HC Deb 02 July 1924 vol 175 cc1446-72

Legacy and Succession Duty shall not be leviable on testamentary bequests made to hospitals carried on in the public interest.—[Captain Viscount Ednam.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Viscount EDNAM

I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

I wish to express the sincere hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will see his way this year to make this comparatively small but, so far as the voluntary hospitals are concerned, very reasonable concession. I know the right hon. Gentleman is in favour of this concession, as is also the Prime Minister, and the Financial Secretary, because I think they voted for it when I moved this Clause last year. The British Hospitals Association have asked me to put forward their claim again this year, and I would like to remind the right hon. Gentleman of the wide sympathy with which this Clause was received on all sides of the House last year. The financial position of the voluntary hospitals of Great Britain still refermains extremely critical. The total debt of the voluntary hospitals last year amounted to £700,000; that in the London area alone amounted to £171,000. I have been informed by the King Edward Hospital Fund, which controls the finances of the hospitals in the London district, and also by the British Bed Cross Society, which controls the hospitals outside the London district, that although they have been unable yet to arrive at the total figures for this last financial year, they can say now that the total indebtedness has not been reduced since last year. You can still see that the whole position of the voluntary hospitals of this country still hangs in the balance. The whole vexed question of voluntary versus State controlled hospitals is entirely germane to this Debate, but I am not going to raise it. To my mind the first consideration is that our sick and suffering should be properly cared for and have adequate accommodation. The second consideration is whether they should be cared for under a voluntary or a State controlled system. I would like to read the statement which was made in the Report of the Cave Commission on Voluntary Hospitals, which was set up in 1920, and of which the present Postmaster-General was a member. They said: Is the voluntary system worth saving? We are convinced that it is. If that system falls to the ground hospitals must be provided by the public and the expense of so providing them would be enormous. They must then be carried on without the aid of voluntary subscriptions and donations estimated at not less than £3,000,000 a rear and presumably without £1,000,000 from endowments which are given to support voluntary hospitals only. Personally I agree with that recommendation. If it fails, the whole burden of upkeep of these hospitals will be thrown on to the shoulders of the small rate and tax payers who can at present ill afford to bear it. What is more important still, to my mind, we shall lose the whole of the medical, research, administrative, scientific and organising services which are at present given entirely voluntarily to our hospitals. I am of opinion that at the present time everyone in this country does subscribe to the full capacity of their powers to the voluntary hospitals. That is borne out by the fact that in spite of the increased cost of living and increased taxation donations to the voluntary hospitals have risen since the War by 67 per cent. The Committee may remember that another recommendation of the Cave Commission was an extraordinary grant of £1,000,000 in mitigation of the then total debt which amounted to 1½ millions, and Parliament at that time did in fact sanction a grant of half a million pounds in mitigation of that debt. The Cave Commission did not recommend any form of regular State grant. This is what they said: It has been suggested by some, but by a very small minority of the witnesses, that liability for the hospitals should be taken over by the State or thrown upon the rates or at least that a regular yearly grant-in-aid should be made from one of those sources. In our view the proposal would be fatal to the voluntary system. If it is once admitted that there is an obligation either on the State or the local authorities to make good deficits, hospitals will have lost their incentive to collect and subscribers their inducement to contribute. It is obvious that that statement is perfectly true. It may be argued that this concession for which I am asking is in fact a regular grant. Well, it is a regular grant, but it is a regular grant which does not discourage directly the voluntary system. It is a concession which directly encourages the voluntary system. Of course as most of the Committee know it was one of the recommendations of this Commission. They made 13 recommendations most of which have now been carried out. The recommendation in respect of death duties reads as follows: The request is put forward that testamentary gifts to hospitals should be exempt from the 10 per cent. Legacy Duty, We understand that such an exemption is allowed in the United States and is believed to have a marked effect in encouraging bequests to hospitals. There appears to be no good reason why the State should intercept at the source one-tenth of all sums bequeathed for the benefit of the sick and we recommend that these gifts be free from duty. This recommendation applies to Legacy and Succession Duty; but not to Estate Duty. The Committee will see that this concession which I am asking for was one of the main recommendations of the Cave Commission. It is, I think, fairly obvious to anyone with experience of the voluntary hospital system that the best way of ensuring the welfare of our hospitals is by encouraging bequests and legacies to them, because dividends upon such bequests and legacies represent the only regular source of income on which they can rely. At the present time those who have the largest debt are the young hospitals which have not yet had time to accumulate such a large amount of bequests and legacies as the old ones. I am on the Board of Management of a large hospital in the North of London—the Royal Northern—which has to cater for the needs of a large and rapidly growing population in North London. We are only a young hospital. We have not yet had time to accumulate those bequests upon which other hospitals rely for their income. Our expenditure during the last two years has amounted to about £80,000 per year. We have an assured annual income of only £2,000, and so £78,000 bas to be raised every year in voluntary subscriptions. We have at the present time a debt of £50,000, and last year we had to close down 80 beds. That means that to-day—and this is literally true, as other hon. Members who represent North London constituencies will testify—there are hundreds and hundreds of patients suffering from disease who require urgent attention and are waiting for admission to the hospital and cannot get it. That is not a right thing.

I know the right hon. Gentleman will realise and sympathise with the constant anxiety that is caused by a debt of this magnitude and the way in which it is bound to cut at the very roots of the efficiency of the hospital. I am also on the Board of Management of a large hospital in the Midlands and exactly the same condition of affairs exists there. It is a young hospital which has to cater for a large and growing district. It has not accrued sufficient bequests and it has consequently a debt of £10,000. These debts are not the fault of the hospitals, they are entirely due to increasing costs during and since the War.

I want to touch on the cost of this concession. I have been carefully into the figures with the British Hospitals Association, the Red Cross Society, and King Edward's Hospital Fund, and, as far as we can see, the concession will cost between £80,000 and £130,000 per annum. For that sum you will ensure the welfare of the sick and suffering; you will insure that there shall be adequate accommodation which does not exist for them at present; you will also ensure the life of the voluntary hospital system; you will ensure against throwing this enormous burden on the shoulders of the ratepayers and taxpayers who will have to bear it if the voluntary system fails. We ask for this concession only for a certain period—until such time as the hospitals have again found their feet. These had times are only clue to the War and to the high costs, but soon the hospitals will be able to start, again, it is hoped, with a clean sheet free from debt. It is a wise concession well worth making.

There is one final argument which I have no doubt the right hon. Gentleman will put forward, and that is that if he grants this concession to voluntary hospitals he must also extend it, to other charities. It seems obvious to me that the hospitals are not on the same footing as other charities. They are our first consideration. A precedent distinguishing them from other charities already exists in the special grant which was made in 1920 by Parliament on the recommendations of the Cave Commission of £500,000. Of course, if our voluntary hospital system broke down through financial difficulties, it would be a tragedy of the first water; it would increase suffering and it would increase expense. If, say, a society for providing homes for stray cats or some similar purpose broke down it would be a tragedy, no doubt, for the cats, but it could not be put on the same footing as our hospitals. I should like to appeal to hon. Members in all parts of the House, and especially to those below the Gangway, many of whom supported me last year, to support the British Hospitals Association and the voluntary hospitals of Great Britain in this claim, which seems to be wise, just and reasonable.

Lieut.-Colonel FREMANTLE

I do not want to spend a long time in advocating this Clause, because I think it is fairly obvious that it appeals to the heart of everyone in every quarter of the Committee, and even to those on the Treasury Bench, if they have hearts left. I know, however, that Chancellors of the Exchequer have to leave their hearts with their hats in the outer Lobby when they come into the Committee to discuss the Finance Bill. I want to suggest one definite argument why we should give this relief to hospitals which is not given to other forms of charity. I cannot help thinking it will be generally agreed that the hospitals are an absolute necessity of our modern civilisation. If charitable efforts were to fail there is not the least question that there would be an overwhelming demand for the hospitals to be supported and maintained and extended out of the rates and taxes—partly out of one and partly out of the other. That is not the case with other charities. They will come or go according to the amount of goodwill there is behind them, but the hospitals make such a tremendously increasing demand on the charitable public that if voluntary efforts were not forthcoming there is no question the same amount would have to be obtained from the rates and taxes, and, therefore, you will see that the charitable contributions to hospitals are not on the same footing as the rates would be if they were devoted to the same purpose. There is no doubt about it that ninny contributions out of the rates by Poor Law authorities towards the hospital funds are made at the present time, and they do not pay any tax, and the money is contributed straight out of the rates. Therefore it seems to me that there is a case for the money given from voluntary sources for the support of hospitals being free from taxation. I hope the argument has been made quite clear. There is no question that it means one of two alternatives.

Recently there was a conference on the voluntary hospital system summoned by the Labour party to which Members of all parties were invited, and at that conference, which lasted three or four days, a definite statement was drawn up by the Labour party in which they declared that although they believed that the system of hospital provision should be through the municipality or the State, at the present moment they considered voluntary hospitals were indispensable, for nowhere could you get anything to replace them at the present time or in the near future. Therefore you are bound to fall back upon the present system. The voluntary system is essential and speaking for the medical profession, almost without exception, between the two alternatives, so long as you can keep up the voluntary system you must have it, because it is preferable to any other system. If the Labour or the Socialist party believe it is essential to keep up the voluntary hospital system, surely the Government might stretch a point to encourage voluntary efforts in order to keep up the voluntary system.


I should like to support the views which have been expressed on this question, and I wish to assure the Chancellor of the Exchequer that those views are generally held by those who sit on these benches. I happen to be a past chairman of one of the largest hospitals in Scotland, and I can confirm all that has been said by the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just sat down with regard to feeling about voluntary hospitals. It would be lamentable if this country was to allow its hospitals to be put on the rates, or that the money for supporting them should have to be provided by the State. I have taken the opportunity when abroad to see other hospitals which I have heard very much about, and where I was told that the State system was the best. I am not a doctor, but very often a layman can find good reasons against views which are held by medical men, and what I have heard from medical men on the Continent in favour of the State system, is not borne out by the practice in this country.

Again I have found patients using the hospital in this country much prefer that they should be on the voluntary rather than a State system. I have found that view expressed by all sections of the community. In the hospital of which I was the chairman we used to have many private patients, and they all spoke magnificently of the way the work was carried out under the voluntary system. I think it would be a thousand pities if the charitable feelings of those members of the community who can afford to support hospitals were shut up, Large sums are given every year by people and by organisations for the upkeep of our hospitals. Not only this, but in many towns where there are large mills and factories they have a system whereby each worker pays 1d. or 2d. a week in support of hospitals, and they all feel that these hospitals are really their own because they contribute towards their upkeep, and thus make provision for the day when they may require treatment themselves. I hope all sections of the House will support the views which have been expressed in this debate, and press the Chancellor of the Exchequer to make this very small concession. I am told that only something like £120,000 is involved. [HON. MEMBERS: "It is more."] Even if it is more than that sum, if you have to put the hospitals on State funds it will cost far more. I hope this proposal will receive support from all quarters of the House and will be carried.

Lieut.-Colonel SPENDER-CLAY

I wish to say a few words in support of what has been said by the hon. Member who has just sat down. The Treasury, quite apart from any other consideration, should give this concession, because nothing could be more expensive than placing the whole of the hospitals on the State. No Government could remain in power if the hospitals were closed down for want of funds. There is nothing more remarkable than the extraordinary desire which exists amongst charitable people to help each other, and the hospitals are a very fine example of British charity. Anybody who has had anything to do with our hospitals must realise the extent to which men and women will voluntarily give up their time to further the interests of the hospitals in their locality.

This also has a remarkable psychological effect upon the character of our people, because they are willing to make a great effort for what they deem to be a great cause, and if they had the encouragement which would be given by this apparently small concession we should find that the hospitals of this country would still he maintained by the voluntary system. This concession would very much benefit the people who use those hospitals, and it would not cost the Treasury a very large sum. We have had no answer from the Treasury Bench up to now, and no indication as to how they regard this Amendment, but I cannot help thinking that, not only in the interests of the Treasury itself, but also in the interests of the people of the country as a whole, the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be well advised to accept this Amendment.


I would remind hon. Members that we are not now discussing the question of a voluntary system or a State system for the hospitals. Apart from the Mover of this Amendment, no subsequent speaker has approached the question which is now before the Committee. The question is whether these hospitals should be freed from legacy duty. That is the only question before us, and I will confine my few observations to that point. I am quite sure there is no hon. Member who is not in agreement with every word which has been uttered in the course of this Debate in regard to the claims of these admirable, beneficial and necessary institutions. The question which has been introduced by the noble Lord the Member for Hornsey (Viscount Edman) is becoming something of a hardy annual. [An HON. MEMBER: "It is a good one, too!"] I remember the Debate which took place last year and I remember the eloquent speeches on this subject which were made on that occasion. I do not remember that one of the hon. Members who have spoken from that side of the Committee to-night, except the Noble Lord who moved this Clause, spoke upon that occasion. The hon. Member for Ilford (Sir F. Wise) has been quite vociferous to-night. He applauded statements by Members who have spoken in support of this Clause, but the hon. Member for Ilford was very silent 12 months ago. The only evidence he gave of his views on this question is to be found in the records of the Division Lobby. Another hon. Member who has spoken in this Debate, and who made a powerful appeal on behalf of the voluntary hospitals, voted, I find, against the Clause which the Noble Lord put forward in terms identical with those of the one which he has just moved. I find that all the hon. Members, except a very few who were absent from the Division, who are now pressing me to make this concession, went into the Lobby 12 months ago and voted against the proposal that it should be made by their Government. I exempt the Noble Lord. He has been consistent in his advocacy of this pro- posal. But the Noble Lord made a most interesting contribution, in a very few sentences, at the close of the Debate 12 months ago. He said: The hospital authorities for whom I speak do not want to divide against the Government; they would not divide against any Government,"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd July, 1923; col. 183, Vol. 166.]

Viscount EDNAM

The right hon. Gentleman rather presumes on my sense of honour. I have never said that I am going to divide against this Government. A Division was called last year, but not by me; and if a Division is called this year it will not be called by me.


The Noble Lord is quite consistent, and I was going to say I was quite certain that he will take the same honourable course on this occasion. This Amendment was opposed last year by the Financial Secretary in the Conservative Government. You, Mr. Entwistle, ruled a little while ago that speeches could not be read in this Committee. Otherwise, I might be tempted to read the whole of the speech that was made in the Debate 12 months ago by the then Financial Secretary. He put the case against this Amendment very forcibly. May I at this point say this—or rather, may I put it in the form of an appeal to the Committee? I know that this Clause would appeal to the sympathy and sentiment of every Member of the House. If we were to discuss it simply as a sentimental or sympathetic matter, we should all agree. But we ought not to allow our sympathies and our sentiments to blind us to reasonable arguments.

10.0 P.M.

What is the case here? In effect, the proposal is that the State should subsidise voluntary hospitals—that we should hand over to them public money without any control whatever over their expenditure. In other words, this proposal for the remission of taxation on gifts to hospitals is a concealed subsidy to hospitals. The Noble Lord who is in charge of this Clause estimated the cost to the State at anything from £100,000 to £130,000 a year. I do not agree with the Noble Lord that if this concession were given it would be possible to confine it to hospitals. Let the Committee remember what happened two nights ago, when a sudden defeat of the Government took place. That was upon an Amendment which combined hospitals and philanthropic and other educational associations, and I need hardly say—it is perfectly clear to everyone—that if this were conceded in the case of hospitals, the case would be irresistible for its extension to every other kind of philanthropic institution.

Viscount EDNAM

I should like again to say what I said in my speech when I moved the Clause, namely, that this distinction was made in 1920, when the Government made a grant to voluntary hospitals, as absolutely distinct from other charities.


The Noble Lord has anticipated the point I was going to make. I am not going to say now that it is inadvisable that the State should make some contribution to hospitals. What I am objecting to at the moment, and what I am pointing out to the Committee, is that, if it were considered desirable to give this subsidy, this is not the right way in which to give it. Let it be done in an open and straightforward way. Let us come to the House, and say that it is necessary, for the relief of suffering in this country, that these voluntary hospitals should be kept alive, and that their financial anxieties should be lessened or relieved. Let a claim like that be put forward, and I am quite sure the House of Commons will give it sympathetic consideration. But what is this going to do? The Noble Lord followed his statement that this would cost from £80,000 to £130,000 a year by a statement—I am sure he did not mean it—to the effect that this was needed to save the voluntary hospitals of the country. It would be, on the Noble Lord's figure of £80,000 or £100,000, a mere pittance when distributed over the thousand hospitals in the country. It would be something like £80 to £100 each. Does he tell the Committee that the voluntary hospitals depend for their existence upon receiving a subsidy of £80 to £100 each? Not at all.

There is this further point, which I do not think the Noble Lord touched upon. I do not think the hospitals themselves would gain very much. They would gain next to nothing if this Amendment were carried, but the State would lose a considerable sum, because legacies to hos- pitals are mainly left free of legacy duty. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] That is the case. It is no use denying what is common knowledge. A man instructs his lawyer to make provision for the disposal of his property, and says he wants to leave, say, £1,000 to such-and-such a hospital. The lawyer says, "Free of legacy duty?" and he says, "Oh yes, I want the hospital to have £1,000." He wants them to have a certain round sum, and people will continue to leave round sums. The net result would be that the hospitals would gain very little and the State would suffer great deal. The State would lose its £200,000 a year, because that would be the cost even if we could prevent its extension to other institutions, and the voluntary hospitals would gain very little. For two days now appeals have been made to me to concede this and to concede that. The amounts in some cases have been small it is true, but there is an old Scotch proverb to the effect that many a mickle makes a mickle. I might be able to afford one or two Amendments where no very large sum is involved, but I cannot go on doing that. If I do I shall destroy the whole basis of the Budget. To hon. Members on this side of the Committee I make this appeal. I ask them to understand my position. I have not been refusing a number of Amendments in the past two days because I was entirely out of sympathy with them. I want them to understand that I have in this Budget made bigger concessions than have ever been made in any Budget in the past. There are a hundred things I should like to do. There are innumerable, alterations in the incidence of the Income Tax that I should like to make, but they all cost money and we cannot make them all at once. The Amendment I am now asked to concede is a very substantial one. I am compelled to resist it for the reasons I have given—not from any want of sympathy with the hospitals but because I do not believe this is the right way of doing it. It would cost the State a very considerable amount of money without relieving the hospitals to any considerable extent.

Viscount EDNAM

The right hon. Gentleman has ridiculed this concession and said it would not save the hospitals. Of course, it is not going to be an enormous source of income to the hospitals, but the British Hospitals Association have told me that if it is granted, it is going to give a tremendous fillip to the voluntary hospital system. It will mean the turning point, as to whether the voluntary system will be saved or will not. It means so much to them in that it directly encourages bequests and it encourages people to leave more money than they have done in the past. He also said the Government would be giving away money over the spending of which they would have no control. I think he shows by that that he cannot know very much about hospital administration, because any semi-public money is carefully spent, and if every halfpenny is carefully weighed in any form of administration, I do not suppose it is more carefully spent and controlled than by the voluntary hospitals. Every halfpenny has to be accounted for either to the British Red Cross Society or to the King Edward's Hospital Fund, who have their expert staff of accountants and control every halfpenny of the money. The right hon. Gentleman also said it would be of very little advantage to the hospitals and a very large disadvantage to the State, because people who leave their legacies duty free at present would not leave them duty free in future. I am informed by these associations that there are, in fact, very few legacies at present which are left duty free. When people are making their wills they put aside a certain amount of money for these hospitals, and if they are duty free at present they will still go on leaving the same sums of money, so that not only will the hospitals benefit in that way but we hope it will increase the number of legacies. Then the right hon. Gentleman said: "It is not a good thing to do it in a roundabout way. If you are going to help the hospitals, help them by a direct grant." I have already pointed out that if you help them by a direct grant you are directly discouraging the voluntary system. By this means you are directly encouraging the voluntary system and encouraging these bequests which are essential to the hospitals.


I only intervene because a speech has already been made from this bench by one of its adornments which I do not think represents the opinion of the majority of the party. I think I may be excused from any accusation of not voting against the Government on what I think has been right on the Finance Bill. This afternoon we tried to get what we thought right and we were defeated by a Conservative-Labour Coalition. [An HON. MEMBER: "Impatient oxen!"] Impatient oxen of the most dismal description. I should surely be unfaithful to every tradition of Liberalism if by whomever such an Amendment was proposed I voted for it. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has said this is a hardy annual, and he mentioned votes of two or three years ago. I have been rather shocked, being of a simple character, by the realisation during the last few days of how many hon. Members voted this side now who voted that side a year ago, and how many Members who voted this side a year ago are voting that side at present. Very reluctantly I find myself driven to the conclusion that the Liberal party appear to be the only honest party. This is not a question of the passing inconsistencies of minds which change during a few months. More than 40 years ago, in one of the historic speeches delivered in this House, Mr. Gladstone himself swept away, by arguments which are as real to-day as they were then, and which I think will be as real as long as any Budget is produced, the demand which was pressed upon him for the exemption of certain limited charitable institutions from the normal taxation of the country, and, of course, he swept it away with the argument, so admirably put by my right hon. Friend. First of all, if you begin with hospitals—and there is no definition given in this Amendment——

Viscount EDNAM

indicated dissent.


If there is, let me submit to the noble Lord that he must immediately come on to a long series of institutions which are every bit as deserving as hospitals, and are in effect hospitals, child welfare societies and all the others, and this would apply to everything practically which is left to any charitable institution at all. We have a right to say to men who wish to leave their money to these institutions that legacy and succession duties are not levied on any sum under £1,000, and if anyone wishes to obtain interest either in this world or in the next by leaving his money to these institutions he will find that it is perfectly practicable to leave the money free from legacy and succession duties. But it is not right that any institution should be subsidised out of State Funds by the money first of all being due as other moneys are due to the State, from the supply of the general taxation of the country, and then by these particular institutions being exempted from that supply.

The noble Lord knows as well as I do that we have been talking largely outside this special subject, which he has brought forward with such eloquence and earnestness. We have been talking of voluntary hospitals altogether. He knows that we are as much in sympathy with them as anybody else in this House, but he knows also that it would require a very small proportion of money even of the Super tax payers in this country to supplement the present subscriptions to the hospitals altogether to double or treble the money which he hopes to receive by this, and let him rather apply to the charitable public than to try to produce an amount, which must, of necessity, be placed on some of the other taxpayers of the country, and possibly on the poorer taxpayers of the country. I think that my right hon. Friend has the right to appeal, as certainly, when I was Secretary to the Treasury and assisting in Budgets we did appeal, to the Committee as a whole in connection with the Budget which has been accepted as a whole. We pressed forward—and if we did not press forward, I do not see what reason we should have to be in the House—certain things of which we desire an amelioration in connection with taxation, and in some cases we carried them against the Government, and I cannot see why the Government should consider themselves humiliated by having these things carried against them, or why on the other hand, there should be any particular sense of Parliamentary triumph.

When my right hon. Friend introduced his Budget, and when I had the privilege both of praising and of criticising it, and when he first definitely announced to the House the minimum amount of his surplus, we criticised it then, and we were supported by eloquent speeches from the bench opposite, on the ground that he had not left himself enough surplus to meet all the claims. Therefore it seems to me that, having made that criticism, we are not in a position to continue to press him to whittle away the surplus of which we said he had not left himself enough If we did that then we ought also to take on ourselves the responsibility of increasing the tea and sugar duties which he is reducing. Because on this question, if you are going to subsidise hospitals from the State you must also demand certain obligations to the State in return for them, and because I think that the right hon. Gentleman has a right to oppose a thing which may lose him £200,000, without any guarantee that the hospitals will get anything like a quarter of that sum, I invite my hon. Friends to support him on this occasion.


We have just heard from the right hon. Member for Rusholme (Mr. Masterman) that the Liberal party is the only consistent party in this House—[HON. MEMBERS: "Honest!"]—the only honest party too. We shall hope to see presently how far that consistency will carry them to-night. The right hon. Gentleman has told us that this Amendment is contrary to all the sacred principles of Liberalism. I have had the curiosity to look at the Division List for the Division on this particular Amendment at this time last year, and I find, so far as I am able to ascertain from a somewhat cursory inspection, that, not one Liberal voted against the Amendment, and that every Liberal who voted at all voted in favour of it. I find among these dishonest representatives of Liberalism the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon), the hon. and gallant Member for Leith (Captain W. Benn), the present Senior Whip for the Liberal party, the hon. Member for West Edinburgh (Mr. Phillipps), and the right hon. Gentleman who was once Minister for Labour (Dr. Macnamara), and, in fact, I think I am right in saying that everybody who calls himself a Liberal voted in favour of the Amendment which the right hon. Gentleman now tells us the only honest party regards as being contrary to the principles of Liberalism. I think the Committee can leave the Liberal party to reconcile its one in consistencies.

The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he was quoting, what is quite true, that several people who are, I hope, going to vote in favour of this Amendment presently voted against it last year, was careful to assure us that he was presently going to tell us how he voted, but unfortunately he forgot to do it. May I supplement the deficiency? Both the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Financial Secretary to the Treasury voted in favour of the Amendment, but the right hon. Gentleman tells us now that really this is a most ill-advised Amendment, because the hospitals would not benefit. Why did he think they would benefit last year? Surely their position has not changed so much for the better, nor have the munificent habits of would-be testators altered during the last 12 months. If it be true that the hospitals benefited sufficiently last year to make it worth while supporting the Amendment then, why not this year? The fact is that the hospitals, after all, are perhaps the best able to judge whether or not this Amendment would benefit them, and I do not think the right hon. Gentleman can mention any hospital or any governing body of any hospital which shares his view as to this Amendment being of no use. I represent a constituency which, I am proud to say, has a number of hospitals within its confines, and I have had letters and representations from the governors of more than one of them pressing me to support this Amendment because of the great benefit which the hospitals would enjoy from it.


How did you vote last year?


I will tell you with pleasure. I voted against the Amendment last year. [HON. MEMBERS: "Come over here!"] If the Committee will allow me, I will tell them why I voted against it. Last year the resistance to this Amendment was in support of a Budget which had been carefully framed and which had given the maximum of concessions which could possibly he given.


A Budget which left a surplus of £40,000,000


I thought the right hon. Gentleman was going to correct something. This year we have a Budget framed by a Chancellor of the Exchequer who is so profligate that he throws away things like the McKenna Duties. The Chancellor of the Exchequer told us that this was a proposal to subsidise hospitals out of public money without taking public control. With great respect to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I entirely differ from that view. It is not a proposal to subsidise hospitals out of public money. It is a proposal to take a little less of the money of the hospitals for the public Exchequer.

The position is, as the Committee knows, that when a legacy is left to any institution or any person, the legatee is the person responsible to the Exchequer for the duty. If you leave your money to a lineal descendant, that person has to pay legacy duty of 1 per cent., and the legacy duty rises according to the distance from the testator in blood that the recipient of the legacy may be. In the case of hospitals, the maximum duty of 10 per cent is charged. The real truth is that whereas the State recognising, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer has told us they do, the invaluable work which voluntary hospitals are doing for the public good, says to the hospitals: "You must get money to carry on your work from private benefactions, but if you do get money from private benefactions we are going to tax you to the extent of one-tenth of it." That is a wholly indefensible principle. Nothing but the most urgent public necessity should postpone the need for this reform, and I think that in a year when the Chancellor of the Exchequer has the means which he professes to have this year it will be only fair and right that to these hospitals this very modest concession should be given, in order that they may be helped and relieved to same extent from the difficulties under which they carry on their work.

Marquess of HARTINGTON

Before this matter goes to the vote I should like to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer one or two questions. On what did he base his estimate that this concession would cost the country £200,000 per annum. His information is, no doubt, later than mine, but according to the figures which I have been able to get, which are for 1922, the total of legacies for all the hospitals in that year was £772,000. In all probability there were increases last year, but I hesitate to believe that the increase has been so great as to make up the difference and to justify the Chancellor of the Exchequer in saying that the cost of the concession will be £200,000. On what did he base his statement that legacies are generally left to hospitals duty free? It is quite true that in many cases they are. Up to a few years ago it was very much more the practice than it is to-day to do that. The duty is now very much heavier than it was, and in the case of very considerable estates, landed estates especially, it is a heavy charge, and people hesitate more and more to burden their estates with heavy legacies duty free. A person who intended to leave a legacy to a hospital, on going to his lawyer and finding that the hospital would get only a part of the legacy, changed his mind. Thus the State lost revenue. I am interested in a certain number of hospitals, and I have received to-day telegrams urging me to support this Amendment. I shall have no hesitation whatever in going into the Lobby against the Chancellor of the Exchequer unless he makes this very wholesome concession.


I must correct the statement of my right hon. Friend the Member for Rusholme (Mr. Masterman). He certainly does not speak for the whole of the Liberal party. We, who do not agree with him on this question, are perfectly consistent. A large number of us supported the proposal of this Amendment last year, and I shall support it to-night. It is not in the least in conflict with Liberal principles. I hope that Labour Members will be as consistent as we are by voting for the Amendment. I am one of the governors of a very large hospital in the provinces. I can assure hon. Members that the voluntary hospitals deserve all the support that they can get, and if this measure of justice will help them, the House ought to make the concession, which, I believe, the Chancellor of the Exchequer can afford.


The hospitals and other institutions have the benefit of a very considerable concession granted by a previous Chancellor of the Exchequer. I think it was three years ago that the Chancellor of the Exchequer made a provision in his Finance Bill that anyone who liked to bind himself to pay a subscription to a hospital or educational body or religious body, might pay the subscription less the tax. There is a concession there of 4s. 6d. in the pound. Furthermore, if he were fortunate or unfortunate enough to be a Super-tax payer, he might, when he made out his Super-tax statement, but in, as a set-off, the gross amount of his subscription. Therefore, if the tax was 5s. in the pound, instead of paying £100 he could pay £75. When he came to make up his Super-tax return he could set off £100 against his Super-tax. I know that hon. Gentlemen will say that this is all very well as far as large subscriptions are concerned but that it will not work for the benefit of the hospitals. I claim that it will. It is perfectly easy in a large town to select a body like the Charity Organisation Society or any other body which is free from duty, pay the guineas to that body and instruct that body to pay the money to the hospitals. Therefore, there is already a very large concession available in this respect which is not generally used, and I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer might employ the argument that until that concession is availed of, he cannot give any more.


As I am voting to-night on this Amendment in a way different from that in which I voted last year, I hope the Committee will permit me to give an explanation of my attitude. The issues in this House change from moment to moment, and when an Amendment of this kind is likely to undermine the Budget then the issue is not the Amendment but the Budget. You may kill a Budget by means of a battering ram or by nibbling away its foundations, and this is one of many methods by which the foundations may be nibbled away. As this is a Liberal Budget, we Liberals have supported it from its inception. It is Liberal in its origin and in its structure and it will be Liberal in its results. It would be quite possible to support a large number of apparently minor Amendments which yet tend to damage the structure of the Budget—and would ultimately destroy it altogether. A Budget is a structure—sometimes it is a very handsome structure and sometimes a very hideous structure, like the Budget of last year. I am supporting the Budget to-night in voting against the Amendment. I have every sympathy with the Noble Lord the Member for Hornsey (Viscount Ednam), who made such an eloquent and earnest speech, and I congratulate him on the work he does year in and year out on behalf of this cause. Last year he went against his own party on this matter and I supported him then because I was opposing that Budget, but I am supporting this Budget and I am voting on the issue of Budget or no Budget, and I am going to be no party to undermining the Budget.

Lieut.-Commander BURNEY

I pro-post to vote against the Amendment. It seems to me that the Committee is taking an extraordinary course. To-day we are governed under a minority system, and hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway opposite happen to be in office. Before very long, no doubt, one of the other parties will be in office, and it also may be—probably will be—a minority Government. If it is going to be the practice of each party to endeavour to take political advantage by sniping at minor budgetary estimates, it seems to me we shall arrive at an extraordinarily difficult position. [Interruption.] If other parties do something which is not good for the Government of the country there is no reason why this party should do so. My Noble Friend says it has nothing to do with party politics. If so, why is it that a large number on this side of the House voted against a similar Amendment last year, and a large number on the other side, who are voting against this Amendment to-night, supported it last year? It is for that reason that I propose to vote against this Amendment, because I believe that if this practice continues, we are going to arrive at a most extraordinarily difficult situation so far as the Government of this country is concerned.

Viscount EDNAM

I want to be allowed to ask the hon. and gallant Member whether he is in favour of the Amendment or not, because he has been arguing entirely against the Amendment. If in favour of the Amendment he ought to vote for it. [Interruption.]

Lieut. - Commander BURNEY

Last year, so far as my memory serves me, I voted against this Amendment. This year I propose to do the same. The reason voted against the Amendment last year was because I was influenced, perhaps, by the right hon. Members of my party sitting on the Front Bench. I have not changed my view. I believe that if persons wish to leave money to hospitals, they themselves make up their own minds as to the amount they are going to leave. If they wish to leave that amount of money free of duty, they can do so. If, on the other hand, hospitals are to be subsidised, it is, to my mind, idle to suggest that relief of this sort is not a subsidy to hospitals. If they are to be subsidised, the whole matter should be put on a proper systematic basis. If this House makes up its mind that hospitals should be subsidised, that is a perfectly wear point of view, and we can then vote upon it, but this method of pseudo-subsidy, which, at the same time, if it is to continue, may make future government in this country somewhat difficult, is one which is to be deprecated.


I suggest the reason why certain of us voted last year against this Amendment was because the Government of the day told us, and we believed them, that the money was not forthcoming to provide for this remission. This year the Chancellor of the Exchequer tells us also that the money is not forthcoming, but, perhaps, the House has not forgotten that two days ago he resisted an Amendment, which, in his own words, would, if it had been passed, have provided a sum of £1,000,000 annually for the Treasury. Therefore, his argument this time that the money is not forthcoming, obviously, is not well founded, as was the argument of last year's Chancellor. The hon.

Gentleman the Member for Rusholme (Mr. Masterman) told us that he intended to oppose the Amendment, and that he did not think it right for the House to reduce the amount of revenue available unless in some other direction it was prepared to increase the revenue on some other account. [HON. MEMBERS: "Divide!"] I know that neither he nor his colleagues supported that Amendment which would have that effect, nor did they support another Amendment the effect of which would have been the same—[Interruption.] He knows as well as anyone else—[Interruption]—that, Income Tax is to-day remitted to charitable institutions. Therefore, his argument would have carried some weight to-night if he had been consistent, and if the only honest party had moved an Amendment the effect which would have been to cancel this remission as well as that proposed by the present Amendment. All the arguments against remission of legacy duties are equally applicable against remission of Income Tax. The only two hon. Members of this House who have put forward any arguments against this proposal—the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the hon. Member for Rusholme—are, therefore convicted out of their own mouths[Interruption].

Question put, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 148; Noes, 251.

Division No. 128,] AYES. [10.48 p.m.
Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T. Churchman, Sir Arthur C. Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.
Ainsworth, Captain Charles Clarry, Reginald George Galbraith, J. F. W.
Alexander. Brg.-Cen. Sir W. (Glas. C.) Clayton, G. C. Gretton, Colonel John
Apsley, Lord. Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips Hacking, Captain Douglas H.
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Collins, Patrick (Walsall) Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry
Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover) Cope, Major William Harbord, Arthur
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South) Harland, A.
Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff) Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend) Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)
Beckett, Sir Gervase Cunliffe, Joseph Herbert Hartington, Marquess of
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W. Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H. Henn, Sir Sydney H.
Birchall, Major J. Dearman Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)
Blades, Sir George Rowland Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester) Hogbin, Henry Cairns
Bourne, Robert Croft Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.) Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)
Bowater, Sir T. Vansittart Dawson, Sir Philip Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Deans, Richard Starry Hood, Sir Joseph
Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W. Dixey, A. C. Howard, Hn. D. (Cumberland, North)
Brass, Captain W. Dixon, Herbert Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Col. C. K.
Briscoe, Captain Richard George Duckworth, John Hughes. Collingwood
Buckingham, Sir H. Dudgeon, Major C. R. Iliffe, Sir Edward M.
Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James Eden, Captain Anthony Jephcott, A. R.
Bullock, Captain M. Edmondson, Major A. J. Jowitt, W. A. (The Hartlepools)
Burman, J. B. Ednam, Viscount Kedward, R. M.
Butler, Sir Geoffrey Elliot, Walter E. Kindersley, Major G. M.
Butt, Sir Alfred Elvedon, Viscount Lamb, J. Q.
Cassels, J. D. England, Colonel A. Lloyd-Greame, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip
Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City) Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th)
Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth. S.) Ferguson, H. Lord, Walter Greaves
Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton Fletcher. Lieut.-Com. R. T. H. Lumley, L. R.
MacDonald, R. Rees, Capt. J. T. (Devon, Barnstaple) Tattersall, J. L.
Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J. Remnant, Sir James Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)
Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel- Rhys, Hon. C. A. U. Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell (Croydon, S.)
Makins, Brigadier-General E. Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey) Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Milne, J. S. Wardlaw Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford) Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden) Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford) Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.
Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham) Ropner, Major L. Waddington, R.
Moles, Thomas Russell, Alexander West. (Tynemouth) Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)
Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C. Russell-Wells, Sir S. (London Univ.) Warrender, Sir Victor
Nesbitt, Robert C. Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney) Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)
Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge) Sandman, A. Stewart Wells, S. R.
Nicholson, O. (Westminster) Savery, S. S. Wheler, Lieut.-Col. Granville C. H.
Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down) Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)
Oliver, P. M. (Manchester, Blackley) Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Univ., Belfst.) Wintringham, Margaret
Oman, Sir Charles William C. Smith-Carington, Neville W. Wise, Sir Fredric
O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Hugh Somerville, A. A. (Windsor) Wolmer, Viscount
Pennefather, Sir John Somerville, Daniel (Barrow-in-Furness) Wragg, Herbert
Perring, William George Spero. Dr. G. E. Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.
Pilkington, R. R. Stanley, Lord
Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Ralne, W. Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser Sir Kingsley Wood and Colonel
Rawson, Alfred Cooper Sutherland, Rt. Hon. Sir William Spender-Clay.
Rees, Sir Beddoe Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.
Ackroyd, T. R. Forestier-Walker, L. Lambert, Rt. Hon. George
Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis Dyke Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton) Lane-Fox, Lieut.-Colonel G. R.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. William Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, North) Lansbury, George
Adamson. W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Gates, Percy Laverack, F. J.
Alden, Percy Gibbins, Joseph Law, A.
Allen, R. Wilberforce (Leicester, S.) Gillett, George M. Lawrence, Susan (East Ham, North)
Alstead, R. Gorman, William Lawson, John James
Aske, Sir Robert William Gosling, Harry Leach, W.
Attlee, Major Clement R. Gould, Frederick (Somerset, Frome) Lee, F.
Ayles, W. H. Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Lessing, E.
Baker, Walter Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central) Loverseed, J. F.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Greene, W. P. Crawford Lowth, T.
Barclay, R. Noton Greenall, T. Lunn, William
Barnes, A. Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) McCrae, Sir George
Batey, Joseph Groves, T. McEntee, V. L.
Black, J. W. Grundy, T. W. Macfadyen, E.
Bondfield, Margaret Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth) Mackinder, W.
Bonwick, A. Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. W. E. McLean, Major A.
Bramsdon, Sir Thomas Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)
Brlant, Frank Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton) Mansel, Sir Courtenay
Broad, F. A. Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvll) March, S.
Bromfield, William Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland) Martin, F. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, E.)
Brown, A. E. (Warwick, Rugby) Harney, E. A. Martin, W. H. (Dumbarton)
Brunner, Sir J. Harris, John (Hackney, North) Mason, Lieut.-Col. Glyn K.
Buckle, J. Harris, Percy A. Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.
Burney, Lieut.-Com. Charles D. Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon Middleton, G.
Burnle, Major J. (Bootle) Harvey, T. E. (Dewsbury) Millar, J. D.
Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel Hastings, Somerville (Reading) Mond, H.
Cape, Thomas Haycock, A. W. Montague, Frederick
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Birm., W.) Hemmerde, E. G. Morris, R. H.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood) Henderson, A. (Cardiff, South) Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)
Chapman, Sir S. Henderson, T. (Glasgow) Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)
Chapple, Dr. William A. Henderson, W. W. (Middlesex, Enfld.) Morse, W. E.
Charleton, H. C. Hillary, A. E. Mosley, Oswald
Church, Major A. G. Hindle, F. Moulton, Mayor Fletcher
Clarke, A. Hirst. G. H. Muir, John W.
Climle, R. Hobhouse, A. L. Murray, Robert
Cluse, W. S. Hodge, Lieut.-Col. J. P. (Preston) Murrell, Frank
Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock) Hodges, Frank Naylor, T. E.
Compton, Joseph Hoffman, P. C. Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)
Conway, Sir W. Martin Hore-Beilsha, Major Leslie Nichol, Robert
Costello, L. W. J. Hudson, J. H. Nixon, H.
Cove, W. G. Jackson, R. F. (Ipswich) O'Grady, Captain James
Crittall, V. G. Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath) Oliver, George Harold
Davies, Ellis (Denbigh, Denbigh) Jenkins, W. A. (Brecon and Radnor) Owen, Major G.
Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale) Jewson, Dorothea Paling, W.
Davison, J. E. (Smethwick) John, William (Rhondda, West) Palmer, E. T.
Dickle, Captain J. P. Johnstone, Harcourt (Willesden, East) Pattlnson, S. (Horncastle)
Dodds, S. R. Jones, C. Sydney (Liverpool, W. Derby) Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)
Dukes, C. Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Perry, S. F.
Duncan, C. Jones, Rt. Hon. Lelf (Camborne) Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty) Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Phillipps, Vivian
Edwards, G. (Norfolk, Southern) Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd) Ponsonby, Arthur
Egan, W. H. Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. (Bradford, E.) Potts, John S.
Emlyn-Jones, J. E. (Dorset, N.) Keens, T. Pringle, W. M. R.
Falconer, J. Kennedy, T. Raffan, P. W.
Finney, V. H. Kenyon, Barnet Raffety, F. W.
Foot, Isaac King, Captain Henry Douglas Ramage, Captain Cecil Beresford
Rathbone, Hugh R. Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip Ward, G. (Leicester, Bosworth)
Raynes, W. R. Spence, R. Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)
Rea, W. Russell Spencer, H. H. (Bradford. S.) Warne, G. H.
Reid, D. D. (County Down) Stamford, T. W. Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Richards, R. Starmer, Sir Charles Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring) Steel, Samuel Strang Webb, Lieut.-Col. Sir H. (Cardiff, E.)
Ritson, J. Stewart, J. (St. Rollox) Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney
Robertson, J. (Lanark, Bothwell) Stewart, Maj. R. S. (Stockton-on-Tees) Wedgwood, Col. Rt. Hon. Josiah C.
Robinson, S. W. (Essex, Chelmsford) Stranger, Innes Harold Welsh, J. C.
Robinson, W. E. (Burslem) Sturrock, J. Leng Westwood, J.
Romeril, H. G. Sullivan, J. Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.
Roundell, Colonel R. F. Sutcliffe, T. White, H. G. (Birkenhead, E.)
Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham) Sutton, J. E. Whiteley, W.
Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West) Terrington, Lady Williams, A. (York, W. R., Sowerby)
Scrymgeour, E. Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby) Williams, David (Swansea, E.)
Scurr, John Thompson, Piers G. (Torquay) Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Seely, H. M. (Norfolk, Eastern) Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.) Williams, Lt.-Col. T. S. B. (Kenningtn.)
Sexton, James Thornton, Maxwell R. Williams, Maj. A. S. (Kent, Sevenoaks)
Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston) Thurtle, E. Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Sherwood, George Henry Tinker, John Joseph Willison, H.
Shinwell, Emanuel Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P. Wilson. R. J. (Jarrow)
Short, Alfred (Wednesbury) Turner, Ben Windsor, Walter
Simon, E. D. (Manchester, Withington) Turner-Samuels, M. Wright, W.
Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Calthness) Varley, Frank B. Young, Andrew (Glasgow, Particke)
Smillie, Robert Viant, S. P.
Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe) Vivian, H. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Smith, T. (Pontefract) Wallhead, Richard C. Mr. Spoor and Mr. Allen Parkinson.
Snell, Harry

Question put, and agreed to.


I beg to move, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."

As such good progress has been made, I am able to make this Motion.

Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.

The remaining Order were read, and postponed.

  1. ADJOURNMENT. 16 words
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