HC Deb 19 October 1915 vol 74 cc1719-64

(1) There shall, as from the twenty-ninth day of September, nineteen hundred and fifteen, until the first day of August, nineteen hundred and sixteen, be charged, levied, and paid on any of the following articles imported into Great Britain or Ireland the following duties of Customs, namely:—

Motor cars, including motor bicycles and motor tricycles An amount equal to thirty-three and one-third per cent. of the value of the article.
Accessories and component parts of motor cars, motor bicycles, or motor tricycles, other than tyres
Musical instruments, including gramophones, pianolas and other similar instruments
Accessories and component parts of musical instruments, and records and other means of reproducing music
Clocks, watches, and the component parts of clocks and watches

Cinematograph films imported for the purpose of the exhibition of pictures or other optical effects by means of a cinematograph or other similar apparatus:—

Per linear foot.
£ s. d.
Blank film, on which no picture has been impressed, known as raw film or stock 0 0
Positives, i.e., films containing a picture and ready for exhibition 0 0 1
Negatives, i.e., films containing a photograph from which positives can be printed 0 0 8

(2) The value of any article for the purposes of this Section shall be taken to be the price which an importer would give for the article if the article were delivered, freight and insurance paid, in bond at the port of importation, and duty shall be paid on that value as fixed by the Commissioners of Customs and Excise.

In the case of a motor car imported with tyres attached, the value of the tyres shall be deducted from the value of the car for the purpose of the charge of duty.

(3) Any dispute arising as to the proper rate of duty payable under this Section shall, so far as any question of value is concerned, be referred to a referee appointed by the Treasury, and the decision of the referee shall be final and conclusive.

Sections thirty and thirty-one of the Customs Consolidation Act, 1876, shall, as respects any such dispute as to value, have effect as if an application for reference to a referee under this provision were substituted for the action or suit mentioned in that Section.

(4) The procedure on any such reference shall be such as may be determined by rules made by the Treasury for the purpose.

If the decision of the referee involves any variation in the amount of duty payable, duty shall be paid or repaid, as the case may be, so as to correspond with that decision.

(5) If it is proved to the satisfaction of the Commissioners of Customs and Excise that the duty under this Section has been duly paid in respect of any article, and that the article has not been used in Great Britain or Ireland, a drawback equal to the amount of duty paid shall be allowed on that article if exported as merchandise: Provided that the Treasury may by Order declare that the drawback shall not be paid in respect of any accessories or component parts named in the Order on the ground that it is not possible to provide satisfactory means of identifying those accessories or parts.

(6) An article shall not, notwithstanding anything in any Act to the contrary, be charged with duty under this Section on importation if it is proved to the satisfaction of the Commissioners of Customs and Excise that duty has been paid on a previous importation of the article into Great Britain or Ireland and that drawback has not been paid on its exportation.

(7) Motor cars which are proved to the satisfaction of the Commissioners of Customs and Excise to be constructed and adapted for use, and intended to be used solely, as motor omnibuses or bonâ fide motor ambulances, or in connection with the conveyance of goods or burden in the course of trade or husbandry, and chassis, component parts, and accessories, which are so proved to be intended to be used solely for any such motor cars, shall not be charged with duty under this Section:

Provided that in such cases as the Commissioners of Customs and Excise direct, cars, chassis, accessories, or parts, as the case may be, shall not be exempted unless they are marked or stamped in such manner as the Commissioners direct or approve with some distinctive stamp or mark showing that they are only to be so used.

If any person obliterates or removes any such distinctive stamp or mark, or uses any motor car, chassis, accessory, or part which has been exempted from duty under this provision for any purpose other than the purposes therein mentioned, he shall be liable to a penalty of five hundred pounds: Provided that the Court may, if it think fit, in lieu of ordering the offender to pay a penalty, order that he be imprisoned with or without hard labour for a term not exceeding two years.

(8) The Treasury may by Order exempt any articles mentioned in the Order which are liable to duty under this Section from that duty if they are satisfied that, having regard to the small value of the article, it is inexpedient that the duty should be charged.

(9) The Treasury may make Regulations providing for the total or partial exemption for a limited period from the duty payable under this Section of any motor cars, including motor bicycles and motor tricycles, brought into Great Britain or Ireland by persons making only a temporary stay therein.


I beg to move, in Subsection (1), to leave out the words "twenty-ninth day of September, nineteen hundred and fifteen," and to insert instead thereof the words "passing of this Act."

On the Report stage of the Resolutions upon which this Bill is founded my hon. Friend (Mr. Denman) raised the question as to why, in the Resolution upon which this Clause is based, no reference was made to the Provisinoal Collection of Taxes Act. The Chancellor of the Exchequer explained that that was unnecessary, and with that explanation no further discussion took place. It is in order to elucidate the exact position in relation to this Act that I propose this Amendment. According to former practice taxes were levied by a Resolution of this House before the Act of Parliament which sanctioned their imposition was placed upon the Statute Book. That has been done for a period of sixty years, until the case brought by a former distinguished Member of the House, Mr. Thomas Gibson Bowles, proved that the practice which had so long been followed by the Treasury was illegal. As a result of the Bowles case the Government in 1913 introduced the Provisional Collection of Taxes Bill to legalise this long-established usage, and in that Bill, as it was introduced into the House, it was provided that the practice would be legalised, not only in respect of the renewal of existing taxes and in respect of additions to existing taxes, but also in respect of the imposition of new taxes. However, while the Bill was passing through Committee, an Amendment was proposed by my hon. Friend (Mr. J. M. Macdonald) to exclude new taxes from the operation of the Bill, and it is interesting to remember that the particular object which my hon. Friend then had in view was to prevent anything in the nature of a tariff having the advantage of the new legislation which was then being passed. He was quite willing, he said, as other Members of the House were willing, that existing taxes should receive the benefit of the statutory protection, and that additions to those taxes should receive the same benefit, but he asked the House to refuse the benefit of the Bill to any new indirect taxes, and the object which he and those who supported him had in view was to make it difficult or impossible for anything in the nature of a protective tariff to be introduced into this country, and to have new protective duties charged immediately upon the passing of a single Resolution or a series of Resolutions in Committee of Ways and Means. The Chancellor of the Exchequer replied on the Amendment, and he at that time accepted the distinction between an old tax and a new tax, and agreed with the argument of my hon. Friend that the Bill should not give protection in the case of a new tax. He said:— I can only say that the distinction drawn by my hon. Friend between an old tax and a new tax is a very real one In the case of an old tax, at any rate, the approval of Parliament has been given to the tax in the past, and the introduction of the present Resolution does presuppose that the tax in question is an existing tax at the time. Secondly, a tax of that kind stands on quite a different footing from a tax which is a mere proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the day, and which has not had the sanction of Parliament. Later on he said:— But I agree with him that we have to look, in this case, beyond the possible loss and the possible inconvenience to the public to the much larger question as to whether a tax which has not yet received the sanction of Parliament should become operative as a tax until sanction has been given."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th April, 1913, col. 1713. Vol. LI.] And on these grounds he accepted the Amendment of my hon. Friend. It was obviously the intention of my right hon. Friend at that time, by accepting the Amendment, to prevent the procedure being taken which he himself is now pursuing. He, obviously, then intended to prevent the old practice being followed in regard to new taxes, and to ensure that the taint of illegality which had been established by the Bowles case should still attach to that practice if it was pursued in the case of any new taxes being imposed. In these circumstances, I think it only right, now that we are making a beginning in tariffs, as we are doing in the present Bill, that we should insist that what the right hon. Gentleman then contended for should now be given effect to, and that, consequently, the taxes should not be levied as from the date mentioned, but that they should be levied only when the taxes have been sanctioned by the Finance Act receiving the Royal Assent. I confess that at the time of the Debate to which I am referring I had some doubts as to what course to pursue. I was not quite convinced by the arguments of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but I saw the practical inconvenience which would arise by refusing to new taxes the benefit of the Bill which was then being passed. My doubts were, however, overborne by my Friends who were supporting the Amendment, and I was led to vote in the Division Lobby with the Government and with the right hon. Gentleman on the ground that by going into the Lobby and passing the Amendment I was dealing a deadly blow to any future Tariff Reform Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Apparently we have been deceived, first of all by the hon. Member for Falkirk Burghs, who is not here to-night to take advantage of the Amendment which he then himself secured, and in the second place by the Government, who led their innocent Free Trade followers to believe that by the acceptance of that Amendment the difficulties of tariff taxation would be enormously increased. Now we see that we were living in a fool's paradise. The right hon. Gentleman, taking the first step in the imposition of tariffs, is now making a precedent which will be available for those who are going to extend, and who, undoubtedly, will extend his scheme when they get the opportunity. He is boldly imposing a tax as from the date, I think, on which the Resolutions were reported to this House, and so he is making smooth the path of a full-blown Tariff Reform successor. As I do not wish him to do that, and as I do not wish this precedent to be made, I am proposing this Amendment to secure that these duties shall only be levied from the passing of the Act itself, so that when a full scheme of Tariff Reform is brought forward, the Tariff Reform Chancellor of the Exchequer will not be able to quote in this respect the example and the authority of the present Chancellor of the Exchequer.


I congratulate my hon. Friend upon the completeness of his debating score. It is a triumph of which he has taken the fullest advantage, and I can assure him that if we were not at War I would join in it as heartily as himself. But, really, is this the time to enter into questions of this kind? Is this really the moment to talk about beginning a new tariff? However tempting it may be to have a Parliamentary advantage, and to quote a Minister making an apparent contradiction of himself, is it worth while doing it at the present time? I am bound to say that it appears to me to be absolutely beside the mark. My hon. Friend talks about beginning a new tariff. He talks about making precedents and about making smooth the path of my Tariff Reform successor. How do I do that? How does this make smooth his path? If it is possible for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to-day to introduce this Clause and to introduce this duty, dating from the passing of the Resolution by this House, it is just as possible for my successor to do such a thing. My withdrawing the date in the Clause and altering the date will not in the least hamper him in doing it if he wants to do it.


He will be able to quote your action.


How is that going to help him or to hinder him? If he wants to do it he will do it if the House will support him. I do not do this because I want to do it, or because I want to contradict myself, but because I believe it is right in the present circumstances to do it; because I believe it necessary for us to stop imports of certain articles as far as we can, and because I believe we ought to raise revenue of this kind at the earliest moment during the War, now, and for the purposes of the War, not as a general principle, with no intention of continuing the tax, with no desire to protect trade, without beginning any new Tariff Reform movement, but simply and solely for the declared purpose of this particular tax now, and in this War. In these circumstances, what is the good of scoring a verbal triumph? I may be wrong. My hon. Friend is moving his Amendment really in order to oppose the tax. Let us get down to bottom-rock facts, and not spend our time idly in discussing points when there is no difference between us about them. Any Minister who wants to introduce a change in our fiscal system, and wants to introduce a whole scheme of Tariff Reform, will not be in the least prejudiced in doing it by anything we may do to-day. You may make this change, and alter the date to the date of the passing of the Act, but he will feel himself perfectly free, as I feel myself perfectly free to-day, to make the imposition of the duty coincide with the passing of the Resolution by this House. It is quite true that if Parliament does not subsequently sanction the duty the Customs will have to repay the amount they have taken. On the other hand, if Parliament does sanction the duty, it is for the convenience of the Customs and the convenience of the trader that the duty shall be collected to-day. If we are going to have such a duty in the present circumstances, it would be foolish beyond words, if I may use the expression, to give weeks and weeks' notice for forestalment of those particular kind of goods. We are only imposing the tax to last until 31st July next. To begin to impose it from a date which would give weeks and weeks' notice in advance would render the tax absolutely abortive for the whole period. You might very well get enough articles imported to satisfy the market for the greater part or the whole of the ten months which would remain. Of motor cars you could get a considerable number imported, and you could get a very considerable number of other articles imported, such as watches, clocks, musical instruments, cinema films, and all the other parts and accessories. Attacks of this sort on the proposals are really not worthy of the House of Commons at the present time. I regret that I cannot accept my hon. Friend's Amendment.


I am somewhat surprised at the heat which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has shown during the discussion of this very reasonable Amendment. If we attack his principles he says, "This is no time to attack principles; this has nothing to do with fiscal principles; I want you to deal with my Clause in detail." When we attack him in detail, he says, "You are not dealing fairly with me. You are attacking the general Clause."


So he is in this. This, is a detail.


This is not a detail. This is a very important point of procedure. It is very easy for the right hon. Gentleman to say, "I have answered you, and everything that you have said can now be swept aside. Everything that we have discussed before in this House is of no importance, and you must let me do whatever I like." If we take that view, there is no object in the House of Commons meeting; there is no object in our spending our time here at all. It would be much better to set up an autocratic Government to do what it liked. That would be the logical course to adopt. But what is this Amendment? It is based upon an Act passed quite recently—an Act passed for a specific purpose. I raised the question not very long ago, how was it that, contrary to an Act then in force, duties were being collected under Resolutions which had not had the sanction of Parliament. The Secretary to the Treasury replied with an extraordinary defence—that, as Parliament had passed a special Act to legalise the collection of well-established duties on the Resolution of the House, the Customs authorities had followed an old practice, which was illegal in reference to entirely new duties. I cannot imagine that the attention of the right hon. Gentleman could have been drawn to that extraordinary procedure. It is making a farce of legislation, and making a farce of Parliament, one year to pass an Act which states that under no new tax are duties to be collected until such tax has been put on the Statute Book by Parliament, and for the Custom House people to set that aside on their own responsibility is an outrage on the position of this House. After all, what the right hon. Gentleman says about the War has no bearing on this.


What is the right hon. Gentleman quoting?

Sir. A. MOND

The Act implies—


That is a very different thing. Will the right hon. Gentleman show where the implication arises?


I can read the whole Act if the right hon. Gentleman likes. May I put it in this way? The statement made by a Minister in this House—


No, the right hon. Gentleman's argument was that I was treating Parliament as nothing, because an Act of Parliament said that no new tax was to be levied until Parliament had sanctioned it, and that I was none the less levying it. I ask him to quote the Act to support that.


Will the right hon. Gentleman deny that that was practically his point when he accepted the Amendment? I will read his words. The Amendment was Sub-section 1, to leave out the words "the imposition of any new tax, or for." There was a long Debate which covered a great deal of ground. The right hon. Gentleman, in accepting the Amendment, said:— I can only say that the distinction drawn by my hon. Friend between an old tax is a very real one. In the case of an old tax, at any rate, the approval of Parliament has been given to the tax in the past, and the introduction of the present Resolution does not pre-suppose that the tax in question is an existing tax at the time. Secondly, a tax of that kind stands on quite a different footing from the tax which is a mere proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the day, and which has not had the sanction of Parliament. And it is on that reason that he accepted the Amendment. What do those words mean? If they mean anything, they surely mean that he should not treat a Resolution on a new tax in the way in which you would treat a Resolution on an old tax, for the reason that the latter had received the sanction of Parliament. That was the point that I was trying to make.


I do not dispute that.


But you collect it.


We do not now collect it except with the consent of the trader. No trader need pay it. We do not pretend that we collect it except with his consent.


I am perfectly well aware of that.


If he consents, why should not we do so?


He cannot very well refuse.


Yes, absolutely.


He cannot, without starting a long litigation.


My right hon. Friend is entirely mistaken. He may refuse absolutely. We have no remedy against him. The only thing, if he does refuse to pay, is that if the duty is hereafter enacted he will have all the trouble of having to pay and of producing his accounts and so on. It is for his convenience as well as ours.


If the right hon. Gentleman assures me that they find it more convenient, the right hon. Gentleman is quite right in what he says then. But the point we are making is not quite so bad as the right hon. Gentleman is making out. The right hon. Gentleman pointed out that a new tax required a discussion and required sanction by Parliament. What has happened? Two of your new taxes have gone already. That amplifies what he was arguing himself at that time. Therefore the very reason why he accepted this Amendment, the very reason why this point was raised at that time, was to prevent happening what has happened now. I do not see how the right hon. Gentleman can get away from it, except by saying that we have got a war on now. Let me go a point further. The right hon. Gentleman is very much annoyed at anyone pointing out things which we cannot help pointing out. For instance, this country not having had a tariff of this character for many years, the machinery for dealing with this tariff does not exist, and no country in the world which has a tariff endeavours to deal with the tariff in this way. Though you may now say, "We do not intend the duties to operate as tariff duties," they do act as tariff duties. I do not use the word "protective" at the moment. You have all the difficulties of valuation, all the difficulties of classification and drawbacks which exist with duties of this character, and there is no machinery to work this, and you do not give the people the slightest opportunity for accommodating themselves to the new conditions. In other countries, when they introduce a tariff, they consult the people of the different trades affected. They consult experts. They set up a commission to deal with the different trading interests, before which the people can come in order to state how their interests are affected, and they spend years in studying the matter. The right hon. Gentleman says that he has not got time. I admit that he may not have time to do it, but then there was no obligation to do what he has done, not the slightest. But he has done it, and he is causing all these difficulties and all this confusion and trouble. I am sorry for him that he should have all these troubles during the War, but it is not our fault. He really must not come here and blame us for it. He must not come down and treat us as an unreasonable number of people who are worrying him very much, because this trouble has been caused entirely by himself, and I am afraid that he will find more trouble caused by the working of these duties than he realises.


It seems to me that the right hon. Gentleman is taking a line on this first Amendment which would lead to a general debate, and that cannot be allowed.


I did not intend to do that, and I shall reserve that for a later stage of the proceedings. I am only endeavouring to point out that if the tax has to be collected when Parliament has finally sanctioned it, there should be some effort to establish a means of working the tax, and I submit that is not an unreasonable or frivolous proposition. As to there being a large amount of forestalments, surely that could not now take place. The right hon. Gentleman does not expect that this Finance Bill will occupy the House for a very long period, and surely he does not want us seriously to understand that between now and the passing of this Act there is going to be so much time as would enable the importers to really flood the market. The Amendment of my hon. Friend follows exactly the precedent of the United States, where the tariff always comes into operation on the signing of the Act by the President, and it is quite successful for practical working. Here we are dealing with new and complicated taxes, and we cannot see in what shape they will emerge finally on the Statute Book. Some alterations it will undoubtedly be necessary to make, and I hope therefore that the right hon. Gentleman has not said his last word on the question of accepting this Amendment.


(indistinctly heard): I can assure my right hon. Friend that I do not wish to hinder or annoy him in any way. I know his difficulties, and that, keenly as I feel them, he feels them more keenly himself. I have come to regard, in these later days, as one of the few of my old leaders that I can still trust Among the faithless, faithful only he —and I look forward to the time when he will be leading us again on this Tariff question. His future prospects and position I have almost as much at heart as I have the position and prospects of Free Trade, which we cherish so much, and I am especially anxious that he should be in a position to come to this subject free and unfettered, as in the old days of un-stripped tobacco.


The hon. Member, I hope, is ready to come to the point of the Amendment. His exordium is rather a long one.


My exordium is to my right hon. Friend. I have had an opportunity, while my right hon. Friend opposite (Sir A. Mond) was speaking, to look at the Act of 1913, and I think my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will agree with me that Section (1) of that Act does simply what my right hon. Friend opposite has said. May I draw the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the wording of that Act? Section (1) says:— Where a Resolution is passed by the Committee of Ways and Means of the House of Commons. … providing for the variation of any existing tax"— this is not the variation of an existing tax— or for the renewal for a further period of any tax in force, or imposed during the previous financial year"— this was not imposed in the previous financial year— whether at the same or a different rate, and whether with or without modification, and the Resolution contains a declaration that it is expedient in the public interest that the Resolution should have statutory effect under the provisions of this Act, the Resolution shall, for the period limited by this Section, and subject to the provisions of this Act, have statutory effect as if contained in an Act of Parliament, and, where the Resolution provides for the renewal of the tax, or enactments which were in force with reference to that tax as last imposed by Act of Parliament shall, during the said period, and subject to the provisions of this Act, have full force and effect with respect to the tax as renewed by the Resolution. When you come to consider the history of this Act, it is perfectly clear that it was passed so as to give the Resolution the force of law. Previous to that it was the invariable practice of the Government, immediately the Resolution was passed by this House, to collect the tax and treat the Resolution as having the force of law. Mr. Gibson Bowles challenged the legality of that practice, and his contention was upheld by the Courts of Law. Therefore, to meet that difficulty, the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act of 1913 was passed for one thing only, that in the case where there was a variation of an existing tax, or where there was a renewal of a tax, the Resolution of the House for the current year was to have the force of law, so that the Customs authorities could collect the tax as if that tax had the sanction of Parliament. But it was pointed out in the course of the Debate, and it was present to the mind of my right hon. Friend at that time, that a new tax was in a different category and ought to be treated separately. In the Act of 1913, therefore, there is no mention of a new tax at all. It was perfectly obvious that what was weighing upon the minds of Free Traders was that this new Act was going to make it possible for a Tariff Reform Government in the future, by mere Resolution of the House, to give a Resolution the force of law, and make it very much more easy for them to impose the tariff, and very much more difficult for the Government, if the folly of the tariff is demonstrated in the House of Commons, to do away with it.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, I think, admitted this was so in answer to a question of an hon. Friend behind me a week or fortnight ago. He said it was quite true that this Resolution had not the force of law, and that therefore the Government had no right in law to force the importers to pay the tax. He went on to say, as he said just now, that it was for the convenience of the importer that he should not wait until this Finance Bill becomes law. That may be so or not, I do not know; but my right hon. Friend deliberately tries, in the face of a solemn Act of Parliament, passed by his own colleagues and defended by himself on every ground, to do now what he said could not be done under the Act of 1913. It is all very well for him to say that we are in the time of war. So we are, but I confess I am rather tired, whenever we raise any discussion on any point of principle or of practice, to be told, "Oh, but you forget we are in a great national emergency, in time of war when the whole bonds of society are dissolved." If that is so, then it is far better not to meet as a deliberate assembly. If we are to be told that we must not adhere to Acts of Parliament solemnly passed only two years ago because we are in time of war, then the sooner we set up a dictatorship in this country the better it will be. I am old fashioned enough to think that it is far better to adhere to the provisions of the Act passed two years ago. I am anxious about this matter, not because I cannot trust my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Of course I can, and I would trust him with far greater powers than he arrogates to himself by this Clause. That is not what is troubling me. What is troubling me, and what is, I am sure, troubling other hon. Members, is that we are looking to the future. The War is a temporary measure, but if you depart from the principle contained in this Act my right hon. Friend sitting on the Front Opposition Bench would never be able to plead for the observance of the Act of 1913 which he helped to get passed. If in the future a Tariff Reform Government comes in, how on earth will the Chancellor have the inconsistency to stand up at the Front Opposition Bench, for that is, of course, where he would be, to protest against a Tariff Reform Chancellor doing exactly then what he is himself doing now?


I am sorry to intervene again, but there is, I think, a complete misunderstanding as regards the arguments in this case. Three times in three days we have had quotations made at length on this subject, and I ask, is it worth while taking a point of that kind so often in circumstances like the present. My hon. Friend who has just spoken has advanced a very serious argument based on the words of the Statute. May I explain to him and to other hon. Friends wherein the misunderstanding between us rests. What this Statute does is to give statutory effect to the Resolution passed by this House. I have said, and I adhere to it, and it is my personal view, that the Customs have no legal right to collect taxes on the face of a Resolution passed by this House. That is my view, but I am not the exponent of the law on the subject. A great many people do not agree with me, and a great many people still think that the Customs have the legal right to collect a tax on the passing of a Resolution by this House. There being this disagreement as to the law—


The judges ruled that that was not so.

9.0 P.M.


Not quite. It is not a simple matter. There being some doubt and disagreement as to it, this law was passed in order to give statutory effect to Resolutions passed by this House in respect of particular taxes. When the Bill was first introduced it included all taxes. I accepted an Amendment excluding new taxes from this Act, and therefore left new taxes in some position of doubt, uncertainty, or, as one of my hon. Friends thinks, certainty, as regards collection on Resolution of this House. I agree with everything said on that point, but this Act does not imply, I deny absolutely, by any statement made by me or by anybody else in the course of the Debate, that the Customs may not begin to collect taxes on a Resolution passed by this House if the trader is willing to pay them, and that is all we are doing. We ask the trader for the tax. He knows as well as any hon. Member in this House that if he does not choose to pay we have no power. I agree with the law, and I should not intend to enforce it. Other people think we might succeed in the Courts, but I do not think so. The whole transaction is purely a voluntary transaction between the Custom House and the trader. How is that inconsistent with anything in the Statute?

The only point we come back to is, is it a prudent course to take under the circumstances, namely, for the Customs to collect this duty from the passing of this Resolution by the House. You have got to remember the particular circumstances of this duty before you can make up your mind on that point. The duty is imposed for a very short period, much shorter than in the case of ordinary duties. Ordinary duties are generally introduced in March or April, when the Budget is introduced, and would have fourteen or fifteen months to run. This duty is to expire on the 31st of July next, notwithstanding the fact that it is not introduced until late in September. If we had inserted a date, and if we had introduced the tax from the passing of the Act, we should have given at least a month's notice of the duty, which under the most favourable circumstances would not become law until the end of October. Therefore, we would only have from November to the following July to run. I ask would it not have been an act of the grossest unreason, and nobody would have been more likely than the right hon. Gentleman opposite to say so, to introduce a duty which was only to operate for nine months and to give a month or six weeks' notice of your intention? Why, of course, we should have large imports, large forestalments, and everything that my hon. Friend and right hon. Friend say against the tax now they could have said with tenfold force then, as they could have proved to demonstration through forestalments that we had lost all possibility of revenue. Under those circumstances I put it to my hon. Friend that there is nothing inconsistent with this Act for the Customs to collect duty with the consent of the trader. There is nothing in my action, in the action of the Customs, in doing that which would prejudice or which would give a lead to any Chancellor of the Exchequer in the future. Thirdly, in the circumstances of these particular taxes, if you accept the taxes it must be beyond dispute that they ought to be collected from a date earlier than the passing of the Act so as to prevent forestalment.


I would be very unwilling, as my right hon. Friend knows, to say anything that could possibly annoy him. I have no desire to traverse the ground which has been so fully covered in the speeches to which we have listened. The position really is simple enough. I entirely agree with my right hon. Friend that the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act does not in any way, on the face of it, preclude his doing as he is doing now. On that technical point we must all agree. In fact, however, when the Act was passed through the House of Commons and the House of Commons expressly excluded new taxes from the Act, it was under the impression that no new taxes would be collected on a mere Resolution. As regards the question of special circumstances, we all realise the special circumstances of to-day; we all realise the special circumstances of the War; we all realise the difficulties in which my right hon. Friend is placed. But I would like him to understand what our misgiving is. It is that, apart from the War, we may find precisely the same thing being done if a. Tariff Reform Government comes into power. You may have a tariff actually set up and the taxes actually collected before they have received statutory sanction. My right hon. Friend may speak of a voluntary basis; the taxes are, in fact, collected, and you may have Tariff Reform taxes collected in time of peace before this House has assented to the legislation imposing them. It was to avoid that that we took up the position we did when the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act was under discussion. Every argument which my right hon. Friend has used, except the special argument as regards the War, could be used by a Tariff Reform Chancellor of the Exchequer. Not only so, but the precedent which my right hon. Friend is setting could be quoted in support.

In these circumstances I frankly admit that I am disappointed at not having heard from the Chancellor of the Exchequer a clearer expression of opinion to the effect that he bases his action on the special circumstances of the War, and that taking into consideration the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act he would not have been justified in doing it except in the special circumstances created by the War. I do not think my right hon. Friend has gone as far as that. I do not attach much importance to what is said about the tax being only a temporary measure. All taxes are temporary measures. I believe the Income Tax was introduced as only a temporary measure. There is nothing to prevent a Tariff Reform Chancellor of the Exchequer from bringing in a tariff as a six months' temporary measure to see how it works. We recognise the special circumstances, but we feel the danger of the precedent which my right hon. Friend is setting, and we think he might have safeguarded the position a little more than he has done.


If I may come to the Amendment for a moment, I take it that if accepted it would so alter the Bill that instead of the tax beginning in September, it would begin when the Act passes. The only effect of that would be to give a large opportunity for forestalling the tax. No one can doubt that that would be the result. Personally, I have the strongest objection to that particular form of war profit. It is bad enough at the present time when we have large profits made from the taxation on tobacco. Retailers and wholesale dealers, who have not had to pay the tax, yet put it on the consumer. We have it also as regards tea. Dealers who have not had to pay the Tea Duty, having a large amount of tea out at the particular time, have made considerable profits. It is a profit which they are justified in making, but I do not know that it appeals very much to me. They do not pay, the tax, but the consumer has to pay it. You increase that form of profit if you give the opportunity for people to get in a large quantity of goods so as to avoid a tax which they know is to be put on at a particular moment. It would be a mistake to allow a long period for forestalment. To be quite frank, I must say that I have thoroughly enjoyed the Debate. Hon. Members who have spoken are monuments of consistency, but I noticed when on the last Clause I raised this very point with regard to the poor chemists who were being taxed long before the Act comes into operation, not a single hon. Member opposite said it was a breach of a statutory enactment.


It is not anew duty. It is an old duty; therefore it comes under the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act.


I see the point. I will not press the matter if the hon. Member really thinks there is any distinction in what he says. I listened with interest to the attack made by the right hon. Member for Swansea and others upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer. In 1906 I went through a great deal of that sort of thing. It will probably be found that every Member of that Government has been guilty of inconsistency. I am not here to defend them in the least. But does it really carry us much further? Is it a very profitable way for this Assembly to spend its time in the present circumstances discussing whether the right hon. Gentleman is consistent or inconsistent? Ought we not to deal with this Amendment upon the merits? If, on the merits, we think that an opportunity for forestalling these taxes should be given, of course we ought to vote in favour of the Amendment. In debating the Amendment we must assume that the tax is a good tax. If we think it a bad tax, we can vote against it at the proper time. I think the hon. Member for Lanarkshire must really agree that it would be a ridiculous thing to make this tax start in October or November, and so give an opportunity for large forestalments.


I have listened to this Debate with a great deal of impatience. It seems to me that hon. Members on the other side have completely forgotten to take into account the gigantic economic forces which have been let loose by this War. We are talking as though we were Members of a mutual improvement society discussing the merits of Free Trade. That has nothing whatever to do with the present question. Hon. Gentlemen opposite have brought forward their Amendments and have supported them from the point of view of people who are afraid that in some way a Tariff Reform Government may come in and use what has been done during the present Parliament as a precedent for introducing duties in the way the present Chancellor of the Exchequer has introduced his present duties. I should like to say this—I think I have some ground for saying it, and I speak as a Tariff Reformer—my deliberate opinion is that there is not one single economic question which we have discussed during the last ten years which is likely to emerge from the War in the position in which it was. If hon. Members think we are ever going to resume the position in which we were in 1913, when we could have an economic Debate on the merits of Free Trade and Tariff Reform in this House, I think they are absolutely mistaken. Whatever is going to take place, this War is going to smash your economics.

I do not know—I wish I did—where we shall be in regard to duties, or in regard to any other aspect of economic policy. But I am perfectly certain that the kind of discussion we have had to listen to—to put up with!—upon these duties that the Government have introduced is entirely irrelevant to the economic circumstances of the War. Hon. Members opposite are possibly willing to do me the credit to believe me that I myself, if I had introduced a tariff, would not have introduced the 33 1–3 per cent. Many of the observations of the hon. Baronet the Member for Swansea, if we had been discussing these things in vacuo would have been very sound and good. I agree with him. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer had asked the hon. Baronet the Member for Swansea to make a scientific tariff he would have made one very well, and would have carried out, so far as he could, all the principles laid down in the various speeches he has made. We are not in that situation. We have to deal with concrete problems and concrete circumstances. I do not in the least know where we are going to be economically three months hence, but I think I can at any rate reassure hon. Members opposite on this point: that whatever we do at present in regard to the form of introducing duties, nothing done in this War in this way is likely to be quoted by any of us here as a precedent. I should never have been disposed to tackle Tariff Reform in that way. It has always been to me a concrete question. I doubt that anything we do now will or can be regarded as a precedent for our future conduct. I would ask hon. Members really to let us get on with the business of this Finance Bill, and not to waste our time—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"]—I do not wish to give offence to anybody, but I say, not spend our time in discussing propositions which have really no relation to any situation likely to occur.


I agree with the hon. Member who has just spoken that we should get on with the business as quickly as we can. But I would like to point out to him that the question before us at present is not an economic one at all but a constitutional one. It is only two years ago that Parliament, not this House only, decided, quite deliberately, after a long Debate, that this House should not have the power to give statutory effect to its own Resolutions in respect to these taxes. It also decided that the Executive should not have the power to levy them. I entirely agree that the argument of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is conclusive so far as he has gone. But he has not touched the point. That in fact he is completely overriding, once for all, the deliberate decision of Parliament two years ago. I agree entirely that these are not the times for legal pedantry, or anything of the sort; but I would also submit they are not the times for a wholly superfluous illegality. I should like to ask the Financial Secretary to the Treasury if he could not regularise the situation by a very short Bill applying the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act to the new taxes? There was a strong feeling when that Bill went through the House that it ought to apply to new taxes as well as to the variation of existing ones. The special leader of that school of thought was the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. If I may humbly say so I entirely agree with him. It was the view of the Treasury, and a sound view. The House thought otherwise. If the Treasury would know, after seeing the inconvenience that arises from the provisions of the existing Act, undertake to introduce an Amending Bill, which would, I believe, be received without opposition, I am sure it would relieve many of us who do not like this wholly unnecessary illegality.


The hon. Member opposite says we are engaged in a "mutual improvement society Debate." I do not know how much mutual improvement there may have been in the Debate, but I do not think the hon. Member contributed to the Amendment before the House. My view of this Amendment does not affect the hon. Member for Hereford, and I will explain why. I want to know, and perhaps the Financial Secretary to the Treasury will tell us, what will happen if these taxes are levied on the Resolution of the House, and then the House does not give them the sanction of law? The importer will have to pay these taxes. If they do not become law will the amounts paid by the importer be returned to him? I understand the hon. Gentleman to say "yes." Then I can quite understand why the importer prefers that the duty should be levied upon a Resolution of this House—for this reason: the Resolution being passed, the Government collects the duties, and the importer immediately passes on the duty to the consumer. Then the House refuses to sanction these taxes, and the importer gets an equivalent amount given back to him from the Government. But that cannot be passed on or returned to the consumer over the various articles on which he has paid it. I see the Financial Secretary smiles, but I have had some experience of tariffs, having lived for many years in Australia. That is a difficulty that arises whenever a tariff is imposed. I have seen where the duty has been proposed, and subsequently collected, and the House has not carried the tax. The points then arose as to what was to be done in regard to the proceeds of the tax. The hon. Member for Hereford is not affected by that view, because he considers that the foreigner pays the duty: therefore that difficulty does not in the least degree arise as concerns himself. He sees the American producer of motor cars sending money to meet all the taxes and paying for our War, and, of course, he tells us when we criticise that we are engaged in a mutual improvement society debate. That is all very well speaking from the professorial heights of Tariff Reform, but I say that this is an important matter of detail which we have to consider.

I do resent the Chancellor of the Exchequer always telling us, when we are opposing these duties, both from the practical side and the side of principle, that we are engaged in war, and that, therefore, these criticisms ought not to be regarded. But that is the point of consideration that most affects me as regards these duties. I say that a time of war is the very time when you should not raise the question of Free Trade and Tariff Reform, and that is precisely what the Chancellor of the Exchequer has done. If we went to him and proposed another form of taxation that should not have the incidental effect of establishing further monopoly in this country, but one that should attack monopoly, the Chancellor of the Exchequer would say, "Oh, no, we cannot have any Land Taxes now; we are in a time of war." The Chancellor of the Exchequer seems to have forgotten we are at war. He has no right at a time like this to raise such a burning controversial issue as this, and, in order to allow us to attend to the greater issue, he should withdraw these piffling taxes, which would only raise a small amount of money that could have been raised by another farthing on the Income Tax, and should again intern in its grave and sepulchre the Tariff Reform issue.

Amendment negatived.


I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), after the word "Ireland" ["following articles imported into Great Britain or Ireland"], to insert the words "except from any other part of His Majesty's Dominions."

This Amendment, I hope, will meet with the general approval of the Committee. In moving it I must not be assumed to be glad that these taxes are being proposed. I recognise that in our present position we have to raise money, and I could have wished the money had been raised in some other way; but I assume that the duties which are now proposed under this Bill will become verified by an Act of Parliament, and that the effect of the Amendment which I am now proposing will be to exempt our Colonies from the operation of this Act. I think that at the present time we ought to deal very sympathetically with our Colonies. They are doing a great part in this War. They are assuming great responsibility—great financial responsibility—and it does not seem reasonable on our part, whilst they are doing so much to help the Empire that we should not take them more wholly into our counsels than we have taken them. I was quite certain that many of the hon. Members opposite would agree with the remarks I make. One of their former Leaders, a right hon. Gentleman whom we honoured in this House—Mr. Joseph Chamberlain—when he started his Tariff Reform movement desired, and I believe sincerely desired, to give some preference to the Colonies. He could not see his way to give a preference to the Colonies, except by putting some taxation upon food. Now, as it is the deliberate intention of the House to bring certain articles formerly not taxed within the purview of taxation, it does give to us an opportunity to, show a friendly feeling to our brothers in the Colonies, and, at the same time, it would be reciprocating the position which they have shown to us by giving us, at any rate, some preference in tariff, and, in agreeing to these proposals, I am quite prepared as a Free Trader, under present circumstances, to place our Colonies, at any rate, in a different position to other parts of the world. I hope that throughout the whole of the House at this moment we shall have a general agreement that this is a very proper Amendment, and I shall be very much surprised if my right hon. Friend is not willing to accept it. I do not assume that it will be a very serious financial loss to us to accept this Amendment. I do not like to put the low cost as a reason why we should adopt this policy, but, at any rate, it would be a compliment which we might pay to our brothers in the Colonies at a time when they are performing such acts of valour for the Empire.


I would like to congratulate the hon. Member who has just sat down upon the happy speech he made. If I may say so, it is only such a speech as we should have expected from him at the time of war, and I welcomed what he said in regard to the co-operation of the Dominions in the present War. Of course, I need not say that if this Amendment is put to the vote, as I hope it will be, I shall certainly vote for it; but there are one or two observations I should like to make upon the subject of this Amendment. Perhaps I should say that, if I had been asked whether you should make this proposition at the present time in this House, I should probably have said No. I will explain to the Committee precisely what I mean. For one thing, I do not in any way underrate the vast importance of the hon. Member's proposition. He has inci- dentally raised an enormous number of questions of the greatest magnitude in regard to the conduct of the War. I am not going at all into the old controversial question about preference, nor am I going to recall any of the arguments of my late right hon. Friend Mr. Joseph Chamberlain. I think we should regard all these questions from the point of view of the War, and the carrying on of that War to a successful conclusion. In regard to that point of carrying on the War, this Amendment is of the greatest possible importance. One of the main objects which Germany undoubtedly has in this War, and which you will hear of whenever any Peace negotiations take place, is the idea of getting back the position which was guaranteed to Germany by the Treaty of 1865 that was denounced by Lord Salisbury. That is always in their minds. I think if one may judge from the conversations which are going on even at the present time in German business circles, they still resent the loss of those privileges, and they hope to get back to them as a consequence of the War. This Amendment raises directly the great economics as between the exploitation of the British Dominions by German financial syndicates and the development of them under the Imperial policy which we on this side have always advocated. If I had been asked whether I would have put an Amendment of this sort on the Paper I should have said "No. I should have preferred that the Cabinet should consider the suggestion involved, and come to the House with a full scheme, which would definitely lay down the principle that we should exterminate this German financial influence throughout the Empire." This Amendment having been put down, I feel that the occasion cannot be allowed to pass without giving it my support, and stating that I do so on the definite ground that I, as an Englishman, wish to exterminate this German financial influence in the British Empire. This Amendment raises other important questions, which I think are quite capable of easy solution. I believe that at the present moment you could arrange a great combination between the British Empire and our Allies for carrying on a war of aggression under the guidance of the principle of this Amendment. I think that is the crying need of the hour, and I am certain that if we carry this Amendment it will be received with the greatest enthusiasm throughout the British Empire. I wish to point out the definite and immediate Imperial considerations that bear upon it. In connection with the Imperial Conference held here, at conference after conference the Dominions have passed a resolution that we in this country should give them a preference if and when we add import duties to our taxes. They gave us a preference on a list of commodities, and we have added to it now, and if we act in accordance with those great Imperial gatherings, I am quite sure that we should accept unanimously the Amendment moved by the hon. Gentleman opposite.

I have already pointed out that I do not want to raise any questions of ancient controversy, but perhaps I may be allowed to allude to the letter of Lord George Hamilton, in which he urged that if a preference such as is proposed was claimed, we could not possibly resist it. Considering the thousands of Colonial troops which are supporting us, and the immense sacrifices in proportion to their means which the Dominions are making, I venture to urge that it is quite impossible for this proposition to be made in the British House of Commons and not be accepted. We cannot send it out to the British Empire in the middle of the greatest War of our time, in which the very existence of the Empire is at stake, that we have declined to act in accordance with Resolutions which they have unanimously passed for more than a generation on this very subject. I may say in conclusion that, personally, I had no intention whatever of taking any part at any stage in these fiscal Debates, and it was only when I saw this Amendment on the Paper that I felt, with the record of what has taken place in our Imperial history, and knowing what the Dominions are doing at present to promote the success of the Empire in this great War; knowing also as one does the desire of our Allies, and the whole Empire, to come together in a great combination to fight Germany with the same economic forces which she uses against us, I came to the conclusion that I was bound to support by argument and by my vote the Amendment of my hon. Friend.


I rise to support this Amendment, but I do not do so on the grounds submitted by the hon. Member who has just spoken. I do not think a small matter of temporary taxes involves the destruction of the German Empire.


I did not say so.


I support the Amendment upon the practical question involved in the scheme of taxation. I understand that the object of these taxes is not expressly to raise revenue. The most sanguine Chancellor of the Exchequer would never suggest that this scheme of Import Duties is going to raise much revenue, and we are told that they have been submitted for the purpose of readjusting foreign exchanges and preventing us purchasing luxuries, such as Jew's-harps and mouth-organs, from foreign countries. I imagine that the purchase of a few of these instruments from the Colonies would not affect national exchange at all, and therefore, without suggesting all those well-known schemes of Colonial expansion and federation, which I think would be quite improper, I think we are in no fear by this proposal of the value of an English sovereign being lowered, or foreign exchanges being affected by allowing our Colonies to send in a few pianolas, organs, and pianos without charging them any duty. On those grounds, and those grounds alone, without raising the larger issues, I support this Amendment.


But for the fear of being disrespectful to the supporters of this proposal, I should have suggested that the object of this Amendment was to "pull the leg" of the Clause. These are not the duties that a Tariff Reformer would suggest. Free Traders seem to have said to themselves, "We will move Amendments in the Committee; we will embody Colonial Preference, and put in as many controversial topics as possible, and then when we have got these proposals into Tariff Reform Clauses, we shall be able to turn round on the Chancellor of the Exchequer and say, 'Now, you cannot say they are not Tariff Reform Clauses.'" Were I a Tariff Reformer, I should be in favour of Colonial Preference. And were these duties being imposed as permanent duties, as a scientific part of our fiscal system, it would be necessary to consider their adjustment with a view to getting the best out of very unpromising material, to—what is the phrase?—"knit the Empire more firmly together."

It is just because they are temporary, just because they are designed merely to check imports from wherever they come, that it would be wholly opposed to the principle of the tax to arouse expectations which it is not the intention of those who designed these taxes should be aroused, and which would at the same time, destroy the objects for which the taxes are imposed. Simplicity is in the first essence of this experiment, and to suggest to the Customs that they should have, in addition to all the other inevitable complications, the necessity of ascertaining the origin of the import is to destroy the simplicity of the tax. The yield of the tax would also be substantially diminished. [HON. MEMBERS: "HOW much?"] Some tens of thousands. I cannot give an accurate estimate. It would mean a diminution of revenue, and it would surely entourage people to continue to import motor cars so long as they did not come from foreign countries. I would point out that the hon. Members who have put down these Amendments are also anxious to exempt cars and dutiable articles coming from the countries of our Allies, so that before they had done there would be very little left of the tax and there would be no interest to the British citizen who wanted to import a motor car to refrain from doing so, which is the whole object of this tax. Therefore, as the tax is to be regarded as a temporary and simple expedient for obtaining some revenue and diminishing consumption, I hope that the Committee will reject the suggestion to embody in it the elaborate principle of Colonial Preference.


The right hon. Gentleman the Financial Secretary to the Treasury sees much more in the Amendments than those of us who put them down on the Paper intended. Led away by the enthusiasm of the hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. Hewins), he accuses some of us of being anxious to make these duties as much as possible palatable to Tariff Reformers. No, what is happening is entirely the logical result of introducing a tariff. If you will introduce a tariff, you cannot get away from Colonial preference, a differential tariff, and all the other complications. You cannot have it separately. It is an impossible thing. What induced me to take any interest in this question at all was a letter I received from a Canadian manufacturer of musical instruments, who wrote to me and said that he imported certain musical instruments in this country and asked what Canada had done that in the middle of a great war we should try and ruin his business. What is the answer of the right hon. Gentleman to that Canadian manufacturer? He has not got an answer. Is it to be said that our Customs officials cannot take a certificate of origin? Of course, you can surmount difficulties of origin. That is not a difficulty at all compared with other difficulties.

It is not a question of the magnitude of the thing at all. The thing is really very small. According to the returns which the Board of Trade gave me the other day, the total value of the articles which we wish to exclude for the eight months ending 31st August, 1915, came to £149,000. That includes £104,000 worth of motor cars, and most of those motor cars the Financial Secretary to the Treasury will discover are commercial vehicles not subject to the duty at all. The amount of revenue will probably not be more than £30,000 a year. That seems a small matter, and so it is. If we were merely arguing it on figures I would not raise the point at all. There is a much bigger matter. The question of sentiment is involved. You cannot disregard sentiment altogether in these fiscal matters. I have never pretended that you could. As long as we had no tariff, you could say to any of our Dominions, "We will treat you exactly the same as we treat anybody else," but as soon as you introduce a tariff the Dominion manufacturer is entitled to say, "Are you going to treat me the same as you treat people who are not helping you, and who are not anxious to see you win?" You have no reply to give to him. I know Canada fairly well. I have been there very often, and I think it would be a fatal mistake to think the matter is small, that it is merely a score we are trying to make, and not to accept an Amendment which would not affect the revenue or any of the objects of the right hon. Gentleman. Let it go out throughout the Empire that in this great War—many of the people in the Dominions are not finding it easy to carry on their business, the Empire is one, and that as far as this country is concerned we will not set the example of altering our fiscal system by putting on a prohibitive tax on articles coming from the Dominions, thus treating them worse than any of the Dominions are treating us at the present day. It is useless to say that this is not a tariff. You put this schedule before any business man in Canada, and ask him what it is. He will tell you it is a tariff schedule. It is a tariff schedule and a bad one, and I say that you will make an enormous and serious blunder if, for the sake of simplicity or because you might be giving away an argument to somebody else at a later stage, you do not take this opportunity of, at any rate, keeping Free Trade between Great Britain and her Dominions over the seas.


I think that the moving of this Amendment must surely have convinced the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he has raised the tariff issue. It follows very naturally that it should be moved by a Free Trader because I know that in Australia and Canada preferential tariffs have not been introduced by Tariff Reformers desiring to benefit the Empire. The pressure has always come from Free Traders, who wanted to get a little nearer Free Trade. You do not suppose that Australia wanted to give a preference to Great Britain in order to increase the importation of British goods into Australia. [HON. MEMBERS: "Shame."] I know exactly what I am talking about. The Australian Free Trader supported preferential trade with Great Britain in order to get the tariff lessened on certain goods which he required. Exactly the same thing happened in Canada. The man who carried Canada for Free Trade—Sir Wilfrid Laurier—introduced preference there in order, I say, to get as near Free Trade as he possibly could by allowing the importation of British goods at a lower rate than they were supposed to come from the foreigner. Therefore it comes quite naturally—


Did he say that was his motive?


Anyone who reads the history of Tariff Reform and preferential trade—I do not suppose a Tariff Reformer has studied the matter at all—will know. Any clap-trap about binding the Empire together is quite enough. The hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. Hewins) asked us to introduce this piffling preferential Amendment as a solatium to the Colonies for what they have done in the War.


I alluded to a series of resolutions passed at the Imperial Conference by the Dominions.


The hon. Gentleman mentioned the sacrifices made by the Colonies during this War, and said, "Here we shall be able to do something for them in return if we adopt this Amendment." This is an absurd and ridiculous Amendment. What are we going to do for the Australians for their sacrifices in Gallipoli? They introduce no parts of motor cars or pianos. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, I say, must be fully convinced that he has raised the tariff issue, and that this is a tariff schedule he has introduced, and the moving of this preferential trade Amendment by a Free Trader on this side of the House naturally follows. It is in order that we shall get nearer to Free Trade that he has permitted us to do under this 33⅓ tax. He gets Members who are, like myself, Free Traders in a difficulty. If the Amendment goes to a Division and I vote for it, I shall get some goods here without paying a tariff. That is the difficulty which confronts all Free Traders, and the only way to meet this difficult position in which the one-time Free Trader is putting his former followers who are still Free Traders, by the introduction of a tariff, is to withdraw the taxes.

10.0 P.M.


I am afraid I cannot take the very simple view which the hon. Member for Hanley (Mr. Outhwaite) does of the motives which underlie this Amendment, namely, that it brings those who introduce and vote for it one step nearer Free Trade. Personally, it seems to me a rather elaborate and ingenious game, as suggested by the hon. Baronet the Member for Swansea (Sir A. Mond), and one that would naturally appeal to his very subtle intellect, for laying a trap for those who may be supposed to be in favour, on principle, of Colonial Preference. He said one thing in his speech which I think a little gave away the case. He said, addressing the Chancellor of the Exchequer, "As soon as you introduce a tariff this is what you do," and he went on to show that the value of the whole of the goods affected would not be more than £149,000, and that the duty, after all allowances made which were in contemplation for remission, could not exceed £33,000. Under the existing tariff, before any of these alterations were introduced by the Finance Bill, we had a far larger scope for Colonial Preference than that. As the hon. Member said, it has been urged by successive Colonial Conferences. I have not heard that any representations have been made from the Colonies with regard to the proposals which are made in this Finance Bill, and it seems to me that we had very much better accept these proposals for what they are; for the purposes for which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has again and again announced to the House are the purposes for which the Government are introducing these taxes, and, so far as I am concerned, I accept them simply in that spirit as a contribution—a small contribution—to the revenue required for the War, and as some kind of a check—a very imperfect check, I think—on expenditure on unnecessary articles of import from abroad. From that point of view I refuse to be led, so far as I am concerned, into any of these controversies on Imperial Preference. I am perfectly satisfied of, and see perfectly clearly through, the motives that underlie this Amendment, and, so far as I am concerned, the lime will have to be laid a little more thickly on the twig to catch me.


The hon. Gentleman who has just spoken is very wise in his generation. He does not wish to introduce his proposals too rapidly. I quite agree that the adoption of the proposal of the Government pure and simple without this proposition, taken from the Tariff Reform book, is a wiser way to begin with. I am quite sure he is correct from his Tariff Reform point of view.


I did not mention Tariff Reform.


One cannot rid oneself of the knowledge that the hon. Gentleman is one of the ablest and, perhaps I may say, the most patriotic advocates of the policy of Tariff Reform. I want to appeal to the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken. I am a Free Trader out and out, and I hate these 33⅓ per cent, duties out and out for reasons which I have explained already and will take occasion to explain again. But if we have to have these duties, I shall vote for this Amendment with all my heart, because I honestly believe that if we have to have these objectionable duties put on articles from other countries, at least we ought to do without putting them on the Colonies. I know a little bit about the Canadian and Australian controversy too. I have been to these countries and discussed with leading statesmen in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada the motive that induced them to give the preference there, and I am quite sure of this, that as regards gentlemen like Sir Wilfrid Laurier and advocates of Free Trade in those other countries that have given us a preference, it has been a very large part of their motive to give a patriotic preference to different parts of the British Empire, and I share that sentiment to the full with every Tariff Reformer, Free Trader though I am. I hope I am no worse a British citizen because I say that if we are to give a preference to anyone it should be our own people. That is the part of the Tariff Reform programme that has always appealed to me, and if it were a sound programme that is the bait in the trap, as the hon. Gentleman said—I think it was lime on the twig he mentioned—that would get me. I shall vote against these duties. I intend to vote against Clause 12 if there is an opportunity tonight. [HON. MEMBERS: "Not to-night; Tuesday night!"] Well, as far hence as possible, at all events. I shall vote against the Clause with all my heart. I shall vote for this Amendment with the double motive of having as little of an evil thing as one can have, i.e., of getting Free Trade over as large an area as we can, and for the motive of giving a preference to those who are giving a preference to us by laying down their lives for the Empire. I feel as a Free Trader absolutely justified on the same lines as Sir Wilfrid Laurier and those others who are Free Traders have felt, that is in voting as near Free Trade as they can get with the Old Country and other parts of the British Empire.

The Secretary to the Treasury said just now that simplicity is the first essence of the tax. I thought when he was saying that, perhaps he had in his mind the supporters who sit behind him. I am sure that simplicity is the very first element the Free Traders should have in their mind who vote these taxes for a Government that has not yet abjured the principles of Free Trade. Simplicity in the tax t Yes, and simplicity in the followers who vote for the 33⅓ per cent. duties on the understanding there is absolutely no change in policy! I have been protesting to-night against the proposal which gave a preference to homegrown sugar as against the tax levied on the incoming product from other countries. Here we have a 33⅓ per cent. tax with no Excise Duty to balance it or any preference given by the Government. Surely the Government might yield this little point and allow us all to vote together patriotically to give a preference to our Colonies. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I am very glad to find the Committee in such a mood of unanimity. The Government might very well give way on this little point and appease those of us who-are Free Traders by reducing the strength of the bolus they ask us to swallow in regard to our Free Trade views, and also please the Tariff Reformers who, like us all, are patriotic citizens desiring to support our Colonies and our friends.


I am sure that every Member of the Committee, or at any rate everyone who agrees with the view I take on the tariff question, felt that there would be one hour in this discussion when we brought the great issue between the Government and ourselves to a point. We have succeeded in bringing it to a decision in the Amendment now before us. What was the difference between the Government and its Free Trade supporters? The difference was this: My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer said, "We bring forward these proposals. They look like a tariff; they are in the shape of a tariff, but they are not a tariff because we say they are not. They are as like a tariff as anything could be, but they are not a tariff because we declare it."


Would the right hon. Gentleman mind quoting the exact phrases to which he refers?


The difficulty about the phrases would be that they would not be so picturesque, and they would not lead the Committee so quickly to the centre of the question as the way in which I have expressed them. It is within the memory of hon. Members here who have addressed the Prime Minister privately and the Government publicly upon this question that only one point has been given to us as an answer, and that point was this: They said, "The thing is temporary. It has other qualities, and although it looks extremely like a tariff, yet it is not a tariff because we declare it is not a tariff." I ask hon. Gentlemen opposite whether I have exaggerated? Any hon. Member who has been through the Debates will agree with me. They thought it would weigh with their simple followers. We said—I am going to be picturesque again—"You do not make black white by calling it white; you do not alter the nature of a thing by denying its nature or its character; you do not make the poison healthy by saying it is pure and clear water. You must judge the thing by examining it and by the object it obviously presents." We say that any man who has ever studied these questions must pronounce these proposals to be a tariff, and a tariff of a particularly vicious character. There was the difference between the Government and their Free Trade supporters. In one hour of the Debate the scene has changed. The Government admit that we have proved our case, and that we have shown that this is a tariff. If we are to proceed one step further in it we have to make it a little better tariff than it was at the beginning, to treat it like a tariff and to make it as complete as we can in all its parts. That is what we are trying to do now.

I shall not have the slightest hesitation in voting for this Amendment if it is brought to a Division. I consider myself as strong an opponent of Colonial Preference as anyone in this Committee. How were we able to resist Colonial Preference? Only by one means, by being able to say, "We will have no tariff, we are Free Traders, we cannot give you a preference because we have none to give. All must come in on an equality." That was our single defence against the claim for Colonial Preference. The moment we adopt this tariff—if we should be unfortunate enough to adopt these foolish proposals my right hon. Friend has brought forward—at that moment we shall not have a single defence left us against the proposal for Colonial Preference. Now we shall stand before the Colonies naked and ashamed if we refuse to grant them a preference, and especially if we refuse it at this moment. The hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Peto) said he was not going to be caught by bird lime. We do not believe in bird lime. We are simple people. We tell you what we think. Did we not fight these proposals from the first moment we heard of them, and fight them openly? We are going to fight them to the end. If we are defeated, and these proposals are carried, then undoubtedly we shall ask that every other necessary corollary shall be added. The right hon. Gentleman thought we should be ashamed of putting in Colonial Preference. Not at all! Here is a letter from Canada about it. It is from a piano and organ company. They say:— May we be allowed, as importers of Colonial musical instruments, to point out the disastrous effect of the proposed duty of 33⅓ per cent. I leave out the next paragraph. The third paragraph says— If some Import Duties are considered inevitable"— —that is what the Government say— surely Colonial manufacturers might be exempt The moment we pass the duties this exemption will be asked of us, and do you suppose that for a moment we can refuse that request? I think not. None of us who know the sacrifices our Colonies are I making for us at the present time, and I believe not one member of the Committee will feel that we shall be able to say in answer, when we are putting on a 33⅓ per cent, duty against foreigners, "We will put it on against you as well." How can we do that? The hon. Member for Devizes says it was only a small matter of £30,000 or £40,000. That is all the more reason why we should do it right. It is these small matters which show the sentiment. The case was admirably stated by my hon. Friend (Mr. T. Taylor). I agree with him entirely that in the Government proposal we have one of the most disastrous proposals ever brought forward since 1842, by a Liberal Government in this House, if it is persisted in. Does not everyone know that we have now to decide the question of Colonial Preference. In a moment we shall come to another Amendment providing for discrimination in favour of certain, foreign countries. Everything that comes with tariffs will have to be adopted once a tariff is imposed. At any rate, that is the simple faith of a simple person like myself, as I understand it, and I shall pursue the course I have indicated without the slightest hesitancy or flinching for a single moment.

Major HUNT

We seem to have got into an extraordinary position. We have very violent Free Traders backing Colonial Preference for all they are worth, and we have a prominent member of the Tariff Reform and Colonial Preference party going dead against it. I cannot understand the reason of either of them. The party to which the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lough) belongs described Colonial Preference as a sordid bargain. The right hon Gentleman is now advocating the sordid bargain for all he is worth. My hon. Friend (Mr. Peto) is going absolutely dead against Colonial Preference and apparently is going to vote against it. If he and Members who have always advocated it vote against it, I do not see in ordinary consistency how they can ever vote for it again. Surely in Unionist policy there must be some consistency. Apparently there is not any consistency on either side. Directly either side gets into difficulties they vote dead against their own principles. That apparently is what they are going to do when the Division comes on. But as far as I can understand it, nobody who has advocated Colonial Preference can vote against this Amendment. If he does he is voting against I all he has ever said before. I sincerely hope those who have been associated with me in Colonial Preference, coupled, I admit, with Tariff Reform, are not going to vote against this Amendment. I should think they will be wiped out in future when it comes to Colonial Preference and Tariff Reform in the near future, directly the War is over, and therefore it seems to me that they should consider very seriously before they vote against this Amendment. I shall certainly heartily support it, and I hope these courageous Free Traders will not run away.


If this were the time for an entertaining political farce I should be delighted to take part in it. Certainly all the elements of entertainment have been here, but the game is not worth the candle. Members on both sides of the House discuss this question of Colonial Preference as though we were discussing it in the circumstances of irresponsibility which some of us remember when there was a Government on that Bench which was not committed to Tariff Reform, and there was a powerful and active Opposition here which liked to bother it and badger it with very difficult questions, and put it in a position of tactical embarrassment, and very often succeeded. If I wanted to embarrass the nominal supporters of Colonial Preference at the present time I should first of all appeal to His Majesty's Government to adopt this Amendment, and if they did not adopt it I will not say I should vote for it, but I should look on placidly while the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends got themselves into a difficulty for the future. Really, when His Majesty's Government comes here and says, "We disclaim the making of tariffs: we are a composite Government, many of whose Members are honestly pledged against tariffs, and many of whose Members are honestly pledged to support tariffs when they get a proper opportunity: we, as a composite Government, tell you that we are not in a position to deal with the tariff question, but for great public reasons we are agreed that certain taxes ought to be imposed, not merely because of revenue, but because of indirect purposes which they serve—purposes of public economy, and the control of expenditure in one direction or another"—under those circumstances I cannot conceive that hon. Members will lend themselves to what cannot have any real effect upon the Tariff question, but can only have the practical effect of hurting and embarrassing the Government. This is not the time when His Majesty's Government ought to be hurt by this kind of badinage. I apologise for entering upon that line of discussion, but I feey very strongly at being kept here to hear what under ordinary circumstances would be entertaining discussions, but are absolutely irrelevant to the real proposals in the Budget—discussions which do not have any permanent effect upon the fiscal policy of this country, but have the immediate effect of hurting the Administration. I am not going to discuss either Tariff Reform or Free Trade or Colonial Preference, or a flat rate of tariffs or any of those topics. In past times I have taken an active part in discussing those subjects, and I have not altered my mind about them. This is not a time when I feel disposed to debate in an academic spirit the questions of Imperial Preference, Tariff Reform, or Free Trade, or to do anything else except that which I believe my Constituents expect me to do, and that is to give loyal support to the Government, unless there is some reason, not of private preference but of public necessity and safety, why I should oppose them.

Mr. R. D. HOLT

I feel compelled to speak after the speech to which we have just listened. I am going to support this Amendment for a simple reason. I have always opposed Colonial Preference as an alternative to Free Trade, but if I am asked to choose between Colonial preference and Protection for domestic purposes only, I say that there is no choice between the two, and that Colonial preference is an infinitely better thing than merely domestic Protection. If we are to have a Protectionist Tariff, then I would vote for Preference for every single human being you can name for the sole purpose of breaking down the Protectionist Tariff. For that reason I vote for this Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Duke) complained of the tone in which this Debate has been carried on. The Government have themselves to thank. They have made a proposal which is absolutely indefensible on any one of the purposes which they have put forward. There is not the slightest reason why we should not have an Excise corresponding to these import duties, if any single purpose avowed by the Government is the purpose they have truly aimed at. They have put forward arguments which every man of sense knows to be unfounded.

They have urged a Protectionist Tariff for reasons which will not stand examination for one moment, and they have not alleged one single argument against a corresponding Excise. They bring forward this proposition for reasons which will not stand examination, and they bring it forward through the mouth of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, against whose every previous conviction this proposal must speak. And then they want to know why the country is losing confidence in them. Of course the country is losing confidence in the Government as fast as it possibly can when it finds the present Chancellor of the Exchequer proposing a Protectionist financial measure. The Government have introduced proposals which cannot be treated in any other way than they have been treated in this Debate. Members of the Government tell us that our principles do not bind us because there is war. They might as well say that the multiplication table, or the laws of gravitation are not true because of the War, or that the laws of the motion of the earth around the sun are going to be changed. The principles of Free Trade are right or wrong. War or no war makes no difference. Because members of the Government introduce an insane proposal of this sort hon. Gentlemen on this side are going to oppose it. For that reason the Government are losing a great deal of the confidence of the country at a time when I suspect they need it very badly.


I am sorry, as a loyal supporter of this Coalition Government, to find myself in a position in which I must certainly vote for this Amendment. As this Amendment seems to cover the whole of the import duties named in this Clause, I may say a few words in support of it. There is one thing which the Coalition Government, which has few friends in this House, and perhaps fewer outside, cannot afford to do. That is to make itself ridiculous. By this proposal we are expecting to raise a trifling revenue, something quite contemptible having regard to the vast amount of our obligations. We are proposing to do it at a great expense of collection, and we are proposing to interfere with the fiscal system that has been approved of by this country for generations. My right hon. Friend the Member for Exeter (Mr. Duke) has said that these tariffs have no permanent effect, and he said that as if the matter did not admit of dispute. I differ from him on that point. If this measure, or any measure like it, exists during the continuance of the War, and if we have these industries, enumerated in this Clause, entrenched during a period of two or three years behind a duty of 33⅓ per cent., then whatever the intentions of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer may be—and I acquit him of any intention of becoming a Protectionist—you will have those industries established in that position, and they will be exceedingly difficult to get rid of. But once they are established they will form a system under which other industries will claim to be entitled to protection. With regard to the charge with which some of us have been twitted that we are proposing to vote for Colonial Preference, I have never voted in favour of Colonial Preference, thinking it not consistent with our large and generous system of Free Trade. But if we are going to introduce a tariff into this country, and if we should have the misfortune to live under a system of that kind, then I reserve my right to reconsider the question entirely, and as a supplement to Protection, I am not at all sure that Preference to British Dominions is not the right and the proper course for our Government to take. Therefore I must vote in favour of this Amendment, but I appeal as other Members have done to the Government not to make themselves ridiculous in the eyes of the nation by insisting on these taxes which will bring in little or nothing.


Is it possible that the House of Commons can really discuss this question for all these hours and in this spirit? When we are at war it brings certain consequences with it. Though the responsible Government comes down to the House and says that the object of these proposals is to prevent money from going abroad, and that they feel themselves compelled to take steps which they should not take at other times, yet we are nevertheless raising the ghost of long gone-bye controversies and making ourselves ridiculous. What do the Colonies say? They say that if the Government have done this, and if they take the view that it should be done, they will back it up. Some of the Colonies say, "Very well, it is the fortune of war, and all we have got to do is to win this War, and see it through." The Government who are fighting this War are under a very great strain, a strain that none of us know or can imagine, and yet we ask them to listen to these things, and to talk about dividing, and show our enemies also that we are a divided House of Commons, that we are sticking to our old shibboleths, talking about them, dividing about them, and forgetting the War and the responsibilities arising from it. I say that it is lowering the House of Commons in the eyes of the country. [Hon. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] Yes, it is making the House of Commons ridiculous, and I do hope, to use a classic phrase, used by a Member of the Front Bench, that "We shall have no more of this fooling."


I had no intention of intervening in this Debate, but as a strong Free Trader, as I am and always have been, having been nurtured on that principle I might almost say from my infancy, I rise to make an appeal to my Free Trade friends around me to consider whether they are adopting the right course in this time of strain. I yield to no man in my love for the doctrine of Free Trade. I represent a Borough in Lancashire which was supposed, in those early days, to be the home of Free Trade. I was brought up on the speeches of Cobden, and I do not go back for one moment on anything I have learned. But these matters have to be set aside for more serious ones, and I for one say that if we doubt the wisdom of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, we ought to vote for his removal from office. [HON. MEMBERS: "No—"] If we wish to keep him in office, as I do, and if we wish to show a united front to the enemy, then I think it is our duty, as men, to forget these minor differences, differences which appeal to both sides of the House on ordinary occasions and in times of peace, as it is perfectly legitimate they should.

I, for one, as representing a very important borough, the greater part of the Borough of Salford, where they are nearly all Free Traders, do not hesitate to get up in this House and say that I shall vote for the Government, although the Amendment is supported by so many of my Friends at my side. The Chancellor of the Exchequer knows what he is doing in this matter. He has told the House that he has definite objects in view which have nothing to do with the ordinary fiscal argument, and, therefore, I intend to support him, and I believe he will receive the support of the House. I appeal to my Free Trade Friends at this hour, who know as well as I do that our country is going through a crisis, such a crisis as it has not gone through in history, that we are bound in a case of this kind, when it is merely a matter of finding the necessary money for the War in which we are engaged to support the Government of the day. We are perfectly right in criticising the Government on any question closely connected with the conduct of the War, and would be the last to desire to interfere with that right. But in a case of this sort is it not a small matter compared with the gigantic issues at stake? I therefore do make an appeal to my hon. Friends not to pursue this. Surely they will admit that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has done great good to the country in the War Loan and other matters, and deserves to be supported. I will not have the slightest hesitation in going down to my Constituency of Liberals and Free Traders and announcing to them the same thing as I have spoken to the House to-night, and I will do so with every confidence that they will approve. I shall certainly support the Government, and I again appeal to my hon. Friends not to allow differences before the enemy.


The speech to which we have just listened has been personally of weight, but I do venture to suggest that it has got rather a false sense of proportion. Apparently we are to criticise the Government in important matters, and when, on the other hand, there is a relatively small point we are on no account to differ, and in presenting a united front we are not even to debate, apparently, whether the Canadians are to be subjected to import duties when they send goods to this country. I do think that presents a distorted view of the functions of this House, and of the real essential unity necessary for prosecution of the War. Like other Members who have spoken from this side I dislike all these taxes, but if the right hon. Gentleman who spoke from the Front Opposition Bench had listened to the most interesting speech of the hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. Hewins) he would have felt this was no trifling matter now that we have this particular opportunity of paying a compliment to other parts of the Empire. Very little money is involved; the financial effects are trifling; but, nevertheless, it is a compliment we can deliberately pay

to them. We can say to them, "We are taxing goods from all the rest of the world, but your goods come in free." Just because the matter is small, just because the practical effects are very limited, but the sentimental effect is not, I personally have no hesitation whatever in supporting the Amendment.

Major HUNT

In answer to the hon. Member for Exeter (Mr. Duke) and other hon. Members who made what I call mugwump speeches telling us that we must back the Government whatever happens, I do not think so at all. I do not think this Government is worth backing. They neither prepared for war nor know how to wage it. I am not backing them. In addition hon. Gentlemen should remember that this matter is considered very deeply in the Colonies which are giving their best blood to help us. They will say, "You had a chance of giving us help and you distinctly refused it." I hope that anybody who believes in the Empire, who is a real Briton, will vote for this Amendment on a matter of Imperial policy.


As I come from the home of Colonial Preference, the place where Colonial Preference was first proposed by its most distinguished advocate, the late lit. Hon. Joseph Chamberlain, I should on any suitable occasion be prepared to vote for it. But this, I venture to suggest, is not a suitable occasion. It is not a question of Preference or Non-Preference. It is a question of raising the necessary money to wage this War. As far as I know the sentiments of our Colonial brethren, they would be the last people to desire a preference at this particular time. They have always been ready to shoulder their due share of the burdens of the War, and I am perfectly certain they would like to do it in regard to this particular proposal. Therefore I shall support the Government and vote against the Amendment, and I hope that all my Unionist Friends who support the policy of the late Rt. Hon. Joseph Chamberlain will do the same.

Question put, "That the words 'except from any other parts of His Majesty's Dominions' be there inserted."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 20; Noes, 125.

Division No. 12.] AYES. [10.43 p.m.
Clough, William Hewins, William Albert Samuel King, Joseph
Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas Hogge, James Myles Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)
Esslemont, George Birnie Holt, Richard Durning Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas
Fletcher, John Samuel Hunt, Rowland Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred
Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster) Snowden, Philip Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)
Pringle, William M. R. Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)
Radford, George Heynes White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Sir Howell Davies and Sir Tudor Walters.
Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis Dyke Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence Ogden, Fred
Adamson, William Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds) Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)
Agg-Gardner, James Tynte Harris, Henry Percy (Paddington, S.) Pennefather, De Fonblanque
Agnew, Sir George William Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale) Peto, Basil Edward
Ainsworth, John Stirling Helme, Sir Norval Watson Pollock, Ernest Murray
Baldwin, Stanley Henderson, Sir A. (St. Geo., Han. Sq.) Pratt, J. W.
Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark) Henry, Sir Charles Pretyman, Ernest George
Banner, Sir John S. Harmood- Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy Prothero, Rowland Edmund
Barran, Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.) Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield) Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.
Beauchamp, Sir Edward Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Raffan, Peter Wilson
Beck, Arthur Cecil Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East) Randles, Sir John S.
Bennett-Goldney, Francis Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney) Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)
Bigland, Alfred Keating, Matthew Rees, G. C. (Carnarvonshire, Arfon)
Bowerman, Charles W. Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon. S. Molton) Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)
Boyton, James Larmor, Sir J. Robertson, Rt. Hon. John M.
Brace, William Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West) Robinson, Sidney
Brady, Patrick Joseph Levy, Sir Maurice Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Bryce, J. Annan Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)
Byles, Sir William Pollard Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury) Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee Shortt, Edward
Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth) Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston) Smith, Sir Swire (Keighley, Yorks)
Cory, Sir Clifford John Lundon, Thomas Soames, Arthur Wellesley
Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe) MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh Stewart, Gershom
Crumley, Patrick Mackinder, Halford J. Talbot, Lord Edmund
Cullinan, John Macleod, John Mackintosh Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)
Currie, George W. MacVeagh, Jeremiah Tickler, T. G.
Dalrymple, Hon. H. H. McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald Touche, George Alexander
Davies, Timothy (Lines., Louth) M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.) Valentia, Viscount
Dougherty, Rt. Hon. Sir J. B. M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's) Walker, Colonel William Hall
Du Cros, Arthur Philip Marks, Sir George Croydon Watson, Hon. W.
Duffy, William J. Mason, David M. (Coventry) Watt, Henry A.
Duke, Rt. Hon. Henry Edward Mason, James F. (Windsor) Weston, Colonel J. W.
Duncan, Sir J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley) Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix) Whyte, Alexander F.
Fell, Arthur Molloy, Michael Williams, Col. Sir Robert (Dorset, W.)
Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S. Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)
Field, William Mount, William Arthur Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes Neville, Reginald J. M. Wood, John (Stalybridge)
Galbraith, Samuel Newdegate, F. A. Yate, Colonel Charles Edward
Gelder, Sir W. A. Nolan, Joseph Yeo, Alfred William
Glanville, Harold James O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)
Goldstone, Frank O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. G. Howard and Mr. Bridgeman.
Gordon, John O'Doherty, Philip
Gulland, John William

Question put, and agreed to.


I beg to move, in Subsection (1), after the word "Ireland" ["following articles imported into Great Britain or Ireland"], to insert the words "except from the territories of His Majesty's Allies for the time being."

The object of the Amendment is to treat our Allies in the same way as it was proposed to treat the Dominions in the last Amendment—that is to say, to put their products on the free list. I am afraid, after what we have heard from the Treasury to-day, that there is little, if any, prospect of this Amendment being considered. Of course, we are familiar by this time with the arguments that have been employed and resisted on the last Amendment, and which, no doubt, will be employed again. In the middle of a great war and a great crisis, you want to have the good will of your allies. Some of the largest French motor-car manufacturers received commissions from their Govern- ment to give out some of the work they are doing on munitions in order to manufacture cars for importation into this country to protect their goodwill. The French Government are, of course, anxious to get all the munitions made they can, and it is important to allow those firms to continue their manufacture. The Government here propose what is really a prohibitive tax on French motor cars, which hits them much more heavily than other motor-car firms. I have seen a whole series of interviews with leading motor-car manufacturers in France engaged in the duty of manufacturing munitions for their Government, and they all complain bitterly, and look with great alarm upon the action now being taken by our Government. I have put my point, and I must leave it to the responsibility of the Government as to whether they will take action or not.


As the Committee has just rejected a proposal to exempt our Dominions from the operation of these duties, I do not think my right hon. Friend would wish to press this exemption for the Allies. After all, the Dominions are fighting with us, and they are as dear to us as our other Allies. My right hon. Friend asked whether any protest has been received. I think as regards one of the taxes the Ambassador representing one of the Allies has raised, I will not say a protest, but has called to our attention the fact that it is injuriously affecting the manufactures of that country. We have had nothing like the protest that was raised when other duties which did seriously affect them were proposed. [An HON. MEMBER: "What duties? Were they wines?"] I do not think I need specify the particular duties. I do not think that the whole of these duties will very seriously affect any of our Allies. It will be for the convenience of the Committee, perhaps, if I say that we do not propose to go beyond the present Amendment. As soon as we have finished our discussion on this Amendment I shall move to report Progress.

11.0 P.M.


I ask the House not to prolong the Debate but accept the assurance of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he will not go any further with the Debate to-night. There is only one argument he addressed to us. I am not going to develop it, but there is a different argument. However, I think we ought to meet the right hon. Gentleman in the spirit he has suggested, and we might agree to the Amendment being negatived on the condition that the Debate be now adjourned.

Amendment negatived.

Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress and ask leave to sit again," put, and agreed to.—[Mr. McKenna.]

Committee to sit again to-morrow (Wednesday).

The remaining Orders were read and postponed.

Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER, pursuant to the Order of the House of the 3rd February, proposed the Question, "That this House do now adjourn."

Adjourned accordingly at Three minutes after Eleven o'clock.