to delay the passing of the Finance Bill. This year it was Ascot; another year it might be something else. But traders strongly objected to the Finance Bill being delayed when new taxes were to be imposed. They wanted 753 to know all about them and their true inwardness, so as to take their goods out of, or leave them in, bond. It was in order to ensure that the Finance Bill should be passed at the earliest possible moment that he desired to restrict this tax to the 1st of June next year, and he sincerely hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would accept the Amendment.
In page 1, line 19, to leave out the word 'August,' and insert the word 'May.'"—(Mr. Soares.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'August' stand part of the clause."
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
said it was not possible for him to accept the Amendment. He was not prepared to break a practice which had been uninterruptedly pursued since 1863, and which had been a convenience not alone to the House, but to the traders concerned. May 1st or even June 1st was a date so close to the end of the financial year that, it would tend to the withholding of large stocks if a diminution of the tax were expected, and to great forestalments if an increase were expected. It had been found convenient for these reasons to fix the date of the passage of the Budget two or three months after the expiration of the financial year.
§ MR. McKENNA (Monmouthshire, N.)
said that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had given two extraordinary reasons why he should not accept the Amendment. He said unless he made the 1st of August the date at which the Budget came into operation there would be large withdrawals of stock in anticipation of the change of duty. But the duty came into operation on the introduction of the Budget, and there was not a single case on record in which the Budget had been introduced so late as the 1st of June. The only reason for the present practice was that it enabled the Chancellor of the Exchequer to have a latitude not to I introduce his Budget Resolutions until the 31st of July. It was that very latitude that they wanted to stop. It was because they did not desire the Chan- 754 cellor of the Exchequer to postpone his Budget statement later than 1st May, or at the latest 1st June, that his hon. friend made this proposal. The second statement of the right hon. Gentleman was that the present practice had been carried on uninterruptedly since 1863. But they were living under modern conditions which compelled the. Committee to see that the Budget Resolutions were introduced earlier. This was a question for business men who did not like to be kept in doubt as to what the financial proposals of the Government were going to be. They expected now that any changes in the Budget would be introduced in the month of April. In 1901 the Budget was specially introduced in the month of March. Business men wanted it before the month of May. He was quite sure that if the right hon. Gentleman gave his attention to the true apprehension of the Amendment he would understand that the proposal made by the hon. Member for Barnstaple was a very proper one.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
said that this certainly was an Amendment of substance, and although he would not vote for it as it stood, he would vote for it if the word "July" was substituted for "August." The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had said that it had been the unbroken practice since 1863 to main; the Customs duties payable on the 1st August. The right hon. Gentleman was entirely wrong. If he were to refer to the Finance Act of 1895, he would find that the Customs duties on beer were made payable on 1st July. The Committee should remember that although as a matter of fact the existing Acts continued the tea duty for one year, the proposed increase was to be enacted not for a year, but for fifteen months. He thought he was right in saying that the levy of Customs duties by virtue of a Resolution of this House was, strictly speaking, illegal, and that the real legal power did not rest with the Commissioners of Customs to levy these duties until the Finance Bill was passed and had received the Royal Assent. It was by what he, would not call a usurpation of power, but by the necessities of the case that the Customs duties to be imposed by the 755 Finance Bill should be levied immediately on the introduction of the Budget; and the reason was that the imposition of new duties was always intended to be unexpected.
It was reasonable that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should have a fair time in which to introduce his Bill; but that time should never extend to the 1st August. To pass a clause which would enable a Chancellor of the Exchequer to postpone the Finance Bill to 1st August, would be inviting the Government of the day to repeat what the present Government had done, namely, to neglect its business and not to begin to ride until the race was nearly over, and then be reduced to the melancholy device of closure by compartments. That was not right. The Government should be compelled to commence the discussion of the Finance Bill long before the date on which it was commenced this year. The discussion ought to be commenced in May at the latest. Further, the Act of 1895 and the other Acts which continued the existing duty on tea were for one year only; but the present proposal in the Bill was to increase the duty not for a year, but for fifteen months. That was a very serious thing for many reasons. In the first place it was an infringement of the principle that all the financial dealings of the Government should be under the control of the House. There was, however, a very special reason with regard to the tea duty. As the Committee was aware, it was one of the few remaining imposts which were voted for one year, and for one year only. He had no doubt that it was the intention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the increased duty should only be for a year; because, long before the 1st of August of next year, the right hon. Gentleman or another Chancellor of the Exchequer would continue the duty, increase it, or, as he confidently hoped, decrease it. He did not know if the Committee appreciated the manner in which annual taxes had been abandoned in late years, and permanent taxation substituted. He would quote figures which were very important in that respect. The amount of revenue estimated to be raised by the State in 1902–3 was £161,789,000; of that no less than £112,504,000 was raised by permanent enactments and £49,285,000 by temporary enact- 756 ments. The temporary enactments were the tea duty, the income-tax, and the extra duty on beer and spirits. The temporary duties amounted to 30.46 per cent, of the whole revenue. This year the total revenue was estimated at £153,306,000, of which £110,572,000 was raised by permanent enactments, which did not even require the House to assemble, and which the Government could put in force without any further authority; the annual revenue being estimated at £42,734,000. Therefore, in two years the annual revenue had been diminished from 30.46 per cent, of the total to 27.85 per cent. That was a very serious matter; and it had a direct bearing on the propriety or impropriety of the Committee allowing one of these temporary duties to be imposed for a period of fifteen-months instead of twelve months. The control of the House over public expenditure was being diminished day by day. He would allude to the enormous increase in Votes on Account.
I really fail to see the relevancy of the hon. Member's remarks now. This is an annual charge; there is not the least doubt about that; and I cannot see what Votes on Account have to do with it.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said he intended to argue that inasmuch as the control of this House over public expenditure was being lost in many directions that process should not be further extended. He would not, however, pursue that argument. He thought the hon. Member's Amendment was unreasonable. They might not always have Governments with large majorities; and the Chancellor of the Exchequer might find considerable difficulty in getting his Finance Bill through. It was fair that he should be allowed until the 1st July to do it, but no longer. He agreed that there was substance in the Amendment; and, although he could not vote for it in its present form, he would certainly vote for an Amendment which substituted 1st July for 1st June.
§ MR. LOUGH
said that if the Chancellor of the Exchequer would only look at the Amendment from the point of view of the tea duty, he would see that it ought to 757 be accepted. If there was an increase in the tea duty nothing would be lost by the Amendment; but if, as was more likely, there was a reduction it would mean a total collapse of business in the country, as no one would clear any tea. The Chancellor of the Exchequer would have to receive deputations day by day, and would finally have to give in. If the right hon. Gentleman would look back to 1889, the year in which the tea duty was reduced, he would find that the trade immediately approached the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the subject, and that was the experience of every Chancellor of the Exchequer. The trade wanted a fortnight or three weeks to get rid of the old stock and did not want two or three months in which business would be convulsed. All they desired was a reasonable time. His hon. friend had taken six weeks as the period; it would be quite impossible to continue the higher rate of duty for longer than six weeks and he hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer would see his way to accept the 1st June as being a reasonable date.
§ MR. WHITLEY (Halifax)
said he had a similar Amendment on the Paper, but alter hearing what had been said he thought the 1st June would be a reasonable date to fix. He wished to add a word regarding the inequality shown by the Bill. The income-tax was raised for one year and no more, and yet in the casa of a tax imposed on the poorer classes the period was to be one year and three months. That was simply an encouragement to the Government to delay their financial business instead of getting it through with commendable despatch. This year they had had the Licensing Bill and the Scotch Education Bill pushed in front of the Government's financial business. He objected on the ground that the more they allowed the latter business to be put off, the more encouragement they gave to the Treasury and the more they relaxed their control over the Government.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
said the income-tax was charged over the whole of the year's income, whereas in the case of the tea duty they must make such provision that the trade would 758 not come to a standstill in the weeks just preceding the end of the financial S year. He was anxious to meet the Committee on this point. The hon. Member for King's Lynn had made a suggestion, and if it would facilitate progress he would agree to strike out the word August and insert July.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
said the right hon. Gentleman had met them very fairly and he hoped the suggestion would be accepted.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
In page 1, line 19, to leave out the word 'August' and insert the word 'July.'"—(Mr. Gibson Bowles.)
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ MR. THEODORE TAYLOR (Lancashire, Radcliffe)
said he moved the Amendment standing in his name because this tax fell heavily on the poor, and there should be some discrimination between the consumer of high-class tea and the consumer of lower class tea. This intention was to exempt from taxation entirely the tea used by the poor. He was glad the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not even pretend for a moment that this tax fell on the producer, but had admitted it was a consumer's tax. There was indeed a refreshing contrast between his attitude and the contention set up that increased taxation would injure the producer in Ceylon and India, and therefore it would not injure the consumer in this country. He believed this tax would be injurious both to the producer and to the consumer, but the injury done to the poor consumer was the reason he wished to move this Amendment. They had heard a great deal that afternoon about the burden this tax imposed on the people of Ireland, but within three miles of the House there might be found people in as wretched a position as the peasants of Donegal. 759 To people of that class the tax was a very real and a very heavy one. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had not shirked anything in the course of the debate. The last Chancellor of the Exchequer but one in introducing a sugar tax said it would be a good thing if it diminished the consumption of lollypops, but the present Chancellor had not represented tea as a bad thing, and to tax it as a beneficent action. To the poorest of the poor a cup of tea was necessary for such happiness as they could possibly enjoy in this world. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, however, took refuge in the plea that the increase in the tax would not much diminish the quantity of tea consumed. He wondered if Members had before their minds the ad valorem amount of the tea tax. It was variously estimated by those in the trade at from 100 to 120 per cent. Suppose there was an ad valorem tax of 100 per. cent., a proposal to raise it to 133. per cent., which was what the Chancellor's proposal really came to, would never be entertained. Many people who did not now realise the gravity of the tax would do so then. He was very much interested in the woollen trade with Canada, where, as they knew, the present Ministry had brought in a Bill to reduce the preference from 11⅔ to 5 per cent. If this Bill passed woollen goods sent there would pay 30 per cent, instead of 23⅓ per cent. That was regarded as a very great increase of duty, and one likely to have serious effect on the trade. In the same way this increased tax would have an effect on the consumption of tea, and because this Amendment would impose the duty only on the higher classes of tea and not on the lower classes, he moved it. This increase of duty was a tax on the very poor, and he therefore believed it to be not only bad philanthropy, but a piece of bad political economy. He was in favour of direct taxation entirely and of no indirect taxation, that being the only honest method of taxation.
§ MR THEODORE TAYLOR
said it might be stated that if they heavily 760 taxed the better classes of tea and released from taxation the lower classes they would cause people to use rubbish, and the lower classes of tea only would be used. He believed that the result of this Amendment upon the users of tea would be rather startling and extraordinary. It would enormously increase the use of the better teas, and would cause the rubbishy tea not to be used at all, because it would not be worth anyone's while to buy the rubbish. Those who used the higher class of tea did not mind giving a little more for it. It must be admitted that a tax on the articles used by the rich did not tend to diminish consumption to any such extent as was the case when taxation was put upon articles used by the very poor. It was the very poor who were prevented from buying particular articles because they could get something at a lesser cost, and the people who could not now afford to buy decent tea would be able to do so if the Amendment were to be carried. The poor of Lancashire and Yorkshire took their tea in cans with them when they went to work, and in the early morning one could hear the clatter of the clogs and the clink of the cans as the people went to their employment. He had lived amongst these people and he knew that they consumed a great amount of tea, more especially those who worked in cotton mills, where the temperature was very high, and where they needed some reasonable kind of drink owing to the heat. Those poor people would have their tea made dearer. But there was another view of the question. The largest and best market for Lancashire goods was in India, and any action which resulted in a reduction of the imports of tea from India and Ceylon must reduce the amount of cotton goods imported into these colonies.
The hon. Member is again wandering away from the Amendment, and is dealing with the general question with which we have been dealing all the afternoon. I must call his attention to the Standing Order upon this point.
§ MR. THEODORE TAYLOR
said it was an undoubted fact that if less tea was bought from India there would be 761 less cotton goods bought there. He had only been trying to show why the burden of this tax ought to be lessened as regarded the people of this country. He begged to move.
In page 1, line 21, after the word 'tea,' to insert the words 'the value of which on import exceeds eightpence per pound.'"—(Mr. Theodore Taylor.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said he was afraid the hon. Member did not realize that the result of his proposal would be the abolition of the duty except as regarded eightpenny tea. Why should the limit be eightpence? Why was the poor eightpenny tea to be taxed at eightpence per pound whilst all other teas at higher prices were to be let off? If the hon. Member wished the higher teas to pay a higher duty then they came to an ad valorem duty at once. Upon an article like tea, an ad valorem duty was almost impossible. This proposal had all the inconveniences of an ad valorem duty without any of its advantages to the revenue.
§ MR. FLYNN
said that if they could not adopt an ad valorem duty all round surely they could draw the line somewhere in order that they might not impose the same excessive duty on a lowprioed article as they did upon an article which might be double the value. He had made inquiries from a great many different merchants, and they informed him that a large quantity of tea imported into this country was valued at 6d., 6½d., and 7d. per pound. Surely it was unjust to put the same duty upon tea of that value as upon the higher-priced teas. This Amendment did not apply to Ireland so much, because the Irish people did not consume much high-priced tea.
§ MR. MCKENNA
said there would be little difficulty in arriving at the value of tea, because by far the larger part of the imports was sold by public auction. He suggested the withdrawal of the Amendment in favour of the simpler form of an ad valorem duty to be pro- 762 posed by the hon. Member for Devonport.
§ MR. THEODORE TAYLOR
said his hon. friend the Member for Devonport had given notice of an Amendment on the same subject in a better form. He would be glad to withdraw his Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. KEARLEY (Devonport)
moved an Amendment to make the duty on tea an ad valorem one not exceeding 50 per cent. He said it was evident from the cheers of hon. Members that his Amendment was an attractive one. He was not surprised, for it was neither a novel nor an unreasonable one. Until about 1833 the system of levying duties was an ad valorem one. Up to that time the East India Company had practically a monopoly of all tea coming into the country, indeed ho believed there was an Act making it illegal for anybody else to import tea except by the ships belonging to that company. In 1830, however, it became necessary to curtail and limit this monopoly because, as with all monopolies, abuses grew up, and consumers found themselves assailed by the exorbitant prices being charged. A Parliamentary Committee sat in that year and it advised that the monopoly of the company should be brought to an end as far as tea was concerned, and at an opportune moment the privilege was withdrawn. The Government accepted the opportunity of changing the system, and he believed it was in 1836 that a system of levying a simple duty came into vogue. This historical statement would show that ad valorem duties were possible and that they had been practised in this country. What title had he to ask the House to agree to an ad valorem duty not to exceed 50 per cent.? He had taken some pains to examine the percentage of duty in relation to the cost price of tea in bond. He found that in the past forty years the percentage of duty to the cost of tea in bond had never exceeded forty-five. He was more generous than that; he wanted to levy an ad valorem duty equivalent to 50 per cent.; and, judging by the imports of the past, the tea duty would bring in as much or more than the varying duties of the past forty years. When the duty was reduced to 6d. in the pound, he found that from 1865 to 1875 the average 763 price of tea in bond was 1s. 6d. per pound and therefore the percentage of duty was 33 per cent. During the next ten years, when the average price was 1s. l½d. per pound, it rose to 45 per cent. If they took the year when the duty was reduced to 4d., the year 1890, when the average price of tea was 10¾d. per pound, they found that the relation of duty to the cost price in bond was only 37 per cent. From 1890 to 1896, when the average price of tea in bond was 10d. per pound and the duty 4d., the percentage was 40 per cent. Thus for forty years, right down almost to the present year, the duty had never exceeded 45 per cent, in relation to the cost of tea in bond. How did they stand to-day? In 1900 the duty was raised to 6d., and now it was proposed to raise it to 8d. The average price of tea was 7¾d., and the duty would therefore be over 100 per cent. Considering, too, that an enormous quantity of tea sold did not fetch more than 6d. per pound, a duty of 8d. was altogether excessive. The Chancellor of the Exchequer would say that a system of ad valorem duty was altogether impossible—that it had broken down before and that it would be impossible to put it in practice at the present time. He denied this. It would be quite easy, because 95 per cent, of the tea sold was sold by public auction, and those who dealt in it did not buy in their own name but through a broker, who delivered a contract, which could no doubt be turned into a document sufficiently adequate for the purposes of the tax; and there would be no difficulty in merchants sending, as they did now, cheques to the Customs House accompanied by a declaration that the tea had cost so much and no more. Over 90 per cent, could be checked, because it was sold in this way. The rich bought high-priced tea, and therefore the proportion of duty they paid was smaller than that paid by the poor. It was the poor who paid over 100 per cent., and this was why he considered an ad valorem duty would be more equitable. Why did they not put some of the duty on coffee and cocoa, which mainly came from foreign countries, while tea came from India and Ceylon. Here they went to their dependencies; and if for no 764 other reason than that it would bring relief to the Colonies and at the same time a great amount of relief to the tea consumers of the country, he begged to move.
In page 1, line 21, after the word 'pound, to insert the words 'fifty per cent, ad valorem, but not to exceed.'"—(Mr. Kearley.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ And, it being half-past Seven of the clock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again this evening.