§ Motion made and Question proposed: "That in the year beginning the first day of January, nineteen hundred and ten, and in every subsequent year, a statement shall be made of the receipts from intoxicating liquor supplied in every club during the preceding year, and an Excise duty shall be charged at the rate of three pence for every pound of those receipts." [Mr. Lloyd-George.]
§ Mr. YOUNGER
The right hon. Gentleman last night after I spoke was good enough to take notice of a remark I made about the incidence of taxation on clubs and licensed houses in which I pointed out that, as I understood it, in London a tax of 1s. 4d. a £ on takings would be required in order to equalise the conditions. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to imagine that I thought he ought to tax clubs to that extent. I never said so at all. I only pointed out what the difference was, and I warned him, as a revenue official, that he was entering upon extremely dangerous ground in putting heavy taxation on large hotels and 1689 profitable revenue - producing public-houses without putting some more nearly corresponding duty on clubs. I know perfectly well it is a most difficult question for the right hon. Gentleman, and he has shown a considerable amount of courage in attacking it. There has been a good deal said on the other side of the House this year and last about clubs being put in a proper position and so forth, but that was all in the air. No one opposite ever proposed to put them in that position, and the right hon. Gentleman has done something at all events in that direction, and I think he is to be credited not only with good intentions, but with carrying out to some extent what many of his followers have said in the past on this particular subject. I was misunderstood by the right hon. Gentleman if he thought I meant that. I still think 3d. on takings is too small, and I think it ought to be increased, but there is a very dangerous feature in the case namely, that the channels of distribution may gradually be changed, and that we may lose a great deal of revenue, and that clubs, being in a very strong position, and having strong voting power, are not in a position which this or any successive House can interfere with in the same way that it can with the licensed trade.
§ Mr. W. W. RUTHERFORD
There are one or two rather important matters which ought to be before the Committee. The way the Resolution is worded, and the way it is intended to take effect, will create a good deal of unnecessary trouble and work in every club. I have given notice of an Amendment which I do not propose to move, but which I propose to suggest to the Chancellor of the Exchequer on this point. The effect of the Amendment would be that instead of the duty being charged upon the receipt of the club it should be charged upon purchases. The reason is obvious. An ordinary club will probably buy £20 worth of alcoholic liquors, which will be sold in twopenny-worths and threepenny-worths. If every club is charged with a duty of making a bookkeeping entry on every 1½d., 2d., or 4d. a very great deal of bookkeeping and an immense amount of trouble will be necessitated. I am told there is one very large-club in London where it would necessitate three more clerks being employed to keep accounts. It is not a club which belongs to my political side of the House, but to the other. If, instead of charging 3d. upon the receipts of the club, a charge 1690 was made upon the purchased articles, the account could be kept with a twentieth or a fortieth of the trouble, and it would be very much simpler in every respect.
There are two other small points that I should like to mention. There is a very great difference between clubs. There is a very great difference in principle between clubs which belong to members and clubs which are being run by people for their own profit. I, for one, have never been able to see why a club which does not belong entirely to the members should not be put on exactly the same footing as a licensed house. At all events, I only make that comment. The third little point is this very important question of the accounts. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer insists upon this Resolution remaining in the shape in which it has been drawn, and if he insists upon accounts being kept of the sales, then it is obvious that there will have to be some inspection in regard to the books and accounts. There would have to be power to inspect on the part of the Excise, and power to assess on the sales which had taken place according to the books produced, and the accounts would have to be verified by statutory declaration or by some other method of that kind. A great deal of trouble, inconvenience, annoyance, and expense would be inflicted upon clubs for a very small return. I think if the inside workings of clubs and their convenience were to be consulted at all—and I am sure the right hon. Gentleman would like to consult their convenience—the clubs upon which he is imposing this duty would probably be willing to consider favourably the alternative suggestion I have made as to putting the duty on purchases instead of on receipts. That would simplify the matter to an enormous extent.
§ Mr. HART-DAVIES
I do not rise to offer any opposition to this tax, although, I confess, I do not altogether like it. But we apprehended that something of this kind would be introduced in this Budget, and I think the clubs are prepared not to offer violent opposition to the proposal. I wish to emphasise what the hon. Gentleman opposite said, that the main objection is with respect to the difficulty of keeping the accounts. That will involve some clubs in considerable expense. Everyone knows that it will cost a considerable sum to have the accounts kept in a satisfactory form to show what has been spent on alcoholic refreshments. I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will 1691 think the matter over with the view of seeing whether in some way it would not be easier and cheaper to collect the duty by imposing it on purchases. I think the suggestion of the hon. Gentleman opposite is a very good one, namely, that the duty should be paid on purchases and not on sales. I think that method would be feasible, and I should think that the clubs will not object to it. The hon. Member for the Ayr Burghs said that you cannot altogether compare public-houses with clubs, because clubs have to keep up a staff of porters and people at the doors to prevent those who are not members from coming into the clubs. That is, of course, not the case with public-houses. Clubs have considerable expense in that way which public-houses have not got, and I think it is hardly fair to compare an ordinary licensed public-house with a club. I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be able to meet the wishes of clubs in the matter of the mode in which they are to keep their accounts for the purpose of assessing the duty.
§ Mr. SAMUEL ROBERTS
I wish to join my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool in congratulating the Chancellor of the Exchequer upon his courage in facing this question. We all know that there has been great abuse of clubs, especially in London, and we on this side of the House have brought forward instances of these abuses—cases where clubs have been connected with breweries, and cases where the clubs have been practically Sunday entertainment houses. At these places a great deal of liquor has been consumed in competition with public-houses, which cannot be kept open except at certain hours. At the clubs there is no police supervision, and there are no statutory closing hours to prevent them from being kept open all night. I believe the licensed victuallers feel intensely on this question. A gentleman in my own Constituency said to me the other day: "Well, the Government are taxing us fairly. They want more money, and if only we could go to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and get some promise from him that he will not continually tease our trade, that he will look after the clubs, and see that we have not unfair competition from them—if we felt that we had such security for the future we might, be more willing to find the money." I believe that is the feeling of the trade. Those connected with the 1692 trade feel that money must be found for the revenue. The Leader of the Opposition has told you emphatically that if we come into power this money must be found from some source. I should like to ask the Chancellor one question, namely: What machinery does he propose to establish to check the amount of the sales of liquors in clubs? Is he going to make an annual audit of each club? If so, what officers are to do it? I presume that the officials of the club would have to keep very strict accounts, which would have to be certified and audited. I would like to ask what the right hon. Gentleman proposes to do, and whether it would be an annual return and audit, or quarterly, or what?
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
I may be allowed to reply to the questions which have been put to me on the subject of clubs. The hon. Member for the West Derby Division of Liverpool suggests that the duty instead of being put on receipts should be put on purchases. As the hon. Gentleman points out very accurately, you would have to put up the duty in that case. I should say that it ought to be at least 4d. if it is not to be on the receipts. [An HON. MEMBER: "Sixpence."] Well, I do not think they charge double. I think on the whole 4d. would be sufficient. I have not had full opportunity of consulting the officials of clubs on this matter, but I think if, in the course of the proceedings, there should be a general feeling that it would be fairer to clubs, and more effective, to charge the duty on purchases instead of on receipts, the proposal could be altered, so long as there was no increase in the charge. Therefore I wish rather to have an open mind at the present moment on this question, and I should like later on to deal with it when we come to the club clauses. I have no doubt they will be criticised in detail, and I would rather wait before I make up my mind about that, in order to hear the general view. But I think there is a great deal to be said for the suggestion which has been put forward that it would be much easier for the Excise officers in checking the accounts to charge on the amount of purchases rather than on the amount of receipts. I hope the Committee will not make up its mind on this question at the present moment. All that is necessary now is general authority to charge clubs on this basis.
I agree with the hon. and learned Member that the duty on clubs does not quite correspond to the duties charged on 1693 publicans; but still, on the whole, I do not think one ought to charge quite as much in the case of clubs. If it were possible to discriminate between clubs which are proprietary institutions, and which are in every practical sense public-houses in another form, then it might be desirable to charge more in respect of those clubs; but that is a very difficult thing to do. I know that there are clubs of that kind. I have known brewers offering to run clubs as practically tied clubs in connection with their breweries. They have offered to run them as political clubs on either side of politics. They are quite impartial in this matter. After all, these are public-houses, and they ought to be charged on that basis. A very remarkable speech was delivered by the hon. Member for Sheffield in regard to the attitude of the trade towards the Budget proposals. Since I made my Budget statement I have met several representatives of the trade, and I must say that they met me very fairly. They said: "We do not object to finding our share of the money." I think it is fair to them to say that they are willing to contribute their share of the money, and that they do not object to pay the share I have allocated to them. [Cries of "Oh."] If they object, I have never heard it. They have not, in the interviews I have had with them, complained of the share I allocate to them, but they have made complaints as to the method in which I have done it, and they have suggested other ways of doing it. They have not complained of taking their share, and even taking the share the Government have allocated. The hon. Member for Sheffield asked me a question as to the way in which we propose to check the accounts. He wishes to know whether there is going to be an audit. Well, of course there must be an audit for the purposes of the Inland Revenue. The accounts would have to be submitted to them, and that circumstance might induce many clubs to keep accounts which at present are not in the way of keeping accounts. It would be a very useful thing from that point of view. That is the only audit we propose. The accounts would have to be submitted at the end of the year when the tax comes to be charged to the officer of Inland Revenue. I have dealt with the question in regard to receipts and purchases asked by the hon. Member for North Hackney. It is practically the point which was raised by the hon. Member for the West Derby Division of Liverpool. I do not make any promise 1694 on that point at present, I would rather wait until we come to the discussion of the club clauses.
§ Sir EDWARD CARSON
I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman if he can tell us how much he expects to get from this tax on clubs, and if he can put before the Committee either now or at some other stage how the estimate is made out. On what is it based? Many of us find it difficult, in going through these various taxes, to come to conclusions as to what is really the amount of revenue coming under these various heads. It is very generally believed that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has very much under-estimated the revenue under the various heads. I ask now specifically as regards clubs, and we will be very much obliged if the right hon. Gentleman will let us know the data on which he is going in estimating the probable results of the tax.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
My recollection is that we estimate that we shall probably get about £250,000 from these clubs. I do not think we will get it in the first year, because it depends so much on the checks on the purchases and sales by the clubs.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
A quarter of a million is what we expect in an ordinary year, but in the first year it is very difficult to estimate with anything approaching accuracy what we will receive. It will depend on the extent to which the clubs will supply us with statements of their accounts. I have no doubt that the vast majority will supply accounts on which we may absolutely rely, but I doubt whether they would all do that, not because they desire to defraud the Revenue, but because they have not got accounts and have not kept accounts with a view to this tax being imposed, so in the first year I do not expect we will get anything like our estimate. With regard to the basis of the estimate, the right hon. Gentleman knows how very difficult it is to get an estimate in the case of a new tax, and in a case of this kind to get, with anything like approximate accuracy, the quantity of liquor which is consumed in clubs. There is really no reliable data with regard to that. We made such inquiries as we could indifferent parts of the country. We know fairly well the amount of liquor which is consumed by the London clubs, but there are certain clubs which practically keep no 1695 accounts at all. However, from such total as we have got we have arrived at the conclusion that in a normal year we shall probably get a quarter of a million.
§ Mr. F. B. MILDMAY
The hon. Member for Liverpool just now said there are clubs and clubs. The hon. Gentleman next me said, with the approval of the House, that there were certain clubs in London which everyone would like to see dealt with. There must be some means of dealing with these bogus clubs. We all know that when men and women will drink at any hour in the morning these clubs are attended with great ruin and degradation, but I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer said just now that it is very difficult to distinguish for legislative purposes between such clubs in a Bill. Surely there is one great distinction between the clubs I have mentioned and other clubs. In these clubs there is one pernicious provision, which lays down that membership of a single club shall confer membership of all the affiliated clubs, of which, I believe, there are hundreds in London, so that a man has any number of drinking houses to go round to from one to the other. They are, to all intents and purposes, drinking shops. They are not used for social purposes. It does seem to me that the right hon. Gentleman might be able to mete out more drastic duties to these affiliated clubs, because it is the affiliation which is the evil in this case, and it distinguishes these clubs which ought not to be supported from the more respectable clubs.
§ Mr. F. W. VERNEY
I venture to think that the hon. Member who has just now spoken is not accurate. Some of the best clubs in England are affiliated, and affiliation, so far from being a source of danger, is a great protection, and a great test, in many cases, of respectability. For many years I was a member of the Club and Institute Union in Clerkenwell Road, and it was conducted on the very highest principles. I can go back some 35 years, and I can assure you that the affiliation to that institution is only given on pretty fair proof that the club is conducted on respectable lines, and the non-affiliated clubs are by far the worst. There are clubs which have been affiliated, and which have been turned out of that union because they are not respectable. Therefore I do hope that the House will not come to the conclusion in a hurry that the affiliated clubs are, on account of affiliation, disreputable clubs. I do not want to deny for 1696 a moment that certain clubs have degraded the whole idea of clubs, and are utterly unfit for the support of anybody or any political party, or any person of reputable character. But I venture to say that there is no public body in London which is so heartily ashamed and sorry for that fact as the Club and Institute Union. I do not pretend to hold a brief for every club that it comes into contact with. At the same time I want this House to understand, at all events, that the Club and Institute Union of London, with which are affiliated a great many country clubs as well, does its best to keep the clubs on proper lines, and prevent them from sinking to being merely drinking clubs.
§ Mr. MILDMAY
Perhaps I was rather too sweeping in my statement. I am quite willing to admit that there may be affiliated clubs which may be of a most respectable character. But some distinction must be made between the affiliated clubs to which I refer and the respectable clubs.
§ Viscount DALRYMPLE
I think a distinction might be made between clubs that belong to their members and clubs that do not. With a club in which everything in it already belongs to the members, the drink already belongs to them, and when the drinks are actually taken they are not exactly being sold to the members. They are already their property, and it is merely dividing the cost. Regimental messes are an example of this. They buy drink in a lump, and divide it among them as they want it. I do not know whether they are actually clubs or not. I know that in the case of some messes the cost is divided equally between the different members. They all pay their share of the original price of the drink, and drink whatever suits them. There is no difference in the price, no matter what a man takes. As far as I can see the clubs which belong to the members might put themselves on the same plane, and not sell their drink at all, but divide it in the same manner.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I do not think the right hon. Gentleman has given any answer to the question which has been put by my Noble Friend. What is and what will be the position under this proposal of all officers' messes as clubs? I believe that the great bulk of them are already registered as clubs. Of course, the majority of them are in a wholly different position from the ordinary club, but I do not conceive that it is the intention of the Government to place them under 1697 this category. But I should like to know specifically at this stage, before we proceed further with the Resolution, whether he intends them to be so charged or not, and I would extend the inquiry to soldiers' and sailors' canteens. I believe, although I am not quite sure, that these also have to be registered as clubs—the wet canteens in naval barracks for instance, and I suppose similar institutions in military barracks—and I should be glad to know what are the Government's proposals in regard to them. I wish we might have from the Government a little more information than the Chancellor gave us as to how they arrive at a charge of 3d. in the pound. What sort of proportion do they believe themselves to be establishing between the new taxation on licences or the new and old taxation put together on licences and the new taxations on clubs? I think the right hon. Gentleman indicated he did not intend to put an exactly similar tax on clubs, and indeed he thought the tax on clubs should not be as high as the tax on licensed houses. But what proportion does he think it ought to be? What principle does he invoke to justify the particular sum which he has chosen and the particular proportion which that bears to the charges upon licences?
I share the doubts that have been expressed on both sides of the House as to whether the right hon. Gentleman has chosen the best method of levying his new charge on clubs. I think it will be found that the levying on the ordinary poundage on the receipts of the clubs is, as hon. Members have said, both for the purpose of club sales and for Inland Revenue, a much more cumbrous, expensive, and unsatisfactory procedure than to levy on the purchase of the liquor as purchased by the club, which would be much more easily ascertained. The Chancellor of the Exchequer himself was struck with this, and I thought he indicated a likelihood that he would alter the basis of the tax, and that he would impose the higher duty upon the purchases instead of upon the sales. What I want to point out to the Committee is, unless you deal with the Question in that way the matter will pass out of the keeping of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or, at any rate, it will pass out of the keeping of the Chancellor of the Exchequer unless he is prepared to interrupt the progress of his Finance Bill by moving a new Resolution to justify the first method of taxing. Is it not certain that if you alter the basis of 1698 your taxation from a percentage poundage on receipt to a poundage on purchase you will alter the incidence of the tax, that in some cases you will lower the tax on particular institutions, and in other cases you will raise it? I think that stands to reason. It is quite certain that every club that sells liquor makes a profit on the liquor that it sells. But all clubs do not make the same profit. Some clubs are content with a very small profit; other clubs, and probably all the proprietary clubs who will come under this category, make a very high profit. The moment we change that from a poundage on receipts to a poundage on purchases, you will alter the incidence of the tax on particular clubs. You will charge those clubs which make a small profit on the liquor more, and those clubs which make a large profit on the liquor less. In the first place, I think what you want to do is—you introduce obligations which the Chancellor of the Exchequer will have to consider—perhaps you may have to do what you want to do. I have not thought that out. On the whole, I withdraw the observation. I cannot think it out while I am addressing the House. But at any rate, I venture to say that is a thing which you cannot do on this Resolution if passed in this form.
The right hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary for the Home Department is following what I say, and he will see that it would be out of order, and contrary to the rules of the House, to make such a variation in the incidence of the charge authorised by the Resolution which is contemplated in the change proposed by Members on both sides of the House, and rather welcomed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I hope he will convey that to the Chancellor as soon as the Chancellor returns, and that before we pass from this Resolution that the matter might be considered at once. In any case, having brought it to the notice of the Government now, we ought not to be estopped on any technical plea of that class from raising the question in Committee and fully debating it there if the Committee cannot deal with it at once.
Passing from that, I want to suggest another point for the consideration of the right hon. Gentleman. It is alternative to that made by himself, or to that of my hon. Friend, and, though not necessarily hostile, it possibly could be worked in addition. Everybody in this House wants to distinguish as far as they can between what is called a good club and what is 1699 called a bad club—a club which is a club in no sense of the word, but is merely a drinking shop under another name, a drinking shop of the worst class, where drink can be obtained at all hours, subject to no control, and where in many cases all those evils which are driven out of the public-house by reason of our strict control flourish unchecked. Hitherto it has puzzled the House and Chancellors of the Exchequer to see how that distinction is to be effected. Why should not you apply in conjunction with their present scale the new scale of the kind foreshadowed by the Chancellor, whereby their assessment to this tax would vary in proportion to the relation which their total receipts bear to their receipts from drink. In the case of drinking clubs they, in fact, draw the whole of their revenue from drink, and nothing else. I am not treating this as a fiscal proposal; the Government do not treat it as a fiscal proposal; it is treated as a matter of social or moral control and reform. Is it not the case that very bad clubs have minimum subscriptions and minimum receipts from all other sources but drink. Did we not, when discussing the Licensing Bill last year, have case after case where the balance sheets of clubs were produced, showing that the whole of their receipts were derived from the sale of drink—perhaps in some cases even to a greater extent than the receipts of public-houses themselves, certainly to a greater extent than the receipts of anything like the restaurant, where the sale of drink is combined with the sale of food, and even greater in some cases than the receipts of the pure public-house? I suggest to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he should take this proposal of mine into consideration, and see whether he cannot apply to the club a kind of sliding scale arrangement which he has himself suggested for hotels, by means of which the poundage or the sum he takes would become higher in proportion as the receipts drawn by the club from drink grew larger compared with the receipts from other sources. If my suggestion is one that is workable, and one which would meet the case of the mere drinking clubs, passing under the names of ordinary clubs, then I think it is one which could be received by all sides of the House, irrespective of party. At any rate, I offer it for the consideration of the Chancellor.
§ Mr. W. MENZIES
Before passing these Resolutions. I would like to ask the Chan- 1700 cellor of the Exchequer whether it is possible, when his Budget Bill comes up for discussion in this House, to propose that the charge upon proprietory clubs should be 6d. or 1s. per pound of income. It appears to me that the charge of 3d. is altogether unfair to the usual licence-holder. I received this morning a letter from an hotel manager, and I think other Members have each received such a letter, which states that this licence duty, which we have already passed, will amount to something like 5s. or 6s. per pound on the trade from liquor. I should imagine that this is a very exaggerated view to take, and it may be that it will be 1s. or 1s. 6d. Still, it appears to me that we are giving great and undue advantage to the club which is only charged 3d. Why should we on this side, or anyone in the House of Commons, try to give an advantage to clubs for the sale of liquor? Why should the club be able to sell drink cheaper than the man in the public-house? I can see no reason why clubs should be given this undue advantage. I only rose to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether it would be in order on the Budget Bill to suggest that the charge should be 6d. per pound instead of 3d.
§ Mr. J. O'GRADY
I rise to enter my protest against what has been said by the hon. Member for one of the divisions of Devonshire on this side of the House, with reference to workmen's clubs. I happen to be a member of a workmen's club which is affiliated, and, therefore, when I travel I am in a position to drop into other clubs. I visited the club which is in the hon. Member for Burnley's Division, and a delightful club it is. I would only remark that when an hon. Member makes these reflections he should be wary of his facts. In the first place, there is nothing in connection with these clubs which could cause them to be described as drinking clubs in any sense of the term. I would point out that all these workmen's clubs have institutions attached to them which are deserving of the very highest praise. Nearly the whole of their profits are used for the purpose of maintaining the Club and Institute Union Convalescent Home at Pegwell Bay, an institution to which workmen are sent by their club until they are sufficiently recuperated to go back to their work. These clubs also have libraries, some of them very valuable libraries, and others have meeting halls where they hold polical gatherings. With regard to the club mentioned by the hon. Member for Totten- 1701 ham, I myself have been in that club, and I have seen workmen take their wives and children there. I have seen them at table, and I should have thought this was the last club which the hon. Member above the Gangway would have selected as the subject of his criticisms. They have actually got shooting competitions, and I should have thought the hon. Gentleman would have encouraged the patriotic spirit which is so much in evidence among hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway. After all, there are other features in connection with these clubs. I find in Gloucester and in Lancashire that a number of clubs are devoted exclusively to forwarding the interests of their trade, and they have meeting places to which they go instead of to the ordinary public-house. In reference to the question of the morals of these clubs, I wish the hon. Member would go with me to some of them before he comes to this House and speaks in disparaging terms about them. Frequently I take my own wife and children to one of these clubs. There are clubs in London to which I would not take my wife and children. I agree with what has been said as to the charge to be put upon clubs. Perhaps the easiest way would be to make the charge on purchase rather than upon receipts. It would involve less work to the officials and managers of the clubs, and I think it would give the Chancellor of the Exchequer the best possible return.
§ Mr. A. B. MARKHAM
I would like to ask your ruling, Mr. Caldwell, as to what the position would be if this Resolution were passed. In respect to the suggestion made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Worcester, would we be tied by the Resolution to the maximum charge of 3d. in the pound, or would we have power to increase the charge when we are discussing the Finance Bill, beyond the limit contained in the Resolution. I ask that question.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Mr. Caldwell)
The Finance Bill cannot go beyond the terms of the Resolution passed in Committee of Ways and Means.
§ Mr. MARKHAM
In that case then I understand that the House would be powerless, even if the majority of the House desired to alter the Resolution. [An HON. MEMBER: "When it is taken."] Yes, the Resolution has not been taken yet. It has been rightly pointed out by an hon. Member on this side of the House that a 1702 number of clubs in this country are neither more nor less than drinking shops. I have myself established three clubs in which drink is sold. The majority of the members of those clubs are miners. I am not going for a moment to say that a miner and the man who sits on a stool all day are in the same position. The miner is a man who really can drink, and does drink, and possibly has a right to drink more than a man who never takes physical exercise. It seems to me a wholly inequitable basis of taxation that clubs on the one hand and licensed houses on the other should not be equal. The hon. Member said he takes his wife and family to these so-called social or Liberal clubs. I am surprised to hear that any Member of this House takes his wife and children to these variety concerts on a Sunday afternoon.
§ Mr. O'GRADY
I think the hon. Gentleman is under a slight mistake. I never suggested that I took my wife and children on Sunday afternoons.
§ Mr. MARKHAM
I understood the hon. Member to say that he took his wife and children to these clubs on Sunday.
§ Mr. MARKHAM
I beg the hon. Member's pardon. I was under a wrong impression. But the hon. Member's experience of these clubs is very different from mine. What are these affiliated clubs in London? During the time of the Licensing Bill I sent two of my grooms to the so-called Paddington Liberal Club. I asked them to go there as a favour. I said: "I do not care what your politics are, but I want you to go to the Liberal Club to oblige me, and say you want to become members." They went to the club. They were received by an official who, without knowing them in any way whatever, without knowing what they were, put them down as members of the club, and in due course they were elected. Before they left the club they were supplied with liquor by the hall porter. That statement remains uncontradicted, but it was said that those men were not supplied officially by the club. I stated that they went to the club and tried to get drink, and they became members freely in accordance with the rules of the club. I went into a number of these London clubs, and I could not get any Member of this House who is a Member of those clubs to give me the tickets, and so I had to go under another name to make an examination of them myself. At a later stage I am going to give 1703 some figures to the House as to some of my own personal observations as to what I have seen in those clubs. I want the Chancellor of the Exchequer to bear in mind that beer is sold in clubs, or at all events, in the clubs with which I am associated. We sell beer in those clubs at a penny per glass or per half pint. There are 16 half pints in a gallon, and, therefore, the price we get for the beer is 1s. 4d. We pay far that beer about 10d. Therefore, what you are asked to do by this tax is to give the Chancellor of the Exchequer the price of one glass out of every 80. For every sovereign he spends he gets 240 glasses, and for that quantity he has only to pay the value of three glasses. I consider that a wholly inadequate quantity.
In my Constituency there are a very large number of clubs, and in a town in that Constituency there was established not very long ago a club with a membership of from 1,500 to 2,000. It was proved that that club was used for the purpose of drinking and gambling, and the magistrates, after due inquiry, closed that club. When the examination of the club came out it was shown that the Worthington Brewery Company had advanced the money to the people who were running that club, and it was nothing more or less than a club in which liquor was sold for the benefit of the brewery company. That is a well-established fact, and it is entirely within the knowledge of the House that numbers of public-houses, especially in Lancashire, have been closed and reopened as clubs. I think it is extremely unfair to place a burden on the licensed victualler unless you place a corresponding duty on the clubs. My contention is that to levy taxes which are only 1.2 on the receipts of this liquor consumed in clubs is insufficient. I would ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to see whether he could not meet the views expressed by the late Chancellor of the Exchequer on this matter, and that is to impose a lower rate where refreshment other than liquors have been consumed, and a larger rate where the receipts are largely from drink. I am sure if he did so he would meet the wishes of all sides of the House, but, according to your ruling, the Chancellor has not this power if this Resolution is passed. If we came to a general agreement on both sides of the House when the Debate terminates the Chancellor might keep this Resolution to a future time, so that he might meet the suggestion of the late Chancellor. The 1704 Chancellor would meet the views of hon. Members on this side of the House if he did so, and I am sure he will give entire satisfaction to certain hon. Members on the other side who share the views of the late Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
I join with the hon. Member for Sheffield in congratulating the right hon. Genleman in making a beginning with these clubs. So long as the licence duty was at present on its very small scale, while the competition of the clubs sometimes pressed very unduly on the victuallers, I do not know that it is a grievance that we should concern ourselves about. But now that the licence duties have been very considerably raised, the difference between the clubs and the public-houses will be intensified. While we are raising the licence duties we should also put the same taxes upon the liquor sold in clubs. I think, as far as possible, the Chancellor ought to aim at making the taxes approximately the same. I do not see any reason why he should facilitate the sale or distribution of drink in clubs as against the sale in public-houses. I believe the Chancellor will find if he can see his way to raise the 3d., which obviously is nothing like an equivalent of the licence duty, he would be meeting a very general feeling on both sides of the House. With regard to the question as to whether taxes should be on purchases or sales, I think I should incline rather to say on purchase, because I am very much taken with the suggestion of the hon. Member for East Worcestershire that the poundage should be greater in the clubs where the total receipts from liquor show a very much larger percentage than receipts from any other source. That could only be done if the poundage is taken on sales, and not on purchase.
I think my right hon. Friend must have made a mistake in his reply to the question of the hon. Member for East Worcestershire when he said he hoped to get a quarter of a million from this tax. A quarter of a million at 3d. in the £ means a sum of £20,000,000 on sales of liquor in the clubs in the country. There are 80,000 registered clubs, and that would mean an average sale of £2,500 per annum of liquor. I have no knowledge of what the actual figures are, but there must be a great number of clubs in which it is nothing like £2,500 per year. Even in the very great London clubs a figure of from £10,000 to £12,000 a year would be somewhere about the sale of liquor 1705 per cent. I believe the National Liberal Club is a standard of luxury in this matter. I sometimes glance at the balance-sheet of that club, of which I am a member. I hesitate to state the figure, but I think it is somewhere about £10,000 or £12,000 upon the sale of liquor. I am speaking entirely from memory. I may be wholly wrong, but on that basis I cannot believe that the average sale of drink in clubs in this country amounts to £2,500 per year. I would ask the Chancellor to verify those figures, or let us know on what basis he arrives at them.
§ Earl WINTERTON
I did not intend to speak had it not been for the speech of the hon. Member for Mansfield, the very sincere and courageous speech which he delivered. It does not concern us on this side of the House what goes on in the Paddington Liberal Club or any other club belonging to the Liberal party. I am bound to say I do not envy the state of mind of hon. Members opposite, who, on the one hand, speak on platforms of the hideous drink traffic, and, on the other hand, in private condone, if they do not actually support, such clubs as the Paddington club referred to by the hon. Gentleman.
I did not say that the club was badly conducted. As a matter of fact, my servants told me that it was well conducted.
§ Mr. CHIOZZA MONEY
Since the Noble Lord has referred to orators getting up on platforms and talking about the drink traffic he may be interested to know that when the hon. Member for Paddington, on the platform of the Paddington Liberal Club, explained the provisions of the Licensing Bill, he was vociferously cheered by the members of the club, who seemed to appreciate its provisions.
§ Earl WINTERTON
The hon. Gentleman's interruption has intensified and strengthened the position we take up.
§ Mr. CHIOZZA MONEY
The Bill of last year was regarded in many quarters as an attack upon clubs, and, indeed, the secretary of the Club and Institute Union strongly resisted many of its provisions. I only interrupted him to say that at any rate the members of this club are not of a character which have been reflected upon in this House.
§ Earl WINTERTON
The hon. Member has entirely misunderstood me and the whole course of the Debate. I was making 1706 no accusation against the way in which the club was conducted. I have no doubt, as the Member for Mansfield was informed, that it is conducted in a most admirable way. In fact, I have no objection to clubs. I am one of those who believe that a man should be able to take reasonable refreshment in this or any other country. The hon. Gentleman laughs at me, and no doubt he thinks it is not right that a man should obtain reasonable refreshment. If that be so his view is shared by an infinitesimally small proportion of the people of this country and of the people all over the world. The hon. Member laughs, but we on this side have no objection to the people obtaining reasonable refreshment. My whole point is that it is not a consistent or logical attitude for hon. Gentlemen opposite to take up, on the one hand to attack public drinking bars in the liquor trade on the ground not that they conduct their trade in a wrong way, but simply that they deal in what they are pleased to term a hideous traffic; in other words, that what they sell is not for the good of the people. I say it is not a consistent and logical attitude to take such a view, and at the same time to either condone or support those clubs referred to by the hon. Gentleman, and where it is obvious it is the easiest thing in the world to go in, become a member, and obtain drink. The hon. Gentleman's interruption with reference to the attitude taken up by the hon. Member for Paddington has nothing whatever to do with the point. If anything, indeed, it strengthens the case we have taken up on this side of the House. I only hope that we have heard the last of that attitude. If they wish to attack the liquor trade let them attack it on the ground that it is badly conducted, and not on the ground that the mere fact of selling liquor is a bad trade, and that the drink traffic is a bad thing for the country. I challenge the hon. Member for the Appleby Division to deny that that is the attitude which he has taken up in the past. His line of argument has been that the drink traffic may be conducted in a perfectly proper way, and that the people who sell drink may be perfectly responsible citizens, but that the mere fact that drink is sold is a bad thing for the country. If the hon. Member dissents from that, all I can say is that his attitude has changed within the last six months. If you take up such an attitude it is not consistent to support the kind of clubs which hon. Members opposite do support. We on this side 1707 of the House are not in the least anxious—indeed there is nothing we desire less—to see heavier burdens placed upon legitimate clubs. We recognise that working men, or any other men, have a perfect right to go to clubs, and I am very pleased that the hon. Member below the Gangway took up such a broad and courageous view. He said he was not ashamed to take his wife and family to a properly conducted club; I hope he will go further, and admit that he is not ashamed to take them to a properly conducted public-house. I hope we have heard the last of the kind of argument used on this club question during the discussions on the Licensing Bill. The hon. Member opposite suggested that clubs in which the sale of liquor formed only a small part of the total business should be taxed at a lower rate than those clubs whose income is mainly derived from the sale of liquor. I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will consider that proposal, as I think personally it is a very fair one. We all know of such clubs, and in making such a differentiation I am sure the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have support from all quarters of the House.
§ Mr. E. B. BARNARD
I welcome very heartily the proposition of the Chancellor of the Exchequer now under discussion, and I was more than glad to hear the views which have been put forward by the right hon. Gentleman of the Front Opposition Bench. We need not discuss a particular club, or assume bad management. For my part, I desire that these clubs should be levied upon in the same way as other distributors of liquor. What is the position? The Chancellor of the Exchequer has told us of certain interviews which he has had with representatives of the trade. I was glad to hear him say that they were ready and expected to contribute to this Budget. Undoubtedly they have got to contribute. In this connection we have a light to bear in mind that last year hon. Members on the other side of the House continually objected to certain propositions dealing with public-houses because they did not touch clubs. Within the last fortnight I have been a member of the Committee dealing with the Sunday Closing Bill, and one of the leading brewers in this House, in a speech which I shall not readily forget, said that if clubs were included in the proposals of the promoters of that Bill he would vote for them. I am willing 1708 to take that statement, and in the face of it to hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will adopt the suggestion made by the right hon. Member for East Worcestershire. What does the suggestion amount to? It means, as I understand it, that we should extend this Resolution and make it more elastic, so that a higher rate can be charged. It will not necessarily mean that the higher rate shall be charged, but it will give a latitude within which the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be able to calculate the difference between purchases and sales. Personally, I think it would be much better that purchases should be the regulating element, because I do not at all see how it would be easily possible for the parties concerned to decide in the takings what amount was derived from alcohol and what from other commodities. The Chancellor of the Exchequer suggests in this Resolution that 3d. in the £ should be the amount levied on the sales. It would be a great advantage if he would tell the House how he arrives at that figure, and also on what basis he fixes the figure with regard to grocers' licences, and make them pay not 3d., but in some instances something nearer 5s. or 6s. or 7s. in the £.
I must remind the hon. Member that we are not now dealing with the question of grocers' licences.
§ Mr. BARNARD
I bow to your decision, Sir, but I would point out that as there is a new principle involved in this proposal, it would be a considerable advantage if we knew the reasons for the totally different figures in these two cases, and provided it could be done under the rules of the House it would be a matter of satisfaction to many Members if the right hon. Gentleman would give the information which I desire.
§ Mr. G. R. LANE-FOX
I desire to take this opportunity of expressing the strong feeling which undoubtedly exists on both sides of the House that by this proposal the Chancellor of the Exchequer is not carrying into effect the suggestion made in his Budget speech. The defence which he gave of his other licensing proposals yesterday, when it was alleged that they were too high, was that it was necessary in this Resolution to put them at the highest level at which they would be levied, but that it would be possible to levy them at a lower rate than was named in the Resolution. But if we once pass this Resolution in its present form, whatever the 1709 wishes of the Chancellor of the Exchequer may be, it will be absolutely impossible for him in the future to draw up any elastic scale or make any differentiation on the higher side. Therefore, before it is too late, I want to suggest that he should take steps to make the scale more elastic. It has been suggested that he will not be able to get the money which he proposes to get by the tax as it stands. That I leave to the experts; but it is admitted on all sides that under the tax as proposed there will not be a fair basis for taxation as between liquor sold in clubs and liquor sold elsewhere. Without saying what that basis should be, I submit that there ought to be a fair basis; and that it is not fair, in a Budget alleged to be produced in the interests of the moral regeneration of the people, to tax one form of the liquor interest on a totally different basis from another. As regards the statement of the hon. Member for East Leeds, every Member of this House is probably a member of several clubs, and it is not necessary to tell us that there are many respectable clubs. But the Chancellor of the Exchequer distinctly told us in his Budget speech that he hoped so to discriminate as to levy higher taxation on clubs which exist merely for the purpose of drinking. Under this Resolution it would be impossible for him to discriminate in such a way as to put the liquor consumed in the purely drinking clubs even on a level with the liquor sold elsewhere. The opinion on this point of all interested in work among the poor in our great mining and industrial districts is practically unanimous. I was speaking the other day to a clergyman, well beloved among his people, in a great mining district in Yorkshire, who, if he were in politics, would undoubtedly be sitting with hon. Members opposite, and he told me that there could be no question whatever that the evil which in his part of the world wanted dealing with was the clubs which are growing up so rapidly. In the Debates on the Licensing Bill we had a speech from the hon. Member for the Rhondda Valley Division, in which he strongly emphasised the great evils of the clubs, and I think he rather unkindly suggested that it was the work of the Tory party. At any case, the House will agree that it is the unanimous feeling of those who work in the districts where these clubs are doing most harm that something should be done at the earliest possible date, if not to put them down, at any rate to put them on a level with other forms of liquor selling in the country.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
Perhaps I may be allowed to make a statement in response to the appeal made to me by the right hon. Member for East Worcestershire. There seems to be a general feeling in all quarters of the House that, at any rate, we should not prejudge the question at this stage, and that the House ought to be free, when we get into Committee on the Finance Bill, first of all, to decide as between sales and purchases, and, in the second place, to judge as between 3d. and 6d. Of course, if purchases be substituted for sales, it is perfectly clear that 3d. is quite inadequate. Threepence on purchases would hardly be equal to 1½d. or 2d. on sales. I am not quite sure of that; it depends entirely on the club. Take the case cited by the hon. Member for the Mansfield Division. I think he was dealing with a club where beer bought for 4d. was sold at a 1s.
§ Mr. MARKHAM
Bought at 10d. and sold at 1s. 4d. There is a very small difference taking clubs as a whole.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
There is often a considerable difference, and that makes it very necessary that the Resolution should be more elastic. If that is the general view of the Committee, I should be prepared to meet it by moving the Resolution in an amended form, with a view to leaving the Committee free when they come to discuss the actual clauses of the Bill. I shall introduce the Finance Bill in its present form, but if the Resolution is amended in the way I am about to suggest it will enable the Committee to amend the Bill without the Chairman being compelled to get up and rule the Amendments out of order. I am quite willing that it should read as follows:—That in the year beginning the first day of January, nineteen hundred and ten, and in every subsequent year, a statement shall be made of the receipts from intoxicating liquor supplied in every club, and of the purchases of intoxicating liquor by such club, during the preceding year, and an Excise duty shall be charged at the rate of three pence for every pound of those receipts, or at the rate of 6d. for every £1 purchased.That will leave it an enabling Resolution, and it will be perfectly in order for any Member to move the substituting of 6d. for 3d. I think that ought to meet with the approval of every member of the Committee.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
May I ask if the right hon. Gentleman has con- 1711 sidered the suggestion which I ventured to put before the Committee, and which I am glad to say has been received with considerable favour—I am not sure about the hon. Members who spoke from the Labour Benches—but from all other parts of the House. My proposal was that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should consider the advisability of applying to clubs something in the nature of the scale which he proposes to apply to hotels; that the poundage, whether calculated on the purchases or percentage, should be higher in the case of the club which takes practically the whole of its receipts from drink than in the case of the one which takes only half of its receipts from drink; that, in fact, that the duty should be graduated according to the proportion of the receipts from liquor or the receipts from other sources. That would really favour the good club, which gives other accommodation and refreshments of other sorts; which provides billiard rooms, reading rooms, bowling games, and outdoor recreation, as some of these clubs do. It would favour such clubs as these as against those which are merely drinking clubs. It would hit—which is the avowed object of everybody—the hard drinker.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
I will consider that, but I am afraid it will not answer, for the clubs would simply have to raise their subscriptions and lower the price of their liquor. Hence the proportion between the two would not correspond. That is the danger. I agree that the purchases are a totally different matter.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I do not see that my proposal would alter the fact, though it might introduce some complication into what I call bad clubs, and would adversely affect those clubs. Their raising their subscriptions in the first place might not induce a man to pay much more easily for his drink when he gets it. Whether he would pay more at an early date for the purpose of getting his drink cheap subsequently is a moot point.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I do not think much of the club where a daily subscription constitutes membership. It ought not to be treated as a club at all. It ought to be treated as an unlicensed, illegal, public-house.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE made an observation inaudible to the reporters.1712
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
The Chancellor of the Exchequer appears to think that rather conclusive against my proposal. I do not know how it strikes other hon. Gentlemen, but it commends, itself to me. It does not appear to me that the mere raising of the subscription would in itself be a deterrent, for the matter would bear unequally even amongst members of such clubs, and upon different members. The member who drank most would pay less for his drink, and the member who consumed the largest amount of intoxicating liquor would spread his subscription over a larger number of glasses, and, therefore, pay the less for each particular glass. All those members of clubs who were not hard drinkers would object to have their subscriptions raised in order to enable the hard drinkers to get their supply on the cheap. At any rate, I, for one, should like to see the experiment I have suggested tried, and if we found that it was largely evaded, we might proceed by other steps to deal with the evasions which arose. Of course, it would be very simple indeed to deal with any evasion which brought the price of liquor down below cost price, or to cost price, and which gave the liquor practically at cost price by virtue of the subscription. I do wish the Chancellor of the Exchequer would at any rate keep his Resolution open, and consider that question and try and get it argued out by his advisers before we come to the Bill. I would also like to remind the Chancellor of the Exchequer of several other questions which I put, and which perhaps he will answer in the course of the discussion. There are other important points. For instance, how did he arrive at 3d. at all? What is the position of officers' messes; and soldiers and sailors' canteens? Again, one question I forgot to put was: Why should the duty on clubs only come into force on 1st of January for the succeeding year? You do not deal in that way with licence-holders and brewers. You put the duty on at once.
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
May I say to the right hon. Gentleman that I do not consider his reply quite satisfactory, but I only got up to ask whether he could not leave the Motion open until we come to discuss it on the Finance Bill. If he then cares to give a preference to the good club as against the drinking club; if he can put a higher figure in regard to the sale of intoxicants and put on 6d. all round, and leave it to the House to deal with it 1713 when we come to it, that would, I think, be well. Or he might consider these duties between now and then, and in that way I think he would be meeting the wishes of the House.
§ Mr. T. SUMMERBELL
I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer, before making that change that he proposes will not be influenced by any extreme statements that he may have heard in regard to workmen's clubs. I am a member of a workmen's club, and I am quite satisfied with what the Chancellor of the Exchequer has suggested, and I can only add that the extreme statements which have been made do not apply to the clubs of the Independent Labour Party. Last year I took occasion to say something in regard to the many hard things which were said about workmen's clubs. I beg to say that some of the clubs which have been pictured here to-night are the exception and not the rule. Statements have been made about clubs in mining centres. It has been stated that some of them are purely drinking and gambling clubs. ["Hear, hear."] I beg to say that if that is the experience of the hon. Member opposite of the district to which he belongs, it is not so in the county of Durham. I can speak from personal experience of the county of Durham, and I venture to say that you will not find in one club out of every ten there the conditions indicated here tonight. There seems at the present moment to be great concern about the clubs, particularly workmen's clubs. It is a most extraordinary thing that for a large number of years we have had private and political clubs of one kind and another up and down the country. We do know of many of these clubs that they never have had the least politics about them; that they were more gambling and drinking clubs than anything else. When hon. Gentlemen this side of the House talk about consistency and logic, I want to ask where they have been all these years during which we have had these political clubs, at which we have had gambling night after night, and drinking up to the early hours of the morning? Nothing has been said on the floor of the House with regard to legislation for them.
Well, I was in a workmen's club the other Saturday night. It is with a view of reminding the Chancellor of the Exchequer that there are really good clubs among the working men of this country that I mention this. This club has a membership of 2,300. Gambling? It was entirely absent. Drinking? The least 1714 possible. I found in connection with this club a splendid male voice choir, which gave a concert on this particular night. The club has a large string band, an ambulance class, a leek club, a bird club, a fishing club, a reading room, a library of 500 volumes, and a football club. Of the 2,300 members of this miners' club there were 700 total abstainers. When, hon. Members get up in this House and try to make the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the country believe that the working men's clubs are principally drinking and gambling clubs—
§ Mr. SUMMERBELL
The statement is unfair to the working men of this country. If the clubs have to be dealt with, let them, at all events, be dealt with on fair and legitimate terms. We on these benches will be prepared to give every support in order that all clubs shall be treated alike. We are not defenders of the purely drinking and gambling clubs. By all means deal with the clubs started by brewers, as also those started in houses from which licenses have been taken away, and we will help you. But, as a member of a working men's club, I am not going to hear statements which have been made with regard to working men's clubs during the last few years quietly when I know they are not correct. If you are going to deal with the workmen and the miner's clubs along, certain lines, let the same treatment apply to the gentlemen's clubs and to Conservative and Liberal clubs. [Cries of "Agreed."] I am very glad to hear it, but so far as any effort in the direction which the addresses indicate is concerned I have yet to see it made on the floor of the House. In conclusion, I do want to say that I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will bear in mind that good clubs are the rule, and not the exception; that there are a large number of clubs where a working man can go and enjoy himself in a quiet, respectable manner without having to go to the public-house. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer will deal with the question from that point of view I venture to think he will not be encouraged, as some Members of the House would encourage him to deal harshly and unfairly with working men's clubs.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
I can assure the hon. Member who has just spoken that there is no need to be so indignant as he is in reference to working men's clubs. I do not think there is any one who is in 1715 the least opposed to well conducted working men's clubs. I do not know whether the hon. Member bad me in his mind when he became so eloquent against certain Members of the House. He attacked me before on this subject; but, at all events, he will bear me out when I say that I have been consistent on the subject of clubs. I did not begin my attack upon badly conducted clubs when I entered this House. I have spoken for years past in condemnation of evily conducted clubs, and I never said a word with regard to well conducted and well regulated clubs, which, I am sure, are the majority. The whole discussion last year dealt with evilly conducted clubs, formed for the purpose of drink rather than for the purpose of mutual encouragement, and for the purpose of having those badly conducted and evil entertainments details of which I am not going to enter into now, but which were attacked and fully exposed last year. When the hon. Member tells us that there are no badly conducted clubs in Durham, I remember very distinctly a year ago hearing from one of the benches of magistrates in one of the divisions of Durham complaints of the evils there were in the district owing to the number of drinking clubs which were in existence. I was very glad to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Barkston Ash standing up and saying that all who work amongst those who are the victims of strong drink are unanimous in saying that the evilly conducted club is far worse and more dangerous to the morals and the well-being of the people than well regulated public-houses. Everybody who works among the victims of alcohol will confirm that view. All we desire is that evilly conducted clubs should be legislated out of existence.
Perhaps that does not exactly arise on the proposal to put a tax of 3d. in the pound on liquor sold in clubs, and I rather wanted to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer a question in connection with this matter. On what principle does he proceed in his Budget with regard to the fixing of items of taxation, and particularly with regard to this tax on clubs. If we turn to the licences proposals which we were discussing yesterday it was admitted by many speakers that they were brought in to correct the fact that the Licensing Bill was thrown out last year. They were brought in in order to obtain a portion of the monopoly value from the licence holders; they were a tax upon 1716 licence holders. There are other provisions in the Budget which seems to us to be distinctly brought in for a Socialistic object, but I should like to know with what object is this tax on clubs brought in. Is it brought in as a tax upon the consumer or for the purpose of extending the basis of taxation for the consumers of the country, or to correct in any degree the failure of the proposal to pass the clauses relating to clubs in the Licensing Bill of last year? I want to know why the clubs and the licence holders should be treated upon different terms. The licence holder is penalised by the Budget because a certain Bill was not passed last year. The provisions of the Budget with regard to licences are not provisions for the well-being of the licensed trade, they are not provisions in the interest of the well-conducted licensed house, nor are they provisions for the purpose of fixing taxation upon the shoulders of the consumers. The Under-Secretary for the Home Office did suggest that these provisions debated yesterday had a little effect of placing large taxation upon the shoulders of the consumer. I venture to suggest that the taxes which we discussed yesterday were vindictive taxes upon the licence holder, and I want to know now upon what principle the club is treated? Is this tax of 3d. in any sense a corrective for the absence of legislation which this Parliament failed to pass last Session? If so, I venture to suggest it is entirely inadequate. If the provisions of the Licensing Bill of last year with regard to clubs were really brought in as temperance measures and with a view to regulating the morals of the people, and making them more sober, then I would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman he should have brought into this House this year these provisions in a temperance measure alone, and not in the Budget proposals.
The Budget proposal to put 3d. in the £ on clubs is a very poor form, and cannot in any way tend to limit the evils of the unregulated clubs or of the regular drinking clubs, although the proposal made by the right hon. Gentleman would go in a certain degree in the direction of putting a limit in these matters. The club we all object to is the club which makes its living from drinking first and puts all other matters second, and if the right hon. Gentleman will accept the suggestion made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcester and increase the tax in proportion as the proceeds of the club come from liquor rather 1717 than from other sources, I venture to suggest that to some extent, at all events, the desire of using this principle in the Budget for limiting the evil which many of us on all sides of the House wish to put down would have some effect, and very badly conducted clubs would very properly suffer. There is only one other point, and that is with regard to Masonic lodges. I think that not only officers' messes and soldiers' canteens, but also Masonic lodges ought to be exempted from this provision. We can all very well remember last year that when discussing the provisions of the Licensing Bill with regard to clubs there was an almost unanimous desire on the part of Members of this House that Masonic lodges duly constituted should be excluded from the provisions relating to clubs. I venture to suggest that these Masonic lodges, inasmuch as the liquor consumed in them has in every other respect paid all the taxes incident to liquor duties, that they should be excluded from the provisions of this Bill.
§ Mr. WILLIAM JOHNSON
I rise for the purpose of supporting this provision to put a tax upon clubs. I rather favour the proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but before I do that may I correct one little statement made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcester. We heard something recently about stealing other people's clothes. I was in the House before the right hon. Gentleman spoke, and I think it was not he, but one of the hon. Members for Liverpool who made the proposal about putting a tax upon sale and purchase.
§ Mr. JOHNSON
I thought from something I heard said by an hon. Member behind the right hon. Gentleman that he was giving him credit for it. I do not want to rob anyone of credit. I could say a good deal about clubs, but I do not wish to do so now. There is a question of good clubs and bad clubs—clubs not confined to any particular class, but belonging to the rich as well as to the poor. That is not the point. The point we wish to decide is how to put some tax upon clubs as an equivalent, or something in the nature of an equivalent, to what is placed upon the licensed victualler. You are going to give some preference in the case of hotels because they sell food. 1718 We do not want to tax food. We want to place the tax upon the consumer of alcoholic liquor whether in clubs, public-houses, or hotels. The hon. Member for Manchester who last spoke said something as to putting licence duties upon clubs. Yesterday we heard a good deal about putting licences upon large buildings. If you put a licence on clubs according to rateable value it will not come to much in the case of the workmen's club, but if you place it upon the palatial clubs in London and in large cities you would have the same cry raised as was raised against putting a licence duty upon large hotels on the basis of rateable value. We do not want to tax buildings, or food, or games. What we want to tax is the alcoholic liquor sold, and in a fair proportion to the tax placed upon public-houses.
I am president of I do not know how many workmen's clubs and other clubs, and I say if you place 6d. upon the purchase sale of drink you will get something approaching a fair equivalent to what has been charged on the licensed trader. I heard something about beer costing 10d. and being sold at 4d. That is 60 per cent. under cost price. I know a club where they get beer at 10d. and sell it at 16d., but they have a big discount from the brewer. I know another club, and it pays 1s. 5d., but they get 25 per cent. off, while the licensed victualler does not get any such allowance, although they are in the same town. Therefore, placing a tax upon whatever is sold or bought I think is the best way to deal with the matter. I think 6d. upon the trade done would be the best way to do it. If you put it on sales you will have to keep a clerk, and books will have to be kept, whereas if it is put on the amount of the purchase by the club you can get the bills and produce them with much less cost and much less trouble. I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be able to get his Resolution drawn so as to place his tax upon the purchases, and if he will make up his mind to put on 6d. or 1s. in the pound well-conducted clubs will be quite ready and willing to pay it. I know clubs where they do not pay any subscription, which are merely drinking dens, but they are not composed of working men. I could give instances where clubs were promoted purely for the sale of drink, and to-day are in existence in my own Constituency. I do not want to go into detail, but I ask the Committee to support the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and to let us get this Resolution through 1719 to place a charge, whatever it may be, upon sales or purchases. If we do that we shall be giving the licensed victualler something in the shape of greater fair play in his business.
§ Mr. A. J. BALFOUR
I think the House will feel that the discussion of this Resolution is doubly important, because it may bind us in a way that other resolutions do not bind us when we get to the Bill. Some hon. Members are not in favour of increasing the taxation which has been imposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. In regard to this particular part of the Budget, if I may take the feeling of the House as represented by the various speeches which have been delivered, there is a strong inclination to increase the actual amount suggested by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. [Cries of "Hear, hear," and "No, no."] I do not say there is a universal desire, but at any rate there is a very largely-expressed desire amongst the supporters of the Government to increase this tax, and there is undoubtedly another current of opinion which holds that this is not the best way of dealing with it. For instance, if the plan of my right hon. Friend were carried, the House would not be able to amend the Bill in the direction suggested which has met with so much favour. Therefore, I think we are bound to see whether we can leave ourselves elbow room to deal with this matter adequately when we come to the concrete proposals of the Bill.
I do not think even the new suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman gives us that adequate elbow room. Let me point out that there is a certain absurdity in the way we are dealing with the consumption of liquor. We are dealing with it in three different ways. We are dealing with it by one method in relation to public-houses; by another method in relation to hotels; and now we have a third method in relation to clubs. When we are actually trying to reconstitute in this Bill our method of dealing with the consumption of liquor on these various sorts of premises there ought to be some common principle running through it all, and we ought to know exactly what relation the plan you adopt for hotels bears to public-houses, and what relation the plan adopted for clubs bears to the two other methods of dealing with this Question. My right hon. Friend suggests that instead of having three methods we should have two, namely, the public-house method and the hotel method. 1720 It has been suggested that the best way for dealing with hotels is to adopt the club principle, and tax hotels in proportion to the amount of liquor they consume. That is the plan which the right hon. Gentleman proposes with regard to clubs. That is another method of reducing your three existing methods to two, and it makes, your plan more simple and logical.
Which of these two plans we ought to adopt, or whether we ought to adopt either, it is impossible for us to say without fuller discussion. I confess that I cannot bring myself to believe that we are right in doing anything so utterly illogical as to tax public-houses on one plan, hotels on another plan, and clubs on a third plan. The whole contention of the Government, and everybody on the Ministerial side, and on this side in favour of taxing clubs is that unless you tax the sale of liquor in clubs you unfairly handicap the publican, and you drive the working man and the artisan from the most respectable public-houses into clubs, which may not always be respectable. In view of these arguments we ought to have clearly before us the relation between the proposed taxation on clubs and the taxation on public-houses. That is the point which my hon. Friend made just now when he asked what was the relation between the payment you propose to exact, and we have had no answer to that question. That is an absolutely fundamental and vital question, which has to be determined before we can settle the form of this Resolution. Is the Government prepared to say that the 3d. they propose is to be the highest limit upon receipts, that is the highest we shall be able to put on if we pass this Resolution? Is the Government prepared to show us this evening that that tax will redress the balance between these two classes of institutions, namely, clubs and public-houses, so as to prevent any unfair competition by clubs as against the owner of public-house licences? Surely it is indefensible that we should have been discussing this question for one hour and three-quarters, and that it should never have occurred to the Government on what principle they propose to fix the 3d. and the 6d.
As their whole object is to prevent unfair competition, they must in their own mind have made some comparison of these two interests. The Government may have arrived at the view—I do not know by what steps—that if you put on 6d. or 3d. you will then have weighted the clubs sufficient to prevent them being unfair com- 1721 petitors with licensed premises. Are we going to be told what those calculations are? We have been told that we can frame this Resolution so as to give us that discretion which is absolutely necessary when we come to the Bill. I am convinced that this Resolution, as drawn, does not in the first place give us sufficient latitude in selecting some other plan of dealing with clubs, and it does not give us sufficient freedom of discrimination to see whether we are dealing fairly by these two classes of interest, the licensed interest on the one side, and those interested in clubs on the other, whatever their character may be. For these reasons I venture to suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that I believe he would shorten discussion if he would defer the consideration of this Resolution until to-morrow, and by that time perhaps he could bring down to the House a wider scheme which would give us the freedom which I am sure the House will demand at a later stage of our discussions. I am sure if the right hon. Gentleman would do that there would be no desire amongst my hon. Friends, and I do not think in any other part of the House, to use that opportunity as an excuse for additional Debate, or as a means of embarrassing the Government with regard to these Resolutions. I know the Government have power to force through this proposal, but if they do I am convinced that there will be a feeling on all sides of the House that we are not being given that latitude for discussion, which is of such vital importance to the whole social aspect of this Question which I think it is really desirable we should give when we are discussing questions of taxation.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of the HOME OFFICE (Mr. Herbert Samuel)
This discussion began on a note of congratulation to the Chancellor of the Exchequer because he had with great courage, it was said, imposed a just tax on an interest which deserved taxation. It has ended so far in a note of complaint by the right hon. Gentleman that unless the Resolution is put off to another day he may find it necessary to offer a very resolute opposition.
§ Mr. A. J. BALFOUR
I said I was quite sure that if the Government would bring forward a new Resolution it would give us more latitude for discussion. I did not use any threat. What I said was that hon. Gentlemen on every side of the House feel that if this Resolution is passed in 1722 its present form we shall not get sufficient latitude for discussion at a later stage.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
I think I shall be able to explain that there is really no necessity for the course the right hon. Gentleman has suggested to the House. We all agree that there are in this country a great number of very excellent and useful workmen's clubs, which rather deserve encouragement than suppression. At the same time, there are a number—as to the proportion opinions may differ—which are merely drinking clubs, which are in every way an evil, and which are merely public-houses in another name, or worse, and deserve the severest treatment in matters of taxation and methods of control. The question is whether you can by simple means draw a clear distinction between these two classes by the method suggested by the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, which has formed the basis of the observations of the Leader of the Opposition. The question is, Can you, as is suggested, say that this club has a larger proportion of liquor receipts than that club, and can you say by this process that the former is a bad club and the latter a good club? We discussed this Question last year very fully on the Licensing Bill. I remember a very long Debate on the point, and the House came to a clear decision that a mere mathematical ratio of liquor receipts to other receipts was not a satisfactory method of arriving at the bona fides or the general character of clubs.
There are many clubs established by employers of labour and landowners for the benefit of the people of the village. Those clubs are held by club members either at no rent at all or at a very low rent. Consequently the subscriptions of those clubs are correspondingly low, and if they sell liquor at all their receipts from liquor bear a very large proportion to their total receipts, not because the liquor receipts are excessive, but because their total receipts are low, as they have less expenditure to meet. On the other hand, another club in a town may be almost a mere drinking club, and because it has to pay a heavy rent and has to levy considerable subscriptions on its members it may show primâ facie a better record so far as liquor receipts compared to other receipts go than the other clubs which I have mentioned. I know there is a certain possibility of evasion by a manipulation of prices of liquor and subscriptions from members, which would enable the drinking club in one form 1723 or another to show a balance sheet which does not represent its true character. For this reason the House last year, after a full discussion, came to the conclusion that you could not distinguish the white sheep from the black sheep merely by the principle which has been suggested by the right hon. Gentleman. The hon. Member for Wigtownshire, who spoke earlier in this discussion, suggested that a proprietary club ought to be taxed at a higher rate than if the club belonged to members, but I do not think that is a satisfactory method. The hon. Member for Mansfield mentioned that he was the owner of two club buildings which he had established for the benefit of the people working in the industry in which he himself is engaged. These clubs, therefore, are proprietary clubs, and would come under the ban of the Noble Lord.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
They may be able to pay, but that does not alter my argument. My argument is, and always has been, that this is not a method by which you can draw a distinction between good clubs and bad clubs. It cannot be drawn by the Excise officers, but by the magistrates in each particular case after reviewing all the circumstances. We proposed last year that all clubs should be open to inspection; secondly, that all drinking clubs should be suppressed; and, thirdly, that off-sales should be prohibited, and tied clubs made impossible. Those were our proposals. You cannot effectually deal with this evil of drinking clubs by any system of taxation or any method of duties, especially where they are low, such as those proposed. I hope that I have made clear our views on this subject.
The late Chancellor of the Exchequer asked one or two specific questions on minor points. He asked what would be the position of officers' or sergeants' messes or Masonic lodges. We cannot go behind the Act of 1902. The Act of 1902 laid down that certain institutions were to be registered as clubs for the purposes of that Act, and were to come under a certain measure of control. We do not see any great reason to depart from that. I understand that sergeants' messes are not defined as clubs. It is a technical and a rather difficult point of law which was discussed last year by the law officers of the Crown, who came to the conclusion that sergeants' messes are not clubs in the ordinary accep- 1724 tation of the term. I believe there is a distinction in the case of officers' messes which, of course, can be discussed on the Committee stage of the Finance Bill. In any case, we propose no alteration in the law, and we do not propose to go behind the Act of 1902. It would be very inconvenient to make minute differences, and to have one law with regard to registration and control and another law in reference to taxation.
I come lastly to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition. He says we are dealing in three different ways with three different institutions in which liquor is supplied. He says you have the public-house, you have hotels, and you have the clubs, and for each one you propose a different method of assessment. That is not altogether the case, because with regard to public-houses and hotels the new method of valuation would proceed on a harmonious system, though the charges to be levied are very different. But we do deal with the three classes of sources of supply in different ways, because they are quite different from one another. The public-house exists for the purpose almost wholly of supplying liquors, and it has a distinct monopoly value. The hotel exists not merely for supplying liquors but for other purposes, and its monopoly value is comparatively small compared with the valuation of the premises. The ordinary club exists mainly for social purposes, and the supply of drink is merely an incident, and no monopoly value attaches to the club. So that necessarily we have to deal by different methods with these three institutions. If we had dealt with them on the same lines, I could imagine the speech which the Leader of the Opposition would have made. He would have referred to the differences between clubs and hotels and public-houses, he would have asked whether the ingenuity of the Government was so small that they could not devise different methods for different cases, he would have made one of those speeches which always delight the House, and he would have used his powers of debate to rend the Government in pieces, and leave their scattered limbs upon the floor. There is no mathematical ratio between the club and the public-house. You cannot say that the Carlton Club is equal to ten times or twenty times or thirty times the "Golden Fleece" in Bermondsey. There is no ratio between the two. Clubs are not public-houses and ought not to be regarded in the same light. The average 1725 expenditure in intoxicating liquors in a working man's club is about 10d. a week.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
Yes. That is for the Liberal clubs which largely are included in the Club and Institute Union. There are also Conservative working men's clubs. They are larger in number, and have a larger membership, and they consume almost precisely the same allowance per head per week of intoxicating liquors. Strangely enough, when you come to the better class of clubs the proportion is often about the same. In the National Liberal Club the consumption of alcoholic liquor is 31s. 4d. per annum.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
Yes. When you take the Constitutional Club it is only a little more. The amount is 33s. 5d. When you come to the City Carlton Club it is 48s., and when you take the Junior Carlton Club the average expenditure is 77s. I quote these figures in order to show that you cannot arrive at any exact or uniform estimate of the alcoholic consumption of club members. My right hon. Friend has endeavoured to meet the views of hon. Members in Committee by amending the Resolution in order that a change may be made from a basis of sale to a basis of the purchase of liquor. The Government regard the amount of the duty as a reasonable charge upon an interest which has hitherto been untaxed.
§ Mr. MARKHAM
I am sorry that the Member for Sunderland has left his place. The hon. Member for Sunderland stated that Members on these benches had said that the cases of all clubs were bad, and that their object was drinking. That is wholly incorrect, and wholly untrue in this sense that nobody on these benches has said that clubs were generally bad. What I have said is that a large number of these clubs were nothing more than drinking clubs, and if the united Labour party would communicate with the hon. Member for Glamorganshire they would find that he had stated that clubs were a curse in his county as they are a curse in Derbyshire and in Yorkshire. Why is it that the Chancellor of the Exchequer refuses to accept the proposal for a higher sum in this Resolution? It is the political influence of these clubs. Why has the hon. Member for the Spen Valley been consulted all this evening? When you are taxing the 1726 liquor trade so heavily the House should have been given figures comparing the taxes on public-houses and the proposed tax on clubs. In view of all the statements made, and from the figures before us, the tax proposed on clubs is utterly out of proportion to the tax on the trade. Why, therefore, before we enter on the discussion of the Finance Bill, does the Chancellor of the Exchequer deliberately shut the door and refuse to allow the Resolution to be taken on a broad scale? When the House finds later on that it might be desirable to interfere in the matter we shall not be able to alter the Resolution which has been passed this afternoon. Why cannot the Government, if they want to deal with temperance, as they always tell us outside that they do, leave this club question to the House? I am not a politician, and I thank God that I am not, and I hope that I never shall be. I speak as a plain temperance man, who has the object of temperance at heart, and I say that if the Government refuse to deal with the taxation of clubs for the sake of the clubs I shall, at all events, on all the stages of their proposals in this House, vote against the Government.
§ Mr. GEORGE ROBERTS (Norwich)
The statement made by the hon. Member for Sunderland has been slightly misunderstood by the hon. Member who last spoke. My hon. Friend simply stated that clubs attached to branches of the Independent Labour Party were temperance organisations; but the hon. Member has gone wider, and included in that category all classes of labour clubs. We must understand that clubs are not comparable with, public-houses, and I do not think that either of the political parties would presume to legislate on those lines. I am rather surprised at the position of those who on this occasion have tried to bring clubs into line with public-houses, and who when they had ample opportunity for legislating on those lines were afraid to avail themselves of it. The truth is the political influence of clubs is not confined to one party. It is an undeniable fact that there are as many Tory clubs as Liberal clubs, and their political influence is just as strong. I have had some experience of club life. In years gone by I acted as secretary of a labour club in this country, and therefore I feel that I can speak with a certain amount of knowledge and experience. The whole trend of this Debate seems on the one hand to express a desire to force the trade into public-houses, while 1727 on the other hand we have the belief—held very widely, I believe—that the trade is under a better influence when carried on in well regulated clubs. Membership of workmen's clubs does not involve a necessity of continual drinking. If a man goes into a public-house it is necessary he should keep drinking the whole time he spends there, for, after all, the proprietor of the public-house has to secure profit for his own livelihood, and he has a right to expect those who frequent the place to give him some return for the accommodation he provides. In a club there is no such inducement, as far as my experience goes, for a man to drink when he does not desire so to do. In fact, when I first became connected with club life I was an extreme temperance reformer, and I came ultimately to regard a well conducted club as one of the best temperance reforming agencies. It is an irrevocable habit on the part of people to indulge in drinking, and I contend that that desire, very natural in itself, should be gratified under circumstances which do not offer any inducement to indulge in excessive drinking. When a man joins a club he comes under influences which restrain that desire, and he becomes more sober than he would be if he were forced into a public-house. Again, there is a marked difference between the profits derived from public-house trade and those made in a club. The club profits are not the property of any individual. They are the co-operative ownership of the members, and are invariably devoted to social and educational purposes. I quite agree that the drinking club should be ruthlessly suppressed. We on these benches last year supported the Government in their desire to bring clubs under closer supervision and to take action whereby that objectionable class of club which exists solely for drinking should be suppressed wherever it is to be found.
I agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary for the Home Department that it is utterly impossible to devise any form of taxation that will suppress the drinking club. I believe that this is a matter which must be left entirely to the supervision of the local bench of magistrates, who should have full power to investigate the condition of the clubs in their district and to suppress them when they found them to be conducted on wrong lines. I am of opinion that it would be a very easy matter for the magistrates if they find a club 1728 in existence that has not proper accommodation for social and educational purposes to draw the conclusion that it mainly exists for drinking purposes, and if we gave increased power to the magistrates in that direction we should thereby be able to limit this evil of bogus clubs. I know there has been a desire to make political capital out of this matter, and it has been said that when a public-house has been suppressed clubs have sprung up in its stead. Such clubs can only spring up when financed by the brewing trade, and it seems to be somewhat hypocritical for Members who want to force the trade into public-houses to endeavour, when public-houses are suppressed, to direct it into bogus clubs. I am convinced that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is making his proposal more practicable by suggesting that the tax should be upon purchases rather than upon sales. It will simplify the task of the clubs themselves, because my experience is that it is difficult to keep entirely distinct the receipts from the sales of alcoholic liquors and those from the sales of other articles provided in the club. Moreover, this modification by the Chancellor of the Exchequer will not hinder the well-regulated club. Both parties in the House will recognise the power of these clubs and their influence for good. I can only say in conclusion that, so far as I am aware, my colleagues on these benches will give their hearty support to the amended proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
I desire to point out how clearly the discussion which we have had this afternoon illustrates the great danger of proceeding in a Budget to try and carry out temperance reform. The speeches to which we have listened have been nothing but speeches either for or against some particular form of temperance reform, and the question of the imposition of taxation for the purpose of raising revenue does not seem to have entered into the minds of either of the two hon. Members who have last spoken. Just see what this form of taxation will lead to. It involves that each particular class will come to the Government and declare that the institution in which it is interested is not being sufficiently encouraged by their system of taxation. The hon. Member for Nottinghamshire says that if you raise a tax on clubs you will lose the club vote, and the hon. Member for Norwich replies that apparently what is really wanted is to drive 1729 the people into public-houses. The only question we have to consider is whether the proposed Resolution will constitute a fair balance between different kinds of liquor-selling, and before asking us to tie our hands, as they are doing, I think the Government should give us some figures to show how they arrived at this particular figure of 3d. They must have had some idea which induced them to adopt it. They surely did not decide the point by spinning a coin into the air. Then let them tell the Committee what that idea was; let them explain how they arrived at that particular sum. I earnestly protest against the whole system on which the Budget is founded. It is founded, not on mere revenue or financial considerations, but in order to carry out some fad or project which right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench may think will be popular with some section of their supporters.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
With all respect to the Noble Lord, I do not propose to follow him into his very highly controversial line of argument. Up to the present we have had a discussion of a thoroughly businesslike character. Several suggestions have been made with a view of amending the Resolution, with some of which I have been able to agree. I promised earlier in the evening to propose an Amendment with a view to carrying out the express wishes of Members in all quarters of the House, and I think the time bas now come for me to formally move that Amendment, so that we may get on with the discussion of the Resolution. I propose in line 3, after the word "club," to insert "and of purchases of intoxicating liquors by the club." Then at the end I propose to insert "At a rate not exceeding—for every £ of those purchases." That will simply enable the Committee to discuss the club Resolution and to move an Amendment to substitute 6d. for 3d. when the time comes without being ruled out of order. I think I ought to make a correction to an answer which I gave to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University. He asked me what our estimate was in regard to clubs. I had not the figures before me at the time, but I have since referred to the papers, and I find that the estimate is £80,000 in two years, there being only three months in the first year.
§ Amendment proposed: After "club" insert "and of purchases of intoxicating liquors by the club."1730
§ Question put: "That these words be there inserted."—[Mr. Lloyd-George.]
§ Mr. A. J. BALFOUR
I do not propose to ask anybody to Divide against this Amendment, but I must repeat my protest that in the first place the Government have not given us any ground for accepting their particular rate of taxation on clubs as being an adequate counterpoise to the taxation on public-houses. My second protest is that whilst certain latitude is given by the Amendment, and while there is a possibility that the House may substitute 6d. on purchases for 3d. on sale, it gives us no further opportunity of amending the Resolution. My own belief is that what the Government ought to do is now to withdraw this Resolution, think it over, and bring it on again at a later stage of our proceedings. I do not wish, if the Government absolutely refuse to accept that proposal, to make that an excuse for further prolonging the Debate to-night, but I feel bound to express the strong opinion which I feel as to the expediency of the policy I have recommended. When, Sir, you put the Resolution, I shall say no word, and I trust that my friends around me will follow my example; but, as a protest against what the Government are doing, I shall formally move that the Debate on this particular Resolution be deferred until to-morrow.
I think the only way in which that can be done is to move that I report progress. Of course, if it is moved in that form and for the reasons which the right hon. Gentleman has stated, I shall accept it.
§ Mr. BALFOUR
I do not suppose the Motion will be carried, but, of course, if it were carried, neither I nor my Friends desire to-night that the Debate should be stopped on the Budget Resolutions, and the last thing I wish to do is to prevent further discussion. There must be some way of postponing the discussion of a particular Resolution.
I believe that no Motion can be made to postpone a Resolution in Committee. I know of no way of doing it. Perhaps some hon. Member can suggest some way of doing it. I quite understand the right hon. Gentleman's motive in the matter and that he does not wish to postpone the whole proceedings, but, so far as I know, and so far as I can find out, we can only do it by a Motion that I report progress.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
Would it not be possible for the Committee to be set up again at once if we did report progress?
I think the Committee could be set up again. I have not had the case before, but I think that could be done.
§ Question proposed: "That the Chairman do report progress, and ask leave to sit again."
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
I only wish to say one word, but I want the Committee to realise what this means. The Government frame their Resolutions in a form which is in conformity with their Bill. Appeals are made first of all by hon. Members behind the right hon. Gentleman, though they were supported it is true by hon. Members sitting on this side, that the Government should give certain elasticity to the Resolutions in order to enable them to state their objections to the Budget. If I had stood by my Budget Resolutions and refused absolutely to assent to this proposal, the right hon. Gentleman would not have moved to report progress, but purely and simply because I have endeavoured to meet the wishes of the Committee the right hon. Gentleman moves to report progress and says we ought to withdraw our Resolution and reconsider it. I do not think that that is really the desire or in the interests of those whom the right hon. Gentleman represents. I should have thought it would have been to their interests to encourage the Government, if they were prepared to meet the suggestions made by himself and his friends. I have many times appealed to him to take this line when I sat below the Gangway opposite, but I was utterly unable to get him to do it, and I think, on the whole, when Ministers are prepared to give this elasticity in order to enable the House, as it were, to help in fashioning a Bill, to give the House real power instead of making it a registering machine, it would have been in the interests of the Opposition to rather encourage it. But if, every time a Minister meets a suggestion, it is simply to be utilised for the purpose of making suggestions, that he has not considered his proposals, and that he ought to take 24 1732 more hours to do it, then it makes business, impossible, and the only thing a Minister can do is absolutely to adhere to his proposals and appeal to his supporters to put them through the House.
§ Mr. BALFOUR
I am afraid I must have very imperfectly expressed my meaning, and I think those who have heard such contributions as I have made to the Debate and which those below the Gangway have made will think that the right hon. Gentleman has done me something much less than justice. I will not go into the controversy as to the action of the right hon. Gentleman when he was in Opposition, but I should gather from what he says that he had always been anxious to further Government business, and if it had not been for the stolid obstinacy of the then Leader of the House, there is nothing which would have gone through so smoothly, or so quickly, as such Bills as the Education Bill of 1902. I will not, however, go into these historic questions, but may I say that if I really was open to the charge made by the right hon. Gentleman I should agree with his commentary. If I had used a concession he had made as a ground for forcing further concession or further Debate or discussion upon it, I think he would have been justified in what he said, but that is not the case at all. I think the right hon. Gentleman has given us some further elasticity. If he had given us no further elasticity at all, so far as the Opposition is concerned, the business would not have gone faster but would have gone slower, and I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that if I now, merely as a protest—we should have finished the Division by this time—I can assure him most seriously that if he thinks anything that we have done to-night is in consequence of his concession, which, although inadequate is real, he is utterly mistaken. I am quite sure that that is not in the mind of a single Gentleman on this side of the House, and I would again remind him by far the strongest speeches which I can quote in support of my case come from below the Gangway opposite. I hope he will not misunderstand our action though he differs from it.
§ Question put: "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 93; Noes, 288.1735
|Division No. 95.]||AYES.||[7.40 p.m.|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Guinness, W. E. (Bury St. Edmunds)||Oddy, John James|
|Balcarres, Lord||Haddock, George B.||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Hamilton, Marquess of||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City Lond.)||Harris, Frederick Leverton||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Percy, Earl|
|Baring, Capt. Hon. G. (Winchester)||Hazleton, Richard||Pretyman, E. G.|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Heaton, John Henniker||Randles, Sir John Scurrah|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Helmsley, Viscount||Ratclift, Major R. F.|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Bull, Sir William James||Hills, J. W.||Renton, Leslie|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Renwick, George|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Houston, Robert Paterson||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Cave, George||Joynson-Hicks, William||Rutherford, John (Lancashire)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Kimber, Sir Henry||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hull)||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r.)||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Sandys, Col. Thos. Myles|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich)||Smith, F. E. (Liverpool, Walton)|
|Craig, Captain James (Down E.)||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Stanley, Hon. Arthur (Ormskirk)|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham)||Starkey, John R.|
|Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott-||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staffordshire)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Lyttelton, Rt Hon. Alfred||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Du Cros, Arthur||MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Duncan, Robert (Lanark, Govan)||M'Arthur, Charles||Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)|
|Faber, George Denison (York)||M'Calmont, Colonel James||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Fell, Arthur||Magnus, Sir Philip||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid.)|
|Ffrench, Peter||Marks, H. H. (Kent)||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Fletcher, J. S.||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Winterton, Earl|
|Gardner, Ernest||Middlemore, John Throgmorton||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Young, Samuel|
|Gordon, J.||Newdegate, F. A. N.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Viscount Valentia and Mr. H. W. Forster.|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)|
|Gretton, John||Nolan, Joseph|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Haworth, Arthur A.|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Hayden, John Patrick|
|Agnew, George William||Compton-Rickett, Sir J.||Hedges, A. Paget|
|Alden, Percy||Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Henderson, J. McD. (Aberdeen, W.)|
|Armstrong, W. C. Heaton||Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Crosfield, A. H.||Higham, John Sharp|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Crossley, William J.||Hobhouse, Charles E. H.|
|Astbury, John Meir||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Hodge, John|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)||Hogan, Michael|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Holland, Sir William Henry|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Hope, W. H. B. (Somerset, N.)|
|Barker, Sir John||Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.)||Horniman, Emslie John|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Horridge, Thomas Gardner|
|Barnes, G. N.||Duckworth, Sir James||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey|
|Barran, Sir John Nicholson||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Hudson, Walter|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Dunne, Major E. Martin (Walsall)||Hutton, Alfred Eddison|
|Beauchamp, E.||Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Hyde, Clarendon G.|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Illingworth, Percy H.|
|Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, St. Geo.)||Essex, R. W.||Isaac, Rufus Daniel|
|Bennett, E. N.||Esslemont, George Birnie||Jardine, Sir J.|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Evans, Sir Samuel T.||Jenkins, J.|
|Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romford)||Everett, R. Lacey||Johnson, John (Gatesheal)|
|Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon)||Fenwick, Charles||Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Ferens, T. R.||Jones, Leif (Appleby)|
|Black, Arthur W.||Findlay, Alexander||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)|
|Boulton, A. C. F.||Flynn, James Christopher||Jowett, F. W.|
|Brace, William||Fullerton, Hugh||Kavanagh, Walter M.|
|Bramsdon, T. A.||Gibb, James (Harrow)||Kearley, Sir Hudson E.|
|Branch, James||Gill, A. H.||Kennedy, Vincent Paul|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Ginnell, L.||Kilbride, Denis|
|Brodie, H. C.||Glen-Coats, Sir T. (Renfrew, W.)||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)|
|Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh)||Glover, Thomas||Laidlaw, Robert|
|Brunner, Rt. Hon. Sir T. J. (Cheshire)||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster)|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Gooch, George Peabody (Bath)||Lambert, George|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Lamont, Norman|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Griffith, Ellis J.||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Gulland, John W.||Layland-Barrett, Sir Francis|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney Charles||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius||Lehmann, R. C.|
|Byles, William Pollard||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Lever, W. H. (Cheshire, Wirral)|
|Cameron, Robert||Halpin, J.||Levy, Sir Maurice|
|Chance, Frederick William||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Channing, Sir Francis Allston||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worcester)||Luttrell, Hugh Fownes|
|Cleland, J. W.||Hart-Davies, T.||Lyell, Charles Henry|
|Clough, William||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)|
|Clynes, J. R.||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)|
|Mackarness, Frederic C.||Philipps, Col Ivor (Southampton)||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
|Maclean, Donald||Philips, John (Longford, S.)||Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)|
|Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Summerbell, T.|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)||Pirie, Duncan V.||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|M'Callum, John M.||Pointer, J.||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|M'Kean, John||Pollard, Dr. G. H.||Tennant, Sir Edward (Salisbury)|
|M'Laren Sir G. B. (Leicester)||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)|
|M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Maddison, Frederick||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Thomasson, Franklin|
|Mallet, Charles E.||Priestley, W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E.)|
|Manfield, Harry (Northants)||Radford, G. H.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Markham, Arthur Basil||Raphael, Herbert H.||Tomkinson, James|
|Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)||Toulmin, George|
|Marnham, F. J.||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Massie, J.||Redmond, William (Clare)||Verney, F. W.|
|Masterman, C. F. G.||Rees, J. D.||Vivian, Henry|
|Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Rendall, Atheistan||Walsh, Stephen|
|Menzies, Walter||Richards, Thomas (W. Monmouth)||Walters, John Tudor|
|Middlebrook, William||Richards, T. F. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Walton, Joseph|
|Molteno, Percy Alport||Richardson, A.||Wardle, George J.|
|Mond, A.||Ridsdale, E. A.||Waring, Walter|
|Money, L. G. Chiozza||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Robinson, S.||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Robson, Sir William Snowdon||Watt, Henry A.|
|Morrell, Philip||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Morse, L. L.||Roche, John (Galway, East)||Weir, J. Galloway|
|Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Rogers, F. E. Newman||White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)|
|Murphy, N. J. (Kilkenny, S.)||Rose, Charles Day||White, Sir Luke (York, E.R.)|
|Murray, James (Aberdeen, E.)||Rowlands, J.||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Myer, Horatio||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Napier, T. B.||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetiaw)||Schwann, Sir C. E. (Manchester)||Wiles, Thomas|
|Nicholls, George||Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Norman, Sir Henry||Sears, J. E.||Williams, W. Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Norton, Captain Cecil William||Seaverns, J. H.||Williams, A. Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Nussey, Thomas Willans||Seely, Colonel||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Nuttall, Harry||Shaw, Sir Charles E. (Stafford)||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W.R.)|
|O'Brien, K. (Tipperary, Mid)||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Silcock, Thomas Ball||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)||Simon, John Allsebrook||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestershire, N.)|
|O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|O'Dowd, John||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|O'Grady, J.||Snowden, P.||Winfrey, R.|
|O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)||Soares, Ernest J.||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Spicer, Sir Albert||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Joseph Pease and the Master of Elibank|
|Parker, James (Halifax)||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)|
|Partington, Oswald||Steadman, W. C.|
|Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)|
|Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Strachey, Sir Edward|
Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
§ Proposed Resolution further amended by adding at the end thereof the words "or at a rate not exceeding sixpence for every pound of those purchases."—[Mr. Lloyd-George.]