§ (1) Subject to the provisions of this Part of this Act, there shall be charged, levied, and paid for every financial year in respect of the site value of undeveloped land a duty, called Undeveloped Land Duty, at the rate of one halfpenny for every twenty shillings of that site value.
§ (2) For the purposes of this Part of this Act land shall be deemed to be undeveloped land if it has not been developed by being built upon or by being used bonâ fide for any business, trade, or industry other than agriculture:
§ Provided that—
- (a) Where any land having been so developed reverts to the condition of undeveloped land within the meaning of this Section, and so remains for one year, it shall be treated as undeveloped land for the purpose of Undeveloped Land Duty until it is again developed; and
- (b) Where the owner of any land shows that he or his predecessors in title have spent sums at the rate of at least one hundred pounds per acre for the purpose of so developing the land on roads (including paving, curbing, metalling, and other works in connection with roads) or sewers, that land shall, for the purposes of this Section, not be treated as undeveloped land although it is not for the time being built upon or used for any business, trade, or industry other than agriculture, but for the purposes of this provision no sums shall be taken into account after ten years have elapsed since the time when the sums were spent.
§ (3) For the purposes of Undeveloped Land Duty, the site value of undeveloped land shall be taken to be the value adopted as the original site value or, 399 where the site value has been ascertained under any subsequent periodical valuation of undeveloped land for the time being in force, the site value as so ascertained:
§ Provided that where Increment Value Duty has been paid in respect of the increment value of any undeveloped land, the site value of that land shall, for the purposes of the assessment and collection of Undeveloped Land Duty, be reduced by a sum equal to five times the amount paid as Increment Value Duty.
§ (4) For the purposes of Undeveloped Land Duty undeveloped land does not include the minerals.
§ Viscount CASTLEREAGH
moved, in Sub-section (1), after the word "year" ["and paid for every financial year"], to insert the words "after the completion of the valuation of all the land of the United Kingdom as hereinafter provided."
§ This would make the Clause read: "Subject to the provisions of this part of this Act, there shall be charged, levied, and paid for every financial year, after the completion of the valuation of all the land of the United Kingdom, as hereinafter provided." At the present moment the Undeveloped Land Duty comes into force on 30th April, 1000, and it must be obvious to the Committee that a great many difficulties will present themselves. The whole of this portion of the Finance Bill depends on the valuation of the land, and the Government have admitted at last that the valuation of the land of this country is not such a simple and easy matter as they intended us to believe it was when this Finance Bill was introduced. It is obvious that at the present moment any duty which is to be charged on undeveloped land must be charged on a purely hypothetical basis. The valuation will certainly take more than two years. I should not be in order if I were to raise the question of the valuation, but I think I am entitled to say that when this valuation has taken place, and we do not know on what lines it will take place, that we shall receive a great deal of enlightenment as to the amount of undeveloped land. It is obvious if all the land is valued, the value will be of a far lesser degree than if the undeveloped land were valued by itself. If Undeveloped Land Duty is charged on land beginning from 30th April, 1909, there will be nothing but a hypothetical value, and consequently a tax may be charged which will not be lawful, and which may have to be refunded or to 400 be increased. I have no doubt we shall hear from the representative of the Government that it is a question of revenue. I do not believe that the Government looks forward to obtaining a very large revenue from this tax, and I do not think that the country and the Government will lose very much if they insert the words which I have proposed.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
I rather gather from the tone of the Noble Lord in moving his Amendment that he does not regard it as one the Government would seriously accept. The Prime Minister, in explaining the valuation system some few weeks ago, explained that the estimate was that the valuation of all the land in the United Kingdom would not be completed until perhaps between three and four years. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Hon-Members cheer that as if it were a fresh announcement made in the House of Commons; but it has been made again and again, and it is inscribed in the columns of the OFFICIAL REPORT. Therefore the effect of the Amendment would be that we would be budgetting from between three and a half and four years from this date in order to collect the tax on undeveloped land. [An HON. MEMBER: "So you are."] That is exactly what we are not doing. We are budgetting for a tax this year, and we have got estimates for the tax which will be got this year, and we made special arrangements in Clause 19 whereby arrears due on this year shall be paid in another year. I can assure the Noble Lord that the undeveloped land of the United Kingdom will be the first of the land of the United Kingdom which is valued when the valuation commences, and certainly the valuation of all the undeveloped land of the United Kingdom will take nothing like three and a half or four years. The Noble Lord suggests that we have no belief in obtaining any substantial revenue from the Undeveloped Land Tax, and that therefore we may as well accept his Amendment—that is to say, we might as well cut the Undeveloped Land Tax out of the Bill. That is not an Amendment we are likely to accept on the Report stage. As a matter of fact, we assume, and have very good reason for assuming that we shall get a substantial and increasing revenue from this particular tax.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
The hon. Gentleman has endeavoured to show some cause against the Amendment, but he has offered no justification for the course adopted by the Government. Just consider what that course is: The Government by this Clause propose that all the undeveloped land of the Kingdom shall be taxed. But they are absolutely unable to say what land is undeveloped or what is to be the amount of the tax until perhaps three years hence. It may be more than three years, but by a concession given in Committee, if they cannot make up their minds within three years what is the tax due this year they will lose their right to collect it. But for three years the subject may be left with this uncertain
§ liability hanging over him, and he will be prevented from carrying out any transaction in the land which the Government profess to wish to see developed, because he will not know subject to what burdens he will be selling, and what obligations he should, therefore, impose upon the buyer. A more preposterous proposal for a Government to make to a business assembly it is impossible to conceive, and the only reason the proposal is tolerated here is that this House of Commons has so little of the quality of a business assembly.
§ Question put, "That the proposed words be there inserted."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 70; Noes, 183.403
|Division No. 818.]||AYES.||[10.35 p.m.|
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hon. Sir Alex. F.||Gordon, J.||Randles, Sir John Scurrah|
|Balcarres, Lord||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Ratcliff, Major R. F.|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Gretton, John||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peet|
|Baring, Captain Hon. G. (Winchester)||Guinness, Hon. W. E. (B'y St. Edm'ds.)||Renwick, George|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Hamilton, Marquess of||Ridsdale, E. A.|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford)||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Rutherford, Watson (Liverpool)|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r.)||Hunt, Rowland||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, E.)|
|Coates, Major E. F. (Lewisham)||Kerry, Earl of||Smith, F. E. (Liverpool, Walton.|
|Courthope, G. Loyd||Keswick, William||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Cox, Harold||King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hull)||Stanier, Beville|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Lee, Arthur H. (Hants, Fareham)||Starkey, John R.|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham)||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Doughty, Sir George||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Valentia, Viscount|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||M'Arthur, Charles||Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)|
|Faber, George Denison (York)||Magnus, Sir Philip||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Fell, Arthur||Mason, A. E. W. (Coventry)||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Fletcher, J. S.||Morpeth, Viscount||Younger, George|
|Forster, Henry William||Morrison-Bell, Captain|
|Foster, P. S.||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)|
|Freeman-Thomas, Freeman||Peel, Hon. W. R. W.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Viscount Castlereagh and Mr. Evelyn Cecil.|
|Gardner, Ernest||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)||Pretyman, E. G.|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Channing, Sir Francis Allston||Glendinning, R. G.|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Glover, Thomas|
|Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Clough, William||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford|
|Astbury, John Meir||Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Gooch, George Peabody (Bath)|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Collins, Sir Wm. J. (St. Pancras, W.)||Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Gulland, John W.|
|Barker, Sir John||Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead)||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)|
|Beale, W. P.||Dalziel, Sir James Henry||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)|
|Beauchamp, E.||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worcester)|
|Bell, Richard||Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.)||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)|
|Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, St. Geo.)||Dobson, Thomas W.||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)|
|Bennett, E. N.||Duckworth, Sir James||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.)|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Haslam, James, (Derbyshire)|
|Black, Arthur W.||Edwards, A. Clement (Denbigh)||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)|
|Brace, William||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Haworth, Arthur A.|
|Brigg, John||Elibank, Master of||Hedges, A. Paget|
|Bright, J. A.||Erskine, David C.||Helme, Norval Watson|
|Brodie, H. C.||Essex, R. W.||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Brooke, Stopford||Esslemont, George Birnie||Henderson, J. McD. (Aberdeen, W.)|
|Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh)||Evans, Sir S. T.||Henry, Charles S.|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Everett, R. Lacey||Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon. S.)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Falconer, J.||Hobart, Sir Robert|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Fenwick, Charles||Hodge, John|
|Byles, William Pollard||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace||Holland, Sir William Henry|
|Causton, Rt. Hon. Richard Knight||Fullerton, Hugh||Holt, Richard Durning|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick||Gibson, J. P.||Horniman, Emslie John|
|Hyde, Clarendon G.||Napier, T. B.||Shaw, Sir Charles E. (Stafford)|
|Idris, T. H. W.||Nussey, Sir Willans||Silcock, Thomas Ball|
|Isaacs, Rufus Daniel||Nuttall, Harry||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Jardine, Sir J.||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendall|
|Jenkins, J.||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Johnson, John (Gateshead)||O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)|
|Jones, Leif (Appleby)||O'Grady, J.||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Parker, James (Halifax)||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr)|
|Keating, M.||Philipps, Col. Ivor (Southampton)||Thomasson, Franklin|
|Kelley, George D.||Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)||Tomkinson, James|
|King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Toulmin, George|
|Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester)||Pollard, Dr. G. H.||Villiers, Ernest Amherst|
|Layland-Barratt, Sir Francis||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Vivian, Henry|
|Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich)||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Walsh, Stephen|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Radford, G. H.||Walters, John Tudor|
|Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Raphael, Herbert H.||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Lupton, Arnold||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (Gloucester)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Luttrell, Hugh Fownes||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Lynch, H. B.||Rees, J. D.||Watt, Henry A.|
|Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Rendall, Athelstan||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|Maclean, Donald||Richards, Thomas (W. Monmouth)||White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)|
|Macpherson, J. T.||Richards, T. F. (Wolverhampton, W.)||White, Sir Luke (York, E. R.)|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|M'Callum, John M.||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Wiles, Thomas|
|M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|M'Micking, Major G.||Robinson, S.||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)||Robson, Sir William Snowdon||Williamson, Sir A.|
|Masterman, C. F. G.||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Wills, Arthur Walters|
|Micklem, Nathaniel||Roe, Sir Thomas||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Molteno, Percy Alport||Rose, Sir Charles Day||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Russell, Rt. Hon. T. W.||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestershire, M. S.)|
|Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Morse, L. L.||Schwann, Sir C. E. (Manchester)|
|Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Seely, Colonel||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Joseph Pease and Sir E. Strachey.|
|Myer, Horatio||Shackleton, David James|
§ Mr. WATSON RUTHERFORD
moved, In Sub-section (1), after the word "land" ["in respect of the site value of undeveloped land"], to insert the words "capable of being let with a covenant to build thereon immediately."
The duty we are considering now is the Undeveloped Land Duty of a halfpenny per 20s. of the site value, or, in other words, it is about 5 per cent. of the capital, so that what is sought to be taken is 5 per cent. of the capital amount of the value of the undeveloped land of the country. Land which is worth less than £50 per acre and agricultural land except in so far as it is worth more than £50 per acre are exempt. If this tax is, as we are told it is, a tax to induce people to develop their undeveloped land, then as a matter of fairness it will be admitted by everyone it ought to be to induce people to develop land which is capable of being developed. It is evident it would be unfair to ask a man to pay this tax upon land unless that land was capable in fact of being developed. A penalty tax upon the owner of property because his land is undeveloped is fairly admissible if the land is capable of being developed. If it is not capable of being developed, then the penalty should not be inflicted, because it is not the man's fault. This is an Amendment which is capable of being understood by the simplest mind, and I will, therefore, content myself by simply mov- 404 ing the insertion of words to make it clear that the Undeveloped Land Tax shall be restricted to land which is undeveloped and which is "capable of being let with a covenant to build thereon immediately."
§ Sir W. ROBSON
The hon. and learned Member asserted that this was an Amendment capable of being understood not merely by the Parliamentary mind but by the simple mind. I think this is about as unbusinesslike an Amendment as I have ever seen. Undeveloped land means land which is not being put to its best use, and where the value of it has not been adequately developed. The proper way is to devote land to the purposes for which it-would bring the greatest price and the most money. We are dealing, ex hypothesi, with land which is capable of being put to a better use than it is at present being used for, but the hon. and learned Member says that will not do at all.
§ Sir W. ROBSON
That is what the word "undeveloped" conveys even to the simplest mind. This Amendment does not strike me as either businesslike or intelligible, and I do not think it com- 405 mends itself to the simplest mind. It is difficult to put a precise definition upon the word "undeveloped," and that difficulty applies to other words in the English language. I have noticed in many of the legislative efforts of this House quite a passion for definitions. I think, however, that you may very well carry that passion too far. You are obliged to use the English language in the ordinary and popular sense in your Acts of Parliament, and even then you have often to hedge it round with qualifications which to the very simple mind appear to be nothing but verbiage, but which are found to be something different when they come to be construed by those who have to administer the law. The word "undeveloped," like other general terms in the English language, is easy of explanation, but not very easy of definition; and who among business men would deny that, in construing them, it had better be left to practical men like the Commissioners, checked as they will be by the Court of Appeal. That is far better than taking some phrase like "a lease without a rental." That is the kind of phrase which is infinitely less businesslike, infinitely less precise, and infinitely less intelligible than the plain words we have used and which will be acted upon by the business men, checked by lawyers.
I would like to give a concrete case in reply to what the Attorney-General has said. In the centre of Widnes, opposite the town hall, there is a large space of land unoccupied. It has been unoccupied for many years, and has borne no rent to the people who own it. They have no chance of developing it. There are 700 empty houses in the town; the shops are not doing a good trade, and they do not want to build any more. There is no communication to this land by canal, railway, or river, and there is, therefore, nothing to bring manufacturers there. The owner cannot use it for any purpose whatsoever. How would you apply the argument just given in opposition to this Amendment to that concrete case?
§ Mr. COX
The Attorney-General has gust told the House that these words are absolutely unintelligible. He and his allies have constantly in this House and up and down the country quoted in support of their propositions the minority Report of Lord Balfour of Burleigh on Local Taxation. I have that report in my hands. Lord Balfour says, "This tax should be confined to land which is intended to be 406 let, or could be let, with a covenant for immediate building."
§ Sir W. ROBSON
Covenant to build what? What kind of building would satisfy this Amendment—a dog kennel?
§ Mr. COX
No, possibly he might have drafted it better than this Act. I regret my learned Friend did not deal a little more fully with the arguments used in support of the Amendment. The whole purpose of this tax, as I understand it, is to penalise individuals who do not use their land in a particular way. Why should individuals who hold up land be subject to a penal tax any more than individuals who hold up, let us say, draperies or groceries? [Interruption.] When a man buys land in the hope of profit, it is no more than a man who buys groceries in the hope of making a profit. It is a purely business transaction in each case, and, therefore, I insist on the analogy. We do not interfere with a man who buys a bale of cotton and holds it for a rise; why, then, should we interfere with a man who buys land for a rise? It is ah ordinary business transaction carried on by builders, and it is so far recognised as a legitimate transaction that the Inland Revenue officials—acting, I presume, in accordance with the law—make special provision for builders, whose business it is to buy land and hold it for a rise. It is treated by them as a legitimate business transaction. I have the particulars here of their course of procedure. A builder buys land and builds a house upon it. He sells the corpus of the property. The Inland Revenue authorities ask the price at which he bought the land and the cost of building, and the price at which he sells and the difference between the two is treated as profit. Do they tax that 20 per cent.? No, they do not even treat it as a separate transaction; they take into account all his transactions, those involving a loss as well as those bringing a profit; they strike a balance between the two, and that is taxed as earned income.
407 The Government now propose not only to tax the earned income, but while a man is unable to sell or develop his property he is to be subject to this penal tax. I say it is utterly indefensible. If there were any proof that a man was deliberately holding the land back there might be a case for penalising him. But here there is no case. My hon. Friend wishes to put in words which would require proof to be given of the opportunity to sell and refusal to sell. Does the Attorney-General really contend that you can make a market for land merely by putting a tax on it? If that is not his proposition then we are in this position: A man ex hypothesi cannot sell his land. What is going to happen? You are going to put a tax on him and then say, "Now sell it." But he cannot do it, because there is no market for it. Anyone with any knowledge of the building market knows that in every city and town there are hundreds and thousands of vacant houses. Where then is the justification for any man to put up new houses? Yet if he does not he is to be taxed. The Attorney-General just now said it was difficult to define undeveloped land. I believe we shall presently find that land developed to its uttermost, as market garden land will be subject to this tax, while land used as golf links will not be taxed. That is the method by which the Government propose to carry out the theory of their late Leader, that the land of England was to be the treasure house of the poor, and not the pleasure ground of the rich. Whatever may be said about this tax as a whole, it seems clear to me it is our bounden duty to protect the men who cannot sell their land from a tax which is intended to penalise those who can but will not sell it.
§ 11.0 P.M.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I think the hon. Member who has just sat down has appreciated the depth of the faith which the Government have in regard to the virtues of taxation, and he realises that they seem to think in regard to land that you can tax it into cheapness, you can tax it into development, and you can tax it into demand. I do not wonder that it shocks the hon. Member who believed that the Government shared his somewhat antiquated economic notions, but he will see, and a wider circle will notice that the exponents of the old political economy are reduced to a very small number, and that the Government is as far from the wisdom of our 408 ancestors in that respect, and, I think, I might say further, than the most extreme of Tariff Reformers. I think the hon. Member also travelled rather far, much farther than this Amendment justified, and I do not propose at this stage to repeat the general objections to the taxes on land which fell from the hon. Member in that part of his discourse, although I heartily agree with him. But I must say a few words as to the speech of the Attorney-General. If I do so, may I preface them by a recollection of the extremely severe strain which is placed upon the hon. and learned Gentleman frequently during our Debates, and I am bound to say that I think his last performance was almost lukewarm, not from his inability to do very much better under far greater difficulties but from the fact that the hon. and learned Gentleman is so driven and worked by the taskmasters who do not share his labours that he is as unable to do justice to himself as he is to the subject under discussion. Just consider what the hon. and learned Gentleman says. He said, in the first place, that the intention of this tax was to tax land which was not put to its best use. Has he asked himself for the purpose of this discussion or of enlightenment what the best use of this land is?
For the purpose of this tax the best use of land must be the use by which you get the highest price—the use by which the owner can get the best advantage for himself, irrespective of the best advantage of the community, the amenities of the locality, or the convenience and comfort of those who live on the land. That is the best use, as defined by the Government, and henceforward if their Paradise comes to be realised, and under one of the ideals of the Under-Secretary of the Home Department—henceforward every owner of land is to be treated as criminal and penally taxed unless he puts his land to that purpose which will give him the greatest return. That is pretty good to start with; but then the Attorney-General goes on to say that we should be very unwise to attempt to define undeveloped land. Everybody, he says, knows what it means; it is capable of the easiest explanation, but he would indeed be an imprudent man who attempted to define it in a statute, much better leave it to the discretion of the eminent Commissioners to whom so much else is left, subject to an appeal to the court. Will the Attorney-General kindly look at Subsection (2) of the very Clause which we 409 are discussing? The next Sub-section which follows on the Paper is this:—
"For the purpose of this Part of this Act land shall be deemed to be undeveloped land if it has not been developed by the erection of dwelling-houses——"
Sub-section (2) is an attempt to give the definition which the Attorney-General says it would be so unwise to give. Did the Committee ever hear a Minister beg the House not to venture on the rash course of attempting to define in a statute the very-thing which the next Sub-section which the Government are going to propose does define? I really think the Attorney-General did not do himself justice. When we come to the definitions and exemptions I think we shall find that the task which the Government have undertaken is a rather difficult one, and that it is not so simple to say what undeveloped land is unless you accept the words, or the idea, propounded by Lord Balfour of Burleigh and his colleagues in that Commission, and adopted by my hon. Friend in his Amendment, and say that undeveloped land is land which is capable of being let with a covenant to put these houses or buildings upon it at once. The real question which the Committee now has to decide is whether you are to tax as undeveloped land all that land exceeding £50 in value which has a building value, or whether you are to tax as undeveloped only such land as the owner could develop at the time you levy the tax if he wished to. We are not now discussing whether this is a good tax or not, but whether, granted that the tax is to be, you shall levy it only on the land which can be developed at the time at which you levy it, or whether you shall levy it on land which it is not in the power of the owner to develop at the time when you tax him for not developing it. On which side of that question justice lies I do not understand how there can be more than one opinion.
§ Sir F. CHANNING
The Amendment expresses the purpose which I had in view in a later Amendment, and I rather prefer my own wording to this. The object I had in view in placing my own Amendment on the Paper was to express in definite terms the exact recommendation of Lord Balfour of Burleigh on the Local Taxation Commission. The whole argument of Lord Balfour of Burleigh's Report seems to me singularly conclusive to any fair-minded man who considers this question. It is that you should only place the new site rate upon uncovered land where that land is actually 410 ripe and the value immediately realisable. It seems to me that a great deal of scorn has been thrown needlessly on the Amendment, and the arguments which have been brought forward in order to justify it. The discussion has run a little wide of the point because of the constant use of the words "developed" and "undeveloped." The real point is—is it reasonable or unreasonable to impose the Undeveloped Duty upon a man's property when he cannot sell that property for the purpose of building. Are you to tax speculative and prospective values which are vague and indeterminate, or are you to impose your tax when the value is actually realisable and can be turned into pounds, shillings and pence for the actual purpose which you have in view? Lord Balfour of Burleigh, in his Report, goes on to say:—This proposal has considerable advantages. It will avoid the injustice of taxing owners and occupiers of agricultural land upon a capital value which could not be realised in the form of animal interestThat sums up the whole thing. I would adduce this further argument which ought to have very great weight with hon. and right hon. Members on this side of the House. I went to Birmingham and heard the very remarkable speech of the Prime Minister with every word of which I heartily agree. He said in that speech:—These taxes are very moderate in amount, levied on values actually realised or realisable on land which is not in any true sense of the term agricultural land.I think there is a substantial and arguable case for the Amendment.
Sir JOHN BRUNNER
I was very sorry to hear the allusion made by the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Cox) to the late Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman. I think the hon. Gentleman was elected as a supporter of Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman.
Sir JOHN BRUNNER
As long as the hon. Gentleman's declarations in support of Liberal principles please only the other side, I am entitled to hold my opinion on that point. If the hon. Gentleman had not been a supporter of Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman he would not be here to-day. We have had an expression of pity from the hon. Member for Widnes (Colonel Walker) for the owners of a large extent of land in the county to which he referred. I have known that land as long as the hon. Member. For 40 years it has paid no rates and no taxes. [An HON. MEMBER: "He said so."] It is not developed yet. 411 It is time it was over. It may be that the owners of that land have lost their market. I have known the time when that land might have been sold for a very high price. It was because it was not offered in the market that the poor workmen around were crowded on land adjoining in cottages so miserable that they were condemned as unfit for human dwellings. I do not know whether the land referred to will be considered undeveloped land, and whether it will be subject to the tax. But do not let us have any crocodile tears over the owners of it; do not let us have an appeal to our pity for the men who have dealt with land with such results.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down began his speech by an attack on a Member of his own side.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
The right hon. Gentleman began his speech by an attack on the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Cox). All I can say is that the House of Commons, in my opinion, would be infinitely poorer by the absence of the hon. Member for Preston. Any hon. Members who do not realise that do not appreciate the true position which the House of Commons occupies. As for the rest of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, allow me to say this: He has made an attack on the owners of land for holding up land and not selling it. But that has nothing to do with this Amendment. The point of the Amendment is this: Is it fair to tax people who cannot sell? It may be true that the particular piece of land with which the right hon. Gentleman is acquainted, and which I do not know, was held up, and it may be right to prevent that, though I do not think it should be prevented by a tax; but this particular Amendment would not affect that particular land which ex hypothesi was land that could have been let. The question was whether it was fair to tax land which could not be let on the ground that it ought to be let.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 76; Noes, 168.413
|Division No. 819.]||AYES.||[11.20 p.m.|
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hon. Sir Alex. F.||Forster, Henry William||Morrison-Bell, Captain|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Foster, P. S.||O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Freeman-Thomas, Freeman||Peel, Hon. W. R. W.|
|Balcarres, Lord||Gardner, Ernest||Randles, Sir John Scurrah|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)||Ratcliffe, Major R. F.|
|Baring, Capt. Hon. G. (Winchester)||Gordon, J.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Renwick, George|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Gretton, John||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Guinness, Hon. R. (Haggerston)||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Guinness, Hon. W. E. (B'y St. Edm'ds.)||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Hamilton, Marquess of||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford)||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Smith, F. E. (Liverpool, Walton)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r)||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Channing, Sir Francis Alston||Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert||Stanley, Hon. A. Lyulph (Cheshire)|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Starkey, John R.|
|Coates, Major E. F. (Lewisham)||Hunt, Rowland||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Courthope, G. Loyd||Kerry, Earl of||Thomson, W. Mitchell-(Lanark)|
|Cox, Harold||Keswick, William||Valentia, Viscount|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hull)||Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)|
|Doughty, Sir George||Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham)||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Everett, R. Lacey||Magnus, Sir Philip||Younger, George|
|Faber, George Denison (York)||Mason, A. E. W. (Coventry)|
|Fell, Arthur||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Watson Rutherford and Mr. Stanler.|
|Fletcher, J. S.||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Agnew, George William||Barker, Sir John||Berridge, T. H. D.|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Black, Arthur W.|
|Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Beale, W. P.||Bowerman, C. W.|
|Astbury, John Meir||Beauchamp, E.||Brace, William|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, St. Geo.)||Brigg, John|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Bennett, E. N.||Bright, J. A.|
|Brodie, H. C.||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Raphael, Herbert H.|
|Brooke, Stopford||Henry, Charles S.||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (Gloucester)|
|Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh)||Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Brunner, Rt. Hon. Sir J. T. (Cheshire)||Hobart, Sir Robert||Rees, J. D.|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Hodge, John||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Bytes, William Pollard||Holt, Richard Durning||Richards, Thomas (W. Monmouth)|
|Causton, Rt. Hon. Richard Knight||Horniman, Emslie John||Richards, T. F. (Wolverhampton, W.)|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick||Hyde, Clarendon G.||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Idris, T. H. W.||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Clough, William||Isaacs, Rufus Daniel||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Jardine, Sir J.||Robinson, S.|
|Collins, Sir Wm. J. (St. Pancras, W.)||Jenkins, J.||Robson, Sir William Snowdon|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead)||Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Rose, Sir Charles Day|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Keating, M.||Russell, Rt. Hon. T. W.|
|Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Kelley, George D.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Dalziel, Sir James Henry||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Seely, Colonel|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester)||Shackleton, David James|
|Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.)||Layland-Barratt, Sir Francis||Shaw, Sir Charles E. (Stafford)|
|Dobson, Thomas W.||Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich)||Silcock, Thomas Ball|
|Duckworth, Sir James||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)|
|Edwards, A. Clement (Denbigh)||Lupton, Arnold||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Luttrell, Hugh Fownes||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)|
|Elibank, Master of||Maclean, Donald||Thomasson, Franklin|
|Essex, R. W.||Macpherson, J. T.||Tomkinson, James|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)||Verney, F. W.|
|Evans, Sir S. T.||M'Callum, John M.||Villiers, Ernest Amherst|
|Falconer, J.||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Vivian, Henry|
|Fiennes, Hon. Eustace||M'Micking, Major G.||Walsh, Stephen|
|Fullerton, Hugh||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)||Walters, John Tudor|
|Gibson, J. P.||Marnham, F. J.||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hon. Herbert John||Masterman, C. F. G.||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Glendinning, R. G.||Micklem, Nathaniel||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Glover, Thomas||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Morse, L. L.||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|Gooch, George Peabody (Bath)||Myer, Horatio||White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)|
|Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||Napier, T. B.||White, Sir Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Gulland, John W.||Nussey, Sir Willans||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Nuttall, Harry||Wiles, Thomas|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worcester)||O'Grady, J.||Williamson, Sir A.|
|Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)||Parker, James (Halifax)||Wills, Arthur Walters|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Philipps, Col. Ivor (Southampton)||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.)||Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestershire, N.)|
|Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Pollard, Dr. G. H.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Haworth, Arthur A.||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Hedges, A. Paget||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr Joseph Pease and Sir E. Strachey.|
|Helme, Norval Watson||Radford, G. H.|
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
moved in Subsection (2) to leave out the words "being built upon or by being," and to insert instead thereof the words "the erection of dwelling-houses or of buildings for the purposes of any business, trade, or industry other than agriculture (but including glass-houses or greenhouses), or is not otherwise."
This is an Amendment I promised to make on the Report stage, and I think it was in consequence of an Amendment proposed by the hon. Member for East Herts (Mr. Abel Smith).
§ Mr. ABEL SMITH
I would like to ask whether this covers land which is in the same occupation as that on which the glass-houses stand, and which is used in connection with the business? The Chancellor of the Exchequer is, perhaps, aware that this is a very important industry in the district which I have the honour to 414 represent. A considerable portion of the land, though it has not actually glass-houses standing on it, is in the same occupation and is used in connection with the business. I think such men ought to be placed in the same position as the land on which the glass-houses actually stand. If I can have an assurance on that point, I shall be still more grateful to the Chancellor of the Exchequer than I am at the present moment.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
I think it is really a question of fact to be decided by the Commissioners whether land is developed by glass-houses exactly in the same way as in the case of a factory. Although there might be a piece of land outside the actual building, yet it would be said that the ground was covered by the factory. The same would apply in the case of a glass-house. There might be pieces of land not actually covered by the 415 glass-house, but which clearly were developed by it. That case would certainly be covered by the Amendment.
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill," put, and negatived.
§ Question proposed, "That the proposed words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ Mr HAROLD COX
moved in Subsection (2) to leave out the words "other than agriculture."
This Amendment would have the effect of enabling to escape this tax people who have developed their land by the old-fashioned process of cultivating it. We have been assured even to-day that these taxes do not apply to agricultural land. As a matter of fact, they do. The words of the Clause, as amended by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, are perfectly clear, that land is not to be considered developed unless it is being developed by some kind of industry except agriculture. I cannot understand why that exception should be made. Surely, the Chancellor of the Exchequer will not deny that a market garden is most highly developed land. Yet we have this most extraordinary paradox, that you may have in a town a builder's yard, for example, with a few ladders, bits of timber, and stone lying about; that is to be treated as developed land, while the same land, if cultivated by a market gardener, and every inch of it made fruitful, will be undeveloped. That is an absolutely untenable position. Market gardeners, if they are not very numerous, are an appreciable body, and they are justifiably indignant at the treatment which has been meted out to them. I have had letters from market gardeners all over the country, saying that it is most unjust that they should spend a large amount of capital in developing their land and then be subject to a tax as if the land were undeveloped. One man writes very effectively, "My land is virtually a factory for the production of fruit, flowers, and vegetables. Why should that be taxed while a factory for the production of iron or steel goods is not?" The Chancellor of the Exchequer says he has attempted to meet this point by exempting glass-houses. But he has not given the least indication whether land surrounding glass-houses is to be exempted. ["Yes, he has."] I heard his speech just now. He said that that would be a matter for the Commissioners. Is that quite fair to the Commissioners? Are the Commissioners to 416 have no guidance as to the amount of land that is to go with a greenhouse. There are market gardens where there are no green-houses: are they to be taxed? If not, is a man cultivating a market garden without a green-house to be able to escape the tax by putting up a green-house? Why limit it to market gardens? I do not think the House realises the enormous injustice it is doing, and the departure it is making from principles which all Liberals accepted before the election. My right hon. Friend below the Gangway, who does not know much about the affairs of my Constituency, took upon himself to lecture me for what he called departing from the principles of the late Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman. So far from departing from them, I was quoting with entire agreement what Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman said.
§ Mr. HAROLD COX
The right hon. Gentleman has no right to impute motives to me. Neither the fact of his age nor the fact that he derives his wealth from other sources than land gives him that right. I was quoting with entire agreement and approval the late Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman's statement that he wished the land of this country to be used as the treasure-ground of the poor rather than as the pleasure-ground of the rich. That is also my principle. That is not the principle of the Government. The Government have provided in this Bill that if land is let to a rich man to provide a house or a pleasure-garden he may have five acres free from tax. If the same land is let to a poor man to cultivate for a market garden or for a small holding it will be subject to taxation. This Government, which professes to carry out the principles of the late. Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman and does not do so has provided that if land is let to a wealthy golf club to amuse themselves upon it will be exempt from taxation, but that the same land let to a small holder to produce food for his fellow-creatures will be subject to taxation. I think, therefore, I was perfectly justified in quoting that diction from the late Leader of the Liberal party. It is hon. Members on the front Bench who have departed from it. I appeal, therefore, to the right hon. Gentleman to accept this Amendment, and to admit that it is still possible to develop the land of England in other ways than by building upon it houses that are not wanted.
§ Mr. AGAR-ROBARTES
I am very glad to have the opportunity of seconding the Amendment. I would be the first to admit 417 that there have been many concessions, and that large classes of people likely to be injured by these taxes have been exempted. But I feel that these exemptions will certainly throw a still more lurid light upon the injustices and anomalies of this tax. We have been assured from Land's End to John o' Groats that this tax will remedy some of the many admitted defects of our land system; that it will prevent overcrowding in our large cities, and last, but not least, we have been assured that agricultural land has been exempted from the tax. That statement has been loudly echoed on a hundred platforms in every agricultural constituency in the country—why or wherefore no person can say. Hon. Members on this side of the House do not make that statement purely for the paltry purposes of party.
§ Mr. AGAR-ROBARTES
Personally, I am most anxious that no new burdens should be put on the greatest industry of this country. I had hoped that the Government might have dealt with the question of rating and with the question of local taxation, and that the greatest industry of this country, just now struggling under heavy burdens, might have obtained some relief. But if this tax becomes law, instead of giving relief to that industry you are actually, to my mind, imposing further burdens upon it. This tax lays down the principle that land is to be taxed, provided, and provided only, that it is used for agricultural purposes. Any other industry is excluded. Land may be used for the ancient game of blind man's buff or the historic game of marbles, while if the same land is put to the best advantage and used for agricultural purposes or as a market garden it is to be harassed and crippled by taxation. The powers of this Bill will enable the Commissioners to tax large blocks of agricultural land in the vicinity of towns, and to say that a large portion of that land is ripe for building at a particular time and at a particular price. Owners of land will be taxed because their land may have a dormant building value. The theory of the Chancellor seems to be that land in this country exists for the erection of tenements, or to be planted with factories, while, as a matter of fact, the vast proportion of the land of this country is used for another purpose. I should like to give an illustration of the way this tax will work.
418 Take the case of land adjacent to a town. The Commissioners descend upon the owner and say, "This land has a site value," and the wretched owner is immediately taxed. Supposing, as is quite probable, that the population of that town remove, owing to the closing down of a mine or the shutting up of some great business, or because some factory disappears. With the disappearance of the population the site value also disappears. What will happen when the site value disappears? The man will have paid the tax for a number of years, but he will get no repayment. There are no provisions in the Bill for repayment to the agricultural owner in such circumstances as this. As we know, the building site value in such a case as that must be of a speculative character. This is one of the instances of ungotten gains like ungotten minerals. Land near a town, we are told, has what might be called an alternative value; it has what is called its site value and its agricultural value. The site value and the agricultural value are really a combination which it is impossible to separate. Proximity to a railway or propinquity to a market affects the site. The Commissioners may say it is a commercial site, or it may have an excellent site value and a residence or a public-house or an assembly rooms. Who is to decide this? Are these conundrums to be left to the Commissioners? The Commissioners will decide. No doubt the Commissioners will cover a multitude of sins. In cases of that kind you might just as well, to my mind, ask the Commissioners to value the Limehouse speech, or to determine whether it was the personality of the right hon. Gentleman or merely the personalities on that occasion which nearly seduced the "Daily Mail" from its allegiance to right hon. Gentlemen opposite. We have been told that agricultural land is not to be taxed. I was surprised to hear that amazing statement made by an hon. Member at a Budget meeting recently, and I was almost tempted to contradict the statement, but I thought it might spoil the harmony of the proceedings. There was another reason why I did not intervene, and it was because I felt my hon. Friend did not believe it himself.
I am told that in regard to a matter of this kind if you continue to repeat an argument the process of mental aberration becomes complete. I have not the slightest doubt that hon. Gentlemen opposite, for instance, honestly and sincerely believe that under Tariff Reform 419 the foreigner will pay the tax. The point, however, which I want to make is that it is very cold comfort to the agriculturist to be told over and over again that he is not going to be taxed on his land as an agriculturist, but will be taxed as a potential builder. It is still worse if he refuses to pay this tax, because he will have to cut down his plum and pear trees, and pull down the walls round his orchard in order that the land may be used, not merely for building purposes, but for some subsidiary industry. It might be required, for instance, by some wealthy manure merchant, who might be able to claim this agricultural land in order to erect corrugated iron sheds to manufacture manure. Take, for example, an acre of agricultural land near a town. Suppose this land brings in 40s. per acre per annum. It would be quite fair to deduct for local rates and taxes the sum of 10s. an the £. That will leave the owner the balance of £1 per annum profit. The Commissioners might say that the taxable site value of this piece of land is £120, and, according to the Bill, he will have to pay 5s. on the land; that is to say, if he keeps his land as agricultural land, a quarter of his profits will disappear. If the Commissioners in their excess of zeal declare that the taxable site value is £480 he will have to pay £1, that is to say, the whole of the profit will entirely disappear. I honestly think it will pass the wit of man or the humour of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to convince such an agriculturist as I have described that he is not being taxed. If this man's land is wanted for overcrowding, I agree that you should give to the locality compulsory powers. This tax, to my mind, is most certainly a tax on one of the greatest industries in this country. It is a tax on agriculture, and I only wish I could go down to my constituency and assure them that this is not a tax on agriculture. If I did make that assertion I should be placing the case before them with a maximum of audacity and a minimum of veracity.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
No one would have imagined from the two last speeches, rather bitter in tone, with very elaborate and studied attacks upon the Government, that the subject-matter of the attack was a concession made by the Government, and admitted to be a full redemption of a pledge which was given. The hon. Gentleman says these Amendments cast a lurid light upon the Bill itself. I think such 420 criticisms casts an exceedingly clear light upon the methods of those who criticise this Clause. I would suggest to the hon. Member that before he criticises the Bill he might as well read it. He was good enough to say that he presided at a meeting of the Budget League, where he allowed false statements to be made without correcting them. Is he quite sure? Unless he is better informed about what transpired there than he is about what he criticises to-night, I think he had better, before he makes those statements, read the Bill once, twice, or three times. He may then have an elementary knowledge of it. I will give an illustration from what he said. He said the Commissioners, for whom he has the greatest contempt, though, as a matter of fact, some of them are among the ablest officials any Government is ever likely to have—and those who know something about them will corroborate that—may value land now let at £2 per acre at £120, and that means this poor individual will have to pay 5s. If the hon. Member had only read the Bill, he would have known that the whole agricultural value would be deducted in the first instance. He is just about 90 per cent. wrong in his figures. He quoted that as an illustration, and, if that is a fair sample of the knowledge he has got about the Bill, and if he is 90 per cent. wrong in all his information, I would still advise him before he makes another speech to give a little more time to the study of the Bill.
§ Mr. AGAR-ROBARTES
I was quite aware that you deduct the agricultural value from the site value. I said the Commissioners might assess the taxable value at £120, having made that deduction.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
I beg the hon. Member's pardon. I am within the recollection of the House. What he said was, as I think he will find to-morrow, on reference to the OFFICIAL REPORT, that the Commissioners might value the land at £120. I am very glad the information I have given him with regard to the Bill has led him now to correct his statement. The hon. Gentleman may say that is what he intended to say, but I am quite within the recollection of the House. I assure him, if that is what he intended to say, I have nothing to add, but, at any rate, that is certainly not the impression he conveyed to the House. Let us take the second point. He said, "Here you are taxing industry; you are taxing market gardeners and small holders." There is another part of the 421 Bill which he does not seem to have read—that part by which the small holder occupying a holding up to £500 value is exempted. Was the hon. Gentleman aware of that? If he was, does he not think it would only have been fair for him to have stated it? As he said, when a man is not the owner he is not taxed: it is the owner who is taxed. It is not the market gardener or the small holder who is taxed: it is the landlord. The hon. Member is confusing two things. He seems to think that the interest of the industry is mixed up with the rent of the landlord. That is quite a mistake. A mere tax on rent is not an interference with the market gardener; it makes no difference to him whether the money goes to the State or into the pockets of the landlord. It is not a burden on the market gardener at all; it is purely a tax on the rent received by the landlord.
With regard to the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Cox) it is the same question as has already been debated three or four times, and the speech in support of it is one which I have
§ heard at least 50 times. The hon. Member knows perfectly well that if we say to a man, "You shall use every bit of your land for agricultural purposes, although it may be building land," the effect will be that there will be no land at all subject to these taxes. My hon. Friend naturally opposes the whole of the land taxes. But such opposition is not a proper subject for an Amendment at this stage. It should be raised in a second or third reading Debate. This Amendment cuts out all land from the taxes, and if it is carried it will not be possible to impose any land tax at all under this Bill. My hon. Friend knows that perfectly well. Purely agricultural land is not to be taxed at all; it is only when the land is converted into building land that for the first time it is taxed. The Amendment of the hon. Member for Preston goes to the root of the whole Bill, and the Government cannot possibly accept it.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the proposed Amendment."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 155; Noes, 63.423
|Division No. 820.]||AYES.||[11.59 p.m.|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Jenkins, J.|
|Agnew, George William||Edwards, Clement (Denbigh)||Johnson, John (Gateshead)|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Jones, Leif (Appleby)|
|Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Elibank, Master of||Kelley, George D.|
|Astbury, John Meir||Essex, R. W.||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Esslemont, George Birnie||Layland-Barratt, Sir Francis|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Evans, Sir Samuel T.||Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich)|
|Barker, Sir John||Falconer, James||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David|
|Barnes, G. N.||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Fullerton, Hugh||Lupton, Arnold|
|Beale, W. P.||Gibson, James Puckering||Maclean, Donald|
|Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, St. Geo.)||Gladstone, Rt. Hon. Herbert John||Macpherson, J. T.|
|Bennett, E. N.||Glendinning, R. G.||M'Callum, John M.|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Glover, Thomas||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)|
|Black, Arthur W.||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||M'Micking, Major G.|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Gooch, George Peabody (Bath)||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)|
|Brace, William||Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||Marnham, F. J.|
|Brigg, John||Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill||Masterman, C. F. G.|
|Bright, J. A.||Gulland, John W.||Micklem, Nathaniel|
|Brodie, H. C.||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)|
|Brooke, Stopford||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||Morse, L. L.|
|Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh)||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Nussey, Sir Willans|
|Brunner, Rt. Hon. Sir J. T. (Cheshire)||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)||Nuttall, Harry|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Byles, William Pollard||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.)||Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)|
|Causton, Rt. Hon. Richard Knight||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Pollard, Dr.|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Haworth, Arthur A.||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Hedges, A. Paget||Radford, G. H.|
|Clough, William||Helme, Norval Watson||Raphael, Herbert H.|
|Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Collins, Sir Wm. J. (St. Pancras, W.)||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Richards, Thomas (W. Monmouth)|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Henry, Charles S.||Richards, T. F. (Wolverhampton)|
|Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead)||Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Higham, John Sharp||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Hobart, Sir Robert||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Hodge, John||Robinson, S.|
|Dalziel, Sir James Henry||Holland, Sir William Henry||Robson, Sir William Snowdon|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Holt, Richard Durning||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.)||Horniman, Emslie John||Rose, Sir Charles Day|
|Dobson, Thomas W.||Hyde, Clarendon||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Duckworth, Sir James||Isaacs, Rufus Daniel||Shackleton, David James|
|Shaw, Sir Charles Edward||Walsh, Stephen||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Silcock, Thomas Ball||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.||Williamson, Sir Archibald|
|Scares, Ernest J.||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)||Wills, Arthur Walters|
|Stanley, Hon. A. Lyulph (Cheshire)||Waterlow, D. S.||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)||Watt, Henry A.||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Taylor, John W. (Durham)||White, Sir George (Norfolk)||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestershire, N.)|
|Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)||White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Thomasson, Franklin||White, Sir Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Tomkinson, James||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Joseph Pease and Sir Edward Strachey.|
|Verney, F. W.||Wiles, Thomas|
|Villiers, Ernest Amherst||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hon. Sir Alex. F.||Freeman-Thomas, Freeman||Morrison-Bell, Captain|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)||Peel, Hon. Wm. Robert Wellesley|
|Balcarres, Lord||Gordon, J.||Randles, Sir John Scurrah|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Ratcliff, Major R. F.|
|Baring, Capt. Hon. G. (Winchester)||Gretton, John||Renwick, George|
|Beck, A. Cecil||Guinness, Hon. R. (Haggerston)||Ridsdale, E. A.|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Guinness, Hon. W. E. (Bury St. Edm.)||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Hamilton, Marquess of||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford)||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T.||Stanier, Beville|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc.)||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Starkey, John R.|
|Coates, Major E. F. (Lewisham)||Hunt, Rowland||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staffordshire)|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John||Kerry, Earl of||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Courthope, G. Loyd||Keswick, William||Valentia, Viscount|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hull)||Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham)||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Faber, George Denison (York)||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Younger, George|
|Fletcher, J. S.||Magnus, Sir Philip|
|Forster, Henry William||Mason, A. E. W. (Coventry)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Harold Cox and Mr. Agar-Robartes.|
|Foster, Philip S. (Warwick, S. W.)||Morpeth, Viscount|
Question, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill," put, and agreed to.
§ Ordered, "That further consideration of the Bill, as amended, be now adjourned until to-morrow."—[Mr. Lloyd-George.]