§ (1) Notwithstanding anything in the last preceding Section, Sub-section (5) of Section seven of the principal Act shall continue to apply to the valuation of property consisting of a tenancy from year to year.
§ (2) Where it is claimed that a fixed duty is payable in respect of any property under Sub-section (1) of Section sixteen of the principal Act as being property of a gross value not exceeding three hundred pounds or five hundred pounds, as the case may be, and such property includes property which is proved to the satisfaction of the Commissioners to be subject to a charge created for the purpose of securing unpaid purchase money, or to be subject to or liable to be made subject to a charge for securing an advance made or to be made for the purpose of the purchase thereof, the value thereof for the purpose of determining the gross value of the property under the said Section shall be taken to be its value subject to such charge or liability as aforesaid.
§ (3) Land subject to an annuity under the Land Purchase (Ireland) Acts shall be 1566 treated as real property for the purposes of Sub-section (8) of Section six of the principal Act, relating to the payment of Estate Duty by instalments.
§ I beg to move the new Clause that stands in my name. I gave a promise to deal with the three points involved. I agree with the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. J. Dillon) that the matter is better dealt with by a new Clause. To redeem my promise I put this Amendment down here.
§ Mr. JOHN CLANCY
I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman has met at least three of the points to which I called attention. The first case is that of the yearly tenancies, which in Ireland have saleable value, whereas in England yearly tenancies have practically no selling value at all. Therefore, if the case were not provided for in this way you really would be putting a tax upon Ireland which would never be permitted in England. The matter embraces a very large number of agricultural tenants in Ireland. The second point is that small estates, both in England and Ireland, within the meaning of the Finance Acts, especially the Act of 1894, are those of the value of between £100 and £300, and those valued between £300 and £500. With regard to these the difficulty has always been this: in estimating for the purpose of Estate Duty, the owner of this property is not entitled to make any deduction whatever. That has the effect of taking out of the class of small estates estates which are really small, and depriving them thereby of the benefit accorded to small estates by all the Finance Acts. The right hon. Gentleman proposes to meet that particular point both in regard to holdings that have been purchased and in regard to holdings where agreements have been made, but no money advanced, by allowing a deduction—that from the gross value of these small holdings you are to deduct the amount of the purchase money remaining due out of the moneys agreed to be paid. But I do not think that that meets the difficulty altogether. It certainly does not meet all the points to which I called attention. If the intention of the Government, as I gather, is to be carried out, I would beg to suggest that something else ought to be added; and when the time comes I shall move to add to the end of Sub-section (2) the following words:—"And when such property includes an agricultural holding subject to an annuity under the Land Purchase (Ireland) Act, 1567 Section 7, Sub-section (5), of the principal Act shall continue to apply." I would like to impress upon the right hon. Gentleman that there is no sense in this matter in carrying the thing just to the point of full advantage in these small estates. A real concession would not involve any considerable loss to the revenue at all. The third Sub-section remedies a very great grievance peculiar to Ireland alone. In consequence of the operation of the Local Registration of Title (Ireland) Act you only give one year to pay, whereas if this property were to be, for the purpose of the payment of duty, real property, as it is for every other purpose, then the time for paying duty would be extended from one year to nine. And this, after all, is not a great concession to Ireland, because by the Land Transfer Act of 1897 you did exactly the same thing with regard to property in England. By that Act all the proceeds of the land sold were to be treated as real property for the purposes of the payment of duty, thus giving nine years to the executor or administrator as the case might be to pay the duty, and although the moneys of the property remained personal property for the purposes of devolution, they would have to pay the whole of the duty in one year. The right hon. Gentleman has made things even as regards England and Ireland in that respect, and I cordially acknowledge the fact. I think it is a very considerable concession, although it has been made since 1897 to England. What I have to say about the Clause as a whole is that it does not provide for one rather important case. I admit at once when a man buys his holding he cannot be treated on precisely the same footing any longer as a tenant who has not bought; he is in a different category altogether. As a matter of fact for 25 or 30 years to come the purchaser under the Land Purchase Acts will be practically a tenant from year to year, paying his rent in the shape of annuity to the State, and I do not see why he should not be treated in practically the same way as the occupying tenant who has not bought out My suggestion is that he ought to be allowed to deduct the amount of the unpaid purchase money remaining unpaid. He is entitled at present to do that; but where the injustice comes in, as I submit, is this: that before the deduction is made the amount of the purchase money unpaid is added to the estate for the purpose of finding out the principal value, and 1568 if that be the case there is obviously no advantage given to the tenant who has bought out in deducting the amount of the unpaid advance. I had some doubts as to whether or not the language of Sub-section (7), Section 5, of the Act of 1894, which contains the definition of principal value, made it clear that the Inland Revenue Commissioners were entitled in the first place to add the amount of the purchase money or encumbrances to the value of the estate in order to find the principal value. If they have no such power, my grievance in that respect would be gone, because then the deduction of purchase money would give practically what I have asked for. Whatever the law may be, I am not aware of any case decided upon the subject; the practice, I understand, of the Inland Revenue Commissioners is to add the amount of the unpaid purchase money to the value of the estate before they make the deduction of the same amount. In order to find the principal value you add these particular encumbrances, and then their practice always has been to make a deduction of what they have added. Obviously there is no advantage in that; you take away the advantage you seem to give. These people ought not to be exceptionally treated. They will be exceptionally treated if what I ask is not given. They will be a class which do not exist in England and they will be taxed because they are in Ireland. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not make the answer he made the other day, namely, that the Irish tenants are getting specially favourable terms for the purchase of their holdings. There will be very little left of that advantage if you take it away bit by bit, and I submit the right hon. Gentleman ought to treat this point also in a spirit of broad-mindedness. The tenant purchaser will be paying his annuity, and for the first 25 or 30 years he will not have secured the larger part of the interest in the concern. What is really proposed is that all this time the State, which is the larger owner, is taking a toll, not only off the tenant's property, but also upon its own property. The difference between the mortgagee in England and the mortagee in Ireland is that the State stands in the character of the lender. The mortgagee in England is a private individual; the mortgagee in Ireland is the State. The State lends the money and is the owner of the greater part of the property for many years to come; it is the sleeping partner of the business, and if you regard the State as 1569 the mortgagee, on what ground of expediency do you ask for the State a larger benefit than the ordinary mortgagee gets? I submit that there is a very strong case meeting the points I have raised in this otherwise satisfactory Clause. I hope the Government will give favourable consideration to what I have said.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
I confess that I cannot see that Ireland is getting much under this Clause. What you are doing by this proposal is that you are treating both sets of tenants on the same basis. Sub-section (3) provides that "land subject to an annuity under the Land Purchase (Ireland) Acts shall be treated as real property for the purposes of Sub-section (8) of Section 6 of the principal Act relating to the payment of Estate Duty by instalments." The other part of the Clause is British, and there is no attempt to give to Ireland the smallest concession. It is idle to pretend that you are giving any concessions to Ireland by this proposal, because you are doing nothing of the kind. The English building societies raised the point that in the case of outstanding mortgages the amount should be added to the value of the property, and that it should be assessed as a whole. The Government met the building societies as regards transfers inter vivos, and now it is proposed to do the same thing with regard to duties levied at death. As you are doing that for the English building societies you ought to do it for Ireland. You are meeting the whole of the English building society case and only about one-tenth of the Irish case. The limit here is in the case of "property of a gross value not exceeding £300 or £500, as the case may be." My intellect is not nimble enough at twelve o'clock in the day to understand a Clause which I have only seen for the first time half an hour ago, and therefore I must ask some questions. In the first place I want to know if the £300 or £500 mentioned in Sub-section (2) includes the mortgage money. If it does not, it does not do the Irish tenant any good whatever.
Take the case mentioned by the Chief Secretary for Ireland in his speech on the Second Reading or the Committee stage of the Irish Land Bill. He showed that in nine-tenths of the cases, or in the vast majority of the cases, the purchase money raised was about £400. In the case of a building society the landlord's interest is at least equal to that of the tenant. In the case of Irish tenancies the figures, instead 1570 of being £300 and £500, if they include the mortgage money, will at least be £800 or £1,000. A man in England who buys his house through a building society seldom borrows from the building society more than £200, and that includes practically the whole value of the house. But the case of the Irish tenant is wholly different, because he gets an assignment of from £300 to £400. He borrows a similar amount, and that brings the total amount of his assets at death to something like £700, £800, or £900. Is that case met by this Sub-section? If I do not get a satisfactory answer on that point, then I say that the Irish case is not met at all. What is the good of all this pretence that the Irish case is being met by this proposal? It is not being met, and that is clearly proved by what you do when you deal with transfers inter vivos.
When dealing with assignments, the concession made is of no value because it deals with nine-tenths of the English case and only one-tenth of the Irish case. My impression is, after a cursory examination, that all you are doing by this Clause is that you are extending to English building societies and to the owners of houses in England mortgaged in building societies, upon their death, the same concession you gave to them when they were alive, namely, you are exempting them from Death Duty just as you exempted them during their lives from Stamp Duty. That is all you are doing. How can the Chancellor of the Exchequer say that he is doing this to meet the case put forward by the Irish Members? I deny it. He is doing nothing of the kind, and this does not meet the case put forward by the Irish Members at all. The Irish case relates not to amounts of £300 and £500, but to £800 and £900. If I am wrong in this it will be because I did not have an opportunity of seeing the Clause until about half an hour ago, and this is how we are treated in regard to a proposal which is dealing with a case in which the State is investing £180,000,000 in Irish land. Every shilling of that money will be subject to Death Duty, and some of it will be liable to transfer duty in case of assignment. I think the Government might have put down this Amendment a little earlier so that we should have had an opportunity of debating this subject in a full House. This is not a matter which can be dealt with at half an hour's notice, and sufficient notice ought to have been given as would allow the best legal intellects in Ireland an opportunity of knowing in advance 1571 whether our case is met by this Clause. English Members are given days and days to consider the Clauses put down by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but poor Cinderella Ireland has to come at the end of the new Clauses on the 1st of October. I repeat that the Irish case is not being met, and anybody who thinks so will only be misled by the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ Mr. J. W. HILLS
I cannot let this Clause pass without comment. I wish to call attention to the first Sub-section of the Clause, which gives an exemption to the tenant from year to year which is not enjoyed by the freeholder. He gets a special low rate of duty, but I do not say anything about that. I call attention to this matter as a further example of the extraordinary hostility of the Government to this class of people. I do not think that Sub-section (2) has been fully explained to the Committee. At present, in the case of small estates of £500 or £300, if the gross value does not exceed those two sums they are charged with a fixed duty of 50s. or 30s. The gross value must be those sums, and so you have rather the absurd position that where the gross value is £300, and the debts are £300, and the estate is bankrupt, you still have to pay the fixed duty. The Government say that they will allow certain debts to be deducted. What are those debts? They are the unpaid charges on the purchase money. Let me take a concrete case. Suppose a man has bought a property for £1,000, and has left £700 on mortgage. The net value in that case is £300, and he will have to pay a fixed duty of 30s. on that estate. But supposing, instead of leaving £700 on mortgage, he goes to somebody else a little while afterwards and raises the money with which to pay for the estate; there will still be a charge to the same extent on the estate, but he will have to pay it on the full £1,000. Surely the Government cannot intend that. According to the words of the Sub-section, the exemption is to be made in the case of unpaid purchase money. If the money has been borrowed elsewhere in order to pay the purchase money, he will have to pay on the gross value of the estate. Is that not a case of perfect absurdity? If you mean to take off the mortgage money which is raised in order to pay for the property you must change the wording of your Clause, because, as 1572 at present framed, it only meets the case where the money has been lent by the vendor of the property, and where it is left on mortgage. You are changing the whole system and making a fixed duty payable on the net value and not on the gross value. I think in doing so you should go the whole way. I do not know why you should only deduct mortgage debts; there may be other debts, such as gifts, which have to be paid out of the estate, but here you select one special class of debt and say that the rest of the debts are not to be counted. This Clause has evidently been hastily drawn, and I do suggest that it requires very careful reconsideration.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
The two speeches to which we have just listened appear to me to answer one another. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for North Louth (Mr. T. M. Healy) said that this was not a Clause for the benefit of Ireland and that it met no Irish grievance. He also was good enough to say that he did not understand it, but that fact makes no difference to him apparently, when he is attacking the Government.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
I do not think the hon. and learned Gentleman always realises exactly what he does say; he was very angry and perhaps he does not remember the exact words he used. He made a further complaint that we should be discussing a complex matter of this sort at 12 o'clock in the day—a matter which he argued had nothing to do with Ireland. His words were that it does not cover the case of Ireland, but it actually covers the British case. Evidently he wants something to be given to Ireland which shall not be extended to Great Britain. Why if we are meeting an actual grievance in Ireland should we not be allowed to deal in the same way with a grievance existing in Great Britain? I must say I think his complaint was most extraordinary. I think if he had looked at the Clause he would have realised that his speech was absolutely irrelevant, and thoroughly ill-informed and that he did not actually know what he was criticising. The hon. Member for Durham, who followed him, clearly did understand the Clause, yet he had just as long as the hon. and learned Member for Louth to make himself acquainted with its provisions. 1573 The hon. Member for Durham in fact declared that the Clause was really intended to meet an Irish grievance.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
I will deal with that in due course. As a matter of fact, in the main, the grievance is an Irish one, and I agree with the hon. Member for Durham that it meets the Irish case. The first part of the Clause is entirely Irish, and the hon. and learned Member for Louth chose to take no notice of that fact. The second Sub-section is also very largely Irish, but at the same time it will meet the cases of building societies. Perhaps the hon. and learned Member will allow us to redress a British grievance incidentally. I hope he will not regard our doing so as an injustice to Ireland. Surely, when we are redressing an Irish grievance, we ought to be allowed to extend that redress to a British grievance.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
Because it deals with the marketable value of the yearly tenancy, and there is no such thing practically in England. There is here no market for tenancies from year to year, as is the case in Ireland. Therefore I say it is a purely Irish section as far as its practical application is concerned. The criticism of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Louth is against the law as it stands at the present moment. He has made it a matter of complaint against the Government, although the alteration is certainly an alteration in favour of small estates both in England and in Ireland.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
There is always that difficulty in redressing grievances. As a rule we go just as far as we can afford at the particular moment, and I must point out that we have gone further in redressing both English and Irish grievances in this matter than any of our predecessors. I hope that the hon. and learned Member for Louth will admit that the view he has expressed of the Clause is wrong. Under our proposal estates under £300 will be placed in one category and will pay a fixed duty of 30s. Estates under £500 will be put in another category and will be charged 1574 50s. This must be a privilege to small estates, seeing that they are charged on a different scale to estates over £500. The scale for those estates is £2 per £100, and therefore an estate of £550 would pay £11, as against the 50s. paid by the estate just under £500. We are, for the first time, deducting the unpaid purchase money from the gross, and no one can deny that this is a very substantial concession. It is one which will make a difference to small owners as between £2 10s. and £11. The hon. and learned Gentleman must admit that his only complaint is that this is a concession which, although in the main for the benefit of Ireland, applies also to the United Kingdom. Of course, it is more to the benefit of Ireland because there are more cases in that country, at any rate, according to population, than in this country that will benefit. There is another thing of which I think I have a right to complain. The hon. Member is indignant because this Clause has only been on the Paper for 24 hours, but may I remind him that the whole thing has been discussed in his absence on several occasions, and, luckily for the Irish tenants, there was somebody in the House at the time able and willing to criticise it, and not only to criticise it, but to bring pressure to bear on the House of Commons. After all, I accepted the concessions which are embodied in this Clause quite a month ago. There was some question as to whether the new Clause should be put down as a Government proposal or whether it should be put down in the name of the hon. Member for North Dublin, but it was thought better it should be advanced as a Government Clause, because that would give it a certain preference for discussion. Still I repeat these are things I was prepared to accept quite a month ago. Only last week the hon. and learned Gentleman was complaining that we were debating Irish grievances at two o'clock in the morning; now he is complaining because we are discussing them at noon. Really I do not think the hon. and learned Gentleman has taken a course which he can justify, and certainly he has extended to me treatment which I do not deserve.
§ Mr. JOHN DILLON
I must say I have a much higher sense of the intellect of the hon. and learned Member for North Louth than that which he seems to suggest he himself possesses. He tells us he is not able to undertand the Clause. My idea is that he was determined not to understand it. He said it was no con 1575 cession to Ireland that it in no way met the Irish case. I say it is a large concession to Ireland, and I invite the hon. and learned Member, if he thinks so badly of it, to go into the Lobby and vote against the Clause as it stands. To listen to his speech one would suppose that a fresh grievance was being inflicted upon Ireland by this Clause. Let the hon. Member have the courage of his opinions and go into the Lobby against it. I have only this further to say with regard to the criticisms to which we have listened—criticisms which are little calculated to assist us in getting concessions for Ireland from the Government. When I listened to the speech I asked myself this question, Does the hon. Member desire the Government to make any concession to Ireland? I am inclined to think that he does not, and that the object of such speeches as these is to secure that the representatives of the Irish people shall not get any concessions in order that he himself may have a special grievance against the Government. That is the only ground on which I can explain his speech. He passed over Sub-section (1) of this new Clause without a word, yet that Sub-section is an immense concession to Ireland. The Bill, as it stood, originally inflicted a most cruel injustice upon year-to-year tenancies in Ireland, an injustice which the repeal of Sub-section (5) of Section 7 of the Act of 1894 did not inflict on England at all. In all the communications I have had from Ireland on this subject the point which has been in the forefront of the representations made was that we should try and get rid of this grievance affecting yearly tenants. The Chancellor of the Exchequer met us frankly. He has given us a redress of the grievance, and yet he is told that he has done nothing for Ireland. Really I should have thought that by noon the intellect of my hon. and learned Friend would have been sufficiently awakened to enable him to understand a concession of this character. As the Chancellor of the Exchequer has truly said, this is not the first time this subject has been discussed. When it was under Debate on a previous occasion the hon. and learned Member for North Louth was in Dublin or somewhere else, greatly to the advantage of his colleagues here, and we discussed this matter in a very amicable spirit, these concessions being promised in reply to appeals from this side of the House. I doubt very much if we 1576 would have succeeded in getting such large concessions if the hon. and learned Member had been on these benches at that time. I repeat that the first Sub-section is an exceedingly valuable concession for which I, at any rate, thank the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Now I come to Sub-section (2). That, again, embodies a most valuable concession, one which we were pressed over and over again in Ireland to obtain. To listen to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for North Louth one would suppose that the whole law as regards small estates is being altered by the Sub-section to the injury of the Irish tenants. It is nothing of the kind. The only alteration made by this Sub-section is to the actual advantage of the purchasing tenant in Ireland. It is an alteration which we pressed upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer. There is one point on which the right hon. Gentleman has not met us in this Sub-section, and on which we trust he may be induced to accept an Amendment which it is intended to put forward. It is a rather small point so far as he is concerned, but it is important to Ireland. We desire that in the case of the purchasing tenant, so far as leases are concerned, he shall be put on the same footing as the year-to-year tenant—that the method of calculation shall remain as it is under the present law.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
Does the hon. Member suggest that this method of computation should be confined to cases where we try to arrive at the gross value?
§ Mr. DILLON
I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman if he cannot see his way to accept the Amendment of the hon. Member for North Dublin, which would have the effect of preserving for the purchasing tenant, who, after all, has really become the tenant of the State, which creates the incumbrances and steps into the landlord's shoes—I want to ask whether in such a case he cannot, for the purpose of calculating the gross value of small estates, proceed by the old method of computation? That would greatly add to the value of this Clause, which, even as it stands under this Sub-section, we welcome as a most substantial concession to Ireland, despite the legal protest of the hon. and learned Member for North Louth. The reason why I am pressing for this small Amendment is this. In Ireland you have many holdings, such as bog holdings, of the value of £2, or £3, or £4 a year, which have however the preposterous value of 50 to 1577 60 years' purchase. That from one point of view is a rather wholesome state of affairs, because, if land is once divided into small farms like that, it will never be reabsorbed by big men. The result of observations in Ireland is this, that the smaller the farm the more keen the competition and the more extravagant the price. Therefore some of the extremely small farms, owing to the high and extravagant market value of the purchase price of the farm, would be lifted out of the small estates zone and would suddenly jump up from the 30s. or 50s. Estate Duty to £7, £8, or £10. The moment you get outside the £500 limit, however, great additional legal costs and court fees will be incurred, and that is a very great burden on these small holders. Coming to the third Sub-section of this Clause, that also is a most valuable concession, because it is manifest that to a small farmer to be called upon to pay the whole of the Estate Duty is a very grievous thing, and it ought not to be put out of his power to act as the large estate owner can do. The hon. Member for Louth (Mr. T. M. Healy) says nothing has been done, but, if he thinks so, let him move the omission of this Sub-section and see what Irish opinion will be. I have had dozens of letters from Ireland asking me to endeavour to secure this valuable concession, and I thank the Chancellor of the Exchequer for it. I do hope that he will see his way to make the smaller concession we are asking for, which is really of no consequence to him, but which will be very valuable to small holders in Ireland.
§ 1.0 P.M.
§ Mr. CLAVELL SALTER
I am sorry to draw the Debate away for a moment from the differences of opinion entertained by the representatives of Ireland as regards the value of this Clause, but I desire to say just one or two words from the point of view of the English purchaser of land—the small thrifty purchaser who is buying his land and raising part of his purchase money on mortgage, and who is not always able to borrow his purchase money from the vendor or the landlord. That is a common case, and it is one which everyone would desire, to encourage and enable the purchaser to secure the most beneficial terms. How would this new Clause deal with this common or desirable process? The point was put to the Chancellor of the Exchequer just now, but in dealing fully with the Irish criticism he entirely ignored it, but I have no doubt the Attorney-General will deal with that. As I understand 1578 the matter, it is quite plain and simple. People are taxed on what they have, and in ascertaining the duty incumbrances are deducted. In regard to the question of graduation, the basis is quite different as to the rate on which they pay. That also depends upon the principal value, and in classifying a man you deduct his incumbrances, which seems to me to be right, in principle, but he is not only taxed on principal value, but also graded on principal value, and in order to secure the benefits of this Clause and bring himself on the lowest grade of all he has to obtain this special exemption, and to bring himself within this Clause not upon principal value, but upon gross. I will not say it is an anomaly, but it is not symmetrical, to grade cases down to the lower or net value, and then it is shifted to the gross; but the Government are proposing to alter the basis of graduation as to this lowest step of all, and they are not proposing to shift the basis from gross value to principal, because they are not proposing to deduct all encumbrances. They are proposing to base this lowest rate not on one or the other. They are going to allow some deductions, but not all, and the deductions which are allowed to ascertain principal value will not be allowed for the purpose of this exemption. The case which I desire to put is this: I am not urging the Government to allow interest or to allow all deductions, but I do say this, that when for obvious and weighty reasons of policy you are allowing the deduction of encumbrances for the purpose of discharging the unpaid purchase money, it is an illogical and it is an unfair advantage to the Irish purchaser, whose vendor is always the State, and whose vendor, therefore, is the lender and mortgagee; it is unfair because the proportional number of small purchasers will be immensely greater in Ireland than in this country. In Ireland it will benefit everyone, but in this country it will only benefit the exceptional purchaser whose vendor is able to lend him the money or the purchaser through building societies, and while I do not grudge anyone this advantage, I think it should be extended generally to the thrifty purchaser who is borrowing a sum of money on mortgage.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
The hon. and learned Member is not quite correct. He need not necessarily borrow from the vendor; as long as he borrows money anywhere for the purpose of purchase, it does not matter where he borrows it.
§ Mr. CLAVELL SALTER
I am very glad that the Chancellor interposed He deals absolutely with my point. The only remaining point is drafting. I only had a short time to read this Clause, but it appears to me as if it were so limited. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer says it is not intended to be so limited, it is a mere question of drafting to provide that the words should be so altered that it will assume that the mortgagor is going to pay any body the purchase money, whether borrowed from the vendor or not.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer is better at polemics than he is at facts, and I think that his promises to the Irish tenants are very like his promises to the Welsh people about Disestablishment. The right hon. Gentleman thought it right to get up and make an attack upon me for asking a plain question which he has not answered. I asked him a plain question, and he dealt with me as if I had asked him for Disestablishment. I was not—I was only asking a plain question. The right hon. Gentleman has said that I was absent on a former occasion when this matter was discussed. Perhaps I am too often present for the right hon. Gentleman, and I distinctly remember the other morning, when a promise was made at four o'clock, or perhaps three, that he would speak by the Under-Secretary to the Treasury, but he did not find it at all desirable to take that course, and his complaint of me now is this, that because I complained of an Irish tax amounting to millions of money being put on at four o'clock in the morning, when a pledge was given on his behalf which was broken, that I am wrong in coming down and complaining that we have not got in regard to a much less important matter a little time for the understanding of this Clause. I am not in the least ashamed to avow that I cannot take in a clause involving reference to three or four Acts of Parliament at five minutes' notice. I agree in that respect with everyone except the hon. Member (Mr. Dillon). He is able to take in everything at a moment's notice, and in that sense I acknowledge the great advantage he has over myself. I asked a question a little while ago. It was not answered. Now I will ask it again. I asked whether the main body of the Irish purchasing tenants were in any way dealt with under this Clause. I said they are not, and I repeat it. I will separate them into two classes—the class which has purchased and the class which has not. As 1580 to the class which has purchased, according to the figures of the Irish Secretary, the borrowings are on the average between £300 and £400. That is the landlord's money. To that must be added the £300 or £400 of tenants' right, so that you are dealing with a case where the majority of these men will have an interest of between £800 and £900. I am not ashamed to ask a question in this House, even of the British Government or even of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I have addressed still more experienced Chancellors of the Exchequer and got more courteous replies, but still I put the question to the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I ask him how will this affect the majority of the Irish tenant purchasers? I do not think it is any discredit to a private Member to be unequipped and to be driven to ask questions of a highly-paid Minister with a large staff of assistants under the Gallery to whom he can refer at a moment's notice and whose coaching is evident at every turn of the Debate.
With regard to the general body of tenants who have not bought, the so-called concesion is valueless for a wholly different reason, though I do not say it will not meet the case for a comparatively few of them. The only way you are able to hit the majority of the Irish tenants in regard to these Death Duties is because of the Registration Acts, and because they have bought. The general body of these people who have not bought do not take out any administration at all. There is no will, and if the State tried to levy the duty the State would fail, and the State does not levy the duty. It is a very different case when documents are in existence, whether in the case of a building society or in the case of those tenants who have bought. There at once you come down upon them. Title has to be made, administration has to be taken out, and if there is a will there has to be probate, and you are able in the great mass of these cases to impose the duty. All this £180,000,000 will in future be subject to Death Duties. All I ask the right hon. Gentleman is whether, assuming these fee simples to be of the value I put them at on the suggestion of the Irish Secretary, this Clause fits their interest or whether it does not? I dealt with one branch of the Clause, and it was only with regard to that point that I asked for information.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
I certainly do not complain of the hon. and learned 1581 Gentleman or anyone else asking me for information. I am here to give such information as I have at my disposal with the advice of my officials, and I am bound to give it, and I have no right to complain. I complained because the hon. and learned Gentleman first asked a question, then said he did not understand it, and then proceeded to denounce it in the most violent terms. I think it is a perfectly legitimate complaint when I was doing my best to meet the case. I will show upon the question he has put to me how very far wrong he was in his assumption. It is very unfair to assume that we are trying to deceive the Irish tenant. The hon. and learned Gentleman has given the case of an Irish tenant who owes £300 or £400 unpaid purchase money. His tenant right is worth another £300 or £400. First of all, we are limiting the amount of tenant right upon which he will pay by the first Subsection. The tenant right is worth 40 years' purchase, but we only claim 25. We are, first of all, depressing the first item, and sometimes probably halving it. Supposing it comes to £300 and the other is £300—that is £600. We deduct the whole of the amount which remains unpaid to the State with a view of getting the gross, and the very case put by the hon. and learned Gentleman under this Clause would escape altogether. I hope he will now admit that there is a concession. That tenant does not merely come under £500. He will be a £300 man, and had it not been for this Clause that tenant would be paying £18, whereas now he pays 30s. As a matter of fact, we are putting the small man, both in England and Ireland, in a better position than he is in at the present moment, and we mean to deduct all the mortgage so long as it is proposed to purchase. I hope the hon. and learned Gentleman will in justice now say he did not understand the Clause at first, and that there is a substantial concession that he was not aware of.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
I do not say anything of the kind. What I say is this. You are meeting the case of the English building society man and inferentially you have to make a small concession to Ireland.
§ Clause read a second time.
§ Mr. DILLON
I listened to the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in which he described the concession he intended to make, and I gathered that he would be prepared to accept my Amendment, which is, to add at the end of line 1582 3, Sub-section (1), the words "and the tenancies subject to annuity under the Land Purchase (Ireland) Acts." I admit that that is an arguable point. The effect of that Amendment will be to carry out what I understood the Chancellor of the Exchequer to say was the concession he desired to give. The right hon. Gentleman gave an illustration of the concession he intended to make to the purchasing tenants of Ireland, and I wish to direct the right hon. Gentleman's attention to his own words. When explaining the concession he proposed to give he said that one of these purchasing tenants might sell at 40 years' purchase, but owing to the limitation contained in the Sub-section proposed to be repealed the Government could not charge more than 25 years on the valuation.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE was understood to indicate dissent.
§ Mr. DILLON
In the speech which the right hon. Gentleman made he was alluding to the purchasing tenants, and I concluded that he had made up his mind to give the concession.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
We are prepared to leave the small freeholders in England and Ireland exactly where they were—the small proprietors up to £500. It means that they will be entitled to deduct these advances. In order to do that the words proposed by the Government are the only words that can be used. The words suggested by the hon. Member for Dublin (Mr. Clancy) would really do away with the benefit we propose to give. I doubt whether his Amendment would be in order. I should be prepared to add at the end of Sub-section (1) the words "and for the purpose of determining the gross value of property for the purposes of Section 16 of the principal Act." That is for the purpose of determining what will be the limitation.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
Yes, whether in England or Ireland. The same thing would apply in both cases, and I do trust that hon. Members will feel that I have gone very far.
§ Mr. DILLON
I must say that I consider that that is a very substantial and valuable concession to Ireland, but I must thoroughly repudiate the idea that we do not value the concessions we get in Ireland because they apply to similar cases 1583 in England. That is a preposterous doctrine to put forward. We have no desire that people similarly situated in England should not get the concessions; I was anxious to move an Amendment to extend that protection to all purchasing tenants. I must confess that the right hon. Gentleman has met us so fairly in the valuable concession he has made to the poorest and smallest people interested that I will not move the Amendment which otherwise I would have liked to submit.
§ Amendment proposed, "At the end of Sub-section (1), to add the following words, 'and for the purpose of determining the gross value of property for the purposes of Section 16 of the principal Act.'"—[Mr. Lloyd-George.]
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
That applies to small estates of less than the £500 limit. The number of years' purchase on the gross value cannot exceed 25 years' purchase.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
I made no suggestion that the English people should not get the same concession as the Irish people. The difference is this: In regard to the Irish purchasing tenants, nine-tenths are hit by this and one-tenth benefited, whereas in the case of the British building societies nine-tenths are benefited and one-tenth are hit.
§ Mr. DILLON
The Clause hits no Irish purchaser. It relieves, and substantially relieves, tens of thousands of Irish purchasing tenants. I think it is really a monstrous thing to say that a majority of the Irish purchasers are hit. Let the hon. Member for North Louth (Mr. T. M. Healy) go into the Lobby against the Clause. It obstructs in the most outrageous manner any attempts to get concessions from the Government if, when they are made, they are denounced as further Irish grievances. This matter is a little technical, and I would ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to explain to us how the words he proposes to add apply to purchasing tenants in Ireland.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
Sub-section (1) as it stands limits the 25 years' purchase to purely tenant right. Now we mean to extend it not only to tenant right but freehold as well for, the purpose of ascertaining 1584 whether a man is entitled to the privileges that attach to £300 or £500.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
It will cover the vast majority of the estates in Ireland, because, after deducting the purchase money, I should very much doubt if one-tenth of the purchasers of Ireland would be over £500. The Amendment carries out the promise I made with respect to purchasing tenants of Ireland.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause, as amended, added to the Bill.
§ Mr. SAMUEL ROBERTS moved, after Clause 45, to insert the following:—