§ (1) Sub-section (4) of Section eighty-six of the Finance (190910) Act, 1910 (which provides for the repayment in certain cases to duly qualified medical practitioners of half the duty on motor car licences) shall apply to registered veterinary surgeons in like manner as it applies. to duly qualified medical practitioners.
§ (2) If any person proves to the satisfaction of the Commissioners of Customs and. Excise or the council by whom the licence is granted, by the production of such certificate as the Commissioners may approve, that any motor car kept by him has during any year been used exclusively for the purpose of any Government service, he shall be entitled to the repayment of any duty paid for that year under Section eighty six of the Finance (1909–10) Act, 1910, on. the licence for the car.
§ Sir ROBERT FINLAY
I beg to move in Sub-section (1) after the word "to" ["applied to registered veterinary surgeons"], to insert the words "clergymen of all denominations."
The object of this Amendment is to extend to clergymen the benefit which is extended by the Section referred to in the 443 principal Act to medical practitioners and which it is proposed by Clause 12 of this Bill to extend to veterinary surgeons. I submit that there is a very strong case for extending this benefit to clergymen. Subsection (4) of Section 86 of the Finance Act, 1910, provides: "If a duly qualified medical practitioner proves to the satisfaction of the Commissioners or council by whom the licence is granted that any motor car kept by him is kept for the purpose of his profession he shall be entitled to an allowance in respect of the duty payable under this Section on the licence for the car equal to half the amount of duty so payable." The amount of the duty has not been increased by this Bill. Clergymen are a most deserving class of men who are engaged on work which is quite as meritorious as that of medical men and render public service of great necessity at a time like this, and in many, many instances they have to go great distances for the purpose of discharging their spiritual functions. I refer to clergymen of all denominations, and I put it that they are entitled to this exemption. I would therefore ask the Government to consider the case of those whom in this matter I represent. A Clause was moved in Committee which applied to clergymen and to a great many other persons, but it was withdrawn, I understand, in consequence of the objection taken to its sweeping nature. My Amendment in confined to a class the numbers of which cannot be so many as to very seriously affect the revenue, but still there is a considerable number of them on whom the pressure of this duty falls with very great severity. From the nature of the purposes for which these motor cars are used, I submit that they are entitled to exemption.
§ Mr. MORTON
I beg to second the Amendment. We discussed this matter at some length in Committee, and I hope that the Government, having had some time, will have fairly reconsidered it. It is well known that clergymen in some places are not too well paid, while at the same time, especially in the Highlands of Scotland and in some other parts of the United Kingdom, it is necessary for them to make long journeys for the purpose of carrying out their duties. I very much regret that we fail to induce the Government to take much interest in religious matters. Of 444 course I am not entirely surprised at that, because I have noticed for a good many years that they never come into prayers in this House, whether it is that they are so good that they do not need religious instruction, or that they are so bad that they are past redemption, I do not know, but I do say that religious services and religion are perhaps more needed now than ever they were. I do trust that the Government will give way and do something to meet this demand. I am sure it will not cost very much, and that it would be fully appreciated by the people concerned, and is certainly well worthy of the consideration of the Government.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
I wish to urge upon the Financial Secretary how little he would lose, how much he would gain, and what a large amount of benefit he would confer by accepting this Amendment. The numbers involved are not very large. The right hon. Gentleman's experience in the office which he has held with high benefit to Scotland has enabled him to know how long are the distances which have to be covered by clergymen in that country. It is often impossible for them to cover their parishes without some sort of vehicular help. There are two considerations that I would like the right hon. Gentleman to bear in mind. The first is that the scarcity of clergymen has been very much increased in some of the country districts by the fact that so many clergymen have been called upon to act as chaplains; in some cases they have actually enlisted in the Army and are now fighting abroad. These clergymen have left their duties to be carried out by their brethren living near. That enormously extends the district over which those who are left have to travel and makes it the more necessary for them to make use of mechanical means of conveyance. The other consideration is that in the old days these clergymen were in the habit of keeping a horse either for use with a gig or for riding. In many cases these horses were commandeered at the beginning of the War, and even where they were not commandeered the clergyman felt that he was really contributing to assist the Army by giving up his horse and taking to a motor car. These motor cars are generally of the humblest kind. They are used not for joy rides or for anything like that, but for business of the most necessary and most merciful kind. I hope, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman will accept the Amendment.
§ Sir F. CAWLEY
I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not accept the Amendment. The position of clergymen is not at all comparable with that of doctors and veterinary surgeons. I do not know much about Scotland. I believe that there there are sometimes long distances to travel and there might be something in the proposal so far as Scotland is concerned, but I know that in England there are very few parishes more than two or three miles in diameter.
§ Sir F. CAWLEY
The bulk of the parishes in England are not so large that the clergy require a motor car.
§ Sir F. CAWLEY
In Scotland. Doctors, on the other hand, have to travel seven, eight, or nine miles to visit patients, and veterinary surgeons have even longer distances to go. The two professions are not comparable at all. As to horses having been commandeered, it is true that many horses—both those belonging to clergymen and those belonging to farmers—were commandeered, but generally very fair and even very good prices were given for them. From my knowledge of horses, I know that those horses could be replaced today for much less than the price which the clergymen or farmers got for them. Therefore that argument does not hold. For these reasons I think the right hon. Gentleman would not be wise in accepting this Amendment just for the sake of a few parishes in Scotland where it might be an advantage.
§ Mr. PETO
I desire to demolish the arguments put forward by the hon. Member opposite (Sir F. Cawley). He says that there are few parishes in England where any means of mechanical transport is necessary for ministers of religion. When I was unsuccessfully addressing the Committee on this question I quoted the case of the Roman Catholic. I want now to quote the case of the very opposite religious sect. I have had a letter from a gentleman in my Constituency, belonging to the sect of the Strict Baptists, and he says:Happening to be one of those who conduct religious services every Sabbath in different towns and villages in Wiltshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire, a motor cycle has become to me a necessity.The hon. Member for Nottingham, when this matter was last before the House, 446 rather ridiculed the whole proposal, and spoke of there being no need for expensive motor cars and no possibility of paying for them. Since it has been stated that it is only in the North of Scotland there are parishes where a motor cycle or something of the sort is necessary, I quote now a passage from a letter received by me from the extreme North of Ireland from a number of Presbyterian clergymen, including one or two Moderators of Assembly:In order to reduce the excessive cost of travel, some have had to take to motor cycles to get round their pastoral work. In this they again contribute to the taxes a duty of £1 a year, and in the tax on petrol still further.Take another case in my own Constituency-that of a clergyman in the ordinary position of a clergyman of the Church of England in a large country parish. He writes:My own case is typical. Three years ago I sold my horse and trap and gave £70 for a secondhand Ford. I have run it since some 23,000 miles, mostly on Red Cross work. The value of it on the market today is about £30.That shows the kind of conveyance dealt with by the Amendment. I notice that my right hon. and learned Friend deals also with the Petrol Tax, and asks for a remission in the case of clergymen of all denominations. I cannot conceive that the Secretary to the Treasury, who is new to his position, will wish to take up the cudgels in opposition to this proposal or that after having granted the remission to doctors and veterinary surgeons on the ground that their duties were in the relief of suffering, he will refuse the same concession to ministers of religion, who are not paid by the visit, and whose expenses are necessarily paid out of their own meagre stipends. Now that the proposal has the support of the right hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh and St. Andrews Universities, I hope that the Treasury will not be so mean as to attempt to defend the decision to shut ministers of religion out of the relief which they have already given to doctors.
Mr. McKINNON WOOD
This is a matter which has been considerably discussed in Committee. I am bound to say, in spite of the persuasiveness of my hon. Friend who seconded the Amendment, and of the arguments of the hon. Member who spoke last, I cannot see why we should depart from our original intention.
§ Sir R. FINLAY
The discussion in Committee was very much larger. This is 447 strictly confined to clergymen, who, for this purpose, are on as good a footing as veterinary surgeons and others.
Mr. McKINNON WOOD
Of course, that well illustrates the difficulty. If you make an exception it is not because it is really an appropriate case—
Mr. McKINNON WOOD
But because you can find a few cases in which you can put forward a plausible argument; then you let in other large classes of exceptions. I think the fact that there were other cases included with the first Amendment is a very strong argument for not making this exception now. Let us look at the matter on its merits. It is not going to help the poor parson, I know, in England and Scotland; he cannot afford a motor car. If he has a motor cycle, what does he pay?—£l a year! We are not here dealing with increased taxation; we are only dealing with the old scale of duties. It is proposed to half exempt the class specified. The case of the £l a year motor cycle really is not worth raising exceptions for under the Act. As to the other cases, they are not cases applying to a whole class, but to a very small number of individuals Nearly all clergymen who can afford to run motor cars have private means; they are not objects of charity.
Mr. McKINNON WOOD
That is true. I do not, of course, make the suggested distinction between doctors and veterinary surgeons and clergy as to the value of their work, but I do make this distinction, and it is a very great distinction; in the case of a doctor or a veterinary surgeon you have a man whose professional business requires him to be constantly travelling. His work for the relief of suffering is his normal and typical work, but it is not the normal and typical work of the clergyman to be going about the country in motors—
Mr. McKINNON WOOD
Hon. Members misinterpret what I said. What I meant was that it was not the normal work of clergymen, as a class, to travel by motor car. If they use motor cars or motor cycles, and we were to give the concession asked for, it would be making an exception for a very small number of people I do not think that a case has been made that clergymen, as a class, stand on anything like the same basis as the doctor, or the veterinary surgeon, or that any case of necessity has been made out to apply to any large proportion.
§ 9.0 P.M.
§ Mr. CURRIE
I think what has fallen from the Financial Secretary rather opens the door to a halfway position on behalf of the Treasury. He suggests that there are very few clergymen who move about in motor cars, and that is perfectly true. As to those who do, I quite agree with him, that they are mostly man of private means. At the same time, there are a small number of men working country parishes on small stipends, and I rather understand the right hon. Gentleman to feel, at least, that if he could see his way to meet these poor men he would be disposed to do so. I would, there fore, ask him whether he could not modify the Bill so as to meet the case of the country clergymen who use small motor cars or motor cycles, and whose incomes are, say, less than £400 a year? I was rather surprised to hear the Financial Secretary say that there are very few men who use this means of locomotion. On the spur of the moment I could mention three or four ministers amongst my own friends who do no end of good work in country parishes simply because they have this kind of motorcycle. For men of this kind I think one is bound to feel sympathy. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to hold out some hope in this matter.
§ Mr. LUNDON
It may be that in the North of England or in Scotland, or other parts of Great Britain, there are very few districts where any great number of clergymen have to travel any distance. But take the Catholic clergymen of the North and South of Ireland. There may be two parishes adjoining, and the priest who ministers to either parish may be called miles away from one to the other, it may be five or it may be ten miles 449 The result is that he has to find some means of locomotion to attend to the wants of his people.
§ Mr. LUNDON
I will come to that point in a moment. The Financial Secretary says that it is not their usual business to go amongst their people more than it is that of doctors or veterinary surgeons. I say they attend more to the suffering poor than any doctor or veterinary surgeon, because after all, the veterinary surgeon attends to the wants of animals, and, of course, we know what the doctor does, but the duties of a Catholic clergyman means that if anyone of his religious persuasion is in danger of dying and has to receive Extreme Unction, the priest has to get there by any means that he can. In cases of life or death, he has to attend his flock by night or by day, and this even if he is sick himself. Some of the younger clergymen in Ireland in parts of the country have stipends of £120 to £150 a year, and before the War broke out they kept horses for the purpose of getting from one parish to another. When the War broke out their horses were commandeered by the Government and they naturally had to give them up.
§ Mr. LUNDON
No, they invested in cheap Ford motor cars. They have run them ever since, and you could not, even if the priest sold his motor car, which would not be worth a great deal now, get a horse as cheap now as at the beginning of the War.
§ Mr. LUNDON
We are only asking for a remission, which, of course, is a very different thing. All the same, I do think that a clergyman, whether Catholic or Protestant, ought not to be put on the same footing as a veterinary surgeon or doctor. One is doing as good a work, if not better in the eyes of some people, than the other. At least, I am speaking from the particular point of view of the 450 Catholic, and for my colleagues, when I say the Irish priest is far more deserving of the remission of this duty than either a veterinary surgeon or a doctor.
§ Mr. O'DOWD
I appeal for clergymen of all denominations. I come from a rural district, and, as chairman of the county council of my native county, and as one who is entitled to speak here in the interests of clergymen of all denominations in my county of Sligo, I say a more hard worked class of gentlemen is not to be found than that of the clergymen, especially in the rural districts. As my hon. Friend has said, people here do not exactly know the conditions prevailing in Ireland. They do not know how clergymen have to go from one part of the country to the other in discharge of a sacred duty in attending the sick and the dead. I would place them on a higher plane, or at least as high a plane, in regard to the duties they have to perform day after day as I would the profession of doctors. It is all very fine to say that a poor clergyman, no matter what religious denomination he belongs to, can supply himself with a horse and car, but it is not easy for a poor clergyman living in a poor district in the country so to provide himself. The price is outside the sphere of his financial resources. If any consideration is to be given to physicians, veterinary surgeons, and others in regard to this particular matter, i would appeal to the Financial Secretary to the Treasury to include clergymen of all religious denominations in that consideration.
Mr. REND ALL
The hon. Gentleman opposite suggested that there should be some limitation, if possible, with regard to the duty in the case of clergymen with incomes not over £400 a year. It would be an impossible distinction to draw, and one which would be extremely invidious. A man with £410 a year may have a large parish, very heavy parochial liabilities, and a large family, and he is not to have the advantage of which the hon. Member is in favour. You may have the bachelor parson, and we all know some pride themselves on that, with an income of £390 and a comparatively small parish, and yet he is to have this advantage given him.
§ Mr. RENDALL
You cannot graduate bachelors and married men, men with ten children and men with none, those with an expensive wife and those with no wife 451 at all. You cannot graduate these things. Human nature is extraordinarily diverse. The Bishop of London is a bachelor. Whether he has a car or not I am not aware, but I assume he requires one for his work. By the Amendment he is to be exempted. It seems to me an impossible arrangement. The vast majority of hardworking clergymen in England, I should say—I do not know much about Ireland, although I should have thought it ought to apply to Ireland—certainly those who have any sort of locomotion besides their own legs—and most of them do use their own legs for parish work—use horses and carriages, and there is no suggestion that licences on carriages should be decreased, and no suggestion that if the income is under £400 a year the clergyman is to be able to avoid that Licence Duty. Doctors are used by the whole population, except the few that are Christian Scientists—and I believe they require them in the end. But clergymen do not cater for much more than a half or, say, threequarters of the population, and to give preferential treat-
§ ment to persons who happen to be exponents of various forms of faith is to raise, I think, questions of a most delicate nature, and certainly a nature which ought not to be raised on a Finance Bill, of all things. Then, as regards the argument as to the Irish priest who has bought a Ford motor car, I thought the hon. Member would have been able to give figures to convince us, and that he would have said how many priests there were in Ireland, how many had horses before the War, that so many now had Ford motor cars, that so many, owing to the War, had been compelled to make use of motor cars instead of horses, and that, therefore, this Amendment is necessary for their protection. He has not been able to give us the slightest solid facts, and there again, I think, that argument falls to the ground. I am very glad the Financial Secretary to the Treasury has decided not to accept this Amendment.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 37; Noes, 93.453
|Division No. 33.]||AYES.||[9.13 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Hackett, John||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood||Hazleton, Richard||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Bathurst, Capt. C. (Wilts, Wilton)||Henderson, John M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Kilbride, Denis||Reddy, Michael|
|Boland, John Pius||Lundon, Thomas||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Boyton, James||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Nolan, Joseph||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Byrne, Alfred||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Walker, Colonel William Hall|
|Craik, Sir Henry||O'Dowd, John||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Currie, George W.||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Whitty, Patrick Joseph|
|Dillon, John||O'Sullivan, Timothy|
|Field, William||Pennefather, De Fonblanque||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Sir R. Finlay and Mr. Morton|
|Guinness, Hon.w. E. (Bury S. Edmunds)||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis Dyke||Fletcher, John Samuel||M'Callum, Sir John M.|
|Adamson, William||Gilbert, J. D.||Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Goddard, Rt. Hon. Sir Daniel Ford||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald|
|Anderson, W. C.||Goldstone, Frank||Macmaster, Donald|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Greenwood, Sir G. G. (Peterborough)||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. George N.||Harmsworth, Cecll (Luton, Beds)||Morgan, George Hay|
|Barran, Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.)||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||Newdegate, F. A.|
|Bliss, Joseph||Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Pearce, Sir Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Higham, John Sharp||Pearce, Sir William (Limehouse)|
|Brace, William||Hinds, John||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Hodge, John||PryceJones, Colonel E.|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Cautley, H. S.||Hope, Harry (Bute)||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Horne, E.||Rees, G. C. (Carnarvonshire, Arfon)|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, E.)|
|Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||Jacobsen, Thomas Owen||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Crooks, Rt. Hon. William||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvll)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)|
|Davies, Timothy (Lines., Louth)||Jones, Leif (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Robinson, Sidney|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Jones, William S. Glyn-(Stepney)||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Denniss, E. R. B.||Jowett, Frederick William||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Edge, Captain William||King, Joseph||Shortt, Edward|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Smith, Sir Swire (Keighley, Yorks)|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||Levy, Sir Maurice||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Fell, Arthur||Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Sykes, Col. Alan John (Ches., Knutsf'd)|
|Talbot, Lord Edmund||Watt, Henry A.||Younger, Sir George|
|Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)||Williams, Aneurln (Durham, N.W.)||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Tickler, T. G.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Toulmin, Sir George||Wing, Thomas Edward||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Gulland and Mr. Bridgeman.|
|Valentia, Viscount||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)|
§ Amendments made:
§ In Subsection (2) leave out the words "or the council by whom the licence is granted, by the production of such certificate as the Commissioners may approve."
§ After the word "year" ["during any year being used exclusively "] insert the words "or any continuous part of a year, not being less than two months."
§ Leave out the words "Government service," and insert instead thereof the words "ambulance or hospital work, or any other work undertaken by agreement with the Government in connection with any naval or military services."
§ At the end of the Subsection add the words "or of a proportionate part of the duty."—[Mr. McKenna.]