HC Deb 01 July 1907 vol 177 cc378-440

Considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

[Mr. EMMOTT (Oldham) in the Chair.]

Clause 1:—

*MR. NIELD (Middlesex, Ealing)

moved to amend the clause by inserting the words "50 per cent. ad valorem, but not to exceed 5d." He said he had some excellent precedents for this Motion in speeches delivered by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. The imposition of a high tea duty had often been deprecated on both sides of the House on the ground that it was oppressive upon the poorer consumers, to whom tea was a necessary article of food. He had it on the authority of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton that it was— A tax which presses upon the poor—for a large section of our working classes tea is essentially an article of food. The hon. Member for West Islington, who was specially well informed on this subject, had told them that— In Ireland the poorest inhabitants depended on tea because it was the cheapest drink, and, therefore, this tax hit those who were dependent most on this form of food. Twopence in tax meant to Ireland £300,000 per annum, viz., from £900,000 to £1,200,000; it was an increase of 2s. 8d. per head of population, equal to 16s. to a family of six. The hon. Gentleman had asserted further that the tea duty was a tax which ought to be removed at the earliest possible moment. The tax was not condemned only in England: it had also been the subject of bitter denunciation by Irish Members. The hon. Member for Water-ford had declared that incomes of £20 a year in Ireland contributed £5 17S. to the tea duty, while they were informed by the hon. Member for South Donegal that out of poor incomes of £10, as much as £3 was spent on tea by a family of five, and of incomes of £25 a year and upwards no less than £7. He could not help quoting one phrase used by the hon. and learned Member in 1904— Let them go into any of the abodes of misery in Ireland and they would always find a teapot there, whatever else there might be. Tea was the cheapest drink of the poor, and it cheered them without doing any harm … While 2d. increase in the tax would scarcely be seen in the case of the English people, it would produce ruinous results in the cottagers' homes in Donegal. The Liberal Party had been equally eloquent in denunciation of the tax on tea, and undoubtedly many hon. Members of the present Parliament owed the substantial support they got at the election to the promises they gave in regard to the abolition of the duty. He thought they were all agreed that some relief at any rate ought to be given to the cheaper teas in the market—the teas which supplied the staple requirements of poorer families. The hon. Member for North Norfolk, speaking in 1904 from the Opposition Benches, said— As he believed that tea was invariably sold in bond he could not conceive that it passed the wit of the Inland Revenue to devise some means by which an ad valorem duty might be placed on this commodity. That would do away with one of the great objections to the tax. Again Mr. Henry Broadhurst, then the Member for Leicester, said— The tax on tea was an unjust one when levied on weight …. The argument applied equally to tea as to tobacco …. Although the case represented by the Irish representatives might be quite true, he doubted whether there were not thousands of agricultural labourers in this country and casual workers in our streets who relied upon tea as an article of consumption and an encouragement to appetite, as did the Irish labourers. Tea and tobacco should be taxed according to their value, and if that were done a considerable cause of justifiable complaint with regard to those two taxes would be removed. The present Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade and the president of the Board of Education in 1904 supported a similar Motion to the one he was now proposing. Indeed, the present Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade moved an Amendment against the late Government's Finance Bill in 1904, in identically the same terms as this one, and the hon. Gentleman was received with the cheers of his Party.


I had just come back from winning a by-election at Devonport, and the House cheered me when I rose.


said that he had been unable to find in the official debates any reference to the hon. Member having been resworn a Member of the House, and he fancied he had been in the House sometime previous to 1904. But the hon. Gentleman, at any rate, thought the cheer was in support of the Motion, for he remarked that "it was evident from the cheers that his Amendment was an attractive one." And what were the arguments he adduced? The hon. Member 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 bad practically a monopoly of all tea coming into the country— indeed he 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 1830 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 18G5 to 1875 the average 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. 1 ½ d. 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 l0 ¾d. 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 l0d. 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 7 ¾d, 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 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. Following that ho wished to quote one other speech made on that occasion, but in opposition to the Motion by the then hon. Member for the Bright-side Division of Sheffield (Mr. Fitzalan Hope) which was somewhat remarkable for the prophecy it contained and the manner in which that prophecy had been fulfilled. The hon. Member said — He was rather surprised that the hon. Member for West Islington was not yet in his place, but he took it that it would be rather dangerous for him to support the Amendment of the hon. Member for Devonport. It was possible that perhaps in a few years these hon. Gentleman would find themselves on that side of the House. In that case when the ad valorem question was raised what would the Chancellor of the Exchequer do? He presumed the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be either the hon. Member for Devonport or the hon. Member for West Islington. It was even possible that both of them would have to make way to the superior claims of the hon. Member for Oldham. In that event one of the hon. Gentlemen would have to console himself with the office of President of the Board of Trade and the other with the office of Financial Secretary to the Treasury. It was curious that the prophecy had been so far fulfilled that one of the supporters of the Motion was now Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade and another was Minister of Education and had been Financial Secretary to the Treasury. From all the speeches delivered on that occasion there could be no doubt that a very strong feeling existed in favour of an ad valorem duty, if not a general objection on the part of the Radical Party to the duty on tea. The right hon. Gentleman who was now Minister for Education said— If they were to have the tax on tea, why should it not be imposed in such a way as would not raise the price of tea to the poorest classes? The right hon. Member for West Bristol spoke of tea being taxed on the average of 75 per cent. of its value and the proposed addition to the tax would increase that to 100 per cent. He was told that tea was sold at present as low as 6d. per pound. If the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer was to impose a duty of 100 per cent. ad valorem he would raise exactly the same amount. The result of an ad valorem duty of 100 per cent. would be that the cheapest tea would be sold as at present at 6d., while the consumption of the higher class of Chinese and Ceylon teas would not be decreased. If 2d. per pound were added to the price of the cheapest teas it would immediately diminish the consumption of them, hut if 100 per cent. ad valorem duty were put on all teas he would leave the consumption of these cheap teas exactly where it was, and yet would obtain the revenue which he anticipated. He therefore suggested that the right hon. Gentleman should withdraw his Resolution from the consideration of the House and introduce a duty of 100 per cent. ad valorem." Following that speech came one for the hon. Member for the Barnstaple Division of Devonshire who declared that— They had long been anxious for a free breakfast table, but so long as the present Government remained in office the vision of a free breakfast table receded more and more into the dim and distant future. When one considered the incidence of the tea tax he was driven to the conclusion that it was not defensible. It affected the rich infinitely less than it affected the poor. Very few wealthy people had suffered from the heavy duties which had been placed on tea by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but on the other band there could be no doubt that the poorest class had suffered to a very considerable extent. It seemed to him that under the protecting care of the Radical Party, and notwithstanding their platform utterances a free breakfast table was as "dim and distant " as ever. How were they to be put in a position to be able to redress this grievance? The Anti-Tea Duty League had again and again extracted promises from candidates, and in particular from Radical candidates, that they would endeavour to secure the abolition of this duty. The more cautious Members (and he thought they had been more cautious on that side than on the Government side) refused to pledge themselves to reduce the duty, but when last year the proposal was made to reduce it to fourpence instead of fivepence, 144 hon. Gentlemen on the other side who had given their promises on the subject to the Anti-Tea Duty League forgot those pledges and supported the Government. He hoped the division on this Amendment would make those hon. Members realise that they had still an unfulfilled promise to perform, for it would afford them another chance to redeem it. In regard to the question of a "free breakfast table" he suggested that the consciences of many hon. Gentlemen would be seared with a red-hot iron when they were reminded of their promises by the Anti-Tea Duty League and of the material assistance which was given them in their election contests as a result, and in consideration of their promises. He was informed that an agent of the League, meeting one of those hon. Gentlemen in the lobby, reproached him bitterly for having forgotten his promise and asked him why he had supported the Government. The answer of the hon. Member was, "I had no option but to do it. Whiteley told me to do it and I did." [MINISTERIAL cries of "Name."] If hon. Gentlemen opposite were anxious to know the name of their hon. and learned colleague he would no doubt be able to obtain it, but he was quoting from statements made in a letter from the Anti-Tea Duty League. He thought if the truth were known the whole of these 144 Members might be put in the same category as the hon Member to whom he had just alluded. This was a matter for serious consideration. They had a tea duty standing at fivepence and they ought to take every means in their power to alleviate the tax in regard to its operation upon the cheaper qualities of tea. He did not mean that kind of tea in regard to which an hon. Member, speaking in reference to the Islanders of Orkney, said that by reason of the high duty and therefore high price of tea it was necessary for them to extract the last drop of tannin from the cup at the risk of ruining their digestive organs in order to obtain the beverage. He said that there were many other qualities of tea which would be drunk by the poor, and drunk cheerfully, if the duty gave them a chance of being sold at a reasonable price. He would ask those hon. Members who in l904 supported the proposal he was now making to be consistent and to remember that there was something higher than giving a mere Party vote, also that this duty pressed most severely upon thousands of their poorer constituents, and to bring such pressure to bear upon the Treasury Bench as would induce their colleagues to reduce the tax by adjustment which would and could be obtained by an ad valorem duty and put it upon a reasonable basis. At present as the tax stood it constituted one of the most glaring anomalies in our fiscal system. He begged to move.

Amendment proposed— In page 1, line 21, after the word 'pound' to insert the words 'fifty per cent. ad valorem, but not to exceed.'"—(Mr. Nield)

Question proposed, "That these words be there inserted."


said the hon. Gentleman in the speech which he had made had, he thought, mixed up two questions which were not necessarily connected. The one was the general desirability of reducing the tea duty, and the other was the question of an ad valorem duty to which his Amendment referred. It was with the latter of these he would deal. Nobody was more anxious than ho was to reduce the tea duty; in fact, he had reduced it already. It was sixpence when the present Government came into office and it was fivepence to-day. If this or any other tax was not further reduced it was not to be taken as an indication that in his opinion it should permanently remain at the figure at which it stood. The main argument of the hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment was that in 1904, when they were sitting on the Opposition Benches, many Liberal Members had spoken in favour of the substitution of an ad valorem duty for the present tax. His own withers, at any rate, were un-wrung. for ho took no part either in the debate or in the division; moreover, he had been looking at the division lists, and he could not find a single Member of the Conservative Party voting in favour of such a proposition.

SIR F, BANBURY (City of London)

was understood to say that he voted in favour of it.


said the hon. Baronet only showed the consistency which generally characterised him. But those who, unlike the hon. Baronet, had not the courage of their convictions had endured a conversion as rapid and as complete as that of his hon. friends. Me might set them off one against the other and turn to the question on its merits. In the first place, the average value of tea at the present time was very little less than 8d. a pound, and a 50 per cent. ad valorem duty at fourpence would involve a loss to the revenue of £1,100,000, or if it was taken from 1st July only, of £800,000, before the end of the present financial year. That was a loss he could not see his way to sustain, and that in itself was a complete answer to the Amendment. But he must go further. Every Chancellor of the Exchequer for seventy years, whatever the Party to which he belonged, had steadfastly resisted this proposal. And why had they done so? Before 1836 the provision of tea to the London market was a monopoly which belonged by charter to the East India Company, and as they sold the tea by auction it was a comparatively easy matter to fix the price of the different qualities. But when the monopoly came to an end that security for fairly discriminating between the different qualities came to an end also, and although an experiment was made in the way of a graduated duty, it broke down completely, and Mr. Spring Rice, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, said in 1835 that, as the result of the experience they had had, they thought the time had come to fix a rate of duty on all teas. To require them to ascertain the particular quality of a tea imported was to impose on the Customs an impossible duty, and another important consideration was that the adoption of an ad valorem duty would offer a great inducement to fraudulent statements on the part of importers. Ho was not at all sure that it would be found, speaking generally, that the working classes consumed mainly qualities sold at below l0d. a pound. Ho believed that a large proportion of the tea they consumed would derive no benefit from this proposal. Therefore, on that ground, and on the ground of precedent and administrative difficulty, he was obliged to adhere to the position maintained for seventy years whatever Party was in power, and to ask the Committee to keep the tea duty at a fixed sum.

MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN (Wolverhampton, E.)

said the right hon. Gentleman seemed to suppose that all the Members on that side of the House supported the proposal which had been made, but he had too keen a recollection of his recent responsibilities to support the Amendment. If he might say so without egoism, when he listened to the Chancellor of the Exchequer he felt that the right hon. Gentleman was travelling over ground that was familiar to him, and that he was putting his foot down step by step exactly in the places where he, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, had put his foot. The hon. Members for Devonport and West Islington when in opposition had sat side by side on the Opposition side of the House and they habitually supported each other and showed a unanimity which was remarkable. But when this question arose there was a fierce conflict between the allies. The case stated by the hon. Member for Devonport had the bottom knocked out of it by the hon. Member for Islington, and the case stated by the hon. Member for West Islington had the bottom knocked out of it by the hon. Member for Devonport. The hon. Member for West Islington said he was always averse to these proposals and was opposed to this Amendment, but he found from Hansard that on the last occasion on which they discussed the matter the hon. Member for Devonport said he had succeeded in converting the hon. Member for West Islington and he found that the latter voted for this iniquitous proposal. No doubt, however, the hon. Member was carried away-by a desire to vote against the Government for once. Personally he agreed with what the Chancellor of the Exchequer had said on the merits of the question. There was something attractive in the idea of turning a specific into an ad valorem duty. It was not always possible to work it out in practice, and in the case of the tea duty it was increasingly difficult to do so. There was a time when all tea was sold at public auction, but he thought that now a larger proportion year by year never passed through public auction at all. Great firms on this side had begun to interest themselves in tea plantations and now imported their own tea, which was therefore never subjected to a public sale. He was quite sure that if the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer gave way to his hon. friend he would meet with very great opposition from the trade, which, so far as he had been able to gather their views, would regard with horror anything in the nature of converting the impost into an ad valorem duty. When as Chancellor of the Exchequer he received a deputation from the trade on this matter, he put the question to them, "Do you wish to have an ad valorem duty instead of a specific duty?" and they replied with one voice "Certainly not." Therefore it was a dishonest argument to present that the tea duty was unjust because it was not i ad valorem. That argument could only be used honestly by those who were prepared to replace the present duty by an ad valorem duty. It was because he thought it would result in a great disturbance to trade that he would not support the Amendment, and he also agreed that in many cases it would result in a higher tax being paid by the poor though not by others. He remembered on one occasion he was very anxious to get information as to Irish budgets, and he consulted some very interesting evidence given in a report of the Congested Districts Board as to the expenditure of certain families on tea. It was very high, but the price was not mentioned. He then made inquiries of Irish Members as to the number of pounds purchased. He was told in reply that he might take it for certain that the Irish peasant purchased good tea and would not have anything else. He believed the same to be true very largely of our own working classes. The hon. Member for West Islington used to say that it was a mistake to suppose that poor people bought cheap tea, that on the contrary it was the mean rich people who bought cheap tea to give to their servants. It was, he thought, wrong to assume that cheap tea was bought by people who had to live on these small budgets. They kept a very sharp eye on quality as well as price. If the hon. Member went to a division he would with regret find himself voting against him and in favour of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

MR. JOHN REDMOND (Waterford)

said the right hon. Gentleman had quite correctly represented the state of affairs in Ireland, and he might have found better authority than a casual conversation with Irishmen on the subject as to the kind of tea taken by the Irish people. It came out clearly in the evidence given before the Financial Relations Commission that in the poorest parts of Ireland what might be regarded as expensive tea was consumed. As a matter of fact, taking Ireland as a whole, he believed it could be shown that more expensive tea was used in Ireland than in England, and the same thing could be proved in reference to tobacco. He was in favour of every possible reduction of the tea duty, and he saw that some hon. Members had Motions for the reduction of the duty. He would vote in favour of every one of those, because he considered that a high tea duty inflicted great hardship upon the poor people in every part of the country, especially in certain districts in Ireland. He would not, however, vote in favour of the Amendment before the House, because he did not think it would give any relief at all.


thought the Chancellor of the Exchequer was a little premature in saying hon. Members on the Opposition Benches had changed their views almost as quickly as they had changed their seats. The right hon. Gentleman now found there were two, and probably if a division was taken he would find there were a few more, who had not. The hon. Member who moved the Amendment was not a Member of the House in 1904, and therefore he was sincere in moving his Amendment. [Laughter.] He did not know why hon. Members laughed, unless it was that they were not sincere. There were four Cabinet Ministers—the Postmaster-General, the Chancellor of the Duchy, the Secretary of State for War, and the Home Secretary—all of whom voted for this Amendment a short time ago. The Postmaster-General went still further, because he had said when on this side they were sincere in supporting this Amendment, and that those opposed to them wore only obstructing, and he was called to order by Mr. Speaker for imputing motives. Lot them now see who really was sincere. He himself was going to vote for the Chancellor of the Exchequer. What was the Postmaster-General going to do?


said that, as he had been referred to, ho might say that if the hon. Gentleman had read a little further he would have seen that he did not express himself as being in favour of the Amendment, but that he voted for it because if it were carried it would upset the balance of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and a larger amount would then have to go on to direct and less on indirect taxation.


thought that by his explanation the right hon. Gentleman had placed himself in a still more awkward position. He hoped his hon. friend would go to a division in order that they might see who on both sides really regarded the pledges they had made. He appreciated the difficulty of hon. Members opposite who with the object of assisting the poor—he could see the posters now—had said that over 100 per cent. was charged upon tea, that it was an injustice to the many poor who consumed the cheaper article, and that the rich man was picked out to obtain the benefit. Now that they were in power with an overwhelming majority they used the same arguments that those now in Opposition used four years ago, and 146 who voted for this Amendment then were going to eat their words. The Committee owed a. debt of gratitude to his hon. friend for moving the Amendment, and he hoped the debate would be reported in the Radical newspapers.


It will not be.


said it was not his intention to follow the hon. baronet into a matter involving the fiscal morality of hon. Gentlemen opposite. He was not in the least surprised that they should have left undone what they ought to have done and done that which they ought not to have done. When they were in opposition they spoke emphatically for the very policy which they were now opposing. Apart from any question of Party politics, he must confess that in this matter he was against the Amendment, and in favour of the line adopted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, because a lower ad valorem duty would not assist the poorer classes, and would open the door to fraud. The right hon. Gentleman the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer said cheap tea was only purchased by mean rich people for the use of their servants. If that were so, he thought that what would ultimately find its way into the family teapot would be the cheap tea which was obtained for the servants, and the servants in their turn would enjoy a cup of that most salutary fluid at the higher price paid by the master.


said the language was not his own. He was only quoting the present Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education.


said he must apologise for having attributed the words to the right hon. Gentleman. In his carelessness he had thought that it was the right hon. Gentleman who was giving way to those somewhat extraordinary sentiments, whereas he was only quoting the hon. Gentleman opposite. He was rather surprised that that hon. Member now in a high position should have enunciated such sentiments. He was informed by an hon. friend behind him that there was only one occasion in the annals of the House on which a certified lunatic took part in a division, and the division in which he took part was in support of an ad valorem tea duty. [MINISTERIAL cries of "Name!"] He had no doubt if the annals of the House were searched they would show the name, but so many years had elapsed since that took place that doubtless in the ordinary course of nature the generation in question had long since passed to that bourne from which no traveller returned. If the matter went to a division he would be obliged to vote against the Amendment for the reasons he had given.

*MR. REES (Montgomery Boroughs)

said the right hon. Gentleman opposite had referred to the placards and posters issued by the Anti-Tea Duty League, of which he was the only one of the Vice-Presidents who happened to be a Member of the House. When the right hon. Gentleman said that placards and posters and what not were issued recommending that an ad valorem duty should be adopted, he thought he was in error; he did not think they asked for that. What they asked was a reduction of the tea duty. The percentages to which the right hon. Gentleman had referred were merely illustrations; but they did not urge upon the Government that there should be an ad valorem duty. He might be wrong, but that was his impression. Doubtless it might be considered that some of those placards were rather highly spiced. His own taste in such matters was simple, and he thought they were. But he would point out that this was the reason why the Anti-Tea Duty League had dispensed with the services of their highly energetic and capable secretary, who was immediately responsible for those posters, and who had probably in some cases issued them without first submitting them for assent to those who directed the League. [An HON. MEMBER: After the election.] As the right hon. Gentleman had referred to the League and to his own responsibility he had told them what he had got

to say with regard to its action. It was quite true that he had previously written a pamphlet on the subject of the tea duty, and this was issued by the league among their pamphlets. If the right hon. Gentleman would confront him with any statement in that pamphlet of which it could be shown that he ought to be ashamed, or should depart from, in any way, he would be very much astonished. He thought the right hon. Gentleman's solicitude for the tea planters was rather belated. The tea planters did not regard the Government of which he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, and which raised the duty on tea as particularly friendly to them, and they were the best judges of what was done with their money, and not any hon. or right hon. Gentleman in this House. He understood that they were at any rate more satisfied with the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, and were grateful to him for having taken a penny off that tax, and believed that he intended to take off another penny, as, he thought, the right hon. Gentleman had that day as good as promised to do. An ad valorem duty would disturb the balance of the Budget, and for his part he was going to vote against the Amendment.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 18; Noes, 212. (Division List No. 255.)

Beckett. Hon. Gervase Craig,Captain James(Down,E.) Percy. Earl
Bignold, Sir Arthur Fardell, Sir T. George Stanley,Hon Arthur(Ormskirk
Bull, Sir William James Harrison-Broadley, H. B. Turnour, Viscount
Butcher, Samuel Henry Hay, Hon. Claude George Walrond, Hon. Lionel
Carlile, E. Hildred Marks, H. H. (Kent)
Corbett. T. L. (Down, North) Moore, William TELLERS FOR THE AYES — Mr Nield and Mr. Fell.
Craig,Charles Curtis(Antrim, S. Morpeth, Viscount.
Ashley, W. W. Belloc, Hilaire Joseph Peter R. Cameron, Robert
Ashton, Thomas Gair Bennett, E. N. Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.
Asquith,Rt.Hon Herbert Henry Bertram, Julius Carr-Gomm. H. W.
Aubrey-Fletcher,Rt. Hon.SirH. Bethell,SirJ.H (Essex,, Romford Castlereagh, Viscount
Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth) Billson, Sir Alfred Causton,Rt.Hn.RichardKnight
Balfour. Robert (Lanark) Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine Cavendish. Rt.Hon.VictorC.W.
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Boulton, A. C. F. Chamberlain,RtHn.J.A.(Wore.
Baring,Godfrey (Isle of Wight) Branch, James Chance, Frederick William
Baring,Capt.Hn.G.(Winchester Bridgeman, W. Clive Channing, Sir Francis Allston
Barlow, Sir John E. (Somerset) Brocklehurst, W. B. Cheetham, John Frederick
Barlow, Percy (Bedford) Brunner,J.F.L. (Lancs.,Leigh) Cleland, J. W.
Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone,N. Burns, Rt. Hon. John Clough, William
Beale. W. P. Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas Coats,SirT.Glen (Renfrew, W.)
Bell, Richard Buxton, Rt.Hn. SydneyCharles Cobbold, Felix Thornley
Bellairs, Carlyon Byles, William Pollard Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.
Collins, Stephen (Lambeth) Layland-Barratt, Francis Runciman, Walter
Cox, Harold Lehmann, R. C. Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)
Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth) Lever, W. H. (Cheshire,Wirral) Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)
Craik, Sir Henry Levy, Sir Maurice Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert
Cremer, Sir William Randal Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David Scarisbrick, T. T. L.
Crombie, John William Lockwood, Rt, Hn.Lt.-Col.A.R. Sears, J. E.
Davies. M. Vaughan-(Cardigan) Lonsdale, John Brownlee Seaverns, J. H.
Davies, Timothy (Fulham) Lough, Thomas Shackleton, David James
Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.) Lowe, Sir Francis William Shaw. Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick B.)
Dickinson, W.H.(St.Pancras,N. Macdonald,J.M. (FalkirkB'ghs. Sheffield,Sir BerkeleyGeorge D).
Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J. Shipman, Dr. John G.
Duncan,Robert(Lanark,Govan) M'Crae, George Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John
Dunn. A. (Edward Camborne) M'Laren, Sir C. B. (Leicester) Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie
Dunne,Major E.Martin(Walsall M'Micking, Major G. Soares, Ernest.J.
Edwards, Sir Frank (Radnor) Markham, Arthur Basil Spicer, Sir Albert
Elibank, Master of Marnham, F. J. Stanger, H. Y.
Esslemont, George Birnie Mason, A. E. W. (Coventry) Stewart, Halley (Greenock)
Everett, R. Lacey Massie, J. Strachey, Sir Edward
Faber, George Denison (York) Menzies, Walter Straus, B. S. (Mile End)
Faber. G. H.(Boston) Molteno, Percy Alport Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)
Fenwick, Charles Mond, A. Stuart, James (Sunderland)
Ferguson, R. C. Munro Montagu, E. S. Sutherland, J. E.
Fletcher, J. S. Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall) Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)
Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Morgan, J.Lloyd (Carmarthen) Tennant,SirEdward Salisbury
Freeman-Thomas, Freeman Morrell, Philip Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)
Fuller, John Michael F. Morton, Alpheus Cleophas Torrance, Sir A. M.
Gardner,Col. Alan (Hereford,S. Myer, Horatio Toulmin, George
Gill, A. H. Napier, T. B. Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Gladstone,Rt.Hn.Herbert John Nicholls, George Verney, F. W.
Glendinning, R. G. Nicholson,CharlesN.(Doncaster Walton, Sir John L. (Leeds. S.)
Gordon. J. Norton, Capt. Cecil William Ward,WDudley(Southampton)
Grant, Corrie O'Grady, J. Waring, Walter
Greenwood, G. (Peterborough) O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.
Greenwood. Hamar (York) Parker,SirGilbert (Gravesend) Wason,Rt.Hn.E.(Clackmannan
Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis Parker, James (Halifax) Wason,John Cathcart(Orkney)
Hardy, George A. (Suffolk) Partington, Oswald Waterlow, D. S.
Hart-Davies, T. Pearce, Robert (Staffs. Leek) Watt, Henry A.
Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth) Pease, HerbertPike(Darlington) Weir, James Galloway
Haworth, Arthur A. Philipps,Col. Ivor(S'thampton) Whitbread, Howard
Hedges, A. Paget Philipps,J. Wynford(Pembroke White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)
Helmsley, Viscount Pollard, Dr. White, Luke (York, E. R.)
Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe) Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh,Central) Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)
Higham, John Sharp Price,Robert John (Norfolk,E.) Williamson, A.
Hobart, Sir Robert Pullar, Sir Robert Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Holland. Sir William Henry Rainy, A. Rolland Wilson,A.Stanley (York, E.R.)
Idris, T. H. W. Raphael, Herbert H. Wilson. Henry J. (York. W.R.)
Jackson, R. S. Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro' Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)
Jacoby, Sir James Alfred Rees, J. D. Wilson, J. W.(Worcestersh. N.)
Johnson, John (Gateshead) Remnant, James Farquharson Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)
Jones,Sir D. Brynmor(Swansea) Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln) Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Jones, William(Carnarvonshire) Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.) Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm
Kearley, Hudson E. Roberts, S. (Sheffield,Ecclesall) Wortley, Rt. Hon. C.B. Stuart-
Kekewich, Sir George Robertson, Rt. Hn. E.(Dundee) Yoxall, James Henry
Laidlaw, Robert Robertson,SirG.Scott(Bradford
Lambert, George Rogers, F. E. Newman TELLERS FOR THE NOES — Mr.Whiteley and Mr. Herbert Lewis.
Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm. Ronaldshay, Earl of
Lamont, Norman Rowlands, J.
MR. BRIDGEMAN (Shropshire, Oswestry)

said that on behalf of his hon. friend the Member for Central Hull he desired to move the Amendment standing in his name, to substitute "four pence" for "five pence." They had been told that this was the most prosperous year the country had ever known in trade. If that was so, why did the Government not take advantage of it to reduce this duty still further? The principle followed by Chancellors of the Exchequer in the past had been to reduce concurrently, whenever it was possible, direct and indirect taxation, but this year that maxim had not been followed out, the reductions which had been made having affected direct taxation. At the general election hon. Members opposite directed their remarks to proving that indirect taxation was too high and bore so heavily upon the working classes that they would spare no effort to reduce it. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had also stated that some day he hoped to be able to reduce the tea duty. Upon what did he base those hopes? As hon. Members were aware, the right hon. Gentleman had pledged himself to a scheme of old-age pensions, the cost of which would be very high. Under those circumstances how could he reasonably hope to reduce the tea duty in the future? The right hon. Gentleman took credit for reducing the tea-duty last year, but the effect of that reduction had not been to benefit the consumer.




said the right hon. Gentleman stated that if he had not reduced the tea-duty last year by 1d., tea would have been more expensive than it was now. In his opinion only the tea dealers and not the consumers had benefited by that reduction. The same argument applied to the repeal of the coal tax, from which the consumers had not benefited at all.

MR. FENWICK (Northumberland, Wansbeck)

Those who get the coal have benefited.


said he was speaking of the benefit to the general public. Were hon. Members opposite prepared to get up and argue that the direct taxpayers were the greatest sufferers, and that they were the people who most needed relief? It was the duty of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to relieve those who needed it the most, but instead of doing this he had selected the middle-class income-taxpayers. He did not think it could be contended that the middle classes were the people who suffered most under the present system of taxation. It was only sound finance that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should balance the burden as equally as possible between the direct and the indirect taxpayers. He bogged to move.

Amendment proposed— In page 1, line 21, to leave out the word j 'five,' and insert the word 'four.'"—(Mr. Bridgeman.)

Question proposed, "That the word 'five' stand part of the clause."


said there was no difference of opinion as to the object which the Mover of the Amendment had in view. He would like to see the tea duty reduced to 4d., and even abolished altogether. But it was a question of time, opportunity and money, and in the present condition of the national finances the Chancellor of the Exchequer was not in a position to find that £1,000,000 which would be involved in the proposed reduction. The hon. Member opposite said that his right hon. friend had given a reduction in the case of direct taxation which he had not given in an equal proportion to indirect taxation. Surely that was not so in regard to this year's Budget. They were all agreed that reductions ought to be fairly divided between direct and indirect taxation, and, if anything, more in favour of the latter. But it was not a fact that direct taxation was to be reduced this year. It was true that by a readjustment of the income-tax relief would be given to some payers of income-tax, but it was counterbalanced by an increase in the tax upon another class of income-tax payers. These who suffered most from the burden of taxation were those who were going to be relieved. The relief proposed by the Mover of the Amendment would probably not go to the full extent to the consumer. The object of a reduction of indirect taxation ought to be that nearly the whole of it should go directly to the consumer, and they did not desire to give a reduction of indirect taxation which would only benefit the trader and the retailer, and not the consumer. That was the primary view the Chancellor of the Exchequer must keep in mind. The present condition of the tea market was singular, for the tea duty had been jumping up and down for the last few years, very much to the detriment of the tea trade, and the position of the tea consumer as well. It was raised from 4d. to 6d. and from 6d. to 8d. It was next reduced to 6d. and last year it was reduced to 5d. They desired now that the tea trade should have a rest, because its present condition was very peculiar. There had recently been great fluctuations in the price of tea, and a great demand, and under the circumstances experts were of the opinion that a reduction of one penny would be, to a certain extent, wasted. He understood that there had been a great fluctuation in the price of tea for the past few months and a reduction of a penny at the present moment would not be expedient from the consumers' point of view. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his Budget speech, explained the financial position of the country, and stated what they on that side of the House desired to do. They were still in favour of what was called the "free breakfast table," which meant the extinction of the duties on tea and sugar, but unfortunately reductions and remissions of taxation cost money to the Exchequer. The hon. Gentleman opposite wanted to know why a further reduction in the tea duty was not made this year. The answer was very simple. When the present Government came into office they found that the peace expenditure of the country had been raised by something like £35,000,000, and that was sufficient to cripple the power and the opportunity for dealing with this matter in the way they desired. While they wanted to carry out the policy of the free breakfast table, they were also strongly opposed to the policy which hon. Members opposite desired, namely, the taxation of the dinner table. They did not desire to place taxation on other articles of consumption. The Government were bound under present circumstances to resist this particular Amendment as the revenue involved was not forthcoming from other quarters.


said the speech of the right hon. Gentleman was illuminating in that he had shown conclusively that the resources of the Chancellor of the Exchequer for reducing taxation were very limited. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, like his predecessors, had found that with the present basis of taxation he could do very little at once, and he had asked for time. That was very plausible, but when Liberals were in Opposition and criticising the previous Government, they were not willing to give time at all; they wanted things done at once. The right hon. Gentleman had pointed out to the Committee, in opposing the Amendment, that the consumers would not get the whole value of the reduction because of the fluctuations in price.


Not immediately.


said it was a poor rule that would not work both ways. Hon. Members on that side of the House urged in connection with another question that a shilling tax would not fall with its full weight upon the consumers when fluctuations occurred, but they were told that they were wrong. Now the right hon. Gentleman used exactly the same argument in support of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.


said he referred to special fluctuations which affected the price.


said that the right hon. Gentleman, when speaking of fluctuations, gave no information as to their extent. He made an ex cathedra statement, expecting the Committee to accept his argument. The right hon. Gentleman and his friends had continually said that tea was practically an article of food of the people. The whole production of tea in the world amounted to 615,000,000 lbs., and of that England took 255,000,000 lbs., or 42 per cent. of the whole. This country stood second as a tea consumer. Australia consumed 8 lbs. per head of the population. Holland consumed tea at the rate of 1 ½ lbs. per head of the population, Russia 1 ¼ lbs., and the United States 1 lb. It was a remarkable fact that in all the countries which consumed tea to any extent proportionate to the amount consumed in this country there was practically no duty on the article; that was to say, they regarded it as a necessity of life, and made the tax as light as possible. In Belgium there was no duty on tea, and in Holland it was 2 ½d. per lb. Holland stood next to Great Britain and the Colonies as the chief consumer of tea. Russia came next to Holland, and there the tax was 2 ¾ d. per lb. The United States, which was next in order as a consumer, admitted tea free. In this country we were going on the basis that the more tea was consumed the more it should be taxed. He believed that to be a thoroughly unsound policy. In all the high Protectionist countries of the world where protective duties were imposed on manufactured goods, the tea duties wore only 50, 30, or 20 per cent. of what was levied in this country. In France, where coffee was chiefly consumed, the duty on tea was from 9 ¾ d. to 11d. In Germany, where tea was used much less than coffee, the duty on tea was 5 ½ d. per lb. Where-ever tea was considered a luxury the tax was high, and where it was considered a necessity it was low. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was, he said, hampered by restrictions which were placed upon it—he presumed the right hon. Gentleman meant restrictions in connection with our present fiscal system—and that he could not give relief in this particular direction. The right hon. Gentleman found it difficult to do what he wanted to do on account of financial considerations. If he and his friends had been true to the principles laid down when they went to the country at the general election there would have been greater relief for the poor than had been given by the Budget this year. The Government did not want to tax meat, corn, and butter. Was it to be assumed that future Budgets were to be of the same kind as that presented this year, and that there was to be no broadening of the basis of taxation? He supposed the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be driven to put up the income tax in order to give relief to the consumers of tea, and then when the great middle class, who paid income-tax so heavily, complained, he would give them relief by again increasing the tax on tea. If the right hon. Gentleman was only going to ring the changes in that way, the policy would not be satisfactory to the consumers of tea.

MR. SHACKLETON (Lancashire, Clitheroe)

said the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been rather unfortunate in his method of dealing with the tea duty. When the right hon. Gentleman proposed a reduction of a penny last year he himself did not think that the small consumers would receive any benefit. He did not think the consumers who bought in small quantities had received any benefit. It had been said that the quality had improved, but he defied any hon. Member to show that more cups of tea per quarter of a pound packet were obtained now than before. The millions of people who earned small wages bought their tea in quarter-pound packets, and he was not aware that there had been any reduction in the price of those packets. He said last year that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have been well advised to have kept the tax at 6d. until he could make a reduction of 2d. He believed that the price of tea went up or down mostly by taxation. They never saw any change in the price except when the tax went up or down. He believed the proposed reduction of the tax by 1d. was needed to give the consumers the benefit of the 1d. which was taken off last year. Personally ho would not support the Amendment if he did not think that it would decrease the taxation of the poor. He would have supported an Amendment of the Finance Bill which would have kept up the present income-tax, leaving the extension of the death duties as proposed by the right hon. Gentleman. The people who were suffering most would get the benefit of this reduction of 1d.; and the income tax-payers did not need to grumble. [Dissent from the OPPOSITION Benches.] If hon. Gentlemen who dissented would only get in contact with the men who were earning 20S. or 25s. a week they would not want to increase the burdens on the poor. A man with an income of £3 a week did not know what these hardships wore, and he would never get to the workhouse unless he was careless.


said he should support the Amendment. His only regret was that the Amendment was not to make a greater reduction than 1d. He would have preferred to support the next Amendment, which proposed a reduction of 2d. The tea tax was one which bore heavily on the poor, and specially on the poor of Ireland. He had the greatest sympathy with the Member for Clitheroe when he spoke of the poor people in certain districts of England who with only 20S. or 25S. a week had to pay that tax. Yet the tax hit more hardly the people of Ireland whose incomes were £10, £15, or £20 per annum, and who had to pay out of that income a quarter of it and sometimes more in tea duty. The hon. Gentleman who moved the last Amendment made sympathetic reference to Ireland, and alluded to the evidence given on this point by a distinguished ecclesiastic in Ireland before the Royal Commission. If the House would allow him he would quote from what his reverence said on that occasion. The expenditure was given of "a fairly well-to-do family in Ireland"—let them mark the words " fairly well-to-do "—whose income was a little over £20 a year, out of which £5 17S. was spent on tea. When they had talked about the tax falling heavily on the poor it had a special significance for them. More white bread and more tea were now consumed, and less meat. Irish farmers rated at £10 a year were almost entirely vegetarian. Those at £4 a year had no kind of meat excepting parhaps two or three times a year. A substantial portion of their food was composed of potatoes. Their main food was Indian meal. Sometimes the poor people had milk for their "stir-about," and it was this want of milk which had a great deal to do with the use of tea, so that tea had now become a necessity of life. Tea was truly a necessity of life, as it enabled the toiler to go back to his task, and the hardship it was for these people, out of their miserable little incomes of £20 a year—the fairly well-to-do—to pay this tea tax could be imagined. They were paying a quarter of their income on tea, a necessary article of food to them. There was another consideration which made the tax very hard. The tendency had been to reduce the indirect taxation and bring it about on the level of direct taxation. But in Ireland there had been nothing of that kind. The Chancellor of the Exchequer or the Secretary to the Treasury in answer to a question the other day produced figures for a number of years past, showing that something like 78 per cent. of the whole taxation of Ireland was on the poor people, while in this country indirect and direct taxation were equal. The Irish felt that under the circumstances it was deplorable that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been unable to do or to hold out any hope of doing anything for Ireland. A few years ago, as the House was aware, a Royal Commission sat to inquire into the financial relations between Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom; there was a British majority on that Commission, and it found that Ireland was overtaxed by £2,750,000 per annum. The taxation had increased since then every year. The people felt keenly that no effort was made by successive Governments to meet the harshness of the taxation on the people of Ireland. He entered this protest, therefore, against the reduction of the income-tax while leaving the tea and sugar duties on the poor cottier of Ireland. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would do something to mitigate this hardship which, great though it was in England, was ten times greater as applied to the poor of Ireland.


said that there was a great deal in what the hon. and learned Gentleman said, and he entirely sympathised with him. He did not think he had ever shown any insensibility to the financial necessities of Ireland. When they came to analyse them they were comparatively greater than the necessities of even the poorest parts of the United Kingdom. That was a real Irish grievance. It did not depend on any assumption of separate entities, and a comparison of the relation between them. It meant that there was a relatively poor population in Ireland, and under the system of taxation—which, although the balance between direct and indirect taxation during the last thirty years had been enormously shifted from indirect to direct taxation— [An HON. MEMBER, "Not in Ireland."] He thought it was in Ireland also. Owing to the prevalence of poverty in that country the people of Ireland had suffered far more severely than the great bulk of the population of the more fortunate parts of the United Kingdom. He could assure the hon. Member for Clitheroe, whose speech he had listened to with interest, that nobody was more desirous than he to reduce the weight of indirect taxation. In regard to this particular duty on tea, a few years ago it reached 8d. per lb.; it was then reduced to 6d.; and last year by a 1d., so that in the course of three years there had been a very substantial reduction of the burden of the tea duty. Speaking for himself, after carefully examining all the facts, if he were asked what was the indirect tax which was most felt by the bulk of the poorer cottagers of the country, he would say it was not the tea but the sugar duty; ho would not hesitate between the two. He thought that the present rate of taxation on sugar carried greater hardships than did the tea duty. Although tea had become part of the staple food of the people, it could hardly be classed as a necessity of life. It was near the line, but it did not reach so clearly the line of a necessity as sugar. After corn and bread, which they were asked by hon. Gentlemen opposite to tax in order to relieve the taxes on other commodities, he thought that sugar came nearer to the definition of an actual necessity of life than any other commodity of general consumption on which we had any kind of taxation. At a later stage, no doubt, an Amendment would be proposed asking him to get rid of the sugar duty or to reduce it, but he would have to reply that he could not afford to do it at the present moment. He, recognised, however, that when the financial situation admitted of it, sugar had the first claim of all taxes on commodities of general consumption to relief. As regarded tea it had always been a matter of dispute as to whether the reduction of the tea duty given last year had gone appreciably to the benefit of the consumer. He had had a great deal of evidence submitted to him that the benefit to the consumer had gone in the shape of increased quality. When he came to consider the question as to whether he might not this year go a step further and reduce the duty by another 1d., he was confronted with an almost unanimous body of opinion from experts concerned during the past twelve months that such a reduction could not be expected to benefit the consumer, because last year there had been a very remarkable change in the conditions of the trade. There was a record consumption of tea in this country last year. Side by side with that advance in the United Kingdom there had been a development in other quarters of an unexpected kind. In Russia there had been a heavily growing demand for tea, particularly of that kind in which the British Empire was interested. This unforeseen, and, to a large extent, unforeseeable, demand from foreign countries, together with an increased consumption here, had very considerably raised the wholesale price, and in the present condition of trade a further reduction in the duty this year would certainly not in any appreciable degree percolate, if he might use the word, to the consumer. It would be taken advantage of almost entirely by the middleman. Sooner or later the benefit of a reduction in the import duties on articles of general consumption would come down to the consumer; but when they were dealing with a duty which could be reconsidered at the end of twelve months, it was very material to consider what was the amount of reduction that would have to be made in order to give any appreciable benefit to the consumer, and, in his opinion, a reduction of a penny would not have that result. It had been said that the Government were leaning, on the indirect taxpayer, but when they came to the discussion of the income-tax he hoped he would be able to show that that was not the case. They were making a readjustment as between different sections of direct taxpayers of the burden of the income-tax, which would make it a much more elastic and useful weapon of finance in the future. A reduction of the duty on tea from 5d. to 4d. would involve a loss of revenue amounting to over £1,000,000. He could not afford to incur that loss, which, without affecting the consumer, would dislocate the whole framework of the Budget. This Budget was not merely a provision for a particular year. It was intended to lay the foundation of and lead the way to larger changes in the future, which might include proposals for the relief of the indirect taxpayer. The notion had been sedulously propagated in some quarters without any foundation that he was seeking to stereotype indirect taxes, whether on tea, sugar, or other articles of consumption. That was totally remote from his intention. He hoped for years in which he might be able to deal with the matter. All he now wanted to impress on the Committee was that, if he asked them in the circumstances of the present year to maintain the tea duty at its present figure, at which he himself thought it ought not to be maintained for many years, it was for the reasons he had given—the condition of the particular trade at the moment and his desire to preserve the equilibrium between the different parts of the Budget and to have a free hand to make proposals next year which, he hoped, would meet with general approval.


said it was difficult to refuse one's sympathies to the right hon. Gentleman when he presented himself to them as a good man struggling with adversity. The right hon. Gentleman said he thought the tax was too high, but when he was asked to reduce it he replied that he was unable to do so on his present means, and that, in addition, another tax—the income-tax —called for reduction. The right hon. Gentleman said he was quite unable to make the reduction, but he consoled himself and tried to console the Committee under these circumstances by assuring them that, although he was not able now to make any reduction, he still cherished the hope that he would be able to do so before long. He, however, could not understand on what ground the right hon. Gentleman based, he would not say the hope, but the expectation which he entertained, because he had foreshadowed very large expenditure. A moment ago the Postmaster-General had explained that he and colleagues of his had voted for such a reduction as was now moved when they were in Opposition, but they were unable to give effect to that view now because expenditure had so largely increased. But surely the right hon. Gentleman and his friends must have been aware of that increasing expenditure when they voted for the reduction of the tea tax. [Mr. BUXTON was understood to dissent] Well, he had understood that the right hon. Gentleman voted for the reduction. But at all events the right hon. Gentleman, having had his attention drawn to the fact that some friends of his had voted for a decrease of the tea tax, seemed to think that they should now vote against such a reduction, because of the increase of expenditure. But hon. Gentlemen when they voted for the reduction must have known of the increase of expenditure which was then taking place, and they must have had in their minds some means of giving effect to their views when they came into power.


said that what he desired to lay before the Committee was that the expenditure of the late Government had made the reduction of indirect taxation much more difficult than it was before, and he pointed out that the present Government had reduced expenditure and reduced taxation.


said he did not agree that the Government had reduced taxation, although they had reduced expenditure to a certain extent, and on certain items he thought they had reduced it to a dangerous extent, which he thought might lead to some costly disaster later on. He did not think the Chancellor of the Exchequer had ever pretended that he thought it would be possible to reduce expenditure and taxation to a substantial extent. In view of the right hon. Gentleman's promise with regard to old-age pensions it seemed to him that in spite of reductions which he feared they might live to regret the expenditure of the Government must go up. He could not understand on what the Chancellor of the Exchequer could base his expectation of making an absolute reduction. He believed, however, that it was possible to reduce taxation, and to arrange it with more fairness to the taxpayer and the country at large, and he should accordingly support the Amendment. There was only one thing which made him doubtful about giving that vote. He agreed that the trade in recent years had been very much disturbed about the lowering of the tax or the increase of the tax and there was a danger in making a further change after three successive years in which the tax had been altered. The right hon. Gentleman had tried to differentiate in regard to the urgency of a reduction between the tea tax and the sugar tax. He had made a similar effort before. On a previous occasion he defended his reduction of the sugar tax on the ground that sugar was the raw material for other industries and therefore, in that respect, it was unlike the tea duty. Today his argument was based on the fact that the sugar tax pressed heavily upon poor people, but he (Mr. Chamberlain) did not think that there was any difference between the two taxes in that respect. In the case of Ireland, tea was a more important article in the household than sugar. An hon. Gentleman had referred to some of the Irish household budgets and the staple articles of food upon which some of the very poor in that country lived. He thought that they would find families at home whose budgets would very nearly equal those which had been brought forward. It was a very sad subject to deal with when one considered the dietary and sustenance of labourers and their families in some parts of England. Anyone who read a very interesting account published the other day by his right hon. friend the Member for Bordesley, in which he showed the articles of food of country production which were in common use in households in his youth, and which now one rarely saw, would see that the progress which had been made in England had not been so extended or so widely beneficial as they would all of them hope to see. Then the right hon. Gentleman had attempted to show that under present circumstances, if he reduced the tax by a penny, that reduction would not reach the consumer, and that was a subject for grave consideration. He agreed that it was extremely difficult to trace the effect of this taxation in connection with the price of the article, and it would always be difficult to ascertain it even when they had ascertained the facts as closely as possible. No crude statements such as were made on platforms at the last election would satisfy the Chancellor of the Exchequer when piloting a Budget through Committee. He thought the right hon. Gentleman did not express the whole truth. He thought the effect of the tax would be largely regulated by the state of the market at the time. The right hon. Gentleman admitted that so far as the present year was concerned, and had quoted it in his own support, but he made altogether an insufficient allowance for it in the ordinary course of trade. He was surprised to hear the hon. Member for Clitheroe say the price of tea did not vary except by the amount of the tax: the price of tea varied constantly on the markets, and sometimes very greatly, without the imposition of any new tax. If they took the rise to which the right hon. Gentleman had referred that day, it was such a rise as would, if it were in the form of a tax, immediately go to the pockets of the people. The effect of a rise following a tax was different from a rise from any other course. A little time ago when it was his duty to put the tax up to 8d., a figure far too high in his opinion, there was for the moment a great production. Over-production was stimulated because the planters hoped to make good the losses they had sustained before and they filled the market with a great deal of coarse tea. On the other hand he agreed with the hon. Member for Clitheroe that the people did not get the benefit of the penny taken off tea last year. The incidence of these duties was always an interesting study, but was still more interesting at this time, when many thought that preferential treatment should be given in these matters. If we admitted any large part of our supply either duty free or at a lower duty on a preferential basis, those who paid the higher tax would have to sacrifice part of it, unless they had the control of the market, in order to insure the sale of their goods. He would support the Amendment but not as an enemy of indirect taxation. Our system must combine both direct and indirect taxation, but he did not consider that our system of indirect taxation was well adjusted. Taxing a few articles as we did at a very high duty inevitably resulted in hardship on a particular portion of the population whose habits of life made them more subject to the tax than others living in other parts of the country in a different manner but upon the same income. That could only be regulated, not by abolishing the duties altogether, but by making them lower and spreading them over many articles. By that means they would obtain a larger proportion from the taxation of luxuries and a smaller from necessities. He believed that the system would be still more elastic and reliable from a revenue point of view and much fairer from the point of view of the consumers.

MR. BELLOC (Salford, S.)

admitted that there was a very strong argument in favour of the line taken by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The sum involved in the proposed reduction was a large one, well over £1,000,000. It was a sum taken off a tax which had for some time been and which seemed likely to be for some time to come a foundational tax. It was direct, sure, and for the moment, from the point of view of purchase, minute. Then there was the strongest argument of all, that in matters of finance especially a Chancellor of the Exchequer must follow the presumably honest advice of the experts who advised him. This course had been advised by experts, including one who by the common consent of the House was as strong a Chancellor of the Exchequer as had sat in the House since the days of Mr. Gladstone. Nevertheless he would not be doing his duty if he did not support the Amendment. In the first place he not only gave a direct pledge in the matter, which was a most important thing, but he went into the figures carefully and consulted the managers of local co-operative societies, who assured him it was by twopences and not by pennies that the reduction was felt. Secondly, last year it was necessary for him to explain to his constituents that he did not support such a proposal because of the recent advent of the Government to power, and he could not swallow his words. The third reason and the most important of all was, and this was a thing that could not be proved, but it was common knowledge, that when one penny was taken off tea a considerable sum was put into the pockets of a few prominent people. He was convinced that that was not the motive, especially after listening to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, who stated that on the advice of his experts he believed a large proportion of the penny went into the pockets of the consumer. It was largely because these few fortunate persons had been greatly benfited and the rest of the community not, that he was compelled to support the Amendment. If this House was more representative than it could ever be under present conditions, and contained a larger proportion of those men who could witness personally to the effect of this tax on the poorer consumers, he was convinced that this Amendment would be passed.


said that whether it was a fact or not that tea in this country was regarded as a luxury he did not know, but he could most positively declare that in Ireland it wag a most necessary part of the diet of the people. Hardly a meal was taken in the cottage homes in his constituency at which tea did not form an important part of the meal. The people must take something. What were they to take? In this country he believed the working classes consumed a great deal of beer. He might be told that a certain amount of beer was consumed in Ireland, and no doubt that was true, but only of the towns. He was speaking of the large agricultural population; the small farmers and the agricultural labourers who lived in the country did not consume beer. They could not afford it. They could not, as formerly, use their milk, because they now made butter of it, which they sold to meet their rent and other engagements. As they could have neither beer nor milk, and could not be expected continually to drink cold water with their meals, what were they to take? In these circumstances tea had become an absolute necessity to them. For his part, he thought a great many of the Irish people drank too much tea, and in the preparation of it they did not follow the wisest possible course. However that might be, the fact remained that tea was a very essential and important article of diet among the poor of Ireland. It was not necessary to go beyond his own constituency. He knew perfectly well that in County Clare poor farmers and agricultural labourers would not know how to live at all if they had not their small quantity of tea, and it was one article of all others in regard to which they ought to get some relief of duty. It would be a great disappointment to everybody in Ireland, certainly in his own constituency, to learn that no relief was to be given. He remembered the wave of indignation which swept over Ireland when the duty was increased for the purposes of the war. It was really pathetic to see the poorest people, among them old women, going to the local grocer and finding that they had to pay what was to them a considerable increase in the price. When they asked why they were told that it was in order to carry on the war in South Africa. The only consolation given them was that, at any rate, when the war was over, and this tremendous expenditure at an end, the taxation would be decreased, and they would get relief. Now that the war was over, these poor people said that they were not getting that reduction of taxation which they had been led to expect. The Chancellor of the Exchequer might take it from him that ho was not making a protest for the purpose of prolonging the debate, but simply for the purpose of stating what was a very real grievance among the poorest people of Ireland. He had expected that afternoon to see the Liberal Benches crammed to suffocation by hon. Gentlemen representing the Party who supported the Government; he had thought that they would be there in their hundreds in order to show their enthusiasm in the cause of a free breakfast table. Instead of that, one or two, speeches had been made, and, since he had come into the House one hon. Gentleman had told them in a straightforward way, though with something of an apologetic air, that he was going to keep his pledge to his constituents by voting for the Amendment. He did not want to say anything which might be considered in the slightest degree offensive, but it was astounding to him, something passing belief, that, when a suggestion was made for the reduction of the tea duty, a reduction upon an article of diet which was used by the poorest of the poor, there were hardly any Liberals present to advocate it, and probably they would see how many Liberals were prepared to vote for it. He could only say that these things really shook his confidence and belief in the genuineness of a great many declarations which were supposed to voice the true spirit of Liberalism. The tea duty was to remain as it was, and, as far as he understood, it was to be stereotyped and not to be reviewed each year as formerly.


Oh, yes, it is.


said he understood that by the provisions of the Bill some of the taxes were not to be reviewed each year.


Not the tea duty.


said he understood now that the tea duty was not to be included; he had been mistaken, and he was very glad to learn that the tea duty was not to be subjected to the arrangement. But he thought that there ought to be no such arrangement with regard to any duty. At any rate there was to be nothing taken off tea. They had all this talk about a free breakfast table, and when it came down to business the high duty was retained. Why not tax champagne and motor cars and a thousand other things besides, and not the tea of the poor people of this country and of Ireland? With all due respect, the retention of such heavy taxation was not carrying out the true spirit of Liberalism, nor did he think it was carrying out that spirit to create a large number of now Peers from the ranks of the Liberal Party. Let them come up to their professions. After their talk about excessive taxes on the food and the necessities of the people, let them vote in favour of removing this tax and giving some relief to those who most required it.

SIR J. RANDLES (Cumberland, Cockermouth)

said the hon. Member was in the last Parliament, and he must have seen those benches filled by a protesting crowd of Members who earnestly voted against any increase of the tax on tea. At the same time they did so with considerable regret, owing to the well-known necessities of the case for the rise in taxation. But as the hon. Member for Salford had reminded the House, since then there had been a general election at which certain pledges were given, and apparently he was the only Member of the Party, who, in the last Parliament, were so loud in their denunciations of the tax, to get up in his place and say he intended to redeem his pledge. The Chancellor of the Exchequer in replying to the hon. and learned Member for Waterford had stated that he was in entire sympathy with Ireland. That was often the attitude of the Government, but their sympathy did not find its expression in any change of this particular tax. The tax on tea would be levied just the same, whether the consumer was in Ireland or in England, and would have its due weight and burden. What he wanted to point out was that not only the poor in Ireland, but a large number of the working classes in England, were compelled to take their meals at their place of employment. They wore obliged to carry those familiar cans containing tea, which one saw so often, at any rate in the North of England, because of the necessities of their employment. They were compelled unless they took intoxicating liquors—a matter which many professed to deplore—to use this particular article of food. Factory girls, workers in iron and steel works, and coal miners all made use of tea. They were obliged to take it and use it as an article of food, and it was on that particular class referred to by the hon. Member for Clitheroe, the class who only bought a quarter of a pound at a time, upon whom they were putting a burden which everyone would agree pressed unduly on a particular class of consumer. Listening to the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Budget speech, he began to wonder whether the burden did fall on the consumer or not, because the right hon. Gentleman rather indicated that the consumer would not get the benefit of this particular reduction of one penny. He was inclined to think that the penny coupled with the reduction of last year would give to the consumer some substantial relief. If that was not the case, however, they were not fastened to the resources indicated by the Postmaster-General, who seemed to think that a tax on corn, meat, or butter would have to be substituted. The Chancellor of the Exchequer lightly threw away millions from the tax on coal. Did that fall on the consumer? If it did fall on the consumer, the country benefited by it. If it did not, then the matter was open to argument at any rate, with a view to relieving a heavily burdened section of the community on whom the incidence of this tax pressed most unfairly. There was every reason why the House should fulfil the pledges which so many Members had given and reduce the tax by a penny. That course would not be objectionable to many Members, because it would benefit in indirect fashion by an increased consumption a part of the Empire with which t hey were supposed to have great sympathy. They would do India and Ceylon no harm if they reduced the tax which bore heavily on their production. He should vote with the greatest pleasure for a reduction of the duty.

*MR. REES (Montgomery Boroughs)

said the hon. Member for Oswestry proposed to take another penny off tea, the hon. Member for Gravesend had taken advantage of this opportunity to deliver a little lecture upon the fiscal system, and the right hon. Member for Worcestershire had told him he must to be consistent vote for this reduction. It had been said that the supporters of the Anti-Tea Duty League were pledged to vote for a reduction of the tea duty. Although he had given no such pledge ho associated himself entirely with hon. Gentlemen who had pledged themselves to bring about a reduction. The Opposition were offering by this Amendment something which they had not got to give, It should not be overlooked that it was the Party opposite who put this duty on. It was quite true that many of those sitting on the Ministerial side were pledged to bring about a reduction of the tea duty, and they were ready to take any action which would lead to that result, but what would be the effect of supporting this Amendment? It would be just the same as running their heads against a stone wall. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had taken a penny off, and he said that he had not sufficient money at his disposal to take off another penny. The argument that the reduction of the tea duty by a penny last year amounted to nothing was an extraordinary one, because if it did not bring about an actual reduction of price the consumer got the advantage by receiving a better tea. It was a great advantage to have better tea, because bad tea was exceedingly mischievous, whilst good tea was exceedingly beneficial. No man who had lived all his life amongst tea planters as he had done, and knew something about tea, would deny that it was a matter of the greatest importance that the public should have good tea, and if by reducing the duty they could give the public a better class of tea they were conferring upon the consumers a very great benefit indeed. He confessed that he was disappointed that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had not been able to reduce the tea duty by 2d., and he entirely associated himself with those hon. Members who considered that tea was a necessity of life to the poor. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had, however, held out the strongest hopes that he would be able to take off another penny next year. Hon. Gentlemen opposite, however, were now offering pennies which they had not got in their pockets, and which their own Party when in power put on instead of taking off. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had told them, moreover, that this was not the proper psychological moment to make a reduction, because of the peculiar condition of the tea trade, and said that ho knew of no time in the tea trade when the taking off of another penny would have less effect. While there were some grounds for this opinion, he could not but greatly regret that another penny was not taken off, and he resented the policy of putting sugar before tea in the list for relief. They must either accept or reject the Budget, and if they accepted it they must do so as a whole. It would be impossible to introduce the change proposed by this Amendment without refusing to accept the Budget as a whole. He did not accept the argument put forward by the Postmaster-General that the tea trade wanted a rest. The middlemen might be satisfied with the present position, but the producer and the consumer were not and wanted further relief. What they wanted to do was to benefit the consumer, He was pleased to hear hon Members refer to the tea planters; they were people who had suffered to the last degree by taxation, and by a spurious and faked-up agitation in Eastern Bengal, whence four-fifths of the tea came. The planters had not only suffered by currency legislation, but they had suffered all "round. Notwithstanding this, there were no more loyal people, for they came forward during the war to help in the most handsome manner, and there was no class more deserving of the sympathy of the House.

Mr. SWIFT MACNEILL (Donegal, S.)

Let them pay for it.


said they went out while the war was going on and paid their way; they helped the country and the country should help them.


What has that got to do with the tea duty?


said it was only another proof that they deserved a reduction in taxation on tea, but ho thought he was justified as one of the vice-presidents of the Anti-tea Duty League in supporting the Chancellor of the Exchequer on this occasion and that hon. Members who had pledged themselves to take effective action to reduce the taxation on tea would be justified in declining to walk into this open trap and oppose a Minister who had done something and would do more, in order to support the Opposition which had piled penny after penny on tea.


said the hon. Member for Montgomery Boroughs had said he was in favour of taking effective action to secure a reduction of the tea duty, and yet he was going to vote against the Amendment. That was very extraordinary, and he did not think the Members of the League of which he was one of the vice-presidents would thank him for his "effective action." He had had the pleasure of listening to the hon. Member's speeches on several occasions, and he thought as a rule his remarks were very apposite, but he was amazed at the arguments he had used to try to extricate himself from the position of having to vote against his conscience and his pledges in order to support his Party. He was surprised that the hon. Member for East Clare had only just discovered that hon. Gentlemen opposite made statements on the platform which they did not carry out in that House. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had said that it was no use taking a penny off because it would not make any difference to the consumer, and the Postmaster-General had said the same thing. The latter's arguments on this point were so good that he had made a note of them to use the next time he addressed a Tariff Reform League meeting. He had always understood that fluctuations in the market meant that prices went up and down, but in the case of tea the price had gradually risen and that was not a fluctuation. That showed that these duties did not fall upon the consumer but upon the producer. The mover of the Amendment had said they ought to reduce indirect taxation at the same time as they reduced direct taxation. He wished to point out that last session the Chancellor of the Exchequer took some £2,000,000 off indirect taxation in the shape of the coal duties and £1,000,000 off the tea duty, but he had taken nothing off direct taxation since his Party returned to power. Now the right hon. Gentleman was taking £1,250,000 off direct taxation by reducing the income tax, but he was putting more on by means of the death duties. As a matter of fact he was this year taking £500,000 off direct taxation whereas last year he took £3,000,000 off indirect taxation. He was afraid, however, that on this question he would have to vote with the Government again, because it was the lower middle-classes who felt taxation most, and they would be benefited by the reduction of the income-tax on earned incomes. It was after all necessary that revenue should be raised, and in view of the fact that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had already taken so much off indirect and not so much off direct taxation he would have much pleasure in supporting the Government on this point.

MR. HAROLD COX (Preston)

said the Chancellor of the Exchequer had rather implied that because there had been fluctuation in the market price of tea a reduction in the tax would not reach the consumer.


said that these reductions ultimately reached the consumer, although sometimes there were arresting forces which prevented him from getting immediate advantage.


said he was glad that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had made that clear. But if it was made more difficult to reach the consumer, that did not in any way alter the fact that a duty might also injure the producer. With fluctuating prices it might happen that if a duty were imposed when price was high there night be a fall in price soon afterwards; but that did not mean that the duty did not fall on the consumer; the price would have fallen still lower but for the duty. Sooner or later the duty must tell, but so also must the relief from duty, and the sooner it was taken off the better for the consumer. Undoubtedly there were strong reasons against the tea duty, which fell with exceptional severity on poor consumers. He agreed with what was said by the hon. Member for Waterford that this was a duty which bore specially on the Irish people, and that that was a strong reason for abolishing it. But when they came to the practical question whether they could get rid of the duty at the present time, he thought they had to consider whether there wore not other duties which should first be dealt with. Ho had given notice of a proposal to reduce the sugar duty and as he thought tea was a luxury as compared with sugar, and as the reduction could not be made on both articles, he should support the Chancellor of the Exchequer against the present Amendment.

MR. MARKHAM (Nottinghamshire, Mansfield)

expressed regret that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had not seen his way to reduce the tea duty. Personally he intended to vote for the reduction. He was also going to support the hon. Member for Preston in regard to the sugar duty. Believing that tea was a necessary of life, he had always voted against its taxation. His hon. friend the Secretary to the Admiralty in an able speech last session dwelt at great length on the question of the tea duty, and pointed out that tea was as much a necessity of life as corn. It was absolutely necessary that the Liberal Party, if they were to be consistent, should vote for the total abolition of the tea duty. Tea and sugar being necessaries of life; there were other sources from which revenue should be'derived. It was illogical for Liberals to tax the necessaries of life, and for that reason he would vote for the abolition of the tea tax. Hon. Members on the other side of the House favoured the putting of a shilling on corn. What difference was there between putting a shilling on corn and a penny on tea? They were both necessaries of life. There was one commodity on which the working classes spent about 8S. a week, and, although it would not be in order to discuss the matter now, he believed that the money so spent was absolutely wasted. The 1d. on tea was a war tax, and he thought the people were now entitled to have relief from it. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had no right to come down to the House and say, "I have been in office for eighteen months, and still I cannot give you relief in this matter." The excuse last year was that the estimates submitted to the House were those of the previous Government. Among the other sources from which revenue could be obtained were mining royalties and land values.

MR. LEVERTON HARRIS (Tower Hamlets, Stepney)

said that one of the strange features of the debate was the fact that hon. and right hon. Members who were now opposing the Amendment almost to a man supported a similar Amendment when the Conservative Government was in power. The Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Barnstaple in 1905, when the Finance Bill was under discussion, was practically the same as that now before the Committee. They were told then that 4d. was the maximum amount of tax that tea could bear. It was argued that, the increase having been put on for war purposes, the amount of the duty should be reduced to the figure at which it stood from 1890 to 1900. The Amendment of the hon. Member for Barnstaple was supported by many hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, including the Postmaster-General, and in the division the present Prime Minister and 157 of his supporters voted in its favour. He admitted that there had been a change in circumstances, but he claimed that the change was entirely in favour of the reduction of the tea duty. The price of tea was higher to-day than it was last year, and that alone was some reason why relief should be given to the consumer. Hon. Gentlemen opposite who formerly said that tea was a necessity no longer said so. In their opinion it had now become a luxury. It was pointed out in 1905 that tea was largely consumed by the poorer class of citizens upon whose shoulders the burden of the taxation fell. At the general election speeches were made by hon. Gentlemen opposite to their constituents maintaining that tea was a necessity. He would quote only one speech. Before the general election the Lord Chancellor stated that the tea taxation was the most cruel of all taxes because it fell on the poorest of the poor. And last year the present Chancellor of the Exchequer told the House that tea was a prime necessity of life to the poor. Since then a strange change had come over the right hon. Gentlemen's opinion. He now said that tea was in no sense a necessity of life, but a luxury: and while this gigantic somersault was being performed the right hon. Gentleman had discovered that sugar was a prime necessity, so that the economics of the tea-cup had been frequently changed. When hon. Gentlemen were entertaining their friends on the Terrace they would have the advantage of knowing that the sugar which they put into the tea-cups was a real necessity of life but that the tea was not! They were told that tea was a luxury. Ninety per cent. of the tea imported into this country came from our Colonies, and if the tax was not to be reduced from 5d. to 4d. it would not only constitute a burden on the community but do an injury to our trade with the Colonies. In some cases the duty on tea amounted to 100 per cent. on the value of the tea, and when there was an increase in price it not only affected the poor but our colonial trade. The consumption of tea in this country was 6 lbs. per head, which would amount on each individual to between 2s. 6d. and 3s. per annum or 15s. for a family of six. They had been told that the proposed duty of 2s. per quarter on corn would be an unendurable burden on the working classes

and drive thirteen millions who were now on the brink of starvation into the workhouse. But he would point out that the effect of a tax of 5d. per lb. on tea would be proportionally vastly in excess of the effect of a 2s. duty on corn, provided that the duty were paid by the consumers.


called the hon. Gentleman to order. He was discussing the question of a duty on corn. The question before the Committee was a duty on tea.


said that if a 2s. duty per quarter on corn imposed a burden on the consumer, the present duty on tea imposed a far heavier burden on the people, and it was on these grounds that he supported the Amendment.

MR. R. PEARCE (Staffordshire, Leek)

said that it was a pity hon. Members spoke of tea as a necessity and the Chancellor of the Exchequer had carefully distinguished it as near the border line of necessity. Really it was the luxury of the poor. Indirect taxation was mainly on drinks and smokes. And the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Budget had created three classes of taxpayers. There was the millionaire class who paid Is. in the £, the middle class who paid 9d. in the £, and those who were not compelled to pay at all, but were voluntary contributors to the revenue, because not one of them was compelled to buy tea or the other subjects of indirect taxation save from motives of taste and patriotism. There was therefore no hardship in keeping the tax on tea at 5d., having regard to the necessities of the revenue of the nation.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 195; Noes, 136. (Division List No. 256.)

Adkins, W. Ryland D. Banbury, Sir FrederickGeorge Bennett, E. N.
Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch) Baring,Godfrey(Isle of Wight) Bertram, Julius
Ashton, Thomas Gair Barker, John Bethell,SirJ.H.(Essex,Romford
Asquith,Rt.Hon.HerbertHenry Barlow, Sir John E. (Somerset) Billson, Sir Alfred
Astbury, John Meir Barlow, Percy (Bedford) Boulton, A. C. F.
Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth) Barry, Redmond J.(Tyrone,N.) Bramsdon, T. A.
Baker,Joseph A. (Finsbury, E. Beale, W. P. Brocklehurst, W. B.
Balfour, Robert (Lanark) Beck, A. Cecil Brooke, Stopford
Brunner, J.F.L.(Lancs., Leigh) Jones,SirD.Brynmor (Swansea) Robertson,SirG. Scott(Bradf'rd
Bryce, J. Annan Jones, Leif (Appleby) Roe, Sir Thomas
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Jones,William(Carnarvonshire) Rogers, F. E. Newman
Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas Kearley, Hudson E. Rose, Charles Day
Buxton, Rt.Hn. SydneyCharles Laidlaw, Robert Runciman, Walter
Cairns, Thomas Lambert, George Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)
Cameron, Robert Lamont, Norman Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland))
Carr-Gomm, H. W. Layland-Barratt, Francis Schwann, C. Duncan (Hyde)
Causton,Rt.Hn.RichardKnight Lehmann, R. C. Sears, J. E.
Chance, Frederick William Lever, A.Levy(Essex, Harwich) Seaverns, J. H.
Cheetham, John Frederick Lever,W.H. (Cheshire,Wirral) Seely, Major J. B.
Cleland, J. W. Levy, Sir Maurice Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)
Coats,SirT.Glen (Renfrew, W.) Lewis, John Herbert Shipman, Dr. John G.
Cobbold, Felix Thornley Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David Silcock, Thomas Ball
Collins,SirWm.J.(S.Pancras,W. Lough, Thomas Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John
Corbett,C.H.(Sussex,E.Grinst'd Lupton, Arnold Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie
Cotton, Sir H. J. S. Luttrell, Hugh Fownes Soames, Arthur Wellesley
Cox, Harold Lyell, Charles Henry Spicer, Sir Albert
Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth) Macdonald,J.M. (Falkirk Bg'hs Stanger, H. Y.
Crombie, John William M'Callum, John M. Stewart, Halley (Greenock)
Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan) M'Crae, George Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal>
Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P. M'Laren, Sir C. B. (Leicester) Strachey, Sir Edward
Duckworth, James M'Micking, Major G. Straus, B. S. (Mile End)
Dunne,Major E.Martin(Walsall Manfield, Harry (Northants) Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)
Edwards, Clement (Denbigh) Marnham, F. J. Stuart, James (Sunderland)
Edwards, Sir Frank (Radnor) Massie, J. Sutherland, J. E.
Elibank, Master of Menzies, Walter Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)
Essex, R. W. Micklem, Nathaniel Tennant, Sir Edward(Salisbury
Esslemont, George Birnie Molteno, Percy Alport Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.
Everett, R. Lacey Mond, A. Thomasson, Franklin
Faber, G. H. (Boston) Money, L. G. Chiozza Tomkinson, James
Ferens, T. R. Montagu, E. S. Torrance, Sir A. M.
Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall) Toulmin, George
Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen) Walton, Sir John L. (Leeds, S.)
Freeman-Thomas, Freeman Morley, Rt. Hon. John Ward,W.Dudley(Southampton)i
Fuller, John Michael F. Morse, L. L. Waring, Walter
Furness, Sir Christopher Morton, Alpheus Cleophas Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.
Gladstone, Rt.Hn.HerbertJohn Myer, Horatio Wason,Rt. Hn.E. (Clackmannan
Glendinning, R. G. Napier, T. B. Wason,John Cathcart(Orkney)
Goddard, Daniel Ford Nicholson.CharlesN.(Donecaster Waterlow, D. S.
Gooch, George Peabody Norton, Capt. Cecil William Watt, Henry A.
Grey, Rt. Hon.Sir Edward O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth) Weir, James Galloway
Griffith, Ellis J. Partington, Oswald White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)
Gurdon,RtHn.Sir W.Brampton Pearce, Robert (Staffs. Leek) White, Luke (York, E. R.)
Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B. Pearson, W.H.M. (Suffolk, Eye) Whitehead, Rowland
Harcourt. Rt. Hon. Lewis Philipps,Col. Ivor(S'thampton) Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)
Hardy, George A. (Suffolk) Philipps,J.Wynford (Pembroke Whittaker, Sir Thomas Palmer
Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r) Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke) Wiles, Thomas
Hart-Davies, T. Pollard, Dr. Williams,Llewelyn(Carmarthen
Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth) Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh,Central) Williamson, A.
Haworth, Arthur A. Pullar, Sir Robert Wilson,Hon.C.H.W. (Hull, W.>
Hedges, A. Paget Radford, G. H. Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)
Henderson,J.M. (Aberdeen,W.) Rainy, A. Rolland Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart
Herbert,Col. Sir Ivor (Mon.,S.) Raphael, Herbert H.
Hobart, Sir Robert Rees, J. D. TELLERS FOR THE AYES—
Holland, Sir William Henry Ridsdale, E. A. Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease.
Howard, Hon. Geoffrey Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)
Hyde. Clarendon Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)
Idris, T. H. W. Robertson,Rt.Hn. E. (Dundee)
Abraham.William (Cork, N.E.) Beach,Hn. Michael HughHicks Burke, E. Haviland-
Acland-Hood,Rt Hn.SirAlex.F. Beckett, Hon. Gervase Byles, William Pollard
Anson, Sir William Reynell Bell, Richard Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M.
Anstruther-Gray, Major Belloe, Hilaire Joseph Peter R. Carlile, E. Hildred
Ashley, W. W. Bignold, Sir Arthur Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.
Aubrey-Fletcher,Rt.Hon SirH. Boland, John Castlereagh, Viscount
Balcarres, Lord Boyle, Sir Edward Cave, George
Baldwin, Alfred Brace, William Cavendish,Rt. Hon.Victor C.W.
Baring,Capt.Hn.G.(Winchester Brodie, H. C. Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)
Barnes, G. N. Brotherton, Edward Allen Cecil, Lord John P. Joicey-
Chamberlain,RtHn.J.A (Worc. Hodge, John O'Malley, William
Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry Hogan, Michael O'Shaughnessy, P. J.
Clough, William Horridge, Thomas Gardner Parker, James (Halifax)
Cochrane, Hon. Thos, H. A. E. Houston, Robert Paterson Pease,Herbert Pike(Darlington
Corbett, T. L. (Down, North) Hunt, Rowland Percy, Earl
Cowan, W. H. Jacoby, Sir James Alfred Randles, Sir John Scurrah
Craig,Captain James(Down,E.) Johnson, John (Gateshead) Redmond,John E. (Waterford)
Craik, Sir Henry Jowett, F. W. Redmond. William (Clare)
Dalrymple, Viscount Joyce, Michael Remnant, James Farquharson
Dixon-Hartland,SirFred Dixon Kenyon-Slaney,Rt.Hon.Col.W. Renton, Major Leslie
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- King,SirHenry Seymour(Hull) Roberts, S. (Sheffield.Ecclesall
Duncan,Robert (Lanark,Govan Lardner, James Carrige Rushe Ronaldshay, Earl of
Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne) Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich) Shackleton, David James
Edwards, Enoch (Hanley) Lockwood.Rt.Hn. Lt.-Col.A.R. Sheffield,Sir BerkeleyGeorge D.
Faber, George Denison (York) Long,Col.Charles W.(Evesham) Smyth,Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)
Faber, Capt. W. V. (Hants,W.) Lowe, Sir Francis William Stanley,Hon.Arthur(Ormskirk)
Fell, Arthur Lundon, W. Starkey, John R,
Fenwick, Charles Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Ffrench, Peter MacNeill, John Gordon Swift Thornton, Percy M.
Flavin, Michael Joseph MacVeigh,Charles (Donegal,E.) Tuke, Sir John Batty
Fletcher, J. S. M'Calmont, Colonel James Turnour, Viscount
Flynn, James Christopher M'Killop, W. Valentia, Viscount
Forster, Henry William Magnus, Sir Philip Walker,Col.W.H. (Lancashire)
Gardner, Ernest (Berks. East) Markham, Arthur Basil Walrond, Hon. Lione
Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West) Marks, H. H. (Kent) Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent)
Gill, A. H. Masterman, C. F. G. Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)
Gordon, J. Meagher, Michael Wardle. George J.
Gretton, John Mildmay, Francis Bingham Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Haddock, George R. Mooney, J. J. Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)
Halpin, J. Morpeth, Viscount Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Harris, Frederick Leverton Murnaghan, George Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Harrison-Broadley, H. B. Nield, Herbert Young, Samuel
Hay, Hon. Claude George Nolan, Joseph TELLERS FOR THE NOES—
Hazleton, Richard O'Brien,Kendal (TipperaryMid Mr. Bridgeman and Sir Gilbert Parker.
Helmsley, Viscount O'Doherty, Philip
Hervey,F.W.F.(BuryS. Edm'ds O'Grady,J.
Hill, Sir Clement (Shrewsbury) O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)
MR. FELL (Great Yarmouth)

moved to insert the words, "Provided that tea which has been grown and manufactured in any English Colony or Dependency shall be charged only a duty per pound of 4d." The hon. Member said that the great bulk of the tea imported into this country came from India and Ceylon, and, therefore, if his proposal were adopted, a large amount of reduction of tea duty would be the result. He would try, in moving the Amendment, although it involved a preference to the Empire, to keep it separate from the subject of tariff reform, partly because that topic had been discussed on another Amendment, and partly because he thought his case was a good one without the considerations involved in the previous discussion. Ho would like to refer to the extraordinary change which had taken place with regard to the consumption of tea derived from our Dependencies and foreign countries such as China. Forty years ago nine-tenths of the tea consumed in this country came from China, although it was then grown in small quantities in Assam and in Ceylon. The bulk of our tea came from China, however, and the change which we had seen in the lifetime of the ordinary man was that, while nine-tenths of the tea was formerly grown in China, now nine-tenths of the tea consumed here was grown in India and Ceylon. The change which had taken place showed that, fluctuations of this kind having occurred in the past, they might possibly occur again. If that happened the money invested in the plantations in India and Ceylon would, of course, be jeopardised. He could not say where our tea would be imported from fifty years hence. Tea was being grown in Natal, in Uganda, and in Swaziland, and it might be grown in other countries than those in which it was produced at the present time. If that was the case the sale of the tea grown in India and Ceylon and our other great Dependencies, might be jeopardised. The tax of 5d. which was levied on all tea alike produced a revenue of between £6,000,000 and £7,000,000 a year, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer had told them that, however favourably disposed towards the reduction of the duty on tea he might be, he could not reduce it because he had not the revenue to do so. He could not help feeling, however, that since the introduction of the Budget something might have happened to induce him to change his opinion, because it would give him more money to carry out the reduction. It was suggested that the change might involve a reduction of duty of £1,000,000, but under the reduced duty a much larger revenue might be produced. That frequently happened in the days of Mr. Gladstone. Supposing the change would involve a loss of £800,000. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had since his Budget saved some £600,00y in regard to the Irish Council Bill.


said that not a penny of that £600,000 would have fallen in his financial year.


said the right hon. Gentleman would have the benefit of it next year at all events. He was sure, however, there was plenty of money. £100,000 under the English Allotment Act would be paid into the Bank of England, and there would be.£100,000 under the Scottish allotment scheme, and if these various sums were taken into account, the right hon. Gentleman would have ample means to grant a reduction at any rate to India and Ceylon. That would give them some small token of the interest felt in them In this country. The question of China tea and India tea was the crux of the matter, because the tea we consumed came mainly from India, and the tea we used to consume came from China. He proposed that China tea should pay 5d. and India and Ceylon 4d. and he might point out that in the tea-shops China tea commanded a. higher price than India tea. That showed that if the richer people wanted China tea they were prepared to pay for it, and that was the tea which he proposed should pay the higher duty. He did not wish to labour the point, but he could not conclude without pointing out that it would be a graceful act on the part of the Committee if it could in some way show our friends that we were looking after their interests in this way, and that the revenue was sufficient to stand the loss, if any, to the Empire. He also pointed out that when we ceased to import Russian sugar Russia retaliated by putting a surtax on Ceylon and Indian tea, but the consumption of those teas in Russia had trebled since the duty was imposed, which completely proved the fact that those who wished to drink these teas were willing to pay the extra duty. It might also show a possible change of taste, but his whole argument was that tastes might change and that times might not always continue as they were now. There might come a time when they might lose the markets they had so successfully gained, and he wanted to help them as much as he could to retain the markets which they had. He hoped that would be done by the Amendment he now moved.


said if the hon. Member looked at the Amendment which he proposed to move he would see that it referred to tea grown and manufactured in any "English" Colony or Dependency. There was no such thing as an "English" Colony or Dependency. He would therefore put the Amendment in a slightly amended form and substitute the word "British" for "English."

Amendment proposed— In page 1, line 21, at the end to insert the words 'Provided that tea which has been grown and manufactured in any British Colony or Dependency shall be charged only a duty per pound of four pence.'

Question proposed, "That those words be there added."


said that even with the very proper change that the Deputy-Chairman had made this Amendment did not require a very lengthy answer from him. The hon. Member had cut away the ground from his feet by his concluding observations. The truth was that India and Ceylon and the other Dependencies which the hon. Gentleman desired to help had already ousted China tea from this and other markets. Nothing could be more startling than what had taken place, if they only went back fifteen years. Fifteen years ago the British Indies sent us tea to the amount of 101,000,000 lbs.; they now sent us 160,000,000. China sent us then 54,000,000, and now 5,000,000. So far from there being any necessity for any help for our fellow subjects in this matter, they had helped themselves to such an extent that they had not only captured our market, but the foreign markets as well, including that of Russia. So far as he could follow the arguments of the hon. Gentleman, this was a precautionary measure in case these gentlemen should be so different in the future from what they had been in the past that they lost the markets which they had captured. Before they accepted this proposition, which he quite recognised was not put forward on the ground he expected it to be, namely, the ground of Colonial preference, they should wait for the circumstance which the hon. Gentleman feared, to arise. He could not possibly accept the Amendment.


thought the right hon. Gentleman had given a most cold and unsympathetic answer. The Amendment was an out-and-out preferential Amendment, and for that reason it appealed to him most strongly. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had a great opportunity by accepting the Amendment to tone down the impression of disappointment given with regard to Colonial preference in the recent Colonial Conference, and to show Britishers beyond these as that we were looking after their interests as well as our own. He pressed upon the Committee the advantage it would be to give preference to the Colonies, and to supply tea at a cheaper rate to the poorer classes in Ireland. They had been constantly told, not only in the House but in the country, that the Radical Party were in favour of taking all taxes off the food of the people, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer had himself declared that the people would not stand taxation of food. He did not know whether tea was a luxury in England. In Ireland it was the staple drink of the poor people. He had hoped, when he saw the Chancellor of the Exchequer engaged upon his figures, that he was going to give way on this point. He thought that out of the enormous surplus he had in his hands the right hon. Gentleman might make this small and judicious relaxation of the burden of taxation on an article of the food of the people.

MR. SAMUEL ROBERTS (Sheffield, Ecclesall)

said he desired to support the hon. Member for Yarmouth, Since the Chancellor of the Exchequer made his Budget statement, the Conference of Colonial Premiers had been held in this country, and when the Government refused to consider the general principle of preference to the Colonies, a Resolution was passed unanimously, saying, "Show your sympathy for us and give us a preference on your present taxation. True, it will not afford us much relief, but it will show your sympathy towards us." The Amendment afforded an opportunity for the Government to show practical sympathy to our brothers and sisters beyond the seas by giving them this little preference. True, it would not give preference to our self-governing Colonies, but we did receive tea from British Possessions; we received it from India and Ceylon in very large quantities. Parliament should try to show the Colonies that they were anxious to take every step possible to draw them nearer to the Mother Country; and this, though a small step, would give the Chancellor of the Exchequer an opportunity to try and reassure those who had left our shores very disappointed.


said the question before the Committee did not affect the self-govering Colonies largely, and therefore it was of no use bringing them in.


said that a reduction would not at present give relief largely to the self-governing Colonies, but it would show that we were anxious to give preference to our brothers and sisters beyond the seas. Although this was no doubt only a small matter, as far as our Colonies were concerned, ho urged the Chancellor of the Exchequer to take this opportunity of manifesting that sympathy which he was sure the right hon. Gentleman wished to show the Colonies.


said he had been in the unfortunate predicament of voting with the Government on each occasion that day, but he could not support them in this instance. Though he admitted that the Amendment would have the effect of altering the Budget, yet he thought it would be a great step in the direction to which at any rate the Party on his side of the House were committed, that of promoting trade between the different parts of the Empire. He did not think they could find a better part of the Empire with which to commence than the great Dependency of India. His hon. friend who had moved the Amendment had stated that the Chancellor of the Exchequer must have money to spare, as he had some £600,000 which was no longer required for the Irish Council Bill. If the right hon. Gentleman had already appropriated that sum, as he was informed, then it could not have gone to the Irish Council. However, discussion of that would be out of order, and he would not pursue it. But undoubtedly the returns were going on well, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, by making a little shift in his Budget, could meet this particular point. It was a step in the direction which they all had at heart, and he believed the President of the Board of Trade was being rapidly converted to their views with respect to trade within the Empire ["No."] Certainly, the right hon. Gentleman was coming round. He would have much pleasure in voting for the Amendment.


said that once or twice in the course of the debate a suggestion had been made in favour of retaliating on Russia in response to the surtax on Indian tea. As a matter of fact, some high-priced varieties of tea from China came through Russia. Consequently us we might be differentiating against a Russian import, if this Amendment passed, he was in order in referring to this proposal for retaliation. His constituency happened to be seriously interested in the Russian trade in agricultural implements, and the effect of retaliation in respect of the surtax would be to seriously and directly injure the trade of his constituency. In fact, we could not retaliate against Russia unless we denounced the Treaty of Commerce with her, made in 1859, under which we agreed to avoid differential duties and all retaliatory duties in our intercourse with her.


What would Russia do with regard to us? Does not Russia tax us very heavily.


That, surely, is not the point.


It is the point, and very much the point.


said that his point was that this treaty of commerce forbade any differential duties on either side. Now under that treaty we got most - favoured - nation privileges, including a reduction of 15 or 25 per cent. on some agricultural machinery. If the treaty were denounced those reductions would automatically cease, and the trade of his constituents in agricultural machinery would be crippled. The duties against us would rise by 15 or 25 per cent., and the German duties on similar articles would not rise, so that the immediate effect of the retaliation and differentiation, proposed by the Amendment, would be to cripple quite unexpectedly and unintentionally the trade in which we were competing with Germany, to the considerable damage of the constituency which he represented. He gave that as an illustration of the way in which retaliation and differentiation acted like a boomerang.


said he presumed that, as the hon. Gentleman had been allowed to proceed, ho would not be out of order in making some observations in reply, though he confessed that the remarks of the hon. Member were somewhat wide of the Amendment. It appeared to him that there were two observations to be made in reply to the speech of the hon. Gentleman. He thought the hon. Member was entirely misinformed as to the treaty in question, and also that he was under a misapprehension as to the effect of the most- favoured-nation treatment we received. He had yet to learn that we had any treaty with Russia that would prevent our treating any portion of the United Kingdom or our oversea dominions more favourably than a foreign nation. The hon. Member, if he looked, would find that the treaty did not exclude preferential treatment within the Empire; it would only prevent our giving less favoured treatment to Russia than to other foreign nations. What was the most-favoured-nation treatment which we received in Russia? It was the result of the tariff negotiations of other Powers. The concessions which they secured for themselves became ours by reason of our having the most-favoured-nation treatment. [An HON. MEMBER: Why not?] He knew of no reason why not, but he did not desire to argue it. Naturally, as those countries were concerned with their own trade, and not with ours, the concessions which they sought were those which would bring them the greatest advantage. If the Russian Government wore able to point out to the foreign nation with which it was negotiating that the benefit of the concession they asked for would come to us instead of to that nation, that would be a reason for that nation's ceasing to demand that particular concession and seeking another. If, however, we reorganised our fiscal system in order to secure that power of negotiation for ourselves which all other nations possessed, and in order that we might no longer be dependent on the crumbs that fell from the table of other negotiators, but might be able to carve the joint for ourselves, there would then be no reason why we should suffer any more than any other nation. Why should we be less well off when we were able to protect ourselves than when we depended wholly on whatever concessions were got by the action and interaction of rival powers concerned in their own and not in our trade? He did not think the speech of the hon. Member had rendered great assistance to the cause which he represented. The Amendment gave the House the opportunity of differentiating between Indian and Ceylon teas, which were mainly consumed by the people, and China tea, which was the luxury of the few, thus reducing the taxes on food and at the same time rendering a real service to our great eastern Dependency. It was quite true that they had secured a position in our market. In the changes of the last quarter of a century there was nothing more remarkable than the capture of the British market by the Indian and Ceylon producers, and the consequent ousting of the China teas to such a conspicuous and overwhelming extent. He did not think that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would argue that if they reduced the duty on Indian tea they would not be conferring a benefit upon the producer of those teas as well as upon our own people. His own opinion was that they would. But apart from the material benefit they would confer by reducing this duty they would be responding to a sentiment which, in his opinion, they could not afford to neglect, which it would be unwise to neglect, and which, on the contrary, they ought to cultivate at every opportunity in their power. He should certainly support the Amendment which had been moved by his hon. friend. He wished to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer one other question. He thought the competition of the future, if there was to be competition, would probably come not from China, but from other places. While he was at the Exchequer his attention was drawn to the large and increasing importation of tea from Java. This tea was more akin in quality and flavour to Ceylon tea than was China tea, and he imagined that if there was keen competition in the future with Indian tea, it would come, not from China, but from Java. Perhaps the Chancellor of the Exchequer might have figures bearing upon that point.


said the right hon. Gentleman had raised an interesting and important point. The return he had before him showed the teas imported in 1906 for home consumption were as follows:— British East India, 159.000,0001b.; Ceylon, 92,000,0001b.; making a total of 251,000,0001b. imported from countries within the British Empire. From China there were imported 5,000,0001b., and from other countries 13,200,0001b., the whole of which he thought he was substantially right in saying came from Java. The importation from Java was also steadily rising, for the tea imported from other countries in 1900 amounted to 6,000,000lb. and in 1903 to 11,000,0001b.


said he was very doubtful whether the acceptance of this Amendment would be any advantage to India. The real point was that China tea was imported mainly for the purpose of being blended with Ceylon tea, and he doubted very much whether any differentiation would be to the advantage of Indian tea. He was quite as anxious as hon. Gentlemen opposite that everything should be done for India and the Colonies, but be had his doubts as to the effect of this proposal. As for what the right hon. Gentleman had said about quality, he disputed altogether the statement that China tea was better than Indian and Ceylon tea. It had been said that Indian tea had more tannin in it, but he knew that the preparation of Indian tea was very much more satisfactory than that of China tea, and nobody who had seen both processes could have any doubt whatever on this point. The Indian and Ceylon manufacture was cleanly, efficient and up to date, no colouring matter was used, and the best machinery was available.


said he did not say that China tea was better. What he stated was that it had a special taste and some people preferred it.


said the point had been made in the debate that China tea was a higher class article than Indian tea, which ho altogether disputed. At the present moment Indian tea was gaining a hold upon the Russian market and it was ousting China tea there from. Sixteen years ago when he was living in Russia nobody would look at Indian tea, because they had made up their minds that there was no tea like China tea. That opinion was very much altered now in Russia, and what he wished to protest strongly against was the assumption that China tea was better than Indian tea. An hon. Member had said that only the higher class of China tea was sent into Russia. He might remind the hon. Member that Indian tea was now being imported into Russia in enormous quantities, and that knocked the bottom out of the argument from a preferential point of view and showed that the Russians had not been able to retaliate effectually on account of our action in respect of sugar. The Russians had never had any intention of keeping out Indian tea, but their idea was to develop its transit along the Siberian railway instead of by way of their western ports. Tea was an article which got seasick and spoiled by being too long in ships, and consequently when it was conveyed to

Russia by the overland route it arrived there in the best possible condition.


We cannot have all these explanations. The Amendment is simply whether the duty should be fourpence or fivepence.


said he only followed other speakers and he doubted, for the reasons he had given, whether this proposal would be of any advantage to India.

MR. T. L. CORBETT (Down, N.)

hoped the Committee would not take the narrow, selfish view advanced by the Member for Lincoln that the interest of the Empire must be sacrificed to the interest of Lincoln's trade with Russia in agricultural implements. Instead of taking a narrow and selfish view he hoped the Government would look at the question from the wide and Imperial standpoint embodied in the Amendment. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had said that very little tea was now grown in our Colonies.


I did not say so.


said he was glad to hear that denial. The right hon Gentleman did not always state facts [MINISTERIAL cries of "Oh, oh!"] If this Amendment were carried it might lead to a great encouragement of the growth of tea in many of our Colonies which were quite adapted to its production. Instead of tariff reformers being charged with taking a narrow and selfish view of trade interests it had now been proved that the hon. Member for Lincoln was prepared to sacrifice Imperial interests in favour of the particular trade of his own constituency.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 53, Noes 217. (Division List No. 257.)

Acland,Hood,RtHn.Sir AlexF. Beckett, Hon. Gervase Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)
Anson, Sir William Reynell Bignold, Sir Arthur, Cecil, Lord John V. Joicey-
Ashley, W. W. Boyle Sir Edward Chamberlain, RtHnJ. A. (Wore
Balcarres, Lord Brotherton, Edward Allen Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)
Baldwin, Alfred Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M. Craig,CaptianJames(Down,E.
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Carlile, E. Hildred Craik, Sir Henry
Banner, John S. Harmood- Cave, George Dalrymple, Viscount
Douglas, Rt, Hon. A. Akers. Kimber, Sir Henry Starkey, John R.
Duncan,Robert(Lanark, Govan King,SirHenrySeymour(Hull) Thornton, Percy M.
Fletcher, J. S. Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich) Turnour, Viscount
Forster, Henry William Lockwood,Rt.Hn.Lt,-Col. A.R. Walker,Col.W.H.(Lancashire)
Gardner, Ernest (Berks, East) M'Calmont, Colonel James Walrond, Hon. Lionel
Gordon, J. Magnus, Sir Philip Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Haddock, George R. Marks, H. H. (Kent) Wilson,A.Stanley(York.E.R.)
Harrison-Broadley, H. B. Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield) Wortley,Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-
Helmsley, Viscount Nield, Herbert
Hervey,F.W.F. (BuryS.Edmd's Pease,HerbertPike(Darlington) TELLERS FOR THE AYES—
Houston, Robert Paterson Randles, Sir John Scurrah Mr. Fell and Mr. Samuel Roberts.
Kenyon-Slaney,Rt.Hon.Col.W. Smith, F.E.(Liverpool, Walton)
Abraham,William (Cork, N.E.) Faber, G. H. (Boston) MacVeigh,Charles (Donegal,E.)
Adkins. W. Ryland D. Fenwick, Charles M'Callum, John M.
Alden, Percy Ferens, T. R. M'Crae, George
Asquith,Rt.Hon.HerbertHenry Ffrench, Peter M'Laren, Sir C.B.(Leicester)
Astbury, John Meir Flynn, James Christopher M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)
Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth) Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter M'Micking. Major G.
Baker,Joseph A.(Finsbury,E.) Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Manfield, Harry (Northants)
Balfour, Robert (Lanark) Fuller, John Michael F. Marnham, F. J.
Baring,Godfrey(Isle of Wight) Furness, Sir Christopher Meagher, Michael
Barker, John Gibb, James (Harrow) Menzies, Walter
Barlow, Percy (Bedford) Gill, A. H. Micklem, Nathaniel
Barnes, G. N. Gladstone,Rt.Hn.HerbertJohn Molteno, Percy Alport
Barry,RedmondJ.(Tyrone,N.) Glendinning, R. G. Money, L. G. Chiozza
Beale, W. P. Glover, Thomas Montagu, E. S.
Beck, A. Cecil Goddard, Daniel Ford Mooney, J. J.
Bell, Richard Gooch, George Peabody Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)
Bellairs, Carlyon Greenwood, G. (Peterborough) Morley, Rt. Hon. John
Bennett, E. N. Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill Morse, L. L.
Bertram, Julius Gurdon,RtHn.SirW.Brampton Morton, Alpheus Cleophas
Bethell,Sir J.H.(Essex,Romford Gwynn, Stephen Lucius Murnaghan, George
Billson, Sir Alfred Halpin,J. Murray, James
Boland. John Hardy, George A. (Suffolk) Myer, Horatio
Brace, William Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r) Napier, T. B.
Bramsdon, T. A. Hart-Davies, T. Nicholls, George
Brocklehurst, W. B. Harvey,W.E.(Derbyshire,N.E.) Nicholson,Charles N.(Doncaster
Brodie, H. C. Haworth, Arthur A. Nolan, Joseph
Brooke, Stopford Hazleton, Richard Norton, Capt. Cecil William
Brunner,J.F.L.(Lanes..Leigh) Hedges, A. Paget O'Brien,Kendal (TipperaryMid
Bryce,J. Annan Henderson, J.M. (Aberdeen, W.) O'Connor. John (Kildare, N.)
Burke, E. Haviland- Hodge, John O'Doherty. Philip
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Hogan, Michael O'Grady,J.
Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas Holland,Sir William Henry O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)
Buxton,Rt.Hn. SydneyCharles] Horniman, Emslie John O'Shaughnessy, P. J.
Byles, William Pollard Horridge, Thomas Gardner Parker, James (Halifax)
Cairns, Thomas Hyde, Clarendon Pearce, Robert (Staffs. Leek)
Cameron, Robert Idris, T. H. W. Pearce, William (Limehouse)
Causton,Rt.Hn.RichardKnight Johnson, John (Gateshead) Pearson,W.H.M.(Suffolk,Eye)
Cheetham, John Frederick Jones,SirD.Brynmor (Swansea) Philipps,J.Wynford (Pembroke
Clough, William Jones, Leif (Appleby) Pollard, Dr.
Coats,SirT.Glen(Renfrew, W.) Jones, William(Carnarvonshire) Price, C. E. (Edinburgh,Central
Cobbold, Felix Thornley Jowett, F. W. Pullar, Sir Robert
Collins,SirWm.J.(S.Pancras,W. Kearley, Hudson E. Radford, G. H.
Corbett,C.H.(Sussex,E.Grinst'd Kekewich, Sir George Rainy, A. Rolland
Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Kincaid-Smith, Captain Redmond,John E. (Waterford)
Cotton, Sir H, J. S. Laidlaw, Robert Rees, J. D.
Cox, Harold Lambert, George Ridsdale, E. A.
Cremer, Sir William Randal Lamont, Norman Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)
Crombie, John William Lardner, James Carrige Rushe Roe, Sir Thomas
Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P. Layland-Barratt, Francis Rogers, F. E. Newman
Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Lehmann, R. C. Runciman, Walter
Duckworth, James Lever, A.Levy(Essex,Harwich) Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)
Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne) Lever, W. H. (Cheshire,Wirral) Samuel,HerbertL.(Cleveland)
Edwards, Clement (Denbigh) Levy, Sir Maurice Schwann, C. Duncan (Hyde)
Edwards, Enoch (Hanley) Lewis, John Herbert Sears, J. E.
Elibank, Master of Lough, Thomas Seaverns, J. H.
Essex, R. W. Lundon, W. Seely, Major J. B.
Esslemont, George Birnie Macdonald,J.M.(FalkirkB'ghs Shackleton, David James
Everett, R. Lacey MacNeill, John Gordon Swift Shipman, Dr. John G.
Silcock, Thomas Ball Thomas, David Alfred(Merthyr) White, Luke (York, E. R.)
Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John Thomasson, Franklin Whitehead, Rowland
Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie Thompson,J.W.H.(Somerset,E. Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)
Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.) Torrance, Sir A. M. Whittaker, Sir Thomas Palmer,
Soames, Arthur Wellesley Toulmin, George Wiles, Thomas
Spicer, Sir Albert Trevelyan, Charles Philips Williams,LlewelynCarmarthen
Stanley, Hn.A.Lyulph(Chesh.) Ure, Alexander Williamson, A.
Stewart. Halley (Greenock) Verney, F. W. Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)
Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal) Ward,John(Stoke upon Trent) Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)
Strachey, Sir Edward Wardle, George J. Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Straus, B. S. (Mile End) Waring, Walter Young, Samuel
Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon) Wason,Rt.Hn.E.(Clackmannan
Stuart, James (Sunderland) Wason, JohnCathcart(Orkney) TELLERS FOR THE NOES—
Sutherland,J. E. Waterlow, D. S. Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease.
Taylor,TheodoreC.(Radcliffe) Watt, Henry A.
Thomas,SirA.(Glamorgan,E.) White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)

Question proposed, "That Clause I stand part of the Bill."

MR. FLETCHER (Hampstead)

said there should be greater fairness shown to the Dependency of India in our system of taxation. We did not pay sufficient attention to the bearing of fiscal questions on our Indian fellow subjects. It was a great injustice that we should put so heavy a tax on tea, one of India's chief industries, and that India should be compelled to pay an excise duty on her cotton goods. This duty was a violation of free trade principles. He was of opinion that the proper policy for this country was to favour free trade in the real sense, that was to say, to have free exchange between the United Kingdom and India. If we admitted tea

and tobacco free from India, and if India admitted cotton and woollen goods and cutlery free from this country, it would be the greatest step in favour of real free trade that had ever been taken. Ho strongly objected to the tea duty, and he had given a pledge to his constituents that lie would vote against it. There were many hon. Members on the Ministerial side of the House who were pledged to vote against the tea and sugar duties, and he appealed to them to act accordingly. If they did not vote against those taxes, he earnestly hoped that their constituents would dispense with them at the next election.

Question put.

The Committee divided: Ayes, 184; Noes, 71. (Division List No. 258.)

Adkins, W. Ryland D. Burns, Rt. Hon. John Essex, R. W.
Alden, Percy Burt, Rt, Hon. Thomas Esslemont, George Birnie
Asquith,Rt.Hon.HerbertHenry Buxton,Rt,Hn.Sydney Charles Everett, R. Lacey
Astbury, John Meir Byles, William Pollard Faber, G. H. (Boston)
Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth) Cairns, Thomas Fenwick, Charles
Baker,JosephA. (Finsbury,E.) Cameron, Robert Ferens, T. R.
Balfour, Robert (Lanark) Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H. Fiennes, Hon. Eustace
Banbury. Sir Frederick George Causton,Rt.Hn.RichardKnight Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter
Baring,Godfrey(Isle of Wight) Cheetham, John Frederick Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry
Barker, John Cleland, J. W. Fuller, John Michael F.
Barlow. Percy (Bedford) Clough, William Furness, Sir Christopher
Barry,RedmondJ.(Tyrone.N.) Coats,SirT,Glen(Renfrew,W.) Gibb, James (Harrow)
Beale, W. P. Collins,SirWm.J.(S. Pancras.W Gladstone,Rt.Hn.HerbertJohn
Beck, A. Cecil Corbett,CH(Sussex,E,Grinst'd) Glendinning, R. G.
Bell, Richard Cornwall,Sir Edwin A. Goddard, Daniel Ford
Bellairs. Carlyon Cotton, Sir H. J. S. Gooch, George Peabody
Bennett, E. N. Cox, Harold Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)
Bethell.SirJ.H.(Essex,Romf'rd Crombie, John William Gurdon, RtHn.SirW.Brampton
Billson, Sir Alfred Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.) Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)
Brace, William Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.) Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r)
Bramsdon, T. A. Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P. Hart-Davies, T.
Brocklehurst, W. B. Duckworth, James Harvey, W.E.(Derbyshire,N.E.
Brodie, H. C. Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne) Haworth, Arthur A.
Brooke. Stopford Edwards, Clement (Denbigh) Hedges, A. Paget
Brunner,J.F.L. (Lanes.,Leigh) Edwards, Enoch (Hanley) Henderson,J. M.(Aberdeen,W.)
Bryce, J. Annan Elibank, Master of Hodge, John
Holden, E. Hopkinson Myer, Horatio Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)
Horridge, Thomas Gardner Napier, T. B. Stuart, James (Sunderland)
Hyde, Clarendon Nicholls, George Sutherland, J. E.
Idris, T. H. W. Nicholson,CharlesN.(Doncast'r Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)
Johnson, John (Gateshead) Norton, Capt. Cecil William Thomas,SirA. (Glamorgan.E.)
Jones,SirD.Brynmor (Swansea) Parker, James (Halifax;) Thomas,DavidAlfred(Merthyr
Jones, Leif (Appleby) Pearce, Robert (Staffs. Leek) Thomasson, Franklin
Jones,William(Carnarvonshire) Pearce, William (Limehouse) Thompson,J.W.H.(Somers't,E.
Kekewich, Sir George Pearson,W.H.M. (Suffolk.Eye) Torrance, Sir A. M.
Kincaid-Smith, Captain Philipps,J.Wynford(Pembroke Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Laidlaw, Robert Pollard. Dr. Ure, Alexander
Lamb,Edmund G.(Leominster) Price, E. C. (Edinburgh,Central Verney, F. W.
Lamont, Norman Priestley, Arthur (Grantham) Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)
Layland-Barratt, Francis Radford, G. H. Walton,SirJohnL.(Leeds,S.)
Lehmann, R. C. Rainy, A. Rolland Ward,John (Stoke upon Trent;
Lever,A.Levy (Essex, Harwich) Rees, J. D. Ward,W.Dudley(Southampton
Lever, W. H. (Cheshire, Wirral Ridsdale, E. A. Wardle, George J.
Levy, Sir Maurice Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln) Waring, Walter
Lewis, John Herbert Roe,Sir Thomas Wason,Rt.Hn.E.(Clackmannan
Lough, Thomas Rogers, F. E. Newman Wason,John Cathcart(Orkney)
Macdonald,J.M.(FalkirkB'ghs) Runciman, Walter Waterlow, D. S.
M'Callum, John M. Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford) Watt, Henry A.
M'Crae, George Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland) White.J. D. (Dumbartonshire)
M'Laren, Sir C. B. (Leicester) Sears, J. E. White, Luke (York, E. R.)
M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.) Seaverns, J. H. Whitehead, Rowland
M'Micking, Major G. Shackleton, David James Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)
Manfield, Harry (Northants) Shipman, Dr. John G. Whittaker, Sir Thomas Palmer
Marnham, F. J. Silcock, Thomas Ball Wiles, Thomas
Menzies, Walter Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John Williamson, A.
Micklem, Nathaniel Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)
Molteno, Percy Alport Soames, Arthur Wellesley Wilson,P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)
Money, L. G. Chiozza Soares, Ernest J. Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-
Montagu, E. S. Spicer, Sir Albert
Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall) Stanley,Hn.A.Lyulph(Chesh.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES—
Morse, L. L. Stewart, Halley (Greenock) Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease.
Morton, Alpheus Cleophas Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)
Murray, James Straus, B. S. (Mile End)
Abraham,William(Cork, N.E.) Gardner, Ernest (Berks, East) Murnaghan, George
Acland-Hood,Rt Hn.SirAlex.F. Gill, A. H. Nield, Herbert
Ashley, W. W. Glover, Thomas Nolan, Joseph
Balcarres, Lord Gordon, J. O'Brien,Kendal(Tipperary Mid
Baldwin, Alfred Gwynn, Stephen Lucius O'Connor, John (Kidlare, N.)
Banner, John S. Harmood- Haddock, George R. O'Doherty, Philip
Barnes, G. N. Halpin, J. O'Grady, J.
Beach,Hn.MichaelHughHicks Hazleton, Richard O'Shaughnessy, P. J.
Boland, John Helmsley, Viscount Pease,Herbert Pike(Darlington
Boyle,Sir Edward Hervey,F. W. F. (BuryS.Edm'ds Randles. Sir John Scurrah
Brotherton. Edward Allen Hogan, Michael Redmond. John E. (Waterford)
Burke, E. Haviland- Houston. Robert Paterson Roberts,S.(Sheffield. Ecclesall)
Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M. Jowett, F. W. Smith,F.E.(Liverpool,Walton)
Carlile, E. Hildred Kimber. Sir Henry Smyth,Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.;
Cave, George King,Sir HenrySeymour(Hull) Starkey. John R.
Cecil,Lord John P. Joicey- Lardner, James Carrige Rushe Thornton. Percy M.
Corbett, T. L. (Down, North) Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich) Turnour, Viscount
Craig,CaptainJames (Down.E.) Lockwood,Rt.Hn.Lt,-Col.A.R. Walker.Col.W.H.(Lancashire)
Craik, Sir Henry Lundon, W. Walrond, Hon. Lionel
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- MacNeill, John Gordon Swift Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Duncan,Robert(Lanark,Govan MacVeigh,Charles (Donegal,E.) Young, Samuel
Fell, Arthur M'Calmont, Colonel James
Ffrench, Peter Marks, H. H. (Kent) TELLERS FOR THE NOES—
Flynn,James Christopher Meagher, Michael. Mr. Fletcher and Viscount Dalrymple.
Forster, Henry William Mooney,J. J.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

And it being a quarter past Eight of the clock, and there being Private Business set down by direction of the

Chairman of Ways and Means under Standing Order No. 8, further Proceeding was postponed without Question put.