§ The following Duties of Customs, imposed by Part I. of the Finance (No. 2) Act, 1915, shall, subject as hereinafter provided, continue to be charged, levied, and paid until the first day of August, nineteen hundred and twenty, that is to say:
|Duty.||Section of Act.|
|Increased duty on tea||…||1|
|Additional duties on dried fruit||…||8|
|Additional duty on motor spirit||…||10(1)|
|New import duties||…||12|
§ Captain WEDGWOOD BENN
On a point of Order, Mr. Whitley. I have, together with the hon. and gallant Member and another colleague, put an Amendment on the Paper which is intended to raise the whole question of Preference. I observe that hon. Members opposite have also an Amendment down to exclude from the Bill the Import Duties 1680 imposed in 1915. What I want to ask is whether we should be in order on the first Amendment in discussing the subject of Preference, and as to what your ruling is in regard to these Amendments on which we shall raise the point of Preference, and generally the question of Protection?
§ Sir RYLAND ADKINS
On a point of Order, Mr. Whitley. The Amendment standing in the name of my right hon. Friend opposite and myself is really part of an Amendment which is continued further down on the Paper, and which comes immediately after the one moved by my hon. and gallant Friend (Captain Benn). I submit to you that the two Amendments of my hon. and gallant Friend and myself are in substance to be taken together, as they deal with making provisional and brief the imposition of certain taxes, and generally, therefore, in the same sense as does the Amendment of my hon. and gallant Friend with the wider subject?
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think that is correct. My own view is that the first Amendment on the Paper standing in the name of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir B. Adkins) carries with it the third Amendment also which stands in the name of the hon. and learned Gentleman, and that they raise a different issue—simply the question of the continuance of the Import Duties beyond 30th September. But this will not prejudice the other subject raised by the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Captain Benn)—that is the general question of Preference. In regard to this wider question, there are three points at which the subject can be raised in full or in part. The first is on Clause 1, where there is an Amendment in the name of the hon. and gallant Gentleman to leave out the words "subject as hereinafter provided" ["Clause 1. The following duties of Customs.…shall, subject as hereinafter provided, continue to be charged"]. This, however, will only give him a limited opportunity of referring to the particular duties set out in that Clause. The second point is on Clause 3, where he has a similar Amendment that would give a more limited opportunity still. I suggest for his consideration that the first Amendment, which also stands in his name on Clause 7, would be the most convenient opportunity for dealing with the whole question. It can then be fully explored by the Committee. If this 1681 view commends itself to the hon. and gallant Gentleman, I think it will probably meet the convenience of the whole Committee.
§ Captain BENN
Will the Amendment standing in the name of my hon. Friend (Mr. Hogge) in Clause 1, to leave out
be in order after we have disposed of the Amendments of the hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite?
Duty. Section of Act. New Import Duties … 12
§ The CHAIRMAN
Yes, it would be in order; but, again, it is possibly covered by the first Amendment, and it is probably hardly worth while moving it for the short additional period involved.
§ Sir R. ADKINS
I beg to move, after the word "Customs" ["Duties of Customs imposed"], to insert the wordsexcept the new Import Duties.Perhaps you will allow me to say, in view of the point of order, that this Amendment is intended to be taken together with an Amendment standing further on the Paper, and the effect of these two taken together would be that what are described as new Import Duties, which, under the Bill as it stands, are to be charged, levied, and paid until the 1st day of August next year would only continue to be charged, levied, and paid until the 30th of September of this year. There may be some reason connected with financial administration why in the Bill as it stands—in that part to which my Amendment is directed—there should be a duty so far ahead as August, 1920; but if there are administrative reasons for that, which one may doubt, there are considerations arising upon so prolonged a period which are quite of as great importance as administration. These duties were first of all imposed in the War by my right hon. Friend Mr. McKenna when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer. They were submitted to the House and approved as war measures. They showed as strikingly as anything that was done during hostilities—how entirely differently, what I may call the perspective of consideration dictates the action both of the Government and of the House in time of war from the perspective which ought to guide us in times of peace. Incidentally, these duties were and are of a protective character. They do not arise on those departments of fiscal policy which were covered by a certain 1682 famous letter of the Prime Minister and the Lord Privy Seal. Everybody knows how difficult it is, when once a tax is levied, to get it taken off, and surely it is right and proper for the Committee to consider what are the indirect effects and what are the contingent results of having a duty like this kept on the Statute Book a day longer than absolutely necessary.
Members of the Committee, I think, will agree that the mere signing of the Treaty of Peace with the greatest and most important of our enemies does not of itself bring about normal conditions, and does not of itself bring us at one stride from a state of war to a state of peace. For all that, however, it marks a very long stage on the path from hostilities to a peaceful condition, and I think it is surely the duty of the Government, in dealing with a war tax of this kind, to see that the date put to it is not the latest that can be contrived in the annual Budget, but the earliest which is in any way possible. So long as it is known to be a war tax, so long as it is realised that you cannot take off a war tax the moment a treaty of peace is signed, there is, of course, something to be said for it. But if it be prolonged a day longer than is necessary for the purpose of the War, then the aspects of it that arise in time of peace become the most prominent aspects, and the objections that are felt to taxes of this kind, not only in this House, but throughout the country, by very large sections of the public, become, not only valid objections in theory, but serious objections in practice.
My appeal to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer is that in this Bill, which carries out the arrangements for the current year, he should do nothing to give countenance to the notion that he is laying the foundation or continuing the imposition of those things which might be made the foundation for some fiscal system—that he should avoid the very appearance of evil by getting rid of the war taxes at the earliest possible moment. [An HON. MEMBER: "'Evil,' or 'change'?"] My hon. and gallant Friend below me suggests the word "change" instead of "evil." I used the word "evil" on purpose, because I am trying to represent how this would strike very large sections of the country who would consider a change of this kind to be evil, as I am quite prepared to use the current 1683 word "change," but for the purpose I had in mind I used the word which I thought best suited the occasion; therefore my argument is that it is known that any permanent change is one which must arouse much controversy, and is considered evil by large sections of the public. It is, therefore, surely of great consequence that the appearance of this should be avoided in the provisions which are made for the financial year. I realise that there may be practical financial considerations, apart entirely from controversy, which may prevent this tax being taken off at the present time. That may be the defence and explanation of my right hon. Friend for continuing it at all. But in view of the fact that we have now got peace with Germany, in view of the fact that by the peace negotiations those things which follow are far more advanced to-day even than they were when my right hon. Friend brought in his Budget, I ask him to say that the war conditions, the special conditions which have a bearing upon fiscal controversy and which have a bearing upon normal conditions—that these considerations are amply met when this imposition is continued to 30th September and to 30th September only. May I recall to the Committee what I think is the most important utterance in a celebrated letter issued before the General Election last December by the Prime Minister and the Lord Privy Seal. I have quoted it once this Session, and I venture to repeat it. I am not asking the House to decide matters of old and new controversy, but it has to be borne in mind, if we are to be just to the Government and its proposals, and preserve the greatest amount of unity in regard to these proposals which are after all war measures. The sentence I quote is from a very famous manifesto:Until the country has returned to normal industrial conditions, it would be premature to prescribe a fiscal policy intended for permanence.That being the governing consideration, I ask my right hon. Friend to avoid having anything in this Bill which looks like establishing a fiscal change intended for permanence. I know there wore other utterances which do not point quite so clearly in the same direction, but I ask at the beginning of this discussion and in reference to these duties which I have suggested are duties which have a special 1684 colour and effect and character when considered as permanent duties, and which were only brought in and adopted for special reasons connected with the War that they should now be brought to an end, so that the House and country may recognise their war character and their shortness of life as war measures, their duration of life being determined by the end of the war period. To have those duties in this Bill not only for the current financial year but beyond that into the autumn of next year is surely to make them appear to anyone as being largely-permanent and as being intended to pass into longer periods. Against that I respectfully protest, and as a supporter of the Government I ask my right hon. Friend to remove from these proposals a feature which is so liable to be misunderstood, which is to open to legitimate criticism, and so certain to give an impression which I think and believe would be false. For these reasons I ask the right hon. Gentleman to remove this blemish.
§ Sir A. WILLIAMSON
I beg to second the Amendment. I agree with what has fallen from the last speaker as to the effect the Bill has had upon those of us who are adherents of the policy of free trade in the present form of the Bill. It has given us the impression that the extension of these protective duties which have, as the Committee will recollect, been applied not only to motor cars, watches, and other insignificant articles, but it is to be taken that the continuation of these taxes represents a policy. Therefore, I am desirous that there should be a time fixed, and that a very short time, for the termination of those taxes. The reason I adduce for shortening the time is that I object to the taxes altogether. By the end of September we shall have come to the end of the summer, and as far as motor cars are concerned their use in winter is diminished, and perhaps that is a suitable time for making this change. Another reason for having a shorter period for these taxes is that it is very essential we should remove anything which is a restriction on the development of our export trade. What this country wants more than anything else is not restriction or tariffs, but the removal of restrictions and tariffs, so that our exports may be accelerated and increased.
We have heard a great deal about the very serious effect of an adverse exchange upon this country, and almost the only 1685 way to rectify any adverse exchange is to increase our production and exports, and these taxes seem to me to interfere with our ability to increase our exports. The continuance of these duties also tends not to increase work, but to reduce work for our people. Therefore it is very important that we should aim at increasing cur export trade, and increasing work. We are only handicapping ourselves, in my judgment, by this policy being continued any longer than can be helped. When the Burget was framed the Peace Treaty had not been signed, and therefore, it may fairly be said that these were war proposals made when this country was still at war. Like the last speaker, I have supported the Government in anything they thought necessary in order to win the War and to conclude a satisfactory peace, but now that the War has been won and Peace has been signed the position is changing, and it is only right and proper for those of us who view these taxes with aversion to desire that they should be limited to the shortest possible time. The longer we keep these taxes on the more difficulty there is in ending them. I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer will agree that it is more difficult, the longer they are on, to take them off, because interests grow up under the taxes, and some one will afterwards say that they are going to suffer by their removal. For these reasons it is very desirable that these taxes should be removed at the earliest possible date. We suggest the 30th September, which, we think, would be adequate to give the Government time to give the necessary notices and make arrangements. It cannot be said that by fixing this period there is any desire on the part of the Mover or Seconder of this Amendment to unduly hamper the Government in any way, and that is why we put forward a reasonable date at which these taxes should be removed.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Chamberlain)
I should be very sorry if I were found to be a rock of offence in any way to my right hon. Friend who has just spoken. I do not want to deal with controversies which may arise hereafter, and for which I think the moment has not yet come. I think my hon. Friends will accept my statement that when I proposed to continue these duties for another year I had no idea, and certainly no desire, to raise any kind of fiscal controversy. I recognise in proposing 1686 Preference, which we have to discuss later, a ground for controversy, and we have to settle that in the course of this Bill. In regard to the continuation of the duties now under discussion, I had no idea of raising any kind of controversy, and I do not think this ought to be made the occasion. I found these duties in existence created under conditions of war, and conditions which continue to prevail, even though fighting in the Western Front has ceased. I propose to continue them provisionally for a year, without desiring thereby to commit myself or any one else to any theory or practice of fiscal or trade policy in the future.
In the first place I continue them because in the course of the year they may be expected to yield a revenue of nearly £2,000,000. In the second place I continue them because of the special circumstances which caused Mr. McKenna to propose them during the War. If that had been the only consideration, Mr. McKenna would hardly have thought it necessary to have included cinema films or clocks or watches, and motor cars. Apart from the duties which it is now proposed to continue, but in conjunction with them, Mr. McKenna proposed other duties, including straw hats. The first consideration is revenue, and the second consideration is exchange. Both in connection with exchange and revenue these are articles of luxury and superfluity. We can well afford to tax them apart from the fiscal consequences of the tax. There is no reason in the articles themselves why they should not pay this tax. The objection of my right hon. Friend would probably be removed altogether if I had proposed an excise equivalent to the Customs Duty, and so have eliminated any sort of protection which the Customs Duty may contain. They are not unsuitable articles for taxation. Revenue is required.
The state of our exchange must give cause for serious thought to anyone who has to consider it. It is essential that we should import large quantities of commodities which are necessary for our existence, either as food or raw material, and when exchanges are adverse it. is very undesirable that any part of the money we may need for essentials should be devoted to expenditure on non-essential luxuries. That was one of the arguments which influenced Mr. McKenna when he proposed these taxes during the War, and it continues with equal force to-day. If there is any period which I should think ought not 1687 to be chosen for instituting the changes which my hon. Friend proposes, it would be the autumn, when the pressure on the Exchequer is likely to be greatest.
I have now answered the question why I continue these duties. I am asked why I continue these duties until August of next year. I take that period because it is the ordinary Budget date, and it is the end of the financial year which enables the House to deal with the case afresh before the tax expires. I have followed the ordinary normal practice which has been found to be for the convenience of the House and for the public revenue. I ought perhaps to add a word in response to the appeal made by my hon. Friend behind me (Sir R. Adkins). I do not pretend that at present my hon. friend and I see eye to eye on all these questions. I hold that some changes in our fiscal system and in our trade policy arc necessary, and that the War has proved that necessity. I do not say that they need be or that they will be the changes which I and many others advocated before the War, but I do believe that changes are necessary and my hon. Friend must not expect me, and would not expect me, to conceal that fact, nor shall I gain anything by doing so. But I do not ask the Committee to prejudge that question now. The time has not come. You cannot decide your fiscal or trade policy on the narrow issue of two or three duties of this kind. They will not settle your policy; your policy will settle them. When you have decided what your policy is to be and how you are going to treat the future trade of the country, then the fiscal measures embodied in the Budget will have to conform to the policy upon which you have decided. My hon. Friend and my right hon. Friend opposite (Sir A. Williamson) therefore need be under no apprehension that they are committed to a particular policy by continuing these duties in the ordinary course for another year.
We may find, when we come to deal with wide questions of principle and of trade policy, that there are large differences amongst us. I hope that we shall not. I hope, when that time conies, that, viewing the matter, not in the light of the controversies which prevailed before the War, not reading up our old speeches or the old speeches of our opponents, but viewing the circumstances in the light of our experience during the War and the condition of the world after the War, we shall, 1688 by the usual process of give-and-take, and reasonable concession which is necessary if men are to agree in business, public or private, find ourselves sufficiently agreed to make our continued co-operation possible. At any rate, I can assure my hon. Friends that I will not plead the support that they are good enough to give me on this occasion as any reason why they should support any particular trade or fiscal policy which the Government may put forward in the autumn or next year. I ask for their support for the continuation of these taxes, not as part of a general trade policy, but because of the financial necessities of the country at the present time, because of the undesirability of encouraging the import of articles of superfluity and of luxury which we do not really require at a time when all our resources may be needed and will be needed for the things which are of first consequence to us, and because, in the last place, I think such a small issue as this is not one by which we can determine the future policy of the country. When we have decided that future policy these duties will, naturally, by re-enactment or abolition or qualification, be made to conform to that policy.
§ Captain W. BENN
The point that has been raised by my hon. Friend (Sir R. Adkins) in this Amendment is really whether this is the moment when we have to decide whether this country is going to be a Free Trade country or a Protectionist country. That is the point at issue, and my hon. Friend opposite (Sir R. Adkins) raised it very succinctly by saying that, although we realised during the War that certain restrictions were necessary, now that we are through the War a reasonable date should be fixed after which these restrictions should be withdrawn. That is a view perfectly consistent with support of these taxes during the War, and we were all prepared to give that support for the purpose for which they were proposed. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is bent upon persuading my hon. Friend and Liberal Free Traders generally that this is not the moment to decide whether we are going to a Free Trade or a Protectionist country, and in defending these taxes he uses almost the very words that were used in the Debate when they were imposed in 1915, whereby the Government were pledged on no account to use them for the purpose of giving a preference or doing any of the other things which were obnoxious to a large section of their sup- 1689 porters. The Leader of the House said that they would never be kept on after the War. Mr. McKenna, who proposed them, gave the exact reasons why they were proposed and explained that they would not prejudice in any way the fiscal controversy. The right hon. Gentleman, in proposing to continue them for another year, uses the same words—I am making no charge of any breach of faith—which it has been found necessary to repudiate, no doubt for good reasons, in this Budget.
I submit that we have to decide now whether we are going to be free traders or protectionists. Protection may be a good thing for the country, but it is no good being a little of both. We have to decide which policy is going to be adopted. These taxes were imposed as war restrictions for certain definite purposes. I do not think that even the Chancellor of the Exchequer would argue that the War will be going on on 20th August of next year, so that in any case, whatever date may be right or wrong, the date proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the termination of the duties is far beyond the date by which the War will have terminated. I submit also that the reasons which Mr. McKenna gave for imposing these duties have all, except one, ceased to exist. In the first place, there is the reason of revenue. That, of course, does continue. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says that he has a revenue of £2,000,000 from these taxes which he cannot afford to forego. I would remind him that in the next Clause, or the Clause after, he is giving away £3,500,000 largely to shareholders of tea companies and other people in this country, so that the argument that he has no money to spare does not perhaps weigh with us as much as it otherwise might. He goes on to say that the taxes were imposed in order to reduce people's expenditure on luxuries. Does the right hon. Gentleman really imagine that by putting a tax on American motor cars he has reduced the expenditure of the people in this country on motor cars?
§ Captain BENN
I understand the argument to be that one of the objects of the tax was to discourage expenditure on unnecessary luxuries or useless things. The only result of this duty has been to keep up the price of motor cars in this country, and people are spending more money on 1690 motor cars than if motor cars were freely imported from abroad. The other argument of Mr. McKenna that shipping tonnage was not sufficient to enable these things to be imported has been admirably dealt with by my right hon. Friend (Sir A. Williamson). No such reason continues to exist. The only other reason which the right hon. Gentleman urged was that it was necessary by means of a tariff to correct the foreign exchanges. I am well aware how difficult and complicated is this matter of foreign exchanges, but I would point out to the right hon. Gentleman that whereas the foreign exchange is adverse in the case of some countries it is favourable in the case of others. He however is proposing to restrict imports from all alike. Therefore, if the argument is good in one case it must be bad in another. I should have thought that the right way to correct the exchange was to stimulate the flow of exports from this country in order that the prosperity of the country might be restored.
There are two reasons why these taxes proposed in this Budget are totally different in character from the taxes when they were proposed by Mr. McKenna in 1915. Although there was no Excise Duty put on to balance them, they were in fact only revenue taxes then because everybody's machinery was used in war manufactures, and it was not possible to produce motor cars in this country. Therefore, a tax on imported motor cars was not really a tax of a protective character but of a revenue character only. The tax now for the first time assumes a protective character. That is one reason why I say it is the parting of the ways for Free Traders and Protectionists. There is another aspect of the case. This tax is being given a preferential aspect, and industries are being encouraged—the Undersecretary of State for the Colonies (Lieut.-Colonel Amery) was very eloquent on this, subject some months ago—in the Colonies under the protection of the preference which this Budget is going to give. An hon. Gentleman says "hear, hear." The Under-Secretary, for example, said that manufacturers of motor cars in the United States would set up works in Canada, and it would be an excellent thing because it would mean employment in Canada. Does not the hon. Gentleman who supports that view understand, if what the Under-Secretary said is right, then what the Chancellor of the Exchequer says about being 1691 able to remove the tax when we desire is fallacious, because, if you encourage a man to set up an industry in Canada by giving him a preference in this market, you cannot, when he has laid out his money, come along and say that the preference is to cease. The hon. Gentleman therefore takes the view that this tax and this preference should be permanent. If that is the case, the matter is perfectly clear. It is clear as noonday that we have now to decide whether we are to be Free Traders or Protectionists.
With regard to the merits of the taxes as the basis of Protection, I can add nothing with advantage to what the Leader of the House has said. They are fantastic as the basis of any system of Protection. The taxes in themselves are very bad. A man with money will buy a motor car, whatever it costs, and the men who are hit are the doctors, the commercial travellers, and the business men. We know that commercial vehicles are exempt, but, at the same time, parts may be used for building up commercial cars. By interfering with the price of motor cars you are, therefore, putting another obstacle in the way of the restoration of the trade of this country after the War. Even cinema films, which are supposed to be articles of luxury, are the basis of employment of many people in the entertainment industry, and I suppose that the employment of those people is as dear to the hon. Gentleman as the employment of any other class of people. I saw the other day in a newspaper that the Port of Liverpool was having a big film made to advertise the port. People who know something about American ways and the methods of the American commercial travellers know how they will come into an office and put on the table a little cinema which will show the method of production of an article, its cost, and its utility. It is impossible, indeed, to forecast to what extent this may be carried on, and it will be much better to leave man to develop commerce in the way he is most capable of doing. With regard to musical instruments. I have a copy of a letter sent to the Chancellor of the Exchequer by people who make musical instruments, pointing out that, as a consequence of this tariff, they have lost to the Americans thousands of pounds worth of trade in neutral markets. I gather that the tax on the gut used for strings has had 1692 the effect of depriving us of our trade in neutral markets, thereby putting out of employment our own men in this country.
To sum up the points, I would say that the tariff, even from a protectionist point of view, is fantastic. As regards the reasons for which the duties were imposed, they have ceased to exist. As regards the duties themselves, they impede trade. As regards the decision which he have to make to-day, it is really a decision whether we are to be free traders or protectionists. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says it is only a little duty. But it is policy which determines the duty, and not the duty the policy. He also warned us on another subject, and here, in spite of his warning, I will quote a speech of the Prime Minister, in which he said that Protection was as a quicksand, and when one got his foot into it, the more he straggled the deeper he sank. The right hon. Gentleman went on to describe the man in Victor Hugo's book who got into such a position, where the more he struggled the deeper he sank, and he sank until he vanished. I ask hon. Gentlemen who have consistently supported the Government throughout the War, as I have done, now to shake themselves free from the beginning of a policy which, if permitted to continue, will turn us into a protectionist country.
§ Major HAYWARD
In opposing the Amendment, the Chancellor of the Exchequer told us that nothing in the world was farther from his mind than any desire to affect the permanent fiscal policy of this country when he retained these duties. Of course we all absolutely accept the word of the right hon. Gentleman in this matter. But these particular duties do raise the fiscal question in a way which none of the other duties will raise it, because, after all, so far as the other taxes are concerned, apart from the question of Preference which will rise hereafter they were Free Trade taxes. These taxes are quite different, and here you have the imposing of a full-blooded Protection in all its integrity. You have the full taxes against foreign countries reduced against the Colonies, and no taxes at all against British manufactures. Therefore, this tax stands in quite a different position from any other tax, and although the Chancellor of the Exchequer says he has no intention of raising the fiscal question on these taxes, yet it is raised. It is impossible to escape from the fact that the greater part of his 1693 arguments was directed to minimising the effect of these taxes. But let it be observed he gave no undertaking that next year he proposed to take them off, and really the whole thing boils down to this, that his real reason for retaining them is connected with the question of the exchange. Every member of the Committee knows that that is a very important question indeed; but it does seem unfair to the Committee and unfair to free traders everywhere to raise this whole question simply on the small point of exchange, when, as everybody knows, the effect of these particular duties on these particular articles is the very smallest in the world, so far as the question of exchange is concerned. Therefore, I am exceedingly sorry that the Chancellor of the Exchequer cannot see his way to accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. KILEY
I should like to join in the request to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to accept this Amendment Recently we were told by the President of the Board of Trade that in or about the autumn the trade system of the country is to be revived, that a certain magic box will be opened and that there will be unfolded to our view the secret of what it contains, and what is to be the trade policy of this country. If that is to be so, surely it is desirable that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should be free from any further liability to continue these duties beyond that date. I am also sorry that the right hon. Gentleman did not make clear to the House what his object is in continuing the duties. Had it to do with freights? Was it calculated to reduce the importation of luxurious and un-necessary articles? He did emphasise the latter point, but it was not quite clear whether he was actuated by that or by the question of the exchange. In the event of his action being due to a desire to prevent the importation of unnecessary luxuries, let us look for a moment at what the duties are imposed upon. Take the watch industry. It will be found that what we import are mostly the metal watches of a low grade used by boys and working men. If the right hon. Gentleman persists in taxing these articles, the purchasers of this class of goods, if they only go to the import docks, will see articles in carved ivory, of the value of £300 or £400, coming in untaxed. It is only the cheap watches which the boy and the workman use that arc taxed. The workman's clock, too, is 1694 taxed, and that is a very necessary article for him, but at the same time champagne and one hundred and one other articles of luxury are not subject to a like impost. I do not suppose the Chancellor of the Ex chequer has ever realised the serious effect these taxes have had on our overseas trade. These articles have been imported from foreign countries and have been re-exported along with many other articles of our own manufacture, and, as we have not been able of late to supply the articles on which these duties have been imposed, the trade in them has been shifted, and neutral countries are dealing direct with our Colonies and other places where formerly we did the trade. These trades are now lost to us, and this will have a very serious effect on the resumption of our normal export trade. Although these duties may be small in themselves, the effect of the duty is far-reaching, and I think the right hon. Gentleman has entirely overlooked that point. I hope, therefore, he will consider the advisability of carrying on the duties only till September next, and thus give the House a further opportunity of looking into the matter.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
I was not in the House when the Debate opened, and very much regret that I did not hear the whole of the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Amendment before the Committee is, as I understand it, a somewhat limiting one, and I understand also that the desire of the Chair is to keep the Debate on this occasion within the rather strict limits of that Amendment. It is on that basis I propose to address the few remarks I have to offer. The Amendment before us proposes that these duties shall be limited until the end of September this year, as distinguished from the proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that they shall be continued until the 1st day of August, 1920, which would be the normal period for which taxes of this kind would be continued. Therefore the issue between the Amendment and the Government proposal is a perfectly clear one. It is: Are these taxes to be continued as a normal part of the Budget? As far as we can understand, any Chancellor of the Exchequer who may be in office for the year 1920, and who holds the same views as my right hon. Friend would then be able to reimpose or to develop them. My hon. and learned Friend proposes that they shall simply be carried on till September next, when as far as we can gather, 1695 from what representatives of the Government have said from time to time, on that magic date, a famou6 box is to be opened—it is a time, as I am reminded, when Parliament will not be sitting—and we shall know what treasures will be then unfolded for the benefit of the trading community of this country.
The idea of the Amendment, as I take it, is to continue the directly temporary character with which these taxes were invested when they were imposed, and that they shall then come up, along with the other restrictions on trade, and with other imposts for revenue purposes or otherwise, which are to be disclosed at that time. That I understand to be the issue. As far as I can gather, from what I heard of what the Chancellor of the Exchequer said, he turned round to my hon. and learned Friend (Sir Ryland Adkins) and to my right hon. Friend who sits beside me (Sir A. Williamson) and suggested to them—I hope I am not paraphrasing his words unfairly—''You have nothing to worry about, it will be all right. I am not asking you to do anything which will imperil your Free Trade convictions. You come along with me as far as 20th August, and then we will see where we are, and you will be quite free to take whatever course you like, without being compromised by what you do, and how you vote to-day." A more dangerous invitation was never issued to free traders—never. I do not blame my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is perfectly right for him to do it. Nobody can say that he has not been perfectly frank. It has always been one of his most characteristic charms that he never disguised what he was. We know what he means, and all honour to him for showing it. It would be a very good thing if we were a little more frank all round. My right hon. Friend hopes, quite naturally, that if he can only induce my right hon. and hon. Friends to regard him and his colleagues as quite helpless, and if he can only get them to go along the road just a little bit, and get over this stile, the rest of the way will be easy for him. I will not dwell on the fate of a certain young lady who used to ride on a certain animal. We know it was a very pleasant invitation, but that the result was disastrous to the rider. I say to my hon. Friends that if they accept this invitation, they are done. There is no doubt about it that this tax 1696 will become an integral part of the fiscal machinery of this country, and my right hon. and hon. Friends will be compromised in regard to them. I prefer to take my stand and vote against these taxes, not in September, but now, because I and my hon. Friends say with me that the reason and occasion for them have gone. Let me endeavour to recapitulate what the reasons for them were. To begin with, they were sumptuary reasons. Motor cars, clocks, watches, films, and musical instruments were not required in the War, and it was said, "Let us put such a tax on them so that they will not be dealt with in this country." Looking back now. Perhaps it would have been better to have prohibited them, but there are the reasons which were quite clearly laid down by the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the day. So emphatically was that position, demonstrated from time to time that the Leader of the House said:Duties of this kind would never be continued under any circumstances when the War was over—I mean Duties on this scale, and I think that if there is any real objection, it is-because the people who object have not as strong a faith as they ought to have in the value of their own theories.Nothing could be clearer. When the War is over these taxes must go and then free traders and tariff reformers would be open to fight out on the field of Parliament their idea of what was or was not good for the fiscal system of this country. If anything was clearly understood at that time it was that these imposts were for the period of the War only. Here we are on the 8th July, and the War, so far as this purpose is concerned, is clearly over.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
I do not know what contribution to the millions required we shall have from the duties on watches, clocks, films and motor cars. I remember the honoured father of the Chancellor of the Exchequer saying in a Debate that a change in the fiscal policy of this country could not be made by fiddling things of this kind, but on a broad and general scale. That being the case, the War being over, what is left to us? Is the sumptuary character of the tax left? So far as that is concerned, if you are going to put it on that basis, I frankly admit that if you want to carry on that system there is a great deal to be said, because so far as economy is concerned the sumptuary nature, such as 1697 it is, of these taxes is as important as ever before. But the War reason, which was the reason for prohibiting these things, has gone, and you have to start all over again. I have not heard the Chancellor of the Exchequer emphasise that. I do not know that he puts it forward at all. He simply said, and quite rightly from his point of view, "Let us go on with them, and if you object to them in 1920, then is your chance, and I will then hear what you have to say." My right hon. Friend (Sir A. Williamson) says, "No, we will talk about them in September." Any reasons which might exist for talking to the right hon. Gentleman in September for not going further on the road, so far as we are concerned, exist now. Our view is that the halfway house is better than nothing, because it does emphasise, if this Amendment is accepted, the purely temporary character or the ad hoc nature of these taxes. If it is accepted, it is better than nothing. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will quite understand when I say that I prefer not to trust him. I hope hon. Members will have no dubiety as to what the real issue is. It is, are the taxes to be maintained for a few months or for a year as being of a purely ad hoc character; or are they to be carried on into the permanent fiscal system of this country? I hope that now we shall make our stand on this matter. It is a little beginning, but it is the only way you can get these things started. If we allow the thing to be begun now, it is like the start of a quarrel from a very small word or the beginning of the letting out of water, as the proverbs have it. It will be extraordinarily difficult for all those who have taken the Free Trade stand in previous Parliaments, if we let this tax go on—as the Chancellor of the Exchequer quite frankly wishes us to—to retrace our steps. I urge Free Traders in this Committee to carry in their minds the fact that we are making a start which will be very difficult to reverse. We all know what will happen on the next Budget. Suppose, for the sake of argument—I do not say it is probable—that on that occasion there is a Free Trade Government and the question of these taxes comes up. It would be very difficult at once to reverse the engine. My hon. Friends know it would be very difficult. Let us carry these things clearly in our minds, and in any vote we have to give upon this Amend- 1698 ment, and others that follow it, let us fully realise what the consequence of our action will be.
§ Mr. FRANCE
Although I had not the advantage of hearing the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment, or the reply of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I wish to associate myself entirely with the observations which have just fallen from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean). I agree with him absolutely that the present is the time for these taxes to be removed. When the opportunity occurred, I voted in that sense on the last occasion when the matter was before the House. Although that was not carried, I nevertheless support heartily the proposal that a date should now be fixed on which these taxes should cease to operate. I have little hope of converting—indeed, I have no desire to attempt to convert—the Chancellor of the Exchequer to my own way of thinking on this particular matter, but I wish to remind him of some things he said on the last occasion, and also to review, with as much courtesy as I am capable of, the invitation which I understand ho has conveyed to certain members of the Committee, to wit, the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment, to go upon what has been described by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Peebles as a joy-ride which ended in disaster for one party to that enterprise. The Chancellor of the Exchequer spoke on the last occasion of the necessity of continuing the taxes in consequence of the War expenditure. Although I quite recognise that the War is not yet paid for, there is much more in the removal of these taxes than that. The amount they have yielded in the last year is inconsiderable. I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to note this fact—I am not sure whether he is aware of it—that although the sum was very small last year ho entertained hopes that for this next year it would be a larger sum. If he desires to limit the importation of motor cars and these other articles by taxation, is he not aware that at the present time there is a Department of Import Restrictions who have put considerable restrictions upon the importation of cars and parts of motor cars into this country? Therefore, I do not see how he hopes to get a larger sum than he has obtained in the past. If there are any benefits to be derived from limiting the import of the cars, the Import Restrictions Department 1699 have taken sufficiently drastic action to secure anything he may desire in that direction.
Regarding this tax as containing a very strong element of Protection, I urge him and the Leader of the House to assent to what is a very natural feeling on the part of those who hold Free Trade principles, but who are prepared to support, with certain reservations on this matter, as some of us have done, the Coalition Government with regard to a Preference to the Colonies, with regard to preventing, if it can be prevented, the deliberate dumping of articles which are proved to have been sold at a cost below the cost of manufacture in their own country in order to destroy industry in this country—if that can be proved, everyone would try to prevent it—and also with regard to those industries which are proved to be key industries, and which are absolutely essential to the life and protection of this country. Motor cars, cinematograph films, and musical-boxes do not come into those categories. Therefore, there is no ground for assuming that to vote for these taxes is to keep any bargain which anyone has made, or that to vote against them is to break any bargain anyone has made. I took particular pains at the election to make it quite clear that I reserved my opinions on this matter of the fiscal policy and Free Trade, and that I remained and intended to remain a Free Trader. There may be some who made definite arrangements to support the Government on their fiscal policy. The Chancellor of the Exchequer told us that these taxes did not in any way represent the fiscal policy of the Government. He also told us that they would be ridiculous taxes to be taken as part of the fiscal policy. They were simply being retained as a continuance of temporary war taxes put on at a time when there was very urgent reasons for so doing. Therefore, I appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on behalf of those of us who are anxious to help him in the necessary finance of this country, and to support him on the general lines of his policy, to consider the date of 30th September as one way of providing a certain amount of financial support converging the war period. By 30th September—that is, three months after the signing of Peace—there can be no reason for continuing taxes put on solely as war taxes. 1700 I would therefore urge him to regard this date as one which he can properly accept as giving an opportunity to those who wish to support his Budget as a whole, and at the same time to make it perfectly clear that this is in no sense a part of the permanent fiscal policy of the country, and that those who cannot support a protective policy are free to exercise their judgment in this matter, and take this date as the one on which these duties shall cease to operate. I would ask him to take this course, believing that in doing so he will, as he has said, not be doing anything which will seriously damage the finances of the country, and will at any rate be keeping the pledges that have been given that as soon as possible after the ending of the War these taxes shall be removed as taxes which have been put on for purely temporary purposes.
§ Mr. A. WILLIAMS
I would ask the House to contrast the tone of the speech which the Chancellor of the Exchequer made this afternoon with that of the speech which he made in introducing the Budget about two months ago, and of another speech which he made publicly about the same time. I cannot help contrasting them in my own mind, and the contrast of those speeches would determine me, if I had any doubt, to vote against these duties to-day. This afternoon the Chancellor has told us that this is really only a proposal for continuing a war measure for twelve months, because some of the reasons which led to the taxes being put on are still in existence; and that nobody will be committed to the principle of Protection at all by voting for them, but everyone will be absolutely free a year hence. That is a very specious argument to address to Free Traders, but I would ask them to remember the very different tone which he took two months or so ago, when he introduced his Budget and made a public speech on the whole fiscal question. Then he uttered, as it were, a paean of triumph at the coming of the new fiscal system', and declared his delight to have lived to see the day. I for one cannot forget that, and as a Free Trader I feel that I am bound to express my feelings by my vote on this occasion and that I cannot now accept the explanation, a little belated, that we are not supposed to be committed to any matter of principle by this vote. I am one of those who are by no means anxious to vote 1701 against the Government during the period of reconstruction. Coming to this House absolutely unpledged and free, I nevertheless have occasionally voted with the Government, and I have been blamed by my friends, perhaps, for so doing. But I am bound to say that, on this matter, it seems to me absolutely clear that, whatever thoughts the Chancellor may have now, after, perhaps, some admonition from his Friends whose support he usually gets, the thoughts which he had when he introduced the Budget were made absolutely clear by the speeches which he delivered at that time, and, therefore, I, for one, am bound to decline his invitation to support him this afternoon.
§ Mr. HOLMES
I think we are entitled to examine more carefully the reasons for retaining these Import Duties in the Budget They cannot be reimposed for the purpose of Revenue. Perhaps I might deal with the interruption which the hon. and gallant Member for Rotherham made while the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Peebles was speaking. He reminded the House that the War was not yet paid for. If the object of these Import Duties is to raise Revenue, surely the Chancellor of the Exchequer should put an Excise Duty on the same kind of articles when made in this country. If that is not done, we are surely entitled to say that these Import Duties are not put on for the purpose of revenue. What were the reasons given by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer when the duties were first imposed in 1915? They were partly with regard to shipping—that no longer is it valid reason; and partly to keep out luxuries—at a time, mind, when motor cars were not being made in this country, when all the motor car manufacturers were devoting their attention to war work for Army purposes. That applies to nearly all the articles for which the Import Duties were then put on. Again, if it is intended to put on these taxes for the purpose of keeping down the spending of money on luxuries, the Chancellor should equally put an Excise Duty on all motor cars, watches, and clocks that are made in this country. I think we are entitled, if he does not do that—and he has not done it—to brush aside the suggestion that the duties are put on for the purpose of restricting expenditure on luxuries. With regard to exchange, if he hopes that the revenue from this source will increase, clearly the numbers of 1702 foreign motor cars, watches, and clocks are going to increase, and the exchange is not going to be assisted in any way. If he wants to do it in order to assist our exchange with America, he should do it by prohibition and not by means of duties. We see, in the House, in the Coalition party, two sets of people. One set, apparently, might be induced to vote for this, but are saying that, because they made a certain bargain, they must pull their weight in the boat, and should say, "Thus far and no farther." The hon. and learned Gentleman who moved the Amendment limited the time to the 30th September; but the other section reject altogether the ne plus ultra doctrine, and are looking forward to a far greater policy of which these duties are the small beginning. I venture to put it to any tariff reformer in the House to-day that, if the Chancellor of the Exchequer were to accept the Amendment, or if by the vote of the House it were accepted, they would be bitterly disappointed—not because of any loss of revenue, not because they thought that it affected the exchange, but because they would feel that the few yards they consider they have gained in the attack on the Free Trade citadel are going to be lost. I think, therefore, that we are entitled to regard the continuance of these duties as a deliberate beginning of a definite Tariff Reform policy. At the present time the thing that is raising resentment among all classes in the country is high prices, and Import Duties, by restricting the supply of goods, by preventing supply coming up to demand, enables those who have goods to sell to keep up prices. And the Chancellor of the Exchequer is an accomplice with regard to this wholesale robbery of all classes that is going on at the present time, because, by means of the Excess Profits Duty, he shares to the extent of 40 per cent. in the swag. By keeping on these Import Duties, and any others that may subsequently be imposed, he is adding to the shortage of goods and enabling high prices to be maintained. It is a policy of enriching the few at the expense of the many, and I hope the House will reject it.
§ Mr. T. SHAW
I desire to support the Amendment and to call the attention of the House to the fact that we have had for the last twelve or fourteen years statements which would lead any reasonable man to believe that it was the essence of 1703 Parliamentary strategy to get you part way on the road; for, once part way on the road, it would be extremely difficult to turn back. I am not so unsophisticated as to believe that these things are here by accident, without design, that they are merely temporary and have no intention whatever of changing the past fiscal policy of this country. This is raising the whole issue of Protection versus Free Trade, and as a convinced Free Trader I shall support the Amendment or any other proposal which makes in the direction of absolute freedom of commerce, as against restriction in the shape of import or other duties. It may be true that the magical box of which I hear does contain some marvellous secret that will put this country on the straight path to progress and to commercial supremacy. I am not so hidebound a Free Trader as to believe that Free Trade in itself will attain our object. I simply believe that Free Trade as a fiscal system is a better system than Protection. But neither Free Trade nor Protection alone will solve our difficulties, and I am afraid that this tinkering will not help towards a real solution of the problem of the future of our country. What are we going to gain in any way by restricting trade? Surely, no one holds at the present day that restrictive duties which may keep out of the country things that are made in other countries will be without effect on the things we send out of the country. We are not merely an importing people; we are an exporting people; and we are, for our size, the greatest exporting nation in the world. These duties which are now proposed are not calculated to help our exports in any possible way. Rather are they calculated to restrict them, and the experience we have had—and this to my mind is the clearest proof as to whether the policy which the Government is now adopting is a safe one—the experience we have had of artificial protection during the War is the most conclusive argument of all as to whether Protection is or is not good for the country. Ask any man who has a business in which formerly he has used goods from foreign countries, what the result of artificial protection has been. Glasses were formerly lid.; now they are 1s. 3d. Is it because they cost 1s. 3d. to manufacture, or because the home maker has had his chance of bleeding the public? These are the things we have to look at in deciding whether the one policy or the other is the better. We 1704 are going, as a Labour party, to vote consistently for a Free Trade policy through, and through—not, as I have said, because we believe that Free Trade in itself is responsible for the commercial supremacy of the country, but because we believe that Free Trade is the truest and best fiscal policy, and that with Free Trade combined with initiative there is a better chance for the country to attain the supremacy it previously had, and which I doubt very much whether it has lost at the present day.
§ Major KELLEY
I should not have risen in this Debate if it had not been that the question of supporting Free Trade or Protection had arisen. We have never had Free Trade in this country. We have had a lot of tries at it. but I am always very interested when I hear my Friends of the Labour party condemning Protection There are no stronger protectionists on. God's earth than the Labour party them-serves, and they do quite rightly. I shall support the Chancellor of the Exchequer, not on the question of Free Trade and Protection, but very largely on account of the motor industry. The motor builders have handed their works over to the Government for war purposes. To allow any nation to come in until our motor works have got back to their old position would be absolutely unfair to them. It is not a question of Protection, but of fair play. If the motor industry has to get back to the position when the War broke out, American motor cars ought to be kept out until business has time to reconstruct itself. I am speaking neither of Free Trade nor Protection, but of fair play to the industry.
§ Mr. LAMBERT
The last speaker has really given away his own point of view. He has opened the box. I do not propose to engage in the old controversies of Protection and Free Trade. I wish to appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as a business man, to consider the Amendment favourably, because I cannot conceive, if he wishes Protection to be the permanent fiscal policy of this country, that he would wish to continue these duties. They seem to me to be open to the greatest possible attack. I was a Member of the House when Mr. McKenna proposed these duties. They were then very violently attacked by some colleagues of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. If I am not greatly mistaken, my right hon. Friend (Sir A. Mond) was one of those 1705 who led the attack on them, and, looking back, I cannot help thinking that Mr. McKenna would have been better advised had he not endeavoured to keep out these articles by means of taxation, but had adopted a policy of prohibition. That would have been a perfectly simple and wise step to take in the interests of the exchange, and in his endeavour to prevent motor cars and articles of luxury coming in from abroad. But as I understand it, the Chancellor of the Exchequer now bases his support of these taxes upon the argument that he wishes to restrict the import of motor cars, etc., from America. He does not want us to send money abroad. If that be so, and if that is the basis of his argument, let him drop these taxes and rely upon the powers of the Board of Trade. The Board of Trade has absolute power to restrict these articles from coming in.
There seems to be an orgy of extravagance. People do not realise that the country is in a very much poorer state than it was before the War. I have been credibly informed that actually the owners of Rolls-Royce motor cars have been offered between £4,000 and £5,000 for their machines. That is to my mind monstrous extravagance. It would be far better in the interests of the Chancellor if he put an Excise Duty on the sale of such cars as that. He would get more revenue. I am speaking purely from the point of view of checking luxurious expenditure, and we ought to endeavour to check luxurious expenditure. The Government and the wealthier classes ought to show that there is some desire for thrift. The wealthier classes, those who have profiteered during the War, are not showing a good example of thrift to those who are represented by the Labour party. I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as a business man, which will be the most good to the country, the importation of a Ford motor car or the sale of a Rolls-Royce machine at 4,500 guineas or something like that? A Ford motor car, at any rate, can be made to fulfil a very useful purpose. A Rolls-Royce motor of 4,000 to 5,000 guineas is simply an article of luxury. I am trying to persuade the right hon. Gentleman from the point of view of luxury taxes. As I understand it, this proposal in the Bill is pressed because the Chancellor of the Exchequer wishes to prevent extravagant expenditure. The Ford motor car is a useful implement. The Rolls-Royce is purely a luxury. Let 1706 me put another point which I hope will appeal to the right hon. Gentleman. If he continues these duties he must give a Preference upon them. After you have given a preference for some little time the Colonies may find themselves aggrieved if it is not continued, and therefore the duties must be continued. If he wishes to restrict the import of motor cars, let him do so through the Board of Trade. I feel quite certain that if he continues the duties it will rightly be held up in the country as being an endeavour to protect the motor industry at the expense of the other consumers in the country.
§ Major KELLEY
I made it perfectly clear that I was speaking neither of Protection nor of Free Trade, but of fair play.
§ Mr. STURROCK
I appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to give us a definite statement as to the Import Duties, which have been so very severely criticised. I should like it to be clearly understood that I am very far from being desirous of making any criticism or complaint of the Government. But it appears to me that, in view of the fact that the Government's permanent fiscal policy must be unfolded at no very distant date, and as a good deal of mystery surrounds its exact construction, the best possible policy would be to give us a clear promise that these Import Duties, which absolutely reek and stink of the old-fashioned Protection in its crudest shape, should be cleared out of the way, in order that the new policy may be brought in at a time when the ground is cleared for a fresh consideration of all these fiscal questions. When I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman on that ground to promise us a definite conclusion of these Import Duties I am sure there are other Members who will sympathise with my point of view when we sit through a discussion which every moment tends more and more to partake of the old-fashioned Debates of pre-war days. I earnestly hope in the new conditions of industry, labour, wages, and every relevant question which affects us to-day, we shall not have a repetition of the old speeches, no doubt conscientiously enough delivered under the old conditions but which are entirely out of place at present in the new world in which we are living. The hon. and gallant Gentleman (Major Kelley) was just reviving every old-fashioned argument. I am not speaking in attack upon Protectionists or Free Traders, and the less we refer to those 1707 exact terms the better we shall get on. The hon. and gallant Gentleman stated that the War was not paid for, a truth which we can all accept, and which is certainly not of a partisan nature, but it appears to me that on that ground these Import Duties cannot be defended either here or in the country. Whatever we may do in the House, it is perfectly plain that the country is taking a new view of fiscal policy, and I do not mind saying, as a believer in the freest possible trade which we can enjoy, that I accept the Preference proposals of the Government because I think if our overseas Possessions express any desire to enter into such arrangements with us we should show the blackest of black ingratitude if we were not prepared to meet them in a fair and friendly spirit. As for these duties on which this Amendment bears, I trust the Chancellor of the Exchequer will see his way. in order that the pitch for the new permanent fiscal policy of the Government may not be queered, to remove these things in order that we may come to the consideration of the big questions in the near future from a fresh standpoint altogether.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
This is one of the most curious Debates I have ever listened to. An hon. Member opposite says he supports these taxes because he thinks they are Protectionist.
§ Lord R. CECIL
Then the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lambert) says anything more ridiculous than to suggest that this can be part of a policy of Protection is inconceivable. But he opposes them. In my view he is perfectly right. That these duties are not part of a policy of Protection is really manifest. I am entirely unconvinced as to the wisdom of a regular system of Protection in this country. I personally think a case for that has not been made out. But to suggest that these taxes, imposed by Mr. McKenna and now retained on the ground that the reasons for their imposition hold good, can be the foundation of a policy of Protection really seems to me fiscalitis run mad. Let us really look at the thing from a reasonable point of view. These taxes, as I understand them, are imposed partly no doubt for revenue—not to produce and they did not and do not produce a very large sum—but mainly with a view to discourage importation. Assuming that that was a good ground, the ground remains as 1708 strong as it ever was. There is no doubt that from the peculiar position of this country it is just as desirable at this minute to discourage importation as it ever was. Therefore Mr. McKenna's ground remains absolutely unassailable.
I agree most fully with the view as to the desirability of economy, but this question of imports does not really touch the question of spending money on luxuries. The point is that at the present moment every article we import means a further drain on our exchange, and, therefore, unless there is some really good reason for the importation it is better that the importation should not take place. The argument about luxury is perfectly sound, but that is quite a different matter. I strongly adhere to the argument as to the urgent necessity of economy. It seems to me astonishing when we look at the kind of way people are living, and we consider what is the real financial state of things at the present time. T believe—I said so some weeks ago in the House of Commons—that we are on the verge, in Europe generally, not so much in this country, of a financial disaster of incredible magnitude. We may get through without it or we may not. All I can say is that anyone who at this moment wastes money or squanders money, whether it be the Government or private individuals, is doing a very serious injury to the welfare of this country. But that particular aspect does not seem to me to be affected one way or another by this tax. It may be true that it would be a good thing to discourage the purchase of Rolls-Royce motor cars at £4,500, or whatever the price may be. If, having to pay £4,500 for a motor car, does not discourage the purchaser it will require a very severe fiscal measure to discourage him. But that does not really affect this question of imports.
The right hon. Gentleman went on to say, "Why not use the Board of Trade machinery for restricting imports." I do not wish to see that machinery employed more than is absolutely necessary. It has been used, and is being used no doubt, but I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that that is at least as objectionable on other grounds as the Import Duty may be. It leads to complications and difficulties in trade, it means more or less a system of licences, it re-establishes the fetters on trade, and the control of trade which are so serious as to greatly outweigh, in my judgment, any advantage you may get 1709 from the operation of that control. I confess that if you are to have any restriction on imports it appears to me to be a more businesslike plan to do what Mr. McKenna did, and put on an Import Duty. To be solemnly told in the House of Commons by the Leader of the Opposition that I am going to imperil my Free Trade orthodoxy by continuing to support the duties imposed by Mr. McKenna on four or five articles of luxury, so long as the financial members of the Government assure me that the condition of affairs is similar, or the same as it was when the duties were imposed, and to suggest that that has any bearing whatever upon the Free Trade controversy is really, if I may say so with respect, an insult to my intelligence. I shall certainly support the Government in this matter.
§ Mr. ACLAND
I hope to be able to mention an argument which perhaps will not be an insult to the right hon. Gentleman's intelligence. I suggest that there is a difference between the bearing of these proposals now and when Mr. McKenna proposed them. At that time there was for all intents and purposes no home manufacture of these articles going on, and therefore the duties did not in any sort of way give any help to any British industry. Now, as we have been told quite clearly, one hon. Member supports the duty because it will help the motor industry to re-establish itself. Of course, the industry quite naturally and legitimately is wanting to settle down again, and it is exactly from that point of view that I support the Amendment limiting the date to which these duties shall be continued without proper consideration by this House. To put it in a nutshell, your restricted import of to-day becomes your vested interest of to-morrow. If these duties are allowed to go on for some months, we shall find it almost impossible to get rid of them, because the argument will then be used which is not used now, that under the shelter of these duties you have set up vested interests, and that people have been employed who otherwise would not be employed. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Quite so. In a little corner of industry you will have put people into employment who otherwise would not be employed. Of course, anyone who studies economics at all knows that by restricting the general freedom of exchange you diminish the whole volume of trade. That is absolutely axiomatic. The 1710 argument will be used in regard to these particular people who have been protected that under the shelter of this duty they have been able to give special employment at special rates of wages. I notice that these manufacturers are always very careful when they are gaining temporarily from these prohibitions to pay very good wages so that they may get the workers on their side. If the thing continues beyond the limit of the number of months contained in the Amendment, undoubtedly we shall have the argument brought up in this House that those particular protected industries have been given a vested interest in the matter. I was very glad to hear the outspoken speech of an hon. Member belonging to the Labour party, who understood as he and his colleagues always did in our old controversies, that restriction of the freedom of commerce is always a handicap to general employment.
Another point is that of the exchange question. As I understand the matter, our exchange is only bad, or it may be bad with countries on the other side of the Atlantic. It is not bad with European countries. If that is so, surely the importation of cheap lever clocks and so on, say, from Switzerland does no harm whatever to our exchange. I think it is a fact that with Switzerland our exchange is not bad, but if our exchange with Switzerland is bad then my argument on that point does not hold good in regard to Switzerland. If our exchange is infinitely worse with the United States of America than with any other country, and if it is true that, on the whole, it is satisfactory with European countries, and only really bad with American countries, it seems to me that in order to emphasise and justify that side of his argument, for which there may be something to be said, it ought to be possible only to put on duties against particular goods coming from the United States of America. I should like that question gone into.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
Does the right hon. Gentleman really suggest that I should impose duties with the direct object of discriminating against America and America only?
§ Mr. ACLAND
That is the direction in which all the fiscal operations of my right hon. Friend seem to me to tend. It seems to me that the whole basis of the protectionist system is in that direction.
§ Mr. ACLAND
On your theory, certainly. On the theory that the right hon. Gentleman has adopted that sort of thing is a legitimate operation, a sort of regular protectionist tariff, one scale of duties against your Dominions, one against neutrals, another against your ex-enemies, and so on. It means discriminating between goods coming from the Dominions and goods coming from foreign countries. The right hon. Gentleman is well committed to the system of discrimination, and it seems to me to be part of the theory upon which he has embarked to enable him to discriminate on this question of exchange with regard to countries against which our exchange is really bad. Of course, I and my colleagues stand for no discrimination at all in goods coming in. We believe that the more goods that come into this country the more goods we shall be able to send out of the country, and the more general employment and prosperity there will be here. Once you have justified tariffs on the ground of exchange, it seems to me to be a perfectly logical state to discriminate against countries with regard to that particular question of exchange. I would like to have reasons from the Government why this policy is not decided before we come to a Division. In general I support the Amendment on the ground that the longer the present system of duties remain the more certain we are to have the argument that vested interests have been set up and special people have been put into special employment in special corners of industry whose unemployment it will be absolutely impossible to risk by sweeping away the duties. I believe that is the edge of the precipice which leads to a general system of tariffs in this country.
§ Mr. LAMBERT
As I understand it, these duties will go on until August, 1920. The Amendment now before the House says that they shall be terminated by 30th September, 1919. Will the right hon. Gentleman accept some sort of compromise in view of the very strong feeling on this question?
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
I want to preserve the right of. the House to consider these duties on the next Budget, if it has not considered and dealt with them in the interval, which is possible. I took the ordinary Budget date to which to continue the duties. If right hon. and hon. Mem- 1712 bers would feel relieved by my taking an earlier date and so making a distinction between these duties and the other duties in the Budget I am quite ready to do it. If the right hon. Gentleman is satisfied by my saying 1st May I will meet him on that ground. I hope, whether that is acceptable or not, that in any case we may come to a decision upon this particular issue now.
§ Captain W. BENN
In view of what the right hon. Gentleman has just said I should like to know exactly how we stand. When the Budget statement was first made, the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies made a very interesting speech in which he declared that these duties on manufactures were giving a preference to the Colonies. He added that we might think that it was a very small matter, but Canada was prepared to become a, very big manufacturing country, and this preference on motor cars which we were going to give to Canada was going to be a very valuable thing indeed. I think he said that Canada would become a hot rival with our own manufacturers of motor cars in our own market. If the right hon. Gentleman is only going to continue these duties until next May, what is going to be the position of the Colonies to whom so many hopes have been held out and whose manufacturers have been told that under the shelter of this preference they were going to do well? How are they going to stand when the day comes for the right hon. Gentleman to withdraw the duties. This point ought to be cleared up before we come to any decision on the offer made by the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
The hon. and gallant Member has no intention and no desire to arrive at any basis of agreement, and in that case I invite the hon. Member to vote against us, and let us have a decision on that basis, if the hon. Member does not wish for conciliation.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
The hon. and gallant Member does not wish for conciliation; he wishes to make agreement between different sections of supporters of the Government impossible, if he can. I am anxious that the supporters of the Government should agree if possible. With that view, I have responded to the 1713 invitation of my right hon. Friend opposite, and am willing to alter the date, and so make a difference between these duties and the other Duties in the Budget. I think that that is an offer which does meet the desire of my right hon. Friend, and I hope of the Mover of the Amendment. It will distinguish those Duties from the others, and mark the fact that they are provisional.
§ Sir R. ADKINS
I appreciate very much what my right hon. Friend has done, and I have no doubt of his bonâ fides. I am in this position. I am in the hands of the Committee. If it be the wish of the Committee that this alteration of the date should take place as marking the differentiation which lies behind this Motion, and which has been behind every speech made in support of it, then, of course, I will be happy to accept it; but if it is not the case, one would naturally vote for one's own Motion.
§ Question put, "That the words 'except the new Import Duties' be there inserted."1714
§ Sir R. ADKINS
The first Amendment which marks these out from the others is one which I am sure commends itself to my hon. and gallant Friend as much as to me. This difference of opinion as to whether it is right to accept the 1st of May next year instead of the 30th of September this year does not arise on this.
I beg to move, after the word "twenty" ["twenty, that is to say"], to insert the wordsand as regards the new Import Duties until the first day of May, nineteen hundred and twenty.
That those words be there inserted.
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 257; Noes, 75.1715
|Division No. 62.]||AYES.||[7.50 p.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral||Cautley, Henry Strother||Geddes, Rt. Hon. Sir A. C. (Basingstoke)|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord Hugh (Oxford U.)||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin)||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Chadwick, R. Burton||Glyn, Major R.|
|Ainsworth, Captain C.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Birm., W.)||Greame, Major P. Lloyd|
|Amery, Lieut.-Col. L. C. M. S.||Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)||Green, A. (Derby)|
|Armitage, Robert||Cheyne, Sir William Watson||Green, J. F. (Leicester)|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Com. F. W.||Child, Brig.-Gen. Sir Hill||Gregory, Holman|
|Atkey, A. R.||Clay, Capt. H. H. Spender||Greig, Colonel James William|
|Austin, Sir H.||Coats, Sir Stuart||Gretton, Colonel John|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Griggs, Sir Peter|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Colfox, Major W. P.||Guinness, Capt. Hon. R. (Southend)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Colvin, Brigadier-General R. B.||Guinness, Lt-Col. Hon. W. E. (B. St. E.)|
|Barlow, Sir Montague (Salford, S.)||Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Hacking, Captain D. H.|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Conway, Sir W. Martin||Hailwood, A.|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Cory, Sir Clifford John (St. Ives)||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir Fred (Dulwich)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Cory, Sir James Herbert (Cardiff)||Hallas, E.|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Courthope, Major George Loyd||Hambro, Angus Valdemar|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Craig, Captain Charles C. (Antrim)||Hamilton, Major C. G. C. (Altrincham)|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Craig, Col. Sir James (Down, Mid.)||Hanson, Sir Charles|
|Benn, Sir Arthur S. (Plymouth)||Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Harris, Sir H. P. (Paddington, S.)|
|Bennett, T. J.||Dalziel, Sir Davison (Brixton)||Haslam, Lewis|
|Bentinck, Lt.-Col. Lord H. Cavendish-||Davidson, Major-Gen Sir John H.||Henderson, Major V. L.|
|Bigland, Alfred||Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Hennessy, Major G.|
|Birchall, Major J. D.||Davies, T. (Cirencester)||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)|
|Bird, Alfred||Dawes, J. A.||Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon|
|Blades, Sir George R.||Dennis, J. W.||Hickman, Brig.-Gen. Thomas E.|
|Blair, Major Reginald||Dixon, Captain H.||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel F.|
|Blane, T. A.||Dockrell, Sir M.||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John|
|Boles, Lieut.-Col, D. F.||Donald, T.||Hood, Joseph|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Duncannon, Viscount||Hope, Harry (Stirling)|
|Brackenbury, Col. H. L.||Du Pre, Colonel W. B.||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)|
|Breese, Major C. E.||Elliot, Capt. W. E. (Lanark)||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. (Midlothian)|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Elliott, Lt.-Col. Sir G. (Islington, W.)||Hope, John Deans (Berwick)|
|Brittain, Sir Harry E.||Eyres-Monsell, Commander||Hopkins, J. W. W.|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Col. A. L. H.||Falcon, Captain M.||Horne, Edgar (Guildford)|
|Burn, Colonel C. R. (Torquay)||Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Howard, Major S. G.|
|Burn, T. H. (Belfast)||Farquharson, Major A. C.||Hume-Williams, Sir Wm, Ellis|
|Butcher, Sir J. G.||Fell, Sir Arthur||Hurd, P. A.|
|Campbell, J. G. D.||FitzRoy, Capt. Hon. Edward A.||Inskip, T. W. H.|
|Campion, Col. W. R.||Forestier-Walker, L.||Jephcott, A. R.|
|Carr, W. T.||Foxcroft, Captain C.||Jesson, C.|
|Carter, R. A. D. (Manchester)||Ganzoni, Captain F. C.||Jodrell, N. P.|
|Johnson, L. S.||Mosley, Oswald||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Stanler, Capt. Sir Beville|
|Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Murray, Hon. G. (St. Rollox)||Stanley, Colonel Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Jones, William Kennedy (Hornsey)||Murray, John (Leeds, W.)||Stanton, Charles Butt|
|Joynson-Hicks, William||Nall, Major Joseph||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Kelly, Major Fred (Rotherham)||Nelson, R. F. W. R.||Stephenson, Colonel H. K.|
|Kellaway, Frederick George||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. (Exeter)||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|King, Commander Douglas||Nicholson, W. (Petersfield)||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Nield, Sir Herbert||Talbot, G. A. (Hemel Hempstead)|
|Knight, Capt. E. A.||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.||Taylor, J. (Dumbarton)|
|Knights, Captain H.||Oman, C. W. C.||Terrell, G. (Chippenham, Wilts)|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||O'Neill, Capt Hon. Robert W. H.||Terrell, Capt. R. (Henley, Oxford)|
|Lane-Fox, Major G. R.||Palmer, Brig.-Gen. G. (Westbury)||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Law, A. J. (Rochdale)||Parry, Major Thomas Henry||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, S.)|
|Law, Right Hon. A. Bonar (Glasgow)||Pearce, Sir William||Tickler, Thomas George|
|Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ. Wales)||Peel, Lt.-Col. R. F. (Woodbridge)||Townley, Maximilan G.|
|Lister, Sir R. Ashton||Perkins, Walter Frank||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Lloyd, George Butler||Perring, William George||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Pilditch, Sir Philip||Waddington, R.|
|Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Hunt'don)||Pinkham, Lieutenant-Colonel Charles||Walker, Colonel William Hall|
|Lorden, John William||Pollock, Sir Ernest Murray||Walton, J. (York, Don Valley)|
|Lort-Williams, J.||Pratt, John William||Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.|
|Loseby, Captain C. E.||Prescott, Major W. H.||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Lyle, C. E. Leonard (Stratford)||Pulley, Charles Thornton||Weston, Colonel John W.|
|Lynn, R. J.||Purchase, H. G.||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|M'Guffiin, Samuel||Raeburn, Sir William||Whitla, Sir William|
|M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Bosworth)||Ramsden, G. T.||Wigan, Brig.-General John Tyson|
|M'Laren, R. (Lanark, N.)||Randles, Sir John Scurrah||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Macquisten, F. A.||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel Dr. N.||Williams Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|Maddocks, Henry||Rawlinson. John Frederick Peel||Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Magnus, Sir Philip||Reid, D. D.||Wilson, Colonel Leslie (Reading)|
|Malone, Major P. (Tottenham, S.)||Remer, J. B.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Marks, Sir George Croydon||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Marriott, John Arthur R.||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge and Hyde)|
|Mason, Robert||Roundell, Lieutenant-Colonel R. F.||Wood, Major S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Meysey-Thompson, Lt.-Col. E. C.||Royds, Lt.-Col. Edmund||Worsfold, T. Cato|
|Mitchell, William Lane-||Rutherford, Col. Sir J. (Darwen)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Moles, Thomas||Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)||Yate, Colonel Charles Edward|
|Molson, Major John Elsdale||Samuel, S. (Wandsworth, Putney)||Young, Sir F. W. (Swindon)|
|Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz||Sassoon, Sir Philip A. G. D.||Younger, Sir George|
|Moore-Brabazon, Lt.-Col. J. C. T.||Seager, Sir William|
|Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Seddon, J. A.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Lord E.|
|Morison. T. B. (Inverness)||Shaw, Captain W. T, (Forfar)||Talbot and Captain F. Guest.|
|Morrison, H. (Salisbury)||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis Dyke||Hancock, John George||Shaw, Hon. A. (Kilmarnock)|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Hartshorn, V.||Shaw, Tom (Preston)|
|Arnold, Sydney||Hayward, Major Evan||Short, A. (Wednesbury)|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Holmes, J. S.||Sitch, C. H.|
|Bell, James (Ormskirk)||Hopkinson, Austin (Mossley)||Smith, Capt. A. (Nelson and Colne)|
|Benn, Capt. W. (Leith)||Johnstone, J.||Smith, W. (Wellingborough)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Jones, J. (Silvertown)||Spencer, George A.|
|Bramsden, Sir T.||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Briant, F.||Kiley, James Daniel||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Lunn, William||Tootill, Robert|
|Bromfield, W.||Lyle-Samuel, A. (Eye, E. Suffolk)||Wallace, J.|
|Carter, W. (Mansfield)||Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Walsh, S. (Ince, Lanes.)|
|Casey, T. W.||Mallalieu, Frederick William||Waterson, A. E.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R.||Malone, Col. C. L. (Leyton, E.)||White, Charles F. (Derby, W.)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish University)||Morgan, Major D. Watts||Wignall, James|
|Davies, Alfred (Clitheroe)||Murray, Dr. D. (Western Isles)||Williams, A. (Consett, Durham)|
|Edge, Captain William||Neal, Arthur||Williams, J. (Gower, Glam.)|
|Edwards, C. (Bedwelty)||Newbould, A. E.||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough)|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||O'Grady, James||Williamson, Rt. Hon. Sir Archibald|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)|
|Gange, E. S.||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Glanville, Harold James||Richards, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Wood, Major Mackenzie (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh)||Richardson, R. (Moughton)||Young, Robert (Newton, Lancs.)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Guest, J. (Hemsworth, York)||Royce, William Stapleton||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. G.|
|Hall, F. (Yorks, Normanton)||Sexton, James||Thorne and Mr. Hogge|
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
On a point of Order. May I ask you, Mr. Chairman, what is the effect of the decision which the Committee has just come to on two Amendments which stand on the Paper? The first is to leave out the increased duty on tea, and 1716 the second is leave out the new Import Duty. Clause 1, as it now stands, reads as follows:The following Duties of Customs, except the new Import Duties imposed by part one of the Finance (2) Act, 1915, shall, subject as hereinafter provided, continue to be charged, levied. 1717 and paid until the 1st day of August, 1920, and as regard the new Import Duties until the 1st day of May,1920. That is to say"—and then it goes on to sayincreased duty on tea, Section 1 of the Act.May I ask whether the decision of the Committee affects the Amendment standing in the name of several hon. Members, as regards the increased duty on tea, and if it does not affect that, does it affect the leaving out of line 24, which refers to the new Import Duty? I do not press for any explanation unless you see fit to give it, but I am in some doubt on the point.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The Committee has just decided that as regards the new Import Duties they are to continue until the first day of May, 1920; it is quite a positive decision. Therefore, it would be obviously impossible to have an Amendment to say that they shall not continue beyond 30th August, which is the effect of leaving out line 24. So far, I think it is quite clear.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
No, Sir, with all respect. Is it not within the power of the Committee to leave out any one of these items? I do not know whether you are going to allow debate on the increased duty on tea. Some Members are in difficulty as to what they have decided in the last Division.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think the point is perfectly clear. The Committee have inserted an Amendment in the Bill, that as regards the new Import Duties they shall continue until 1st May, 1920. It is perfectly plain that you cannot propose to have another Division which would be contradictory. The same thing does not apply to the question of tea. We have not taken a specific decision on that, and, therefore, I propose to call on the hon. Member in whose name the Amendment stands.
§ Sir R. ADKINS
May I suggest that not only is that open, but I take it that the date to which the proposed duty on tea is to continue still remains the date, August, 1920?
§ Mr. ARNOLD
I beg to move, to leave out the wordsIncreased duty on tea…1.The effect of this is to abolish altogether the duty on tea, and, as one who has opposed this duty for many years, I am very 1718 glad to have the opportunity of moving the Amendment. In my opinion, the Tea Duty is a thoroughly bad tax.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member must not introduce Amendments with the wrong speech. This is not abolishing the duty, but increasing the Tea Duty.
§ Mr. ARNOLD
With respect, I contend that it is, as a matter of fact, abolishing the Tea Duty altogether. If, however, you rule otherwise, I will confine my remarks to the lesser issue. This line in the Clause really has relation to the Finance Act of 1915, and I think that, as a matter of fact, the effect of this Amendment is to abolish the Tea Duty altogether. At any rate, that is what I want to do. It violates two of the main canons of taxation. All taxation should be equitable and economically sound. This Tea Duty is neither. It is inequitable in its incidence, because, as everyone knows, indirect taxation of this kind presses much more heavily upon the poorer classes than upon the richer classes; and not only so, but the Tea Duty is inequitable as between poor and poor, inasmuch as the amount of a man's contribution depends not upon ability to pay, but upon the size of his family, and that is no criterion at all of ability to pay. Generally speaking, the larger a man's family the less is he able to bear taxation, the less margin has he for that purpose. Under this Tea Duty we arrive at the result that those least able to pay have, owing to the number of their family, to pay the most. Surely that is utterly wrong, unjust, and indefensible. The duty is economically unsound, because it presses with peculiar severity upon those who are near, or below, the margin of subsistence. The truth is that tea is a necessity. It is an academic, armchair view to argue that tea is a luxury. I need not labour that point, because it was admitted in a previous Debate this Session by the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself, who agreed that tea was a necessity. Certainly for the poorer classes it is a necessity, because there is nothing cheaper they can drink. I should like to quote some words which were used by the present Prime Minister. Needless to say they were spoken by him some time ago, before he became corrupted by association with his present colleagues. He was talking about a duty of this kind, and he said this:One thing I am sure will be accepted by every Member of this House, and that is that we ought at any rate to avoid taxes on the neces- 1719 saries of life. I referred some time ago in the course of discussion in this House, to the old age pensions officer's reports. There was one thing in those reports which struck me very forcibly, and that was they all reported that the poorer the people they had to deal with, the more was their food confined to bread and tea, and of the price of that tea, which is of course of the poorest quality, half went to the tax-gatherer. That is always the worst of indirect taxation on the people. The poorer they are the more heavily they are taxed. Tea and sugar are necessaries of life, and I should think that the rich man who would wish to spare his own pocket at the expense of the bare pockets -of the poor, is a very shabby rich man indeed.This Tea Duty, much higher now than then, has enormously increased the price of tea. It is a food duty, and in many cases is reducing the miserable pittance of those who already have not got enough to live on. That is a point which has been put to the Treasury again and again in the last few years. No real reply has been forthcoming, and as a fact no real reply is possible. All that the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the Financial Secretary can say is that the State must have the money. Let us look at that reply. As has already been pointed out to-day, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer was anxious to institute his own pet preference duty he was not so concerned about money. He sacrificed £3,000,000 without a qualm. Look at the finance of the Tea Duty. A rough calculation shows that this duty is taking out of the pockets of the poorer classes about £11,000,000 a year. That means a very great deal to these poor people, but it does not mean much to the Exchequer in these days: £11,000,000 is, in point of fact, only about 1 per cent. of the total revenue which the Chancellor of the Exchequer expects to raise this year. I say it would be much more in accordance with the wise principles of taxation, much fairer, and would cause much less hardship—that it would cause no real hardship at all to get this money, not by taxing the food of the poor, but by putting an extra 2d. on the Income Tax of the wealthier classes and by slight changes in the Super-tax. It is a great mistake to suppose, as many do, that the rises which have taken place in wages are, in anything like all cases, commensurate with the rise in the cost of living. It will be found that, despite increased wages, and so forth, large numbers of the poorer classes are worse off to-day than they were before the War.
First and foremost, there are the old age pensioners, who are much worse off. 1720 Then there are many industrial workers, particularly in the textile, building, and printing trades, and there are many agricultural labourers, many Post Office employés and municipal employés, hundreds of thousands of clerks and shop assistants, lodging-house keepers, and hundreds of thousands of widows and spinsters, and people living on very small fixed incomes, while there are the families of many of our soldiers who are still in the Army, because in a large number of instances the separation allowances do not equal the wages previously earned, and certainly not the wages which would be earned to-day. Again, but by no means least in importance, there arc the families of men who have been disabled in the War and who have been pensioned, in many cases with an inadequate pension, and have come home after fighting for their country and found as their reward not only that in many instances their pension is inadequate, but also that the food which they require for themselves and their families is to be very heavily taxed. Owing to the great rise which has taken place in the cost of living, many of these people have been driven near or below the level of subsistence, and the Tea Duty is inflicting a great hardship on them. It trenches on the margin of bare necessities and tends to reduce the efficiency of the workers, and it does that at this critical time, when it is important in the national interest that the physical efficiency of the workers should be maintained at the highest possible point. How can the Government expect this increased output for which they are constantly asking if they decrease the industrial efficiency of the workers by heavy taxes upon food? You cannot have it both ways, and it would be much sounder policy to abolish all the taxes on food. It would pay in the end in increased output owing to the increased industrial efficiency.
There is another vital objection to taxes of this kind, and in this respect clearly an indirect tax like the Tea Duty is in a very different category from a direct tax like the Income Tax. In the case of the Income Tax, when income falls below a certain point the taxation is reduced, and when it gets down to a minimum of £130 a year the taxation ceases altogether. In my view that is a most wise and sound procedure, and in accordance with the principles of sound taxation, just as I think the Income Tax limit of £130 should be raised, but this provision is not true at 1721 all of the Tea Duty. The Tea Duty goes on all the time; it is always there. A man's income may fall well below the subsistence level, he may have a very large family, but it does not matter—the Tea Duty goes on, and it falls alike upon the duke and the old age pensioner. Under the Income Tax, in the case of those with smaller incomes, there are abatements in respect of wife and children so as to give some relief to men of moderate means who have large families. But in the case of the Tea Duty there is no such provision, and, as I have said before, the larger the family the more the man has to pay. The whole tax is wrong, and it surely does not require very much imagination to realise what a duty of this kind means, especially combined with the other food duties, to the householder of the poor when every penny has to be considered and is of account. What does it mean? It means that in many cases an insufficient margin for buying nourishing food for the children is still further reduced. I do not think that any amount of argument or any plea from the Treasury Bench can reply to that. It is no use saying, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer has said, that he must have money. I say that you may get your money too dear if you are going against sound principles and imposing a burden on the poorer classes, which is having an injurious effect on their health and efficiency. In my view the cumulative objections to the Tea Duty are sufficient and final, and I move this Amendment, and hope it will be largely supported in the Lobby, and I am sure that those who vote for it will be acting in accordance with sound fiscal policy, and in the best interests of the State.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I beg to second the Amendment. The increased taxes on tea are going to hit the working classes and the poorer classes particularly hard, and they are also going to hit the small-salaried class, people living on pensions, and as the result of other taxes which are being imposed or kept on in this Budget I fear there will be a continuation of the present high prices of all necessities of life. I am afraid we are hampering trade in the interests of certain small classes of manufacturers, and we are going by that means to keep up the price of living. In fact, the supporters of Protection, who have been supporters of Protection for years, say quite plainly that this is the time to introduce Protection because, they say, the people are used to 1722 high prices. As things are, I am afraid we are in for a period of high prices for some time to come. That being the case, these people are particularly hard hit by this increased tax, and I do hope the Amendment will be very seriously considered, especially as we have so many other means of raising money at the present time which are not touched. The rich are let off comparatively lightly in this Budget, and when we consider what has happened in the last four or five years, many of us in this House consider that the rich are not sufficiently made to pay their share in this Budget and are let off comparatively lightly in comparison with the losses of all sorts, both financial and other-wise, which the great mass of the people who are on the poverty line have suffered. That being the case, it seems to me a particularly unfortunate tax, this increased Tea Duty, and I beg that the Committee will support this Amendment, and that we shall get a modification of the tax.
§ Mr. SPENCER
The party to which I belong take an objection to any form of indirect taxation that bears upon the prime necessities of life, and tea has undoubtedly become one of the prime necessities in the life of the poorer classes of this country. I am very pleased indeed to have the privilege of supporting the Amendment. It is perfectly true that the families differ very materially. You may have a family of eight or nine where there is only one bread winner, and the income may be confined absolutely to the income of one man, but the purchase of tea in that family will far outweigh the purchase of the family where there happens to be two or three in the family. Therefore it must follow that the taxation which is levied upon that family is far outweighing the taxation which is levied upon a family of two or three, even though the incomes-may be equal. It must further follow, therefore, that the incidence of the tax is an unjust one. It is unjust because lit pays no regard whatever to income or to the ability to pay it. Probably that is the most real objection that can be urged against this impost. The Mover of the Amendment says that, whether it be a duke or whether it be a pensioner, they have to pay alike. That is perfectly correct. It weighs most heavily upon those who are poor because this is not an ad valorem tax. If the poor people purchase a quarter of a pound of 1723 tea of the poorest character, they have to pay the same tax as the rich have to pay for the best possible tea, and everybody knows, especially the housewife, who understands the value of tea, that if you buy the poorer class of tea the benefit derived from it is not nearly so great as from the highest class of tea. There may be an old age pensioner or two, old age pensioners who have no other means of subsistence than the pension they derive from the State. In all it may amount to about 15s. a week, and out of that pittance, with which they have to provide nourishment for themselves, we have here a tax levied which, of necessity, deprives them of the sustenance they certainly ought to have, and for that reason we have no alternative but to oppose the imposition of a tax of this character.
I know it is often said by those who defend the Government that there must be an equal sacrifice in relation to these taxes, whether they are rich people or whether they are poor people. In that theory there is a mistaken belief that the only contribution that me labouring classes make is the contribution they make to the Exchequer. When we examine the source of all revenue, of all wealth, of all taxes, it is derived from the labour of the people of this country, either by hand or by brain, and the people upon whom we levy this impost are the people who are creating the wealth whence you derive your profits and dividends to pay the taxes which are levied direct upon the people of this country. Therefore, this is not the only tax which is levied upon the people of this class. I think the statistics which have been supplied by the Government in relation to revenue and to taxation reveal some very startling facts. As a matter of fact, I think it reveals the fact, that, taking the people who are exempt from direct taxation owing to abatement, and coupling that with those who are having to pay tax, there are about 5,346,000 who are actually paying direct Income Tax. Taking five people as the basis of family life, that would account for about 26,500,000 of the population of this land, and therefore there must be from 20,000,000 to 25,000,000 people in this country at the present time whose income is far less than the £130 level, which has been allowed as an income which should not bear any direct taxation. Yet the Government propose to extract from those people £1,800,000. It has been truly and 1724 very wisely stated by the Mover of this Amendment that this is entrenching upon the physical necessities of these people, and they are the people who, to a very large extent, must attend to our mills, our furnaces, our factories, and our mines. If you have 25,000,000 people and the income of the breadwinner of the family is less than £130 a year, it must necessarily follow that you are depriving these families of some of the prime necessities of life.
For that reason, I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer should pause before he attempts to place this imposition upon a class of people who, from a financial point of view, cannot sustain it. I think one of the canons of taxation is that you should have some regard to the ability of people to pay. Are these 25,000,000 people, 5,000,000 the heads of families, in a position to bear, without affecting the general standard of living, this impost? I think it is the most insidious form in which you can levy taxation upon a people. You are hitting them, and they really do not know what is hitting them. It is a dishonest way of deriving taxation from the people. The only honest way is to tax people in a way that they know they are being taxed. Poor people in purchasing a quarter of a pound of tea at the present time do not know how much tax they bear, and it is because of that that the Government continue this impost on the people. It loaves us with no course open but relentlessly to oppose the continuation of this tax or any other tax of this nature which is levied upon the prime necessities of the people. We believe in taxation. We believe in taxation when a man is left with an income which will sustain himself and family in a standard of comfort and decency. But if there is to be a tax, let it be a direct and not an indirect tax, and a tax according to one's ability to pay, but do not continue to tax the poorer portion of the inhabitants of this country in the manner we are taxing them at the present time. It is a standing disgrace to a civilised people to tax necessities which are required to sustain the people from day to day. I support the Amendment.
§ Mr. BALDWIN (Joint Financial Secretary to the Treasury)
I hesitate for a moment in rising lest any hon. Members wish to enforce the points that have been placed before the House by my hon. Friend the Member for Penistone (Mr. 1725 Arnold) and those who have followed him. Of course, those of us who have the pleasure of the acquaintance of the hon. Member for Penistone are not surprised at the onslaught he has made against one out of the number of indirect taxes that is still levied on the British public. He has been for many years a consistent and convinced advocate of direct taxation and direct taxation alone. Nothing that I or anyone else is likely to say will reconcile him to this particular impost, or to any other imposition of indirect taxation. But I may remind the House—I quite admit what my hon. Friend has said that there is much to be said on the subject—that this is part of the struggle that has gone on for many years between direct and indirect taxation. It is a matter of common knowledge to all of those who are interested in the finances of this country that the whole position of taxation within the last generation has been changed. Whereas many years ago the bulk of taxation was indirect, we have passed through various stages till the two kinds of taxation balanced each other, until we have come to the present day. Indirect taxation is now comparatively a small fraction of the whole amount levied, and, taking a short term of years, is a constantly lessening factor. I am sure that that natural process of evolution must give my hon. Friend opposite great satisfaction.
This Tea Tax is one that has been levied in this country for a very large number of years. It has been levied hitherto indiscriminately by either of the great parties who have alternately governed this country, whether Liberals or Conservatives. It may be that the Labour party, when they come into power, may sweep the whole Tea Tax away. But my right hon. Friend is not in a position to do that yet. One or two hon. Members have spoken of this tax as though this year it were an increased tax—a fresh imposition. That is not the case. This year we merely continue the rate which has been in force for the last four years. I do not think that anyone could fairly argue—unless he holds very strong views on the injustice of indirect taxes—that the time has yet come when we can sweep away any item in our Budget which brings in as much revenue as the Tea Duty does, especially having regard to the fact that in this financial year the taxation, high as it is and widespread, is inadequate to meet the requirements of the current year.
§ Mr. BALDWIN
I do not think I should be in order if I answered that question now. It is one I am perfectly prepared to meet when the time comes. One point, a small but perfectly good and true one, was raised by my hon. Friend, not only in regard to indirect taxation, but in regard to the other taxes levied. That is that the larger the family the greater the hardship of incidence. It is the recognition of that very fact that has made successive Governments during the War add year after year to the abatements that have been made from Income Tax, recognising, even as during Mr. McKenna's holding of the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer, that it is desirable to spread the net of taxation as far and as wide as possible; and it was, and is, the determination of the Government to give what ease they felt-could be given to the poorest of the taxpayers. I quite agree again with some of the remarks that fell from the hon. Member for Nottinghamshire, that whoever proposes a tax ought to consider the ability of the person to pay. That is not always an easy thing to calculate in the imposition of taxes; but no Government to-day, from whatever side of the House it is drawn, can be forgetful of that basic principle. One of the reasons that has led to the formation of this very important Royal Commission on Income Tax is that desire to devise some method by which that large and growing tax, a tax which this country will have to rely on more and more, year by year, shall be made more easy in its incidence, and more fitting to the resources of the taxpayer.
It is quite impossible, with regard to this tax, for my right hon. Friend to give up that which has been in existence at its present rate for the last four years, and which brings in so large an amount. He has been charged twice during this Debate with having surrendered a certain amount of taxation, when he claimed he wanted all the taxes he could get, for the purpose of giving preference to the Dominions within the Empire. I am quite certain, however, that in the matter of the Tea Duty he was guided, not only by his desire to cultivate Imperial trade, by his desire to meet the often-expressed wishes of our Dominions in this matter, but he was also moved by the desire to do what he could to secure some reduction, as he believes this preference will lead to, in the cost of the prime necessities of life. I cannot ex- 1727 pect that anything I have said will satisfy those who have spoken to this Amendment, because I know how strongly they feel. I know what their views are. But I feel convinced, having regard to the revenue which is to be raised this year, to the genuine attempt my right hon. Friend has made to spread taxation throughout the country, and to the amount that he is taking from the richer classes, that the House as a whole will feel that the continuation, under present circumstances, of this tax for the next year is not too great a hardship for the country to bear.
§ Mr. HOGGE
My hon. Friend who has just sat down has suggested that nothing he has said in reply would cause those of us opposed to this tax to reconsider our decision. He has said a great deal in reply which reinforces our decision to vote against the imposition of this tax. My hon. Friend has made a speech which the Government he represents will find some considerable difficulty in explaining away, because if the only remedies which he has suggested are the remedies which occurred to the Government for dealing with the inability of the poor to pay taxation, then I wonder whether really the Government understand the situation in which they are, and whether they think public opinion can be satisfied by throwing to them the kind of suggestion ho has detailed as a palliative for the absolute need there exists for cheapening the necessities of life to our poor people. Take, for example, the fact that my hon. Friend defends this tax on the ground that for four years during the War it has been imposed, and therefore, he says, it is the right thing to keep on imposing it. That is to say, the Tea Duty has become an ancient tax, and it has gathered round it the hoary traditions of antiquity. Therefore my hon. Friend represents a wholly antique party, and he suggests that the most valid reason for continuing this tax is on account of its antiquity.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Penistone (Mr. Arnold) said in his interruption, in which he took away one of the best points of my speech, what about the excess profits? That is a young tax, which grew into maturity very quickly, and which produced millions of pounds for every £100,000 the Tea Tax produces. Nobody drinks excess profits. It is money they have got in their pockets after they have met all claims and liabilities, which 1728 can be used for State purposes, and which does not need to be applied to any of the necessaries of life. As my hon. Friend the Member for Penistone pointed out, in this same Budget in which because for four years the Tea Duty has been imposed they are now going to maintain it, he proposes, as representing the class of people who are represented by excess profits payers, to reduce by 50 per cent. the tax upon excess profits and to maintain the tax upon tea. Really I used to have a very great respect for the logic of my hon. Friend, whose period of service at the Treasury has been marked by all the characteristics which I think the House agrees ought to characterise a Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury. Over and over again he has expatiated upon the true principles that ought to dominate the Treasury, even when men holding higher positions in the Government have thrown them over, and that makes me all the more sorry to castigate my hon. and gallant Friend for a desertion of what is reasonable.
§ Mr. HOGGE
At any rate so far as the hon. Member's conduct towards hon. Members is concerned it is always there. My hon. Friend must himself find it preposterous to advance an argument of that kind against the arguments which have been used by the hon. Member for Penistone. I should like the hon. Gentleman to go down into a district where the poorest in the land depend upon tea as a stimulant and a beverage. After all what does the drinking of tea mean? Great discussions have taken place here about the powers of the Liquor Control Board, and I have seen a great many people agitated about the beer supply, or rather the absence of the supply of beer. My hon. Friend knows perfectly well that so far as the great mass of the people of this country are concerned tea is their natural beverage, and it often means their only beverage at breakfast, dinner, and tea. It is the one beverage they drink from morning to night, and without lea the average household would frequently be the most cheerless household in the country.
It is no use blinking the fact that tea is an essential beverage to millions of people in this country who have not the advantages that a few thousand people have of selecting their own drinks. I would almost like my hon. Friend to 1729 reconsider his decision, because I should not like it to go down in the OFFICIAL REPORT as his final decision on this question that because the Tea Duty has been imposed for four years it cannot now be taken off, and he cannot think of taking it off. When the hon. Member's life is written, as all the lives of the Coalition Government will ultimately be written, I should not like it to be said that he surrendered 50 per cent. of the Excess Profits Tax to people in the same social position as himself, and kept the Tea Duty on the poor. You may read all the advertisements about the Victory Loan in Trafalgar Square, but despite all the advertisements and inducements this Government can out of their wide and extensie imagination print, all these people do not subscribe a single penny to the so-called Victory Loan.
Take my hon. Friend's second argument. He attempted to deal with the point that the larger the family the more severe the incidence of this tax. Of course, that is true. My hon. Friend is well aware of the ordinary canons of taxation, and he desires to meet that argument, and he is perfectly honest in his desire to meet it. But mark how he meets it. His reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Penistone was that the Government gave relief in the Income Tax. His reply is that you meet the difficulty of the incidence of taxation on a large family by saying: "Oh, yes; look what a kind, benevolent, fatherly Government we are! We are giving these poor people relief from the Income Tax." Honestly, does my hon. Friend wish that to stand on record as his reply to that argument?
My hon. Friend knows perfectly well that the average family in the working classes is larger than the family in your so-called upper classes, and that as you ascend the social ladder families decrease in number. My hon. Friend also knows that the higher you go up the social ladder the less tea they drink, because there is less necessity to drink it. They have a much wider selection than those at the lower end of the ladder. After all, I know that my hon. Friend has a very soft corner in his heart for children. Over and over again the families at the lower end of the ladder and the children of the working classes are brought up on tea when they ought to be entitled to milk. One of the great difficulties of this Government during the last few weeks has 1730 been the creation of a new Ministry of Health. Already the Ministry of Health has introduced schemes by which the milk supply of this country will be better, and by which we hope our growing generation will be brought up in a much more healthy and hygienic way. These poor children at present are brought up on tea. Let my hon. Friend go down to any district in East London, to Whitechapel, if he wants to be on familiar ground, or to Lime house, where his Prime Minister used to make speeches, and let him go into some of the houses and find ten children.
I wonder if my hon. Friend has noticed an advertisement published by an enterprising newspaper. I saw it myself all over the place: "Are you the mother of ten?" That was the question. I did not know what it meant until for the first time in my life I bought a copy of the newspaper. I found that the newspaper was giving a prize to all the mothers of ten in the United Kingdom. My hon. Friend may be interested in the fact that up to last Sunday, which was the day on which I bought a copy of the newspaper, there were 35,000 mothers in London, and the vicinity of London, who had claimed the prize on the ground that they had ten children. That is an extraordinary fact. These mothers have to bring up their children largely on tea. My hon. Friend says that we give them relief in Income Tax. I took down his exact words, because I did not want to do him an injustice. It is quite true that at the present moment we have a Commission that is going to deal with the incidence of the Income Tax. If my hon. Friend will look at the Amendment Paper he will see that both the party with which I am associated and the party with which I work on these benches, the Labour party, have Amendments down to bring a great number of these people out of the Income Tax altogether. There is an Amendment on the Paper to increase the exemption limit from £130 to £250, on which it will be found that both the Labour party and the party with which I am associated will go into the Lobby together, because of the increased prices. Does my right hon. Friend really want us to take that as his answer, or is that the brief with which he has been supplied by the officials? Let my hon. Friend put the official view on one side. The Conservative party claims to have done more for the workers than either the party with which I am associated or the newer party which sits on these benches. 1731 If we pretend that we have done anything, the other side at once says that we have never even touched the fringe of the problem. It was great Conservatives from Shaftesbury downwards. Lord Shaftesbury revolutionised the factories; my hon. Friend is revolutionising the Tea Tax by a Commission on the Income Tax. That is the position to which we have got, and if that is all that my hon. Friend has to say in reply to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Penistone with regard to the Tea Duty, then all I can say is that I wish it were possible for all of us who are here to go through the Lobby three or four times, because we deserve that privilege when so weak and inadequate an argument has been adduced by my hon. Friend.
§ 9.0 P.M
§ Mr. REMER
The hon. Member who has just resumed his seat has stated that he has great respect for the logic of my hon. Friend (Mr. Baldwin). I am afraid that I cannot pay him a similar compliment. He has described the party to which I belong as an antique party. I am afraid that the arguments which he has brought forward this evening are also antique. I can see him placarding the walls of this country with the words "Your tea is to cost you more," and arguments of a similar nature.
§ Mr. REMER
No; I do not think it is. He has told us, among other statements which are incorrect, that the Excess Profits Duty is a new tax. He absolutely overlooks other young taxes which are in existence and which are being paid by the taxpayers of this country. I presume he would denounce them with all the antique arguments which he has used this evening. I would remind the hon. Member that there is a bread subsidy which is putting money into the pockets of the very people to whom he has referred.
§ Mr. REMER
Exactly. How can people complain that their tea is going to cost them more when more than the amount that the Government are receiving by the Tea Duty is being paid out to them? I do not know what the hon. Member is driving at. If he is arguing that tea is going to cost more, surely he should come forward at the same time and tell the House that bread is costing less. If we are to accept the hon. Member's statement, there is to be a tax on milk. I do not know anything in the Budget which proposes anything so preposterous and absurd. He has told us about children having to be fed on milk. Every Member in the House knows that children ought to be fed on milk, and one of the things that the Government are trying to do is to improve the health of the country. I am surprised that an old and established Member should have the audacity to come here and suggest that it is the practice of the Coalition Government to make it more difficult and more costly for children to get milk.
§ Mr. HOGGE
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, because I am enjoying his speech, but I never said that the Coalition made it difficult to get milk. So far as I am personally concerned, the more milk the Coalition gets the better. I pointed out that children wanted milk, and that they were getting tea. If you take the tax off tea and make it cheap, and give an adequate supply of milk, they will get milk. I am hoping that some time the hon. Member will appreciate that fact.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Sir E. Cornwall)
The Question before the Committee is the subject of the Tea Duty, and we must not allow these illustrations to take us away from the Amendment under consideration.
§ Mr. REMER
I could not help referring to the illustration, in view of what the hon. Gentleman said in this Debate. I Chink the ideal which he is seeking to secure would be more easily attained if people were compelled to pay more for their tea, because then they would drink more milk. I think the hon. Member's illustrations are quite outside the Motion under consideration. I do not know whether his story about "mothers of ten" can be said to apply to all. Does he suggest that in this Budget we are 1733 taxing mothers of ten? I cannot find anything of the kind in the Budget; indeed. I think exactly the contrary is the case, and I would like to say definitely that I deprecate in the strongest possible way the speech to which we have just listened.
§ Mr. CHARLES EDWARDS
The discussion which has taken place shows the hypocrisy of the old political parties more than anything else I know of. As long as I can remember—and it is some little time now—the point of the free breakfast table, as it was called, has been one of the most important planks in the platform of the party of progress—a party which I have supported many times. But it was simply an election pledge, because that party has been in power more than once since then, and still this tax goes on. It seems to me that the Liberal party believe that when the Tories are in power the Tea Duty ought to be withdrawn, and I have no doubt that the Tory party, when the Liberals arc in power, hold very much the view that it is the duty of the Liberals to remove this tax from the breakfast table. It shows up the hypocrisy of the old party system more than anything else I know of. It is safe to say that for a number of years this tax has not been defended or even discussed on the ground whether it is right or wrong, just or unjust, reasonable or unreasonable. It has not been discussed, indeed, from that point of view to-night, and even the hon. Gentleman who spoke for the Government did not attempt to defend it as a matter of right, while the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Remer) simply spoke about bread and about the unemployment donation which has been paid. That is his argument in favour of continuing the tax. Now this tax is either right or wrong, and we here ought to discuss it on that basis, and that basis only.
Is it right or wrong that the tax should be kept on? I am going to say it is wrong. I believe it is absolutely wrong from tap to bottom to enforce a tax on the very poorest of the poor. Our basis ought to be, first, that people should be allowed to live, and then taxation should begin from a reasonable standard of living. If there is no defence for this from the standpoint of right, then it is a tax that ought to go. It is a tax we, as Members of the House of Commons, ought to be ashamed to discuss unless it can be defended on the ground of right. For many years it has not been defended on that ground. It has 1734 been defended on the ground of expediency. One point made to-night was that we want revenue. That is an old cry. Another point was that the duty had been in force so long that it could not now be taken off. That is no argument at all. The tax is either right or wrong. I do not want to go into the question whether it affects the poor more than the rich. That has already been sufficiently discussed, but I would like to make this one point, that for every pound of tea a rich family purcases, for an equal number of poor people at least half a dozen pounds are required. It is not a question of the breakfast table. That is an old cry. As a matter of fact, tea is on the table of the poor morning, noon, and night. It as questionable whether tea is a food, but, at any rate, it appears on the table of the poor sufficiently often to justify us in treating it from that standpoint. I have supported this Amendment because I believe it is an unjust tax, and I believe also that hon. Members who go into the Lobby in support of the Tea Duty will do it from the most selfish standpoint imaginable. No one can support it because he believes it it right, just and fair. That ought to be our standard of dealing with this matter, and I repeat I am supporting the Amendment because I believe the duty is unkind, unjust and unfair to the poor people of this country.
§ Mr. JOHNSTONE
I am afraid that the House is being led by some of the speakers away from the point really at issue. I must assume from the speeches made on the other side of the House that what is meant is to abolish the Tea Duty altogether, although I gather from the Amendment that it is to get rid only of the part of the duty which was imposed in 1915.
§ Mr. JOHNSTONE
Very well, I accept that. I share, with a great deal of sympathy, the views of hon. Members on the other side who are anxious to have a free breakfast table. We have been told by one hon. Member that in supporting the Government he has no idea of inflicting an injustice on anyone. I am going into the Lobby for the Government against this Amendment. I do so with a clear conscience, because I realise we need revenue, and I do not see how the Government can forego the whole of the Tea Duty. I went 1735 into the Lobby against the Government on the point of giving up between [...],000,000 and £3,000,000 sterling in way of preference over these Tea Duties. I largely agree with hon. Gentlemen opposite with regard to the giving up of the Excess Profits Duty. I do not see in the present emergency, and in view of the enormous expenditure which has been incurred on the War, how the Government would be justified in the slightest degree in accepting this Amendment and abolishing the whole of the Tea Duty. They have to face the fact that an enormous sum of money has been spent on the War, and, in my opinion, all classes of the community are called upon to bear their share of the cost of that War, and to shoulder their part of the responsibility of carrying it on in order to maintain the liberties of the nation. All classes of the people should, therefore, bear their fair share of the burden, and I believe that this proposal to abolish the Tea Duty would be a wrong step, in view of the terrible burdens that have to be borne by this country. The Government, to my mind, would not be justified in giving up this source of revenue at the present time.
§ Mr. CLYNES
I think we are justified in continuing this discussion a little time yet, if only because of the two or three important aspects of the question to which the Financial Secretary referred to in his speech. First, I would refer to the points in the speech of the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Remer). He has completely misapprehended the realities of the situation which he tried to use as arguments against those of us on this side who are taking part in this Debate. It is not the fact that the poorer people are getting bread cheaper than they did before the War. Indeed, they are paying about twice as much for it, notwithstanding the very substantial subsidy of money provided by the Government. The fact that the Government has had to subsidise bread and to pay out these enormous sums in unemployment benefit is the best reason that can be adduced in support of this Amendment. What does that subsidy reveal? It reveals the fact that there are many thousands of families unable to pay the ordinary market price for bread and unable to live unless they receive subsidies from the Government in the shape of unemployment benefit. There is no force whatever in the argument of my hon. Friend opposite, who draws attention to 1736 the fact that relief is being given to tea consumers in the rebates that are allowed in the case of Income Tax, for the fact is that most of the families in this country are not well enough off to pay Income Tax at all, consequently they do not get the same relief which has been adduced as an argument justifying the continuance of this tax. The proof of the low level of subsistence at which so many of our families are kept is in the support which the Government has had to give to these poor families in. the shape of the bread subsidy and the unemployment pay. That is the reason why we say that at the moment when people are expecting properly and naturally to have the cost of living cheapened, even this extreme course might be taken by the Government to make the common articles of the daily table cheaper by means of taking from them the very heavy burden of taxation they now bear. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury reminded us that this is an old tax and that we are only continuing what has been long in existence. That is true, with this very material difference, that the tax now is very much heavier than was intended when it was first imposed, and very much heavier than it was only a year or two ago.
§ Mr. CLYNES
Quite so. The tax on tea is now 1s. per pound. The ordinary housewife may not know that if she purcases a quarter of a pound of tea—the poverty of the people is illustrated in the enormous numbers of quarters of pounds bought separately—she is paying 3d. to the Revenue. The tax of 1s. per pound might be defended by the Government as a necessary war tax, but the conditions to which people may agree—not cheerfully, but with some feeling of submissiveness—during the course of the War, cannot fairly be continued after the War is over, especially at a time when the Government is reducing its Revenue by giving very substantial relief to and by making more secure, the larger incomes of persons earning very large profits out of trade and business in this country. If the Financial Secretary could not see his way to accept the whole of this Amendment, we ought to have had some more hopeful statement and more reassuring announcement than he has been able to give us. Could not the tax have been lessened by one-half, 1737 or could there not have been some substantial reduction in this inordinately heavy charge imposed by the Government on every pound of tea purchased by the masses of the poor people? It is common knowledge in all parts of the Committee that the problem of the cost of living is the cause of a very considerable part of the unrest and uneasiness which pervade the minds of the masses of the people, and the Government, conscious of this uneasiness, are taking what steps they can to protect the consumers against profiteering and to make food and other articles of daily necessity cheaper than they are. Here is a fine opportunity for the Govern-
§ ment to set an example. They are neglecting it. They are continuing in the days of peace imposts which were submitted to as necessary war measures. Therefore most of us on this side of the Committee will feel obliged, in view of the terms of the answer, to press this Amendment to a Division, and must regard the reply given as wholly unsatisfactory.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 208; Noes, 55.1739
|Division No. 63.]||AYES.||[9.23 p.m.|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Eyres-Monsell, Commander||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Lorden, John William|
|Ainsworth, Captain C.||Fell, Sir Arthur||Lort-Williams, J.|
|Amery, Lieut.-Col. L. C. M. S.||Forestier-Walker, L.||Loseby, Captain C. E.|
|Astbury, Lt.-Com. F. W.||Foxcroft, Captain C.||Lyle, C. E. Leonard (Stratford)|
|Atkey, A. R.||France, Gerald Ashburner||Lynn, R. J.|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Fraser, Major Sir Keith||M'Guffin, Samuel|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Gange, E. S.||M'Laren, R. (Lanark, N.)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Ganzoni, Captain F. C.||Macquisten, F. A.|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Partick)||Geddes, Rt. Hon. Sir A. C. (Basingstoke)||Maddocks, Henry|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir F. G.||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Magnus, Sir Philip|
|Barlow, Sir Montague (Salford, S.)||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Malone, Col. C. L. (Leyton, E.)|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Gray, Major E.||Malone, Major P. (Tottenham, S.)|
|Benn, Sir Arthur S (Plymouth)||Greame, Major P. Lloyd-||Mason, Robert|
|Bennett, T. J.||Green, A. (Derby)||Mitchell, William Lane-|
|Betterton, H B.||Green, J. F. (Leicester)||Moles, Thomas|
|Bigland, Alfred||Gregory, Holman||Molson, Major John Elsdale|
|Birchall, Major J. D.||Greig, Colonel James William||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz|
|Blane, T. A.||Gretton, Colonel John||Moore-Brabazon, Lt.-Col. J. C. T.|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Hacking, Captain D. H.||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Hailwood, A.||Morison, T. B. (Inverness)|
|Brackenbury, Col. H. L.||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir Fred (Dulwich)||Morrison, H. (Salisbury)|
|Breese, Major C. E.||Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Murray, Hon. G. (St. Rollox)|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Hanson, Sir Charles||Nall, Major Joseph|
|Brittain, Sir Harry E.||Harris, Sir H. P. (Paddington, S.)||Neal, Arthur|
|Brown, Captain D. C. (Hexham)||Haslam, Lewis||Nelson, R. F. W. R.|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Col. A. L. H.||Henderson, Major V. L.||Newman. Sir R. H. S. D. (Exeter)|
|Burdon, Colonel Rowland||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Nicholson, R. (Doncaster)|
|Burn, T. H. (Belfast)||Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.|
|Campbell, J. G. D.||Hickman, Brig.-Gen. Thomas E.||Oman, C. W. C.|
|Campion, Col. W. R.||Higham, C. F. (Islington, S.)||O'Neill, Capt. Hon. Robert W. H.|
|Carr, W. T.||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel F.||Palmer, Brig.-Gen. G. (Westbury)|
|Carter, R. A. D (Manchester)||Hood, Joseph||Parry, Major Thomas Henry|
|Cayzer, Major H. R.||Hope, Harry (Stirling)||Pearce, Sir William|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Oxford Univ.)||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin)||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. (Midlothian)||Perring, William George|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Birm., W.)||Hope, John Deans (Berwick)||Pinkham, Lieutenant-Colonel Charles.|
|Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Pratt, John William|
|Child. Brig-General Sir Hill||Hopkinson, Austin (Mossley)||Prescott, Major W. H.|
|Clough, R.||Horne, Edgar (Guildford)||Pulley, Charles Thornton|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hume-Williams, Sir Wm. Ellis||Purchase, H. G.|
|Colfox, Major W. P.||Hunter, Gen. Sir A. (Lancaster)||Raeburn, Sir William|
|Coote, Colin R. (Isle of Ely)||Hurd, P. A.||Ramsden, G. T.|
|Cory, Sir James Herbert (Cardiff)||Jodrell, N. P.||Randles, Sir John Scurrah|
|Cowan, D M. (Scottish Univ.)||Johnson, L. S.||Raper, A. Baldwin|
|Craig, Captain Charles C. (Antrim)||Johnstone, J.||Raw, Lieut.-Colonel Dr. N.|
|Craig, Col. Sir James (Down, Mid.)||Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)||Remer, J. B.|
|Craik, Right Hon. Sir Henry||Jones, William Kennedy (Hornsey)||Richardson, Sir Albion (Peckham)|
|Curzon, Commander Viscount||Joynson-Hicks, William||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Davidson, Major-Gen. Sir John H.||Kellaway, Frederick George||Robinson, T. (Stretford, Lanes.)|
|Davies, Major David (Montgomery Co.)||King, Commander Douglas||Rodger, A. K.|
|Davies, T (Cirencester)||Knights, Captain H.||Roundell, Lieutenant-Colonel R. F.|
|Dawes, J. A.||Lane-Fox, Major G. R.||Rutherford, Col. Sir J. (Darwen)|
|Dixon, Captain H.||Law, A. J. (Rochdale)||Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)|
|Dockrell, Sir M||Law, Right Hon. A. Bonar (Glasgow)||Samuel, S. (Wandsworth, Putney)|
|Du Pre, Colonel W. B.||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ. Wales)||Seager, Sir William|
|Elliot, Capt W. E. (Lanark)||Lister, Sir R. Ashton||Seddon, J. A.|
|Elliott, Lt.-Col. Sir G. (Islington, W.)||Lloyd, George Butler||Shaw, Hon. A. (Kilmarnock)|
|Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)||Terrell, Capt. R. (Henley, Oxford)||Wilson, Col. M. (Richmond, Yorks.)|
|Smith, Harold (Warrington)||Thomas-Stanford, Charles||Wilson-Fox, Henry|
|Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander||Townley, Maximilan G.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Stanier, Capt. Sir Beville||Turton, Edmund Russborough||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Stanley, Colonel Hon. G. F. (Preston)||Waddington, R.||Woolcock, W. J. U.|
|Steel, Major S. Strang||Walker, Colonel William Hall||Worsfold, T. Cato|
|Stephenson, Colonel H. K.||Whitla, Sir William||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Strauss, Edward Anthony||Wigan, Brig.-General John Tyson||Young, Sir F. W. (Swindon)|
|Sturrock, J. Leng-||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward||Younger, Sir George|
|Sutherland, Sir William||Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|Talbot, G. A. (Hemel Hempstead)||Williamson, Rt. Hon. Sir Archibald||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Lord E.|
|Taylor, J. (Dumbarton)||Wilson, Colonel Leslie (Reading)||Talbot and Mr. Dudley Ward.|
|Terrell, G. (Chippenham, Wilts.)|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Hancock, John George||Shaw, Tom (Preston)|
|Arnold, Sydney||Hartshorn, V.||Short, A. (Wednesbury)|
|Bell, James (Ormskirk)||Hayward, Major Evan||Sitch, C. H.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Holmes, J. S.||Smith, Capt. A. (Nelson and Colne)|
|Bramsden, Sir T.||Jones, J. (Silvertown)||Smith, W. (Wellingborough)|
|Briant, F.||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander||Spencer, George A.|
|Bromfield, W.||Kiley, James Daniel||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Carter, W. (Mansfield)||Lunn, William||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Casey, T. W.||Lyle-Samuel, A. (Eye, E. Suffolk)||Thorne, Col. W. (Plaistow)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R.||Morgan, Major D. Watts||Tootill, Robert|
|Davies, Alfred (Clitheroe)||Murray, Dr. D. (Western Isles)||Walsh, S. (Ince, Lancs.)|
|Edwards, C. (Bedwelty)||Newbould, A. E.||Waterson, A. E.|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||O'Grady, James||White, Charles F. (Derby, W.)|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Wignall, James|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Wood, Major Mackenzie (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Glanville, Harold James||Richards, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Young, Robert (Newton, Lancs.)|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh)||Richardson, R. (Houghton)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Royce, William Stapleton||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.|
|Guest, J. (Hemsworth, York)||Sexton, James||Hogge and Mr. T. Wilson|
|Hall, F. (Yorks, Normanton)|
§ The CHAIRMAN
The next Amendment, in the name of the hon. Member for East Edinburgh, to leave out the words "New Import Duties," is covered by a previous decision of the Committee.
§ Mr. HOGGE
All that we settled by that decision was, as far as I understand, a question of date. Does that apply to all the various Import Duties? Does it preclude those of us who want to raise certain questions on the various duties from raising those questions? It seems to me that those of us who had points which we desired to raise on the content of the duties are excluded from raising them by the decision on the question of date. I am wondering whether that is quite fair to every member of the Committee.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The decision on the second Amendment, which the Committee accepted, was positive, namely, that the Import Duties should continue until the date which it was decided to insert in the Bill, namely, 1st May, 1920. Quite clearly, to move to leave out the Import Duties now would be contrary to that decision.
§ Mr. HOGGE
I recognise that, but I rather think it is unfair, because the Chair usually does protect the private Member to a certain word on certain Amendments. This original Amendment was on a ques- 1740 tion of date pure and simple, and the discussion arose entirely on the question of date, Those of us who had arguments, which I think we are entitled to use, for or against the various duties, were ruled out from discussing those, because the Chair—and I do not dispute the decision—selected an Amendment which dealt with the question of date. Those of us who were prepared to put forward arguments for or against the retention of certain Import Duties were excluded when once the Committee came to a decision on the date. Because the Committee came to that decision we are not, and cannot be, allowed, if you maintain your ruling, to discuss those various points. I think that is rather unfair. I should like to ask whether we can raise those points at all on the Question "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," or whether we should be excluded there on the question of date?
§ The CHAIRMAN
The Committee clearly had an opportunity of coming to that decision. If it had negatived the second Amendment the question would have remained open. The decision is the Committee's and not mine. The next two Amendments on the Paper should come in the form of new Clauses.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."1741
§ Captain W. BENN
I should like to refer to the speech of the hon. Member (Mr. Remer) in reference to the Tea Duty. Some of us, like myself, did not vote for the total excision of the duty because we did not feel prepared to cut it out entirely, but we should have liked to have an opportunity to vote for a reduced duty, because in my judgment it is a particularly oppressive tax, which bears hardest on those who are least able to bear it. It is quite obvious to those who study the budgets of poor people that a tax on tea exacts the same amount of money from a man with a tiny income as it does from a man with a big income. The amount of tea consumed is, of course, the same in both cases. In fact the duty on tea has all the oppressive features of a poll tax, and when the hon. Gentleman says he did not understand what my hon. Friend (Mr. Hogge) meant when he spoke about the mother of ten, I think I can make it clear. The point is, of course, that a large family means increased consumption of tea, and therefore an increased burden. I cannot put the hardship of the excessive Tea Duty better than it was put by the Prime Minister himself. He said, when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer:The other day, watching the revenue, I observed a fall in sugar and tea. I was amazed. Trade was prospering, pauperism has declined, every wind was favourable. I chanced to meet Lord Devonport and mentioned this fact. He told me that sugar had gone up and tea had gone up the smallest matter of farthings. Then I understood. A fractional rise in such things as sugar and tea instantly causes—it is really a remarkable barometer—a sensible decline in consumption—a decline, mark you, of hundreds of thousands of pounds. There is Free Trade for you in a tea cup. Let the cost of a thing go up by a farthing and millions of people do without it and take less of it. and the Revenue suffers by hundreds of thousands of pounds.That is the Prime Minister's tribute to the oppressive character of a poll tax of this description.
I want now to come to a very important question, namely, the position in which the Committee finds itself as the result of a compact rushed through, as we think—certainly we had no time to understand the value of it—apparently by arrangement between some Members calling themselves Liberals, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. We have time now to examine this bargain, and I must take the opportunity of congratulating the right hon. Gentleman very sincerely upon what he has extracted, because, owing to this bargain made across the floor of the 1742 House in a hurry by people who call themselves Free Traders, with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who admits that he is a Protectionist, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has got everything that he intended to get by the continuance of the duties. We have fixed now that this duty on manufactures is to go on till 1st May next. Of course, the original Amendment, on which we understood that hon. Members calling themselves Liberals were prepared to vote, was one which fixes the date for removing most of the objections to these duties, because it was impossible to get the machinery of government going. Then at the last moment this deal is made, it is put from the Chair and divided upon, and the whole position is swept away. Let us look at the first result. I do not know whether we ought to call the right hon. Gentleman (Sir A. Geddes) Pandora. Perhaps it would be better to call him Madame Humbert, but although Madame Humbert's credit lasted a long time, the experiment which she so successfully carried on had not any permanent success. But when the box comes to be opened the right hon. Gentleman will say, of course, "There is the box. It is open now. The secret is out. But, of course, it is subject to this reservation, that the House itself has decided that we are to have a protective tariff in respect of certain articles till 1st May next." So that to that extent we have decided for ourselves what the contents of the box are to be and how far they can be changed by the will of the House or the Committee. The second point is this. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he was defending these duties, explained that it was impossible to let them go because of the revenue. Then when it comes to an argument with my right hon. Friend (Mr. Lambert) the revenue consideration goes by the Board and the right hon. Gentleman calmly cuts out two profitable months in order to get the deal effectively.
We are bound to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will answer definitely some questions which we have put in the course of this Debate and which are never answered except in the Division Lobby. I have seen minorities in this House during the course of a considerable experience, but I do not think any minority has ever had less answer given to the arguments which it has put forward in perfectly good faith. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman these questions. 1743 He has taken the argument used by Mr. McKenna when he introduced these duties with a view to showing that the same arguments persist, and the Noble Lord (Lord R. Cecil) made a speech on the same lines, although on Friday—perhaps he was hoping to-day to make amends for Friday—his argument was that there was a great deal too much talk about the War spirit. You must get on to the Peace spirit. To-day he says, "Those who talk about the War being over are living in a fool's paradise. The conditions still exist and the conditions appropriate to war should be continued." The only point the Chancellor of the Exchequer made on this matter was the revenue. He said, "I must have the money." Take the matter of exchanges. The Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Noble Lord (Lord R. Cecil) said, "You must interfere with the exchanges by means of these Impart Duties." What the Chancellor of the Exchequer has not told us is this. I gave him a small case—there must be many such—in which his import restrictions were checking the flow of exports. There was the case of the musical instrument maker, but of course that deals with a single case. The matter appears too small, but that is illustrative. There was the case of a man who found there was a duty on the raw material of his export and he was therefore losing the export trade, which was to America, in favour of some one else. Is not the Chancellor of the Exchequer by imposing this tariff preventing everything which naturally does correct the exchanges, namely, that the exchange being adverse there should be a stimulation of export and the balance of trade should be restored. The exchange varies as between different countries. It is adverse between us and some countries, while in other cases it is the reverse; but his restrictions apply equally to all countries. How can you produce one effect with America and the same effect with other countries in the world? That is the point on which I shall be glad if the Chancellor of the Exchequer would give us the advantage of his experience.
To sum up this Clause and the achievements of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the achievements of those free traders who have committed us to this course, let me say that we are committed for the first time to a protective tariff. A tariff is now assumed under peace conditions of a 1744 character which it has never possessed in time of war. In time of war we imposed a prohibitive tariff on the importation of motor cars. At that time we did not manufacture a motor car here, because the motor-car factories were being used for making munitions of war. Now we are imposing a tariff on the import of motor oars in order to encourage the motor-car industry in this country.
§ Captain BENN
Exactly, and I give my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Remer) credit for it. He is an out-and-out tariff reformer. What we complain about is the fraud of those Members who make a pretence that it is a Free Trade deal. The hon. Gentlemen opposite are honest enough to recognise that it is a Tariff Reform deal. Is it any wonder that the people outside regard the whole thing as a fraud and regard the Coalition Government with suspicion? [Laughter.] Hon. Members are amused. The people outside do regard it with suspicion. If the people outside do not regard the Coalition Government with suspicion what accounts for the presence of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy)?
§ Captain BENN
Hull knew, anyhow. The electors of Hull understood, and I think the hon. and learned Gentleman himself when he goes before his own electors will get to know himself.
§ Captain BENN
The first result of this deal is that this country is definitely committed to a protective tariff. The second result is that they are committed to a policy of tying the Colonies to this country by means of a monetary consideration. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Yes. I think the late Mr. Cecil Rhodes said that if you want the Colonies to stick to this country you must make it worth their while. That is not the view we take. When I say "we" I am speaking for the very small band to which I have the honour to belong. I suppose I can use the word "we" in a personal sense. There is nothing improper in that. These tariffs are to continue until 1st May. Supposing then the flourishing motor industries which the Under-Secretary for the Colonies spoke about have grown up in Canada, and supposing Canada is a big competitor with our works 1745 in the Midlands, in the manufacture of motor cars, what possibility will there be for this House to say on 1st May, "We revoke the arrangement"? They would say, "You encouraged us to start industries and now you take away the protection at the very moment that the industry is beginning to flourish." The hon. Gentlemen who made this deal and accepted this Amendment have made the Chancellor of the Exchequer a present of everything that he desired to accomplish. They have riveted Protection on this country, they have made inevitable the start of a Preference to the Colonies which it will be impossible for us to abolish in the future.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
I have a slight fear that it may be an indiscretion on my part to intervene in the discussion which the hon. and gallant Member has just opened I am not quite clear what object he was pursuing. It must have been obvious to all of us that he was very angry, and I think less so with me than with others I could mention. He complained that I did not answer the questions he put to me. That is not through want of will, but want of intelligence. I failed to understand. I did my best, but I confess I failed to understand. I will try again. He said I was inconsistent, and of my Noble Friend (Lord R. Cecil), who has more sympathy with his fiscal views than I have, he could find nothing better to say than that he was wholly inconsistent. When it came to the President of the Board of Trade he could do nothing better than compare him to a French swindler. I suppose that is Parliamentary. The language in which it was couched was passed by the Chair, but it is not quite the courtesy we are accustomed to between Members in this House. But whatever be his complaint about members of the Government or members of the Unionist party, obviously his principal invective was directed against those whom he described as "hon. Gentlemen calling themselves Liberals." In other words, the great bulk of the Liberal party in this House and in this country. When a man is discontented with all the world, it would be presumptuous for me to suggest that I can satisfy him. At least I will try to answer his questions. I had a little difficulty in taking down his questions. If next time he speaks he would be good enough to get his questions quite clear in his own mind 1746 before he rises, he would facilitate my task in replying. I have done my best. The first question he put is, whether I am not preventing the working of the causes which naturally rectify an adverse exchange by reason of continuing the new duties on imports contained in this Clause of the Bill. What are the causes that naturally rectify an adverse exchange? They are a decrease of imports and an increase of exports. Very well. How can a duty on imports decrease exports and increase imports?
§ Captain BENN
The right hon. Gentleman has treated lightly what I asked in good faith. The point was this: lie is putting a duty on something which is the raw material of some of our exports.
§ Captain BENN
On the constituent parts of musical instruments. That was the case I gave, and there must be many others.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
The right hon. Gentleman really has a mind like an elephant's trunk; nothing is too large for it, and nothing is too small. I thought he was trying to argue a big principle, but he is trying meticulously to make small points. It is quite obvious that a duty which restricts, and in so far as it does restrict, the purchase of unnecessary articles of luxury at a time when neutral exchanges or when exchanges generally are adverse to us, not only does not hinder the recovery of the exchange, but, in so far as it is effective, promotes it. That is one of the reasons why I ask the House to continue these duties. Then the hon. Member says that all exchanges are not equally adverse, and that some of them are even favourable to us at this moment; and he invites me to say why, therefore, I do not distinguish between the exchange that is favourable to us and the countries where the exchange is adverse. I think I have put that correctly.
§ Captain BENN
The question I asked was, Can the device which the right hon. Gentleman has adopted to keep an ex- change in one sense in one country operate in the other sense in respect of other countries?
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
I do not answer that, because I have a difficulty in understanding the working of the hon. and 1747 gallant Member's mind. I never pretended that the operation of this was going to be different in one case from another. Of course, the effect of the duty is a deterrent on imports, whether from countries where the exchange is favourable or countries where it is adverse. The matter which concerns us most is the use of our resources in the countries where the exchange is adverse and where our power to purchase certain necessaries is vital. If I can secure a larger portion of the available resources for necessity, then I have done a good work for the country, and it is the purest pedantry to pretend that that is an improper thing to do in the circumstances of the day. The hon. and gallant Gentleman put a third question, but there I have been even more unfortunate. The first one I got correctly, the second nearly correctly, and the third I failed to get at all. I simply could not understand it. If he will repeat it I will do my best to answer it, but the truth of the matter is that the hon. Member is not really concerned with these details at all.
§ Captain BENN
The third question was: The Under-Secretary for the Colonies painted a glowing picture of industries growing up in the Colonies as a result of Preference. What is the right hon. Gentleman going to do on the 1st of May, if my hon. Friends are free to abolish the Preference which he proposes to give?
§ 10.0 P.M.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
That is a question which I have answered several times in the course of these discussions, and I will answer it again. But if the hon. and gallant Gentleman who complains that I do not answer his questions would be good enough to listen to me he may save time and trouble to himself, to me and to the Committee. It is of the essence of Preference as we understand it that each country of the Empire should impose those duties which, for its own purpose, it thinks desirable. None of us claim the right to dictate the tariff of any other of His Majesty's self-governed Dominions. What we ask is—this is the general practice outside the United Kingdom up to this time and now is to be the practice of the United Kingdom: that is the change—that where, for its own purposes, one of the self-governing Dominions of the Crown, be it the United Kingdom or one of the Dominions over the seas, imposes a duty it should also grant a Preference.
§ The CHAIRMAN
This is developing into a Debate on the question which will come up for discussion on Clause 7. I was asked for a ruling, and it was suggested that we should keep these questions separate, and on the first Amendment to Clause 7, I propose to give the widest possible latitude on the whole question of Preference.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
I am much obliged. I am sure that that would be for the convenience of the Committee and that my hon. and gallant Friend will not think me discourteous if I leave the subject here and do not attempt to answer that point until we come to discuss it. What the hon. and gallant Gentleman complains of is the decision which was taken just before dinner. It was on an offer made openly before the Committee, which was accepted by the great majority. That is what the hon. Member never objects to. The hon. Gentleman who sits with too few comrades to be comfortable, and passes through the Lobby where there are not enough people to keep the draughts off, thought that he had got real opportunity of inducing a great number of supporters of the Government to go with him and defeat the Government. He failed, and it is because he failed that he asks the Committee to reject this Clause.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
A most important matter which has been touched on by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Chamberlain) and the Noble Lord the Member for Hitchin (Lord R. Cecil), that is the question of exchanges. It is of the most importance at the present moment. In addition to the remarks of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Noble Lord we had a digression on this subject from the President of the Board of Trade a few days ago. The argument as far as I can follow it is that our exchange is bad at the present moment, and that at any cost imports must be restricted. As my right hon. Friend knows, our gallant ally France is in a much worse state as regards exchanges than this country. I would ask hon. Members to listen carefully, as this is a matter of vital importance to the whole Empire. The question of arranging our exchanges by restriction on trade affects our national life and our relations with all countries, and the whole question is one of the utmost importance to us at the present moment. There is a movement on foot in France, which has been carried out temporarily there as a war 1749 measure as it is in this country in a lesser degree, to prevent any articles whatever being imported except the lowest grade of raw materials, such things as jute and flax, which are not in any way manufactured. They are trying to keep everything else out of France at the present moment, the argument being that it is of vital importance to improve the exchange as otherwise there will be a financial crash. The argument comes not so much from the buyers as from the manufacturers from Prance. This is the thing to be noticed particularly. Prices are extremely high in France, higher than even in this country. The unrest is correspondingly greater. IE this policy is persisted in in France of preventing any imports—which I do not suggest has yet been imposed here, though it may be in the locked box of the President of the Board of Trade—discontent is likely to grow because the French worker cannot make ends meet. He has a greater difficulty in making ends meet than the worker has in this country. Acute observers are most apprehensive of the result. There you have an extreme case, but apparently the same argument is going to be used with all the force with which it can be used by so distinguished a statesman as the President of the Board of Trade, and he has examined it as carefully as he possibly can.
Let me give the other side. Which countries have lower exchanges than the French? Germany. Which country has been more closely blockaded than Germany? In which country have there been fewer imports? I should like an answer to this point by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Why is it that in Germany, where there have been no imports, thanks to the Allied Navies, the exchange is so low, and why, if we impose an artificial blockade on this country—that is what the prevention of imports is—should not our exchange go still lower? As a matter of fact, the question is much more complicated than that. The reason for the lowness of exchange in Germany is the loss of national credit due to defeat, internal unrest, disorganisation, and the stoppage of all the wheels of industry. The reason why I suspect this new panacea is that I believe sincerely that the reason for our low exchanges is not that there have been too many imports and too few exports, but that normal industry has not been restored. We have recently had some very moving appeals for the War 1750 Loan, beautifully drawn out in all the papers by well known artists, and the gist of the underlying idea is that we are to subscribe to the War Loan and get the wheels of industry going. That will bring down exchange in the country. More important still is the freeing of the channels of trade. The restriction of imports, I believe, will have exactly the opposite effect to that suggested. In the early days of March of last year I was required hurriedly to join a ship at a distance. I went overland through Spain, and in Madrid had to exchange some money. For English money I ought to have got 27 pesetas. I was told at the main hotel, "I am very sorry, we cannot give you anything like that. You can only have so many pesetas." I inquired the reason. The reply was, "We have just got the news of the set-back on the Western Front," That was the first I had heard of the great set-back to our Army, and that was the excuse for raising the exchange. The incident has nothing to do, I admit with imports or exports, but it is an example showing how the delicate machinery of credit was upset by international uncertainty. Therefore, while I do not reject entirely the reason put forward by the Noble Lord the Member for Hitchin (Lord R. Cecil) and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I do say that the question wants most careful examination and must not be accepted as a catchword for introducing Tariff Reform into this country. It is a most dangerous argument to use. It is the most vital question to Europe now. I hope my point is clear, and understood by the mighty, and I hope we shall have a few more words of explanation.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I am afraid the Debate is tending to go into wider circles, on a Motion "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill.''
§ Sir R. ADKINS
I do not propose to follow the last speaker in his adventures into Spain, or the oscillations of value which he found attaching to his own personal property. Although I did not hear all the calculated invective of the hon. and gallant Member for Leith (Captain, W. Benn), I heard enough to know that his light and vivacious manner had led him further into the paths of fiction than be generally goes, and his description of the Amendment which was accepted by the House an hour or two ago illustrates how 1751 easily Members of his gifts can excel in caricature. The Amendment the hon. and gallant Member described as having riveted the system of Protection on this country, and used various other epithets more suited to a graver style of speaker, and yet not without importance when coming from him. Those of us who care more about the realities of things than even those oratorical successors which my hon. and gallant Friend cultivates, will no doubt remember that that Amendment, registered by a large majority in this House—in which was a very large number of Members of fiscal predispositions not shared by the hon. and gallant Member and myself—is of considerable consequence. It marks out as quite exceptional among all the proposals of the Budget these so-called Import Duties, and by marking them out as exceptional shows that this House does not give them the same quasi-permanent character which may attach, or be argued to attach, to other proposals not so limited. It limits their operation By the period of three months. It gives notice to persons in this country and elsewhere of their temporary and exceptional character, and if there are persons so encouraged by my hon. and gallant Friend's unrestrained rhetoric as to sink money in concerns because they think we are to have perpetual preference in elaborate detail, it will be a warning to such persons, if they exist outside the hon. Member's imagination.
§ Sir R. ADKINS
When the phrases of the Under-Secretary for the Colonies are passed through the alembic of the hon. and gallant Member's mind they lose in authority what they gain in charm. If any persons are so unwise as to build upon my hon. and gallant Friend's prophecies anything into which they put large amounts of capital they will be the objects of my hon. and gallant Friend's unrestrained sympathy in a year or two when they see what a mistake they have made. Therefore it is because this Amendment, whether liked or disliked, does so mark out these taxes as to prevent their being used as a precedent, to make it more difficult to perpetuate them, more easy to bring them to an end, and because in accord with the very honourable and clear statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer their peculiar character 1752 is marked off in this definite way, it is well indeed that anyone who not only professes himself to be a. Liberal and a Free Trader, but who has been both in all kinds of political weather, is glad that that Amendment is passed, and if we care for something even more than for maintaining to the greatest degree the unity of this House and this country in a period which, though no longer one of active combatant fighting, is still essentially a war period, we may be all the more glad that we have helped that unity by passing that Amendment.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I might suggest to the Committee that while personal pleasantries are very attractive, they Jo not conduce to the progress of business.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
I had one or two words to address to my hon. and learned Friend, but in view of what you have said I will just content myself with one remark, of sympathy, may I say, to my hon. and learned Friend and his colleagues. They have a very difficult position, and I am much reminded of a character in "Bishop Blougram's Apology," which perhaps my hon. and learned Friend may well know, in which the learned bishop put this point, "That he did not know really whom he ought to sympathise with, those who led a life of doubt diversified by faith, or those who led a life of faith diversified by doubt."
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
I beg your permission to say, Sir, that the bishop came to the conclusion that conviction and enthusiasm were the best things. I am grateful to you for allowing me to say as much as that, and now I will say one or two words on the Clause as amended. What has happened is this, that as my hon. and learned Friend has truly said, there is a differentiation made between the position of the other Import Duties and these duties, and they are, as he said, now of a quasi-permanent character. I do not know what quasi means in this respect—
§ Sir R. ADKINS
I did not happen to say they were of a quasi-permanent 1753 character. I said the permanence of their character was lessened by the Amendment.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
No doubt there will be other occasions for my hon. and learned Friend to make these rather fine distinctions, which the Chairman suggested we should defer to another and perhaps more appropriate occasion. Really what has happened is this. The Amendment proposed by my hon. and learned Friend was an Amendment which everybody in the House understood, and which those of us who are unshaken Free Traders knew exactly where we were when we were prepared to vote for it and to support him. The result of that, if it had been adopted, was that before the next Budget, before the conclusion of the current financial year, these duties would come to an end, and the whole ground would be perfectly clear when the new Budget proposals came before Parliament. What has happened? These duties are carried into the next financial year. It is only a month it is true, but they are there. That is the real difficulty. It requires a certain amount of Parliamentary agility to follow the results of changes, and perhaps we ought to have got up a little more quickly and pointed that out to the Committee, but that vote undoubtedly was taken with a great deal of doubt and hesitation in the minds of a great number of Members of this House. I think that is perfectly clear. Whether my hon. and learned Friend intended it or not, he has left that issue in a very muddled condition. It would have been very much better for him to have refused the wile, or stratagem, or the happy thought—I
§ do not know what it was—which moved my hon. Friend to make that suggestion to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and which he with alacrity accepted. That is the position in which we find ourselves. I congratulate the Tariff Reformers. I am always willing to admit when there has been a victory for those with whom I am engaged in honourable and fair conflict. I congratulate them. They have made the first step—and it is the first step that counts—a most important step, and unless the country by a sweeping—well, a very definite—majority shall otherwise decide, is for a very long time—I agree, an irrevocable step on the long and, I believe, most injurious road to Tariff Reform. That is the position which I, so far as I could, wished to make clear to-night.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
I hope the Committee will come to a decision on this Clause. We really are only continuing the discussion which has gone on for a very long time. I think we have thrashed it out; and I believe it would meet the desire of every hon. Member if, when we resume to-morrow, we can examine what I may call the great Preference Debate, for which, obviously, Members are thirsting. If the Committee will now come to a decision on this Clause, there is very little left up to Clause 7, and as soon as we reach Clause 7 I propose to adjourn the proceedings until to-morrow, in order that we may begin that subject on a new day.
§ Question put, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 212; Noes, 55.1755
|Division No. 64.]||AYES.||[10.25 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Boles, Lieut.-Col. D. F.||Child, Brig.-Gen. Sir Hill|
|Ainsworth, Captain C.||Borwick, Major G. O.||Clay, Capt. H. H. Spender|
|Amery, Lieut.-Col. L. C. M. S.||Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Clough, R.|
|Astbury, Lt.-Com. F. W.||Brackenbury, Col. H. L.||Coates, Major Sir Edward F.|
|Atkey, A. R.||Breese, Major C. E.||Coats, Sir Stuart|
|Austin, Sir H.||Bridgeman, William Clive||Cobb, Sir Cyril|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Brittain, Sir Harry E.||Colfox, Major W. P.|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Brown, Captain D. C. (Hexham)||Colvin, Brigadier-General R. B.|
|Balfour, Gorge (Hampstead)||Bruton, Sir J.||Conway, Sir W. Martin|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Partick)||Buchanan, Lieut.-Col. A. L. H.||Cory, Sir James Herbert (Cardiff)|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir F. G.||Burn, Colonel C. R. (Torquay)||Craig, Col. Sir James (Down, Mid.)|
|Barlow, Sir Montague (Salford, S.)||Campbell, J. G. D.||Craik, Right Hon. Sir Henry|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Campion, Col. W. R.||Curzon, Commander Viscount|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Carr, W. T.||Davidson, Major-Gen. Sir John H.|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Carter, R. A. D. (Manchester)||Davies. T. (Cirencester)|
|Benn, Sir Arthur S. (Plymouth)||Cautley, Henry Strother||Dawes, J. A.|
|Bennett, T. J.||Cayzer, Major H. R.||Dennis, J. W.|
|Bentinck, Lt.-Col. Lord H. Cavendish-||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Dixon, Captain H.|
|Betterton, H. B.||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Oxford Univ.)||Dockrell, Sir M|
|Bigland, Alfred||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin)||Elliot, Capt. W. E. (Lanark)|
|Birchall. Major J. D.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Birm., W.)||Eyres-Monsell, Com.|
|Blane, T. A.||Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)||Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Law, Right Hon. A. Bonar (Glasgow)||Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, E.)|
|FitzRoy, Capt. Hon. Edward A.||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ. Wales)||Remer, J. B.|
|Forestier-Walker, L.||Lister, Sir R. Ashton||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)|
|Foxcroft, Captain C.||Lloyd, George Butler||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Ganzoni, Captain F. C.||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Hunt'don)||Robinson, T. (Stretford, Lancs.)|
|Geddes, Rt. Hon. Sir A. C. (Basingstoke)||Lort-Williams, J.||Rodger, A. K.|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Loseby, Captain C. E.||Roundell, Lieut.-Colonel R. F.|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Lyle, C. E. Leonard (Stratford)||Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)|
|Greame, Major P. Lloyd||Lynn, R. J.||Samuel, S. (Wandsworth, Putney)|
|Green, A. (Derby)||M'Curdy, Charles Albert||Seddon, J. A.|
|Green, J. F. (Leicester)||M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Bosworth)||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)|
|Gregory, Holman||M'Laren, R. (Lanark, N.)||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Greig, Colonel James William||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James J.||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Gretton, Colonel John||Macquisten, F. A.||Stanley, Colonel Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Guinness, Capt. Hon. R. (Southend)||Maddocks, Henry||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Hacking, Captain D. H.||Maitland, Sir A. D. Steel-||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Hailwood, A.||Marriott, John Arthur R.||Surtees, Brig,-General H. C.|
|Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Mason, Robert||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Hamilton, Major C. G. C. (Altrincham)||Mitchell, William Lane-||Talbot, G. A. (Hemel Hempstead)|
|Hancock, John George||Moles, Thomas||Taylor, J. (Dumbarton)|
|Harris, Sir H. P. (Paddington, S.)||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Terrell, Capt. R. (Henley, Oxford)|
|Haslam, Lewis||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Henderson, Major V. L.||Moore-Brabazon, Lt.-Col. J. C. T.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, S.)|
|Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Townley, Maximillian G.|
|Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon||Morison, T. B. (Inverness)||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Higham, C. F. (Islington, S.)||Morrison, H. (Salisbury)||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Hilder, Lieut.-Col. F.||Mosley, Oswald||Waddington, R.|
|Hood, Joseph||Murray, Hon. G. (St. Rollox)||Walker, Colonel William Hall|
|Hope, Harry (Stirling)||Murray, William (Dumfries)||Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.|
|Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Nall, Major Joseph||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. (Midlothian)||Neal, Arthur||Warner, Sir T. Courtenay T.|
|Hope, John Deans (Berwick)||Nelson, R. F. W. R.||Weston, Colonel John W.|
|Hopkins, J. W. W.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. (Exeter)||Whitla, Sir William|
|Hopkinson, Austin (Mossley)||Nicholson, R. (Doncaster)||Wigan, Brig.-General John Tyson|
|Howard, Major S. G.||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Hunter, Gen. Sir A. (Lancaster)||Oman, C. W. C.||Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|Hurd, P. A.||O'Neill, Capt. Hon. Robert W. H.||Wilson, Colonel Leslie (Reading)|
|Jesson, C.||Palmer, Brig.-Gen. G. (Westbury)||Wilson, Col. M. (Richmond, Yorks.)|
|Jodrell, N. P.||Peel, Lt.-Col. R. F. (Woodbridge)||Wilson-Fox, Henry|
|Johnson, L. S.||Perkins, Walter Frank||Wood, Major S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)||Perring, William George||Woolcock, W. J. U.|
|Jones, William Kennedy (Hornsey)||Pinkham, Lieutenant-Colonel Charles||Worsfold, T. Cato|
|Joynson-Hicks, William||Pratt, John William||Worthington-Evans. Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Kellaway, Frederick George||Pulley, Charles Thornton||Young, Sir F. W. (Swindon)|
|King, Commander Douglas||Purchase, H. G.||Younger, Sir George|
|Kinloch-Cooke. Sir Clement||Raeburn, Sir William|
|Knights, Captain H.||Ramsden, G. T.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Capt.|
|Lane-Fox, Major G. R.||Randles, Sir John Scurrah||F. Guest and Lord E. Talbot.|
|Law, A. J. (Rochdale)||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel Dr. N.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis Dyke||Holmes, J. S.||Short, A. (Wednesbury)|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Johnstone, J.||Smith, Capt. A. (Nelson and Colne)|
|Arnold, Sydney||Jones, J. (Silvertown)||Smith, W. (Wellingborough)|
|Bell, James (Ormskirk)||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander||Spencer, George A.|
|Benn, Capt. W. (Leith)||Kiley, James Daniel||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Lunn, William||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Briant, F.||Lyle-Samuel, A. (Eye, E. Suffolk)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E)|
|Bromfield, W.||Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Tootill, Robert|
|Carter, W. (Mansfield)||Morgan, Major D. Watts||Wallace, J.|
|Casey, T. W.||Murray, Dr. D. (Western Isles)||Walsh, S. (Ince, Lancs.)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R.||Newbould, A. E.||Waterson, A. E.|
|Davies, Alfred (Clitheroe)||O'Grady, James||White, Charles F. (Derby, W.)|
|Edwards, C. (Bedwelty)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Wignall, James|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough)|
|France, Gerald Ashburner||Richardson, R. (Houghton)||Wood, Major Mackenzie (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Gange, E. S.||Royce, William Stapleton||Young, Robert (Newton, Lancs.)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Sexton, James|
|Hall, F. (Yorks, Normanton)||Shaw, Hon. A. (Kilmarnock)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.|
|Hartshorn, V.||Shaw, Tom (Preston)||T. Wilson and Mr. Hogge.|
|Hayward, Major Evan|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ CLAUSES 2 (Continuation of Increased Medicine Duties), 3 (Increase in Spirit Duties) and 4 (Increased Customs Duties on Beer) ordered to stand part of the Bill,