§ (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.|
|Blank film, on which no picture has been impressed, known as raw film or stock||0||0||0½|
|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.
§ (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 he 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:1816
§ 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.
§ Mr. PETO
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), after the word "Ireland" ["Great Britain or Ireland"], to insert the words "except on reimport from the Channel Islands or Isle of Man."
This Amendment deals with perhaps a small matter, but one which I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer has had the opportunity of considering since I put it before him yesterday. As I understand the object of these Import Duties, it is to place a check upon the consumption in this country of articles imported from abroad. I am sure it is not the intention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to impose a great hardship, and one which I think he could not possibly have contemplated, upon a very small section of people engaged in the cinema industry. I have a letter here which so exactly explains the position that I will ask to be allowed to read a short passage from it. The letter is from Albany Ward's military theatres, which cater for His Majesty's troops in 1817 Bulford, Fovant, Sutton-Veny, Wareham, Larkhill, and other of the camps in the Southern Command. They have also certain theatres in what are called, I believe, their circuit, which are in the Channel Islands, Jersey and Guernsey. The managing director wrote to the hon. Member for Wilton, whose constituent he 1s. He says:—I am the managing director and joint proprietor of three theatres in the Channel Isles—that is the Opera House and Alhambra, Jersey, and St. Julian's Theatre, Guernsey. These theatres are booked and run in conjunction with my circuit of theatres in this country. In order to provide the necessary entertainments, programmes of films are sent up every three days from Weymouth to Jersey, and thence to Guernsey, and are returned again to England at the expiration of either three, six, or nine days, for which use ordinary hiring fees are charged. Under the said Bill, the Customs authorities have already, for the past two weeks or more, demanded the full tax of a penny per foot on all such films on their return to this country, and I have already had to pay under protest, a sum approaching £100 for films I have been compelled to release to carry out my obligations to other theatres. In addition, the Customs have in their possession some hundreds of thousands of feet of films already on which I have declined to pay duty, and of which I am unable to obtain possession. Many of these films are old, and their actual market value is considerably under one penny per foot. On the total footage of films coming back each week, the tax at one penny per foot works out at approximately £200 per week, a sum considerably in excess of the gross takings of the three theatres.I would merely ask the Chancellor if he has considered this particular case, and, if so, whether he does not think the words I propose to put into the Bill appropriate to meet it? It is not a question of import into this country at all, but merely a question of the transit, in the ordinary course of business, of these films from one of the Southern ports to the Channel Islands. If the right hon. Gentleman does not consider the words I suggest appropriate to meet the case, I would ask whether he would undertake to find suitable words to meet the case before we arrive at the Report stage?
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. McKenna)
If my hon. Friend will look at Sub-section (6), he will see that his point is there sufficiently dealt with. That will certainly be the proper place for the particular point which the hon. Member has raised. I hope he will not press the Amendment now, but when we get to Sub-section (6) I will explain that that covers the case he has raised.
§ Mr. PETO
The Customs' officials have already collected a very considerable sum in duties, and are holding a very large footage of films waiting for the payment of the full duty on those films, which are not imports in the ordinary sense of the word at all. May I, therefore, assume that 1818 they are acting under a misapprehension as to the (purpose and meaning of the Sub-section?
§ Mr. McKENNA
I cannot say without knowing the particular case what the Customs authorities have to say. I cannot answer the hon. Gentleman as to the grounds of their action, but if he will look at Sub-section (6) it is declared that: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.The hon. Member will see that entirely covers the point, so far as the law is concerned. Whether it covers it in practice I am unable to say until I inquire.
§ Mr. McKENNA
That I quite agree, and therefore I say to the hon. Gentleman when he gets to Sub-section (6) he may probably think it does not go far enough. The point should be raised when we come to that Sub-clause.
§ Mr. LOUGH
The Isle of Man and the Channel Islands are not strictly, as my right hon. Friend says, part of Great Britain and Ireland, but in various parts of the fiscal relations, as the House knows, this House does interfere in a way it does not in regard to foreign countries. For instance, we passed the Isle of Man Customs Bill the other day. You cannot deal in Sub-clause (6) with these few islands.
§ Mr. McKENNA
Yes, you can. Those islands do not come under the description "imported into Great Britain or Ireland." They are not included under the heading "Great Britain or Ireland," and therefore would come under Sub-clause (6).
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Sir A. MOND
I beg to move to leave out the words, "Motor cars, including motor bicycles and motor tricycles."
I do not intend to devote any amount of time in dealing with this Amendment. The 1819 question of principle, which has already been discussed at some length, will probably come better on the Resolution on the Clause in general. I will confine myself to the reasons why I believe we ought to leave out the articles mentioned in my Amendment. When the Chancellor of the Exchequer introduced these taxes, I think he could have been very insufficiently informed as to the position, the condition, And the carrying on of the motor trade industry in this country. He had got into his head that it was his duty by means of taxation to prevent consumption, and he enunciated the very bad economic theory that you can make people economical by taxation. I do not believe anyone has ever yet been made economical by taxation, and I am afraid the Chancellor of the Exchequer will find his new sumptuary taxes, from the point of view of economy, just as great a failure as they have ever been throughout the history of the world. At any rate, that is the theory he laid down which seems to have impressed a large number of people. In order to achieve the laudable object, he bas hit upon, of all things in the world, cheap American motor cars for the subject of a luxury tax. I could have understood if the right hon. Gentleman had taken some measure to prevent the purchase and use of large and expensive cars. He has not done so. This duty applies to the type of car which, however useful it may be, nobody would be likely to call a luxury.
There is another point which obviously the right hon. Gentleman overlooked, and that is that the greater part of this motor car industry does not consist of cars used for pleasure at all, but of cars used for commercial purposes. A very careful survey made by a trade organisation on the question of the percentage of cars imported since the outbreak of the War, used for commercial purposes has resulted—and I may say these figures have been checked by a firm of accountants—in establishing the interesting fact that no less than 58 per cent, of all the cars imported since August last have been used for commercial purposes, and the balance consists of those used for so-called luxury purposes. I may say the so-called luxury purposes include the use of cars by doctors, veterinary surgeons, officers in His Majesty's serviecs, commercial travellers, and men of business who have been buying smaller or cheaper cars for every-day work. They also include those who, in their endeavour 1820 to carry out the Chancellor of the Exchequer's principle, namely, to economise, have discarded their large and expensive cars. In many cases—you can verify that every day—professional drivers having enlisted in His Majesty's Forces, the lady driver has come much more to the front. You will now see large numbers of ladies driving a small type of car, which, of course, is much more suitable for them, and easier for them than the large car, which requires much more professional assistance. There seems to have been some misnomer in treating all these cars as if simply imported for wasteful luxury, and I do not believe that if you put a duty on them the importation will necessarily cease to anything like the extent which is imagined by some will be the case.
We next get to the question of revenue. That question is difficult to deal with, for this reason: When the duty was introduced the Financial Secretary to the Treasury for our guidance sent out an estimate in his White Paper of the amount of revenue which is due to be produced during this financial year and a full financial year. I find this statement: Imported motor cars and cycles—and I take it that that includes accessories and parts—for 1915–16, estimate £600,000. I have not been able to ascertain from any official statement on what theory these estimates are based, and it would be very interesting if the Chancellor of the Exchequer would tell us how the Treasury arrives at these figures. Since these estimates have been made a very large alteration has taken place in this duty by the concession which has been made on rubber tyres and commercial vehicles. I should like to know whether the right hon. Gentleman can say to what extent this estimate of £600,000 will be reduced by those concessions. I have tried to work it out myself on an estimate for a full year, and these are the figures at which I have arrived. We imported in the nine months ended 30th September, 1915, cars and chassis to the extent of £3,278,000, and adding another three months on the same basis, the estimate for the year is £4,371,000. Assuming that 58 per cent, of these are sold for commercial purposes, you have to deduct £2,500,000, and the balance left is £1,800,000.
The same association which made the estimate in regard to commercial cars also inquired from its members as to the number of cars which would be excluded from importation. The average figure arrived 1821 at was 40 per cent., consequently you have to exclude 40 per cent, from the £700,000, and I arrive at a total importation of £1,100,000, and consequently the revenue at 33 ⅓ per cent, would be £362,000. That would be the whole revenue for a full year. I have not made any allowances for re-exports. All the figures we get on imports are gross and not net figures. A very large number of these cars have been re-exported. In regard to one make of American cars, there are no less than 1,000 of them being employed at the front as ambulances; these cars have figured in the import totals, and no deduction has been made for re-exportation. Therefore, if you deduct the re-exports, the revenue you will have left will amount in a full financial year to a very trifling sum. There is a further deduction to be made for loss of revenue. This tax is going to diminish the profits of a large number of trading concerns in this country who to-day are paying Income Tax, and possibly also Excess War Profits Tax. Has the right hon. Gentleman made any deduction for the loss of revenue which is likely to occur by an interference with these people's profits? There is another indirect loss which you cannot overlook in regard to English freights and English insurance. Our c.i.f. includes freight paid to English shippers on all these goods. Obviously these goods do not all come here, and we do not get the freight, consequently we lose revenue from Income Tax on the freights, and we lose as well from the point of view of balance of trade. All these facts have to be carefully taken into consideration in order to arrive at a final balance-sheet. I do not pretend to have got the accurate figures on all these points, but I am interested to know whether the Treasury has been able to single out these different factors, and I want to know whether these various deductions have been made in their estimate. It is pretty obvious to anyone who will go into these questions that as far as revenue is concerned you ought not to impose a tax like this at a time when there is a war proceeding which is costing £5,000,000 per day.
I will now examine the argument in regard to the balance of trade. It is a very curious thing, but the more you go into these questions the more factors occur which do not appear on the surface at all. We hear from the Treasury that so many millions worth of cars are being imported, and that all this money is leaving the 1822 country. On investigation, it turns out that nothing of the kind is taking place. A large number of the American motorcar firms own houses over here, where they collect the payments in English money, and, as a matter of fact, at the present time there is a sum of £900,000 belonging to American manufacturers in this country which is not being sent to America because of the bad rate of exchange. That has to be deducted from the amount which figures in our imports, because that £900,000 has not gone out of this country, and it is stopping here. From the point of view of exchange, it is obvious to anyone that as far as that £900,000 is concerned the balance has not been disturbed, and will not be disturbed until the exchange becomes normal again. Therefore you cannot take these figures as giving you any accurate account of the balance of trade. Let me point out that the extent to which the balance of trade can be affected, more especially after the concessions which have already been made, is so trifling that even in ordinary times, to say nothing of a time of war, no one would think it worth mentioning. I know the Chancellor of the Exchequer says that every million counts, but I cannot believe that he would contend that if this duty were not in the Finance Bill there would be any appreciable difference in the amount of the American exchange. I do not want to give many figures, but may I point out that only a portion of these imports come from America. A considerable portion of them come from France, and as far as France is concerned the argument does not apply in the same way. What are the objections to this duty! I have already pointed out that the arguments which have been advanced in its favour do not really hold water. My first objection is that as long as cars are being manufactured in this country a duty of 33⅓ per cent, on imported cars is giving protection to the people manufacturing cars here.
§ Sir A. MOND
I believe so. This is a question upon which there seems to be some little dispute. I am informed that there are nineteen firms in this country making to-day ordinary motor cars for the public. If that is so, the right hon. Gentleman cannot deny that, as far as they are concerned, he is giving them a protective tariff of 33⅓ per cent., and that is 1823 naturally my first objection to the imposition of this duty. I now come to my second objection, upon which I hope the right hon. Gentleman will say something. There is no doubt that the motor-car trade in this country is looking upon this duty as protection for themselves. If the right hon. Gentleman will read any motor-car trade paper, or consult other authorities in the trade, he will find that, one and all, they look upon this duty not as a temporary thing, but as something which is bound to continue, and as something to which they will be entitled in the future, and their only complaint is that it is not high enough. I think it would be advisable if the right hon. Gentleman would give us a declaration that the Government do not intend to continue these taxes after the War, and that the present Government, on their own initiative, will take them off. I know that the right hon. Gentleman said that these duties would come off automatically in July; but, after all, if he imposes them again in his next Budget, they will continue, and if the War lasts there is every reason for believing that these taxes will again be imposed. The War may very well last beyond next July; I hope not, but it is not an impossibility. If we had some undertaking that these duties will be taken off by the Government, and that it will not be left to a private Member of the House; if we could get a Cabinet pledge that they will be taken off by the Government, and a clean sweep made of them before another election takes place, and when the War comes to an end, I am sure the right hon. Gentleman would remove a great many of the objections we have been making to these taxes. I do not think that that is an unreasonable request to make.
We are not anxious to waste time discussing these points. We are not here as factious people, or as people who have got a crank. We are here because we feel the great importance of these taxes, and many of us speak with some authority on this subject. I know there has been some understanding, but the Chancellor of the Exchequer may not be in the position he now holds at that time. All these matters cannot be foreseen; but if we had a pledge that when the War is over these duties would disappear, and we should start with a clean sheet, I think that would do a great deal to relieve the mind of Free Traders, and it would do a good deal to make good the right hon. Gentleman's own claim. I think that is what was meant when the right hon. Gentleman said that these were 1824 temporary duties, and that is what he has in his mind, but a great many other people have not that in their mind, particularly those interested, and there are some very powerfully interested parties in this matter, and they look at it in an entirely different way. They look upon this duty as a protection to them in the future, because they are making munitions of war. I know that is not the way the right hon. Gentleman has regarded it, but I think he ought to safeguard himself against such an impression getting abroad. There seems to be a great many difficulties regarding the carrying out of the pledge which the right hon. Gentleman has embodied in the Finance Bill with regard to commercial cars. I have no doubt that when the right hon. Gentleman gave that undertaking he had every intention of carrying it out in a broad and liberal spirit, but I do not think he realised at the time that as a matter of fact there is no such thing as a commercial car. That is to say, that any chassis can be converted almost into a commercial or a pleasure car, entirely independently as to what body you wish to put on to it. The French import these chassis and they are asked here to make an affidavit that those cars are not going to be used for commercial purposes. The importer says, "I cannot make such an affidavit, because I have not the faintest notion what the chassis are to be used for." These chassis pass from the wholesale houses to the provincial centres, and then go into the hands of the retailers. Until the retailer sells one to a purchaser no one knows whether it is going to be the chassis of a commercial or of a personal car. The right hon. Gentleman sees where the difficulty is. I do not know how he can overcome it, or how the importer can overcome it, but, as he has given an undertaking to exempt commercial cars, I leave it to his ingenuity and to the ingenuity of his staff to find some way out of the difficulty. The procedure being adopted to-day will not do it. The honest importer—and I think the people engaged in this trade are honest people—simply refuses to make such an affidavit. He will not take the risk Therefore, the pledge which the right hon. Gentleman has given is not being carried out. I received a letter only this morning from a large importer of motor cars, component parts, and accessories, who had had this letter from the Customs House, dated 18th October:—Motor lorries, vans, and parts thereof imported under Government contract are to be exempted from duty on production of a letter from the Admiralty or 1825 War Office identifying the goods as received. Other cars for Government use are to be charged the duty in the ordinary way.I do not know whether that is the usual procedure of the Customs House. As a matter of fact, it is an extraordinary thing to do, because the importer must naturally pass on to the other Government Departments more than the tax. If you are anxious to economise, and this is the usual way, I suggest that it had better be abandoned. If the importer has to pay this duty of 33⅓ per cent., naturally when he passes it on to the Admiralty or the War Office he has to reimburse himself, and therefore by adopting these methods the Admiralty and War Office are paying 50 per cent. more. The Treasury will only get 33⅓ per cent., and the taxpayer and the State will be 16⅔ per cent, worse off. I would like to call the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the extreme difficulty which is arising on the question of re-exports. The right hon. Gentleman was kind enough to say that there would be a full rebate of the duty on re-exports, but I am told by the importers that there are no bonding facilities available, and they do not know when buying cars how they can place them in bond in order to be able to re-export them without the duty. It is a very serious matter, and the re-export question altogether seems to be full of difficulties. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman has had his attention brought to an interesting article on these difficulties which appeared in the "Daily Telegraph," 15th of October. One of the difficulties that arises is this question of identity. A man imports a motor chassis. The motor chassis passes out of his hands, and is then re-exported by somebody who has put a body on to it. How is he to prove the identity of that chassis? What machinery exists for that purpose? I understand that in practice there is no machinery which can deal with the subject, and although on paper you may have a rebate given, in practice the rebate does not exist.
I am very much surprised that the Treasury and the Customs House, and the Export Department, did not foresee many of the troubles that have arisen. They seem to have thought that you could deal with a complicated industry like the motorcar trade as you deal with sugar and tea. There you have a very simple and crude method of raising a tax by so much on the pound, and you have had bonded facilities established for many years. You have none of the difficulties in dealing 1826 with these articles that you have in dealing with motor cars. The right hon. Gentleman, in an earlier part of the Debate, said that there was no more difficulty in dealing with the question of rebates and drawbacks with regard to motor cars than there was in dealing with drawbacks on sugar in barley sugar. If that is his conception of the motor-car industry, I can understand why it is that he has plunged into the morass. I can assure him that it is very easy to ascertain the sugar in barley sugar, but it is extremely difficult to ascertain what are English and what are foreign parts of a motor car which is put together in this country and exported. I maintain that it is absolutely impossible to do so, and so would anybody who is intimately acquainted with the motor-car industry. I will not go into the difficulty of collection. In view of these difficulties for the small amount of revenue collected, and in view of the fact that already the greater part of the duty is gone, I invite the right hon. Gentleman to abandon this system and to adopt a more remunerative, a simpler, and a very much better way of dealing with the whole subject. Of course, we are not here to plead either for the American motor-car manufacturers or for cheap motor cars. We are here to prevent a cumbrous, difficult, and unworkable system being introduced and the money of the State being spent in collecting a tax which brings in very little.
This would be a very much better system: If the right hon. Gentleman would only adopt the plan of treating it under the Inland Revenue and putting an amount equal to 10 per cent, on to the retail price of all motor cars in this country, whether American, French, Italian, or English, whether new or second-hand, whether commercial vehicles or not, he would find that he would arrive at a revenue approximately estimated at £2,000,000 a year, and he would introduce none of the protective features of this tax and practically none of the difficulties with which he has to deal now. He would make everybody who buys any kind of motor car contribute to the revenue, and that is only justice. I cannot understand why a man who buys an expensive second-hand car for, say, £900 should be looked upon as a virtuous citizen and a man who buys a cheap new motor car for £450 should be regarded as a criminal. This scheme has been worked out and submitted to the Treasury, and I think it deserves very careful consideration. It is simple, remunerative, and fair all round, 1827 and could be easily worked. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not say because he has introduced his duties that he is under any obligation from the point of view of the prestige of the Government or for any other reason to adhere to them. I know that sometimes those ideas do animate Governments and Ministers, but I really think that they are not worthy of big men like my right hon. Friend. His position is too great and his reputation is too large that, if he finds on reflection that he can achieve an object he wants in a better way, he should not seize that way for any of these reasons, and I do hope the right hon. Gentleman will see his way to withdraw this duty and pursue a course more secure and more remunerative, and one which will be accepted by the whole of this large industry as a settlement of this very difficult question.
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Mr. Montagu)
The right hon. Gentleman for the purposes of this Clause alone is an enemy of the Budget. Every Amendment which he moves is not directed to improve the Clause, but to destroy it. When the Resolution imposing the duty on motor cars was introduced, the right hon. Gentleman with the wealth of dialectical skill which he possesses demolished it in principle and destroyed it in application completely to his own satisfaction. He now comes forward and does the same thing over again even better than he did before. Having tried his frontal attack, he then proceeds to be very coaxing and attempts by pointing out the well-known qualities of my right hon. Friend to get concessions. He says, first of all, "Well, I have been beaten by the sense of the House on the question of the principle of the tax, but for Heaven's sake do not apply it to commercial cars. It would be a very hard thing to apply it to commercial cars, and, if you must act on this principle, exempt commercial cars." My right hon. Friend exempts commercial cars, and then the right hon. Gentleman turns round and says, "You cannot work your tax, having done that which I asked you to do, and your case is worsened by your giving in to me and listening to my arguments. Therefore I go further. If there is any revenue left from your Clause, I will move another Amendment to get rid of the remaining revenue. Because you have accepted one Amendment and lessened the revenue, do something else which will 1828 lose you another £320,000." He supports this by all sorts of arguments, some of which I will not traverse, because I would suggest that they will come better on Subsections (6) and (7), which deal with such questions as the identification of commercial cars, and the other Sub-section which deals with rebates on re-exportation.
I merely content myself with pointing out two things to the right hon. Gentleman. He suggested that by preventing or attempting to prevent the importation of American cars or foreign cars we have lost sight of the great profits made on the freight of carrying these cars. The right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that the great problems with which we have to deal now is to provide for freights. There is a shortage of ships for all the things we must have, and this argument that the Motor Car Tax is a bad thing because you would lose the profit made on the freight of carrying the cars is not worthy of the right hon. Gentleman's logical mind. He appealed to my right hon. Friend to declare that these taxes are only temporary. My right hon. Friend has said it over and over again. Nobody would be a more convinced opponent of these taxes if they were designed to be a permanent part of our fiscal system than my right hon. Friend, and, if I may say so, than myself. These taxes are designed in exceptional circumstances to meet exceptional conditions. We believe that there is a large purchase of cheap cars from abroad for a purely luxury purpose, and we desire to stop it. They are temporary in form and temporary in intention, and, after the declaration the Chancellor of the Exchequer has made more than once, I venture to suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that if these were taxes applicable to his own industry he would never build or invest one penny of his capital on the chance of their being permanent or prolonged after the end of the War. He and his Friends have made one or two attempts in this Debate to alter their character so as to make them permanent; but if he will leave them alone nobody in this country who carries on any business will have any ground for building any hopes on the fact that they are permanent.
§ Mr. CHAPLIN
The right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken began by saying he was most anxious to avoid spending the time of the Committee unnecessarily, but he certainly succeeded in speaking at very considerable length. I was delighted 1829 to hear what fell from the Financial Secretary to the Treasury—not on the ground which hon. Gentlemen opposite who cheered that statement wish no doubt to attribute to me. I was about to observe that in this very long speech the right hon. Gentleman appealed over and over again to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to give a definite pledge that, at the end of the War, this particular tax would be repealed. Does he know when the War is going to end? Does anyone know? Can the Chancellor of the Exchequer even form an opinion on this point? A more unreasonable request I never heard from any Member of this House. Who knows what our financial position is going to be at the end of this War? I am afraid, as far as outsiders with no military knowledge or experience can form an opinion, that we must look forward to a very lengthy continuance of the War, and therefore if that should unhappily be the case, the Chancellor of the Exchequer is going to be faced with a permanent indebtedness of this country and with demands for the raising of revenue which may be something almost inconceivable in their magnitude compared with anything we have had in the past. Yet in the face of this the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Swansea gets up and makes a little modest request to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to give a definite pledge that, whatever condition the country may be in, he will at the end of the War repeal this tax, and if he did agree to repeal the tax the same request would be made in regard to half a dozen other little taxes of the same kind the moment the War is over.
I must say, with all respect to the right hon. Gentleman, I do not think he has any right to make this request. Who does he speak for? What is the position of this little knot of Free Traders who have been raising this question night after night, and so unprofitably spending the time of the House? They represent a very small minority in this Chamber, and I suspect they represent a much smaller minority outside. Again and again they have given the impression to everyone who has ears to hear, or who has an opportunity of reading their speeches, that they much prefer to discuss these petty—and comparatively petty topics they are, in the face of the crisis in which we stand at this present moment—they prefer to discuss these small, petty trifling matters, utterly forgetting and ignoring the enormous issues with which we are confronted, and the still greater 1830 task thrown on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to meet demands which must be far greater than have ever been made on the financial resources of this country.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
There are one or two Committee points on which I wish to speak. I am not addressing the Committee as an opponent of the tax. As one somewhat interested in the motor world, representing not manufacturers but an association of close upon a hundred thousand motorists, I may say that the motorists themselves are not in any way opposed to this taxation. We users of cars desire to take our share of the taxation rendered necessary by this War. The first point I wish to lay before the Chancellor of the Exchequer is in regard to the effect that this tax will have, or rather which it might have, if he were to put it in a slightly different form. I take it that one of the main reasons for the tax is to correct the exchange with regard to America. The Committee should realise that America put a prohibitive tax on our motor cars while our Allies, France and Italy, do not place such a tax upon them. On the other hand, the exchange with America is exceedingly bad for us, while the exchange with France and Italy is good for us. The effect of this tax as it is proposed to be put on—I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman has realised it—would be that American cars would continue to come in here while the cars of our Allies, France and Italy, would be kept out. The reason is this: the American car—the Ford car—costs about £120, and that will pay a tax, assuming it comes in ready-made, of £40, whereas the cheap French or Italian car, costing £200 or £300, will pay a tax of from £70 to £100.
The Committee will easily see that the effect of this tax will be to absolutely prohibit our Allies' cars coming in and to make it easier for the American cars to come in. A suggestion has been made to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for an alteration in the mode of collecting the tax, and if he would do what every other civilised country does in regard to motor taxation—that is, collect the tax on weight instead of on declared value—he could quite easily get the same amount of money without having the effect of creating a preference in favour of the American car as against the cars of our Allies. Germany, France, Italy, and Switzerland all have taxes at various rates on motor cars, but each country taxes by weight and not by value. If the right hon. Gentleman would 1831 only consult his Customs authorities he would find it is very much easier and simpler to tax by weight than by the certificate which a vendor chooses to give as to the value of the article imported.
There is another point in regard to the Ford car which I may mention. It is nominally worth £120, but in reality it is sent over here in an unmade condition, in crates and boxes containing pieces which go to the make-up of the car. These pieces are not valued at the present moment at more than £45 per car. They could easily be valued at £30. They are made up in a factory here, and the cost is not very great. Therefore the taxation on the Ford car, instead of being what the right hon. Gentleman expects, 33 per cent, of £120, will really amount to 33 per cent, on only £40, the value of the pieces imported here, and you will get your luxurious small car coming over in pieces, made up here, costing £120 to the English buyer, while the right hon. Gentleman will secure taxation not on the £120 but on £40. It is also quite feasible as the making-up firm here is owned by an American company, for them to import the pieces at a less price than £40, and the firm in England can charge an extra profit on the making up and thus escape with a still smaller tax. If the right hon. Gentleman will only consider this point with his advisers he will see whether it would not be better, in the interests of the revenue, to put the tax on weight rather than on certified cost, and I think he would find it much more profitable.
The other small point I wish to put before him is with regard to travelling cars coming into this country. The right hon. Gentleman has travelled abroad. I have seen pictures of him on the Continent. Everybody knows that if you have a travelling car and take it abroad for pleasure, or any other reason, you can go to the Automobile Association and pay into its coffers a sum which will cover the French duty, the German duty, the Italian duty, or the Spanish duty. You can travel all over the Continent, and when you bring your car back again you get your money returned. There is no need to trouble about the Customs authorities either in France or Germany or any other foreign country. Cannot the right hon. Gentleman permit our Customs authorities to make a similar arrangement with, say, the French Touring Club, or one of the other great organisations, in order that our foreign friends who wish to visit us 1832 here may have the same privileges and the same facilities for getting their cars into the country and out again without being troubled by the Customs officials—privileges and facilities which they have granted to us when we desire to take our cars abroad. These are small Committee points, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will consider them between now and the Report stage.
§ Mr. DAVID MASON
The hon. Member who last spoke has made suggestions which will no doubt receive consideration at the hands of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I wish to offer a few observations with regard to this Amendment, which I support. I have the honour to represent the city of Coventry, which is regarded as the seat of the motor industry in this country. I am sent to this House as a Free Trader, and I hope I shall remain a Free Trader to the end. I believe the hon. Member who has just sat down and others interested in the motor industry are prepared to pay their share of the taxation due to this War. Of course, there is a section in Coventry who are in favour of Tariff Reform, but I have had no representations from them asking me to take any steps with regard to this particular matter. The great motor industry of Coventry has been built up under Free Trade, and when I remind the Committee that that city increased its population in the ten years previous to the War by 50 per cent., on a Free Trade basis, the Committee will agree that under such circumstances there is no necessity for a protective duty for that industry. Not only has the industry flourished in this country, but previously to the War the export of British made motor cars to the Continent and all parts of the world was increasing. I do not propose, however, to discuss this question so much from the Free Trade and Protectionist point of view, but rather to refer to the motives which I believe have actuated the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the introduction of these taxes. What did the right hon. Gentleman say?
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member appears to be rather anticipating the discussion on the Question that the Clause stand part of the Bill. I must warn him and other members of the Committee that I cannot allow a repetition on the various items in this Clause, and that if anything in the nature of a general Debate takes place I cannot allow another Debate on the Question that the Clause stand part.
§ Mr. MASON
I will try to confine myself to the particular tax we are discussing. The right hon. Gentleman, referring to these taxes, said:If we can by any means, by taxation at one and the same time restrict imports, reduce consumption and bring in revenue, then I think, for the moment, at any rate, that we may be considered to have found an ideal system.If these taxes are to restrict imports, reduce consumption, and bring in revenue, certainly they are ideal taxes, but I am not able to see how, if you restrict the import of motor cars, you are going to get revenue. If you get the revenue then the cars must come in. If they come in you cannot keep them out, that is very evident. We ought to press the right hon. Gentleman to say what is the real object of these taxes. He has said over and over again that he stands for Free Trade and that he is not in any sense desirous of protecting the motor industry; therefore we are driven to the conclusion that the principal motive for these taxes is the correction of the American exchange. I prefer to give the right hon. Gentleman the benefit of the doubt, because he has said over and over again that he is a Free Trader and that the correction of the American exchange was his sole object in bringing in these taxes; therefore we must assume that the object of these taxes is to do something to correct the American exchange. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Swansea (Sir A. Mond), when introducing this Amendment, very ably showed the infinitesimal amount which the importation of these motor cars would bring into the revenue. The excess of imports amounts to something like £200,000,000 or £300,000,000, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Swansea estimated that the total revenue from the importation of foreign cars would be about £362,000. I believe the Chancellor of the Exchequer estimates that the total revenue from these taxes will come to £1,950,000, but now that he has eliminated commercial vehicles, upon a generous estimate, it will be something like £900,000. The effect, therefore, on the exchange is infinitesimal.
It is trifling with the Committee to ask us to support these taxes for the purpose of correcting American exchange. They will have little or no effect on the American exchange, and it is absurd for the right hon. Gentleman to base his case upon so slight and ephemeral a foundation. If that is the basis of the introduction of 1834 these taxes, we are entitled to ask him to show how they will correct the exchange, how so small an amount as this will have any effect, and how it will even have the effect of checking the importation, which he so desires. As the last speaker pointed out, these taxes will really give a preference to the Americans as against our French and other Allies who send cars into this country. We may possibly see, instead of some falling off, rather an increase in the importation of American cars. I fail to see what justification the right hon. Gentleman can show for so serious a departure from the principles of Free Trade which we have been returned to this House to support. I should like him to justify this and to show how it will have the effect upon the exchange which apparently he believes it will have. As to this exchange question, there are other causes which have brought it about, and no doubt we may have an opportunity of dealing with them later on. For the life of me I cannot see how this particular proposal will have the effect he anticipates. The late Leader of the Opposition has himself told us that he has no responsibility for these taxes, and that the Tariff Reformers are by no means enthusiastic in their favour. The great motor-car manufacturers believe that the tax will not have the effect of keeping out these cars, therefore I cannot see what justification there is for carrying out these taxes. The Amendment is a very fair one, and I hope it will receive the enthusiastic support of the Committee.
§ Mr. THEODORE C. TAYLOR
I believe there are one or two features of the motorcar industry to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has not given enough weight. It is not an old industry by any means. That is one of the reasons why it is so large in the United States. It is not like the old-established industries of this country—cotton, wool, iron, and so on—it is an industry of recent origin. The makers of motor cars in this country have had, as their own representative has rightly said, certain difficulties to contend against. They had this cheap American production. I am quite willing to admit that in the production of cheap cars the Americans have a large advantage, and that they have largely swamped this Country with cars based on the principle of interchangeable parts. There is a manufacture on an enormous scale of small parts and the assembling of them together 1835 by very large firms. There are makers in this country who have built up large businesses in spite of that, Free Traders would say because of Free Trade, and Fair Traders would say in spite of Free Trade. As the hon. Member for Coventry (Mr. D. Mason), who represents the largest car-making town in the country, has told us, this industry is a growing and prospering industry, and is contributing to the welfare of the country. What are we going to do now with this industry? What is the proposal at which the Amendment of my right hon. Friend strikes? I cannot call it anything else but playing with that great industry. We have no right to take up a great trade like this and play with it.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer said in his Budget speech that the motor-car industry were not making pleasure cars, for the reason that the Government is employing most of the motor-car factories. It is not quite certain that the Government is employing all the motorcar factories in the country. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Chaplin)—upon whose support I congratulate the Chancellor of the Exchequer—asked when the War will end. Nobody knows. The War has not ended yet, but it has been going on for a great length of time. A year ago woollen cloth manufacturers were all busy making khaki. I know that some of them are not so busy as they were twelve months ago. One has only to look at the Trade Reports in the newspapers to see that many of them are very slack now. May it not be the case that the motor-car industry, also, before the War is over, will be slacker? When the War is over there will be a very strong case, on the part of those people who have been laying down plant, and who are now making munitions, and are controlled by the Government. Those factories will be cut out only for making munitions of war. They will have a good case for consideration. They will come to this House and say, "We have laid out scores of thousands of pounds, and our plant, which is only suitable for that purpose, will have to be scrapped." What will happen to the motor-car industry if this War goes on for two years more—which Heaven forfend. There is quite a possibility of it.
I defy the Chancellor of the Exchequer to say that the War Office will find 1836 employment for the whole of the motorcar industries that are going at present, and which we know are being enlarged. Before the end of the War, I venture to say in one year from now, our motor-car industry will have overtaken the demand, as our woollen cloth trade has overtaken the demand for woollens and khaki cloth, and they will want work. They will say that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has given them a home market with a 33⅓ per cent, advantage. The Chancellor of the Exchequer will be able to say at the close of the War that he only meant that to last during the War. But what will be the certain effect? I beg the Committee to consider that. Remember that at that time mechanics and all kinds of people will be wanting work, and there will be a greater number at the close of the War. At that very time there will be fewer people in this country able to buy cars, for as the War goes on fewer people will be able to buy cars, certainly for pleasure purposes. What shall we have done? With a view to keeping out competing American cars we are giving—nobody can deny it, if this Clause is passed without the Amendment—a bonus of 33⅓ per cent, to every manufacturer of motor cars in this country. At the close of the War, when these factories are competing with each other, there will be no imports. I venture to say that if this War goes on for two years there will be no further imports of pleasure cars, and the trade will be a much smaller trade. That will be the time when workpeople will be wanting work, and when there are fewer customers for pleasure cars. I beg the Chancellor of the Exchequer to have in mind not merely good intentions but the actual result of putting on a duty to protect an industry which will have a very good claim to come to the Parliament of this country for special help. I venture to prophesy that that special help will be asked for, and possibly, if we have a Chancellor of the Exchequer of the same action, I will not say of the same opinion, there will be granted a continuance of this duty.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I am really at a loss to understand how my hon. Friend can repeat to the Committee the argument which he has just used. I say "repeat" because, in spite of the appeal made to me again and again and the answer I have given, he still repeats it. He says the claim will be made by the motor-car industries that they will be entitled to a continuance of protective duties because they will have invested 1837 capital under the favourable conditions of this tax. I think I am stating his arguments correctly.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Mr. McKENNA
The Government put these taxes forward as taxes on luxuries which they wish to discourage in the national interest, and so far from desiring or seeking to develop the motor-car industry they desire to discourage it, and they think it will be a most unpatriotic use of capital to invest it in a new motorcar industry. How, in these circumstances, with this declared policy, my hon. Friend can still get up and say that the motor-car firms will acquire a claim upon the goodwill of the nation, having admittedly committed an unpatriotic act, is absolutely beyond my comprehension to understand. I hope we shall not hear of any claims being founded upon the existence of these taxes. There is not a tax imposed on anything except a luxury, the manufacture or production or importation of which the Government desires to discountenance. Secondly, no claim can be founded hereafter on the ground that capital has been put into an industry. My hon. Friend (Mr. D. M. Mason) is greatly disturbed by what he considers the inconsistency of my statements that I desire at one and the same time to restrict imports, to raise revenue, and to help the exchange. In the very simplest form I will endeavour to bring home to my hon. Friend how it is perfectly consistent to achieve at one and the same time all these objects. Let him consider for a moment not one but two motor cars which ordinarily would be imported into this country if these taxes were not introduced, and suppose the effect of the introduction of these taxes is that not two motor cars but one motor car is imported. What is the effect of that? One motor car will be kept out and therefore, so far, importation will be restricted. One motor car will come in, and so far revenue will be obtained. What is the effect upon the exchange? My hon. Friend says inasmuch as the revenue, on what he calls a generous estimate, to be obtained is only £900,000, what possible effect can that have upon your exchange? Here again my hon. Friend has fallen into an error. The effect upon the exchange is not determined by the amount of revenue which we obtain but by the number of motor cars which we keep out.
§ Mr. McKENNA
If it is only an indication I do not know why he mentioned the figure. We hope and expect that by these duties we shall keep out not £900,000 worth of goods, but a great deal more—some millions by all the duties.
§ Mr. McKENNA
Three times the amount of the duty will represent the value of the cars that come in. It will not represent the value of the cars we keep out. [An HON. MEMBER: "Oh!"] I should have thought that was stating an obvious truism. The effect upon the exchange is not measured by the amount of duty we get but, to use an Irishism, by the amount of the duty which we do not get, that is to say, by the number of cars which we keep out.
§ Mr. McKENNA
The illustration I have given is that there are two cars. I have already shown how one car may be kept out and restrict imports, and one car may come in and bring revenue, and the car that is kept out not only restricts imports by the full value of the car but affects the exchange. If we bring in one and keep out one, we get the value of the exchange of one car. If we keep out two cars and bring in one, we get the value of the exchange of two cars, but at any rate we shall either get one-third of the value in duty or we shall get the whole of the value as the effect upon the exchange, and so far as we do not get the whole of the value of the imports as effect upon exchange we must get one-third of the value of the goods in the way of duty. It is not really so absolutely impossible that all three results may be effected by this means.
My right hon. Friend (Sir A. Mond) asked for a pledge from the Cabinet that after the War these taxes would be withdrawn. I really am at a loss to understand my right hon. Friend's frame of mind. These taxes next August would have to be reintroduced into this House exactly as they are being introduced now. They become new taxes again. What is the value of any pledge? My right hon. Friend says he does not want a pledge from 1839 me, but from the Cabinet. If the War is over next year and the Cabinet wants to have these taxes again, the Cabinet has to come and ask for them. The right hon. Gentleman has as full power then to deal with them as he has now, and he will be in a much better position to deal with them because they are introduced by me as war taxes, and he will be able to quote the introduction of these taxes, and to say they were introduced under the conditions in which we now stand. But to go beyond that and ask for a pledge from the Cabinet individually and collectively that we will never have anything to do with these taxes again, is asking for something that he is not entitled to ask.
§ Sir A. MOND
I did not ask for any individual pledge whatsoever. All I said was that my right hon. Friend asks us to accept his taxes in the circumstances in which we now stand. Admitting that argument, I ask for a pledge—surely not an unusual one—that the existing Government as a Government will not reintroduce these taxes after the War is over. My right hon. Friend surely must see that there is a very great difference between introducing these taxes at some future time, when private Members may do their best to oppose them, and asking the Government now not to reimpose them after the War is over.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I do not agree with my right hon. Friend. After the War is over, next August, or whenever these taxes are dealt with again, they will have to be reintroduced into the House under a new Resolution. It is not as if the Government were merely continuing the taxes and a private Member would have to take upon himself the burden of getting them repealed. The Chancellor of the Exchequer of the day will have to take upon himself the whole burden of reintroducing them. I can do no more than to say that I have introduced them upon such arguments as my right hon. Friend has heard, every one of which is founded upon the special conditions of this War. I do not think he is entitled to ask for more than that. He cannot ask for more than that. The taxes are not introduced as permanent taxes. In form as well as in fact, as well as the argument upon which they are founded, they are introduced as temporary taxes. My right hon. Friend would be absolutely free, as every other Member would be, to 1840 oppose any Government which introduced taxes of this kind in peace. More than that I do not think he can ask for, and I think the sense of the Committee, even amongst hon. Members who remain Free Traders under all conditions, even in the midst of a great War, when other considerations besides the advantage or disadvantage of trade have to be taken into account, would be satisfied. I think the fact that the tax is a temporary tax, which must be reintroduced in order to be operative, is sufficient assurance for the Committee that they cannot have it forced upon them again against their will.
§ The CHAIRMAN
Before the Debate proceeds, I must again say that the discussion is going much more widely than is justified on this Amendment, and I cannot permit the repetition of arguments already used, or the repetition of this Debate on other proposals in the Committee.
§ Mr. LOUGH
I will try to keep within the narrow path which you have laid down for us. I quite see the force of your argument. I think we are only entitled to use those points which apply particularly to motors, and should avoid the general Protectionist argument. The Committee must really pity the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the difficult position in which he found himself. He was struggling all through his interesting speech to deal with two arguments, one presented by my hon. Friend (Mr. T. C. Taylor) and the other one by my right hon. Friend (Sir A. Mond). The argument from the opposite side of the House was simply that a claim would be set up by British makers who were protected, which the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself would have to recognise. My right hon. Friend said, "No claim will be set up because I now declare that the tax is to be temporary."
§ Mr. McKENNA
No. I said no claim would be set up because these taxes are imposed on luxuries, the manufacture or importation of which, in the interest of the nation, the Government desire to discourage. Any claim founded upon the fact that new capital had been introduced into luxury trades of this kind would be unpatriotic.
§ Mr. LOUGH
I will say nothing about the temporary point, because it seems to 1841 me, if that was the main argument, a more complete answer was given by my hon. Friend (Mr. T. Taylor) to that argument than to the other. My hon. Friend's argument was, "If you are honest in wishing to check luxuries, why do you not put on an Excise Duty?" Not a word was said in the Chancellor's speech in reply to that argument. How will he deal with this? I think I am treating the argument fairly, and I do not want to extend it. Unless we have an official answer to the argument put forward by the hon. Member, the point was not mentioned or dealt with. I maintain that it cannot be dealt with. If it is not dealt with, is not this the way that the hon. Member's argument will be worked out? The British manufacturer will say, "It is all very well for you to say you wish to discourage manufacture of motor cars, but you do not discourage me from building motor cars. On the contrary, by shutting out my opponents' cars, you encourage me to build. You give me the most powerful inducements to build them, and I have been doing it for a year at your request, and receiving a large subsidy from you for doing it, and now I ask you to treat me fairly in this position in the future." That is the argument that would be presented, and my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer is not able to say a single word in reply to it. My right hon. Friend here, in the simplicity of his heart, says, "Give us a pledge that the tax will not be renewed," but the Chancellor of the Exchequer was very discreet and astute not to attempt to give any such pledge. How does he know that he will be there on that bench when the time comes? This was the answer he gave. He said, "They will have to be introduced as new taxes." Really, that is treating the Committee as if they had had no experience; as if every member of the Committee did not realise that every tax that has been on the Statute Book has a tremendous advantage. It is put in the Budget in a few words, and therefore we have all the difficulty of the attack. All I can say is that if our difficulty in any future action is to be measured by the extraordinary difficulties which we have to meet now, I hope that we Free Traders will be spared from having to go through them again. The sole argument that we had from the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, who replied to the Debate in the first place, was that the tax was temporary, and that point was touched upon by the Chancellor of 1842 the Exchequer, although he says he did not expand it. I wish the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Chaplin), who is supposed to lead us on this bench, was here now. What would he say? He got up and said, "What guarantee have we that it is temporary?" None at all. We can have no guarantee about it, and I think the House ought to be allowed to measure what the Government is doing in bringing in these comments about the future—a future which does not belong to any man in this Committee. If you look at the proceedings nakedly, as they are, no answer has been given to us, and I maintain that the Committee is embarking upon a very dangerous course if it puts on a duty for the reasons assigned.
The last speaker complains that no answer has been given to the argument about Excise. We have listened to the whole of the arguments which we have heard to-day half a dozen times in this Parliament. We have heard the same thing over and over again, and we have had the answer from the Government several times. It is perfectly conclusive, and the fact has been stated, that to set up an Excise would mean a new set of functionaries, the most elaborate arrangements, a lot more salaries, and a complicated system. There are no motor cars, to speak of, being made in this country to day.
The cars that are being made are for war and ambulance purposes, and the whole suggestion about Excise would be futile, and involve an immense expense for comparatively nothing. That is the answer. It has been given over and over again.
That is the answer that has been given, and I maintain that, as we have a vast number of very important matters to deal with in this Budget, it is trifling with the Committee to waste time by giving us the same arguments and the same line of criticism half a dozen times over.
§ Mr. J. M. HENDERSON
My hon. Friend (Mr. Rutherford) uses a very strange argument. He says it would create a big staff of men and a great amount of expense and difficulties to check the Excise on motor cars, which are not being made. 1843 My heart bleeds for the position of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in regard to exchange. He must know, if he has studied exchanges, as I had had to do in my early career, what effect these things will have on exchange. He talks about American exchange. What is making the American exchange against us? Not motor cars, but corn, wheat, and munitions. You cannot put a tax upon wheat. The country would not stand it for a moment, and the right hon. Gentleman himself would not stand it. Therefore he goes into the throes of labour, and this mountain, which is to help the exchange, produces this mouse of a few thousand pounds. I should think the right hon. Gentleman knows as well as I know, and as well as any exchange broker in the City could tell him, that this tax which is to keep out these cars will not make ½ per cent, difference in the rate of exchange. So far as the cars come from France, the rate of exchange is already disastrous against France. The French exchange today is 27.50 instead of 25.25. So, for goodness sake do not say anything about exchange. People will laugh at you. If you say frankly, "We want some money, and here is £900,000"—I do not make it out to be so much myself, I think you will be pleased if you get £500,000—"and we are going for a moment to throw over our Free Trade principles to try to get it." I could understand that, but when you bring up these side issues of exchange and economy, I assure you that it leaves any man who understands the subject thoroughly cold, and thoroughly sorry that the Government should have to adopt such reasons and arguments for these proposals, which I feel sure they have been led to bring in against their will.
§ Mr. OUTHWAITE
I should like to join in the appeal on the lines taken by the hon. Member who has just sat down. I do think that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should not humbug us in this way.
§ Mr. OUTHWAITE
Hon. Members cry "Order,, order!" but I am paying the greatest compliment I possibly can to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I say that you do not believe for one moment that these trifling amounts you are going to get at in the way of imports are going absolutely to adjust the exchange.
§ Mr. OUTHWAITE
No, I think we have to look in other directions for the causation of these taxes. Perhaps one can find a reason in a statement which I saw at the time the Budget was being framed, that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) was assisting the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the framing of the Budget. I think probably the Chancellor of the Exchequer is standing by some tacit bargain made by the Tariff Reform section in that direction. He is unwilling to scrap these taxes because of the sorrow it will cause to Gentlemen with whom he is working.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Mr. Maclean)
The Chairman, a few minutes ago, communicated to the Committee his view as to the far too general scope of the arguments used. I certainly think that the remarks which the hon. Member has just been addressing to the Committee are quite outside the scope of the Amendment. As far as my occupancy of the Chair goes, I shall endeavour to carry out very strictly the ruling that the Chairman has given, that remarks must be made directly relating to the Amendments before the Committee.
§ Mr. OUTHWAITE
Of course, I bow to your ruling, but I think it is rather hard to make a legitimate remark when you are discussing an illegitimate subject. The Chancellor of the Exchequer must expect us, and the hon. Members opposite who objected must expect us, to make these speeches so long as the right hon. Gentleman refuses to give any reply to one of the chief demands in the arguments we make. We have had no reply to the question of Excise. If the Chancellor's object is to prevent the production of motor cars in this country, why could he not do so by Act of Parliament? Why should he upset the whole fiscal system of this country in order to do something which he could do much more easily by a practical prohibition of the manufacture of cars in this country? That, surely, is the proper way to proceed if that is his object. If he has other objects, undisclosed objects, in view; if it is part of some pact he is keeping with the Coalition Government, then I say he 1845 is not treating us fairly, and so long as he cannot meet our arguments and the objections we raise, he must expect these objections to be raised.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I wish to deal with a few of the practical questions that have been raised in the course of the Debate. I would like to direct myself first to the observations made by the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Rutherford), who was endeavouring to enlighten the benighted Free Traders of the Committee. He informed us that there were no motor cars being made in this country at the present time, and that the Excise therefore was superfluous.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I think the statement he made was that in this country to-day no motor cars were being made, except those for ambulance or War purposes.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
If the hon. Member would take the trouble to read a newspaper with which he is in general political agreement, the "Daily Express," he would find in the motor column of that paper this morning one considerable motor firm advertising that it is able to supply pleasure motor cars, and that is represented by the writer of the motor column as not a singular or unique case in the industry at the present time. Therefore, we are entitled to believe that even in the abnormal conditions at present prevailing there are manufacturers in this country who will enjoy the advantage of the 33⅓ per cent, tax on imported motor cars.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
The hon. Gentleman informs me that I have not understood the article. Obviously, he, not having read the article, is better able to understand it than I who have read it. That seems to be on a footing with his general logical position. We have been told by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that this tax will not give any claim to the industry after the War, and that no claim has yet been put forward on the part of the industry for the continuance of the tax after the War. I have 1846 in my hand a cutting from an article by another motor expert, writing in a paper which is in general sympathy with the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Rutherford). It appeared in "The Sunday Times" of 10th October, and it says:—There is no burking the fact, Free Trade or no Free Trade, that if this Import Duty is to cease, automatically, with the declaration of peace, as is soothingly suggested in some quarters, and not obtained at any rate for a year or two, or become permanent, if justified by economic results, its actual value is, frankly, very small. The British motor industry has had the bottom knocked out of it and is disorganised. It will take a full year or two to recover its equilibrium, and it will frankly need protection during that period of re-establishment against neutrals with so much in hand.So that we have heard the claim already put out on the morrow of the introduction of the Budget for the protection of this, trade after the War. What is the answer of the Chancellor of the Exchequer? He says that this tax is merely put on for a stated period, that it is temporary and will come off again next year, that my right hon. Friend the Member for Swansea and other hon. Gentlemen in this House will have ample opportunity then of attacking the tax and possibly defeating it, and that then they will be able to quote his assurance that that tax is only intended to be temporary. But on another question last night I had the temerity to quote my right hon. Friend and he said, "I make you a present of your argumentative point. In a time of war it is not right to rake up my speeches against me," and I suppose that when he reintroduces the tax next year I shall have to meet them with a similar argument and shall be told that it is, useless to make argumentative points and to quote the old speeches and statements of the right hon. Gentleman. In these circumstances we, who do not believe in this tax, and believe that if now imposed it will be a permanent part of our fiscal machinery, are justified in paying no attention to the soothing utterances of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and in resisting the tax by every means in our power, now when it is first being proposed.
§ Mr. BOOTH
I find myself in the happy position that I can escape the rebuke administered to so many of my hon. Friends by the hon. Member for Liverpool. I have not ventured to trouble the House at all on any point at issue in this Budget, and I do not rise to argue the matter now. But I do want to say; most emphatically that, in my mind, I do not see why there has not been more than one resignation from the Cabinet. I cannot understand why some of the men who 1847 have got into the Cabinet by taking up a Free Trade position have not the same manliness and honesty that characterised the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Dublin University. It is no use bringing things like this forward and saying that they do not cut across the great vital principles of Free Trade and Protection. I do not, as one of my hon. Friends does, regard this tax as a result of the entry of some Conservatives and Tariff Reformers into the Cabinet. I think that Free Trade is in a safer position today from Tariff Reform members of the Cabinet than from Free Trade members.
§ Mr. BOOTH
I understand your rebuke, but I wish that you had sat in the Chair when the Chancellor of the Exchequer made his speech. My observations have reference to what he said. Take the instance of the Motor Car Taxes under this Clause. What is the purport of them? There is an utter absence of frankness about them on the Government Bench. If what you have stated is to be taken as the rule, I suppose that you would rule on other Clauses that we cannot discuss the main Question. That means that the Government is so weak that it is going to be protected against the arguments which can be brought against it. The Government have thrown over Free Trade long ago. They threw it over in reference to the dyes scheme and in reference to heaps of things, and went in for Protection. When they come to this particular point of motor cars and bicycles, I am astonished that some of my Free Trade friends have wakened up and denounced it as a sham and a fraud. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says that he is only aiming at luxuries. The hon. Member for Liverpool says that we are dealing with a thing that does not exist. So the main argument that has been advanced is entirely ignored by the hon. Member for Liverpool.
§ Mr. BOOTH
Then there was not an atom of common sense in the speech of the hon. Gentleman, for his argument was founded upon that. I am within the re-collection of the House. I was astonished when he repudiated the construction by the hon. Member for North-West Lanark. The fact is that the trade is making good these criticisms now. It is busy advertising. I got an advertisement only yesterday, evidently anticipating this particular tax, in which they give full particulars of the cars used by members of the Treasury Bench and explain how suitable they are for running through the country. The right hon. Gentleman said that it made all the difference because the Government had announced that this tax was aimed at luxuries. That would not have the slightest effect either upon the trade or upon the country generally. The right hon. Gentleman himself, I dare say, is alluding to a pamphlet with his name in it, in which motor cars are specially singled out to be denounced. But that does not prevent the fact that members of the Government use them. In that very same pamphlet, for instance, they say that vacant flower gardens should now be used for growing cabbages and carrots. I have never heard that the gardens attached to the right hon. Gentleman's residence in Downing Street are used for growing carrots. I venture to say that the declarations made from that box to-day in trying to justify that tax were so evidently out of order—
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
If the remarks of the Chancellor of the Exchequer were out of order, that is a very good reason for the hon. Member not following his example.
§ Mr. BOOTH
I only hope that you will convey that rebuke also in the other quarter, where it was still more merited. But the right hon. Gentleman did use an argument which, on reflection, I rather think was in order. He said that the tax was introduced to discourage luxuries, and the fact that the Government have announced in advance that this was the object would prevent these people in the trade from bringing forward their claims later on. The only instance that I can call to mind to justify these remarks is this 1849 pamphlet, written by a paid servant of theirs, who, immediately after finishing it, jumped into a taxi-cab and drove off to one of the West End clubs to which he had been urging people not to go. Instances of that kind are not going to have any influence on any man in the trade. When a man puts his money into a business and organises it with a view to making a profit, he will act according to the Government taxes, and not according to their political talk. What is one of the commonest observations among business men, which will be applied to the businesses affected by this tax? "He had to say that. He was talking in the House among a lot of politicians, and that is the kind of thing that must be said to get it through." Business men are not influenced, and never will be influenced, by the talk of Governments so much as by their acts. This will be quoted as an act of the Government, a Government who say, "We will give you 33⅓ per cent, of preferential position against anyone else in the country, in a solid, material, and precipitate way," and no attention will be paid to a mere phrase which would be ignored by a judge on the bench if in construing an Act of Parliament a quotation was made from what was said by some Minister in introducing a Bill. The men who have gone into the business of motor cars and bicycles will not be put off by some pamphlet issued from Downing Street or a copy of the OFFICIAL REPORT containing the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman. Whether there is any good in saying anything now I do not know. Why in the world the Government, with this terrible War on, should plunge the House day after day into a controversy of this kind, I cannot understand! This is one reason why I have kept away while this was being discussed. I have yet to hear the most elementary defence of the Government's position.
I am very 10th to continue in any way the wasting of the time of the Committee in connection with the series of arguments which we have had already five times before, but there have been two criticisms that we have listened to to-day from a body of Members who of course entertain certain—what they call—principles. Those arguments have been first of all that we ought to put on an Excise. Of course they cannot propose an Excise because such a; tax can only be proposed by the Government. But the 1850 argument why we ought not to put on an Excise has been already explained to the House half a dozen times, when this subject has been raised before—that it would be too expensive to put on an Excise having regard to the amount of revenue that you could recover—
I am not making the same speech twice. I am dealing with this temporary tax. A lot of hon. Members do not seem to understand it. The tax is different from any other kind of legislation. Any other Act which we might propose would operate until that Act was revoked, but this tax is put on, in the words of the Section under discussion, for a limited period, and will require to be proposed again by a new Chancellor of the Exchequer, and therefore all that line of argument about it being put on as a permanency disappears entirely. The other line of argument, that we ought to have an Excise, is equally bad, for the excellent reason that you would require to set up an establishment to collect that Excise.
I wish to add that I did not say that no motor cars were being made in this country at the present time. I did not say that people were not advertising and selling their cars. Most of those cars were made earlier. Many of those cars are now on sale, and of course the people who have got cars have got to have parts provided for them, and those parts are being made. But what I did say, and wish to emphasise, is this: that compared with pre-war times there is not in this country at present anything like the old proportion of business in the construction of new cars. Therefore it would not pay to put on an Excise at the present moment. That has been explained to the House on the Resolution by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and it does not lie with hon. Members to continue to repeat that the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not deal with that point.
§ Question put, "That the words 'motor cars' stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 169; Noes, 34.1851
|Division No. 13.]||AYES.||[5.45 p.m.|
|Abraham, Rt. Hon. William||Galbraith, Samuel||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Gordon, John||Pearce, Sir William (Limehouse)|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)||Pennefather, De Fonblanque|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Greig, Colonel J. W.||Perkins, Walter F.|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Hackett, John||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Hall, Frederick (Yorks, Normanton)||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.)||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)|
|Bellairs, Commander C. W.||Harris, H. P. (Paddington, S.)||Priestley, Sir Arthur (Grantham)|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. Arthur (Durham)||Prothero, Roland Edmund|
|Bentham, George Jackson||Henderson, Sir A. (St. Geo., Han. Sq.)||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.|
|Bigland, Alfred||Henry, Sir Charles||Randles, Sir John S.|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Boland, John Pius||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Bowden, G. R. Harland||Horne, E.||Reddy, Michael|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Rees, G. C. (Carnarvonshire, Arfon)|
|Boyton, James||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, E.)|
|Brace, William||Hume-Williams, William Ellis||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East)||Robinson, Sidney|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Joyce, Michael||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Butcher, John George||Keating, Matthew||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Byrne, Alfred||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molton)||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Cator, John||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Lawson, Col. Hon. H. (Mile End)||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Levy, Sir Maurice||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.||Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert||Smith, Sir Swire (Keighley, Yorks)|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Colonel A. R.||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth)||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)|
|Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole||Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee||Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John||Lundon, Thomas||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Cosgrave, James||Lynch, Arthur Alfred||Thomas, J. H.|
|Cowan, W. H.||MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||Mackinder, H. J.||Tickler, T. G.|
|Crumley, Patrick||Macleod, John Mackintosh||Touche, George Alexander|
|Cullinan, John||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Currie, George W.||M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)||Walton, Sir Joseph|
|Dalrymple, Hon. H. H.||Magnus, Sir Philip||Wardle, George J.|
|Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Denniss, E. R. B.||Meagher, Michael||Watson, Hon. W.|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Molloy, Michael||White, Col. G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Doris, William||Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S.||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Dougherty, Rt. Hon. Sir J. B.||Morgan, George Hay||Williams, John (Glamorgan)|
|Duffy, William J.||Muldoon, John||Williamson, Sir Archibald|
|Duke, Rt. Hon. Henry Edward||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfleld)||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Duncan, Sir J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)||Nield, Herbert||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)|
|Fell, Arthur||Nolan, Joseph||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Younger, Sir George|
|Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Yoxall, Sir Jamas Henry|
|Ffrench, Peter||O'Doherty, Philip|
|Field, William||O'Dowd, John||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Gulland and Lord E. Talbot.|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||Ogden, Fred|
|Fletcher, John Samuel|
|Arnold, Sydney||Hogge, James Myles||Radford, George Heynes|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Holt, Richard Durning||Snowden, Philip|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Hudson, Walter||Taylor, Theodore, C. (Radcliffe)|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||John, Edward Thomas||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Clough, William||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||King, Joseph||Watt, Henry A.|
|Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Dickinson, Rt. Hon. Willoughby H.||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Young, William (Perthshire, East)|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred|
|Glanville, Harold James||Outhwalte, R. L.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir TudorWalters and Mr. Pringle.|
|Goldstone, Frank||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Henderson, John M. (Aberdeen, W.)|
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
As the words "motor cars" now stand part of the Clause, the hon. Member for North-West Lanarkshire must confine his observations to the subject matter of 1852 that Amendment, without reference to motor cars.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), to leave out the words 1853 "including motor bicycles and motor tricycles."
I will endeavour to observe as strictly as I can the directions which you have just given, Sir. This Amendment raises a narrower point than that which was involved in the question upon which a Division has been just taken. Two of the main arguments which have been used on the general question of motor cars cannot, I think, be held to apply to the taxation of motor bicycles and motor tricycles. We have heard the taxation of motor cars justified on the ground that it will limit the luxurious use of motor cars, and, in the second place, that it will improve the exchange. I think it is obvious that neither of these arguments can be applied with even the shadow of foundation in relation to the small importation involved under the heading of "motor bicycles and motor tricycles." The motor bicycle cannot by any stretch of imagination be represented as in any sense a luxury. It is largely becoming a means of locomotion for the poor man. We all know that it has been very largely used in recent times by officers and men who have joined His Majesty's Forces, for the purpose of returning to their homes for brief periods of leave. We also know that the motor bicycle has been found of great use to those large numbers of munition workers who are at the present time compelled to live away from their homes. In both these cases the motor bicycle so far from being a luxury can be represented to be an absolute necessity, and by including motor bicycles in this taxation you are hampering and throwing heavy taxation upon means of locomotion which is at the present time of the greatest value to large sections of at least the middle classes in this country. I think that the arguments which I have put forward are sufficient to differentiate motor bicycles from motor cars, and, in these circumstances, I make an appeal to my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury to exempt them, because this tax cannot be justified by any arguments which hitherto have been used. At the same time, if this taxation is adhered to, it will impose a charge not upon a luxury but upon that which is a necessity to large classes of our fellow countrymen.
§ 6.0 P.M.
Mr. L. WILLIAMS
I do not propose to repeat the argument of my hon. Friend in moving this Amendment, nor do I propose to argue it on the general question of tariff. I would point out that there are technical difficulties in the way of including 1854 motor bicycles and motor tricycles in this taxation. It is not only the motor bicycles and motor tricycles that are affected, but also their accessories and component parts, and it is perfectly obvious to anybody that the greater part of accessories and component parts of motor bicycles are the same as the accessories and component parts of the ordinary bicycle. The ordinary bicycle is not included, and therefore there is no tariff on the accessories and component parts of ordinary bicycles; but you cannot, according to the proposal of the Government, use them for motor bicycles, though they are the same. If you take the lamp of a motor bicycle it is exactly the same as the lamp of an ordinary bicycle. [An HON. MEMBER: "NO!"] I think the accessories and component parts of motor bicycles and ordinary bicycles are largely the same, almost the only difference between the two being the engine. It is impossible in practice to differentiate between the accessories and component parts of a motor bicycle and an ordinary bicycle. The Government proposes to penalise a man who uses one of those accessories or component parts that has been introduced for an ordinary bicycles to the extent of a fine of £500 or two years' imprisonment. Sub-section (7) provides—
"If any person obliterates or removes any such distinctive stamp or mark, or uses any motor-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 £500, 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."
It is a question of user. Assume that a lamp has been imported, and that a declaration has been made that it is for the purpose of use as an accessory on an ordinary bicycle, and by some means or other, quite honestly in the course of trade, it is attached to a motor bicycle, the man who uses that is liable to the penalty I have mentioned. Surely that is absurd on the face of it. I would ask the Financial Secretary whether, in the interests of the tariff itself, it would not be better to exclude motor bicycles and bicycles from the purview of this Clause.
§ Mr. DENMAN
I would ask the Financial Secretary to make a concession which, I think, he will find would help this particular Clause. Whatever may be the case with regard to motor bicycles, I imagine that the vast mass of motor tricycles are certainly used for the purposes of trade. Motor cars used for the purpose of trade are to be allowed in free, but that does not apply to motor bicycles or tricycles. In Sub-section (9), it is quite clear that by motor cars it is not intended to include motor bicycles or tricycles. If, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman will make that concession, and allow motor bicycles and tricycles used for the purposes of trade to come in free, he will certainly meet an objection which I have to the Clause as it stands.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
I hope hon. Gentlemen who have spoken will acquit me of any discourtesy if I do not deal with their points now, because I suggest it will be better to move an Amendment to exempt motor bicycles or tricycles on Sub-section (7). As regards the other arguments, if anybody objects to the taxation on imported motor cars on principle, I quite agree he is perfectly right to object also to the taxation of motor bicycles or tricycles. But the House has approved of the principle of the taxation of motor cars, and I venture to suggest that we should not exclude from this Clause motor cycles and parts of motor cycles which have reached in eight months of this year a total sum of £171,000, mainly from America, the United States especially. It is just the kind of thing which at this moment, and it applies to no other time, it is our intention to discourage. As regards parts, I am bound to say I do not find the argument of my hon. Friend convincing.
§ Mr. JONATHAN SAMUEL
I think we ought to have some more definite statement with regard to the importation of cycles, because, looking at the return of trade and navigation, I do not think they harmonise with what he has stated. I cannot find any return there of complete motor cycles, the vast majority of which, I believe, are made in this country and not imported. I find in the return for the past eight months up to August motor cycles, parts thereof, rubber tyres, and tubes amount to- £83,000, and other parts only £26,000. I do not find any return which gives any distinctive amount of complete motor cycles. Where does the 1856 right hon. Gentleman get his return, because I understand that rubber tyres are exempt from duty. I rather agree with the hon. Member who moved this Amendment that the better class working men are large buyers of motor cycles which are English made. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] If they are not they will have to pay this 33⅓ per cent. duty. I saw a prospectus dealing with one tax that has been removed and which stated that there was an anticipation of a protective tariff, and that they were going to put up a factory because the tax was going to be put upon the imported article. That is an indication that all those makers of motor cycles will certainly put up the price to those who buy them. I would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman between now and the Report stage to look into the matter and ascertain what is the actual amount of complete motor cycles imported. Motor cars are in large numbers imported, but with regard to motor cycles, so far as I have been able to judge, and I am a rather careful observer of what is going on in my own district, the bulk of the motor cycles are made in this country. It is a growing trade, and because of the cheapness and reduction from year to year. I was looking at an advertisement to-day of a new motor cycle which is being much reduced in comparison with the price of last year. Each year there are improvements, and both the motor-car trade and motor-cycle trade is largely increasing owing to that fact. If you put this tax upon those parts which are coming in you will be killing the trade, and largely increasing the burden, not only upon the middle class, but upon the better-class working men. Upon those grounds I ask the right hon. Gentleman to look into the matter, and I think he will find that the revenue from this will be very small indeed.
§ Mr. HOGGE
I dare say my right hon. Friend has forgotten that there is another type of motor accessory which may make a bicycle practically a motor bicycle, and which would affect very largely the working classes of this country. You can have an attachment to an ordinary bicycle, a motor attachment with a very small wheel and motor engine. It enables the owner of the bicycle temporarily to make that into a motor bicycle. Does the tax include all the parts of that little wheel, and does that bring bicycles so used into the category of motor bicycles? Does that, therefore, upset all the plans my right hon. 1857 Friend has laid down for collecting the tax? This is an extremely important matter in view of the difficulties which the Cabinet is at the moment up against in providing accommodation for munition workers. I dare say the Cabinet will bear in mind the fact that all over the country there is starting a no-rent agitation, because of the inability of men to get housing accommodation close to those factories. Those men if they had motor bicycles, or ordinary bicycles with this attachment of which I speak, would be enabled to get out and live in healthier surroundings while working at those munition factories. This tax therefore is anti-social, and it seems to me is pro-German, because it is putting a disability on our workers engaged in munition work from living under healthier conditions. In view of that very serious charge against the proposal, we must divide upon it.
§ Mr. RADFORD
I beg to appeal to my right hon. Friend to give us some figures about this Amendment, and if he can give us figures showing that the Amendment should be negatived, I am prepared to give them candid consideration. I should like to know what this particular Amendment would cost the Treasury. On the merits of the Amendment, it cannot be said that the Clause in its present form will in any way restrain the extravagance of the criminal rich. That is the only argument that I have heard in favour of the whole Clause, but as it does not apply to this particular part of the Clause we may leave it out of account. Subject to the figures which my right hon. Friend may give me, I cannot think that it would have any appreciable effect on the international exchange. The only reason that can be given for its support is that it will raise revenue. We want to know whether it will raise revenue. I belong to the old school who believe that the object of a
§ Budget is to raise revenue, not to restrain extravagance or to support the exchange. If I can learn from my right hon. Friend that this will raise a large amount of money, and the Government want it badly, I may be persuaded to go into the Lobby with him.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
With regard to the attachment for bicycles referred to by the hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge), my information is that it is an English patent and manufactured solely in England. In reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton (Mr. J. Samuel), it is true that there was a large import of complete motor cycles in the first eight months of the year. The figures, as supplied by the Customs authorities, are £157,000, of which £154,000 came from the United States.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
I have not examined the book which the hon. Member has in his hand. I merely state what our information is.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
Motor cycles. With regard to remarks of my hon. Friend (Mr. Radford), I do not contend that the cessation of the import of these motor bicycles will very substantially affect the exchange; but they are luxuries, and the imposition of this tax will give to the country an indication of the extreme care which it is necessary to exercise in the expenditure of money on unnecessary articles.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 162; Noes, 36.1859
|Division No. 14.]||AYES.||[6.18 p.m.|
|Abraham, Rt. Hon. William||Bowerman, Charles W.||Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Boyton, James||Cosgrave, James|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Brace, William||Cowan, W. H.|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Brady, Patrick Joseph||Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Bridgeman, William Clive||Crumley, Patrick|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Currie, George W.|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Butcher, John George||Dalrymple, Hon. H. H.|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Byrne, Alfred||Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Cator, John||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Cautley, H. S.||Denniss, E. R. B.|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Cave, Rt. Hon. George||Donelan, Captain A.|
|Bentham, George Jackson||Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Doris, William|
|Bigland, Alfred||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Dougherty, Rt. Hon. Sir J. B.|
|Bird, Alfred||Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.||Duffy, William J.|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Duke, Rt. Hon. Henry Edward|
|Boland, John Pius||Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)|
|Bowden, G. R. Harland||Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth)||Duncan, Sir J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)|
|Fell, Arthur||Lundon, Thomas||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Lynch, Arthur Alfred||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh||Robinson, Sidney|
|Ffrench, Peter||Mackinder, Halford J.||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Field, William||Macleod, John Mackintosh||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)|
|Fletcher, John Samuel||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Magnus, Sir Philip||Shortt, Edward|
|Gibbs, G. A.||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Gordon, John||Meagher, Michael||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert|
|Goulding, Sir Edward Alfred||Molloy, Michael||Stewart, Gershom|
|Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)||Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S.||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)|
|Hackett, John||Morgan, George A.||Swift, Rigby|
|Hall, Frederick (Yorks, Normanton)||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.)||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence||Nield, Herbert||Thomas, James Henry|
|Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Luton, Beds.)||Nolan, Joseph||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Harris, Henry Percy (Paddington, S.)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Tickler, T. G.|
|Holme, Sir Norval Watson||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Touche, George Alexander|
|Henderson, Rt. Hon. Arthur (Durham)||O'Dowd, John||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Henderson, Sir A. (St. Geo., Han. Sq.)||Ogden, Fred||Walton, Sir Joseph|
|Henry, Sir Charles||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Wardle, George J.|
|Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Parkes, Ebenezer||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Pearce, Sir William (Limehouse)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Horne, Edgar||Pennefather, De Fóblanque||Watson. Hon. W.|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Perkins, Walter Frank||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Hume-Williams, William Ellis||Peto, Basil Edward||Williams, John (Glamorgan)|
|Jardine. Ernest (Somerset, East)||Phillip, John (Longford, S.)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Pollock. Ernest Murray||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Joyce, Michael||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)|
|Keating, Matthew||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molton)||Prothero, Rowland Edmund||Yeo, Alfred William|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.||Younger, Sir George|
|Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert||Randles, Sir John S.|
|Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Gulland and Lord E. Talbot.|
|Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee||Rees, G. C. (Carnarvonshire, Arfon)|
|Anderson, W. C.||Holt, Richard Durning||Radford, George Heynes|
|Arnold, Sydney||Hudson, Walter||Reddy, Michael|
|Bryce, J. Annan||John, Edward Thomas||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Snowden, Philip|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Jowett, Frederick William||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Clough, William||King, Joseph||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Davies, Ellis William (Elfion)||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Walters, Sir John Tudor|
|Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Watt, Henry A.|
|Dickinson, Rt. Hon. Willoughby H.||Mason, David M. (Coventry)||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred||Young, William (Perthshire, East)|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||Outhwaite, R. L.|
|Glanville, Harold James||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Hogge and Mr. LI. Williams.|
|Goldstone, Frank||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Henderson, John M. (Aberdeen, W.)|
Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause," put, and agreed to.
§ Sir A. MOND
I beg to move, in Subsection (1), to leave out the words "Accessories and"["Accessories and component parts of motor cars."].
I move this Amendment formally in order to raise one or two points which may perhaps come more conveniently at a later stage. There is a difficulty in discussing this matter, because all these articles are included in the one Clause, and there are also a number of points of procedure connected with a later portion of the Bill. The point I am anxious to establish is that there are a number of accessories which are common to motor cars, motor bicycles, aeroplanes, stationary engines, and many other kinds of similar apparatus. The distinction between them is very difficult to establish. I do not myself think it is the intention of 1860 the Treasury to impose a general tax on articles which are not specially motor-car accessories, although they may form part of a motor car or motor bicycle. I have had supplied to me a list of 150 motor-car accessories, a large number of which are used for different articles. I will give one instance—motor-brake linings. Motor-brake linings may be employed for lining the brake of either a motor car, a lift, a crane, or other similar apparatus; therefore the importer importing these things does not know whether they are accessories of a motor car or not. I suggest that the procedure followed in the Bill is entirely wrong. We cannot really talk with any certainty. We ought to have had a Schedule for every one of these articles. I am not an expert in the financial pro- 1861 cedure in this House, but I would submit that on a point of Order it is most irregular for the House to levy a duty on an indefinite number of articles, the matter not being left in the discretion of this House, but in the discretion of the Customs authorities. I should like, Mr. Chairman, on a point of Order, to ask whether or not such procedure has been carried out before?
§ Sir A. MOND
I should have thought that there would have been some procedure ruling this point. The question is quite a serious one. An importer in the City of London would like to know what will and will not be considered accessories or parts of a motor car. How can he know? Is there any Schedule or list which has been issued by the Customs officials informing him what is considered to be an accessory? If there is such a list, why should it not be put in as a Schedule to this Bill? We are talking vaguely, and absolutely at random, without any kind of detail whatsoever. I have had to examine a great many tariffs, and I venture to say that such a Schedule does not exist in any tariff of the world. Nobody has ever been asked practically to work under the difficulties which this creates. The right hon. Gentleman will see that if you tax the main article you cannot leave out the accessories, because by so doing you create an anomalous position. I would point out, as has been pointed out to him, that it is perfectly unheard of to put the same rate of tax upon a part as upon the completed article. If he will get any of his officials to go through any of the tariffs, he will find that it is invariably so. As a matter of fact, this Clause is drawn in such a skilful manner that it is extraordinarily difficult to amend it at all, or to make anything intelligible out of it. I understood the Secretary to the Treasury to charge me with putting down Amendments for no particular purpose. I very much object to that charge, because I have put down this Amendment in order to make it a probability that this will work at all. I object to anything in the nature of this Clause, and I think that if this House passes a Clause of this kind it ought to be of a workable and of a practicable commercial nature. I contend this is not. I consider that in relation to all these auxiliary and component parts the Clause is entirely un- 1862 workable. It creates the greatest difficulties and difficulties of a very serious character.
I would like to give the House one. The right hon. Gentleman is continually telling us that he is very anxious to increase our exports and to diminish our imports. One of the largest importers of these component parts in this country has pointed out to me that a large number of these accessory and component parts, which come, to this country from America, are distributed by him from London throughout the Colonial and other neutral markets. He tells me that with this duty on the trade will cease. Provision is being made for America to take that trade direct. Does the right hon. Gentleman really think that by this measure he is increasing British exports—or, indeed, British trade at all? The right hon. Gentleman does not realise that we are, after all, a great entrepot country; that the City of London is a great entrepot, a free market for all kinds of things from all over the world, which are distributed through here, and which has established for us the merchant businesses and goodwill businesses which bring in a great deal of money. That has always been one of our greatest arguments against a tariff in this country. It only applies to a limited extent, but it does apply to these various articles, and even rebate and drawbacks do not get over the difficulty. If what I describe is going to happen in this case it will happen in many others. The effect that will be produced will be a permanent effect. Your tax may be temporary, but you cannot recall the goodwill.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Baronet will remember that I allowed a great deal of latitude on the first Amendment on the understanding that it was not to recur on the further items in this Clause. He must keep now purely to detailed points.
§ Sir A. MOND
I was raising the point, with due respect, Sir, that so far as accessories are concerned there is a re-export trade. The point was not raised on the motor-car discussion, because I do not think that trade exists to the same extent. I urge that this re-export trade will be affected. I do not want to labour the point. I merely state a fact which has been very prominently brought to my notice by those engaged in the trade of what will be one of the results of this duty being imposed. I do not want to pursue the point further. I am afraid it will be 1863 useless. I content myself by hoping that at a later stage of the Bill the Government will introduce a Clause which will meet to some extent some of the objections we have at present to a Bill of this kind. I have endeavoured to meet them not only in this Amendment, but in the next Amendment, which perhaps I might as well speak about and so save time. A number of these articles should be put on a free list, such as magnetos, sparking plugs, ignition apparatus, including coils, distributors, switchers, exciters, or any other apparatus capable of being used for the purpose of creating an electric spark for causing the explosion of a gaseous mixture, and so on. I shall not move this second Amendment because I think it will be covered by the Amendment of the Government. But I beg formally to move the first Amendment. I do not press it, but move it in order to get some expression of opinion which may facilitate us getting on with the Bill.
§ Mr. McKENNA
Probably the Committee will agree with me that the arguments with which the right hon. Gentleman has supported this Amendment are quite applicable to every other subject-matter of the duty. Wherever you have parts you have the same difficulty as that to which he has now called attention. Therefore the remedy—where you are able to find a remedy—ought to be one of general application over the whole Clause. I will, therefore, read to the right hon. Gentleman, though I do not suggest it should now be discussed, but later at the appropriate stage, an Amendment which we propose to move at the end of Sub-section (6). The evil complained of would be general on all subject-matters of the Clause. We shall propose, at the end of Sub-section (6), to insert a new Sub-section:—
"Where it is proved to the satisfaction of the Commissioners of Customs and Excise that any article is of a kind mainly used as an accessory or component part which is liable to duty under this Section and is imported for use for some other purpose, or has been or is being, exclusively used for some other purpose, the Commissioners shall, subject to such conditions as they think fit to impose allow the article to be imported free of duty, or repay any duty paid on importation, as the case requires"
1864 I think that meets the objection of the right hon. Gentleman, and I trust he will consider fairly. Perhaps he will withdraw his Amendment.
§ Sir A. MOND
I have only just heard the words. They seem to carry out the intention of the right hon. Gentleman, but I think I should like time to consider them.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. LOUGH
I beg to move, in Subsection (1), to leave out the words "thirty-three and one-third," and to insert instead thereof the word "fifteen."
My main objection to the duty will be met by the acceptance of this Amendment. I move it to see if my right hon. Friend will be conscience-stricken at any stage of the Debate. We are so much engaged with the principle that we are likely to allow details to escape us. If you are going to do something wrong the less you do of it the better. The second reason I move my Amendment is that we have been misguided in the action we are taking. We move Amendments which occur to us as reasonable Amendments in the hope of making an appeal to the conscience of the right hon. Gentleman. We are getting so little that we must be thankful for small mercies. I will not elaborate the point any further, but desire to give the right hon. Gentleman the opportunity of reducing the duty from 33⅓ per cent., which is unduly high.
§ Mr. McKENNA
My right hon. Friend is not easy to follow in the variety of arguments which he addresses to the Committee. His Amendment would certainly give the taxes a better chance of permanency than in the form in which they now stand. As has been pointed out, anyone who was going to institute a general tariff would not put on a high duty of 33⅓ per cent, upon a completed article and upon the component parts. It has been rightly pointed out that this defect in the scheme of the Bill showed that it was not intended as a permanent system of general tariffs. Now the right hon. Gentleman comes in and wants to insist upon permanency. He proposes to reduce the rate from 33⅓ per cent., which is undoubtedly justified by certain circum- 1865 stances. I am not at one with him in his view, and I regret I cannot accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. HOGGE
I gather from the reply of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to my right hon. Friend opposite that he thinks if the duty were reduced to 15 per cent, that might make it possible that these tariffs would become permanent—that the lighter the duty the more likely the tax would become a permanent part of our fiscal system. All I would ask is, that if we put down an Amendment to make the tax 66⅔, so as to secure for him safety from the position into which he thought he might fall [HON. MEMBERS: "It would be out of order!"] In that case there would be no use in putting the Amendment down. If, however, the right hon. Gentleman's fiscal future depends upon the size of this impost, why should he not secure himself by such action? To parody the popular song:—We don't want to lose him:But we don't think he ought to go.So will he himself put down so exorbitant a tax that there will be no danger at all of it becoming permanent?
§ Mr. T. C. TAYLOR
I should like to differ from the Chancellor of the Exchequer very strongly indeed. He believes that this tax would be very much easier to repeal, but it would evidently be much easier to repeal if a smaller tax. Those who benefit by it would have greater interest in retaining it if a large sum instead of a small sum. If its operation is good, the higher it is the better it must be. If the object, of course, is to exclude these articles, then, I think, the more straightforward course would have been to prohibit importation entirely. But, as between the effect of a high duty of 33⅓ per cent, and one of 15 per cent., with all respect to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, my own opinion is exactly opposite to his, and also, I think, in the opinion of many Members it would be easier to repeal a low tax, which would not have built up so considerable a vested interest, than to repeal a higher tax, which would be, of course, a greater sacrifice to those whose interests would be affected by its repeal.
§ Sir RICHARD COOPER
I personally believe that if the purpose which the Government have in view is to be properly fulfilled, the higher duty will certainly be calculated to bring it about, but whether 1866 the duty should be 33⅓, which the Government have fixed upon, or whether it should be 15, or something of that nature, to some extent depends on a very important matter, which is not clear to the Committee at the present time, and which the Chancellor of the Exchequer referred to a few moments ago. On motor cars complete there is no question in my mind that the Government are doing the right thing, and I believe in accessories and parts it is equally applicable; but the Chancellor of the Exchequer does recognise that there are certain accessories or parts which may legitimately be used for other purposes, and that, I understand, in a later Amendment he is going to deal with quite properly. Might I ask him this question, because it affects the rate of duty very closely: Is he going to consider equally goods imported into this country, especially accessories, upon which the duty is paid, and which goods are ultimately reexported—is he going to consider giving a remission in that case of the duty already paid? I ask this question because there is, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Swansea mentioned some little time ago, a very considerable re-export trade done to my knowledge from London in goods which are now going to be taxed, especially of goods going to France and the East.
§ Mr. McKENNA
We propose to give a drawback upon re-export in every possible case. There may be some parts which we cannot identify, but wherever we can we shall do so. With regard to the Amendment I read out to the Committee, I should like to say we should in any event have acted administratively the same way. We never intended to levy a tax upon articles which might be used for motor cars, but which, in fact, were going to be, or were, used for other purposes.
§ Mr. McKENNA
Or re-exported. Perhaps it might be convenient if I stated that, however far we get on with this Clause and other Clauses this evening, I do not propose to ask the Committee to enter upon the Excess Profits Tax. I am told that a number of hon. Members are waiting here in case that should be reached, and I think it would be convenient to them to say it will not be taken to-night.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.1867
§ Sir TUDOR WALTERS
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), to leave out the words, "Musical instruments, including gramophones, pianolas, and other similar instruments."
Even if I were able to submit any new arguments against the tariff side of these proposals, I think I should hesitate to do so, it is so painful and distressing to see right hon. Gentlemen, members of the Government, whom one has followed so many years, indulging in plausible sophistry, instead of good sound arguments, when we know perfectly well they understand these questions much better than we do ourselves, and that if they were in mind to do so they could entirely and effectively destroy all the proposals they submit. I was very much surprised, however, that musical instruments should have been selected as the subjects of taxation under this scheme. The more I look into the reason given by the Government for this particular scheme of taxation, the more surprised I am that musical instruments have been selected, and it is quite certain that the small import of musical instruments cannot affect the question of the gold standard and international exchange. I have got all the figures here, but there is no use in repeating them. I should like, however, to remind the Committee that in the year 1913, of the total imports of pianos and all other musical instruments, amounting to £1,117,000, £900,000 came from Germany, only leaving £217,000 to come from all the other countries, so that the War has most effectively prevented the importation of pianos and other musical instruments. The returns for eight months of this year show that those that came from America, the only country affected in the matter of international exchange, are very small indeed, and that the bulk of the accessories and plant, on which the piano-makers of this country are dependent, come from France, some few from Spain, and some from Italy, so that I do not need to pursue that subject. I think it must be admitted, so far as international exchange is concerned, no rational person would have selected musical instruments for taxation. I suppose it must mean they are taxed because they are luxuries. At any rate, they are not luxuries to people who live next door to them, but only to people who own them. Really, if the intention is to tax luxuries, surely it would have been very easy to discover items of luxury upon which there is a much larger expenditure I understand 1868 from inquiries made from the trade, that the pianos purchased now are chiefly cottage pianos, purchased by working men, and it does seem to me that by a tax upon imported pianos you are going to raise the price of all the pianos made at home. It is rather rough on the working man, if he uses that particular form of luxury, to keep up his spirits during this dark and dreary time, and to treat these piano-players, gramophones, and the rest, the cost of which is ridiculously small, and the class of people who buy them so poor, as being luxuries which ought not to be indulged in the time of war, seems to me ridiculous.
I come to the third point—the question of revenue. I do not think it is possible to get more than £50,000 or £60,000 a year. Why you should disturb a growing trade in this country by a taxation of this kind, why you should interfere with a very modest and harmless luxury in war time to get £50,000 or £60,000 a year, most of which you will spend in collecting it, really surprises me very much. I do not suppose what I have said up to the present has made the least impression on the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but I am going to say something now which I hope will do so. I will say it slowly and quietly and as politely as I can. I am very anxious that the piano trade of this country, which at this moment has an opportunity of capturing German trade, should not be prevented from doing that by any scheme of taxation upon pianos, accessories, and parts. Let me put it to the Committee in this way: When English manufacturers say they are manufacturing pianos, they do not really mean they are manufacturing the whole of the piano. They have not the knowledge or skill, or the workmen to do it. What they mean is that they make certain parts of the piano.
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ Sir T. WALTERS
I thought it would be convenient if I stated the arguments altogether instead of making two speeches. My argument is that so far as the really important parts of the instruments are concerned, namely, the piano-actions, these have to be purchased from abroad. The best are purchased from France, and a number used to be purchased from Germany. There is a particular temperament, I understand, required, besides skill and experience, in the men who manufacture these actions. You 1869 cannot set up a manufacture in England at once and find Englishmen to do it. It is almost a thing of heredity—a peculiar touch and skill belonging to the temperament of the Frenchman—and I, therefore, do suggest to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he should give, at any rate, an Amendment to exempt from taxation these piano actions and piano players. You may say that they do not come to any extent from America; they come chiefly from France. The imports from America are a comparatively small item in that particular section, and I ask this because, even if you had a particular skill in this country to make these piano actions and these important parts of musical instruments, you could not apply it now, because you could not get the plant, machinery or workmen to put up the buldings, and you could not establish this industry here now. If during a time of war you cannot establish these new industries here which are an essential part of piano making, and if by prohibitive tariffs you shut them out, you destroy this infant piano trade which otherwise you might develop into a very large industry indeed. By these proposals, instead of doing anything for the benefit of the nation, you are doing just the reverse. If you encourage this industry, you will be able to establish new industries in this country for which we have previously been dependent upon Germany. This business of piano making is one of the industries which we can capture from Germany during the War if only we use a little intelligence and common sense. If you put any extra price upon the parts that cannot be made in this country, you at once destroy the industry. Any trifling sum which may be conveyed to the Exchequer by this tax is not worth considering for a single moment in comparison with the development of this important industry. I do not want to weary the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and if I could only see one gleam of assent on his face I would not weary him any longer. I am, however, going to press the point of giving up the tax on musical instruments, because I think it is a bad tax, although in these days I know we are getting used to bad things. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give way to the absolutely irresistible arguments which I am submitting to him, and if he is not touched by my meekness I hope he will be convinced by my arguments. You cannot develop the piano trade or manufacture the instruments in 1870 this country unless you have facilities for buying the parts from France and other places at the lowest possible price. As far as this Section relating to musical instruments is concerned, I hope the Government will make this one exception in favour of an important and growing industry.
§ Mr. YEO
I noticed in the Debates the other day that the Chancellor of the Exchequer referred to something I have said, and stated that it had been denied by the trade. May I call his attention to a meeting of the piano trades, which was called together to decide as to what action should be taken to meet the new duty imposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. A resolution asking the Government to consider the question of refunding the duty on re-exported goods was referred to the sub-committee, and it was further unanimously agreed to increase at once the price of pianos to meet the Import Duty. What does any hon. Member of this House, reading that Resolution take it to mean? It either means that the tax is to be put on or it is not. The ordinary man in the street, picking up his daily paper, would at once agree that the trade had met and decided, in order to meet the increased duties by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that they were going to put on 33 1–3 per cent. I have come to the conclusion that they have decided to put this on the price, and that is their business and not mine. Already these taxes are affecting the retail trade. In many cases £10 has been put upon some instruments as an increase in the wholesale price since the Chancellor of the Exchequer brought in his Budget. Does the right hon. Gentleman deny that that is true? I hold a trade document in my hands which says:—This is a considered opinion, arrived at after hearing the views of many engaged in the industry. Since the Budget was introduced, the price of pianos, that is the wholesale price, has increased from £3 to £10, and certainly the retail price has increased much more.The consequence is that the purchaser, and not the foreigner, the buyer in England, has got to pay the tax. That is what we in the trade know, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer knows it better than anybody in the House. If we cannot get the tax in any way reduced or taken off pianos in the bulk, at any rate let us encourage the industry in this country by taking the tax off accessories and parts. I hold in my hand a list of 120 component parts that are imported from abroad in the matter of pianos. What on earth do the English people make at all? Evidently 1871 they cannot make anything except mistakes, and when someone else tries to put them right they immediately whisper in the ear of some official that what we say is entirely wrong. But we are not wrong, and I say that confidently. I believe the heart of this nation is absolutely sound on Free Trade. I believe the heart of this nation, if it wants a piano is going to have one, in spite of all the taxes. We hear that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is advising the people that they should not spend their money on luxuries. So far as pianos are concerned, the manufacturers this year have not been able to supply the demand. While the working classes are earning good money they spend it in order to make trade prosperous. The object of these taxes appears to be that we are not going to keep a prosperous trade, but to make it awkward for our own manufacturers in these Isles to live and carry on their business.
There was an interview with the officials at the Customs the other day, and we presented to them two ornaments, one was a lion with a miniature clock inside, and the other was an elephant also with a miniature clock inside. They were taken to the Customs authorities, and the officials were asked, "Which of these two will you tax?" They said, "We shall have to leave the lion and tax the elephant." What are the business people of this country going to do if they are to be taxed like that? I thought the Chancellor of the Exchequer had a desire to attack luxuries, but I find on inquiry in the City to-day, and through the chambers of commerce, that the right hon. Gentleman is not attacking luxuries but he has gone to the nursery, to the cradle, and he is attacking the children's toys. I want to show him some [exhibiting a toy]. I want this House to see how the officials are proceeding. This article, because it emits a musical sound, is to be taxed 1s. 2d. That toy comes from a country that ought to be standing side by side with us in this War—I mean America. Here is another article [showing, a child's musical box]. There is a tax of 1s. 10d. on that little child's toy. [An HON. MEMBER: "How does it work? Will it play?"] Yes, it will play. [The hon. Member wound up the toy, which began to play.]
§ Mr. YEO
I want to know where the Scotsmen are in this House to-night. This bagpipe is a child's toy, and we are taxing that article 1s. in order to raise the revenue. I may not be able to convince this House of the advisability of removing some of these taxes, but they are very absurd. Men of business in this House, who have the wealth of this country in their hands, do not mind being taxed, but the Chancellor of the Exchequer is now going down to the nursery and the cradle to prevent children enjoying a little musical instrument without having it taxed 1s. 10d. or 1s. Even if we go to the Customs we cannot get a true definition of a musical instrument, and we are told that if it is anything costing above 1s. which emits a musical sound then there is to be a tax upon it in order to keep this country going. In connection with the music trade, last year the imports into this country amounted to £56,000. What are we going to get out of that? If you are going to tax German pianos, tax them by all means, but what will the people of France say? They will send a protest to the Chancellor of the Exchequer because French musical instrument makers export here £80,000 worth of goods annually, and they are much concerned at the 33 per cent, ad valorem tax which comes up for discussion to-night in France. Two deputies waited upon the Minister of the Department asking him to urge upon England the importance of not taxing our Allies. Tax your enemies by all the power you can. You may tax them out of existence, but when it comes to those who are helping you to pull this War through I do not think it is very patriotic.
My opinion is that this tax, instead of assisting trade, will have a detrimental effect on the export trade to South America and the Colonies. We have shut out German goods and trade, and our manufacturers were about to begin to recoup themselves by making those articles in this country in order to export them to the Colonies, and now they are face to face with the fact that before they can send them out they have to pay a tax on all imported parts. I appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he cannot give some relief on the completed article, to consider the advisability of taking this tax off component parts. There are between 120 and 130 parts that we 1873 import which, if he takes off the tax, will give an impetus to the piano trade and other trades that will be affected, and then we shall be able to capture a good deal of the German trade that has hitherto gone to our Colonies and South America. By doing that the right hon. Gentleman will earn the gratitude of scores of little struggling tradesmen who are doing their best to help the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ Mr. McKENNA
The Committee have listened to the powerful statement by my hon. Friend, who has spoken with an intimate knowledge of the musical trade which certainly the rest of us do not enjoy, but I very much regret that I am not at all one with him on the substantial part of his argument. He asks the Committee to disagree with the tax on the ground that he desires to develop British trade in pianos during the War.
§ Mr. McKENNA
Certainly, after the War, but this is a War tax, and he wants it taken off now in order to foster British trade in pianos during the War. That argument would naturally appeal to anybody engaged in the piano trade, who would see, as the matter would appear to his mind, the great advantage, the future advantage, of developing a trade which has hitherto been enjoyed by Germany. I appreciate that, and recognise the force of the argument, but I am bound to tell my hon. Friend that now, during the War, we cannot afford it. We cannot afford any capital expenditure upon the piano trade. We do not want during the War to develop the piano trade. It is an unfortunate fact for the people engaged in the trade, and I am extremely sorry. I should be only too glad to develop their trade, and all trades, and certainly to add to our revenue, but we have neither the capital nor the labour which we can divert from far more essential purposes to the object of assisting the piano trade. I regret it, but I am quite unable to follow my hon. Friend's argument in that direction. Then he and my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield (Sir T. Walters) say that in the interests of our export trade during the War we ought not to impose these duties. I have just looked at the figures, and I find that the whole value of our re-exports of imported musical instruments and parts thereof during eight months amounted to £20,000.
§ Sir T. WALTERS
The total exports of musical instruments in 1913 was £650,000. Unless you can buy these accessories and parts during the War without duty you cannot export this £600,000 worth of pianos, and you cannot assist your export, trade to that substantial amount.
§ Mr. McKENNA
On the export of a piano made in this country containing taxed component parts a drawback would be given on the taxed parts, so that so far as the British manufacturing export trade is concerned the argument is not really a substantial one, though I admit it has some substance because the manufacturer has to lie on his money. As regards the entrepôt trade which might be affected the re-exports of these instruments and parts together have only amounted to £20,000.
§ Mr. McKENNA
Completed instruments and parts. On both those grounds I do not think my hon. Friend really ought to carry the Committee with him in his argument. If it is not desirable at this present time to devote capital and labour to the extension of the trade in musical instruments, and if our export trade is not and could not be materially damaged by the tax, how do we stand with regard to the arguments raised against it? We do not desire, and I am sure the Committee do not desire, to see money spent at the present time upon luxuries. I am sure that must be the universal opinion of the Committee. We are really, and it cannot be brought home to the public mind too soon, day by day spending more than we ought to spend, and when we have got to cut down our expenditure, as we must, surely luxuries of that kind should be one of the first things to go. My hon. Friend made very amusing capital in his speech of the absurdtiy of the British Treasury stepping in and interfering with the toys of children. We do not presume to deal with trifles. If my hon. Friend will look at Sub-section (8) of the Clause he will see that we have provided for trifles.
§ Mr. McKENNA
Yes, I will do my best to get the Customs officials to continue the admirable course which they have hitherto followed. Sub-section (8) provides:—
1875 "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."
§ Mr. McKENNA
We propose that powers should be given to exempt from duty trifling things which would be more trouble than they were worth.
§ Mr. McKENNA
The persons who will have to deal with this matter will have much better knowledge of the individual article than I have. I will inquire if my hon. Friend wishes. There is one point with regard to the speech of my hon. Friend which I think ought to be cleared up. As I am informed, the manufacturers of pianos in this country have not raised their prices, except to meet the extra cost imposed upon them by the duty on the component parts which they themselves use for manufacturing British pianos. My hon. Friend says that they have raised their prices from £3 to £10. I understand that rise in price is to meet the duty on the component parts which they have used. I can only state what I am told, and I am told by representatives of some firms that where a piano is entirely British made there has been no additional price at all. The trade has not put up and do not intend to put up, and their language was not intended to convey the meaning that they would put up their prices 33 1–3 per cent., in order to meet the duty. As I understand it, their intention was where they themselves have used the taxed parts to raise their price, in order to meet the additional cost to themselves. If I am wrong in my statement, my hon. Friend, no doubt, will be able to show that I am wrong afterwards. But I think that statement ought to be made in justice to the trade. In these circumstances, I would, appeal to my hon. Friends not to press their Amendment. It is a purely luxury tax. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] It is, indeed. It is like the other taxes; it cannot be renewed except as a new tax, 1876 with a new Resolution and a fresh discussion in this House. It is imposed in the special circumstances of the War, and in these circumstances I think this and the other taxes, now that we have argued and reargued the principle, might be allowed to pass without further discussion.
§ Mr. CLOUGH
I rise to support this Amendment, because the effect of the Government proposal will be to put back the clock of progress by at least half a century, and to bring into operation the pernicious principle of Protection.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I do not think the hon. Member was in the House at the time, but if he had been he would have understood that I allowed a wide Debate on the first Amendment on the understanding that it would not be renewed on the particular items. We must now deal, not with the general question, but solely with the particular point of the Amendment.
§ Mr. LOUGH
There is one point that arose out of the interesting speech of the hon. Member for Tower Hamlets (Mr. Yeo), with regard to which I would like to support the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The hon. Member complained that he could not get satisfactory answers from the Customs authorities. I am quite sure that was not owing to any want of courtesy or of desire to give full information and every assistance to the trade on the part of the Customs authorities. Speaking from considerable experience of them, I can say that in the difficult position in which they are continually placed in dealing with the circumstances of the War they are doing everything they possibly can to assist this House and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I think on reflection my hon. Friend will not feel that any censure should be passed upon them. I am greatly disappointed that my hon. Friend did not give a little more consideration to this tax. There were originally six taxes, and of the six this was the one which my right hon. Friend might most easily have parted with, because the circumstances of the War and the progress of events have destroyed the import trade here more than in any of the other cases. The imports in eight months have declined from a total of £691,925 in 1913, which is at the rate of about £1,000,000 a year, to £169,000 now. The imports in the case of the two taxes that were abolished only declined by about one-half, but the imports in this case have declined to about one-quarter.
1877 Surely my right hon. Friend might respond to this appeal. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has said that he wants to assist the exchange and to prevent the use of luxuries. He is not doing that. When he finds that one of the great ends he wants to secure has already been obtained by the circumstances of the War, surely it is an occasion when he might be satisfied and say, "Having regard to the striking figure the imports have already assumed, I will abolish the tax altogether." I put that point to him. It has not been put up to the present. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that this was a tax on luxuries. He must have forgotten, surely, the fact that the effect of the tax would be that more pianos would be made and sold in this country. If he wants to tax a luxury, and prevent the use of pianos, he must put on an Excise Duty. The trifling amount he is likely to get out of the Import Duty is surely scarcely worthy his attention. The import trade has practically disappeared already, and, under these circumstances, I think the right hon. Gentleman would greatly expedite the passage of his Bill if he would grant this concession. He has got all the big taxes that he requires. He has given way in regard to two or three small ones. This is the smallest of all, and on that ground I would suggest he might accept this Amendment.
§ Mr. R. LAMBERT
I want to make an appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer in regard to musical instruments other than pianos, for which I think a good case could be made out for exemption from taxation. Take the case of violins. I am not speaking of the expensive ones used by skilled musicians who prize old violins. I am speaking of those used by poorly paid musicians earning from 20s. to 40s. per week. These violins are made at Mire-court, in the Vosges, by women and old men who are left behind in a district which has been very sorely tried by this War. This particular industry has a good chance now of making some headway, seeing that German and Austrian imports are barred. Surely it is rather hard, at a time like this, to tax these articles. I want also to make an appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to exempt harmonic strings. Those used for violins and violoncellos come almost entirely from countries friendly to this country. The raw gut is exported from here. It is made up at Lyons, Barcelona, Rome, Verona, and other places, and the harmonic strings are reimported into this country and distri- 1878 buted from here to our Colonies. How are you going to identify these strings? It is a small thing—an important accessory no doubt—but I do appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to grant exemption for these harmonic strings. It has been suggested that music is a luxury which ought to be taxed out of existence during the War. I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer rather forgets that there are forms of music other than pianos, and, at a time like this, when people's minds are fixed with the utmost absorption on this terrible War, it must be a good thing for them to find some relaxation in music in the family circle. I appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer—I am afraid it is hopeless, but, seeing the very meagre result that must accrue from the imposition of this tax, I trust that, even at this last minute, he will meet us in this matter, and abandon this particular tax. If he will, I will promise not to say a single word against any other tax.
§ Mr. HOLT
The hon. Gentleman defended this tax on the ground that it was a tax upon luxuries, and he went further and said he did not wish to see any expansion of the export trade in musical instruments because we could not afford either the capital or labour to expand that trade. He spoke with very great approval of the piano manufacturers who had not raised their prices the full 33⅓ per cent. But had those manufacturers been patriotic, they would have raised their prices in order to restrict the trade in pianos, and to limit the output of their works, by releasing persons and capital for other employment more suited to the time. That would appear to be the logical conclusion to be drawn from the right hon. Gentleman's speech. A further logical conclusion would be that there ought to be an Excise Duty on the production of musical instruments in this country. I cannot see how the argument which the right hon. Gentleman advanced in his speech can lead to any other conclusion. An Excise Duty would clearly increase their revenue. It would diminish the consumption of these luxuries, and it would tend to prevent the employment of persons in such a foolish way as the making of musical instruments.
Mr. DUNDAS WHITE
I want to make an appeal in the interest of our gallant men at the front. It is a matter of common knowledge that the demand for mouth organs, gramophones, and other 1879 instruments of a like nature, has been very considerable. A great many of these instruments have been sent out, and a great many more are required. I am not going into the economics of the tax, but—
§ Sir A. MOND
I beg to move, in the same Sub-section, to leave out the word "gramophones."
There has been a great demand for these instruments among the troops in this country, and I want to know if the right hon. Gentleman cannot give a rebate in cases where it is proved that the gramophones are being sent to military camps in Great Britain. If he will agree to that, he will really be doing a very useful bit of work. It will enable those who are willing to send gramophones to the troops to dispatch a greater number than would be otherwise possible.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I am very anxious to avoid complications by making additional exemptions or giving additional instructions. I have been asked many times why I have not imposed an Excise Duty. We could not do it; and for the same reason, if this particular proposal were accepted, it would mean a greater amount of additional work, and we cannot agree to undertake it.
§ Mr. LOUGH
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), to leave out:—
"Cinematograph films imported for the purpose of the exhibition of pictures or other optical effects by means of a cinematograph or other similar apparatus:—
The object of my Amendment is to leave out the proposal to tax films. Here a different case presents itself from anything that we have been able to put before the Chancellor of the Exchequer up to the present. There is nominally a large import of films into this country. It amounted to about £844,000 in eight months, or something like a million and a quarter per year. We have no figures with which to compare it. We really have no history at all of this import into the country. I have been assured that these figures are wholly unreliable, and that no amount of money like this changes hands for films at all. The figures with regard to imports are fictitious, because payment is made in this country for the use of films by way of royalties. Perhaps I ought to explain that there are three kind of films: blank films, positive films, and negative films. If payment is not made for this special import at present, the whole basis of the tax disappears. We have heard that the object of the taxation of films is to prevent money leaving the country. This taxation will not prevent money leaving the country; on the contrary, I am assured that if the tax is passed a great deal more money will go out of the country in connection with this industry than comes in at the present time. The first point I make is that the figures are wholly unreal, and unless the Secretary to the Treasury can give me some basis for saying that the import may be taken at the amount at which it stands in the Return it is a very substantial point, 1881 and sweeps away the whole basis that has been given to us for this taxation.
Per linear foot. £ s. d. Blank film, on which no picture has been impressed, known as raw films or stock 0 0 0½ 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"
My next point is that a great deal more money will go out of the country under the tax than is coming into the country now. The reason for that is that it would be utterly impossible hereafter to import negatives into this country, excepting, perhaps, from time to time in the case of some special subject. Instead of negatives being imported, a few positive prints would come in, which will only pay a penny a foot, while the negatives will not be brought into this country at all, but will be sent into another country in which positives can be printed from them, so that positives alone will be brought in at, a small rate of duty. The royalty, which is the amount charged in connection with these films, amounts to £12 per 1,000 ft. The royalty will be paid on the positive film. If the right hon. Gentleman really wanted to put on this tax, he has put the high tax on the wrong film. He puts a tax of 8d. per foot on negative films and a 1d. per foot on positive films. The result will be that the negatives will be sent to Copenhagen or some other place where they are admitted free, and printed there, while the few positives that we require—I am told we do not require more than seven or eight of any one—will be brought into this country at 1d. per foot. The effect will be that a trade, small in amount though it is, which is growing up in this country and which has grown up lately owing to our Free Trade principles, will be entirely destroyed, and there will be nothing imported into this country beyond a few positive films. The export trade which was going to the Colonies and other countries, and which was growing up in this country, will come to an end. That is the second point that I make; that under the tax the money going out of the country will not be reduced at all, but a larger amount will go out for royalties than is the case at the present time.
The final point that I make is that none of these taxes will cause such a vast expense or so much trouble to the Customs as the tax on these films. In the first place, these films are very troublesome things to store. They are made of very combustible material. Now they are not stored at all. They come in freely, and the importer takes them wherever he pleases. Now there will have to be large facilities given for bonding, and there will be great expense because of the combustible character of the films. The reason 1882 they will have to go into bond is this: that the trade now done of looking at a film, and seeing whether it is any good to take up in this country or to buy a few positives from it, once you put on this sweeping tax of 8d. per foot will all have to be done in bond, and facilities will have to be provided for allowing examination of the films. All this will be extremely expensive, and you will have a most expensive system to set up. An expert will be required by the Customs to distinguish between the three kinds of films. Sometimes it is extremely difficult to distinguish the negative, which is the film subject to the highest tax of all. It is taken hurriedly, sometimes in a place like Switzerland. You can hardly see the print, it is put into a dark box and sent to this country. It is a most valuable negative, yet you can hardly see that the print exists at all. It requires a dark room to develop it. The Customs will have to have an expert to detect the films which are really negatives and which look like common stock films. The Customs will require an expert to distinguish positive, negative, and blank films. This expert will require facilities which the Customs in this country are not used to providing and which they have not to provide in connection with any other article.
No one appreciates more than I do the difficulties under which the Customs work, or appreciates more highly the efforts they make to serve the public in very difficult circumstances, but now they will have to provide a dark room for examining the film, and they will have to develop these negatives in the dark room to see whether they should come in at 8d. or ½d. a foot. There will be great delay. These films are 1,000 feet long, and facilities will have to be given for measurement. There will have to be a screen, and the films will have to be projected on the screen. The sort of trials that take place in this country now will all have to take place at the Customs, where there is no accommodation. This sounds very technical and wearisome, but when we plunge into these things it is the inevitable result. Both the importer and the Customs, for the purpose of levying the duty, will want all these facilities—a dark room, inspectors, and facilities for projecting and developing the films in the dark room. These will have to be provided at all the great Customs Houses. The importation now takes place in London, Liverpool, Hull, Newcastle, Folkestone, Newhaven, Dover, 1883 and Southampton, and these facilities will be required at all of these and the other Customs Houses throughout the country. Another difficulty will arise of finding reliable experts to do this work for the Customs. There is no analogous work done by our Customs at present. These experts are very few in number, because it is really a new thing. I have shown that the import is very small. I do not think it is one-tenth of the amount that is shown in the Returns, and I do not believe the value of the import now is £100,000. After the tax is passed it will be quite nominal. It is not possible to assume that the Government can get more than £30,000 or £40,000 out of the tax, and for this miserable sum—
§ Mr. LOUGH
Yes, the figures given at present are largely fictitious, because nobody pays the amount, and whatever payment is made is made by royalty. The Government has not applied the tax to the royalty. It is true they might get the tax in another way, by taxing theatre tickets, but trying to treat the import as if it were tea or sugar, or one of the other things we are accustomed to tax in this country, has led the Government into a great mistake. I make the point that it is an infinitesimal matter, that the whole value of the imports will disappear when the tax is put on, and that the great cost, inconvenience, and trouble of putting on the tax will far outweigh any advantage we get from it. I put this final argument on that point. We have been assured all along that the taxes are temporary. You will have to set up the machinery for the temporary tax just as if it were going to be eternal. From nine months from next July you will have to set up dark rooms, obtain experts, and set up measuring machinery, and get the whole thing going at the Customs Houses which I have mentioned. I think I have put sufficiently striking facts on this matter. A great many more have been submitted to me, but I do not want to trouble the Committee with too many details, besides which it is a very difficult matter for myself. Nobody gave the Committee any information about it, and everybody will admit that somebody ought to have said something about the article being taxed and the probable effect of taxing it. I have shown that it is an entirely new industry, and that the Government will not secure 1884 the end they have in view by this taxation. They check a growing import trade which is growing up at present. It will undoubtedly be extremely difficult and costly to levy the tax. In all these circumstances the Government would do well, if they have any discretion—I say that without offence—to at least waive this tax for the various reasons I have mentioned.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
I am sure the Committee is extremely indebted to the right hon. Gentleman for the speech he has made, which shows very deep familiarity with this question, and for his statement as to the facts about a new tax upon an article which is not a subject with which the Committee is very familiar at the present time. My main answer, indeed, I think my only answer to his argument, is this: We estimated that the tax will bring in £400,000 a year. It is one of the biggest taxes which was contained in the Clause at first. The right hon. Gentleman tells us that his information is that the method of payment for these things is such that we shall not get that revenue or anything like it. Our advisers are of opinion that their estimate is correct. The tax has not got the statutory sanction of Parliament, but in order to meet the convenience of the taxpayers is being collected now, and there is nothing to show as yet that the estimate is a false one. We have every confidence that it will be smoothly collected and inexpensively collected. The method of imposing the tax, as the Committee will see, is different from the method adopted in connection with motor cars and clocks and watches. It was arrived at by experts as being the best way to impose an equivalent duty, and, as far as we can judge, it has proved entirely satisfactory. Special accommodation is at present provided by arrangement, and without protest, for this being done in London. I venture to hope that the anxiety which the right hon. Gentleman expressed will not be fulfilled. If it is, when the time comes for reconsideration of these taxes, his arguments will be very valuable arguments in resisting any attempt made by any who may make it to continue the tax.
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
This is one of the taxes upon which we have never got an estimate from the Government. We hear for the first time that under the system upon which they intend to levy this tax they expect to obtain £400,000. The right hon. Gentleman, of course, has not stated the 1885 proportions in which that sum will be obtained from the three different objects of the tax, the printed film, the positive, and the negative; but it is possible that the calculations which the experts of the Government have made may turn out to be falsified, and the means that will be taken to falsify the forecast probably account for the quietness and calmness with which the trade is taking the tax. It is, I think, assumed by the Government that the negatives will be received in the same proportion as they have in the past, and that consequently there will be a large number of negatives which will pay the higher rate of duty. I have, however, been told by some who are conversant with the trade that means will be taken to evade this heavier tax upon negatives—that instead of bringing in negatives, those engaged in the trade will simply bring positives into this country, and will print negatives from the positives which they bring in, and from the negatives so printed will reproduce all necessary positives for the purpose of leasing out any reproduction in various parts of the country. Obviously, if this method is taken, instead of having the 8d. upon the negative which is assumed to come in by the Government, there will only be 1d. upon the positive and the small tax upon the unprinted film. In that event the amount which will be collected, instead of being on the basis of 8d. for every negative, will probably amount to about one-eighth of that sum, and instead of having £400,000, as the experts whom the Treasury have consulted state, they may have only a return on the basis of the importation of positives alone, which will be at 1d. per foot, and under these circumstances you will only have one-eighth of the £400,000.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
If positives come in, instead of negatives, there will be more positives than negatives necessary to make the positives from.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
No, I think that interruption has proved how little my right hon. Friend understands the intricacies of this interesting business. A single positive will be sufficient for the production of a single negative within the country. It is true that if all the positives which were to be exhibited were to be brought in you would then levy a tax on all these positives. I admit that if every positive which was to be exhibited in every cinematograph show in the country was to be brought in you would collect into the Treasury, on 1886 the basis of the calculations of the Government. But the point I am making is that, instead of bringing in all these positives, the importers will simply bring in a single positive, and from that positive print a negative from which the positive for the purpose of exhibition will be printed. In other words, you will practically have no revenue from the negatives at all, and you will only have a revenue from the single positive which, as it were, will be the parent of all the positives used for reproduction. The case has been put to me by a person who is familiar with the trade that this will be the method of evasion. Consequently, if that is the method of evasion, instead of having the negatives upon which they calculate, and upon which 8d. per foot is to be paid, you will merely have positives at 1d. a foot, and, consequently, the revenue obtained from this tax will be reduced, probably not to the extent of an eighth, but to something approximating to an eighth of the amount. If that be so, instead of having £400,000, the Exchequer is only going to benefit by something between £50,000 and £60,000, and you are going to have all the machinery of collection, and all these special provisions made, dark rooms and so on, to which my right hon. Friend (Mr. Lough) has referred, and in these circumstances it seems to me that there is going to be practically no net revenue at all from the tax. It will, however, be interesting, in view of the confident forecast which the right hon. Gentleman has made, to see whether his prophecy is accurate or mine, whether the importers will be successful in evading the duty in the way I suggest, and whether, in consequence, the return to the revenue will be correspondingly reduced.
§ Sir NORVAL HELME
I should like to ask if, in presenting this estimate of the yield of the tax, we are to regard it as a net estimate. Can my right hon. Friend give the Committee any particulars as to the advice which has been given him as to the cost of collection of the tax, because it is really a very important matter with the evidence we have had brought before us of the methods that there may be of evading the payment of duties. It may not necessarily be a malicious attempt to evade the tax but a bona fide trade effort. If the trade can by a system of importing certain classes of films meet the demand for the cinematograph shows according to law in a perfectly legitimate way, and if £50,000 is the gross amount likely to be 1887 received, taking his own showing of £400,000, I want to ask whether £400,000 is a net sum, and, if not, what is the cost that he estimates, taking into account all the arrangements which have to be made throughout the Custom Houses of the country, so that the House may judge between the two, and if he would under the circumstances look at this question and at another stage of the Bill be able to advise the House upon some of these points, so that we may be in a better position than we are now to judge. We recognise that the Custom House always does its best to carry out the arrangements this House imposes, but on the other hand the traders have put a case before the House to different Members whom they have approached. I should like to ask the question and make the suggestion that I have just made.
§ Sir A. MOND
I do not know whether my right hon. Friend can give us what the yield of the tax has been since it has been in operation. If he has the figure will he tell us what the yield of the tax has been since it has been imposed? That will be some guide. A further point I should like to ask is this: Are we to understand that in the permanent arrangements cinema films which will be imported in the future cannot be cleared at the port at which they arrive, and, if not, will they pass in bond, say from Liverpool to London, or will they have to come direct to London? That is a point which will be of some importance to the port authorities in these various places. It seems a very serious restriction of trade right away to compel importers to bring all these films to London. Another question I should like to ask is: Are these things being examined in bonded warehouses belonging to the Government, or hired or rented by them, or are they being examined by any private arrangement with the trade? I understand there is a very considerable business being done in this country in the importation of foreign negatives which are printed here from the positives, and then exported and sold in various parts of the Continent. I do not quite understand how that trade will fare under the rebate Clause of the Finance Bill. If I import a negative and then print a certain number of positives, the rate of the negative and the positive being different, do I get any rebate at all, and, if so, what rebate do I get? Do I get a rebate of a penny on so many feet of 1888 positives, however many positives I import, or do I get a rebate equivalent to what I have paid on the negative or some proportion? I raise that question because I understand that Great Britain has been a distributing centre for all parts of the world. Quite a large trade has sprung up in which about 6,000 people, of whom about three-quarters are women, I understand, are at present engaged in this business of film printing from foreign negatives in Great Britain, the films being sent abroad to our Colonies and other countries. I can understand a mechanism being set up to deal with this, and I should like to know whether that point has been taken care of and in what way those engaged in that industry will be able to continue it when this duty is imposed. Of course any figure Ave have at present as to the yield of the duty must be a little misleading, because the trade, naturally, has not accommodated itself in any way to these new duties, and the right hon. Gentleman, of course, will in the first fortnight or perhaps month, get really what has been the normal trade in the past. Whether that will continue in the future neither he nor any of us can tell, but I should be very much surprised from what I have heard if it is not found to make this tax considerably less remunerative than the right hon. Gentleman and his advisers at present think.
§ Mr. LOUGH
I think we are quite in order in asking that the figure should be given us. The whole object of my speech was to suggest that we had no figures to go on. My hon. Friend opposite, in a speech with which I sympathise entirely, pressed for some figures. One has been given us by the right hon. Gentleman. He mentioned that he had got the figures for the last fortnight.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
No. If I said that I made a mistake. What I said was that we expected from this duty £400,000 a year. I was informed by the Customs that there was nothing in the collection of the duty that had occurred since 29th September to suggest that we were not going to get that amount. That is all. They have submitted a revised estimate on the experience of the last fortnight, but I have not got the figures accessible. I shall be happy to supply my right hon. Friend, when I can get them, with any figures I can find. This is a new duty. The yield must be highly problematical. We have done our best to find out what that yield is likely to be, and we have arrived at an 1889 estimate of £400,000. With regard to the complaints that have been made as to the collection, we consider that the cost of collection will be trifling. We hope that £400,000 will result to the revenue from the imposition of these duties.
§ Mr. LOUGH
I do not think I have ever heard a more extraordinary statement. Unwilling as I am to press the Government, I think the situation that has been created is such that I must ask the attention of hon. Members to it. There is no secret about Customs Duties. We know there is a paper published in London daily in which the duties in regard to any trades with which I am connected are given, and anyone can ascertain how much of any article is cleared out of bond. That is public information which we ought to have now. What I have said to-day and on former occasions in the House is that this whole tax is a mystery, and that we know nothing at all about it. I am not an expert, and I am not in the Government, and I do not know anything about the Customs. I only make my suggestion from the best information I can get. Now the right hon. Gentleman has corrected himself, and says that the Customs have not told him that the estimate he made was wrong. That is the most curious statement I ever heard. For twenty-one days—for he has now mentioned twenty-one days—which is three-fourths of a month, they have been clearing on this duty. I ask, What has the duty realised? I think I am entitled to ask for that information. That will be a fact for us. That will be something to go on. We shall then get out of the realm of mystery, and the Committee will be able to judge whether I am right in suggesting that this thing is very vague, or whether the right hon. Gentleman is justified in saying that he will get £400,000 a year out of this tax. Without the least desire to press the Government unduly I do appeal to hon. Members generally whether it is not a known principle in this House that if a Minister refers to a figure, and he has documents, we are entitled to ask him to give us the exact figure. It is no use saying that we cannot get them from the Customs authorities. The Customs representatives are probably here now, under the Gallery. I ask, What is the duty you have received from the films in these twenty-one days? I must respectfully press my right hon. Friend to give us this fact. It is no use for him to say that he continues to hope. Of course, he always 1890 hopes. We ought to go by certainties. I do not want to be discourteous, because he has been most courteous to me, but I say that it is his duty to get the information, and it is the duty of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to get the information, and to give the House some facts to go upon. He has admitted he has got the fact. Therefore, I respectfully ask what is the duty that has been collected?
§ Mr. MONTAGU
The right hon. Gentleman has put to me a question which I cannot answer, not because I am unwilling to answer, but because I cannot answer at the moment. I have got in my box a whole heap of information, and I have endeavoured to acquaint myself with the information that the House is likely to expect. It did not occur to me that the Committee would be guided in their decision as to whether we should impose this duty by the figures as to the yield in the first few weeks. I have not brought those figures to the House, and I cannot get them on a few minutes' notice, but I shall be very glad to supply them to-morrow.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Sir A. MOND
I beg to move to leave out the figure "½d." ["Blank film, on which no picture has been impressed, known as raw film or stock, ½d. per linear foot"], and to insert in place thereof the figure "⅛d."
This is a very special point. The rate of ½ on blank films, which really are the raw material for the British film industry, is, I gather from what I have read, and from what I have been informed, very much too high. I do not know on what advice that rate of ½d. is inserted. As I understand it, if the ½d. rate is maintained, it will be a very serious disadvantage to the British film industry. The raw blank films coming into this country will be so dear by the time they have dealt with them and made them into negatives that when they want to export these negatives to other countries they will not be able to compete with other countries which are producing films as successfully as they are competing to-day. I do not know why there should be any duty on blank films at all. After all, the blank film is the raw material of a British industry. These 1891 industries have considerable trouble to-day in competing with their American and other rivals, who are very enterprising. I understand that the right proportion would be the sum that I have put down in my Amendment, namely, one-eighth of a penny. I have no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman has consulted with some of these manufacturers, who are experts in this matter; if so, he will have been told the same thing, that the figure of ½d. is out of proportion to the duty of 1d. and 8d., and that it will be a serious burden to the film producing industry in this country.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
It was after consultation that the present scale was put in the Bill. Our information is that ½d. is the right proportion, having regard to the 1d. and the 8d. If, however, the right hon. Gentleman has information to the contrary, and he would be good enough to favour me with the information upon which he has come to the conclusion that ½d. is too high in proportion to the 1d. and the 8d., I shall be very glad to consider it, and to make further investigation between now and the Report stage of the Bill.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. LOUGH
I beg to move, to leave out the figure 8d. and to insert in place thereof the figure 1d. ["Negatives, i.e., films containing a photograph, from which positives can be printed, 8d."] This Amendment is aimed at correcting what I think is a mistake in the tariff. It is to reduce the duty on negatives, which stand at 8d. in the Bill to 1d. I believe that the wrong film has got the high tax put upon it, and the want of knowledge which has been displayed on the Treasury Bench rather encourages me to think that I am right. In regard to the last Amendment which covered somewhat the same point, my right hon. Friend (Mr. Montagu) has said he will give me the figures to-morrow. In regard to the amount of money collected, I can raise the matter on the Report stage. We shall then have a whole month in which this duty has been collected, and if the facts then produced prove my point, as I expect they will, I hope we may be able to kill the tax then if we are not able to do it to-night. My present point is that this 8d. tax on the negative will kill an infant British industry.
§ Mr. LOUGH
My hon. Friend says they do not want industries. My right hon. Friend knows that the negative is the film from which the positive can be printed. As it appears in the Bill I suggest that the tax is eight times as high as exists today in Copenhagen. The result will be that negatives will be sent to Copenhagen and printed in Copenhagen, the positives will be sent in here and the industry which we have got will be transferred to foreign countries. All that would be obviated if the negatives were allowed to come in at a 1d. I will not press the other side of the Amendment. It is not my duty to get any rates increased, but I do think that the Government ought to see their way to accept this Amendment.
§ Mr. HOGGE
I am glad that my right hon. Friend has raised this point. It concerns a very important industry, and he has very rightly pointed out that if you tax the negative film at 8d. as compared with 1d. on the positive film, you really injure an infant industry in this country, an industry which the Government ought to regard as most helpful to all the social reforms which they have ever advocated. As the Financial Secretary to the Treasury knows, the Government to which he belongs are greatly concerned about the drink problem. He knows likewise that the only method by which you can keep people sober is to provide the proper kind of recreation for them, and that that recreation is provided most appropriately and best in the large number of picture houses that have been set up over the length and breadth of this country. It does seem, therefore, extremely inconsistent that as a member of a Government having under their wing a Board of Control, which is attempting to diminish the consumption of alcohol in various parts of the country, he should introduce in the supplementary Budget a proposal which will destroy one of the very best agencies for dealing with the liquor traffic which have yet been set up. I dare say that all of us have been to a picture house at one time or other in our life. One knows that the cost of those negatives, which are produced from time to time, is extremely large, and that they involve not only the employment of a great number of individuals, but also the expenditure of vast sums upon the properties that are required for reproducing those particular incidents which attract the public.
1893 Some years ago there was a craze in this country for various kinds of pageants in which historical incidents connected with all our great cities throughout the length and breadth of the Empire were portrayed to the public after a great expenditure of time, energy, and money. A tax of 8d. per foot on those negatives will destroy a very valuable adjunct to the social habits and customs of this country. I should have thought that the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, with his reminiscences of his own university, would be considerably annoyed, for example, if the historic incidents connected with the rise and progress of his university could not be filmed at one time or another and put on record I would remind him, for example, that even at the British Museum they are now making a collection of films of incidents of interest, which may in future become almost as valuable as some of the manuscripts which are now kept there. I believe that even this Coalition Cabinet has been filmed going in and out of No. 10, Downing Street. I have never seen that film on exhibition at any cinema house in the country. I am sure that the House will be interested to learn from the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was done with that particular negative. He himself, of course, would be in that negative.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
It seems to me that the hon. Member is dealing with the general subject of films. I think that he ought to satisfy me that he is referring to the subject under discussion.
§ Mr. HOGGE
The negative which is being taxed is the original photograph of the original incident. In this country, at present, a great deal of that work is done that is so important, and I was drawing attention to the peculiarly significant incident of the Coalition Cabinet having been filmed, for some purpose or other, though the Press censorship has not yet told us what was done with that particular film.
§ Mr. HOGGE
There is nothing to hinder any competent body coming from the other side, to take the Cabinet here, and send- 1894 ing across the film. If you are going to prevent them doing so you are going to prevent them keeping in the British Museum the records of events in this country which are extremely important to the community, such as the entrances and exits of Cabinet Ministers at 10, Downing Street. I think that the proposal is preposterous and, as I pointed out before the Chancellor came in, it is also anti-social. It is against the spread of temperance, and will destroy the work of the Board of Control which he and other members of the Cabinet have set up. I certainly hope that my right hon. Friend will persist in his opposition to this extraordinary tax, which is, as he said, destroying a very important infant industry.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
My hon. Friend has referred to the taxation of negatives and its effect on the production of positives, and the results that are to ensue to the cause of temperance, but I am afraid that I cannot follow him in his argument on these points. The argument on which the right hon. Gentleman pressed his Amendment infringes the whole principle of this taxation, namely, an attempt to proportion the tax as between the value of the negative and the value of the positive. Besides that, there is the loss of revenue which would result from the adoption of his proposal. But there is more than that in it. The right hon. Gentleman is endeavouring to persuade the public to impose a Protectionist tariff, a tax that would encourage the importation of negatives and discourage the importation of positives into this country. It would help the British manfacturer of positives, and so from that point of view it would mean that, apart from any loss due to reduction of duty on negatives, the foreign positive, paying a duty of 1d. a foot, would be replaced by the British positive, paying a duty of only ½d. a foot. So because of the loss of revenue, the infringement of principle, and the Protectionist nature of the proposal, I urge the Committee to reject the Amendment.
§ Sir A. MOND
This tax becomes more mystic as it proceeds. The more one endeavours to try to follow its tangled web the more one dives deeply into all kinds of fiscal heresies. I do not understand for myself we have not had it explained to us—on what magic principle this tax is constructed—that is to say, what is the relation between 8d. on the negative and 1d. on the positive? Is it based on the idea 1895 that a certain number of positives is sold for every negative, or is it done with the idea of discouraging the printing of positives in this country, thereby stopping the printing of cinema films here, so as to liberate men for the War, or women for munitions work, or on what principle is this tax based? I have here a quotation from an article in the "Kinematograph and Lantern Weekly" as to how the trade regard this matter In reference to the tax on negatives, it says:—The form of the duty to which most exception is taken is the levy of 8d. per foot on negatives. In the House the Chancellor announced the duty as 33⅓ per cent, ad valorem. That assumes a minimum negative value of 2s. per foot. We do not know on what figures Mr. McKenna bases his imposts, but it is an easily ascertained fact that at the present time a great proportion of negatives are not worth this figure. We are assured by traders that a sale of from 12 to 16 positive copies of a film would be necessary to make it worth while to import a negative on which duty has to be paid. It is common knowledge that of very many films two, three, or four copies only are sold. If the duty remains as at present, negative's of such films will not be imported, but manufacturers will feel strongly inclined to bring in a number of prints which they will rent direct to the exhibitor. There is to our mind no doubt that the open market is threatened to a much more serious extent than by any recent changes in trade methods.Is that result a desirable one to achieve? If it is, of course there is nothing more to be said. I have already pointed out that while we are importing negatives we are carrying on a trade in printing from them positives for re-exportation. If these negatives have to pay duty you will not be able to arrive at any satisfactory rebate for the positives. If the negatives should not come here at all, and only three or four positives are brought to this country, the result of that must be to affect the trade in this country of printing positives for exportation, and the positives will be printed in other countries. To that extent you will damage the printing of positives here. I do not know whether it is a large or a small trade, but this proposal undoubtedly deals with a new industry, the conditions of which are not at all firmly fixed. I would like to know, in view of the objections entertained by those who do understand this trade, on what ground the Chancellor of the Exchequer has adopted 8d. and 1d.
§ Mr. ANNAN BRYCE
The right hon. Member for Swansea (Sir A. Mond) is, I think, from my information, perfectly right in his argument. Negatives are imported, it may be for the purpose of being shown and tried, and then they are ordered here, the printing being mostly 1896 done in America. The goods are sent over here to be distributed by the persons who order them and buy them here. A certain amount of printing from the negatives is done here, but not a very large amount. The point is that if you tax negatives at a very high rate they will not be sent here. The distribution trade, which is a large one, will not be done any longer in this country, but will be done entirely in America. They might send over a positive to show, but the printing would be done in America. You will therefore, as I said, destroy a trade, which at present promises to become a very large one. Instead of taxing the negative so highly, as is proposed, it would be far better not to tax it at all. The Germans have been knocked out of the trade, and the larger share has been obtained by America. I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will consent to accept the reduction proposed.
§ Mr. McKENNA
My right hon. Friend has just raised a new question, and I recognise the force of what has been said, both by my hon. Friend below the Gangway and the right hon. Gentleman. I will undertake between now and the Report stage to go very fully into the ratio of the duty on the positive and on the negative. I do not think that I am in a position to say more than that at the present moment. I quite recognise that it is a question that requires fuller examination than it has had.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I hope that in any inquiries which the Chancellor of the Exchequer makes he will direct his attention to the question of revenue from this trade. We have been told the object of some of these taxes, but this particular tax on films is practically Protectionist, and I want some assurance from the Government that in any readjustment they may make it will be such as to secure the largest possible amount of revenue.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Sir A. MOND
I beg to move, in Subsection (2), to leave out the words "which an importer would give for the article, if the article were delivered, freight and insurance paid, in bond at the port of im- 1897 portation," and to insert instead thereof the words "at which an exporter agrees to sell the article free on board at the port of exportation."
This Amendment raises the question on what data the valuation ought to be made "for Export Duty. There are various centres of importation, and the question is how you are to arrive at the valuation in different ports of the country. As a matter of fact the tax from New York to Liverpool, and New York to London, would not be the same, since the freights to those two ports differ. There is a pretty considerable number of ways in which taxes of this kind are levied and are paid. I understand that in Australia, where they have some experience of the working of tariffs, they have adopted a method which they find to work well. In other countries the importer produces an affidavit or similar document of the value, free on rail at the exporter's works. The Amendment I have put on the Paper is, I think, a simpler way of doing it. I propose that the article should be f.o.b. at the port of exportation. Under the method proposed in the Bill certain ports are likely to get advantage against others, and that, of course, is an absurd and very inadvisable thing to do. I do not think that my method will cause any difficulty to the Customs since they can check the rates quite easily. They get the certificate or invoice of the importer, of what the exporter charges at the port of export, and they can compare that with prices with which they are familiar. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will see his way to accept this Amendment, or, at any rate, to give it careful consideration.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I am afraid I have to oppose this Amendment on the same ground that I opposed some other Amendments moved by my right hon. Friend. If I were to accept this Amendment we would require to set up machinery abroad for the purpose of valuing the goods f.o.b., which would not be justifiable except in the case of a permanent tax. On the other hand, in this country we have a measure of the value of the goods including insurance and freight. We have no similar measure of value as to the goods abroad. It is quite true that the country named by my right hon. Friend has adopted this system of taxing the goods on the valuation at the port of export, but a great many other countries have adopted the system proposed in this Bill. I strongly 1898 hope he will not press me to accept this Amendment, which could only be justifiable in the case of permanent taxes.
Mr. L. WILLIAMS
I want to understand what is meant by this matter, as tariffs I am afraid will become a permanent part of our fiscal system. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] At all events the attempt will probably be made, and I would like, therefore, to be in a position to confront those who make that attempt, and to understand what is meant.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member should address himself to the point of the Amendment, and not as to something in the future.
If you had done me the honour of listening to me, you would have seen that I was referring to a difficulty I find in this Clause.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I did listen to the hon. Member's remarks, and it was clear that he was making inquiries for the purposes of the future, and not with regard to the present Bill.
And for the purpose of understanding this as a model of future tariffs. The method proposed seems to me to give an opening for all sorts of fraud, and, if that is the case, I am sure my right hon. Friend will be anxious to prevent any possibility of the kind. An importer might conceivably give as the value of the article a fictitious price much lower than the real price. It would, therefore, be much better, I think, to adopt at all events a portion of my right hon. Friend's Amendment, which says that the value shall be the price at which the exporter agrees to sell the article. If my hon. Friend objects to the rest, providing f.o.b. at the port of exportation, why can he not adopt the part of the Clause that stands after that and take the price as that at which the exporter agrees to sell the article c.i.f. in bond at the port of importation? My right hon. Friend would then be able to get at the value as the selling price, and surely that is exactly what he wants.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I do not think I made myself quite clear upon that point. I quite agree the question we have got to consider with our present machinery is checking fraud here. If the importer puts a fictitious price on the article, then we have some knowledge of what the value of the article is in this country, and we have some means of checking the matter, which we should not have in the other case.
I suggest that the proper basis of valuation ought to be the selling price in this country c.i.f. That is surely a far better way of proceeding than to ask the importer to state what may be a fictitious value. The danger is that the importer might, in collusion with the exporter, put a fictitious value on the article, and state that he was giving a sum for the article much less in fact than he was willing to give and was actually giving. It seems to me that the danger would be obviated if my right hon. Friend, while adhering to the scheme of his Bill that the price should be fixed here, would adopt the first part of the Amendment, and make the Clause read in this way:—The value of any article for the purposes of this Section shall be taken to be the price at which the exporter agrees to sell the article c.i.f. in bond at the port of importation.
§ Mr. BRYCE
The proposal of the Amendment is really very simple, and I do not see what the Chancellor of the Exchequer's difficulty is. The suggested procedure is followed in the United States, where they require a sworn declaration that the invoice is correct. If there were any trouble on this side on the question of value and so on, the Consul here, whose staff, I suppose, know something about values, would not pass a declaration which was manifestly wrong. But no one ventures to try it on. I never heard of the slightest difficulty arising with regard to an affidavit or sworn declaration of value made before the United States authorities. The system works perfectly easily, and requires no intricate machinery. Therefore I cannot understand my right hon. Friend's difficulty in accepting the Amendment.
§ Mr. WATT
I have approved of most of the Amendments moved by the Free Traders, but I think the answer just given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer is fatal to the present Amendment as it stands. As my right hon. Friend has said, it would be very difficult to get at the price on the other side, but there would always be in the market here a guide to the proper value of a particular article. Given the fact that these taxes are to be levied, it is surely best that they should be levied in the wisest fashion. There can be no doubt, I think, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is right in adopting the price in this country, with the cost of insurance and freight added.
§ Mr. BRYCE
In reference to the remark of the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Watt), how is the Chancellor of the Exchequer to estimate the value of a cinema film when it arrives here? Some cinema films are worth £100, some £250, and some £4,000 or £5,000. Nobody can tell what the value is until they are sold.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Sir A. MOND
I beg to move to leave-out Sub-section (3), and to insert instead thereof,
(3) Any dispute arising as to whether any article imported is or is not subject to the duties payable under this Section, or as to the proper amount of the duty payable, shall be referred to a competent staff of appraisers at the port of entry; and if the importer be dissatisfied with the award, he shall have power to appeal to a board of general appraisers, which shall consist of not less, than five members, none of whom shall be engaged in any other business or occupation. All such appraisers shall be appointed by the Treasury on such terms and conditions as it may see fit."
This is really a matter of machinery. I quite realise the Chancellor of the Exchequer's difficulty with regard to establishing machinery if the taxes are not to be permanent. On the other hand, you are met with the difficulty that you must have some kind of machinery, and I have put down this Amendment in order to create it. As the Sub-section stands no provision seems to be made at all for deciding in case of dispute what articles are subject to the duties payable under this Clause. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will explain.
§ Mr. McKENNA
The proposal of my right hon. Friend would undoubtedly in the main be a very valuable addition to the Bill if these were permanent taxes and we were living under peace conditions. But we find now a willingness on the part of the whole public to assist the machinery of government in a way which does not exist in ordinary times. In my experience nearly everybody you come across is most anxious to facilitate our work. Consequently we can attempt to impose taxes of this kind with arrangements under which we could not carry them out in ordi- 1901 nary peace times. If the taxes were imposed as permanent taxes we should require machinery such as that for which my right hon. Friend asks. As regards the determination of whether or not an article is subject to the duty, that is a matter which in any circumstances would have to be left to the Courts. It is not the machinery of the Act that is in question, but the nature of the law. It is for the Law Courts to determine what is the scope of the Act. As for the machinery for the exaction of the tax, I would ask my right hon. Friend to be satisfied with the very slender machinery which we have set up for the purposes of the tax during the War.
§ Sir A. MOND
I would like to put a question to the Chancellor of the Exchequer as to this Sub-section. It says that any dispute shall be referred to a referee appointed by the Treasury, whose decision shall be final and conclusive. I ask him in the matter of drafting whether the term "referee" will enable him to appoint more than one referee, and if not whether the term should not be "referees"?
§ Mr. McKENNA
Under the Interpretation Act, I believe the singular always included the plural. I will inquire into the point, and if the right hon. Gentleman is right I will see to it.
§ Mr. WATT
Before we pass from this Sub-section, may I call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to one point, though an important one—the question as to whether his Department should have the naming of the referee who is to decide any particular dispute, and not only to decide it but to decide it without any appeal. It says the referee's decision shall be final and conclusive. I have had considerable representations made to me about the inequity of this particular proposal in Clause 25, Sub-section (4), where the Commissioners of Inland Revenue—
§ Mr. WATT
But the principle applies to both! A Department of the Treasury appoints a judge who definitely decides as to whether an article should or should not pay a tax, and the amount of it. In a matter of dispute the question is to be handed over to a referee appointed by one of the parties to the dispute. That is a principle which I think is bad, and 1902 which I should like the Chancellor of the Exchequer to consider. If he still thinks it wise, of course he will adhere to it; but it would be better, I think, for it to be altered so that some neutral referee in this particular case, and in Clause 25, should be appointed.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Sir A. MOND
I beg to move, in Subsection (5), to leave out the words, "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."
The purport of this Amendment is to leave out the last Section of Sub-section (5). It has been represented to me that there will be considerable difficulty in identifying some of these parts for the purpose of the tax. Some of these parts are worked up into motor cars or pianos, or something else, and then re-exported, and these it is desired to give a drawback upon. It is a question of the identification, but there are well-known methods which can be employed. In the American tariffs the practice is well established, and that is the practice of affidavit on export. It requires a certain amount of confidence in the honesty of the people with whom you deal. If some method of the kind is not adopted the right hon. Gentleman is really taking back with one hand what he proposes to give with the other. You say to a manufacturer of motor cars in this country, "If you import some foreign parts and utilise them here in the manufacture of motor cars, and then re-export them, I will give you a rebate, but I am very sorry I cannot give you that rebate because it is quite impossible to identify the parts except you take the whole of the motor car to pieces." That is not carrying out the undertaking that the right hon. Gentleman wants to carry out. We are actually capturing some of the South American trade in pianos from the Germans, but perhaps the right hon. Gentleman agrees to the Amendment?
§ Sir A. MOND
Then I need not say any more about it. The right hon. Gentleman will possibly put the thing in better words than I can.
§ Amendment agreed to.1903
§ Mr. McKENNA
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (6), to insert the words,or that the article be imported into Great Britain or Ireland after having been exported therefrom, before duty became payable thereon, in pursuance of this Section.If the hon. Member will allow me to intervene, I will propose this Amendment, which I think will satisfy him. I think it will carry out the object the hon. Member has in view in his proposed Amendment. The effect will be that an article which was imported into this country before this duty became payable, and was exported to the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man, and subsequently is re-imported into this country, will not pay the duty.
§ Mr. PETO
I was going to make a more modest proposal than that which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has made, and I only rise to point out that it appears to me, with all diffidence, that possibly the Chancellor of the Exchequer's words may give a good deal of difficulty to the Customs House officials, because the place to which the articles are exported is left open, and it may be to any part of the world It may be very difficult to prove to the Customs House officials that the article exported was imported into this country before the provisions of this Bill came into force. I think the right hon. Gentleman might land himself in some difficulty as to the indentification of the article.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I beg to move, after Sub-section (6), to insert the words,Where it is proved to the satisfaction of the Commissioners of Customs and Excise that any article of a kind mainly used as accessory or component part which is liable to duty under this Section is imported for use for some other purpose, or is being, or has been, exclusively used for some other purpose, the Commissioners shall, subject to such conditions, if any, as they think fit to impose, allow the article to be imported free of duty, or repay any duty paid on importation as the case requires.This Amendment carries out, I hope satisfactorily, the object which my right 1904 hon. Friend opposite had in view in regard to the payment of drawbacks on accessories and component parts.
§ Sir A. MOND
It is very difficult to understand the exact bearing of the words. I would ask why the word "exclusively" is inserted. I cannot quite follow the bearing of that word. At what point does the question of use come in? Would not the Section read better if the word "exclusively" were taken out?
§ Mr. McKENNA
No, it is a new Subsection to meet an Amendment moved by my right hon. Friend at an earlier stage.
§ Mr. PETO
I beg to move to leave out Sub-section (7).
I move this with the object of making an appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will not reconsider the question of exemption from duty of all cars used for purposes of trade. The object of that omission is, I think, most laudable, but I thought at the time the Chancellor of the Exchequer promised a concession when the Resolutions were before the House that it would impose upon the Customs officials an almost impossible task, and, though I was quite sure that was the last thing he wanted to do, I hoped he would have found another method of dealing with this question. I do ask him, therefore, to consider the terrible difficulty that will be incurred in deciding whether a particular article is intended for trade use or not. I will only give one illustration to the Committee so as to save time. Take the case of the Ford car, which is ordinarily imported. It may be bonâ fide imported for trade purposes, say for a grocer to carry round his goods. It may be sold with somewhat suspicious suddenness and quickness to somebody else, who may use it for altogether different purposes. Considering the immense profit on such a transaction, on the amount of money invested, there is a considerable temptation to evade the imposition of the duty, and I would ask the right 1905 hon. Gentleman to consider whether, in order to carry out his own undertaking to differentiate between the duty on cars imported for luxury purposes and that on cars for trade purposes, it would not be very much better to increase the license duty on all cars used for luxury purposes, and to leave his tax as he originally proposed it in a simple form, in which it would be perfectly easy to collect, and with a minimum of trouble to the Customs officials? I only put forward that suggestion as one which seems to me to carry out the spirit of the undertaking which the Chancellor of the Exchequer gave to make a differentiation between the use of cars for trade purposes and the use of cars for luxury purposes. He may have considered it already, but I think it is possible that, in the interval which has elapsed since the Resolutions were before the House, he may have had warning already of the great difficulty there would be in working it, and the great labour and burden that would be thrown on Customs officials, and that he may decide to find simpler means to carry out his own intentions and the undertaking he gave to the House.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman does not think I could accept this proposal. This is only a temporary tax, and deals with matters which are likely to trouble us only in the course of the War. I hope he will accept the Clause as it stands.
§ Mr. RADFORD
Under this proposal a man might obtain exemption from the tax on the ground that no importation is intended for the purpose of trade. I do not envy the lot of the Commissioners who will have to ascertain whether a thing is proved to their satisfaction that it really is imported for the purpose of trade. The Commissioners will necessarily depend on evidence tendered by interested parties, and it is extremely likely that unscrupulous traders will not tell the exact truth, while scrupulous traders will tell the truth. Therefore the tax will be unequally proposed to the detriment of the revenue, and to the advantage of unscrupulous traders in competition. I remember being in Casa Blanca, in Morocco, and I acquired some goods. Afterwards I was accosted by the Customs officers on the beach, and they asked that these duties might be assessed. Happily, I was in the company of an American friend as my guest. He had a conversation with the officers, and 1906 in the words of that Clause he proved to the satisfaction of the Commissioners that no duty was payable on those goods. Afterwards I asked my friend what he had done, because I did not understand the language in which he spoke. He replied, "I told the man to go to Hades, as the goods were mine." I was sorry to have been the innocent means of committing this fraud upon the authorities in Morocco which my unscrupulous but kind-hearted friend committed. I am sure these Commissioners would be liable to the same sort of fraud which will be perpetrated in all cases where the Treasury has to rely upon persons interested in the transaction.
§ Mr. WATT
There is a small difficulty in this connection which does not seem to have occurred to the right hon. Gentleman. There is such a thing as a car imported which is bonâ fide for use both for trade and pleasure. It is well known that small tradesmen in our small towns utilise their cars for the delivery and conveyance of goods in the course of trade during four or five days in the week, and on Saturdays and Sundays, and during the holidays, these same cars are often utilised for pleasure. The same applies to commercial travellers' cars, in which they make visits and try to effect sales, but when the car is not used in the way of trade it is often utilised for pleasure. I do not know how the right hon. Gentleman proposes to deal with that difficulty.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. LOUGH
I beg to move, in Subsection (7), to leave out the words, "which are proved to the satisfaction of the Commissioners of Customs and Excise to be."
I do not think we ought to throw such an invidious duty upon the Commissioners of Customs. They are not a Court of Law, and how can anything be proved to their satisfaction? I think it is very unsatisfactory that unduly heavy duties of this kind ought to be imposed, and I should like to hear how this proposal can possibly be carried out. There are heavy penalties embodied in the Bill, and these will secure that the declaration would be true. I think that would be a better way to proceed, instead of throwing this very invidious duty upon the Commissioners of Customs. I think there is a tendency all through the Bill to show that these Commissioners are set up to discharge Parliamentary duties 1907 to take the place of this House. In this particular Clause they are put to take the place of a Court of Law, and I think it is very undesirable that phraseology of that kind should be used.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
Matters of this kind have to be referred to somebody who must be the judge as to whether the car is or is not constructed and intended to be used solely as a motor omnibus or motor ambulance. The declaration must satisfy somebody. Of course, there is an appeal to the Court, and there is nothing in this Bill which prevents a man exercising the common law right to appeal as to whether he is or is not liable under this Bill. It is quite a common thing for the Inland Revenue and the Customs authority to be inserted in Bills to decide whether a duty is chargeable or not.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Mr. L. WILLIAMS
I beg to move, in Sub-section (7), to leave out the words "bonâ fide" ["bonâ fide motor ambulances."]
To me it seems ridiculous to talk about bonâ fide motor ambulances, because bonâ fide refers to the state of mind of the owners and not to the ambulance. How can a motor ambulance be bonâ fide? According to this Clause a motor omnibus can be imported without being bonâ fide, but a motor ambulance must be bonâ fide, a thing which has never been defined in the Bill. I have looked in various parts of the Bill for an interpretation to find out what is the difference between a bonâ fide motor ambulance and a malâ fide motor ambulance, and I can find no such definition anywhere. I am afraid the right hon. Gentleman in trying to draft for the first time a tariff has fallen away from his ordinary lucidity, and has put the words bonâ fide in the wrong place.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
The intention which we had in putting the words "bonâ fide" was to apply this relief only to ambulances that were ambulances, and not to any car that might or might not be used as an ambulance, but that was not, strictly speaking, an ambulance at all. I agree that my hon. and learned Friend, because of his learning, is much more an authority upon phrasing than I am, or than any layman can be. One does not want to insult the poor ambulance, and therefore I am quite willing to accept the Amendment.
§ Question, "That the words 'bonâ fide' stand part of the Clause," put, and negatived.
Mr. L. WILLIAMS
I beg to move, in Sub-section (7), after the word "ambulances," to insert the words "or for military or naval purposes."
There are a great number of these vehicles being used during the War for naval and military purposes which, but for the War, would be used for other purposes, and it does not require any words of mine to commend the Amendment to my right hon. Friend. Surely the Government does; not intend to penalise those who are using their motor cars for naval and military purposes. If they are intended to be solely used for naval and military purposes, why make a distinction between them and those intended to be used for ordinary trade purposes? All I ask is that these vehicles which are used for naval and military purposes shall be exempt from the tax, exactly the same as if they were used for purely business purposes. It cannot be said that their use for naval and military purposes is worse than if they were used for trade purposes. It is perfectly clear that this must be an oversight on the part of my right hon. Friend, and I would therefore urge that he should accept this Amendment and deal fairly with these people.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
I hope the Committee will not accept this Amendment. There is no point in imposing these taxes if one has continually to make fresh exceptions. I think we have gone quite far enough in the matter. It would be very difficult to identify a car used for naval and military purposes, and I think my hon. Friend, as I have accepted his last Amendment, might withdraw this one.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. LOUGH
I beg to move, in Subsection (7), after the word "ambulances," to insert the words "or fire engines, fire escapes, or similar appliances, utilised for the extinction of fires."
There is a genuine effort in this Subsection to exempt from the tax cars which are used for trade and for certain other purposes, and certainly, if they are to be excepted, I think cars used for the extinction of fires might also be excepted. It would be a relief to the local authorities, and I hope my right hon. Friend will see his way to accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
I cannot suggest to the Committee that they should accept these words as they stand, but I would suggest that the right hon. Gentleman should withdraw this Amendment, and move, or let me move, after the word "husbandry," to insert the words "or by a local authority, as fire engines, or otherwise, for the purpose of their fire brigade service."
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. PETO
I beg to move, in Sub-section (7), to leave out the words "in connection with the conveyance of goods or burden."
If these words are left out, the Clause will read "Motor ambulances, or in the course of trade or husbandry." I am mainly interested at this moment in husbandry, and the major use of the motor car in husbandry is not in the bearing of burdens or the conveyance of goods, but is in enabling farmers to carry on their business. Horses are becoming, and have necessarily become, very scarce in the country, motor cars are getting cheaper, and the general tendency is for farmers to attend the weekly market and the like by using a small cheap runabout car, where formerly you saw nothing but the ordinary farmer's gig. If the Treasury desire to exempt from this tax cars which are used in the course of business, or husbandry, and they limit it by the words "in connection with the conveyance of goods or burdens," then in the case of husbandry they are giving no relief at all. If it is the purpose of the Treasury to exempt the car bonâ fide used by the farmer in the course of carrying on his business, these words must be omitted. I am quite satisfied that there is just as good a case, and I think a stronger case, to be made out for the exemption of cars used by farmers in doing their regular work as there is for the exemption of cars used by the village grocer carrying round his goods. Cars are absolutely essential to the farmer owing to the scarcity of horses and labour throughout the country. I therefore hope most sincerely that the right hon. Gentleman will see his way to omit these words, and leave the Clause in the simple form that cars used in the course of trade or industry will be exempt from this tax. I am perfectly certain, although the point has not been raised in any other connection, that I am speaking in this matter in the interests of a very 1910 large body of men in the country, and if you do not exempt the cars which they use in carrying on a most essential industry in this country in time of war, after they have given so much assistance by surrendering their horses, you will not be carrying out the real purpose of this part of the Clause.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
I do not think the Committee would be well advised to accept this Amendment. In the first place, it would enormously enlarge the scope of the exemption. Consider what the hon. Member wants us to do. This is avowedly, as far as the promoters are concerned, a temporary war tax. During the time of War the farmers have made considerable profits, and they are the very people who are likely to be tempted to purchase these cars as pure luxuries, and they could easily declare that they are used for the purpose of farming, because the farmer uses them to take him to market. I hope, therefore, the Amendment will not be pressed.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
The same answer must apply to this as to the other Amendment on that point. If the right hon. Gentleman had been successful in persuading my right hon. Friend to leave out his previous words, he no doubt would have left out these also.
Mr. L. WILLIAMS
I beg to move, in. Sub-section (7), to leave out the words,
"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.
1911 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."
We are told that the Commissioners of Customs will have the duty of directing that the cars which are to be exempt under this Sub-section shall be marked or stamped in a way that they may approve with some distinctive stamp or mark. And then it is provided that 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 £500; and a Court will have the power, if it thinks fit, in lieu of ordering the offender to pay a penalty, to direct that he be imprisoned with or without hard labour for a term not exceeding two years. I would suggest that this is an extraordinarily loose way of dealing with this matter. Who is to decide whether a person has or has not obliterated any distinctive mark, or whether he is using any accessory or chassis for any purpose other than that mentioned in the Section? Are the Commissioners of Customs and Excise to decide it? They are the only persons who are here mentioned. Or is it to be decided by the magistrates in a Court of Summary Jurisdiction? Or can the accused person claim to be tried by a jury? These are matters which have been left out of this Clause, and I submit that the machinery should be set out perfectly plainly, so that people may know what tribunal is empowered to impose these penalties. I mentioned this point yesterday, and I am not sure whether I shall be in order in drawing attention to it now, as I have put down an Amendment since this discussion started. Perhaps I may be allowed to explain the object of that Amendment, and it will not then be necessary for me to do it later on. If my right hon. Friend will direct his attention to the first line of the third paragraph of 1912 this Sub-section he will see it laid down that if a person commits an offence, whether intentionally or not does not matter, whether innocently or not does not matter, but if he in fact obliterates or removes any distinctive stamp or mark he may be liable to this grave penalty, and the same applies to the use of any motor, chassis, or accessory, or any part which has been exempt from taxation. However innocently the man may have acted he will be liable to this penalty. Let me give an illustration. It may be an extreme case, but assume that a bicycle lamp has been imported without paying duty because the importer has made a declaration that he intends to use that lamp on his bicycle. Assume that the lamp by some accident—not by the man who imported it, but by somebody who bought it in the ordinary course—is used on a motor bicycle. If the Clause remains as it stands the person so using the lamp on his motor bicycle, however innocent he may be of any offence, will have rendered himself liable to this grave penalty. In the Amendment which I have handed in, I suggest that the provision should read, "If any person, with intent to defraud, obliterates or removes," etc. I am not tied to these exact words, but I think that in drafting a Section of this sort, care should be taken to see that an intention to defraud is brought home to the persons rendered liable to this penalty. That is a perfectly reasonable suggestion, and I think my right hon. Friend agrees that it is a reasonable suggestion. If so, I do not care what the form of words may be, as long as the liberty of the subject is safeguarded. I am quite sure my right hon. Friend does not really mean to send a perfectly innocent man to prison or fine him even £1, much less £500. The object I have in view in moving the elimination of these words is to elicit from my right hon. Friend some undertaking that, if not now, at all events when the Report stage comes, he will see to it, first of all, that the machinery shall be defined and that the tribunal shall be defined which is being vested with these powers. I should like also to see the common law right of appeal. My recollection is that that right of appeal is a statutory one. If my right hon. Friend is going to define the tribunal, I should like to know whether the right of appeal is to be given and to what Court. I should also like my right hon. Friend to add some words such as I have suggested, in order that an innocent man may not be penalised in this way.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
I understand that my hon. and learned Friend does not object to the principle of marking—which seems to me the best method of working the Clause—but rather to the penalty included in the Clause. His doubts about that provision will be very much removed if he will be good enough to refer for one moment to the end of the Bill, Clause 43, in which it will be seen, as is common to all Finance Bills of this nature, that Part I. of this Bill shall be construed together with the Customs (Consolidation) Act, 1876. In that Act all the methods for enforcing penalties are set out in detail. The penalty will, of course, not be recovered in any case by the Commissioners of Customs, but only recovered after a hearing in the High Court with the usual rules as to appeal, or, in some cases, before a Court of Summary Jurisdiction. With regard to the words to which my hon. and learned Friend refers, under which he suggests that a man might be punished for doing something perfectly and completely innocently and accidentally, I may say that during the course of the time I have been in this House I have seen very many penal Clauses in very many Bills, and lawyers have always taken the point one way or the other. Either the word "knowingly" has been suggested, in which case I have heard Attorneys-General and Solicitors-General say they were not necessary, or I have seen the word "knowingly" put in, when somebody assured us that they were unnecessary, but perhaps to allay the fears of some people it was put in. I am advised—I defer to my hon. and learned Friend, because I know nothing of the law—that any Court interpreting any Section of an Act of Parliament would not hold a man guilty unless it had been proved that he had knowingly and deliberately done a thing. I think the words are unnecessary, but if my hon. and learned Friend would like words put in, I will certainly consult our legal advisers, and put words down upon the Report stage.
§ Mr. HOLT
I desire to ask my right hon. Friend one question about this Clause. The first part of the Clause says that the duty shall be charged from the 29th September, 1915, until the 1st August, 1916. I want it to be made quite clear that there should be no punishment for any person who obliterates or removes these marks, or uses a car for any other purpose as provided by the Clause, after the 1st August, 1916. It is quite clear to everybody that these penalties and restric- 1914 tions upon the use of a car must disappear when the duty itself disappears. Is that made clear in the terms of the Bill? So far as I can judge, under the terms of the Bill a man might be told that these restrictions on the use of a car imported during, the period of the duty were permanent. If there is any doubt upon the matter, I would ask my right Hon. Friend to explain the position to the Committee. It ought to be made perfectly clear that all restrictions on the use of a car and all the obligations in regard to marking disappear when the duty disappears.
§ 10.0 P.M.
§ Mr. DILLON
I go very much beyond the hon. and learned Gentleman who moved this Amendment. The penalty proposed to be inflicted by this Sub-section is grossly and scandalously excessive. I assume that it is drafted upon the precedent of some of the penalties now in existence for cases of smuggling, but I maintain that to seek to put the administration of this new and strange law of tariffs on the same footing as the ordinary case, well-known to all citizens of this country for the last 100 years and upwards, of smuggling say tobacco, spirits or whisky, or other well-known articles, is an outrageous thing. It will be a very long time before the public understand these regulations, all the more because they are so entirely novel, and this is unlike anything that has been proposed for the last 100 years in this country. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] When did we have a Bill proposed which was so full of complications and pitfalls for the ordinary man in the street? Let us take this case: As I understand it, a man can be seized upon if, supposing he was in a violent hurry and some emergency occurred, he should take a car which was only to be used for the purposes set forth in this Clause and should use it for his own purposes—I mean for going on some message or for some purpose outside the purposes named in the Clause. He might actually be put in prison for two years with or without hard labour. It is preposterous for us to enact a law putting it in the power of any Court to send a man to prison for two years with or without hard labour or to inflict a penalty of £500 for any contravention of the complicated and almost meticulous provisions of this Clause, either for obliterating these marks or for using certain parts of these machine's for some purpose other than that set out in the regulations of the Customs, of which nine-tenths of the 1915 inhabitants of this country will not learn for many years and which they will not be able to follow.
I think, therefore, that the penalty ought to be upon a wholly different scale. It is not a penalty under the ordinary well-recognised Customs law which has been in existence for 100 years, and is thoroughly familiar to every member of the community. The character of the offence is wholly different from the offence of smuggling whisky or tobacco, which has always been committed by people who deliberately break the law, and generally break it for the purpose of defrauding the revenue on a large scale. Here a breach of the law may very often not be deliberate, and it may be, at all events, even if it is deliberate, not done for the purpose of defrauding the revenue at all, but for the purpose of some passing temporary convenience or a very innocent purpose. You could hardly dignify it by the name of defrauding the revenue, but simply someone under the pressure of some temporary temptation or convenience will do a thing which he knows to be forbidden by the law, not for the purpose of stealing money from the revenue, but for a temporary convenience. It is no use for the right hon. Gentleman to tell us that we can always trust the Courts of Law to administer the law mercifully and reasonably. We cannot trust the Courts of Law. The Home Office knows well that there are judges on the bench who by temperament and inclination always give the utmost penalty, and I know one or two judges—some of them now living even—whose judgments have been continually surveyed and cut down enormously by the Home Office. That is simply a question of temperament, and when we are passing a law we ought to see that we do not attach to offences of a trivial character—and the offences contemplated by this Clause are in most cases of a trivial character, and not for the purpose of defrauding the revenue to any considerable extent—extravagant and preposterous penalties. Therefore, I would urge upon the right hon. Gentleman that the penalty in this Clause ought to be reduced to, say, a fine of £50 or £100, with the alternative at the very outside of six months' imprisonment.
§ Mr. RADFORD
I should like to support what has just been said by the hon. Member, and to appeal to my right hon. Friend to withdraw the Clause on the understanding that another shall be 1916 brought up at a later stage after the matter has really been considered. Meanwhile I would put this case to him. Suppose a grocer in a little village has imported a car solely for the purpose of trade and under certain circumstances has used it to drive 10 miles into the country in order to bring a doctor to his wife, who wants him badly. That man, under the terms of this Clause, is liable to a penalty of £500, or imprisonment with or without hard labour for a term not exceeding two years. Surely that is not what my right hon. Friend means, and I think it is not well to try to deal with this Clause now, when many conflicting considerations will occur to a great many Members, but to take the Clause back, to think over it clearly, to have legal advice, and to bring it up in a shape which will commend itself to the good sense of the Committee.
I feel with my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. L. Williams) and also the hon. Member (Mr. Dillon) that two years' imprisonment with hard labour is the most severe sentence known to the law—it kills most people—and a fine of £500 seems excessive. There is a precedent in the case of persons who are exempt from a licence so long as, they do not use their cars except for the purpose of trade. If you take that analogy and have a penalty somewhat on that basis, only a little higher, because the licence on a car for trade would only be a sovereign or two, while this may be £30 or £40, you might make the penalty somewhere about £50 or six months' hard labour at the outside. It should be, of course, a deterrent, and you must not make it too light. Smuggling penalties have always been very high, though the offence may be small, in order that they may act as a deterrent. Most punishments are intended to act as a deterrent, and we wish this to be a deterrent, and it might be somewhat severe, but this seems to me to be going quite beyond the line. A very trifling breach of this Clause might lead to a very severe sentence.
§ Mr. J. M. HENDERSON
I wish to point out a little incongruity in the Clause. Whereas the penalty is an absolute £500, the alternative is imprisonment, with or without hard labour, for a term not exceeding two years. It appears to me that under this if a poorish man were convicted there would be no option but to give him two years, or something less, penal servitude. You might give him a less term of 1917 imprisonment, but that would be the only alternative because he could not pay £500. I suggest that it should read, "a fine not exceeding £500 or not exceeding £100," which would be quite sufficient for this class of penalty. I believe there is a slight distinction between the jurisdiction in regard to fines and in regard to penalties.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
This Clause was put in as the result of a request in the House of Commons. It was not in the Bill originally, and we desired to make this concession to those who oppose the Clause, and we have got to try and see that the Clause does not enable a great escape of revenue and a great fraud. The hon. Member (Mr. Dillon) and my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Llewelyn Williams) have in mind cases of innocent people, who do innocent acts and who ought not to be punished with two years' penal servitude or a £500 fine. Of course they ought not, and they will not. The hon. Member (Mr. Dillon) has not much faith in the Courts of Justice. I am perfectly certain that in the case of the tradesman who got a doctor for his wife it is inconceivable that he should be sentenced to two years' penal servitude.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
He is liable, but you must have a maximum penalty. Take the case of a man who deliberately goes to the Custom House, escapes duty on a car which he has imported, and has it marked, and then goes round the corner and, in order to cheat the revenue, takes off the mark and uses it for some other purpose. In that case two years' penal servitude is not too much. It is not a new offence. It is an old common or garden fraud that the man has been committing, with the wickedest purpose and with the fullest knowledge, and, therefore, you need for these cases a maximum penalty. I agree with my hon. Friend (Mr. J. M. Henderson), if the Clause is not clear that lesser penalties may be imposed, it ought to be made clear, and therefore I promise that words will be considered, with the assistance of lawyers before the Report stage, and at the same time we will consider the very grave speech made by the hon. Member (Mr. Dillon), but I would have the Committee bear in mind the maximum and not the minimum.
§ Mr. T. C. TAYLOR
I should like to draw attention to the magnitude of the offence, even if we make it six months 1918 and £100. It is going to be an offence to use a piece or an accessory of a motor car, etc., which has been exempted from duty "for any purpose other than the purposes therein mentioned." That is to say, that if there is a bit of a lever or a small casting from a motor car that a man in the country wants to use for the purpose of bolting his door, he may not put it in the door because he is using it for some purpose other than the purpose for which it was imported, and because it has been stamped. Further, it is to be an offence "if any person obliterates or removes any such distinctive stamp or mark" from the part which has been exempted from duty. If he does so, he is subject to a fine of £500 or imprisonment with or without hard labour for a term not exceeding two years. It does not say if he wilfully or knowingly removes the distinctive stamp or mark with intention to defraud. In the course of the use of a motor car and of a chauffeur's repairs of a car he is continually apt with his hammer or screw key to wear the distinctive mark out. It does not say if he knowingly or wilfully does it with a view of evading the law he is to be liable, and it does not say that even if he does it for the purposes of another motor car in order to evade the law he is to be liable, but it broadly states that he is liable to these penalties if he obliterates or removes any such distinctive mark from a part which has been exempted from duty for any purpose other than the purpose therein mentioned. Some of these parts of motor cars when they are done with may not be useful for the motor car. There may be a piece of iron that may be of use for something else, but the local blacksmith may not take this piece of iron and use it in the forge for some useful purpose. How absurd! I suggest that the Government should take this Clause back and remodel it entirely.
§ Mr. HOLT
I should be glad if the Chancellor of the Exchequer would give me an answer to a question. This duty, under the terms of the Act, will terminate on the 1st August, 1916. I want to know if it is perfectly clear that the restrictions on motor cars and the penalties for using a motor car in contravention of the Act will terminate on the same day on which the duty terminates. If a person brings a motor car into this country and takes advantage of this exception, will his car be free from all the restrictions and penalties imposed in this Act when the tax is off his car? That seems to me to be 1919 the common-sense position, but I want to know whether it is perfectly plain. I do not think it is. Words must be inserted to make it quite plain.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I think the common-sense position is so obvious that my hon. Friend can rest quite happy on the point. The common-sense position is that when a tax ceases to operate the obligations also cease to operate.
§ Mr. RADFORD
I think it has been made quite plain by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury that this Clause needs further careful consideration. I hope that in these circumstances he will accept the Amendment of my hon. and learned Friend and take back the Clause and bring up something which has been more carefully considered. He referred to the case that I put of a man who had a car which he had imported for the purpose of trade, and who uses it to drive 10 miles in order to fetch the doctor to his wife, who wants a doctor badly. In that case the man has committed an obvious infringement of the Act, and is not able to give the excuse that he did it unknowingly. He knew he was breaking the Act, and he broke it, and he would have been wicked in such circumstances if he had not done so. What right of appeal for mercy has that man got? He has no right, unless cases of that sort are provided for in the Act. That is one of the reasons why I submit that this Clause has never had any proper consideration. It needs very careful consideration. When you consider the great number of cases that will come in when you run all the way from motor cars to Jew's-harps, you will see that the matter wants careful consideration. I do appeal to my right hon. Friend to take the Clause back.
Mr. L. WILLIAMS
I think that it would be far better for the right hon. Gentleman to eliminate these words and introduce a new set of words on the Report stage. If he finds that course impossible I have received an intimation from him that all the points raised in the course of this very interesting discussion shall be considered on Report stage.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
I would like that some penalty should be brought in. So long as we keep in the Clause the option of a fine, and imprisonment for certain things for which imprisonment, I think, is necessary, I am quite prepared to consider a modification before the Report stage.
I am glad that my right hon. Friend has mentioned the word "fine." Several hon. Members referred mainly to the question of penalties being fines. Will my right hon. Friend now say that he is willing to alter the word "penalty" to the words "fine not exceeding"?
§ Mr. TAYLOR
Perhaps my right hon. Friend will also have in view that it should be made not quite so bald, so that if a person obliterates or removes it shall be knowingly done.
§ Sir R. COOPER
I entirely agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Financial Secretary to the Treasury that there should be adequate penalties according to the offence for anyone who breaks the terms of this Clause, but as I read this particular Sub-section it seems to me that the Court adjudicating upon a man, to see whether or not he has been guilty of an offence under this Clause, has no jurisdiction to decide whether it is an accident or a very trivial case. The words in this Clause are "penalty £500." If £500 is to be the maximum, what is the objection to inserting the words "not exceeding"?
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (7), to add the words,If it is shown to the satisfaction of the Commissioners of Customs and Excise that any motor car, chassis, component part, or accessory has been, and is being, exclusively used for purposes which entitle it to an exemption from duty under this provision, the Commissioners may, subject to such conditions (if any) as they think fit to impose, repay any duty paid on the car, chassis, part, or accessory on importation.1921 The hon. Baronet opposite had an Amendment on the Paper dealing with magnetos, sparking plugs, and other accessories. He withdrew that, and did not move a similar Amendment dealing with piano actions, and several other matters, because he was promised that the Government would move a Clause of a similar kind with the view to dealing with the difficulty of a man who wished to import an article which looked as if it were going to be used as the component or accessory of a motor car or a piano, but was in fact going to be used for something else.
§ Mr. RADFORD
I beg to move to leave out Sub-section
"(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."
I move this Amendment on the ground that I wish to give the Chancellor of the Exchequer an opportunity of explaining the object, meaning and scope of the Subsection , and also on the ground that I have some objection to the Clause as it stands. I think it is an important indication of the intricacy and difficulty that there is in introducing a tariff into a system of legislation which does not contain any apparatus ready for the purpose. The terms of the Sub-section appears to me to give to the Treasury a dispensing power to enable it to determine exemption from the duty. That seems to me a function which ought not to be allowed to pass without protest. Therefore I should like to hear from my right hon. Friend what the Treasury intends to do. Are the Treasury to go through the articles which will be enumerated hereafter? I think they ought to have been enumerated in the Schedules in this Bill. Are the Treasury to form their own judgment on the spur of the moment whether such-and-such things shall be exempted, and such-and-such things shall be taxed? I know they have got some indication in the words of this Clause that they are to exempt articles having regard to their small value. That is an entirely relative expression, and it may have a different meaning applied to makers of musical instruments and other articles, on which 1922 unfortunately we have got to impose a tariff. Perhaps my right hon. Friend will be able to explain and justify this Sub-section, and will tell us why he himself does not exercise these functions. But I suppose he finds it too difficult to face, and he foists them on to the Treasury, who are going to legislate without any hint from this House, and at their own sweet will and pleasure.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I do not make it a reproach to my hon. Friend that he was not here during the whole of the Debate, because I know him so well that I am perfectly satisfied he has been much better employed. This point was raised earlier by the hon. Member for Poplar (Mr. Yeo) in connection with the proposed duty on musical instruments, some of which he produced in the House. He pointed out that they were so trivial that they ought not to be subject to taxation.
§ Mr. McKENNA
There is a proviso enabling the Treasury to dispense with the duty on trifling articles which would not repay the cost of collecting the duty. Mouth organs were mentioned in the course of the Debate. We do not propose to tax mouth organs. They would come amongst the articles of small value. We require a little latitude to deal with these matters on ordinary principles of common sense. I hope my hon. Friend will not press the Amendment.
§ Mr. LOUGH
The Chancellor's explanation instead of diminishing our difficulties increases them. If he had commercial knowledge it would be a great advantage in the office he occupies. He would know that some of these articles of small value are imported in vast quantities. Mouth organs may cost only a shilling or sixpence, but suppose you have a thousand gross of mouth organs imported?
§ Mr. LOUGH
There is no common sense about this from beginning to end. If my right hon. Friend had not got rid of his common sense he would never have 1923 introduced this Clause at all; and not only has he said good-bye to common sense himself, but he has induced the Government to do the same thing. Do not, however, let us get general, or I may be called to order. I do ask the right hon. Gentleman what does he mean by saying that the Treasury may by Order exempt articles having regard to the small value of the article. There might be an immense importation of motor cars at 5s. from toys. Mouth organs also present difficulties. I quite sympathise with the right hon. Gentleman, as it is extremely difficult to get a tariff drawn up in a moment. We have no Schedule, and the Treasury takes leave to exempt any article they please. I think we ought to have a little more light on the subject, and I hope he will consider the matter between this and the Report stage.
§ Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ Sir A. MOND
The discussion of the Clause in detail has demonstrated even more clearly than the earlier discussions the difficulties and the unsoundness of the whole form of taxation which the right hon. Gentleman has introduced. As a matter of fact, it is only by appealing to us on the ground that we are at War and assuring us that because of that fact people are ready to do things now which ordinarily they would not be ready to do, he has been able to establish at all the imperfect machinery which he himself agrees would never be tolerated except under the exceptional conditions and in respect of a temporary tax. It is difficult at this time to resist arguments of that kind, and the right hon. Gentleman has successfully appealed to us to withdraw a number of important Amendments. But is it right for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to introduce such far-reaching new legislation which he knows is incomplete and unsatisfactory? After all, it is poor comfort for those who have to carry on their trade under these duties to know that because of want of staff and want of time the necessary machinery has not been established. The right hon. Gentleman has told us again and again that the reason why he cannot establish an Excise is that he has not the people and the machinery to do it. The same argu- 1924 ment as to want of time seems to me to apply equally to the Customs. As to the Excise, I think that in some of the large factories a method could have been devised requiring very little machinery and staff. As far as motor cars are concerned, the right hon. Gentleman had only to examine for three months the books of the few firms that were manufacturing motor cars to see what motor cars they had sold. I know that such a provision would not be in accordance with the time honoured elaborate regulations of the past, but neither are the Customs arrangements. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider that point between now and the Report stage. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has made a number of Amendments in the Clause which certainly make it more possible to work; but as the Clause is a bad one and introduces principles which I regret and which we may all regret before we have finished, I am afraid I must still oppose it. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman when he has more time at his disposal to read the history of the American tariff. He will find repeated word for word eloquent passages similar to those that have been heard here—that after the War the tax would be withdrawn. The right hon. Gentleman knows as well as I do that when pledges are given how impossible it is to resist them. I still say, although we may bind ourselves, that we shall find ourselves in exactly the same predicament. The right hon. Gentleman, to-day, when I asked him to give a pledge on behalf of the Government, asked: "How can anyone give such a pledge?" Of course he could not. Nobody can give a pledge as to what will happen after the War. The whole illusion of the temporary nature of these taxes appears to me to bear a striking resemblance to similar arguments heard in other countries, and on other occasions. I hope I am not a Cassandra. I hope the prophecies I fear will come true will not come true. But if they do come true the right hon. Gentleman cannot say that we have not warned him, and warned the Free Traders in the Government. The responsibility is not now on our shoulders but on the shoulders of those who started the controversy.
§ Mr. BRYCE
I have no great love for shibboleths, and I do not worship fetishes. So, if this scheme of Protection which the Government has introduced had been a scheme to give any revenue on a large scale, if it had been a 5 per cent, duty on imports I might have considered whether, 1925 in the interests of the country in a state of war, it would not have been desirable to give it a trial, and have let pass principles on which so far the fiscal system of this country has been based. I do not at all mean to say that there are not many circumstances in which a fiscal system, which, after all is a matter of convenience, and not one of moral principle, might not demand a change. It may demand a change after the War. It may demand a change now. But I do put it to the right hon. Gentleman whether it is worth while for him to sell his birthright for so small a mess of pottage? I hope he will not mind me comparing him with his blooming and bare face to Esau? Perhaps he is much more like Jacob? Perhaps he has got a little of the slimness of Jacob, though I hope not. But he really does not seem to me to have realised, now that we have come to the end of this Clause, that this famous attempt to introduce Protection has become an affair of shreds and patches. Now that he has dropped hats and plate-glass he is going on for the sake of one and a quarter millions of money, which is the expenditure of six hours of this War. Is it worth while to get an income of six hours and give your soul for it?
The arguments of the two right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Opposition Bench have blown sky-high all the arguments of the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the Financial Secretary. There is no vestige left of argument in the speeches of the right hon. Gentlemen on the other side. Their apology; the apology of the Prime Minister and that of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is that it is such a little one. That is a famous and well-known excuse. Lapses from principle, however, whether from moral principle, as in the case when the excuse was first used, or of political principle, as in the case of the right hon. Gentleman, are at all times equally to be deplored, because one never knows where lapses from principle, whether moral or political, and however small, may lead to. I hope, therefore, that even at the last moment the right hon. Gentleman will withdraw what I consider a disastrous Clause.
§ Mr. DILLON
I have taken no part in the general discussion of this tariff, although I have been a very attentive and constant listener in the Debates. But I really do desire to say a few words on the matter. During the last ten years we of the Irish party have been frequently approached informally to join the Tariff 1926 Reform party and to go in for Protection, and I on more than one occasion in the past have taken the liberty of warning English Members that the policy of Protection has great temptations for the Irish. If the policy of Protection as outlined by Mr. Joseph Chamberlain were adopted it would undoubtedly put millions of money into the pockets of the Irish farmers. That bait was dangled before us on many occasions, and there are Irish Members of Parliament who have urged that view in Ireland, and at one time our party was considerably embarrassed by these attempts. Attempts were made to shake the confidence of the Irish people in the Irish party, because we would not join the Protectionist party. I think it would have been in our power, if we had joined forces with that party, and had been willing, in the words of the hon. Gentleman who spoke last, to sell our birthright for a mess of pottage, to put upon the necks of the democracy of this country this terrible yoke, but we refused to have anything to do with the Tariff Reform party.
I am not at all so bigoted a Free Trader as many Members opposite used to be, and some of them still are, because I have always believed that there are certain periods in the development of nations when Protection is good; but I have always believed that to the people of England Protection is a curse and a ruinous policy, both politically and economically. I daresay if I lived in America I might have been a Protectionist. But I have listened to this discussion with an open mind, and I am greatly afraid that you have to-night, in the House of Commons, forged for yourself a yoke which none of us will ever see taken off the necks of the people of England. Every Protectionist system in the history of the world, so far as my knowledge goes, has grown up exactly as this. They have all been temporary taxes, or generally. Certainly they were so in America, and they were brought in in connection with emergencies, as in this instance. But the moment you bring in these duties great interests instantly grow up behind them, and you are faced with the irresistible claim that, having protected motor cars and one or two things contained in this Clause, there are equally deserving industries that are entitled to the same consideration. Already we have warnings from every side that we must have an immense tariff wall erected against Germany as a matter of course, 1927 and I am afraid that when this War is over, after what has happened, you will find that the walls of the fortress have been laid low and Tariff Reform will be triumphant. My real motive in standing up here to-day was this: let no man blame us if, having stood out for fifteen years against the great baits and temptations held out to us, because of our feeling of fellowship with the democracy of this country, our sympathy with them for all that they have done for our country and our cause, we refuse to sell their birthright or in any way to barter or traffic with this Protection. Let no Englishman blame us if, in the future, when we have seen what is happening now, we are tempted to stray from these straight paths and take these advantages when they are offered to us. I do not say that we shall do so, but if we do we shall be entitled to say in defence of our action that as long as the leaders of the Liberal party remained faithful to Free Trade in this country the Irish Nationalist party stood by them.
§ Mr. McKENNA
There is no hon. Member of this House to whom I generally listen with more respect and agreement than I do to my hon. Friend who has just spoken. He always speaks with great feeling, and as I share his views on politics generally so very much, naturally I usually find myself in complete agreement with him. If my hon. Friend will allow me to make a slight criticism upon his remarks, it would be that his sense of proportion is not quite equal to his general powers. He has spoken of these taxes—[HON. MEMBERS: "Tariffs!"]—these tariffs, if you like—as if they were really the opening of a new policy and the dawn of a great change in our political system. I have listened to the Debate for two days, and in the whole course of the Debate I have not heard a single speech from a declared advocate of Tariff Reform in favour of these proposals.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I cannot conceive that anybody who really desired to establish the principle of Protection in this country would begin with taxes like these. My hon. Friend spoke of building up new industries under the protection of high tariffs. Does he believe that, between now and the 1st of August next, while we are in the midst of a great War, any new industry in the manufacture of musical in- 1928 struments, clocks, watches, cinema films, or motor cars, is going to be established in this country? Not one of these industries can raise any new capital by a public company without the permission of the Treasury Committee. Does my hon. Friend really believe that any new development of the motor-car industry, or the clock industry, or the cinema-film industry, or the musical instrument industry, is going to obtain a claim upon Parliament for a continuation of the taxes because it has invested new capital in that industry between now and the 1st August next? Of course no such claim could be established. Not only do we not expect any new capital to be invested in those industries—
§ Mr. McKENNA
They are not investing our British capital, and so far as they bring over American capital to establish an industry here it helps us now.
§ Mr. McKENNA
Are we going to give them a new vested interest? Is is conceivable that any Chancellor of the Exchequer or any Parliament will hereafter say that a manufacturer has acquired a merit because in the midst of this great War, when we have no capital and labour to spare, he has invested new capital and new labour in a luxury industry? The proposition is inconceivable, and really it astonishes me to find Free Trade friends, with whom I so deeply and entirely sympathise in principle, resorting to arguments of that kind in order to oppose these taxes.
§ Mr. DILLON
I trust that the right hon. Gentleman does not attribute to me any statement that I believe that he was deliberately intending to bring in Protection. I had no such idea.
§ Mr. McKENNA
Oh, no, I am sure that my hon. Friend knows far too well that I should have no such object. I was dealing only with the argument that he had put forward that a claim would be established.
§ 11.0 P.M.
§ Mr. McKENNA
No claim could be established, and no claim could or would be recognised. Let me ask the House to accept these taxes now. They are taxes introduced during the War, under the conditions of the War, for the purpose of meeting the particular difficulties with which we are confronted. They do not in any way prejudice or compromise either the Free Trade case or the Tariff Reform case. They leave all our old issues absolutely free. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I am speaking on behalf of the Government. We put these taxes forward now not with the intention or with the claim that they will in any way stand as a prelude or a preface to Tariff Reform or as a denial or refusal of Free Trade. They are put forward on their merits for the occasion as temporary taxes which cannot be renewed except with the assent of Parliament year by year.
§ Mr. OUTHWAITE
How is the right hon. Gentleman passing these taxes? He knows if the matter had been left to the free decision of the House of Commons the taxes would be rejected, and he is only carrying them because we are in a state of war, and in a time of war we must not embarrass the Government. But he is asking us to surrender great principles that we hold dear—not only principles of taxation, but principles of ethics also. When Mr. Gladstone swept away over a thousand taxes in his great Budget he said the word "Protection" was a miserable misnomer and they should call it a delusion or a fraud. His successor on the Front Bench to-day is telling the majority in this House to take part in defrauding and deluding the people of this country. It is at a time such as this that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should not make such a call upon us. At a time such as this he should try to maintain as high as possible the authority and esteem of the House of Commons in the community. Yet to-day we see him asking Liberal and Free Trade members to surrender principles they have advocated from one end of the country to another. He is asking them at this hour of peril and danger to lessen the prestige and authority of the House. The Government have lost very largely, I believe, the confidence of the country by such methods as these, and if we had without any controversy, without making clear our position, simply obeyed the mandate of the Government we should have done something to derogate for the 1930 position of the House—we should have done something which we least of all should do in these dark days.
§ Mr. HOGGE
The Chancellor of the Exchequer takes apparently a very curious view of his own attitude towards his Free Trade friends. In his reply to the hon. Member, for East Mayo he expressed his great sympathy with his Free Trade friends. But that is not much consolation to his Free Trade friends if they are the corpse and he is the chief mourner at the funeral. The House will notice that many of his colleagues in the Cabinet who are certainly jointly responsible for the introduction of these controversial issues are not present to express their share in that sympathy. I do not know where they are unless they are holding a wake over the funeral of Free Trade. I cannot for the life of me see why the Chancellor of the Exchequer should not be perfectly honest with regard to the object of these taxes. Those of us who believe in Free Trade principles are quite convinced that every object which he desires to be secured could have been secured by the direct prohibition of imports of luxuries, and that it could have been achieved very much more easily and very much more quickly, even without introducing controversy. Those of us who were associated with the Chancellor of the Exchequer prior to the Coalition, or at any rate so far as I am concerned, I myself wish to put on record the fact that we do protest, and protest most strongly, against the way in which they have sold the pass on this question. My right hon. Friend may not like it put in that way, but that is the way in which many of us regard it. The Prime Minister's promise to the House has also been sold by the action of the Government on this question. So far as I am concerned, I shall again divide with those who desire to place our protest on the Division Paper of the House of Commons against this most iniquitous proposal on the part of the Cabinet, a proposal which they have no moral right to make, a proposal which, in making it, they are breaking a deliberate promise made to those who supported them and who have never grudged them support in every action they have had to take throughout the War.
The man who deserves our sympathy is the Chancellor of the Exchequer. One has been amazed at the pathos of the position of him standing at that Box attempting to defend what he himself con- 1931 siders absolutely indefensible. I should rather have seen him resign the great position which he fills than that he should have had the discredit placed upon him in a Coalition Cabinet, which contains men who want these things done, of defending this in the House of Commons. That is all I wish to say. I do not wish to argue the point, but I wish it placed on record that what we feel about these taxes is that we have been absolutely betrayed in this matter.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I wish to join with my hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge) in tendering sympathy to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. We all saw his accession to the great office with the greatest pleasure, and we regret deeply that on attaining the summit of his ambition he should have had to break with all the fiscal principles he has advocated in the past. Most of us have endeavoured to follow the speeches he has made in the course of these Debates, and there will be general agreement on both sides of the Committee that none of the arguments he has put forward will do anything to efface the impression of the very weighty warning put forward by the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) this evening. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, might well give up the farce of suggesting that no fiscal principle is involved in these taxes. He knows well that such a principle is involved. It has been admitted from the Treasury Bench. It was admitted by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies, who quoted, in the course of the speech he made earlier in these Debates, a statement which he alleged had been made by the President of the Board of Trade. What was the quotation he made from the President of the Board of Trade? That this, indeed was Protection, but that it was Protection tried under the very worst possible conditions. I suppose that when the Colonial Secretary quoted that he did so approving the expression of opinion, so that we have Government authority now for the view that these taxes are Protectionist taxes, and in so far as they are Protectionist taxes the case for Free Trade, so far as the fiscal practice of this country is concerned, has once and for all gone. It is needless for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to say these taxes only extend till August. No one is imposed upon by the suggestion. We all know that by 1st August the difficulties of the Chancellor of 1932 the Exchequer in regard to revenue will be far greater than they are to-day. Even although the War is over he will be pressed by demands for not only the expenditure of the War, but for the interest and sinking fund on the Loans which the Government have contracted; and, in view of the tremendous demands for revenue which will be made upon him, it will be absolutely impossible either for the present or for any future Chancellor of the Exchequer to give away a single shilling of revenue on 1st August next. So that from the revenue point of view he will have an unanswerable case for adhering to these duties.
Not only that, but we have a far better case at present in resisting it. Now no machinery has been set up, but in the course of the months between now and 1st August machinery will be set up, and either my right hon. Friend or his successor will say, "Now we have the machinery-ready for collecting these taxes. We have collected during the present year so much revenue. Why should we abandon this source of revenue now after we have for the first time created the necessary fiscal machinery?" Indeed, I take the liberty of predicting that instead of any movement for withdrawal of these taxes the experience of the present fiscal year will be used as an argument for extending the principle. That is why we believe that, small as these taxes are and apparently unimportant as they are, a great deal has gone by the transaction which has taken place in the House during the past fortnight. We believe that there is little likelihood of a return to the old fiscal system of this country, and we regret especially that this step should have been taken by a Chancellor of the Exchequer and under the auspices of a Prime Minister who in the past have so signalised and distinguished themselves as champions of Free Trade. It does not soothe the sensations of those of us who regret this change to be told by the Prime Minister that he has been the St. Paul of the Free Trade propaganda. We remember that St. Paul was never the head of a Coalition Government. He said he was all things to all men. That was the farthest he ever went My belief is that the Government should now frankly drop all these pretences and candidly admit that they have for the first time adopted a Protective system, and that that Protective system is the price of the Coalition or part of the price—I do not know how much more is to be paid. Certainly 1933 many on this side at one time would have agreed that it was worth while paying some price, but the Coalition is now falling on evil days. When we see, as we have seen to-day, the first member of the Coalition who has made a breach in the ranks received with enthusiastic cheers in the House of Commons many of us on this side will agree that the Coalition is not worth the money.
§ Mr. T. C. TAYLOR
I wish to say a word on the attitude of some of the more serious Members of the House, one or two of whom I see before me. I do not mean the hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury) of course, but certain Members of the House who do not often speak but who, when they do speak, speak very weightily. We had three of these Gentlemen last night sitting in judgment upon those of us who have dared to oppose this Protectionist policy, as we believe it to be, and I want to tell these Gentlemen that we are not treating this in any spirit of merriment. I have never spoken so often in this House as I have done during the last fortnight-even that is not as often as a great many people speak—and it is because I am compelled to do so, not in any spirit of levity, but because I feel that the serious interests of this country are at stake at the present moment. I do not think we have devoted too much time to the discussion of the first measure that introduces a difficult and protectionist tariff. Although it is only confined to six classes it is a tariff which involves the principle of setting up boards of arbitration and quasi-judicial methods of judging the value of things like you have to do in highly protected countries. One of the difficulties of this Clause has been to try to get at the real value. When you come to ad valorem duties it is very difficult indeed. Everybody knows that. That is one of the great difficulties that one is faced with in supporting a policy of this kind.
One of the weighty hon. Members who spoke last night told us that it was right to criticise the Government on the War and things of that sort, but that we ought not to criticise the Government and ought not to oppose them when they had made up their minds on a matter vitally affecting the country, not only during the War but all time to come. That is a rather curious argument. I do not criticise the Government about the War, because I do not understand military matters, and I do not know circumstances that the 1934 Government know. Therefore, I do not feel qualified to criticise the Government on these military matters, but I do venture to say that there are many hon. Members who have more experience of the effect of tariffs than most members of the Government, and who understand a question like Free Trade. The facts and history of Free Trade are open to the whole world, and have been studied by them, and, therefore, I am justified in saying that, individually, we are as competent to offer judgment upon this great question, of Free Trade as any member of the Government. Our criticism is perfectly legitimate. It is legitimate because it is honest, and it is serious. I am moved by the deepest motives of loyalty to my country, and to our present system of raising revenue which, without any protective ad valorem duties, enables us to raise money, not only for ourselves, but to help our Allies. On the question of the War some of us refrain from criticism because we do not understand it, but we do understand Free Trade, and we have a perfect right to express the convictions upon it that our constituents sent us here to defend and explain.
I was very much interested in what the Chancellor of the Exchequer said to-night in his most impassioned manner. I do not think he is much enamoured of the thing, but at all events his manner was very impassioned. He said these taxes are raised during the War for the purposes of the War and for temporary purposes only. Those were precisely the same reasons that were given by Senator Morrill and his supporters, like Mr. Stevens and others, in 1864, in connection with the Morrill Tariff, which laid the great foundation stone of the Protective taxation of the United States.
§ Mr. McKENNA made a remark which was inaudible in the Reporters' Gallery.
§ Mr. TAYLOR
Not the same taxes. Well, these are only the beginning. Theirs are very much higher taxes. How were those taxes raised? They were raised even after Excise Duties had been imposed to balance the Excise Duties. Here, at the present time, we have a tax without excise, almost nakedly and unashamedly admitted to be Protective. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says it is not, and because he says so he expects us to believe it. I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say that at the end of the year, when these taxes expire, we shall be just 1935 as free as we are now, and they would have no protective effect. I differ from him entirely. I say that a 33 per cent, duty in any country in the world, and in any business in the world, would have a protective effect, if it had any effect at all. The tax on night caps has gone, but the tax on tin whistles and mouth organs is left. Once more I beg the Government and the Chancellor of the Exchequer to reconsider this question, and to ask whether it is worth while to infringe a principle, to which at all events their followers attach great importance, for the sake of £1,000,000—it has come down to that—out of £387,000,000. It is perfectly preposterous to say that this is necessary to regulate the exchange with the United States. If you went into the office of any bill broker or banker or export merchant with any such proposition you would be told that it was perfectly absurd.
§ Mr. TAYLOR
I thought that the Chancellor himself had said that these taxes are to regulate the exchange with the United States.
§ Mr. TAYLOR
Then it is not worth the violation of a principle which is vital to our finance. The Chancellor does not intend the natural result of his action. What is the good of good intentions if the action is bad? I warn the Government that men in positions of responsibility must be held responsible for the effect of their actions as well as for their intentions. I prophesy of this Government and of the tax that is being proposed that it will be seen to be true of Governments as it is of men, as was said of old, that—The evil that men do lives after them:The good is oft interred with their bones.
§ Mr. JOHN
I intervene reluctantly in this Debate, but I am unwilling that it should close without something being said on behalf of Wales. I do not think that the Chancellor of the Exchequer can claim to speak for the Principality in what he says. The influence of these taxes on the matter of exchange is perfectly infinitesimal, and they are not worth the trouble which they involve. A great deal more can be done for the exchange by much less controversial and more legitimate methods. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Swansea referred to difficulties placed in the way of our export 1936 trade with America as accounting for some of the difficulty. I am engaged in the export trade with America, and so I am doing all that is in my power to correct the exchange. The Government are encouraging a trade with America in raw materials which, on the balance of trade, has resulted in an indebtedness to America on the part of this country of £80,000, but they are discouraging a trade in a comparatively manufactured article which, if they permitted it to develop, would imply an indebtedness on the part of America of £2,000,000. So that the Government in their operations are accentuating the difficulties of exchange, and I believe that the Member for Rochdale has a very much more flagrant case in connection with textiles. My experience of the management of the trade of this country during the last fifteen months by different Departments has been that a great deal more enduring mischief has been done to the commercial interests of Great Britain by fifteen months of departmental management than by fifteen years of the most strenuous German and American competition.
The second point to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer referred as the basis of this taxation was that he wished to curtail expenditure on luxuries, but it seems to me that a small increase of the Spirit Duties would have done a great deal more than will be achieved by these duties which are proposed. I see no reason why that should not have been done. The contention that it would not have produced additional revenue is not borne out, in view of the fact that the consumption of spirits increased very materially in the first six months of last year. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury lamented very much the expenditure upon pianos for cottage homes, but he dismissed the question of the expenditure upon alcohol in a sentence by merely saying that the consumption of alcohol had increased. As a matter of fact the expenditure upon intoxicants would have continued the fighting for fifty days—
§ Mr. JOHN
That is what led me to refer to it. It is an alternative method of raising the funds which the Government require to carry on the War. I am opposed to these taxes, which I think are very much a breach both of good faith with the country and of the political truce which we have had since the outbreak of the War, 1937 and which eventually culminated in the formation of a Coalition Ministry. The Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer have to deal with things as they are here, but we have to deal with the people and with actualities, and the Government will be judged rather by their deeds than by their words. I regret that the abandonment of Free Trade principles has been decided upon under present conditions. I think that the advancing of Free Trade principles for discussion at this moment is most inopportune, seeing that we are involved in an international struggle with militarism and Protection, which are inseparable. We have heard that the policy of Protection is very much at the base of German politics and militarism, and this entire international struggle is—
§ The CHAIRMAN
I am afraid the hon. Member has mistaken the occasion. This is supposed to be a businesslike discussion on the Clause as now amended in Committee, which is not the occasion for a general review of the whole of the circumstances. The hon. Gentleman should address himself to the question, "That the Clause as amended stand part of the Bill."
Mr. DUNDAS WHITE
I venture to think that those who have received so much of what they want might well allow those who feel that they have not had fair play to make their protest and state their opinions. I would particularly like to say about this Clause that it is to me a matter of deep regret that at this stage, and in the middle of the great War in which we are engaged, the present Coalition Government should have thrown this apple of discord into the midst of a House which before these proposals were made was united on all sides as it has not been for a long time past. That to me is one of the most serious features of the situation. It was apparent from the time these proposals were introduced, from the first day of the Budget, that they would give rise to serious trouble. They have caused a serious rift in this House, and that rift threatens to grow wider and wider. From 1938 the international aspect it is to my mind a, most serious matter, and I would really ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he would not bring before his colleagues the result of these Debates and consider whether it would not be right before we reach the Report stage for the Government to decide to abandon these proposals and not to carry them further—at all events in this Finance Bill. I put that very seriously to him. It has been the experience of those who have listened to the Debates here again and again that when someone has risen to make a criticism of a proposal on its merits he has been met by an appeal to the authority of the united Coalition Cabinet. It has been experienced again and again also when various criticisms have been passed as to what the effect of the taxes will be, we have been told what the intentions were. What this House has got to consider is not the intentions of the Government in introducing a tax, but what the effect of that tax will be. After all, the House of Parliament is the final place where the character and effects of taxes can be discussed. I would like to assure the House that those whose opinions I have shared in this matter as well as myself have taken a very serious view of this situation. We consider when new taxes are proposed they should be most thoroughly thought out, and at a critical time like this sound practice in introducing taxation is as important to the future welfare of the country as sound operations in the field.
Mr. TYSON WILSON
I would not have risen only that I interrupted the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he was replying to the previous speaker. He seemed to scout the idea that a motor manufacturing undertaking might grow up in this country. I suggest that the Ford Manufacturing Company, which is an American company, were lying down plant to increase their output of motor cars in Manchester. He said that the company could not raise money in this country. I am given to understand that the Chancellor of the Exchequer claims to know something about finance. I do not know whether that carries with it that he is a financier. From my limited knowledge of what is done in connection with the raising of capital, I am under the impression that the Ford Company can issue shares in America and sell the shares in this country. If they can do that, the Ford Company can get an 1939 immense amount of English capital in that way. I have quite an open mind with regard to these taxes. I know that money is required, but when the taxes are whittled down to the value of £1,000,000 for the year I am very doubtful whether I ought to give them my support or not. I am rather inclined to think that the Government would be well advised to drop the taxes altogether. The one thing that
§ Mr. LOUGH
I beg leave to move, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."
I hope that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will not ask us to go on any longer. We have had a very long sitting, and I think we have worked pretty hard. He will make quite as much progress as otherwise with his Bill if he meets us in this request, and does not ask us to go on.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I think my hon. Friends will agree that they have not been hard pressed. Yesterday we did not go beyond Eleven o'clock. I think we might proceed a little longer, say up to Clause 16.
§ impressed me in the Chancellor of the Exchequer's argument was that whenever he got into a tight corner it was "War, war, war!" As a matter of fact, the right hon. Gentleman has been using asphyxiating gas throughout the Debate.
§ Question put, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 78; Noes, 26.1939
|Division No. 15.]||AYES.||[11.40 p.m.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis Dyke||Gulland, John William||Prothero, Rowland Edmund|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Haslam, Lewis||Randles, Sir John S.|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Helme, Sir Norval Watson||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Henderson, Sir A. (St. Geo., Han. Sq.)||Rees, G. C. (Carnarvonshire, Alton)|
|Barran, Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.)||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East)||Robinson, Sidney|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Keating, Matthew||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Levy, Sir Maurice||Rutherford, John (Lanes, Darwen)|
|Bentham, George Jackson||Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)||Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)|
|Boyton, James||MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham||Macleod, John Mackintosh||Shortt, Edward|
|Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth)||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Craik, Sir Henry||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Stewart, Gershom|
|Currie, George W.||M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Dalrymple, Hon. H. H.||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Meehan, Patrick J, (Queen's Co., Leix)||Touche, George Alexander|
|Denniss, E. R. B.||Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S.||Valentia, Viscount|
|Dougherty, Rt. Hon. Sir J. B.||Mount, William Arthur||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs, N.)|
|Duffy, William J.||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Duke, Rt. Hon. Henry Edward||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Yate, Col. C. E.|
|Duncan, Sir J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)||Pennefather, De Fonblanque||Younger, Sir George|
|Fell, Arthur||Perkins, Walter F.|
|Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Peto, Basil Edward||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. G. Howard and Mr. Bridgeman.|
|Field, William||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Arnold, Sydney||Holt, Richard Durning||Radford, G. H.|
|Bryce, J. Annan||John, Edward Thomas||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Clough, William||King, Joseph||Watt, Henry A.|
|Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston>|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Goldstone, Frank||Mason, David M. (Coventry)|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Needham, Christopher T.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir A. Mond and Mr. Pringle.|
|Henderson, John M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Outhwaite, R. L.|
|Hogge, James Myles||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
§ Mr. LOUGH
I really do hope that more consideration will be given to the House. It is most unfair. We are not so well treated by the Press now even if we work reasonable hours. Clause 14 is the most monstrous Clause I ever saw in a Finance Bill. Parliament is asked to abrogate its powers to a Commission we scarcely know here, and we ought not to be asked to discuss that Clause, pushed as it is into the middle of this Bill at this hour of the night, when the attention of the country cannot be drawn to it at all. We are only meeting on three days a week; if we are not doing enough work let us meet on four or five days.
§ Question put, and negatived.