§ (1) Where a Resolution is passed by the Committee of Ways and Means of the House of Commons providing for the imposition of any new tax, or for the variation of any existing tax, or for the renewal for a further period of any temporary tax, whether at the same or a different rate, and whether with or without modifications, and the Resolution contains a declaration that it is expedient, in order to safeguard the interests of the public revenue, that the Resolution should have statutory effect under the provisions of this Act, the Resolution shall, for the period limited by this Section, and subject to the provisions of this Act, have statutory effect as if contained in an Act of Parliament, and where the Resolution provides for the renewal of a temporary tax all enactments which 1662 were in force with reference to that tax as last imposed by Act of Parliament shall, during the said period, and subject to the provisions of this Act, have full force and effect with respect to the tax as renewed by the Resolution.
§ Provided that—
- (a) The Resolution shall cease to have statutory effect if during the said period Parliament is dissolved or prorogued, or an Act comes into operation imposing, varying, or renewing the tax under the authority of the Resolution, or the Resolution is rejected by the House when considered on Report; and
- (b) Where the Resolution so ceases to have statutory effect, or the said period terminates, before an Act comes into operation imposing, varying, or renewing the tax under the authority of the Resolution, any money paid in pursuance of the Resolution shall be repaid or made good, and any deduction made in pursuance of the Resolution shall be deemed to be an unauthorised deduction; and
- (c) Where the tax as imposed, varied, or renewed by the Resolution is modified, either when considered by the House on the report of the Resolution, or by the Act imposing, varying, or renewing the tax under the authority of the Resolution, any money which has been paid in pursuance of the Resolution, which would not have been payable under the new conditions affecting the tax shall be repaid or made good, and any deduction made in pursuance of the Resolution shall, so far as it would not have been authorised under the new conditions affecting the tax, be deemed to be an unauthorised deduction; and
- (d) When during any Session a Resolution has had statutory effect under this Act, statutory effect shall not be again given under this Act in the same Session to the same Resolution or to a Resolution having the same effect; and
- (e) This Act shall apply only to duties of Customs and Excise and to Income. Tax.
§ (2) The period for which a Resolution shall have statutory force under this Section shall be a period expiring at the 1663 end of four months after the date on which the Resolution is expressed to take effect, or, if no such date is expressed, after the date on which the Resolution is passed by the Committee:
§ In this Act the expression "temporary tax" means a tax which has been imposed or renewed for a limited period not exceeding eighteen months.
The first of the Amendments in the name of the hon. and learned Member for West St. Pancras (Mr. Cassel)—[In Sub-section (1), at beginning, insert, "Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the Bill of Rights"]—is not in order. The whole purpose of the Bill is to alter what has recently been declared to be the law, therefore it is not proper to put in the words he desires to propose.
§ Mr. CASSEL
May I respectfully suggest that it is for the Committee themselves to consider whether or not it is desirable to insert these words. They are words which frequently occur in other Statutes, for example, they are found in Section 15 of the Revenue Act, 1864. In the legal dictionary the phrase is specially referred to as being used where there are two inconsistent Acts of Parliament upon the Statute Book, in order to make it clear that the latter Act was intended to repeal the earlier one. May I submit to you, Sir, that if the Committee so chooses, this will be a proper case in which to insert such words, having regard to the fact that if this Bill passes into law we shall have two inconsistent Acts upon the Statute Book, because the Bill of Rights is net expressly repealed, but only repealed by implication. We shall have the Bill of Rights which nays that taxes may not be imposed otherwise or for a longer time than is sanctioned by Parliament, and we shall have this Bill which says that it maybe done by Resolution of Committee of Ways and Means; and that whether you are dealing with so fundamental a Statute as the Bill of Rights, which governs the conditions upon which the King of England accepted his Throne and still governs the conditions on which he holds the Crown, in an Act of such importance it is at least competent to the Committee to discuss whether it thinks it desirable to insert that form of words which occurs in other Acts of Parliament.
If I were to accept this Amendment I am afraid it would lead to a very bad precedent, because at 1664 the beginning of the first Clause of every Bill which is ever brought forward we should have to insert the words "notwithstanding all previous Acts." The second Amendment of the hon. and learned Member should come as a new Clause. The Amendment of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. T. M. Healy) is not in order. It is an alternative to the Clause, or perhaps really, I might say, an alternative to the whole Bill.
§ Mr. FELL
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), after the word "Resolution" ["Where a Resolution is passed"], to insert the words "in anticipation of the Finance Act of the year"
I move this with the object of having the Resolutions introduced at the earliest possible opportunity, so that they should not be passed at any time of the year that it may suit the convenience of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to bring them in, but that they should be brought in, as they have been in the past, in anticipation of the Imperial Budget itself. The anxiety which is felt by many on this side is that these Resolutions may be used for the purpose of collecting large amounts of revenue for a long period, and that, we believe, is not the desire of the Committee. I have supplemented this by further Amendments providing that these Resolutions which we are asked to pass, and which I agree are necessary, should state at the very beginning that they are in anticipation of and form part of the Budget. Budgets have been passed at very different dates in the past three or four years, varying from July to December and even in the following year, but the anxiety which I know is expressed by many hon. Members on both sides is that the Budget should be brought in at the earliest possible date after the close of the financial year, and should be brought to a conclusion at the earliest date, and, at any rate, in the month of July at latest The varying dates of the Budget must necessarily interfere with trade, and anxiety must be felt in the country as to when the Budget is to be introduced, and also when it is going to be passed, so that we shall know for certain that those duties which are being collected are final, and that we shall not have possibly to refund them or to have a surcharge upon us. I take it in the matter of business the primary duty of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is the Budget, and the primary business of the Government every year is 1665 their finance and their Budget, just the same as in any commercial undertaking the balance sheet is the important part which shows its progress and provides for its working during the year. The Government should put everything aside, in my opinion, for the passing of the Budget, and Bills of any kind should be brought in subservient to the Budget.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Lloyd George)
I have read these Amendments very carefully, but I really could not make out, why the hon. Gentleman wished to insert these words or what purpose he thought he was serving. I am in the same position now after hearing what he has said. He has put his point very clearly, but I do not think it will be achieved by his Amendment. He seems to think that to introduce these words here will somehow or other compel the Government to introduce the Budget and carry it through before July. The Amendment will have no effect of that kind at all.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The later Amendments, I admit, would have that effect. If you limit the period to three, four, or five months, that is a guarantee that you will carry the Budget in that time, but it is not necessary to insert these words in order to put yourself in a position to move the later Amendments, and this Amendment will not make the slightest difference one way or the other. Budgets might be introduced in future in the month of October without contravening these words in the slightest degree. Therefore they are unnecessary and futile from that point of view. But they are also mischievous. Supposing we found it necessary to introduce two Finance Acts in the course of a year. Supposing there were a war in October in any year. You might want to vary or increase the taxes, but the Resolutions would not be covered by this Act if you inserted these words. I take it they refer to the ordinary, normal Finance Act of the year, and the words would not apply at all to the War Budget. It might have a very serious effect if the taxation were under Customs or Excise. You might endeavour to raise a large sum for war purposes and find that the whole of your revenue had been lost for that particular year. I am sure that is not the hon. Member's object. 1666 If he will consult the hon. and learned Gentleman beside him, I am sure he will agree that the interpretation is correct and that these words are distinctly mischievous.
§ Sir A. CRIPPS
That would be met if the words read "in anticipation of the Finance Act or Acts of the year." I quite agree the words as they stand are too closely limited and defined, but the objection the Chancellor of the Exchequer refers to is easily met. As far as I understand it, in his view the words would be harmless, but I think they have some advantage. They do not carry us much further, but with that Amendment in them perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would allow the words to be introduced.
§ 4.0 P.M.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
I regard the Government's action in this matter as very extraordinary. No doubt the point which the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer has taken against the Amendment is a good one, but equally so is the answer of the hon. and learned Member (Sir A. Cripps), which I think has met the point. Why are all these Amendments to be moved? It is because of the dislike which everybody at present feels as to the provisions of the Bill. Everybody admits that the Government are entitled to some Bill. Everybody admits the unusual nature of the recent decision in the Courts, but equally so are we of opinion that this Bill goes too far, and that it is entirely needless. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Fell) in the very moderate speech he made in moving the Amendment, admitted that his proposal did not go very far. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has stated that he has gone through the Amendments. I also have done so, and I believe that others have done so. All that these Amendments mean is that we feel the present Bill is entirely too wide. The Amendment, now before the Committee proposes that you should only give virility to these Resolutions at a specific time, and in a specific manner. That is the intention at all events. Both sides are agreed as to the necessity of a Bill, and are willing to give the Government a Bill to meet the situation created by the decision. But is it fair to others largely interested in the question of time? Irish Members are largely interested in the question of time. This Bill if fought out must occupy a couple of nights, if not more, and probably further time on the Report stage. Is that desirable at this time of the Session? The 1667 right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire last week made a proposal which was purely to prevent time being wasted, and I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer should readvise himself and take up the position which the right hon. Gentleman originally did. The position was admitted through the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire that some Bill is necessary. He should give us that Bill, but do not let us wrangle over matters which are not needful where this Bill is entirely beyond the necessities of the case.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I had not intended to speak on this Amendment, but as allusion has been made by the hon. Member for North-East Cork (Mr. T. M. Healy) to some observations which were made by me in a former debate, I desire to say a few words. I, of course, cannot speak in regard to this Bill with the full support of Friends with whom I habitually act. I made that clear from the first. I stated that I was taking a line which did not wholly commend itself to my Friends, but I did recognise the serious position in which the Government is placed—not this Government, or that Government, but the Government of the day—by the overthrow of the old practice. I did feel it to be such a serious matter that, with my past responsibility, I was anxious to put all party feeling aside and to assist the Government if I could in arriving at a satisfactory settlement. With that view I made a proposal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer which I think he now regrets he did not receive in a more friendly spirit. The proposal I then made was that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should confine his immediate legislation to the temporary purpose of meeting the immediate emergency as to the Income Tax which has to be collected, and all the taxes which are to be collected under the Budget which we are to have whenever this Bill is out of the way, and that he should refer the wider question to a Committee upstairs in the hope that such Committee might hammer out a Bill that would be practically accepted in all quarters of the House. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was unable to accept my proposal when it was made, and I feel bound to say—I think it is only fair to him and myself to say—that I do not think that after what has since passed, after the attitude taken up by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the continuance of the 1668 discussion since then, there would be the slightest chance of my being able successfully to repeat such a proposal now. I very much regret that my proposal was not received in more friendly terms when it was made, but I think it would be quite useless to repeat it now.
§ Mr. ROBERT HARCOURT
As a very humble Member of the Committee I address the House with considerable diffidence on finance matters. With all respect to what has been said, we have all felt that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire has treated the Government in a most fair and reasonable manner. I, for one, do not wholly despise those conferences which take place between the Front Benches in matters of this kind, and which are denounced by some private Members. We are discussing a rather wider issue than that raised by the Amendment, and the reason why I rise is this: If I understand the position in which the Committee actually finds itself at the present time, I should be in entire agreement with the hon. and learned Member for North-East Cork (Mr. T. M. Healy) in saying that any Amendment which tends to induce the Government to speed up their Budget, and not delay it possibly until December, would certainly be a most reasonable Amendment. The hon. and learned Member (Sir A. Cripps) rose with the object, I think, of meeting that precise point, and I am sorry that the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not deal with it. I want to understand whether this Amendment is one which could be moved and passed in its exact form The hon. Member who moved it (Mr. Fell) stated his object generally, but the Chancellor of the Exchequer indicated that the effect of it would be to preclude the Government, of the day from submitting, to all intents and purposes, a second Budget if they had to do so, as was done in the short Winter Session immediately preceding the South African War. The hon. Member is an opponent of payment of Members, but I am sure that he would not desire to prevent the Government of the day from bringing forward a second Budget at a period of great national emergency, and, further, that he would not desire to tie the hands of the House of Commons by an Amendment in this particular form. I trust that we shall hear from the Law Officers of the Crown, or from the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself, whether this Amendment could be passed in this particular form. While I 1669 agree that a private Member has the right to criticise the Front Benches in these matters, I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as the custodian of the Exchequer, is bound, in the interest of the country, to resist even a seemingly innocent and unimportant point. Although the right hon. Gentleman is inclined to give way to criticism on some points, he is bound to resist this particular Amendment.
§ Mr LLOYD GEORGE
The point raised by the hon. and learned Member (Mr. T. M. Healy) is interesting, and I think I am bound to say a word in reply. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire said that his proposal was that the Bill should deal purely with the temporary emergency, that a Committee should be set up which would take some time for its deliberations, and that then the Government should introduce a Bill on the basis of the Report of that Committee. I will tell the right hon. Gentleman quite frankly why I could not accept that proposal. It would involve the Government in the necessity of introducing another Bill before the Budget was introduced next year. That is rather a serious matter. Of course, it would put off the Budget indefinitely—it would, at all events, put it off for some time—and it might be of such a drastic and far-reaching character that it might take some time to discuss it. In that case there would be a poor chance of getting the Bill through before 31st March, and to bring in a Bill after that would not meet the situation. I do not think that is a position the Government should be put into. If the right hon. Gentleman had made a suggestion which would have enabled us to incorporate the recommendations of a Committee in the Budget of that year, it would have received careful consideration. For instance, I can see that there might be some advantage in accepting an Amendment on the lines of that to be proposed by the hon. and learned Member for the St. Pancras Division (Mr. Cassel). He proposes that the Bill should run for eighteen months. That would enable the Government to incorporate the recommendations of the Committee in the Budget of next year, instead of being compelled to introduce a Bill before the Budget is introduced. We want to get this Bill through, probably, this week. I do not see any serious objection to the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member, provided that that meets the views of the Opposition, but if 1670 this Bill is to be forced through, we gain nothing by accepting that Amendment. It is better that we should go through with the Bill to the end, and if a new Clause were introduced on Report there would be no need for the Amendment in Committee. If the Opposition were to say that if we accept the Amendment to make the Bill run for eighteen months, and that they will give the Government of the day the opportunity of incorporating the recommendations of the proposed Committee in the Budget of next year, I would be very favourably disposed to an Amendment of that kind.
§ Mr. CASSEL
The right hon. Gentleman has referred to my Amendment. I wish to say that I gave notice of it with the view of reducing the proposals in what I regard as an unconstitutional, unnecessary, and harmful Bill, to the most moderate limits. Unless my Amendment were accepted in its present form, I am afraid I would have to offer strenuous opposition to some of the proposals in the Bill. The Government could have got out of their difficulties if they had introduced and carried through all stages a Bill to continue the Income Tax at the same rate for three months. Such a Bill would also have met the difficulty. It would also have met the necessities of the case as to the Tea Duty. If they had done that, we would have got something which could have been properly considered. It is simply the action of the Government which has placed us in these difficulties, and while I should thank the right hon. Gentleman for accepting my Amendment to reduce this harmful Bill to the narrowest possible limit of time, I cannot see that I can accept the Bill in its present form, for there are some Clauses which are so unconstitutional, and which by amendment are capable of being made less unconstitutional, I should, notwithstanding that, have pressed some of the Amendments of which I have given notice.
§ Mr. JOHN WARD
As a private Member who certainly does not profess to understand the business details of the Budget, I should like to ask one question. I understand that this Bill was necessitated because of the judgment given in the Law Courts in the case brought by Mr. Gibson Bowles. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I understand that this Bill is alleged to be made necessary on account of the decision which was given in that case, and that the proposal we are now 1671 discussing to amend the first Clause takes the form of a suggestion to enable the Government to get out of the difficulty. The point I want to put is, whether the proposal of the hon. Member for Yarmouth would make the law something different from what it is to-day? I also want to know whether this Clause as it stands represents exactly the situation as it was relating to these matters prior to the judgment of the Court; because it is upon that question that I shall vote in reference to this Bill. It is clear that there is something wrong as a result of the decision of the Courts which renders it necessary in working the finances of the country to have some alteration made in the law. I should like to know from one of the Law Officers of the Crown, whether the proposals of the Government exceed what was the practice, because I think every Member would be prepared to give them whatever is necessary to restore that practice, but I should vote with the hon. Member for Yarmouth if I thought that the proposals of the Government were going beyond what was previously the practice relating to these matters.
This discussion has been rather irregular on this particular Amendment of the hon. Member for Yarmouth, but there are occasions when wider points are allowed when the Committee desires it, at the same time I do not want the discussion to diverge to general maters.
§ Sir A. CRIPPS
If we do have a wider discussion I assume that it will not interfere with the discussion of subsequent Amendments?
No, I took this as rather an interpolation of a business discussion, apart from the particular Amendment, on the point raised by the hon. and learned Member for Cork (Mr. T. M. Healy), and I do not think that it will have any effect on subsequent Amendments.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I am afraid that I cannot answer my hon. Friend without raising a very wide issue on this Amendment, but the answer I can give him is this, without raising the controversies I have stated. That if it is pointed out to me that at any point this Bill goes 1672 beyond the practice which existed before, I shall accept some Amendment to limit it to that practice. I think that that will be sufficient for the present for my hon. Friend. I could not discuss the whole Clause, but I will say that the Government are prepared to accept any Amendment that will limit the Bill to the practice existing before. My hon. Friend will see later on that we cannot accept Amendmends that will limit that practice. There are some very serious Amendments with regard to that practice which would make it much more difficult than it was. I hope for the present that he will accept that assurance. In view of what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) has said, I am afraid there is very little use at this stage in prolonging the Debate upon a wider issue.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I agree with the Chancellor of the Exchequer in what he has just stated. I am afraid that I was rather responsible for widening the discussion, but it was because the hon. and learned Member for Cork referred to an offer which I had made, as far as I was in a position to make it, the other day, and I thought it only right to say that, that offer not having been accepted then, I did not think I was in a position now to make it good to-day. I think that even then it would have required all such influence as I possessed to have secured the acceptance of that offer, but the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not see his way to accept it unless I could double my generosity. It is very doubtful whether I could have carried my point with the previous offer, and it is quite certain that I could not carry it with the second offer, and I do not think it reasonable for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to expect it.
§ Mr. SAMUEL ROBERTS
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire does not think that he could successfully repeat the offer which he made a few days ago. The right hon. Gentlemon the Chancellor of the Exchequer gave as a reason why, if the offer was made again, he could not accept it—that if a Select Committee were appointed to go into the whole position that Committee would not be able to report before the end of the financial year.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
No, I did not assume that. I think it very likely that they might be able to report before the end of the financial year, but what I was 1673 afraid of was that we should have to bring in another Bill in anticipation of the Budget, which would take up practically the fortnight before the Budget.
§ Mr. ROBERTS
I quite understood that, but what I want to suggest is that the Select Committee would probably come to a unanimous decision or nearly so; they generally do on a technical question of this kind. Parliament would probably meet not later than the month of February. There would be two months, February and March, available, and if the Committee did report fairly unanimously, the Bill might be brought forward and go through before the 31st March quite easily, because there would not be very much opposition to it, if the Committee decided unanimously. It would be well not to treat this matter too much as a party matter. We on this side admit that something must be done. It is only on a matter of procedure and method that we differ. I do appeal to both sides of the House that this question should not be allowed to slip away as it is at the present moment. I do not see how the proceedings can be shortened with the Amendment Paper as it is and no guillotine, but if the Chancellor of the Exchequer would consider the question of a Select Committee its Report would be given in time for him to bring in a Bill in anticipation of the Budget next year.
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
I should like to support the remarks just made by the hon. Member for Sheffield. Speaking on this side of the House, I must express great regret that the Opposition do not see their way to accept the offer made by the Chancellor. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcester was generous to the Government in this matter. We all recognise that. But, at the same time, the Government was generous to the Opposition in the offer, which we heard with satisfaction to-day, that although the Chancellor of the Exchequer said it was impossible to renew the offer now, owing to the way in which it has been received by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, it was only impossible at this stage. I do think that we are dealing with the temporary difficulty this year as well as a permanent difficulty in this matter. Personally, I am almost indifferent as to what we do to meet the temporary difficulty in this matter provided it is purely temporary. It seems to me that a great deal might be allowed to the Chancellor of the Exchequer on a purely temporary proposal, but it does 1674 seem that, although I recognise that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has promised to accept Amendments, what we are asking him to do is to make a statement before the whole problem has been fully explored. This Committee is hardly in a position to explore it without a great deal of debate, and I hope therefore that at some later stage, in considering this Bill, it might be recognised that this is a temporary way of meeting the difficulty, and that the whole matter may be explored by an impartial Committee of the House which can arrive at a unanimous decision.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
The hon. Member who has just sat down finds fault with this side because we are unable to accept the suggestion which the Chancellor of the Exchequer made to-day. I was one of those who were very anxious that the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire the other day should be accepted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I have all along acknowledged that the temporary difficulty might be met by a temporary measure, but when the Chancellor of the Exchequer asks us to accept the whole of this Bill and apparently the whole of this enormous machinery, then if we were allowed to discuss this Bill as it is we could show a reason why we are unable to accept a great Bill of this kind for the mere temporary emergency which has arisen, and in the course of the Debate we should be able to show the Chancellor of the Exchequer that there is much in this Bill which is entirely superfluous to the situation that has arisen and that there is no necessity to set up the new and elaborate machinery for meeting circumstances which have not yet arisen, either in the Courts or in the House of Commons itself. I will try now to be regular and to speak for a moment of the Amendment itself. I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer is right in his view that this Amendment is not an Amendment of first-rate importance, but it is an Amendment which I am rather surprised the Chancellor of the Exchequer cannot see his way to accept. The only effective criticism of it was that it might apply to a year when there were two Finance Acts, and therefore it might have a limited effect. It is perfectly easy to alter that by amending the Amendment by inserting "Finance Act or Finance Acts." The whole of this difficulty has arisen from a case in the Law Courts in which an Act 1675 of Parliament had to be interpreted. With all this class of measure they are constantly finding themselves in the Law Courts and constantly finding themselves having to be interpreted. It would be a good thing if this House of Commons were to declare in the forefront of this Bill that it is brought in not as a separate piece of machinery for imposing or collecting taxation, but is brought in ancillary to and in anticipation of the financial statement that is practically about to be made. I quite admit that it would not actually bind the Chancellor of the Exchequer to bring in his Budget any earlier, but, at all events, it would be a guidance to the Courts of Law, and it would be in some way a moral support to the contention that the Chancellor of the Exchequer ought not to use this machinery by leaving it over and delaying the Budget, but ought to use it only in anticipation of the financial statement which he is about to make to the House of Commons. I therefore attach some importance to it, and, on the other hand, I can see no objection to admitting it into this Bill. I hope the right hon. Gentleman, on reconsideration, will accept this Amendment of my hon. Friend, with a view to declaring quite early in the course of this Bill that the intention of the House of Commons is that it shall only be used in anticipation, and, in short, anticipation of the usual Financial Bill of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir Rufus Isaacs)
In regard to the Amendment there is very great objection to the introduction of these words at this stage. I cannot see what effect they would have. The whole of the Bill is framed in anticipation of the Finance Bill, and that is shown by the whole of the proviso which follows. If you introduce the words proposed you might easily get the question raised before the Courts that one of the reasons was "anticipation of the Finance Act of the year," and it would have to be proved that it was in anticipation of the Finance Act of the year. The Committee cannot intend that, and the matter is already provided for by a subsequent provision in the Bill. I quite appreciate the hon. Member's desire to limit the effect of the Resolution, and that is done by later words in the Bill. There may be a discussion on the words we have adopted for that purpose, but the insertion of the words now proposed would only 1676 add to the difficulty, which is dealt with by the words we propose.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
I do not think the argument of the Attorney-General is a convincing one, because long before any suit could possibly come into Court the Bill would actually be introduced.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
A suit could be brought almost immediately, and there would be no difficulty in getting it to trial and decision.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
In the course of the discussions that have taken place on this matter it has been constantly claimed that the Resolution was a matter of machinery, and that, as the Bill was so nearly to be passed, it was not worth while contending about it. But supposing the case before the Court did not come on for a considerable time after the Budget was passed into law, the point would be whether there was an anticipation of the Finance Act of the year. Lawyers sometimes are very wide-minded and reasonable, and sometimes they are very pedantic and technical, but I think any Court of Law would see whether it was in anticipation of the Finance Act of the year before it took any proceedings. In the Spring of 1910 this very point was taken over and over again by the right hon. Gentleman's colleagues on that bench. We were urging them to bring in a Resolution to regularise the levying of the Income Tax, and this Government actually passed a Bill for no other reason than that they repeatedly declined to move any Resolution on account of this very doctrine that a Resolution had no validity unless it was in anticipation of the Finance Act. We are told that the existing usage is to be made temporary in this Bill. We have that on the Government's own statement. The existing usage it appears is legal and effective if it be in anticipation of the finance of the year, but not otherwise. Why not put words into this Bill making the Resolution effective only as it is in anticipation of the finance of the year. Unless you have words of this kind, what security have you that the Government will pursue their Budget in the customary way from stage to stage in the early months of the Session; what security have you that they will not hold the whole thing over? If those words were inserted, they would be pledged at any rate to bring in the Bill before that time had elapsed, and they would be strongly stimulated, if those 1677 words are inserted, to carry it on at any rate as far as the First Reading. That would be a very substantial gain at any rate, and one which the Government might well recognise.
§ Mr. LOUGH
I would like to make an appeal to hon. Gentlemen opposite. It seems to me that they do not quite understand the position of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer in regard to this matter. The sole reason which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Fulham (Mr. Hayes Fisher) has given for not now supporting the idea of the Committee trying to arrive at an accommodation on this most important question, is that the Government will insist on passing the Bill—should an agreement be arrived at—in the exact form in which it is now printed. That is the position taken up by the hon. Member for. St. Pancras. I think there is no reason to assume that this is absolutely so, and, therefore, I support the appeal made by the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Samuel Roberts). If the principle of the temporary Bill were accepted, my right hon. Friend has indicated that he would not refuse Amendments. I believe there would be such a desire for agreement on this important matter that I venture to make another appeal to the right hon. Member for East Worcestershire (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) to consider whether—if we cannot recall the situation of three or four days ago—it is absolutely necessary to abandon the hope of compromise altogether. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has gone a long way in saying that he would accept a temporary Bill, and I think I might almost put to him that he will agree to some Amendments in that temporary Bill. Hon. Members opposite might accept from the Government the statement that my right hon. Friend must not be put into the position in which he will have to bring in a Bill before the Budget next year. There is no good in our debating that. The right hon. Gentleman has gone a long way, and we must accept what he says with regard to that point. I appeal to hon. Gentlemen opposite that they should be animated by the same amicable spirit as that shown by the hon. Member for Sheffield, and endeavour, in the circumstances, to meet the Chancellor of the Exchequer on some reasonable conditions, and I believe, if that great advantage were secured, that the Committee might settle their discussions this afternoon, and get the Bill 1678 through to meet a temporary emergency, and we could afterwards deal with the permanent emergency in a manner worthy the great traditions of this House.
§ Sir ALFRED CRIPPS
I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, after the word "Act" ["Finance Act of the year], to insert the words "or Acts."
The Amendment would then read "in anticipation of the Finance Act or Acts of the year." I submit that those words ought to be introduced to make the Bill in complete accordance with the existing usage. I am going to bring back the discussion to the particular Amendment before the Committee; but, with regard to what the right hon. Member (Mr. Lough) said, as far as I am concerned I could under no conditions accept the Bill in this form even as a temporary Bill. Of course a temporary solution might be agreed to which would cover the difficulty, but I think this Bill is one of the most unconstitutional Bills and is the most likely to destroy the whole liberties of this House of any Bills which have ever been introduced. In regard to the Amendment, I only want to say, in answer to the learned Attorney-General and to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that of course limiting words of the kind proposed may be a matter for consideration when you come to the interpretation of the Act. But I understood the Chancellor of the Exchequer to say that he wants to keep the Bill as nearly as possible in conformity with existing usage. That is the basis of the position he has taken up. If he wishes to do that, it can only be done by introducing limiting words of this character, if it is really intended not to go beyond what is the present usage of the House. The present usage of the House at the present moment is undoubtedly that these Resolutions are only intended to be effective in anticipation of the Finance Act. I consider that this is a very crucial Amendment, and it is very essential to insert some words of this character.
Proposed Amendment amended, by inserting after the word "Act" the words "or Acts."
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
While I dislike intensely the Bill, I quite recognise that some measure is necessary to give effect to the views of the Government, and that some such words as those proposed are most desirable. The learned Attorney- 1679 General said that they are surplusage, but if that be the only objection I will ask him how many words of surplusage are in the Bill already. It is crammed with surplusages and unnecessary expressions, drafted by somebody who has had no regard to either the traditions or history of this House. Therefore to say that these words are surplusage does not meet the case at all. Take what happened in 1885. In that year the Government on the Budget Bill deliberately played with it. I refer to Mr. Gladstone's Budget, in June of 1885. They wanted to go out, and, in the words of the late Sir Charles Dilke, they "rode for a fall," and deliberately planned that they should be defeated and that the Conservative Opposition should come in. It might well be the tactics of a Government on a particular occasion to play for defeat on a Budget Bill, and I think it would be most undesirable that tactics of that kind should be possible, and I conceive that some limiting words like these are necessary, in order to prevent Governmental tactics. What is the object, I would assume, the Opposition have in view in regard to this proposal?
The Government is unconsciously, and as we think unhappily, engaged in disintegrating three centuries of British history. They are unconsciously setting a Statute in motion which is giving the lie and the go-by to every principle that has hitherto animated persons who had a love for the Constitution. I agree they are driven into doing something. The Opposition set themselves down to say. "You are trying to pass this wide-flung and far-flung net, and we shall try to limit it." At the outset the Member for Yarmouth (Mr. Fell) says that the Resolution in question must be a Resolution in advance of the Budget Bill of the year. That is his intention. I am not saying whether the words exactly do so. It is not always easy to meet the views of the Clerk at the Table, or of the authorities of the House, or, sometimes, the views of the Chairman, in the wording of your Amendment. How is the Amendment met? The Chancellor of the Exchequer simply met it with the criticism that the word "Acts" was not made use of. That was remedied by the proposal of the hon. Member for South Bucks (Sir A. Cripps). The answer to that is that the words are surplusage. What harm? What we feel is this: You are now passing a Bill in a wholly different shape from what the Chancellor of the Ex- 1680 chequer promised. He undoubtedly said, on his original Resolution, that he only wished this to be a temporary measure. He also said he was willing a Committee should consider the question. Here we are, who desire to give the Government a remedy, and we are asked to accept blindfold words which we think are too wide, because they are flung at us in a Government Bill. I decline to do it. I say that the statement that the words are surplusage is not sufficient answer. I do not think they are. You say a remedy is necessary. Very well, meet the views of the Opposition, who only intend to leave the Constitution as it was. That is the only position that we take up. We have to consider this matter and not merely from the English point of view, but from the Irish point of view, and, having regard to the Home Rule Bill, we have special reasons for desiring limiting words of this kind. I do therefore, with great regret, see an inevitable prolongation of this Debate, because you are raising questions that go to the root of history.
Mr. MURRAY MACDONALD
There is one objection to the Amendment that has not been referred to, and which I think is of serious consequence. In the form in which it was originally brought forward, it was proposed to insert the words "Finance Act." To that the Chancellor of the Exchequer objected that it might be impossible to give legal effect to Resolutions that were the ground of a Budget introduced late in the Session to meet a special situation. To meet that difficulty, the hon. and learned Member for South Bucks (Sir A. Cripps), proposed the insertion of the words "or Acts." I should like the Chancellor of the Exchequer to consider what effect that would have if his first Budget statement were to be proceeded with, not by one Finance Bill, but several Finance Bills. Let me refer to a later Amendment, which stands in the name of the hon. and learned Member for South Bucks, as well as my own name. We propose to omit from the provisions of the Bill all new taxes. Supposing that there was an emergency before the main financial statement of the year, such as a war, and that new taxes were proposed in order to meet the cost of the war. This Bill, if it became law, would give power to the revenue officers to raise old taxes at the old rate, or with any variation on the old rate, but there would be no power, if that Amendment were accepted, to raise revenue from the new 1681 taxes, and you might have a series of Finance Bills in the case of such an emergency based upon a single Budget statement in the early part of the Session. A Finance Bill passed then would make, as I understand it, any levy of the old taxes, if this Amendment were accepted, impossible. I therefore think these
§ words ought not to be accepted, and if they were they would be most prejudicial to the interests of the revenue.
§ Question put, "That the words, as amended, be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 102; Noes, 245.1683
|Division No. 40.]||AYES.||[4.53 p.m.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major William||Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Fletcher, John Samuel||Newdegate, F. A.|
|Astor, Waldorf||Gardner, Ernest||Newman, John R. P.|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Gastrell, Major W. Houghton||Nield, Herbert|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Gilmour, Captain John||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.|
|Barnston, Harry||Glazebrook, Captain Philip K.||Paget, Almeric Hugh|
|Blair, Reginald||Goldsmith, Frank||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith-||Guinness, Hon. W. E. (Bury S. Edmunds)||Perkins, Walter F.|
|Boyle, William (Norfolk, Mid)||Harris, Henry Percy||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Randles, Sir John S.|
|Bull, Sir William James||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)||Rawson, Colonel Richard H.|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Rees, Sir J. D.|
|Campbell, Captain Duncan F. (Ayr, N.)||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Campion, W. R.||Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian)||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Horne, E. (Surrey, Guildford)||Sandys, G. J.|
|Cassel, Felix||Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk.||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Ingleby, Holcombe||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Jessel, Captain H. M.||Stewart, Gershom|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin)||Joynson-Hicks, William||Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r., E.)||Kebty-Fletcher, J. R.||Talbot, Lord E.|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Kerry, Earl of||Terrell, G. (Wilts, N. W.)|
|Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)|
|Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Boner (Bootle)||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, North)|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Lewisham, Viscount||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Wilson, A. Stanley (Yorks, E. R.)|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Colonel A. R.||Winterton, Earl|
|Cripps, Sir Charles Alfred||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Croft, Henry Page||Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott||Macmaster, Donald||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||M'Calmont, Major Robert C. A.||Yate, Colonel C. E.|
|Faber, George Denison (Clapham)||M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)||Younger, Sir George|
|Falle, Bertram Godfray||Malcolm, Ian|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Fell and Mr. S. Roberts.|
|Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.||Mills, Hon, Charles Thomas|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Elverston, Sir Harold|
|Addison, Dr. C.||Cawley, Harold T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Essex, Sir Richard Walter|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Clancy, John Joseph||Esslemont, George Birnie|
|Alden, Percy||Clough, William||Falconer, James|
|Allen Arthur Acland (Dumbartonshire)||Compton-Richett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A||Ffrench, Peter|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Cotton, William Francis||Field, William|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Fitzgibbon, John|
|Barnes, G. N.||Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Flavin, Michael Joseph|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick Burghs)||Crooks, William||France, Gerald Ashburner|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Crumley, Patrick||Gelder, Sir W. A.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Cullinan, John||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy)||Ginnell, Laurence|
|Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. George)||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Gladstone, W. G. C.|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Glanville, H. J.|
|Black, Arthur W.||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford|
|Boland, John Pius||Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardiganshire)||Goldstone, Frank|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Dawes, J. A.||Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Delany, William||Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Griffith, Ellis Jones|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Devlin, Joseph||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Dickinson, W. H.||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Donelan, Captain A.||Hackett, John|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Doris, William||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis (Rossendale)|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Duffy, William J.||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Hardie, J. Keir|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar)||Duncan, J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry|
|Hayward, Evan||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Hazleton, Richard||Molloy, Michael||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Hemmerde, Edward George||Molteno, Percy Alport||Rose, Sir Charles Day|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Rowlands, James|
|Herbert, General Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||Mooney, John J.||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.|
|Higham, John Sharp||Morgan, George Hay||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Hinds, John||Morrell, Philip||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Hodge, John||Morison, Hector||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Hogge, James Myles||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E.|
|Holmes, Daniel Turner||Muldoon, John||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Horne, Charles Silvester (Ipswich)||Munro, R.||Seely, Rt. Hon. Colonel J. E. B.|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Murphy, Martin J.||Sheehy, David|
|Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Murray, Captain Hon. A. C.||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||Neilson, Francis||Shortt, Edward|
|Johnson, W.||Norton, Captain Cecil W.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook|
|Jones, Rt. Hon. Sir D. Brynmor (Sw'nsea)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton)|
|Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim)|
|Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||O'Doherty, Philip||Snowden, Philip|
|Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)||O'Dowd, John||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||O'Grady, James||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert|
|Jones, W. S. Glyn- (Stepney)||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Jowett, F. W.||O'Malley, William||Sutherland, John E.|
|Joyce, Michael||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Keating, Matthew||O'Shee, James John||Tennant, Harold John|
|Kellaway, Frederick George||Outhwaite, R. L.||Thomas, James Henry|
|Kelly, Edward||Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Parker, James (Halifax)||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Kilbride, Denis||Parry, Thomas H.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|King, J.||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molton)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Lardner, James C. R.||Pointer, Joseph||Wardle, George J.|
|Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Waring, Walter|
|Leach, Charles||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Pringle, William M. R.||Watt, Henry Anderson|
|Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Radford, G. H.||Webb, H.|
|Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)||Raffan, Peter Wilson||White, Sir Luke (Yorks. E. R.)|
|Lundon, Thomas||Raphael, Sir Herbert H.||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Lyell, Charles Henry||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Lynch, A. A.||Reddy, M.||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Williamson, Sir Archibald|
|McGhee, Richard||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Maclean, Donald||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Wing, Thomas|
|McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Roberts. G. H. (Norwich)||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.)||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Marshall, Arthur Harold||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Robinson, Sidney|
§ Mr. CASSEL
I beg to move, to leave out the words "the Committee of Ways and Means."
This is an Amendment to which I attach very great importance; at the same time, I do not wish to repeat observations already made on the Second Reading of the Bill or on the Resolution. As it is a matter relating to the procedure of the House itself, I, having had the privilege of membership for only three Sessions, speak with the greatest possible diffidence in the presence of Members so much more experienced than myself. The result of the Amendment would be that a Resolution which is to have taxing effect will require to be a Resolution of the House itself, as distinct from a mere Resolution of the Committee of Ways and Means. It seems to me very undesirable that the procedure of the House should be stereotyped in a Statute so that it becomes 1684 incompetent for the House to alter it except by another Statute. If you leave in the Statute the words "the Committee of Ways and Means," you will also have to leave in the words "on Report." As we proceed with this Bill I shall be able to convince the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he will have to go much further, and refer to the Second and Third Readings, and that if he means to be logical he will have to set out the whole procedure in the Statute. Even with regard to a municipal body there is no Statute of which I am aware under which the act of a mere committee of that body has ever been given statutory effect. I shall be interested to hear any precedent cited, unless the Committee is a Statutory Committee, such as the asylums committee of the county council, where effect has been given to the action of the committee as distinct from a resolution of the body itself.
1685 What is the Committee of Ways and Means? At the present moment it is a Committee of the Whole House. But need it continue so for ever? What is there to prevent the House from resolving that in future the Committee of Ways and Means shall consist of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, and, say, fifteen other Members? In foreign Parliaments it is the rule for the Budget Commission, which considers the financial statements, to be a comparatively small committee. I understand that the Prime Minister has stated that the whole of our procedure is to be considered by a special Committee. Assuming that that Committee comes to the decision that it is better not to consider financial statements in the Whole House in the first instance, the result may be that you will be giving statutory effect to the decisions of a Committee consisting of only a very small number of Members. All that the Courts would have to do in determining whether it was a Resolution of the Committee of Ways and Means would be to look in the Journals of the House, and if they found in the margin the words "Ways and Means," that would be sufficient. It is therefore possible that the Resolution would not even be that of the Whole House. If taxation is to be imposed otherwise than by Act of Parliament, it is in every way undesirable that it should be possible for it to be clone except by a Resolution of the House. A Resolution of the House is something which the Courts and everybody else can understand whereas a Resolution of the Committee of Ways and Means is absolutely indefinite, and leaves the door open to possible changes of procedure. The only reference to the Committee of Ways and Means in the Standing Orders is in Standing Order 14, where it is laid down that the Committee of Ways and Means shall be appointed at the beginning of the Session immediately after the Address.
Moreover, it is not the invariable practice to introduce the Financial Statement in Committee of Ways and Means. In 1852 and in 1857 the Financial Statement was introduced in Committee of Supply, and in 1860 in the Committee on the Customs Act. It is certainly not the practice that all taxation shall be introduced in Committee of Ways and Means, because in Erskine May's "Parliamentary Practice" a distinction is drawn between temporary taxes required for the revenue of the year and permanent taxes, and it is stated that the 1686 latter may be introduced in Committees other than Committee of Ways and Means. What is a Resolution of the Committee of Ways and Means? It is a mere expression of opinion. In old times the Resolutions of the Committee were expressed in that way—" That it is the opinion of the Committee." Even at the present time Resolutions of the Committee are frequently in the form "That it is expedient." For instance, a Resolution with regard to altering the law of Customs and Excise contains the words, "That it is expedient to amend the law of Customs and Excise." Even in regard to the Revenue Bill of 1911, the Resolutions were framed in the form "That it is expedient." Therefore you are proposing to give statutory effect to something which, from the time of Queen Anne downwards, has been done merely as a deliberative act, as a mere matter of opinion, and not otherwise. Take the various alternatives with regard to a Resolution of the Committee of Ways and Means. When the Resolution comes before the House it may be either postponed, rejected, recommitted, agreed to, or varied by way of reduction, though not by way of increase of the taxation proposed. Afterwards the Bill founded on the Resolution runs the chance of rejection on Second Reading, of alteration in Committee, and of rejection on Third Reading.
What will happen if a Resolution is recommitted? This seems to me a point of real difficulty. Suppose a Resolution of the Committee of Ways and Means is recommitted and a Resolution is then passed on different lines. Under this measure the original Resolution will have statutory force for four months, notwithstanding its recommittal, and, if it is not the same in effect, the second Resolution also will have statutory effect. I presume that the second Resolution would not be the same in effect, otherwise it would have been unnecessary to recommit the original Resolution. If the Resolution is varied on the Report stage, it is not the variation, but the original Resolution that will have statutory effect. I can assure the Chancellor of the Exchequer that I have read the Bill carefully and devoted to it a considerable amount of attention in the short time that he has allowed us for the consideration of so complicated a measure. My interpretation of the Bill is that, if the Resolution is rejected on the Report stage, it ceases to have statutory effect; but if it is varied on the Report stage, it has statutory effect in its original form 1687 for four months. That may be ridiculous, but it is the Bill. The Resolution has statutory effect for four months, and at the end of the four months the subject may recover what he has paid in excess. Suppose a Resolution of Committee of Ways and Means fixed the Income Tax at 1s. 4d. If on the Report stage the amount was reduced to 1s. 2d., every bank dealing with dividends and so forth, would be bound by the Statute for four months to deduct at the rate of 1s. 4d., and at the end of the four months the subject would have to claim the repayment of the difference. That is one of the absurd results of trying to put the procedure of the House of Commons into an Act of Parliament. Supposing the Bill founded on the Resolution is rejected on Second Reading; notwithstanding that fact, the Resolution will have statutory effect for four months. To that extent you are setting up the action of a mere Committee, which, although at present a Committee of the Whole House, may not, always be so, above the action of the House itself. That, I submit, is the effect of the Bill.
Let me now deal with an argument urged against us on the Second Reading and also when the Resolution was under discussion. I think it is the most important argument that there may be forestalment between the date on which the Resolution of Committee of Ways and Means is passed and the date on which it is agreed to by the House. That argument has no force if the right hon. Gentleman accepts one of my other Amendments—
§ Mr. CASSEL
The one on the Paper on the lines suggested by the hon. Member for Cork. The Amendment is to leave out the words "have statutory effect" ["have statutory effect as if contained in an Act of Parliament"], and insert instead thereof the words "be a good defence at the trial or hearing of any action or proceeding in like manner." If the right hon. Gentleman adopted that the difficulty about forestalment would not arise at all. You are not giving the same force of law to a Resolution of this House, but merely saying that if somebody should bring an action before four months have passed, that the Resolution shall during that period of time be a defence to the action. It is still illegal; but if the action goes to trial within the four months, then this will be a defence to the action. It means that 1688 nobody can bring an action between the Committee of Ways and Means and the Report stage, and I must say that we ought to take our Report stage soon to ensure that that is not done. You could always ensure that no action could come to trial before the Report stage, and you would, by the time you came to trial, have a Resolution of this House. That Resolution of this House would be a defence to the action.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I do not object; I am considering that matter and other Amendments of the hon. and learned Gentleman, and when the time comes I shall indicate one or two I intend to accept, but I do not want to anticipate discussion upon them now.
§ Mr. CASSEL
The only reason why I was anticipating it was that only by coupling the Amendments do you get over the difficulty of forestalment, which might be urged against this Amendment. I do not quite see how I can meet the objection with regard to forestalment which might be urged against this Amendment, which I am now putting forward, except at the same time I explain how my subsequent Amendment meets that difficulty. I am confident of this: If you left it in that way the old practice would be continued, and everybody would be perfectly safe, because you would be sure to get the Resolution of the House before the Report stage. I submit it would infinitely improve the position. On the ground which I have put forward that it is extremely undesirable to stereotype the procedure of this House in an Act of Parliament, and on the ground that Committee of Ways and Means itself is so indefinite that a Resolution of it is subject to so many chances before the Act founded on it finds its way on to the Statute Book, I submit that there should at least be a Resolution of this House.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The hon. and learned Gentleman has made a very able speech in support of his Amendment, and with some of what he said I agree. On the whole he has made good his case in regard to the Amendment. I propose to accept his Amendment, though not quite in the way he has put it down on the Paper; still substantially on the lines he 1689 has laid down. I think he was travelling outside the Amendment on the Paper when he discussed the other points. His objection was of a two-fold character. One of his objections was that the Resolution ought to be a Resolution of the Whole House. He knows very well that we discussed that point at great length on Wednesday, and we can discuss it on the Report stage. I need not repeat the arguments I advanced, for the effect of postponing the statutory effect of the Resolution to the time when you get the Report stage is that the Government will lose a very substantial amount of revenue, especially in the case of the Customs, and may lose some revenue in the case of the Income Tax. It would create a good deal of inconvenience to bankers and others—and no one was more eloquent on that point than the hon. and learned Gentleman. There is a good deal of income during April from which the tax ought to be deducted, and it would mean a great deal of inconvenience to those who have to pay if they had not some statutory authority for the deduction and unless some arrangement of this kind was made. That is my answer to waiting for the Report stage. It would, too, be departing from an old-established practice, which has been found convenient to everybody all round, if the Resolution in Committee of Ways and Means, which has always been acted upon as the operative authority till the Budget, were not still acted upon.
The moment Committee of Ways and Means has passed this taxing Resolution it has always had effect till the time the Finance Act was either accepted, rejected, or modified. That has been the practice in the past, and what we desire is that that practice should be established in some form unchallengable in the Courts. I do not see why we should depart from the old practice. You cannot always get your Report stage soon; in fact, it is very desirable in some cases that you should not in the interests of the Opposition. It is desirable that you should have several days, for the Opposition very often allow a variation of a new tax or a new tax itself to be acted upon from the first day without any discussion in order to enable the Customs to be collected the following morning and so prevent forestalment. It is well that a week or a fortnight at least should intervene—sometimes it is three weeks—before there 1690 is a second and a real discussion upon the proposals.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I am not so sure that you could not under Section 14. If you bring your Budget in before the Easter holidays and you get a fortnight's holiday, and you get your Report stage after that, there is at least three weeks. The second argument advanced by the hen. Gentleman is one that I recognise has some force. He said you might alter the Standing Orders of the House, and say that Committee of Ways and Means shall be composed of fifteen Members. That is not impossible. I think that is the proposal, too, made by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Cork. I think it could be done. I do not say that it is not worthy of consideration. Methods of the kind are adopted in some parts of having some Committee to consider these proposals. I am not now expressing any final opinion upon this suggestion. You might have a Committee of fifteen imposing taxation upon the country. I am willing to meet the hon. and learned Gentleman here and to this extent—I do not say that he will be satisfied, because it is not easy to satisfy him—but I will meet him half way. I am prepared to substitute for the Committee of Ways and Means the Committee of the Whole House.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
That is the point raised by my hon. and learned Friend opposite. It is a guarantee that at any rate you cannot by merely altering the Standing Orders of this House set up a Committee of five or six or fifteen, with statutory authority to impose taxation upon the subject. If the hon. and learned Gentleman will accept that as an instalment I will come to other questions later. I shall have something to say about his Amendment later. It, is one rather suggested by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Cork. I would like to consider it before I express an opinion upon it, and discuss it a little further with the Law Officers, for it is rather a legal point. His Amendment, which I propose to accept—though not verbally—reads: At the end of paragraph (a) to insert:—
"(b) When the Resolution is modified on Report it shall during the remainder of the period limited by this Section have 1691 effect as so modified, and the provisions of this Act as to repayment or making good any money shall be construed accordingly."
I am prepared to accept that in substance, as I am told that it will be necessary to alter the words. With regard to the other Amendment I do not think I can accept it. I should like to have a little further light upon it, but for the moment, if the hon. and learned Gentleman will be satisfied with the substitution of the words, I accept his Amendment with the elimination of the Committee of Ways and Means, and the substitution of the Committee of the Whole House.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
The right hon. Gentleman has gone some way to meet our objection. I hope my hon. and learned Friend above the Gangway will accept the suggestion of the Chancellor in the spirit in which it has been made. Will the Chancellor allow me to say that I think my hon. and learned Friend is correct in his view that these words are unnecessary. This Clause of the Resolution reads:—Where a Resolution is passed by the House,that any Court will apply, if necessary, either to the case of a Resolution passed by the House of Commons as a House, or by the House of Commons in Committee. The Chancellor seems to doubt it. He takes the forestalment point. If I believed for a moment that the Chancellor was correct in that I would say his objection was sound. My view is that when we, in the House of Commons, sitting with the Chairman in the Chair, pass a Resolution, that that Resolution passed by this House is a Resolution of the House of Commons. The right hon. Gentleman says "No, it does not become a Resolution of the House of Commons until Mr. Speaker is in the Chair, and until we have confirmed what we have done as a Committee on Report." It shows where we are when we have to consider points of that nature. It shows the kind of points this Bill sets up; going into matters which have never been considered, and only have to be considered by reason of attempting to decant the British Constitution into the words of this Clause. You cannot do it! I venture to say that no matter what you do you are only making a botched job of it, and the matter should be calmly considered by a non-party Committee—I 1692 insist upon that—a party of Parliamentarians, of House of Commons men—therefore the hon. and gallant Gentleman above the Gangway is correct in his view, that the danger which the right hon. Gentleman anticipates has been met. I verily believe if any other words are used than the words suggested they are not adequate. Let me put this to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I ask him to get the advice of the Attorney-General on the matter. Supposing the words were as suggested and that the omission was made as suggested, would any lawyer advise Mr. Gibson Bowles to bring a fresh action? No lawyer who had a reputation to risk would do so. What I, therefore, suggest is this: Is it better to run the slight risk to accept the omission of the words as a whole or to put into an Act of Parliament the recognition of the procedure of this House, which is ephemeral, and may be changed at any moment? I am amazed and positively astounded at the draftsmanship of this Bill. The Government are overawed by their draftsman, who is not a Member of this House at all, and who says to them "You are doing wrong." Let them put their draftsman aside and trust the Members of this House, who are anxious to assist them. I therefore respectfully think the words of the hon. and learned Gentleman are correct. I am glad of the spirit shown by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as half a loaf is better than no bread, and on that ground my hon. and learned Friend might accept the suggestion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer; but I have no hesitation in saying that it would be better if the words were omitted as a whole.
§ Sir A. CRIPPS
I have a similar Amendment on the Paper, which in substance amounts to the same as that of the hon. and learned Member for St. Pancras. I do not want to approach this matter in a party spirit, although I feel very strongly about it; but the effect of the Clause as it stands is this: If you eliminate these words "Ways and Means" you may get rid of some difficulty under the Standing Orders, but you do not in any way alter what is in substance the complaint made by the hon. and learned Member for St. Pancras. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer suggested, if I followed him rightly, and I want to know if I am right, that you might 1693 introduce some alteration at a later stage to give the Resolution of the Committee statutory effect sufficient to carry out this purpose.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
What I said was, "I am considering it." I do not want to have any misunderstanding; I have given a pledge with regard to the second Amendment, but with regard to the first I said I am considering if I can meet the point raised, but as at present advised I could not accept it.
§ Sir A. CRIPPS
Yes, and I said I have also an Amendment later on on the Paper very much in the same terms of my hon. and learned Friend.
§ Sir A. CRIPPS
I am not asking the Chancellor of the Exchequer to go very far at the present moment, but if he can adopt the words, which take away what is to my mind the objection giving statutory effect to a mere Resolution of a Committee of this House, then, from my point of view, that will make all the difference as regards the Amendment we are here discussing; but if there is no pledge, and what we are really discussing is whether you ought to give statutory effect to a Resolution of the House or a Committee of the House, surely on other grounds, constitutional and otherwise, we ought not to give that statutory effect to a Resolution in Committee, and you ought to have at least a Resolution in this House, in order to effect a great principle of this kind. As the Chancellor of the Exchequer said himself just now, so far as a Resolution in Committee is concerned, we have no concern—it is left over for a subsequent day. Surely what he said is not in favour of giving statutory effect to an undiscussed Resolution of this House! I should have thought the result of what he said would lead to exactly the opposite conclusion. Wait until you have the fair discussion, or the chance of a fair discussion, before you give statutory effect to such a Resolution making it binding upon the subject.
Let me say a word in answer to the difficulties indicated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I do not think any of them can possibly occur if the Amendment of my hon. Friend and myself were introduced. But for the moment let me assume that the Bill stands as it is. He supposes that because you introduce a Bill of this kind all ancient 1694 usage goes by the Board. I do not agree with that at all. I think it is very improbable, and I am going to point out that it might be impossible for any action such as that taken by Mr. Gibson Bowles to be taken between the period of a Resolution in Committee and the Report of that Resolution to the House. Those two stages are to be taken not far from each other, say, in a period of a fortnight or three weeks, and it would be impossible to bring an action of this kind to a termination in that time. And apart from that, why suppose that ancient usage would be put upon one side because Mr. Gibson Bowles brought his action? Really, in substance and in truth, it is impossible that you should have any substantial difficulty—I will go so far as to say any difficulty—between the passing of the Resolution in Committee and its acceptance by the House, assuming you allowed a sufficiently short time to the Report stage. I think a month is too long, but in any event a month would be amply sufficient to make any such action as Mr. Gibson Bowles wholly impossible. I do not think it could be brought at all. You think old usage should be disregarded because this action was brought. This action was brought because the Budget was deferred for a very long time. You never would have heard anything of it if you brought in your Budget in a reasonable time. Here you are imposing taxation. The right hon. Gentleman says that very often you would not have time to discuss the Resolution. I have heard nearly as many Budgets introduced as the right hon. Gentleman, and we all know that effective discussion of increased duties or something of that kind is not taken on the Budget night. If you are not going to, have an effective discussion upon a Resolution when first introduced, you ought not to have taxation founded upon it given statutory effect at once.
There appears to me to be matters in this Bill of very great importance, and confess I take a strong view as regards the effects of this Bill upon the action, freedom and control of this House. Why not, at any rate, allow the matter to be discussed and a Resolution of this House passed before a Bill of this kind came into operation? I see the hon. Member for Rushcliffe Division opposite. I know he wants to approach the question of taxation by this House in no party spirit. Does he maintain that you should allow a Resolution to have statutory effect before its 1695 acceptance, and before it is discussed at all. It would be a mere mockery if you at once give it statutory effect, and you discuss it months afterwards; that is mere idle discussion so far as protection of the subject is concerned. Therefore, until at any rate we know, as we do not, that these words, "statutory effect," are going to be deleted, and that some other principle is going to be introduced, I hope my hon. and learned Friend will press his Amendment on the constitutional grounds that at least a Resolution of this House ought to be passed before statutory effect is given to it imposing taxation upon the subject.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I think the hon. and learned Member for St. Pancras does not accept my suggestion.
§ Mr. CASSEL
Of course, half a loaf is better than no bread, and I should like to get what I can, but I feel in principle so strong an objection that, although the right hon. Gentleman has gone so far, I feel bound, on constitutional grounds, to take a Division.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I want to make this clear to the hon. and learned Gentleman. I think the words of the Bill as they stand are better. I am prepared to meet him, and, if he cannot agree, he must not hold me bound to something which is worse than the Bill itself.
§ Mr. MITCHELL-THOMSON
The proposal of the Government is to leave out the words "Committee of Ways and Means," and to put in instead, "Committee of the Whole House."
§ Mr. MITCHELL-THOMSON
That is a very different proposition. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] I think it is. I have given the best study that I could to this matter, and there is a difference between "Committee of Ways and Means" and "Committee of the Whole House" as technical expression. Why that is so I cannot explain. If the right hon. Gentleman will refer to page 590 of the last edition of May, he will see this, and it is rather interesting:—In the procedure adopted by the House of Commons for the imposition of taxation, the following distinction is generally if not uniformly drawn Taxes applicable to the immediate exigencies of the public income, which are renewed from year to year, and temporary and other taxes imposed to obtain an i mediate source of 1696 revenue are considered by the Committee of Ways and Means. Fiscal regulations and alterations of permanent duties—And this Bill includes the alteration of permanent usage—not having directly for their object the increase of revenue, are dealt with by Committees of the Whole House.And I have looked up the instance where the actual Resolution proposed was to vary the duty upon a certain class of sugar, and I find that that Resolution, a taxing Resolution, and dealing with the variation of permanent taxes was dealt with by the Committee of the Whole House, and not a Committee of Ways and Means, so I think, when you come to putting in words, it should be a matter of very careful consideration what these words ought to be. I am quite clear in my own mind it would be very much better to leave the words out altogether, and to leave it as the hon. Member for North-East Cork suggested. But if we are to put in any words, we ought to be very careful as to the words the Government select. The hon. Member for North-East Cork told us that Mr. Gladstone told the House of Commons that a Budget, and even these Resolutions might be introduced with the Speaker in the Chair. There is a precedent for that on at least two occasions when the Budget speech was actually made in Committee of Supply and not in Committee of Ways and Means. When the Government are considering this matter I think it will require very careful consideration, and they would be well advised in my opinion to rely upon the simple words, "A Resolution passed by the House of Commons."
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
I wish to express my regret that the overture of peace which has been made by my right hon. Friend has not led to any settlement of this question. When I heard the hon. and learned Member for Cork welcoming this Amendment, I thought he would have persuaded the hon. Member who moved it to accept the compromise.
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
I agree that the hon. and learned Member did his best. Personally I should prefer a Resolution of the House, but seeing that the Government cannot give us that, surely we might accept words which secure at any rate that the Whole House shall have an opportunity of considering the matter. If the Bill goes through as it is now drafted, it is 1697 clear that a Committee may be composed of fifteen Members, and that Committee may be in a position to levy taxation for a period of four months. I do not want this opportunity to pass without something being done, and I hope we shall agree to accept the words which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has offered rather than prolong the fight.
§ Sir FREDERICK BANBURY
I cannot agree with what the hon. Member for Rushcliffe has just said. The proposal which has been made by the Government is that they will insert after "Committee of Ways and Means" the words "being a Committee of the Whole House," the object being to prevent a small Committee, which might under certain circumstances result from the proposals contained in the Bill, imposing taxes and settling the taxation of the year. That, however, does not meet our point. First of all, I do not believe any Government formed from the worst part of the House would dare to propose taxation in a Committee of fifteen Members. Any fear based upon that idea is perfectly illusory. Therefore all it amounts to is that by this Amendment we shall be certain of having a Committee of the Whole House, but we shall have it expressed in the Bill that it will be a Committee of the Whole House. That is not what I understand my hon. and learned Friend desires, and it is not what I desire. My object in having a Report stage is that the country may know what is going on, and the electors would be able to communicate with their Member and express their opinion of the proposed alteration in the taxation before it was made statutory by the proceedings in the House. If the Report stage is inserted, that would be done. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for South Bucks (Sir A. Cripps) talked about a month being allowed. I do not think there is any necessity to wait for a month, because a fortnight would be plenty, and possibly ten days would be sufficient. I agree that under these circumstances it would be very unlikely that anyone in the country would repeat the action that was brought by Mr. Gibson Bowles, and if he did, before he had time to get an opinion of the Court upon the subject, the Report stage of the Resolution would have been passed. You cannot move a Court in a short time, because you have, first, to go to a solicitor and put your case before him, and then he has to go to a member of the Bar, and all 1698 sorts of forms have to be gone through, and you cannot do all that in a fortnight. If I were made Chancellor of the Exchequer I would undertake to introduce the Budget without bringing in this Bill at all, and I would have no trouble in bringing it forward merely by the simple expedient of bringing in my resolution and within three weeks introducing the Finance Bill, which has always been done before. I do not know whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer is prepared to put me in charge for a short time, on the understanding, of course, that I might come back on this side, but if he would, I feel certain I could introduce a Budget and pass it without the slightest trouble by following the old precedents. I am only referring to the action of Mr. Gibson Bowles, and I was not intending to deal with the question of taxation.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
After all, the Budget ought to be the first object of Parliament. We are here to look after Supply; that is one of the oldest, if not the chief, constitutional reasons for the existence of Parliament, and it is because that has been lost sight of and other things have grown up which have been more popular, or more in the interests of a party than the first and old constitutional practice of safeguarding the public purse of the nation, that all this difficulty has arisen. I think the least the Government can do is to accept this Amendment. It will not satisfy me, because I think the whole Bill is bad; but it will, at any rate, do something to take away the extraordinary power which this Bill would place in the hands of any Cabinet or any Chancellor of the Exchequer to levy taxes which the unfortunate people who will have to pay them will have no means whatever of using their old constitutional methods of protest by consulting with their Members of Parliament and endeavouring to have them altered.
§ Mr. SAMUEL ROBERTS
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has made what he considers to be a concession to the Opposition on this Amendment, but really it is a very small concession indeed. It is a concession which simply makes provision against a Committee of the Whole House being altered into a Committee of, say, fifteen Members. I have never heard any proposal being made for 1699 a Resolution of the Budget being taken in a Committee of less than the Whole House. Nobody would think of it. What we want to provide is that a Resolution carried in Ways and Means should not be effective to collect taxes until it has been made permanent. This is quite in accordance with the procedure of Parliament in financial matters. Why has Parliament in the past so jealously guarded the rights of the taxpayers with regard to finance? Before you bring in a Finance Bill you must have a series of Resolutions passed in Committee and through the Report stage, and then only can you bring in your Finance Bill. Why is it? Why is a different procedure adopted in regard to finance than in other matters? It is simply this: It is ex abundanti cautela, so that the taxpayer shall not be taxed unless the House says he must. The Resolution ought not to be effective until it has been confirmed on the Report stage. The Report stage follows almost immediately after the Committee stage, and, therefore, it is very unlikely that any revenue at all would be lost. I hope before this Bill passes the Government will make some real concession to the Opposition, because the concession which has been made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer is really nothing, and does not meet the point. As a matter of fact, it is only a secondary point to concede to provide against this House being turned into a Committee of thirteen.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
I hope my hon. and learned Friend will not be beguiled into accepting the Amendment which has been offered. I admit that the Amendment is slightly better than the original words, and I am not so sure that a Government will never make proposals to alter the Committee of Ways and Means. It is more than likely at the pace we are now going that the present Government may turn the Committee of Ways and Means into a sort of Grand Committee After all, the words which the Government wish us to accent leave the Bill in the position of a Resolution being passed by a Committee, and not by the House of Commons itself. There is all the difference between a Committee and a Committee of the House of Commons. This means a Resolution which will have statutory effect, and that is an absurdity and an abuse of the use of the word "statutory." There was never before anything statutory that was 1700 passed by a Committee of Ways and Means, or any other Committee. I do not know of a Committee anywhere which has the power to create a Statute. I believe that all hon. Members who have listened to this Debate are becoming a little alarmed at the rapid way in which we are altering the procedure of this ancient House of Commons. After all, let hon. Members opposite recollect that here we are setting a model for other Parliaments, and it is a most dangerous thing to enter upon new precedents. I would draw the attention of hon. Members opposite who have taken part recently in passing the Home Rule Bill to the effect of what we are doing to-night if at some future date the Government of Ireland Bill should become law. Under that measure what is to be the procedure of the Irish Senate and of the Irish Parliament? How is it to be governed or restricted?
If you turn to Clause 12 of the Government of Ireland Bill you will find that it is provided that the powers, privileges, and amenities of the Irish Senate and House of Commons and the Committees of the Irish House of Commons shall be those held and enjoyed by the Commons House of Parliament. Therefore we must bear in mind that the powers and privileges of our Committees may some day, if the Home Rule Bill becomes law, apply to the Irish Parliament and to Irish procedure. In that case it would be quite possible for the Irish Parliament to have a Committee of Ways and Means constituted on an entirely different basis, and it would be possible under the Irish Home Rule Bill for the Irish House of Commons, by merely passing a Resolution in its Committee of Ways and Means, to impose all sorts of new taxation. What I wish to impress upon this House is the enormous importance of making any alteration in our procedure in regard to finance. The hon. Member who has just sat down has appealed more than once to us to take up an amicable attitude towards the Government. I have expressed my desire time after time to take up an amicable attitude, but we do not see any signs of the Government meeting the objections we have raised continuously, objections which we feel bound to raise in the interests of our constituencies and for the protection of the liberties of the subject.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
I understand that the Government are willing to give us the words, "a Committee consisting of the 1701 Whole House of Commons." I regard that as an improvement of the Bill, but, if the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends persist in their attitude, the Bill will go through in its present shape.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
I do not know that the Bill will go through in its present shape. We are only at the beginning of a very long debate on this Bill, and I have already seen some signs that hon. Members opposite are getting as alarmed as we are at the extraordinary powers which are to be handed over to the Executive of any Government if this Bill passes into law. I admit that several Amendments will improve the Bill, but I shall continue to contend that this is a very bad Bill, that it ought never to become an Act of Parliament, that it is an unnecessary Bill, that there are many other ways of meeting the difficulties in which the Government find themselves, and that these powers are wholly unnecessary, altogether wrongful, and ought never to be granted by the House of Commons.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
The objection which I felt to the Resolution and to the Bill on Second Reading is not one whit less now. I join heartily in the suggestion that this matter should be done by consent, but one of my great objections to the Bill is that it is an alteration of the whole of our financial procedure, which should not be done on the ipse dixit of any Government, but should be referred to a Select Committee for their report. It is certain that a Committee of experts selected from this House would have been able to find a remedy for the difficulty in which the Government find themselves, which would have been accepted generally. We are not opposed to getting the Government out of their difficulty, but I do most strongly support the present Amendment to ensure there being a Report stage, because that places one more difficulty in the way of the Government passing an Act of Parliament by a mere Resolution. I should like to put as many difficulties in the Bill to prevent these Resolutions having statutory effect as possible. They might, as my hon. Friend the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) suggests, pass their Resolution by a snap Division, though I think we on this side of the House are so alert that there would not be much possibility of that. There are two reasons why it is desirable to have a Report stage. First of all, it gives us a second oppor- 1702 tunity of considering the Resolution which is strictly in accordance with the old financial practice of the house that not only two, but more than two, opportunities should be given before taxes are imposed or altered; and, secondly, the Bill itself provides us with a Report stage on which the tax may be rejected, and it does therefore seem to me that the tax should not have statutory effect until it has passed over the second hedge in the course of which it might be thrown.
If the Report stage were eliminated altogether from our procedure, that would possibly be some reason for not accepting the Amendment, but to compel the Resolution imposing additional taxation to come before the House on the Report stage, and yet to give statutory effect to the Resolution before the Report stage passes seems to me legislation rather on the lines of "Alice in Wonderland." I suggested last week that the Report stage might be taken on the following day, but I think it should be left over for a week in order that our Constituents, who, after all, are more concerned with this than we are—the whole trade is concerned with the alteration of taxation—might communicate with their Members and with this House itself. If the House passed the Resolution on the Report stage, though my objections to the whole system of legisation would be as great as they are now, we should at least defer the decision of the House of Commons till the country had had a week or a fortnight to consider the matter. Under these circumstances I would make one further appeal to the Government to make the Report stage at least effective by not allowing the Resolution to have statutory effect until the Report stage has been passed.
§ Sir A. CRIPPS
There is one point to which we have had no answer. Supposing we give statutory effect to a mere Resolution, we may be giving statutory effect to a tax which has never been discussed at all. That is what appears to me to be the vice of the proposal. I quite agree with the Chancellor of the Exchequer that on the Report stage you have an opportunity. He said that, in fact, you put it off some little time in order to give that opportunity. Hon. Members opposite will sometimes be in the cold shades of Opposition. Do they really intend that an additional tax shall be put on the subject without any discussion here, and when it has only been just mentioned for the first time and the country has had no intima- 1703 tion whatever of the nature of the tax? That is a bureaucratic method which is beyond anything the House has ever allowed in the past. Now we have a Single-Chamber Government it is like the "Rake's Progress." We are depriving ourselves of any right of discussion of proposals in this House, and so making the Government the most autocratic and bureaucratic Government which has ever existed. If you take away the control of this House in matters of this kind you have got an autocratic Government such as you have in no other country in the world. Why, if you safeguard the time between those two periods, do hon. Members support the Motion that a mere Resolution of a Committee should have statutory effect?
The suggestion of the hon. Member for the Rushcliffe Division (Mr. Leif Jones) does not deal with the substance. We are not dealing as between the two sides of the House. Are hon. Members opposite who are not on the Front Bench prepared to vote that a mere Resolution of this House, in reference to which there may be no discussion whatever and which relates to a matter of which the country has never heard at all, shall have statutory effect? If so, what becomes of every constitutional doctrine as regards the control of this House in matters of taxation or as regards the right of the people that matters of this kind shall be discussed by their representatives before taxation is imposed? I really cannot imagine a more direct blow at the prestige of this House. We are all realising
§ now that this House is losing its hold on the affection of the country because we are not prepared to do the duties which according to constitutional practice are committed to our charge. We are actually coming to the stage when we are going to give up all our duties in regard to questions of taxation, which is the whole essence of our being and the reason we were originally instituted, because there is some difficulty suggested as regards the Treasury, and we are going to impose taxation without discussion and without giving the subject any power of objecting or of making his views known. I feel so extremely strongly on this topic as regards the effect of this on the whole constitutional position of the country that I must oppose the Bill at every stage so long as this principle is inherent to it. Many hon. Members opposite have always been on the Government side of the House. If they had been on both sides of the House, they would not be so ready to forge these chains which may be used against themselves. I wonder what hon. Members would have said if we had ever made such a proposal! They would have denounced us, and denounced us properly, to the country. It really is a monstrous proposition that Resolutions without discussion should have binding effect on the ipse dixit of an autocratic Chancellor of the Exchequer who wants a particular tax for some particular purpose.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 265; Noes, 119.1707
|Division No. 41.]||AYES.||[6.12 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Brocklehurst, W. B.||Davies, Ellis William (Elfion)|
|Addison, Dr. C.||Brunner, John F. L.||Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Bryce, J. Annan||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Burke, E. Haviland-||Dawes, J. A.|
|Alden, Percy||Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Delany, William|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbarton)||Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas|
|Atherley-Jones, Llewellyn A.||Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar)||Devlin, Joseph|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Byles, Sir William Pollard||Dickinson, W. H.|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury)||Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Dillon, John|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Cawley, Harold T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Donclan, Captain A.|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Doris, William|
|Barnes, G. N.||Clancy, John Joseph||Duffy, William J.|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick Burghs)||Clough, William||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Collins, G. P. (Greenock)||Duncan, J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)|
|Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. George)||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)|
|Bethell, Sir J. H.||Cotton, William Francis||Elverston, Sir Harold|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Cowan, W. H.||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)|
|Black, Arthur W.||Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Essex, Sir Richard Walter|
|Boland, John Pius||Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Esslemont, George Birnie|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Crooks, William||Falconer, James|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Crumley, Patrick||Farrell, James Patrick|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Cullinan, John||Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy)||Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson|
|Ffrench, Peter||Levy, Sir Maurice||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Field, William||Lewis, John Herbert||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)|
|Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Fitzgibbon, John||Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Lundon, Thomas||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Gelder, Sir W. A.||Lyell, Charles Henry||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||Lynch, A. A.||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Ginnell, Laurence||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Robinson, Sidney|
|Gladstone, W. G. C.||McGhee, Richard||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Glanville, H. J.||Maclean, Donald||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Macphereson, James Ian||Rose, Sir Charles Day|
|Goldstone, Frank||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Rowlands, James|
|Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)||M'Kean, John||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.|
|Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.)||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Guest, Hon. Major C. H. C. (Pembroke)||M'Laren, Hon. F. W. S. (Lincs., Spalding)||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Guest, Hon. Frederick (Dorset, E.)||M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E.|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Hackett, John||Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Seely, Rt. Hon. Colonel J. E. B.|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||Meagher, Michael||Sheehy, David|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Hardie, J. Keir||Middlebrook, William||Shortt, Edward|
|Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)||Molloy, Michael||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook|
|Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||Molteno, Percy Alport||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)||Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Smith, H. B. Lees (Normanton)|
|Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Mooney, John J.||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim)|
|Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Morgan, George Hay||Snowden, Philip|
|Hayward, Evan||Morrell, Philip||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Hazleton, Richard||Morison, Hector||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert|
|Hemmerde, Edward George||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Muldoon, John||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Munro, R.||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Henry, Sir Charles||Murphy, Martin J.||Tennant, Harold John|
|Herbert, General Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||Thomas, James Henry|
|Higham, John Sharp||Neilson, Francis||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Hinds, John||Norman, Sir Henry||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Hodge, John||Norton, Captain Cecil W.||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Hogge, James Myles||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Holmes, Daniel Turner||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Horne, Charles Silvester (Ipswich)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||O'Doherty, Philip||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Hughes, Spencer Leigh||O'Dowd, John||Wardle, George J.|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||O'Grady, James||Waring, Walter|
|Johnson, W.||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Jones, Rt. Hon Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||O'Malley, William||Watt, Henry Anderson|
|Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Webb, H.|
|Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||O'Shee, James John||White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E.R.)|
|Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Outhwaite, R. L.||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Jones, W. S. Glyn- (Stepney)||Parker, James (Halifax)||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Jowett, Frederick William||Parry, Thomas H.||Wiles, Thomas|
|Joyce, Michael||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Keating, Matthew||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Williamson, Archibald|
|Keilaway, Frederick George||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Kelly, Edward||Pointer, Joseph||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Winfrey, Richard|
|Kilbride, Denis||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Wing, Thomas|
|King, J.||Priestley, Sir W. E. (Bradford)||Wood. Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molton)||Pringle, William M. R.||Young, W. (Perthshire, E.)|
|Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Radford, G. H.||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Lardner, James C. R.||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Lawson, Sir W. (Cumbr'ld, Cockerm'th)||Raphael, Sir Herbert H.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|Leach, Charles||Reddy, M.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major William||Campbell, Captain Duncan F. (Ayr, N.)||Cripps, Sir Charles Alfred|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Campion, W. R,||Dalrymple, Viscount|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott|
|Baker, Sir Randofl L. (Dorset, N.)||Cassel, Felix||Du Cros, Arthur Philip|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Castlereagh, Viscount||Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Cautley, Henry Strother||Faile, Bertram Godfray|
|Barnston, Harry||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Fell, Arthur|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin)||Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish-||Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.||Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue|
|Blair, Reginald||Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead)|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith-||Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Gardner, Ernest|
|Boyle, William (Norfolk, Mid)||Courthope, George Loyd||Gastrell, Major W. Houghton|
|Boyton, James||Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||Gilmour, Captain John|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Glazebrook, Captain Philip K.|
|Bull, Sir William James||Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Goldman, C. S.|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||Goldsmith, Frank|
|Gordon, Hon. John Howard (Brighton)||MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Gretton, John||Mackinder, Halford J.||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Guinness, Hon. W. E. (Bury S. Edmunds)||M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)|
|Harris, Henry Percy||Magnus, Sir Philip||Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)||Malcolm, Ian||Talbot, Lord E.|
|Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Terrell, G. (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Hoare, S. J. G.||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)|
|Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, North)|
|Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian)||Newdegate, F. A.||Tobin, Alfred Aspinall|
|Horne, E. (Surrey, Guildford)||Newman, John R. P.||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Houston, Robert Paterson||O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Ingleby, Holcombe||Paget, Almeric Hugh||Wilson, A. Stanley (Yorks, E.R.)|
|Jessel, Captain H. M.||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)||Winterton, Earl|
|Joynson-Hicks, William||Perkins, Walter F.||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Kebty-Fletcher, J. R.||Pollock, Ernest Murray||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Kerry, Earl of||Handles, Sir John S.||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Rawson, Colonel Richard H.||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Lane-Fox, G. R.||Rees, Sir J. D.||Yate, Colonel C. E.|
|Lewisham, Viscount||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall||Younger, Sir George|
|Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lieut.-Colonel A. R.||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Gershom Stewart and Mr.Orde-Powlett.|
|Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee||Smith, Rt. Hon. F. E. (L'p'l., Walton)|
§ Mr. CASSEL
I now propose to move the Amendment suggested by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and to add the words "in Committee of the Whole House" after the words "House of Commons." I quite agree that the right hon. Gentleman is not in the least bound to accept this Amendment, but I would like to point out that it will at least meet one point, and that is the possibility of the Committee of Ways and Means not always being a Committee of the Whole House.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I am ready to accept words which will meet the hon. Member's point, but they will be slightly different from those he has just suggested. I think better words would be, "The Committee being a Committee consisting of the Whole House." I do not propose to do this now, but the hon. Gentleman may take it from me that an Amendment to that effect will be made.
§ Mr. MITCHELL-THOMSON
It was the intention of my hon. Friend the Member for East Birmingham (Mr. Steel-Maitland) to move the next Amendment in his name in a slightly different form from the way in which it appears on the Paper. I wish to do it in his absence. As originally framed it made no provision for possible emergencies or for the possible contingency that more than one Finance Act might be required during the remainder of the year, and, in order to guard against that, my hon. Friend proposed to move his Amend- 1708 ment in the following form: To insert, after the words "House of Commons," the words "nor later than four weeks after the closing of the financial year, or at any time of the year when the House of Commons decides that such taxation is for the purposes of war or for any special expenditure which the House of Commons declares to be war expenditure, or to be extraordinary expenditure for the defence of the Realm." The effect of that Amendment is that in the first place it lays down the period within which the Resolution must be moved—a period of four weeks—and it also ensures what the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer said the Amendment of the hon. Member for Yarmouth (Mr. Fell) failed to ensure, namely, the early introduction of the Budget. In the second place it avoids what the Chancellor of the Exchequer described as the essential vice of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Yarmouth. It provides for the possibility of an emergency due to war or any other crisis. It makes provision for the passing of the Resolution under those circumstances, and I therefore respectfully submit to the Government that it meets the two tests which were applied by the Government to the Amendment of my hon. Friend, the Member for Yarmouth. It contains the two conditions on which it was stated my hon. Friend's Amendment had been tried by the Government and found wanting. I will therefore urge that under these circumstances the Amendment is in order.
I have only just received the Amendment, but I think an elaborate provision like this ought to come as one of the provisos. The Government 1709 propose to insert a number of provisos with limiting effects at the end of the Clause, and I think this should be taken with them.
§ Mr. POLLOCK
Surely, my hon. Friend would have been in order in moving the original words on the Paper "not later than four weeks after the close of the financial year." The difference between that Amendment and the Amendment of the hon. Member for Yarmouth is complete. The hon. Member for Yarmouth proposed to put in words which dealt with anticipatory Resolutions by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which would enable him to say, "I am moving this Resolution in anticipation of the Budget I propose to bring in." The hon. Member for East Birmingham proposes to fix a time limit. He wants to provide that, if the Government are relying upon a Resolution, the Resolution must be brought in within four weeks of the close of the financial year, namely, within twenty-eight days after 5th April. That is quite distinct from the proposal of the hon. Member for Yarmouth, and I submit that the Amendment of the hon. Member for East Birmingham should be allowed to be moved.
I did not say it was out of order. I said it would be much better, inasmuch as the Government propose to introduce a number of provisos at the end of the Clause to discuss all the provisos together, because they overlap in various ways.
Mr. MURRAY MACDONALD
I rise to move, in Sub-section (1), to leave out the words "the imposition of any new tax, or for."
This Bill proposes to legalise the practice of collecting revenue from taxes sanctioned only by Resolution in Committee of Ways and Means, and the practice extends both to old and to new taxation. The object of the Amendment is to limit it for the future to old taxes. No one can deny that there is a real difference between a proposal to legalise a Resolution in Committee of Ways and Means sanctioning taxation which has already, and, perhaps, during a long continuance of years, received the approval of the House of Commons, and a proposal to legalise a similar Resolution relating to a new tax which has never bad that approval. That is the case in support of the Amendment. I believe it to be unanswerable, and I should be 1710 content to leave it at that without saying another word with regard to it. But I think it necessary to refer to the objection taken by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) when he addressed the House last Wednesday on the Second Reading of this Bill. He urged the objection with an experience behind him to which none of us who are opposed to it can pretend. He took the ground on which the Bill itself admittedly rests—the ground of convenience to the public and of advantage to the Treasury, and he held that that ground was as applicable to new taxes as to the old. I venture, with real diffidence, to differ from the right hon. Gentleman. Let me take the case of a direct tax. I would point out that the field of direct taxation is enormously more limited in extent than the field of indirect taxation. I do not think it would be untrue to say that at the present moment it is pretty well exhausted. In any case he is an ingenious Chancellor of the Exchequer who can discover a good new direct tax. I know my right hon. Friend objects to that, and I will refer to his own proposals in a moment, but I think it is true to say that it would be very much more difficult to discover a good new direct tax than an indirect tax. Even if a Chancellor of the Exchequer did succeed in discovering a new tax, I assert that it is quite certain to be a tax of so exceptional a character as to demand the serious consideration of the House of Commons before it is finally sanctioned or collected. I do not think it would be possible to devise a new direct tax that could be collected as soon as it was imposed. Take, as an example, the new direct taxes my right hon. Friend imposed under the Finance Act, 1909, the Land Value Duties. It was clearly impossible for that tax to be collected on the morrow of the Resolution sanctioning it. [An HON. MEMBER: "It has not been collected yet."] There had to be an enormous collection of information by the Treasury before that tax could be dealt with.
Mr. MURRAY MACDONALD
It is certainly true with regard to that tax that the public suffered no inconvenience, and the Treasury no loss of revenue from the fact that the Resolution sanctioning it was not legalised as it would be under the provisions of this Bill. Let me put another 1711 example of a possible future direct tax. Suppose a Chancellor of the Exchequer desired to impose a new tax on all the capital of the country. It is quite certain that that tax could not be collected on the morrow of the Resolution sanctioning it, It is equally certain that the House ought to have ample time for considering a tax of that kind before any collection of revenue from it was made.
Mr. MURRAY MACDONALD
What would happen if you attempted to collect a tax on the morrow of the Resolution sanctioning it? The thing is practically quite impossible. You could not collect a tax on capital on the morrow of the Resolution sanctioning it, because it is obvious there must be a mass of information regarding the capital of the country collected before any tax upon it could be collected. So far as I can see, any new direct tax must be of so exceptional a character that it would be impossible to collect it on the morrow of the adoption of the Resolution sanctioning it, and neither the public nor the Treasury would suffer from the omission of these words from the Bill, so far as direct taxes are concerned. Take next the case of indirect taxes. The field of indirect taxation is enormously larger than the field of direct taxation, and it would be very easy indeed for a Chancellor of the Exchequer to discover an indirect tax that would yield a large revenue, which might be collected within a very short time after the adoption of the Resolution; but even in the case of a new indirect tax, it would be impossible to collect the revenue on the morrow of the Resolution. There is another and more important point. It is to be remembered, with regard to a new indirect tax that there is no part of the taxed commodity in bond; therefore there could be no forestalment in the ordinary sense, and the revenue would lose nothing. Certainly the public would not be inconvenienced if some days elapsed between the adoption of a Resolution sanctioning a new indirect tax and the collection of the tax, and although vessels containing cargoes of the taxed commodity might be in the docks, the loss to the revenue would be extremely small. I think it would be difficult to devise a new indirect tax that would not raise large questions of policy, which this House ought to consider before it actually 1712 legalised the tax and before it was actually collected. That is my answer to the right hon. Gentleman. I do not think that the public would be in the slightest degree inconvenienced, or that the Treasury would lose any revenue, or any large revenue, through the exclusion from this Bill of the words relating to new taxes, and I believe the House of Commons ought to have the power of discussing these taxes before they are finally imposed upon the subject.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
I do not wish to intervene if the Government are about to make any declaration, because it is rather difficult to discuss this matter until we know whether or not they accept the Amendment. I only desire to ask a single question of the Solicitor-General: Whether it is quite certain that a new tax can always be distinguished front a variation of an existing tax? I cannot think of a very clear illustration, but I apprehend that in any reform, say, of the Tobacco Duties, it would be very difficult to say, if you were repealing the old Tobacco Duties and imposing a new set of Tobacco Duties, whether that would be the imposition of a new tax or the variation of existing Tobacco Duties, because such variation might and probably would extend beyond the actual amount of the duties levied, and might very well extend to the definition of what a cigar was, what a cigarette was, or what a particular kind of tobacco was, and to the rates at which they were taxed. It might easily be a matter of difficulty to distinguish what constituted the variation of an existing duty. Perhaps the Solicitor-General will tell us what he thinks upon that subject.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. McKenna)
The Noble Lord has asked for an expression of opinion from the Government with regard to the proposal of my hon. Friend. As the Noble Lord is probably aware, at an earlier stage in the discussion of this Bill the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that if he were asked to accept this Amendment he would be pleased to do so. At the present moment the Chancellor of the Exchequer is called out of the House, but he will be here before the discussion closes. I can only say that the distinction drawn by my hon. Friend between an old tax and a new tax is a very real one. In the case of an old tax, at any rate, the approval of Parliament has been given to the tax in the past, and the intro- 1713 duction of the present Resolution does pre-suppose that the tax in question is an existing tax at the time. Secondly, a tax of that kind stands on quite a different footing from a tax which is a mere proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the day, and which has not had the sanction of Parliament. The question put by the Noble Lord is an ingenious one, but I do not think in practice it would give rise to any serious difficulty. The Noble Lord, who is a master of ingenuity on these occasions, has himself stated that he has not been able to find any exact instance which he can lay before the Committee of the nature of the difficulty which he suggests is possible. I can assure him that other persons, with experience equal to his own, will also have the same difficulty in finding any particular case in which there would be any difficulty whatever in determining whether a proposal vas a new tax or a variation of an old tax. For instance, with regard to the Tobacco Duties, if he turns to the Schedule in the last Act imposing such duties, he will find that the duties are all defined as so much per 1b., that is to say, the duty is imposed on the weight of the article. The definition of the article might vary, but that would not constitute the imposition of a new tax. A cigar might be defined in one way in one Act, and in another way in another Act, but it would remain a cigar, and the tax upon cigars would still be an existing tax. I do not think the Noble Lord will have any such difficulty as he has suggested is possible. I quite admit—here I do not go altogether with my hon. Friend—that in the case of new taxes there might arise a certain amount of loss to the Treasury, and a certain amount of public inconvenience of the kind which it is sought to obviate by this Bill. But I agree with him that we have to look in this case beyond the possible loss and the possible inconvenience to the public to the much larger question as to whether a tax which has not yet received the sanction of Parliament should become operative as a tax until such sanction has been given. On behalf of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I propose, therefore, to accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I very much regret the decision of the Government to adhere to the attitude on this question which I think was rather rashly taken up by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the first instance before he had fully considered its effects. I think there 1714 is more in the objection taken by the Noble Lord (Lord Hugh Cecil) than the Home Secretary seemed to think. For instance, putting aside for the moment any question of legal interpretation, I would ask to the lay mind, was Super-tax the same thing as Income Tax? Did it not, in fact, involve something quite as novel in the realm of our taxation as many of those things which you would undoubtedly include as new taxes? I conceive that Super-tax as passed by the House of Commons would be a variation of an old tax, because it was expressed in the Statute to be an additional duty of Income Tax, but that only means that the question of whether a tax is new or old depends not upon the novelty of the proposal, but upon the skill of the draftsman. Take another illustration. Proposals have from time to time been made for a complete reform of the duty on patent medicines. I believe there is a Committee now sitting inquiring into the subject, the report of which might possibly point to a large change in these duties. If there were such a change, it is at least easy to conceive that it would be of such a kind as wholly to alter their nature. I suppose the Government would hold, under this Bill, that that is a variation of an old tax merely because there has been a duty on patent medicines previously in existence, even though the new duties might be something wholly different from the old duties which they were replacing. Take one more illustration. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the Tobacco Duty, and invited us to turn to the Schedule, where, he said, we should find that the duties were charged at so much in the pound weight. You might vary the taxation in the pound weight to any extent under this Bill as the Government propose to leave it. Could you turn your level duty on the pound weight into an ad valorem duty? I do not know whether the House of Commons would do that or whether Ministers would oppose it, but I know it has been very often advocated from both sides, and I ask myself the question—and I am not very confident about the answer—whether that would constitute, in the eye of the law, a new tax or a variation of an existing tax. I think there is a great deal more in the point the Noble Lord made than the Home Secretary, answering on the spur of the moment, realised.
I now come to what is, I think, even more important—the principle of the Amendment. The hon. Member (Mr. 1715 Murray Macdonald) described the argument I put before the Committee in terms to which I can take no exception, but I take very considerable exception to the way in which he met it. Let me make him one admission. I should be perfectly ready to compromise with him and those who think with him on the exclusion of the direct taxes if that met the view of hon. Members opposite. There is some idea that as between the two sides of the House there is a little preference for direct taxation on that side and for indirect taxation on this. I think it is true, and therefore such a proposal would ill have come from my side, and might have seemed to favour the suggestions likely to be made from this side of the House, and not to extend equal treatment to suggestions likely to be made on that side of the House. But I agree with the hon. Member that with our present fiscal system it is much more difficult to find a good new direct tax than to find a good new indirect tax, and also that any new direct tax which you can conceive is almost certain to be one which, under the old usage, would not have been collected until the Bill had become law. Of course, though under the old usage certain taxes were collected from the date of the Resolution, the Resolution expressing that they should be paid from that moment, it has always been the practice that other taxes should not be collected until the Bill had become law or at some date fixed by the Bill after it had become law, for two reasons. In the first place, the reason given by the hon. Member that in their case we must make much further inquiry than you could before the tax had become public property. You must set up (elaborate machinery, and you may have very probably to vary your proposals considerably in their passage through the House. But also for another reason which the hon. Member did not mention—that in this case you will not lose much revenue by waiting. You collect the duty for that year. It does not matter whether you begin to collect on 1st April or 1st September; you collect the year's duty, and, therefore, by waiting you both disturb the convenience of this House and the convenience of the Government, who are imposing the tax, preserving, perhaps, in a fuller manner the freedom of the House, and you will do all that without losing any revenue. Therefore, on the side of direct taxation I am quite ready to admit 1716 that I think there would be no great harm done by the acceptance of this proposal. But when it comes to Customs Duties I am afraid I must wholly dissent from his argument. He said, in the first place, there was hardly any new Customs Duty which you could conceive of which it would be possible to commence the collection on the morrow of the Resolution.
Mr. MURRAY MACDONALD
I did not say that. What I said was that there could be no forestalment in the ordinary sense, because there would be none of the taxed commodity in bond, and the loss which would accrue to the revenue from the fact that there would be vessels containing this commodity in the docks would be extremely small for some days. If an emergency arose a special Finance Bill could be passed within a few days of imposing the tax.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I will come to that in a moment. The hon. Member adduced three arguments in relation to Customs and Excise, and the one which he has just reminded me of was the second. I think he began by saying that it was difficult to conceive of a new Customs Duty which it would be possible to collect on the morrow.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
Then my argument is not addressed to the hon. Member, but lest any other Member of the Committee should take that view, permit me to say that we do not very often have a new Customs Duty, but when we have had one we have always been able to collect it on the morrow. Take, for instance, the Sugar Duty—a very complicated duty to arrange no doubt—but it was collected on the morrow of the Resolution. Take the tax on corn and the Export Duty on coal. They are the three latest illustrations that we have. They were all collected on the morrow of the Resolution. Therefore there is no impossibility. Then, says the hon. Gentleman, in these cases, the tax being a new tax, there will be nothing in bond, and therefore you would not lose any considerable revenue by not bringing your Resolution into force at all. He spoke of a few days, and he now says that within a short time, in an emergency, a Bill could be passed through the House ratifying particular new taxes. With the best will in the world, and such good will as the House of Commons can show, but 1717 does not always, even in a great emergency, it would take some time to pass a Bill through the House, and it is true to say of duties that we have imposed in the past, and it would probably be true to say of duties which could be imposed in the future, that though the articles are not in bond great stocks could be got in a very short time. Large quantities of sugar, for instance, could have been imported. It is now a dutiable article, and therefore, if it was proposed to make an addition to that duty, it would still come under the Bill. But supposing we had repealed the Sugar Tax, and suppose we needed to put it on again in some great emergency, where we had to call upon all classes to make their sacrifices for the common cause, I believe it would be possible to bring in large stocks in a very few days.
I know when Lord St. Aldwyn was Chancellor of the Exchequer, and was contemplating the imposition of a tax, he took the greatest trouble to inquire into various other possible subject matters of taxation which he had no intention of placing a duty upon merely in order to prevent his single inquiries on that question giving the alert to that particular trade, and I believe it was the boast, and the rightful boast, of the greatest expert on the Sugar Taxes whom he could consult that he might have made a fortune if he had acted upon the forecast which in his own mind he made of what the Chancellor of the Exchequer was going to do. Though as a business man he would have been betting on a certainty, as he had been honoured by consultation with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he would not move a bag which would not have been moved in the ordinary course. I say that even where a commodity is not in bond I believe it would be possible in certain cases almost to destroy, or at least to greatly lessen, the revenue in the first year if you could not collect your tax at once, and of course if that happened you would not only destroy the revenue but greatly disorganise trade. You do not protect the consumer if the duty is of a kind which can be recovered from him. What you do is to add to the profits of the middleman, who gets the stuff through the Customs before the duty is imposed, and when he knows the duty is corning raises the price in anticipation of it to his customers. Then the hon. Member says that a Government could surely trust to the House of Commons, if it were 1718 an emergency, to pass the Bill rapidly. Does he not see that that argument is fatal to his own case? His whole ease is that where von have a new tax it requires such careful consideration that the House should have full leisure to act with deliberation, and that the tax should not be collected after one night's discussion. The fact that it can be collected after one night's discussion, and that subsequently the money can be returned if the House on further consideration disapproves of the tax in whole or in part, gives the House the revenue which you could not have if the Bill could not pass. That is a matter of much wider consideration than a new tax on an emergency. Hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House are anxious that the Budget should not be unduly delayed. So am I. I am also anxious that the Budget should be duly considered. The position of a future Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he is bound to rely for revenue on certain taxes which he cannot collect until the Bill comes into force, and if he sees day by day that revenue which he expected to receive slipping from his fingers because the Bill has not got through, would place him under the strongest temptation to carry a vigorous guillotine and to bring the whole discussion to a conclusion at the earliest possible moment. I do not believe that practice will conserve the freedom of the House of Commons, or give to the House those opportunities for deliberate consideration which it was part of the hon. Gentleman's case it should have. That really covers the last point put by the hon. Gentleman in his speech. Even on the indirect side, you could not conceive of any new tax which did not require very careful consideration when it was proposed and before it could be brought into operation by an Act. I say that if you are prevented from collecting the tax, you may be prevented from having time for its consideration if your tax is to be successful. If the money you were hoping to get was disappearing before your eyes there would be the strongest reason for refusing to the House of Commons the time for discussion which the Government would otherwise have felt bound to give.
Let me leave the negative side of my case and deal with the positive side. Once again I ask, What is the principle? It is, as stated by the Government and accepted in all quarters that, so far as you can, and subject to the fact that you are now making rigid law what has 1719 hitherto been an elastic practice, you should reproduce past usage—no more and also no less. This is the first exception we are making in the Bill. We are deliberating excluding from the benefit of the Bill taxes which would otherwise have enjoyed the benefit of past usage. The onus is on the part of those who support the Bill and also the Amendment to show that that is necessary or desirable. I understand that hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House dislike the whole Bill and say, "If you force us to accept it in part, we will make it as small as possible; we will make it applicable to as little as possible." The sort of case they make is that half a loaf is better than no bread, or rather that as part of the Bill is better than the whole Bill they would make the Bill as small as they could. I cannot understand people who desire to give statutory form to the old practice making ibis exception. The Bill is not to make things easy for the Treasury, or the Inland Revenue, or the Custom House officials. It is to protect the public interest in its widest sense—to protect the public revenue and the convenience of trade. Judged by that standard a new tax would be one to which usage has applied in the past, and it is every bit as important as the variation of an old tax.
Suppose we were at war again, and that we had abolished the Tea Duty as some hon. Members have repeatedly asked Chancellors of the Exchequer to do—or suppose we had abolished the Sugar Tax as the right hon. Gentleman has been asked to do by a majority of Members on his own side who signed a "round robin" which was sent to him—suppose we had done either of these things and that we were involved in a European struggle. Whether war is more deadly now than it used to be is an open question, but that is more costly is not an open question. The financial resources needed to carry on a great war are now vastly out of comparison to what were needed in the olden days. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, having to finance a great war, will need all the resources he can command. Suppose that either the Tea Duty or the Sugar Duty had bent abolished, it is almost certain that whenever a period of complication came, or whatever the fiscal views of your Chancellor of the Exchequer, in such an emergency the Income Tax might spring to any figure, and he must then make an appeal to indirect taxation as well. He would be almost certain to put it on 1720 articles on which it had been abolished, but what would be the good of putting it on if he could not get the money. It is a mere accident whether it is the imposition of a new duty or the variation of an old one. You do not secure protection to the revenue, you do not secure the smooth working of trade, you do not secure any protection to the subject, and you certainly do not secure the liberties of this House by a distinction of that kind which is really artificial, and which, when you come to examine it, has no relation to fact.
I admit once again that if, not in regard to a particular emergency but to meet the general views, you desire to alter the whole fiscal system and establish a system of Customs Duties much wider than any we have possessed for a long time, then it is not practicable to collect all those duties on Resolutions, and I cannot understand a Chancellor of the Exchequer attempting to apply the old usage to these, any more than attempting to apply Resolutions to the Land Taxes which were proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I am not concerned with that case. I am concerned with the case in which the war emergency is more serious. Hon. Gentlemen know that a deficit in revenue gives you an illustration, though in a less degree. It was said that every other counrty gets on without this procedure. I believe that is true, but do they sacrfiice anything to which we have attached importance by so doing? We do not like deficits in this country. We are not accustomed to see them, and when we do see a deficit, the effort of every Chancellor of the Exchequer is to wipe it out at once. If he sees one coming, he tries to fill up the gap before it arises. If he sees there is a miscalculation or a misfortune, and that be is getting a realised deficit in the year which is finishing, he tries to wipe it out in the next year. I think foreign countries have minded deficits much less than we have done, and that they are more ready to carry a deficit on from one year to another, and to make good the ordinary expenditure by borrowing than we have done in this country. I do not think it is desirable that we should tread in their footsteps.
If you say that in the interests of constitutional freedom and constitutional security, you will not allow the Chancellor of the Exchequer to collect his revenue at once on the goods on which he is going to collect it before the tax falls, he will not be able to fill up the deficit in the year following that in which it occurs, 1721 and he will have to carry it on from year to year.
Mr. MURRAY MACDONALD
It is obvious that there is a clear difference between the system on which we go and that on which foreign countries go. Our taxes are all imposed now for the sole sake of revenue. The primary object of the duties imposed by foreign countries is not revenue at all; it is the protection of commerce in those countries.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
The hon. Gentleman will see that that strengthens my argument. It is not true to say that the sole object of a foreign country in imposing a duty is protection.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
Primarily these duties were imposed for revenue, but subsequently they were used for protection. I think that would probably be a truer way of stating the case. But put it as high as the hon. Gentleman wishes, the practice which we have followed has proved useful to us. The more exclusively you impose your taxes for revenue, the more important it is to get the revenue. When a Tariff Reform Budget is introduced, the sole object will not be to remove existing taxes, and the prime object will not be, at all events, to produce revenue for the particular year. It may be part of a much wider method to get revenue for future years. It will not matter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he loses a year's taxes or not. That is not the case with which I am dealing. I am dealing with cases where it does matter, and where it is important whether you get the revenue at once or not. The fact that these duties are of so much importance to us for the sole purposes of raising revenue makes it important for us to continue to embody our old practice in the Bill, and not adopt the foreign practice. I think I have made my attitude clear to the Committee. I was anxious with such safeguards as are necessary to give statutory force to the hitherto unlegalised usage and to restore the old usage. I still desire that. That is the principle on which this Bill is founded, and I supported the Bill on that footing, but the Government now, in deference to opinion which, I admit, is expressed not on one side of the House only, deliberately depart from the old practice and the principle of the Bill. They depart from 1722 it in a matter in which, in my opinion, it was more important to maintain it than in anything else concerned in the Bill. They fail, by accepting this Amendment, to deal with those emergencies which would be most serious from the point of view of the Exchequer, of the revenue, of the taxpayer, and of the country. In those circumstances I lose my interest in the matter. I would support a Bill which would restore the old practice. I cannot support a Bill which is to be amended in this way.
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
The right hon. Gentleman has, I think, said everything against the Amendment that can be said, and has said it as well as it can be possibly said with a full knowledge of our financial system and administration. Powerful as I think his speech was, I still feel that the Government have done wisely in dealing with the representations made to them from both sides of the House. The right hon. Gentleman devoted part of his speech to depicting what might happen in case of war when revenue was suddenly necessary, and said that what we should lose through not having such a Resolution as this might be a very serious matter to the country. My hon. Friend interrupted by saying that in such a case the Bill could be rapidly passed into law. I submit that that is a complete answer to the case made by the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will deal with the Committee with perfect frankness. I do not wish to blame him or blame the party opposite, but does he think it likely, when the Liberal party were in opposition in 1899 and 1900, that they would have let, say, a Coal Bill go through rapidly? They would have felt it to be their duty not to do so. Most of them said that they were prepared to finance the war, but they were not prepared to finance it in the way in which the Government proposed; and it would not have been possible to pass such a Bill without opposition.
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
I quite agree that the Government may at first have to face opposition in regard to the Finance Bill, but they have means at command now in the House of Commons by which they can pass such legislation rapidly if they desire to do so, and there is no unwillingness in the House of Commons to support the 1723 Government in doing what they think necessary in the interests of the country. I really think that in the case of war the House of Commons is willing to waive discussion which it might think necessary when there was no war. Therefore we say that in such an emergency a Bill may be rapidly passed through. If you consider for a moment the principle which underlies this Amendment you will see that it is to limit the operation of what I think is necessarily extraordinary procedure outside the regular financial procedure of the House in past years. Another point which the right hon. Gentleman took up was the difficulty of distinguishing between new taxes and existing taxes. He dealt with two cases—the Sugar Tax and the Tobacco Duty. May I say that, although he professed sympathy with the views of the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University in this matter, neither he nor the Noble Lord produced any case which was at all difficult to define. The case of the Tobacco Duty seems to me a change in the imposition of duty on tobacco. It is a variation of existing taxes, and not a new tax. In the case of the Super-tax it was a new form of Income Tax, and not a new tax. I believe it has actually been decided since in Mr. Gibson Bowles' own case that the Super-tax is a new form of Income Tax, and I do not believe that in practice there would arise the smallest difficulty in distinguishing between what are new duties and what are existing taxes.
The right hon. Gentleman asked what is the principle underlying this Bill? Surely what underlies this Bill is not so much principle as a desire to get the Government out of a difficulty which has been created by a decision in the Courts of Law. I am not sure that there is any great general principle underlying the Bill as the right hon. Gentleman seems to suggest. What we are trying to do is to meet a difficulty which has been created by this new decision, and in such a case when we have to do what has never been done before, to reduce a part of our Constitution to writing and to stereotype and lay it down in definite terms, it does seem to me that the principle which should govern our actions in dealing with this reversal of a legal decision is to make the smallest possible change that will meet the difficulty. For myself I should have preferred, if the Government had simply dealt with the case of the Income Tax. The 1724 decision was given in the case of the Income Tax, and I think that the Government would have done very wisely to limit the Bill to dealing with the particular difficulties which had caused the question to be raised. I doubt very much whether if we dealt with the Income Tax alone the question with regard to Customs would have been raised at all, but it has been otherwise decided, and we are told that you must have it in the case of Customs because forestalments take place. It is very curious that the illustration of forestalment which is used is always an illustration of forestalment of existing taxes and under an existing system, and the right hon. Gentleman knows very well that you do not escape forestalment under our system, and that you do lose a great deal of revenue under our present system. I think that in one year there was a loss of as much as £3,000,000 of expected revenue owing to forestalments. The present Chancellor of the Exchequer has complained of the same thing.
The great thing which has been adduced in support of the present Bill is this argument of forestalment. That, at any rate, does not apply with anything like the same justice to new taxes as it does to existing taxes. The right hon. Gentleman did try to show that there was a great deal of forestalment in the case of sugar when the tax was put on in 1900. There was forestalment in that case. The truth is you do not altogether escape forestalment even under the existing practice. Therefore in the case of new taxes where ex hypothesi there is no store of the commodity in bond there is no likelihood of any great mass of the commodity being purchased. I do not know the commodity with which it could be hastened to such an extent that the revenue would seriously suffer through this Bill not applying to the new commodity. I cannot see that the argument about forestalment really does apply to new taxes in the way in which the right hon. Gentleman opposite imagines. In regard to new taxes one reason that makes me so strong in support of this argument is it does seem to me that the House of Commons has a right to ask for full time to discuss the bearings of a tax before it is put on even temporarily by the action of the Administration. I think if we give to the Chancellor of the Exchequer the power that he asks for to deal with the decision which has been given in the Courts, if that is extended to existing Customs and Excise, the House will be 1725 sanctioning the departure from an established principle underlying the Constitution. The proposal is that a Resolution of the Committee in Ways and Means is to raise taxes for four months. The power to raise taxes by Resolution, even in Committee of the House of Commons, ought to be carefully watched and limited as much as possible. It was for that reason that I put down the Amendment, and I thank the Government for having accepted it.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
I do not find myself in agreement with either my right hon. Friend, the Member for East Worcestershire, or with the hon. Member for Rushcliffe. I think that the right hon. Gentleman is right when he says that two sets of adverse opinions are held in the Committee on this point. One body of opinion is held by himself that if these powers are to be given, they ought to be given in relation to all taxes whether old or new, and the other body of opinion, to which I assent, is that these powers ought not to be given at all, whether as regards old taxes or new taxes. My right hon. Friend said on a previous occasion that if these powers did not apply to new taxation, he himself would vote against the Third Reading of the Bill. From the first he has not regarded this Bill so much as a Bill to extricate the Government from an emergency, as a Bill which is to alter the whole financial machinery of this House, and give to all the Chancellors of the Exchequer in future the power of imposing any taxation, either new or old taxation, by Resolution passed in Committee, or at all events, by a single Resolution passed by this House. That is an enormous power and a power which I do not think it proper myself to give to any Executive or any Government, and I do not think that any case has been made out for giving that power. My right hon. Friend made a very powerful case against this Bill and against the application of these powers to taxes, even although they were old taxes, which might possibly be varied in a new Financial Resolution. Speaking on the Second Reading of the Bill on the 9th April, my right hon. Friend said that this Bill will enable you, if you have an Income Tax of 1s. 2d., to make it 4s. or 5s. or 15s. in the £, but you could not impose a new direct tax. He asked:—Is there any possible reason from the point of view of constitutional law why yon should make a distinction of that kind. I can conceive of none."—[OFFICIAL. REPORT, 9th April, 1913, col. 1255.]1726 I quite agree with my right hon. Friend there. I do not think that there is any adequate and proper distinction between the two sets of powers which were included in the original Bill as it stood, but, as my right hon. Friend says, the mere fact that this House will in future, if this. Bill passes, be enabled by one Resolution to carry at any time of the night, and under the present form of gag, guillotine, or Closure, Without any notice whatever to the country, a proposal to raise the Income Tax from 1s. 2d. to 4s., 5s., or 15s.—I do not know why my right hon. Friend did not add 20s.—in the £, is sufficient reason for me, at all events, to oppose this proposal contained in this Bill. I am amazed that my right hon. Friend, who was such a conscientious guardian of the Exchequer, and likely to be so again, should ask for such enormous powers as those which are contained in this Bill, and that he should view with almost equanimity the giving of these powers to future Chancellors of the Exchequer. If my right hon. Friend sees no harm, no injury, or no possibility of injury or of wrong-doing in giving these powers to the Chancellor of the Exchequer in relation to the Income Tax, the Tea Duty, the Sugar Duty, or any existing duties, then I say it is perfectly logical that these same powers should be given in the matter of new taxation. Most certainly if the House is asked to give future Governments and future Chancellors of the Exchequer powers of this kind, which may be used in such a way as to increase the Income Tax, as my right hon. Friend said, or the Tea Duty, as he said, by a penny up to 1s. by a single vote in a single night, then I repeat that I see no reason why those powers should not be asked for in respect of new taxation.
I think the right hon. Gentleman must know that we cannot altogether go back on the whole question of whether this is a good Bill or a bad Bill. He must deal with the Amendment before the Committee as if the Bill were going to pass, and only in that relation.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
I have been trying to enforce the argument that if these powers are to be given at all, then, from our point of view, they might just as well be given in respect of new taxes as of old taxes. The powers which it is proposed to give are of enormous magnitude. Under them it would be possible to differentiate new taxation from existing taxation. The 1727 line of argument adopted by the hon. Member for Rochdale and the hon. Member who moved the Amendment is that new taxes may be devised hereafter of a nature and character which have never been discussed in this House. I recollect that my right hon. Friend (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) himself said in one passage of his speech:—There may be new taxes to which I must confess that those powers ought not to be applied.My right hon. Friend knows the kind of duties. I wonder what instances of new taxes he would give to which he would apply those powers. I myself think that if they ought to be applied to the two-shilling duty on corn or the Export Duty on coal, that these powers might as well be applied to any new tax. Although we have had a duty on corn and very likely may have again, although we have had an Export Duty on coal and very likely may have again, yet, after all, many years might have elapsed since either of those taxes had been imposed. There might have been no general discussion in the country on either of those taxes at the election previous to the period at which they were imposed, and so no Government could very well say they were anything but new taxes so far as the electorate were concerned. If the Amendment had not been accepted it would have been possible for those duties to have been unposed by Resolution of this House. It is very difficult to discuss this question without making some allusion to the Bill, either in its amended form or its original form. I will deal strictly with the Amendment as accepted by the Government. I think it gives a power which ought not to be allowed. It will be possible, even with the Amendment, to propose in the Resolution taxes which, in every sense of the word, would be new to the electors—taxes of which they had never heard, to which they never would have consented if they had heard of them—and it would be possible to pass them by a very small majority of this House, by a single Resolution possibly, and, perhaps, in the absence of Irish Members, who might not come over here, having had no notice of what was going to take place, and who, if they had been here, would have refused to put those taxes in the Budget. There are many arguments which one might use to show that these powers are enormous and novel to this House, and that there would be no full and proper opportunity 1728 of discussing the great changes that might be made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in our system of taxation.
For my own part, I think that, whether this Amendment is passed or is not passed, these powers ought not to be given. If I had to choose, however, as between voting for the Amendment, which would, to a certain extent, diminish the powers that are to be given under this Bill, and voting for the Bill, I am bound to say that I must content myself with the lesser evil and support the hon. Gentleman opposite in the Amendment which he has made. I think that everyone who speaks on this matter ought to give some indication of how to meet the situation which has been so very well described to-night by my right hon. Friend. He is nervous about the future; he thinks that future Chancellors of the Exchequer will find a very large leakage in the revenue which they are seeking to impose, particularly in times of emergency and in time of war. He apprehends that there may be some ground for bringing forward proposals of this kind, because it is only right that we should anticipate in future, after the decision of the Law Courts, that there will be a disposition to question the right to deduct Income Tax or to impose new Customs Duties, and so for a time, at all events, there will be a loss to the revenue. We, who have opposed this Bill all through, have suggested again and again that the proper remedy is to bring in your Budget Bill at a time very much earlier than that to which the present Government have been accustomed. The Budget, after all, ought to be the very first business of this House. It is perfectly possible for the House to meet earlier in the year, and to bring in the Budget earlier, particularly in times of emergency or in time of war. Although I know that the procedure of this House lends itself to a good deal of obstruction on the part of those who wish to obstruct, yet I, for my part, do not believe that it is beyond the wit of man or the power of the Government to obtain an early Budget Bill devoted possibly to only one or two taxes, and to obtain the decision of the House of Commons promptly in a time of emergency, when the patriotic feeling of this country and of the House is thoroughly aroused by an earnest desire to support whatever Government may be in power, when they seek to meet the enemy at the gate. I believe that it is in that way that we shall have to devise some method 1729 by which we may prevent the leakage of revenue which my right hon. Friend anticipates with such anxiety. It is rather by this means, than by the means proposed by the Government, that we should meet difficulties and emergencies that may arise in the future.
I ought to say that the discussion should not go back to what would be a Second Reading Debate. The Bill has been accepted in principle, and it is the details only which are now open to be discussed, and I trust that hon. Members will keep closely to each Amendment as it arises
§ Mr. STEEL-MAITLAND
I have no intention, Sir, except to conform strictly to your ruling and to deal with the Amendment before the Committee. I should like to ask hon. Members to look at the actual circumstances of the case in regard to this Amendment. It might quite well be that some of us would infinitely prefer a wholly different method of dealing with the old subject, but once that has been given the go-by we are committed to the Bill in principle. I would ask the Government not to accept this particular Amendment. What is really the case, if the Chancellor of the Exchequer will consider it for a moment? With this Bill accepted in principle, the Government can determine that they will fly in the face of those who object to the Executive Government levying taxes merely on a Resolution of Committee of the House of Commons. Their object is to safeguard the revenue, and, knowing what the consequences are with regard to the taxes, will they really attain their object, if they accept this Amendment, of safeguarding the revenue, for that can be their only one reason for having taken the course they have taken in this Bill? From that point of view, while some of us may have objected to the method of the Bill as a whole, yet once we have agreed to that method it is only logical and consistent to give the Government those powers, or else even then the revenues will not be properly safeguarded. The hon. Member opposite (Mr. Leif Jones) really tried to establish a distinction between new and old taxes, and he endeavoured to point out that there really would be no considerable forestalments with regard to new taxes.
If the hon. Member would only take the taxes one after the other as they have been put on, and the circumstances under which they have been put on, he will see, from a consideration of those circum- 1730 stances, that there may be just as large forestalments, under the conditions contemplated, in regard to new taxes as in regard to old taxes. Take the circumstances of the case. The reason why there have not been forestalments of the new taxes in the past is that as a rule the traders of the country have not known on what article taxation was likely to fall. My hon. Friend opposite does not seem to think that is the case. Let him for a moment go back to the history of taxes. The right hon. Member for East Worcestershire, when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, had as his victims the traders of the country on a precisely similar point. The traders of the country did not know what article would be subjected to a new tax. They knew that fresh money was to be raised; they cast their wits about them, and asked themselves on what articles new taxation was likely to be imposed. They came to the conclusion that it would not be tea. For that reason there were immense forestalments of all other possible articles which they thought might be subjected to duty. The right hon. Member for East Worcestershire put an additional duty on tea, and if the hon. Member opposite bad been sitting on this side of the House he could have worked the physiognomy of the right hon. Member for Islington on that occasion, when he realised how the biter was bitten.
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
The hon. Gentleman has not shown that a great deal of money was lost to the revenue on that occasion because many forestalments on dutiable articles took place. That was all lost to the revenue of the country; it was lost to the financial year.
§ Mr. STEEL-MAITLAND
My hon. Friend is making a very different statement now. It was not a loss to the revenue; it was merely the fact that the revenue was got in earlier in the financial year; but, after all is said and done, the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself viewed with comparative indifference the fact that the revenue came a little before the 30th March. It is perfectly true that he might juggle with the Sinking Fund, but he would know at any rate that he would receive all the money, whether it was early or late in the financial year. The only point was whether the revenue was or was not going to be defrauded. In that case the revenue was not defrauded, and for the moment the biter was bitten. Take the case of a new duty. At present it might quite well be that there would 1731 not be forestalments, but the very moment the Resolution was brought in the knowledge would be spread with absolute certainty right throughout the country that the taxes were going to be put on. If the hon. Member thinks that the Budget could then be passed and become law before anything more could happen, I am afraid he has misjudged the activity of the traders' intellects. There is no question whatsoever but that in a case like that, once the absolute knowledge was spread throughout the whole of the trading community, there would be forestalments in every single article in which the new taxation applied.
§ Mr. STEEL-MAITLAND
If the hon. Member thinks that there were not considerable stocks of sugar before the Sugar Duty was put on, then a reference to the sugar trade will tell him what occurred. It is perfectly possible that you could have just as great forestalments in the goods with regard to new duties as you ever have in regard to the variation of duties. There is then the alternative suggested by the hon. Member for Rushcliffe. He said that surely, and especially if it was a time of stress, you could get your Budget through very quickly. You could not get it through quick enough to prevent forestalments. Just let us consider his alternative. A Budget is introduced and new duties are proposed. The Opposition, to whatever Government is in power, would at once say, we quite admit that revenue has got to be raised but not by the means you propose. Unquestionably there would be a good deal of discussion and debate as to the new duty. The hon. Member then proposes that the passage of the Finance Bill should be expedited under those conditions. In other words, in order to avoid the injustice of putting on new taxes by Resolution, he is quite willing for variations to be put on by Resolution. He protests, but in protesting he consents. At any rate, he is willing to vote for the variation of old taxes by Resolution, and after all his voting for it is the real test.
§ Mr. STEEL-MAITLAND
The hon. Member has not voted against it, and I cannot help thinking the test of one's 1732 virtue is in voting against the thing of which you disapprove. The hon. Member's alternative, as distinct from putting on new taxes by this method, is practically a drastic Closure or a guillotine of the Budget in order to force it through in short enough time. That means that the new duties are not better discussed, but worse discussed, under his proposal than under the proposal he condemns.
§ Mr. STEEL-MAITLAND
I gladly leave that issue to hon. Members opposite to settle amongst themselves. The hon. Member may think it is not worse, but he cannot think it is a good thing to guillotine the Budget and to prevent the proper discussion of such duties. If his Amendment is accepted, we get forestalments just as great under the new duties and with just as great prejudice to the public revenue under the new duties as in the case of the old, and the only way he suggests of providing against that is to force the Budget through under the Closure or the guillotine. I am sure that to himself that is as bad and to many of his Friends that is really worse than the proposal some of us see so reluctantly brought forward.
§ Mr. JONATHAN SAMUEL
I cannot conceive under this Amendment that there would be any indirect taxation in future, because if any future Government were to initiate any indirect taxes I cannot think that the present proposal would be workable. Let me amplify what fell from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire (Mr. A. Chamberlain) with regard to the Sugar Duties. Under this proposal we can vary existing taxes, but if the Sugar Duty or Tea Duty were abolished, and hereafter brought in again by any Government, then I can conceive this present method of not taxing the day after the Budget is introduced would be most injurious to the traders of the country. When the Sugar Duty of 4s. 2d. was introduced in, I believe, 1901, that duty was forestalled by a very large number of manufacturers in this country. Information leaked out that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had visited the city, and there were thousands upon 1733 thousands of bags of sugar bought in anticipation of that duty. That was very unfair to the smaller manufacturers, and I can conceive that, under this system of carrying on the new duty after the introduction of the Budget until the end of the four months when the matter is legalised, not only will the revenue lose its revenue, but there will also be very grave injustice to the smaller manufacturers. Suppose the Sugar Duty were abolished and another Government thought fit to reintroduce it, and a period of four months was allowed to elapse between the introduction and the legalisation of that duty, then the very largest of the manufacturers would have bought thousands of bags of sugar, and not only would they be able to deprive the revenue of the duty, but also to undersell and bring ruin on the smaller manufacturers trading and competing against them. That I conceive to be a very grave injustice to the smaller manufacturers.
If that happened with the Tea Duty, there are men in the market capable of putting down £50,000 upon Tea Duty alone. If a duty, say, of 2d. or 3d. or 6d. were imposed in the case of a war, those men would buy all the tea and take it out of bond, with the result that they would deprive the smaller traders of the country of their competing power. I could only support this Amendment on the ground that no Government will in future bring in indirect taxation. Supposing the party opposite came into power and wanted to introduce Tariff Reform. They could then bring in an Amendment to this Bill and make it apply to new taxes if they had a majority. What I really do not see is how we could stave off—even if there was any inclination on this side, which I do not think there is—and I do not see any difficulty in Tariff Reformers imposing tariffs upon imports in case the other side came into power, and I can see the same principle applied to manufactured goods by the other side, and if they decided to put a 10 per cent. or 20 per cent. duty on manufactured articles—
The hon. Member is going rather far from the Amendment. I have not yet discovered whether he is going to vote for or against the Amendment.
I think it is rather a waste of time if the hon. Member is not 1734 trying to persuade the Committee to vote one way or the other.
§ Mr. J. SAMUEL
I said the only reason why I would be in favour of the Amendment would be on the ground that we would not have indirect taxes. I am endeavouring to show, if the Bill goes through, that this Amendment must act as a grave injustice to the smaller manufacturer if there are indirect taxes. I am against indirect taxes if it were possible to do without them. On the other hand, if we are to have them by this Government or the next Government or any Government, then I think that the tax ought to come into force the day after the Budget is introduced, so that each manufacturer, each buyer, and each purchaser will be on level terms, and so that there will be no power given to monopolists to go into the markets to buy huge stocks with the view of crushing out their smaller competitors. That is the reason why I am arguing against this Amendment. I think the hon. Member who has moved it will find that in future it will react in quite the opposite direction from that which he has in his mind, and that there will be no finality with regard to the setting up of new indirect taxes.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
I desire to refer to a point I made previously as to the difficulty of distinguishing between the varying of taxes and the imposing of new taxes. On very little search I certainly found an instance which seems difficult of solution. In the Finance Act of 1900 Customs and Excise consisted entirely in the imposition of additional duties, and I believe in one place where there is some doubt they were described as additional or increased duties. In every subsequent Finance Act where those duties were reenacted they are always spoken of as additional duties. They are treated as new duties. There is, for instance, tobacco, with details of the different kinds, and there is a duty on beer, with various distinctions. I suggest that all those duties would be ranked as new duties. Let me refer to Section 8 of the Act of 1900.
"Section 20 of the Customs Consolidation Act, 1876, shall apply to the imposition of new duties as well as to increases, decreases, or repeals, and as so amended shall apply to duties of Excise as well as to duties of Customs."
No one can doubt that that has to do with the interpretation of this very Bill. The 1735 Section has no relevancy unless it is to be understood in relation to the early part of this Bill, and yet the expression used is "new duties." In the following year, 1901, Section 4 states that—
"the additional duties of Customs on tobacco, beer, and spirits, imposed by Sections 2, 3, 4, and 5 of the Finance Act, 1900 (including increased duties imposed by Section 5 of that Act) …."
There are there clearly two categories; some ace spoken of as increased duties, and others as additional duties. Therefore it seems clear that as a matter of legal interpretation these additional duties would be for the purposes of the present Bill, new duties. If that is so, you would be in the absurd position that it would depend upon the particular machinery that you adopted. If you call a duty an additional duty it is not a new duty, but if you say that you are increasing the rate of an existing duty it is varying an existing duty and the Bill applies. In regard to 1904, there is some doubt as to the application of the Bill to the duty on manufactured tobacco. In that year the question of stripped tobacco arose. Section 2 provided:—
"The duties of Customs payable under Section 1 of the Finance Act, 1898, on manufactured tobacco shall, as from the 20th day of April, 1904, be increased, in the case of cigars by sixpence a pound, and in the case of cigarettes by one shilling per pound, and the duties payable under the same Section on unmanufactured tobacco shall, as from the same date, be increased in the case of stripped tobacco by threepence per pound."
There are different rates of increase, and I should have thought it might plausibly have been argued that one of those increases was a new duty, and that all the others were increases of existing duties. There is another small duty of interest from this point of view in the same Statute. Under Section 6 there is what is called in the marginal note "reduction of warehouse delivery charges." The Section reads:—In lieu and instead of the additional rates provided for in the Customs Tariff Act, 1876,certain new rates are to be levied. One would generally assume that if something is in lieu of an existing thing it is something new. Let me point out how absurdly 1736 the Bill might work. In the Act of 1900 there are long lists of various taxed articles; there is a long list of tobaccos; and a long list of spirits and of various chemicals in which spirits occur, such as chloral hydrate, collodion, ether acetic, ether butyric, ether sulphuric, and so on. No doubt that must often happen in a Finance Act. There might easily be a new article into which spirit entered and which the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be anxious to bring in. That would be a new duty, and that alone would not come into force when the Resolutions were passed, while all the other increases of duty would. That would be an exceedingly absurd result. I quite agree that if you are to do anything you ought to have included new duties. At the same time I see very clearly the strength of the objection to giving the power of imposing new duties by Resolution. Most oppressive and revolutionary taxes might be imposed by a single Vote of the House. That is, theoretically at any rate, a very serious objection. For instance, if Home Rule were in operation, you might destroy the whole cattle trade of Ireland by imposing a prohibitive Customs Duty on Irish cattle. You might also suppress every public-house in the country by new Licence Duties. The objection to including new taxes is a strong one on that ground. On the other hand, it is also true that the line between new taxes and the varying of old taxes is not a real but an artificial line. Therefore I draw the conclusion that the Bill is a bad Bill. I do not think that you can logically distinguish between new taxes and old taxes. The whole case applying to old taxes applies with at least equal force to new taxes. On the other hand, I see that the case against including new taxes was very strong. Hence I draw the inference that the Bill ought not to pass.
§ Mr. ANNAN BRYCE
I hope the Mover of the Amendment will accept the suggestion of the right hon. Member for East Worcestershire and restrict his Amendment to direct taxes. I entirely agree with the argument put forward by the right hon. Gentleman as to the impossibility of working any new duty in the way suggested by the Mover of the Amendment. The hon. Member for the Rushcliffe Division (Mr. Leif Jones) seemed to imagine that it would not be possible for any large amount of revenue to escape the hands of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. 1737 There would be an enormous amount. There is constantly on the water close to the ports of the United Kingdom immense quantities of those very articles upon which duties would be levied, and if it took only a week or even three days to pass the necessary Clauses of the Finance Bill, an immense amount of revenue would be lost. That is an absolute certainty to any one who knows anything about the conditions of trade in this country. The hon. Gentleman smiles. Does he know the quantity of sugar and tea that is lying in the London Docks at this moment, or the quantity afloat close to the coast of the United Kingdom? If he does not, he has no right to shake his head. I agree with the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Steel-Maitland) that it is worse to have this Amendment than to have the discussion on the Finance Bill itself. The necessities of the Chancellor of the Exchequer would involve a much more drastic measure of Closure if the Finance Bill was to be got through. It seems to be forgotten that this is only a provisional imposition of taxation, and that there is the possibility of the proposals subsequently not being approved. I hope, therefore, that the Government will withdraw its acceptance of the latter part of the Amendment.
§ Mr. POLLOCK
I desire to point out why I think it is unfortunate that the Government have accepted this Amendment. It seems to me that the considerations bearing upon this question are very nicely balanced indeed, and personally my mind has fluctuated very much in the course of the Debate. In my view there is one merit in the removal of new taxation from this scheme, namely, that it would necessarily compel the Government to bring in their Budget within a very short time from the end of the financial year. But they would be forced, if they were to collect their revenue, to give a very stringent time limit. I object to this Bill altogether. I think it would be a much happier solution of the difficulty to insist upon the Government of the day bringing in their Budget and passing their Finance Bill in the early days of April. At the same time I admit that there are difficulties in that course, and unless both sides generally agree that is to be the solution, I do not think it is quite fair to put the Government in such a difficult position. The general principle of the Bill, according to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, is to try to restore the old system under 1738 which taxes were collected under a Resolution of this House—that is to say, as far as possible to give statutory effect to what has been the custom for a long period of years. If you once accept that principle, can you eliminate new taxation or differentiate between new and old taxation? I do not think you can, and the reasons have been given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself. It must not be forgotten that the Chancellor of the Exchequer made the Motion which is embodied in this portion of Bill in almost exactly the same words in a Resolution on the 26th July of last year. He then said:—It has been the invariable practice, at least for over forty years, to treat a Resolution of this House imposing a new tax or renewing an old one as binding upon the subject until the Finance Bill of the year has been carried through and passed.He added:—I think it is highly desirable that the practice within limits should have the effect of law. Otherwise a Chancellor of the Exchequer who wished to impose a new tax would be placed in a very embarrassing position.Those were the words of the Chancellor of the Exchequer last year when he had been considering this matter, but had not had any importunity put upon him by one section or another of his followers. In the presence of the reasons then given, I do not know why the Committee should go back upon the deliberate opinion expressed by the right hon. Gentleman last year and separate new taxation from old. The Chancellor of the Exchequer's words were no doubt carefully considered. I observe that to the extent of two or three columns of the OFFICIAL REPORT the right hon. Gentleman enlarged upon the need of restoring the invariable practice, and he particularly founded his argument upon the difficulty in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer would find himself when imposing new taxes. He illustrated the need for his proposal by the position in relation to new taxation rather than in regard to standing taxation, which is very often carried forward for a few months by the existing Statutes that we have passed. We have heard the Home Secretary say that the right hon. Gentleman authorised him to accept the Amendment. The Home Secretary himself is an apologist, and he did not give us any grounds really on which that decision was founded. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has not given us any reason why he has altered his opinion from what it was in July last. If you adopt the general principle of the Bill, and go back to the old principle established by custom— 1739 though not by law—then it is unfortunate this Amendment has been accepted and I shall certainly support my hon. Friend if he divides against the suggestion.
§ Sir COURTENAY WARNER
I am very sorry that the Government should have accepted this Amendment. I think it is a great mistake. I hope on reconsideration that they will see that the least they can do is to allow us to vote freely. Even if the Government wish to palliate the hon. Members opposite I think they should consider the views of a considerable number of us on this side of the House on this point. The only answer that has been given to the difficulty was that a Bill could be brought in. It was not stated to be "the" Finance Bill, but "a" Finance Bill for the special purpose, and, having been brought in, it should be passed through the House in one night. That requires a very large demand upon this House. Under present rules a Finance Bill could not be passed in less than three or four days, and then only with the suspension of the Standing Orders could this special Bill for this one tax be passed. An hon. Member has objected that our illustrations always consist of sugar. Let us take a new tax, a very unlikely one, but I choose it because it is an unlikely one. Supposing a Chancellor of the Exchequer put a tax on petrol. Any quantity of petrol could be got over in four days from France. Shiploads of it could be passed through the Customs long before we passed this law, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be defrauded to an enormous extent.
§ Sir C. WARNER
The tax I am supposing is a substantial tax, and there would be therefore profit in running it over. Say oil! It could be brought over in great quantities and the revenue defrauded, not because you would take it from the retailers of France, but because there are shiploads in the French and Belgian ports which could he brought over in a course of twenty-four hours. That makes the difficulty, because it is quite impossible to carry a new tax unless we upset all our ancient Regulations, and rush the Finance Bill through in one night, with practically no discussion at all. You would upset precedents and establish a very bad one 1740 indeed. One other point. A good many Members on this side of the House have had a dream for a great many years of a free breakfast table. We had hoped some day—we had hoped it would be soon—that the taxes on tea and sugar would be taken off. If you accept this Amendment no Chancellor of the Exchequer will dare to take the tax off sugar and tea entirely: they will have to leave the tax on in case of an urgent demand for increasing indirect revenue. The result would be that you are stereotyping the fact that you will possibly never take off the Tea and Sugar Tax. That alone is a very serious objection to it. If the suggestion was that there should be no tax on articles hitherto untaxed it might be plausible, and possibly the Government might accept it, but I do hope, in view of this Amendment being accepted by the Government, that we shall be allowed to vote freely—that the matter will be left to the House to decide.
§ Sir CHARLES HENRY
I hope, too, that the Government, though they have accepted this Amendment, will not put on the Whips, so that we shall be free to vote in accordance with our views. I listened with great attention to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire. As an old Chancellor of the Exchequer he recognised that taxes imposed ought to be able to be collected forthwith. There is another reason why I am very earnestly against this Amendment. Supposing you take the argument that the Tea Tax is taken oft entirely, then the Chancellor of the Exchequer had to propose a fresh Tea Tax for emergency. If this were carried, that Tea Tax would not be able to be collected for perhaps a month, and during that time the large traders could import large quantities of tea, and that would place small traders at a very great disadvantage. Messrs. Liptons would benefit, and the small trader would, under these conditions, be handicapped. I agree with what my hon. Friend has said that if you carry this Amendment no Chancellor of the Exchequer would dare to take off the Tea and Sugar Taxes in view of the difficulty that would confront him if he had to reimpose them.
§ Sir FREDERICK CAWLEY
I have not heard one single argument in favour of the acceptance of the Amendment. The present Customs taxes collection takes effect directly the Resolution is passed in this House. I cannot see any difference 1741 between old and new taxes. Take tea, or sugar, or oil. One could be forestalled as well as the other; therefore there would be very great difficulty in putting on new taxes without full discussion, and I do not think that has entered into the question at all—in fact, it applies the other way. Any amount of lace or silk could be brought over here in a short time, and that would mean forestalment of the duty, for that year at any rate. Not only that, but it would be an enormous disadvantage to the smaller traders. The bigger the
§ capital of a concern the more advantage they would have under this Amendment. I do not think it would be fair to handicap small traders in that way. Therefore I reluctantly oppose this Amendment. I suggest to the Government that they should leave the matter over to the Report stage.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 75; Noes, 224.1743
|Division No. 42.]||AYES.||[8.28 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Fell, Arthur||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Perkins, Walter F.|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Gardner, Ernest||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||Rawson, Colonel Richard H.|
|Barnston, Harry||Gretton, John||Rees, Sir J. D.|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Hall, Frederick (Dulwich)||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Blair, Reginald||Henderson, Major H. (Berkshire)||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Boyle, William (Norfolk, Mid)||Henry, Sir Charles||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Bull, Sir William James||Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian)||Stewart, Gershom|
|Campbell, Captain Duncan F. (Ayr, N.)||Hunt, Rowland||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Ingleby, Holcombe||Sutton, John E.|
|Cassel, Felix||Kebty-Fletcher, J. R.||Talbot, Lord E.|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, North)|
|Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.||Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee||Tobin, Alfred Aspinall|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r., E.)||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)||Touche, George Alexander|
|Courthope, George Loyd||Mackinder, Halford J.||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||M'Calmont, Major Robert C. A.||White, Major G. D. (Lanes, Southport)|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||Magnus, Sir Philip||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Newman, John R. P.||Yate, Colonel C. E.|
|Denniss, E. R. B.||Norton-Griffiths, J. (Wednesbury)|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Annan Bryce and Mr. Pollock.|
|Faber, Capt. W. V. (Hants, W.)||Paget, Almeric Hugh|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Gilmour, Captain John|
|Addison, Dr. C.||Cotton, William Francis||Gladstone, W. G. C.|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Glanville, H. J.|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Crawshay-William, Eliot||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford|
|Alden, Percy||Crooks, William||Goldstone, Frank|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire)||Crumley, Patrick||Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Cullinan, John||Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Griffith, Ellis J.|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Guest, Hon. Major C. H. C. (Pembroke)|
|Barnes, G. N.||Dawes, J. A.||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick Burghs)||Delany, William||Gulland, John William|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Devlin, Joseph||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Dillon, John||Hackett, John|
|Bethell, Sir J. H.||Donelan, Captain A.||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)|
|Bird, Alfred||Doris, William||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)|
|Black, Arthur W.||Duffy, William J.||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Boland, John Pius||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Duncan, J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Hayward, Evan|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Elverston, Sir Harold||Hazleton, Richard|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperay, N.)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Essex, Sir Richard Walter||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Falconer, James||Higham, John Sharp|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Farrell, James Patrick||Hinds, John|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Hodge, John|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Ffrench, Peter||Hogge, James Myles|
|Cawley, Harold T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Field, William||Holmes, Daniel Turner|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Fitzgibbon, John||Horne, Charles Silvester (Ipswich)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Houston, Robert Paterson|
|Clough, William||France, Gerald Ashburner||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Gelder, Sir W. A.||Illingworth, Percy H.|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus|
|Johnson, W.||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||Muldoon, John||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Munro, R.||Seely, Rt. Hon. Colonel J. E. B.|
|Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Murphy, Martin J.||Sheehy, David|
|Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||Shortt, Edward|
|Jones, W. S. Glyn- (Stepney)||Norton, Captain Cecil William||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Jowett, F. W.||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Smith, H. B. L. (Northampton)|
|Joyce, Michael||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim)|
|Keating, Matthew||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Snowden, Philip|
|Kellaway, Frederick George||O'Doherty, Philip||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert|
|Kelly, Edward||O'Dowd, John||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Kennedy, Vincent Paul||O'Grady, James||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Kilbride, Denis||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|King, J.||O'Malley, William||Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molton)||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Tennant, Harold John|
|Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Thomas, J. H.|
|Lardner, James C. R.||O'Shee, James John||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Lawson, Sir W (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)||Outhwaite, R. L.||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Leach, Charles||Parker, James (Halifax)||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Parry, Thomas H.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Wardle, George J.|
|Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Phillips, J. (Longford, S.)||Waring, Walter|
|Lundon, Thomas||Pointer, Joseph||Watt, Henry Anderson|
|Lynch, A. A.||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Webb, H.|
|Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford)||White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E.R.)|
|McGhee, Richard||Pringle, William M. R.||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Macpherson, James Ian||Radford, G. H.||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|M'Kean, John||Raphael, Sir Herbert H.||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|M'Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Reddy, M.||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Williamson, Sir Archibald|
|Marshall, Arthur Harold||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)||Winfrey, Richard|
|Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Richardson Albion (Peckham)||Wing, Thomas|
|Meagher, Michael||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Young, W. (Perthshire, E.)|
|Middlebrook, William||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Molloy, Michael||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Robinson, Sidney|
|Mooney, John J.||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Wedgwood Benn and Mr. W. Jones.|
|Morgan, George Hay||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Morison, Hector||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Mr. POLLOCK
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), to leave out the words "of any new tax, or for the variation of any existing tax, or for the renewal for a further period of any temporary tax," and to insert instead thereof the words "or renewal for a further period of any tax in force or imposed during the previous financial year."
This is the form in which my Amendment stands on the Blue Paper, which is the correct form. It is not correct in the form in which it appears on the White Paper, because some alteration has been made from the terms in which I put it down. We now come to a point in line seven of the Bill, where there are three different taxes contemplated. One is the variation of any existing tax. There are some taxes which continue beyond the conclusion of the financial year, such as the Tea Tax, which runs until July. Then you have another case, which is the renewal for a further period of any temporary tax. I want the Committee to see what is the meaning of any temporary tax, and you have to contemplate the renewal for a further period of some taxes which, from the very hypotheses of the whole Bill, have 1744 not at the time the Resolution has been passed been imposed by any Act of Parliament. If you turn to the second page of the Bill you will find at the end of Clause 1 a provision stating that:—
"In this Act the expression 'temporary tax' means a tax which has been imposed or renewed for a limited period not exceeding eighteen months."
It is clear that the words of the Bill as they stand at present deal with the renewal for a further period of a tax. The hypothesis of the Bill is that we are trying to give effect to a Resolution which at present has no statutory effect during the interval before the Finance Act comes into force and the time when a tax which has existed in the previous year has lapsed because it has no statutory force after the 5th of April. I move this Amendment not in a hostile spirit to the Bill. It seems to me that this is a matter which needs a little clearing up, and if you want to have the Bill plainly understood and workable you must alter the wording. With my Amendment inserted, the Clause will read as follows:
"(1) Where a Resolution is passed by the Committee of Ways and Means of 1745 the House of Commons providing for the imposition of any new tax or for the variation of any existing tax, or for the renewal for a further period of any tax in force or imposed during the previous financial year."
That is how I think it ought to stand, and it does not lead to any confusion by using the words "temporary tax." The point is a simple one and it makes good the interval between the lapse of the end of the previous financial year and the introduction and passage of the new Act. It is during that time while there is no temporary tax in force that you want to have some words to fill up that gap and the words "temporary tax" are not suitable.
§ Mr. CASSEL
I suppose this Amendment would not rule out the other Amendments dealing with the word "existing"?
Yes, I am afraid it would. It is rather anticipating the Amendment, but I shall rule when I reach it that that Amendment is out of order because it would be setting up again a decision which has just been come to.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
As I understand the arguments of the hon. and learned Gentleman this is a drafting Amendment. I think there is a good deal of force in the criticism he has directed to the words of the Bill as they at present stand. There is, at any rate, some danger of misconstruction, and I accept what the hon. and learned Member has said in reference to that. I must point out, however, in order that there will be no mistake that the Amendment which he is proposing in the form he has proposed it goes very much further than the argument he has addressed to the Committee, and I think much further than he himself intends to go. The effect of his Amendment is to leave out the words "for the variation of any existing tax."
§ Mr. POLLOCK
No, I do not intend to do that. Perhaps I may explain my point. Unfortunately my Amendment has been altered from what it was as put down on Thursday, not by my authority, and I do not know how the alteration came about. I do not want to leave out those words. I want to leave out the words after variation, and to insert the words of my Amendment as it appeared on the Blue Paper on Thursday. The Attorney-General is quite right when he says that my Amendment as it stands on the White Paper 1746 leaves out those words, but that is not so in the form in which I have moved my Amendment.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
The Amendment will still read "the variation of any existing tax, or for the renewal for a further period of any tax." If you leave out the words "temporary tax" it will then read "in force or imposed during the previous financial year."
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I would suggest that a better form in which the Amendment might be moved would be to leave out the words "temporary tax," and to insert the words "tax in force or imposed during the previous financial year." That would make it read. If the hon. and learned Gentleman would move it in that form I would accept it, always subject to the understanding that in reconsidering the Bill for Report we may have to alter the wording.
§ Mr. POLLOCK
I did not move the Amendment in any hostile sense, but merely in order to point out a little lapse in the Bill; and I shall be content to move it in the form suggested by the Attorney-General, whom I desire to thank.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. POLLOCK
I beg to move, to leave out the word "temporary" ["temporary tax, whether at the same or a different rate "].
§ Mr. CASSEL
On a point of Order. I submit that the Amendment standing in my name to leave out the word "existing" comes earlier in the Clause than the Amendment of my hon. and learned Friend.
If the hon. and learned Member presses the point, I will call upon him to move his Amendment.
§ Mr. CASSEL
I beg to move, to leave out the word "existing" ["or for the variation of any existing tax "].
I may be wrong, but in my view the word "existing" would be construed to mean existing at the time of the passing of this Act, whereas it is clear that what is meant is a tax in force at the time of the passing of the Resolution. If the Attorney-General tells me that is not his view, and that he is willing to take the responsibility of passing the Act in this form, I shall not press it. If the Attorney-General tells me he has no doubt—
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. POLLOCK
I beg to move, to leave out the word "temporary" ["temporary tax, whether at the same or a different rate"].
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
Is it necessary to leave out the word "temporary"? I do not think the Committee is quite clear as to what is the modified form of the Amendment. I should be obliged if you, Sir, together with my hon. and learned Friend, would clear the point up.
§ Mr. POLLOCK
Perhaps I might explain that the word "temporary" must be left out, because in the Bill it means a tax which has been imposed or renewed for a limited period. At the time when the Resolution is passed, say, in respect of the Income Tax, there has been no tax imposed or renewed. It is a matter of the future. Therefore, if you leave in the word "temporary" you are using a word which is inapt to express your intention at that moment. I then want to put in the words to which the Attorney-General has agreed, namely, "a tax in force or imposed during the previous financial year," which is what the draftsman meant.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
I have such confidence, almost unbounded confidence, in my hon. and learned Friend that I will, at any rate, go so far as to let him leave out the word "temporary" without a protest.
§ Question, "That the word "temporary" stand part of the Clause," put, and negatived.
§ Mr. POLLOCK
I beg to move, after the word "tax" ["tax, whether at the same or a different rate"], to insert the words, "in force or imposed during the previous financial year."
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
I think there is a point that really wants clearing up. To insert these words would, I think, contradict the effect of the last decision of the Committee as to new taxes, because, if you bring in these words, you give statutory force to any "tax in force or imposed in the previous year." You might have had a "tax in force or imposed" [by a Resolution] "in the previous year" for four months or for a shorter period—a tax which was after- 1748 wards rejected. It would be no longer in force when the new Resolution comes in. It would be a new tax, because it would have lapsed, and it would not have been embodied in any Statute; but it would have satisfied the words of my hon. Friend's Amendment, because it would have been imposed, and it would have been in force in the new financial year. Therefore you are, in certain possibilities, getting round the previous decision of the House that the Resolution is not to have force with regard to a new tax. There would be a new tax; it would be a tax not enforced at the time. At the same time it would have been imposed by Resolution during the financial year. Supposing on some ordinary Budget date, the 20th April for instance, a tax was imposed by Resolution and lasted for two or three months. I believe the duty on small coal in 1901 lasted but six weeks, and later in the Session it was repealed. So might this tax; by June it might cease to be. If you were to impose it in the April or May following it would be a new tax, and would not come within the purview of this Bill. It would come within the words "renewal for a further period of any tax in force or imposed during the preceding financial year." Therefore, I submit that if you put in these words they will be contrary to the previous decision of the House, and you will have in the same Bill two things which are absolutely incompatible.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I do not think the words would operate in the way suggested by the hon. Gentleman. I have accepted the words, but I want to consider them with reference to the whole Bill, and if there is any real danger of their effect being such as has been described I will insert other words to meet it. I cannot see, however, that there will be any real danger, but I will consider the point on Report in view of the hon. Gentleman's criticisms.
§ Mr. POLLOCK
I do not think the difficulty foreshadowed by my hon. Friend will arise. If he will carefully look at the contradistinction between "variation" and "renewal," he will appreciate the point. You do not want to renew a tax unless it is imposed, and the words I am dealing with are words where the tax has elapsed and therefore requires to be renewed. There is really no danger in these words. The Attorney-General accepts them, but reserves the right to modify them if necessary after the criticisms of my hon. Friend.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
I do not propose to divide against the Amendment, but in laymen's language the expression "renewal" would cover the case of a tax which had been enforced in the previous year, and which it was desired to set up again even although there may have been a lapse of some months. I am quite sure that if these words are inserted there will be difficulty with regard to new taxes, but I will leave the Attorney-General and the able draftsman of the Bill to solve the problem, and I will allow my hon. Friend to have his way.
§ 9.0 P.M.
§ Mr. MITCHELL-THOMSON
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), to leave out the words "Resolution contains a declaration," and to insert instead thereof the words "House of Commons resolves" ["that it is expedient."] It is a simple point, and I will put it as shortly as I can. But I want to refer to the history of this particular provision, and show how it came into the Bill. All through the Debate which has taken place we have put very strongly our view that any action which is taken ought to be the act of the House of Commons, and should have the sanction of that House. The Government have taken the ground that it is impossible to have a Report stage of this Resolution because difficulties would arise owing to forestalment. I have always felt there is a good deal of force in that criticism, but I think the Government have put it a little too high. Therefore I make this suggestion in order to try and meet their objections. We suggest first that at all events if any action is taken by a Resolution, the Resolution ought to be passed, and ought to have statutory effect not as a matter of ordinary, every-day normal procedure, but in view of certain circumstances of emergency which should be declared in the Resolution. The Government were prepared to meet us in Committee on the Resolution, and they put words into the Bill which provided that the Resolution should contain the declaration that it is expedient in order to safeguard the interests of the public revenue that the Resolution should have statutory effect under the provisions of this Act. I do not think the Government have gone quite far enough; I want them to go a step further. As the Bill stands it declares that it is expedient in the public interest that the Resolution should have the force of law. What will be the declaration 1750 contained in the Resolution? It will be a declaration of the Committee of Ways and Means. Putting our views at the very lowest I submit we are entitled to claim that in this case, if it can possibly be done, it should be a Resolution of the House of Commons and not of any Committee. I do not know what objection the right hon. Gentleman may make to that; he may object that it would cause delay. I do not think that objection would be well founded; it need not cause any delay; it would not be a Second stage of a Money Bill within the meaning of Standing Order 71, and it is quite clear, therefore, that a Resolution of the House of Commons might be passed on the same evening as the Resolution of the Committee of Ways and Means. At any rate, I see nothing in the Standing Order which would prevent that.
The right hon. Gentleman may ask why we attach this great importance to the Resolution being a Resolution of the House and not of a Committee. I need not repeat the reasons which have already been given. I think the Government recognise that there is a good deal of force in them. A few days ago, when we were discussing the matter, the hon. and learned Member for Cork (Mr. T. M. Healy) said, "You may have great difficulty when you get into the Courts, as they may not know the meaning of 'Committee of Ways and Means'; they may not know what a Resolution of Committee of Ways and Means represents."? How did the Attorney-General answer that? He said that it would simply be necessary to get the certificate of Mr. Speaker that a Resolution of this kind had been passed and then the Courts would be bound to take cognisance of it. But there is this great difficulty, unless the matter has been brought before the House, and unless the House has been the authority which passed the Resolution, Mr. Speaker can have no cognisance of it, because, as he has often told us, he does not know officially what happens in Committee of Ways and Means or in any Committee. Therefore the suggestion of the Attorney-General that the Speaker has only to give his certificate will not do at all. I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that this is a case in which he might alter the Bill without losing anything. It would be well if the Resolution declaring that a state of urgency had arisen and that it is expedient, in order to safeguard the interests of the public revenue, that the 1751 Resolution should have statutory effect, should be passed by the House of Commons as a House, with Mr. Speaker in the Chair, and not by any Committee of this House.
§ Mr. McKENNA
The hon. Member knows as well as anybody in the Committee that the ordinary procedure upon the night known as the Budget night is that the Resolutions imposing variations of taxes or new taxes are passed the same evening in order that the taxes may be collected at once. It is proposed, as far as possible, to approximate the procedure in future under the sanction of the Statute to what has been the procedure under custom in the past. The hon. Member now proposes that, first of all, the House should resolve that the collection of taxes is required to be undertaken immediately. When is the House to resolve that? The hon. Member knows very well that it will be a debatable Motion. A Resolution will have to be put down by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that all the taxes in respect of which he is going to move Resolutions on such and such a date shall be the taxes in regard to which the present Bill shall apply—that is to say, he is to give notice in advance to the business community—
§ Mr. MITCHELL-THOMSON
The right hon. Gentleman must not state the case the wrong way round. I anticipated that objection, therefore I was very careful to say that, if that objection were taken, the Resolution might he passed by the House after the Resolutions had been passed in Committee of Ways and Means.
§ Mr. McKENNA
What is the value of that? As the hon. Member knows—and I am glad to see the hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury) in his place—it has always been the practice of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to declare the Resolutions at a time in his speech when they will not become public property—before four o'clock in the afternoon.
§ Mr. McKENNA
Not before four, because between four and five o'clock offices generally close. It has always been the practice that before business begins on the ensuing day the Resolutions shall be passed in Committee of Ways and Means. Now the hon. Gentleman proposes that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, having 1752 moved his Resolutions and got them passed in Committee of Ways and Means some time before eleven o'clock, that the Chairman shall be moved out of the Chair, and that the Debate on the Budget shall be interrupted. It is always an interesting Debate on the first night of the Budget. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] It is not an interesting Debate, I agree, when no new taxes are imposed, but when new taxes are imposed it is a very interesting Debate. It is proposed that the Debate is to be interrupted, that the Chairman shall leave the Chair, and that Mr. Speaker shall take the Chair, for the purpose that the same body of Gentlemen—it is not as if the Committee of Ways and Means is a different body from the House—the Committee of Ways and Means, having at five minutes to eleven resolved to impose new taxes, are to consider a Resolution, with Mr. Speaker in the Chair, declaring that the taxes which the Committee of Ways and Means have determined upon should be enforced as if they had statutory effect.
§ Mr. McKENNA
The hon. Member proposes that the Committee of Ways and Means, having resolved upon certain taxes, the Resolution shall not have effect until the very same Gentlemen—there cannot be any difference in the constitution of the House of Commons between five minutes to eleven and eleven o'clock—determine that the Resolutions are to be accepted by the House of Commons, and this, he proposes, shall be upon a debateable Motion. After the House of Commons sitting in Committee have come to a Resolution, is it necessary or desirable to submit that Resolution immediately afterwards to the same body of Gentlemen for them to vote upon it, the sole difference being that the Speaker would be in the Chair and the Mace would be upon the Table. If there is a delay of a day between the passing of the Resolution in Committee of Ways and Means and the vote of the House, mischief might be done.
§ Mr. McKENNA
According to the principles of the Bill great mischief would be done. The hon. Gentleman says that the two votes should be taken on the same evening. I submit there is no need whatever to add to the machinery of this Bill, and that we have done quite enough in putting forward the Bill as it stands.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
I submit to the Home Secretary that there are two different questions involved. One question is whether the tax ought to be levied, and the other is whether the levying of the tax is so urgent as to come into force the next day. They are, or they may be, two distinct matters. The first Resolution in Committee, affirming the principle of the levy of the tax, is quite a separate matter from its coming into force the next day. It might easily be the case that hon. Members would vote for the first, but would not see the necessity of voting for the second. We can imagine taxes to which that would apply. Beyond that there is a good reason why there should be an additional safeguard in the peculiar procedure on Budget night in Committee of Ways and Means. On a Budget night, quite rightly, no notice is given, and Members do not know, or are not properly seized of the terms of the Resolution. It is kept to the last minute by the Clerk in the box. It is then brought out. It is not printed, but is read out at the last moment. Before that becomes an actual statutory tax, as it will become in future, it is desirable that there should be some safeguard, even if it merely be the safeguard of a pause and the introduction of a new stage. I submit that the old rule requires strengthening. The question will first be that the tax be exacted; secondly, there will be a pause—perhaps a Division will he taken and there will be opportunities for consultation, and the House will be in a position to judge whether the tax is of such an urgent nature that it must come into force the next day. I believe the Amendment is perfectly practicable. It may involve some alteration of the Standing Orders, but it is expedient, when we are giving new extension and force to the taxing powers of the House of Commons, that in the interest of the subject there shall be a fresh check to the action of the Executive.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I rather agree with the Home Secretary that if the Amendment is that on the night on which the Resolution is passed the Committee is to report Progress, and the Speaker is to come into the Chair, and practically the same people who have been in the House during the whole of the day are to go through the form of approving what the majority have already decided, there is not very much in the Amendment. I think the Home Secretary has rather taken the very weakest points of the Amendment 1754 and objected to it on those weak points. But I do not think it by any means follows that the Debate will be taken on the same day. In fact, as far as I know, the two stages of a Money Bill cannot be taken on the same day. Therefore the effect of the Amendment would be that on the following or some later day a Resolution will have to be proposed, "That this House does agree with the Committee in said Resolution." If that is so, I do not see why my hon. Friend should not insist upon his Amendment and why we should not divide upon it. Of course there is the objection which has been raised by the Home Secretary, that there might be some little loss to the Exchequer. That is the only objection I can see. Certain people might, in the few hours which would elapse, take their goods out of bond. I am always in favour of economy. I am always in favour of obtaining for the nation as much as possible without spending too much money in getting it, but I sometimes think one must not strain too much at that doctrine, and if it is necessary to preserve the semblance of the control of the House of Commons over the action of Ministers and by so doing we lose £50,000 or £100,000, we have to put up with it. I should be inclined, therefore, to support the Amendment. There is nothing even in the Amendment proposed by the Home Secretary which has not got a flaw in it. No one can propose any particular procedure in which an ingenious person cannot detect a flaw. But on the whole I should much have preferred to see a very much stronger Amendment and very much greater control left in the House of Commons as a whole, and I think the Amendment, in default of anything better, is quite a good one, and I shall have much pleasure in supporting it.
§ Mr. CASSEL
I was very much struck when the Home Secretary was speaking with this; that the point on which he laid most stress in resisting the Amendment was that the Resolution would be capable of debate. It is just because it is capable of debate that I support the Amendment, because surely if we are to have taxation there ought to be opportunity for debate, and it is just because this Bill is an attempt to impose taxation without any opportunity of debate at all that I am resisting it.
§ Mr. McKENNA
No, the hon. and learned Gentleman misunderstands the 1755 argument. The argument as to its being a debatable Motion, was that if it were to be debated it would have to be postponed. It could not be debated the same evening.
§ Mr. CASSEL
The Home Secretary agrees with me then, that before a tax has Statutory effect it ought to be debated.
§ Mr. CASSEL
If it has nothing to do with it why did the right hon. Gentleman use it twice in his argument? I submit that there ought to be an opportunity for debate, and as to the loss of Revenue, that is an entire mistake, because there would be no loss of Revenue at all. No one could bring an action into Court before the Report stage, and the effect of the Bill would be that you would not get into Court before the Report stage. The Resolution would be a complete answer to the action, so that no one would take the risk of bringing an action or resisting the Revenue Officers in collecting the tax if he could not get into Court by the time when there was a complete Resolution to answer his action. That is what the old practice has been founded upon. While Budgets were taken in reasonable time there never was time to get into Court before the Finance Act of the year passed. Now we want to put it back to the time when the House of Commons has considered the Resolution. Even so, it might be possible to get into Court before the Finance Act of the year was passed, but it is clearly absolutely impossible to get into Court before the House of Commons has passed its Resolution and has had an opportunity of debating it. There ought to be an opportunity of debate before the tax takes statutory effect. There can be no possible loss of Revenue for the reason I have indicated. The tax would commence to be collected from the moment the Committee of Ways and Means passed the Resolution in the same way as before. The old practice would exist. The only difference is this, that the moment you have the Resolution that would be an answer to an action, and no one could possibly bring his action into Court before the Report stage, so the final statutory effect ought at least not to be given to this Resolution until there has been an opportunity of debating it in the House 1756 itself. On the night of the Committee of Ways and Means itself there is no real opportunity for consideration, because the Resolution is produced for the first time on that day, and no one has an opportunity even of appreciating its effect. Because that is so, and because there can be no possible loss of revenue, I shall support the Amendment.
§ Mr. MITCHELL-THOMSON
I am sorry there has been so much mystery as to what I thought was a simple point. I am sorry I failed to explain it as well as I might have done if it had not been for the Home Secretary. The version which he gave of the Amendment is nothing like the actual facts. The actual facts are these: that in the ordinary way, at the end of the Committee of Ways and Means, a Resolution is read out by the Clerk at that Table, and this Bill proposes to tack on to the end of that Resolution that the Committee declare that it is expedient, in order to safeguard the interests of the public revenue, that that Resolution should have statutory effect. What I propose is that, instead of the second part being done by the Committee of Ways and Means, it should be done by the House. The Home Secretary says the House and the Committee of Ways and Means are the same body. I thought I had explained that in at least one instance, and in the instance selected by the Attorney-General, that Mr. Speaker was not informed of the proceedings of the Committee of Ways and Means. I do not know how far matters are recorded in the Journals of the House, and I do not know how far the Journals of the House are evidence in a Court of Law, but this much I remember, that there is a distinct difference in the case of different parts of the country in regard to the matter. At all events, all I am pleading for is that the Committee of Ways and Means should say that the Tea Duty is to be 5d. a pound, and that the House should say this is an urgent matter, and that the tax should have statutory effect at once. It is no answer to say that they both consist of the same body of Gentlemen in the House. That strikes at the root of all our ordinary Parliamentary practice. You might as well do away with the Committee, Report, and Third Reading stages altogether and have one continuous stage. That is not going to preserve the force of the House of Commons in matters of finance, and I am only sorry that what is a very simple matter should have been so confused.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."1758
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 226; Noes, 86.1759
|Division No. 43.]||AYES.||[9.25 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Gulland, John William||O'Dowd, John|
|Addison, Dr. C.||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||O'Grady, James|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Hackett, John||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow)|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||O'Malley, William|
|Alden, Percy||Hardie, J. Keir||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire)||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)||O'Shee, James John|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Outhwaite, R. L.|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Barnes, G. N.||Hayward, Evan||Parry, Thomas H.|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick)||Hazleton, Richard||Pearce, William (Limehouse)|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Henry, Sir Charles||Pointer, Joseph|
|Black, Arthur W.||Higham, John Sharp||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Boland, John Pius||Hinds, John||Priestley, Sir W. E. (Bradford)|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Hodge, John||Radford, G. H.|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Hogge, James Myles||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Holmes, Daniel Turner||Raphael, Sir Herbert H.|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Holt, Richard Durning||Reddy, M.|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Horne, Charles Silvester (Ipswich)||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Hughes, S. L.||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Illingworth, Percy H.||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Johnson, W.||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||Robinson, Sidney|
|Cawley, H. T. (Lancs, Heywood)||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Rowlands, James|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Jones, W. S. Glyn- (Stepney)||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.|
|Clough, William||Jowett, F. W.||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Joyce, Michael||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Keating, Matthew||Seely, Rt. Hon. Colonel J. E. B.|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Kellaway, Frederick George||Sheehy, David|
|Cotton, William Francis||Kelly, Edward||Shortt, Edward|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Kilbride, Denis||Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton)|
|Crooks, William||King, J.||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim)|
|Crumley, Patrick||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molton)||Snowden, Philip|
|Cullinan, John||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert|
|Davies, Ellis William (Elfion)||Lardner, James C. R.||Strauss, Edward (Southwark, W.)|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs, Louth)||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)||Sutherland, J. E|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Levy, Sir Maurice||Sutton, John E.|
|Dawes, J. A.||Lewis, John Herbert||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Delany, William||Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)||Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)|
|Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Lundon, Thomas||Tennant, Harold John|
|Devlin, Joseph||Lynch, A. A.||Thomas, James Henry|
|Dillon, John||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Doris, William||McGhee, Richard||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Duffy, William J.||Macpherson, James Ian||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Duncan, J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)||M'Laren, Hon. F. W. S. (Lincs, Spalding)||Wadsworth, J.|
|Elverston, Sir Harold||M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Wardle, George J.|
|Essex, Sir Richard Walter||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Waring, Walter|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||Meagher, Michael||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Falconer, James||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Watt, Henry Anderson|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Middlebrook, William||Webb, H.|
|Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Molloy, Michael||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Ffrench, Peter||Molteno, Percy Alport||White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E.R.)|
|Field, William||Montagu, Hon. E. S.||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward||Mooney, John J.||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Fitzgibbon, John||Morgan, George Hay||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Morison, Hector||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|France, Gerald Ashburner||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Gelder, Sir W. A.||Muldoon, John||Williamson, Sir Archibald|
|George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||Munro, R.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Gladstone, W. G. C.||Murphy, Martin J.||Wing, Thomas|
|Glanville, H. J.||Murray, Captain Hon. A. C.||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Norton, Captain Cecil W.||Young, W. (Perthshire, E.)|
|Goldstone, Frank||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Wedgwood Benn and Mr. W. Jones.|
|Guest, Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke)||O'Doherty, Philip|
|Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Norton-Griffiths, J. (Wednesbury)|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Gardner, Ernest||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Gibbs, George Abraham||Paget, Almeric Hugh|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Gilmour, Captain John||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||Perkins, Walter F.|
|Barnston, Harry||Gretton, John||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Hall, Frederick (Dulwich)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Henderson, Major H. (Berkshire)||Rees, Sir J. D.|
|Bird, Alfred||Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Blair, Reginald||Hill-Wood, Samuel||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Boyle, William (Norfolk, Mid)||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian)||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Bull, Sir William James||Houston, Robert Paterson||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Ingleby, Holcombe||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Campbell, Captain Duncan F. (Ayr, N.)||Kebty-Fletcher, J. R.||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Carllie, Sir Edward Hildred||Lewisham, Viscount||Stewart, Gershom|
|Cassel, Felix||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Talbot, Lord E.|
|Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)|
|Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee||Tobin, Alfred Aspinall|
|Courthope, George Loyd||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Touche, George Alexander|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||Mackinder, Halford J.||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||M'Calmont, Major Robert C. A.||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Denniss, E. R. B.||M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott||Magnus, Sir Philip||Yate, Colonel C. E.|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Mason, James F. (Windsor)|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir F. Banbury and Mr. Mitchell-Thomson.|
|Faber, Capt. W. V. (Hants, W.)||Newdegate, F. A.|
|Fell, Arthur||Newman, John R. P.|
§ Mr. STEEL-MAITLAND
I beg to move, to leave out the words "in order" ["in order to safeguard the interests of the public revenue."]
This Amendment should be read with another which stands in my name—to leave out after the word "revenue," the words,that the Resolution should have statutory effect under the provisions of this Act, the Resolution shall, for the period limited by this Section, and subject to the provisions of this Act, have statutory effect as if contained in an Act of Parliament, and where the Resolution provides for the renewal of a temporary tax all enactments which were in force with reference to that tax as last imposed by Act of Parliament shall, during the said period,, and subject to the provisions of this Act, have full force and effect with respect to the tax as renewed by the Resolution,and to insert instead thereof the words
"The Treasury shall leave power to take security or, alternatively, a deposit of duty for all sums that shall be payable in respect of such duties, if such Resolutions be subsequently embodied in the Finance Act for the year."
This Amendment is different from many of those proposed, which are merely drafting Amendments in regard to small details, and which are generally spoken of by their authors as intended to improve 1760 the Bill without altering its character. This Amendment is frankly hostile. It proposes to substitute an entirely different method from that contained in this part of the Bill. The Government proposal is to give statutory power to levy the duty under a Resolution of the House of Commons, while the Amendment proposes the alternative of merely giving power to take securities from those who would otherwise be liable for the duty. The scheme I propose has never been considered hitherto, and I would submit—
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Mr. Maclean)
The hon. Member has just informed the Committee that he proposes an entirely new scheme. Any Amendment must be within the limits of the Resolution passed by the Committee on which this Bill is founded. In so far as this scheme conflicts directly with that it is out of order.
§ Mr. STEEL-MAITLAND
It is quite true that the Resolution has necessarily to be broacher than or at least equally broad with the Bill founded upon it, but it is quite possible that there may be some alternative to a single Clause of the Bill which is quite within the ambit of the Resolution.
§ Mr. McKENNA
The Resolution contemplates precisely the scheme which is in the first Clause of this Bill and does not contemplate the scheme suggested by the hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. MITCHELL-THOMSON
If the Government are taking this point, we as an opposition are being very hardly treated. When the Chancellor of the Exchequer was speaking the other night I made by way of objection the very suggestion contained in this Amendment and the right hon. Gentleman said, "We cannot consider that now; wait until we get into Committee. I am not sure that it would not be proper to consider that on the Committee Stage of the Bill." Now the Government take the point against us that a suggestion of my hon. Friend is outside the scope of the Resolution.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I have only thrown out a warning as to the line which the hon. Member is developing. I am very anxious to treat him very fairly. Of course he will expect me after what I have said to follow very closely the lines on which he develops his arguments.
§ Mr. STEEL-MAITLAND
Of course, I submit to your ruling, but I have here the Resolution in my hand, and I think that the Chancellor of the Exchequer must have had it in his hand when he made his reply to my hon. Friend (Mr. Mitchell-Thomson). I perhaps may have exaggerated the effect of my Amendment, but I cannot help thinking that it is within the terms of the Resolution. I have as my authority for that, the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself in the terms of his reply to my hon. Friend. I would put it to him whether on the whole he cannot achieve his object by narrowing the scope of his Clause, and getting all he wants by simply taking securities from the various traders? We raised it at the time on the Resolution, but it was reserved for future consideration. It was referred to again during the Debate on the Second Reading, but the proposal was never really discussed, because I think it was thought to be a point which, though Mr. Gladstone would have called it an organic detail, was one for the Committee. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman would it not be a much greater advantage to adopt the suggestion than to travel the lengths which the present Clause does?
§ Mr. McKENNA
Upon the point of Order. The Resolution runs as follows:—
"A Resolution passed by the Committee of Ways and Means of this House for the imposition of any new tax, or for the variation of any existing tax, or for the renewal for a further period of any tax which is of a temporary character 1762 whether at the same or a different rate, and whether with or without modifications, shall have statutory effect for a limited period."
I cannot see how, within the terms of that Sub-section (a) of the Resolution, the hon. Member can possibly propose to include the taking of security or alternatively a deposit of duty.
§ Mr. STEEL-MAITLAND
I quite agree that the taking of this point comes infinitely better from the Home Secretary than from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but if the Resolution is to have statutory effect, may not either the Customs or the Inland Revenue, with the permission of the Treasury, take security from the trader? I submit that if the Resolution has statutory effect the Chairman of the Customs is perfectly empowered to take security from the trader if he wishes. If that is the point of Order I shall be very glad if you will decide it.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I am not so clear as to whether this is within or outside the scope of the Resolution, but I am perfectly clear that it is directly against the principle affirmed on Second Reading by the House, and it is on that I found myself more clearly in ruling the hon. Member out of order.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
This merely says that where the Resolution is passed the Treasury shall have power to do certain things. It only gives, in addition to the powers which it already has, power to take security or alternatively a deposit of duty.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
It seems to be a totally different proposal from what was affirmed on Second Reading. I have already given my decision, and I do not think that anything which the hon. Member may address to me is likely to change the opinions which I have formed.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
In view of the statement which you have just made, I beg to move "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."
When a point of this kind was raised on the Resolution the Chancellor of the Exchequer said distinctly that it would be considered in Committee. In these circumstances we ought to know where we stand. The greater includes the less. If 1763 the Resolution referred to in the Bill takes power to tax, it surely takes power to allow a deposit. This Amendment imposes no fresh charge whatever, and if a Resolution authorises the taking away of £100 from a man it cannot be contrary to that to allow him to take £25 on deposit. It was promised by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that this whole question should be discussed at a later stage.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
My hon. Friend has been looking forward to this discussion and as we cannot have it under your ruling, we ought to postpone further consideration of the Bill so that we may know how we stand.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The hon. Gentleman is under a misapprehension. In my speech in answer to the suggestion he threw out, I asked him, "What right have you to take a deposit?" I contested the point of the hon. Gentleman at some length. It is true that just in the middle of the speech I said that there might be very little between the hon. Gentleman and myself, and that I was not sure that I was not prepared to consider the point in the Committee stage of the Bill, but I expressed no opinion whatever as to whether his point was within or without the Resolution. The question came up in the ordinary course in Committee, and I contested it at some length. The Debate went on, and after an argument from the hon. Member for Chelmsford, I eventually moved the Closure. I think it is carrying it too far to say that I gave a definite pledge that this point was to be considered in Committee. I gave no pledge at all.
§ Mr. MITCHELL-THOMSON
I will endeavour to explain where I think the right hon. Gentleman is in error. The Amendment had not, as has been suggested, anything to do with the taking of a deposit. The Amendment was one by my hon. and learned Friend, the Member for Kingston (Mr. Cave), to leave out the words, "Committee of Ways and Means, or." The right hon. Gentleman was making a speech in reply to my hon. and learned Friend, and he went on to elaborate the necessity of the procedure proposed. I interrupted and asked, "Why not take a deposit?" and the right hon. Gentleman replied, "What right would you have to take a deposit?" The right hon. Gentle- 1764 man added, "This is the first time I ever heard of it; that appears to be a reasonable suggestion." I heard those words, though they do not appear in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
If the hon. Gentleman will read my speech to the end he will see that I contested the practicability of his suggestion.
§ Mr. MITCHELL-THOMSON
I can only say that I am sorry if I misunderstood the right hon. Gentleman, but my understanding at the time was that he said, "I cannot deal with this matter now, but I am prepared to consider it in Committee." [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Well, he said, "I am not sure that I would not be prepared to consider that on the Committee stage of the Bill." I think it will be agreed that the position in which we are placed is a little hard. There is a good deal in the suggestion of my hon. Friend, and it seems hard that we shall be precluded from discussing it.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
If the Chancellor of the Exchequer will allow me, I agree with him that he was in no way bound to accept any Amendment that might be proposed then, and I also agree that the mere statement that he would consider the question in Committee in no way binds him in one way or the other. Where the right hon. Gentleman was wrong was that he said he would have the question considered in Committee. The whole foundation of Parliamentary life depends on these promises. While I admit that the right hon. Gentleman was in no way bound to accept an Amendment, and that he was perfectly at liberty to get up and say that he thought the argument absurd and he would not accept it, he had no right to get up and take a point of Order—
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I believe first of all the Chancellor of the Exchequer raised the point of Order. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] The Home Secretary raised the point of Order, after the Chairman said he was willing to give more time to my hon. Friend, after having ruled the Amendment out of Order. The Home Secretary got up and read the Resolution, and appealed to the Chair as to whether the Amendment of my hon. Friend was not out of Order. No doubt it was a mistake on the part of the Home Secretary, and I do not think 1765 he intended to do anything wilfully that ought not to have been done, but I must say we can have no confidence in any of the pledges of the Government—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"]—that they will consider a point in Committee if, when that point is raised, either the Chancellor of the Exchequer or somebody else for him gets up and raises a point of Order. If hon. Members opposite were on this side of the House, and a Member of the Government was to say that he did not agree with an Amendment, but that he would consider it in the Committee stage—
§ Mr. STEEL-MAITLAND
The Chancellor of the Exchequer's words were:—I am not sure that I would not be prepared to consider that on the Committee stage of the Bill.Previously to that he said:—If you demand a deposit, that presupposes that your Committee Resolution has some regular effect. In that matter there is very little between the hon. Gentleman and ourselves.The right hon. Gentleman then went on to make one or two remarks, and then said:—I am not sure that the trade would prefer that method; on the whole I think they would prefer to pay for the commodities they took out.Later the Chancellor of the Exchequer said:—It was a proposal made now, I think, for the first time, and I should not like to reject it without further consideration.
§ Sir W. BYLES
On a point of Order. Are we not, Sir, discussing the Amendment, instead of the Motion to report Progress?
I think a discussion of the merits of the Amendment would be out of order on the Motion to report Progress.
§ Mr. STEEL-MAITLAND
I am not, for the moment, discussing the merits of the Amendment. What we are discussing are the precise procedure which the Government have taken and the methods they have employed, and as to whether that justifies us in asking that the Com- 1766 mittee should report Progress, and ask leave to sit again. The point is really this, that although we quite see there was no explicit pledge, since it was put with two negatives instead of a simple affirmative, yet there was an indication during that Debate that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be prepared to consider the matter on the Committee stage. Further, there was every indication from the words that he used that he would not like to reject it without further consideration. The Chancellor has no doubt considered it further in private, and some of us have considered it further in private, and have given very careful consideration to it, and it is because we do not think it ought to be dismissed without further consideration that the Amendment, whether in order or not, was put on the Paper. The Home Secretary stated in an interruption that the rest of the Debate dealt with the point. I am sorry if I did not hear him fully, but that is a defect of the Home Secretary's interrupting in a half audible voice. At any rate, the Chancellor of the Exchequer was under the impression, rightly or wrongly, that the rest of the Debate, which did not last so very long, being only a page and a half of the OFFICIAL REPORT, dealt with that point. If the right hon. Gentleman will read carefully the speech of the hon. Member for Chelmsford I do not think he will come to that conclusion. It was under those circumstances that the expectation was raised, and the point was evidently in the Chancellor's own mind, and one for very serious consideration, and, therefore, we think we have a perfect right to move to report Progress.
As far as I can gather, we are discussing, on the Motion to report Progress, the question whether or not the Government ought to accept a certain Amendment. The Amendment is one which has been ruled out of order.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
As I understand, the Chancellor of the Exchequer on Second Reading said that the point which we are now discussing is one which would be considered on the Committee stage. It seems to me, with all respect, we ought to have the right to move to Report Progress, not on the ground that it cannot be discussed now, but on the ground that the Government ought to enable us to discuss it in some shape, as the right hon. Gentleman said.
§ 10.0 P.M.
As I understand the point is one which was discussed on either the Committee or Report stage of the Resolution. The Chair has ruled that this is an Amendment which cannot be moved, being an alternative proposal. Therefore, we are not entitled to go into the merits of that question now, and the Government, no more than any private Member, cannot go into it. There is not, therefore, much that can be further said on it, but I will hear what the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposes to say.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE (who was indistinctly heard)
I had quite forgotten the passage, but I certainly was not aware, when I made that statement that it would be out of Order. With regard to the statement that I promised to consider it, I was considering it this morning with my advisers. I gave it full consideration with my advisers. I considered it as one of the alternatives, and I came to the conclusion that it was quite impracticable, and I suggested that in the course of the Debate. I very much regret it cannot be discussed, and I do not see how that matter can be remedied, because of the ruling of the Chair, which I cannot possibly control or direct.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
What we object to is that the Home Secretary should have risen and asked whether a certain Amendment was or was not in Order, after it had been understood that opportunities would have been given. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] Hon. Gentlemen opposite may say "No," but we feel very strongly upon this point. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"]
The hon. Baronet is submitting a point to the Chair, and I hope hon. Members will permit him to be heard.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
We say the Home Secretary rose and asked if the Amendment was in order, and that no Member of the Government ought to have done that after the pledge of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Any Member of the Committee is quite within his rights in drawing the attention of the Chair to a 1768 matter of the kind, which is solely for the decision of the Chair.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
I think that the discontent on this side arises from a very easily ascertained cause. Our cause for reporting Progress is that we think the Committee is placed in a position in which it had no reason to expect it would be placed. No one is to blame for that, and neither side appreciated how the Rules of Order would be interpreted. We are thus placed in difficulty, and we think it is not unreasonable we should ask for an adjournment of the Committee in order to consider the position in which the Committee is placed. That is the ground on which we urge to report Progress. I think the Government are indirectly to blame for the position in which the Committee finds itself. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he introduced the Resolution, was like a sunny day in June. He was prepared to concede almost anything, provided he got his Resolution. I am not complaining of any breach of faith. I quite agree that the assurances are of too indefinite a character. His whole manner, however, was that of one willing to make all sorts of concession. The Bill advanced under that sunny influence, and now he is in his frosty mood, and the Home Secretary rises like the East wind and carries the attitude of resistance very injudiciously and in a manner which gives offence to hon. Members on this side. After repeated experiences I have never heard the Home Secretary intervene in the Debate without giving offence to somebody. I agree that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is not to blame, because it is now found that the Amendment cannot be considered under the Rules of Order, and, as far as I am concerned, I think the protest has been carried sufficiently far. I hope, however, that the Government will endeavour to meet us in a conciliatory spirit corresponding to that in which they introduced the Bill Amendments which are submitted by my hon. Friends.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
May I point out that I accepted a considerable number of substantial Amendments; therefore it was not a case of merely smiling and doing nothing.
§ Question put "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again,"
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 105; Noes, 233.1771
|Division No. 44.]||AYES.||[10.8 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Fell, Arthur||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.||Newdegate, F. A.|
|Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)||Gardner, Ernest||Newman, John R. P.|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Gibbs, George Abraham||Norton-Griffiths, J. (Wednesbury)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Gilmour, Captain J.||O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Glazebrook, Capt. Philip K.||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.|
|Barnston, Harry||Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||Paget, Almeric Hugh|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Gretton, John||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Hall, Frederick (Dulwich)||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Bird, Alfred||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Blair, Reginald||Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith-||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)||Rees, Sir J. D.|
|Boyle, William (Norfolk, Mid)||Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Roberts. S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Boyton, James||Hill-Wood, Samuel||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Bull, Sir William James||Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian)||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Houston, Robert Paterson||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Campbell, Captain Duncan (Ayr, N.)||Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk.||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone)|
|Campion, W. R.||Ingleby, Holcombe||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Kebty-Fletcher, J. R.||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Cassel, Felix||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Stewart, Gershom|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin)||Lewisham, Viscount||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)|
|Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Colonel A. R.||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, N.)|
|Courthope, George Loyd||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Touche, George Alexander|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Edgbaston)||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Denniss, E. R. B.||Mackinder, Halford J.||Yate, Colonel C. E.|
|Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott||M'Calmont, Major Robert C. A.||Younger, Sir George|
|Duke, Henry Edward||M'Neil, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Magnus, Sir Philip||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. James Hope and Captain Morrison-Bell.|
|Faber, Capt. W. V. (Hants, W.)||Mason, James F. (Windsor)|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Davies, Ellis William (Elfion)||Hazleton, Richard|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon, T. C. R.||Dawes, J. A.||Higham, John Sharp|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Delany, William||Hinds, John|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.|
|Allen, Arthur Acland (Dumbartonshire)||Dillon, John||Hodge, John|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Doris, W.||Hegge, James Myles|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Duffy, William J.||Holmes, Daniel Turner|
|Barnes, George N.||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Holt, Richard Durning|
|Barran, Sir J. N. (Hawick Burghs)||Duncan, J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)||Horne, C. Silvester (Ipswich)|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Elverston, Sir Harold||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Hughes, Spencer Leigh|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Essex, Sir Richard Walter||Illingworth, Percy H.|
|Black, Arthur W.||Esslemont, George Birnie||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus|
|Boland, John Pius||Falconer, J.||Johnson, W.|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Farrell, James Patrick||Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Ffrench, Peter||Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)|
|Brocklehurst, William B.||Field, William||Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney)|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Fitzgibbon, John||Joyce, Michael|
|Bryce, John Annan||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Keating, Matthew|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||France, G. A.||Kellaway, Frederick George|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Gelder, Sir William Alfred||Kelly, Edward|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar)||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||Kennedy, Vincent Paul|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Gladstone, W. G. C.||Kilbride, Denis|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Glanville, Harold James||King, J.|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Lambert, Rt. Hon. C. (Devon, S. Molton)|
|Cawley, H. T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Goldstone, Frank||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)|
|Chancellor, H. G.||Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)||Lardner, James C. R.|
|Chapple, Dr. W. A.||Griffith, Ellis J.||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)|
|Ciancy, John Joseph||Guest, Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke)||Levy, Sir Maurice|
|Clough, William||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Gulland, John William||Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Lundon, Thomas|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Hackett, John||Lyell, Charles Henry|
|Cotton, William Francis||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Lynch, A. A.|
|Cowan, W. H.||Hardie, J. Keir||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||McGhee, Richard|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire)||Macpherson, James Ian|
|Crooks, William||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald|
|Crumley, Patrick||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||M'Micking, Major Gilbert|
|Cuillnan, John||Hayward, Evan||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil|
|Marshall, Arthur Harold||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Sutton, John E.|
|Meagher, Michael||Pointer, Joseph||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)|
|Middlebrook, William||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Tennant, Harold John|
|Molloy, Michael||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford)||Thomas, James Henry|
|Molteno, Percy Alport||Pringle, William M. R.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Radford, G. H.||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Mooney, J. J.||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Morgan, George Hay||Raphael, Sir Herbert Henry||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Morrell, Philip||Reddy, M.||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Morison, Hector||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Wadsworth, John|
|Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Muldoon, John||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Munro, Robert||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Wardle, G. J.|
|Murphy, Martin J.||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Waring, Walter|
|Murray, Captain Hon. A. C.||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Norman, Sir Henry||Robinson, Sidney||Watt, Henry A.|
|Norton, Captain Cecil W.||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Webb, H.|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Roche, Augustine (Louth)||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Rowlands, James||White, Sir Luke (York, E. R.)|
|O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|O'Doherty, Philip||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|O'Dowd, John||Scanlan, Thomas||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|O'Grady, James||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)||Whyte, Alexander F.|
|O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Seely, Rt. Hon. Colonel J. E. B.||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|O'Malley, William||Sheehy, David||Williamson, Sir A.|
|O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Sherwell, Arthur James||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Shortt, Edward||Wing, Thomas|
|O'Shee, James John||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|Outhwaite, R. L.||Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton)||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim)||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Parker, James (Halifax)||Snowden, Philip|
|Parry, Thomas H.||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Wedgwood Benn and Mr. W. Jones.|
|Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Sutherland, John E.|
§ Mr. CASSEL
I beg to move, to leave out the words "order to safeguard the interests of the public revenue," and insert instead thereof the words "the public interest." I think it is much better that the Resolution should deal with the public interest generally, and not merely with the interests of the public revenue. I understand that the Government will accept this Amendment, and I thank them for so doing.
§ Amendment agreed to.
A manuscript Amendment handed in by the hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. J. Mason) clashes with one standing in the name of the hon. and learned Member for South Bucks (Sir A. Cripps). I think the latter is the better form, so perhaps the hon. Member for Windsor will give way.
§ Mr. E. POLLOCK
I beg to move, to leave out the words "have statutory effect" ["that the Resolution should have statutory effect"], and insert instead thereof the words "authorise the payment or collection of such tax."
This Amendment was put down by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for South Bucks, his object being to leave out words which are very uncertain and, therefore, probably misleading, and to replace them by words which are perfectly clear and have a good legal meaning. I 1772 hope the Government will see their way to accept this. It really makes little difference in the effect of the Bill. It is not intended in any spirit antagonistic to the Bill, and it is only intended to make perfectly clear, and to remove any doubt about the real purpose and legal intent of the enacting Clause of the Section. The words "statutory effect" are certainly not a legal term, although we may use the term as a colloquialism. It has really no definite meaning, and it is not a term of art, and therefore I think it is a very unfortunate term to make use of, and it would undoubtedly hamper the operation of this Clause. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bucks has also consequential Amendments to delete the words "statutory effect" in line fifteen, and to insert the proper and appropriate words there. I am pressing this Amendment upon the Government, because what they really want is by the authority of this Resolution to make the collection and payment of the tax which is imposed, or intended to be authorised by the Resolution, and it is far better to make our purpose plain and to use words which cannot possibly be mistaken rather than to use unnecessary words.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
There is no difference of opinion between us as to words and the proper form of language to be used in order to give effect to the 1773 intentions of the Bill. On the whole we think it desirable to adhere to the words as drafted. "Statutory effect" is a very definite term. No one misunderstands, or can misunderstand, the object and purpose of stating that a Resolution would have the effect of a Statute for certain purposes, for temporary purposes only, and under certain conditions laid down in the Bill. If we used the words proposed by the hon. and learned Gentleman, the difficulty is that they do not go so far as the words "statutory effect." They only authorise one part of it and not the whole, because to say you authorise the payment or collection of such taxes certainly does not impose an obligation for example on bankers, or brokers, or agents, to make the deduction of the taxes which are very necessary, and which as the Committee well knows is our best means of collecting the revenue. On the whole, therefore, we think the words we put into the Bill are the better words and we must adhere to them.
§ Mr. JAMES MASON
The right hon. Gentleman says there is no difference of opinion between us. Surely, the whole difference is the question of whether the Resolution shall have the power of imposing taxes or only collecting them. It seems to me a very large difference. The right hon. Gentleman and his Friends discussing the Resolution the other day pointed out that the object they have in view was simply to maintain the usual custom and at another time they said the only object was to collect the taxes. It makes a great difference whether a Resolution gives power to collect taxes which it is assumed will become legal taxes and have statutory effect or whether that Resolution should in itself impose the taxes as statutory. It seems to me the question of imposition and collection as raised are really different in some material points. As regards the question of bankers and brokers deducting the Income Tax, it seems to me that is quite a different question and surely the mere collecting and authorising by Resolution the collection of taxes will still allow that to be done in any way hitherto collected, and which under the words of the Bill would be feasible.
§ Sir GEORGE YOUNGER
I cannot conceive how the Attorney-General can say this would not cover the case which has been mentioned. I do not see why you require special words.
§ Sir G. YOUNGER
Of course I cannot place my opinion on this question against that of the Attorney-General, but I should have thought the one would have covered the other.
§ Mr. CASSEL
Will this Amendment rule out the next Amendment, which is an alternative form to substitute the word "such." Later I proposed to insert "be a good defence at the trial or hearing of any action or proceeding in like manner."
I am afraid the hon. and learned Member cannot do either, because if the Committee's decision is "that those words stand part," he certainly cannot move afterwards that they be left out.
I do not think the hon. Member's further alternative is relevant on this Amendment, and clearly it is cut out by the words already before the Committee.
§ Mr. CASSEL
If you put the Question that the word. "have" stand part, could I not then move that the word "such" be substituted for "statutory"? The Chancellor of the Exchequer told me this was a matter which he would give consideration to.
§ Mr. CASSEL
I did not say it was a pledge, and the hon. Member might listen to what I have to say before he interrupts. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that he had my suggestion under consideration, and I thought I should have an opportunity of moving my Amendment. I would like to know if it is not possible to put the Question in such a form as will permit of my Amendment being moved.
This Amendment has already been some time before the Committee. If the hon. and learned Member for Warwick and Leamington could see his way to withdraw this Amendment, then the hon. and learned Member might move his Amendment.
§ Mr. POLLOCK
I do not feel able to take that course. Practically the Attorney- 1775 General has made no answer to my Amendment. We must consider the Bill as a whole. This measure contains not only one Clause, but Sub-section (2) of Clause 2 contains a very debatable question, and on page 3 it is proposed to introduce Section 95 of the Finance Act, 1910. I must assume that the Attorney-General intends to proceed with that portion of Clause 2, and, if he does, the meaning of Section 95 of the Act of 1910 is this: It is a provision as to assessment payments, etc., made on account of duty before the passing of the Act, and therefore, if this Bill passes in the form in which it is proposed, there will, by the necessary inclusion of Section 95 of the Act I have mentioned, be all the machinery suggested by the Attorney-General which would be brought into force if you adhere to the words "statutory effect." Even if you put in those words there is in respect of the Income Tax by the Act of 1890, Section 30—the Attorney-General knows it very well, because he had to consider it very carefully in 1910, when there was some doubt whether they could collect the Income Tax or not—a power carried forward and existing under which all the preliminary work for collecting the Income Tax stands good year by year. That is a permanent Statute: more than that, in most, Finance Acts there is a special provision that all Statutes hitherto in force relating to the Income Tax shall stand good with regard to deductions and so on. Having regard to the Bill as it stands with Clause 2, Sub-clause (2), it is quite clear that it is in the contemplation of the Government that they shall have all these necessary powers to which the Attorney-General has referred. Therefore, I submit with great respect, that it is no answer for him to say that there is a difference in these words "statutory effect," which is in his favour. They will not give him anything better than he has already got under Statute. If it has statutory effect, he has got to look in some other Statute to find his powers, and, if they exist at present; they will exist if you insert the words of my hon. and learned Friend "authorise the payment or collection of such tax; "but, if there are no Statutes applicable and no Statutes which carry forward powers, then the mere giving of statutory effect to a Resolution will not give any particular power or carry forward any particular power. It is a question of whether they exist or not. Having considered the 1776 matter in this Bill and in the other Acts relating to the matter, I feel that the answer of the Attorney-General is insufficient and inconclusive, and I regret that I am unable to withdraw my Amendment.
On further examination, I think the hon. and learned Member for St. Pancras (Mr. Cassel) is entitled to argue or put forward his third proposal on the Amendment now before the Committee. I was at first mistaken in its effect. It appears to me it might happen that the Committee or the Government might not possibly be able to accept the proposal of the right hon. and learned Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Pollock), when they might agree to the substitution of the proposal of the hon. and learned Member for St. Pancras, so, if he chooses to do so, he may put forward his suggestion on this Amendment.
§ Mr. CASSEL
I am delighted to have the opportunity, more particularly as the Chancellor of the Exchequer earlier in the afternoon said he had this proposal under consideration. My suggestion is that you should say that a Resolution should be a good defence to an action. That would be more analogous to the present practice. The revenue officers have collected the tax and the banks have made the deductions illegally, but on the assumption, the correct assumption until the Budget we so long delayed, that before any action could come into Court there would be an Act of Parliament. Similarly, my proposal is that you should say that the Resolution should be a good defence to an action. It would be a good defence during the whole period of four months. I think that would be much less contrary to the constitutional principle that Parliament alone can legislate and impose taxes. The effect would be that you would not impose a tax at all by the Resolution; you would merely have said that if within four months of the Resolution an action is brought, then, during that four months, the Resolution is a good defence to the action. It is not giving to the Resolution statutory effect in the full sense. I think it is undesirable to do so, because it is in conflict with the elementary principles of the Constitution. You attain precisely the same result as that which the Government desire with the form of words which I have suggested, and it is more in consonance with the practice which existed before Mr. 1777 Bowles's action and more in conformity with the principles of the Constitution.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
If the hon. and learned Member for Warwick will consider the matter more carefully, he will see that neither Section 30 of the Act 1890 nor Section 95 of the Finance Act of 1910 apply. These are machinery Sections. The first-named was the one relied upon in Mr. Bowles's action. The only point put forward by the hon. and learned Member is one which I argued myself. I tried to get the Court to take the view he takes, but the learned judge came to the conclusion in the end, and by that conclusion we must abide, that it was a mere machinery Section, and that consequently the Bank of England was not entitled to deduct the duty. Section 95 is a similar Section. It gives an indemnity to bankers, agents, brokers, and persons in that capacity, but it does not go beyond that. If you merely say that a person is authorised to collect, that does not impose any obligation on him to collect. It is for that reason we want to have statutory effect, so that we may be quite sure that these dividends will be collected at their source.
§ Mr. POLLOCK
What is the Statute, the effect of which will give the result the right hon. Gentleman suggests? The difference between us is as to the statutory effect. The right hon. Gentleman says it is to have the effect of a Statute: where is the Statute that gives that effect—that will give power to require the deduction to be made?
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
There are several Statutes—the Act of 1884 for instance. The point has been considered several times recently. The hon. and learned Gentleman will not dispute that there is an obligation upon bankers to deduct from dividends before they pay them out, and it is the Statute which imposes that obligation on which we rely.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I have given one, the Act of 1884, and many others can be found. In reference to the point raised by the hon. and learned Member for St. Pancras, I do not see how what he proposes would in any way assist the Government. He says if there is an action in Court this Resolution could be set up in defence. But it would not impose any obligation to make these deductions when dividends were being paid, so really we should be left where we are at present. Under 1778 the proposal of the hon. and learned Member we should simply give authority to collect without imposing the various obligations which are necessary to secure what we require.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
The answer of the Attorney-General does not seem quite complete. He says the Sections quoted by my hon. and learned Friend are mere machinery. But the words my hon. Friend proposes to introduce would surely furnish the motive power which it is complained is now lacking. The Attorney-General interprets the phrase, "authorise the collection of taxes," as if the authorisation were to be addressed to the banks. It is not so. The Executive and the Inland Revenue would he authorised to collect, and their authority to collect would impose upon the banks the obligation to deduct which the Attorney-General desiderates. The moment you have a public body given authority by Act of Parliament to collect they can impose upon anyone the performance of the duties which are assigned under ordinary Income Tax Acts. If you give authority to somebody, you give authority. Authority is a thing which imposes itself, and which banks are bound to obey, and they are bound to obey it in the form prescribed by law. There is no controversy between the Attorney-General and my hon. and learned Friend, if there is a motive force to set at work the machinery which exists. That does not seem a conclusive answer to the Amendment. The Attorney-General underrates the objection to making a Resolution into a Statute. It is an abuse of words to say that the Resolution is to be a Statute. It is not the same thing. You certainly do give an unconstitutional flavour—to put it no higher—to what you are doing by making a Resolution into a law. That is really the foundation of the objection that is taken to this Bill all through, that a Resolution, which is in the nature of a decree, is turned into a law. Would it not be better to give the Resolution a certain defined legal effect and authority, because then you do not confuse the idea of a law and the idea of a Resolution, and to that extent diminish the unconstitutional appearance the Bill now has. I agree with the Attorney-General's answer to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for West St. Pancras (Mr. Cassel) that it would not be sufficient to say that the banks should 1779 have a defence to an action. You want to throw an obligation on the banks. If you give authority to collect, you do throw an obligation upon the banks to collect, therefore the object is attained.
§ Mr. CASSEL
The Chancellor of the Exchequer to-day said that if anybody could show him that the Bill went beyond the present practice he was prepared to make it conform to that practice. My suggestion is to make it conform precisely to the present practice. Before the action was brought the present practice has been to deduct—I agree voluntarily on the part of the banks, who were under no obligation to do it—in the hope that nobody could bring an action before the Statute was passed. My proposal
§ leaves the situation precisely where it was under the old practice; that is to say, if anyone brought an action the Resolution would be a good defence, but if you go further than that, and put in the words "statutory effect," I submit to the Attorney-General that is going beyond the present practice. The present practice has been that bankers have done it voluntarily in the hope and certainty that an action could not be brought in time, and that everybody would submit to it. That is all we ought to do by the Bill. Otherwise we are going beyond what the Chancellor of the Exchequer said.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 234; Noes 108.1781
|Division No. 45.]||AYES.||[10.45 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Addison, Dr. C.||Duncan, J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Elverston, Sir Harold||Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney)|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Jowett, Frederick William|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Essex, Sir Richard Walter||Joyce, Michael|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Esslemont, George Birnie||Keating, Matthew|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumartonshire)||Falconer, James||Kellaway, Frederick George|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury)||Farrell, James Patrick||Kelly, Edward|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Kennedy, Vincent Paul|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Kilbride, Denis|
|Barnes, G. N.||Ffrench, Peter||King, J.|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick Burghs)||Field, William||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molton)|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Fitzgibbon, John||Lardner, James C. R.|
|Bethell, Sir J. H.||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)|
|Black, Arthur W.||France, G. A.||Levy, Sir Maurice|
|Boland, John Pius||Gelder, Sir William Alfred||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||Gladstone, W. G. C.||Lundon, Thomas|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Goldstone, Frank||Lyell, Charles Henry|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)||Lynch, A. A.|
|Brocklehurst, William B.||Griffith, Ellis J.||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Guest, Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke)||McGhee, Richard|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorsett, E.)||Macpherson, James Ian|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Gulland, John W.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. S. C. (Poplar)||Hackett, J.||M'Micking, Major Gilbert|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Marshall, Arthur Harold|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Hardie, J. Keir||Meagher, Michael|
|Cawley, Harold T. (Heywood)||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire)||Middlebrook, William|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Molloy, Michael|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Molteno, Percy Alport|
|Clough, William||Hayward, Evan||Montagu, Hon. E. S.|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Hazleton, Richard||Mooney, J. J.|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Morgan, George Hay|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Morrell, Philip|
|Cotton, William Francis||Henry Sir Charles||Morison, Hector|
|Cowan, W. H.||Higham, John Sharp||Muldoon, John|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Hinds, John||Munro, Robert|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Murphy, Martin J.|
|Crooks, William||Hodge, John||Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.|
|Crumley, Patrick||Hogge, James Myles||Norman, Sir Henry|
|Cullinan, John||Holmes, Daniel Turner||Norton, Captain Cecil W.|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Holt, Richard Durning||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Horne, C. Silvester (Ipswich)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Dawes, J. A.||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Delany, William||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||O'Dotherty, Philip|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Illingworth, Percy H.||O'Dowd, John|
|Dillon, John||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||O'Grady, James|
|Doris, William||Johnson, William||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)|
|Duffy, William J.||Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||O'Malley, William|
|O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Roche, Augustine (Louth)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Rowlands, James||Verney, Sir Harry|
|O'Shee, James John||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.||Wadsworth, John|
|Outhwaite, R. L.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Parker, James (Halifax)||Scanlan, Thomas||Wardie, G. J.|
|Parry, Thomas H.||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)||Waring, Walter|
|Pearce, William (Limehouee)||Seely, Rt. Hon. Colonel J. E. B.||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Sheehy, David||Watt, Henry A.|
|Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Sherwell, Arthur James||Webb, H.|
|Pointer, Joseph||Shortt, Edward||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook||White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E. R.)|
|Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton)||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Pringle, William M. R.||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim)||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Radford, G. H.||Snowden, Philip||Wiles, Thomas|
|Raffan, Peter Wilson||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Reddy, Michael||Sutherland, J. E.||Williamson, Sir A.|
|Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Sutton, John E.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)||Wing, Thomas|
|Richardson, Albion (Peckham)||Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Tennant, Harold John||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Thomas, James Henry||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Robinson, Sidney||Thorne, William (West Ham)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Wedgwood Benn and Mr. W. Jones.|
|Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.||Newdegate, F. A.|
|Baird, J. L.||Gardner, Ernest||Newman, John R. P.|
|Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)||Gibbs, G. A.||Norton-Griffiths, J.|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Gilmour, Captain John||O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Glazebrook, Captain Philip K.||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||Paget, Almeric Hugh|
|Barnston, Harry||Gretton, John||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Hall, Frederick (Dulwich)||Perkins, Walter F.|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish-||Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Bigland, Alfred||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)||Rawson, Col. R. H.|
|Bird, A.||Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Rees, Sir J. D.|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith-||Hill-Wood, Samuel||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Boyle, William (Norfolk, Mid)||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Boyton, James||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian)||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Bull, Sir William James||Houston, Robert Paterson||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk.||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Campbell, Captain Duncan F. (Ayr, N.)||Ingleby, Holcombe||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Campion, W. R.||Kebty-Fletcher, J. R.||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Carllie, Sir Edward Hildred||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Stewart, Gershom|
|Cave, George||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Lewisham, Viscount||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin)||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Colonel A. R.||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, North)|
|Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Tobin, Alfred Aspinall|
|Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Edgbaston)||Touche, George Alexander|
|Courthope, George Loyd||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Mackinder, Halford J.||Warde, Col, C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||M'Calmont, Major Robert C. A.||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Denniss, E. R. B.||Magnus, Sir Philip||Yate, Colonel C. E.|
|Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. S.||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Younger, Sir George|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Cassel and Mr. G. Locker-Lampson.|
|Fell, Arthur||Morrison-Bell, Major A C. (Honiton)|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
I beg to move, after the word "shall" ["the Resolution shall"], to insert the words "within the same financial year and."
This Amendment covers a substantial point to which, when the Resolution was being discussed, the Chancellor of the Exchequer promised to give some consideration. The point is this: The Resolution with which this Bill deals may be brought in at any time of the year, but under the Bill 1782 the Resolution will run four months, irrespective of the time it is brought in. Under certain circumstances this might be abused. Supposing the Chancellor of the Exchequer, wishing to get a certain tax, came down to the House in the middle of February and proposed a Resolution, he might get that carried on a statement as to its urgency on account of some exceptional national consideration, but he would not disclose to the House the whole of the financial situation. At present the practice 1783 is to disclose new taxes on the Budget Statement. He discloses the whole of his needs to the country, and the proposals he has to make to satisfy those needs, but in future he might get his taxes piecemeal, and he would not be able to, or even if able he would not, disclose the whole financial situation, and the Bill might not be passed for four months afterwards. I would rather that new taxation should not be asked for at the end of the financial year, but the Chancellor in asking for new taxation should review the whole financial situation.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
My difficulty has really been a case like that of Sir Michael Hicks-Beach in 1900, when he had to introduce his Budget before the end of the financial year and impose new taxes. I should like to hear the hon. Member, with a view to a consideration of it to-morrow morning, as to how he proposes to deal with cases of the kind if his Amendment is accepted.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
I admit that this proposal by itself would be open to the objection which the Chancellor of the Exchequer urges, but under the Bill as it stands the Chancellor of the Exchequer has in deference to Pressure said that the Resolution should not be renewed in the same Session. I have put down a later Amendment to the effect that it may be renewed in the next financial year or within three days of the end of the financial year to cover any case of inconvenience. Therefore, in the case which he recites, the case of special emergency such as Sir Michael Hicks-Beach had to deal with, all that would be necessary would be at the end of the financial year, or perhaps in the first days of the next financial year, the Resolution would have to be renewed. That I admit is not a wise thing in the ordinary case, but in the end of the financial year where there is a break, I think that it may fairly be resorted to. The right hon. Gentleman will see that it would not be desirable to do away with the present practice of having the whole Budget unfolded at once. At the same time I do think the case here made ought to be met; and by my second Amendment I have endeavoured to meet it. I put this proposal forward simply in order that there may not be any dislocation or dismemberment of the whole Budget of the year. I think that the Chancellor will see that 1784 there is some danger if the Bill passed in its present form. At this late hour I will press the matter no further, but I will commend it to the consideration of the right hon. Gentleman to-morrow.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
That has been my difficulty all along. I will consider the Amendment which comes later on, and now beg to move to report Progress and ask leave to sit again.
§ It being Eleven o'clock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again to-morrow (Tuesday).