§ (1) Income Tax for the year beginning on the sixth day of April, nineteen hundred and thirteen, shall be charged at the rate of one shilling and twopence, and the same Super-tax shall be charged, levied, and paid for that year as was charged for the year beginning on the sixth day of April, nineteen hundred and twelve.
§ (2) All such enactments relating to Income Tax (including Super-tax) as were in force with respect to duties of Income Tax granted for the year beginning on the 2110 sixth day of April, nineteen hundred and twelve, shall have full force and effect with respect to any duties of Income Tax hereby granted.
§ (3) The annual value of any property which has been adopted for the purpose either of Income Tax under Schedules A and B in the Income Tax Act, 1853, or of Inhabited House Duty, during the year ending on the fifth day of April, nineteen hundred and thirteen, shall be taken as the annual value of such property for the same purpose during the next subsequent year; provided that this Sub-section—
- (a) so far as respects the duty on inhabited houses in Scotland, shall be
2111 construed with the substitution of the twenty-fourth day of May for the fifth day of April; and
- (b) shall not apply to the Metropolis as defined by the Valuation (Metropolis) Act, 1869.
§ Mr. CASSEL
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (2), to add the words,
"Provided always that no husband shall be committed to prison, nor shall any distress be levied upon his goods, nor shall any other proceedings for any penalty, fine, or otherwise, howsoever be brought against him for failure to pay the Income Tax to which he has been assessed in respect of the joint incomes of his wife and himself if he has paid or is ready and willing to pay such part (if any) of the whole tax as is fairly attributable to his income."
The object of the Amendment and the one which immediately follows is to remedy one of the most glaring anomalies in our Income Tax law. That is saying a good deal, because anyone who has even a superficial knowledge of the subject knows how serious these anomalies are. In drafting these Amendments I have endeavoured to couch them in the plainest possible language without any complication, because I think the mere statement of the Amendment myself ought to be sufficient to carry conviction to the mind of any reasonable man. What the Amendment says in plain words is that the husband ought not to be sent to prison or subjected to penalties because he does not pay Income Tax on his wife's income. On the other hand, the wife ought to be entitled to the abatements, reliefs, and exemptions allowed in respect of her own income. These anomalies are clue to the fact. that the Income Tax law is very much older than the Married Woman's Property Acts, and also that when the Income Tax was first introduced by Pitt and was reintroduced in the time of Sir Robert Peel, that the wife's income was the husband's income in the sense that the husband had the control and management of it and therefore it was not so unreasonable then to say that the wife's income should be deemed to be the husband's income. Since then we have had the Married Woman's Property Acts, and what has happened is that the Income Tax Acts have never been brought up to date, and that there is injustice to the husband and the wife and penalisation of marriage, and in many cases loss of revenue to the State. 2112 As to the injustice to the husband, what could be more unfair or unreasonable than to say to a man that he must make a return of his wife's income when you do not give him any opportunity of ascertaining that income, and when it remains at her will to disclose it or not? What could be more unreasonable than to say that a man must pay income tax upon his wife's income when he has no control over that income, and when it rests with her as to whether she discloses it or not? This matter was brought to public attention and particularly to my own attention in the case of Mr. Wilks which occurred last year.
Mr. Wilks was a teacher in a London County Council School earning £150 a year. His wife was earning an income by the exercise of the profession of a doctor. What the amount of her income really was I am unable to say. The Income Tax Commissioners assessed it at £700 a year. Mr. Wilkes having been unable to state what her income was, they proceeded to assess the joint income as best they could, and as a result Mr. Wilks, who had only £150 a year as a teacher, was held liable for the payment of £30 or £40 of Income Tax. I think the precise figure he was called on to pay was In the first place, when he refused to pay, the Income Tax Commissioners proceeded quite unlawfully, and without any legal justification, to levy the tax upon the wife's goods. When objection was made to this, they saw they had no right to do it, and they then resorted to the Courts. They put the husband in prison, not for any definite period, but at their own will and pleasure, until he should pay this tax. And it is rather a significant fact that the date when he was first sent to Brixton gaol was the 18th of September, 1912, and he was kept there until a few days before the reassembling of Parliament. The House reassembled on the 7th October, and a few days before that Mr. Wilks was released from prison. I suppose it was thought too much that he should be still kept in prison after the matter became a subject of criticism in this House. I put down a question on 9th October and elicited from the Chancellor of the Exchequer the answer that he proposed to consider an amendment of the law, but that, until the law was amended, he said, quite rightly, he could not give way in any similar case and could not give instructions that a, similar situation should not be repeated if the circumstances arose. I confess, quite frankly, 2113 that from the moment the case occurred I made up my mind not to let the question rest until we had forced the Government to alter such an absurd position.
I find that in another place that the Lord Chancellor stated that the condition of the law as it exists now could not be defended and from the Amendments on the Paper it seems that the Government recognise the reasonableness of that view. From the point of view of the individuals concerned, it was grossly unjust. In the first place, the wife does not get the benefit of exemptions or payments in respect of her income. Generally the wife's income is an income arising from dividends or investments. It is not very frequently the result of her own earnings, though, of course, in many cases it is, but in the majority of cases it is an income arising from investments. In that case the tax is deducted at the source, and if she is not subject to Income Tax, because her income is below the Income Tax limit, she does not get the benefit of the exemption, but the husband does. Let me give the Committee an illustration which will make the case clear. Assuming that the husband and wife each have £150 a year, the wife's income being derived from investments, and that of the husband from salary as a school teacher, the wife's income is taxed at the source at 1s. 2d. which is the unearned rate, so that there is deducted 8s. 10d. from her £150. The Income Tax payable by husband and wife jointly is on £300 of which £150 is entitled to abatement, so that the duty is only paid on £140. But duty has been deducted from the wife's income of £150. Therefore, the husband is entitled to claim a rebate on £10 and he gets a rebate of 11s. 8d., and actually makes a profit out of it. Not only does he pay no Income Tax, but he makes a profit of 11s. 8d. The wife loses £8 15s. and the husband makes a profit of 11s. 8d. I could multiply indefinitely instances of the absurd way in which this works out. Moreover, married women treat the law as humiliating to themselves, and I think they do so with justice, because they are not treated as existent at all for the purposes of the Income Tax law. It is true their money is taken, but nevertheless the law treats them as non-existent. That was brought out very clearly by a deputation which waited upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer when Miss Lena Ashwell made a speech which had a great effect in inducing the right hon. Gentleman to 2114 promise to bring forward a proposal to amend the law. Miss Ashwell carries on her profession as an actress, but she also has the management of a theatre, and at the theatre the Income Tax papers are sent addressed to her husband, with the words "For Wife" in brackets. Miss Ashwell objected to being addressed in that way when she was being called upon to pay the Income Tax. The Chancellor of the Exchequer practically accepted that view, for he said in reply:—I agree that the present form treats married women as if they had no existence at all, and I accept the view that it is a humiliation and yon are entitled, certainly, to protest against it.Not only is it unjust on the husband and the wife, but in many cases it causes a loss of revenue. Assume the case that the wife is living in this country and the husband is in the Colonies on business which keeps him there for some time, and that the husband has an income and the wife has an income. The wife cannot be assessed on her income because it is deemed to be her husband's, and her husband is out of the jurisdiction of the tax and the revenue quite improperly loses by it. I think that is one of the reasons which may have actuated the Government in placing this Clause on the Paper which the right hon. Gentleman very courteously consulted me about before he put it down. There is, however, one other aspect which that Clause does not deal with and it is that it penalises marriage. There are many cases where people, if they were unmarried would not be subjected to Income Tax at all, but who are subject to it simply because they are married. There are cases where the Income Tax is four and five times as high as it would be if they were not legally married. That is a very difficult question in itself to deal with, and I admit that my Amendment does not deal with that point. I could not have framed such an Amendment without imposing a fresh charge. I would point out to the right hon. Gentleman that in the Revenue Bill which met with such a sad fate this afternoon rather curious consequences would have followed from this state of the law. According to the law, a married woman never has any income at all, and so a married woman in those cases would not be liable to Increment Duty in any case whatever. But quite apart from that anomaly, I think I have pointed out sufficient to show that really the time has come when we must make an end of the absurd state in which the law stands at the present time, and I welcome the fact that a 2115 Clause stands on the Paper in the name of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to deal with the matter. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will tell us on this Amendment what attitude the Government propose to take in regard to that matter.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir Rufus Isaacs)
The hon. and learned Member has stated quite correctly that the law in connection with the assessment of Income Tax on husband and wife is in a somewhat anomalous position. I may point out, however, that that has been the law for a very long period, and it requires a most complicated Clause in order to make any Amendment work fairly between husband and wife. The Amendment which the hon. and learned Member has just proposed is one which the Government could not possibly accept, because it would leave the law in a most ridiculous state. He does not seem to have observed that the result of this Amendment would be that although the husband would be assessed and charged with Income Tax on the income of his wife, no proceedings could be taken against the husband to recover that tax, and there could be no distraint upon his goods and no means of levying the Income Tax and you could not make a legal demand of any sort or kind upon him although he would remain the person liable to pay the Income Tax. At the same time there is no means provided and none in existence at the present time for recovering the Income Tax from the wife by any sort of process, and that is the very difficulty in the Wilks case.
§ Mr. CASSEL
The reason I did not deal with that point in my Amendment is that it would not have been in order for me to do so, because it would have imposed an additional charge, and that is not within the competence of a private Member, and my proposal would have been out of order.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I am simply pointing out what the result of this Amendment would be. If the hon. and learned Member says he is content to take the Amendment proposed by the Government as carrying out all that is necessary, then that is a different matter. He is, however, moving this as a substantive Amendment with the object of remedying a state of the law into which he went at some length and pointed out difficulties and anomalies raised by the 2116 Wilks case. Unless there is some such case as existed in the Wilks case, you must set up some other means of levying against the wife and enforcing against her the same remedies as against an ordinary individual. Unless you do that the result must necessarily be that the payment of Income Tax by the wife would be purely voluntary, and you could not enforce it. You could not enforce it against the husband or the wife, and you would have to depend for payment entirely on the goodwill of the lady, whether or not she chose to pay without any demand being made upon her for it. I am not prepared to admit that they would pay the Income Tax demanded if it rested solely upon a voluntary basis. Therefore, you must deal with this Amendment as it is proposed. The hon. and learned Gentleman has already pointed out how ridiculous the law is with reference to the Wilks case, and therefore I am bound to point out what the result would be of the adoption of this Amendment. I quite appreciate the difficulty. The effect of this Amendment would be that there would be no means of recovering any Income Tax at all from them, and we should have to depend entirely upon their goodwill for the payment of it. The hon. and learned Gentleman said quite correctly that there has already been some discussion of this subject in connection with the deputation which waited upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as a result of which the right hon. Gentleman stated his willingness to consider an amendment of the law, and was favourably impressed by the speech which was made to him by Miss Ashwell on that occasion. No doubt it is desirable that there should be some amendment of the law. We have put down an Amendment on the Paper which I am afraid is rather long, but it deals with a rather complicated subject.
Anyone familiar with Income Tax law as it works, particularly with reference to claims for exemptions, abatements, and relief, and so forth, knows that you must deal with all these cases when dealing with husband and wife. I should not be in order if I dealt with the Government Clause at any length now, and all I can do at the present moment is to point out the effect of the Government Amendment if it is carried. Its effect will be that an assessment can be made, and the charge could be made upon the wife in respect of the income which she possesses or earns in 2117 the same way as against the husband, and all abatements and all relief would be given proportionately to the husband and to the wife, but under our system we should still continue to treat husband and wife as one. That is to say for the purpose of the aggregation of incomes, in order to determine the abatement or relief which could be given, you must treat the income as one income and not as two separate incomes. Any Chancellor of the Exchequer who comes to consider that point I am quite sure will agree with what I have said, because to treat it otherwise would result in a loss to the Exchequer of £1,250,000. It would be a very serious thing to consider the income of husband and wife as two separate incomes for all purposes. It is quite a different thing to treat the income of husband and wife as one person, one household, one family, for the purpose of contributing upon the total income. You should add the incomes together, and then, for the purposes of abatements, exemptions, and relief, you treat each of them separately afterwards, and give each of them the proportion which would be due according to the income either earned or possessed by the one or the other. You must, for the purpose of arriving at the amount of abatement or exemption, take the total. It is for that object that we are taking the total income of the wife and the husband; otherwise you return the husband at a definite rate, and nobody would know what the total income was, nor was it material that the Commissioners should know. It is now material for these two purposes, for the purposes of exemption, abatement, and release, and for the purposes of the Super-tax; but, except for those two purposes, you never get the total income. In dealing with the husband and wife, you would have a case in which it would become necessary to deal with the total income of the two, so that you might determine what deductions should be made. We have provided for all that in this rather long Clause, and, when I come to deal with it later, if I am allowed to do so, I shall have an opportuntiy of dealing with it a little more fully, but, though I do not profess to have gone into it in great detail, I have, I think, indicated the scheme of relief which the Government propose to give. From that would follow necessarily the obligation upon the wife to pay Income Tax. It would necessarily follow that the process of execution would be issued against her. Her goods would 2118 be distrained upon for the payment of Income Tax due from her. That, again, is provided for in the Clause which we have put upon the Paper. I hope that when we get to the discussion of it we shall have an opportunity of going into the matter more fully, and that it will present itself to the Committee as a reasonable way of dealing with the matter. I am bound to state it hypothetically, because there is always the question whether it can in its present condition be proposed in this Bill. My hon. and learned Friend again discussed some views under the Income Tax law, and he said that it would be necessary to have some such Clause as the Government have on the Paper in order to amend the law, because he was of opinion that at present it penalised marriages. I find it a little difficult to follow that argument. I can hardly conceive that the question of Income Tax would arise, or that a lady, when a proposal of marriage is made to her, which she would otherwise be inclined to accept, would say, "Whatever my feelings may be towards you, I cannot accept your proposal, because, if I do, I get into difficulties with regard to the Income Tax law, which I do not like."
§ Mr. CASSEL
I said that neither the Amendment nor the Government proposal dealt with that particular difficulty. I only pointed it out as one point to be considered.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I will not pursue the matter further. It will be quite impossible, as I already have explained, for us to accept the Amendment, although I quite agree that it is a subject which it is very useful to discuss, and which we shall have to discuss a little later on. It is one which requires to be dealt with, and it is one which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has said shall be dealt with.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I think everybody who has considered this matter is anxious to see the law amended. The movement of public opinion outside the House in these matters and the movement inside the House with regard to taxation have produced a problem which might no doubt have been raised in earlier days under other circumstances, though it was not raised, and which, once it has been raised, it is important should be settled as early as possible. The case of Mr. Wilks is admitted on all sides to be a scandal. Great injustice was done to Mr. Wilks under a process of law, and it is 2119 our business to find a remedy as soon as we can. I entirely agree with the argument of the right hon. and learned Gentleman as to the inadequacy of the Amendment of my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Cassel), and I am sure nobody would in the least complain of the right hon. and learned Gentleman having drawn our attention to the Amendment which the Government themselves have put down. Were it not for the fact that he spoke of it as an hypothetical Clause, I should not myself have taken any part in the Debate at this stage, and I should have urged my hon. and learned Friend to withdraw his Amendment so that we could get to the Government Amendment, but, before we part from this Amendment, I would like to have some assurance from the Government that they do mean to deal with this question themselves. I do not profess for a moment to say whether their Amendment is in order or not, but they can make it in order by moving a Resolution, and there is absolutely no excuse, if a remedy is required, for their not doing so.
This Revenue Bill was introduced months ago, and in the very earliest stages of our discussion on the Bill or on the Resolution attention was called to this matter by my hon. and learned Friend, as it had previously been called by Question and Answer in the House. The Government have had the whole of the Session in which to make up their minds as to how to deal with a problem with which they admit it is highly important to deal, and to find out what is necessary in order to put themselves in order. There is really no excuse for asking us to reject the Amendment of my hon. and learned Friend, whilst at the same time telling us that because they have not taken the ordinary precaution to get the proper authority by resolution they may, at the very last moment, find themselves unable to put down the Amendment which they offer us as against that of my hon. and learned Friend. I do not believe, so far as I know, that any Member of the House on any side objects to the object which both the Government and my hon. and learned Friend have in view. I do not think that anybody would desire to take advantage of any increased facilities for discussion if those are necessary to put the Amendment in order, but I do say that we ought to have from the Government an assurance that this subject shall be dealt with in this Bill. It is not right, as in another ques- 2120 tion earlier in the day, that an admittedly necessary reform should be held up merely because the Government do not choose to give serious consideration to their Bill until the very last moment.
§ Mr. POLLOCK
There is an extraordinary regularity about the Committee stages of Finance Bills. We move various Clauses and Amendments on this side of the House, and we always receive the Answer that a very important point has been raised, but the Amendment does not exactly hit the mark, and we are reminded that it it August. It is always August. Last year it was 7th August. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, December."] Well, a portion of the Bill was taken in August. Here we are at 11th August, and the Attorney-General gets up and thanks my hon. and learned Friend for his useful remarks on a very important subject about which the Government have been thinking ever since Mr. Wilks was released from prison, and says that he is not sure whether they are going to move any Amendment at all. He points out the mote in my hon. and learned Friend's eye and forgets altogether about the beam in his own eye, though it is a very large beam. The Government are responsible for the late time at which we are discussing this matter. They are responsible for the Clause they have put down, and they are responsible for the question being raised whether a Resolution is required or not. They are also responsible, if a Resolution is required, for not having put it down. The Clause standing in the name of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is a starred Clause, and we really ought to know whether the Government intend to move it or not. Are we going to have another year during which other Mr. Wilks may be put in prison, and let out just before Parliament meets again? Are we to have nothing whatever done because my hon. and learned Friend is quite unable to hit the mark? It is no answer to my hon. and learned Friend to say, "Oh, well, what are you going to do in this case or that case?" It is quite impossible for my hon. and learned Friend to deal with it at all, but it is not impossible for the Government to deal with it. They purport to deal with it, and yet they do not tell us whether or not they have taken steps to make their Amendment possible or not.
Is the Committee to proceed without knowing what is the position on this very important matter? Are we to abandon the half measure of my hon. and learned 2121 Friend without some undertaking that the Government intend to move their Clause or a part of it? My hon. Friend's Amendment covers a good deal of ground. It would be quite possible for the Attorney-General to accept a portion of it without accepting the whole. The proviso says that no husband shall be committed to prison, nor shall any distress be levied upon his goods, nor shall any other proceedings for any penalty or fine be brought against him for any failure to pay Income Tax. I know that it would not be satisfactory, but I should like the acceptance of the Amendment that the husband should not be committed to prison. It would be useful. It might even be possible to go so far as not to levy distress upon his goods. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer cannot move his Clause which is upon the Paper, then I ask the Government to at least accept a portion of the Clause moved by my hon. and learned Friend. If my hon. Friend's Amendment covers too wide a ground, let The Government accept a portion of it only, but do not let us say that the House of Commons is so impotent in the management of its business and the recognition of real and serious grievances that it must adjourn this year without having taken any steps of any sort in a matter which undoubtedly calls for urgent remedy, as the Government themselves recognise.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
We are in the unfortunate position of not knowing whether the Clause upon the Paper in the name of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is in order or not.
If the hon. Baronet appeals to me, I have no objection to stating clearly that I must supply the same rule to the Government as to a private Member. If a new subject is proposed, it clearly needs a Resolution.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The new Clause to which the Attorney-General alluded being out of order, the only matter which is before us is the Amendment of my hon. and learned Friend. Here is a very important Amendment, so important that the Government have themselves put down something of a similar character, and I really do think we ought to have the advantage of the presence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Yet when that something put down by the Government is out of order the Chancellor of the Exchequer is not here to tell my hon. and learned Friend what he proposes to do in the 2122 matter. The Attorney-General gave no indication what action the Government might be disposed to take, and all he said was that if my hon. and learned Friend's Amendment were carried, then the Government would have to depend on the faith and goodwill of the wife in order to obtain the Income Tax. That is a very weak argument, and I am surprised that so able a man as the Attorney-General should use it. It renders the Government open to the criticism that all they have to do is to put down a Resolution to provide that the wife shall pay the Income Tax in the ordinary way. I admit the time is rather short, but I am inclined to think that if notice was given this afternoon the Resolution could be moved to-morrow in Committee and the Report stage of it could be taken on Wednesday. I very much doubt if the Finance Bill will go to the House of Lords before early on Thursday, but arrangements could be made to send it there by four or five o'clock. It is not our fault that the present difficulty has arisen; it is the fault of the Government, who have wasted all these months when they ought to be dealing with finance, one of the most important matters the House has to consider, and have been dealing with other things which, in my humble opinion, are not so important.
I cannot agree with the suggestion of my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Pollock), because I am afraid that what would happen would be, if the Government accepted the suggestion, and only a portion of the Amendment were carried, we should have no safeguard that next Session the whole matter would not be allowed to drop. It is rather dangerous to trust the Government to that extent. I would trust them no further than I can see them. I would like this to be done if my hon. and learned Friend withdraws the Amendment. The Attorney-General should state that owing to matters over which the Government has no control they have been unable to bring forward the Committee stage of the Finance Bill earlier, and, consequently, are now in an awkward position in regard to the Amendment all desire to make, but they will give an undertaking, provided my hon. and learned Friend withdraws his Amendment, and in view of the fact that this afternoon the Chancellor of the Exchequer promised to bring the Finance Bill in earlier next Session—
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The pledge might apply equally to the Finance Bill, because the original intention of having two Bills was, that the Finance Bill should be introduced first and passed quickly, and should be followed by the Revenue Bill. If the right hon. and learned Gentlemen could give some general undertaking that the Finance Bill shall be brought in early next year, and that an Amendment in the sense embodied in my hon. Friend's Amendment and accompanied by the necessary Resolution, providing powers to obtain payment of Income Tax from the wife, shall he introduced and pressed, if that can be done I think it would be better.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I have not finished what I was going to say, but as the right hon. and learned Gentleman seems impressed, I will at once sit down.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I was anxious to state our view to the Committee at once. I was prevented by the Rules of Order, when I spoke before, from dealing with the Government proposal, and I could not take upon myself to rule it out of order. I, therefore, did not indicate there might be difficulty in discussing the Clause. I agree with a considerable part of the hon. Baronet's speech and am quite prepared to say this. We all concur that the law requires amendment. That has already been stated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. We thought it our duty to put our Clause on the Paper, in order that hon. Members interested in the subject might see what were the proposals of the Government. It is an advantage, at any rate, to the House to have the Government proposals before it, but, according to the ruling of the Chair and having regard to the time at our disposal, it does not seem to me we can carry this Clause this Session. Therefore, the proper and convenient way of dealing with the matter would be this. The Government have now stated its intention to a mend the law. It. has formulated in the Clause on the Paper the view which it holds and is prepared to propose to the House. It is given in a very extended form so that everyone can follow quite easily what the Government proposes to do when we are dealing, as we must deal, with the Revenue Bill next year. I think it would be very much better we should deal with all these questions that arise in the same Revenue 2124 Bill, which is for the purpose of imposing taxation and of dealing with taxation generally and the law relating to it. I will give an undertaking to this Committee that we will introduce this or a similar Clause next year—it may be we can improve on this, for, undoubtedly, the matter is a very complicated one, and all will desire to put the Clause in a practical shape. Therefore, there is no disadvantage in having a further opportunity of discussing the question. But the substance of the Clause is here. I will undertake that that Clause, in substance, shall be proposed next year, and if the hon. and learned Member will withdraw his Amendment, then I will give that undertaking to the House.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I never like to appear churlish when the Government make an offer in response to criticisms or suggestions from this side of the House. But I cannot say I think that, on this question, the undertaking is either satisfactory or creditable to them. I do not understand why they should not even now deal with the matter as it ought to be dealt with in the present Bill. My hon. Friend the Member for the City of London is a very sanguine, confiding person. He is one of those of whom the Prime Minister has spoken as "incurable optimists." He thinks it possible by introducing the Revenue Bill early next Session to carry out the object of the present Clause. We no doubt shall see the Bill early next Session, because the Government has promised it shall be introduced early, and they will keep a promise of that kind. But when will it be passed? When shall we discuss it For aught we know, and indeed, in all probability we shall not get an opportunity of really discussing it until the closing weeks of next Session. Everything will then be rushed, and we shall be told that, like it or lump it, we must take it or leave it, for there is no time to put in any Amendment. The Government have no excuse in this matter. This proposal has not taken them by surprise. It is not an Amendment which appeared for the first time on the Paper on Friday. If it were, there would be very good grounds for complaint on their part. But they had notice at the very beginning of the Session. They have had a whole Session to think about it, and there is absolutely no reason why, if they had not paid a little attention to their normal business they should not have got this Clause 2125 in order and have made the necessary Motion.
It is possible to do it still. I now make an appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and to the Attorney-General that they should take that step. Let them move the Committee stage of the enabling Resolution to-morrow; then they can put the Clause into the Bill in Committee, they can take the Report of the Bill on Thursday, and the Third Reading on Friday. Nobody is anxious to prolong the Session into another week, nobody is anxious to have undue discussion about this particular proposal, as to the objects of which we are all agreed. There must, of course, be some discussion as to the practical effect of the Clause which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had put down, and as to its phraseology. But, speaking generally for myself and my Friends, I say there is no desire to obstruct or place unnecessary difficulties in the way of the Government. It is a subject on which the Government had full notice at the beginning of the Session and they expressed their intention of dealing with it. They ought therefore not now to deprive the House of all opportunity of discussing it in a satisfactory form, simply because they have failed to notice that a Financial Resolution would be needed, or because, having noticed it, they failed to take the necessary steps in time. I suggest there is still time and this is a matter which should be dealt with before the House separates. What is the Chancellor of the Exchequer going to say or do if we have another Wilks case? Should such another case arise is the man to be put in prison and to be kept there, or what is the right hon. Gentleman going to do? It really is not in the interest of anyone to maintain the present condition of affairs. Cannot the Chancellor of the Exchequer arrange to move the Motion to-morrow and put the Clause in order? The remainder of the Bill could be passed through Committee subject to the insertion of this Clause, and thus the alteration in the law could be made during the present Session.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I am afraid that the right hon. Gentleman, if he had looked into the procedure, would have found it impossible to do it this Session.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I am not quite certain, but I think it would be possible to take the Committee stage of the Resolution to-morrow at four o'clock, and after that to continue the Committee stage of the Finance Bill; take the Report stage of both the, Resolution and the Bill on 2126 Wednesday, and the Third Reading on Thursday.
I am afraid that the hon. Baronet has missed the point that both the Committee and Report stage of the Resolution must be concluded before the matter can be dealt with in the Bill.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
Is that so? Of course, I speak without having had an opportunity of referring to precedents, but my recollection is very strong that it has been held sufficient if the Committee stage of a Resolution precedes the Committee discussion of a Clause, and if the Report stage of the Resolution precedes the Report discussion of the Clause. I am confident that if you look up the precedents you would find that is so.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Upon a point of Order. I think I have taken the point which you, Sir, took, that the Committee stage of the Bill could not be begun until the Report stage of the Resolution, as well as the Committee stage, had been obtained. My recollection is that I had a conversation upon this point two or three months ago with the Clerk at the Table, and he told me that I was wrong. My impression is that something of the sort has been done this Session, but I am not quite sure.
I do not think so. I think the Resolution must go through both stages. Before the Finance Bill can be introduced for its First Reading, a Ways and Means Resolution must be introduced and reported before the House authorises the Committee to proceed with the Bill. Until the House has received the Report from the Committee, it is not in a position to do so. I am afraid the suggestion would mean an extra day.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
In these circumstances I am afraid that it would be quite impossible to deal with the matter without altering the whole of the arrangements which I will not say were agreed to, but which were generally accepted as being the arrangements between both sides for winding up the Session. It is not as if there were something which were very urgent and pressing with which we had to deal. This is a very old grievance, although I agree it is not made any better on that account. It is a grievance I shall be glad to see dealt with. When I was consulting my hon. Friends just now, I 2127 was doing so rather with a desire to see if the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman could be adopted. The present situation is just as unpleasant for those who are collecting the tax as it is for the taxpayer. In some cases we cannot collect our tax. I want to have the matter settled. I am sure it is quite impossible to do so now without completely dislocating the arrangements assented to by the House for winding up the Session. I hope the hon. and learned Gentleman will not, therefore, press his Amendment. I am not quite sure whether it will have to be dealt with in a Revenue Bill or a Finance Bill. I am inclined to believe that it will have to be dealt with in the Finance Bill. Therefore we should have to deal with it in the Finance Bill of next year. It is the sentimental grievance of a few women who own businesses of their own, who are treated as if they were of no account at all, and the notices are sent to their husbands, who may have nothing whatever to do with running the business. Some cases have been brought before me. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not force the matter now. If it were something of very urgent importance it would be worth while to postpone the rising of the House, but I cannot ask hon. Members to upset the whole of their arrangements in order to carry this through.
On the point of Order which was raised just now, and which was sprung upon me quite suddenly, I find that I was correct in what I said. On page 560 of Sir Erskine May's book the position is made quite clear. It says:—Before the Clauses and precisions creating such charges can be considered by a Committee on the Bill, a Resolution sanctioning them must be passed by a Committee of the Whole Home appointed upon the recommendation of the Crown, and must be agreed to be the Home.
§ Mr. HICKS BEACH
If this Amendment is now withdrawn, may we get a definite assurance from the Chancellor of the Exchequer as to the procedure next year? The Attorney-General told us that this Clause would be introduced in the Revenue Bill next year.
§ Mr. HICKS BEACH
He also said that he would, on behalf of the Government, give an assurance that that Revenue Bill would be introduced early next Session.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
We have consulted the authorities, and are told it must be done in the Finance Bill.
§ Mr. HICKS BEACH
May we have a definite assurance from the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the Finance Bill will be introduced at the ordinary time, so that the House will have an opportunity of discussing all its Clauses at an early period of the Session? The way in which the House has been treated is really disgraceful. The Government have put down two Clauses, one of which has been ruled out of order, and, from all I hear, the second may be ruled out as well. What assurance have we that the House will have any opportunity of discussing these things at a reasonable period of the Session next year? I hope that if the Amendment is withdrawn the Chancellor of the Exchequer will give us a definite assurance that we shall have an ample opportunity of discussing this and other Clauses of the Finance Bill at a fairly reasonable point of the Session.
§ Mr. MOUNT
May I make a suggestion to my hon. Friend (Mr. Cassel) with regard to his Amendment? I very much regret that the Chancellor of the Exchequer cannot see his way to accept the suggestion made by my right hon. Friend the Member for East Worcester (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) and proceed with the matter this Session. I suggest that if a date were inserted in the Clause, making it read,Provided always that on and after the 31st March, 1914, no husband shall be committed to prison,that will give us some definite assurance that the matter would be dealt with in the early part of the Session. I agree with the last speaker that we have been scandalously treated in regard to the Finance Bill. I am willing to give the Government full credit for intending to carry out their promise to deal with it early next Session. If we put in some such date as that I have suggested it would strengthen the hands of the Government and give us some definite assurance that the matter will be dealt with in the early part of next Session and not put off until just before the House rises.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
I do not know whether the suggestion just made is acceptable to my hon. and learned Friend, but I certainly do feel it would be desirable to get something as definite as pos- 2129 sible in order to secure that this matter will really be dealt with next Session. It is a very unfortunate and unlucky accident that, for the second time this year, a question in which women are very keenly interested should suddenly become impossible to be dealt with owing to difficulties connected with the Rules of Order. I am not for a moment saying anyone is to blame, but it is a very unlucky accident, and it makes it very difficult to explain it to those who are not familiar with the course of procedure in this House, and who are, not unnaturally, a little suspicious as to what goes on within the walls of the House. I hope that in some way or other we shall hear something very definite from the right hon. Gentleman that this subject will be dealt with in the early months of next Session. Even that is not very satisfactory, because who knows what may happen next Session? It is a most difficult thing to phophesy in regard to any Session, and I do not gather that next Session will be an easier Session about which to prophesy than any other Session. If it is at all possible to put in some words which would give some kind of statutory pledge that the matter will be dealt with early next Session, I think that would to some extent meet the difficulty.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
The position in which the Committee finds itself is perfectly scandalous, and it certainly reflects no credit whatever upon the Government. It is quite evident from the speech made by the Attorney-General in answer to the Amendment that he anticipated the ruling which you, Mr. Whitley, have since given. It must have been evident to the Government all along that their Amendment on the Paper could not be moved without a Resolution in Committee of Ways and Means. They surely are not so ignorant of the methods of procedure in this House as to be unaware of that very important fact. This state of things is very discreditable. I understand the present position is that the Government refuse to accept the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member opposite (Mr. Cassel), and that the Government's Amendment dealing with the wider question of the relations between man and wife in regard to Income Tax cannot now be considered this Session. We have a promise from the Attorney-General, since repeated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that it shall be dealt with in the Finance Bill or the Revenue Bill of next Session. The Chancellor of the Ex 2130 chequer described the grievance as a sentimental one. Surely it is something more than a sentimental grievance to send a man to prison and to keep him there for weeks for the non-payment of a tax he has not the means to pay. I do not think the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Attorney-General have gone quite far enough in the promise of consideration which they have made. I am fully prepared to accept what they have conceded already, provided they will give a pledge that in the meantime no such prosecution shall be undertaken as that in the case of Mr. Wilkes. We have a right to expect that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will make a promise of that kind.
§ Mr. CASSEL
May I state my position as Mover of the Amendment? I do not wish to do anything which would disturb the arrangement come to for winding up, the Session, but I should like, before withdrawing the Amendment, to make the strongest possible protest against the the manner in which the matter has been dealt with. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said it was not urgent or pressing. Is it not urgent or pressing that he should carry out undertakings he gives to deputations, whom he led to believe he would make alterations in the law which he said was humiliating to them at present? I feel all the more strongly because this afternoon the undertaking given to the builders was not carried out. Surely it was urgent and pressing that undertakings given by a Minister early in the Session should be performed. The right hon. Gentleman said that he will deal with this matter in the Revenue Bill or the Finance Bill next year. It can be done in either of the two Bills. I think the right hon. Gentleman will find that is so if he will consult his advisers. If again we are to have this separation of the Revenue Bill and the Finance Bill next Session, on the Third Reading of the Finance Bill I intend to raise the strongest possible protest, because it is through that separation we have been prevented from dealing with the matter. The right hon. Gentleman could not have dropped the Amendment under which the builders were to be relieved if there were only a Finance Bill, for he could not have got his Income Tax without dealing with all these other matters. If he will give an undertaking that he will not only introduce some Bill next year, but that he will use all the powers of the Government to force that 2131 Bill through, say, before the end of May, I shall be prepared to withdraw my Amendment. I do not think I can go quite so far as some of my hon. Friends in pressing the right hon. Gentleman to put a Clause actually into the Bill, but I think it would be reasonable that he should at least state some definite period early in the Session not merely for introducing the measure, but for carrying it into law. Of course, he cannot undertake to carry it into law, because that is a matter for the House, but he can undertake to use all the forces of the Government. If he will give that undertaking, I shall be willing to withdraw the Amendment, but something more definite than that it shall be put into the Bill, which will be introduced early, we ought to have. I have had this Amendment on the Paper for two months. I have asked the right hon. Gentleman questions about it since last October. I have sometimes felt that I have been unduly insistent in pressing the matter on his attention. The Government has had the fullest possible opportunity of dealing with it. They have themselves undertaken to deal with it, and as they are unable to do so we ought to have a definite statement that he intends to use the force of the Government not merely to introduce, but to pass into law the Revenue Bill or the Finance Bill in which it is to be introduced next Session.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I do not want to enter into the controversy which the hon. and learned Gentleman rather lured me on to as to separating the Revenue Bill from the Finance Bill, but I should have thought that what had happened to-day would have been a complete justification for the coarse which we adopted. Had I not done so, the House would have had to sit for another three weeks in order to get rid of Amendments.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The only difference between earlier and later is this: It will probably take three weeks now, but if we had had it earlier it would have taken two months. As the right hon. Gentleman knows very well it is easier to keep a thing going in the month of May than it is in August. With regard to the question put me, I think it depends entirely on whether it is the Revenue Bill or the Finance Bill. I do not think the Government could possibly give a pledge that both the 2132 Revenue Bill and the Finance Bill will be carried through all their stages early. That is an unreasonable demand. Our intention is that the Revenue Bill should be introduced early, and should be discussed early and carried, but when the hon. and learned Gentleman asks us. whether we will give a definite undertaking to put it through before the end of May it would be most improper for the Government to give an undertaking of that kind now, and I cannot imagine any Government giving a pledge of that kind, because we should be pledging ourselves seven or eight months in advance. With regard even to an actual date, that is an impossible undertaking. I cannot go beyond the statement which I am authorised to make, that the Revenue Bill will be introduced early, and that the Second Reading will be taken early in the Session. It is the intention of the Government to get the thing dealt with early in the Session. That would not extend to the Finance Bill, because that could not be carried early in the Session. It will take some time, and it will afford an Opportunity of discussing revenue matters, and therefore the House will be cognisant of this question at an early date in the Session.
With regard to the undertaking which the hon. Member (Mr. Snowden) asks, that is an impossible undertaking. It is an undertaking that Income Tax which arises where the tax is derivable from a joint account between husband and wife is to be collected. If you say you will not enforce it, you cannot collect it. It is an undertaking which I think, on reflection, my hon. Friend will see no Chancellor of the Exchequer could possibly give. The undertaking which the hon. and learned Gentleman asks is of a different character. I think I have substantially met his case by giving the only undertaking that any Government could give under present conditions. In regard to the criticism which has been passed about it, it is really one of the most difficult problems one is confronted with. It is not so easy as the hon. and learned Gentleman seems to imagine. It is very easy to ask questions about it and to criticise it and to point out the grievance. There is no doubt there is a grievance. I do not bind myself to the word "sentimental." I say it is a humiliating grievance. At the same time it is the most difficult thing in the world to find a remedy which does not deplete the Exchequer by £1,250,000, of which it is 2133 very unfair to deprive the Exchequer. I shall be prepared to defend that when the time comes. It took us a very long time before we came to the conclusion as to the best method of dealing with the matter without interfering with the revenue for the year. Here is a grievance which I admit and which I promised to redress, but the difficulty is that there are so many grievances which one must admit and the majority of the House of Commons were of opinion that other measures had to be amended. Having regard to all these conditions, it was quite impossible for us to proceed with this earlier for the reason that the Session started very late. Last Session only came to an end practically in March, and this has been an abnormal Session from that point of view, and we have been driven, through circumstances over which none of us had any control, at the end of the Session to deal with a matter of this kind. Starting our Session in March, it was impossible for us to get our Finance Bill through until late in the year. We have already had about six or seven days' discussion upon it. I do not believe there has been a Session where you have had more financial discussion than you have had this year. The discussion upon the finance of the year has been much more considerable than it has been for years.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
No. Even when the right hon. Gentleman was in office. During the time in which he was Chancellor of the Exchequer I think he will find that we have had more debate upon the Finance Bill of this year than when he was there. I give that promise, but I cannot go beyond it.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I think the right hon. Gentleman is right in saying he could not promise to pass the Bill before a certain fixed date. But would he give this undertaking, which I hope my hon. and learned Friend will accept, that either in the Revenue Bill or in the Finance Bill, whichever he thinks best, he will introduce a Clause and give the Committee stage, Report stage, and Third Reading before the end of the Session?
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Certainly. I am not at all sure that the hon. and learned Gentleman is not right. I think 2134 it depends upon the form of our Resolution whether it is the Revenue Bill or the Finance Bill. I will give him this undertaking. Inasmuch as it will probably be introduced in the Revenue Bill, we hope to introduce it early, but it will be dealt with one way or the other.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, after the word "that" ["Provided always that no husband"], to insert the words "on and after the first day of June, nineteen hundred and fourteen."
I think the present position is extraordinarily unsatisfactory, and, for once, I think the hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury) is too indulgent to the present Government. The position is quite clear now. The Chancellor of the Exchequer tells us that he cannot pass both the Revenue Bill and the Finance Bill early. It is most probable that this Amendment will have to take place in the Finance Bill, and he proposes to take the Revenue Bill early. The result is that in all probability this question will not be discussed effectively until the very end of the Session. Who can tell what will happen before the end of the Session? That seems to be a most unsatisfactory undertaking. As far as I am concerned, I should like to see a much more definite state of things. It appears to me that the reasonable thing is to pass the Amendment of my hon. and learned Friend with a limit of time. I cannot conceive any reason why that should not be done, then, whether the Finance Bill or the Revenue Bill, or whether by special Act or some other way, the matter will be definitely dealt with.
§ Mr. CASSEL
I feel bound to stand by the offer which I made. If the right hon. Gentleman says he will deal with this matter to the extent of using the forces of the Government to carry it into law at an early period of next Session. I do not care whether it is done in the Revenue Bill or the Finance Bill. If he has to do it in the Finance Bill, he has also promised that the Revenue Bill shall be carried at an early period of the Session.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
It is obviously impossible that both the Revenue Bill and the Finance Bill shall be dealt with early. If it is possible to have this in the Revenue Bill—and I think it will be—I will undertake that it shall be dealt with early. If the Rules of Order prevent it being dealt 2135 with in the Revenue Bill, it must be done in the Finance Bill.
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ Mr. CASSEL
What the hon. and learned Gentleman says is not quite satisfactory. Personally, I believe he can deal with it in the Revenue Bill, because the Resolution is to amend the law dealing with Customs and Excise, including Inland Revenue. It is rather unsatisfactory to have it left uncertain, and what is still more unsatisfactory is that the right hon. Gentleman tells us the Finance Bill will not be dealt with early, because he is already telling us in anticipation that we shall probably have the Finance Bill in December. It certainly is unsatisfactory to have the announcement in advance that it cannot be dealt with at an early period of the Session. Though the right hon. Gentleman leaves it in that unsatisfactory position, I should not myself be prepared to press the Amendment to a Division, but I feel bound to stand by the offer I have made to the right hon. Gentleman. If the Noble Lord, notwithstanding, presses the Amendment to a Division, I think he is quite justified, in view of the unsatisfactory statement which has been made.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has stated that the Finance Bill could not be brought in early. Why should not that Bill be brought in early as well as the Revenue Bill? If we are anxious to get business
§ through, there is no reason why it should not be done early in the Session. It is ridiculous to tell us, without giving any reason, that it is impossible to bring in the Finance Bill early. We are dealing here with a new Clause which the Government have put down on the Paper to-day. The Government say they wish to move it, and my hon. Friends on this side of the House say that it will go a long way to meet the grievance they complain of. Why should not that Clause be passed this Session? The necessary Financial Resolution could be passed on Tuesday and Wednesday. It would be, I imagine, a purely formal matter if the House is agreed as to the desirability of the Clause. The Finance Bill could be taken on Thursday or Friday. There will be no attempt on the part of Members on this side of the House to use more time than is necessary to do these formal matters. I can undertake that certain of us would not be present on Friday if that would facilitate this business being got through by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. This is art urgent and important matter. Cannot the Government see their way to get the Resolution on Tuesday and Wednesday, and then pass the Bill on Friday?
§ Question put, "That the words 'on and after the first day of June, nineteen hundred and fourteen,' be there inserted in the proposed Amendment."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 88; Noes, 194.2137
|Division No. 269.]||AYES.||[7.5 p.m.|
|Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R.||Fletcher, John Samuel||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Gastrell, Major W. Houghton||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Gibbs, George Abraham||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Barlow. Montague (Salford, South)||Gilmour, Captain John||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Barnston, Harry||Grant, James Augustus||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S.E.)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Hamilton. C. G. C. (Ches., Altrincham)||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Harris, Henry Percy||Royds, Edmund|
|Bird, Alfred||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Blair, Reginald||Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon)||Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)|
|Boyle, William (Norfolk, Mid)||Henderson, Sir A. (St. Geo., Han. Sq.)||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Boyton, James||Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Snowden, Philip|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Hibbert, Sir Henry F.||Stanley, Major Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Bull, Sir William James||Hills, John Waller||Stewart, Gershom|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Hoare, Samuel John Gurney||Sykes, Sir Mark (Hull. Central)|
|Campion, W. R.||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Houston. Robert Paterson||Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc's,E.)||Hunt, Rowland||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Ingleby, Holcombe||Tryon, Captain George Clement|
|Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Kerry, Earl of||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham||Kinloch-Cooke. Sir Clement||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Larmor, Sir J.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|De Forest, Baron||Lewisham, Viscount||Worthington-Evans. L.|
|Dickson. Rt. Hon. C. Scott||Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)||Yate, Colonel C. E.|
|Du Cros, Arthur Philip||Lowe, Sir F, W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Younger, Sir George|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)|
|Eyres-Monsell. Bolton M.||Magnus, Sir Philip|
|Fell, Arthur||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Lord Robert Cecil and Mr. Mount.|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||Morrison-Bell. Capt. E. F. (Ashburton)|
|Fitzroy. Hon. Edward A.||Newdegate, F. A.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Hayward, Evan||O'Dowd, John|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Hazleton, Richard||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)|
|Adamson, William||Henderson, John M. (Aberdeen, W.)||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)|
|Alden, Percy||Henry, Sir Charles||O'Malley, William|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Higham, John Sharp||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Hodge, John||O'Shee, James John|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Hogg, David C.||O'Sullivan, Timothy|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Hodge, James Myles||Outhwaite, R. L.|
|Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset)||Holmes, Daniel Turner||Palmer, Godfrey Mark|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Hudson, Walter||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Parry, Thomas H|
|Bonn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. George)||Illingworth, Percy H.||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Boland, John Pius||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||Pearce, William (Limehouse)|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||John, Edward Thomas||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||Jones, Rt.Hen.Sir D.Brynmor (Swansea)||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Primrose, Hon. Neil James|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Joyce, Michael||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Keating, Matthew||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar)||Kellaway, Frederick George||Raphael, Sir Herbert H.|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Kelly, Edward||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Reddy. Michael|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Kilbride, Denis||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||King, Joseph||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S.Molton)||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)|
|Clough, William||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Richardson, Albion (Peckham|
|Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||Lardner, James C. R.||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)|
|Cotton, William Francis||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rid, Cockerm'th)||Robinson, Sidney|
|Cowan, W. H.||Leach, Charles||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Crumley, Patrick||Lundon, Thomas||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Cullinan, John||Lyell, Charles Henry||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Lynch, Arthur Alfred||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||McGhee, Richard||Scott, A. MacCallum (Gras., Bridgeton)|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Sheehy, David|
|Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)||Shortt, Edward|
|Devlin, Joseph||Macpherson, James Ian||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Alisebrook|
|Dillon, John||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Doris, William||Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Duffy, William J.||Meagher, Michael||Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Tennant, Harold John|
|Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix)||Thomas, J. H.|
|Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Molloy, Michael||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Falconer, James||Money, L. G. Chiozza||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Ffrench, Peter||Mooney, John J.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Fitzgibbon, John||Morgan. George Hay||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||Morison, Hector||Wardle, George J.|
|Ginnell, Laurence||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Gladstone, W. G. C.||Muldoon, John||Webb, H.|
|Goldstone, Frank||Munro, Robert||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Greig, Colonel James William||Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C.||White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E.R.)|
|Griffith, Ellis Jones||Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Guest, Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke)||Neilson, Francis||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||Nolan, Joseph||Wilson. Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Norton, Captain Cecil W.||Wilson. W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Hackett, John||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Wing, Thomas Edward|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis (Rossendale)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Wood, Rt Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)||O'Doherty, Philip||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Gulland and Mr. G. Howard.|
|Harvey, T. E. (Leeds. West)||O'Donnell, Thomas|
|Hayden, John Patrick|
§ Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and negatived.
The next Amendment which is in order is that standing in the name of the hon. Member for Warwick (Mr. Pollock) (Provision to Allow Deductions in Respect of Inherently Wasting Assets Existing Outside the United Kingdom for Purposes of Income Tax).
§ Mr. CASSEL
There is a Government Clause down before that with respect to 2138 the deduction of Income Tax allowed to Members of Parliament in respect of their salaries (Deductions in Respect of Expenses Involved in Earning Salary, etc).
Before we reach that point, I ought to inform the hon. Member that, so far as I can see, the Government Clause requires a Resolution. If the hon. Member will look at Sub-section (2), he will see that while it certainly gives relief in 2139 one direction, it may also diminsh the relief in others.
§ Mr. CASSEL
In that case I must move, "That the Chairman do now report Progress and ask leave to sit again," for the purpose of entering a protest. Here again is a matter upon which I have been promised definitely on two occasions that the Government would propose legislation, and now it cannot be carried through on account of the neglect by the Government of financial business. It will be within the recollection of the House that on a Motion for the adjournment I raised the question of the regularity and propriety of the Government allowing a uniform deduction of Income Tax on £100 to all Members of Parliament. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was forced to admit that there was no legal sanction whatever for that method of dealing with the matter, and he promised to introduce legislation which would regularise it. I raised the same point again on the Revenue Bill, for the right hon. Gentleman had told me that he would introduce a Clause in that Bill. When we came to the Revenue Bill there was no Clause in it. I pointed that out on the Second Reading to the right hon. Gentleman and he told me it was more appropriate to the Finance Bill. I said that I would wait for the Finance Bill so long as I was certain of having an opportunity of discussing it. The right hon. Gentleman said he would introduce it in one Bill or the other. It was not in the Revenue Bill, and now we cannot discuss it on the Finance Bill. It is an extraordinary position. The Chancellor of the Exchequer deals in an irregular manner with the Income Tax appertaining to Members' salaries; then he promises to rectify his irregularity; and then he proceeds to do so in an irregular manner. We have had an example to-day of the position to which the management of the finances of this country has been reduced. They are absolutely neglected and bungled at every point. That is the result of the Chancellor of the Exchequer trying to do too much other work. I have always said that I thought it a most unfortunate thing that insurance should be combined with the Treasury and that the right hon. Gentleman should constantly be dealing with other subjects, and that in consequence the finances of the country are being neglected in the most shameful manner which reflects the greatest discredit, not 2140 only on the Government, but on this house.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
No one knows better than the hon. and learned Member-that it is very difficult to know when one puts down a Motion of this kind, whether it is in order or not. He, with all his astuteness, has been the victim of the Rules of Order in this House almost as much as any man that I know of, and it shows how very difficult it is to keep within the four corners of order in putting a Motion down. On this Motion I shall submit a question of order to the Chairman as to whether it could be brought within the Rules of Order by an addition which I propose to make. My own impression is that it could be. The only reason why it is out of order is, I understand, because it is conceivable that there maybe cases where the abatement would be heavier than the amount which we allow, and the moment you fix an average you are ruling out those who might claim, say, £110 or £120, and, therefore, that would be a charge and you cannot do that without a Resolution. I shall submit to you when the time comes that that would be put in order by saying that where it exceeds £100 the Member should he entitled to claim an amount exceeding £100, if it is possible for him to prove it. That would put the matter right. The Rules of this House are exceedingly subtle and very difficult. Even the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London was recently tripped up on a point of Order, and no one knows the Rules of the house better than he. He knows very well how exceedingly difficult it is to frame absolutely watertight Amendments which are not capable somehow or other of being ruled out of order. I agree with the hon. and learned Member that there is a pledge to deal with the matter, and the moment that this is withdrawn I shall try to introduce words to make that possible. I shall do all in the power of the Government to bring it within the Rules of Order so as to enable the hon. and learned Member to get a discussion on the question which the Government pledged itself to give him the opportunity of having.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I do not know whether it is possible for you to help the Committee at large by expressing an opinion as to whether, subject to the Amendment which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has suggested, the Clause which appears in his name on the Paper 2141 would be in order. I understand that the difficulty arises from the fact that as the Clause now stands some individuals might get a less rebate, and, therefore, might have a heavier charge. Would it be possible to put the whole Clause in order merely by adding a proviso that no individual should by reason of the action of the Treasury, under this Clause, be deprived of any higher abatement to which otherwise he would have been entitled?
That would bring it within the rules, and I think would meet the difficulty which I have.
§ Mr. CASSEL
In those circumstances I will withdraw my Motion to report Progress, but I am not to be taken as meaning that I acquiesce in the Clause on all points.
Motion to report Progress, by leave, withdrawn.
There is a manuscript Amendment to Clause 2, handed in by the hon. and learned Member for Cambridge University, dealing with the income of husbands and wives. It is not so wide as the discussion which we have had just now, but I do not say that it is out of order if he wishes to move it.
§ Mr. CASSEL
I beg to move, to add to the Clause, the words, "Except that for the purposes of exemption from Income Tax, the incomes of husbands and wives shall be treated as separate." This is an Amendment which I have moved before, and as to which I have never heard any reasonable grounds for resistance.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I understood that the Opposition, after taking a decision upon the Motion of the Noble Lord, were prepared subject to that to accept the undertaking of the Government to deal with the whole point.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
Certainly; but this is an absolutely different point. This is a point which is not dealt with in any way in the new Clause and is not touched in the Amendment of the hon. Member. The 2142 suggestion which I am making is a time honoured suggestion, that is, that for the purpose of dealing with abatements for Income Tax, that is the exemption of £160 a year, and even abatements up to £700 a year, the incomes of husband and wife should not be treated as one. At the present moment an unmarried person with an income of £120 a year is exempt from Income Tax altogether. If two such persons marry their total income is £240, and that is not exempt from Income Tax. In the same way, as far as abatements are concerned, the same point arises up to £700 a year. I think that up to 1906 or 1907 I used to move this Amendment in a much more drastic form, namely, that the incomes of the husband and wife should be added together and divided by two. Even to that more drastic form no real reason of opposition was ever adduced; but I have modified that form in recent years. I am not dealing with the question of Super-tax at all, I am simply dealing with the small incomes up to £700 a year. I have never heard any reason, except difficulties of the kind sometimes brought forward by the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, why the obvious injustice existing at present should not be remedied. There is no possible reason why the income of husband and wife should be added together for the purpose of ascertaining Income Tax. If anything, their expenses probably are just as large, and certainly in certain circumstances very much larger than when they were living apart. I venture to submit that this is a grievance which does cry for redress.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I agree with the hon. and learned Member that this is a time-honoured Resolution. It has now become a hardy annual, and I have only got to say, in the first place, that it would cost too much—I am not certain that it would not cost over £1,000,000—to grant this concession.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I do not think that that would make very much difference. Probably the abatement is intended to relieve those with small incomes for household purposes where the husband and wife together have got an income which places them above the limit at which abatements are allowed. I do not think it is fair that they should escape. 2143 If a husband and wife have got £500 each with an aggregate of £1,000 they will be able to obtain abatement, whereas a man with a large family and an income of over £700 would have no abatement at all. I am prepared to defend the system which has been adopted by Chancellors of the Ex-
§ chequer on its merits, and certainly I could not deal with the question this year.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 70; Noes, 193.2145
|Division No. 270.]||AYES.||[7.30 p.m.|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Gibbs, George Abraham||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Gilmour, Captain John||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Barnston, Harry||Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S.E.)||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Hall, Frederick (Dulwich)||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Bird, Alfred||Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Altrincham)||Royds, Edmund|
|Blair, Reginald||Harris, Henry Percy||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Boyton, James||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Henderson, Sir A. (St. Geo., Han. Sq.)||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Bull, Sir William James||Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Snowden, Philip|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Hibbert, Sir Henry F.||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Hoare, S. J. G.||Stewart, Gershom|
|Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Houston, Robert Paterson||Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham||Kerry, Earl of||Tryon, Captain George Clement|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Lewisham, Viscount||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott||Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Du Cros, Arthur Philip||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Magnus, Sir Philip||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Yate, Colonel C. E.|
|Fell, Arthur||Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton)||Younger, Sir George|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||Mount, William Arthur|
|Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.||Newdegate, F. A.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Rawlinson and Lord Robert Cecil.|
|Fletcher, John Samuel||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)|
|Gastrell, Major W. Houghton|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Dillon, John||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Donelan, Captain A.||Jowett, Frederick William|
|Adamson, William||Doris, William||Joyce, Michael|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Duffy, William J.||Keating, Matthew|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Kellaway, Frederick George|
|Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Kelly, Edward|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Ffrench, Peter||Kennedy, Vincent Paul|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Field, William||Kilbride, Denis|
|Barlow, Sir John Emmett (Somerset)||Fitzgibbon, John||King, Joseph|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Morton)|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Ginnell, L.||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)|
|Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. George)||Gladstone, W. G. C.||Lardner, James C. R.|
|Boland, John Plus||Goldstone, Frank||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Greig, Colonel James William||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rid, Cockerm'th)|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||Griffith, Ellis Jones||Leach, Charles|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Guest, Hon. Major C. H. C. (Pembroke)||Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||Lundon, Thomas|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Lyell, Charles Henry|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Hackett, John||Lynch, Arthur Alfred|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis (Rossendale)||McGhee, Richard|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar)||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.|
|Byies, Sir William Pollard||Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)||MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)||Macpherson, James Ian|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Hayden, John Patrick||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Hayward, Evan||Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Hazleton, Richard||Meagher, Michael|
|Clough, William||Henderson, John M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)|
|Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||Henry, Sir Charles||Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix)|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Higham, John Sharp||Molloy, Michael|
|Cotton, William Francis||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Money, L. G. Chiozza|
|Cowan, William Henry||Hodge, John||Montagu, Hon. E. S.|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Hogg, David C.||Mooney, John J.|
|Crumley, Patrick||Hogge, James Myles||Morgan, George Hay|
|Cullinan, John||Holmes, Daniel Turner||Morison, Hector|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Hudson, Walter||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Muldoon, John|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Illingworth, Percy M.||Munro, Robert|
|De Forest, Baron||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C.|
|Delany, William||John, Edward Thomas||Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.|
|Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Jones, Rt. Hon. Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Neilson, Francis|
|Devlin, Joseph||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Nolan, Joseph|
|Norton, Captain Cecil W.||Pringle, William M. R.||Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)|
|Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Rattan, Peter Wilson||Thomas, James Henry|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Raphael, Sir Herbert H.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Thorne, William (West, Ham)|
|O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Reddy, Michael||Toulmin, Sir George|
|O'Doherty, Philip||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|O'Donnell, Thomas||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|O'Dowd, John||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)||Wardle, G. J.|
|O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Webb, H.|
|O'Malley, William||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Robinson, Sidney||White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E.R.)|
|O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Roche, Augustine (Louth)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|O'Shee, James John||Roe, Sir Thomas||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|O'Sullivan, Timothy||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Parker, James (Halifax)||Scanlan, Thomas||Wing, Thomas Edward|
|Parry, Thomas H.||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)|
|Pearce, Robert, (Staffs, Leek)||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Shortt, Edward|
|Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook|
|Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Gulland and Mr. G. Howard.|
|Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
Question, "That Clause 3 (Title of Bill) stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.