§ Order for Second Reading read.
THE LORD-ADVOCATE (Mr. THOMAS SHAW, Hawick Burghs)
In moving the Second Reading of this Bill I shall endeavour to do so, without abating in any respect my support of the measure, in as brief terms as possible, because the progress of this Bill during the past year has in one respect been singularly fortunate. It is identical with the Bill of last year, which passed its Second Reading by a majority of 218 votes. It was before the Grand Committee for four days, and I ask, in the judgment of my hon. friends on both sides, whether the provisions of the Bill were not thoroughly thrashed out. I do not think I had ever the inclination to move that the closure should be adopted. Then when it returned to this House I confess that we had only one day—I should say a day and a night, because what happened was that we commenced about this hour of the afternoon and talked round the clock, but still during that round of the clock I think only once was the closure moved. Also I may recall to the minds of those who did us the honour of hearing that debate that there were concessions made from point to point, and even up to the small hours of the morning I think both sides were in that spirit. Accordingly the Bill is now presented to the House, not as it was originally introduced at the beginning of last session, but as it left the House. In these circumstances I need not delay the House very long with reference to the provisions of the Bill. May I indicate one or two points only? The first point is why this should be a Scottish Bill to begin with. A good deal, as the House knows, has been made of the contrast between Scottish and English procedure in reference to the land, question. There is a very ample and 838 good answer. In the first place, it is well that it should be in Scotland for this reason, and I need have no hesitation in avowing it, that we are at least more than half a century in advance of England on the subject of valuation. In the Valuation Act of 1854 we established a mechanism by which there should be an annual valuation of all land in Scotland. This became a national statistic of great value. So valuable has it been that in addition to the columns originally proposed in the Act of 1854 advantage Has been taken of succeeding statutes to add to the columns. For instance, an addition was made under the County Voters Act of 1861, and under the Representation of the People Act there is actually entered to this day a column year by year of those persons entitled to vote under the service franchise. Accordingly we find that not only has it for valuation purposes been so long adopted in Scotland, but it has been found so elastic as to suit other purposes, and the proposal of this Bill fits in with that scheme, and what we wish to do is to take advantage of the forwardness, in point of mechanism on this head, of Scotland, and by the simple addition of a column to the existing valuation roll the House and the country from year to year will be advised as to the capital unimproved value of land, and will be able, so different is it from the English system, to note the additions to or deductions from capital value according as there is a rise or fall in the market value of land in Scotland. I think I have made my first point quite clear, with reference to the machinery to be employed. If you are beginning at the beginning you should certainly begin at a good beginning such as we have set up for fifty years in Scotland. On the principle of the Bill I am not going to detain the House, because I cited last year over and over again from the Reports of the Housing Commissioners, from the Minority Report of the Local Taxation Commission, and from document after document, all the arguments with reference to separate valuation of site and of structure, and I only say that with regard to valuation, I still am at a loss, notwithstanding all the discussions that have ensued, to know what is the objection to having at least a valuation. This Bill is valuation and nothing more. What is 839 the objection to having that valuation? The only persons who propound an answer to that question are persons who in their first breath go into the subject of purchase and of rating after the valuation is set up. With regard to valuation, the Local Taxation Minority Report says that site and structure, which are now combined for rating purposes, differ so essentially in character that they ought to be separately valued. With regard to the feasibility of valuation, I will take leave to cite a recent utterance of Lord Balfour of Burleigh.Personally," he said, "I am inclined to think it is possible, feasible, and even desirable to have a separation of the valuation between the site and the structure in urban districts.It is fair to say that Lord Balfour of Burleigh throughout has confined his attention on this head to urban districts. It is also fair to add, however, that when he and his colleagues come to speak of urban districts in the Report, they speak of them in a loose sense, that is to say in a sense inclusive of what is urban property, although not within the ambit of an urban area. That I think I could establish if it were necessary, and, if in the discussion it is necessary, it will be established. Lord Balfour of Burleigh also says it can be done without any great cost. Accordingly the position is that if this Bill be confined, as it absolutely is, to valuation alone, we have its feasibility in principle declared, on the very highest authority; and with reference to rating, which may come into the discussion, we still retain the view that this is the first step towards a solution, not only of the rating question, but of housing and other social questions, and also of the question of the transfer of land at capital value to public authorities. The advantage of having this valuation the Report declared to be this—That it would do something towards lightening the burdens in respect of building, and thus something towards solving the difficult and urgent housing problem.I feel very strongly with regard to the housing problem on this head, because that Report is so clear as to this that it actually denounces the present system of rating. It says—The tendency of our present rates must be generally to discourage building, to make houses fewer, worse and dearer.I think that was a very grave statement made on very high authority, and if I 840 wanted a warrant for the introduction of this Bill, if it be the first step towards anything like a more equitable system of rating, it is warranted by that testimony. With reference to its being the first step I am perfectly aware of the strong feeling that necessarily is evoked and the prejudices and prepossessions which arise whenever you are within a thousand miles of touching the question of land. It is a condition of public life at present that we must face that situation, and that whenever we want to get at the truth with reference to valuation we are blocked by those prepossessions. It is poor argument to say you will not have this Bill because it will elicit the truth and because the disclosures which it will make will be made the foundation of certain other Parliamentary proceedings. The object of this Bill is to get at the facts, and to get at them impartially by authorities who are well qualified to deal with them. There is one thing I should like to say with regard to the range of the Bill. It applies to the whole of Scotland. It includes the counties. I am aware that there is a very considerable objection to that in many minds. The Leader of the Opposition last year moved an Amendment for the exclusion of counties from the range of the Bill. It was my duty to oppose that proposal and we still oppose it, and for this reason, that if once you exclude the counties from the provisions of the Bill you will destroy a large part of the value of the returns annually made as a national statistic for national purposes. Take the urgent cases of high values which are unaccounted for or do not appear in the misrepresentations, for they amount to that, of the annual value in the rats book. The grossest cases that we know are cases of suburban areas, and outside the ambit of urban communities there are very serious cases of high value of land which it is said is being held up for the purpose of being utilised afterwards. That introduces a second question. We all know in Scotland and in England what are the serious questions as between town and county. Whenever a town desires to extend its boundaries the county at once comes into the field as an antagonist, and the opposition of the county will be strengthened if there is such a difference between the rate of the county and of the town as there would be if you excluded the counties. In the case of village communities all 841 over Scotland, not in the Highlands only but in the Lowlands, some of the grossest cases are those where people are anxious and willing to feu the land, but land cannot be got on anything like the termas at which it appears in the rate-book at present. Moreover, in Scotland a very large number of police burghs would be excluded if you excluded the counties, because all the police burghs are within the county valuation areas, and they have no machinery for separately working out the Bill. I think I have said enough, therefore, especially on that point with regard to Scotland, to show that you would destroy national statistics and do yourself the disadvantage of not including some of the most serious cases of suburbs and villages, and finally that you would at one sweep exclude the police burghs from the whole scope of the Bill. A very interesting instance came to my notice which I should like to quote. It is from the town of Largs. The town of Largs has a provost who is quite willing to immolate himself or the altar of land reform. He has four acres of agricultural land and the rental on which he is charged is a mere trifle, £4. But the ground is wanted for town purposes for improvements. Two acres of his land are within the burgh and are entered in the valuation roll as of £8 value. Consequently he is only charged on a fourth of the value—or £2, which at 1s. 2d. in the £ makes a charge of 2s. 4d. a year. If he were feuing the land he would value it at £20 an acre, and would not require to pay a single penny of rates. It was proposed, instead of making a charge of rental, to make a charge on value, and they arrived at the value of a piece of ground by taking it at twenty years purchase of the feu value. The provost went on to say—The capital value of my plot in the burgh would thus be £800, and I should be assessed on £34 per annum instead of £2, and should pay 37s. 4d. instead of 2s. 4d. Would this be a right, just, and fair mode of taxation?It being his own case one would have expected him to say "No," but what he says is this—What gives value to my two acres is not money I have myself put out, but their proximity to the burgh of Largs, and for the improvements created by the authorities of Largs, past and present—drainage, roads, water, lighting, and sanitary arrangements. These give value to my bit of ground. Owing to this my land should pay its share of the im- 842 provements surrounding it, and it is quite right I think that it should be charged its fair share of taxation.I have slipped into the question of rating, but the House will see that it is strictly relevant to this point. There were four acres, two within the burgh and two outside it. I was interested in this case and I telegraphed today to the provost asking if the two acres outside the burghs were of the same value, to which I got this reply—All one field, and of the same value throughout.So the proposal is, I presume, still to continue for valuation purposes that artificial line cut through that man's land and to have the capital value of 1s. 2d. on half of the field put into the annual statistics for Scotland, and the other half, because it is in the county area, kept out. The thing is not feasible. The effect upon the county I wish only to state in a word. I think it is a mistake, particularly in the landed interest, to object to this proposal, because the person who will be hit will not be the bona fide agriculturist. This Bill, if it ever goes in the direction of rating, will not merely find a way for the rating of land, but it will be a scheme to exclude from rating all improvements upon land. Therefore the improving landlord, the agricultural landlord, and the improving tenant will benefit. To the extent to which the capital value of the land is rated it will give pro tanto relief to all the other taxpayers in the county. The man who will be hit will be the land speculator, who keeps land in the neighbourhood of towns and in villages; and to the extent to which he is hit the entire body of bona, fide taxpayers will be relieved. Revelations which have come to the Government have convinced me that it is necessary to have information on an annual and national scale. The Scottish Board of Agriculture, reporting the other day on another Bill, stated that in ordinary cases the value of agricultural land is twenty-five years' purchase But the Government obtained information in driblets as to how false that estimate is when land has to be transferred compulsorily. The Government paid eighty-five years' purchase in the Rosyth case. The Edinburgh Water Trust paid 136 years' purchase for a piece of laud. The War Office bought a piece of land at 240 years purchase; the 843 Clyde Trust had to pay 435 years' purchase. We are fond of education in Scotland. We do not wish to pay too much for anything, and the only thing we do not grudge paying for is education. But we have got to the grudging stage in Old Kilpatrick, because they wanted two acres of ground for educational purposes, for an addition to a school, and for that they had to pay 600 years purchase. An instance was given me to-day in the parish of Cathcart. I have just received information of a case in East Renfrewshire where 1½ acres were required, and the purchase price was 917 years purchase. What I say is that these may be perfectly sound transactions as between buyer and seller, but if they are, the nation is entitled to know what is the value of its property on a capital basis. The only other fact I wish to mention is that we are having reports from all parts of the world with regard to this matter. The latest report comes from Queensland, where the Statute of 1902 has swept away the last shred of consideration as regards improvements as a factor in any valuation of rateable property for local government purposes. Light is coming to us day by day, and from country after country. I regret very much that we always arouse antagonism when we are intent on anything that affects the land, but I am also aware that there is another danger from the other end of the political scale, and that we should be supposed for a moment to desire to delay this social reform by anything in the nature of injustice. When you wish to take action with reference to any reform, either in the one direction or the other which I have named, it is well to know the actual capital value on which you are going to proceed. That is the scope of this bill. The preliminary inquiries have been made over and over again. We are resolved to proceed not only with courage but with caution. Should this Bill be rejected the resources of the Constitution are not exhausted. If the Lords reject a procedure in which caution is pre-eminent, they may find themselves face to face with a procedure which at once attacks the problem. The preliminaries of valuation and taxation may not be treated separately, but the whole thing may be combined in one scheme. On the whole, I view the situation rather hopefully—not on account of 844 the language used by the noble Lord who moved the rejection of the Bill, language in regard to which I think the less said the better. Substantially, what is in this Bill was involved in the Bill discussed in 1902, when it was rejected by seventy-one votes; in 1903, when it was rejected by only thirteen; in 1904, under the next régime, when it was passed by sixty-seven votes; in 1905, when it was passed by ninety votes; and in 1906, when it was passed by 258 votes; and last year, when it was passed by 218 votes.
§ MR. THOMAS SHAW
My point is that capital valuation without improvements is at the back of the matter, and that the scope of the Bill never affected that principle. It is, as the Lealer of the Opposition clearly saw last year, a Committee point. Therefore, the less said the bettor of any noble Lord who uses language suggesting that a Bill with such a Parliamentary history is a product of the dirty work of the Radical Party.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR (City of London)
Is not the right hon. Gentleman, in the history of many years he has gone over, confusing the Second Reading and the passing of a Bill?
§ MR. THOMAS SHAW
I referred to the Second Reading stage. When a person says a Bill passes through the House on its principle he means the Second Reading. My hope arises very largely from the line which has been taken by Lord Lansdowne. I admit that there was considerable force in the point as to the insufficiency of the time available for the consideration of the Bill last year, but that defect is now made good. Every scheme of housing or public improvement is hampered because we had not begun at the beginning—with the valuation of land. The enormous initial cost of land results in the erection of houses which cannot be profitably let at rents within the means of those whom it is desired to house, and I might cite Edinburgh as a case in point. In towns, therefore, the Bill will facilitate better housing and social reform, and in the counties it will not affect to his detriment 845 the bona fide agriculturist. If it brings about the doom of the speculator, he will certainly disappear to the advantage of those wider interests so closely affecting the well-being of the community as a whole which it is surely the duty of Parliament to protect. I beg to move.
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ *MR. HAROLD COX (Preston)
said he rose to move the rejection of the Bill. [A LABOUR MEMBER: Come over here.] First of all, he wished to express his regret that the Government had not given a longer time for the Second Reading. He voted for the guillotine because it seemed quite reasonable that Bills which had occupied a considerable time lost session should be hurried through this session. But having obtained those powers he did not think the Government would use them to put the Bill through in half-a-day. The Lord-Advocate appeared to suggest that those people who opposed this Bill were influenced in their action by the prepossessions which attached to property. So far as he was personally concerned he was not influenced by any such considerations, for he did not own a single acre of land and had no prospect of inheriting any. The right hon. Gentleman had told them that this was merely a Bill for a valuation to provide Scotsmen with a new form of "national statistics" in order that they might have more figures to ponder over. They were to go to the expense of collecting all this information simply for the privilege of adding to their statistics. In reality the whole object of the Bill was to prepare a way for a new system of rating. If that were so why should the Government try to throw dust into their eyes by pretending that the Bill was proposing merely a new system of national statistics? The Prime Minister himself had asserted that the principle of the measure was to impose a tax upon land values for on 12th February he said—I turn now to the Land Values Bill. Was this a rashly presented measure containing some unheard of revolutionary proposal which 846 required an extraordinary amount of time for its consideration? During the period of office of the late Government, when there was a large Conservative majority in the House of Commons, Bills embodying the principle contained in the measure of last session were on four separate occasions submitted, and on two occasions they received the approval of the House.The Lord Advocate had also alluded to the previous Bills dealing with the same subject. With regard to the last of the Bills which the right hon. Gentleman had enumerated it was referred to a Select Committee carefully composed of hon. Members in favour of the principle of taxation of land values and that Committee reported that the measure was not worth proceeding with.
§ MR. THOMAS SHAW
I think the hon. Member should do the Committee the justice of stating that one of their special recommendations was that before they went any further they required a Valuation Bill.
§ *MR. HAROLD COX
said the Committee recommended that the Bill should not be proceeded with, but that a Valuation Bill should be introduced as a prelude to a new Bill, and this measure was that prelude. The object was the transfer of local taxation from buildings and improvements to the land. The right hon. Gentleman admitted that this Bill was based upon the Report of the Committee, but what did they report? They reported—That a new standard of rating should be substituted for the present standard and that within the category of owners ought to be included owners of feu duties when so ever created.He ventured to say that the whole of this agitation for taxing land values in Scotland arose among people who wished to tax feu duties, and he challenged the majority of Scottish Members present to go to their constituents and say they would not tax feu duties. The Report of the Select Committee for this said explicitly that "houses and other improvements would be relieved from the burden of rating." The Prime Minister said the same thing at Dunfermline, where he spoke on 22nd October, 1907—A movement for relief so earnestly supported by the municipalities throughout the 847 country is therefore arrested. If this tax remains for a further period upon your industry and on your houses…. it is with those who killed this Bill in the House of Lords that you must settle your account.As the Bill was first presented, the ambitious minds of Scottish municipalities looked upon it as a means of raising a new form of revenue, but it was now presented as a Bill for relieving them of taxation which was a very different thing. The essence of the Bill according to the Select Committee and according to the Prime Minister, was to relieve houses of local rating. He wanted the House to consider what would be the effect of that relief. In the suburbs there were large houses inhabited by men who had "made their pile." Those men would be relieved of their local taxes and would be charged only on their gardens and the value of the site. The result would be that the occupiers of large houses costing often between £4,000 and £5,000 to build would not pay a single penny upon the fabric of the house but only pay on the bare value of the ground covered. Of course, that loss would have to be made up from somewhere, and it could only be made up by increasing the rates upon those residing in the centre of the town where land was valuable. Therefore, they were simply going to shift the burden of the rates from the suburbs where the well-to-do lived and place it on the shoulders of those who were struggling to make a living in the centre of the town. That was simply a shifting of the burden of taxation from the shoulders of the idle to the shoulders of the industrious. Last session the Chancellor of the Exchequer introduced a differential rate for income-tax with the object of relieving of taxation those who were earning their incomes so that those who were enjoying incomes which they were not actually earning should pay a higher rate of taxation. That was wise; but here the Government were reversing that principle. Here, as regarded local taxation, they were relieving the people who had unearned incomes and putting the burden on to people who were daily engaged in the struggle to make a living. The Lord Advocate had said a good deal about the importance of the housing question. 848 How was this Bill going to work out as regarded that question in London? They were going to put all the burden on the land. That meant that in order to get their revenue—they must get at least the same revenue as before; some hoped they would get more—they must enormously increase the amount of taxation they charged on everybody in the centre. But in London a great many working-men lived in the centre. It was quite true that they would pay no taxation on the fabric in which they dwelt, but as the same amount of revenue as before had to be got out of the Metropolitan area, if they diminished the burden in the suburbs they must of necessity increase the burden in the centre. Whether the land in the centre was occupied by wealthy bankers or by struggling artisans, the occupier, during the continuance of existing tenancies would have to pay more than before. The case of rural districts was equally striking. In the country there were already a good many complaints that the wealthy residents paid comparatively little rates and that the farmers paid too much, but the effect of the principle of this Bill if carried into operation would be to relieve the wealthy resident of all he now paid except upon his site and garden. The house would be entirely exempted. His contribution to the local revenue would practically disappear, and they would have to put a heavier burden on the fields of the farmer and on the allotment ground of the labourer. That was the policy which the present Ministry recommended to the country. The cry on which the Government were inviting their Party to go to the country was: "Down with the House of Lords which prevents us from relieving wealthy people of taxation in order to put it on the shoulders of farmers and labourers." This was one of the matters to which the Patronage Secretary should devote his attention. The right hon. Gentleman performed his duties with admirable tact so far as he was personally concerned, in keeping the humble followers of the Government in the right lobby. He would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman, that he had to discharge the even more important duty of keeping the Cabinet straight, and that he should prevent the Cabinet from adopting 849 a policy which he with his largar experience of the constituencies must know was not a fighting electoral policy. He would take another illustration. He was sorry he did not see any of the Members for Ireland present; he did not know whether they had realised how this would work out in their country. The Solicitor-General had carried the fiery cross over the channel and made many brilliant speeches in Ireland on the advantage of taxing land values. He wondered whether the hon. and learned Gentleman went down to the rural districts and told the Irish farmers that on the holdings they had recently acquired by the aid of this House they were going to pay an extra tax in order to relieve the landlords of the tax on their houses, and in order to relieve the new hotels which were springing up in Ireland of the rates they paid. He would like to point out to the House that if a land tax was ever imposed it would in the majority of cases be actually more than 20s. in the £. He thought very few people had realised that, but it was a fact, for this reason that, normally, the value of a site was a fifth, a fourth, or perhaps as much as a third of the value of the total subject, namely, the value of the fabric and the site together. Therefore, if they were going to get the same revenue the rate levied upon the land alone must be at least three times the rate previously levied upon land and houses together; so that wherever the previous rate was over 6s. 8d. the new rate would be over 20s. in the £. During the recess he had the pleasure of reading many interesting articles on this subject by the hon. Member for West Bradford, who had kindly furnished him with some correspondence which had passed between the hon. Member for Newcastle-under Lyme and the Solicitor-General for Scotland. The correspondence was published in the Clarion. A difference of opinion seemed to have arisen in the minds of the readers of that journal as to whether the editor was accurate in saying that the new rate might be higher than the present rate. The hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme appeared to have written to the Solicitor-General asking whether he was justified in saying that that was the 850 hon. and learned Gentleman's view. The Solicitor-General on 16th December last, replied as follows—DEAR MR. WEDGWOOD,—I am duly favoured with yours of the 13th inst, enclosing print of a letter published by you in the Clarion of 2nd December. My proposal with regard to rating on the basis of land values is to take the value of the land, apart from any buildings or improvements upon it, as the basis of rating. Of course, if the value of the land alone is less than the value of the composite subject, then the rating may be higher, although the sum raised by rates may remain the same.…. You will thus see that your account of the proposal I advocate is accurate. I propose to delete buildings from the standard of rating, and to take land alone as the standard. As a necessary preliminary we must have a valuation of the land.—Yours very truly,
§ ALEX. URE.
He would like to read some comments on this letter made by the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme and also published in the Clarion—
There is a celebrated freehold potworks in the borough of Hanley. This factory has recently been revalued for assessment purposes at about £1,000 per annum, and the unimproved value of the land was one-third of the total value. Rates in Hanley are 10s. in the £, so these potters pay about £500 per year. The unimproved value of the land in all Hanley happens to be about one-third of the total rateable value, so that if these rates were based on the land value alone, and the same sum total had to be raised, rates would stand not at 10s. in the £, but at 30s. in the £. To ask a landlord to pay 30s. in the £ to the municipality (besides State taxes on the same land) does sound like confiscation.
§ *MR. HAROLD COX
With pleasure. He goes on to say—Yet these potters would obviously be better off, because, while they would pay just the same of £500 a year, yet any improvements that they might make in their factory would go rate free.He thought the hon. Member had made a little mistake in that. The mistake was that he assumed that the same rate would be raised exactly from the same spot.
§ *MR. WEDGWOOD
I am sorry to interrupt my hon. friend. The point is that our taxation is one-third on land and two-thirds on buildings. Exactly the same proportion obtains for the 851 whole borough of Hanley—one-third land, and two-thirds buildings, so that we are in exactly the position of of the average landlord.
§ *MR. HAROLD COX
said he was much obliged to the hon. Member, who was quite right on that point. [Laughter.] He could not see what the laughter was about. The hon. Member had taken a particular case which coincided with the average. His own point was that every case did not coincide with the average. There were a good many other oases in existence besides that particular case, and the general effect would be to relieve some people of local taxation and to increase the local taxation on others. In the majority of cases the people relieved would be rich suburban residents, and the owners of country mansions, and the people who would have to pay more would be the people who were working hard to earn their living, either in the central districts of our great towns or upon the land. It was very important that they should have the opinion of the hon. Member for New-castle-under-Lyme, because he thought they might regard him on this matter as the Leader of the Cabinet. Ministers followed him with some reluctance perhaps, but still they followed him. The Lord Advocate had referred to the case of Queensland. Might he ask whether the hon. and learned Gentleman had read the whole of the Report?
§ MR. THOMAS SHAW indicated that he had.
§ *MR. HAROLD COX
thought the hon. and learned Gentleman had not. If he had read the whole of it, he would not have given the account of it which he did. It was quite true that the first page of the Report suggested that the system of taxing land values in Queensland had had the effect which his friends here desired of preventing or at any rate checking speculation in land. It had had that effect in Queensland as it would have in any new colony. The reason was that land was very cheap, and therefore the amount of interest which anyone lost in holding for a rise was very small—a negligible quantity. That was stated at page 17 of the Report. 852 It was very different when they came to an old country like England or Scotland. The interest a man lost when holding land for a rise in price was not a negligible quantity, and he had a strong motive to realise it as soon as he possibly could. Thus in an old country, laud speculation was automatically checked, whereas in a new country a special tax to check speculation might be desirable and could easily be made effective. Again, in seeking for what was called "prairie" value, it was not possible to argue from a new to an old country. The Henry Georgites wanted to go back to the unimproved or "prairie" value of the land. In order to get at that value they had to strip the land of all the improvements made through centuries of civilisation, but in a new colony they had the unimproved value naked before their eyes. There were millions of acres of unimproved land, never touched by the hand of man. This land had a market value as unimproved land, so that they had at once a standard by which they could compare unimproved and improved land. It could be said: "We will take the market value of the unimproved land as the standard of rating." But before they could do that here they had to go through a very elaborate process of separating the value of the improvements from the value of the unimproved land. If the Lord Advocate would read as far as page 14, he would see that the author of that very valuable Report pointed out another great difference between Queensland and this country. Local authorities there did hardly any of the things which local authorities did here, and therefore they required very little revenue Among the public services which were not undertaken by the local bodies in Queensland were the following: Poor relief, orphanages, education, police, criminal prosecutions and prisons, hospitals and asylums, registration of deaths. But these services accounted for the great bulk of local expenditure in this country. The Principal public services paid for locally in Queensland were main roads, bridges, sanitary inspection, and the removal of noxious weeds. That showed at once the different conditions that obtained in Queensland as compared 853 with this country. But as was pointed out most clearly in this Report the construction of main roads and bridges was a direct benefit to the land and the land therefore, justly paid for it. In the same way in the time of Henry VIII. an Act was passed in England for paving the Strand and the landlords of the adjoining land had to pay for it. The Report further pointed out that the attempt to levy rates on the intrinsic value of the land in Brisbane for such services as the removal of garbage "was rating run mad" and that the individual benefited ought to pay for it. On page 15 there was a very interesting admission. A proposal seemed to have been made that the Brisbane General Hospital should be paid for on a land-value basis, and this proposal was warmly supported by "those likely to be unfairly benefited thereby." The author of the Report said that this was an unfair proposal, and he kept referring to it and used it as an illustration for many other criticisms. He came to a still more important admission. The writer of the Report said that while the system of rating upon unimproved land value had worked satisfactorily generally—It is by no means certain that the system will be found to give equal satisfaction when it may be necessary to apply it to mixed sorts of lands, such, for instance, as city and suburban land taken together.But that was exactly the condition that had to be dealt with here in almost every municipality in the kingdom; so that the very Report which the Lord-Advocate said supported his case for the Bill, showed that when they came to Brtish conditions they could not apply the system of rating upon unimproved land value. Again on page 20 the writer said—Manifestly there is a limit to the burden which will be accepted upon any single class of property.Was that also in favour of the Bill? And again—So long as the local tax raised from land is not excessive and is expended upon services from which the land rated derives reasonable benefit … there does not appear at present much likelihood of discontent in Queensland. …. As taxes increase, however, and especially as fresh duties have to be undertaken, all the issues will be less simple; other forms of property—as was instanced in the fight 854 over the Brisbane hospitals question—will be looked to for contribution as well as land.There they had the author of this Report saying that as soon as conditions were introduced at all analagous to conditions in this country they would have to introduce our system. Leaving this Report to the further study of the Lord-Advocate, he wished to touch very briefly on what he might call the theoretical basis of this whole delusion. He had read many speeches on this question and nearly all of them had used the phrase that it was wrong to tax enterprise. That was one of the phrases which people went on repeating until they came to believe that they were true. But if one came to think of it, if they wanted to have revenue at all, they must tax enterprise. It was enterprise that produced wealth, and it was only from wealth that they could get revenue. Of course, if they said that they were going to tax the owners of a particular form of property and to intercept the wealth that would otherwise go to them, and confiscate it for the benefit of the public, that could be done. That was the original idea of the authors of the taxation of land values; but the Prime Minister had declared that he would not disregard existing contracts, so that this scheme fell through. All that remained was the delusion that enterprise ought to be exempt from taxation. But he would point out that this delusion had been abandoned even in the Bill itself, because railways were exempted from the operation of the Bill. Was not a railway an enterprise? Why then did the Bill propose to exempt railways from the relief that would be given to other forms of enterprise? For the simple reason that if the railways were taxed only upon the prairie value of the land occupied many rural parishes would lose 90 per cent. of their present revenue. That was too grotesquely absurd even for the authors of the present Bill. The delusion that all taxation should be placed on land largely arose from forgetting that taxes were paid by persons and not by things. The money came out of an individual's pockets, and the whole question that had to be considered was whether it was just to draw extra taxation from one individual in order to relieve another individual. That was the whole essence 855 of the Bill, and it would never have obtained the temporary popularity that it had if once the people had realised that taxes were paid by persons. They must adhere to the canon of taxation laid down by Adam Smith that people should pay according to their ability. That was the only sound canon of taxation. [An HON. MEMBER on the LABOUR BENCHES: They do not do it now.] That was the ideal to be aimed at. But the authors of this Bill had set before them an entirely different ideal. They wanted to put the burden on the owners of a particular form of property and to exempt from taxation men who were worth ten times as much. Who were the owners of the value of the land in this country? Very large portions of it were owned by insurance companies, trade unions, friendly societies, and building societies who had invested their funds in land values and ground rents and would be the first to suffer if this Bill became law. The only plausible case for the Bill was the alleged holding up of land for the rise in value. The Lord-Advocate had given a number of illustrations where land had been bought for from 600 to 900 years purchase. That sounded very terrible. But what did it mean It meant that if a man had got a piece of land which was yielding next to nothing, somebody came along and said: "I will pay you so much for that land to use as a site for a house I or a factory." Even if this price was quite moderate it would amount to many years purchase as compared with the previous low value of the land. It was the old percentage fallacy so much favoured on tariff reform platforms. It was assumed always that when a man refused to sell his land he was necessarily holding out for an exorbitant price. That was not so. Everyone who had experience knew that the landowner went to a valuer and said: "What ought I to get for that land?" And the valuer said: "£500." He meant that that was a fair value if he could get a purchaser, but then no purchaser might appear for twenty years. He would give a particular case in Scotland. There was a town which had a belt of 600 acres of unoccupied land round it. For all practical purposes of town extension one acre was as good as 856 another; but the town only expanded at the rate of ten acres a year. A friend of his owned 200 acres, and he told him that he might sell a single acre at £1,000, but he did not get that every year, or even once in two or three years. It was a mere chance when he would get it. Were they to argue that the whole of these 200 acres was worth £200,000?
§ MR. THOMAS SHAW
He can only get the market value of the day for the land for the whole plot of 200 acres, or for 100 acres, or for a single acre.
§ *MR. HAROLD COX
I am familiar with the text of the Bill, but I do not think the right hon. and learned Gentleman has carried his explanation far enough. Does he mean that the valuer is to take into account the whole area, or the whole area that belongs to a particular individual, or all the area in a particular neighbourhood? Because that makes a great difference.
§ MR. THOMAS SHAW
He is to take into account every item at present on the roll. If that item shall not yield a certain sum in excess of the market value of the day, the market value, and that alone, is to be reckoned and each item is to be taken with reference to its surroundings, and its postponed realisation, which is always an element in value.
§ MR. THOMAS SHAW
If my hon. friend appeals to me, I can say that it is an everyday experience in Scotland. [An HON. MEMBER: No.]
§ *MR. HAROLD COX
I can only apologise for not having a Scottish mind. It seems to me, a mere Englishman, that if I found a plot of land had been 857 sold for £1,000, I should be inclined to think that another plot next to it and of exactly the similar extent should be valued at the same price.
§ *MR. HAROLD COX
But if nobody knows whether there is a market for it or not? The assumption of the authors of this Bill is that there is always a market. That was the doctrine they proceeded upon. They always assumed that the public was yearning to buy the land and the wicked landowner refused to sell. If it were true, as it was undoubtedly true in a few exceptional cases that people held back land for a rise, or from sheer churlishness, then the proper remedy would be that the local authority should in such cases have the power to take the land compulsorily at a fair valuation, from the man who was misusing his powers. But why should attacks be made on all the landowners of the country because one landowner or half a dozen or even a larger number were unreasonable. It was claimed by the authors of the Bill that they would, by this measure, compel owners to sell. They said so bluntly, but why was it right to compel A to sell land for the benefit of B, both being private persons? B might be just as much a curmudgeon as A was. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had wisely repelled the export duty on coal, although the existence of that duty tended to lower the price of coal in this country. It seemed to him that the right hon. Gentleman had done so rightly; because, the State had no right to say to those engaged in any particular industry, that they must sell at a lower price than they wished. That was equally unfair whether applied to the coal trade or to dealings in land. As to the alleged holding up of land in the heighbourhood of towns, the Government itself had shown by an Act which they passed last session the impossibility of putting into effect this Bill. In the Small Holdings Act of last session there was a clause specially designed to enable small holders to obtain land in the neighbourhood of towns for the purpose of market gardens. That clause provided that the county council should 858 have power to hire such land at an agricultural rent and to sublet it to small holders, but that the landlord should have the power of re-entering as soon as the land obtained an urban value. In the meantime who was to pay the land values Tax? Clearly not the landlord for he had been compulsorily deprived of the use of his land; clearly not the county council which only acted as an intermediary between the landlord and the small holder; and finally not the small holder who could not afford to pay an urban site values tax out of the produce of a market garden? If hon. Members looked at this Bill he thought they would find that the whole genesis of it was due to the late Mr. Henry George. The idea that the millennium could be secured by confiscating the value of land was popular twenty years ago. He remembered when Mr. Henry George's book appeared in this country, he with many other advanced Radicals, welcomed it as a new gospel. He recollected going to a meeting in the East End of London which was addressed by the late Mr. Arnold Toynbee—a man who had given his whole life to working out these social problems. Arnold Toynbee tried to demonstrate to them the futility of this new gospel of Henry George and said that it did not touch the real social sore. But they were too impatient to listen. They thought it was a new gospel and they shouted him down. But he was right; Henry Georgism did not touch the social sores from which Great Britain was suffering. It might in a new country deal with particular grievances, but in an old country it was useless. It was not access to land they wanted but access to capital. It was useless to give a man land unless they gave him the capital to work it. He appealed to his fellow Liberals on that side of the House to be careful how they voted on this question. He was not, he believed, generally regarded as an out-and-out party man, but he said quite sincerely that he did believe most firmly that the duty rested upon all of them to strengthen the Liberal Party to the utmost of their power, because he was convinced that the Liberal Party was the only political force that could save the country from the disaster 859 of protection. He therefore appealed to his hon. friends not to link the fortunes of the Liberal Party to a system of taxation which as soon as it was understood, would be universally condemned by the common sense and the common honesty of the people of the country. He begged to move.
§ *MR. SOARES (Devonshire, Barnstaple)
in seconding the Amendment said he felt he owed an apology to Scottish Members for intervening in the debate. All he could plead in extenuation was that no one recognised more than he did their ability to manage their own affairs and their own land questions, and although he had been in this House for more than seven years this was the first occasion on which he had intervened in a Scottish debate. He might say that he would not have intervened on this occasion if it had not been for certain statements which appeared in the King's Speech and also for certain statements appearing in usually well inspired Liberal newspapers. In the King's Speech they read that the English Land Valuation Bill was to be introduced during the present session, and they also saw it stated in the newspaper to which he had referred that the Land Valuation Bill was to be on the same lines as the one now before the House. If that statement was true the Government was flying a kite with this Scottish Land Values Bill. If it was successful in this House and if it passed in the House of Lords then at once an English Valuation Bill would be introduced, on the same lines as this and it was because he wanted to prevent as far as he could what in his opionion, would be a catastrophe to the Liberal Party, that he was taking the stand he was that afternoon. It seemed to him that the promoters of this Bill were far too romantic and far too unbusinesslike. "What they said was: "Give us our Valuation Bill and then we will reorganise the whole system of rating; we will deal with the housing question, abolish slums and provide good houses for all the working men." These were all very excellent ideas and he had sincere and absolute sympathy with them. But he was one of those plain people who before they gave a blank 860 cheque to anyone, even people whom they trusted, as he trusted the present Government it, liked to know how the cheque was to be filled up and how the money was to be devoted. The promoters of this Bill did not pretend that when they got the Bill it would be the acme of their desire. They said let us value the whole of Scotland, not only the urban but the rural part "on what he thought was a somewhat fantastic basis" and then we will produce our rating Bill and tell you how we propose to deal with the matter." In other words, they asked for machinery of rather an expensive kind and did not tell the House whether it was to be used for a motor car or a perambulator. What he wanted to get at, however, was the whole of the Government scheme, and then he would be able to see how far he could go with them and how far he should refrain from going. At present the Government had not made up their mind, on a point that would be vital to thousands of electors in this country, viz the question of existing contracts. They had heard the Lord Advocate, the Prime Minister, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer each say that they did not intend to interfere with existing contracts in any way; but the Select Committee, presided over by the Solicitor-General for Scotland, at whose bidding this Bill was introduced, said that they had given the most anxious consideration to the case presented for the exemption, of existing owners of feu duties and it was impossible in their opinion to accede to the claim. Again they said, that as between the feuar after and the feuar before the measure came into force, the result of excluding existing feu contracts would be most unreasonable. Thus they had the policy advocated by the Prime Minister, the Lord Advocate and the Chancellor of the Exchequer declared impossible and unreasonable by the Select Committee. They therefore ought to have very definite information from the Government on this point. From the evidence given before the Select Committee it appeared that there were a great many burghs in Scotland which were in the same position as the city of Manchester. The city of Manchester was covered with chief rents, whilst the Scottish burghs were covered with feu 861 rents. These rents, as a rule, were not held by large investors, but by small ones, consisting, besides individuals, of small trusts, small charitable societies, and friendly societies; and if the Government put a tax upon one small investor and not on another the former would want to know the reason why. He was not one of those who said they should never touch existing contracts. Both Parties in this House had done it especially in the case of the Agricultural Holdings Acts, but he did say that having regard to the grave considerations involved in touching them it should be first proved that it was essential and for the good of the community. They had heard a great dealfrom the Lord Advocate as to the effect of his proposals upon the building trade. Personally, he thought any proposals to rate feus would hamper the building trade. They all knew that the class of people who built working-class houses were usually men of small capital. The two things essential to a builder with small capital were cheap money and the possession of his deeds for the purpose if necessary of mortgaging them. It would be admitted by all reasonable men that if feus were rated they would no longer be gilt-edged securities. Trustees would no longer purchase them, nor would anybody else who wanted to get a fixed and certain income. The natural consequence would be that a ready sale would not be obtained for them, and landlords would want their money down instead of selling their land in feu. That would mean an enormous difficulty. Instead of buying the Und on feu and having the purchase price running at 4 per cent. interest, the builder would have to pay money down. He would no doubt be able to borrow two-thirds of the money, but then, when he began to build and required more money, he would only have a second mortgage to offer. People did not like second mortgages, and they generally meant a high rate of interest. But even if the builder struggled through, he would obtain a decreased price for the increased feu he had created, and then would have difficulty in obtaining a permanent mortgage, for mortgages would have a tendency to fall into disrepute, and 862 the Government would admit that when site values were taxed every trustee holding a mortgage would have to have every mortgage revalued to see if they would have to be called in. Rating site values would also tend to the erection of vertical buildings instead of lateral, because every builder would naturally endeavour to make the best possible use of his site. It would also-create a difficulty with garden cities, because where a man had to pay so much more for a garden he would do with as little garden as possible. Those were some of the difficulties of the housing question, the only argument he deduced from it was that if he was asked to break existing contracts and to rate site values, he must be shown the corresponding advantages of the new system. So far he had not been shown them. If he turned to the words of the Committee on this very theme he found they said that the present system was not to find a new source of taxation, but merely to increase the number of ratepayers, and to re-allocate their burdens. He was glad to read those words, because they put an end to all the loose talk about increased revenues. No longer would people be able to say they had found a new El Dorado out of which would come the money to provide old-age pensions and build battleships. There were only two sources of revenue in burghs which were not rated up to the hilt, and they were vacant land, which was being held up, and land which was not used to its fullest capacity. So far as dealing with those questions was concerned, he was prepared to deal with them at once, but he did not think all the paraphernalia of a Valuation Bill to be followed by a Rating Bill was required. A Bill was introduced in 1903 by the hon. Member for East Edinburgh which dealt with this matter in a very simple way, and in his opinion a Bill might be brought in to deal with these two classes of property in an equally simple manner. The fact was that the problem of unearned increment was at the root of this matter, and he was in favour of taxing unearned increment wherever he could get at it. But in justice it must be remembered that unearned increment did not apply to land only. Let 863 them take the case of two men, each of whom had £1,000. One invested his money in a farm, and another in Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway stock. Owing to good farming and perhaps an increase in the price of wool because the woollen trade was good, the farms increased in value. Owing to good times in the cotton trade the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Stock also increased in value. Mow both these investments provided work and both were for the public good, but neither of the investors did any work themselves but "imply drew his income. Let them suppose each of these men sold his investment for £1,200. On what ground of equity or morals were they to tax the man who earned his profit out of the land, and not the man who obtained his out of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway stock. Then there was the question of restrictive covenants. In his opinion the Government had not dealt with this matter in a satisfactory manner. Let the House read Subsection 2 of Clause 3. Now what kind of a man was this assessor? All they knew was that he was not a valuator, and he was not a lawyer. Yet what was the assessor to be asked to do? He was to be asked to go behind the provisions of a deed which was placed before him, and investigate the thoughts in the minds of the people who made the deed at the time it was made. He had always held that that was the most difficult question of equity jurisdiction, yet these assessors were to decide such questions as that. He was sorry for the assessor when that gentleman came to realise the duties imposed upon him in this Bill. He was to go to a site and to assume that the buildings and all the improvements on that site were taken from it, and to value the site. He could value it in three ways. He could either have regard to what had actually been erected on adjacent sites or what ought to have been erected if these sites had been used to their fullest capacity, or he could value it without having any regard whatever to the adjacent sites. The assessor was not told in the Bill the way in which he was to proceed. Then he was told nothing whatever as to what he was to do with regard to rights of light. He was told he was to take notice of servitudes, but 864 nothing about rights of light and air. He was not told whether he was to have any regard to them or not, yet those rights were very important to property owners, and lawyers knew they were he cause of much trouble and incidentelly of much remuneration. His main objection to this Bill, however, was that it was not confined, as all previous Bills had been, to the urban districts. It was to extend over the whole of Scotland, and to apply to all districts, urban and rural. Now the Select Committee said their object was that rates might be imposed, not on the annual value of the property, but on the annual value of the site apart from everything upon it, and without regard to any improvement that might have been made. One of the first results of it would be that every shooting-lodge would be exempt, and as there were 3,000,000 of acres in Scotland devoted to shooting that was a very important point. He would give an example. There was a shooting-lodge, with which he was familiar, about five miles from Crieff built, right out on-the moors, which, with its keeper's lodge and kennels, occupied an acre of ground. The adjoining land was moorland, and let at 5s. an acre per year. If the assessor was to assume that that lodge was removed from its site the site became just bare moorland, and instead of the place being rated at £100 a year, it would be rated at 5s. He did not think the farmers, the small holders, or the working-classes would approve of that. Another question which bothered him was how these assessors, when they went round to make these valuations, were to decide about rights of way. When those rights of way were doubtful rights, they had a very serious effect indeed on the valuations of property. How also were these assessors to regard mines and minerals unworked? The assessors were not mining experts, and it would be a very difficult duty to devolve upon them. Again, if an assessor was looking at a site to decide whether it was suitable for building, he would have also to decide whether there was a proper water supply. Was he to go about with a divining rod? He personally desired information upon these points. He did not for a moment profess to say he understood the Scottish system of rating, 865 but the House ought to have full information with regard to the question of existing contracts and the other points he had raised. The real Bill ought to be produced instead of the one before the House, which was only a prelude to the one which was to come. It was because he wanted full information upon all these points most of which were no doubt capable of being safisfaciorly explained that he seconded the Resolution proposed by his hon. friend.
To leave out the word 'now,' and at the end of the Question to add the words' upon this day six months."—(Mr. Harold Cox.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ MR. SUTHERLAND (Elgin Burghs)
said he intervened in this debate for a few moments because he had the honour of introducing in 1906 the Taxation of Land Values Bill—the second reading of which was passed by such a large majority. The House was indebted to English Members for the interest which they took in Scotland. On the previous day an Amendment was moved to the Small Holdings Bill for Scotland, by an English Member. Now an Amendment to the Bill before the House had been moved and seconded by English Members. These gentlemen were evidently under the impression that the Scottish people were not sufficiently alive to their own interests. During the speech of the Lord Advocate, his hon. friend the Member for the Ayr Burghs made an interjection to the effect that the previous Land Values Bills, to which the Lord Advocate alluded, had reference only to Urban sites. He failed to appreciate the relevancy of that interruption. One thing which particularly struck him was that the Minority Report of the Select Committee on the 1906 Bill did not recognise the principle of the Taxation of Land Values in any shape or form. In that respect they differed entirely from the Minority Report of the Royal Commission on Local Taxation in 1901. The Minority Report of the 1906 Select Committee said—If a change must be made in the existing system, the proposals of the present Bill for 866 the separate taxation of site values are in-equitable and impracticable.Yet Lord Balfour of Burleigh—who was one of those who signed the Minority Report of the Local Taxation Committee in 1901, stated that a separate valuation was possible, feasible, even desirable, and could be done at moderate cost. Then again, Lord Lansdowne at Glasgow, said with reference to the evidence of Dr. Murray before the Select Committee, that that evidence formed the most valuable literature that had been produced in regard to the question of land values. But Dr. Murray ran counter to the views of Lord Balfour, and stated that there was no reason why a community who gave value to the land should reap any benefit therefrom; and that the present system of valuation and taxation was in every respect fair, and should not be altered. On this question Liberals did not differ so much as the Party opposite. One of the hon. Members for Liverpool recently issued a leaflet in which he enumerated a long and marvellous list of political goods which he desired to stock—among them was the taxation of land values. Another Conservative representing a Liverpool constituency also was in favour of a similar measure. The Member for Preston seemed to assume that they in Scotland had been living in Mars for a considerable time, and did not know the conditions which existed in their own country. One of the underlying principles of the Bills on taxation of land values was that everyone who derived benefit from the land ought to contribute his fair share to local taxation. The hon. Member for Preston seemed to forget that there was a great deal of vacant land which was not allowed to go into the market, and which was either inadequately rated or not at all. The blot in the present system was that those who improved their property were penalised, while those who neglected it seemed to be encouraged to do so. In this week's Engineering bitter complaint was made in the leading article that such crushing restrictions in the way of taxation were imposed upon those who employed machinery. The same thing held good in respect to erections. Seven years ago he himself had a slight financial interest in a firm that acquired by lease two acres of land in the North of Scotland. Before this firm acquired it, the ground 867 was entered in the Valuation Roll at £2 per acre; but the proprietors declined to lease it for less than £150 an acre per annum. He did not know of any case which was freer from complications, and which better showed the iniquity of the present system, than one in the North of Scotland. It was the case of a small town that adjoined a famous golf-course, which many Members might know. The population numbered 4,000 people—mostly in poor circumstances. The town council expended over £25,000 on improvements, in order to make this town a health resort. Six months before the improvements were completed, the Superior made it known that he would grant no more sites except at double the feu duty. He was remonstrated with, and appealed to by the town council, but in vain. He declined to alter his conditions; and in answer to a letter from the town clerk stated that he was—Exceedingly thankful there was a House of Lords which would extract the teeth of the Radical Government.He (Mr. Sutherland) put it to the House whether in view of such a condition of things as that, some remedy was not urgently needed. The other day the President of the Board of Trade referred to the exorbitant sums which had to be paid by railway companies in the acquisition of land. A great authority told them a good many years ago that over £50,000,000 sterling, above the maximum value of the land, had been paid by railway companies. Cases were not unknown where the price was raised, because out of a garret window it would be possible to see a train pass It was high time that a law should be passed whereby the proprietor of land would pay his just and due share of local taxation to the community, instead of, as at present, transferring his burden to other shoulders. To every man who had an interest in the land and used it this Bill would bring the just fruit of his labour. He did not say that the measure would bring the millennium while they waited—but he did affirm that it would help them to solve several questions—among others, those of housing and of the unemployed—which would have to be dealt with not merely with knowledge, but with sympathy. Scotland had sent a large majority of Liberals to 868 that House. If they omitted to do their duty in connection with this Bill—a Bill which was eminently desired by their country—he did not think they would be asked to come back.
§ MR. BONAR LAW (Camberwell, Dulwich)
This is not a very interesting subject, and I thought it was impossible to make it interesting until I heard the speech of the hon. Member for Preston. If we are to judge by the speech just made no attempt is going to be made to meet the arguments of the hon. Member. The difficulty in dealing with this subject arises from the fact that it is quite impossible to ascertain what the object of the Government is in introducing this Bill. The Lord-Advocate began with the evident intention of trying to make the House believe that the object was merely to obtain information. But, though that may be a considerable part of the object, it is obvious that if it were the real object of the Government to obtain information which would enable them to consider the system of rating, the real way to obtain it would be to select two or three representative areas in Scotland. That could be done at very little expense and would have given for this purpose all the information actually available. But that is not what the Government desire. They have already admitted in Scotland that the real object is to have the whole of Scotland re-taxed. Last year the Government were asked over and over again what their object was in imposing this on Scotland; and the Solicitor-General for Scotland then said that in the Valuation Act of 1854 no valuation was given by the Government of the day. That is an argument not in favour of the hon. and learned Gentleman's point of view, because in that case there was no change in the rating. That Act only increased the rating. What is this going to cost? An estimate has been made and very good round has been goiven for it that this will cost the city of Glasgow alone at least £500,000.
§ MR. BONAR LAW
I will come to that in a moment. This estimate was 869 given by Dr. Murray, of Glasgow. Dr. Murray has given great study to this question, and I may remind hon. Members who have made many speeches, or rather one speech in many places, on this subject that there are few better judges on this question than Dr. Murray. I am not going to give the House the basis on which this estimate was made, but I will give certain figures to show what otherwise may be somewhat overlooked. Assuming, it is said, that the owner of the land is simply to give his own guess of the value and that there is no objection on the part of the assessor, that valuation will cost nothing and it will be worth nothing. But if it is to be done by these gentlemen in the same way as they would deal with land they were going to sell or to buy, it will impose a monstrous burden on the country. I say, therefore, it is quite incredible to suppose that even the Government would have imposed that burden if the object had been merely to obtain this information. Is it the object of the Government to carry out the recommondations of the Select Committee of 1906? If that is the object it is perfectly plain and intelligible. A majority of the Committee endorsed fully the views of the Solicitor-General for Scotland, and now a somewhat belated convert is the most prominent advocate in Scotland of the views of Henry George. There is no difference between the views of that Committee and Henry George. They recommended a change in the basis of value because it would enable the community to obtain part of that which belonged to them. Mr. George proposed to take the whole of it, and if it does belong to the community it is the whole you ought to take and not a part. If that is the object of the Government they ought to state it honestly, and not do what the Lord-Advocate did to-day, that is, try to get reluctant followers to take this big fence by telling them this is only a means of endeavouring to get more statistical information about Scotland. It is very germane to the question whether this Bill ought or ought not to be passed to consider what are the practical results of dealing with this question by the Government proposals. The result is a very great one, and it is one of the 870 most remarkable achievements of the present Government. The Government have succeeded in doing two things. In the first place they have depreciated the value of a particular kind of security which was made a trustee security by Act of Parliament; they have depreciated that security to the extent of 20 per cent., apart altogether from the fall in other gilt-edged securities. I do not think that represents the whole of the depreciation. I have consulted legal friends of mine in Glasgow who are trustees and hold a good deal of this kind of security, and they all tell me that trustees would like to sell it, but they cannot sell feu duties at the present time. Therefore, the only feu duties which come into the market are those which cannot be held. Not only have the Government reduced that security obviously by some 20 per cent., but they have made it altogether unsaleable. Now, what benefit has anyone derived from that proceeding? Of course, nobody has gained, and that is an illustration of what is a universal truth, that all predatory schemes of this kind injure individual classes of the community, and it is quite impossible by such schemes to benefit any class whatever. But the Government have done more than that, for they have largely interfered with building operations in Scotland. That is a fact that must be obvious. The system which for a very long time has prevailed in Scotland is the system of feu duties, by which the owner of the land takes payment, not in cash but in perpetual burdens imposed upon the land. The result of that is that the builder does not need to be possessed of the cash necessary to purchase the land; he only needs the capital required to erect the buildings, because the owner accepts the buildings as security. Obviously under the proposals now made no landowner will sell his land on those terms, and consequently building can only take place where the builder has not only the capital to erect a building, but also the hard cash required to pay for the land. I had occasion last autumn to make a statement which I am very glad to be able to repeat here. I said that nothing more scandalous had ever happened under any Government than 871 that the Solicitor-General for Scotland, who represents that Department of the Government which is responsible for legislation of this kind, should have gone about Scotland conducting a crusade in favour of the taxation of feu duties, and that then the Prime Minister should have informed a deputation as though he heard of it for the first time, that the Government had no intention of taxing feu duties. The Solicitor-General took exception to that statement and said that if anybody had asked the Prime Minister at any time that same question he would have given the same answer. But surely that is no answer. The Prime Minister is a Scotsman, and he knew the effect of what was being done, and he did not need to wait to be asked. His duty was to have stopped something which was doing a great deal of harm in Scotland. Someone wrote a letter to a Glasgow paper stating that the writer had written to the Prime Minister and that he had received a reply marked "private." The writer said he would like to publish the Prime Minister's letter, but no notice was token of it, and the inference clearly is that had it been published it would not have borne out the statement of the Solicitor-General. Clearly the Government were deliberately waiting on this question to see which way the cat was going to jump, and what induced the Prime Minister finally to throw over the Solicitor-General was the discovery that this class of security is held not only by ordinary capitalists, whose opposition they expected, but largely by friendly societies and others whose votes they hoped to get. It is difficult to find what is the object of the Government in promoting this Bill. The Lord-Advocate told us it was to get information. We got from the Solicitor-General last year a clear statement of the object of the Bill. He stated that its objects were, first, to make the owners of vacant land pay their share of local taxation; and, secondly, to make the owners of land which was built upon, but not utilised to the fullest extent, pay their proper share of local taxation. There is a great deal to be said in favour of both these object. If it could be shown that there is a considerable amount of land held up for the sake of getting a rise later on, the Government 872 have a right to step in and put an end to that state of things. But even admitting that the evil does exist, that obviously could be remedied with proposals far short of altering the whole system of rating and making that system apply to the whole area of Scotland, rural as well as urban. I do not personally believe that there is any serious-evil of that kind existing. The hon. Member for Preston says that the delusion about this Bill is that we are not going to tax enterprise. I do not think that is the real delusion, but some vague thing called the unearned increment. The Solicitor-General gave an illustration last year in which he said that a certain piece of land in Edinburgh which had Been valued at something like £2,750 a year, was suddenly sold for £100,000, and buildings were put on it to the extent of £40,000, and therefore its rating value was enormously increased. What these Henry Georgites and the Solicitor-General lose sight of is the effect of compound interest on these transactions. Take for example, the £100,000 I have mentioned. When did that land become worth £100,000? It had not been worth it long, and at the most five or ten years, or else the owner was a fool not to have sold it earlier. What hon. Members-leave out in cases of that kind is the fact that the owner of that property would have been much richer if he had sold his land for a small sum and got compound interest than if he held it and got a much larger sum for it later on. Take the case of this £100,000 mentioned by the Solicitor-General. If the owner had sold it twenty-five years ago for £40,000, compound interest at 4 per cent. would have made him richer than when he sold it for £100,000. Although the evil complained of may exist to some-extent, I think the ordinary law of supply and demand would make an owner in an instance like that take a fair price for his land now instead of waiting for the chance of getting a higher price later on. The conclusion that there is not a great deal in it is based upon the experience of the city of Glasgow. There in the city area there are some 3,000 acres of unoccupied building land. If the city of Glasgow increase only at the same rate at which it has increased for the last 873 twenty years, it will take fifty or sixty years for that 3,000 acres to be built upon. I will assume it is taken up now and that it is valued at the price which can now be obtained for it. What would be the effect? It would be that the city would get £2,500 from rates whereas the total amount of rates levied in Glasgow is something like £1,500,000. This very small proportion in my opinion does not justify a complete change in the system of rating. If that is what the Government are aiming at they ought to show that this evil does exist and prove it by evidence, and then I am sure the majority of this House would be perfectly ready to take whatever steps are necessary to put down what in that case would be an admitted evil. Instead of doing that the Government propose to alter the system of rating. The Solicitor-General gave a third reason. He said that the object of the Bill was to enable the man who had erected an expensive dwelling to pay a smaller quantity of rates and to enable the man who had a less expensive dwelling to pay a proportionately larger sum. The scheme before us I believe to be an absolutely impracticable one. And in support of that view I will quote the opinion of the Select Committee, who stated that the valuation of land is from the nature of the case purely a matter of opinion, that absolute accuracy is necessarily unattainable, and that everything depends upon the skill and impartiality of the valuer. That is pretty much an admission that an accurate valuation is unattainable. The whole system on which capital land values are going to be rated is impossible. The theory of this Bill is that somebody is going to look at a site on which there are buildings, to imagine that those buildings are taken away, and then to say off-hand: "I can tell you in two minutes what the value of that land is." But on what possible principle can you get the value of the site except on the principle of the annual return which the site value will give? There is no other method. Supposing that anybody was going to buy vacant land—I will take the simplest form—in London belonging to the London County 874 Council. There are no buildings on it to complicate it. Is anybody going to buy that land on the principle of looking at it, and saying that it ought to be worth so much? He will buy it only on the system that he will look at it and carefully consider what kind of buildings he will put upon it, and what annual return he will get from it. That is a method of arriving at the value which is perfectly contrary to the principle of this Bill. It is perfectly true that the Solicitor-General said last year that the assessors were doing the same sort of thing every day, but he must have said that in the hope that English Members were ignorant of what actually takes place. He said that there were in Glasgow and Edinburgh a great number, probably the majority of the best class of house, which were owned by the occupier, and that, therefore, the assessor has to guess at the rental. No one knows better than the Solicitor-General that there is hardly any one of those districts either in Glasgow or Edinburgh where similar houses in similar positions are not rented. Therefore, the assessor can easily take the actual rents which are paid as the basis for the assessable value where the house belongs to the occupier. The hon. and learned Gentleman gave us another illustration—the valuing of factories and properties of such a nature. I admit that in regard to these the assessor has not the same accurate method of ascertaining the values, but in every case the assessor does take some method. He values the property generally by taking either the return of the property, or the value of the buildings on the ground. These are ascertainable facts, and when it goes to appeal the judge can judge whether these facts have justified the valuation. The Solicitor-General admitted that in these cases the valuations were to a certain extent guess work. Can anyone hold that there is any real justification for altering the whole system of rating in Scotland to bring it out of that condition, which is admitted to be bad, when it is admitted the assessors have no proper method of estimating? It comes to this, that the Solicitor-General's 875 plea is that because the assessors do a certain amount of valuing in an unsatisfactory way without data, it is perfectly proper you should throw the whole valuation upon them to be carried out in the same way without any data to guide them. There is, in my opinion, far stronger ground against the Bill, and that is its impracticability. I maintain without any hesitation whatever that the system which would be adopted under the Bill would be the most vicious system possible to conceive. The hon. Member for Preston pointed out what the effect of the Bill would be in freeing the rich and imposing burdens upon the poor. He did not exaggerate. The words of the Solicitor-General himself in defending it last year bore out in every respect the charge made by the hon. Member. He said that the object was to enable a man who has a more valuable house to pay a smaller proportion of the rate, and the man who has a less valuable house to pay a larger proportion of it. This is, in other words, a rich man's rating Bill. It is introduced for the express purpose of saving the rich at the expense of the poor. And that is put forward by a Liberal Government. That is not a fancy picture. The hon. Member for Preston gave illustrations of it to which I believe there is no answer, and to which I should like to have the answer if the law officer has one to give. In the West End of Glasgow there are side by side large houses and small villas, and almost cottages. The land and the situation are precisely the same in each case. What is the assessor going to do in valuing these two kinds of houses lying side by side? Is he going to say that the smaller cottager might have had the big house, and that, therefore, he is to be valued at the higher rate? He must say either that, or that the larger house should be valued at the lower rate. He has to do it one way or the other, but obviously the expectation of the Solicitor-General is that this is a Bill which will enable a man with a valuable house to escape assessment. His expectation is that the small house will pay a larger sum, and that the big house will pay a smaller sum. I should like to point out what is some times forgotten, that the whole basis 876 on which our local taxation is levied in Scotland is a continuance of the old idea that a man should pay in proportion to his means and substance. I do not say that that idea is carried out properly under the existing system, but that is the object. The idea is that a man's rent will represent more or less his total means. I do not say that that is always right. A man's rent has sometimes to depend on the size of his family, but as a general rule it may be taken as a somewhat fair indication. What is this Bill going to do? This valuation is going to reverse that and say that a man's contribution to the rates shall be in inverse proportion to his means and substance, and that if he can put up a big house he should pay proportionately less, and if only a small house proportionately more. That is the proposal of the Government. There is another point to which I should like specially to draw the attention of the House. Last night there was a discussion on the general system of local rating. There was an evil which I think was pretty generally admitted all over the House, and that was that agriculture paid too large a share of the rates because the rent represented a man's means of earning his livelihood, and he had to pay too much in proportion. Precisely the same evil exists now, in all our cities, and I think it is the greatest evil under our present rating system. The evil in this. A shopkeeper of necessity requires large premises, and he requires them in a good situation, and, therefore, he must pay for his rates a far larger proportion than he would pay if he were rated on his means and substance. What will be the effect of this Bill? Instead of remedying that, it will make it enormously worse.
§ THE SOLICITOR-GENERAL FOR SCOTLAND (Mr. URE, Linlithgowshire) indicated dissent.
§ MR. BONAR LAW
The hon. and learned Gentleman doubts that. I would like to hear the answer. I will give an illustration which every Scotsman will appreciate. In Glasgow, probably the most valuable part of the city for site values is Buchanan Street. It is the best street for shops, and, of course, in that 877 position if the shopkeeper is to sell his goods he requires a great amount of space in order to expose his goods. In the place where the shop is the site value will be greatest. Next to Buchanan Street is Queen Street where the site value is not nearly so large, and in that street there have been erected immense blocks of buildings for the accommodation of merchants. In a single one of these buildings there will be, I should say, forty or fifty firms, every one of which firms makes probably a larger income than the shopkeeper. At present they pay less than they ought to pay in proportion to the shopkeeper, but they pay something in respect of the big buildings on the land. But adopt the principle of the Government and you cut off the rate revenue received from these people, and make it almost nothing, and you throw it on the shopkeeper who cannot escape. I say that the delusion at the bottom of the whole of this idea is what is called the unearned increment. Well, I do not much believe in the unearned increment. I think it is based on a delusion altogether. The assumption seems to be that increase of population in itself adds to the value of land. That is not only not true, but it can be proved to demonstration to be not true. Take the city of Glasgow. There are large parts of that city, where, owing to the change of conditions, the site value is enormously less than it was twenty-five years ago, and everybody who knows anything about the city would say that in that particular part it is going to fall and not rise. We have additional proof of it in statistics. The population in Scotland has increased, and yet the land value in the rural districts, leaving cities out of account, is less than it was forty years ago by 25 or 30 per cent. That shows that population itself does not necessarily raise value. Anyone who chooses to think of it must see that in the nature of the case it must be so. It is not the community of Glasgow which adds so much to the value of property in Glasgow. What adds to the value of property in Glasgow is the community outside. It buys the goods which Glasgow people produce. Glasgow, or any big city, as a matter of fact, really does far more to add to the land values of countries which supply it, for instance, with food, than it 878 does to add to the value of Glasgow itself, and if you want to get at the land value, you ought to make a claim upon Russia or America. Let me illustrate this in a way which I think is sound. I happened to go the other day in a motor to the outskirts of London. I passed the end of the Hampstead tube. I do not know anything about it, but I think it is very probable that land adjoining that tube will rise in value. On what ground can you claim that the increment belongs to the community out there? If it does not belong to the community, it belongs to the owners of the Hampstead Tube. Take the city of Belfast. Again, I do not know anything about the conditions there. It seems to me inevitable that the big shipbuilding firm of Harland and Wolff must have added greatly to the value of land in Belfast. There was nothing in Belfast which made it specially suitable as a shipbuilding centre. There was neither coal nor iron in the district. The gentlemen who founded the establishment there would probably have been equally successful in any other port. If the value of land in Belfast has risen on that account, it does not belong to the community, but to the men who established the shipbuilding industry. The same thing is true of all the districts where in our own time we have seen land rise in value. The rise in value of land is due to the initiative of the men who have put down works in the particular locality. Suppose that we assume for the sake of argument—I can only assume it for the sake of argument—that the increased value of land is due to the betterment of the community, is not that true of overy other commodity as well? Is it not true that everything is due to the presence of the community? [Cries of "Hear, hear !"] That view commends itself to hon. Gentlemen below the gangway. I do not understand the view of hon. Gentlemen opposite who seem to think, because they and their friends do not own any land, that, therefore, they can apply Socialism to the land without any dinger to themselves. That is a kind of socialism with which I do not agree, and which I am sure sooner or later hon. Gentlemen opposite will regret that they have touched. But hon. Gentlemen below the gangway are not going to stop even with commodities. 879 If I understand them aright they are going to deal with individuals. Let me take an illustration which will appeal to the hon. and learned Solicitor-General for Scotland. He lives in Herriot Row, Edinburgh. I do not know whether the hon. and learned Gentleman owns his house, but if it belongs to him he is only entitled to the prairie value of the land on which it is built. The remainder belongs to the community, because the community has made the value Now, instead of looking at the property, look at the man. Does he not owe his position to the presence of the community? Put the best lawyer in the world out on a moor and what is his value? If you are going to give him only prairie value for his property, why should you not also give prairie value for his individuality? Our friends below the gangway mean to apply that principle in one case just as they intend to apply it in another. I must curtail my remarks [OPPOSITION cries of "Go on "] but I think it is nothing less than a scandal that the Government should have limited this debate to so short a time, for there is a great deal more to be said in exposure of the defects of the Bill. In conclusion let me say that hon. Gentlemen opposite who are so strongly in favour of this delusion are all without exception—even the Lord Advocate cannot keep the fiscal question out of his speeches—opposed to a rating system for Imperial purposes. Now one of the chief arguments which these Gentlemen use on platforms in the country, and which I suppose they believe, is that economists are in favour of their view and against us. Of course, if I had the opportunity I could easily show that that is entirely a mistake. But I now ask: "Can they produce any economist of any school who is in favour of this kind of legislation?" The political economy of this Bill is not the political economy of the study or of the University; it is the political economy of the madhouse.
§ *MR. J. M. HENDERSON (Aberdeenshire, W.)
said that almost everyone would admit that in the past, at all events, there had been very large unearned increments in the land. [OPPOSITION cries of "No."] If hon. Gentlemen questioned his statement he could show 880 to them that one noble duke had made £250,000 out of the London County Council improvements on Aldwych and Kingsway; and as John Stuart Mill said, that accrued to him "while he slept." No one could doubt that similar unearned increments would accrue in lands in the future; the only question was how to obtain a fair share of it for the State. Up to the present time no Government had ever propounded any scheme for taxing unearned increment or the speculative increase in land value. The question was a difficult one, and he did not envy the Lord Advocate when he came, after this Bill had passed, to frame his taxation upon it. During the last five or six years, Bill after Bill had been introduced into this House with the object of placing an arbitrary tax upon land values. There was the private Bill of the hon. Member for the Elland Division, the Bill of the Parliamentary Secretary of the Local Government Board, introduced in 1893–1894–1895, and the Scottish Bill introduced by the hon. Member for one of the divisions of Edinburgh in 1903; other Scottish Bills in 1904 and 1905, and last of all, the Bill of his hon. friend the Member for Elgin Burghs in 1906, commonly known as the Glasgow Bill. Notwithstanding what the Solicitor-General for Scotland had said, every one of those Bills recognised the principle that feu duties created in the past were outside its scope. In other words every one of those Bills recognised the principle that existing contracts were to be held sacred. In the Bill of 1906 those contracts were brushed aside, notwithstanding the declaration of the Lord Advocate that the Government intended to respect existing contracts. That Bill went before a Select Committee which deliberately set aside the ruling of the Government and brought forward a Report in which they said that existing contracts were not to be respected. He ought to put the hon. Gentleman the Member for Dulwich right on this matter. That hon. Gentleman seemed to infer that the Government had not been outspoken on this matter; that they had some ulterior object which they wished to conceal. He did not think the right hon. Gentleman was right in his application of that purpose to the Prime Minister 881 and other Members of the Government. He was perfectly satisfied that the Lord Advocate had quite clearly and distinctly echoed the words of the former Lord Advocate in 1854, when a similar proposal was made in the same terms almost and with the same meaning as in the Bill of 1906. The Lord Advocate, then, as the Lord Advocate in 1906, declared in behalf of the Liberal Government that they did not intend to tax feu duties, that those contracts must be observed. He did not think, therefore, it was just to suggest that the Prime Minister had any ulterior view. Notwithstanding what had taken place in the House in 1906, the Select Committee made their proposal to disregard all existing contracts. But they went much further than that. They made a proposal which had never before been heard of within those walls, viz., a proposal for a single tax. That was to say, that all the rating should be thrown on land values, and that buildings and improvements should be left scot-free from rating. That was an idea of some other hon. Members of the House. He had seen a very able article from his hon. friend the Member for West Ham in the Nineteenth Century, in which he advocated the same thing, setting forth that what was left to the Liberal Party was to shift the burden of the rates off houses and improvements on to the land. Hon. Gentlemen who took that attitude could not have taken the trouble of perusing the evidence which had been put before the Select Committee on this point. That evidence showed that the whole land value of the land throughout the United Kingdom from John o' Groats to Land's End, including suburban and building land, was not sufficient to meet the rates now collected from the towns, boroughs, and shires of the United Kingdom, even if they took 20s. in the £. Therefore he maintained that the proposal of a single tax was absurd. The Lord Chancellor had said that it was absurd. It was also impossible for the reason that it meant the confiscation of the whole of the land of the country. That being so, he was satisfied that no Legislature in this country would ever adopt the proposal. There was and there ought to be some means of getting at the unearned increment in the future. He took it that the meaning of the declarations of the 882 Lord Advocate and the Prime Minister was that contracts were to be respected, and that the past must go. He would like to follow that point out. They could not trace the money. As a matter of fact 80 per cent. of the unearned increment in the past had gone into the pockets of men who ought to have been taxed, but were not. Therefore, they must let that go; they must not attempt to tax those who had paid full value for their property. But, there was a taxable quantity in the future in unearned increment. The hon. Member for Dulwich had said that no economist would tax unearned increment. But what were the proposals of this Bill? John Stuart Mill said—From the present date or at any subsequent time at which the Legislature may think fit, I see no objection in principle to declaring that the future increment of land value shall be liable to special taxation.And in the same chapter the hon. Gentleman would find that John Stuart Mill predicted for that purpose a valuation of the land. He believed that that was a form of taxation which the Government would ultimately adopt. As to the details of it and how it was to be worked out that was neither the time nor the occasion to speak; but of one thing he felt convinced, and that was that the imposition must be in the nature of a tax for the State and not for the rating authority or for the municipality. He would tell the House why. The municipalities and the rating authorities had already received a share of all the unearned increment. Let them take a case where a piece of land had been rated at its agricultural value at £3 or so an acre and rates had been paid upon that, say, of 4s. or 6s. an acre. The moment it was converted into a building site worth £100 an acre it immediately jumped up from £3 rating to £100 rating, that was from 12s. or 18s. to £20 or £30 actually received. He would give another case. A property in the City of London which cost £5,000 to build fifty years ago; the rating then was on £250; today the rating of that building was £1,000, and all these years the municipality had been receiving their yearly or rather their quinquennial increase on a value which had been raised from rates (say at 6s. 8d. in 883 the £) say £83 to £333. In Scotland the same thing applied in regard to land converted from agricultural into building land. The local authority, without spending a single shilling on roads, which the owner made, had stepped straight away into the improvement, and he said that the municipality was not entitled to anything more. But the State was entitled to something more, because it was by the State more than by the municipality that the owner had been enabled to reap the increment. Whatever the outcome of that argument might be he did not propose to oppose this Bill. He thought the Bill would do good in the direction in which he proposed taxation. It was not ideal in that respect but he hoped that might be remedied and he would like to put down one or two Amendments. But the Lord Advocate was one of those strong men whom it was mighty difficult to convince. The Bill would do two good things. In the first place it would explode many of the fallacies and nebulous theories which were preached from the platforms of the League for the Taxation of Land Values. It would show that there was not the great El Dorado which some hon. Members thought there would be, although there would be a substantial sum for the benefit of the State. And most important of all it would force the public to give their thoughts to this subject, it would bring them into close contact with the matter; it would compel them to realise the truth about the case and bring them down from the clouds to the solid facts which were the only sure foundation upon which they could build any sound legislation.
§ *MR. YOUNGER (Ayr Burghs)
said he was by no means surprised that the Government had put down a very short sitting for the discussion of this Bill. The real truth of the matter was, that the authors of this Bill knew perfectly well that since it test appeared in the House the bottom had been knocked out of it during the autumn campaign in Scotland. The Solicitor - General, though his more recent speeches had been modelled on his previous ones, evinced a very chastened spirit, and to a large extent gave away many portions 884 of the case which they were accustomed to hear stated by him with great ability in this House during the debates of last year. The Lord Advocate in his speech followed the course which he had taken last year in belittling the measure. He began by saying that it meant "Only a column and nothing more," and continued to chant that refrain, but he did not explain what were the figures which were to go into that column and how exceedingly difficult it was to know how they were to be arrived at. They had heard a great deal about Lord Balfour of Burleigh's report, and he thought the noble Lord had been badly treated by the supporters of this Pill in the way in which his proposals had been used to bolster up their contentions. Lord Balfour of Burleigh had carefully safeguarded himself in making those proposals which were only part of a larger scheme and which dealt with sites as they stood, when he recommended that there ought to be a separate valuation of sites of covered land. But what the Lord-Advocate proposed was that there should be a hypothetical valuation of a cleared site for purposes other than those for which it was at present used; while Lord Balfour of Burleigh dealt with a totally different principle and the Lord-Advocate had no right to claim him as supporting proposals of this sort. Lord Balfour of Burleigh had repudiated this suggestion in the most specific terms when the Prime Minister claimed him as a supporter of this Bill, and the Lord-Advocate was doing that which he had no business and no right to do, and what he knew he had no right to do when he also did so. The campaign in regard to this Bill had been carried on during the winter months by the Solicitor-General with a spirit which had been extremely admirable, but in a manner which was very monotonous; at all events, it had been monotonous to those who had to follow him and deal with his arguments. They had not heard in the course of the debate what was the ultimate use which the Government proposed to make of this valuation. In the debate last year the Solicitor-General for Scotland said distinctly that it was proposed to utilise this value or unimproved value as a new basis of 885 rating, and to transfer the rating from the existing composite rental to the site value alone. He had recently had occasion to point out in a small country town that the effect of such a proposal would be to relieve wealthy manufacturers there at the expense of the poorer section of the community. There was such a flutter in the Radical dovecots as had never been seen before. He believed that the hon. Member for Clackmannan and Kinross had bitterly complained that the Solicitor-General and himself had made a cockpit of his constituency. But he knew the town, and it was a very natural cockpit for him to select, and when he pointed out that two very important manufacturing firms which at present paid a very large proportion of the rates would largely save on their rating owing to the fact that their buildings occupied sites of very little value, with no railway accommodation or anything to add to them, and that the burden would have to be borne by the poorer classes of the people who were less able to bear it, it was resolved that the Solicitor-General should come to the town to put him right. The Solicitor-General came and spoke as usual an hour and forty minutes. [Laughter.] Well, he said it was impossible to speak on this question in less than that time with any possibility of exhausting it. He could not do it, and he was sure the hon. Gentleman was good for another twenty minutes if need be. How did the hon. Gentleman answer him. The Solicitor-General's political friends expected him, so their local newspaper said, before his speech, to support its honest assertion that no sane statesman would ever propose or suggest that the local rating should be placed on site valuation alone. That was what he (Mr. Younger) had stated, the Solicitor-General had declared in his Second Beading speech last session, was the intention of the Government. Did the Solicitor-General tell the people that he was correct. He could not do that because then there would have been no votes left in that town for the hon. Member for Clackmannan and Kinross. What the hon. Gentleman said was that he had made a mistake in his valuation, and as his speech was difficult to answer, the Solicitor-General thought it 886 safer to embark upon a discussion as to local valuation, of which he knew as much as he (Mr. Younger) did of the moon, put both his feet into a hole in doing it, and made an easy job for him to demolish his arguments ten days later. The net result was, that whatever the effect of this system might be in Glasgow or Edinburgh, it was totally inapplicable to small country towns in Scotland, where the manufacturers only occupied a small piece of land and where the cottagers and ordinary feuars occupied the greater proportion of it. The whole scheme was Utopian and impracticable The Lord-Advocate had expressed surprise that agriculturists were against this Bill. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman that if the actual valuation of the land, void of all the improvements, were taken, the result would be that in his part of Scotland the farmers would pay no rates at all. There would be no basis on which to rate. Was it to be supposed for a moment that a farmer was to be allowed to use the roads and receive all the advantages of county administration and to pay nothing because his farm had no land value. The proposal was ludicrous. In the case of a farm to which he had drawn attention in the previous year the cost of the visible improvements and drainage, and so forth, was £625 more than the whole saleable value of the form. What would be the value of that land with those improvements taken away. Having dealt with the rural aspect he would deal with the case of the Solicitor-General in adapting this principle to the towns. Surely the annual value of town property was a better criterion of a mans ability to pay for the advantages obtained from the rates than the site upon which the property was erected. The ability of a man to build upon and develop his site was a far better criterion of his ability to pay than the mere possession of the site. Similarly, if the advantages which they obtained were measured by the cooperative services rendered to them out of the rates, surely the size of the house in which a man lived and the number of people who lived in it formed a better criterion of that man's ability to pay than the mere site value. A man with a large house required more water and 887 police protection. He obtained every thing in larger proportion. Then why should he not pay a larger proportion. This was an extremely dangerous proposal. It was dangerous politically, and the hon. Member for Preston in solemn sentences warned hon. Gentlemen opposite of the risks they were running in bringing it into the political arena and supporting a Bill designed to relieve the rich at the expense of the poor. He regarded it as dangerous for quite another reason. The Government supporters tickled the electors with all sorts of prophesies and had told them that this Bill would settle the housing question, provide for the unemployed, defeat Tariff Reform and in fact do everything, and the electors of Scotland knew so little about it that many of them believed these things. The Bill, they asserted was going to be an El Dorado and bring enormous revenue from some source or other. He would do the Solicitor-General the justice to say that he had never said it would add to the revenue. At one time the hon. and learned Gentleman thought he had found in it an El Dorado. When he brought in the Report of the Select Committee and proposed to tax existing feu duties, he thought he saw rivers of golden sand. But those rivers have run out and he no longer believed there was added revenue in this proposal. But what this proposal did was to give the unfair politician an opportunity of making out a case which he knew was not fair but which attracted the electors until it was shown that the poorer people would have to pay, and then they came out in their thousands, as they did recently in one town he could mention, and condemned it, and would have nothing to do with it. He himself would like to see this question out of the way with a view to the next general election for the reasons he had given. He would like to see some typical valuation made in Scotland so that the bottom might be entirely knocked out of this scheme. He would conclude by saying that he objected to and protested against an unfair burden being placed on the whole of Scotland in order that this result might be obtained; a result which would be impracticable and useless for any purpose and which would never be the basis of local taxation in that country.
§ MR. URE
said that the hon. Member for Ayr Burghs had done him a great honour. He had made three speeches on this subject, one in his own constituency, one in Glasgow, and one in Edinburgh, but he emphatically denied that in any of those speeches he had hinted that the Government supported the view that feu duty owners should be included in the ranks of the ratepayers. He, in those speeches, explained the reasons upon which the Select Committee arrived at its conclusions, but by no word did he suggest that the Lord Advocate, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or the Prime Minister had changed the views they had clearly expressed. The hon. Member for Dulwich had attributed to his speeches a depression in the building trade, and said that immediately the Prime Minister made his declaration feu duties reverted to their original level; but if they did, what right had the hon. Gentleman to attribute that to the action of the Government?
§ MR. BONAR LAW
said as he had been challenged he would say the right was this. Seeing how long the right hon. Gentleman was in making up his mind, people were led to suppose he had changed his views.
§ MR. URE
said the Prime Minister had expressed his views distinctly, and there was no ground for assuming from anything in his speeches that his right hon. friend had changed his views. In those speeches he explained how the Select Committee arrived at its findings, and in doing so hoped he did not do wrong. He seemed to remember a Secretary to the Board of Trade who advocated a duty on manufactured imports. Would he, if there had been a fall in those manufactures, say it was due to the action of his Government?
§ MR. BONAR LAW
said there was this great distinction. The Prime Minister in the Government of which he was a junior Member distinctly stated that no change would be made during the existing Parliament.
§ MR. URE
said the present Prime Minister also did so, and no one except the hon. Member for Dulwich had ever 889 extracted from his (Mr. Ure's) speeches any hint or suggestion that the Government had adopted a policy which distinguished members of the Government had distinctly repudiated at an earlier stage. They had never changed their minds on the subject. Did any hon. Member suggest that he, as Chairman of a Select Committee on a private Member's Bill, was doing anything wrong when he refused to communicate with any of his colleagues in the Government when considering the Report? He would have considered himself disloyal to his colleagues if he had taken such directions. They had come to their own conclusions. The case for the Bill was this. It was introduced not only for the purpose which the Lord Advocate had stated, but further as an essential preliminary to a change in the system of rating. It was obvious that a new system of rating must be set up before they could consider the application of the standard. There were obviously two applications. They might abandon the present standard of rating altogether and substitute for it a rate upon the land value alone, or they might propose a new and additional rate upon the owners of site values—a rate limited in amount, definite in its incidence and definite in the purposes to which it was to be applied. It was wise that the standard should first be erected, seen and considered before they proceeded to consider its application. It would be barely possible to consider its application until the standard was actually erected. That was the view which the Select Committee and the Government held. The justification for a rate upon the value of land apart from buildings and improvements was this. The land derived its value from the activity, enterprise, and expenditure of the community and not of the individual owner of the land, and accordingly there was an immediate, direct, and palpable relation between the value of the land and the prosperity and expenditure of the community. Obviously, therefore, by far the best method of estimating the amount which the ratepayer should contribute to the rates was by taking the value of the land as the basis. Here was a standard which rose and fell in sensitive response to the prosperity and expenditure of the community. Structure and site were 890 essentially different both in origin and in character. Structure was perishable and needed renewal and repair. Site was permanent and usually increased rather than diminished in value. Accordingly a rating standard which combined these two elements was prima facie, at all events, an unwise and unfair standard. What advantage could be gained by adopting this new standard of rating in place of the present standard? There were two advantages, the first direct and the second indirect. The direct advantage was a more equitable, fairer, and juster redistribution of the burden of rating. The advantage was displayed in threefold fashion. In the first place, some persons in the community who at present offered no contribution to the rates would be invited to join the ranks of the ratepayers. They were the owners of vacant land suitable for building and not actually built upon, and their contribution to the rates proportionately essened the contribution of the other ratepayers. The second result was that owners and occupiers of land who at present offered a contribution to the rate would be asked to offer an additional contribution. They were owners and occupiers of land which was not fully availed of, and upon which there stood antiquated unsuitable buildings that had fallen into dilapidation and decay. The site was valuable, but the owner had misused it, and, accordingly, they would be invited to make an additional contribution to the rates owing to the advantages which their land had derived from the expenditure and energy of their fellow-citizens. The third result would be that other owners and occupiers of land which was fully availed of and on which eminently suitable buildings, or buildings superior to the site, at present existed would be asked to offer a smaller contribution to the rates on account of the increased contribution of the first and second classes. The indirect result would be that industrial enterprise would be relieved of its burdens and building would be encouraged.
§ MR. URE
said it would be proved if they were allowed to set up the new standard. They would cheapen building 891 land by bringing more into the market, and they would relieve the building industry of the hampering restrictions under which it at present lay, because whenever business plant was increased or machinery fixed or something was done to buildings up went the rates. They blotted out altogether buildings and improvements as the standard of rating, and took not the fruit of men's labour, but simply the land. Men were willing to spend their money and material in the way of building when they knew that every additional improvement they made would not add to their rate. Accordingly if that indirect advantage followed they would have done something to relieve overcrowding in great centres by bringing more land into the market, and owners of land in the market competing against one another would bring down the value of building land, with the result that they would have more, better, and cheaper houses, and a great step would be taken towards the solution of the housing problem. That was a very brief outline of the case for the Bill as an essential preliminary to a new standard of rating. The objections urged against the Bill naturally fell into two parts. The first related to the Bill now before the House, and the second to the Rating Bill. He did not dispute the relevancy of the objection, because it was quite obvious that if the second step was unwise and imprudent they ought not to take the first step, and if they challenged the principle of rating successfully one of the main reasons for the Bill would disappear. There were three objections urged. The first was that they could not make the valuation. His answer to that was that it had been done. For twenty years back in seven of the counties of Scotland the rent and the consequent rate had been fixed upon the valuation of the land alone apart from the buildings and improvements upon the land. In all these comities where the custom was for the tenant to erect buildings and make improvements there was no rent charged upon them, and there was a valuation every year of land alone apart from buildings and improvements, upon which rent and rates were fixed. With regard to urban districts, his answer was that for upwards of half a century it had been the regular prac- 892 tice in Scotland to make the valuation of land and buildings separately. Did hon. Members say there was any difficulty in valuing land which was at the present moment covered with buildings? Under this Bill the valuers would certainly require to imagine the buildings cleared away from the site—not a very large draft on the imagination—and then to say what price a willing buyer would give to a willing seller for the site without the buildings. But that was already frequently done by valuers in Scotland under certain Acts of Parliament, the site being valued apart from the buildings. It had been done for the last twenty years in rural districts and for upwards of half a century in the urban districts. The second objection was that if this were done the result would be capricious, arbitrary, and conjectural. If that meant that the valuation would be a matter of opinion, he assented, and replied that every valuation was a matter of opinion and reasonable expectation. It was not to the purpose to say that if they found the actual rental they ought to accept it as the basis of valuation. Yes, if it were an honest rental, and if there were no other consideration than the rent in the lease. But, then, in the vast majority of cases in Scotland such property was not let at all; it was in the occupation of the owner, and yet every year, at present, the value was put on the valuation roll as the opinion or conjecture of the valuer or assessor. The third objection was that the expense and the trouble would be excessive and unreasonable. That, again, was entirely a matter of opinion and guess. The most eminent and experienced valuers who were examined on this point declared that it was easy of accomplishment, easier, indeed, than valuation under the existing system. No one could estimate the expense entailed. The hon. Member for Dulwich was wrong when he said that the Statute of 1854 was not intended to alter the basis of rating. It was so intended, because that Statute was based upon a valuation taken in the time of Oliver Cromwell, whereas from 1854 onward a new valuation was substituted. As a matter of fact a far greater change was made by the Statute of 1854 than that of substituting rating on land for 893 rating on land and buildings. At any rate, if a thing were worth doing, the trouble and expense of it ought not to stand in the way. The Select Committee, following the conclusion arrived at by the minority headed by Lord Balfour of Burleigh, concluded that a valuation could be made without any undue expenditure of either time or money. That brought him to the objections to the new system of rating. The first objection urged by hon. Members opposite was that it would mean confiscation and dishonesty. Surely it would only mean that if the rate-collector every year actually carried off a portion of the thing which was rated. But it was not things that were rated, but persons. Accordingly, when they spoke of rating a thing they only meant that they used the thing as a standard or measure by which they fixed the amount that the owner of it should contribute to the rate. If to rate the value of the land would be to confiscate the land, then to rate the value of the land and the buildings would be to confiscate the land and buildings, and that being so, they had been confiscating land and buildings for years without anyone complaining. [" Hear hear"] It was exactly the same fallacy under which those laboured who said or thought they had discovered here some hitherto unsuspected source of wealth, from which, if they put a conduit pipe into it—to use the picturesque figure of the Leader of the Opposition in his recent speech in Scotland—a fertilising flow would issue forth over the whole urban and rural area of the country. No such unattached source of rating existed. There was no source from which rates could be derived except their own pockets or the pockets of their neighbours. [OPPOSITION cries of "Especially your neighbours."] The second objection, urged by the hon. Member for Preston, was that the effect of this new system of rating would be to place an unduly heavy burden on poor people living near the centre of large populous places, and consequently to lighten the rates of wealthy men occupying mansion-houses in the vicinity. As he listened 894 to the hon. Member advancing this argument, he thought he was denouncing the present system. The exact effect of the present system was that the small shopkeeper was heavily rated in proportion to the man who lived in a mansion, whereas the new system, by bringing more land into the market, and thereby pulling down values near the centre, would remove that grievance. They did not value the grounds and site upon which a mansion rested at the same figure at which they valued agricultural land from the obvious reason that its value in the market was higher. Therefore the immediate effect of adopting this new standard would rectify the very thing which the hon. Member for Preston complained of, for it would compel the owner of mansion-houses to pay a larger contribution to the rates. The last objection was that the value of land in a particular community did not always or necessarily depend on the expenditure, energy, and enterprise of that community. According to the hon. Member for Dulwich, the energy, enterprise, and expenditure of the countries with which that community traded must also be taken into account. If that theory were well founded there were streets in Glasgow which derived their value from foreign countries. They would have to carry their discrimination further than from one community to another. They would have to find out in what particular street or building a man carried on his business. George Square and Ingram Street, it might be argued, derived their value from "Greenland's icy mountains and India's coral strands." The fallacy was that they took the essential for the accidental, and the accidental for the essential.
And, it being a quarter before Eight of the Clock, Mr. SPEAKER proceeded to put the Questions necessary to dispose of the business to be concluded this day under the Order of the House of 13th February.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question.895
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 363; Noes, 99. (Division List No. 14.)899
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.)||Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Helme, Norval Watson|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Cowan, W. H.||Hemmerde, Edward George|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Agnew, George William||Cremer, Sir William Randal||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling.||Crombie, John William||Henry, Charles S.|
|Alden, Percy||Crossley, William J.||Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe)|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Cullinan, J.||Higham, John Sharp|
|Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Curran, Peter Francis||Hobart, Sir Robert|
|Armstrong, W. C. Heaton||Dalziel, James Henry||Hodge, John|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry||Davies, David (Montgomery Co.||Hogan, Michael|
|Astbury, John Meir||Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Holden, E. Hohkinson|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Davies, W. Howell (Bristol. S.)||Holland, Sir William Henry|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Holt, Richard Durning|
|Baker, Joseph A (Finsbury, E.)||Dewar, Sir J. A. (Inverness-sh.)||Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.||Hope, W. Bateman (Somerset, N.|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Horniman, Emslie John|
|Barker, John||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Horridge, Thomas Gardner|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Dillon, John||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey|
|Barnard, E. B.||Dobson, Thomas W.||Hudson, Walter|
|Barnes, G. N.||Donelan, Captain A.||Hyde, Clarendon|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Duckworth, James||Idris, T. H. W.|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Duffy, William J.||Illingworth, Percy H.|
|Beale, W. P.||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness||Isaacs, Rufus Daniel|
|Beacuhamp, E.||Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Jcakson, R S.|
|Beaumont, Hon. Hubert||Dunne, Major E. Martin (Walsall||Jacoby, Sir James Alfred|
|Bell, Richard||Edwards, Clement (Denbigh)||Jardine, Sir J.|
|Belloc, Hilaire Joseph Peter R.||Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Jenkins, J.|
|Benn, Sir J. Williams (Devonp'rt||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Johnson, John (Gateshead)|
|Bennett, E. N.||Elibank, Master of||Jones, Sir D Brynmor (Swansea)|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Ellis, Rt. Hon. John Edward||Jones, Leif (Appleby)|
|Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romf'rd||Erskine, David C.||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire|
|Black, Arthur W.||Essex, R. W.||Jowett, F. W.|
|Boland, John||Esslemont, George Birnie||Joyce, Michael|
|Bottomley, Horatio||Evans, Sir Samuel T.||Kavanagh, Walter M.|
|Boulton, A. C. F.||Fenwick, Charles||Kearley, Hudson E.|
|Brace, William||Ferens, T. R.||Kekewich, Sir George|
|Bramsdon, T. A.||Ferguson, R. C. Munro||Kelley, George D.|
|Branch, James||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)|
|Brigg, John||Findlay, Alexander||Laidlaw, Robert|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Flynn, James Christopher||Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster|
|Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh)||Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester)|
|Brunner, Rt. Hn Sir J. T. (Cheshire||Freeman-Thomas, Freeman||Lambert, George|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Fuller, John Michael F.||Lamont, Norman|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Fullerton, Hugh||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Gill, A. H.||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John||Layland-Barratt, Francis|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Glen-Coats, Sir T. (Renfrew, W.||Lea, Hugh Cecil (St. Pancras, E.|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Glendinning, R. G.||Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington|
|Buxton, Rt. Hn. Sydney Charles||Glover, Thomas||Lehmann, R. C.|
|Byles, William Pollard||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Lever, A Levy (Essex, Harwich)|
|Cameron, Robert||Gooch, George Peabody||Lever, W. H. (Cheshire, Wirral)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||Levy, Sir Maurice|
|Causton, Rt. Hn. Richard Knight||Greenwood, Hamar (York)||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick||Griffith, Ellis J.||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David|
|Chance, Frederick William||Gulland, John W.||Lough, Thomas|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius||Lupton, Arnold|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Hall, Frederick||Lyell, Charles Henry|
|Clarke, C. Goddard (Peckham)||Halpin, J.||Lynch, H. B.|
|Cleland, J. W.||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)|
|Clough, William||Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk B'ghs)|
|Clynes, J. R.||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r)||Mackarness, Frederic C.|
|Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithn'ss-sh||Maclean, Donald|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Hart-Davies, T.||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.|
|Collins, Sir Wm. J. (S Pancras, W||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift|
|Compton-Rickett, Sir J.||Harwood, George||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E.)|
|Corbett, CH (Sussex, E Grinst'd||Haworth, Arthur A.||M'Crae, George|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Hayden, John Patrick||M'Kean, John|
|M'Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Priee, Robert John (Norfolk, E.)||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|M'Killop, W.||Priestley, W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
|M'Laren, Sir C. B. (Leicester)||Pullar, Sir Robert||Stuart, James ((Sunderland)|
|M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Radford, G. H.||Summerbell, T.|
|M'Micking, Major G.||Rainy, A. Rolland||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Maddison, Frederick||Raphael, Herbert H.||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Mallet, Charles E.||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Manfield, Harry (Northants)||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro'||Thorne, William|
|Marnham, F. J.||Reddy, M||Tillett, Louis John|
|Mason, A. E. W. (Coventry)||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Torrance, Sir A. M.|
|Massie, J.||Redmond, William (Clare)||Toulmin, George|
|Meagher, Michael||Rees, J. D.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Menzies, Walter||Rendall, Athelstan||Ure, Alexander|
|Micklem, Nathaniel||Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n||Verney, F. W.|
|Mond, A.||Ridsdale, E. A.||Villiers, Ernest Amherst|
|Money, L. G. Ghiozza||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Vivian, Henry|
|Montagu, E. S.||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Wadsworth, J.|
|Montgomery, H. G.||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|Mooney, J. J.||Robertson, Rt. Hn. E (Dundee)||Walsh, Stephen|
|Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradf'rd||Walters, John Tudor|
|Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||Walton, Joseph|
|Murphy, John (Kerry, East)||Robinson, S.||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent|
|Murphy, N. J. (Kilkenny, S.)||Robson, Sir William Snowdon||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampt'n|
|Murray, James||Roche, John (Galway, East)||Wardle, George J.|
|Myer, Horatio||Rogers, F. E. Newman||Waring, Walter|
|Napier, T. B.||Rose, Charles Day||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw)||Rowlands, J.||Wason, Rt. Hn. E. (Clackmannan|
|Newnes, Sir George (Swansea)||Runciman, Walter||Wason, John Cat-heart (Orkney)|
|Nicholls, George||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Nichollson, Charles N. (Doncast'r||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Nolan, Joseph||Schwann, C. Duncan (Hyde)||Weir, James Galloway|
|Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Schwann, Sir C. E. (Manchester)||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Nussey, Thomas Willans||Scott, A. H. (Ashton under Lyne||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Nuttall, Harry||Scars, J. E.||Whitehead, Rowland|
|O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary Mid||Seaverns, J. H.||Whiteley, John Henry (Halifax|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Seddon, J.||Wiles, Thomas|
|O'Connor James (Wicklow, W.||Seely, Colonel||Wilkie, Alexander|
|O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Shackleton, David James||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarth'n|
|O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick B.)||Williamson, A.|
|O'Grady, J.||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.||Sherwell, Arthur James||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|O'Malley, William||Shipman, Dr. John G.||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Simon, John Allsebrook||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Partington, Oswald||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh. N.)|
|Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Snowden, P.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Pearson, W. H. M. (Suffolk, Eye||Spicer, Sir Albert||Wodehouse, Lord|
|Philipps, Col. Ivor (S'thampton)||Stanger, H. Y.||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N. W.)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|P rie, Duncan V.||Stanley, Hn. A. Lyulph (Chesh.|
|Pollard, Dr.||Steadman, W. C.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease.|
|Power, Patrick Joseph||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)|
|Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)|
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hn. Sir Alex. F||Bull, Sir William James||Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Butcher, Samuel Henry||Craig, Captain James (Down, E.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major||Carlile, E. Hildred||Cross, Alexander|
|Balcarres, Lord||Castlereagh, Viscount||Dalrymple, Viscount|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (City Lond||Cavendish, Rt. Hn. Victor G W.||Dixon-Hartland, Sir Fred Dixon|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Cecil, Lord John P. Joicey-||Duncan, Robert (Lanark, Govan|
|Baring, Capt. Hn. G (Winchester||Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Fardell, Sir T. George|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Wore.||Fell, Arthur|
|Beach, Hn. Michael Hugh Hicks||Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Fletcher, J. S.|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Clive, Percy Archer||Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)|
|Bertram, Julius||Collings, Rt. Hn. J. (Birmingham||Goulding, Edward Alfred|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Guinness, Walter Edward|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Haddock, George G.|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Courthope, G. Loyd||Hamilton, Marquess of|
|Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Starkey, John R.|
|Hay, Hon. Claude George||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staff'sh.|
|Helmsley, Viscount||Morpeth, Viscount||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Hill, Sir Clement (Shrewsbury)||Morrison-Bell, Captain||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Hills, J. W.||Neild, Herbert||Tennant, Sir Edward (Salisbury|
|Houston, Robert Paterson||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)||Thomson, W. Mitchell-(Lanark)|
|Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H.||Parkes, Ebenezer||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Kenyon-Slnney, Rt. Hn. Col. W.||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Valentia, Viscount|
|Keswick, William||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire|
|Kimber, Sir Henry||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclcsall)||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hull)||Ronaldshay, Earl of||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset. W.)|
|Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Lane-Fox, G. R.||Sandys, Lieut.-Col. Thos. Myles||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich)||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albeit||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Lee, Arthur H. (Hants, Fareham||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley George D.||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford. East)||Younger, George|
|M'Arthur, Charles||Smith, F. E. (Liverpool. Walton|
|Magnus, Sir Philip||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Harold Cox and Mr. Everett.|
|Marks, H. H. (Kent||Soares, Ernest J.|
Bill read a second time, and committed, pursuant to the Order of the House of 13th February, to a Committee of the Whole House for To-morrow.