HC Deb 11 June 1913 vol 53 cc1635-705

Order read for resuming adjourned Debate on Amendment to Question [2nd June], "That the Bill be now read a second time."

Which Amendment was to leave out from the word "That," to the end of the Question, and to add the words "this House declines to assent to the Second Reading of a Bill which continues the system of taxing the food of the people, whereby the unfair proportion of taxation imposed upon the poorer classes is aggravated, Instead of abolishing such injurious and indefensible forms of taxation and raising the necessary revenue by increasing the direct taxes on unearned incomes and large estates."—[Mr. Snowden.]

Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question." Debate resumed.


In rising to support the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mr. Snowden). I desire to associate myself with the very full statement of the case presented by both the Mover and the Seconder. I think I ought to say that the position they take up in this matter has the cordial and unanimous approval of all the Members on these benches. I think I might go further and say that the position presented to the House is a position that finds approval not only amongst the ranks of the organised workers of this country, but amongst a large section of the people in no way associated with our movement. It seems to me it could scarcely be otherwise in view of the fact that we continue to levy our taxation in a way that is unequal in its incidence and most oppressive in its effects. In our judgment the entire system should be changed because it stands condemned not only on account of the departure, as we have often been reminded, from the principle of ability to pay, but it makes the question of the physical well-being and social and economic necessity matters of secondary consideration. We hold that the position should, be entirely reversed. The Amendment has been opposed from two entirely different points of view. There is the position represented by the Noble Lord the Member for the Newton Division (Viscount Wolmer), and there is the more serious position the view expressed in the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I desire, in the first place, to deal with the position taken up by the Noble Lord. He ventured upon the futile and unconvincing task of alleging the motives behind the Labour party in moving their Amendment. He told the House that it is a window-dressing and electioneering Motion, and he described the Debate as an organised sham fight such as the Labour party dearly loved. The only attempt to justify this imputation of motive was that the Labour party had in previous Debates refused to play the game of the Opposition. In a sentence, the complaint amounts to this—that we on these benches, who desire the abolition of all forms of indirect taxation, failed to assist into power those who are prepared not to abolish but to increase indirect taxation, including the taxes on food. It is always dangerous for one party to impute motives to another, but as the question of motive has been raised against us by the Noble Lord it may not be out of place to say that, whenever the Opposition proposed the reduction of the duties on tea and sugar they were more concerned about providing electoral opportunities for their party than about relieving the poor of oppressive taxation.

This statement finds substantial support in the policy pursued by the Unionist party when in office. Let me remind the House of their position. From 1900 to 1904 the Unionist party added £6,000,000 a year to the taxation on sugar, £4,000,000 on tea. £2,000,000 on tobacco, £2,700,000 on beer and spirits; in all, £14,700,000 to the taxation which falls heaviest upon the working classes. I find from a Return granted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire (Mr. A. Chamberlain), when he was at the Treasury, to Mr. Gibson Bowles, that the revenue derived from duties on certain articles of food and drink, excluding spirits, beer, tea, and wine, amounted in 1895 to £748,000, or 4½d. per head of the population. But when the Unionist party left office in 1905, the amount totalled up to £7,144,915, or 3s. 4d. per head of the population. With such a record as this, is it not surprising that the Noble Lord and his Friends should expect us to replace those who may at present chastise us with whips by those who would proceed to chastise us with scorpions? Before leaving the point of view represented by the Noble Lord, I would point out that the policy of the Amendment is not new. The party declared its position very emphatically and publicly, in 1909, at a conference of the organised labour movement, held at Portsmouth, for the special purpose of considering the question of national finance. The conference agreed that taxation should be in proportion to the ability to pay, and to the protection and benefit conferred on the individual by the State; that no taxation should be imposed which encroaches on the individual's means to satisfy his physical and primary needs; that taxation should aim at securing for the communal benefit all unearned increment of wealth; that taxation should be levied, therefore, on unearned moneys, and should aim deliberately at preventing the retention of great fortunes in private hands. The conference further declared—and this is our position so far as the Amendment is concerned—that indirect taxation falls oppressively on industrious classes, and should be repealed; that the cost of social reform—and in view of his speech I would direct the Chancellor of the Exchequer's attention to this point—should be borne by socially created wealth now appropriated by the rich in the form of rent, profit and interest. The conference also called for the following four points to be contained in the next Budget: A Super tax on large incomes; special taxation on State conferred monopolies; increased Estate and Legacy Duties; and a substantial beginning with the taxation of land values. When we seek to give effect to such a programme, the Noble Lord and his Friends describe it as a great sham fight. But there are other occasions when they regard our position much more seriously. For instance, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Strand Division (Mr. W. Long), speaking at Cardiff on the 18th September, 1909, said:—

Whether we are Liberals or Conservatives, we must admit that in respect of the finance of the country the old Liberal principles and the old Liberal ideas have been swallowed up in the Socialist view which prevails in the Budget. That is not all. I remember during the Debate on the Finance Bill of 1909 listening in another place to a speech by the late Lord Cawdor. That speech interested me very much, and I should like, for the benefit of the Noble Lord opposite and his Friends, to make a quotation from it. Lord Cawdor said:— I want to say a word or two as to the origin and paternity of this Budget. We have heard a good deal of the great labours which have been bestowed upon it by the Government and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I do not question that for a moment, but it is somewhat singular that a pamphlet should have been issued early this year, entitled 'A few hints to Mr. Lloyd George: where the money is to come from. This pamphlet sets out very clearly what, in the view of the writer, was the method by which the taxation of the year should be raised. It says that at a special conference on taxation recently held by the Labour party at Portsmouth a resolution was unanimously passed which set forth the ideas of the party on the general question of taxation, and also formulated financial demands for which the party must press in the present Session of Parliament. The pamphlet goes on to suggest four ways of raising the new taxes, and your Lordships will find that each of them has been put in the Budget of this year. On the back of the pamphlet is printed what professes to be a quotation from Mr. Lloyd George's speech in the House of Commons on 25th May, 1908, when Mr. Lloyd George is stated to have said this: 'Mr. Snowden has made many suggestions which will no doubt be valuable to future Chancellors of the Exchequer.' Lord Cawdor proceeded:— It does not seem to be necessary to wait for future Chancellors of the Exchequer, for here, line for line and Clause for Clause, your Lordships will find the Budget of the day dictated and demanded, not by the Government but of the Government, by Mr. Snowden and the Socialist party. I hope we shall not get very much doubt cast upon the parentage of this Liberal Budget. I think it is clear who the real parents are. If these were the serious opinions of the Opposition in 1909, I want to point out that they cannot have it both ways; they cannot be insisting, first of all, upon the proper or real parentage of these Budgets, and then when we move an Amendment, seriously and publicly charge us across the floor of the House with conducting nothing more than a mere sham fight. At any rate, I am prepared to think that our sham fight has been fairly successful. We shall be willing to do more if only we can force what are called our Socialist views into the Budget of the day as we have done in the opinion of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. My last word on these points is—and I would like to impress them upon the Noble Lord and his Friends—that we of the Labour party shall do our own work in our own way, and the last thing that we shall do is to study either the political or the Parliamentary convenience of the party opposite. Having dealt thus far with the view represented by the Noble Lord opposite, I want to come to the case made out against the Amendment by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. If he will permit me to say so, the speech he delivered against our Amendment neither did credit to his heart nor his head. I consider that speech completely stultified the position that he has very frequently declared for, both by speech and vote in this House. That speech was also an emphatic contradiction of the declared policy of his party, and falsifies the expectations that their own declarations have created. What was the position which the Chancellor of the Exchequer took up? Let me remind the House. He began by saying, "Let the House realise what would happen if the Amendment were carried, the man who does not smoke, and the man who is a teetotaler"—that includes me, I suppose—"would contribute nothing towards the Imperial expenditure of the country—not a penny; he would get his share of the pensions when the time comes, and of contributions towards insurance, and there would be the education of his children." May I ask how this statement harmonises with the policy of the Liberal party? For years, I think I am right in saying for twenty-four years, the abolition of the breakfast-table duties has found a prominent place in the Liberal programmes. There is not a single Member of the Government, I think, that is unpledged to their abolition.

The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Asquith)



The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister says he is. I cannot understand how when, year after year, for I think twenty-four years, as I have said, the National Liberal Federation, at which the right hon. Gentleman has spoken often and often, has declared this to be a foremost plank of the party programme, how it comes that he now says he is in no way committed.


I am not.


I withdraw to that extent, because I find that one, even the leader of the party, does not accept the programme laid down at the annual meet- ings of the National Liberal Federation. At any rate, I think I am right this far in saying that the Prime Minister, when he sat on the other side of the House, when I first came into Parliament, and when the Liberal party were in opposition, did go into the Lobby for the reduction of the duties upon tea and sugar—


Yes, and I reduced them when I was Chancellor of the Exchequer.

4.0 P.M.


I am quite prepared to make that admission. I think, both by their speeches and votes, the entire rank and file of the Liberal party are committed to the abolition of the breakfast-table duties. I have in my hand a list of the Amendments which have been moved to the Finance Act over a series of years. I find that not only have the ordinary private Members of the Liberal party moved reductions, but I find that the President of the Board of Education, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Islington (Mr. Lough), and the Under-Secretary to the Local Government Board, are all included in the list of those who made themselves responsible for proposing a reduction, either upon tea or sugar, in the Budgets to which I refer. Beginning with 1897, every year, with one exception, right to, I think, 1905, an Amendment was moved by the Liberal party for a reduction of the duties on tea, sugar, and tobacco, and I think supported almost unanimously by the Members of the Liberal party who were present in the House when the Divisions were taken. But I would like to examine the statement made by the right hon. Gentleman with regard to the teetotaller and the nonsmoker. I speak feelingly upon this matter. He says he is not going to contribute a penny to Imperial expenditure, while he gets the pension, the Insurance Act, and education for his children, and he must be made to pay. That is the position taken up by the right hon. Gentleman in his speech. Now, what does this mean? What we were told repeatedly were war taxes and that they were oppressive when the right hon. Gentleman was part of the Opposition have now become equitable and just social reform taxes when the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends are in power. What I want to know in regard to the pensions is this: What becomes of the public statement on every platform that the pensions were passed into law on a non-contributory and a non-discriminatory basis. Surely that fact cannot be true. If people have to pay for their pensions, it strikes me very forcibly that they had better pay for them direct. I want to dwell upon that point. I was altogether in support of the Old Age Pensions Bill through all its stages, but I would have preferred, had I known that there was going to be any attempt on the part of the Liberal party to perpetuate these breakfast-table duties for the purpose of, paying for old age pensions and for questions of social reform, I should have preferred, just as I prefer taxation to be direct, that the payment for old age pensions should be direct also. I point out that under this system of finance some of our very best workpeople are going to be most unfairly dealt with. Let me tell the right hon. Gentleman why. He says the workman will be entitled to his pension when the time comes, therefore he must pay. I said there are thousands of the best of our workpeople doing all they can to add to the nation's wealth—the steady teetotaller and the non-smoker—who has joined, because they are steady men, both the trades union and the friendly society, and because they have done so, if they live to be as old as Methuselah, they will never be entitled to an old age pension at all. I wonder if the right hon. Gentleman thought of that when telling the House and the country that the workman receives his pension when the time comes, and therefore he must pay through the maintenance of the duties on tea and sugar and other forms of taxation.

The right hon. Gentleman, the Postmaster-General, told the House, I think in 1904 or 1905, that these indirect taxes amounted to £7 5s. per family, equal to an Income Tax of 1s. 7d. on the average wage of the working class family. In spite of the reduction of which the Prime Minister reminded me, and for which we are thankful—we are thankful for small mercies—may I ask in spite of the reduction whether there is very much difference in an Income Tax of 1s. 7d. arising out of indirect forms of taxation mentioned by the Postmaster-General in consequence of that reduction. Notwithstanding this declaration that such duties as those on tea and sugar fall heavily upon the working classes, we have very little encouragement after the speech of the right hon. Gentleman against our Amendment to hope for any further reduction, or for their entire removal as our Amendment demands. I would like to ask why should the right hon. Gentleman be so anxious to make the working people pay for their pensions, and for the Insurance Act. If they have to pay a tax equal to an Income Tax of 1s. 7d., what becomes of the argument of 9d. for 4d. When in addition to the weekly payment of 4d. now demanded from the worker for sickness insurance, every year that the Budget comes up, and any scheme of social reform is passed we are to be told that it is essential that taxes on tea, sugar, tobacco and spirits must be retained in order to assist in the State's contribution towards the National Health Insurance Act. It seems to me that is a position totally inconsistent with the position always taken up by the party with which the right hon Gentleman is connected. I would also ask why is it that the right hon. Gentleman now changes his position, and that he is so anxious for the working man to contribute either directly or indirectly to Imperial taxation? How is it that in this House and in the country he called attention with eloquence and with force not only to the great extension of national wealth, but to that which is more important from my point of view, the glaring inequalities of wealth distribution?

The hon. Member for North Hants pointed out that the Income Tax exemption limit of £160 split the national income into two almost equal parts. Of the total income of over £1,800,000,000 in 1908, those with £160 a year numbered 1,400,000 persons with £634,000,000 4,100,000 people took £275,000,000, making a total of 5,500,000 persons taking £909,000,000. Surely that is an item that the right hon. Gentleman should constantly keep in mind! On the other hand, the remaining 39,000,000 persons divided the remaining half of the national income—£935,000,000. In this latter class, according to Professor Bowley, there are 320,000 men whose wages are under 15s. per week, 640,000 men whose wages are from 15s. to 21s. per week, and over 3,000,000 of men whose wages are from 20s. to 30s. per week. Surely, with such social and economic inequalities as are known to obtain, the last thing the right hon. Gentleman should hint at is the perpetuation of this system of indirect taxation, even with the laudable purpose of giving effect to the claims of social reform! We are strongly of opinion, and I think the figures I have quoted prove it, that the workers who create national wealth are already exploited far too much. They contribute largely to that wealth without proper reward either for their services or their sacrifice. In this way they contribute more largely to national resources than any protection they receive from the State. In our opinion, indirect taxes are physically wasteful, they are insidious in their character, they are socially unpatriotic. Taxes on food, especially on tea and sugar, are indefensible, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer once said, and I am sure he will pardon me for closing my speech with one of his own perorations. Speaking on a similar Amendment, at any rate an Amendment dealing with taxes on tea, he said:— The Tea Duty puts an unfair burden on the poorest class of the community. The same objection applies in the case of the Sugar Taxes, and it was because of that method of unfair taxation between high and low, rich and poor, that he supported the Amendment for its reduction. For these reasons, and the reasons I have myself advanced, I desire to support, not only by speech but I will take the opportunity of supporting by my vote in the Lobby, the Amendment proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn.


I listened, as I always do, both with interest and with respect to the speech of my hon. Friend who has just sat down, but I confess I cannot follow him in some of his facts and in most of his conclusions. The question raised by this Amendment is one which goes down to the very root of our system of national finance. Really it is a question, when we come to analyse it, of exactly in what proportion, and to what extent, are the burdens of our national expenditure to be spread over the various classes of the community. Now my hon. Friend has said some Members of the party to which I belong, and the National Liberal Federation—and as to that I should like a little further authority—committed themselves in the past to the fiscal programme which goes under the popular designation of a free breakfast table—that is to say, the abolition of all duties upon articles of consumption. I have never committed myself to any such position, and I have never seen my way, since I had to do with these matters as a practical and responsible statesman, to any rearrangement of our fiscal system which ought not and would not of necessity involve the imposition upon all classes without any distinction—I am not speaking of those who are below the poverty line—in this country of something in the nature of an adequate proportionate contribution to our national expenditure. I do not think there is any doctrine morel fatal to the root principle of democratic government than that it should consist of the constant amelioration at great expense to the community of the social conditions of the less favoured classes of the country at the sole and exclusive expense of the other classes.


May I ask what the right hon. Gentleman means by the poverty line?


That is not very relevant to my argument, because I am now dealing with much more general considerations. What is the case at this moment? The hon. Member who moved this Amendment treated the taxation which falls upon the working classes as amounting to £60,000,000. That is to say, he attributed to them as taxpayers four-fifths of the total Customs and Excise revenue of the country. That is what they are supposed to pay. On the other hand, that which they were supposed to get in return was only £39,000,000, made up of amounts for old age pensions, education, and insurance. Is that a fair way of taking the proportions? I want to ask my hon. Friends below the Gangway—and I am speaking with no kind of party feeling, and certainly with no desire to throw any excessive burden upon the working classes—is that a fair method? Let us examine it for a moment. First of all, as regards the contribution of the working classes. My hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mr. Snowden) put the amount at £60,000,000, or four-fifths of the total Customs and Excise revenue. Is that right? Let us analyse the Customs and Excise revenue, and let me take a few items which do not fall, and cannot fall in any reasonable sense upon the working classes at all: Cigars, imported Spirits, Motor Spirit, Wine, Licences for Wine Dealers, Game, and Guns, Licences on Carriages, Motor Cars, and miscellaneous Licences of various kinds. If you add those items together, not a halfpenny of which falls on the working classes, they come to £7,000,000. So that you must begin by deducting from the £74,000,000, the total of Customs and Excise revenue, this £7,000,000, which brings it down to £67,000,000.

Let us carry the analysis a little further. Take this £67,000,000. Is that paid or con- tinued to be paid by the working classes? It is obvious that rich and well-to-do people consume a great deal of tea, sugar, spirits and beer, and if you take my hon. Friend's four-fifths as the working-class contribution, that gives us at the outside, £53,000,000 instead of £60,000,000. Let us look at the other side. In the first place, I demur entirely to the view that any class of the community, working class or any other class, can be treated as receiving no benefit from the expenditure of the State upon the Army, the Navy, and the Civil Service. For whom are those services kept up? They are not for the benefit of the well-to-do classes or the middle classes, but for the benefit of the community as a whole. You may say that we spend too much on them, and perhaps we do. That is a point I am not prepared to contest as a general proposition. It is possible that we do, but to leave entirely out of account as they do, as a thing from which the, working classes or any class derive no benefit, the whole of our expenditure on the Army and Navy and Civil Service is surely an absolutely unthinkable argument. I cannot understand from what point of view any hon. Member of this House, no matter in what quarter he sits, can justify the votes he gives every year in Committee of Supply, if it is going to be contended that expenditure in regard to items like old age pensions, insurance, or education, do not benefit the working classes of this country. The only justification for our enormous annual national expenditure, increasing as it does year by year and generation by generation, or for any particular item, is that it is expenditure warranted in the common interests and not in the interests of one class alone. Therefore, I cannot in the least admit, as a strong supporter of social legislation, and as one mainly responsible for the largest item of it, namely, old age pensions, that you are to set up a debtor and creditor account as between the working class and the State, or that you are to exclude on the side of the account upon which they receive benefit the expenditure which goes more directly into the pockets of the working classes.

Let us leave out the Army and the Navy and take the Civil Service. It has grown enormously during the thirty years or so which I have been in this House. It has grown in every Department, and why? Twenty years ago, when I was Secretary of State for the Home Department, the first thing that attracted my attention, and to which I gave my attention, was a sparse and wholly inadequate provision that was made in factories, workshops, and mines for the protection of the life of the working community, and a very large part of the enormous increase that has taken place during those twenty years in the expenditure of that Department has been caused by the additional provision which the State has made, and has, I think, most wisely and justly made for the effective administration of the law for the protection of the lives and limbs of the workmen. Are we to leave all that out of account? Is anyone going to say who speaks on behalf of the working classes, that they have not benefited and do not benefit by that? If you are going to draw up a debtor and creditor account as between them and the State, ought the State not to be credited with that provision which has been made exclusively for their benefit? That is the Home Office alone. If time allowed, I might multiply my illustrations and draw upon every other Department of the State—the Board of Trade, Labour Exchanges, the Local Government Board, sanitation, housing, all the various provisions which we now make, all unheard of and unthought of thirty or forty years ago, and all of which are intended for and inure to the benefit of the great masses of the people of this country. You might extend your survey throughout the whole domain of Government Departments. I will leave, if you like, the Army and Navy out of the account, though I do not admit that you are entitled to do so, and I will take that which has been the source of almost as large a part of additions to our national expenditure within the lifetime and experience of the older Members of this House, and you will find the great bulk of it has been inspired by and incurred for the benefit not of the well-to-do class, but of the whole community. I hope my hon. Friend will agree that I am not dealing with this question in any controversial spirit. My hon. Friend undesignedly, I am sure, over-estimated the contribution that is levied upon the working classes, and, on the other hand, under-estimated the amount which they received.

Let me apply to the same statement a rather different test—one which has often been applied in the past by the Chancellor of the Exchequer—I mean the relation in the total income of the country between direct and indirect taxation. Ten years ago, when Mr. Ritchie was Chancellor of the Exchequer, the proportion between direct and indirect taxation with regard to the whole revenue of the country was, I think, exactly even, 50 per cent. being contributed by direct and 50 per cent. by indirect taxation. When we came into office in the year 1905 that still remained substantially true, and I can give the exact figures. The proportion then was 50.3 per cent. direct and 49.7 indirect taxation. What is it now in 1912–13? Direct taxation is 57.6, and indirect taxation 42.4. Perhaps it will be more instructive if I translate these percentages into concrete terms, and give the amount of money. In the year 1905–6 the total amount raised by direct taxation was £64,120,000, and it is now £89,205,000. It has risen from 64.1 to 89.2 per cent. On the other hand, in that year, 1905–6, the amount raised by indirect taxes was £63,300,000, and it is now £65,600,000. It follows, the House will see, that the amount raised by direct taxation in those seven years has increased £25,000,000, and the amount raised by indirect taxation has increased £2,000,000. In the meantime the population has increased from 43,000,000 to over 45,000,000. Let us put the same thing in another way. Take it per head of the population. The burden of direct taxation per head of the population, which in 1905–6 was £1 9s. 10d., is now £l 19s. 3d. That is to say, roughly speaking, it has grown by 10s. per head. How does the same burden rest in indirect taxation? The indirect taxation in 1905–6 was £1 9s. 5d. It is now £1 8s. 10d. So that while the direct taxation has increased per head of the population something like 10s., the indirect taxation has been diminished by very nearly, though not quite, 1s.

Of course, that does not complete the account. Take this indirect taxation itself, and analyse its character and its quality and therefore its incidence. You must divide the indirect taxation which we impose in this country into two quite distinct categories. First, there arc taxes upon food, in the strict sense of the word, that is to say, on the necessaries of life, in which category, I agree, tea comes, and, I think, sugar. I have always been a very severe critic of the Sugar Tax, because it is not only part of the food of the people, but also a raw material of a very valuable industry, and primâ; facie, therefore, it is not a desirable tax. Take tea and sugar as food taxes in the strict sense of the term, taxes which fall upon the necessaries of life, and then, on the other hand, take the other category of your indirect taxa- tion, which may fairly be described as sumptuary taxation, by which I mean taxes on luxuries and superfluities which are not necessaries of life, such as alcohol and tobacco. I think I am entitled to take alcohol and tobacco on the whole as sumptuary taxes, and taxes on tea, cocoa, coffee, sugar, currants and so forth as taxes on articles of food in the strict sense of the word. How does the matter stand there? In 1905–6 the sumptuary indirect taxation amounted to 78 per cent. of the whole, and the food taxation to 22 per cent. Now, after the changes which my right hon. Friend and I who have been in charge of the Exchequer have effected, the sumptuary element or ingredient of indirect taxation is 83 per cent., and the other element which falls upon food is only 17 per cent., so that the sumptuary taxation has risen from 78 per cent. to 83 per cent., whereas the other taxation which falls upon food has sunk from 22 per cent. to 17 per cent. I quite agree, if I am to I express my own opinion, that I do not think we are within measurable distance of seeing the total abolition of all taxes upon food, because, although I admit to the full the economic objections, I do not see in what other way you can raise your revenue. I admit, if you compare the amount of the Tea Duty with the actual cost of the article on which it is imposed, that it is a very heavy duty. The right hon. Gentleman reduced it I think by one penny.


I think I could only leave it where I found it.


At any rate, I reduced it by one penny. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman would have reduced it if he could, because no Chancellor of the Exchequer who has been responsible for the finances of this country can have investigated these matters without feeling that the proportion of the Tea Duty actually imposed by the State to the cost of the article is a very enormous percentage. I had great satisfaction in reducing it by 1d., and I would have reduced it by 2d. if I could. With regard to sugar, the last year I was Chancellor of the Exchequer, with the full consent of my right hon. Friend who succeeded me, I reduced the duty by more than one-half, at a loss of over £3,000,000 to the revenue. So that within the limits of our opportunities we have really shown our desire—the figures which I have quoted now show with the most marked and appreciable result—first of all, to establish a fairer balance as between direct and indirect taxation, and then within the ambit of indirect taxation itself to load the balance in favour of that class which is sumptuary and to unload the balance in favour of that class which falls on food. The food taxes—this is the last figure I will give to the House by way of illustrating the same thing—which in 1905–6 were £14,000,000 in round figures on a population of 43,000,000, or, in other words, 6s. 6d. per head, are in 1912–13 £10,200,000 only on a population of 45,500,000, or, in other words, 4s. 6d. per head. That is an actual reduction of the food taxes during those seven years from 6s. 6d. to 4s. 6d., 2s. per head of the population, or about 30 per cent. If you take into account, as you must to form a fair judgment in these matters, the enormous additional expenditure on the one hand which we have been called upon to make for the purposes of national defence in regard to the Navy, and on the other hand the still more serious outlay with regard to social reform, old age pensions, Labour Exchanges, and national insurance, £20,000,000 in all—if you consider those two enormous additional burdens, one of them needed for the national security in what I may call its external sense, and the other needed, and even more needed, for the national security and well-being in its internal and more vital sense, an expenditure in regard to which you may criticise this or that particular item, but as regards which in the whole of its amount and the purpose to which it is applied, I am perfectly certain that there will be no going back, whatever combination of political chances and vicissitudes the future may have in store for us—when you remember we have had to meet in the course of seven years that enormous additional burden dictated by the necessities of the country, and when you realise that we have met it not by increasing but by reducing the actual burdens with regard to food on the great mass of the people, I say that there is no foundation whatever for the charge which has been brought against us.


I have already addressed the House on the Second Reading of the Budget, and I had no intention when I came to listen to the Debate to-day to take any part in this afternoon's discussion. I never had any intention of voting nor could I vote, for the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Snowden), and I had intended to leave the discussion be- tween hon. Gentlemen on those benches and the Members of the Government, not myself taking any part in it. If I rise now it is in consequence of the speech of the Prime Minister and to say two things. In the first place to say, as I think I may, not merely for my Friends but for every Member of the House, that we are grateful that the disorderly interruption [a missile having been thrown by a stranger in the Gallery as far as Mr. SPEAKER'S Chair] while he was speaking had no untoward result. In the second place, I have felt that I should not be discharging my duty if, after so important a declaration from the Prime Minister, I did not at least express the measure of my agreement with what the right hon. Gentleman has said. The right hon. Gentleman has shown himself once again a past master of powerful and lucid argument, and I think that no one who listened to him will have failed to feel the force of the arguments with which he met the Amendment which has been moved from below the Gangway on that side of the House. I do not want to follow the right hon. Gentleman, and I am not equipped to do so on the spur of the moment, through all the very interesting figures that he has given. I accept them from him. I rise for the purpose of associating myself with the principle enunciated by the right hon. Gentlemen at the beginning of his speech. I have said before, and I hope I shall continue to say as long as I have the honour to have a seat in this House, as the right hon. Gentleman has said to-day, that nothing could be worse for our country, or for our national life than to lay it down, that whilst an ever-increasing expenditure was being incurred for particular classes of the community those classes or a large proportion of them were at the same time to be exempted from any call to contribute to the National Treasury.

My agreement with the right hon. Gentleman goes a step further, though on many fiscal questions we differ. I agree that as our expenditure increases a larger proportion of it in all probability, certainly a larger amount, will have to be borne by the better-to-do amongst us. That is a necessity whichever party is in power, and a necessity which all will recognise. But I do oppose with all the weight I can command either in this House or out of it, the doctrine that any class of the community who can maintain themselves, and who have the advantages of citizenship of this country are to be exempt from any contribution whatever to the charges on it. I think it would have been very interesting if the Prime Minister had been prepared to define more closely what he called the poverty limit, but it did not come within the scheme of his speech to deal with that question. For my part I should put the limit of total exemption very low indeed. I think I should not exclude anybody who, as the Prime Minister said, was able to maintain himself. As the Debate goes on, I hope that hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway who are responsible for this Amendment will tell us what is in their minds. As I listened to their speeches their argument appeared to be that a large proportion of our people are too poor to make any contributions to the State. Why have they not the courage to say so in their Amendment?


We have said it over and over again.


That is their argument, but their Amendment does not say that large classes ought to be exempt. I think it ought to say that, if that is the meaning of the hon. Members who support it, because it is always desirable that the Amendment which is moved should raise the real issues between us. If their speeches correctly represent their views, then I think those views are even worse than their Amendment, and I find myself on that point at any rate in harmony with the right hon. Gentleman opposite. I think a good many of the comparisons—or some of them—which he made, are open to some question. I do not mean that the particulars themselves are liable to dispute, but the deductions to be drawn from them are an open question. It is very difficult to get any calculation even of the roughest kind which is trustworthy as to the proportion of indirect taxation paid by one class and by another. You may separate the very rich at the one end of the scale and the very poor at the other end, but what about the many grades between—the fairly well-to-do, and the humble middle classes, who really, when you try to divide taxation between direct and indirect, not only come into the scale of direct taxation, but also come into the scale of indirect taxation, and I am not at all sure, if you come to examine whose case is the hardest under our present system you may not find it is not the class of taxpayers to be found either at the very poor end or at the very rich end of the scale. Nor is it necessary—and this is the only point of controversy, I think, between the Prime Minister and myself—that our indirect taxation should maintain the character which it holds today. No doubt, with the limited exceptions mentioned, the indirect taxes of today press on the working classes in heavier proportion to their incomes than they press on the rich or on the better-to-do. But is there any reason why we should not have some more indirect taxes which, like the Wine Duties for instance or the duties on foreign cigars, press not at all on the working man, but do exact contributions, conveniently and without great complaint, from those who can afford to pay. I do not want to pursue that subject now, though I really think I should not be absolutely out of order. But I ought not to draw that herring across the path of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway. All I want to guard myself against is the assumption I have so often heard that the simple statement, that so much per cent. of the taxation is drawn from direct taxation and so much from indirect taxation, leads to any useful calculation whatever. I would much rather hear what those taxes are and what other taxes are imposed under your system. It is a not unfamiliar thing for a Chancellor of the Exchequer in this House to listen to attacks on an individual tax when it comes under discussion, and in the course of which the spokesman neglects all other taxes, and says, "How can you justify taking 5d. in the pound on the poor man's tea, when you only take 5d. in the pound on the tea of the millionaire?" If that were the only tax it could not be defended, and the duty would not have lasted. It has only been made possible by the counterbalancing action of other taxes, and when you proceed to consider the merits or justice of any individual tax you have to survey your system of taxation as a whole. I do not desire to add anything to what the Prime Minister said in opposition to the position taken up by hon. Members below the Gangway, but I think when a question of such importance is raised, and when the speech made by the Prime Minister was entirely, I almost said of a non-party character, but was entirely of an argumentative and reasonble character, I might almost be open to a charge of cowardice if I did not say that, on the general principle of the contribution of all citizens to the expenses of our country in proportion to their means, I rank myself with the Prime Minister and against the hon. Gentleman who put forward this Amendment.


I had no intention of speaking on this Debate when it opened this afternoon, and I shall certainly address myself to the House for only a few minutes. But as the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down expressed some doubt about the intentions and purposes of the Amendment, I thought I might profitably intervene. If the right hon. Gentleman will read the Amendment, he will see that it is perfectly clear. It lays down first of all the proposition that, by taxing the food of the people, an unfair proportion of indirect taxation falls upon the poorest section of the community. It then goes on to ask for the abolition of the Food Taxes, and suggests that the necessary revenue should be raised by direct taxation on unearned incomes and large estates. That in a sentence is the position which this party takes up, and that position is consistent to a very considerable extent with some of the general propositions laid down both by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire (Mr. Austen Chamberlain), and by the Prime Minister himself. The point we are on now is a very simple one, which can be best shown by this illustration. If you impose 5d. duty on every pound of tea sold over a grocer's counter, that means that every person who consumes it, irrespective of ability to pay, has to pay precisely the same tax as the richest person in the whole community. That is what we are up against. We lay down the proposition that taxation must be imposed with some idea as to ability to pay. That is the principle that is laid down so far as direct taxation is concerned—very roughly, but not absolutely accurately—I am afraid it will never come to that—but that is the general idea that has been laid down both by theoretical economists and practical Chancellors of the Exchequer so far as direct taxation is concerned, and our proposal is that that also shall be the rule when you begin to impose indirect taxation. Why should a woman whose income is 7s. per week, and who by force of circumstances has to depend too much upon the drinking of tea for her meals, why should she pay on tea, which is bought in the London market at 3d. or 4d. a pound, a duty of 5d. per pound, just as much as any wealthier member of this House, who buys tea at 2s. 6d. or 3s. per pound? I do not think the right hon. Gentleman can defend that position even on his own arguments. But with all due respect to the right hon. Gentleman that is the position from which our Amendment starts.

5.0 P.M.

Take the case of sugar. The position is exactly the same, with this additional argument—an argument of which the Prime Minister saw the force—that sugar is not merely an article of consumption, but it is also raw material, and there is nothing more desired in Liberal principles of taxation than that raw material should be free from taxation. That is the position we take up in our Amendment. It is not a question altogether of distribution such as the Prime Minister discussed. His figures are very interesting, but they require very careful examination. According to his own admission they are, so to say, more or less rule-of-thumb figures, and it is absolutely impossible in his tables to separate taxation in these two categories. But, after all, let us assume his figures are right. He cannot justify the taxation of tea, or the taxing of sugar as they are taxed at the present time. We have a double duty to perform. We have to try to prevent hon. Gentlemen opposite taxing corn, meat, eggs, and the other imports which they must tax if they are going to impose upon this country any system of Imperial preference. We think such a system will make matters very much worse, and we cannot see how the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down can hold these heresies, and at the same time, hold the saner one which he discussed this afternoon in regard to taxation according to ability. We shall have to bear these remarks of the right hon. Gentleman in mind when he comes out in favour of Imperial preference or Tariff Reform. We have to resist that reproach, and while we are resisting it we are bound to protest, as we have done time and again, against the continued imposition of of taxes on food which, from their very nature, must press far more heavily on the poor than on the rich. The final part of the Amendment is that unearned incomes should pay far more than they do at present of the national expenses. Even the figures quoted by the Prime Minister are capable of much wider meaning. Take the matter of education. It is perfectly true that if you take the expenditure upon education it seems to be all paid in the interests of working men's children. But the whole of society is benefited by that expenditure. Take even the question of sanitation. Higher rents follow good houses. There is not a single example of social reform which is not the same; even old age pensions mean, in a great many districts in this country, higher rents. The Blue Books issued by the Education Department immediately after free education was introduced into this country contained reports from school inspectors stating that rents had gone up as a result of free education being given to working men's children. So that if we are to go in for a scientific examination of this shuffling of taxation from one class to another then a considerable part of the figures the Prime Minister quoted to-day as being figures of money spent in the interests of the working classes, as a matter of fact, before many months are over, are translated into rents and profits and disappear from the possessions and enjoyments of the working classes altogether—no, not altogether, but to a very substantial extent. That must be taken into account. If persons who enjoy large rents and monopoly profits or large incomes, for which they have given society no return whatever, then in the adjustment of taxation we must take that into account, and the State is in duty bound to put more and more burdens upon those unearned incomes, so that the working classes are not asked to pay twice over for the apparent benefits they receive. I do not know what answer can be given to that. So far as I am concerned I have not discovered the answer, and until I do discover it I think the principles enunciated in this Amendment are good economic principles and ought to be put into operation far more rapidly than my right hon. Friend is doing as Chancellor of the Exchequer.


I do not want to discuss the general question raised by the Amendment, but I desire to refer to a specific point. I am dissatisfied with the position the Chancellor of the Exchequer took up in regard to the Sugar Duty. My contention, and I think the contention of a great many other Liberals is that the tax on sugar is so bad and so vicious that however the money has to be raised the tax on sugar ought to be abolished. Holding this view, I am much concerned at the attitude of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. In the year 1909, in answer to a deputation, he said that the party and he himself were pledged to reduce it. I am not going to quote what the right hon. Gentleman said when he was in Opposition. Everybody knows that he denounced the Sugar Tax in unmistakable language. He not only denounced the Sugar Tax but he denounced the party opposite for not having taken it off. I think that in fact every Member of the Government has denounced the Sugar Tax, including the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. I think every Member of the Liberal party has also denounced it, in fact one Gentleman who is now a Member of the Government, in 1905, went so far as to say:— The Unionist Government was morally pledged to take off this extra tax when the war was over, and in that they have not done that they have deceived and defrauded the people. If they defrauded the people by not taking off the tax I do not know what we ought to say of the Liberal Government, who are more deeply pledged to take it off. [HON. MEMBERS: "Who said that?"] I am speaking of a Member of the Government. [HON. MEMBERS: "Who?"] I will not say. It is the change in the attitude of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to which I wish to call attention. He led the country to understand in 1909, that although he could not take off the tax in that particular year, that he meant to take it off. His enthusiasm seemed very soon to wane, for in 1910 he made no reference to the Sugar Tax in his Budget, in 1911 there was no suggestion of relieving sugar, in 1912 there was nothing except a statement that the crop had failed, and we all know what is in the Budget this year, while subsequently to the bringing in of the Budget this year we had a disquisition upon the ability of the working classes to pay a considerable share towards the expenses of the government of the country. I am a little alarmed at the way the Chancellor of the Exchequer is treating this question. It is very disappointing. When we have the head of the Government describing this tax as vicious in principle, burdensome in its incidence, and unequal in its operation as between classes, I cannot understand why the Chancellor of the Exchequer has not taken it off. It is little short of a reach of faith with the party and with the country. What I really rose for is to ask what the Chancellor of the Exchequer really means. I want to know if the Chancellor of the Exchequer has any real intention of repealing this Sugar Tax—[HON. MEMBERS: "Not a bit."]—or is he of opinion, as I rather gather from his speeches, that the Sugar Tax is a fair burden to put upon the working classes as part of the payment for old age pensions and insurance? That is taking away with one hand what is given with the other. For my part, I rather believe in people redeeming their pledges, and in justice before benevolence. I am a believer in the Insurance Act, but if I had been asked before the Insurance Act was brought in whether I would be in favour of taking off a tax like the Sugar Tax—which falls hardest upon the very poorest people in the country, upon people with the largest families, and perhaps falls heaviest upon little children—or in favour of passing a Bill like the Insurance Bill, I should have said, "Take off the tax first, and let us be benevolent afterwards." Granted that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has given some quid pro quo to the working classes in the shape of this benevolent legislation, what about the question of raw material? The Prime Minister, with that conciseness we all admire so much, said the Sugar Tax had the double vice that it was a tax upon food and a tax upon raw material. We Free Traders are against all taxes being imposed upon imports into this country, but we are certainly most against taxes being put on raw materials. I do not know what the users of sugar, confectioners, jam makers, and mineral water manufacturers, have done that they should be singled out from all the trades to be penalised by having their raw material taxed. These trades employ a very large number of hands, certainly more than 100,000; they carry on their business under the best conditions in many instances, and they are trades which have the advantage of being carried on in different parts of the country, often in the country districts where the hands can live under better surroundings than they can in other trades, yet these trades are chosen to be harassed and restricted by this Sugar Tax. I do not think that is fair at all.

Besides that, there are other trades which almost depend upon these trades, such as box-makers, bottle makers, and, above all, the fruit industry. A Committee of the Board of Trade investigated this question, and came to the conclusion, upon the evidence brought before it, that nothing was so injurious to the fruit growers as dear sugar. We hear a great deal nowadays about putting the land to the best use, yet here we are putting on a tax which handicaps the fruit industry and so decreases the market for one of the great products of our land. For all these reasons I think the tax certainly ought to go. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has brought in Budget after Budget since 1907, when the Prime Minister denounced the tax as a vicious tax. The revenue of the country has increased something like £40,000,000, and it is surprising that all these Budgets have been brought in and yet the Chancellor of the Exchequer has never taken off this tax. I do not myself care how the money has to be found, but this tax ought to come off. I do not care whether it is put on to the Income Tax or even on to the Tea Duty. I differentiate very much between the Tea Duty and the Sugar Tax. Tea is not a necessity, but sugar is a necessity for little children, and it is a raw material, therefore there is a great difference between the two. I do not care how the money has to be found; it should be found somewhere. I cannot see why it cannot be found out of the Sinking Fund or in some other way. A tax which the head of the Government has described as a vicious tax ought not to be allowed, and is a tax which ought to be got rid of as soon as possible. I am in favour of the debt of the country being reduced, but if to reduce the Debt of the country you have to put on a tax which falls heaviest on the very poorest people, which is also a tax upon raw material and a tax which the head of the Government describes as a vicious tax, I think it would be better not to pay off so much of our Debt and to repeal this tax.


I congratulate the Labour Members present on the support they have had from the hon. Baronet. He has supported the Amendment not from the standpoint of the working classes, but from the standpoint of that body of men against whom the Labour Members in this House have a great deal to say. It is quite true that as he closed his speech he spoke of the tax resting upon the poorer classes of the community, but the whole burden of his speech was that the tax should be taken off because it interfered with the profits of the bottle makers, the mineral water makers, the makers of jam, and the confectioners.


They also employ a great deal of labour.


That is an afterthought on the part of the hon. Baronet. He has arrived at that, having had the advantage of this moment's criticism.


I said so. I said they employ 100,000 or 200,000 hands.


I again say to the Labour Members that they are to be congratulated on the nature of the support which they have received. I was very much struck with the speech of the hon. Member (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald), who did not speak to the Amendment and proposed nothing in relation to the Amendment. The Amendment specifically lays down the proposition that there should be removed from the financial system of this country the taxation of food. The hon. Member did not say a single word concerning the complete abandonment of the taxation of food and its removal from the fiscal system of this country. The burden of his argument was that the tax on tea and the tax on sugar were unjust because they fell more heavily on the poor person than on the rich, in spite of the fact that my right hon. Friend (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) had previously said that a great many people, in opposing these specific individual taxes, refused to take into account the numbers of taxes paid by well-to-do and rich people which the poorer classes did not pay at all. I charge the Labour party with not being quite fair to the House in putting this Amendment forward. Do they really mean that they wish to abolish from the fiscal system of this country all taxation of food and all taxation of the working classes? If they mean that, we know where we are. That is to say, that the working classes are not to contribute to the charges of the administration of this country at all—for the Civil Service, for education, for the many charges laid upon the community in general for the benefit of all classes. If they do not mean that there is to be no taxation of the working classes, but there is to be some other kind of taxation rather than the taxation of food, why has not some Member of the Labour party suggested this alternative in his speech? The Amendment suggests the alternative. The Amendment suggests, not alternative taxes on the working classes, or food taxation, but that the £10,000,000 which now is contributed from the taxation of food, which all classes pay, shall be paid by unearned increment and large estates. Do the Labour Members really think that the House can take their Amendment seriously or can take them seriously? They knew perfectly well, however, that they could not present to this House an Amendment suggesting the reduction of food taxes for the simple reason that over a series of years, when we have proposed and hon. Members from that side of the House have proposed reductions in those taxes, they have gone into the Lobby against the reduction and in support of the Government. The Labour party have got a great deal of assurance to come to this House and present an Amendment of this character, which they know they cannot carry, and which, if they believe in, they announce to this country that the working classes ought not to pay—not those below the poverty line, nor those just above the poverty line, but that the working classes generally, who now pay the food taxes, shall pay no tax at all, except those who have sufficient income to pay Income Tax. The House is justified in rejecting this Amendment without any consideration at all.

The Prime Minister this afternoon, in a very elaborate and powerful way, presented the national case for the taxation of all classes of the community who have the power of earning their living, and to that speech naturally all people who are not simply bound by partisan prejudice must subscribe. I want to point out once again the absolute inconsistency of the Labour party, which has been often proved in this House, but never so abundantly proved as by the exhibition of this Amendment. The hon. Member (Mr. Arthur Henderson) said that the Amendment did not express really what the Labour party meant. The Labour party did not mean the abolition of taxes; they meant the adjustment of taxes in fair proportion to the capacity to pay. If that is what the Labour party meant, why did not the Labour party come down with an Amendment which exactly expresses what they meant? The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) put it very fairly. He said it is the duty of the maker of an Amendment to express precisely in that Amendment what it is intended to achieve, and if the Amendment had been carried to-day it is quite clear that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have to recast his Budget. The Chancellor of the Exchequer would be in a position of not being able to carry out the financial responsibilities which rest upon him. What a farce it is! They know it cannot be carried. If they had been sincere in this business, they would have framed a Resolution which would have no binding effect on the House, but if the Resolution was carried the services of this country could not be performed, and the charges could not be met, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have to recast his Budget. There is no danger, however, of the Labour party permitting that if they thought they were going to succeed. It is a window-dressing competition that is going on. First, it is the Liberal party, and now it is the Labour party. They have dressed the window, however, with very great effect this time, because the exposure has come, not from this side of the House, which is considered by Labour Members as their natural enemies, but by the head of the Government whom they support, and who has shown their constituents, as well as ours, that it is the duty of every man to contribute according to his capacity to the needs of the State and the charges of the State. I do not think the Secretary to the Treasury or the Chancellor of the Exchequer need have much anxiety in their minds as to the result of this Amendment. But I am quite certain that if they watch the history of this Parliament for another year, if it exists for another year, these hon. Members below the Gangway, if they bring forward food taxes next year and require their support, in spite of this announcement of their policy and their creed, will go into the Lobby and support right hon. Gentlemen who are responsible for the finance of the country.


I am afraid all mortals are in danger of desiring to window-dress or, at any rate, to look into windows, and I am sure the hon. Gentleman himself sometimes indulges in the same kind of window-dressing with which he has just been charging Members of the Labour party. I regret to learn from his speech that he is not going to vote for this Amendment. There seemed a considerable desire the last time this Amendment was discussed on the part of hon. Members opposite to vote for it.


Not at all. I am going to vote for the Government.


I think it was considered quite probable that there might be one or two voting with the Government, but I thought there was a general hope and desire that most hon. Members opposite would vote for the Amendment. [HON. MEMBERS: "Not one."] Of course I accept what hon. Members say, but I regret it, because I wanted to suggest to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that if the Labour party were successful in getting the votes of hon. Members opposite, I hope next year the Budget would be framed more largely according to the desires of the Labour party. The answer that has been given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and others to the Amendment has been that it is impossible to get rid of the food taxes, because of the large and growing expenditure of the country, and we have been reminded that since this Government has been in office, the Naval and Military expenditure has increased by £13,000,000, an expenditure which would have been quite sufficient to wipe out these food taxes.

Sir J. D. REES

And the country.


I believe there is general agreement with what the First Lord said about this expenditure when he spoke of the abyssmal folly of the existing race in armaments. I am perfectly certain that though we Members in this House may not see the way out at the present time, yet we are convinced that this intolerable race cannot go on for all time, and if the Leader of the Opposition was right last night when he said that imagination was the basis of statesmanship, statesmen, I think, can see what will be the end of this race. There are other ways of defending the country besides adding to these armaments year by year. I fancy that in the last few months the Foreign Secretary has probably done more for our safety than the First Lord of the Admiralty in the last six or seven years, and I trust that nothing may be done now by the Government to prevent an effort being made finally to federate the countries in Europe in one general federation. I wanted specially to refer to the problem that has been raised to-day in connection with the minimum wage, or rather the poverty line. I think the House would notice that the Prime Minister and the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer opposite (Mr. Austen Chamberlain), whilst they both laid down the proposition that all classes in the community should contribute to the taxation of the country, made an exception in the case of those who were below the poverty line. The reason why I sym- pathise with the Amendment moved from the Labour Benches is because I believe it is from Amendments of this kind that we shall be able to get some alteration in our system of taxation for the very poor.

I am sorry that the Prime Minister did not give his opinion as to where he drew the poverty line, and that the right hon. Gentleman opposite was equally cautious. I fancy if hon. Members will study this question, they will find that it needs a wage of 25s. a week, or very near it, for a man and his wife and a family of three to live in a state of physical efficiency. I am speaking now of the urban rather than the rural areas, for I know that the problem is somewhat different in the rural areas. I believe you will find, if you only take the workhouse standard of food, that a family of five with present prices needs 25s. a week. If that is so, that is where I draw the poverty line. I should say that the first duty of this House is to try and see that the people of this country are living in a state of physical efficiency. I should say that that was the first line of defence. When the Prime Minister says that the Army and Navy must be reckoned as a help to the working classes, I do not dispute that, but I will say with confidence that organised labour has never asked for these huge increases, and the reason that organised labour has not asked for these large increases in armaments is because they consider that the first line of defence should be the physical efficiency of our people. I wish to give the House some examples of what happens as the result of this poverty which so many of our people are living under at the present time. There are a million men at the present time, or 12 per cent. of the workers, who are receiving under 20s. a week, and there are something like 32 per cent. of the workers who are receiving under 25s. Those are the latest statistics supplied by Professor Bowley, who is considered perhaps the most conservative of the statisticians on this matter. He is dealing with the weekly money wages of 8,000,000 adult men.


Are the agricultural population included?


Yes, they are included here. May I, in this connection, give one or two figures as to what these wages mean to our country? I take the question of housing. I find that the late medical officer for Finsbury, after most careful inquiry extending over five years, pointed out that the death rate among those living in one-room tenements was 32.39 per thousand, whereas in the same district the death rate among those who live in four-room tenements was sixteen per thousand. It is perfectly correct to say that through this poverty we are killing thousands of people every year, and, if they had more wages, or if in some other way they could be helped by the State, we should be able to save them for the service of the State. Let me give some figures as to infant mortality. In York it was found not long ago that in the poorest areas 247 out of every thousand died under the age of one year, but that in the better class districts only ninety-four out of every thousand died. Anyone who has ever gone into this question knows that this is very largely the result of poverty and lowness of wages, The reason why I support this Amendment is because it seems to me futile for this House to be trying to raise by wages boards and in other ways the wages of the low-paid workers, and yet at the same time take from them a tax which they cannot afford. I do hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whose sympathies with the poor and whose work among the poor we all gladly recognise, will do what he can to look at this question of the large number of men who are below the poverty line.

May I say how this works out in the question of sugar? I happen to know a little about sugar. I know a good deal about the trades in which sugar is used. I worked out this morning what this tax—even the small tax that remains—meant in the consumption in a family. There is an average consumption of sugar in England to-day of about 80 1bs. per head per year. The tax at the present time is about one-fifth of a penny. I reckon a family as consisting of five persons, and the Sugar Tax itself costs every family something between 1¾d. and 2d. a week. What does that mean to the 2,000,000 families in this country who are not getting more than £50 a year? It means the equivalent of an Income Tax of between 1¾d. and 2d. in the £. Hon. Gentlemen say that you cannot put an extra Income Tax on when dealing with the wealthy. One of the arguments used in this Debate is, that if this money was got from Income Tax, it would rather overload the machine, and yet you are putting on the very poorest of this realm what is equivalent to an Income Tax of 1¾d. or 2d. in the £. I really do not think this is a tax that can be supported by hon. Members on the other side of the House, and certainly it should not be supported by Liberals. I want also to show how it works in the confectionary trade.




Yes, and so that I shall not offend the hon. Baronet opposite I will not refer in any way to my own trade. I will refer to several makers of boiled sugar goods. I know something about their trade, and the hon. Baronet will recognise that I am not speaking about my own particular trade. Therefore, I hope that I am taking a disinterested view of this matter. The wholesale price of these sugared goods is in one case something like 22s. per hundredweight, and in the next case 38s. a hundredweight. These small men cannot get more than that figure for their goods, because if they ask more they prevent the goods being sold at anything like present prices. The percentage of sugar in these goods is 90 to 98 per cent. The average profit on the goods before the tax was put on was 5 per cent., which was equivalent to 1s. 1d. per hundredweight. This tax means that a man who makes a hundredweight of this class of goods has to pay 1s. 8d. to 1s. 10d., which wipes out entirely all his old profit. Where you are dealing with goods sold at 4d. a 1b. or at 8d. a 1b., the wholesale price of these goods cannot be more than a certain figure, and in these trades what has happened has been that they have been wiped out by this Sugar Duty. If hon. Members will look at the London Directory, they will find that the names of more than one-half of the sugar boilers who were in the Directory in 1901 are not there at present. I have not the slightest interest in any business of this kind, but this tax, which the Prime Minister admits is vicious and unfair in its incidence, has had the effect of seriously crippling this trade. A few of these people have managed to survive. The Government, and I am glad, are going to schedule the confectionery trade under the Trade Boards Act, not because it is a sweated industry, but because in certain departments of the trade wages are very low in some districts. But these sugar boilers say to those who have an interest in trying to get up the rate of wages that it is impossible to pay the higher wages which the Government ask because of the existence of the Sugar Duty. That is a very hard argument to answer.


You can get your sugar from abroad.


You have to pay the duty still.


I thought you had not to pay it when it came from abroad?


I am dealing with the duty which is paid on sugar coming from abroad. I do appeal to the Prime Minister to do something to still further remove this tax on sugar. I think that I have shown what disastrous results it has in the homes of the very poor, and in the case of many small manufacturers. Though probably only a small number will follow the Labour party into the Lobby, I believe that the Amendment meets with general approval in the country. You cannot go on blind to what this poverty means, and I do hope from the way the Prime Minister spoke that he himself is prepared to look very closely into the question of those who are below the poverty line. I think that they are doing all that they can to raise wages and bring trades under the Trade Boards Act. I do not think that at the same time they can go on drawing large sums from the necessities of the very poor of this country. I hope, therefore, that at any rate one result of this Debate will be that the Prime Minister and the Government will be willing to do something to meet what is a growing injustice. It has been said that the alternative is that a large section of the population should go untaxed. We cannot and ought not to forget that the poor pay large sums in rates. They pay rates entirely out of proportion to their income. Therefore, even if the Labour party were eager at some future time to force this upon the Government, though it might mean that a certain number of people would not pay direct taxation, yet those people would be paying money contributions to the service of the State in the shape of rates. That must not be forgotten, and I trust that the Government will try to do something at an early date to help the millions of people—I do not think that is an exaggeration—who are living below the poverty line, and who, because of that, should be relieved from this oppressive burden of taxation.


I gather that the intention of the hon. Member who has just sat down is to vote for the Amendment, because he considers that something should be done to decrease the taxation of those in the lowest class. I do not see that he will gain his object by voting for this Amendment. We, who believe that something ought to be done for the improvement of the country, certainly are convinced that we shall gain much more by a general system of Tariff Reform than by the somewhat vague suggestions made by the hon. Member. But I rose more particularly to question the whole situation as presented by the hon. Member for Leicester. He spoke of the iniquity of having 5d. per 1b. still levied on tea, because he said that in the case of such severe indirect taxation the poor man would pay much more than the rich. I am the last person in the world to wish to compel the poor man to contribute more according to his ability to pay than the rich. It would be unjust, unfair and unreasonable. But in this matter, as in all others, I think it desirable to approach the question from the non-party point of view if possible, and the House of Commons as a whole ought to consider the matter from the standpoint of general taxation and not merely found a criticism on indirect taxation on the question how it affects tea or any other particular item. If we endeavour to look at the system of general taxation, it will be admitted that under the present system, though it may be true that the richer or the middle classes do pay less in proportion to their ability to pay on the taxation of tea, that is more than counterbalanced by the very much larger taxation which they have to pay in regard to other matters—Death Duties, Estate Duties, Income Tax, and other taxation which falls upon them. That is my reply to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury when he attacked me the other day for saying that Income Tax was 1s. 2d. in the £. He made a severe comment on my statement, and said that it was utterly misleading, and that I knew perfectly well, and that the newspapers that supported my view knew perfectly well, that 1s. 2d. was not the average rate.

The right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that this is a time-honoured phraseology, that every Government up to the present, no matter of what party, always quoted Income Tax as the general rate which is put down in the Statute, and that also in former days there were rebates of taxation just as there are now, and that the actual figure that appeared in the Statute never was the precise average rate, but that it was the convenient and time-honoured phrase which was used to express the degree of taxation which was being imposed upon the nation. Until the present Government came into office nobody thought of taking exception to this phraseology at all. I believe that the reason that objection is taken by the right hon. Gentleman is that it has given rise to a damaging exposure of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's methods of dealing with the tax, more especially having regard to simultaneous increases in the Estate Duties and Death Duties. If you include the Estate Duties and Death Duties under taxation of the individuals above the lowest class, you will find that, certainly in some cases, the tax, though nominally 1s. 2d. in the £, amounts to something like 2s. 6d. or 3s. or 4s. I might just as well criticise the right hon. Gentleman for using grossly inaccurate phraseology from that point of view as he can criticise me for using it in the way in which I did. I should also like to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether he meant by his former speeches that he was going to abolish indirect taxation altogether? Certainly the direction of his argument struck me from time to time as aiming at doing away with indirect taxation entirely. Does he mean that or does he not?


I have no knowledge of the speech to which the hon. Member refers.

6.0 P.M.


I gather that the right hon. Gentleman does not find it convenient to answer. I suspect that that is what in his heart of hearts he would like to do, and that he has been told very pointedly by his superior, the Prime Minister, this afternoon that that is not a proper attitude to take, and that, therefore, he cannot do it. But he criticised me as regards certain financial dogma, and he told me that the precise division between direct and indirect taxation could not be exactly laid down. I think it largely can, and I quoted Sir William Harcourt as laying down 50 per cent. as a very suitable ratio, and to that he took very great exception. If he refers to what Mr. Gladstone said, he will find that Mr. Gladstone distinctly laid down that a due proportion of taxation ought to come from indirect sources. If there is any fear that indirect taxation unduly favours the richer class of taxpayers, I, for one, should be very anxious to prevent that, and you can prevent it by taxing luxury. My right hon. Friend near me has referred to that matter this afternoon. It is perfectly easy to tax wines or cigars or other luxuries more especially enjoyed by some of the wealthier classes, and in that way regulate any undue bias against the poorer class that may arise from indirect taxation. After all, indirect taxation is less irritating than direct taxation, and less inquisitorial. Those arguments have been used from time to time for many years in and out of this House, and I should have thought that they applied to every citizen to some extent. I was struck by the speech on May 7th of the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent (Mr. John Ward), who disapproved of indirect taxation. He said he liked to know exactly what he was paying, and what was to be done with the money he paid. There is a great deal in that point of view. I do not at all disagree with that part of his speech; but he also went on to suggest that, from his personal point of view, it was desirable that everybody should pay something in the way of Income Tax, that there should be no exception, and that the poorer classes should be made conscious that they were contributing to the national defence and national funds, and in that manner realise their responsibility as citizens.

I should be perfectly willing to forego a certain amount of indirect taxation if the Labour party were disposed to follow the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent and introduce a general Income Tax which would make every citizen realise his responsibility, but I do not know how far hon. Members on the Labour Benches are likely to follow the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent; certainly not all of them follow him. I gathered from the hon. Member for Blackburn, the Mover of the Amendment, that he would not follow him, that the hon. Member for West Ham would not, and that one of the hon. Members for Bradford would not. I must take exception, too, and protest in the strongest way I can, against any notion that any citizen should be exempted from taxation altogether; nor do I at all want those who pay a large sum to pay an excessive amount in comparison with their resources and their means. I think the cardinal principle should be that every citizen should himself realise when taxation is being increased, and when the national resources are being applied to a larger expenditure, it is highly undesirable that citizens of any kind should be in a position in which they really would not care one way or the other how our national resources were being expended.

What we really want is a regulated expenditure for national defence and social reform, and we cannot get that if many of those who have votes are not required to pay taxation at all. That is not likely to cause them to impede expenditure; it would make it their whole interest, on the contrary, to increase expenditure. If they benefited by expenditure and did not have to pay, it would lead to a situation where those who paid the piper would not call the tune. What we need is a system which promotes thrift and not extravagance, which stimulates self-reliance and contentment and not jealous unrest. I earnestly hope that when any revision of our financial system is taken in hand the Labour party will consider how far it is possible to follow the suggestion of the hon. Member opposite who advocated the introduction of a general Income Tax, graduated according to means, and to be paid by every citizen in the community. I cannot but believe that that is a more statesmanlike attitude, and one likely to lead to wiser finance than any of the sentimental propositions foisted on electors who would not care one way or the other what was done in the way of expenditure because they would not have to pay. I know that these are principles which it is perhaps not always desirable to make public, at any rate from the point of view of constituents; but, after all, it is necessary to look upon the whole question of national taxation from an independent standpoint, and to draw inferences or conclusions from a survey of taxation as a whole, and not limit it to one particular item or another particular item, seeing that the community, as a whole, is interested in a general and statesmanlike review. I hope that hon. Members who deal with this subject, limited so far as we are by the present Amendment, will consider the matter in this aspect, and not from self-interest or from mere sentimental aspects, which are not for the good of the State.


The hon. Member for Gravesend told those of us who brought forward this Amendment that we never expected that it would be carried in this House. Most of the proposals put forward in this House are defeated. To tell us that it is a window-dressing Amendment, as the hon. Member for Gravesend did, is to exhibit some ignorance of the sources from which we draw our support. Our object in putting forward this Amendment is to give some immediate relief to the very poorest portions of the community, who are least able to bear the burden of taxation now resting upon commodities referred to in the Amendment. We get least of our support, if we get any support at all, from the class that would specially benefit if this Amendment were carried. It is from the industrially defective and industrially degraded section of the community that Toryism gets a large section of its support. We are not, therefore, window-dressing with a view to catching votes; and men of great experience like the hon. Member to whom I have referred, should know that although this is the first time on which this question has been raised in the form of an Amendment in this House, it is an old Labour policy outside this House. We have preached this principle for many years on platforms in the country, and we have put it forward in resolutions at numerous labour gatherings and congresses year by year.

We are not now for the first time plunging, as it were, with a view to startling the country and attracting some exceptional degree of electoral support for ourselves in the constituencies. We put it forward now as part of our financial policy in this House, because this is the most opportune time that has ever been available to the Labour party to submit such a proposal, and we do not shrink from facing the taunts and answering the criticisms levelled against us in regard to some votes given by some Members on this side of the House concerning proposals made by individual Members on the other side of the House. But when, since there has been a Labour party in this House, has any representative and authoritative Leader of the Conservative party made any proposal in this House to reduce any of the burdens upon food? When have we had from the Front Opposition Bench an Amendment to reduce the duties on either tea or sugar? When such Amendments have come from the other side they have come largely in the form of back-bench and unauthorised proposals, and they have been put forward in so limited a degree that, if carried, they would scarcely have benefited the poorer sections of the community at all. What is the good of tell- ing us that we should vote for a penny reduction on the Tea Duty? If we have to choose between voting for that, as has been the case on nearly every occasion, an voting on other greater proposals we wish to see carried, we choose as a matter of policy to support the larger of the proposals before the country and the House. We are not going to accommodate hon. Gentlemen opposite to the extent of playing their political game. We are committed to consistent and exhaustive support of certain big proposals still before this House.

Viscount WOLMER

Will the hon. Gentleman say what the great social proposals before the House of Commons are?


I do not mind entertaining the House, if that be their desire, with even an elaborate statement of those great proposals, which the Noble Lord has in mind no doubt. To take the greatest of the instances which I have in my mind. If it were a question between a reduction of one penny on the Tea Duty and accepting Home Rule, I am in favour of Home Rule. That is the position which has been frequently put before us, and those proposals have been made with the clear object of trapping the Labour party into securing the return of the Tories to power. Hon. Members will have their opportunity when they succeed me of putting their views forward. They had a long enough opportunity, nearly twenty years, of a chance to lessen those duties. They used their opportunities largely to raise those duties. The burdens of taxation rested heavier upon tea and sugar when they left office than when they attained power. It does not, therefore, rest with them to taunt us with not having co-operated with them in the sense I have said, and in a way which would defeat our objects, and would destroy our pledges to our constituents, and that would play the particular political game which they wish to pursue for the time being. We press this Amendment now because the time is exceptionally opportune for this House of Commons to seriously consider it. There never was an occasion when the sovereign was worth less to the worker than it is at present. The pressure of ascending prices, the increasing difficulties confronting the working classes, the increased standard of expectation placed before them to live up to, all these things mean that he has less of the wherewithal to live the life of a decent citizen than ever before. It is computed by a reliable authority that 20s. to-day will purchase only what 15s. 9d. could purchase a matter of twelve years ago. So this period of exceptional pressure and increased cost of living resting so heavily upon the shoulders of the poor, commends itself to us as an exceptional reason for now proposing this frontal claim for the abolition of all these duties resting upon food.

It has been shown in this Debate that £60,000,000 are raised annually by process of taxation upon commodities consumed and largely used by the working classes; but in respect to £50,000,000 of that £60,000,000, we are at present making no proposal, because most of the £50,000,000 rests upon some things that could be well done without, or at any rate, which, could be consumed to a far less degree than they are even by many of the working classes. We leave aside, then, the question of cheapening drink and intoxicants, and some of the other things which may be classed as even working-class luxuries. To come to the necessities, the things of daily need, we say in respect of tea and sugar that the time is now ripe and opportune for taking at least £10,000,000 of the £60,000,000 away and giving this needed relief to the very poorest of our community. In answer to the hon. Member for Aston (Mr. E. Cecil), I would say that he is totally mistaken in his view that the richer classes are paying now proportionately heavier taxes than the poor, and, terrible as it may sound, I tell him that it is the poor people who pay the rich men's taxes. Take away those £10,000,000 from the table, cheapen food commodities to that extent, and the poor people will still be paying the taxes of the rich. They do it from the fact that by their services and industry and activity and daily labour, they are mainly making the total wealth of the community year by year. Owing to industrial and social conditions, and personal ownership and control of property and of the machines and tools for making wealth, those who make the wealth do not get their full and fair proportion. So that before the workman has got his meed from the pay-box, he has left behind sufficient always to meet the needs of the rich, and to make it an easy job for them to pay whatever burden of taxation has yet been imposed.

The Amendment must at least have a word said in its favour, for it does what other proposals have avoided when sub- mitted to this House. It does not merely propose the remission of taxation and tell the Chancellor of the Exchequer to find the money as best he can, and that it is his business to do so, but it proposes and names special alternative sources of revenue. It asks you to find the £10,000,000 by taking more and more than you now do from unearned incomes and from large estates. Is there any man in this House who will rise in the course of this Debate and say that a man who has not earned an income has a right to it all. If you ask us what we mean, we say there is now a revenue definition of unearned income, and that it is quite an easy matter to ascertain definitely what the Labour party means when it speaks of incomes that are not earned. I say that we are strongly in favour of placing a far heavier burden upon those whose sources of wealth are not the outcome of personal service and industry, but whose wealth is a privilege and enjoyment accruing automatically to them without scarcely any personal endeavour or service. We were told when the Chancellor of the Exchequer some years ago proposed certain additional burdens in connection with landed estates that they would immensely suffer if those burdens had to be borne and that trade would be ruined, and that rich men would leave the country, and that all manner of other dire consequences would surely follow. A little time has again disproved all those prophecies of what would happen, and indeed we have had in the past two and a half years a period of the most exceptional trade prosperity and even further enrichment of the classes aimed at by this particular Amendment. The income assessable to taxes now is £63,000,000 more than it was three years ago. The rich are not living any cheaper; they are not practising thrift in the sense that they are sacrificing to saving.

I know nothing from personal experience, but I have some little faculty of observation, and all the signs show that the rich are not living at any cheaper rate than they were three years ago. If any hon. Gentleman tells me that these increased sources of wealth to the rich are due to their thrift and to their sacrifices to saving, let me tell him that I shall struggle to believe him, but I can assure him it will be a very difficult undertaking in face of all the forms of extravagance which are common knowledge to us all, so that we cannot be expected to believe that they are in any sense sacrificing to saving. I have put it to the House that this is an exceptional opportunity for proposing this Amendment. We are willing, of course, and we rejoice at being able to admit that during the term of office of the Government, it has done something to diminish the burden of taxation upon the poor. What it has done has been outdone by other agencies at work which have caused this extraordinary pressure upon the incomes of the poor people to whom we allude. Our position as a party, I say to the hon. Gentleman who last addressed the House, is this: That all people should be taxed who can afford to pay taxes, and that those who clearly and admittedly stand at the subsistence level should be free of any of those national burdens that can be rightly placed upon the shoulders of those able to bear them. Why did you give a State contribution to insure poor people for conditions of illness? It was because they cannot pay the whole of it themselves. Why have you provided pensions absolutely and fully through the State for poor people? It was because you recognised the right of the old folks to have a claim on the State. You provide costly and enormous workhouses, workhouses which, I suppose, at least one man in this country is immensely proud of. You do so at enormous expense. Why do you do those things? It is because you admit that it is the right and duty of the State to come to the assistance of those who cannot help themselves. We say these people are unable to meet and make the sacrifice of paying so heavily for the food made dear as it is by the weight of taxation resting upon it. That is the reason why we shall go from this House after this Amendment has been defeated, as probably it will be, and seek to secure the public opinion that in the end will carry such an Amendment to success. This Amendment will go through the experience of all good proposals. Many men will laugh at it now, and a little later will seriously attend to it, and ultimately it will become law; for it is certain that a point will be reached where this poor section, unable to make sacrifices to a community, all better fitted than they are, will not tolerate your claim that they ought to bear a burden to meet the cost of Empire, in which they know little or nothing but sadness and labour.


The latter part of the remarks of the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken do not at any rate coincide with the views laid before this House by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on Monday week. The hon. Gentleman pointed out that old age pensions and contributions under the Insurance Act have been given to the people because they were unable to afford them themselves, whereas the Chancellor of the Exchequer in that speech justified the retention of these food taxes on the ground that those people were contributing to the taxation of the country, and that they were paying for the public services that they enjoy. I shall come to one or two points referred to by the hon. Member, but I want first of all to make a reference to the very important statement which has been made to-day by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister's speech to-day, following upon the remarks made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his speech of last Monday week, make it abundantly clear to everybody in this House and to the country at large that it is no longer the policy of the Liberal party to advocate a free breakfast table and the free food, which has been such a matter of controversy in the constituencies at the last three elections. One can only wonder why it has taken the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer seven years while this controversy has been going on, before they told the House of Commons and the country plainly that it is not, and is not, going to be any longer part and parcel of the Liberal policy. The Prime Minister laid down in very general terms a principle which, I confess, I very largely agree with, and that was that people who are able to earn their own living should contribute adequately to the taxation of the country. But the Prime Minister said that it was not relevant to this Debate to go into the question of what was the poverty line. In my opinion, that is absolutely the basis of the principle to which he referred. I agree that working people who are able to earn their own living should pay some fair contribution towards the expenditure of the country. But we have in this country large numbers of people who cannot in any fair sense be described as able to earn their own living. We hear to-day of men in the Midlands who earn only 18s. for a week's work as labourers in the iron trade. Nobody will suggest that a good proportion of those men do not give a very solid and fair week's work for the 18s. On the other hand, we all know that, having regard to the cost of living, those men are not in a position on such a wage to contribute a single penny to the taxation of the country. As long as you have people like that in the land, no party ought to expect or to allow them to contribute as they are doing. But the irony of the whole position is that, in proportion to their income, these very people who ought to be exempted, are contributing a larger proportion of their earnings than any other class of the community. To that extent I agree that we want to find some means, if possible, of getting rid of these taxes on food. There was another point mentioned by the Prime Minister on which I join issue with him. He made a statement to the effect that the amount raised by food taxes was on the downward grade. That is not true. The actual amount raised in 1911–12 was greater than in any of the three previous years. I have here a short quotation from the Labour party's paper, the "Daily Citizen," of the 17th January, when it went into the whole of this question:— Under a Liberal Government with its election plank of a free breakfast table, there has actually been an increase of well over £500,000 in food taxes in two years, and that during a time when the price of food has very much increased. This is nothing short of a national scandal. That statement I believe to be absolutely true and borne out by the figures. My desire to speak on this occasion has largely arisen from the fact that when the Chancellor of the Exchequer was speaking last Monday week, certain Members on this side, of whom I plead to be one of the most guilty, were interrupting him and showing a great deal of irritation. It is only right that, having the opportunity, I should attempt to justify the feeling which I exhibited on that occasion. The Chancellor of the Exchequer opened that speech, which, bearing in mind the particular views that he expressed, everybody recognises was an extremely important one, by pointing out how cheap was this method of moving a reduction of taxation and then going to the constituencies and taking credit for it by saying, "Look at the taxes that we proposed to abolish!" That was not a very kind criticism to level against his supporters below the Gangway, who alone are responsible for moving this Amendment. But contrast this with what many of us have had to face in the constituencies ever since the year 1906. Can the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his own conscience say that this cheap method of dealing with political problems in the constituencies is not one of which his own party have been at least as guilty as any Member on this side of the House? On 28th December, 1905, he himself, speaking at Bangor, said:— It is wicked folly that men should make a Political gamble with the cupboard of the poor. That is perfectly true. He intended to direct that remark particularly to the Unionist party, but I think he should bear in mind that for the last seven years his own supporters have been appealing to the people very largely on the cry of a free breakfast table, and pointing out that if they supported the Unionist party they would be voting in favour of an increase in the cost of all the necessaries of life. I do not believe that the Chancellor of the Exchequer can be ignorant of Leaflet No. 2029, published in 1906 by the Liberal Publication Department, which concludes with these words:— If you return the Tories to power you will find that all the necessaries of life will go up in price. The next point made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer was when, referring to the speech of my Noble Friend the Member for the Newton Division (Viscount Wolmer), he said:— Thus we have a new policy from Lancashire—a tariff of 20 per cent. We on these benches were naturally irritated by that remark, because unfortunately these statements get quoted throughout the length and breadth of the land at a time when it is impossible to contradict them. But that statement was purely the imagination of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as I can prove, not by the views of any Member on this side, but entirely by the views of his own party. He followed that statement by these words:— I venture to say that without at least a tariff of 17 per cent. on foreign manufactured goods you would not get £10,000,000. If the right hon. Gentleman will turn back to the issue of the "Daily Chronicle" on the 5th April last, he will find these words:— Twenty million pounds is roughly the amount which would be derived from duties by such an arrangement as Captain Tryon proposed in the House of Commons during the Tariff Reform Debate the other evening. He might even appeal to an hon. Member who has the confidence of most Members on both sides in matters of statistics, the hon. Member for East Northampton (Mr. Chiozza Money), who has made this statement:— It is no answer to the Tariff Reform argument to say that we cannot get revenue from protective duties. We can very easily do so. Ten per cent. on manufactured goods would yield £13,000,000 or so a year—a great part of the sum required. There is no question the Treasury would get its revenue. Knowing these views of the right hon. Gentleman's supporters, we on this side who hold very strong opinions on the subject, naturally felt a good deal of resentment when we heard the suggestion from so high and responsible a source that a tariff of at least 20 per cent. would be required to find the money.

The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Lloyd George)

Fifteen per cent.


There was one particular statement repeated several times which I think requires a proper explanation. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said:— We have reduced by £5,000,000 at least the taxation which we denounced when out of office. I am glad to have the admission that he did denounce these taxes. The statement is not without its element of truth, but there is another side to it, as I shall show. The statement is only half the truth. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was referring to the rate of the taxes, a point that was very forcibly put before the House by the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Snowden), who said:— It is not whether the tax upon tea is less per pound than it was seven years ago. The point is, what is the total amount being paid in taxation by the working classes. The amount which is being paid in taxes by the working people of the country is very much higher to-day than it was when the Government assumed office. The £5,000,000 reduction to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer referred is, I believe, entirely made up by the reduction of the Sugar Duty in 1908.


And tea.


That is true: I had overlooked that. I want, however, to point out a very interesting and curious fact, namely, that when the Sugar Tax was reduced in 1908 from 4s. 2d. to 1s. 10d. it did not have the effect, as one would naturally have anticipated, of modifying the burden and reducing the price of sugar. The actual fact in this case is that, taking Sauerbeck's average prices, £6,000,000 or £7,000,000 more has been paid for sugar since the tax was taken off than was paid before 1908. This is not due to the law of supply and demand, as I have often been assured. In the year 1911, for example, we imported 5,500,000 cwts. more than we did in 1908, when the duty was reduced, and yet in every year since 1908 the wholesale price has increased.


Not since the Brussels Convention was denounced.


I beg to differ from the right hon. Gentleman. I know that he is an authority on the subject, but I feel safe in contradicting him when I have before me the figures from the 59th Statistical Abstract. In 1908 Sauerbeck's average price, which I believe is the wholesale price, was 9s. 9d.; 1909, 10s. 3d.; 1910, 11s.; 1911 is not given.


1912 shows a great reduction.


I was not aware of that. These are the latest Government figures at my disposal. I am very glad if the fact is as the right hon. Gentleman states. Still, will he explain to me how in each of the years 1909 and 1910, with an increased importation and with the duty reduced from 4s. 2d. to 1s. 10d., the price has gone up? It is a very curious fact which I, at any rate, cannot explain, except on the supposition that there is some agreement or trust manipulating the prices. Hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway constantly tell us that the monopolist capitalists are always combining to take advantage of and rob the people of any advantage of reduced taxation; or they say, on the other hand, that if 5 per cent. is put on, the monopolists and the trust magnates increase the price by at least 7 per cent. to make up for it. I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, at any rate, to believe that when we interrupted him the other night we had some justification for our interruptions. There is one other point which I would like to mention in passing, because I think some useful information might be given to the House on the subject. The Chancellor of the Exchequer went on to say we were the lightest food-taxed country of any of the leading countries. He said:— The taxation of food in this country is less than that in any other great country in the world. The taxation of food in this country is £10,000,000, in the United States £14,000,000, in France £16,000,000, and in Germany £30,000,000. In the first place, the right hon. Gentleman omitted to point out this fact, that this £14,000,000 in the United States, while it is a burden upon the people, is a burden that is borne by double the number of people to what it is here—that, of course does make a great difference to the statement. When we come to Germany, I admit I am in some difficulty in really being able to throw any further light upon the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for this reason: that the latest figures I have been able to get of Germany from any Government Blue Book are the averages for the years 1905–8. The average of these years of the taxation of food, drink and tobacco in Germany is £25,000,000.


What is that date?


I have the figures here. They are the average annual income on the total imports of food, drink and tobacco. I will give the whole of the figures if the right hon. Gentleman wishes it for the years 1905–8. The average annual value of total of food, drink and tobacco is £118,614,000, of dutiable imports £108,667,000, and the average annual amount of duty collected is £24,922,000. That is the amount for drink and tobacco, as well as food. There is £15,000,000 raised by Customs in this country on food, drink, and tobacco. That is the point. I am for the moment speaking of Customs, and not of Excise. I have only the Customs figures for Germany, and I say they raise roughly £25,000,000 on food, drink, and tobacco. When the right hon. Gentleman gave us the figure of £30,000,000, I think I am safe in saying that that figure included drink and tobacco, which ought to have been mentioned, whereas the figure in the case of the United Kingdom, namely £10,000,000 or so, was food only. I want to say one or two words on the broad principle of this Amendment before the House. We have had from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, backed up by the Prime Minister to-day, the statement that the retention of the food duties is necessary. We have had it that it is not only a necessary but a proper policy for this country to follow in order to make the people contribute to the taxation of the country. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says that the food taxes must stand because the working man has political power, and that he must pay at any rate some fair proportion.


I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman in his interesting speech, but I did not say that the food taxes must stand. My contention was that the working man ought to contribute towards the taxation of the country, and that until there is a fair substitute for raising the same contribution out of the working man, then the food taxes would have to stand; and that until there was another and better method of raising the contribution.


I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for making that statement, because it is quite true, as he says, that his statement was as he puts it. But I think there is nothing in his speech in regard to the latter part of what he has just said.




Then I withdraw that statement altogether, but I was thinking, when the right hon. Gentleman was making that statement, that we were going on a new basis upon which political power in this country was to be given to the people: Is political power, whether by this method or any other, to depend upon the contribution that a man makes to the expenditure of the country? On that basis are you going to give a rich man a hundred votes or a hundred times the political power if he pays a hundred times the amount of taxation? Otherwise I fail to see any logic in the principle that is there laid down. Further, I would like to ask, if that line is to be taken, what becomes of the duties of citizenship? What becomes of democracy? What becomes of the principle, which I believe both sides of the House adhere to, that we should tax people according to their ability to pay? That is a principle I would always have in mind. I believe it is a sound one. I think we are all agreed upon it. If it is true, I do, in support of a good many of the remarks that have fallen from the Labour Benches, want to impress on the Chancellor of the Exchequer—for, after all, only someone in his position can work out a scheme for dealing with this matter—ordinary Members cannot do it; they have not the means—the fact, and I do ask him to realise it, that the burden on so many people in this country as regards taxation and the cost of living is greater than we have a right, to impose upon them.

I think it is interesting here to point out a fact which has never been put in the concrete form in which I am going to put it. In his speech in this House, on 13th March, the hon. Member for Blackburn referred to the value of a sovereign, and he stated—rightly or wrongly—that the sovereign to-day was not worth more than about 14s. I find in the "Daily News" of 20th February of this year that the hon. Member for East Northants, dealing with the same subject, laid it down that the sovereign had deprecated to 16s. 3d. The period taken by the hon. Member for Blackburn was, I think, five years, while it was fifteen years in the case of the "Daily News" article. I cannot be very far wrong, therefore, if I take the figures at 16s. That will be on the safe side. That means a depreciation in the earnings of the working people of this country of 20 per cent. We know, further, from the Census of Production in 1907, that about £800,000,000 is paid out weekly in wages. If you take 20 per cent. off that £800,000,000, or any other approximate figure, you get £100,000,000, or £160,000,000 reduction in the spending power of the working people. Against that, I admit you must put any general increases that have been made during the last few years. But nobody will think that any increases of wages will touch anything like £50,000,000, let alone £100,000,000 or £160,000,000. I will not go any further into these figures, but I do think that it is an interesting way of looking at the burdens of the people to-day, for they—rightly or wrongly—believe—they do in the Midlands, anyhow—that their burdens are getting greater than they are able to bear. There is a feeling amongst working people that something has got to be done by way of increasing their earning capacity, preferably by employers of labour, by capitalists, and those who have the means, rather than that they should turn to Parliament for redress.

My concluding remarks, having regard to the Amendment before the House, are that I have a great deal of sympathy with the principle of getting rid of these food taxes altogether, especially as they serve no purpose. I cannot suggest here, and I am not going to do it, what we could do under another system for the Empire, and especially for the workpeople in this country by a particular system of taxation. These food taxes do no good to anybody. They are indirect taxes, and I do say that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be, in my opinion, acting in a right and proper manner and agreeably to the interests of this country, if so soon as he can find the means of raising the money in some other direction that is good as a whole for the community, he will free this country from these food taxes. I believe that would be an action that would meet with approval from both sides of the House. I do say this in conclusion, that one does regret—and I have made this remark more than once, that the Labour party have found it necessary in putting an Amendment like this before the House—we all know that is is due to the political system under which we are working, it is not their fault it is rather the fault of the party system—to find it necessary to go out of their way to scheme some trick by which they can put wording into the Amendment that prevents us voting with them. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Hon. Members on the Labour benches may smile at that statement, but will they deny it? If they do, I challenge them to leave out the latter part of the Amendment, and see what will happen!


The Prime Minister, in the remarks that he made, which we listened to with very great interest, has given a record of what the Government has done in regard to the finances of the country, and the reduction of taxation. He asked, "Is not that a good record?" I am perfectly certain there is not a Member on this side of the House, or on the Labour Benches that is not proud of the Prime Minister and of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for the way in which they have managed the finances of the country. Therefore, anything we happen to say in regard to this Amendment, I hope will not be taken as any indication that we are dissatisfied with what they have done. I do not think we can be dissatisfied, when in point of fact every Chancellor of the Exchequer in Europe is proud of the present Prime Minister and Chancellor. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Well, the Chancellor of Germany made a very special reference to the time when the Prime Minister was Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I can give some quotations if necessary. But I can say what has been done. Take the year 1910. France had then a deficit of eight millions, Germany a deficit of ten millions, Russia of nine millions, and the United States of twelve millions. Where were we? We had a handsome surplus. If that does not prove the advantage of our financial arrangements made by, first of all, the present Prime Minister, and then by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I do not know what will. Therefore, so far as I am concerned, I wish to tender them my thanks for what they have done in the past. But I am bound to say that the speeches which have been delivered by the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer have given many of us on this side of the House very great concern. The Prime Minister said that he has not pledged himself to a free breakfast, table. That may be true. There is no man more careful about his pledges than the Prime Minister. What is certain is that if he makes a pledge, he will stick to it. But a great many other men on this side of the House have given pledges. Let me read the speeches of one or two hon. Gentlemen before the Liberal party came into office. The President of the Board of Trade in 1904, when the Tea Tax was increased from 6d. to 8d., said:— It would practically deprive these people of tea for one day in the week. The object the Opposition (that was the Liberal party) had in view, was to revert to the position that we were in not many years ago, when we got very near a free breakfast table. He hoped before long public opinion would be so advanced as to enable them to do so. The late Lord Chancellor, also in 1904, said:— It was a tax which pressed really upon the poorest of the poor in the country. It fell mainly upon poor widows with children, and upon those who were hardly able to find subsistence for themselves. 7.0 P.M.

The Secretary for War also denounced the tax, and, therefore, whatever the Prime Minister himself has done, I think the party as a whole is committed to give a free breakfast table. Before 1906, and during the time that the great controversy was going on in the country on Free Trade, I made perhaps more speeches on Free Trade than any other man. I was free to do so, because I had just retired from business, and during the whole of that time I denounced the taxes on food. There is one quotation from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham which I should like to give:— I suggest it would be some compensation to the poorest of the poor if a reduction was made in the cost of tea through any increase that might have to be put on some other article. All the speeches delivered, including those of the Prime Minister during that great campaign, were denunciations of the taxes upon food, and every argument which went to show the inadvisability of putting a tax, however small, upon wheat applies equally to taxes upon tea and sugar. I hold, therefore, we are pledged in every sense—I at any rate am pledged—to do all I can to abolish these taxes, and I shall vote for this Amendment. Many people speak as if the working classes need not consume tea and sugar. There was a Return given on the Motion of Sir George Lewis, on the 13th May, 1861, when an inquiry was made as to what articles of food were consumed by the working classes, and although the taxes upon tea and sugar at that time were extremely high, when you would think that the working classes would avoid articles so heavily taxed, the Return showed that one-eighth of the entire earnings of the working classes in the Metropolis of London were actually spent upon tea and sugar. That shows the value the poor put upon tea and sugar as articles of consumption.

Let me come to the tax on tea. If I may say so, with great respect, the Prime Minister did not meet the argument advanced in support of this Amendment. The main argument used was that the least tax upon tea and sugar was a tax upon persons who earned very small wages. Figures were given of the number of people earning 10s., 15s., 20s., and 25s. a week, and the point was made: Was it fair to maintain a tax of 80 per cent. upon articles that were used by people earning such small wages? We say it is unfair to maintain a tax upon articles which the poorest of the poor have to use. When you come to the tax upon sugar you enter an entirely different region, because it is a tax not only upon the working classes but it is a tax upon industry. Everybody knows that when a tax of ½d. was put upon sugar manufacturers using sugar were obliged to advance the price of the article they were manufacturing. In my trade—the biscuit trade—at that time all the manufacturers of the country came to an agreement. Before that there was very keen competition in our trade. That also applied to confectioners and chocolate manufacturers, and when the tax was put upon sugar there was a general agreement and a general advance in the price of commodities. Everyone knows that there is an advance in the price of the article beyond the price of the raw material that the tax warrants. When there is strong competition, and duties are put upon articles, opportunity is taken to increase the price of the commodity in order to recoup the manufacturers for what they have lost by the increase in the price of the raw material, and the result is that by maintaining these taxes the working people are paying much more than the taxes themselves warrant.

One other reason why I should like to see these taxes taken off is this: In 1906 the Liberal party were returned to power, above all things, to defend Free Trade. That issue was greater than anything else that was then before the country, and I look upon the defence of Free Trade as most important. When, therefore, we were returned to power, I think it was our duty, above all things, to have taken the taxes off food, so that whenever a change of Government was brought about it would be absolutely impossible for any Chancellor of the Exchequer to alter our existing fiscal system. Therefore we should have taken these taxes off. I am very sorry to speak in this manner, but I do so because I want the Government to keep us honest. I denounced taxes upon food, and therefore, when I go back to the different parts of Scotland again to defend Free Trade, the people will say to me, "You have been in power for seven years, you have done nothing and you come back to us preaching the same story." I do not want to do that. I appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to make it possible, and as early as possible, to take these taxes off food.


I have listened with great interest to this Debate and to no speech with greater interest than that of the hon. Member for York. He appealed to the Government not to tax those who were, as he described it, below the poverty line, and his strong argument to my mind was that you are putting a discount upon the physical efficiency of the workers of the country. I entirely agree with that view, and I cannot help thinking that our system of taxation does not sufficiently take into account the fact that after all the best national investment we can possibly make is to promote the healthy human lives of our fellow countrymen, and so far as this particular datum line is concerned, I for one hold very strongly the view, representing as I believe I do the very poorest of the whole of the population of this country, that any further taxation, in fact that the existing taxation upon the necessaries of life which the poor have to meet, is more than they can at present afford and seriously affects their physical efficiency. But when we are asked whether we are prepared to vote for this Amendment it seems to me we must necessarily look at the two sides of the Amendment and consider, first of all, whether we are prepared to abandon these so-called food taxes, and on the other hand, whether we are prepared to adopt the proposed alternative method of raising the revenue which the country would thereby lose. To my mind the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, and the right hon. Gentleman the ex- Chancellor of the Exchequer, have based their theories upon an entire fallacy. They suggested, first of all, that the food taxes are equal in their incidence upon all sections of the population which I entirely deny, and secondly, that the food taxes are the chief contributions of the working classes to the revenues of the country, and therefore the chief burden which they as tax payers have to bear. In the first place, as I think the hon. Member for Leicester pointed out, as regards the incidence of such taxation, a tax which is levied to the same amount upon all descriptions of tea whether it costs 1s. or 3s. a pound cannot be equal in its incidence. I go further and say that in fact this tax is more onerous in the case of the poorer classes than in the case of the wealthier classes, because in the former case the tax upon a pound of the same quality of tea is considerably more when the working class consumer has to buy it, because it is in fact sold in smaller quantities by ounces and not by the pound, and the burden in the case of a poorer consumer is very much greater. Not only is the burden of taxation in the case of the ounce of tea greater than in the case of the pound, but the actual cost of the ounce is considerably more than in the case of the same quantity when purchased in larger amounts by the richer classes.

As regards this particular Amendment I for one am entirely in favour of the first part of it, but to my mind this taxation of food which every class of the community is bound to consume is most unequal in its operation, is most damaging to the efficiency of the nation and is very bad political and national economy. It is suggested that this is the chief burden which now falls upon the shoulders of the poorer people in this country and that at the present time they have found this burden more onerous than any other burden of taxation. I entirely dispute that proposition. During the last four years this burden has remained constant, but the position of the working classes and the burden of the maintenance of the home has grown much more serious and so far from improving has got considerably worse and the reason is that the cost of living, as it is called, has steadily increased. To what is this increase in the cost of living due? It is not due to this so-called taxation of food. It is not due as I suggest to indirect taxation at all, it is mainly due to the fact that the working classes in this country ultimately are the people who pay the greater part of the taxes which in the first place are levied upon the rich. When you have a high Income Tax, as we have at the present time, it necessarily means that the really rich people in this country, and the really rich people in this country are the big manufacturers, devise means of taking that burden off their own shoulders and throwing it upon the shoulders of the more defenceless portion of the population. They do it, unless there is very serious foreign competition, by increasing the cost of their products. Consequently the higher cost has to be paid by the community generally, but particularly and most onerously by the working population of the country. The greater portion of the increase which has fallen during recent years upon the working classes is not in consequence of indirect taxation upon food, but the direct result of an increase in the cost of the products produced by manufacturers, and this has thrown a greater burden on the working classes by the increased cost of living. I have investigated this question in my own Constituency. The right hon. Gentleman has suggested with regard to the Tobacco Tax and the Spirit Tax that, assuming this Amendment were carried, all those who did not happen to smoke tobacco or drink spirits would not contribute a single farthing to the revenue. I suggest that when you have a high Income Tax causing increased cost of living, those men are, in fact, contributing the greater part of the taxation through the increased cost of the necessaries of life. In any case you cannot, as a matter of political economy, exempt the working classes from taxation by merely saying that you are not going to impose it either upon Income Tax directly or indirectly upon such articles as tea, sugar, whisky, and tobacco.

When the Prime Minister suggested that taxation upon whisky and tobacco was in the nature of sumptuary laws, I differ from him. Articles such as tobacco and spirits cannot be regarded as extravagant luxuries of the poorer classes, and if the word "sumptuary" has any meaning it can only apply to extravagant luxuries. So far as it is necessary to maintain indirect taxation, I am in favour of its being of a sumptuary character. I should like to see indirect taxation levied upon such articles as motor cars which are not used for trade, diamonds, and even extravagant entertainments. That was just the kind of taxation which Jeremy Bentham, the great Liberal jurist, suggested in order to produce a healthy moral effect, and in order to direct wealth into a healthy channel. For my part, I disapprove entirely of indirect taxation, except upon luxuries which are of an extravagant character, because the burden is most unequal and unfair, and many persons who ought to bear it evade it altogether. As a matter of logic, how is it fair for those who do not happen to smoke tobacco or drink whisky that they should, in fact, be exempted from a serious burden of taxation which falls upon other people who have to pay because they happen to indulge in that so-called extravagance?

I should take no exception to this Amendment—in fact, I should vote for it—if the Proposer would only suggest some more obvious taxation of the working classes as an alternative. I am afraid that a large portion of the community will never realise the responsibility of government, and realise that they are contributing a large proportion of the taxation of the country, unless it is sufficiently obvious on the face of it. I suggest that the working classes are contributing at least half, and probably two-thirds, of the whole taxation of the country, but it is not sufficiently obvious to them. As a matter of logic and fairness, I think we shall eventually come to the time when every single man in this country who has an income above the level of subsistence will pay Income Tax, graduated in such a way that the burden upon him shall not be unequal to his ability to pay. Against this proposal it has been argued that it would be difficult to collect and that the cost of collection would be very heavy. I think that is a consideration so unimportant that we might discount it altogether. As regards the smallest incomes it is said that it would not produce sufficient to repay the cost of collection, but I think that is a matter of small importance compared with the moral effect upon each individual in the fact that he will be paying according to his ability to pay; he will be paying direct taxation according to his income, not based upon any indirect mode of assessing his fair proportion of taxation, and, although in some few cases the tax received might not justify the cost of collection, I think that in the long run this is logically the most defensible tax and would produce at least as much revenue as these extremely vexatious taxes upon food.

Any Chancellor of the Exchequer putting forward such a proposal could not possibly be met with any serious criticisms, because on the face of it every single man in the country would be taxed according to his ability to pay. Another objection I have to this Amendment is that it does not make clear what is the meaning of unearned income. At the present time the rich manufacturer, who often takes very little part in the conduct of his business, is treated as though his income were earned. On the other hand, the comparatively poor agricultural landowner who contributes probably three-fourths of the capital embarked in the industry of agriculture would be treated as being the recipient of unearned income, although in fact he may participate more largely in the development of his property and the industry carried on upon it than the rich manufacturer who is so much better equipped to pay any tax imposed upon him. It is with the greatest regret that I find it impossible, while entirely agreeing with the first part of this Amendment, to vote for it, because the hon. Gentleman who has proposed it has not sufficiently indicated what is the alternative method of obvious taxation which the working classes in the future would have to pay.


I have listened with great attention to the arguments in favour of this Amendment, and I find myself strongly in sympathy with what the hon. Member for Blackburn has said. I think, however, that his remedy is one which we cannot accept. Some of the points which have formed the basis of discussion and argument in this House, I think, might, with the united wisdom of both parties, provide a solution of the difficulty which the hon. Member raises. I have taken down one or two of the sentences which the hon. Member used. He said that beyond all question the national taxation paid by the working people is unfair and excessive, and the method by which it is raised is vicious and unjust. I agree that the way in which our Customs are now fixed is vicious and unjust, because we force the consumers to pay the whole of that taxation. A more interesting statement followed immediately from the hon. Member. He says that the State has no right to tax any individual until it has ensured that the individual is able by honest labour to maintain himself and those dependent upon him in a degree of physical efficiency, health, and comfort. That was the point on which the hon. Member for York (Mr. Rowntree) spoke so strongly, and I would like to make one remark with regard to his statement.

The hon. Member for York rather inferred in this House that the cause of the great number of people going out of the sugar boiling industry was the fact that the Sugar Tax remained at 1s. 10d. per cwt. During the time the hon. Member talked of there had been fluctuations in price, not of 1s. 10d. per cwt., but as much as 6s. and 8s. per cwt., and surely that has a far greater effect on the trade than the 1s. 10d. which still remains on the Statute Book as a tax on sugar. The Member for York said he knew something about sugar. May I also say that I know something about it? We have had some practical talk from the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. C. E. Price), who knows something about the question of the taxation of sugar. May I bring to the House one matter which I consider of the very greatest importance, and it is that it has now been proved by one of the greatest nations in the world that the giving of a preference on an article of food to a country specially adapted for growing it, has been a great benefit. By giving a preferential rate of £2 a ton on their duty as against sugar grown on British or German soil, the United States have proved for 100,000,000 people that they ensure them a cheap supply of sugar for years to come. At the time of the Spanish-American war the American Government said to Cuba, "We will take all the sugar you can grow at £2 a ton less duty, than we can buy sugar from Germany or from British sources." At that time the production of sugar in Cuba was 600,000 tons a year, and the very fact that 100,000,000 people agreed to pay £2 a ton more to Cuba than to any other country, had the effect of an enormous volume of increased industry and employment, the opening up of new plantations, the building of roads and railways, in order to supply that demand, and in the short period of eleven years the production has gradually advanced until this year we expect to receive from Cuba not 600,000 tons but 2,200,000 tons of sugar. I think we really ought to pass a vote of thanks to the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the United States for having solved the great problem of how to reduce the cost of living by giving a preference to a particular soil, a part of the world which they knew was capable of producing what they required. I claim that, whereas the price of sugar this time last year was somewhere about 16s. or 17s. per cwt., quoted on the Hamburg market, it is to-day quoted at 9s. 6d., and I claim that that price is going to be kept down by the increased production in sugar which was brought about by the farseeing policy of the United States in trying to provide for 100,000,000 people one of the necessaries of life at the lowest possible price. If that has taken place, and it is the first instance on record of a great nation giving a preference to a country which is specially adapted in soil and climate to produce a certain thing, are we wrong in our contention? We can discuss this matter to-day calmly because the food question is not to be brought up as a political issue at the next election. The cost of living has increased whilst the rate of wages has not increased, and the Labour party asked, "Can you bring about any betterment?" I say that we can. I say that the Chancellor of the Exchequer of this country is in the most responsible and onerous position of any man in the world, because his policy may affect the well-being of a greater number of people than the policy of any other man in any part of the world. The hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Snowden) made rather an extraordinary statement with regard to the power of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He said:— You cannot dissociate social policy from taxation, and any Chancellor in levying taxation ought to have two purposes in view. I do not blame our present Chancellor, because previous Chancellors all have had one object in view, and that was to raise revenue. I say that in future all Chancellors of the Exchequer must keep two points in view. They must safeguard the wage limit of the worker, if it is possible to do so, in the taxation they put upon the people. The Chancellor of the Exchequer in the United States had two objects in view with regard to his preferential duty on sugar. He wanted to reduce the cost of living to the people and at the same time to raise revenue. Many people on the opposite side of the House tell us that we are unbusinesslike and unsound in our financial statement when we claim that we can do both. It has been proved in this instance that it can be done. Will any man dare say that if this country gave a preference to the British Empire to grow its food it would not increase the production of food to such an extent that the actual cost of that food in ten years would be less than it is to-day? I say that the only way I, as a business may, can reduce the cost of living to my own people is to increase the production. That is absolutely necessary, and I maintain as a sound business man, that I can do it. If I were president or chairman of the great Co-operative Society, my first object would be that all the members of that society should have the necessities of life at the lowest possible price. I would use some of that £14,000,000 held in Manchester to-day as a reserve of the Co-operative Society to develop the increased production of the things the people want. This very Government, in regard to cotton, have applied the same principle. They said, "If we guarantee £3,000,000 sterling to a certain industry we shall increase the production and reduce the price."

We have got to work for two things; an increased rate of wages for the people of this country and an increased volume of food products within the Empire. Up to 1893 I held the same views as the hon. Member for Blackburn. I changed my views because in that year a steamer arrived in this country, having crossed the Equator with perishable food products in the same state of sound good readiness for consumption as they left a port 12,000 miles away. The whole food question, to my mind, scientifically altered from that moment. We had the whole of the southern part of the world, as well as the western and northern parts of the world, from which we could draw supplies. It became possible from that moment, as far as I could see, by a preferential rate to those parts of the world where the soil and climate are particularly adapted to increase the volume of production to such an extent, as to steady the market and to gather for our own people a food supply at a moderate rate. I say to the party who are going to vote for this Amendment to-night, that if we take that wide-world view of the position with regard to food products, and also with regard to the possibilities in this little country of ours, of so adjusting our taxation as to have two objects, one to safeguard the wage limit and the other to collect revenue, that the two objects can be followed in one and the same way, and I say that when the Chancellor of the Exchequer has followed that course we shall not hear any more of wages of 25s. per week, but we shall hear more likely of a reasonable 1s. per hour, instead of 5d., for the workers of this country. And then there will not be the haggling as to whether in a whole year a family has paid a few pence on this or that tax which was necessary for the upkeep of the country. We cannot decrease the expenditure, but we can so collect our revenue as to make it absolutely certain that the volume of employment in this country will be vastly increased, and in that same mode of collection of revenue we can also guarantee

that the volume of production of the necessaries of the people shall be vastly increased.


rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."

Question put, "That the Question be now put."

The House divided: Ayes, 293; Noes, 174.

Division No. 105.] AYES. [7.38 p.m.
Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour) Duffy, William J. Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)
Acland, Francis Dyke Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness) Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)
Adamson, William Duncan, J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley) Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney)
Agnew, Sir George William Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid) Joyce, Michael
Allen, Arthur Acland (Dumbartonshire) Elverston, Sir Harold Keating, Matthew
Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud) Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.) Kellaway, Frederick George
Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.) Kelly, Edward
Baker, H. T. (Accrington) Essex, Sir Richard Walter Kennedy, Vincent Paul
Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.) Esslemont, George Birnie Kilbride, Denis
Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark) Falconer, James Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molton)
Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset) Farrell, James Patrick Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)
Barnes, George N. Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles Lardner, James C. R.
Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick Burghs) Ffrench, Peter Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)
Barran, Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.) Field, William Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)
Beale, Sir William Phipson Fitzgibbon, John Leach, Charles
Beauchamp, Sir Edward Flavin, Michael Joseph Levy, Sir Maurice
Back, Arthur Cecil Furness, Sir Stephen Wilson Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert
Bean, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. George) Gelder, Sir W. A. Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas
Bentham, George Jackson George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd Lundon, Thomas
Bethell, Sir J. H. Gill, A. H. Lyell, Charles Henry
Birrell, Rt Hon. Augustine Ginnell, Laurence Lynch, A. A.
Black, Arthur W. Gladstone W. G. C. Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)
Boland, John Pius Glanville, H. J. Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)
Booth, Frederick Handel Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford McGhee, Richard
Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North) Goldstone, Frank Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.
Brace, William Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland) MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)
Brady, Patrick Joseph Greig, Colonel J. W. Macpherson, James Ian
Brocklehurst, W. B. Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward MacVeagh, Jeremiah
Brunner, John F. L. Griffith, Ellis Jones M'Callum, Sir John M.
Bryce, J. Annan Guest, Hon. Major C. H. C. (Pembroke) M'Kean, John
Buckmaster, Stanley O. Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.) McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald
Burke, E Haviland- Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway) M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.)
Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas Hackett, John M'Laren, Hon. F.W.S. (Lincs., Spalding)
Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar) Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale) Manfield, Harry
Byles, Sir William Pollard Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose) Markham, Sir Arthur Basil
Carr-Gomm, H. W. Hardie, J. Keir Marks, Sir George Croydon
Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich) Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds) Marshall, Arthur Harold
Cawley, Harold T. (Lancs., Heywood) Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire) Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.
Chancellor, H. G. Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale) Meagher, Michael
Chapple, Dr. William Allen Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West) Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S. Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.) Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix)
Clancy, John Joseph Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry Menzies, Sir Walter
Clough, William Hayden, John Patrick Middlebrook, William
Clynes, John R. Hayward, Evan Molloy, Michael
Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock) Hazleton, Richard Molteno, Percy Alpert
Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth) Helme, Sir Norval Watson Montagu, Hon. E. S.
Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Henderson, Arthur (Durham) Mooney, John J.
Condon, Thomas Joseph Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.) Morgan, George Hay
Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Henry, Sir Charles Morison, Hector
Cotton, William Francis Herbert, General Sir Ivor (Mon., S.) Morton, Alpheus Cleophas
Cowan, W. H. Higham, John Sharp Muldoon, John
Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth) Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H. Munro, Robert
Crooks, William Hodge, John Murphy, Martin J.
Crumley, Patrick Hogg, David C. Murray, Captain Hon. A. C.
Cullinan, John Hodge, James Myles Nolan, Joseph
Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy) Holmes, Daniel Turner Norton, Captain Cecil W.
Davies, Ellis William (Eifion) Holt, Richard Durning Nugent, Sir Walter Richard
Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth) Hope, John Deans (Haddington) Nuttall, Harry
Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.) Howard, Hon. Geoffrey O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)
Dawes, J. A. Hughes, Spencer Leigh O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)
Delany, William Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)
Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh) O'Doherty, Philip
Devlin, Joseph John, Edward Thomas O'Donnell, Thomas
Dillon, John Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil) O'Dowd, John
Donelan, Captain A. Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth) O'Grady, James
Doris, William Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East) O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)
O'Malley, William Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven) Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)
O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.) Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln) Toulmin, Sir George
O'Shaughnessy, P. J. Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs) Trevelyan, Charles Philips
O'Shee, James John Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside) Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander
O'Sullivan, Timothy Robinson, Sidney Verney, Sir Harry
Palmer, Godfrey Mark Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke) Walton, Sir Joseph
Parker, James (Halifax) Roche, Augustine (Louth) Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)
Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek) Roe, Sir Thomas Wardle, George J.
Pearce, William (Limehouse) Rowlands, James Waring, Walter
Pearson, Hon. Weetman H. M. Rowntree, Arnold Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay
Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham) Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)
Philipps, Colonel Ivor (Southampton) Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W. Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)
Phillips, John (Longford, S.) Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland) Watt, Henry Anderson
Pointer, Joseph Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees) Webb, H.
Pollard, Sir George H. Scanlan, Thomas White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradesten)
Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H. Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E. White, Patrick (Meath, North)
Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central) Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton) Whitehouse, John Howard
Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.) Seely, Rt. Hon. Colonel J. E. B. Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.
Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford) Sheehy, David Whyte, A. F. (Perth)
Primrose, Hon. Neil James Sherwell, Arthur James Wiles, Thomas
Pringle, William M. R. Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook Williams, J. (Glamorgan)
Radford. G. H. Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton) Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)
Raffan, Peter Wilson Snowden, Philip Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)
Raphael, Sir Herbert H. Soames, Arthur Wellesley Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)
Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields) Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough) Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West) Winfrey, Richard
Reddy, Michael Sutherland, John Wing, Thomas
Redmond, John E. (Waterford) Sutton, John E. Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)
Redmond, William (Clare, E.) Taylor, John W. (Durham) Young, William (Perthshire, East)
Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.) Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)
Randall, Athelstan Taylor, Thomas (Bolton) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.
Richards, Thomas Tennant, Harold John Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.
Richardson, Albion (Peckham) Thomas, J. H.
Agg-Gardner, James Tynte Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet) Keswick, Henry
Amery, L. C. M. S. Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian King, J.
Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R. Dalrymple, Viscount Kyffin-Taylor, G.
Anstruther-Gray, Major William Dalziel, Davison (Brixton) Lane-Fox, G. R.
Archer-Shee, Major M. Denison-Pender, J. C. Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)
Ashley, Wilfrid W. Denniss, E. R. B. Lee, Arthur Hamilton
Baird, John Lawrence Duke, Henry Edward Lewisham, Viscount
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M. Lloyd, George Ambrose (Stafford, W.)
Baring, Maj. Hon. Guy V. (Winchester) Falle, Bertram Godfrey Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)
Barlow, Montague (Salford, South) Fell, Arthur Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Colonel A. R.
Barnston; Harry Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes Long, Rt. Hon. Walter
Barton, William Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead) Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (S. Geo., Han. S.)
Bathurst, Hon. A. B. (Glouc., E.) Forster, Henry William Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)
Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton) Gardner, Ernest Mackinder, Halford J.
Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks Gastrell, Major W. Houghton Martin, Joseph
Beckett, Hon. Gervase Gilmour, Captain J. Mason, James F. (Windsor)
Been, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth) Glazebrook, Captain Philip K. Meysey-Thompson, E. C.
Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish- Goldman, C. S. Middlemore, John Throgmorton
Bigland, Alfred Goldsmith, Frank Mildmay, Francis Bingham
Bird, Alfred Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton) Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas
Blair, Reginald Goulding, Edward Alfred Morrell, Philip
Boles, Lieut.-Colonel Dennis Fortescue Grant, J. A. Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton)
Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith- Greene, Waiter Raymond Mount, William Arthur
Boyton, James Guinness, Hon. W. E. (Bury S. Edmunds) Newman, John R. P.
Bridgeman, W. Clive Gwynne, R. S. (Essex, Eastbourne) Newton, Harry Kottingham
Bull, Sir William James Haddock, George Bahr Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)
Burdett-Coutts, W. Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight) Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.
Burn, Colonel C. R. Hall, Frederick (Dulwich) Paget, Almeric Hugh
Butcher, John George Hamersley, Alfred St. George Parkes, Ebenezer
Campbell, Captain Duncan F. (Ayr, N.) Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Altrincham) Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)
Campion, W. R. Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence Perkins, Walter F.
Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred Harris, Henry Percy Peto, Basil Edward
Cassel, Felix Helmsley, Viscount Pole-Carew, Sir R.
Cator, John Hewins, William Albert Samuel Randles, Sir John S.
Cautley, Henry Strother Hibbert, Sir Henry P.[...] Rawson, Colonel Richard H.
Cave, George Hickman, Colonel Thomas E. Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Hill-Wood, Samuel Ronaldshay, Earl of
Cecil, Lord H ugh (Oxford University) Hoare, S. J. G. Rothschild, Lionel de
Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin) Hope, Harry (Bute) Royds, Edmund
Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W. Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield) Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J.A. (Worc'r., E.) Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian) Salter, Arthur Clavell
Clay, Captain H. H. Spender Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk. Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)
Clive, Captain Percy Archer Ingleby, Holcombe Sanders, Robert Arthur
Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, E.) Sanderson, Lancelot
Cooper, Richard Ashmole Jessel, Captain H. M. Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)
Courthope, George Loyd Jowett, Frederick William Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)
Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe) Kerry, Earl of Smith, Harold (Warrington)
Spear, Sir John Ward Touche, George Alexander Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset, W.)
Stanier, Beville Tryon, Captain George Clement Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud
Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston) Valentia, Viscount Wills, Sir Gilbert
Starkey, John Ralph Walker, Colonel William Hall Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)
Steel-Maitland, A. D. Walrond, Hon. Lionel Wood, John (Stalybridge)
Stewart, Gershom Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince) Worthington-Evans, L.
Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North) Ward, A. (Herts, Watford) Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-
Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford) Warde, Colonel C. E. (Kent, Mid) Wright, Henry Finherbert
Sykes, Sir Mark (Hull, Central) Weigell, Captain A. G. Yate, Colonel C. E.
Talbot, Lord Edmund Weston, Colonel J. W.
Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.) Wheler, Granville C. H. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Earl
Terrell, Henry (Gloucester) White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport) Winterton and Sir J. D. Rees.

Question put accordingly, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided: Ayes, 256; Noes, 38.

Division No. 106.] AYES. [7.50 p.m.
Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour) Donelan, Captain A. Kilbride, Denis
Acland, Francis Dyke Doris, William King, Joseph
Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R. Duffy, William J. Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molton)
Agnew, Sir George William Duncan, J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley) Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)
Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbarton) Elverston, Sir Harold Lardner, James C. R.
Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud) Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.) Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)
Ashley, Wilfrid W. Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.) Leach, Charles
Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry Essex, Sir Richard Walter Levy, Sir Maurice
Baker, Harold T. (Accrington) Esslemont, George Birnie Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert
Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark) Falconer, James Lundon, Thomas
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Farrell, James Patrick Lyell, Charles Henry
Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple) Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles Lynch, A. A.
Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset) Ffrench, Peter Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)
Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick Burghs) Field, William McGhee, Richard
Barran, Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.) Fitzgibbon, John Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.
Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks Flavin, Michael Joseph MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)
Beale, Sir William Phipson Furness, Sir Stephen Wilson Macpherson, James Ian
Beauchamp, Sir Edward George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd MacVeagh, Jeremiah
Beck, Arthur Cecil Ginnell, Laurence M'Callum, Sir John M.
Bann, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. George) Gladstone, W. G. C. M'Kean, John
Bentham, G. J. Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald
Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland) M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leicester)
Boland, John Pius Greig, Colonel J. W. M'Laren, Hon. F.W.S. (Lincs., Spalding)
Booth, Frederick Handel Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward Manfield, Harry
Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North) Griffith, Ellis Jones Marks, Sir George Croydon
Brady, Patrick Joseph Guest, Hon. Major C. H. C. (Pembroke) Marshall, Arthur Harold
Brocklehurst, W. B. Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.) Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.
Brunner, John F. L. Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway) Meagher, Michael
Bryce, J. Annan Hackett, John Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)
Buckmaster, Stanley O. Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis (Rossendale) Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix)
Burke, E. Haviland- Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose) Menzies, Sir Walter
Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds) Middlebrook, William
Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar) Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire) Molloy, Michael
Carr-Gomm, H. W. Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale) Molteno, Percy Alport
Cave George Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry Montagu, Hon. E. S.
Cawley, Harold T. (Lancs., Heywood) Hayden, John Patrick Mooney, John J.
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Hayward, Evan Morgan, George Hay
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r., E.) Hazleton, Richard Morison, Hector
Chancellor, Henry George Helme, Sir Norval Watson Morton, Alpheus Cleophas
Chapple, Dr. William Allen Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen) Muldoon, John
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S. Henry, Sir Charles Munro, Robert
Clancy, John Joseph Herbert, General Sir Ivor (Mon., S.) Murphy, Martin J.
Clough, William Higham, John Sharp Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.
Collins, G. P. (Greenock) Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H. Nolan, Joseph
Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth) Hogg, David C. Norton, Captain Cecil W.
Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Hogge, James Myles Nugent, Sir Walter Richard
Condon, Thomas Joseph Holmes, Daniel Turner Nuttall, Harry
Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Holt, Richard Durning O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)
Cotton, William Francis Hope, Harry (Bute) O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)
Cowan, W. H. Hope, John Deans (Haddington) O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)
Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth) Howard, Hon. Geoffrey O'Doherty, Philip
Crumley, Patrick Hughes, Spencer Leigh O'Donnell, Thomas
Cullinan, John Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus O'Dowd, John
Dalrymple, Viscount Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh) O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)
Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy) John, Edward Thomas O'Malley, William
Davies, Ellis William (Eifion) Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil) O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)
Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth) Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth) O'Shaughnessy, P. J.
Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.) Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe) O'Shee, James John
Dawes, J. A. Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney) O'Sullivan, Timothy
Delany, William Joyce, Michael Palmer, Godfrey Mark
Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas Keating, Matthew Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)
Devlin, Joseph Kelly, Edward Pearce, William (Limehouse)
Dillon, John Kennedy, Vincent Paul Pearson, Hon. Weetman H. M.
Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham) Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter Walton, Sir Joseph
Phillips, John (Longford, S.) Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W. Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)
Pollard, Sir George H. Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland) Waring, Walter
Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.) Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees) Warner, Sir Thomas Ceurtenay
Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.) Scanlan, Thomas Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)
Primrose, Hon. Neil James Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E. Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)
Pringle, William M. R. Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton) Wett, Henry Anderson
Radford, G. H. Seely, Rt. Hon. Colonel J. E. B. Webb, H.
Raphael, Sir Herbert H. Sheehy, David White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)
Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields) Sherwell, Arthur James White, Patrick (Meath, North)
Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough) Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook Whitehouse, John Howard
Reddy, Michael Soames, Arthur Wellesley Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.
Redmond, John E. (Waterford) Spicer, Rt. H on. Sir Albert Wiles, Thomas
Redmond, William (Clare, E.) Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West) Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)
Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.) Sutherland, John E. Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)
Rendall, Athelstan Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe) Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)
Richardson, Albion (Peckham) Taylor, Thomas (Bolton) Winfrey, Richard
Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln) Tennant, Harold John Wing, Thomas
Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs) Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton) Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)
Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside) Toulmin, Sir George Young, William (Perthshire, East)
Robinson, Sidney Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke) Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.
Roche, Augustine (Louth) Verney, Sir Harry Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.
Roe, Sir Thomas
Adamson, William Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East) Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)
Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.) Jowett, Frederick William Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton)
Barnes, George N. Kellaway, Frederick George Snowden, Philip
Barton, William Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester) Sutton, John E.
Brace, William Markham, Sir Arthur Basil Taylor, John W. (Durham)
Byles, Sir William Pollard Martin, Joseph Thomas, James Henry
Clynes, John R. Morrell, Philip Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)
Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness) O'Grady, James Wardle, George J.
Gelder, Sir W. A. Parker, James (Halifax) Williams, John (Glamorgan)
Gill, A. H. Philipps, Col. Ivor (Southampton) Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Glanville, H. J. Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)
Hardie, J. Keir Richards, Thomas TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.
Henderson, Arthur (Durham) Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven) Pointer and Mr. Goldstone
Hodge, John Rowntree, Arnold

claimed "That the Main Question be now put."

Main Question put accordingly.

The House divided: Ayes, 268; Noes, 171.

Division No. 107.] AYES. [7.59 p.m.
Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour) Cawley, Harold T. (Lancs., Heywood) Falconer, James
Acland, Francis Dyke Chancellor, Henry George Farrell, James Patrick
Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R. Chapple, Dr. William Allen Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles
Agnew, Sir George William Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S. Ffrench, Peter
Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire) Clancy, John Joseph Field, William
Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud) Clough, William Fitzgibbon, John
Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.) Collins, G. P. (Greenock) Flavin, Michael Joseph
Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark) Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth) Furness, Sir Stephen Wilson
Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple) Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Gelder, Sir W. A.
Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset) Condon, Thomas Joseph George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd
Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick Burghs) Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Gladstone, W. G. C.
Barran, Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.) Cotton, William Francis Glanville, H. J.
Barton, William Cowan, W. H. Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford
Beale, Sir William Phipson Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth) Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)
Beauchamp, Sir Edward Crumley, Patrick Greig, Colonel J. W.
Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. George) Cullinan, John Griffith, Ellis Jones
Bentham, G. J. Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy) Guest, Hon. Major C. H. C. (Pembroke)
Bethell, Sir J. H. Davies, Ellis William (Eifion) Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)
Black, Arthur W. Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth) Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)
Boland, John Pius Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.) Hackett, John
Booth, Frederick Handel Dawes, J. A. Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis (Rossendale)
Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North) Delany, William Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)
Brady, Patrick Joseph Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)
Brocklehurst, W. B. Devlin, Joseph Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)
Brunner, John F. L. Dillon, John Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)
Bryce, J. Annan Donelan, Captain A. Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)
Buckmaster, Stanley O. Doris, William Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Burke, E. Havlland- Duffy, William J. Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry
Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas Duncan, J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley) Hayden, John Patrick
Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North) Edwards, Jahn Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid) Hayward, Evan
Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar) Elverston, Sir Harold Hazleton, Richard
Byles, Sir William Pollard Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.) Helme, Sir Norval Watson
Carr-Gomm, H. W. Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.) Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)
Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich). Esslemont, George Birnie. Henry, Sir Charles
Herbert, General Sir Ivor (Mon., S.) Middlebrook, William Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)
Higham, John Sharp Molloy, Michael Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)
Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H. Molteno, Percy Alport Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)
Hogg, David C. Montagu, Hon. E. S. Robinson, Sidney
Hogge, James Myles Mooney, John J. Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)
Holmes, Daniel Turner Morgan, George Hay Roche, Augustine (Louth)
Holt, Richard Durning Morrell, Philip Roe, Sir Thomas
Howard, Hon. Geoffrey Morison, Hector Rowlands, James
Hughes, Spencer Leigh Morton, Alpheus Cleophas Rowntree, Arnold
Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus Muldoon, John Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter
Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh) Munro, Robert Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.
John, Edward Thomas Murphy, Martin J. Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)
Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil) Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C. Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth) Neilson, Francis Scanlan, Thomas
Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East) Nolan, Joseph Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E.
Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe) Norton, Captain Cecil William Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)
Jones, William (Carnarvonshire) Nugent, Sir Walter Richard Seely, Rt. Hon. Colonel J. E. B.
Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney) Nuttall, Harry Sheehy, David
Joyce, Michael O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Sherwell, Arthur James
Keating, Matthew O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.) Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook
Kellaway, Frederick George O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool) Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton)
Kelly, Edward O'Doherty, Philip Soames, Arthur Wellesley
Kennedy, Vincent Paul O'Donnell, Thomas Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert
Kilbride, Denis O'Dowd, John Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)
King, Joseph O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.) Sutherland, John E.
Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molton) O'Malley, William Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)
Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade) O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.) Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)
Lardner, James C. R. O'Shaughnessy, P. J. Tennant, Harold John
Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West) O'Shee, James John Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)
Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th) O'Sullivan, Timothy Toulmin, Sir George
Leach, Charles Palmer, Godfrey Mark Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Levy, Sir Maurice Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek) Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander
Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert Pearce, William (Limehouse) Verney, Sir Harry
Lundon, Thomas Pearson, Hon. Weetman H. M. Walton, Sir Joseph
Lyell, Charles Henry Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham) Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)
Lynch, A. A. Philipps, Colonel Ivor (Southampton) Waring, Walter
Macdonald, J M. (Falkirk Burghs) Phillips, John (Longford, S.) Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay T.
McGhee, Richard Pollard, Sir George H. Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)
Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J. Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H. Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)
MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South) Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central) Watt, Henry Anderson
Macpherson, James Ian Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.) Webb, R.
MacVeagh, Jeremiah Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford) White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)
M'Callum, Sir John M. Primrose, Hon. Neil James White, Patrick (Meath, North)
M'Kean, John Pringle, William M. R. Whitehouse, John Howard
McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald Radford, G. H. Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.
M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.) Raffan, Peter Wilson Wiles, Thomas
M'Laren, Hon. F.W.S. (Lincs., Spalding) Raphael, Sir Herbert H. Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)
Manfield, Harry Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields) Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)
Markham, Sir Arthur Basil Rea, Waiter Russell (Scarborough) Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)
Marks, Sir George Croydon Reddy, Michael Winfrey, Richard
Marshall, Arthur Harold Redmond, John E. (Waterford) Wing, Thomas
Martin, Joseph Redmond, William (Clare, E.) Wood, Rt. Hon, T. McKinnon (Glasgow)
Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G. Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.) Young, William (Perthshire, East)
Meagher, Michael Rendall, Athelstan
Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.) Richards, Thomas TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.
Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix) Richardson, Albion (Peckham) Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.
Menzies, Sir Walter
Agg-Gardner, James Tynte Bull, Sir William James Croft, H. P.
Amery, L. C. M. S. Burdett-Coutts, W. Dalrymple, Viscount
Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R. Burn, Colonel C. R. Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)
Archer-Shee, Major M. Butcher, John George Denison-Pender, J. C.
Ashley, Wilfrid W. Campbell, Captain Duncan F. (Ayr, N.) Denniss, E. R. B.
Baird, John Lawrence Campion, W. R. Duke, Henry Edward
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.
Baring, Major Hon. Guy V. (Winchester) Cassel, Felix Falle, Bertram Godfray
Barlow, Montague (Salford, South) Cator, John Fell, Arthur
Barnston, Harry Cave, George Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes
Bathurst, Hon. A. B. (Gloucester, E.) Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead)
Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton) Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University) Forster, Henry William
Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin) Gardner, Ernest
Beckett, Hon. Gervase Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W. Gastrell, Major W. Houghton
Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth) Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r., E.) Gilmour, Captain John
Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish- Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry Glazebrook, Captain Philip K.
Bigland, Alfred Clay, Captain H H. Spender Goldman, C. S.
Bird, Alfred Clynes, John R. Goldsmith, Frank
Blair, Reginald Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)
Boles, Lieut.-Colonel Dennis Fortescue Cooper, Richard Ashmole Goulding, Edward Alfred
Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith- Courthope, George Loyd Grant, J. A.
Boyle, William (Norfolk, Mid) Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe) Greene, Walter Raymond
Boyton, James Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet) Guinness, Hon.W. E. (Bury S. Edmunds)
Bridgeman, W. Clive Crichton-Stuart, Lord Nintan Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)
Haddock, George Bahr Mason; James F. (Windsor) Steel-Maitland, A. D.
Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight) Meysey-Thompson, E. C. Stewart, Gershom
Hall, Frederick (Dulwich) Middlemore, John Throgmorton Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)
Hamersley, Alfred St. George Mildmay, Francis Bingham Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)
Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Altrincham) Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas Sykes, Sir Mark (Hull, Central)
Harris, Henry Percy Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton) Taylor, John W. (Durham)
Helmsley, Viscount Mount, William Arthur Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)
Hewins, William Albert Samuel Newton, Harry Kottingham Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)
Hibbert, Sir Henry F. Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield) Touche, George Alexander
Hickman, Colonel Thomas E. Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A. Tryon, Captain George Clement
Hill-Wood, Samuel Paget, Almeric Hugh Valentia, Viscount
Hoare, S. J. G. Parkes, Ebenezer Walker, Colonel William Hall
Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy Perkins, Walter F. Walrond, Hon. Lionel
Hope, Harry (Bute) Peto, Basil Edward Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)
Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield) Pole-Carew, Sir R. Ward, A. (Herts, Watford)
Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian) Randles, Sir John S. Warde, Colonel C. E. (Kent, Mid)
Houston, Robert Paterson Rawson, Colonel Richard H. Weigall, Captain A. G.
Hume-Williams, W. E. Rees, Sir J. D. Weston, Colonel J. W.
Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk. Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall) Wheler, Granville C. H.
Ingleby, Holcombe Ronaldshay, Earl of White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)
Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, E.) Rothschild, Lionel de Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset, W.)
Jessel, Captain H. M. Royds, Edmund Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud
Kerry, Earl of Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen) Wills, Sir Gilbert
Keswick, Henry Salter, Arthur Clavell Wilson. W. T. (Westhoughton)
Kyffin-Taylor, G. Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood) Winterton, Earl
Lane-Fox, G. R. Sanders, Robert Arthur Wood, Hon, E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)
Lee, Arthur Hamilton Sanderson, Lancelot Wood, John (Stalybridge)
Lewisham, Viscount Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.) Worthington-Evans, L.
Lloyd, George Ambrose (Stafford, W.) Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe) Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-
Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Colonel A. R. Smith, Harold (Warrington) Wright, Henry Fitzherbert
Long, Rt. Hon. Walter Spear, Sir John Ward Yate, Colonel C. E.
Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich) Stanier, Beville
Mackinder, Halford J. Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Lord
M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's) Starkey, John Ralph Edmund Talbot and Mr. Pike Pease.

Bill read a second time, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House for Monday next (16th June).