HC Deb 01 July 1914 vol 64 cc481-516

Considered in Committee.

[Mr. MACLEAN, Deputy-Chairman, in the Chair.]

CLAUSE 1.—(See col. 436).

Postponed Proceeding resumed on Amendment proposed [Mr. Peto]: After the word "Ireland," to insert the words "at the following rates."


In the Debate upon the Amendment which I have proposed, to reduce the duty on tea of a low importation value, there has really only been one line of objection, and that is the difficulty in the way of collecting the revenue, if it is necessary for the Customs authorities to have a knowledge of what the importation value is. The Secretary to the Treasury told us that he had ascertained that the bulk of the tea imported into London had a lower importation value than 9d. the pound, and he proceeded to explain that 70 per cent. of the tea was below 9d. the pound importation value, 20 per cent. between 9d. and 1s., and 10 per cent. above 1s., and upon that he makes his calculation. He bases his whole argument against this Amendment on the fact that it would be impossible or very difficult for the Customs authority to find out what was the price of the tea. I did not bring forward this Amendment without having gone to the trouble of finding out what were the actual conditions which regulate the trade. I found that the vast bulk of the tea sold in London is sold at public auction in Mincing Lane while still in bond, and in the case of every pound so sold, the market value put upon it on importation and whilst in bond is known. There is such a thing as the produce clearing house, and money is advanced running into hundreds of thousands of pounds upon tea in bond. Consequently the whole of that tea has a known value, or this business of advancing the money could not be done at all. Through the produce clearing houses advances are made to tea traders on the value of their tea. Banks make advances in the same way, and therefore I think what the Secretary to the Treasury has said on this point is rather a slender form of argument to use a reference to a proposal of this kind. Let me put one other ground of argument before the Committee. I do not want it to be imagined that I have not gone into the question before bringing forward this Amendment. Take the experience of the United States of America, where they have got an ad valorem duty. They have had no difficulty in ascertaining the true invoice value. They have recently taken the most stringent steps against bogus invoice values, and they have been absolutely successful in getting the true market value, so that the import duty is truly and justly levied.

Whenever we on this side of the House propose to reduce the Tea Duty, because we say it is a commodity which is largely used by poor people, we are told that it is entirely a delusion to suppose that the really poor people drink cheap tea. We are told that they are very particular, and drink very expensive tea. I can only imagine, if it is not the poor people in the country who drink the poorest tea, that it must be such wealthy people as the hon. Member for Swansea (Sir A. Mond), and supporters of the Government of that kind who are forced to buy shilling tea on account of the high Income Tax. When it is seriously put forward that cheap tea is practically never consumed by poor people, I think hon. Members who sit below the Gangway, and others who use this argument, must be in rather strange circumstances for an argument. The hon. Member for the Blackfriars Division (Mr. Barnes) told us that he stood by every word he said on 7th May this year. An extract from his speech was quoted by the Noble Lord the Member for the Newton Division (Viscount Wolmer), that it was an iniquitous tax which pressed most heavily on the poorest of the poor. Yet he is not going to vote in favour of this Amendment. He says that the principle of the Labour party is to look at the Budget as a whole and not to consider the details of any particular Amendment put forward for fear that they might do something to injure the prospects of the Government and forward the policy of the party on this side of the House. I refrained from making any attack on hon. Members below the Gangway, because I confidently expected that I should have their support in the Lobby, and I do think it is rather ill requiting after I have made a perfectly fair speech from their point of view, asking their co-operation and assistance, to find the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Snowden) telling the Committee that he is convinced this is not an honest Amendment at all, and that its true inwardness was never disclosed by me in the speech I made in introducing it. That is not an argument at all. It is an assumption that hon. Members in this House have the right to see into the minds of Members who are introducing Amendments, and to tell the Committee or the House that the Amendments are not honest or fair, and that they are not putting the case they really have before the House, but are trying to do something by some back-stairs method.

I did not refer to any other methods for reducing the Tea Tax, but the hon. Member for Blackburn proceeded to go into the whole question of the Tariff Reform policy. He made what struck me as an unfair statement which should not pass unchallenged. He said that our purpose in proposing to reduce any of these food taxes which press directly on the poor people of the country is to muddle up the indirect taxation, so that it may be easier for us, not to reduce taxes upon articles of con- sumption, but, while reducing them on the one hand, to impose another set of duties, which he said would be indirect duties, and which would be bound in the larger part to fall upon the poorer classes. I entirely deny that. I say that it is an utter delusion to suppose that the operation of any tariff would press upon articles consumed to anything like the same degree as the Tea Tax. It would be perfectly possible, if you chose to do so, to tax only those articles which would never be used by the poorer people at all. He took it as an axiom that a tariff was bound to press upon the poor people, and I must protest against that. I should like the right hon. Gentleman to tell us why it is held to be impossible to do in this country with our Customs officials precisely that which is being done in other countries at the present time. When there is no differentiation of the tax at all, he is able to make an accurate estimate of the exact import value of the tea brought into this country, and yet he tells the Committee, if this Amendment were accepted and a graduated tax according to the import value was imposed, that it would be quite impossible to find out what was that import value. Far from it being impossible, I do not believe that there would be any difficulty in the matter at all. Therefore, as that is the only line of argument put forward, I confidently hope that a larger number of Members will support the Amendment than would have been the case if there had been any substantial argument whatever produced against it.


I hardly expected that my hon. Friend would have the support of the hon. Gentleman below the Gangway, but I was interested to see the reason which the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Snowden) produced in order to get his party out of the difficult position of having to vote against an Amendment to which they are committed by their speeches, and of which we know they thoroughly approve. The hon. Gentleman's defence was extremely skilful, but he might, of course, have put it in very much fewer words. He might have said, "Whatever our views may be upon this particular Amendment, we mean to keep the Government in, and we mean to support them at all costs." It is not my business to inquire into the domestic affairs of the Labour party, but when he proudly says that he knows his own people, and that they have sufficient intelligence to understand what he is doing in this matter, all I can say is that I do not think it is quite so clear that they would approve of this principle of supporting the Liberal Government at whatever cost and whether the proposed measures suit the Labour party's views or not. He did not confine himself to defending his position, but he went on to attack us, and I gather that his attack was something like this: He did not believe that we were sincere in moving this Amendment. It was only a trap to try and obtain the vote of hon. Members below the Gangway, and so embarras the Government. He might reconsider his provision if we, for our part, would consent to increase the direct taxation by the amount which the Treasury would lose by passing this Amendment. I really do not see that has got much to do with it. I would not presume to teach the hon. Member his business, but I should have thought, when an Amendment comes before the House of Commons of this sort, that you have got to say whether it is right or wrong. Your vote on that question cannot be decided by a hypothetical question as to what your opponents are going to do if and when they come into office. I am going to vote for this Amendment, and at the same time I have no hesitation in saying that I think direct taxation in this Budget is a great deal too high. I say it frankly, and I say that that statement can be defended on the plain logical ground that you are taking money away from the trade of the country, a course which must diminish the prosperity of the country and, incidentally, the wages of the poorer classes.


I must ask the hon. Member to keep to the Amendment before the Committee.


I was trying to reply to arguments which I understood the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Snowden) had addressed to the Committee, but I will not pursue that point any further. We are faced by two alternatives. It is up to us, we are told, if we vote for this Amendment to say whether we are prepared to meet the deficit by an increase in the Income Tax or Death Duties. I vote for this Amendment, because I am in favour of such a revision of our tariff system as would do away with or largely reduce this form of tariff, which I look upon as extravagant and hard on the poorest classes, and I would substitute a tariff arrangement which would bring in an equal and indeed a greater amount of revenue, and at the same time would not press so hardly upon the poorest classes. It is for that reason that I support the Amendment, and not because I wish to catch the votes of the Labour party or anybody else, by pretending that I am in favour of increasing direct taxation at the expense of indirect taxation. Not only am I not in favour of that, but I am certain that 99 per cent. of the Members of this House agree with me, although for electoral reasons it is not easy for them to give expression to that belief. All the arguments with which the Government have rebutted this Amendment have been used practically in dealing with every suggestion we make on financial questions. They simply say, "all right, if you pass your Amendment there is so much deficit. How do you propose to make it up?" That is not our business. It is the business of the Government. It is their duty to frame the Budget. I consider that they have framed an exceedingly bad one, and that these particular proposals are some of the worst among many very bad proposals, and for that reason I am going to support my hon. Friend's Amendment.


The hon. Gentleman who has just spoken told us he would not only reduce the Tea Duty, but he would substitute other duties which would press more hardly on the richer part of the population. Involved of course in that statement is the fact, which I am glad to see is dawning at last on hon. Members opposite, that the consumer pays the import duty.


On non-competitive goods.


If the hon. Member secures a revenue to put in the place of the direct taxation of which he complains—


The hon. Member cannot discuss the question of tariffs here.


I was only trying to reply in a very few words to the statement made by the hon. Member. I should like to recall, if I may, the attention of the Committee to the history of the Tea Duty. The hon. Gentleman says we have no right to take into account what may possibly be done by this party if they are returned to office. May I remind him, as bearing upon the sincerity of this particular Amendment, what was done by the Tory party while it was in office? I find that on 6th March, 1900, the Tory party increased the Tea Duty from 4d. to 6d.—[An HON. MEMBER: "A war tax!"]—and on 20th April, 1904, when the war was safely over the Tea Tax was increased from 6d. to 8d.


And what happened in 1905?


I am coming to that presently.


May I point out that since 1900 the whole fiscal policy of the Unionist party, as regards direct taxation, has absolutely changed?


I congratulate the hon. Member on the facility with which his party changes its mind. It is well to call attention in this Debate in which we are charged with revising our Budget to the fact that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire raised the Tea Tax from 6d. to 8d. in 1904, and on 1st July, 1905, incontinently brought it down again to 6d.—one of the quickest changes of mind with regard to the Tea Duty that ever occurred in this country. At that 6d. the party opposite left the Tea Duty. What have we done? It is important to remember that we have done two things. In the first place we have actually reduced it from 6d. to 5d., and in the second place we have changed entirely the relationship of direct and indirect taxation, so that in addition to actually reducing the Tea Duty, we have relatively decreased it even more. May I remind the hon. Gentleman responsible for this Amendment, that whereas in 1895 the revenue from these duties in this country amounted to from 2s. to 2s. 3d. per head of population, ten years later, in 1905, when they went out of office, the amount was 7s. 3d. per head of population, while in 1913 it had fallen to a little over 4s. 6d. per head of population.


The hon. Member is not entitled to go into all these questions on this Amendment.


But I submit that this does bear very directly on the Tea Duty as showing that not only have we reduced the duty, but we have also relatively reduced it even more, and therefore the motive of the hon. Gentle- man who moved this Amendment has been respected by my right hon. Friends, and has in fact been carried into effect in their Budgets. In regard to the suggestion that we have not to take into consideration the possibilities of taxation by some future administration, we have to remember what the leaders and Friends of the hon. Member opposite did as regards the Tea Duty when in office, and what has been done with it by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, and, taking all these considerations into account, surely there can be no doubt as to how the vote should be given by those who profess the sentiments of the Mover of this Amendment.


I had not intended to take any part in this discussion, but the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down (Mr. Chiozza Money) happened to be referring to me at the moment I came back into the House. I do not think he has a very clear recollection of what took place in regard to the Tea Duty. He said I had shown a remarkably quick change of mind. He professed to give some history of the Tea Duty under the Unionist Administration as well as under the present administration, but he omitted to mention that before I had to deal with the Tea Duty at all, the party of which I am a Member, had reduced it, and he also omitted to say that, although I put it on, in order to meet a deficit, I took it off in the following year without any change of mind, and because it had served the purpose with which it was put on.


I gather it is not my right hon. Friend's intention to vote for this Amendment. It is a fairly good rule in this House among independent Members that when the Front Benches are agreed they should be opposed by those behind them, and I intend to follow that course on this occasion. I am glad to see that the Government and the House have taken this Amendment much more seriously on this occasion than on former occasions. The intelligent and illuminating speech of the hon. Member for East Northamptonshire (Mr. Chiozza Money) was especially damaging, because when amendments of this kind are brought forward by the Opposition, there is always a suspicion, even if it be not stated, that they are moved and spoken to for obstructive purposes. In view of speeches like that of the hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member for Black- burn (Mr. Snowden), and other Members on that side of the House, it cannot be said of this Amendment on this occasion that it has been moved with any obstructive object or spoken to with any obstructive object, else they are parties to the offence. On the last occasion when I moved this Amendment the then Secretary to the Treasury made a very different reply from that we have heard tonight. He opposed it without any arguments in a manner which is only capable of the description that truculence was used as a cloak for ignorance. He said that he was not sure whether he should treat it seriously, that I had voted the other way some years before—forgetting the fact that practically the whole of his party, and those who spoke, had spoken in favour of the present Amendment—and he then sat down, thinking he had scored.

It is true that on this occasion the Government have attempted to make some defence, but perhaps it has been a matter of expediency and not of principle. I think they admit the principle that the high-priced article used by richer men ought to be more highly taxed than the lower-priced article used presumably by poorer men. It is an extraordinary argument to say you should resist an ad valorem duty because some poor people drink high-priced tea. Who is it that drinks the high-priced tea? Is it not the rich person? Presumably low-priced tea is drunk by some poor people, and I submit that they should have some relief. We are under great difficulties in this matter, because we are not in a position to be able to propose a higher rate on the high-priced tea; therefore the representative of the Treasury is always in a position to say that this Amendment will cost so much. We put it to the Government that they ought to increase the duty on the high-priced teas which are the drink of the rich old ladies whose tea is the great comfort of their declining years. I believe they would admit that too, but they fall back on the practical difficulties. What are those practical difficulties? They are based, I suppose, on the principle that there is no particular test in the instance of this particular commodity. In the case of sugar the degrees of saccharine are detected by the use of the polariscope. The Attorney-General will correct me if I am wrong in that. In the case of tobacco the test is one of moisture, and in the case of wine it is the amount of alcohol. It is true that there is nothing in the case of tea by which you can test it, but surely that does not exhaust the activities of the Customs officials, and they are not unequal to the task of being able to levy an ad valorem tax, even if they have not the polariscope or the means used in detecting the exact degree of moisture in tobacco or the amount of alcohol in wine!

In Holland, which I believe is a Free Trade country, they have a small ad valorem tax on a large number of imports. What do the Dutch Customs officials do? Are they equal to their duties or not? I believe that they collect a substantial ad valorem duty from all kinds of miscellaneous articles in cases where they cannot have any specified tax on an article. They have solved the problem there, and what is possible in Free Trade Holland ought to be possible in Free Trade England. The hon. Member who spoke last from the other side, when speaking on a previous occasion, said that tea was a vegetable substance wholly unnecessary to man. I do not know whether he wishes to repeat that on the present occasion. It is unnecessary to some men, and it is not only unnecessary but extremely deleterious to myself, and I never drink it; therefore I am not affected one way or the other by his argument. It is, however, a comfort and solace to great numbers of people in this country. The Amendment is thoroughly defensible. I do not care whether my right hon. Friend (Mr. Chamberlain) is opposed to it or not. If he votes one way, I shall vote the other. The principle is admitted, and it is nonsense to say that the Customs officials in this country are incapable of solving a problem which in Holland and other countries is perfectly easy of solution.


There comes to my mind in this connection a certain Report of a Royal Commission issued about twenty years ago, which pointed out that the most largely adulterated article in the country is tea, that such adulteration is worse at a time when the cost of living is high, as it is at the present time, and that the more serious adulteration occurs in the case of low-priced tea, of which, presumably, the working classes are the chief consumers. I am conscious that there is a very large amount of highly adulterated tea, and most of the working-class consumers are probably wholly unaware that when they are drinking very cheap tea with a high tax upon it a very large proportion of what they are drinking is not tea at all, but consists of beech-leaves and ash-leaves grown upon the trees of this country.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 130; Noes, 241.

Division No. 145.] AYES. [9.43 p.m.
Agg-Gardner, James Tynte Gilmour, Captain John Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)
Amery, L. C. M. S. Glazebrook, Captain Philip K. Peel, Lieut.-Colonel R. F.
Ashley, Wilfrid W. Goldman, C. S. Perkins, Walter F.
Astor, Waldorf Goldsmith, Frank Pollock, Ernest Murray
Baird, John Lawrence Grant, James Augustus Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.
Baldwin, Stanley Greene, Walter Raymond Randies, Sir John S.
Barlow, Montague (Salford, South) Guinness, Hon. W.E. (Bury S. Edmunds) Ronaldshay, Earl of
Barnston, Harry Hall, Frederick (Dulwich) Royds, Edmund
Barrie, H. T. Hambro, Angus Valdemar Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen)
Bathurst, Hon. A. B. (Glouc., E.) Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Altrincham) Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)
Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton) Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.) Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)
Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth) Harris, Henry Percy Sanders, Robert Arthur
Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich) Harrison-Broadley, H. B. Sassoon, Sir Philip
Blair, Reginald Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon) Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)
Boles, Lieut.-Colonel Dennis Fortescue Hills, John Waller Smith, Harold (Warrington)
Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith- Hill-Wood, Samuel Spear, Sir John Ward
Bowden, G. R. Harland Hoare, Samuel John Gurney Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)
Boyle, William (Norfolk, Mid) Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy Steel-Maitland, A. D.
Boyton, James Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield) Stewart, Gershom
Burn, Colonel C. R. Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian) Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)
Butcher, John George Horner, Andrew Long Swift, Rigby
Campbell, Captain Duncan F. (Ayr, N.) Hume-Williams, William Ellis Talbot, Lord Edmund
Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. (Dublin Univ.) Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk. Terrell, George (Wilts, N. W.)
Campion, W. R. Joynson-Hicks, William Thomas-Stanford, Charles
Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred Kerry, Earl of Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, North)
Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H. Lane-Fox, G. R. Tickler. T. G.
Cassel, Felix Larmor, Sir J. Touche, George Alexander
Cautley, H. S. Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts., Mile End) Tryon, Captain George Clement
Cave, George Lee, Arthur H. Walker, Colonel William Hall
Clay, Captain H. H. Spender Lloyd, George Ambrose (Stafford, W.) Walrond, Hon. Lionel
Courthope, George Loyd Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury) Warde, Colonel C. E. (Kent, Mid)
Craig, Charles (Antrim, S.) Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Colonel A. R. Weigall, Captain A. G.
Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet) Mackinder, H. J. Weston. Colonel J. W.
Currie, George W. M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's) White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)
Dalrymple, Viscount Malcolm, Ian Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset, W.)
Denniss, E. R. B. Mason, James F. (Windsor) Wills, Sir Gilbert
Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott Middlemore, John Throgmorton Winterton, Earl
Dixon, C. H. Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas Worthington Evans, L.
Duncannon, Viscount Moore, William Wright, Henry Fitzherbert
Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M. Mount, William Arthur Younger, Sir George
Faber, George Denison (Clapham) Newdegate, F. A.
Falle, Bertram Godfray Nield, Herbert
Fell, Arthur O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.
Forster, Henry William Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A. Peto and Mr. Sandys.
Gastrell, Major W. Houghton Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)
Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour) Bryce, J. Annan Donelan, Captain A.
Acland, Francis Dyke Burns, Rt. Hon. John Doris, William
Adamson, William Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas Duffy, William J.
Addison, Dr. Christopher Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North) Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)
Agnew, Sir George Byles, Sir William Pollard Elverston, Sir Harold
Alden, Percy Cawley, Harold T. (Lancs., Heywood) Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)
Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire) Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)
Arnold, Sydney Chancellor, Henry George Essex, Sir Richard Walter
Baker, Harold T. (Accrington) Chappie, Dr. William Allen Falconer, James
Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.) Clancy, John Joseph Farrell, James Patrick
Ballour, Sir Robert (Lanark) Clough, William Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Clynes, John R. Ffrench, Peter
Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple) Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock) Field, William
Barnes, George N. Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth) Fitzgibbon, John
Beale, Sir William Phipson Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Flavin, Michael Joseph
Beauchamp, Sir Edward Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. France, Gerald Ashburner
Beck, Arthur Cecil Cotton, William Francis Gelder, Sir W. A.
Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets. St. George) Crooks, William George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd
Bentham, G. J. Crumley, Patrick Gill, A. H.
Black, Arthur W. Cullinan, John Gladstone, W. G. C.
Boland, John Pius Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy) Glanville, Harold James
Booth, Frederick Handel Davies, Ellis William (Eifion) Goldstone, Frank
Bowerman, Charles W. Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth) Greig, Colonel J. W.
Brace, William Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.) Griffith, Rt. Hon. Ellis Jones
Brady, Patrick Joseph Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas Guest, Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke)
Brocklehurst, W. B. Dillon, John Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)
Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway) Millar, James Duncan Robinson, Sidney
Hackett, John Molloy, Michael Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)
Hancock, John George Molteno, Percy Alport Roche, Augustine (Louth)
Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose) Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Roe, Sir Thomas
Hardie, J. Keir Money, L. G. Chiozza Rowlands, James
Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Luton, Beds) Montagu, Hon. E. S. Rowntree, Arnold
Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale) Mooney. John J. Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)
Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West) Morgan, George Hay Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Hayden, John Patrick Morison, Hector Scanlan, Thomas
Helme, Sir Norval Watson Morton, Alpheus Cleophas Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)
Henderson, Arthur (Durham) Muldoon, John Sheeny, David
Hewart, Gordon Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert Shortt, Edward
Higham, John Sharp Murphy, Martin J. Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook
Hodge, John Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C. Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)
Hogge, James Myles Needham, Christopher T. Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton)
Holmes, Daniel Turner Neilson, Francis Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)
Holt, Richard Durning Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster) Snowden, Philip
Howard, Hon. Geoffrey Nolan, Joseph Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert
Hudson, Walter Norton, Captain Cecil W. Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)
John, Edward Thomas Nugent, Sir Walter Richard Sutherland, John E.
Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil) Nuttall, Harry Sutton, John E.
Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth) O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Taylor, John W. (Durham)
Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East) O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.) Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)
Jones, Leif (Notts, Rushcliffe) O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool) Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)
Jones, William (Carnarvonshire) O'Doherty, Philip Toulmin, Sir George
Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney) O'Dowd, John Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Joyce, Michael O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.) Verney, Sir Harry
Kellaway, Frederick George O'Malley, William Walton, Sir Joseph
Kelly, Edward O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.) Wardle, George J.
Kennedy, Vincent Paul O'Shaughnessy, P. J. Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay T.
Kenyon, Barnet O'Shee, James John Webb, H.
Kilbride, Denis O'Sullivan, Timothy Wedgwood, Josiah C.
King, Joseph Parker, James (Halifax) White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)
Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molton) Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek) White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E. R.)
Lardner, James C. R. Pearce, William (Limehouse) White, Patrick (Meath, North)
Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West) Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham) Whitehouse, John Howard
Lawson, Sir W, (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th) Phillips, John (Longford, S.) Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.
Levy, Sir Maurice Pirie, Duncan V. Whyte, Alexander F. (Perth)
Lundon, Thomas Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H. Wiles, Thomas
Lynch, Arthur Alfred Pratt, J. W. Williams, Aneurin (Durham, N. W.)
Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs) Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central) Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)
Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J. Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.) Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)
MacVeagh, Jeremiah Pringle, William M. R. Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)
M'Callum, Sir John M. Radford, George Heynes Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)
M'Curdy, Charles Albert Raffan, Peter Wilson Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields) Winfrey, Sir Richard
M'Laren, Hon. F. W. S. (Lincs., Spalding) Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough) Wing, Thomas Edward
M'Micking, Major Gilbert Reddy, Michael Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)
Manfield, Harry Redmond, John E. (Waterford) Yeo, Alfred William
Markham, Sir Arthur Basil Redmond, William (Clare, E.) Young, William (Perthshire, East)
Marks, Sir George Croydon Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.) Yoxall, Sir James Henry
Marshall, Arthur Harold Richardson, Albion (Peckham)
Meagher, Michael Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)
Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.) Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.
Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix.) Roberts, George H. (Norwich) Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.
Middlebrook, William Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)

The next Amendment in the name of the hon. Gentleman (Sir R. Cooper) is not in order, as it involves a charge beyond the Resolution of Ways and Means.


I beg to move to leave out the words "Tea, the pound … five pence," and to insert instead thereof the words "Tea (if grown within the British Empire), the pound … four pence. Tea (if grown in any foreign country), the pound … five pence."

I quite admit that this is not an original Amendment, but hon. Members who hold the opinions I do are always in this difficulty: If we do not bring forward an Amendment of this description we are told that we are deserting our principles—that we say we are in favour of Colonial preference but that we dare not speak of it in this House or advocate it on the platform. If, on the other hand, we do move, we are told we are wasting time and that the whole question has been discussed dozens of times. We have not given up Colonial preference. It is a policy we have advocated for many years, and which is adopted and supported by members of all classes in this country, and most particularly by the labour and working-class Constituency which I represent. We believe in cementing the bonds of Empire more closely, and it can be done by such a proposal as this. I shall be told probably in reply that it will cost something. I am very doubtful whether it will cost as much as is some- times said. At any rate, it will be a gain to the Empire, as a whole, and it will stimulate the growth of tea within the Empire. It may cost something additional. It may cost £1,000,000, but if it does we have our compensating proposal, and we should go in for the policy of Tariff Reform and the taxation of luxuries and foreign manufactured goods. What has been really interesting in this Debate and the last is the attitude of the Labour party. They have been at pains to make very elaborate explanations why they should vote against any Amendment of this kind. Although they have supported a reduction of the Tea Duty in their election addresses and in their speeches, they prefer to act in this particular case, not on the merits of the Amendment, but with the object of keeping the present Government in power. In fact, they would go so far as to vote for the Tea Duty if the Government desired them to do so, and they would vote against it if the Government desired them to do away with it. Where is the independence of the Labour party? They make fair promises, but they do not carry them out, and it is no wonder that many of their own supporters in the country are asking what is the use of the Labour party in Parliament at all?


Ask Lord Claud Hamilton.


It is now one of the difficulties, I think, in dealing with this subject to-night that, so far as I can make out, no return as to the consumption of tea has been presented to the House for two or three years, and, therefore, there is, unless I am mistaken, considerably greater difficulty than usual in bringing the figures up to date, or in presenting the case as it now stands. Two or three years ago 260,000,000 pounds of tea grown in the British Empire were imported into this country, chiefly from India and Ceylon, and Natal to an insignificant degree; whereas 36,000,000 pounds not grown in the British Empire were imported into this country. That is to say, mainly from China, so that the proportion of imported tea not grown in the British Empire is roughly one-seventh of the whole. Therefore if we pass this Amendment, we shall be largely benefiting India and Ceylon, and bringing about that policy of Colonial Preference which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham has so brilliantly elaborated, and we shall be doing a good turn to India at a time when I think it is eminently desirable to draw closer the links between it and this country. I submit that we shall not be doing any harm to tea coming from other countries. I know that the Chancellor of the Exchequer last year devoted a great deal of time to pointing out that China was our best customer, and that it was a great pity to penalise tea coming from that country. He said we ought not to discriminate against our best customer. That frame of mind seems to me a very unreasonable one. We ought to look at it from a business point of view—not as a matter of penalising a foreign country, but as one giving benefits to our own Colonies. We shall gain as much by doing that, and probably a great deal more, both sentimentally and commercially.


made a remark which was inaudible in the Reporters' Gallery.

10.0 P.M.


I do not want to be drawn into a long discussion, but it is perfectly plain that if you have tea at a lower rate from the Colonies, it will not merely be a benefit to the consumer here, but foreign countries will have to give it at a lower price in order to compete. The hon. Member (Mr. Chiozza Money) is, I know, most anxious to sow the seeds of separation, so far as commerce is concerned, between this country and the Colonies.


You have no right to say so.


The policy of the Colonial conferences has been to draw closer the relations between this country and the Colonies. I do not know why I should press this argument in this way when I can go to an excellent authority who probably will persuade hon. Members opposite far better than I can. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has had a long and varied career in this House. I want more particularly to call his attention to the fact that on, 11th May, 1896, he moved on an occasion, precisely similar to this, to insert after "Tea Duty" the words "except in respect of tea grown in any part of Her Majesty's Dominions." Therefore, he was really the pioneer, and I only hope he will maintain the arguments he then used. His first argument—I am quoting from Hansard of 11th May, 1896, was:— The practical effect would be to except from taxation the tea of India and Ceylon, and tea grown in any of our Colonies. There was no suggestion about China then, or that it would be penalised. He went on to say:— A good deal was said about a British Zollverein to encourage British trade in all parts of the world. Here was an opportunity of making a practical start. I am entirely anxious in this respect to be his follower, and I only hope that he will give me the opportunity of being so tonight. He went on:— Another reason for helping India was that taxes there were exceedingly heavy. He developed that argument by pointing out that by Colonial preference on tea India would be assisted. An hon. Member who supported him at that time was the hon. Baronet the Member for West Denbighshire (Sir Herbert Roberts). He seconded the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Amendment, and said:— That tax ought not be suffered to remain, not only in the interests of the poorer consuming classes, but of an industry in the Island of Ceylon which deserved encouragement. The present condition of India did not justify the House in retaining any duty which might be prejudicial to our Indian Empire. I am standing here to-night to maintain the principle of Colonial preference. The Chancellor of the Exchequer thought that that principle was a sound one when he was a free lance before his party made it a party question. I appeal to him now that he is one of the leaders of his party to have the courage to admit the soundness of the argument which he then used, and to consent to adopt this Amendment, which I now beg to move.


I rise to second this Amendment. In doing so I would like to call attention to two aspects of it. The first is the benefit which would naturally accrue to the working classes from its adoption. As the hon. Member who has just sat down pointed out, out of 300,000,000 pounds of tea imported into this country every year, only one-seventh is foreign grown. With so large a proportion of the whole supply provided by them, it is impossible to believe that the competition between the growers of India will not bring down the price for the home consumer by the full extent of the remission of duty. Last year, the duty paid at the 5d. rate on tea came to £5,500,000. Therefore, the value of the reduction of a penny would be £1,100,000, and if 2d. were taken off, it would relieve the Chancellor of the Ex- chequer of some of his embarrassment of riches, and put £2,200,000 into the pockets of the poor. Hitherto the chief argument adduced against this Amendment which has been so often introduced has been that it would cost too much, but this cannot apply this year. That is one aspect of it. The other aspect of it is this: There is a number of Members who profess to take a very active interest in the affairs of India, an interest which does not always take the form that the bulk of educated opinion in India would desire it to take, that is endeavouring to make the Home Government take some notice of India's special commercial needs. I do not want to enter into, any controversial matters on this point, but if any evidence were needed to show the attitude which India adopted towards these proposals it is supplied very abundantly by the proposals introduced a little more than a year ago into the Legislative Council to increase the revenues of India by a system of preferential tariffs with the United Kingdom. A revision of those with regard to Indian-grown tea would very materially help India.

That does not necessarily mean that the thirty or forty million pounds grown in China would necessarily be transferred to India. China tea has a very special market, which would continue even after preference had been given to India, and the encouragement of an increased consumption of Indian tea produced by the reduction in price, and the consequent benefit to India, would not be effected at the cost of China. But, if so, what reason can there be for refusing the benefit to India? The Government have a very great, responsibility towards India, a responsibility which generally is discharged by giving one day at the end of the Session, when the temperature is too much in keeping with the subject under discussion for the attendance to be large. Here is an opportunity for working off that responsibility in a way which India would easily appreciate. China ought not to be allowed to stand in the way even though the Chancellor of the Exchequer said last year that China is one of our best customers, especially with regard to Lancashire. This is an argument which I find very difficult to understand. China is a good customer. Is India not a good customer too? Which is the more important trade for the Lancashire market, the India trade or the, China trade? Anyone who looks into the figures on a purely material basis, without taking into consideration the fact that we owe a duty to India, which we do not owe to China, will see that India has a far greater claim upon our good will than China. Last year China bought from us 573,000,000 yards of cotton piece goods, value £9,500,000, and India bought 3,000,000,000 yards of cotton piece goods, value £35,000,000—more in quantity though some what less in value than the whole of our export to foreign countries—and she bought in addition 37,000,000 lbs. weight of cotton yarn, value £2,500,000. In face of these figures, the argument that China has a greater claim on us than India can carry very little weight even in Lancashire.

It is said that China is a developing market. So is India. The population of China I have never heard put at a higher figure than 400,000,000, a population harassed by disorder, and torn by the most horrible forms of civil strife. India possesses a known population of 315,000,000 under an established government, and increasing in prosperity from year to year. There is no doubt which population supplies Lancashire with the more valuable market. Is it to be said that India is secured, and that China is still to be won? That is a most unworthy argument. It is suggested that we use our political hold over India to exploit it in favour of Lancashire. That is the suggestion which is often made, for which it may be that the existing Customs and Excise Duties in force in India lend some colour. The usual duty on imports into British India is 5 per cent. ad valorem. Cotton goods pay only 3½ per cent., and there is an Excise Duty of 3½ per cent. on all woven cotton goods manufactured in India at power rates, the products of hand looms being exempt. This House would think twice before encouraging such an idea, because among other reasons it is an impracticable one, since the manufacturers of Lancashire have far more to lose by the spread of the, Swadeshi movement in India than through any resentment felt in China for any preference shown to India. If China did feel any resentment she would have no right to do so. England has done a great deal for China, mostly at the expense of India. By an act of vicarious generosity she has sacrificed the whole opium trade of India to the moral regeneration of China. What this has meant for India may be gathered from the fact that the poppy fields under crops in Bengal, which amounted to 500,000 acres in 1905–6, have been reduced to 200,000 acres in 1911–12. The only market for opium outside India is China to-day, and this we did for the sake of China, who has not carried out her share of the bargain. There are many districts in China open to the cultivation of the poppy, and for the local demand there is local production. It is high time some consideration was shown to India, and that something was done for our fellow subjects there. It is not a great concession which the House is asked to make, and certainly it is a step in the right direction. It is an acknowledgment that India has some claim on us, and if it is realised by the encouragement of industries in that great Dependency, the better will it be, not only for India herself, but for our own manufacturers, and the better for England, and especially Lancashire. Hon. Gentlemen opposite are in an ideal position. At one and the same time they are able to satisfy three of their most cherished ambitions. They can benefit millions of these natives in India who, at any other time, so readily command their sympathy. They can also confer a very real benefit on the working classes of this country, and they can also take two and a half millions out of the pockets of the rich and put them into the pockets of the poor. That they may not be prevented from giving full range to their personal feelings in this matter. I will give them—though it has already been given to them a precedent with which they cannot quarrel, an authority they cannot challenge. I will make one other quotation out of the speech of the then Member for Carnarvon Boroughs, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and which has a very important bearing upon this Amendment and helps us very much. The right hon. Gentleman said:— We ought to encourage industries in those parts of the Empire that were not self-governing. Those that were self-governing, had taken advantage of that fact to impose duties upon goods sent from this country. India and Ceylon had no power to do so; they could impose no duties upon imports from this country without the consent of this country, and that was a ground for exempting their produce in this country from taxation. It was easy to make speeches upon questions of this character, but what was the good of doing so, now that they had the opportunity to carry out a policy of that kind? They had a great surplus, and they had the opportunity of making a fair start with a Zollverein. Let them begin by taking the duty off tea…. It was of the greatest importance that Indian industries, and especially an industry of this character, should be encouraged. To impose heavy duties on tea was to discourage the tea industry, to arrest its growth, and to deprive the people of India of profitable employment. I am in full accord with every word of what the right hon. Gentleman then said, and surely the Amendment could not be helped more forcibly than by the arguments he then used. The right hon. Gentleman has the matter in his own hands, and I would urge him to help it in the same admirable manner as he did eighteen years ago, in such convincing terms.


The Motion which is before the Committee is indeed, as the hon. Mover admitted, something of a hardy annual, but we shall all feel that the Mover and the hon. Baronet, who seconded, deserve to be congratulated, because they have introduced, in circumstances of some difficulty, a certain air of novelty into the arguments that they have adduced. They have called in aid, with a dexterity and depth of conviction which we can do nothing more than respectfully admire, the speech of my right hon. Friend delivered in years of less responsibility and more freedom, but which I should have thought even a sincere Tariff Reformer would have observed was delivered in a vein of mockery. I will tell hon. Gentlemen opposite, since they do not seem to know, what was the nature of it. Having made his speech, my right hon. Friend was asked who he nominated as a Teller with him, and he nominated the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain), who had just made a speech in support of a Zollverein, and that right hon. Gentleman hastily left the House. It is really delightful to see, after all these years have passed, that my right hon. Friend's merry moments should be recalled with such fervour and devotion by those who still profess to be Tariff Reformers. And, indeed, that is all that has been left. This is their night out, this is the one occasion when the great forces of Tariff Reform are rallied in order that the people of this country may be reminded what possibilities really exist in this regard. I take note, if the hon. Member will allow me to refer to what he said, with much satisfaction to his statement, made in the presence of the Leader of the Opposition, and I am quite certain receiving his silent support, that hon. Gentlemen opposite join in this discussion and support this proposal because, of course, the Unionist party has not given up Colonial preference. I do so with the more satisfaction, because, of course, we have long ago been told by the principal authorities of that creed that Colonial preference is only possible if you have a preference on the different foods that are imported. I will not trouble the House with a very hackneyed quotation from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, but I will vary it by a quotation less well known from the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. He made a contribution to a most valuable book for Unionist speakers, in the course of which he referred to this subject, and he said, speaking of his Free Trade opponents:— They say that we cannot have preferential trade without a tax upon food, which is true. So far as this poor remnant is concerned, the annual proposal to differentiate in the matter of the Import Duty upon tea, I am not so certain that the Tariff Reformers in this House were well advised to allow two people to speak about it, because, of course, you cannot expect them to agree.

The hon. Gentleman who moved explained to us that the result of this proposal would be that we would increase the import from within the boundaries of our own Empire. The foreign producer would, no doubt, suffer, but what did that matter after all; blood is thicker than water—that is his view. The hon. Baronet, who seconded, in a speech which we all admired, explained in the blandest way that, of course, the effects of this proposal would not be to reduce the importation of China tea, not by a single pound, and that the people who wanted to have it would still have it, and that there would be the same imports from China as before, and that everybody is going to be happy. The hon. Gentleman who moved said, not I think quite accurately, that recent figures are not really conveniently available as to the extent to which there is consumption in this country as between tea which comes from within the Empire and from outside. Perhaps he would allow me to give him what I believe to be the correct figures of the two as far as possible up to date. The truth is that even under this despised system which we at present suffer from the British Empire gets on fairly well in this matter. Of all the tea that is imported into this country year by year enormously the greater part is tea which is produced within the boundaries of the British Empire. The figures I have here—from the Depart- merit of course—are for the year 1913–14. Having made the necessary correction, which is a very important one, in regard to the tea that comes to this country and goes out again without being taken out of bond, the figures of actual consumption are something of this kind. The tea from British East India and Ceylon, which for this purpose may be treated as the principal places of origin within the British Empire, amounted in the year 1913–14 to about 270,000,000 lbs, while the tea from China, which is to be made the particular object of attack in this Amendment, including that from Hong Kong, is about 11,000,000 lbs. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about Java?"] The tea from other countries outside the British Empire is a great deal more than that which comes from China, the amount being about 31,000,000 lbs. Taking the figures as a whole, you have consumed in this country about 270,000,000 lbs. of tea grown within the British Empire, and about 42,000,000 lbs. grown outside the British Empire. The hon. Gentleman will therefore see that, comparing these figures with those which he quoted, there is not much indication that under our present system of equal treatment the British grower is suffering as compared with the foreign grower; on the contrary, the British grower is sending us more tea than he did some years ago. The tea grown in British India and Ceylon represents about 85 per cent. of the total consumption in this country, while about 3½ per cent. comes from China, and something over 10 per cent. from other places.

In these circumstances nobody can say that the tea grower within the British Empire is suffering by the hard stroke of fate which insists upon still preserving that which has been the principle of our Free Trade system. In point of fact, the amount that would be lost to the revenue by this change is proportionately great, because if you let off from a portion of the duty 85 per cent. of the supply, obviously you drop a considerable amount of money. If my calculation is correct, the knocking off of one penny in respect of tea grown in the British Empire would mean not far short of £1,000,000—about £850,000. That being so, and there being plainly no case of real hardship, is there any other justification for what is now suggested? I should have thought that there was none. The trade with India is a very great and important trade, but the idea that that trade is being imperilled by Indian trade with Japan or the Far East, as is sometimes suggested on Tariff Reform platforms, is one that no business man will accept for a moment. The Lancashire trade with India is incomparably greater than that of any of these competing traders with that country. On the other hand, though the Chancellor of the Exchequer never said that our trade with China was more important than our trade with India—that would obviously be an impossible proposition to maintain—he is well within the fact when he points out that our trade with China is a great and rapidly growing trade. It is a trade which, in the circumstances of the case, offers great opportunities for expansion if we do not put artificial obstacles in the way. There are people who would be very glad to get a larger share of the trade with China and to oust ourselves, and yet hon. Members opposite, without any justification on the ground of hardship to those who grow tea within the British Empire, actually suggest that this change should be made, when it obviously involves retaliation or differential treatment as against a great and growing customer of this country, with whom it is of the first importance that we should exchange products with the greatest freedom and in the greatest quantity as far as we may. Therefore, for these reasons, the hon. Mover and his supporter will not be surprised to hear that we think it necessary to resist this Amendment. We are none the less truly grateful to them for giving us the opportunity of listening to an exposition of Tariff Reform principles up-to-date.


I should have-been rather surprised at the Attorney-General, of all people, being selected to defend the taxes in the Budget, or any point in the Budget on which there can be no question of law, had it not been that my hon. Friend behind me indicated in his speech a very good reason why the Chancellor of the Exchequer prefers to hold his tongue. Reference has been made to the language of the Chancellor of the Exchequer on a certain occasion. He explains now by the mouth of the right hon. Gentleman's learned colleague that it really was all a great joke, and that he finally withdrew his Amendment, because when he named my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Joseph Chamberlain) as a Teller he was not there. "Hansard" does not bear the right hon. Gentleman out. He asked leave to withdraw his Amendment before any reference had been made at all to my right hon. Friend. The only reference—and I have just read the Debate—which the Chancellor of the Exchequer made to my right hon Friend was at the end, when he expressed regret that he had not been present to take part in the discussion. Incidentally the matter is of interest to me, and I think possibly of some public interest. We are accustomed to hear it said by hon. Gentlemen opposite that the Tariff Reform movement was invented out of his splendid brain by the Colonial Secretary in 1903, because at that time the Unionist party was in distress, and needed something to divert the attention of the country. But we find that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had already appeared on the scene when in 1896 he moved his Amendment for the express purpose of initiating discussion upon the subject. I could give another proof, if it were necessary, that my right hon. Friend was much more consistent and much more patient that it had been the custom to give him credit for.

I turn from that episode to the merits of the Amendment itself. I have consistently voted for this Amendment, and I shall vote for it to-night. I vote for it as an assertion of the principle laid down in our Tariff Reform policy, first propounded by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, and as defined by my right hon. Friend the present Leader of the Opposition, that where we have duties capable of affording preferences we should take the opportunity of giving preference to our own people. It is perfectly true, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney-General quoted my right hon. Friend, that in the present condition of commercial development of a large portion of His Majesty's Dominions you can have no preference of serious interest to them without taxes on food. This is one of the taxes on food. It is one by which you can give a material preference to the great Dependency of India, to the great Colony of Ceylon, without injury to your own people, or any industry here, and with advantage to the consumer. The right hon. and learned Gentlemen thought that he could make short work of the Amendment by imputing inconsistency to the two hon. Members who have spoken from this side of the House. I see no inconsistency there. If I may say so, without offence, I think the right hon. and learned Gentleman on this occasion has found when discussing fiscal questions that he is treating them in a manner which really does no credit to his well-known ability. What is his contention? I might begin by asking which horse hon. Gentlemen opposite want to ride? By whom do they allege the duty is paid? We have been accustomed to hear from them without qualification that the duty is paid by the consumer. [HON. MEMBEBS: "Hear, hear!"] That is their view. If you take twopence off ninepence, do you mean to tell me you are not going to lower the price? The whole contention of the Attorney-General was that you were going to lower the price, and therefore you would not benefit India. Of course any economist with a serious reputation to guard knows you cannot lay down a hard and fast rule as to the effect of duties without regard to the articles upon which they are imposed, the sources of the supply, or the proportion of the sources that comes in taxed or untaxed. But I do not think any political economist with a reputation that is of value, and which, therefore, he would not wish to lose, would venture to say that in a case like this you would not affect the price to the consumer if you relieved the British supply of one-fifth of the existing duty—that is by 20 per cent. of the duty. But then the Attorney-General wishes to argue that if we benefit the British consumer we cannot advantage the Indian producer. Again I say that argument is wholly inconsistent with a great deal of what he says on other occasions when he is out to prove some other inconsistency in Tariff Reform or some other impropriety in the policy of Tariff Reform.

If you reduce the price of tea, I do not say by a penny, but I say if you reduce the price of tea by twopence you do two things. In the first place, you advantage the consumer, and, in the second place, you would increase the consumption of tea to the advantage of the producer. I do not say that that would necessarily result from the reduction of the Tea Duty by one penny. I think if you want to produce that kind of result you should reduce the Tea Duty by twopence rather by one penny. And for that reason I would prefer to have the figure at threepence upon Imperial tea rather than fourpence. But does that argument lie in the mouths of hon. Members opposite? Why this very evening we had the Government and their supporters, including the hon. Member for Northampton, bragging of the reduction in the Tea Duty which this Government made, and of the advantage which they thereby brought to the consumer. What was their reduction? It was one penny, and the criticism that I and others made then was that a penny was not divisible, and was so small that no advantage would come to the consumer, and the whole argument of the Government was that although a penny could not be given in cash, it could be given in improved tea. I say when hon. Members talk of the inconsistency of my hon. Friend they should try to reconcile their own inconsistency—I will not say in reference to the case they put forward yesterday, but at least this afternoon.

I cannot leave this question without dealing with one matter which the right hon. Gentleman touched upon, and one which he did not touch upon, or, at any rate, did not deal with as I think it ought to be dealt with. The right hon. and learned Gentleman once again described the object of attack of this Amendment as China. I do not seek a quarrel with the right hon. Gentleman, but that is not true. It is not true that that is the object of the Amendment. It is not true that that is the motive in our minds. But that is not all. I say that it is not patriotic for any man, whatever his views on this question, to announce to foreign countries that they have a grievance if we choose to treat the British Empire as one. It will be time for the right hon. and learned Gentlemen and his Friends to make that kind of statement when we single out China for differential treatment among foreign nations. That is not the proposal here or any portion of the policy of Imperial preference. The object of the Amendment and the policy of Imperial preference is to assert the unity of the Empire. The right hon. and learned Gentleman and hon. Members are aware that other countries have preferential arrangements with their colonies. Has he ever suggested that that was unfriendly to us? Is he prepared to say to-day that it is a mark of unfriendly conduct on the part of the United States to have preferential arrangements with Cuba or Trinidad, or that France should not have special shipping laws in regard to the trade with her colonies?

No, Sir. I say that assertion is not only untrue, but it is unpatriotic for any man, for the sake of securing a party success in this House or in this country, to preach the doctrine to foreign nations that they have a right to complain if the British Government throughout the world unite their efforts and their strength in a common commercial policy. The Government are not even consistent in that. I have heard Members of the Government say that if you could get Free Trade within the Empire it would be worth while, at any rate, to seriously consider whether you should not put small Customs duties against all the rest of the world to secure a Free Trade market, and to secure such commercial relations as that would involve. Once you admit that you have given up the whole principle which the Attorney-General tries to establish as regards my hon. Friends. This Amendment concerns not only us but India. Is anybody in this House comfortable about the Indian fiscal system? It is notorious that it is disliked, and I think I might even say detested by the Indian people. It is imposed upon them by us, and it would not be maintained if they were free agents in the matter. It is notorious, and I frankly admit it, that until quite recently the movement in India was a purely protectionist movement. They desired protection as much against this country as against any other. Yes, but last year there was a most important discussion in the Legislative Council, really an epoch-making discussion. For the first time a representative Indian in the Council proposed a Resolution seeking an inquiry into the possibility of the amendment of the fiscal system on a preferential basis. The then Finance Minister made a very remarkable speech on that Motion, and a most interesting discussion took place. The Finance Minister took no definite line. He tried to put the pros and cons before the Indian audience whom he was addressing. I do not want to commit him to anything which his words do not convey. He tried to put the whole case frankly before them. I hope, if any Member of the House has not read the discussion, that he will read it. I cannot go into it now. I do not want to incur your displeasure, and I do not want to say a word more than is necessary for the case which I think must be made for the Amendment. Here for the first time you had an important representative of a section of Indian public opinion moving against the present Indian fiscal system, disliked by Lancashire and abhorred by India in favour, not of a pure protection for India, but of a preferential system.

It has been the work of the present Government to give Indian opinion greater opportunities of expressing itself. If you are going to pay no attention to that opinion when it does express itself, then your policy was indeed a very shortsighted one, and you left us in a worse position than we were in before. I do not believe, with the outlet of Indian opinion which the present Government has afforded, that it is possible to maintain unchanged for any long period in the life of countries the fiscal system of India as it now exists. If you offer no alternative to it, the Indians will one day force their own alternative upon you. If you insist on the attitude claimed by the Attorney-General and the Government they will force upon you the same fiscal system for India that now exists in Great Britain, and your only chance of avoiding it, and preventing the ill-will that will arise in the struggle, as well as the injury to British trade that will result, is to meet their first advancement to a Preferential fiscal system, and try in the fiscal systems of both countries to unite the interests of the two. I support this Amendment, therefore, in the spirit in which my hon. Friend moved it, as an assertion of the principle of fiscal preference within the British Empire; I support it as a measure which would be beneficial alike to the consumer in this country and to the producer in India; and I support it because I believe that, unless you will move along these lines to reform the Indian system, you may maintain your present system a little longer, but you will fare much worse in the end.


We always on this side of the House listen to the right hon. Gentleman with interest and pleasure, and never more so than when he either defends the policy of Tariff Reform or the consistency of his right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham. He has rather widened the scope of this Debate. He has had some very interesting things to say upon the tariff policy of the British Empire. The hon. Gentleman who moved this Amendment made a remark with reference to an interruption of mine which, I think, was hardly worthy either of him or myself. He said I delighted to sow the seeds of discord with regard to the tariff policy of the British Empire. The hon. Gentleman had no right to make such a remark as that. No word which has fallen from my lips or been written by my pen could have allowed him to make it with justice. I should like to say, with regard to what has just been said by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Chamberlain), surely it is for the Committee seriously to consider the tariff policy of the British Empire, not only in regard to India, but in regard to the general proposals which arise in that connection. India, the right hon. Gentleman says, will some day demand the same tariff policy against this country which is demanded by other parts of the Empire—by the self-governing Colonies. Cannot the right hon. Gentleman see that nothing can more surely lead to such a demand than preaching Preference and Protection in the United Kingdom itself. The right hon. Gentleman says that last year there was a very interesting discussion in the Indian Council on this very subject. What has particularly led to such a discussion as that? Who has sown the seed of discord in this particular matter? I venture to submit it has been brought about by the preaching of Preference and Protection in this country, because surely for an old established country like this, with established industries, in reference to what the great protagonist of German protection—Listz—admitted that the Free Trade policy was the correct one. I say if such a country as this preaches Protection and practices it, are we not praching to the Indian people that their greatest need is a measure of Protection against its greatest competitor—the United Kingdom? If the right hon. Gentleman fears such a result as he has foreshadowed to-night I can only suggest that his own speeches are more calculated to bring about that result than our rejection of this particular Motion.

Captain TRYON

I should like briefly to answer the speech of the hon. Member for East Northamptonshire (Mr. Chiozza Money). He says the feeling in India in favour of preference is due to what we have been saying in this country. I will remind him that that is not the case, because, after all, every great Colony has always given up Free Trade after being given a grant of self-government, and they are only following the precedent to be found in every country. The moment you give them a chance of saying what they really think, there is a tendency to move away from Free Trade and that tendency rapidly develops itself. Therefore, in the case of India, if you have a more free expression of Indian views you cannot wonder that it should be followed by realising in this country how strong is the movement in India away from Free Trade. I think, of course, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has naturally some sympathy for China, for not only have the people of China afforded the present Government a cry of a highly Protectionist nature, but they constitute the almost solitary instance of some other country believing in the policy of Free Trade. It seems to me also, as he has brought this question of China into the discussion, that it is only natural he should like to call attention to that country, because after all they have been converted to Free Trade largely by the process of bombarding their ports—a process which in view of other methods adopted by his party would naturally appeal to the right hon. Gentleman. I would suggest that the earlier speeches of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he was simply the hon. Member for Carnarvon, embody his real views far better than his more modern pronouncements. We all know that in this matter he is somewhat kept back by the early Victorian prejudices of some of his colleagues. We have not only his earlier speeches but also his action in regard to the Patents Act to support us in that

belief. Just as his Patents Act and his tax on sugar, which is not balanced by any Excise duty, has increased production and lowered prices, so the lowering of taxation on tea grown within the Empire would increase its production and tend to lower prices.

We know that the learned Attorney-General seems unable to imagine any benefit coming to a producer except from a higher price. No doubt he gets that idea from some of the wealthy Liberals who work on such Protectionist lines in their own particular businesses, and who provide such an important portion of the funds by which this campaign is organised. I would suggest to him that a larger production of tea in India would lead to cheapen tea, and that the people of India would benefit, because if the tax is taken off tea the people of this country would be able to buy more tea and would buy more from India. Finally, I would appeal for the support of the Labour party. They have all made eloquent speeches in favour of having no taxes upon food. This seems to be a case where they might, perhaps, support their pledges. If they are absolutely and resolutely determined in this House to speak on one side of the question and vote on the other, I would ask them to speak against us and give us their votes.

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

The Committee divided: Ayes, 258; Noes, 165.

Division No. 146.] AYES. [10.58 p.m.
Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour) Bryce, J. Annan Donelan, Captain A.
Acland, Francis Dyke Burns, Rt. Hon. John Doris, William
Adamson, William Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas Duffy, William J.
Addison, Dr. Christopher Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North) Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)
Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R. Byles, Sir William Pollard Duncan, Sir J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)
Agnew, Sir George William Carr-Gomm, H. W. Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)
Alden, Percy Cawley, Harold T. (Lancs., Heywood) Elverston, Sir Harold
Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire) Chancellor, Henry George Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)
Arnold, Sydney Chapple, Dr. William Allen Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)
Baker, Harold T. (Accrington) Clancy, John Joseph Essex, Sir Richard Walter
Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.) Clough, William Esslemont, George Birnie
Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark) Clynes, John R. Falconer, James
Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple) Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth) Farrell, James Patrick
Barnes, George N. Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles
Beale, Sir William Phipson Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Ffrench, Peter
Beauchamp, Sir Edward Cotton, William Francis Field, William
Beck, Arthur Cecil Cowan, W. H. Fitzgibbon, John
Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. George) Crooks, William Flavin, Michael Joseph
Bentham, George Jackson Crumley, Patrick France, Gerald Ashburner
Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine Cullinan, John Gelder, Sir William Alfred
Black, Arthur W. Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy) George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd
Boland, John Pius Davies, Ellis William (Eifion) Gill, A. H.
Booth, Frederick Handel Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth) Gladstone, W. G. C.
Bowerman, Charles W. Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.) Glanville, H. J.
Brace, William Dawes, James Arthur Goldstone, Frank
Brady, Patrick Joseph De Forest, Baron Greig, Colonel J. W.
Brocklchurst, William B. Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas Griffith, Rt. Hon. Ellis Jones
Brunner, John F. L. Dillon, John Guest, Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke)
Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.) Mason, David M. (Coventry) Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)
Gulland, John William Meagher, Michael Roberts, George H. (Norwich)
Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway) Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.) Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)
Hackett, John Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix) Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)
Hancock, John George Middlebrook, William Robinson, Sidney
Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose) Millar, James Duncan Roch, Walter F. (Pembreke)
Hardie, J. Keir Molloy, Michael Roche, Augustine (Louth)
Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds) Molteno, Percy Alport Roe, Sir Thomas
Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale) Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Rowlands, James
Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West) Money, L. G. Chiozza Rowntree, Arnold
Hayden, John Patrick Montagu, Hon. E. S. Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)
Helme, Sir Norval Watson Mooney, John J. Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Henderson, Arthur (Durham) Morgan, George Hay Scanlan, Thomas
Hewart, Gordon Morrell, Philip Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)
Higham, John Sharp Morison, Hector Seely, Rt. Hon. Colonel J. E. B.
Hinds, John Morton, Alpheus Cleophas Sheehy, David
Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H. Muldoon, John Sherwell, Arthur James
Hodge, John Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert Shortt, Edward
Hogge, James Myles Murphy, Martin J. Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook
Holmes, Daniel Turner Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C. Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)
Holt, Richard Durning Needham, Christopher T. Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)
Hope, John Deans (Haddington) Neilson, Francis Snowden, Philip
Howard, Hon. Geoffrey Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster) Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert
Hudson, Walter Nolan, Joseph Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)
Illingworth, Percy H. Norton, Captain Cecil W. Sutherland, John E.
John, Edward Thomas Nugent, Sir Walter Richard Sutton, John E.
Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil) Nuttall, Harry Taylor, John W. (Durham)
Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth) O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)
Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East) O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.) Tennant, Rt. Hon. Harold John
Jones, Leif (Notts, Rushcliffe) O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool) Thomas, J. H.
Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney) O'Doherty, Philip Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)
Jowett, Frederick William O'Donnell, Thomas Toulmin, Sir George
Joyce, Michael O'Dowd, John Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Kellaway, Frederick George O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.) Verney, Sir Harry
Kelly, Edward O'Malley, William Walton, Sir Joseph
Kennedy, Vincent Paul O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.) Wardle, George J.
Kilbride, Denis O'Shaughnessy, P. J. Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay T.
King, Joseph O'Shee, James John Wedgwood, Josiah C.
Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molton) O'Sullivan, Timothy White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)
Lardner, James C. R. Parker, James (Halifax) White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E. R.)
Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.) Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek) White, Patrick (Meath, North)
Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th) Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham) Whitehouse, John Howard
Lundon, Thomas Phillips, John (Longford, S.) Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.
Lyell, Charles Henry Pirie, Duncan V. Whyte, Alexander F.
Lynch, A. A. Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H. Wiles, Thomas
Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs) Pratt, J. W. Williams, Aneurin (Durham, N. W.)
Maclean, Donald Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central) Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)
Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J. Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.) Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)
MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South) Pringle, William M. R. Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)
MacVeagh, Jeremiah Radford, G. H. Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
M'Callum, Sir John M. Raffan, Peter Wilson Winfrey, Sir Richard
M'Curdy, C. A. Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields) Wing, Thomas Edward
McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough) Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)
M'Laren, Hon. F. W. S. (Lincs., Spalding) Reddy, Michael Yeo, Alfred William
M'Micking, Major Gilbert Redmond, John E (Waterford) Young, William (Perth, East)
Manfield, Harry Redmond, William (Clare, E.) Yoxall, Sir James Henry
Markham, Sir Arthur Basil Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)
Marks, Sir George Croydon Richardson, Albion (Peckham) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.
Marshall, Arthur Harold Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven) William Jones and Mr. H. Webb.
Agg-Gardner, James Tynte Bull, Sir William James Dalrymple, Viscount
Ashley, W. W. Burn, Colonel C. R. Denniss, E. R. B.
Astor, Waldorf Butcher, John George Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott
Baird, John Lawrence Campbell, Captain Duncan F. (Ayr, N.) Duke, Henry Edward
Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.) Campion, W. R. Duncannon, Viscount
Baldwin, Stanley Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred Faber, George Denison (Clapham)
Baring, Major Hon. Guy V. (Winchester) Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H. Falle, Bertram Godfray
Barlow, Montague (Salford, South) Cassel, Felix Fell, Arthur
Barnston, Harry Castlereagh, Viscount Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes
Barrie, H. T. Cautley, H. S. Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.
Bathurst, Hon. A. B. (Glouc., E.) Cave, George Forster, Henry William
Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton) Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r., E.) Foster, Philip Staveley
Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth) Clay, Captain H. H. Spender Ganzoni, Francis John C.
Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich) Clive, Captain Percy Archer Gastrell, Major W. Houghton
Bird, Alfred Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham Gibbs, G. A.
Boles, Lieut.-Colonel Dennis Fortescue Courthope, George Loyd Gilmour, Captain John
Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith- Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.) Glazebrook, Captain Philip K.
Bowden, G. R. Harland Craig. Norman (Kent, Thanet) Goldman, C. S.
Boyle, William (Norfolk, Mid) Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian, Goldsmith, Frank
Boyton, James Currie, George W. Grant, J. A.
Greene, W. R. Long, Rt. Hon. Walter Spear, Sir John Ward
Gretton, John MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)
Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S.E.) Mackinder, Halford J. Starkey, John R.
Guinness, Hon. W. E. (Bury S. Edmunds) M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's) Steel-Maitland, A. D.
Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne) Malcolm, Ian Stewart, Gershom
Hall, Frederick (Dulwich) Meysey-Thompson, E. C. Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)
Hambro, Angus Valdemar Mildmay, Francis Bingham Swift, Rigby
Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Altrincham) Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas Sykes, Sir Mark (Hull, Central)
Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.) Moore, William Talbot, Lord Edmund
Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton) Terrell, G. (Wilts, N. W.)
Harris, Henry Percy Mount, William Arthur Thomas-Stanford, Charles
Harrison-Broadley, H. B. Neville, Reginald J. N. Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, N.)
Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon) Newdegate, F. A. Tickler, T. G.
Hewins, William Albert Samuel Newman, John R. P. Touche, George Alexander
Hills, John Waller Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield) Tryon, Captain George Clement
Hill-Wood, Samuel Nield, Herbert Walker, Colonel William Hall
Hoare, S. J. G. O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid) Walrond, Hon. Lionel
Hohler, G. F. Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A. Weigall, Captain A. G.
Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield) Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend) Weston, Colonel J. W.
Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian) Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington) Wheler, Granville C. H.
Horner, Andrew Long Peel, Lieut.-Colonel R. F. White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)
Houston, Robert Paterson Perkins, Walter Frank Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset, W.)
Hume-Williams, William Ellis Peto, Basil Edward Wills, Sir Gilbert
Hunt, Rowland Pollock, Ernest Murray Wilson, A. Stanley (Yorks, E. R.)
Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk. Pryce-Jones, Colonel E. Wilson, Captain Leslie O. (Reading)
Ingleby, Holcombe Randles, Sir John S. Winterton, Earl
Joynson-Hicks, William Rees, Sir J. D. Wolmer, Viscount
Kerry, Earl of Ronaldshay, Earl of Wood, John (Stalybridge)
Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement Royds, Edmund Worthington Evans, L.
Lane-Fox, G. R. Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood) Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-
Larmor, Sir J. Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth) Wright, Henry Fitzherbert
Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle) Sanders, Robert Arthur Younger, Sir George
Lee, Arthur Hamilton Sanderson, Lancelot
Lewisham, Viscount Sandys, G. J. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.
Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury) Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.) Evelyn Cecil and Sir Philip Sassoon.
Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Colonel A. R. Smith, Harold (Warrington)

Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill" put, and agreed to.

Committee report Progress, to sit again to-morrow (Thursday).

The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.

Adjourned at Sixteen minutes after Eleven o'clock.