§ [SECOND READING.]
§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ SIR WILLIAM HOLLAND, (Yorkshire, W.R., Rotherham)
in moving the Second Reading, said that this Bill had been under consideration on several previous occasions, and if the House was to be at all consistent it would again pass the measure by a substantial majority. The kinds of machinery to which the Bill related were not now, in practice, rated by those unions in which the machinery most largely existed; therefore the passing of the Bill would not in any way interfere with existing practice. Whilst it could not be said that the promoters of the Bill had any reason to complain of the practice in most of the unions of the country, their desire was to crystallise that practice and to remove certain obscurities which sometimes led to considerable litigation. On the other hand, the owners of the kinds of machinery and tools covered by the Bill had no reason to complain of the decisions which had been obtained from the Courts of Law. When previously before the House the Bill was opposed by the city of Sheffield because of a false alarm as to the probable effect of the Bill on the present rating practice in that large industrial centre. He was assured, however, by leading authorities that the Bill would in no sense interfere with that practice, but that the heavy machinery and tools at present assessed within that borough would continue to be so assessed. On the other hand, if the practice which obtained in a few unions, where there was very little loose machinery and tools, was universally followed, a serious additional burden would be imposed upon the industries employing that machinery, an additional burden which might even involve the ruin of some concerns. In most of the constituencies represented 89 in this House the provisions of the Bill were a matter of indifference, as the loose machinery and tools affected did not there exist in any large quantity; but in a few constituencies, such as Oldham, Bolton, and Preston, in Lancashire, and Bradford, Huddersfield, and Leeds, in Yorkshire, it was a life and death matter that the principles embodied in the Bill should be approved by the House. Seeing the matter was of such importance, it was no wonder that the textile operatives were as strongly in favour of the Bill as the employers themselves. The Bill had been before the House on so many occasions that Members were doubtless familiar with the arguments in its favour; he would, therefore, merely say, in conclusion, that in this, as in many other matters, Scotland set a good example, for the Scotch practice was one of which the promoters of the Bill approved and which they do-sired to see adopted in England. If the system of carrying over Bills from one session to another had been in existence this Bill would have been the law of the land long ago, as it had often reached an advanced stage, but had never been able to complete its stages through both Houses. With the hope that it would be more successful this session, he begged to move that it be now read a second time.
§ MR. CHAPMAN, (Cheshire, Hyde)
on rising to second the Bill, said that according to its opponents the theory of this Bill was that as soon as a mm had saved a little money, obtained a patent, taken a shed, the power being supplied by his landlord, and put therein his movable machinery, down would come the valuer, with the result that the industry would be practically strangled at the beginning. That was not the object at all. The Bill aimed at relieving small industries from increased taxation; consequently it would encourage them. It affirms that machinery provided by a tenant should not increase the value of the buildings. The Bill did not propose to take the taxes off all machinery. The landlords' fixed machinery, such as boilers, shafting, and so on, was taxed already, and it would not be affected by the Bill; the intention was to prevent the tenant 90 who moved his machinery into a building from being taxed out of existence by the rates on the valuation of the building. Moreover, the Bill would diminish the enormously costly litigation caused by appeals to quarter sessions. In the Hunslet Union, Leeds, fifty-five members of the Machinery Users' Association had entered appeals against their assessments. Under the old assessments the gross estimated rental amounted to £45,000 (taking round figures) and the rateable value to £33,000; under the new assessment the gross estimated rental was £94,000, an increase of 103 per cent., and the rateable value £62,000, an increase of 85 per cent., the increases being in consequence of the rating authorities having taxed the tenants' machinery on the premises. The cost of this litigation was estimated to be about £400 in each case, or a total of £20,000, the whole of which would probably have been avoided had this Bill been in force. That was a very startling and instructive instance. He read a letter from Messrs. Early & Co., Witney Mills, Oxford, saying, "It is of the greatest importance to us, as the local manufacturers are rated at double what they would be in the North, and it seriously handicaps us in competition." He gave one example. He was informed on the best authority that the well-known Westinghouse manufactory established recently near Manchester would have been taxed out of existence had not the Corporation wisely followed the lines of valuation laid down in this Bill, a line adopted usually in Lancashire. The Bill would prevent the hampering of small trades, and it would encourage the establishment of small manufactures. These were important considerations in view of the present industrial depression, for by encouraging the growth of home industries, with the consequent increase of employment for working men, the country at large would be benefited. He begged to second the Motion for the second reading of the Bill.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ SIR JAMES JOICEY (Durham, Chester-le-Street)
said he had often 91 protested against the name given to this Bill, as it created the greatest confusion throughout the country. That confusion, however, was gradually disappearing, and as the people got more thoroughly to understand the real principle of the Bill their objection to it increased. The Bill was called a "Rating of Machinery (Exemption) Bill," but the impression in many districts was that it was a Bill to rate machinery, not to exempt it. The example of Scotland had been cited. He understood from a prominent Scotch Member that many Scotch municipalities were now beginning to adopt the English system in their assessments, and to rate the machinery in connection with their mills. The debates on the subject had been of great service in opening the eyes of various localities to the disadvantages which would ensue if the Bill were passed. Complaint was made of the cost of litigation. But what was its cause? In the North of England they knew what the law was, and they had made their assessments in accordance therewith. In an evil moment there was a dispute in the Midland district between a municipality and certain traders; a gentleman from Sunderland was called in to make a fresh assessment, and he made it in accordance with what they in the North believed the law to be. Litigation ensued, and the Courts upheld the view of the North, with the result that the municipality adopted that method of assessment. This Bill practically proposed to punish those who had been conforming to the law, and to bring the law into agreement with the practice of those who had been systematically breaking it. It was not proposed to exempt all machinery. Greater injustice than at present existed would be created, because the Bill proposed to exempt certain machinery and to rate other machinery. He could not think that this was a time when the House ought to narrow the area of taxation. They were constantly hearing of the injustice that personalty was not taxed in the same way as real property, but if there was any class of personalty which ought to be rated surely it was that which increased the productive power of an industry.
92 The hon. Member opposite said this Bill was intended to assist the working classes, but he was satisfied it would have the opposite effect. This measure did not deal with industries as a whole, and surely workers were as much in need of consideration as the owners of machinery. This Bill proposed to take the tax off machinery and put it on to the workmen, and he protested strongly against any such process. The rates and taxes of this country were going up by leaps and bounds. Municipalities found their expenditure increasing, and all kinds of public improvements were wanted, and the difficulty they were experiencing was to find money for them. Public bodies; were unable to carry oat these much-needed improvements owing to increases in the local rates. Personally he could not see how this measure was likely to benefit any particular industry simply by taking this burden off the manufacturers and placing it upon the general public. This was in reality a manufacturers' Bill. Had hon. Members considered how this measure would affect some of the towns in the North of England. Take Gateshead as an example, where 95 per cent of the inhabitants belonged to the working classes. At the present time machinery there was rated, but if this Bill were adopted the rateable value would be considerably reduced, and who would pay the amount which the manufacturers had been relieved of? Why the population of Gateshead. Consequently the only effect of this Bill would be to transfer a burden from the manufacturer and place it upon the public at large. That was not a justifiable method of attempting to deal with this question, and as a matter of fact it was equivalent to a reduction of the wages of the workers. If the ratepayers had to pay higher rates upon their houses the rents would increase, and therefore this Bill was equivalent to a reduction of wages. At the present time there was a good deal of talk about the housing of the poor, and how would this measure affect that question? It would operate against the housing of the poor, and surely this was not a time to reduce rateable value when they had so many expenses looming in the distance. The present system of assessing the rates 93 had been given in the past as security for loans, and what was now proposed by this Bill would interfere with the security which had been given for those advances. If they reduced the rateable area they must necessarily reduce the value of the security, and this House ought to hesitate before pursuing any such policy. If, in a mining district, they introduced machines for coal cutting to do away with the severe labour in mines, and in order to produce 30 or 40 per cent. more coal, under this Bill they would have to pay increased rates and that would be simply taxing the output.
This Bill only dealt with a small part of a large question, and he could not think that the House would be well advised to begin to deal with the great question of rating in a piecemeal fashion. The Government ought to deal with the whole question of rating, and he thought it would be very unwise to tie the hands of any future Government which attempted to deal with this matter by passing this measure. This was a question which ought to be dealt with by the Government and not by a private Member's Bill. He thought the time was fast coming when, instead of people being gathered together in large mills, they would have smaller industries in the country, the motive power being supplied by electricity. He had opposed this Bill for many years, because he contended that, if they were to rate personal property, they ought not to exempt machinery, which would simply relieve the manufacturers at the expense of the working classes. [Cries of "No, no!"] He maintained that that was so. He recognised rates as a handicap to all industries, but they could not get along without taxation, and it was the duty of the House of Commons to see that taxation was levied justly upon all classes, whereas this Bill only created another injustice He begged to move that this Bill be read a second time this day six months.
§ COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY (Shropshire, Newport)
said that although they had heard this measure debated over and over again, on this occasion they had not heard one single new argument. Therefore the difficulties which stood between them on the last occasion still 94 existed, and they were still waiting for an answer to the arguments used in previous debates upon this subject. They had just been listening to the giants of commercial enterprise, but ho wished the House to bear in mind that the great industrial communities were not the only communities concerned in legislation. This was to a certain extent a struggle between the rural and the industrial interests. [Cries of "No, no."] At any rate, agriculturists thought they knew what was best for agriculture better than hon. Members representing industrial centres, and they thought that this Bill would have an unhappy and unfortunate effect upon some of the industries they were sent to support. It had been said that if they could tax the whole of the personalty there might be something said for rating machinery, but it was no argument to say that because they could not carry out a reform all at once it was wrong to perform a little measure of justice. As a matter of fact, they all knew that under the law, as it stood, all personalty was liable for rates, and it was only by a sort of accident that a person escaped. Those who were connected with the land considered that they had at present a very heavy and direct grievance by this escaping of personalty from taxation, and it was solely because the owners of land were a long-suffering race, and had not the same power of making themselves heard, that the land was suffering at present from those unjust burdens which had been so long imposed upon it. This extremely unfair condition of things had been allowed to go on too long, and they were looking forward to an alteration in the existing state of affairs through reform in local taxation. Last year he was very much struck by an argument used by the hon. Member for Oldham, who said that if they could not rate personalty there ought to be some increase in the Imperial subventions to local authorities. He thought that was a sound and wholesome doctrine, and when the hon. Member had done his best to support the agricultural interest in obtaining such local subventions, then he thought it would be time to support such proposals as were contained in this Bill. Was this an opportune moment to suggest that they 95 should transfer certain burdens now borne by one class of the community to the shoulders of the agricultural class, who would have to take up the burden which others would lay down under this measure? This House had been too much accustomed to hear what was the condition of things in rural districts to entertain a proposal of that kind, they knew only too well how heavily the pressure of the rates affected rural districts, and how difficult it was to carry on agricultural industries, partly on account of the burden of new rates.
Under recent legislation a considerable increase had been laid upon the agricultural community whom they now proposed to burden still further by measures like this. Not only had there been new rates involving a considerable amount of money, but in his own rural district there had been a new assessments of all the houses and hereditaments which came under the Rating Acts. He agreed that some of those assessments were absurd in the extreme, and he would give an instance. Recently he had endeavoured to do what he could to provide better housing for the agricultural labourers in his own district, and ho had spent a considerable amount of money upon improving their cottages. Not only this, but immediately after carrying out these improvements, he lowered the rents to those who stayed on the land. Nevertheless, under the new system of rating, in the case of every one of those cottages, although the rent had been dropped, the assessments had been doubled on the ground that the rental was worth more than that which he had chosen to let his cottages for. Of course if a business man was to conduct his affairs upon those principles, a rise of rents would always have to follow a rise of rates. He was aware that many landlords did not follow out this principle, but he wished to impress upon the House if the existing state of things was such as to justify any further imposition of rates, and if this Bill were passed, there would be some additional burden put upon the agricultural community from which a certain section of the people would escape. No doubt he would be 96 told that agriculturists got their share under the Agricultural Rating Act; they did not get under that Act as much as they ought to have got, but if the Agricultural Rating Act was fair and just why should the House of Commons now try to neutralise its value by passing an Act like this. With all due respect to the hon. Member for Rotherham, he still insisted that he understood agricultural matters bettor than he did, and he thought he had given some good reasons why from an agricultural point of view this measure would be inequitable and unfair.
He had been very much impressed with the argument which had been repeated by the hon. Baronet opposite to the effect that in his opinion this was a Bill which would injure the working classes and help the manufacturers. In this respect he should like to call attention to an argument which had not yet been answered and which was referred to in the debate last year. He alluded to the question which was asked as to whether it was true that the effect of this Bill would be to place a fine upon West Ham to the extent of £27,000 a year, which would be equivalent to a rise of 7d. in the £ on the rates. Assuming that to be a fact, what justification was there for such an immense burden being placed upon that borough? It had been said that the effect of this measure upon large towns in the North of England would be to increase the rates paid by the working classes by an amount varying from 3d. to 8d. in the £. If that was true, how could it possibly be said that this Bill was an equitable measure in the interests of the working classes, and how could it assist in providing them with better and healthier homes? Since this question was discussed last, the House had suffered a great loss by the death of one of its most picturesque personalities. Hon. Members would always remember the speech made upon this question by the late Sir William Allan, who spoke from personal knowledge, and who pointed out the evil effect this measure would have in the borough he represented, and the extent to which it would oppress the working classes by putting upon them a burden which was borne at the 97 present time by another class. Those who remembered that speech would not be very easily convinced that the measure which was now before the House ought to pass. It was difficult to trace out what the effect of this Bill would be upon minor industries in the country. Some of his hon. friends thought that by starting minor industries in country districts they would benefit agriculture. He did not deny that when certain industries were in flourishing condition they benefited agriculture, but they did assert that at the present time, when they desired to keep a larger agricultural population on the land not only to develop agriculture but also to produce a stronger and a healthier population, they failed entirely to see how this measure would do anything but add to the difficulties which at present existed. Until he had heard a satisfactory answer to the objections he had put forward to this Bill, until some conclusive proof was given that the facts asserted by Sir William Allan and the hon. Baronet opposite were erroneous, and until he could be shown that this Bill would not operate adversely to the agricultural interest, he should associate himself with the hon. Baronet opposite in endeavouring to secure the rejection of this Bill.
To leave out the word 'now,' and at the end of the Question to add the words 'upon this day six months.'"—(Sir James Joicey.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ MR. EMMOTT (Oldham)
said the hon. and gallant Member who had just sat down had spoken of this Bill, not as it really was or as it would turn out to be if passed, but what he imagined the Bill aimed at. He had quoted a remark which he had made in regard to increasing the subventions to local authorities, but he thought the hon. and gallant Member was mistaken in supposing that this Bill would operate against the interests of agriculture. What was meant by minor industries being discouraged was that owing to the uncertainty of the law at the present time people were indisposed to erect factories in agricultural centres on account of the rating of machinery, because they knew that as soon as they erected their factories, and placed their machinery in them, the local authorities would 98 come down and rate that machinery. Probably nine-tenths of the amount they often put on for machinery might be taken off on appeal, but so long as that uncertainty existed manufacturers were not inclined to erect their buildings and put in machinery in agricultural districts where no such factories now existed. The hon. Member for the Chester-le-Street Division objected to the title of this Bill as being misleading, but there were many other Bills to which a similar objection might be taken. Very often it was almost impossible to give in a few words a name which would adequately describe what a Bill was really meant to carry out. That, however, was a minor objection. The hon. Member stated that in Scotland they were trying to rate machinery. As a matter of fact they did try to rate machinery a few years ago, but the Scotch people knew immediately that any such action would drive industry and manufactures away from the country, and a Machinery Bill was introduced and carried through this House without any opposition which enacted precisely what they wanted for England. So far as the supporters of this Bill were concerned, they were willing to take exactly the words of the Scotch Bill and apply them to England. When his hon. friend the Member for the Chester-le-Street Division of Durham said that machinery in mines was rated, he he was going beyond the actual facts of the case. In some cases machinery was rated. In other cases the presence of machinery affected the rating of the mine in that the assessment of the mine was increased because the assessment was made on the output. There were some mines which were very expensive to work, and where a great deal of pumping machinery was required. He did not mean to say that the presence of machinery made the assessment lower, but the fact that it was wanted tended to make the assessment of the mine lower. He knew nothing about the rating of mines himself, but he had told the House what had been stated to him by a rating authority.
§ SIR JAMES JOICEY
All the machinery in connection with a mine tends to increase the output, and in that way machinery is rated.
§ MR. EMMOTT
said it was not the machinery that was rated. The mines were rated on the output. He had stated the case as it had been stated to him by a very competent assessing expert. His hon. friend went on to say that what the promoters of this Bill were aiming at was to reduce the rating area of the country. It was nothing of the kind. It was stated that in Northumberland and Durham, and also in Sheffield, machinery was rated by the rating authority. He did not know whether that was the case or not, but he was told that the assessments made by the rating authorities there were not greater than were made in Manchester or Oldham for similar manufactures. He was certain, at any rate, that there were textile districts in the country where machinery was not rated, and where the local authorities would be absolutely opposed to anything which would bring it within the purview of assessment, from the fact that it would tend to add to the cost of production, and that to do anything which would operate against great industries of that kind would be a very serious and a very unwise matter. There were stated to be two principles at work. One principle was carried out in one part of the country, and the other in other parts. He was not able to give the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite the information he asked in regard to Oldham, because he did not know the circumstances. He hoped the hon. and gallant Gentleman would agree with him that, if two principles directly opposed to one another were being carried out in different parts of the country, the fact showed that there was a case which should be examined by a competent and independent authority on behalf of the Government, and that some settlement of the question should be made. He appealed to the Secretary o the Local Government Board, if he should speak this afternoon, to state what the Government was going to do in the matter. The King's Speech promised a Bill dealing with the question of assessment. As soon as the question was dealt with, in order to put the assessing system on one uniform basis, the question of the rating of machinery must also be dealt with. They could 100 not in a great country like England put manufacturers on a different basis from those in Scotland. If they attempted to do that, Lancashire and Yorkshire would be practically in revolt on this matter.
This was a question on which an enormous amount of misunderstanding existed, and it was for that reason that he said there ought to be a thoroughly independent inquiry. If they were going to carry out in connection with the cotton industry what was carried out in Northumberland and Durham, he feared it would mean absolute disaster, and therefore he hoped that hon. Members would see that this was a very serious matter which wanted more investigation than it had yet received. It was a matter on which they could not afford to depart, with regard to the textile industries at any rate, from what had been carried out in the past. The hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite said that if he would help him to get a large subvention from Imperial sources for agriculture, he would do what he could in their case. He would remind the hon. and gallant Gentleman that if there was one place which suffered from the system of Imperial subvention, and which would benefit by the alteration of that system in the direction which the Royal Commission suggested, that place was the constituency for which he had the honour to sit. He ventured to say that Oldham would benefit much more than any agricultural county if that principle were carried out.
§ SIR SAMUEL HOARE (Norwich)
said this question had been before the House on several occasions, but those who had supported the Bill, year after year, in the past would continue to do so, knowing that a great grievance existed in the country. The hon. Baronet who moved the rejection of the Bill criticised the name, but that could be easily altered. He asked the House to confirm the decision which had been arrived at again and again with reference to this measure. There was admittedly a grievance felt by many people in the country in connection with this matter, and, if that was so, something ought to be done to remedy it. He wished to speak on behalf of the city of Norwich, whose industries were of the greatest inportance to it, and where 101 they laboured under difficulties which did not exist in the North of England. It was a city which depended a great deal for its prosperity on agriculutral prosperity. He therefore claimed to be able to speak on this question both from the point of view of manufacturing industry and agriculture. In answer to the suggestion which had been made that this was a Bill introduced by employers and manufacturers he would state, as showing that this was not so, that he had received memorials signed by the workers in connection with fifteen of the manufactures of Norwich urging him in their interest to support this measure. The chamber of commerce in his city had also asked him to support it. He should like to ask his hon. and gallant friend whether movable machinery was assessed in the agricultural district in which he lived. His impression was that it was not, for it was assessed in comparatively few places at the present time. The city of Norwich was one, and that was why they felt the grievance there. It was because the system of rating machinery was not uniform that those in the districts which were assessed felt that there was an uncertainty which ought to be done away with. It was necessary to bring forward the same arguments year after year, but it appeared to him that the arguments in favour of the Bill were stronger now than they were last year in view of the experience they had had. A great deal had been heard during the past year about the desirability of furthering the industries of this country. They had seen their village or small town industries drifting to the great centres. He thought this had been a very serious matter for the agricultural districts. He would put this case to his hon. and gallant friend. Supposing there were some old buildings in his district which he did not want, and three or four active and enterpising young men with a turn for machinery rented them for a small amount. Some movable machinery was put in, and these young men started a little industry which one day might be a great industry in that district. The very moment they put that machinery into these disused premises the assessment would be raised. Such cases had happened, and that was not the way to encourage young men to start small industries. There were places in the United States, and he believed 102 also in Germany, where, in order to encourage the starting of industries, the buildings were either free from rates, or only a very small assessment was imposed, until the industries were properly established. He hoped his hon. friend the Secretary to the Local Government Board would be able to say more to-day on the question than the House had heard from the Front Bench on previous occasions.
§ MR. GEORGE WHITELEY (Yorkshire, W.R., Pudsey)
said he had taken an interest in this question for many years, and he was bound to say that their labours with regard to the Bill did not seem to be much nearer fruition than they did some years ago. The question was a very narrow one. Movable machinery was personal property, and the question was, was it right or desirable that personal property should be rated? He was entirely of opinion that it should be; but at the present time it was not rated generally, and if that was so, was it right or fair that one peculiar productive form of personal property should be rated? If they were to be logical, consistent, and fair-minded in this matter they would, with regard to the agricultural interest, be obliged to rate ploughs, harrows, and theshing machines; and in connection with the coal industry they must rate trolleys, pickaxes, and shovels. At Liverpool docks and wharves were heavily rated, but to be consistent, why should they not also rate even the ships plying on the Mersey? At present the agricultural interest was receiving half of its rates from the Exchequer, and the people in the towns were obliged to contribute a large portion of that relief to the counties where the rates were only half what they were in the towns. He ventured to say that land was not rated at all. It was income derived from land that was rated, and why should income from land be treated differently from income derived from other forms of property? He wished to ask the Secretary to the Local Government Board whether it was the fact that shortly after the passing of the Agricultural Rating Act the Government agreed, on the entreaty of Mr. Ascroft, the late 103 Member for Oldham, not only to withdraw their opposition to this Bill, but to support it.
THE SECRETARY TO THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. GRANT LAWSON,) Yorkshire, N.R., Thirsk
said that was certainly not the case. His right hon. friend the President of the Local Government Board said in the House last year or the year before that the Government, as all Governments had done, left it an open question.
§ MR. GEORGE WHITELEY
said he believed that up to that year the Government of the day did oppose the Bill. He hoped the Government would leave it an open question on this occasion, and also that the House would again affirm the principle that machinery was personal property which should be exempted from assessment.
§ MR. CHAPLIN (Lincolnshire, Sleaford)
said he entirely agreed that this was a narrow question. The hon. Member for Norwich said that a grievance was felt in that city. But was there no grievance on the other side? Agriculturists had considered for years that they had a great grievance in the matter. If there was a grievance, let it be remedied by all means, but let it be remedied all round. If by this Bill they gave a modicum of relief to a particular portion of the community, some part of the burden must fall on other interests. It would fall on the agricultural interest, which, as the agriculturists had always claimed, was more unfairly rated than any other interest in the country. He would vote against the Bill.
§ MR. FENWICK (Northumberland, Wansbeck)
said the hon. Member for the city of Norwich said many people had a very serious grievance in connection with this matter. It seemed to him a very curious and unsatisfactory proceeding to endeavour to remedy one grievance by creating another. The grievance was only a local one, and by passing the Bill they would create even greater hardships in the districts in which it would operate than 104 existed now. He agreed with his hon. friend the Member for Oldham that this was a serious question, but it was only the fringe of a still greater question, viz., the entire basis of local assessment and local rating. The Government were pledged to deal with the whole question of local taxation, and he thought it would be preferable that they should wait until they had the Government's scheme before them rather than that they should tinker with the fringe of so great a question as was proposed by the Bill. His hon. friend the Member for Norwich said that this was not a manufacturers' question, but he was afraid that he could not subscribe to that doctrine; it was a manufacturers' question almost entirely. The first to get relief by this Bill would be the manufacturers; workmen would obtain no relief, at least in the first instance. The area of rateable property would be reduced, the workmen's wages would not be increased, while rents would rise. In the North of England, at present, machinery was rated, and all those who had carefully studied the question—boards of guardians and town and district councils—maintained that if this Bill passed it would reduce the area of rating, and increase the rating of householders. Hard as the workman's lot was at present, he would find it much harder if this Bill was passed into law. He therefore hoped that the measure would not be endorsed by the Government. They had been told that the principle of the Bill had been affirmed by the House, but hon. Members must have been struck by the fact that on each occasion when a Second Reading was carried, it was by diminishing majorities. That showed that the opinion of the country—which had been captured by the false and fanciful title under which the measure had been brought into the House, was now becoming alive to the real facts of the case and the true inwardness of the proposal. Believing that if the Bill were carried in its present shape it would prove unjust to owners of small properties, to agriculturists, and specially to householders, he would give his vote against the Second Reading.
MR. GRANT LAWSON
said that this was a question in which he had always 105 taken the keenest interest. It was perfectly true, as the hon. Member opposite had just stated, that the Government were pledged to deal with the whole question of rating; but when they did so they would deal not only with the question of how light machinery should be valued, or heavy machinery should be valued, or how this and that industry should be rated, hut with the subject as a whole. The hon. Member for Oldham seemed to think that the Valuation Bill, which was mentioned in the King's Speech, and which the House had given his right hon. friend the President of the Local Government Board leave to introduce, was the occasion to deal with these matters. He was not revealing any Cabinet secret when he said that that was not so. That Bill did not deal with the manner in which a particular hereditament was to be valued, nor with any subject of that description. It dealt only with valuation authorities, and the areas over which those valuation authorities were to rule. He had been asked to intimate to the House what was the attitude of the Government in regard to this Bill. Many Presidents and Secretaries of the Local Government Board of both Parties had declared that the matter was one on which individual Members, if a division was called, might proceed in whatever direction they saw fit. That had always been the general attitude adopted by Governments in the past towards this measure, and it was the attitude which was taken up by the present Government on this occasion. The hon. Member who introduced the Bill, with an exaggeration of language at which he was astonished, said that this measure was a life and death measure for the industries of the country. If that were the case these industries would have been dead long ago. Speaking in an unofficial capacity, and as one who had given great attention to questions of local taxation, he said that with regard to all these rating Bills the attitude he consistently took up was that every man who received an annual benefit from the expenditure of the rates ought to make an annual contribution to the rates in proportion to that benefit; and that, as far as possible, valuation, as forming the basis of taxation, ought 106 to be founded on actual knowledge of facts, and not on efforts of the imagination. The Bill before the House was not supported by any rating authority in the country, except one.
MR. GRANT LAWSON
said that only one rating authority had communicated with the Local Government Board on the subject: and he himself knew that many rating authorities were violently opposed to the measure. To discuss reasonably in that House a proposal for either the imposition of further local taxation or the exemption of certain hereditaments from rating, they ought to look at the matter from the point of view of two considerations. The first was, what annual benefit would the owner of the hereditaments receive from the expenditure of the rates; and the second was, what was the capacity of the owner of the hereditament to bear the rates? He had not heard any hon. Member approach the subject from either of these points of view. No one had attempted to prove that the owners of light machinery received less benefit from the expenditure of rates than the owners of heavy machinery, or, indeed, than the owners of hereditaments to which no machinery whatever was attached. And he was sure that no one would ever attempt to prove that mills containing this light machinery produced less value to their owners, and were, therefore, less capable of bearing taxation than were other works in the same district in which machinery was of a ponderous character. He did not agree with the view that the law in this matter was uncertain and that this Bill would make it more certain. He believed that the law was as certain on this matter as the law of this country would ever be on any matter. The question had been fought out for years. Ever since 1840 it had occupied the attention of the Courts, and at last something like a definite decision had been arrived at. He considered the judgment of Lord Esher in the Tyne boiler case was as plain as anything could be. If this Bill were passed, the whole thing would be again thrown into the melting 107 pot. He did not think it would be fair to ask the House to come to a decision after so short a discussion; but, if a division was taken, he hoped the House would be against the Bill.
§ MR. SPEAKER
said that this question had been a long time before Parliament, and although the debate had been only a short one on that occasion, he thought it had come almost to a natural termination; and therefore he would accept the Motion.
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 126; Noes, 82. (Division List No. 64.)109
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F.||Flower, Sir Ernest||Rolleston, Sir John F. L.|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Forster, Henry William||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Round, Rt. Hon. James|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Freeman-Thomas, Captain F.||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Fyler, John Arthur||Russell, T. W.|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Garfit, William||Rutherford, John (Lancashire)|
|Barron, Rowland Hirst||Gibbs Hon. A. G. H.||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Goddard Daniel Ford||Sandys, Lt.-Col. Thos. Myles|
|Bignold, Arthur||Groves, James Grimble||Seely, Maj. J. E. B. (Isle of Wight|
|Black, Alexander William||Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F.||Seton-Karr, Sir Henry|
|Bond, Edward||Harcourt, Lewis V. (Rossendale||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Boulnois, Edmund||Harmsworth, R. Leicester||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Brown, George M. (Edinburgh)||Helder, Augustus||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Hickman, Sir Alfred||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Hoare, Sir Samuel||Spencer, Rt. Hn. C. R (Northants|
|Caldwell, James||Hornby, Sir William Henry||Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart|
|Campbell, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Glasgow||Horniman, Frederick John||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Howard, J. (Midd., Tottenham)||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf'd Univ|
|Cavendish, V.C.W. (Derbyshire||Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse||Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.)|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|Charrington, Spencer||Kenyon, Hon. Geo. T. (Denbigh||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Coates, Edward Feetham||Kitson, Sir James||Tomkinson, James|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Knowles, Sir Lees||Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M.|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Laurie, Lieut.-General||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Craig, Robert Hunter (Lanark)||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cornwall)||Tuff, Charles|
|Cremer, William Randal||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. H. (Sheff'd|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Leese, Sir Jos. F. (Accrington)||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Crombie, John William||Leng, Sir John||Wallace, Robert|
|Crossley, Rt. Hon. Sir Savile||Levy, Maurice||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)|
|Denny, Colonel||Lloyd-George, David||Wason, Jn. Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Dickson, Charles Scott||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Whiteley, George (York, W.R.)|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Morrell, George Herbert||Whiteley, H.(Ashton und. Lyne|
|Dimsdale, Rt. Hn. Sir Joseph C.||Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Doxford, Sir William Theodore||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Dunn, Sir William||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir William Hart||Nicholson, William Graham||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Norman, Henry||Wodehouse, Rt.Hn. E.R.(Bath|
|Ellice, Capt E. C (SAndrw's Bghs||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Emmott, Alfred||Parrott, William|
|Evans, Sir F. H. (Maidstone)||Perks, Robert William||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir William Holland and Mr. Chapman.|
|Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Fergusson Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Manc.||Reid, James (Greenock)|
|Finlay Sir Robert Bannatyne||Ridley, S. Forde (Bethnal Green|
|FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose-||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N.E.)||Ambrose, Robert||Barry, E. (Cork, S.)|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.|
|Blake, Edward||Hammond, John||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Hare, Thomas Leigh||O'Shee, James John|
|Boland, John||Harris, F. Leverton (Tynem'th)||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Bowles, Lt.-Col. H. F. (Middlesex||Hayden, John Patrick||Pemberton, John S. G.|
|Burns, John||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Plummer, Walter R.|
|Cameron, Robert||Hozier, Hn. James Henry Cecil||Price, Robert John|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Hutchinson, Dr. Charles Fredk.||Reddy, M.|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Jacoby James Alfred||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Carvill, Patrick Geo. Hamilton||Jones, D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W.(Salop.||Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Lee, A. H. (Hants., Fareham)||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Crean Eugene||Lundon, W.||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Spear, John Ward|
|Cust, Henry John C.||M'Kean, John||Sullivan, Donal|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||Malcolm, Ian||Tennant, Harold John|
|Delany, William||Markham, Arthur Basil||Thomas, D. Alfred (Merthyr)|
|Dickinson, Robert Edmond||Morpeth, Viscount||Walton, Jn. Lawson (Leeds, S.)|
|Dixon-Hartland, Sir F. Dixon||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)||Wilson-Todd, Sir W.H.(Yorks.)|
|Edwards, Frank||O'Brien, K. (Tipperary, Mid.)|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir James Joicey and Mr. Fenwick.|
|Ffrench, Peter||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.|
|Flynn, James Christopher||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)|
|Gore, Hn G.R.C. Ormsby-(Salop||O'Kelly, Jas. (Roscommon, N.)|
|Grenfell, William Henry||O'Mara, James|
§ Question put accordingly, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Manc.||Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose-||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Flower, Sir Ernest||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Norman, Henry|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Freeman-Thomas, Captain F.||Parrott, William|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. G. W. (Leeds)||Garfit, William||Perks, Robert William|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Gibbs, Hon. A. G. H.||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Reid, James (Greenock)|
|Bignold, Arthur||Groves, James Grimble||Ridley, S. Forde (Bethnal Green|
|Black, Alexander William||Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F.||Rolleston, Sir John F. L.|
|Bond, Edward||Harcourt, Lewis V. (Rossendale||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye|
|Boulnois, Edmund||Hare, Thomas Leigh||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Brown, George M. (Edinburgh)||Harmsworth, R. Leicester||Rutherford, John (Lancashire)|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Hickman, Sir Alfred||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Hoare, Sir Samuel||Seely, Maj. J. E. B. (Isle of Wight|
|Caldwell, James||Hornby, Sir William Henry||Seton-Karr, Sir Henry|
|Campbell, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Glasgow||Horniman, Frederick John||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Hoare, Sir Samuel||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Hornby, Sir William Henry||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Horniman, Frederick John||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Lancs.|
|Charrington, Spencer||Howard, J. (Midd., Tottenham)||Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Hozier, Hn. James Henry Cecil||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Hutchinson, Dr. Charles Fredk.||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf'd Univ|
|Craig, Robert Hunter (Lanark)||Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse||Tennant, Harold John|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.)|
|Crombie, John William||Kenyon, Hn. Geo. T. (Denbigh)||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|Crossley, Rt. Hon. Sir Savile||Kitson, Sir James||Tomkinson, James|
|Denny, Colonel||Knowles, Sir Lees||Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw M.|
|Dickson, Charles Scott||Laurie, Lieut.-General||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Dimsdale, Rt. Hn. Sir Joseph C.||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cornwall)||Tuff, Charles|
|Doxford, Sir William Theodore||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. H. (Sheff'ld|
|Dunn, Sir William||Leese, Sir Jos. F. (Accrington)||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir William Hart||Leng, Sir John||Wallace, Robert|
|Ellice, Capt E. C (SAndrw's Bghs||Levy, Maurice||Walton, John L. (Leeds, S.)|
|Emmott, Alfred||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)|
|Evans, Sir F. H. (Maidstone)||Malcolm, Ian||Wason, Jn. Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Morrell, George Herbert||Whiteley, George (York, W.R.)|
§ The House divided:—Ayes, Noes, 94. (Division List No. 65.)111
|Whiteley, H. (Ashton und. Lyne||Wilson, John (Glasgow)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir William Holland and Mr. Chapman.|
|Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)||Wodehouse, Rt.Hn. E.R.(Bath|
|Whittaker, Thomas Palmer||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N.E.)||Fenwick, Charles||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)|
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F.||Ffrench, Peter||O'Kelly, Jas. (Roscommon, N.)|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Flynn, James Christopher||O'Mara, James|
|Ambrose, Robert||Forster, Henry William||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Gore, Hn G. R. C. Ormsby-(Salop||O'Shee, James John|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Grenfell, William Henry||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Beaumont, Wentworth, C. B.||Hammond, John||Pemberton, John S. G.|
|Blake, Edward||Harris, F. Leverton (Tynem'th)||Plummer, Walter R.|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Hayden, John Patrick||Price, Robert John|
|Boland, John||Helder, Augustus||Reddy, M.|
|Bowles, Lt.-Col. H. F. (M'ddles'x)||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Burns, John||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Cameron, Robert||Jacoby, James Alfred||Roche, John|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Jeffreys, Rt. Hn. Arthur Fred.||Rothschild, Hn. Lionel Walter|
|Carvill, Patrick Geo. Hamilton||Jones, D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Round, Rt. Hon. James|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Lawson, Jn. G. (Yorks., N. R.)||Russell, T. W.|
|Cavendish, V.C.W. (Derbyshire||Lee, A. H. (Hants., Fareham)||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Loder, Gerald E. Walter Erskine||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Lucas, Reginald J.(Portsmouth||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Clive, Captain Percy A.||Lundon, W.||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Coates, Edward Feetham||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Spear, John Ward|
|Crean, Eugene||M'Kean, John||Sullivan, John Ward|
|Cremer, William Randal||Markham, Arthur Basil||Sullivan, Donal|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Morpeth, Viscount||Thomas, D. Alfred (Merthyr)|
|Cust, Henry John C.||Mount, William Arthur||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Delany, William||Nicholson, William Graham||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Dickinson, Robert Edmond||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)||Wilson-Todd, Sir W. H. (Yorks.)|
|Dixon-Hartland, Sir F. Dixon||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart|
|Donelan, Captain A.||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)|
|Edwards, Frank||O'Brien, K. (Tipperary, Mid.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir James Joicey and Colonel Kenyon-Slaney.|
|Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.|
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be committed to the Standing Committee on Trade, etc."
§ And, it being after half-past Five of the clock, and objection being taken to Further Proceeding, the Debate stood adjourned.
§ Debate to be resumed upon Wednesday next.