§ Question again proposed: "That the stamp duties charged on conveyances or transfers on sale of property or leases shall be double those now chargeable."—[Mr. Lloyd-George.]
§ Mr. VINCENT KENNEDY
In rising to move the Amendment which stands in my name—after "That," to insert the words, "except in the case of conveyances or transfers on sale of any lands purchased under the provisions of any of the Irish Land Purchase Acts "—I feel absolutely confident of the encouragement and support of all sections of hon. Members who represent Ireland on these benches. Other Members of the House of Commons may not be familiar with the views which we hold on this subject. The new tax which is proposed will increase by 100 per cent. the present tax on the transfer and conveyance of land in Ireland, and the subject is therefore one of great importance in that country. I may state shortly the position which at present exists in Ireland in regard to this Question. At the present time on all transfers and conveyances of land in Ireland there is an ad valorem duty charged at the rate of 10s. per cent. for conveyance or transfer, as the case may be. But there is a great differentiation between tenants who hold on judicial terms in Ireland, and peasant proprietors, and as the House will readily understand, the latter class of land holders are rapidly and enormously increasing in number. In the case of the peasant proprietor he will practically have to pay a double tax compared with the judicial tenant. I may say in passing that this tax is regarded, at any orate by a certain class, as a concoction by the Treasury to delay as far as possible the progress of land purchase. Their object is in every way to remove the facilities for the sale and exchange of land in Ireland, and they hope by doing so that they will be able to block land purchase. I wish to give to the Committee an example within my own particular dis- 248 trict. Take the case of a tenant who holds under two landlords and who wishes to sell his land. One of the farms he holds is a judicial tenancy, and the other one is a purchased-out farm. For the purpose of illustration I will take the case of a £10 rent in both instances. The tenant finding it necessary to part with possession of his farms, puts them up for sale. It does not matter very much what purchase money he realises.
The result with regard to this tax is this: In the case of the sale of the judicial tenancy he will pay the ad valorem stamp duty assessed at the rate of 10s. per cent, on the consideration, namely, the purchase money of the farm. But in the case of the sale of the farm purchased out the ad valorem duty will be not only calculated upon the actual purchase money paid by the purchaser, but it will also be calculated on what is called the redemption value of the holding. In the case of the tenant-purchaser it will be obvious to the House that he is paying the tax twice over. But the judicial tenant who sells the £10-rent farm, and gets, say, 20 years' purchase, receiving £200, the stamp duty in that case you propose to increase to £2. In the case of the purchased-out tenant the assessment will be not only on the £200 to be realised, but also on the amount of money that is advanced by the Land Commissioners. If I go further in this case I can show that not only are you charging £1 per cent., but that you are charging 3 per cent. on the purchase money to the purchaser. In the case of the tenant-purchaser who holds land on a £50 rental, and who pays on 20 years' purchase, the Government will advance £1,000. But suppose he has got to sell the farm again, and he only realises £500, the purchaser will have to pay, not on the £500, the purchase money paid to the vendor, but he will have to pay on the £500 plus the original advance by the Land Commission, making £1,500. I think it will be obvious to the House and to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that this is very unreasonable and entirely unfair. It is not necessary for me to remind the Committee that this Question has been discussed both by speech and by question in the House of Commons. As a matter of fact, in answer to a question which I heard put in the House by the Member for West Waterford, it was stated by the then Attorney-General, now Lord Atkinson, in connection with the Bill of 1903, that this matter would be dealt with on Report. It was not dealt 249 with on Report, and now, by what is little short of a scandal, it is proposed to put a further tax on the already overburdened peasant proprietor. It should not be forgotten that in every one of the cases where the tenants are bought out the registration is compulsory. There are registration fees charged, one being a fee of 5s., called a transfer fee. There are other fees, such as insurance fees and requisition stamps and various things that amount in many cases from 11s. to 17s. 6d., or something like that. I would like to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer: Will this fee that is now described in the Local Registration of Title Act of 1891 be increased twofold, the same as is proposed to increase the ad valorem duty? It seems strange to anyone who followed the discussions during this Budget Debate to see that, while the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposes to put a tax on land values, he is here in this case putting a tax on the freer sale and exchange of land in Ireland. Of course the idea of the taxation of land values is to prevent land being hung up and to bring it more freely into the market. Here there is a direct attempt to prevent land being brought into the market and to make it more difficult for the peasant proprietors of Ireland to transfer and sell the land.
It is unnecessary to remind the Committee that this would be an exceedingly unpopular tax in Ireland. Speaking as I do for a Constituency where the Constituents are very poor men, I can tell the Chancellor of the Exchequer that in this tax he will be hitting the poorest class in Ireland, the small farmers, the men that we want to keep on the land, and that are only too greedy to get a chance of living on the land. I have had experience in this matter every day at home. It often happens that a labourer who has been able to put by a little money, perhaps by working long hours and hard, wishes to buy a little home where he can spend his later days, or perhaps make a home for his mother. It will be a great hardship to him and to his class if he finds that not only has he to pay heavily for the interest in the land which he is buying, but that the Government have imposed an almost impossible task on his class when they wish to find a home for themselves. With regard to this tax and the ad valorem. stamp duty tax, I regard them as equally as grave as the tax upon whisky, and if this Government, which has already imposed this heavy tax on this Irish industry, the whisky industry, and a further heavy tax on the 250 other important Irish industries, namely tobacco, if this Government is going to put a further tax on really one of the great industries of the country, namely the land which supports, or will support, at least 600,000 peasant proprietors, all I can say is it will be very difficult for any Irish Member to go back to his constituents and tell them he has any hope in his heart that he can ever expect any fair play or honesty at the hands of any Liberal or any other Government that sits in this House of Commons. I beg to Move the Amendment.
§ Mr. JAMES FALCONER
I desire to take this opportunity, if I am in order to do so, to raise a question which is rather wider than that directly raised by this Amendment. If I may suggest an Amendment upon the Amendment: that the increase of stamp duty on conveyance and sales of property in land or houses should in the ease of all transactions, say, under £1,000, remain as at present. Then I should like to put before the Committee the considerations that seem to me to be overwhelming with regard not only to Irish transactions, but with regard to similar transactions all over the country. I should not have ventured to intervene in this Debate with regard to the general question of finance, with which I am not so familiar or cannot be so familiar as other Members, but having had considerable—
I think the hon. Member, if he wants to deal with this Question generally, had better wait until we have disposed of this Amendment. Of course, he could get his point in under cover of an argument that the Irish Question was part of the general Question; but, as a matter of fact, it would be more convenient if he would wait.
§ Mr. JOHN GORDON
The hon. Member who moved the Amendment stated that all Irish Members were in agreement in support of this. I think that was absolutely right. We who come from Ireland know what a serious tax this would be upon small holders of land in Ireland. It is quite a different thing from the position in England. In England you have got large farmers, who take the farms upon lease, who do not own the land, and who do not sell it from one to the other. In Ireland you have now got a very large proportion of the population who have acquired or are acquiring the entire interests of their holdings, and in the ordinary course of events, sometimes it is because a man wishes to sell—frequently on death—when 251 a farm must be sold, or in any other case when the farm comes into the market, it has to be transferred. At the present moment the tax upon that is, of course, the ordinary 10s. per £100 of value. Here what you have got is exactly what the hon. Member has pointed out. The judicial tenant who is selling his interest in the land has only to pay the duty upon the value of his interest as a tenant. But in the case of the man who has purchased the entire interest of his holding, when he comes to pay the duty, not alone has he his own interests to pay, but also the interests of the landlord, which he has purchased.
To the lay mind it is a curious anomaly that a man who sells his farm for £500 and has purchased through the Land Commission for £500, when he comes to sell it he has to pay stamp duty not alone on the £500 he has got as the purchase money, but added to that is the £500 with which the farm is charged. I know it will be said that this applies in the same way in the case of any person selling property through a mortgage, and that is quite true, hut then you have got a new state of affairs arising in Ireland brought about by the fact that the tenants have purchased out their interest from the landlord, and really they have a greater interest than they previously had, because they have both the interest of landlord and tenant now. But when they bring it into the market they do not receive a larger amount of purchase money than they would have before they purchased it. If you come to think of it the man who sells a small farm for £200 or £300 he finds the purchaser has not only to pay £1 or 30s., but that he will probably have to pay £4 or £6. That is a serious matter, and a very serious consideration for both the seller and the purchaser. The purchaser will have to pay, but of course he will take it into account in the amount he pays for his holding.
Therefore I heartily join with the hon. Member who has moved this Amendment, and I do most heartily press upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer that it is one of those concessions which he can make, and which he ought to make, without in any way interfering with the general principle that is embodied in this Resolution, if he wishes to do so. I personally object to the Resolution altogether. I do not think it is in the interests of the community at large that these stamp duties should be increased by such an extravagant amount, or, indeed, increased at all. It 252 always puts the tax upon what, after all, is one of the most important things in connection with property of any kind, and that is the free exchange of it from one person to another who wishes to get it. But the point I am dealing with is the point which immediately presses upon the people of Ireland. I hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will take into consideration this fact: that in dealing with the transfer of land in Ireland in proportion to its population probably the problem is ten times as great as in England.
And the next point he ought to bear in mind is that it is one of those cases in which he could differentiate without leading to any complication or any difficulties whatever, because it is a tax fixed upon the land. The land is in Ireland, and it will not interfere with your taxation in any other part of the country, and therefore will not complicate the collection of it. I do respectfully press upon the right hon. Gentleman that he will grant this concession in reference to the land in Ireland. I do not want to be misunderstood about what that duty is. Under the Land Purchase Acts as they stand at present, there is an arrangement made by which on investing orders, that is when the land is sold through the Land Commission, that there is, I do not know the exact amount. but very little to be paid on it. But the problem before us is not that one. It is the question of the duty upon the transfer by the tenant-purchaser to sonic person else who buys from him in the market. I think I am justified in saying that all my colleagues who take a different view in general in political matters from the hon. Member who has moved this Amendment are at one with his on this point.
§ Mr. MAURICE HEALY
As I raised this particular Question some 13 years ago in the House of Commons, I shall take the opportunity of saying a word upon it now that it has been revived by my colleagues under circumstances which enormously aggravate the grievance under which Ireland suffers. I claim that this particular Resolution, in the first place, differentiates unfairly between England and Ireland. I claim, in the second place, that it differentiates unfairly between the tenant who has bought out his own land and the tenant who has not, and I claim, in the third place, that it differentiates unfairly between the town tenant and the owner of agricultural land. The complaint which we make on this Resolution is not the doubling of the stamp duties. If the 253 stamp duty is to be doubled in England I apprehend that we cannot make any fair complaint if it is also doubled in Ireland. Our complaint is that this stamp duty operates in Ireland in a way in which it does not operate in England. It has been put as if the only effect and difference in England and Ireland in this case was the doubling of the stamp duty. The difference is to quadruple the stamp duty. Let me put the facts, because they are indisputable. The tenant who has not bought out his land sells it for £500. Of course, it is the purchaser that pays the tax nominally, really it is the vendor, but we need not discuss that, it is a grievance either way—at any rate there is the fact. An ordinary agricultural tenant, whether judicial or however he holds his land, sells it for £500 and pays £2 10s. stamp duty.
The right hon. Gentleman proposes to double that tax. What do we complain of? Suppose that a tenant, instead of selling a farm which he holds under a tenancy sells a farm which he has bought out. He gets the same price, consequently we may assume that his outgoings, whether rent or land purchase annuity, is the same. Take it that the rent is £50 in one case, and that the land purchase annuity is £50 in the other. The tenant sells the £50 holding for £500, and has a stamp duty of £2 10s. The land purchase tenant sells his farm on which there is a £50 annuity, but his £50 annuity represents not £500 but £1,500, and instead of paying £2 10s. stamp duty he pays £10, and when this proposal passes into law he will have to pay £20. Is that a grievance, or is it not? I say that it is a grievance which differentiates between England and Ireland, because the land purchaser is a purely Irish incident which does not exist in England. Moreover, the proposal differentiates between a tenant who has bought and a tenant who has not bought, because there is no such thing as an outstanding annuity in the case of the tenant who has bought. Similarly, the town tenant who sells his farm for £500 has done with it when he pays his £2 10s., whereas the unfortunate tenant-purchaser is crushed with the stamp duty of £10.
But that is not the end of the matter. We have in Ireland an expensive nuisance called local registration of title. It was passed by a gentleman who was greatly respected in this House as Attorney - General, now Judge Madden. 254 At his instance the Irish Members of the day passed into law this measure for establishing a local registry of title. Some of us who are professionally interested in this Question were terests in the belief that local registration of title would be a great public advantage. It has turned out, however, as I have described it, an expensive nuisance. It is not local, nor is it cheap or convenient. This matter is relevant to the Question under discussion, inasmuch as the tenant purchaser is the victim, and he alone. The registration is not local, and they have devised a scale of fees which puts into the Treasury the fees which were taken out of the solicitor's pocket. They have set up an insurance fund to which every tenant purchaser must contribute, but there has never been a single claim upon it, and it now amounts to more than £20,000. If a man transfers his farm, he has to pay £1, or something like that, as a registration fee. In addition to the registration fee he has to pay a number of other fees, and also the £10 stamp duty under the existing law, or £20 under the present proposal. He has also to pay £4 or £5 registration fees into this wretched local registry of title. So that, on an ordinary transaction, which in England could be carried out on the payment of a stamp duty of £2 10s., the Irish tenant-purchaser has to pay something like £15. I am quite familiar with the right hon. Gentleman's case of the mortgage, and that the basis of the law is that you add the amount of the mortgage to the purchase money. But how can the right hon. Gentleman endeavour to defend this distinction between a tenant and a tenant purchaser. In the one case the purchaser takes over the liability for the rent of £50 a year, and he has not to pay any additional stamp duty. But the man who buys the £50 holding from the tenant-purchaser takes over, no doubt, the land-purchase annuity, and he has to pay the stamp duty on the unredeemed value. Let there be no mistake about it, this is one of the points in which the Budget differentiates unfairly between England and Ireland. The hon. Member above the Gangway mentioned that the sale of tenancies in England does not exist, at any rate, over large areas of the country. Consequently, the right hon. Gentleman derives practically no revenue at present from that source in England; but in Ireland he does derive such a revenue, and it is aggravated by this distinction between the tenant-purchaser and the ordinary tenant, and in the 255 proposal now made he is not only making us pay double stamp duty, but, as compared with England, the amount will be more nearly quadrupled. I hope that in dealing with this Question the Chancellor of the Exchequer will not evade the point which is being raised. It is not enough to tell us about the instalment mortgage, which was the standard reply when I used to raise this Question some years ago. The instalment mortgage has nothing to do with it. The instalment mortgage represents a real loan. It does not represent the redemption of the rent, as the Land Commission loan does. There is no analogy between the two cases, and if the right hon. Gentleman applies this Resolution unamended to Ireland he will aggravate to an intolerable degree a grievance which is already very great.
§ Sir EDWARD CARSON
I daresay that English Members will have considerable difficulty in understanding what is the exact point raised by this Amendment. I quite anticipate that the argument to be used by the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be somewhat of the character suggested by the hon. and learned Member who has just spoken (Mr. M. Healy), namely, that in the case of a tenant in England who wanted to purchase the holding from his landlord, and borrowed the money, if he came to convey the farm, he would have to pay the stamp duty on the whole value, including the mortgage. If that is the answer of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I agree with the last speaker that it is no answer at all. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not give the go-by to the reality of the transaction which takes place under the Land Purchase Acts, whereby land is transferred from the owner to the occupier. The reality of the transaction in Ireland is that the tenant pays to the Treasury either his old rent or something less, by arrangement, for a certain number of years, and by paying that rent he becomes at the end of the term the possessor of his holding. But in the view of the tenant and in reality what he is doing is simply nothing but paying his rent for that definite number of years into the Treasury, and it is purely a Treasury arrangement as to the accumulation for sinking fund and interest, with which the tenant is not concerned in the slightest degree. In other words, the thing works out in this way: The Treasury say, "Instead of paying your rent of so much to your landlord, if you will pay it, or such 256 a rent as we say will cover the whole transaction, to us, we will make an arrangement by which the land is transferred from the owner to you." That is the reality of the transaction, and it is because that is so the right hon. Gentleman will not be able to distinguish between the case of the tenant-purchaser and the tenant holding under a judicial rent. It would not be true—at all events you will never get a tenant to believe that because he is paying his rent to the Treasury therefore there ought to be any distinction whatever, on the transfer of the land, as to the amount of stamp duty which he has to pay. Suppose a man sells for £500 each two holdings, one of which he holds under a judicial tenancy, and the other he holds, not from the land lord, but from the State, at a rent fixed for the purpose of paying off the purchase money; if he has to pay £2 10s. on the former, and £10 on the latter, how on earth can you get him to believe that he is being treated fairly? I know that this question has been mooted in connection with Land Acts from time to time, and I believe that a previous speaker is accurate in saying that a question was put to the late Attorney-General for Ireland, now Lord Atkinson, in connection with the Act of 1903. That measure was hurried through the House, and the matter may have been forgotten, but I am inclined to think that there was some kind of statement made that this matter would have to be considered and dealt with. All I have risen to do is to urge the right hon. Gentleman not to try to satisfy the House by making analogies with English purchases. He must go back to the origin and reality of the transaction which takes place when the tenant purchases. The tenant is never lent money by the State in the ordinary sense at all. All he really does is to, agree to pay to the State such a portion of his existing rent as the State thinks sufficient to extinguish the advance in the number of years specified by the Act of Parliament. I therefore urge the right hon. Gentleman to take a view of the reality of the case, and not an analogy with English purchases, which I am certain are not on all fours with purchases in Ireland.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
We are not discussing at the present the merits of the whole tax, but purely discussing the special application of the tax to Ireland. The case made out for the moment is that it is not a fair tax in its application to Ire- 257 land; is unfair, inequitable, and oppressive. That is, I think, the case made out by the hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who have taken part in the discussion. What is the position of things as compared with this country Y At the present moment a stamp of 10s. is charged in respect of every transfer of real property in the United Kingdom. The same stamp law applies to Ireland. My proposition is that where a 10s. stamp is levied at the present] moment, in future 209. shall be raised. I have no special provisions in regard to Ireland. I simply double the sum. Anyone who listened to the speech of the hon. Member for Cork would have imagined that I had been devising some special means of oppressing Ireland. On the contrary, I am simply doubling the stamp duty which is now 10s. I have no special provision at all so far as Ireland is concerned.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
I shall point out the difference to the hon. Gentleman. He is a lawyer. It is this: Here is an enormous transaction which is put through at the expense of the State for the conversion of the Irish tenant farmer into a peasant proprietor. It is a gigantic operation. It costs an enormous sum of money. In every case there is a bonus of 12 per cent., which is made out of the general funds of this country. In addition to that, the credit of this country is hypothecated, not at what it stands in the market, but for every £100 we raise in order to convert the Irish farmer into a peasant proprietor we have got to pay something like £12, £13, or £15—more often we only get £85. I want to show that the Irish tenant farmer in this matter has nothing to complain of in comparing him with the realty owner in this country. I think that is a perfectly fair argument. £12 is found for every £100 to begin with, in addition to which another £15 has got to be found, so that for every £100 paid £25 is found by the Treasury.
§ Mr. JOHN REDMOND
No. The loss on flotation up to the present has been borne entirely by the Irish Development Grant—every penny of it.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
To the extent at any rate of 25 per cent. it is public 258 money devoted by this House. How does it work out? The Irish tenant farmer gets the freehold of his farm on paying 68 years' purchase, not at his present rent, but by paying something that is less by 26 per cent. than his present rent. That is what the figures work out to.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
I listened to the speech of the hon. Gentleman, and I shall be glad if he can restrain himself whilst I am speaking. He has not been in the House for 13 years; therefore I take it be might endeavour for a few moments to restrain himself whilst I am answering his arguments. What happens? The tenant farmer gets the freehold of his farm on payment of something which is less by 25 per cent. than his present rent. The State interposed and gave him these specially favoured terms, which every tenant farmer in this country or Wales would be delighted to get, to make them freeholders on paying, not their rent, but 25 per cent. under their rent for 68 years. They would not growl. They would only be too pleased to pay for the stamps. But what happens to the stamps? Although this is a transaction which transfers the land from the landlord to the tenant by hypothecating the State credit at less than what it stands in the market, the transfer is effected without any payment.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
Really, I do wish the hon. Gentleman would restrain himself. For the benefit of the landlords? [Cries of "Hear, hear."] I am very glad to hear that. I have always thought that there was a good deal of landlord in this Irish land question. Very well, at any rate surely it is a benefit to the tenant. I thought that was why it was advocated from those Benches. Now I am very glad to have the Benches say that it is for the benefit of the landlord. [Cries of "No, no."] Although there is a transfer from the Irish landlord to the tenant no stamp is charged. Let us bear this in mind. The charge is that we are differentiating against Ireland. That is the charge made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cork. In this country if a landlord sold his property to his tenant—a transaction that happens every day in our part of the country—or he sells his land in the open market, no money is lent by the State, but the money has to be borrowed at 4½ per 259 cent., and very often at 5 per cent., and the stamp is paid for. Then we are told by the hon. Member for Cork of the cruel oppression of the Irish tenant farmer!
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
That is not the point. The case is that the Irish tenant farmer is treated worse in this respect than the English or the Welsh tenant farmer. Let us take the second part of the transaction. He has got his land first of all without paying any stamp. He wants to sell it. Observe, he will do it on better terms, owing to the fact that he gets a loan of money from the State on terms which no other tenant farmer could possibly get. Therefore, when he comes to sell it, he has the benefit of that loan. If he borrowed the money in the ordinary way from a building society, or on a private mortgage, and paid 4 per cent. or 5 per cent., the transaction would not be nearly as valuable to him as getting it from the State at nearly 3 per cent. interest. The British tenant farmer and yeoman would have to pay for the stamp, and we are told the Irish tenant farmer has to pay nothing! Why? Because, forsooth, they are including the mortgage of the State in the consideration money. We do exactly the same thing in this country. Supposing the man is a workman. In order to buy or to build his house he goes to a building society, and gets a mortgage of S2400. He pays it back in monthly instalments extending over 30, 40, or 50 years. He sells the land subject to the instalments of the building society, which are usually 10s. per month. What is the law in this country at the present time? You include the mortgage to the building society in reckoning up your consideration money. Why should the British workman or the British yeoman have to include his mortgage, which is at the rate of 4 per cent. or 5 per cent.. and the moment you come to a specially favoured mortgage from the State, it has to be excluded? I do not see—and that is what my hon. Friend calls cruel oppression of his country' It is identical in its essence. The right hon. and learned Gentleman must look at the reality of the transaction. lie says: "All you are doing is, instead of the tenant fanner paying his rent to the landlord, be is paying it to the State for a number of years." Of course, that is the very essence of it. But it is not, as he imagines, that you are making the State the landlord. 260 You are not doing that. What you are doing is making the man a freeholder; and, if he subsequently wishes to sell the freehold of his farm, the State does not interfere at all in the matter. It is purely a matter of afterwards collecting the payments.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
Anybody who gets so excited as that cannot examine a simple proposition like the stamp duty. It is purely a business proposition we are examining. That is really what it is. You are converting the man from a tenant farmer into the owner of his freehold. Is not that a very good action. We are simply applying the same rule to Ireland as we apply to England. The hon. and learned Gentleman said if you are doing that he would have nothing to say. How can he say that I There is no difference. It is exactly the same rule.
When you come to the question as to whether there should be exemptions in the case of some of the freeholders, that is a totally different matter. That is a matter which we will consider on its merits. But that is not the point here. I want the Committee fully to realise that the question is whether we are applying exactly the same rule in Ireland as we are in this country. I think that, on the whole, instead of the Irish Members complaining, that the last person in the world to complain as to what has been done in this matter are those who are getting their tenements on the terms they are. All we are asking is that when lie is making a market of it—when he is trying to make money out of it—that lie should pay exactly the same stamp as anybody in this country.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I rather regret that before any general discussion of this Resolution we should have got up an Amendment which is necessarily limited. I am going to suggest to my hon. Friend's below the Gangway that it is not altogether good policy on their part to seek to separate their case wholly from that of the people who may agree with them on the wider question. For my part I do not know exactly what effect the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer has produced upon the Committee. I am not quite in accord with the 261 Chancellor, and, to speak frankly, I am not quite in accord with my right hon. Friend the Senior Member for the University of Dublin who spoke from these benches. The Chancellor of the Exchequer travelled over very wide ground. If you allowed us, Mr. Emmott, to follow him we should find ourselves discussing the merits and the demerits of the Irish Land Act of 1903 and of the whole position of the tenant farmers of Ireland. I do not desire to do that, but I do feel that the special grievance which the hon. Member for Cork has pointed out as an Irish grievance does arise from circumstances which are not absolutely peculiar to Ireland, but which are very much emphasised in Ireland owing to the special interest which the State has shown in converting the Irish tenant farmer into the owner of the land which he tills. I venture to say that if we had been fortunate enough in England or even in Wales, to have in operation at this moment such a land purchase scheme as is now in operation in Ireland the Chancellor of the Exchequer would never have proposed this particular tax. It is not quite true to say, as Irish Members have alleged, that the tax is in itself specially unfair to Ireland, but it is a fact that a very much larger number of small people in Ireland, because of the special advantages which the State has placed at their disposal of becoming owners of their land, are affected. What is the moral that I draw from this discussion? That there are a certain number of people in this country who purchase small properties by borrowing money: the only difference between them and the Irish purchasers is that they have to borrow their money from banks or other sources, whereas the Irish farmer borrows his money from the State; that in their case the same tax would press just as hardly as it does upon the Irishman who purchases with the credit of the State, but as there are a great many more people in 'Ireland engaged in this operation of purchase at the present time—a great many more in absolute numbers, and a great many more in relative proportion of population affected owing to the new sales existing—the tax would he. much more felt in Ireland than it is felt here. That is the so conclusion I come to.
The second is that if you snake a special exemption for Irishmen in these circumstances you will be creating a sense of injustice, and you will give a real cause for that sense of injustice among the small holders in England here, who will be equally hard hit—fewer in number, but 262 equally hard hit—and therefore my third conclusion is that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be better advised to withdraw the tax and give up this new proposal altogether. I will argue it no further upon the Amendment before the Chair. My conclusion is general, not special to Ireland, but embracing Ireland as the rest of the United Kingdom. I will not attempt to discuss on the narrow limit of this Amendment the question further, but I venture to say this: That the Chancellor himself has by this time arrived at the conclusion, impressed upon many of his predecessors, that when you enter upon the question of the stamp duties you enter upon a very complicated question, raising a multitude of different points, which give you an infinitude of trouble out of all proportion to the revenue which you derive from the new taxation.
§ Mr. JOHN DILLON
It appears to me that the discussion which has taken place shows clearly the enormous difficulty of framing a Budget that will apply with equal justice to Ireland and to Great Britain. The real point which comes out in the course of this Debate—it was emphasised in the speech to which we have just listened—is that if social conditions existed in England and Wales similar to those which exist in Ireland to-day no Chancellor would ever dream of producing or proposing this tax. That is the moral of this discussion. It runs through the whole of the Budget, and we have again and again in these Debates pointed out that under this system the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I venture to say, during the last four arduous months, when casting about in his own mind how he would raise the 13 millions of money that had to be raised, never dreamt of considering the special condition of Ireland. His whole mind was necessarily fixed upon the condition of the country which was to contribute the bulk of the money. That is always what happens to Ireland. For my part I do not believe that as a rule the Chancellors of the Exchequer deliberately, in framing their Budgets. seek to put some tax on which will inflict injustice on Ireland, and less do I believe it in respect of the present Chancellor, who has always been, throughout his whole career, a warm friend of Ireland. That is the genesis of this trouble. The genesis of it lies in the fact that he has to look to the social condition of this country, where most of the money is to come from, and in two countries different in social circumstances as any two 263 countries in the world it necessarily follows that a Budget that may be fair, or arguably fair, for Great Britain may inflict heavy injustice on Ireland. That is what happens to us over and over again.
I listened with great attention to the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It was a very able speech, and, logically, exceedingly difficult to reply to. He drew a picture of the special benefits conferred upon the Irish tenants, and naturally appealed to his own party when he asked, Are we now to be called upon to make a fresh concession to the tenantry of Ireland because we have already made great concessions, and conferred great advantages upon them in the shape of State credit, by giving them facilities for land purchase which we have not offered to the people of this country? I am quite sure the right hon. Gentleman saw the fallacy of his argument. Surely he must know that the very fact that a great, powerful country was compelled to offer these advantages to Ireland is proof of the extraordinary need and necessity that existed for them. Why did the British Treasury consent, however unwillingly and under tremendous pressure, to make this special provision for the creation of land purchase in Ireland? It was because they were forced to recognise that they had incurred a tremendous debt of obligation to the people of Ireland by reason of the slough of despond and poverty into which they had been sunk by the Governments of this country. It was not out of pure philanthropy and beneficence that the British Government offered these facilities for land purchase; it was not for these reasons they were granted to the Irish tenants. It was because the historical wrongs which had created this tremendous poverty in Ireland made it impossible for successive Governments to refuse to make these special provisions, and therefore I say there is no force in the argument of the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he draws attention to all these extraordinary advantages conferred upon the Irish tenants and grounds upon that an argument in favour of this tax.
It is absolutely true to say, as he stated, that he is making no stipulation against Ireland, but it is equally true to say that this tax would fall upon the poor parts of the population in Ireland in a way that bears no proportion to the effect which it will have upon the people of this country or of Wales. It is a tax which, in this country, will fall chiefly upon wealthy men. 264 [OPPOSITION cries of "No, no."] Oh yes, I say it will. Do you mean to tell me that you have in this country anything like the proportion of small holders of land that we have? [An HON. MEMBER: "No."] Very well, that is exactly what I say. Surely you do not mean to assert that the small holders of property in this country who sell their property will be in anything like the proportion to the general body of the population, poor men in the sense that the small farmers of Ireland are. Therefore, I say the effect of this tax, the incidents of this tax in Ireland as compared with Great Britain will be that it will fall with immeasurably greater weight upon the poorer parts of the population. Now the transaction among small holders in Ireland are multiplied, and are becoming very numerous, and I think it is a very wholesome thing, and it is one of the very good effects of land purchase. We know that in the old days if a man broke down or was unable to cultivate his holding he hung on, and if he was put out he was put out unwillingly as a beggar.
If a, man does not cultivate his farm now, and has no means at his disposal, he does not go out as a beggar, he sells to another man, and that man comes in with means at his disposal, and is able to cultivate the farm, and I believe the effect is that these free transactions are becoming much more numerous. Therefore, our argument is this tax in Ireland will ha' e a totally different effect from what it kill have in Great Britain, and from the Irish point of view it is a harsher tax, and I do not think, much as I sympathise with the Chancellor of the Exchequer in many points in this Budget apart from Ireland, I do not think it is a fair argument to hang on to the question of this tax the question of land purchase which is a totally different policy altogether, and is not affected by this tax. If you want to do justice you have to consider the condition of Ireland as it stands, and compare the condition of Ireland with that of England, and then measure the incidence of the tax upon the two countries.
§ Mr. JAMES H. CAMPBELL
I do think that we might have been allowed to discuss this question in which Irish Members of all shades of opinion take a, very great interest without having the inevitable consideration of the astounding wrongs to Ireland and its misgovernment dragged into the Debate. It is this sort of reference which makes it so difficult even in matters of the kind in which we are now 265 engaged for hon. Members from Ireland to make any impression upon this House because, of course, the moment the suggestion arises that this grievance is in any way connected with what the hon. Member for East Mayo would call the historical wrong and misgovernment, it at once places hon. Members like myself and my colleagues behind me in a position of considerable difficulty. At the same time, the matter is one which so grievously affects the agricultural interest in Ireland that I think it necessary for a moment to intervene and to put my views before the Committee. Even if, as the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer has said, theoretically, the operation of this tax would be identical in Ireland with its operation in England and Scotland, that does not dispose of the case. We might admit that as a matter of principle. What we are concerned with is the application of this tax in practice. Surely there is no analogy to be found in its application in England and Scotland as compared with its application in Ireland, having regard t, existing conditions? What are the existing conditions? Agriculture is the main industry of the bulk of the population; they live by it either as small farmers or connected in some way with the farming industry. To-day, and for some years past, there has been going on this process of transferring to the tenant farmer the interest of the landlords, and gradually changing the tenants into peasant proprietors. The result of that is that this tax will have a far more extensive application in Ireland, having regard to the number of the population, than it will have in England or Scotland; and in that particular it will be unequal in its application, and the amount derived per head of the population will be infinitely greater in Ireland than in England or Scotland. I cannot see the force of the Chancellor of the Exchequer pointing out the great benefits conferred upon the Irish tenant under the Act of 1903. It is quite true those benefits were very great, but is that any reason for taking them away by the operation of this tax? The hon. Member for Cork pointed out that in the case of a small sale the effect will be to raise the duty from £12 to something like £24. That is a very severe handicap upon these transactions in Ireland, and the gravamen of our complaint is not based upon any theoretical objections to the application of this tax to Ireland but to its application in practice, because owing to the 266 large number of these transactions which have been going on in the past, and which will continue to go on, the burden will fall much more severely per head of the population than it conceivably can in any other part of the United Kingdom. While it may be difficult to attack the application of this tax to Ireland theoretically, the objection from the point of view of practice seems to us so strong that I for one shall be very glad to support the hon. Member who has moved this Amendment if he goes to a Division.
§ Mr. J. C. R. LARDNER
In reply to the analogy used by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, may I point out that if there was no stamp duty on the redemption value in Ireland, the Exchequer at the present moment benefits by the purchase of land by the stamp duty on the consideration money in the conveyance alone, for this reason: That the moment a farm in Ireland is bought out the occupier's interest increases in value, and when it goes into the market it brings an increased price, and the Exchequer gets an increased revenue out of the stamp duty. That was a view which the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not put at all. He took the analogy of the British workman and the Irish peasant proprietor. Our position is that we are not asking for a concession, but we are asking for relief from an unjustifiable imposition; we are not asking for this because you are going to double the tax, but because, under the Stamp Act of 1891 the case of the Irish peasant proprietor was never thought of, and it was the British case only that was considered. Consequently, it was really by a device of the Treasury that this tax has been collected and the stamp duty imposed upon the redemption value for a good many years back in Ireland.
We are not asking for this relief for, the first time. A good many years ago the Attorney-General agreed to consider an Amendment on Report on this point, but for some reason or other it was forgotten. It was brought under the notice of the Treasury during the life of the present Government, and the answer of the Secretary to the Treasury was, "We will look into it." The Irish tenant farmers are against this increase of the stamp duty, and the solicitors' profession, through the Incorporated Law Society, have expressed themselves against it. That is the view of the governing body of the profession in Ireland which is most in touch with this matter, and which deals with it day in and 267 day out. I was surprised at the unsympathetic attitude taken up by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. In this country you are tumbling over one another in your solicitude to provide small holdings, but what are you doing in Ireland? By this increase in the stamp duty on the redemption value you are making it impossible for the small tenant farmer to transfer his holding. It has been said that these are all small transactions. Surely that is all the more reason why the tax should not be imposed. The man who now pays a stamp duty of £1 will probably have to pay £2 10s., and in some cases it may amount to £6. As the hon. and learned Member for Cork has said, you are not simply doubling this duty, but you will probably quadruple the sum which the Trish tenant will have to pay. The man in Ireland who has sunk his last shilling in his holding will find, when he goes to register his holding, that he has to pay a stamp duty out of all proportion to the price he is paying for his farm.
I should have thought that this Question would have received a more sympathetic hearing from the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, more particularly as it strikes at the root of a great system in Ireland which has succeeded notwithstanding the heavy expenses of the local registration of title. One of the arguments used in favour of the registration of title was that it was expedient, easy, and in expensive, but now you are going to make us pay double. Having regard to the fact that when the Finance Act of 1881, consolidating the Stamp Acts, was passed into law the special case of Irish land was not considered, and that nothing was further from the then Chancellor of the Exchequer's mind than Irish land, I submit that this ought to be taken into consideration at the present time. We are not asking for a concession, but we are asking for the removal of an imposition which we have suffered under for many years back.
§ Mr. T. M. KETTLE
I think that the attitude of the Government on this Question towards Ireland, more particularly in regard to the stamp duty, is nothing less than contemptible. My hon. and learned Friend has already said that in doubling this duty no attention was directed to its effect upon Ireland. Everybody knows that that is the case. This Budget, so far as we are concerned, is a perfect sample of legislation by accident. This Budget, which is considered for England to be the 268 greatest democratic Budget ever submitted to Parliament, is being extended to Ireland with a complete indifference to the difference of social structure and the tenure of property in Ireland. I do not think the Committee quite understands what the grievances are under which tenant purchasers are labouring in Ireland. You are proposing by this Resolution to double, and more than double, the duty payable upon the transfer of every small holding in Ireland. This will fall with more acuteness upon Ireland, because the stamp duty payable by tenant purchasers under any of the Land Purchase Acts will be calculated not merely upon the price at which the present purchasers' interest changes hands, but more duty will also have to be paid upon the redemption value of the annuity.
Let me give the Committee a concrete example. Land purchase under the Act of 1903 is really like buying a pawn ticket. You first pay something for the ticket, and that entitles you to pay something else, and at the end of that period you will be in possession. Finder the operation of this stamp duty you will be charging the tenant purchaser not only upon what he owns but upon what he owes. It will be calculated, not upon the value of his interest at that moment, but upon the outstanding liabilities which he must discharge to the State. A more absurd and indefensible plan of exacting an unjust levy from small holders could not well be instanced. Let the Committee remember that by the calculation of this Government the value of the tenant purchasers' interest in Irish land may be taken at about £180,000,000. Supposing that 5 per cent. of the purchase value changes hands every year, how will it work out? The small tenant purchasers will be paying by this double stamp duty if only 5 per cent. of the land changes hands about £9,000,000.
There is one other point upon which I should like some enlightenment from Government. When we asked from these Benches what were the estimates made of the yield of the new taxes in Ireland we were given specific figures for several items, and some were lumped together, including the land values tax and this stamp duty. At any rate, the total came to about £180,000 a year. I should like to know from the right hon. Gentleman, or from whoever represents the Government, what is the explanation of this figure, because I cannot myself imagine that the Government will go to a Division with only the 269 extremely unsatisfactory case which has been made out by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and without some further attempt to meet the arguments which have been advanced. I want to know how much they expect to get by this stamp duty out of the purchasers of Irish land? What is heir calculation as to the amount of hands after purchase. 'Unless they have that figure in mind they will be calculating without the essential element which will enable them to adjust this tax properly.
I cannot sit down without saying one word or two about a phrase repeating an argument which has so often been advanced from the Treasury Bench. The Chancellor of the Exchequer claimed identity of impost in this matter as between England and Ireland. Does the right hon. Gentleman think that identical taxes between countries differing so widely will necessarily tell with the same justice upon the two countries. Surely the Chancellor of the Exchequer has not forgotten the example given in the report of the Financial Relations Commissions, which laid down that a duty upon coffee imposed in France and a similar duty imposed in England for a common purpose would not give a system of just taxation between France and England. In precisely the same fashion a stamp duty of this character operating upon the transfer upon small parcels of land will not, in view of the great difference prevailing between rural Ireland and rural Great Britain, give you a fair basis of taxation between the two countries. I repeat that the attitude of the Government is not only regarded by me and my colleagues, but will be regarded by everybody in Ireland as absolutely contemptible. I sincerely hope that before we go into the Division Lobby there will be some attempt made on behalf of the Government to set forth a respectable case from the Treasury Bench.
§ Lord WILLOUGHBY DE ERESBY
The hon. Members below the Gangway think that this is a special hardship on Ireland, but it should be remembered that this tax will press unduly not only upon Ireland, but upon England as well. I happen to represent a county in which there is an enormous amount of land sold and purchased every week. It consists of small quantities—10, 20, or 50 acres. They are sold by auction, and, as I have said, there is a large sale going on every week. Personally, I think that this tax will bear very hardly on these transactions. I should also like to point out to the party 270 opposite that the proposal of the Government is an extraordinary reversal of the doctrine which has been preached from Radical platforms for many years. Their one cry for many years was in favour of a Bill to make the transfer of land cheaper. We have also joined in that cry. We have been in favour of making the transfer of land cheaper, but now the Government propose to make it dearer. The Liberal party seem to have parted entirely from their original policy. Whether the land which is sold and bought is a large piece, or a small piece, some pickings have to go to the lawyers. The transaction is not like the sale and the purchase of stocks and shares. There is always a lawyer's bill when a transfer of land takes place. Whatever the Government may have done, I certainly think they are making a great mistake in throwing obstacles in the way of the free sale of land. I, for one, view with great alarm the proposal to throw obstacles in the way of the free conveyance of land. Although this tax will operate harshly in Ireland, it will be found that in many parts of England it will operate with extreme injustice, particularly in the case of the transfer of small pieces of land, and as I have said, I think the Government are making a great mistake in throwing obstacles in the way of the transfer of land.
§ Mr. MUNRO FERGUSON
I quite agree with my hon. Friends from Ireland that to increase the duty on the transfer of land is a very serious burden on agriculture, but the burden is not confined to Ireland. I believe that the transactions in Scotland are of much more frequent occurrence than the transaction in some parts of Ireland, while in this country there are enormous transactions in house property. If I am in order I should like to move to have the words "or to Scotland," for reasons to which I should like to draw the attention of the Attorney-General for Ireland. I think that the question would be better discussed on a Motion which referred to the whole country rather than a Motion which referred to Ireland alone. I am quite sure that the Government must be aware of the undesirability of making heavy charges on the transfer of land. This Government, about two years ago, appointed a Commission to inquire into titles in Scotland. I have been sitting on that Commission for two years, and I am bound to confess that I have got rather tired of sitting on so inquiries such as that and the small holdings inquiry. When the report of the 271 small holdings was being drafted we had legislation proposed contrary to the findings of the Commission. I do not think that is a very judicious way of proceeding. Then, while the Commission on the transfer of land is being drafted, we have this legislation. I have been a victim twice.
§ The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: (Mr. Caldwell)
It would be better to dispose of this Amendment before going into any question of Scotland.
Mr. M. FERGUSON
My object is to suggest to hon. Members from Ireland that, it would be well to consider for the reasons I have given the policy of discussing the whole subject as one affecting Ireland and this country.
§ Mr. W. MOORE
I desire to associate myself on this question with the hon. Members below the Gangway. A very large majority of the people in Ireland would be affected by this proposal. This is not a landlord's question, because the landlord can only sell practically through the Estates Commissioners, and it was specially provided that when such sale took place there should be no stamp duty. It is a matter that affects the small man. The transaction effected is a sale from one small man to another—from one tenant to another tenant. The whole policy of Governments during the last 20 years has been to force these sales. When a man had a family, and when he died the farm was sold and the money distributed amongst the family. The holding had to be sold to pay the various members of the family in cash on the death of the father, so that every time a man died in the ordinary course of administration the farm has to be sold. It is the sole property of the family. These are sales by small people, and now you propose to penalise them by doubling the stamp duty. It has been said that there is a very large margin left for evasion, but in Ireland there is no possibility of evasion. While you have compulsory registration you have an official who examines every transfer. It is impossible to evade the Act owing to the machinery which you have set up. You have officials to see that there shall not be any evasion, and it is a great hardship in dealing with small farmers that you should make them in transactions, say, of £400 pay double the amount. [Several NATIONALIST MEMBERS: "£10."] I am not taking the tenants who purchase under the Land Purchase Act. I am taking an ordinary holder of land, and if he deals with a 272 holding worth £400 he will have to pay £4 instead of £2.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL for IRELAND (Mr. R. R. Cherry)
I do not desire to detain the Committee more than a few minutes, but the speech of the hon. Member for East Tyrone calls for some remarks from me. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin told us that he did not understand the remarks of the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he referred to people who purchased land in Ireland under the Land Purchase Act, but if the right hon. Gentleman had only taken the trouble to read the Amendment he would have seen that the remarks of my right hon. Friend were distinctly pertinent to the Amendment. The Amendment proposes special exemption and privileges as regards the stamp duties to any person who has purchased land under the provisions of the Land Purchase Acts, and I would point out that this proposal is not confined to small holdings, but that it may apply to very large holdings. In a great many cases amounts of £3,000, £4,000, and even £5,000 have been advanced on properties of this kind. Now, a man who owns property worth £4,000 or £5,000—and very often the tenant's interest which he has purchased subject to annuity is worth very nearly as much as the amount paid for the land itself—I say surely a man who has property worth several thousands of pounds, which has been greatly increased in value by the operation of the Land Purchase Acts and by the generous treatment accorded under those Acts, is not a man who should escape taxation altogether. It has been said that a great number of purchasers are small holders. That is an entirely different question; it is not the question raised by this Amendment. As far as I am aware, my right hon. Friend is quite prepared to consider that question on its merits, but any suggestions that may be made as regards small occupiers must be a suggestion which cannot apply to Ireland alone. It cannot apply merely to persons who purchase under the Land Purchase Acts. Let me point out another result which has not been observed even by the Mover of this Amendment. He exempts from this increased stamp duty or from the stamp duty itself, whichever it may be, all lands purchased under the provisions of the Land Purchase Acts. That would include the case of demesnes resold to the vendor under the Act of 1903. As much as £20,000 273 can be advanced by the State to a landlord selling his property for the purchase of his own demesne. If the landlord got £20,000 of State money on the generally liberal terms granted in the case of his selling the demesne, is he to be exempt and to have a privilege over and above the English landlord selling his demesne in any portion of England? I think it is manifestly unjust. What is really intended is the relief of small holdings, but that is not embodied in this Amendment, and it has not been dealt with in the Amendment now before the House.
§ Mr. KETTLE
Will the Attorney-General accept an Amendment dealing only with small holdings and remitting the duty in the case of small holdings?
§ Mr. CHERRY
As soon as I see the Chancellor of the Exchequer I will be able to answer the question of the hon. Member. In what I have said I have repeated the words of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that this is a separate question which is not raised by this Amendment, and that at any further stage of the Finance Bill it will be considered on its merits. Now the grievance pointed out by the hon. Member for the City of Cork is that the duty is paid not only on the amount of consideration on the sale, but on the amount of the outstanding annuity. May I point out that there are a great number of persons in the large cities of England and Scotland—I know a number of cases—where under the building societies' arrangements working men have borrowed money from the societies to build their houses on their own freeholds. They have escaped no duty on purchase; they have paid the duty on conveyance and on the mortgage, and also the instalments, very often at a much higher rate than the Irish tenant has to pay. Surely they have a grievance just as big as that of the small Irish holder. It is not a case in which purchasers under the Land Purchase Acts have any very distinctive grievance as distinct from the small holders. They certainly should bear their fair share of taxation, and there is no reason in the world why they should be differently dealt with as regards the conveyancing tax. There certainly should be no difference made between the two countries in that respect. I do not think that Irishmen would claim that there should be a special distinction. I believe the Irish Members are willing o that the Irish people should bear their fair share of taxation, and that they do not want it to be avoided.
§ Mr. W. MOORE
May I, acting on the suggestion of the Attorney-General for Ireland, move an Amendment to add these words, "Where the annual value does not exceed £50 per year." I do that on the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. CHERRY
I did not suggest that. I said that this is not a question which is raised by the Amendment.
§ Mr. W. MOORE
The right hon. Gentleman said he would be happy to discuss the subject when it came up, and he indicated there would be little objection to it. I therefore beg to move that the Amendment on the Paper be amended by adding the words, "Where the annual value does not exceed £50 per annum."
§ Amendment proposed to proposed Amendment, to add at the end, "Where the annual value does not exceed £50 per annum."
§ Question proposed: "That these words be there added."—[Mr. W. Moore.]
§ Mr. JOHN REDMOND
I hope the hon. and learned Gentleman will not persist in his Amendment, because, if it goes to a Division, he will have to vote against our original Amendment in order to vote for his own, whereas he has been speaking in favour of our Amendment. If he wants to raise the question of small holdings he can far better do it later on. We feel very strongly on our Amendment, and we must press it to a Division. If the hon. Member wishes to bring up this other question afterwards on other stages of the Bill no doubt it would be a very proper thing for him to do, and we will support it, but I do not think he should complicate the present issue by pressing this Amendment.
§ Mr. W. MOORE
I have no desire to complicate the issue, but I may observe that this is not the first time that the hon. Member for Waterford has come to the rescue of the Government. At the same time I am quite willing to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Mr. DILLON
I quite agree with the hon. Member for Waterford that if the question is to be raised as to the exemption of small holdings that is a different question altogether, and I think we should occupy a much stronger position if we raised it as applying to both Great Britain 275 and Ireland. We here are raising a totally different question, which applies to Ireland alone, and on that we must take a Division.
§ Amendment to Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. GWYNN
I cannot accept the suggestion that we should discuss this question generally instead of from the purely Irish aspect, because what we are here raising is a specifically Irish question. I would just like to point out, if I may, to the Chancellor of the Exchequer one aspect of this case which I think has not yet been touched upon. I myself feel quite justified in voting against any tax imposed by this Budget on the ground that it involves increased taxation in Ireland over and above her fair share of the burden of taxation. So far as this particular tax is concerned, I think the effect will be that this burden will have to be paid by the poor. I cannot share the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman, who puts forward an exceedingly powerful argument in reply to the Amendment moved from these benches. What was precisely the strength of the right hon. Gentleman's argument? It was this: he was able to say that "we give you in this tax precisely the same measure as is meted out to England, and that in the vast majority of transactions where land exchanges hands in Ireland there is no stamp duty." The strength of the argument appears to lie in the fact that sales under the Irish Land Acts escape stamp duty. This is quite true, but what was the reason for the exemption of these sales from stamp duty? It was precisely this, that you have in Ireland an absolutely abnormal and exceptional condition. I do not want to go into the historic causes by which that condition has been produced. But, nevertheless, in Ireland, whether it be the result of the virtue or of the vices of the past, a system had arisen which had to be changed by wholesale operations conducted by the State. The hon. Gentleman who spoke said that this tax would be a burden on agriculture. I should say rather that it is going to be a burden upon and to hamper the operations of a great State policy. By it you are going to retard and to encumber the transfer of land and the settlement of land in the hands of the occupying holder. Now in a great many cases the ownership of land is established by law, and he is often a man who is not fit to work the farm. Take, for instance, 276 the operation of the Evicted Tenants Act. In a great many cases the persons who are established as the owners of a farm as a matter of historic justice are not fit to work the farm, and I think it would be in the best interests of these people and of the country also that means should be devised to enable them to sell to somebody able and willing to work the farms. I may say in passing that in many cases such holders of farms have been for 20 or 30 years operatives in England. The tax is going to hamper sales in cases such as these. The general effect of this tax will be to hamper the sub-division of land in Ireland. I do not mean the sub-division of small holdings, but the sub-division of large holdings at present under grass. It seems to me most desirable and advantageous in the interests of the State that there should be increased sub-division and increased tillage. We hold that this tax will operate unfavourably upon that process, and for that special reason we are voting against it. I would just like to quote a single instance to show how very curious the state of land sale is in Ireland. I refer to a case already mentioned in this House—the sale of a farm by Mr. John Fitzgibbon, a gentleman well known in Ireland. Here was a case where a large farm of land worth, I think, some £4,000 was on the open market. The Congested Districts Board would like to have bought the land, but they were not able, as they had not the funds. There were no means at the moment to buy the land without sub-division. Mr. Fitzgibbon stepped forward and bought the land at. his own risk, and subsequently—a year after—transferred that land to the Congested Districts Board for division among the tenants, and I should like to say here to-day that on that transaction Mr. Fitzgibbon has shown by figures he has made no profit at all but made a loss. It was a public-spirited act. There will be a good many more cases of that kind occurring. In the first place public-spirited men will have to pay the tax, and I am not sure whether the small holders, to whom the land is ultimately passed, will not have to pay it also. But a sale of that sort, which, as far as I can make out, never occurs in England, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has never taken into account.
§ Mr. GWYNN
I apologise for my ignorance. The English question is to myself (in a par with the knowledge of the Irish question which Englishmen have. But I say the circumstances of Irish land and of the transfer of Irish land are peculiar, and a. tax of this particular kind, at this particular development of Ireland's history, hits Ireland as it certainly does not hit any other part of the Kingdom. For that reason I trust the Chancellor of the Exchequer will make some concession, and see that real justice is done.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
I agree with what my Noble Friend stated in his chief objections to this tax, but I do not agree with him when he said the objections to it were not sufficiently hard upon the Irish people to justify this Amendment. I think they are, and I think that hon. Members for Ireland have made out their case, not under the celebrated clause of the Act of Union, but under an Act. of the Exchequer in 1817, which referred to special exemptions and abatements where taxes would apply hardly to Ireland. I cannot help thinking that this is the precise case which must have been contemplated by the promoters of this Act.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
I thought it was under the other Act, but the argument is the same. This is a tax which is oppressive throughout the United Kingdom, but under the circumstances is especially oppressive in Ireland. It is all very well to say a tax is uniform, but if a tax is not uniform in its incidence it tells more hardly in one portion of the Kingdom than another. I confess that I shall vote for the Amendment apart from general considerations, because in practice I am convinced that it would put a very great spoke into the progress of land purchase in Ireland. Land purchase is surely a matter of social reform. If ever there was social reform it was an attempt to remedy the state of things which, from everybody's point of view a few years ago, was growing intolerable, and it certainly does seem strange from that point of view, that the reason for these taxes is social reform, and they are raised in a manner which must go directly against one of the objects of social reform. For this reason I hope my English friends will support my hon. Friends from Ireland.
§ Question put: "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee it divided: Ayes, 149; Noes, 238.281
|Division No. 113.]||AYES.||[6.20 p.m.|
|Abraham, W. (Cork, N.E.)||Duffy, William J.||Kerry, Earl of|
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hon. Sir Alex. F.||Duncan, Robert (Lanark, Govan)||Kettle, Thomas Michael|
|Ambrose, Robert||Faber, George Denison (York)||Kilbride, Denis|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Faber, Capt. W. V. (Hants, W.)||Kimber, Sir Henry|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Fardell, Sir T. George||King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hull)|
|Ashley, W. W.||Fell, Arthur||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.|
|Balcarres, Lord||Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Lane-Fox, G. R.|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Fletcher, J. S.||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Flynn, James Christopher||Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich)|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Forster, Henry William||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Gardner, Ernest||Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham)|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Ginnell, L.||Lonsdale, John Brownlee|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Glendinning, R. G.||Lowe, Sir Francis William|
|Boland, John||Gordon, J.||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred|
|Bull, Sir William James||Goulding, Edward Alfred||MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh|
|Butcher, Samuel Henry||Guinness, Hon. R. (Haggerston)||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M.||Guinness, W. E. (Bury St. Edmunds)||Macpherson, J. T.|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Halpin, J.||MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E.)|
|Cave, George||Hamilton, Marquess of||M'Arthur, Charles|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Hay, Hon. Claude George||M'Calmont, Colonel James|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r.)||Hayden, John Patrick||M'Kean, John|
|Clive, Percy Archer||Healy, Maurice (Cork)||Magnus, Sir Philip|
|Coates, Major E. F. (Lewisham)||Heaton, John Henniker||Marks, H. H. (Kent)|
|Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Hogan, Michael||Mason, James F. (Windsor)|
|Craig, Capt. James (Down, E.)||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Meagher, Michael|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Hunt, Rowland||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Crean, Eugene||Joyce, Michael||Mooney, J. J.|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||Joynson-Hicks, William||Moore, William|
|Delany, William||Kavanagh, Walter M.||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Dillon, John||Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir John H.||Morrison-Bell, Captain|
|Doughty, Sir George||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Muldoon, John|
|Murphy, John (Kerry, East)||Reddy, M.||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staffordshire)|
|Murphy, N. J. (Kilkenny, S.)||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Sutherland. J. E.|
|Nolan, Joseph||Redmond, William (Clare)||Talbot, Lord E (Chichester)|
|O'Brien, K. (Tipperary, Mid)||Remnant, James Farquharson||Talbot, Rt. Hon. G. J. (Oxford Univ.)|
|O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.)||Renwick, George||Tennant, Sir Edward (Salisbury)|
|O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Thornton, Percy M.|
|O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Roche, Augustine (Cork)||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|O'Doherty, Philip||Roche, John (Galway, East)||Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)|
|O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)||Rutherford, John (Lancashire)||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|O'Dowd, John||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|O'Grady, J.||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)||Seddon, J.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel||Winterton, Earl|
|Parkes, Ebenezer||Sheehy, David||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Pease, Herbert Fike (Darlington)||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley George D.||Young, Samuel|
|Percy, Earl||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)|
|Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Smith, F. E. (Liverpool, Walton)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Captain|
|Pretyman, E. G.||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S)||Donelan and Mr. Patrick O'Brien.|
|Bandies, Sir John Scurrah||Stanier, Beville|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)||Hutton, Alfred Eddison|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Illingworth, Percy H.|
|Adkins, W. Ryland D.||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Isaacs, Rufus Daniel|
|Agnew, George William||Dewar, Sir J. A. (Inverness-sh.)||Jackson, R. S.|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.)||Jardine, Sir J.|
|Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Duckworth, Sir James||Jenkins, J.|
|Armitage, R.||Duncan, C.' (Barrowo-In-Furness)||Johnson, John (Gateshead)|
|Astbury, John Meir||Dunne, Major E. Martin (Walsall)||Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)|
|Baker, Slr John (Portsmouth)||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Jones, Leit (Appleby)|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Ellis, Rt. Hon. John Edward||Kearley, Sir Hudson E.|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Erskine, David C.||King, Alfred John (Knutstord)|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Essex, R. W.||Laidlaw, Robert|
|Barker, Sir John||Evans, Sir Samuel T.||Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester)|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Everett, R. Lacey||Layland-Barrett, Sir Francis|
|Barnes, G. N.||Falconer, James||Lehmann, R. C.|
|Barry, Redmond I. (Tyrone, N.)||Fenwick, Charles||Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich)|
|Beale, W. P.||Ferens, T. R.||Levy, Sir Maurice|
|Beauchamp, E.||Ferguson, R. C. Munro||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David|
|Beck, A. Cecil||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Bellairs, Canyon||Findlay, Alexander||Lupton, Arnold|
|Belloc, Hilaire Joseph Peter R.||Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Luttrell, Hugh Fownes|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Fullerton, H ugh||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)|
|Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon)||Gibb, James (Harrow)||Macdonald, J.|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Gill, A. H.||Mackarness, Frederic C.|
|Black, Arthur W.||Gladstone, Rt. Hon. Herbert John||M'Callum, John M.|
|Bouiton, A. C. F.||Glen-Coats, Sir T. (Renfrew, W.)||M'Micking, Major G.|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Maddison, Frederick|
|Brace, William||Gooch, George Peabody (Bath)||Mallett, Charles E.|
|Bramsdon, T. A.||Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||Manfield, Harry (Northants)|
|Branch, James||Greenwood, Hamar (York)||Markham, Arthur Basil|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Marnham, F. J.|
|Brodie, H. C.||Griffith, Ellis J.||Mason, A. E. W. (Coventry)|
|Brooke, Stopford||Gulland, John W.||Masterman, C. F. G.|
|Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh)||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Micklem, Nathaniel|
|Brunner, Rt. Hon. Sir J. T. (Cheshire)||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||Mond, A.|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Money, L. G. Chiozza|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worcester)||Morrell, Philip|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney Charles||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-sh.)||Morse, L. L.|
|Byles, William Pollard||Hart-Davies, T.||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Cameron, Robert||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Murray, Capt. Hon. A. C. (Kincard)|
|Causton, Rt. Hon. Richard Knight||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Myer, Horatio|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Napier, T. B.|
|Channing, Sir Francis Allston||Haworth, Arthur A.||Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw)|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Hedges, A. Paget||Nicholls, George|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Helme, Norval Watson||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncaster)|
|Cleland, J. W.||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Clough, William||Henderson, J. McD. (Aberdeen, W.)||Nussey, Thomas Willans|
|Clynes, J. R.||Henry, Charles S.||Nuttall, Harry|
|Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe)||Pearce, Robert (Staffs., Leek)|
|Collins, Sir Wm. J. (S. Pancras, W.)||Higham, John Sharp||Pearce, William (Limehouse)|
|Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead)||Hobhouse, Charles E. H.||Philipps, Col. Ivor (Southampton)|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John||Holland, Sir William Henry||Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)|
|Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Molt, Richard Durning||Pointer, J.|
|Cox, Harold||Hooper, A. G.||Pollard, Dr. G. H.|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Crossley, William J.||Horniman, Emslie John||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Curran, Peter Francis||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Hudson, Walter||Radford, G. H.|
|Rainy, A. Rolland||Sears, J. E.||Wardle, George J.|
|Raphael, Herbert H||Seaverns, J. H.||Waring, Walter|
|Rea, Russell (Gloucester)||Shackleton, David James||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Shaw, Sir Charles E. (Stafford)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Pees, J. D.||Sherwell, Arthur James||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Richards, Thomas (W. Monmouth)||Shipman, Dr. John G.||Whitbread, S. Howard|
|Richards, T. F. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|Richardson, A.||Soames, Arthur Wellesley||White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)|
|Ridsdale, E. A.||Soares, Ernest J.||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Spicer, Sir Albert||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Stanger, H. Y.||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs.)||Steadman, W. C.||Wiles, Thomas|
|Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Robinson, S.||Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Robson, Sir William Snowdon||Strachey, Sir Edward||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W.R.)|
|Roe, Sir Thomas||Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Rogers, F. E. Newman||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Rose, Charles Day||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)||Winfrey R.|
|Rowlands, J.||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart|
|Russell, Rt. Hon. T. W.||Tomkinson, James||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—The|
|Schwann, C. Duncan (Hyde)||Walton, Joseph||Master of Elibank and Mr. J.|
|Schwann, Sir C. E. (Manchester)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)||Herbert Lewis.|
|Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne)|
§ Mr. JAMES FALCONER
My purpose in rising is to place before the Committee considerations in favour of exemption from this stamp duty smaller transactions, whether they take place in Ireland, Scotland, England or Wales, or whether they apply to agricultural or to urban property. The reason I desire to do so is that the increase in the stamp duty will materially interfere with the work which is going on near every large town and, to some small extent, in the country districts, and which is, perhaps, the most important practical social work which is being actually carried out at the present time. I refer to the work of endeavouring to provide for the people who are working in large towns houses in the immediate neighbourhood on the cheapest possible terms and with the largest amount of convenience and room. It is within my knowledge that a very large number of different bodies of people are at present earnestly endeavouring to carry out this work. Building societies, co-operative working mens' societies, enlightened landlords, employers of labour and others are endeavouring to promote the transfer from the slums or the more densely crowded parts in the centre of towns of people, who at present live there under bad conditions, to the surrounding parts of the town where the conditions are better. One great difficulty I have found in connection with this work is the initial expense of carrying through the transfer of a small piece of property. With regard to larger properties, the expense is, to my mind, not very heavy as compared with the expense of selling shares or stock. I have had careful calculations made, and I think with regard to the transfer of shares or 282 stock one may take it generally that the expense amounts to 11 per cent. of the transaction, including the negotiations for purchase, and if you take large estates, of anything from about £3,000 up to £30,000 or more of landed property—I speak with special knowledge of Scotch estates; I do not know what the charges are in England—you will find that the cost of transfer is somewhere under 2 per cent. As the price goes up the cost slightly diminishes in the percentage, but as a matter of fact we might take it that 2 per cent. in the case of large transactions represents the whole cost of transfer, including the stamp duty. If you take a smaller property, say a house worth £300, the Committee will be surprised to know that the cost of carrying through that transaction amounts to 5 per cent. of the purchase price, and it does not arise, although it is composed very largely of expenses which are carried through necessarily by legal men, through excessive payment of the solicitor for the work which he has to do; in fact, the other items are really so excessive that within my experience it is almost invariable that those who have to carry them through limit their charges to almost a nominal fee.
You have the difficulty of examining the title, which in a small property is almost as difficult as in the case of a big one, because it usually forms part of a very much larger title, and if there are burdens or encumbrances on the larger area they affect the smaller, and you must go through all the trouble which is involved in the transaction of transferring the whole estate in order to make sure that 283 the small estate is free from encumbrances. There is not only the examination of the title, but you also have to deal with the preparation of the necessary deeds, and you have to deal with the research which is involved in the register. In Scotland we have a complete register. In England, I understand, it is a question of doubt among practitioners as to whether registration is complete or successful or not, but in Scotland we have a complete register, and by taking the necessary trouble you can ascertain to a farthing what is the burden which rests on the land. But it involves considerable labour and the payment of considerable fees to those who keep the register. You have also, after the deed has been prepared and signed and delivered, to register it, and the dues which have to be paid again to the keeper of the register for that are considerable. So it is that these expenses mount up. Out of £15 or thereabouts, which is the cost of transferring a £300 house, probably a couple of guineas would represent all that the solicitor really has as his remuneration for the conveyance, which may involve a great deal of trouble. I mention that to show that it is a necessary cost, and does not arise from excessive payment for the labour involved. It does not include any part of the cost of the negotiations for the purchase and sale of the property. This is merely carrying through a transaction which has actually been agreed upon, so that if you take the case of the sale of stocks, of course the great part of the work for which commission is paid is for the sale, and the transfer is nothing. But in this case, apart altogether from the agreement for sale, the 5 per cent. I have referred to has to be incurred, representing nothing more than, in the case of shares, the execution, transfer and register. Nor does it include the cost of any mortgage which the purchaser may require, either in favour of a private lender or a building society which enabled him to effect the purchase. That would be over and above.
I think I have made it clear that the cost of these transactions is such as to form a very serious impediment in carrying through the beneficent work to which I have referred. I am well aware that much that I have referred to in the way of trouble may be avoided in the future if those who are considering these matters 284 are able to devise a scheme of registration of title which will get rid of many of what I regard as very useless encumbrances on our system. Hitherto that has not been done, and I do not think we can assume that it will be done in the immediate future. We must therefore take it that, at any rate to a large extent, the charges to which I have referred are charges which will have to be met by anyone who wishes to buy a small property. I suggest to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that special provision should be made when he comes to draft his Bill which will take into account that class of transaction. I suggest that, as regards houses under £300, let us say, there should be no stamp duty at all, either the existing or the new stamp duty. With regard to transactions over £300 and up to another figure, which I suggest at £1,000, which, however, is merely a guess, and is not based upon any consideration of principle, there should be graduation, and the right hon. Gentleman should not reach his full stamp duties, and certainly not the double stamp duty, which he now proposes to impose, until he gets to transactions over £1,000.
I think I have placed before the Committee the considerations which, in my mind, support this proposal. Almost every speaker on the Amendment which has just been disposed of has wandered in this region, and has, I think, expressed approval, with the exception of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who suggested that it would receive favourable consideration from him. I know that so far as the Liberal Members for Scotch constituencies are concerned it will receive their unanimous support. I am authorised by them to speak in their name to that effect. It is obvious that with regard to Members below the Gangway opposite, both those who represent Labour constituencies and those who represent Irish constituencies, it is a movement which receives their most cordial support. I think front all quarters of the House this proposal will receive support. On business matters it is undesirable to deal with generalities, but there is one generality which I should like to express as being the reason why I was most anxious to bring this forward. I think from a purely business point of view. apart altogether from sentiment or our sense of duty to our neighbour, which animates everyone in public life, I would suggest to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that if he facilitates the work to which I have referred, and if he 285 improves the conditions of those who have to bear the burden of work in our large towns, and if he helps thus to improve the standard of our citizens, he will be improving an asset which after all is the greatest asset that the country can have. From a business point of view—and I care not whether one asks employers of labour, or those engaged in almost any calling, or asks the people who have to do with those who are living under bad conditions in large towns—I am sure one and all will say that the greatest necessity of the country at the present time is to have people of a higher standard, physically, mentally, and morally, and better fitted for the work which this country has to do.
§ Mr. GEORGE CAVE
I am glad to follow the hon. Member for Forfarshire, whom I may be allowed to congratulate on what I believe is his first speech in this House, because while I go further than he does in my objection to the tax now proposed, I am able to confirm from very recent experience what he has said as to the probable effect of the tax upon the purchase of small portions of land. I have been associated with hon. Members of this House for some months past upon the Land Transfer Commission, and if any hon. Members have read any part of the evidence already published by that Commission, I think they will not have failed to be struck, as I think all the members of the Commission have been struck, by certain facts. One is the enormous number of small sales of land which are going on day by day and week by week in this country. We have had before us members of land societies and societies of that kind, who have spoken in some cases of as many as 100 sales per week effected by their societies—sales, of course, of small plots generally for the purpose of housing people on them. As regards the cost to the purchaser of these plots, I think the hon. Member's figures would not be far wrong. We find where sales are considerable that, generally speaking, about 1 per cent. of the purchase price will (at all events, in the country) pay the legal and other expenses with an extra ½ per cent. for duties; but with regard to smaller sales and purchases, where the work is pretty nearly the same, although the money responsibility may be said to be less the percentage of cost on the purchase price is very much larger, and in those cases even an addition to the cost 286 of ½ per cent. on the purchase price would be very severely felt. My idea is that if a man has to pay £300 for a plot of land he might be able to raise 30s. for the stamp and 30s. for the cost of transfer; but if he has that increased even by 30s, it will be to some small purchasers a consideration in determining whether he shall or shall not purchase.
We have all on both sides of the House been anxious for years past to make easier and especially to make cheaper the transfer of land. That is a part of land reform in which we can all of us sympathise, and it is somewhat of a discouragement to come, as I do, from a body where that matter is being sympathetically considered, and find that at one blow a Liberal Government proposes to double the tax on transactions of that kind. It will not only affect the purchase of land for houses, but it must have an effect on the purchase of land for small holdings, and, indeed, all small purchases of every kind, and I join in the hope that consideration will be given to these transactions. But I go somewhat further. I have heard for years past from hon. Members opposite, and those who think with them, that one of the objects of land reformers. should be to make easier and cheaper the sub-division of large estates and dealings in land of all kinds. The argument is not confined, and I think it should not be confined, to very small purchases, but should apply to larger purchases in cases where. people buy portions of large estates, either for development or for other pur poses. In transactions of this kind, this extra tax will be a burden and an impediment, because, remember, as we have already heard, the tax is charged not only on the purchase price, but where land is bought subject to a mortgage on the mortgage money due, I have known many; cases in my own experience where a man was not able to pay the whole value of the estate, but has bought the equity of redemption for a few hundred or a few thousand pounds, subject to a mortgage of very much larger amount. It is a hardship which has long been felt that the purchaser should have to pay an ad valorem stamp duty, not only on what he actually pays, but on the very much larger sum of the incumbrance subject to which he buys. That burden so felt, I think, strengthens the argument against doubling the burden in the manner now proposed. It should not be forgotten that the person who pays the duty is not the vendor. It is not the man 287 who is receiving the money who pays the duty. It is always the purchaser who has to pay the duty, and he will feel the substantial addition made to the stamp duty on the whole cost—
§ Mr. EUGENE WASON
The hon. Member is not quite accurate in saying that the stamp duty is always paid by the purchaser. In Scotland the custom is invariably that it is borne equally between the vendor and the purchaser.
§ Mr. CAVE
I am stating what is the universal practice in England. I was not aware that the practice differed in Scotland. I would press upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer to tell us why he has chosen this particular time to double this particular tax. I hope we shall hear from him why, for the purpose of getting a not very large income, he proposes to impose a tax which will be a burden on the landed interests of the country. This Resolution proposes to double the tax not only upon sales, but upon leases of lands—another very undesirable thing. We have under one of the land taxes a reversion tax—a proposal which, in my opinion, may have the effect of entirely extinguishing the leasehold system in this country. I think it very likely that tax will have the effect on many estates of inducing the owner to give up the practice of leasing land—a custom under which large improvements have been effected in this country—and to resort to the practice of letting from year to year. This tax may tend to the same result. If you double the tax on leases you discourage leasing, and the two proposals may have the effect of bringing about a change which, I think, is undesirable in the practice of dealing with land. It does not affect the land-owner only, it affects all proprietors, whether of real or personal estate. Having regard to the other proposals in the Budget Resolutions, I look upon this charge as another and serious blow at owners and occupiers of land, and I hope it will be considered from that point of view, and that the House will express its opinion upon it.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
I think it is desirable that I should rise at this early stage of the discussion. I have had the advantage in the Committee of having the case presented in two very able speeches. If I may be allowed, I would join in the congratulation which has been expressed to the hon. Member for Forfar- 288 shire from the other side of the House on the very able first speech he has made this afternoon. The hon. and learned Member for Kingston has put to me a very pertinent question, which I will do my best to answer. He has asked me why I have chosen the present occasion to double this tax. It is because I am in want of money. That is the only answer I can give in regard to every tax. I do not agree with some hon. Members that taxation is a good thing in itself. That is not the point of view from which I approach these taxes I am proposing. Taxation is a very disagreeable necessity, because the State is in need of money. I think taxes are in themselves thoroughly bad things. Somebody spoke this afternoon in the preceding Debate about the tax being an unpopular tax. The only popular tax is that which is paid by somebody else. Every tax is unpopular to the person who has to pay it. I do not care what the tax is, it is bound to be a burden in the long run upon industry, and if you increase the expenditure of the country, and if hon. Members press the Government to increase the burdens of the country, they should bear in mind that every increase in the burdens has to he met, and that there is only one way in which a Liberal Government can meet it. They do not care to borrow. They have to pay it out of taxation. They believe in paying as you go along, and there is only one way of meeting these burdens, and that is by taxation. I do not propose this tax to lessen the facilities for the creation of small holdings. I require money some way or other, and I have to endeavour to distribute the burden in the way that will be least injurious—I will not gay most beneficial—to the community as a whole. That is all that I claim for this tax. I shall have to elaborate that, because I agree it is a tax which requires definition. It is a mistake to regard it as a small matter. This tax produces—I have not the particulars here—something like £900,000 in the course of the year. If I do not get the money out of this tax I shall have to put on a tax somewhere else. That is what I have to bear in mind. I am going to submit to the Committee that on the whole this is a very fair distribution of this portion of the burden. First of all I want you to bear in mind that even after this tax is imposed if the House of Commons agrees to it, it will be the smallest transfer charge in any country in Europe. I want you to bear specially in mind that most of the countries I quote are countries where there are small 289 holdings. In the course of the preceding Debate, someone said that if this country was a country of small holdings no one would ever dream of proposing the tax. The greatest small-holding country in Europe, and the country with the heaviest land transfer charge, is France. In France the tax on transfer is 7½, per cent., in Germany it is anything from 2 to 3 per cent., and that is also a country of small holdings very largely. In Italy it is 4 per cent. Take another small-holding country, Belgium, which in many respects is similar in its condition to ours. It is not merely an agricultural country; it is also an industrial country. The tax there on conveyance of real property by way of sale is 5.50 per cent. Even if this tax were doubled and converted into 1 per cent. it would be infinitely the smallest in any country in Europe. With the exception of France, there is not any country in Europe of which it can be said that there is not a 2, 3, or 4 per cent. duty imposed on transfers. In France, it is true, it does not appear as on the transfers. The 7½ per cent. is there rather in some sort of a mortgage transaction. It is only made a tax by all kinds of legal subterfuges, but it has never been suggested that in any other country the tax interfered with the transfer of property in the slightest degree. My right hon. Friend has informed the Committee that he knows from practical experience what the cost of transfer is, and how it does interfere undoubtedly with small transactions. I agree with him from my experience that the greatest difficulties are with regard to title; but when you hear of a house, costing £300, costing £15 to transfer, I really feel as a solicitor that I was born on the wrong side of the Tweed; because it does not cost anything like that in our part of the world. I do not know where the £15 goes to, though I have a very shrewd suspicion, because the transfer of a house is a very simple transaction. You do not go very far back. The transfer of land is a very different matter. There you have to go into all sorts of questions of title, which is very often an expensive business, and I am not surprised that it would cost £15 or more to investigate the title. But when you come to the title of a house it is such a small business to get the title deeds, and such a very simple matter, that it does not cost as a rule anything like that in our part of the world. I daresay there are some complications in Scotch law of which I am 290 happily ignorant; and that may be the reason. There may be legal difficulties in Scotland of which I know nothing, and therefore I am not surprised that the transactions would be so costly. But he hit upon the real difficulty and the element that creates the real cost of transfer when he referred to the difficulty with regard to the registration of title.
I want you to bear this in mind, that one undoubted result of the land part of my proposals will be that you will in the course of years have a complete register of the titles in this country for the first time. What land transfers have failed to accomplish, and have not very successfully accomplished even in London, I think hon. Members may rest assured can be accomplished by means of the process we are setting up. It will involve a complete register of the titles in the kingdom in order to get at the owners; so you really get a simplification of the titles of the kingdom and you will get cheapening of the transfer of land; and therefore I want the Committee to bear in mind that when I propose to increase the charge on the transfer of land I am bringing it in as part and parcel of a proposal which will have the effect of simplifying the register of titles. I want the Committee also to consider what the effect on land would be of the expenditure of the money which I am raising. Take, first of all, the nine millions raised for old age pensions and the money we are raising for the purpose of including paupers, and other proposals. They will all have the effect of lightening the burden upon land, and lightening it very considerably. I do not think anyone can doubt that for a moment. It certainly ought to do it, and if it does not it will be the fault of local administration, because you arc taking on the shoulders of the Imperial taxpayers the burdens which otherwise would have fallen on the local ratepayers. As a matter of fact, my own anticipation is it will lighten the burden on the poor law to the extent at any rate of 15 per cent. That is a very considerable lightening of burden. That will certainly be the case after you have taken over the paupers' relief. Of course you cannot expect to take them over absolutely at the charge which they now come to from the local authorities. You must make special terms for them.
Let me put it to my hon. Friend what that really means. Take the case of a 291 £300 house. I suppose that would be a house with a rent of about £20 a year roughly. [An Hon. Member: "£15 to £18."] Well, £15 to £18, though I generally expect about 7 per cent. An additional 10s. on the transfer means 30s. added on to the cost in Scotland. It means 15s. added to the purchase in our part of the country. I do not know what the effect on transfer will be under that plan in this country. In Germany part falls upon the purchaser and part upon the vendor. The same thing applies in France. It is always taken into account in the purchase. The higher the charge is the more likely is it to become an element in the purchase price. I should not be surprised if that was the effect on the transfer; but when you add 15s. to the cost in Scotland, 15s. added on to the purchase price does not mean 10d. a year at 5 per cent., while Id. taken off the rate would mean a reduction of I s. 6d. a year, and these proposals mean considerably more than taking ld. in the £ off the rates. The owner of the house is getting more by means of these Budget proposals from the point of view of cheapening the possession of the House than the amount of the burden which is imposed by the Stamp Duty.
My hon. Friend has asked me to consider the question of easing off the duty a, far as the small transactions are concerned. That is a very natural attempt, which is made by every section of every class to put the burden on to some other class. Somebody has got to bear it; and if we are to spend 16 million pounds, and neither rich nor poor nor middle class pay, where is the money to come from? it does not drop like the gentle rain from heaven upon the ground beneath, blessing him that gives and him that takes. Somebody has got to bear it. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite complain that I am taxing the rich, and that I am taxing simply one class. Here is a simple proposal which bears equitably on all classes. There is absolutely no difference in the proposals which I make between the charge which I impose on the poor and the charge which I impose on the rich man. It is purely upon the purchase money. Yet hon. Members complain and say it is unfair that I ought to let the poor man off. The moment I let the poor man off they begin to plead that the rich man should be let off. The hon. Gentleman admitted that.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
It will really help me if the hon. Gentleman will tell me where else I would find the money? Can he really point out to the Committee where it is to be got? I want 16 millions. That is the position I am in. Up to the present the right hon. Gentlemen opposite have only given me £700. They have opposed every other proposal that I made; and they have only given me £700 from foreign. beer. The income tax, the super-tax, land, licences, and everything are opposed, and I have only got £700 to meet my creditors for 16 millions. That does not represent the smallest current coin of the realm as a proportion of the whole. I cannot possibly get on with that. I cannot pay not only for "Dreadnoughts," but I cannot even pay for a submarine. There is not a single part of a "Dreadnought" that I can pay for.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
The hon. Gentleman has made a great many speeches, and no doubt will make a great many more again. I say I have got to impose taxes somewhere, and it is a question of distribution, and when the taxes are distributed they are criticised as if I should impose a tax which did not hit somebody. That is impossible. What I have endeavoured to do is to try to distribute them as fairly as I could, getting every class of the community to contribute; and it is a very fair opportunity of taxation to levy a certain percentage when property is transferred. It is levied in this country. It is levied in other countries. We levy in this country when property is transferred by assignment, and by the death duties, and all I can say is that even if you double this duty it would be the lightest transfer duty in the whole of Europe. I should like very much to graduate it. That is the principle we have adopted in transferring estates by death, and I agree it would be very desirable if there could be graduation in the case of transfer by other means—assignments during the lifetime. But the difficulty is this: It is very difficult to prevent —I will not say fraud, that would be too strong a word—but the ingenuity of our profession from coming into play and dividing properties into three or four little transactions, and the fees which would otherwise have found a way into the 293 Exchequer, would probably find their way into the pockets of some ingenious member of the legal profession.
Well, now that is one thing I am afraid of. The other thing, of course, I am afraid of is the loss of money. The hon. and learned Gentleman himself gave himself away by saying there would be an enormous number of small sales of land. The more enormous the number the greater will be the loss to the revenue. I am quite willing to consider the question of graduation, but it will have to be very carefully considered. But I do not think that under any circumstances I could go as far as my hon. Friend suggests, up to £1,000 per cent., for that would really be prohibitive, and the tax would hardly produce anything. If you give away three or four hundred thousand pounds in this manner you would not find, for the class for whom the hon. Member is pleading, a better use for the money than if it were applied in the way we suggest, which is better than if you had sporadic and occasional abatements to be made under a graduation scale. I think this proposal is far better. At any rate, I promise him this: We are now, as I have pointed out over and over again in Committee, simply getting a general Resolution which will enable us to secure the maximum. There is nothing to prevent any hon. Member or right hon. Member later on moving for a scale of graduation within that limit. You can always move the reduction; you cannot move an increase. Therefore I trust the Committee, for the moment at any rate, will not make up its mind to a scheme of graduation until there has been time to think it out, not merely with a view to seeing whether it is probable, but also whether it is possible within the resources of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to make the concessions asked for. It is not merely one concession you have to consider; you have to consider the Budget as a whole. The right hon. Gentleman yesterday pointed out with exceptional force that it is very difficult to consider one tax without reference to the whole, and that is why I consider that this method of procedure is very undesirable, and, indeed, the very worst plan that you could possibly adopt. We are discussing each little Resolution in detail, without reference to the whole of the proposals. I think it would be infinitely better if we were to discuss the whole of the proposals, as on the occasion of a first reading. Still, we have to discuss 294 the matter within the limits of rules which were invented, I suppose, hundreds of years ago, and are scarcely applicable to present conditions. At the same time, I want the Committee to bear in mind, as I have impressed upon them over and over again, that it is of no use pressing a particular concession as it no others were to be taken into account by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. If there are any concessions to be made, I have always got to consider them in reference to others which are pressed upon me, and also with regard to the net result which I am to get in the way of revenue. It is not premature to raise this question, because I think it is exceedingly desirable that this change should be put in; at any rate, put in at the earliest possible moment. But the Exchequer and the Government as a whole should have full opportunity to consider this claim amongst others. There are the claims of hon. Gentlemen opposite with regard to income tax and with regard to licences which the Government will have to consider, and consider very carefully, and in respect of some of them I think we may be able to make concessions before the Budget as a whole is passed. We have got, as I have said, to consider these things as a whole, because I have always to consider the amount of money which is the very minimum which I can possibly get along with. I want to raise that money, and I have to consider very carefully indeed, not merely each separate concession, but I have to consider all the concessions which are pressed upon me, and I have to say whether in my impecunious position I can afford to make them. I am very glad my hon. and learned Friend raised the point, but I trust at the present moment he will see that all the Government can possibly do is to get this general Resolution, which simply lays down the maximum. but which will not preclude any hon. Member later on raising the question of specific concessions with regard to small holders.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
Since we came to an agreement last night as to the length of time we are to employ in discussing these Budget Resolutions, I have noticed a tendency on the part of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to spread his remarks over a very wide area. I think if any of us had risen to a point of order during the right hon. Gentleman's speech it would have been necessary on this occasion for you, Sir, to take notice of the fact that he was travelling far beyond the 295 Resolution under discussion. I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will bear in mind that we have a great deal of business to discuss, and that he will enable us to discuss as much of it as we can. I will confine myself strictly to their Resolution before the House. I will not, for instance, discuss with the Chancellor of the Exchequer the full effect of his proposals, which would lead us astray from the actual business before us. The Chancellor of the Exchequer's defence for propounding this Resolution is that he wants the money, and he adds that if it is not got here it must be got somewhere else. I think he expects £900,000 from this tax. For the services of the year he wants to raise not £16,000,000, but £14,000,000. Of that £14,000,000 I think the amount involved in the tax we are now discussing is £375,000. That in itself is a very small matter. I really should say that others of his taxes are so much underestimated, and that he will get the revenue he expects. The Chancellor of the Exchequer's first line of defence was that the transfer charges on property were higher in every other country of the world than here.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
Yes, in every other country of Europe. But the right hon. Gentleman admitted that in France they had reached a point where there was severe hindrance to transfer and also the evasion of the law, by which no taxable transfer takes place without the property actually changes hands. The right hon. Gentleman said that in no other country of Europe had any objection ever been raised to this tax.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
I never said there was no objection raised in any other country, because everybody objects to taxes in every country. What I said was that in no other country I know of have I heard that the tax interferes with the transfer of land.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I misquoted the right hon. Gentleman, and what he says is correct, that it had never been suggested in any other country that the tax interfered with transfer. In this country we are undoubtedly not very generally acquainted with the objections of taxpayers in other countries to the duties which they have to pay, and I am rather surprised to hear him 296 able to assert so universal a negative. I rather suspect that if we were more intimately acquainted with the facts we should not find that there was this universal satisfaction. But suppose it to be true—does that settle the case? In the first place, we want to know more than we do—I do not know whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer has the information—as to the detailed cost of transfer in those countries and how the other charges which it is necessary to pay on such transfer compare in these countries with the other charges which it is necessary to pay here. It is possible you will find that what in some cases they lose by the tax they gain in some other way. But even if they are worse off than we are or as badly off, is it wise for us to double the tax at the present moment? That is the real thing we have to consider. It is common ground on both sides that land is in too few hands in this country. Does it follow from that as a logical corollary that every time land changes hands we should double the tax on the transfer? Surely, if you want to increase the number of small holders on the land, you would cheapen rather than increase the cost of transfer. For years Members in this House and people interested in the subject outside have been seeking to cheapen the cost of transfer. Yet this is the moment when the Chancellor of the Exchequer chooses to double the tax. I say it is illogical and contradictory, and that you are undoing with one hand what you have been seeking to do with the other. Therefore I object to the tax altogether.
The right hon. Gentleman said it would not interfere with nor put an extra burden on the land in this shape at this moment, because the land is going to get it back in other ways. It is going to have some relief on the rates from something he is going to do, not this year, but next year, in relation to the deserving poor. Unless the Chancellor of the Exchequer deals with the question of local taxation as a whole, which involves a very large sum of money, I venture to say that any small changes of that kind will not bring any considerable or permanent relief to the ratepayers of the country. What they get by relief on one point will be swallowed up very shortly by increased charges on the other. This House is much slower to bring relief to the ratepayers than it is disposed to bring new and expensive duties on the local authorities who have to tax the ratepayers to meet them. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says that, by 297 another portion of his proposals, he was going to compel the practice of registration of title for all landed property in the United Kingdom, and he used that as an argument in favour of this particular tax on the ground that this registration of title being secured the expenses of asserting the title would disappear, and that while the tax was greater it would reduce the other expenses. At whose expense is he going to establish title to every portion of land throughout the country? Are we to understand from this interjection that, in addition to calling upon the land-owner to value his land, he is going to call upon him to prove his title to the land and to register a clear title? If that is so, he is going to put a much more intolerable burden on the owners of the land than we have hitherto understood. We shall have to recur to this suggestion when we are discussing that part of his Budget by which the right hon. Gentleman says it will be done. I will not go further into the question now. I will not even discuss the merits of the proposals for the graduation of this particular tax which have been put forward on one side or other of the House. If the tax is to be carried, we must consider whether it shall be graduated or carried in this form. The Government said when they brought in the Budget that they were not imposing taxes which would affect trade or industry, but this particular tax affects hundreds and thousands of business transactions. I think it is a bad tax to increase, and I think it is a bad time to increase it, and accordingly, whether it be graduated or not, I am not in favour of it, and shall vote against it.
§ Mr. G. RENWICK
This is the first time that I have attempted to address the Committee since the Budget was introduced, but I have listened very carefully to the various speeches made in regard to it. Particularly I have listened to the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I am beginning to find what is running in his mind, because invariably when a tax is objected to he appeals to us as to what we would tax in place of the tax he proposes. With regard to that, it is no part of our duty to say what we would tax if we were in his place. It is our duty as an Opposition to point out why we oppose the taxes that he proposes, and next I notice that he invariably tells us that he is putting on a certain tax because he wants money. That is a very good argument to come from any Chancellor of the Exchequer, but any Chancellor of the Exchequer who proposes to put 298 taxes upon a certain industry or upon a certain article with the purpose of raising money ought also to consider what would be the effect upon that industry or upon that article if he puts a tax upon it. The next thing we notice is that now he invariably tells us that certain things are done in France and in Germany, and, therefore, we ought not to object to certain duties, because similar duties are placed upon similar industries, or on similar commodities, in those countries. I would strongly advise my Free Trade Friends opposite to do their utmost to prevent the right hon. Gentleman paying another visit to Germany, because he will probably come back with further proposals for taxation that hon. Members opposite will not relish. We have nothing whatever to do with what Germany does or what France does. What we have to consider is: What would be the effect of the taxes here?
What is the tax that is proposed Before I proceed to deal with that I just want to say one word with regard to France and Germany, and that is this: that if those upon the land here had the same protective taxes they have in France and Germany, I venture to think they would be quite prepared to pay even more than is proposed by the Resolution. I also venture, with the utmost respect, to say to the right hon. Gentleman that this Resolution in itself shows, upon the face of it, that he has not given sufficient consideration to this particular proposal. He tells us now that if proposals are made for its modification and its graduation that he will consider them, but the Resolution simply says that the stamp duties charged upon transfers or conveyances of the sale of property or leases shall be double those now charged. That is very crude, simply to propose to double something, and the right hon. Gentleman hardly seems to know himself what it is he proposes to double. I think we are quite within our right in directing attention to what that doubling really means, and, before I conclude, I hope I will be able to make it a little clearer than it is at the present time to the Committee.
The right hon. Gentleman seems to think that the tax should be graduated. It is graduated at the present time. It takes some time to find out what it is he proposes to double. I have here the 51st Report of the Commissioners of His Majesty's Inland Revenue for the year ending 31st March, 1908. There we have a table of the cost of transfers and sales. It will be found on page 99, and upon the next page 299 will be found the taxes upon leases. Now, what we have to consider is: What are the effects of doubling this tax? We first have a proposal from the right hon. Gentleman that he is going to put a tax on undeveloped land, with the avowed purpose of bringing that undeveloped land into the market. In other words, he is going to tax that land to bring it into the market. Then he immediately proceeds to double the tax upon the transfer of that land, or in other words, he proposes a tax to prevent that land being transferred. If that is a logical argument or a logical conclusion to draw from the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman, then I say if he had wished to adopt any means whatever of making more difficult the transfer of land or houses, he could not have adopted a more effective means than he has adopted by the proposal before us.
It is very refreshing to hear from the hon. and learned Member for Forfarshire (Mr. J. Falconer) a lawyer's opinion in regard to the excessive charges upon the transfer of house property and of land. From my own experience I find that nothing surprises a man more who has bought a house than the cost of transferring it. He is absolutely appalled when the solicitor's bill comes in. Take a case a very short time ago. I bought a house and some outbuildings, for which I paid £3,000. I wish to give the Committee a concrete case. I bought this house and outbuildings, with a garden of some two acres, for £3,000. Nothing could be more simple than to transfer that property. If it had been a ship, for instance, of ten times the value, I could have transferred it for about £10, but after considerable trouble a bill came in from the lawyers for nearly £60 for transferring it. Then a bundle of documents came in which I could hardly carry. That shows the difficulties there are in connection with the transfer of houses. If it is that difficulty with £3,000 the difficulties may be less with £300, but they are still considerable. What is the effect of this proposal upon the house bought by a working man value, say, between £200 and £300. At present the stamp duty, if he pays £200, is £1. That stamp duty is to be raised to £2. If he pays £250 at present the duty is £1 5s. That is to be raised to £2 10s. If he pays £300 or upwards it is now 5s. for every £50. That is to be increased to 10s. I do contend that that is an injustice to the 300 working man who may have saved a few hundred pounds, or it may be a few pounds, and buys through a. building society.
Every building society or friendly society connected with the transfer and sale of houses is affected by this duty. It may be nothing to a Cabinet Minister with a large salary, or to a lawyer with a large salary, but it is of great importance to the working man who has saved a little money. I am surprised to hear the right hon. Gentleman making a proposal of this drastic description simply by a crude Resolution that he is going to double certain duties. Let us take the leases of furnished or unfurnished houses or of pieces of land. The right hon. Gentleman talks about graduation. If he will refer to the Report he will see that the fees are graduated, and that the stamp duty increases as the length of the lease increases. For instance, with a rent of from £75 to £100 for 35 years it is a 10s. duty, which will now be increased to £1. If it is 35 to 100 years it will be increased from £3 to £6. If it is for over 100 years—and many leases on which small property is built are for over 100 years—the present duty is £6 on a rent of £75 to £100. That will be increased to £12. Those are very drastic proposals. I maintain the Committee is justified in discussing these measures, and in calling attention to what they actually mean.
I am surprised that the Leaders of the Labour party sitting on the benches below the Gangway seem to pay no attention to this tax that is proposed to be put upon the gentlemen they profess to be sent here to represent. It is a matter of the greatest importance, and I do not care whether it is brought in by a Liberal Government or any other Government. It is their duty to criticise proposals of this description. do not wish to weary the Committee further. This is the first time I have intervened with regard to the Budget Debate, but I do maintain that we, as business men, are bound, notwithstanding the appeals made to us by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to call the attention of the Committee to the effect of these proposals. If the right hon. Gentleman is so anxious to raise money I do think that he ought to consider, as I said in the beginning, not alone what he is going to get from certain proposals, but also what is going to be the effect of the proposals which he makes. Many of the proposals, as he knows, have already been adversely criticised, and it is very significant that he tells us that the only money he has got is 301 £700 for imported beer duty. If the right hon. Gentleman pays a few more visits to Germany I venture to think that he will find from that £700 a way in which he may raise even a much larger duty in the future.
§ Mr. G. H. RADFORD
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has not attempted to justify the tax which he has now brought before us in this Resolution. He has only told us he must have the money. This makes me recall the prayer of Dr. Johnson:—O Lord, save us front poverty, bemuse of the vices inseparable from it.Here we have a Chancellor of the Exchequer who recently entered office full of the highest proposals, and in the very first year of his office he finds himself trampling on Liberal principles which he has advanced all his life—that is, that we ought to do all in our power to remove the obstacles to the free transfer of land in this country. The only word the Chancellor of the Exchequer said in support of this tax is that there were even higher taxes in various European countries. That is an argument which does not produce any effect on my mind. In the same European countries where higher taxes on the transfer of land are to be found you also further find the countries in which Protection is rampant. I think that argument will not have any effect on this side of the House. I should like to turn from the topographical and geographical surveys to which we are invited by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to an historical consideration of the subject. I would like to remind this Committee that ad valorem duties on the transfer of property were first imposed in the year 1815.
That was in a moment of great national emergency, in order to provide the expenses of a European war; and even at that time the taxes on the transfer of property then imposed were less than the Chancellor of the Exchequer now invites us to adopt. The taxes were reduced from time to time until 1850, when they were brought to their present point. The ad -valorem duty on conveyances of land was fixed at 10s. per £100, and it has remained at that ever since. There are 16,000 solicitors in this country, and not one of them is old enough to remember in his professional experience when there was any other ad valorem duty on the transfer of property than that 10s. per £100. After a lapse of 60 years I regret that it should be a Liberal Chancellor of the Exchequer who comes forward with a proposal to 302 double that duty. The hon. and learned Member for Kingston (Mr. Cave) has laid stress on the fact that the transactions which will be the subject of taxation under this Resolution are extremely numerous, and represent very small amounts. As the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated in his Budget speech that he only expected to obtain £650,000 from this tax, and that a great part of it would come not from transfers of land, but from other transfers, it is quite clear that a comparatively small sum, say £400,000, may be raised by the tax on the transfer of land. If you divide that sum up among the transactions which take place, it will probably be found that £400 or £500 represents the average value of those transactions, so that there will be something like 200,000 transfers annually to which these Budget proposals may be an obstacle. Instead of removing, as we have desired to do, all obstacles to the free transfer of land, we shall in a practical and-concrete manner oppose every year, in the form of this increased duty, something like 200,000 obstacles to the transfer of land. I know that the money has to be raised; but I believe that there are ways of doing it, if it is necessary—which I gravely doubt—which are less injurious to the interests of the community than the tax here proposed. It is only to raise something like £300,000 or £400,000. You cannot buy a "Dreadnought" for that money, and by this Resolution you will be doing an incalculable amount of mischief for a very small sum of money.
§ Sir WILLIAM BULL
I desire as a solicitor, having a somewhat considerable practice in reference to small estates, to give my views on this Resolution. I cannot understand why the Chancellor of the Exchequer should wish to lay another tax on the landed interest. It seems extraordinary that in this Budget land should be singled out for attack in so many directions. It seems to be the Chancellor's principal henroost. I deplore very much indeed, on the grounds which the hon. Member for Forfar (Mr. Falconer) so eloquently put forward, that the stamp duties should be doubled. I wish to bring before the Committee the exact cost of some of these smaller purchases. I have taken out the figures with regard to the actual duties paid in reference to a £300 freehold purchase. I say nothing about the commission which has to be paid; I imagine that the purchaser has arrived at the solicitor's office. He first has to pay 6d. on the contract, then 10s. per £100, which on £300 303 makes £1 10s.; then comes the land transfer fees if it is in a registered county; he has to pay fees of 6s. per cent., that makes 18s.; then he has to pay 5s. for searches of various kinds, making in all £2 13s. 6d. If the stamp duty is doubled it will mean £3 instead of £1 10s., or a total of £4 3s. 6d. That is merely the stamps alone, with nothing whatever for remuneration. Now take the question of costs. Previous to the Solicitors Remuneration Order solicitors charged, as a rule, by the length of the deeds. It was a very cumbrous and inconvenient process, and no doubt led to a great deal of unnecessary verbiage in legal documents; but it was practically the only way in which solicitors could be adequately remunerated for their services. That led to abuses, and a Committee of this House sat on the question of solicitors' charges, with the result that a Remuneration Order was drawn up, whereby solicitors could not charge more than certain amounts. I think the Committee thought that in every case the highest amount would be charged. As a matter of fact, when a minimum and a maximum charge are laid down in that way, the highest is never charged. However strict a trade union one may have, there are always people willing to be blacklegs and to charge less than the trade union rate. That is exactly what occurred with regard to the Remuneration Order. Personally I am not surprised at it, because the solicitors who sat upon that Committee were men in very large practice, who had seen a great deal of large transactions. In my opinion they put the scale very high indeed when they suggested that the lowest possible fee should be £5. In these smaller transactions, where houses are sold for £100 or £200, clients naturally kick at having to pay £5 to the solicitor. The result is that solicitors undercut each other, and a much smaller fee is charged. I could name seaside towns where the cutting solicitor's fees would be quite half those authorised. Another cases solicitors are in the habit of charging exactly the amount of the stamps on the deeds. If the stamp on the deed is 30s., the solicitor merely charges another 30s. for his services. Returning to my bill of costs, we have now reached the sum of £4 3s. 6d. for fees and £5 for costs on a transaction of £300. Very often a man cannot pay the £300 down, and goes to a building society or another solicitor in order to borrow £200 or £250. There, strictly speaking, the solicitor could charge another £5, although 304 I am afraid he never gets it, and there are items of 16s. and 7s. 6d., bringing up the total charge which a solicitor could make, if an attempt were made to tax his bill,. to over £15 on a £300 transaction.
Therefore, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer suggests doubling this tax, I think he is doing something which will have a very serious effect on small transactions of this kind. I do not think he can remember the days when he was in actual practice as a solicitor. The number of transactions which take place is enormous. The land registry has not been very long in existence, but I have seen some of their forms on which there are already six or seven transfers recorded. That will give some idea of the transfers which take place. In my opinion, money Is always flowing in one or two directions. At one time it is on the Stock Exchange. Everybody believes in securities, and invest their money in that way. Then corner a slump, and for weeks or months people keep their money in their pockets or in the bank. A solicitor, architect, auctioneer or builder comes along, and suggests that the money should be invested in land. Immediately a boom takes place on that side of the scale, and solicitors, auctioneers, builders and other trades are set to work. Money is put out on mortgage, people are informed that land will not fly away, and so on, and many transactions take place. By this proposal I believe they will stop that. A great many small people who are looking forward to buying their property will be stopped from doing so by this proposal to increase the tax. The Committee would hardly believe how closely these transactions are cut in the suburbs around London. If you go to the sale-rooms in Peckham, Hammersmith or Highgate, where sales take place in the evening, you will see small capitalists bidding, not £5 bids, but £1, and even 10s. bids, for property to the value of £200 or £300. And even before they buy they go to their local solicitor and ask what his charge will be for the transaction, so that they may know exactly whether they can make a profit or not. One of the speakers on the other side expressed a fear that this proposal would result in leaseholds being given up. I trust that that will not occur. The leasehold system has done a very great deal in all our great towns; it has done far more than any freehold system; and in developing large estates, where street after street is properly laid out, it is far better than any freehold system, where people practically put up what 305 style and kind of house they like, while other plots are left undeveloped because the owners think they may benefit by other people putting up their property. One effect of this tax will be a beneficial one, I quite believe, upon those land sales which are going on all around the country, where a man puts up an estate in a block. The sale is advertised very largely, a special train is run down to the place with first-class free tickets, and a 5s. champagne luncheon is provided. After the luncheon the auction takes place, deposits of 5s. or 10s. are paid, and so on. We know of the case recently that occurred at Herne Bay. The only consolation that the poor unfortunate purchaser had was to be told that when the tide was low he might see his land. Understanding that this discussion is general, I would certainly like to inquire from the Chancellor of the Exchequer with regard to stamps on transfers.
§ Sir A. ACLAND-HOOD
May I suggest to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that it might be possible that the other Resolutions relating to stamps which follow the present one might be included in the general Debate on the one we are now discussing? It is not usual, I admit; but it has been done in this House with regard to Budget Resolutions. If we can come to an arrangement by which all the questions of stamps can be debated and discussed on this one Resolution, it would give hon. Members who wish to speak a chance of speaking early in the evening instead of spending a great deal of time in the division lobbies.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
I agree. It is very desirable, if things can be arranged, that this discussion, if possible, should not be confined to one stamp; otherwise the rest of the stamps may be passed over with no discussion at all. That would be very undesirable, but subject to your ruling, Mr. Emmott, I should join in the appeal to the Chair to allow this discussion, by consent of the House, rather to extend to all stamps than that it should be confined to one; otherwise we may go on with this particular stamp till ten or eleven to-night. I have something to say about other stamps, which I think will be of interest to those interested in the stamps.
I feel a little difficulty about this matter. The question has been put to me by both sides of the House. It is a matter as I understand of general convenience. Of course it is very unusual. It is entirely against our ordinary rules of Committee Debate, by which we must 306 confine our discussion to that which is before us. Again, I must point out that no Amendment can be moved except on the Resolution before the Committee. That is obvious. Still, if it is for the general convenience of the Committee I do not want. to stand in the way. I must, however, lay down very clearly that this must not be taken as a precedent. Sometimes one finds other points that one cannot foresee arising when one allows a liberty of this sort, therefore it must not be in any way taken as a precedent. It must be for this occasion only.
§ Sir W. BULL
I just conclude what I wished to say with regard to the question of transfers by one or two questions to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I want to point out a hardship that came before my notice to-day—a matter in which this duty will have a rather injurious effect. I know an estate in London which has now got somewhat on in years, and has only 12 or 13 years left of the 99 years' lease. It is a fairly large estate, hut the roads are narrow and inconvenient. The freeholder and the leaseholders have come to an arrangement whereby any of these leases—for there are a number of these cases—can be surrendered and fresh leases given. Several of the principal roads on this particular estate are to be widened, and a general rearrangement is to be made-whereby the property will be immensely improved. It seems to me that this is a case in which this extra tax will act with peculiar hardship. The amount will be very large, and this stamp duty, which has been unexpectedly thrown into the bargain, will have the effect of materially altering the arrangements going on with regard to this estate. I very much fear that London will suffer from this improvement being withdrawn for a number of years—possibly 12 or 13—and I think it is my duty to bring this case before the Chancellor. I also want to ask him a question as to why is he has framed his Resolution in the way that he has done in describing "property and leaseholds"? What does he mean by property? Does he mean freehold property, "and" leasehold property? Why should he include leases particularly, and nothing else? Does he propose to do it with regard to mortgages? Does he propose to double their duty? Does be propose to double the stamps with regard to contracts, and generally double practically the whole of the stamps that have to be used in the science of conveyancing? I do not quite understand from the Resolution 307 whether that is his intention or not, and I shall be glad if he will give me an answer.
Then I also do not understand as to whether he is going to insist upon payment upon transfers on stocks and shares, when it is really for a nominal consideration, and only for the convenience of the parties holding them, and where there is really not any valuable consideration. For instance, there are a number of banking companies in which the capital uncalled is very large indeed, and the result is that these banking companies, for their own protection, are bound, and do insist that any executors who hold shares on the death of a testator have to have these transfers absolutely transferred into their own names. It will be very hard indeed if in that case stamp duty has to be paid.
§ Sir W. BULL
I was speaking of transfers, but I am really now dealing with Question No. 39, which I put on the Paper yesterday, but on which I am trying to extract from the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer an answer. I am anxious to learn from the right hon. Gentleman as to whether he includes transfers of that kind. The transaction is really for a nominal consideration, and for the convenience of the parties concerned, and I want to know whether in the event of a transfer being insisted upon duty will have to be paid in regard to it? Then again, there is the question of the transfer from surviving trustees to a new trustee as a trustee inter vivos. I suppose we must consider that every 20 or 25 years some such alteration of trustees may take place. Are you going to charge stamps then?
§ Sir W. BULL
That concludes the few remarks I have to make with regard to the question of transfers.
§ Mr. ATHELSTAN RENDALL
As representing what is called the lower branch of the legal profession, I am not at all sure that a good deal of the burden referred to in the stamp duty will not fall upon the members of that profession, and it may be said that it is not passing fair that one profession should be selected. I am quite 308 certain that the members of that profession are for the most part Conservatives, but I am not sure that they would take it as a compliment what was said yesterday that they would not pay this large levy. It will lead to a small decrease in their costs, but having respect to what they have said about "Dreadnoughts," about the Army and Navy, and so on, and the fact that it is an intelligent profession, it is, I think, on the whole, a compliment that that great educated profession should be called upon to bear part of the impost. They might regard it as a compliment to their intelligence. I especially desire to ally myself with the Chancellor of the Exchequer in this matter, for I remember his speech before the Incorporated Law Society, when he was presented with his portrait. Then he said that he would be unworthy of the great office which he held if he allowed prejudice, feeling, or favour towards any section of the community to interfere with the proper discharge of his duty to the public. I believe it has required great courage on the part of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to propose this stamp duty—to put this particular proposal into his Budget. Personally, I regard it, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer said he regarded all taxes; but we must have regard to the alternatives. They are bad. We know exactly what the alternatives on the other side would be. They would come to taxes on food and manufactures, and these we feel would be far worse. Therefore, we are in favour of taxes of this kind. Speaking for myself, while I regret that my own profession should be called to bear the brunt of £400,000 or £500,000 per annum, it is, I say, a prosperous profession, and so closely allied with safeguarding property that I am sure it will not fall behind any other profession in the country in its interest in preserving property. And if "Dreadnoughts" are wanted, surely the legal profession, having a great deal of private property to look after for which it is paid, ought not to object to pay some small tax, so that the property of the nation may be properly looked after by the State.
§ Mr. H. H. MARKS
I am sure we all heard with great satisfaction the assurance that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has in contemplation the making of certain concessions, and that the only point upon which he is as yet undecided is as to the directions in which these concessions should be made and what particular interests they are to benefit. I venture to put before him 309 a claim from those who will be affected by the alteration of the stamp duties in financial business on the Stock Exchange, and I would ask his attention to the question whether the new stamp duties are not calculated to bring about a very considerable, a very regrettable, diminution of the business?
§ Mr. H. H. MARKS
Precisely. These contract stamps, amounting hitherto to a very inconsiderable amount, have been paid by the broker who transacts the business. The broker does not count the pence, but when it comes to a question of sixpences and shillings it will be a charge which the broker will undoubtedly pass on with other charges to his client. Therefore, the question I ask is whether this new stamp duty is not likely to send to Paris and other financial centres a very considerable part of the business which is now transacted in London? Paris, I need scarcely say, is increasingly becoming a very formidable rival to London as a financial centre. It is perfectly true that the stamps duty the right hon. Gentleman now proposes will only bring the charges up to about the charges which exist in Paris, but there are other advantages in Paris which one must take into consideration. I know it is said that these charges are very small—indeed, that they are infinitesimal—but no one knows better than the Chancellor of the Exchequer that in these days competitive prices on the Stock Exchange are cut exceedingly fine. The differences are not always quarters or eighths or sixteenths or thirty-seconds but reach the exceedingly fine point of sixty-fourths, not at all an uncommon occurrence, and so keen is competition both in dealing with stocks for investment and what is called arbitrage business between various financial centres that even small stamp duties are likely to count. Apart from that, one has to consider what would be the effect of the increased ad valorem duties in the matter of American bonds. It is certain when these duties come into effect they will send business from London to New York, where bonds can be bought direct instead of through English brokers, so avoiding the stamp. They can be deposited there, and disposed of free of all English charges. It is particularly unfortunate that these duties should be raised at this particular time when, after the long and deplorable 310 period of extreme depression in the City, business is at last commencing to revive.
There are one or two point s in the Resolution under consideration which are not entirely clear, and upon which I hope that before we come to the end of our discussion this evening we may have light from the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Notably there is that of stamps imposed upon contracts in which the option is given to purchase or sell stock. I am not suggesting for a moment that, having regard to the extremely urgent necessity of the right hon. Gentleman, some sort of stamps on option might not be permissible, but I venture to point out that options are not always gambling transactions. The option is a form of Stock Exchange operation to which men of moderate means are sometimes bound to have recourse. Take the case of a man anticipating the receipt of money either from a relative who has recently died and whose estate is not yet administered or from some other source. He may desire to invest a few hundred or a few thousand pounds in a stock of which he has a particular knowledge, but the money is not available immediately. He does not want to lose the opportunity which would be available if he had the money. In these circumstances what ought he to do? He buys the option of acquiring the stock at a period when the money will be available. I say that in that way the option cannot be regarded as a method of gambling, because it is really a serious operation. I am not clear what is meant by clause B, which says: —" In the case of the sale or purchase of money, stock, or marketable security by a person who by way of business deals or holds himself out as dealing as a principal in stocks or marketable security by a broker or agent." It may be that that refers to jobbers, or does it only to bucket-shops?
§ Mr. H. H. MARKS
I am very glad to have that assurance. I understand that jobbers are not to be included.
§ Mr. H. H. MARKS
Then it is intended for bucket-shops, and I hope it will be effective, but I doubt it very much, and for this reason. The bucket-shop keeper has not any necessity to deal or to hold himself out as a principal. The public has become much too wary, and our bucket-shop keeper has stopped that method. He has had 311 recourse to another and an entirely distinct method, to which this proposal will not apply. He does not deal with stock as a principal; he starts a syndicate. He himself buys ten or twenty thousand pounds' worth of stock. He then invites the wide wide world to contribute by buying syndicate shares of £5, £10, or £15, and in that way he gets flies into his net, and I cannot see how this otherwise most admirable proposal is going to apply to the bucket-shop keeper. Unless he deals or holds himself out as dealing as a principal in stock he will not be affected. If he does not deal or hold himself out as principal, but merely takes part in a syndicate formed for Stock Exchange operations, how is the right hon. Gentleman going to touch him? I leave that to the right hon. Gentleman for consideration. He has shown so much ingenuity in this Budget that I do not despair of his ability to bring this man within his net. There is only one other point to which I should like to invite the right hon. Gentleman's attention. The importance of small investments is a matter I am sure he appreciates. In some directions of late it has been urged that the tendency of present legislation is to discourage thrift. I am quite convinced that is not the desire of the right hon. Gentleman. On the other hand, if there is to be increased duty in respect of investments, this increased duty must not be considered entirely by itself. It must be considered in connection with the commissions which are charged on the Stock Exchange, with the duties attaching to the transfers of Stocks, and with the general costs of the operations. I hope when the time comes to consider the question of concessions the right hon. Gentleman may see his way to exempt from the operation of these new stamp duties the small bonâ fide investments on the part of people of moderate means who simply desire to secure the little money they have by investing it in the right class of securities—I mean people investing up to £50, £100, or £200. I think these people ought to have some concession in respect of these duties. In the course of a recent Debate it was said in regard to stamp duties and the transfer of land that they would tend to simplify the registration of titles. I do not think any such reason can be urged in connection with the increase of stamp duties on the Stock Exchange. I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will see his way at a later stage, when the period for carrying concessions into prac- 312 tice comes, to give heed to the suggestion I have ventured to lay before him.
§ Mr. E. G. PRETYMAN
I do not think we have yet exhausted the whole of the subject-matter which ought to be discussed on the first of these Resolutions. There is one in which I take a very particular interest. On the general ground of the good of the community I am bound to say that I think if there is a form of taxation which requires to be more carefully restricted than any other, and as to which there is a greater objection on principle than to any other form of taxation, it is that class of taxation which interferes with free communication, or the free circulation of property in any form. I think it will be generally agreed that when things are going well, and when a community is prosperous, it means that both land and money and property in all forms are freely circulated, and it certainly is a part of the duty of the Government to see that there is no form of a tax imposed which will in any way hinder that particular item in the necessary prosperity of the country. If there is one subject which has been more frequently discussed than another in this House, and on which there is more general agreement in this House than upon any other subject, it is that something should be done to make the transfer of land easier from one person to another. My experience in rural districts teaches me that there is nothing which, in the case of the man who has saved his little bit out of his wages, and who desires to be the owner of a little piece of land, has. more effect upon his determination to purchase than the cost of the transfer. As a matter of fact., anyone who has had any practical experience in transactions of this character will agree that when a labourer or an artisan, more especially in a rural district, desires to acquire a small piece of land, he usually has to go for it to someone who has got a good deal of land. [An HON. MEMBER "Hear, hear."] I think the hon. Member who says "Hear, hear," will admit that it is no advantage to a landowner to part with a little piece of land, probably only a quarter-of-an-acre, because he will only get a. small price for it, and no land-owner wishes to charge a very high price in such cases.
If the owner of the land has good will towards the purchaser, as he probably will have, what is the ordinary course of procedure? He says to him: "You want to buy a quarter-of-an-acre of land to build a house upon, and you have pinked out the 313 corner of that particular field as a place where you would like to build. It is agricultural land, and is not very near the town. It is worth, perhaps, £10, but it is not worth my while to cut off a piece of my property worth £10 and undergo heavy law expenses for such a small transaction, as this." That is a common case. Now what does he say as a matter of practical common daily experience? He says: "All right; you want this little bit of land, and I shall be very glad to let you have it, but you must pay the cost of conveyance, and you must pay for the stamps." The man who wants to purchase says: "What are they going to cost?" If there is to be an extra duty upon transactions of that character it will certainly have a deterrent effect upon a man who has only very small means indeed, and who has to look at every shilling before he decides whether he shall purchase the land or not. There is another point which I do not think has been mentioned, and that is the effect of this extra duty upon the Small Holdings Act which has recently been passed. As I understand this extra duty will fall upon leases equally as upon freehold transfers, and this is more serious because the whole policy of the Small Holdings Act is to create a very large number of leases which are to be entered into by the county councils with the owners of land. The county council has to acquire a 36 years' lease of land from a private owner, and the council has to again lease that on sub-leases to small holders, and on every one of those transactions the stamp is going to be doubled.
That hardly seems to me to be a wise policy. The putting of a poor man upon poor land and then increasing the taxes in every direction and increasing the price of transfers and making it more difficult and expensive to live than formerly seems to me to be adopting two opposite policies. If we are to have small holdings it ought to be the object of the Government to do everything that is possible to reduce the cost of the transfer to the public authority. Here we have the Small Holdings Act introduced under which innumerable leases and transfers of various kinds are to take place all over the country, and in the case of every one of these transfers the stamp duty is to be doubled. I do not know whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer was so very far-seeing that he has arranged an excellent system whereby he would drive the game into his net. It certainly has that appearance to those who are going to 314 be the gainers. There is a great deal of game of that description in the rural districts, and apparently they are all to be shot by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. As to the duties upon Stock Exchange transactions, I do not desire to discuss them, and I prefer to speak upon matters upon which I have special experience. But on behalf of those who have any connection with land, whether their property be large or small, on national grounds I protest most strongly against the proposal of the Government to increase the transfer duties. I think it is of the greatest advantage to the community that certain classes of property should pass freely front one person to the other. Why does property pass from one to another? Generally speaking, it is because the person taking it can make better use of it, and it is clearly in the national interest that property should be in the hands of those who can make the best use of it. You should, therefore, try to encourage the transfer of property; but here in this case you are making it more difficult and expensive. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said there was no evidence in regard to other countries, with the exception of France, to show that a heavy duty on transfers restricted the transfer of land from one party to another.
What evidence is there on this point? It is an entirely negative statement. It is obvious that any party statement cannot alter the conviction of anybody on this subject, but it is quite clear that the cheaper the transfer of land is the more people will buy land. It is useless to say that when you are increasing the duty on the transfer of land you are not preventing these transfers taking place. If you increase the duty the effect must clearly be to keep these transfers back. I make a general protest strongly against this constant reference to foreign taxes. We are importing at present a great deal from abroad, but I do not think that we need import taxes. But that appears to be the object of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He has hardly spoken on a single occasion without reference to these foreign taxes. He has spent some time in finding out the value of the foreign taxes which we do not enjoy. These foreign taxes are applied under different conditions from our own. They are different in their incidence, and their application is different from similar taxes in this country. To bring forward the argument that somebody else in a foreign country is bearing that particular tax in an aggra- 315 vated form is an argument which ought not to be advanced in this House. We have not hitherto followed other countries in taxation. We have tried to lead them. To bring forward a particular tax in another country has no particular bearing on the argument which we are discussing. We want to discuss this tax on its merits. There is very little to be said for it, and I trust that when we get to the Finance Bill it will be found that this particular tax has been omitted.
§ Mr. H. GREENWOOD
I shall restrict my remarks to a subject on which I have personal knowledge and a strong feeling. I refer to the proposal that the Colonial duties shall be doubled—I mean the duties which are now chargeable. The Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Budget speech referred to bonds which are issued by Colonial Governments. I should like to ask the Attorney-General what he means by Colonial Government. I wish to address myself to the question of municipal bonds and other gilt-edged securities in the Dominion of Canada, narrowing my area of discussion to that Dominion with which I am happily very familiar. The question has already been discussed in the House of Commons in Canada, and that House has opposed a motion of 10s. per cent. on these Bearer Bonds. At the present time a Canadian municipality must come naturally to the Home Country for money to carry on its enterprise. At the present moment these municipalities have to reckon with the lenders of money on a 10 per cent. duty on these Bearer Bonds. Then there are insurances, freights, and duties on the actual bonds themselves, as well as the difference in the rates of exchange, so that the lender has to pay something like 17s. 6d., which is to his disadvantage, compared with the American lender of money. If this 10s. on Bearer Bonds is added to this 17s. 6d., the lender has to reckon with 27s. 6d. to his disadvantage on these gilt-edged securities. Between Canada and the United States the lending of money is easy. There is no stamp duty on Bearer Bonds that are dealt with in the United States. Recently a stamp duty has been passed in different States. Insurance companies that used to go into speculative enterprises are now restricted to these gilt-edged securities, and a loan to a growing city is naturally considered as a gilt - edged security of the best kind, so that at 316 the moment there is the keenest competition between American investment houses and London investment houses for these millions of loans in money that are issued yearly by the Dominion municipalities or by Dominion industrial or other concerns of the first rank. If I take a typical case which actually occurred, it is that of the city of Vancouver and British Columbia, which recently issued 1,500,000 dols. worth of Bearer Bonds at 4 per cent. Now the English financier, in tending for that loan, has to allow that if the present proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer becomes law—and it certainly will not become law with my assistance—if it does become law he will have to allow 20s. for the stamp, and 8s. 9d. for insurance, freight, and exchange, and other incidental charges. In other words, the American financial house can tender for that loan at 99, while the English financial house, in order to get the loan on the same terms, would have to tender at £97 11s. 3d.—a distinct disadvantage to the English investment house of 28s. 9d. One may say what difference does it make? Canada gets her money and the United States lends it to her. But I submit this, that to put a tax on these Bearer Bonds to. Canada is to tax the exports that go from this country, and that represent the principal moneys comprised in the loan from year to year. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer is against taxes on imports, he is against taxes on exports, but here is a tax on Bearer Bonds which, in itself, is merely a scrap of paper. But the lending of money by English firms of financiers means the employment of many in a large number of industries, to send back the principal in the way of goods. For a series of months or years this goes on, and Canada returns the money in the way of raw material in repayment of the principal money of the loans plus the interest, so that if these loans are not continued—and I submit they will not be continued to the same extent if this proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer becomes law—if they are not continued the result will be that the American investors, being successful in obtaining the loan on municipal bonds in any city in Canada, or in any other undertaking of a gilt-edged kind, will get the trade; for we have it on the dictum of numerous occupants of the Front Bench that trade follows the loan. Here is a case in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself is endeavouring to pick 317 the cherries by the somewhat primitive method of cutting down the tree. If you stop the loans, you check exports, and if you check exports you dry up the industries employed in supplying the goods that make up the money for repayment of the loan. You check the imports that go to find the principal and interest. I say that at the present moment, when money is loaned by the Mother Country it is by reason of sentiment that Canada goes to England for the loan, and I think it is bad politics and worse statesmanship to discourage that healthy sentiment by the application of the harsh system of icy economics which the Chancellor of the Exchequer is advocating to-day.
Under the present system the Mother Country gets a safe investment. Under the present system employment is engendered and carried on, and thirdly, under the present system the Mother Country has an opportunity to assist by her capital in the development of that great Dominion across the Atlantic. Canada, forsooth, under the new system when the taxes made on bonds to bearer, bonds which in many cases will be prohibitive, will still get her loan, but she will get it from the United States, and unquestionably there is a tendency when you borrow money for one purpose from one country to go there for subsequent borrowings. You may depend upon it they will go to America in future cases, whereas, if I had my way, it would be found more to the advantage of this country to encourage English investors to lend to the Canadian borrower rather than to allow him to go to the United States. If the English investor is to be subject to this duty unquestionably he will not be able to get the loan at a paying price, and the United States will not only get the loan, but it will get the employment which is the outcome of the loan, and will reap every advantage which would otherwise accrue to this country, and all this because the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who cannot possibly have any knowledge of the delicate mechanism of lending money in different parts of this Empire, wishes to get this year £100,000 the next year (which he calls a full year) £350,000. I submit to the Committee that it is not sound finance. Further, I submit it is the very negation of Free Trade to make the stamp duty so high that it interferes with that easy and, I believe, essential necessity to prosperity, the untaxed and unhindered flow of the media of exchange which always precedes the exports of the goods themselves. This 318 tax interferes in this way: It strikes a blow at the industries here at home, and it strikes a blow at what I consider is an Imperial tie, which is always strengthened by the lending of money by the Mother Country to any outlying part of the Empire. Because I feel from my own experience, which has been very considerable in this matter as one who has to advise rather frequently on Canadian questions, the right hon. Gentleman is unwittingly but none the less certainly inflicting a grievous harm upon the industries of this country and upon Imperial interests, I shall certainly go into the Lobby against this Motion.
§ Major COATES
I would like to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or whoever represents the right hon. Gentleman at the present time, a question with regard to the duty on deeds of gift. The point I want to raise is the charge on deeds of gift. I want to know is it to remain at 1 per cent.? I do not quarrel with that; but what I should like to ask is whether or not, when the trustee is changed, and I presume these deeds of gift are mostly made to trustees, the 1 per cent. will be payable again, or whether the ordinary 10s. will be chargeable as at present? It is a very important matter. Take a deed of gift for £100,000 with four trustees, if one of them dies at present there would be no stamp duty paid at all—there would be only a charge of 10s. in order to replace the name of the trustee by another name. I would like to know, however, whether or not if a trustee is changed under these proposals, the charge would be 10s. or would it be 1 per cent. again? In the case of £100,000 trust with four trustees, one trustee—in consequence of death, illness, or retirement—might go out of the trust in the first 10 years, and every 10 years there might be one vacancy, which would' mean 1 per cent., or £1,000 out of the trust. That would mean a deduction from the capital of that amount, in addition to the heavy duty which had been paid. If such would not be the case, at any rate, I would ask the right hon. Gentleman if he could. give me a little information with regard to that Coming to the question raised by the-remarks which fell from the hon. Member who has just sat down, with regard to the stamps on bonds, I may say that I entirely agree with every word that he said. I have had, personally, some considerable experience with regard to the purchase of some very large lines of securities, we wilt say in Canada, and I would like just to. 319 mention that only within the last three weeks, since the Budget speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was made, I have had an opportunity of doing a very large piece of business in a very large sum of money with one of those very Canadian Corporations which the hon. Gentleman mentioned in his speech. I will not give the name publicly, but I am quite willing to give it to the Chancellor of the Exchequer privately. I found that these people came over here to dispose of their bonds, and that this question of an extra -duty on stamps, so far as England was concerned, was likely to lose us the business of finding this money, because we found ourselves at once in competition with New York. New York was able to compete with us for these bonds, and was able to offer per cent. more than we were able to do, because New York does not charge any stamp duty, and, as has been mentioned, there is no insurance duty or freight to be paid by them for bringing the bonds from the other side of the Atlantic to London. The money market in this country, therefore, in dealing with these first-class bonds, has always been handicapped by the fact that New York is so much nearer to Canada, and that freight and insurance is much less. In addition to that we have now been handicapped by the question of the stamp duty. At all events, my experience in the City has been that with all that handicapping we have been able to overcome the difficulty, and in most cases, though I will not say in all, we have been able to take the bonds when we have been put into competition. I would like to call attention to this fact also, that these bonds are not only sold by private treaty, but by tender, and I have in my recollection now that some of the bonds of a very fine character in one of the very best corporations in Canada have been secured by means of tender.
One of the things in this country upon which we flatter ourselves is that we are the money market of the world or, at any rate, we have been, and one of the great things that we have to look forward to is that we shall, if possible, retain our present position. But we know that other countries in the world are getting ahead in regard to trade, and, very naturally, they are thus better able to compete with an old country like ourselves, and in such a competition we certainly want all the weapons we can have in order to keep our position as the first money market in the world. I am speaking as one who for many 320 years has had to work daily in the City of London, and has had naturally a certain amount—I will not say a great deal, but a certain amount—of experience in dealing with these large loans and in dealing with stocks and shares, and I do recognise that the money market is one which has very delicate ways, and you must not go to work in any way roughly with it. You must be very delicate in dealing with anything which has to do with money. You soon frighten those who have the money-and prevent them from investing, and there is one thing which we have always endeavoured to do in this country—at any rate, in the City—and that is to get the very best terms we can for those who are over here to obtain money on their securities and to obtain the best securities we can. In that way we have been able to levy tribute in this country on the best securities. But hon. Members may say: "We do not see these securities change hands. We only see occasionally £400,000 or £500,000 changing hands, and what is that to the millions of money which this country is supposed to invest yearly? "They do not see, however, what is going on underground. They do not see the millions of money change hands during the year, in the purchase of bonds and securities from outside countries by this country. The bankers of this country, the insurance offices, the large trusts, rich men, and others, are always on the look out for first-class securities, and I believe it is an axiom, laid down by the Prime Minister himself, that it is good for this country that capital should leave it and go away. Now if it is good for this country that capital should leave it and go away, surely there are two maxims which are to be drawn from that; first of all. that it should be easy for the money to go away, and secondly, that what you receive for your money should be a first-class security.
I maintain that this extra charge, raising the duty by 10s., will militate in a very great degree against the 'Asperity of this country, but I do not want the Chancellor of the Exchequer to consider the City of London wishes to shirk any responsibility. That is the last thing that they want to do. The revenue of this country has to be found, and it must be found. I am one of those who believe that we should not only have four "Dreadnoughts" but eight "Dreadnoughts," and if the money has to be found for them, it must be found, and I am not going to complain about anything I have to pay, but 321 what those of us who have any business experience ought to do, is to raise our voices not to say that we should have no taxation, not to say that these millions of money should not be raised, but simply to say that in raising these millions of money for the revenue of the country, and for what the country requires, you must be very careful that you do not injure the credit of the country itself, or do anything to interfere with the condition of things which makes your money market the money market of the world. I do not know what may be in the minds of the Government, or of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but I would like to say that we have heard from the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the question of land taxation the heavy percentages which other countries charge on the transfer of land, and I would like just to mention the charges which other countries make with regard to stamp duties on issues in their country or securities coming into their country.
Let us take France. France has been mentioned very often in our Debates with regard to this question of taxation, and France heads the list. She charges £2 per cent. on all her bonds. What is the result? There is very little bond work done in France itself. The French people are only too eager and ready to deal, but, unfortunately, they do not deal on their own Bourse. I do not object so far as London is concerned, because they come over here and can do their business cheaper, and we get the opportunity of having a big free market. The larger our market the more it attracts. It is only natural. Now we will go to Berlin. There are very heavy charges in Berlin, but the charge on these bonds is 12s. per cent. So far, we have always been able to compete well with Berlin and with other countries. Then we come to Amsterdam. Amsterdam is an old-fashioned financial centre, and there are many great firms with great credit and great sums of money there. We have now to compete with Amsterdam, because the charge on bonds there is 8s. per cent. New York has no stamp duty at all, and they are getting richer and richer with their natural resources. Brussels is not a very large money centre, but it is a money centre, and it is a city which is competing very rapidly with the other financial centres of Europe for good and paying business. France has I do not know how many telephones direct between Paris and Brussels, simply in order that they may transact 322 their business with Brussels. Brussels is benefiting by that, but France, in my view, is losing by it. Brussels charges nothing at all. So far as this country is concerned, all we want for our investors is the very best bonds we can possibly get. The best bonds we can get, to my mind, should come, and do come, from our Colonies, although very properly the Chancellor of the Exchequer has arranged that so far as Colonial Governments are concerned the charge should continue at 2s. 6d. per cent. The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down made a very pertinent remark. He said: "I want to know what you call a Colonial Government. Are the nine Provincial Governments which comprise the great Dominion of Canada the class of Government which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has in his mind, or are they not? "They are magnificent borrowers for all that, and we in England would far sooner, if we had a first-class security and a very good return, as good or even less, that money was lent to our own Colonies than to foreign countries.
There is no doubt that very large sums of money are deposited in this country from abroad. They have to be utilised by the banks or the credit establishments with whom they are deposited, and there is no better security than the class which we are now discussing. I know that in many respects the large sums which are deposited here with banks and large trust companies and credit establishments are used over and over again in order to finance and to take up some of these bonds about which I have been talking. The hon. Member gave figures with regard to the expenses attached to the purchase of bonds. I know of my own personal knowledge that even with the present 10s. stamp hundreds of thousands of pounds have gone through with the profit of only 5s. or 7s. 6d. per cent. I do not object to paying it personally, and I do not ask to be relieved of my responsibilities. I am asking the Chancellor of the Exchequer to take seriously into his consideration whether or not he can get the money in some other way, possibly from the same source, but get it in such a way that it will not chill the circulation of money from London to America. I am so afraid of turning the London market by this 10s. into a refrigerator, refrigerating all the money which circulates from foreign countries. We can look after our money when it keeps pouring in here, and we want to keep it here, and not to drive it away to Amsterdam or Brussels. We have had a tremendous 323 fight to get it here, and the least we can do is to ask any Government in power, independent of party politics, to do what they can for the country and keep us the money market of the world.
I would like to ask a question with regard to transfer stamps. It may be known to many Members that money is often borrowed by commercial men and others from their bankers. Let us presume there is a firm which is banking with a first-class bank in the City of London, and which has £10,000 security in London and North-Western Debenture stock. Naturally sometimes they may want money. Sometimes remittances which are due do not turn up, and they have to pay bills which become due. They lodge that stock with their bank, and say to their banker, "You have this London and North-Western stock. It is true it has not been transferred to you, you have it on a blank transfer, but we want you to put to our credit £5,000. We shall be able to repay you in a week's time, when we get our remittances from America." The week's time goes by and they pay off that £5,000. They therefore release the charge on the stock, and it remains as it was a week ago, but a transaction has taken place. Then they go on for another fortnight, and perhaps they want £2,000 each week during the whole of the 12 months. I am talking of something I have had experience of myself. During the whole 12 months that stock may be borrowed upon, and the loans may be repeated 50 times. I want to know from the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, in the absence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what would be the position of a man in such a case. Would he have to pay 1 per cent. each time he borrowed money from his banker, because if that is the intention of the Finance Bill which is to be brought before the House all I nave to say as a business man of considerable experience is that it will be an awkward thing for business men in the City of London. May I say at once that I do not pretend to speak for the Stock Exchange? But I speak as a Stock Exchange man. I may say this for Stock Exchange men, that there are no more patriotic men living under the Union Jack. They have shown what they can do in the South African War, and in a long period of years they have never objected to take their share in national duty when called upon to do so. I do not wish in any carping spirit to discuss this question from a Stock Ex- 324 change point of view, but I would say that if you are going to charge a £1 ad valorem transfer duty and a 2s. contract stamp, I know that that will kill the business of a. great many struggling young men. I warn you, and it is for you to decide whether you think it wise and proper, from the point of view of the interest of the nation, to impose these charges. Some of the large firms will suffer too.
I now come to the question of option notes. Supposing a man has an option, we will say, to buy £100,000 of Consols at the end of the month at a certain price. He thinks the price is going to rise, and he goes into the market, and, backing his own opinion, says: "I believe Consols are going up, and I want an option on £100,000." Up to the present time there has only been 6d. stamp on that contract, but very properly if at the end of the month the man who has the option choose20s to exercise it, or as we say, "call" the £100,000, he has to pay the proper stamp duty. Now you are going to reverse the whole of the proceeding. If a man wants an option you are going to say to him, "You must pay the 2s. duty on the £100,000 when you make your first contract, and if at the end of the month you do not exercise the option you can apply to the Treasury and they will refund to you the amount of the 2s. duty." I do not know why that is to be done. Do the Treasury say that the men who have been dealing in options have not done their duty in the past? Do they not trust them? On the other hand, if the Government carry out this scheme, it will absolutely squash all dealings in options. Options are, I shall not say the basis, but a large portion of the basis, of the free dealing which takes place in the London stock market. You have options in foreign securities, American railways, Consols, home railways, mines, and, in fact, in almost every security which is dealt in on the Stock Exchange. These options themselves are a sort of spoon which turns up the dealings in the securities which the public buy and sell. It is in this way that you are able to get close prices. You can get a one-sixteenth price in £100,000 of Consols, and you can get a half per cent. price in nearly every security dealt in the Stock Exchange. Why is that? It is because this House has never trammelled that great financial heart of the Empire. You have taxed them here and there on their profits. I do not think many of them are making profits which will involve them in payment of the super-tax. I am not quarrelling with the super-tax or with the raising 325 of money for the good of the country. I am only suggesting to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that, whatever he does in regard to the question of stamps, he should be careful not to impose duties which will seriously interfere with business. The right hon. Gentleman expects to raise £350,000 a year from this duty. It is a large sum, but what is it to a nation like this with the position we hold in the money markets of the world. I only raise my voice in protest, not against the raising of money for the good of the nation, but against action on the part of the Government which will have as its result, I will not say the killing, but the impairing of the great position we now hold in the money markets of the world.
§ Mr. C. E. PRICE
I would like to support the appeal made to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to reconsider this proposal. Two years ago I was in Canada, and I met some of the men who are in the present Ministry there, and they frequently referred to the fact that there was a disposition in Canada to borrow money here. I am sure that this increased duty will have the effect of checking that, and I sincerely trust, from that point of view, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will reconsider the proposal he has made. I do not think the amount of money that is to be raised is really worth the irritation it is going to cause. There is to be also an increased stamp duty so far as the transfer of land is concerned. We on this side of the House have the idea that the proper thing to do is to make the transfer of land as cheap as possible. I think, therefore, the increased stamp duty with regard to land will materially check that which we have been looking forward to for a considerable time. As regards Scotland, there has been a commission of inquiry into the registration of titles, and we were hoping that when the Report of that Commission was made some legislation would take place. It seems to me that this proposal to increase the stamp duty on the transfer of land will kill the whole object we have in view in the way of getting a cheapening of the transfer of land. Recently I was making inquiries into the registration of a tract of land in Spain, and I was surprised to find that in a country like Spain. so far as the cheap transfer of land is concerned, we have a great deal to learn from that country; and I would suggest, if no reasonable arrangement can be made in the case of the large estates, that exemption should be made on the 326 transfer of small plots of land. You might take the figure of £1,000, below which there should be no charge for this transfer. I sincerely trust that so far as stamp duties on these small plots is concerned the Chancellor of the Exchequer will see his way to give the concession that is asked.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham has made a very interesting speech, and, if I may say so, has put some very pertinent queries to the Committee, and I think he is entitled on the merits of his speech to an answer to the questions which he put. The hon. Gentleman, in the concluding words of his remarks, returned to the altruistic spirit which moved hon. Gentlemen at the commencement of the Debate this afternoon, because, he said, he pleaded not for himself: it was not that he wanted any relief from taxation, but that his mind was fixed on the struggling young men on whose behalf he was pleading rather than on behalf of those of his own ripe experience, and no doubt equal profits, who are perfectly well able to take care of themselves.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
It was very satisfactory, I think, to find so distinct a change in the tone of the Debates to-day from what we have had in the previous discussions, to find people much more concerned with regard to the burden that somebody else has got to bear than that which the Budget proposes to put on their own shoulders. Both the hon. Gentlemen the Member for Lewisham and the Member for York, after dealing with some other points, dealt more particularly with the case of Canada, and the hon. Gentleman the Member for York, the whole of whose speech unfortunately I did not hear, put this particular question: He wanted to know in what position the provincial governments of Canada would stand. I think their position in this matter is governed by the Act which fetterated the various provincial parts of the Dominions into one whole. I speak without having had reference to the Act, but in that respect, if my memory serves me aright, they stand in a different category from the States which form the Commonwealth of Australia. A personal experience of my own led me to ascertain what was at the present moment, for the purpose of trustee securities, the position of the provinces of 327 Canada and the States of Australia, and how they stand under the various Acts which federate these two great Dominions in different relations to each other for the purpose of trustee investment. The provincial Governments of Canada are not independent Governments from that point of view, whereas the States of Australia are, and without committing the Government to any definite expression of opinion, that is as I understand the state of affairs at present, and it would not, therefore, be unreasonable that it should in future govern the application of these duties.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I wanted to ask a question to be sure that I understood what the right hon. Gentleman has intended. He has not made a definite statement except that the position of the provinces of Canada is different from that of the States of the Commonwealth of Australia, which is, of course, quite true. I understand him to mean to convey that the provinces of Canada will not have the benefit of exemption, but that the States of the Commonwealth will have the benefit. Is that so or have I misunderstood him?
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
I think that is the position. The right hon. Gentleman will appreciate the difficulties of the position from the fact that the two Acts which govern the federation of these States have at present from the monetary point of view different applications. The hon. Gentleman the Member for York, if I may venture to say so, has not made too much of his case. I did not quite understand whether he was suggesting to the Committee that it was the English lender who was going to suffer or the Canadian borrower. [An HoN. MEMBER: "Both] Then the suggestion is, from the English point of view, that the American lender will step into the market which is already occupied by the British lender. If that is the position it is quite clear that the Canadian borrower will not suffer, because he will get exactly the same terms from the American lender that he is at present getting from the British lender. That must be so. If the terms upon which the Canadian borrower can go into the market at the present moment and borrow from the British lender are such as to be advantageous to himself, and that the imposition of a 10s. stamp is to upset the whole of his market for the purpose of borrowing, and that an advantage is given to the American lender which would be such as 328 to drive the British lender out of the market, then it is quite clear that that can only be done by the Canadian borrower getting the same terms from America as he does at present from the United Kingdom. If, upon the other hand, it is the Canadian who is going to suffer, and it is upon him that this taxation is to be imposed, and by him it is to be borne to his detriment, then it is quite clear that the British lender will not be affected by what has taken place. The burden will be pushed upon other shoulders, and whatever may happen the British lender will not be adversely affected. But, as a matter of fact, what has happened during the last year with regard to the monetary relations of this country and Canada? Canada has taken from this country something like 14,000,000 of money, and as long as this country has got the money to lend—I understand from hon. Gentlemen opposite that money is so anxious to leave this country that it will almost go anywhere to find investment abroad—if that is so, Canada, even under those conditions, which are described as so oppressive, will have access to all the capital that it can possibly desire to make use of. It seems to me that the hon. Gentleman's argument puts him on the horns of a dilemma from which it is difficult for him to escape. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham asked whether voluntary dispositions would have this extra charge imposed upon them. Had he been present earlier in the House he would have heard my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer reply to a similar question put by an hon. Gentleman opposite; he would have learned that in the case of voluntary dispositions of the sort he means, the transfers from trustee to trustee and similar purposes of that sort, no extra duty will be placed upon those transactions.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
In the case of wills where the securities have to be transferred into the names of the executors and then retransferred from the executors to the beneficiaries, would it apply equally there?
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
Yes, undoubtedly it would apply there, where there is no real transfer of interest, where in substance there is no actual transfer of real substantial interest. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham asked another question. He wanted to know whether, in the case where there are frequent borrowings, say of £5,000, to be repaid in a fortnight, 329 and the transaction renewed again a, month later there would be any charge placed upon those transactions. The charge is placed, not on borrowings, but on transfers by sale, and, in that case, there being no transfer by sale, it is quite clear that no duty would become either chargeable or payable. I think these were the three principal points which were put by the hon. Gentlemen opposite, and I only rose for the purpose of making clear what is the position in regard to them.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
There is some inconvenience in the course which the Committee have adopted—though no doubt in some ways it is useful when discussing these Resolutions — to have so many different and heterogeneous subjects brought forward, but the Committee, with the sanction of the Chairman, is entitled to consider them. We must, therefore, deal with them. It enables us, no doubt, to get some information about later Resolutions which we would have been unable to get had we dealt with these Resolutions singly. I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman who has just. spoken for the answers he has given to certain very pertinent questions put to him by my hon. Friend. My hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, Al ha has an experience which qualifies him 'to speak with authority in this matter, made a very temperate and publicspiritad speech, as all sides of the House will admit. He showed that he sought to put aside every shadow of personal interest that might affect him as a man engaged in this business, and that he desired to discuss it only as a public man concerned in the welfare of the country, and particularly in the welfare of London as a great money market, the business centre of the whole world. How was my hon. Friend rewarded for that conduct? He was taunted by the hon. Gentleman as to the nature of his remarks. It really was not becoming in the hon. Gentleman to use that kind of language to my hon. Friend, and, let me say that if the Members of the Government pursue that course, they will not find that it will redound to their advantage. While I regret the earlier portion of the hon. Gentleman's speech, my criticism does not apply to the later part of it. I regret the Chancellor of the Exchequer was not here. I am not wishing to criticise his absence, because the Chancellor of the Exchequer, like other men, must dine, but I the more regret his absence, because of the two very remarkable speeches we 330 have heard, speeches full of knowledge, raising very important points with which the hon. Gentleman opposite could not be expected to deal with authority. I am making no complaint as to his qualifications, only he is not the Minister in charge of the Bill, and nobody but the Minister in charge of the Bill could take a decision on such questions as were raised by the hon. Gentleman the Member for York and the hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham.
I hope, however, that the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer will he drawn to the report of this Debate, and in particular to the report of the speeches of those two hon. Gentlemen, because they spoke from their different experience, and they brought forward arguments which were sufficient to show that in the course of dealing with the stamp duties the Chancellor of the Exchequer is interfering with a very delicate balance, a balance so delicate that a little grain thrown into one scale or the other might make an enormous difference to the volume of transactions that are carried out on the London market. As the hon. Member for York very properly stated, it applies not merely to the value of those transactions, but indirectly to the trade in numberless branches throughout the country. We all know that there is a certain tendency when money is raised in a particular place for works to be carried out in another place, for the machinery and the material for those works to be purchased where the money is raised. It is not infrequent, I think it is becoming more frequent, rather than less frequent, to have an obligation expressed or understood that if the money be loaned by a particular country that particular country should have the advantages which accrue from spending so much of the money as is to be spent outside of the country borrowing. We are, therefore, not dealing with Stock Exchange or money market interests merely, but with very wide commercial interests, and with transactions where, as T have said, the balance is so fine that a very slight addition to one scale or the other makes the whole difference as to whether you get the business or not. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has come back. May I call his attention to some of the points that have been urged. We are dealing at the moment with the tax on Bearer Bonds in particular. The hon. Member for York took as his illustration Canadian borrowings by provincial governments or by municipalities of a progressive kind. He was not sure as to the 331 position of the provincial governments, and he therefore took municipalities. We now know from the answer of the Financial Secretary that in Canada provincial governments will be in the position of municipalities.
§ Mr. HAMAR GREENWOOD
I just want to interrupt for a moment. I would like to know from the Chancellor of the Exchequer if it is a fact that he has decided that provincial governments in Canada, many of them larger and wealthier than some of our self-governing Colonies or the States in Australia, are to be degraded to the rank of municipalities in reference to these Bearer Bonds.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
There is no doubt about the decision of the Government because I put the question to the Financial Secretary, and I am assuming that the hon. Gentleman gave his answer on the authority of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. If there be any correction to make I have no doubt the hon. Gentleman will make it, but undoubtedly it was stated by the Financial Secretary that the provincial governments of Canada will be in the same position as the municipalities of Canada in respect of having this new tax affixed to their bonds. The State Governments of Australia most nearly represent the provincial governments of Canada, and I think it is a very awkward anomaly—I quite agree it is an anomaly—which arises not so much by direct statute or legislation, but by the fact that when the Commonwealth of Australia was constructed the States reserved to themselves a different position from that which had been secured by the provincial governments of Canada, and they therefore secure advantages which the provincial governments of Canada do not get.
Now it appears that other municipalities in any of those colonies and that the provincial governments in Canada, as well as the municipalities, will have to pay the new tax. That being so, the hon. Member for York (Mr. Hamar Greenwood) called attention to the relative capacity of the English money market and the New York money market to compete for those loans and to secure them. He estimates that the English market will start with a handicap of anything from 27s. 6d. to 28s. 9d. against the New York competitors. That is to say, that instead of a tax of 10s., which is a handicap already, you will have 332 a tax of 20s., and you have insurances from here to Canada which are naturally higher and greater than the insurance from there to New York.
Let me follow up that statement by a further statement made by the hon. Member for Lewisham (Major Coates), from his own experience. A great number of those transactions under the 10s. stamp have been secured by Great Britain at a margin of profit of 5s. or 7s. 6d. That profit will be obviously wiped out and more than wiped out by the addition to the tax. The British tenderer for those gilt-edged Canadian securities must raise his tender, and will be at a still further disadvantage compared with New York for securities. I am quite certain that is not what the Chancellor of the Exchequer desires to do, and I hope he will, as he has constantly in these discussions alluded to the taxation of foreign countries in similar matters, that he will have regard to the taxation of foreign countries in this matter. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was not in the House when my hon. Friend was speaking, and I am afraid I am repeating what has been said in the recollection of several Members, but it is very important, and I would like to put the figures to the Chancellor himself.
My hon. Friend began by quoting France with a tax of £2 per cent., double the present proposals. What is the result? as my hon. Friend said. The result is that, though the French have an enormous sum of money to invest, this business is not done in Paris. The business is done in Brussels, and they have any number of telephone wires engaged between Paris and Brussels in transacting this business in Brussels, or it may be and it often is in London. Anyway, it is outside Paris, because the French tax is prohibitive. Now let us take Berlin, and Prussia is a favourite example; in Berlin it is 12s. per cent. We come to Amsterdam, a very dangerous rival. I have already seen one enterprising firm, and I think it is only a sample of many. In Amsterdam the terms are more favourable, being only 8s., but in New York, our principal competitor for Canada, it is nil. Brussels, another competitor which is becoming increasingly important, again nil. It certainly is not worth while —I am quite certain I shall carry the whole house with me in this observation—it is not worth while to risk the business which these transactions represent for the small extra sum which the Chancellor of the Exchequer is ready to 333 put on. If it be as I think it is proved by the speeches made by the hon. Member for York and the hon. Member for Lewisham that you are risking that business, and I think proved that you would lose a great deal of it, I do not think it is good business for us to risk so much to get so little. I had intended to speak more briefly, but the Chancellor of the Exchequer coming in and the importance of the subject being so great, I ventured to repeat to him the substance of the Debate which has gone on here, and I would very respectfully commend it to his more serious consideration. There were other matters in the other Resolution on which I had intended to speak, but I think I best serve the interests of the House and consult its pleasure, this very important matter having been raised, if I do not stand between them and the Chancellor replying, and leave us to concentrate our attention for the moment on this particular subject.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
I very much regret I was not present to hear the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for York and the hon. Member for Lewisham. I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for summarising those points for me. I agree that this is a very important matter, but I want the Committee to consider the whole position with regard to these various stamps. What does it really mean? At the present moment we are getting on money which is advanced on British securities first of all a half-crown, but we are getting a transfer stamp as well upon every transaction. Take a loan by a British municipality. It is not merely the initial stamp we get, but we are getting a stamp upon every transaction. Now that is the position as far as British securities is concerned. Those foreign concerns and Colonial concerns come to the British market to borrow money. Their sole contribution in the way of a stamp is the initial and final payment which they make upon the bond. They make no further contribution to the Revenue whatever or to the taxes, because it is a purely bearer bond, and unless you increase the initial stamp to a certain extent the result is that you are giving not equality to the foreigner, not equality to the Colonial, but a preference to the Colonial and a preference to the foreigner, and I want really the Committee to consider it. It is not merely important but is really a remarkable thing for the right hon. Gentleman to come and plead for preference for 334 the foreigner. Here they come to the market, which is the best market in the world, and all this talk about the foreigner not coming to the British market for money because there is a sum of 10s. on a transaction, everybody knows there is very little or nothing in it. They have got to come where the cash is, and this is where it is as long as we are a Free Trade country.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
The Leader of the right hon. Gentleman seemed more anxious that I should speak than that he should. I should not have got up were it not for the appeal made by the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
I really do not know what the suggestion is. I got up in response to the appeal of the right hon. Gentleman. Is it a grievance? [HON, MEMBERS: "No, no."] I will proceed with my argument. What I want to point out is that we are trying to find some sort of basis of equality between the two taxes. At the present moment the British municipalities are at a disadvantage owing to the way in which they raise money in the market. They pay the initial stamp, and after that there is a 10s. stamp on every transfer. On the other hand, the foreigners or the Colonials who come here prefer to take their money in the form of bonds to bearer. That means that we get no further contribution, and therefore we propose to put up the stamp to £1, which we think is a figure which will enable us to frank all future transactions. That is the view taken by France, which is the only very serious rival we have to deal with. It is true that within limits New York is a rival, but there is a limit, as everybody knows, beyond which New York cannot compete against this country and France. The surplus cash is largely in this country 335 and France. I know it is said that in Germany the stamp is 12s., but the difference between the German market and our market is not the difference between 12s. and 8s. The German market cannot compete with us, and it is not a serious competitor. Occasionally, no doubt, it manages to secure a few things which we cannot get, but on the whole the one serious competitor we have to deal with in this matter is France, and in France the stamp is £2, and we propose to go up to £1. The whole point is this. I know that owing to circumstances for which I am not responsible, a provincial Government in Canada is in the same position as a Canadian municipality. That is the law as it stands at present, and if my hon. Friend (Mr. Hamar Greenwood) or any other Member likes later on to propose an Amendment of the general law I shall be prepared to consider it on its merits. I am told, however, that there are difficulties connected with the Trustee Securities Acts. Everybody knows what has been the effect of extending the Trustee Securities Acts to Colonial stock. It has been very disastrous from our point of view. I am not discussing the matter on its merits, but before we consent to extend it we ought to consider very seriously what its effect would be upon our own market. It has had the effect of pulling down gilt-edged securities almost more than anything else. I am willing to listen to any suggestion from my hon. Friend, especially on Colonial matters, because he knows them so thoroughly, but before I can respond to an appeal of this kind I should like to know the effect of legislation with regard to trustee securities. I am not at all sure that it would not be a very serious matter. Therefore I cannot pledge myself in advance; but there is nothing in this Resolution to prevent the Committee later on from dealing with the matter. I agree that it does seem rather an invidious distinction to draw between a provincial government in Australia and a provincial Government in Canada. Substantially they are in the same position. They are part of a great Dominion or Confederation, and it would seem very unfair that what you give to Victoria, New South Wales, or Western Australia, you should deny to provinces like Ontario, Quebec, or the other provinces' to which my hon. Friend referred. But before I could consent to extend the provisions of the Trustee Securities Acts to the provincial 336 governments we should have to consider very carefully what the effect would be upon gilt-edged securities in this country.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I did not urge that. The right hon. Gentleman must not suppose for a moment that I was doing so. My words are on record; I certainly was not urging that.
§ Major COATES
The point I raised was that you should exempt the provincial Governments from the proposed rise; not that you should make their bonds trustee securities. That was never in my mind, and if the right hon. Gentleman had been in the House he would never have suggested it as coming from me.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
I am very much: obliged for that explanation. I will certainly consider the point. It is not so serious a proposition as the other. What the hon. Member now puts to me is within much narrower limits, and would not be of so far reaching a character. I do not think it is a very serious matter one way or the other, and if it would give great satisfaction to Canada I think it would be well worth our while considering whether we could not exempt provincial Governments. I think there is a good deal to be said for it. It is not a very considerable matter from the point of view of revenue, and the argument is almost irresistible when one considers that the same privileges are extended to the Australian States. I should like, however, to give a little more consideration to it to see what its effect would be.
It is no use quoting Amsterdam and Belgium; and certainly it is not the slightest use quoting New York. In New York there are no stamps at all. If we are going to put ourselves in a position of equality to compete with these other countries, we shall have to say that we will charge every British municipality full stamps, but that if a foreign country or a Colonial municipality or Government comes here we will charge nothing, in order to get the business. Really we cannot do that. That would be simply giving a monetary preference in favour of the exportation of capital to foreign countries and to Colonies, instead of its being put into British enterprises. All we are doing now is what on the whole I have always thought was fair. I have always thought that it was perfectly fair, if there were any conditions imposed upon a British industry which were not applicable to the foreign industry which came here, that the same conditions 337 should be applied all round. I do not think that that is inconsistent with any principles I have ever advanced, and that is the principle we are here following. We are suggesting that the stamp on these Bearer Bonds should be increased. If we do not do it the result will be that all the capital we advance to foreign countries will practically escape taxation altogether. The amount of these Bearer Bonds is growing, and we shall practically get nothing out of them at all. I forget how much it is at the moment—£50,000,000 or £60,000,000. I think; it is very difficult to get accurate figures as to the money exported each year, but at any rate it is a very considerable sum. I do not deprecate it. It very often means increased business; but at the same time we ought to put our own municipalities on the same footing as we put these foreign Governments or Colonial municipalities and Governments. The only way we can do it is by saying that in order to frank all future transactions the amount of the stamp ought to be fixed at 20s. instead of 10s. That is not excessive. It is only half what our greatest competitor—France—charges, and depend upon it, these being the two great money markets of the world, there is not the slightest danger that legitimate business will be driven from the City of London.
§ Sir FREDERICK BANBURY
I must apologise to the right hon. Gentleman for having interrupted him during his speech. I only wish to make a few remarks in order to clear up a few points, for the right hon. Gentleman now tells us that he has put this duty of £1 instead of 10s. upon these Bearer Bonds because he does not wish British municipalities to be in a worse position than foreign municipalities Or foreign capitalists. He thinks that unless he puts this duty of £1 upon Bearer Bonds, which, he rightly says, are growing, that the revenue will suffer. Well, I believe the revenue will suffer, and that it will suffer by this increased duty. I will show him why I think that. First of all, I would like to point out to the right hon. Gentleman that when he talks about the municipalities of this country he has apparently forgotten that up to the present moment investors in England prefer registered securities to bearer securities. The consequence is that on our registered securities a stamp duty of 10s. per cent. on every transfer takes place. [Slight interruption.] Yes, but there is no obligation on an English municipality to issue registered securities. On the contrary, when my firm 338 first brought out the first municipal loan which was ever brought out on the London Stock Exchange, a Leeds Four Per Cent. Loan, we brought it out in Bearer Bonds. If the other corporations had followed that example, or if the public had known then what it knows now as to the advantage of Bearer Bonds, they would have been in the same position as foreigners at the present moment. That is to say, they would pay, or would have paid—the rate was lower then—they would pay this 10s. upon these Bearer Bonds just exactly as the foreigner pays 10s. upon Bearer Bonds at the present moment. May I point out what the effect of this tax will be? The right hon. Gentleman thinks he is going to get an increase of revenue. I do not myself think so. I venture very humbly to disagree with my right hon. Friend behind me. I do not think myself but that if a borrowing State, or a borrowing company or municipality, wants to borrow in England, if they can borrow on the same favourable terms they will not hesitate, they will come here. The hon. Member for York (Mr.. Hamar Greenwood) is correct in saying that if they can borrow in certain cases on the same terms they will go to America. But the Financial Secretary missed the point. He did not seem to be aware that there was a difference of 30s., and that if borrowers can save that they will go to America instead of coming here. The hon. Gentleman seemed to think that there was only one borrowing country, and that was Canada.
Let me point out to the right. hon. Gentleman what is being done, and what will be done in a still greater degree in the future. I am not now going to deal with: a new loan by a municipality such as the hon. Member for York suggested, and on which 1 or 10s. is paid by a municipality on its issue. But for the information of the hon. Gentleman the Financial Secretary let me say that there are a very large number of bonds which have never been issued in this country, but which you can deal in, especially those of New York. For his information and that of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I will tell them what is being done now largely. An insurance company wishes to invest £100,000 in American bonds. The market in London is not very free in these particular bonds. That is to say, they have been issued in New York, some have been brought over here, and there is a quotation for them here, but the market is not very free Now, if that insurance company goes to 339 the broker here, and tells him to buy them half a million dollars' worth of bonds, he has got to buy them in the market, and the people who sell them buy them from New York, and they pay the £1 duty. If the insurance company sends direct to New York to a broker there that £1 is saved the company. [Interruption.] Oh, but it is a fact, and if the insurance company chooses to leave the bonds in New York for safe custody it never pays that £1 at all. There is no question about that. The right hon. Gentleman can ask anyone in the City here, and they will tell him it is so.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Well, if the right hon. Gentleman knows it then I am absolutely surprised that he still persists in this tax that is going to prevent these particular bonds coming over here in order that they may increase the revenue. I am almost inclined to say that his projects will prevent the income tax and the death duties also. My hon. Friend made some remarks about a free market which were received with derision. [Cries of "No."] I understood they were derisive cheers. [An HON. MEMBER: "Oh, no."]
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I am glad that at last lion. Members on the opposite side see that the right view of politics is on this side of the House. The principal thing in London is to have a free market. [Ironical cheers.] I thought that if hon. Members did not cheer in a derisive manner, some of the hon. Members below the Gangway would do so. May I point out the difference. There is no one on this side of the House, so far as I know, that ever contended that if we could have a free market in goods all over the world that we would not be Free Traders. But we have not got that. That is the reason, or one of the reasons, why we want a free market in bonds which are not produced in this country. There is another and very important one. It is to our advantage to have these bonds. It is not to our advantage to send them away, and not to the advantage of the right hon. Gentleman. I am really speaking in the interests of the right hon. Gentleman. It is really very platonic of me. But I do not want to see the right hon. Gentleman throw away the 340 advantages which he has already got. I think that the effect of this tax on Bearer Bonds which the right hon. Gentleman is going to impose will have an effect which is contrary to that which he supposes.
I should like to say a few words now upon a very important subject that has not been touched upon by anyone in the Debate, that is a question of contract stamps. I have the little Papers which the right hon. Gentleman has been kind enough to issue, and I find that he states that he believes that the amount which these contract stamps will yield is at present £125,000. The next and the following year he expects £250,000. May I ask the right hon. Gentleman on what information he founds that estimate, because it seems to rue that that estimate is absolutely incorrect? Of course it is very difficult to found an estimate upon such a duty, because it is a new duty, and it is always very difficult to find any basis on which you can draw a conclusion. I do not know where the right hon. Gentleman has got the basis which he has chosen, but in my humble opinion the only basis is the return from the banker's counting house. I do not know whether that is the basis which the right hon. Gentleman has taken. Now, I have had some very peculiar and interesting figures put into my hands by a friend of mine, who is a person qualified to give an opinion upon this matter, and he says that the Stock Exchange settling days taken from the ordinary clearing accounts are the proper basis. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, there are 26 of these days in the year. They are called settling days. Then there are Consol settling days, and they add about 50 per cent. to the ordinary day's clearing in the bankers' clearing house. Now, the grand total of the amount cleared is £12,120,362, and £3,000,000,000 may be taken as the loan account representing Stock Exchange transactions of the year. That is the actual amount of actual transactions, not speculative transactions, but transactions where money passes. The proposed contract stamp will therefore. yield £300,000 a year, and not £250,000, as the right hon. Gentleman says, that is the amount on the actual transaction involving payment. Now we come to the speculative business, and that is where the doubt comes in. Apparently the right hon. Gentleman has left that out of account altogether. My hon. Friend behind me, who is an expert in these matters, I think will agree with me that the speculative business is largely in excess of actual business where money 341 passes. My hon. Friend says, suppose you take it at 50 times as great as the ordinary amount of business where money passes. Well, I think that is too large. I am not giving these figures as my own. I started by saying that it is very difficult to argue what is a speculative conjecture, and I think 50 times is too large, but I do not think 10 times is too large. I believe that 10 times is as far as one may go in making a conjecture, and I think that is allowable. Ten times means three millions, not 250,000. The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head. Allow me to give him a concrete instance of one transaction which will show the enormous difference which this contract stamp is going to make. The right hon. Gentleman will agree with me that a contango is a purchase and sale which has been held in the law courts to be an actual purchase and sale, and such contracts are rendered as actual purchase and sale. According to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman in the Resolution now before the House, I am not now looking at large transactions—speculative transactions are nearly always large—the amount of the contract stamp would be 2s. per £1,000 upon actual purchase and sale. There are 26 accounts in the year, and, as hon. Gentlemen know, the loan of money is a very large portion of the business of the Stock Exchange, and it is very often done by contango, and not by loans. A great deal of it, both in register and Bearer Bonds, is done by contango—purchase and sale. Supposing that a bank loans £100,000 on the Stock Exchange, a man who lends it as contango gives his own security. The actual amount paid in contract stamps at the present moment is £2 12s. on £100,000, but the sum of £520 is what the right hon. Gentleman is going to take. I think that is a pretty big interest to start with, and it shows that the possible estimate of £3,000,000 instead of £250,000 is not likely to be absolutely wrong. Now £520 on £100,000 is one-half per cent., and that is about the profit which the broker hopes to make if he is lucky. Very often the broker carries out these transactions for a quarter per cent., and if he is lucky he hopes to get a half per cent. The whole of that profit is going to be taken by the right hon. Gentleman. [MINISTERIAL cries of "Oh, oh!"] That is a fact which it is impossible for any hon. Gentleman opposite to deny. That is not a speculative transaction either, because £100,000 makes about that amount in the ordinary way of business. When we come to the speculative transactions the result would be that 342 the speculator would be handicapped tremendously, and whether that is an advantage or not it is not for me to say.
Then there are the arbitrage transactions entered into between Brussels, Amsterdam and New York, in regard to which this stamp has to be considered. The effect of this contract will be to drive money away from arbitrage transactions and send them to New York and other countries where these stamps do not exist. When I first went into business in the City the London market was the market of the world, and Amsterdam and Brussels were small markets. In recent years the business of the Amsterdam and Brussels markets has been increasing, and so has New York, and it is entirely because none of these restrictions are imposed in those markets. I do not want to discuss this question at too great length, but it is an extremely important matter. I do not want to make any remarks in an offensive way, but I venture to say the two cases I have put forward the right hon. Gentleman has not considered at all. The right hon. Gentleman, before taking up a question of this sort, ought to have consulted people who had some knowledge of the matter. He has, apparently, done nothing of the kind. He has entered into this business without knowing what he was going to do. He has attacked an industry which is in a bad state. The last three years, or, at all events, two years, have been the worst which the City has known. Now he proposes to put a penalty on this industry for the purpose of bringing in £250,000 from contract notes and £350,000 from the bearer securities, or £600,000 in all. It is absurd to put all this impediment in the way of business in order to get this small sum. I do not think there is any use of anybody on this side of the House appealing to the right hon. Gentleman. I doubt whether it is wise for me getting up in the interests of the City and making this speech; but I am speaking in this way because I have some knowledge of the subject. I know that my facts are correct, and that they will bear examination, and I think that I ought to place them before the Committee.
§ Mr. B. S. STRAUS
I also have knowledge of this subject, and I should like to point out what will be the result if this proposal is insisted upon. I wish to refer to the extra stamp for carrying over contracts. I agree with the last speaker that it will bring in an enormously greater amount of money than the amount esti- 343 mated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. You can borrow money by contangoes much cheaper than you can borrow from the banks. At the last account it was possible to borrow money on Consols at 1 per cent. If a man borrowed on £20,000 worth of Consols he would have to pay 2s., that is 1s. for the contract note and 1s. for carrying over. He was able to borrow cheaply on that £20,000, but if you add the additional amount which is proposed that transaction would be killed. But such transactions are the basis of a great deal of business in this country. Far more than that is the facility for getting advances on goods. So that you discourage instead of encouraging trade, I am confident, in my mind, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the House would be of opinion that to do anything to hamper that kind of business would be a suicidal and not a Free Trade policy. I hope and trust that these transactions will come home to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. They are not fancy transactions. This sort of thing occurs every day, and members of the Stock Exchange know perfectly well that the daily business of this country is based on similar transactions, and if you are going to stop those transactions you are going to stop the basis of a great deal of the business of this country.
Let me tell briefly what this stamp duty is going to bring about. I think the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London has much under-estimated the amount in saying it is ten times as much as the ordinary speculative business that goes on from account to account. A great deal of the business called speculative is not speculative in the ordinary sense of the word. A man makes a transaction on the Stock Exchange with the intention of taking it up, and finds he gets or receives a sufficient amount to carry it over from one account to another. I will give one instance. I remember some time ago a friend of mine purchased a large block of Russian bonds, and intended to take them up. He found on the contango day that instead of having to pay interest to carry those bonds over he would receive a back-wardation, so naturally he carried over his purchase, and received a profit; that was not speculation. This kind of thing occurs over and over again. Surely the Chancellor of the Exchequer does not want to hamper that kind of business; it is the kind of business which makes London the 344 great financial city it is to-day. I was much struck by one argument advanced by the hon. Member for Lewisham (Major Coates) with regard to the tax on Bearer Bonds. I admit candidly that the arguments were strongly in favour of Free Trade as against Protection. But I want to point out how it really affects the market on Bearer Bonds. If you put the smallest amount of duty on these bonds you create a tendency for the buyer and seller to go to another market. We do not want that. The hon. Member for the City of London quoted the case of American gold bonds. He said it would take the markets from London to New York. But he knows the market is in New York today, and therefore that practically will not make any difference. But if you increase the stamp duty on bonds you will kill the business here altogether, because a man will send the bonds to New York or to the Continent in order to avoid the duty. Take the case of a man in possession of a large amount of German Government securities or French Rentes. He has already paid the 10s. stamp. In future when he wants to sell them, unless he is a very stupid man, he will not sell them in London, he will sell them on the Continent. Surely the Chancellor of the Exchequer does not want to bring that about. I would suggest to him the desirability of the stamp duty only applying to new bonds issued after the date of the Budget, and not to bonds at the present moment held as security here. The stamp duty is very often commuted. Municipalities commute the stamp duty in the first instance, and no stamp duty is payable afterwards, and it is a very great mistake to think that every time a transaction occurs in that security the stamp duty is paid. It is not so. And after all, these are the principal securities which one ought to be interested in. They are the gilt-edged securities—securities which make for the well-being of the people, and one should encourage investment in them, and not in securities of a more speculative character. I am not speaking for the City; I have no interest in the City; I am speaking more from the broad point of view of the general trade of this country, and I feel confident that any tax which is put on which will tend to stop trade is a bad tax, and especially a tax which will bring in so small an amount of money ought to be abandoned. I believe this is one of the faults of a great demo- 345 cratic Budget, and if the Chancellor of the Exchequer could see his way to take this Resolution out of it we shall then have a Budget which would be of the highest possible value for the well-being of this country. I desire, in the most friendly spirit—I do not want to be misunderstood by my own friends on this side of the House —I only want to point out what is a serious fault, what is the main fault of this Budget. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer insists upon keeping these stamp duties in, in my humble opinion and in the opinion of those far more competent to judge than I am myself, it will only-tend to hamper and handicap business instead of bringing in any sum to the nation.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
The speech of the hon. Member, who has just sat down, is very characteristic of similar speeches on the other side of the House. He considers that this is a great democratic Budget; he is in favour of every part of it, except the part which he happens to understand. I am perfectly certain, and I am sure that every Member of the House, who listens to me, agrees with me that it is utterly impossible that the proposals of the Chancellor of the Exchequer as they now stand can be carried out. He has not realised in the least what the effect of his proposals is, and what the amount of money which they will bring in will be, and what the amount of damage to the general trade of this country will be which will be inflicted or imposed by these new stamp duties. And there is another characteristic about this Budget, if I may say so. The right hon. Gentleman in speeches in the country before it was introduced made constantly this assertion, that whatever else was going to be taxed the Budget was going to put on nothing which would interfere with trade. He has learned a great deal since then, for this afternoon he told us that, whatever the tax, whatever its form or nature may be, will ultimately fall upon the industry of the country. But, apart from that, it seems to me that he has gone out of his way to select taxes which over and over again, and in proportion to the revenue they bring in, do inflict an enormous amount of injury on the trade of this country. Let me point out what the effect of these stamp duties is on the ordinary stockbroking trade of this country. Of course, there are people—I daresay that they are very largely represented on this Committee—who have no sympathy with Stock Exchange transactions at all, who 346 think they are gambling transactions, and that anything which injures them is a benefit to the country. If anyone takes this view they should certainly say this is a great democratic Budget, because it is certainly framed with a view of injuring the business which is carried on the Stock Exchange. My hon. Friend behind me and the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down have shown plainly that the Government have not taken into account, at least they have not told us what they mean to do with those transactions which are called contangoes, carrying over from account to account. If they are to be treated as separate transactions, and of course the contract shows them as separate transactions, it is utterly impossible that any sane man should propose to impose upon them the duties which are suggested in this Budget. I do not believe the right hon. Gentleman means that, and when he finds out what the effect of it is I am certain he will modify that part of his Budget.
But my objection to this Budget and the reason I intervene in the Debate now is on the larger ground that it is going to do a serious injury to what is the most important industry which is left in this country now. [MINISTERIAL laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen smile when I make that remark, but I have some justification for it. In every Free Trade speech the answer that is given to our arguments is that London is the centre of the money market of the world. I say deliberately that originally, for the sake of our manufactures, we went a long way to sacrifice our agriculture. Latterly, for the sake of our middleman business, for the sake of what is represented by the City, we have, in my opinion—I do not expect hon. Gentlemen to agree with me—gone a long way towards sacrificing our productive industry. Now this Budget strikes at the one thing which is left. and which they talk about in all their speeches. I know hon. Gentlemen think I am exaggerating, to put it very mildly. I do not think I am. The question of any city being the centre of the money market of the world for these transactions depends upon a great many things, but it depends, and I make this admission without any hesitation, largely upon the freedom of trade in the class of business which is carried on in the City. What are you doing? My hon. Friend behind me spoke incidentally of particular kinds of stocks which had a free market in one City, and a market not so free in another. What is the effect of anything, however 347 small, which tends to turn any kind of business from one market to another? It has the effect of making that market free in one case and not free in the other, and gradually of driving the business from the countries where it is restricted to the countries where it is free. [MINISTERIAL laughter.] I made that remark for a deliberate purpose, and now I am going to draw the moral. The Chancellor of the Exchequer and his supporters are constantly saying: What do you propose not our means of raising revenue, but there is not one of those countries which has been so reduced in its efforts to obtain revenue that it has had to put taxes on this kind of business and drive it away. I would point out what the effect of this taxation will be on the business to which it is applied. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, with his usual ability, in putting an issue which seems to meet the case before the House, spoke as if the whole effect of the proposal was to make an arrangement, so that when we lend money to a foreign country we should get a reasonable amount of duty from the transaction. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman is so ignorant as some who have spoken seem to think, and he knows perfectly well that that is not in the least the effect of the proposal. If that was what he wanted what he would do would be to levy the stamp duty on 11,3w issues and leave the bonds coming to this country to come here. If this Resolution is carried, the bonds which are dealt in freely in all the markets of the world will be dealt in elsewhere without a stamp, but the moment one buys them and tries to sell them here, London is handicapped to the extent of the stamp. A case came to my knowledge the other day which clearly showed the effect of the stamp duty now. An investment company in which I am a shareholder happened to buy a large block of American railway shares. These shares were dealt in freely in London and New York, the difference in the price on the two markets being what is called "parity." The adviser of the company said: "If you buy in New York you will save the stamp, which, on this large transaction, amounts to so many pounds." They did so, and the adviser of the company said to them also: "If you find the London market is a better market to sell in, you can bring the shares over and sell them here." What is the effect of that transaction in this country? This company never had an account in a New York 348 bank before. They opened an account in a New York bank, and lodged the securities there, and the result will be that when the shares come to be sold they will be sold in New York, and there will be no chance of the money being re-invested in securities in this country. The result is that by a process so simple as this you tend to drive business to other countries, and in doing that you force a great deal of business away from us which you do not dream of when you put on these duties. The right hon. Gentleman is constantly saying, What do you propose instead of this? We have got to get the money. He said this afternoon that a Liberal Government cannot beg and cannot borrow, and the natural inference is that there is only one thing left for them to do, and that one is to steal. I am inclined to think that that is a thing which in other parts of the Budget they are carrying out to the full. Whether a tax may be good or bad, in looking at anything of this kind what you ought to aim at is to make sure that this country is not handicapped as compared with any other country that deals in the same class of business. Of all the duties you impose that is the worst in regard to any business to which you attach value that puts the markets of the United Kingdom in a worse position than the markets of any other country.
Mr. M. STUART SAMUEL
The two previous speakers on the other side have given the Committee the benefit of their business experience. They have told us that business is coming to this country over a question of 5s. per cent., and that if any tax be put on in the form of a stamp now it will drive business away to America and Brussels. They also informed us that there was no stamp in New York. May I ask them why borrowers do not go to New York now? The fact of the matter is, that the borrower has to go where there is money to lend. The principle that the borrower is to dictate terms, and not the lender, is, I am sure, a novel one in the City of London. You cannot speak of America as being a great money market in the sense that it can lend for great European enterprises. There is practically no loan of any importance issued in the New York money market, for the simple reason that New York is a borrower in this country, and the cost of this stamp that is put on comes out of the pocket of the borrower. The lender has only to lend his money at a certain rate, and this is simply a means of taxing 349 the borrower, and I am surprised that the proposal has not received more warm support from hon. Gentlemen opposite. With regard to the contango stamp, it amounts to ½ per cent. per annum. Surely the hon. Gentlemen who have spoken previously from the opposite side will confirm me when I say that ½ per cent. is no deterrent to the speculator. If it were I am afraid that these gentlemen would not be able to speak with such authority of business on the Stock Exchange. The Member for Dulwich who has just sat down (Mr. Bonar Law) drew the attention of the Government to the fact that no country had so far had to impose the taxes which this Government proposes. The question is: Ought the people who are able to afford it pay these taxes or is it to be the consumer? Abroad the consumer has to provide the income for the Government, and so long as they can tax the consumer there is no occasion to have stamps. I understand that the hon. Member's proposal is that the Government should abandon this idea of taxing bonds in large transactions, and, like foreign countries, should put the taxes on the backs of the consumers. That is the reason why we have cheered from this side the references that have fallen with regard to a free and open market. I would like to suggest to the hon. Member that another reason why this is the money market of the world is because it is a free and open market for gold. Capital comes to this metropolis because investors know that they can get their debts paid in gold. The reason why this gold comes here is because this is the money centre of the world, and gold, like every other commodity, comes in free, and the consequence is gold is treated here and dealt in here the same as any other commodity, and it is the only centre where the holder of debts can be sure of having them paid in gold. And that is the reason why this money market is called the centre of the world. I am certain that these stamps will act as no deterrent to business, that borrowers will come in as they always have to this country to borrow, and that the investor will be very glad to lend his money where he can do so at a fair rate and on fair security.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
I really ought to apologise for getting up again, but the hon. Gentleman referred to matters on which I have not yet had an opportunity of giving any particulars. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bonar Law) put a question, and he is entitled to an answer. 350 hon. Member for Dulwich, as he always does, made a very ingenious speech, and a very remarkable speech for him. I really think it would be almost worth while to propose a tax of this sort were it only to achieve the result which we have already achieved, of making an actual convert of the hon. Member to the principles of Free Trade. I never heard a more admirable exposition of the enormous importance of free markets than that which the hon. Gentleman gave.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
My position with regard to this question always has been that I am as much in favour of free markets as anyone can be, but we have not got free markets.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
I know; but his point was that any tax which restricts free markets, especially so far as the City of London is concerned, would be disastrous. That' was the admission of the hon. Gentleman. [" No."] The hon. Gentleman is quite capable of defending himself, and if not I do not think that he would get much help from the hon. Gentleman opposite. It is a very useful principle which we can apply later on. The hon. Member is always very ingenious in his arguments. His facts, I am sorry to say, are very unreliable, and he has not departed from his usual precedent in this respect. For instance, he laid down today, with his usual confidence, as a fact unchallenged, that there was no other country in the world which would propose such a tax.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
And that the Government were proposing a tax that no other country in the world thought of proposing. If the hon. Member had just taken the slightest trouble to inform himself, he would have known—
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I never said that no other country in the world would propose such a tax. What I said was that the countries which were held up to us as Protectionist countries have not been forced to do so.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
I will say this, that the hon. Gentleman's worst opponent never regarded him as lacking lucidity, 351 but it seems singularly obscure if that is really what he said. Let me say to him and to hon. Gentlemen who cheered his statement, that so far from that being the case other European countries in competition with us have put taxes on this particular form of contract which are infinitely worse than anything I have proposed. Take Germany. [" Oh! "] Do hon. Gentlemen object to my taking Germany? [" No."] Take Germany to begin with. In Germany 4s. and 6s. per 1,000 is charged on ordinary stock all round. In France 2s. per 1,000 is charged, which is exactly our stamp duty, with the difference as to contango, which the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London was good enough to assume nobody had ever heard of. I really would say, when he assumes that we on this side of the House did not know anything about the elements of these transactions which every man in the country must have heard something about, it is really not smart but silly. [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."] The hon. Baronet has really no right to assume that any Minister in this country would ever dream of putting taxes upon transfers of this kind without, at any rate, having an elementary knowledge of the subject. He might have recollected there were Gentlemen from the Stock Exchange with me the other day, and I talked the matter over with gentlemen who know just as much about it as he does.
Take France. It is not merely 2s. per 1,000, but in France not merely is it doubled but quadrupled, and on contango you have double 2s., and France is a very formidable competitor. Really, comparing two great European rivals, the tax which I propose is a much smaller one than either of the two. So much for the suggestion which I thought was made, but really v, as not made, by the hon. Member for Dulwich. That is what I have got to say with regard to this tax. With regard to the estimates, I agree with the hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury) that it is very difficult to estimate what a tax of this kind produces. They found it very difficult to estimate it in France, and it does not produce very much more in France than my estimate. In making the estimate you have got to take a good many things into account. You have got to take the fact that you are dealing with extraordinarily clever people, who can adapt themselves to taxes; I do not want to put it any higher than that.
352 With regard to the justice of the tax itself, with regard to the amount, I will come to that later; with regard to the justice of the tax I do not think anyone can complain. The hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London said very fairly that the majority of the transactions are to be described as speculative. Another word might be used, and it is often used by those who engage in them. It is called a flutter," or a "gamble." That is what people who indulge in it call it. Then there is a flutter or a gamble representing fifteen Hundred millions. Men do not gamble, or do not have a flutter, except with their surplus cash. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh."] At any rate, I assume that men of ordinary prudence do not, and I do not think it is at all unfair when we want to raise taxation in this country that at any rate a contribution which amounts to about a quarter of a million, that is all, should be put on transactions of this kind, which I put it at the very least, are not the necessaries of life. I do not put it any higher than that. That is all I suggest, that it is a very fair subject for taxation. I have heard a good deal about taxing industry. It is none of my business either to interfere with or clog any industry. The Chancellor of the Exchequer who did so would be very foolish from the point of view Jf revenue. Therefore I am not dealing with the matter from the point of view of stopping gambling transactions. At the same time, I say that it is not an interference with industry in the ordinary sense of the term.
I come to the question of amount. It is very difficult to estimate what it will be. I am putting it at a lower figure than either Germany or France. I have seen members of the Stock Exchange who spoke with authority on behalf of that important body, and they have suggested an alternative which does not produce the money I require. At the same time, they have been good enough to place at my disposal figures which were at their command, but not at the command of anybody else, which will enable me to arrive at a nearer estimate than any Government Department with its own resources could possibly make. The only estimate we could form was upon the particular contracts which passed through our hands. We examined them very carefully—hundreds of transactions; we compared what is produced by the present stamp and what would he produced by the increased stamp. The Stock Exchange placed at our disposal figures which are much more 353 far-reaching, and will certainly be more reliable for the purposes of our estimate. We are examining those figures, and the Stock Exchange are giving us every assistance. They are not treating us at all in the spirit which the hon. Baronet was disposed to adopt. On the contrary, they met us most fairly, and I think it right that I should say so. They said that they are perfectly prepared to bear their share of the burden; they do not complain in the slightest degree of the share which I am putting upon them. All they say is that they are prepared to suggest a scheme which will produce that amount, and do less harm to their business than my proposal. If they can show me a scheme of that kind, I am not wedded to any particular scheme of my own. [" Oh."] Really, do hon. Gentlemen, who I presume are business men, think that that is an unbusinesslike proposition when you are dealing with business men? A business man who goes to another business man,. and says, "This is my scheme; you either take it or leave it," has no business to be there at all. When these gentlemen come to me, knowing their business from top to bottom, as they do, and, speaking on behalf of this important body, say absolutely sincerely that they are prepared to assist, I listen to everything they have to say; and I am exceedingly grateful for the assistance they are giving me. They are in consultation now with officials of the Government, at whose disposal they are placing every information. We are examining very carefully the figures which they have placed at our disposal—private figures of their own firms, which we could not compel them to disclose, but which they were good enough voluntarily to place at our disposal. When that examination is concluded I shall be in a position to tell the House the result of the investigation. In the meantime I have to get a general Resolution from the Committee to enable me to put through a transaction of that kind when it comes. One thing is perfectly clear—it will be a modification. I have no desire at all to injure their business, and if they are prepared to point out to me a way which will produce this sum of money without in the slightest degree interfering with their business I am prepared to meet them. I am glad to have had this opportunity of testifying to the extreme fairness with which they have met me upon this occasion.
354 I should like to say one word further about Bearer Bonds. The hon. Baronet said, I think, that there were 24 accounts in the course of the year. He said something about insurance societies. He knows perfectly well that they are doing that at the present time. They have got a 10s. stamp. My recollection is that it was put on by the late Conservative Government, and that it was at a lower figure. They put it on for the very reason that am doing it. It was, I think, put on by Lord St. Aldwyn when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer. It was said then that it would drive all business away. It has (lone nothing of the kind. [Hos. ME34-BEES: "Yes it has."] All I know is that business has increased, and is still increasing. In regard to insurance companies, the hon. Baronet knows perfectly well that these companies were doing business in New York and Canada, and that they have got by law to make certain deposits. The hon. Baronet has been good enough to give me some cases. I am very glad to be able to give him some information. One good turn deserves another. They are engaged in heavy transactions on the other side of the Atlantic. They make these deposits in order to give a sense of security. The mere fact of their paying a sovereign instead of 10s. will not make any appreciable difference.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
But they have been doing what I say for years, and will continue to do it. The hon. Baronet referred to arbitrage. I know the margin is an exceedingly narrow one. That is one point put to me by the Stock Exchange, and I am considering it. They have given me all the particulars of the £125 transaction, which is a very exceptional one. I quite agree it is a transaction that ought to be met. But an enormous amount of business is very small—even the £1,500,000,000 is made up of very small transactions. I trust now the Committee will allow the Resolution to go through.
§ Question put: "That the stamp duties charged on conveyances or transfers on sale of property or leases shall be double those now chargeable."
§ Main Question put.
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 300; Noes, 154.357
|Division No 114].||AYES.||[11.15 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Erskine, David C.||Maclean, Donald|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Essex, R. W.||Macpherson, J. T.|
|Agnew, George William||Esslemont, George Birnie||M'Callom, John M.|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Evans, Sir S. T.||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Everett, R. Lacey||M'Micking, Major G.|
|Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Fenwick, Charles||Maddison, Frederick|
|Armitage, R.||Ferens, T. R.||Manfield, Harry (Northants)|
|Astbury, John Meir||Ferguson, R. C. Munro||Markham, Arthur Basil|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Findlay, Alexander||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir W. (Ilkeston)||Marnham, F. J.|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Gibb, James (Harrow)||Mason, A. E. W. (Coventry)|
|Barker, Sir John||Gill, A. H.||Massie, J.|
|Barlow, Sir John E. (Somerset)||Glen-Coats, Sir T. (Renfrew, W.)||Masterman, C. F. G.|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Glendinning, R. G.||Menzies, Walter|
|Barnes, G. N.||Glover, Thomas||Micklem, Nathaniel|
|Barran, Sir John Nicholson||Goddard, sir Daniel Ford||Middlebrook, William|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Gooch, George Peabody (Bath)||Mond, A.|
|Beale, W. P.||Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||Money, L. G. Chiozza|
|Beauchamp, E.||Greenwood, Hamar (York)||Montgomery, H. G.|
|Beck, A. Cecil||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)|
|Bellairs, Canyon||Gulland, John W.||Morrell, Philip|
|Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, St. Geo.)||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Morse, L. L.|
|Bennett, E. N.||Hall, Frederick||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||Murray, Capt. Hon. A. C. (Kincard.)|
|Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romford)||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Myer, Horatio|
|Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maidon)||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Napier, T. B.|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r.)||Nicholls, George|
|Black, Arthur W.||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Norman, Sir Henry|
|Boulton, A. C. F.||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)||Norton, Captain Cecil William|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Harwood, George||Nussey, Thomas Willans|
|Brace, William||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Nuttall, Harry|
|Bramsdon, T. A.||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||O'Donnell, C. L. (Walworth)|
|Branch, James||Haworth, Arthur A.||O'Grady, J.|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Hazel, Dr. A. E. W.||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Brodie, H. C.||Healy, Maurice (Cork)||Partington, Oswald|
|Brooke, Stopford||Hedges, A. Paget||Pearce, Robert (Staffs., Leek)|
|Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh)||Helme, Norval Watson||Pearce, William (Limehouse)|
|Brunner, Rt. Hon. Sir J. T, (Cheshire)||Hemmerde, Edward George||Pearson, W. H. M. (Suffolk, Eye)|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Pointer, J.|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Henderson, J. McD. (Aberdeen, W.)||Pollard, Dr. G. H.|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Henry, Charles S.||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney Charles||Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe)||Priestley, Arthur (Grantham)|
|Byles, William Pollard||Higham, John Sharp||Priestley, W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)|
|Cameron, Robert||Hobart, Sir Robert||Raphael, Herbert H.|
|Causton, Rt. Hon. Richard Knight||Hobhouse, Charles E. H.||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick||Holden, E. Hopkinson||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Channing, Sir Francis Allston||Holland, Sir William Henry||Rees, J. D.|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Holt, Richard Duning||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Hooper, A. G.||Richards, T. F. (Wolverhampton, W.)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)||Richardson, A.|
|Cleland, J. W.||Horniman, Emslie John||Ridsdale, E. A.|
|Clough, William||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Clynes, J. R.||Hudson, Walter||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Idris, T. H. W.||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs.)|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Illingworth, Percy H.||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Collins, Sir Wm. J. (St. Pancras, W.)||Isaacs, Rufus Daniel||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Compton-Rickett, Sir J.||Jackson, R. S.||Robinson, S.|
|Cooper, G. J.||Jardine, Sir J.||Robson, Sir William Snowdon|
|Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead)||Jenkins, J.||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John||Johnson, W. ((Nuneaton)||Rogers, F. E. Newman|
|Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Rose, Charles Day|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Rowlands, J.|
|Crooks, William||Jones, William (Carnavonshire)||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Crosfield, A. H.||Jowett, F. W.||Russell, Rt. Hon. T. W|
|Crossley, William J.||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Rutherford. V. H. (Brentford)|
|Curran, Peter Francis||Laidlaw, Robert||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Dalziel, Sir James Henry||Lambert, George||Samuel. S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Lamont, Norman||Schwann, Sir C. E. (Manchester)|
|Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Layland-Barrett, Sir Francis||Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne)|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Lehmann, R. C.||Sears, J. E.|
|Dewar, Sir J. A. (Inverness-sh.)||Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich)||Seaverns, J. H.|
|Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.)||Levy, Sir Maurice||Seddon, J.|
|Dobson, Thomas W.||Lewis, John Herbert||Shackleton, David James|
|Duckworth, Sir James||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Shaw, Sir Charles E. (Stafford)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Lupton, Arnold||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Dunne, Major E. Martin (Walsall)||Luttrell, Hugh Fownes||Silcock, Thomas Ball|
|Edwards, A. Clement (Denbigh)||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Simon, John Allsebrook|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Mackarness Frederick C.||Snowden, P.|
|Soares, Ernest J.||Tomkinson, James||White, Sir Luke (York. E.R.)|
|Spicer, Sir Albert||Toulmln, George||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Stanger, H. Y.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Stanley, Albert (Staffs.. N.W.)||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander||Wiles, Thomas|
|Steadman, W. C.||Verney, F. W.||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Stewart, Halley (Greenock)||Walsh, Stephen||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)||Walters, John Tudor||Williams, A. Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Strachey, Sir Edward||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)||Williamson, A.|
|Straus, B. S. (Mile End)||Wardle, George J.||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)||Waring, Walter||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W.R.)|
|Summerbell, T.||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Taylor, John W. (Durham)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)||Wilson, J. W. Worcestershire, N.)|
|Tennant, Sir Edward (Salisbury)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)||Waterlow, D. S.||Winfrey, R.|
|Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)||Watt, Henry A.||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|Thompson, Franklin||Weir, James Galloway||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E.)||Whitbread, S. Howard|
|Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)||White, Sir George (Norfolk)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr.|
|Thorne, William (West Ham)||White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)||Joseph Pease arid the Master of|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Gretton, John||Nolan, Joseph|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Guinness, W. E. (Bury St. Edmunds)||O'Brien, K. (Tipperary, Mid)|
|Ashley, W. W.||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Haddock, George B.||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Halpin, J.||Oddy, John James|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Hamilton, Marquess of||O'Doherty, Philip|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Harris, Frederick Leverton||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)|
|Baring, Capt. Hon. G. (Winchester)||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Hayden, John Patrick||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Helmsley, Viscount||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T.||Percy, Earl|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Hogan, Michael||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Boland, John||Hope, John Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Pretyman, E. G.|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Houston, Robert Paterson||Radford, G. H.|
|Bull, Sir William James||Hunt, Rowland||Randies, Sir John Scurrah|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Joyce, Michael||Ratcliffe, Major R. F.|
|Butcher, Samuel Henry||Joynson Hicks, William||Reddy, M.|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M.||Kavanagh, Walter M.||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir John H.||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Carson. Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Renton, Leslie|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Kerry, Earl of||Renwick, George|
|Cave, George||Keswick, William||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Kilbride, Denis||Roche, Augustine (Cork)|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hull)||Roche, John (Galway, East)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r.)||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Rutherford, John (Lancashire)|
|Coates, Major E. F. (Lewisham)||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thomas H. A. E.||Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich)||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Cot. A. R.||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham)||Smith, F. E. (Liverpool, Walton)|
|Crean, Eugene||Lowe, Sir Frederick William||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Stonier, Beville|
|Delany, William||MacCaw, Win. J. MacGeagh||Starkey, John R.|
|Dillon, John||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Staveley-H ill, Henry (Staffordshire)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Du Cros, Arthur||MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E.)||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Duffy, William J.||M'Arthur, Charles||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Duncan, Robert (Lanark, Govan)||M'Calmont, Colonel James||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Faber, George Denison (York)||Magnus, Sir Philip||Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)|
|Fardell, Sir T. George||Marks, H. H. (Kent)||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Fell, Arthur||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Meagher, Michael||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Fietcher, J. S.||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E.R.)|
|Forster, Henry William||Mooney, J. J.||Winterton, Earl|
|Foster, Philip S. (Warwick, S.W.)||Moore, William||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart|
|Fullerton, Hugh||Morpeth, Viscount||Younger, George|
|Gardner, Ernest||Morrison-Bell, Captain|
|Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)||Muldoon, John||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir|
|Gooch, Henry Cubitt (Peckham)||Murphy, John (Kerry, East)||Alexander Acland-Hood and Viscount|
|Gordon, J.||Murphy, N. J. (Kilkenny, S.)||Valentia.|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)|