HC Deb 22 April 1913 vol 52 cc261-2

Let me give the Committee the figures which show the yield of the new taxes for last year. The new taxation imposed in 1909 last year yielded £25,655,000. In 1911 they yielded £24,588,000. Last year, therefore, the yield above the preceding year was £1,067,000. Later I shall be able to estimate for a still further increase in the coming year. I should also like to point out how this compares with the Estimate which was formed of the yield of these taxes. There were some taxes which we did not profess to be able to form any estimate of. For instance, there were the Spirit Duties. It was quite impossible to make any forecast of their ultimate yield, so much depended upon the habits of the people. There were one or two other taxes of a similar character. But, taking the taxes of which we could form a fairly accurate estimate in regard to their ultimate yield, I find that last year these taxes produced £3,300,000 above the estimate we formed of their ultimate yield when they had reached full maturity—and they have not yet reached that! As a matter of fact, we did not overestimate the taxes. I agree that we underestimated the expenditure. We all anticipated that the Navy would have reached the high water mark of expenditure in 1910, but circumstances over which we had no control made it impossible for us to realise that estimate. The same thing applies undoubtedly to the Estimates with regard to medical benefit and old age pensions, a half of which we expected to receive as a contribution from the local authorities. If the Estimates were fallacious they were not so in the matter of overestimating the yield of the new taxes. On the contrary, it was rather in the matter of underestimating the probability of expenditure in two or three directions. The net result in regard to last year—


Has the Chancellor of the Exchequer the figures by which the Whisky Duty has exceeded the estimate of the yield?


I thought I had made that clear. If the right hon. Gentleman will look at the White Paper he will see that we did not estimate the yield of the Whisky Duty except for the first year. It was quite impossible to estimate the ultimate result because it depended so very much on the habits of the people. We could not form any sort of forecast. The White Paper shows that there is nothing set off against the ultimate yield of the Whisky Duty.

We estimated the revenue of last year on the basis of a rosy view. In spite of the holding back at the end of the year; in spite of the strike, the receipts exceeded the Estimate by £1,600,000. But for the strike and the holding back we should have received £2,600,000 more than we actually received.