I wish to move one of my Amendments to this Clause if you will be good enough to indicate which, so as not to prejudice the other Amendments on the Paper.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I presume the last, but in that case I will call on the hon. Member for Hillsborough (Mr. A. V. Alexander) first.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
It is for the hon. and gallant Gentleman to say. If the last is the one to which he attaches most importance I will call on him after calling on the hon. Member for Hillsborough.
I suggest I should be allowed to move the earlier one and perhaps that would allow of a general discussion on the merits of the question.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
If the hon. and gallant Gentleman wishes to move it, there is nothing to prevent him.
Would it not be convenient for the hon. and gallant Gentleman to move to leave out the Clause?
I beg to move to leave out the Clause.
This Clause so far has not been the subject of any comment during our discussions, and as it raises some points of considerable interest I will ask the patience of the House while I remind hon. Members what it does. It. gives the Treasury the power to require traders, in respect of any new Customs or Excise Duties, to give security pending the passage of any Act of Parliament. We are making here an alteration in the practice of Parliament with regard to taxa- 2000 tion, and such an amendment of the law naturally is of the very greatest importance to all of us. It is not necessary to go back to the Act of Edward I to discuss the merits of the Clause, but we must go back to the Bill of Rights, because the Clause represents an extension of an Act of 1913 which itself was passed because of an infringement of the Bill of Rights. It has been the practice for 80 or 90 years for the Treasury officials, immediately a Ways and Means Resolution has been passed, to start the collection of the tax. The reason is obvious, because they wish not to allow evasion by people passing things through the Customs or Excise in anticipation of the duty. A very distinguished Member of the House, Mr. Gibson Bowles, who was also a stickler for Parliamentary propriety, brought an action against the Bank of England in 1912 or 1913, and Lord Parker decided that the Bill of Rights had been infringed and that Mr. Bowles was right when he denied that the Treasury were entitled to collect his Income Tax before there was an Act on the Statute Book giving them the right to collect it. Under that judgment, called the Bowles judgment, the whole practice of 80 or 90 years toppled down, and the Treasury found itself without the power to collect taxes until the Bill had passed the House of Commons.
The result of that judgment was she introduction of the Provisional Collection of Taxes Bill in 1913. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, with his admirable debating skill, will perhaps point out that that Bill was passed by the Liberal party. The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), who was Chancellor of the Exchequer at that time, advocated the Bill in the widest possible sense. It provided that in future, once a Ways and Means Resolution had been passed, it should have the force of law. Certain hon. Members resented the wide terms of the Bill. To do my right hon. Friend justice, he recognised at the earliest possible stage, namely, in Committee of Ways and Means, when passing the Resolution on 2001 which the Bill was to be founded, the force of the criticism, and said that he would meet it on two points—(1) that he would not permit new taxes to be collected on a Ways and Means Resolution, and, further, in reply to the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil), he said he recognised that such Resolution must be subject to a time limit. He said that we could not have a Ways and Means Resolution going on as though it were an Act of Parliament, although it might be right and proper to give it the force of an Act of Parliament until the Act of Parliament was passed.
Even this modified Bill, with the two elements of the exclusion of new taxes and the introduction of a time limit, was very fiercely assailed by some hon. Members. The present Home Secretary was very prominent among the opponents, and also the present Minister of Labour. The present Home Secretary declared that he was going to devote his life to a defence of the rights of the subject. That only shows, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer would say, that the march of events make changes in the careers of all of us. The present Foreign Secretary, speaking as an ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer, and leading the financial criticism of the Bill from the Opposition side of the House, started by being a friend of the Bill, but said that it must include the collection of new taxes, and that if it did not include new taxes, he would oppose it on Third Reading. When new taxes were excluded, on the motion of the Member for Bow and Bromley at that time (Mr. Murray Macdonald), the present Foreign Secretary became an opponent of the Bill, and voted against the Third Reading. He wanted new taxes to be included because he saw in it a tariff weapon. He saw the advantage of being able by Ways and Means Resolution to impose Customs Duties on incoming goods, and when the new taxes were excluded from the scope of the Bill, he became an opponent of the Measure. There was a sharp conflict also between the Chair and the then Member for Central Sheffield.
The Clause as it stands to-day may be defended on some grounds which, perhaps, will commend themselves to hon. Members above the Gangway on this side of the House. Mr. Swift MacNeill, who took 2002 part in the Debate to which I am referring, declared that the House had the power, if it willed, to pass the whole Budget by one Resolution. He said, "We have the power, if we wish, to pass a whole Act of Parliament by one Resolution." He had in mind the passage of Bills under the Parliament, Act. He said that Mr. Gladstone had once declared that he would pass the whole Budget with the Speaker in the Chair, because Mr. Arthur O'Connor had put down a Motion to prevent Mr. Speaker leaving the Chair in order to prevent the House going into Committee. From that point of view there may be something to be said for the glorification of the power of a single Resolution of the House of Commons, but, on the other hand, there is more to be said against the Clause.
First of all, it introduces into the Statute the Rules and Procedure of this House. I dare say the Financial Secretary for the Treasury may point out that in some existing Statutes the words "Ways and Means Committee" do occur, but if we are to remain masters of our own procedure, we surely do not wish to stereotype it by making it the subject of decisions by Courts of Law. The Courts can decide by the printed Votes and Proceedings of this House, but, even so, there are certain difficulties. There is an objection that we ourselves should decide our own procedure, outside our own Budget, and there is the further objection that a Judge might have difficulty in getting positive proof that this Resolution of Ways and Means has, in fact, been passed. That is a technical difficulty. The difficulty of substance and the objection of substance is this, that this Clause strengthens the power of the Executive. It means to say that the subject who has to pay the tax is at the mercy of the Executive, which can come down to the House and move a Resolution in Ways and Means and, thereupon, demand for that Resolution the force of law. We know quite well that in Committee of Ways and Means no notice is given of a Resolution. When we come to the Budget, nobody knows what the Chancellor of the Exchequer will say when he opens his red box, because he desires to have no anticipation of any proposals by commercial concerns. If we pass such a Clause, which gives to Ways and Means Committee the right by a single Resolution to make the law, 2003 we do subject the public to something which may come upon the House by surprise. For that reason, the present Home Secretary and the present Minister of Labour opposed very strongly the Provisional Collection of Taxes Bill and demanded that all the safeguards of full Parliamentary procedure should be completely honoured.
The Financial Secretary to the Treasury will say that this is making a mountain out of a mole-hill. He will say that in this Bill we are not asking people to pay taxes under Sub-section (2), and we are not asking them to pay Excise Duties under Sub-section (3). He will say that under Sub-section (3) we are merely asking for the power to make regulations, and we are asking for power under Sub-section (2) to require security. In my submission, there is no difference between requiring a man to give security and levying a charge. If he has to give a bond, he must go to the bank or some other institution to get them to go bail for him, and for that financial service he will have to pay. Although it may be a slight thing, it is, nevertheless, a charge laid upon him as a result of this Resolution. I should have submitted even before the Committee stage of this Clause was taken, that it might have been made the subject of a Ways and Means Resolution itself, in as much as it lays a charge upon the subject. Although I am prepared to concede that this is a little thing in itself, it is, in fact, a charge, and a charge which infringes both the precautions which the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs accepted in 1913 at the instance of the House of Commons, represented by the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University, and the Liberal Member for Bow and Bromley. Under Sub-section (2) there is no limitation in regard to new taxes; it is extended to new taxes, and there is no limitation of time. If the duty is an Excise Duty, the Commissioners may require the man to give security that he will, if and when the Act comes into operation imposing this duty, pay it. If and when the Act comes into operation, this Resolution, therefore, in this Bill has the force of law. Until when?
Till such time as an Act which imposed the duty may come into force. But when? This year, next year, some time, 2004 this Parliament, next Parliament? When will such an Act come into force? There is absolutely no limitation at all. In that respect this Clause goes far beyond anything that was contemplated in the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act, to which he and his friends take such objection. This power of the Executive to require the taxpayer to give security or, in effect, to incur liability, for that is what giving security means, may be used by the other side for its own advantage. According as we look at it from the point of view of the desire to carry safely the policy we believe in, or if we look at it from the point of view of believing in the power of the House of Commons, whether we are in a majority or a minority, to safeguarding the subject, we shall decide it. If we think it is a useful instrument, we can look at it from both sides. Supposing hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway came into power. Supposing they gave to the House of Commons, by Ways and Means Resolution, the power to require security of all persons with a fortune over £5,000 to pay a Capital Levy, if and when called upon. That commends itself to the hon. Member for Shoreditch (Mr. Thurtle), but I should not be surprised to find that many hon. Gentleman above the Gangway are pleased with the Clause for that reason. When hon. Gentleman opposite had done what they are always saying they will do, namely, restore the financial power of the House of Lords—that is one of the determinations of their programme—there is nothing easier than for hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway to give to a House of Commons Ways and Means Committee Resolution all the force of law.
Take the other side. There is a Committee sitting on hosiery under the auspices of the President of the Board of Trade. We are not allowed to know when it is appointed; we know little about its proceedings; we do not know whether it has reported, and we do not know what the President of the Board of Trade thinks of the Report. He believes in the strictest secrecy in those affairs. Is it reasonable to suggest that he proposes to come down to this House in a few weeks' time, propose a Resolution like this, and snap his fingers at the House of Commons? He does not care when the 2005 Finance Act was passed. This power may be used by the other side on exactly the same Amendment, as it may be used by this side. While I believe in the supremacy of the finance of the House of Commons against any other House, at the same time I believe in the procedure of the House of Commons for arriving, inside the House itself, at the reasonable and considered view of things. Therefore, I say that the House will be very well advised to examine the Clause very carefully before it permits it to take its place on the Statute Book.
The main thing that is required to make the Clause tolerable is to put in a time table. We must say how long this Resolution is to be operative. Therefore, I shall propose in due course a time table taken from the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act, 1913, which says that you may collect your security on the strength of the Ways and Means Resolution, but you must give proof of good faith by reporting the Resolution within so many days, introducing the Finance Bill within so many days, and passing it into law in so many months. I most earnestly ask hon. Gentlemen in all parts of the House to see that the procedure which has been carried out for many centuries should not be tampered with even in a small detail in the way suggested by the present Bill without proper safeguards. Therefore, I ask from the right hon. Gentleman consideration of the point I have made. I beg to move.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I beg to second the Amendment.
My hon. and gallant Friend has given, with his usual facility, a defence of the common procedure of the House of Commons, which does not require any emphasis from me. I would like to put, for the consideration of the House and of the Financial Secretary, the purely practical difficulty in which he places the taxpayer by pressing the Clause in its present form. In the discussions in 1913, which I remember, and which I think he will remember also, it was pointed out that if the Act went through in its original unamended form it would give the Government of the day power to impose taxation by Resolution and to do it by Resolution in such a way as to dispense with all the later stages in our financial procedure. Moreover, it was 2006 suggested in the course of the Debate in the House that, even if you put a limit on the vitality of that Resolution, the Government of the day would get over the difficulty by passing another Resolution on the expiration of the period, and go on passing Resolutions once every 10 days or three weeks establishing new taxation. It was also pointed out that unless there was some provision taken for an early passage of the Finance Bill itself, that the collection of the taxes might be going on for weeks or for months, and that during the whole of that time the taxpayer would have to provide other taxes or provide some security which he would have to purchase from some institution, presumably his bank. He would be out of pocket during that period, and at the end of it might find that the whole of this had been quite unnecessary, for the Finance Bill itself might not contain the Clause based on the Resolution. The Finance Bill may never be carried, and for various reasons the Resolution may be of no effect.
One of the cases which was put in the House was that the House might be dissolved before the Finance Bill was passed. In that case the Resolution would still go on being sufficient justification for the collection of the duties or the provision of security. If that was done in the case contemplated in the Clause now under discussion, it would mean that under Sub-section (2) it would be possible to impose a Customs duty, and by the passage of the Resolution it would be possible for the Inland Revenue and Customs to go on collecting that Customs Duty or compelling the taxpayer to provide some security for the ultimate payment of that duty, which really means he has to pay for the finance of it meanwhile, if and when the Act comes into operation imposing the duty. Suppose the Act never comes into operation. There is nothing in this Clause which would free the taxpayer from the liability to go on contributing. It would not only be a question of delay for 10 days or three weeks or six weeks or even three months. It might go on throughout the whole of the Parliament. Indeed, as the drafted Clause now stands, he would be liable for the payment of the duty not only during the lifetime of that Parliament, but even if there were a dissolution, he would still 2007 be liable. There might be a complete change of Government. There might possibly be the same Government coming in. It would carry on from one Parliament to another, and would really institute in our financial procedure a precedent for carrying over from one Parliament into another a provision which had been stipulated for, and a stage which had been incomplete, right from one Parliament, past a General Election to an entirely new House, which knew nothing of the original grounds on which the Resolution was based. I am perfectly sure that the Financial Secretary cannot intend that, or that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is a much bolder man can ever intend that. I do not think the House of Commons, when it understands this point can possibly accept a proposal of this kind as being sound financial policy. It is contrary to the procedure of the House in the past, and I presume the Financial Secretary will take some time to consider the point, if he has not done so already.
Might I point out how far it was necessary to introduce safeguards in 1913. When the Bill was going through the House various provisions were made for the Resolution not being a substitute for the Act of Parliament. The first thing introduced—it was on the Motion of the Member for Oxford University, and it received support from Mr. Murray Macdonald, who was then a prominert Member of this House—the first provision made was that "the Resolution should cease to have statutory effect if it is not agreed on with or without modification by the House within the next 10 days in which the House sits." There must not be more than 10 days' interval between the passing of the Resolution and the Report stage. The next provision was that if the Bill embodying the Resolution was not read a Second time within 20 days after the passing of the Resolution, the Resolution shall be null and void. There is no limitation of that kind in the proposal now before the House. That was necessary in 1913, and it is just as necessary now, and indeed, as this is to be applied mainly to Customs, it becomes more necessary. The next stage was the provision made in the case of a Dissolution or Prorogation of Parliament.
2008 There is no limitation here that it has to lapse when Parliament is prorogued. The drafting of this Clause is one of the most drastic things ever brought into the House of Commons. The Financial Secretary cannot have refreshed his memory on the procedure when the Bowles Act was going through the House of Commons in 1913 or he would never have been a party to this Clause being drafted in this way.
But is this fair to the taxpayer, apart from the proprieties of Parliamentary procedure? I do not think he wants them to deteriorate. I think he has a great respect for our financial procedure, and does not wish it to be cut down. But from the point of view of the taxpayer, it is impossible for any importer to know where his liability is going to end. He knows when it begins; it begins at the moment the Resolution is passed in Committee of Ways and Means. The Financial Secretary knows that after all a Committee of Ways and Means is only a Committee of this House; it is not the House itself. He knows when it begins, but he has no idea when it is going to end. If the Government delays for many months the final passage of their Finance Bill, he is still liable. If Parliament comes to a sudden end, he has to go on through the whole period, the uncertain period, of a general election, and he does not know when his liability ends. He has to go on visiting his bank, producing guarantees, in order that he may be able to pay up when finally it is passed into an Act of Parliament.
It may go on for a considerable time afterwards. If the new Government which comes in is not so friendly to the Resolution as its original authors that does not free the taxpayer from the liability of having to provide security. He still has to do so. They might not lake the trouble of incorporating the Resolution in their Finance Bill, and still he remains liable; and he may be liable for a period of 18 months and have all these accumulated guarantees to clear off some time or another. The Financial Secretary is aware that if that is done the importer may easily exhaust his credit with his bank. They do not give unlimited guarantees of this kind to their customers without some security, and the amount of security is, of course, limited. In the case of many importers it would restrict their 2009 operation by eating up their capital reserves, in that way it would be an impediment to trade which the Financial Secretary cannot have contemplated. I emphasise what my hon. and gallant Friend has said with regard to the Parliamentary proprieties, but I would urge that it is grossly unfair to the taxpayer. It can never have been the intention of the right hon. Gentleman, and it is not the intention of this House, and we ought by some limitation to provide for the time-table of 1913 being applied to the Customs Duties which are to come under its operation.
§ Mr. McNEILL
The hon. and gallant Gentleman and the right hon. Gentleman who followed him have undoubtedly put forward a very important proposition for the consideration of the House. They have taken a constitutional point of very considerable importance. I am not sure that I quite followed what was in their minds on one of the points to which I will refer later, but I could have wished the two speeches had been made in the presence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It would have relieved me from a certain amount of responsibility, which I recognise is a heavy one, considering the period of the Bill we have now reached. We have reached a stage when it is very difficult, if not impossible, to make any promise of reservation. There are certain considerations which I should like to urge against what has been said by the right hon. Member and the hon. and gallant Member. It appears to me that both have proceeded on a fundamental misconception of what this Clause is and does. When the right hon. Gentleman spoke of the unlimited liability of the taxpayer and the hon. and gallant Member said there was no limitation either in time or otherwise as to the liability of the taxpayer, they appear to have left out of account the whole purpose of the first two Sub-sections.
Surely it is quite clear that the procedure we are dealing with is concerned with the annual financial business of the country that it begins, and is entirely concerned with Customs Duties or Excise Duties in respect of any goods. The right hon. Gentleman, who said so much about our Parliamentary traditions, does not require to be told that Excise Duties and Customs Duties are matters which are imposed in the annual Finance Bill.
2010 There was a time when the one Finance Bill of the year was not quite what it is now. There were various different Bills scattered throughout the Parliamentary Session, but it is a well-established Parliamentary practice now that duties, whether of Excise or Customs, are dealt with, and only dealt with, in the Finance Bill of the year. Therefore, if the Clause begins by qualifying the whole of this procedure as concerned with duties of that sort, it appears to me that ipso facto it implies that we are dealing with the Finance Bill. And it is dealing with a Resolution that is passed by the Committee of Ways and Means of this House. Surely those two things in conjunction quite clearly, having regard to our Parliamentary procedure, contemplate the acceptance of a duty of Customs or Excise in the ordinary way by what is called a Money Resolution preliminary to the Finance Bill of the year, and to be legalised by the Finance Bill of the year. In the second Sub-section the liability to taxation only begins if and when an Act comes into operation imposing the duty.
The right hon. Gentleman and the hon. and gallant Gentleman appeared to me to miss what I think is a fundamental distinction between the Bowles Act and the Resolution for which it provided and what we are proposing here. The Bowles Act was passed in order to deal with an emergency that had arisen owing to the action of Mr. Bowles, and it is a very good illustration of the way in which these things come about. The practice, which turned out to be an illegal practice, had gone on for I do not know how long—for many, many years, or perhaps generations—and it was a very convenient practice. Everybody knew what it meant and nobody was aggrieved. The Income Tax and the other taxes of the year were collected at the source in the ordinary way, everybody knowing that in the course of a few weeks the Finance Bill imposing that taxation would become law. One fine day one particular gentleman, who was very ingenious in those ways, discovered that for a few weeks, until the Finance Bill was passed, it was illegal to collect Income Tax from his dividends, and he brought an action against the Bank of England in order to rectify it. It then became necessary to interfere with what was a perfectly fair and good plan, which, as I say, had gone 2011 on for so long, and involved no grievance of any sort, financial or constitutional. But still, it having been proved to be illegal, it was necessary to deal with it by Statute. So the Bowles Act was passed, and what did it do? Not what we are asking the House to do here at all. What the Bowles Act did was to enact that, by Resolution of this House, taxes might be imposed and gathered. The liability to taxation was imposed by Resolution, and the collection of that taxation was authorised by Resolution. In those circumstances, it is quite true that there was an actual continuing liability from the moment that that Resolution was passed.
§ Mr. McNEILL
Yes, and that is what I am endeavouring to point out to the hon. and gallant Gentleman, that there was very good reason for a much more strict procedure in that case than in the case which we have before us now. In that case, it was—as the hon. and gallant Gentleman, wrongly, as I suggest, said we were doing here—taxing by Resolution. We are not imposing any liabilities of taxation by Resolution, but in the case of the Bowles Act they were, and, therefore, there was very good reason for much more strict and stringent regulation in the matter of time. That is not what we are doing. All that we are doing now is to provide, as the Clause says, that if and when the Act comes into operation, and not till then, shall there be any liability for the tax, but we are enabling the Customs and Excise to take security that, if and when the Finance Bill imposes that liability, then the tax shall be forthcoming. I am quite willing to admit, with the right hon. Gentleman, that there are some drawbacks and objections to a procedure of this sort.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I hesitate to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, but this is very important, and I am sure he will not mind. As I understand the Clause, the liability to contribute is dated from the Resolution, but there is no payment made. All that is required by the Customs and Excise is that there should be security given that, if and when the Act is passed, the payment shall be made; that is to say, there will be no transfer 2012 of money from the taxpayer to the Customs and Excise until the Act is passed, but up to that stage he is liable in that he has to give security, so that on such date as the Act is passed he will have to make payment, and whatever import he makes after the passing of the Resolution through the House, he will only be able to get free from bond in this country on giving security for the whole demand, and it is only the actual payment that is delayed until the Act is passed.
§ Mr. McNEILL
That is quite so, but the difference between that and the existing law is that there will be security. A taxpayer is sometimes made liable now for a duty, say, as from the 1st May, when the Finance Bill may not be passed until July. All that we are doing is, not to alter that, but to say that in that case we shall have some security that, when the liability arises, the taxation for which he has been liable will be forthcoming. I was saying, when the right hon. Gentleman interrupted me—I am not complaining in the least that he did—that I recognise that there is some drawback, some unavoidable drawback, in a procedure of this sort, but I cannot help thinking that the attitude of the right hon. Gentleman and of the hon. and gallant Gentleman—I do not in the least complain of it—is to some extent coloured by their well-known views upon the question of Customs duties on imports. Neither of them—I will not put it higher than this—is an enthusiastic advocate of import duties.
§ Mr. McNEILL
It only shows all the more the necessity for this present Bill, that, despite his predilections, he should have thought it necessary to bring it in. What I wanted to say was this, that after all, if the right hon. Gentleman and those who agree with him could bring themselves to make this acknowledgment, that, although they do not approve of them, the present Parliament, and, as we think, the country, want these duties imposed—at all events, Parliament has imposed them—surely the right hon. Gentleman will acknowledge that, if you do have import duties, the Exchequer should get those duties in as full a measure as possible. He does not want to have a leakage. I can understand his 2013 not wanting to have duties, but I should have thought he would have admitted that, granting the duties, the Exchequer ought to get them. The reason why this Clause appears in the Finance Bill is quite well known to the House. It is that last year there was a very large amount of forestalling, and that system of forestalling is always liable to occur at any time when there is an indication that a duty is going to be put on at a certain date.
Surely the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Swansea (Mr. Runciman) will admit that if we are to have these duties we ought, if possible, to have some machinery for preventing that forestalling, and that is all that this Clause proposes. So far as I am aware, the Clause does not inflict any injury or loss upon the taxpayer. The honest taxpayer pays practically nothing. The Clause only means that he gives security that when the duty comes into operation he will pay that for which he is liable. The machinery is simple, and it is the ordinary machinery with which traders in this country are perfectly familiar as regards both the collection of Customs Duty on the one hand and Excise Duty on the other hand. Unless the right hon. Gentleman thinks, in his dislike to the Customs Duties, that when a duty is put on the more evasion the better and the more forestalling the better—the more motor cars that may be rushed in in the last few weeks, the more silk or any other article the better—then I really do not think that the objections he has made are really as forcible as the House might be led to believe from his very interesting speech and the constitutional colour which it gave to the Debate.
I do not propose to go into the constitutional aspect of this question, but I propose to confine myself to the reply of the Financial Secretary to the Treasury which has clearly revealed, especially at the end, the real object of the Government and which explains why the President of the Board of Trade has come into the House while this Resolution is being discussed. It was suggested by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Leith (Captain Benn) that probably one of the reasons for putting this Clause in the Bill was Connected with the result of certain in- 2014 quiries that are being conducted by one of the hole-and-corner committees such as is considering the hosiery trade at present. It is necessary to bring the House back to the consideration of the fact that when the present Government was beginning to break its election pledges and to introduce Protection by the back door they were doing so on the old procedure of dealing year by year in the ordinary Finance Bill with duties to be imposed. Now in the White Paper they have laid down fresh procedure and they have told the House that after a Ways and Means Resolution they would always at the earliest possible moment embody the principle of the Resolution in a Bill. They are now, however, taking definite steps in the Finance Bill to modify that part of the procedure laid down in the White Paper. They propose under this Clause that it shall be possible for the President of the Board of Trade, if he so chooses, before the House rises for the coming Recess to lay a Ways and Means Resolution before the House proposing a Customs duty on the hosiery trade, and as there is no time limit laid down in the Clause it will be possible for that duty to be hanging over the heads of the people concerned in the trade from 31st July or 7th August, whichever may be the date at which the House rises, right until the Finance Bill of 1927. It was the distinct understanding, when the House accepted the policy of the Government in dealing with safeguarding procedure laid down in their White Paper, that at the earliest possible moment after the passing of the Ways and Means Resolution there should be a Bill laid before the House, if necessary, to deal with the procedure proposed to be carried out as the result of the finding of the Committee that had been set up.
It is perfectly clear, especially in view of the later stages of the speech of the Financial Secretary to the Treasury that it would be possible to postpone for many months the adequate discussion of new duties which it might be proposed to impose at the behest of the Committee under the Safeguarding procedure. That is the real object behind this Clause. I do not propose to go into the argument 2015 used by the hon. and gallant Member for Leith as to what might happen if a Labour Government came into office and this Clause remained on the Statute Book. He suggested that in that case it might be possible to use exactly the same procedure in requiring a security or bond to be made by any person in possession pf an amount of £5,000 in respect of a capital levy. If there was, as there is likely to be towards the end of the present Parliament, any prospect that the Labour Government would follow this one at the next Election, I should imagine that hon. Gentlemen opposite would take very great care to alter this Clause before that eventuality became a fact. But those of us on these benches who may desire in the future to deal with the indebtedness of the country in a sane and sound way would not, at any rate, descend to a backdoor method of this kind in order to place whatever taxation we thought might be fair on the taxpayers of this country without properly consulting them. If hon. Members on these benches were going to propose the kind of tax mentioned they would not desire to Burke discussion in this House. They would desire to have a discussion upon a Finance Bill at the earlist possible moment after any Ways and Means Resolution had been introduced.
§ Mr. McNEILL
I do not want to check the exuberance of the hon. Gentleman's eloquence, but it might be well to point out that he is wrong in stating that this particular Clause could be used in a case of a capital levy, because it is entirely confined to a Customs or Excise Duty.
It could be used as a very valuable precedent. But we should not want to descend to such a procedure as is suggested simply in order to support and advance a nefarious Protectionist transaction proposed at the request of some of the hon. Member's supporters. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Leith, in his very excellent speech, stated that no actual money may have to be paid directly after the passing of the Ways and Means Resolution until the Act of Parliament afterwards had passed. As a matter of fact, you might have, between August, 1926, and May, June or July 2016 1927, a number of duties imposed, many of which would affect importers in regard to several of their commodities, and they would have to give a security or bond, not in respect of the tax on one commodity, but on a number of commodities. I can quite imagine that might be necessary. It is perfectly obvious that they would require, in their annual accounts, to put a very large sum to reserve to cover contingent liabilities.
Anyone knows that if they have to put large sums to reserve in that way to cover contingent liabilities, they want to be on the right side, and the first thing they do is to increase prices to the consumer. It is therefore something that comes to be a general charge on the consumer in the country. That is not just a creation of the imagination of one who is quite frankly a Free Trader, but the actual case put to me by the traders who have been affected by the duty proposals of the Government. They will have to make proper provision for reserve, and they will have to cover themselves in the prices. I do not desire to detain the House on this matter, but I am sure they will recognise the importance of the matter being discussed. I doubt if even on the other side, hon. Members will desire that this Clause should be passed in a hurry. The Financial Secretary admitted the strong case put up by the hon. and gallant Member for Leith. On a matter of this kind, it is very much to the concern of all the House that this Clause should not be passed until the Chancellor of the Exchequer has actually been consulted in the matter and is able to give to the House his reasons, either for adhering to the Clause in the Bill or for making such modifications as have been suggested either by myself or by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Leith in the Amendments lower down on the Paper.
§ Mr. PETHICK-LAWRENCE
In support of what the hon. Member who has just sat down has said, and the request to the Financial Secretary to postpone this Clause until he has an opportunity of consulting the Chancellor of the Exchequer, may I just add this further consideration? The object of taking different stages of the Finance Bill in this House is that all the alterations of taxes might be well considered. It is 2017 well known that the Chancellor of the Exchequer frequently finds it desirable to alter the proposals in the Resolutions which follow the Budget. The Silk Duties last year were very considerably modified in their passage through this House. When the Chancellor of the Exchequer is dealing with direct taxes, it is not unreasonable to suppose that no alteration, or only small alterations, will be made; but in the case of Customs duties the alterations may be considerable. I want to ask him to consider this. A Customs duty is proposed in the Budget. After this Clause in the Finance Bill becomes law, and the practice is adopted of imposing those Customs duties from the moment of the passage of the Resolution through the Committee of Ways and Means, importers will at once recognise that they must put up prices. The importer will at once be obliged to put up prices to the consumer. All the months we are debating it the consumer will therefore have to be compelled to pay those increased prices. I think that that negatives to a certain extent the right of this House. All our deliberations are post factum deliberations. That will be a most undesirable procedure, and I hope the Financial Secretary will see his way to consult the Chancellor of the Exchequer before this passes what is practionlly the final stage.
§ Mr. HARRIS
I do not want the House to be furtive on the real issue before it as between Free Trade and Protection, but it is necessary that. Parliament should have proper safeguards as to Constitutional practice so that the trader may know exactly what his position is. I believe the Financial Secretary would be willing to meet us if he had a little more time to consider this Clause. I agree that the big trader with big financial resources can get the proper securities, but, after all, our business is largely carried on by small traders who are the very essence of our business with foreign countries. The Financial Secretary knows how difficult it is for them to find big credits in order to set aside Customs requirements. In practice it does mean uncertainty, that business men will not know where they are and that many of the small importers will be embarrassed by having to obtain very large assistance from the banks. If 2018 the Minister does not accept this very carefully worded Amendment, he ought to be prepared to put forward some practical substitute. It may be many months before traders know whether this duty is to become permanent. The position is not only unsatisfactory for the moment, but it is going to form a bad precedent and may be used against the interests of our trade, and I do press on the Minister, in the interests of his own reputation, to put forward some Amendment. I am very glad to see the Chancellor of the Exchequer has just come in and I will ask him to consider whether he cannot put forward some Amendment that will meet this point if he cannot accept the Amendment that has been moved.
§ Captain GARRO-JONES
The House is faced with one of the evil consequences of the continuous refusal of the Government to accept any Amendment at all. This Amendment has obviously commended itself to every intelligent Member of the House, but on account of the habit which the Government have formed, there seems to be nothing in their frame of mind which will lead them to accept or even to consider any Amendment. I cannot hope that anything I say will influence the right hon. Gentleman, but it may give him a little time to consider the point and to realise the mistake he is making by not accepting the Amendment. This Clause would be perfectly satisfactory if there were no possibility of a Resolution passed in Committee of Ways and Means, falling by the wayside, as it were, before it had statutory effect. There are, many ways in which a Resolution may fail to mature and if for any cause such a Resolution does fail to mature—because the House amends it, because the Second Reading is not carried or because the House is prorogued or dissolved—traders in this country would be faced with a perfectly impossible position. I give one example. Take the likely case of motor cars which are imported and which are liable to the McKenna Duties. Suppose, before the McKenna Duties were imposed, one of these Resolutions were passed by the House under this Clause—that is to say, that on every car which an importer imported, he was compelled to give full security for the amount of the duty—if an importer imported one car at a cost of £300, the approximate duty would be 2019 £100, There are some firms importing 50 motor cars in a month, and such a firm would be compelled to find security for £5,000 in one month, even although they might never be called upon to pay the duty. If there was a dissolution or a prorogation, and if this went on for six months or even conceivably for a year—so far as this Clause is concerned the Act may not be passed for five years—they would be compelled, during the whole of that period, to find security. It would amount to £60,000 in 12 months for a man who imported 50 cars a month. If the Government are not afraid to accept
§ Amendments, but think that it would detract from their own prestige to do so, I think it is a very discreditable attitude to take up. Traders cannot be expected to go on providing an unlimited guarantee without eating into their credit. This is a genuine difficulty, and I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will do something to meet the reasoned Amendment which is now put forward.
§ Question put: "That the words proposed to be left out, to the end of page 5, line 19, stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 250; Noes, 136.2021
|Division No. 329.||AYES.||[10.20 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Crookshank, Cpt. H.(Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Hopkins, J. W. W.|
|Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby)||Cunliffe Sir Herbert||Hopkinson, Sir A. (Eng. Universities)|
|Apsley, Lord||Curtis-Bennett Sir Henry||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Daikelth, Earl of||Howard, Captain Hon. Donald|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Dalziel, Sir Davison||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Davidson, Major-General Sir John H.||Hudson, R. S. (Cumberl'nd, Whiteh'n)|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Davies, Dr. Vernon||Hume, Sir G. H.|
|Beamish, Captain T. P. H.||Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen Sir Aylmer|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)||Davison, Sir W, H. (Kensington, S.)||Huntingfield, Lord|
|Beflairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Dawson, Sir Philip||Hurd, Percy A.|
|Bennett, A. J.||Dixey, A. C.||Hurst, Gerald B.|
|Berry, Sir George||Eden, Captain Anthony||Hutchison, G. A. Clark(Midl'n & P'bl's)|
|Bethel, A.||Edmondson. Major A. J.||Jackson Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Elliot, Major Walter E.||Jacob, A E.|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Ellis, R. G.||Jephcott, A. R.|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Elveden, Viscount||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||England, Colonel A.||Kennedy A. R. (Preston)|
|Blundell, F. N.||Everard, W. Lindsay||Kidd, J. (Linlithgow)|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Kindersley, Major Guy M.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Fanshawe, Commander G. D.||King, Captain Henry Douglas|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Fermoy, Lord||Knox Sir Alfred|
|Braithwaite, A. N.||Fielden, E. B.||Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip|
|Briggs, J Harold||Forestier-Walker Sir L.||Little, Dr. E. Graham|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Forrest, W.||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Foster, Sir Harry S.||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw th)|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Lougher, L.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C.(Berks.Newb'y)||Fraser, Captain lan||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere|
|Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan||Frece, Sir Walter de||Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman|
|Burman, J. B.||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen|
|Burney, Lieut.-Com. Charles D.||Gadle, Lieut.-Colonel Anthony||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Gates, Percy||McDonoell, Colonel Hon. Angus|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||McLean, Major A.|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon, George Abraham||Macmillan, Captain H.|
|Caine, Gordon Hall||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm|
|Campbell, E. T.||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John|
|Cassels, J. D.||Goff, Sir Park||Malone, Major P. B.|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Gower, Sir Robert||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.|
|Cavzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Grace, John||Meller, R. J.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Merriman, F. B.|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Grenfe11, Edward C. (City of London)||Meyer, Sir Frank|
|Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Grotrian, H. Brent||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw-|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Hall Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Hammersley, S. S.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.|
|Clayton, G. C.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Harland, A.||Moreing, Captain A. H.|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Harrison, G. J. C.||Murchison, C. K.|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Nall, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph|
|Cope, Major William||Haslam, Henry C.||Nelson, Sir Frank|
|Couper, J. B.||Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)||Neville, R. J.|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N.)||Herbert, S. (York, N.R.,Scar. & Wh'by)||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)|
|Craig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Hills, Major John Walter||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)|
|Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Shaw, Capt. W. W. (Wilts, Westb'y)||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Pennefather, Sir John||Sheffield Sir Berkeley||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Shepperson, E W.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and otley)|
|Perring, Sir William George||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Pletou, D. P.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Watts, Dr. T.|
|Pliditch, Sir Philip||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.||Wells, S. R.|
|Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Assheton||Sprot, Sir Alexander||Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.|
|Preston, William||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Radford, E. A.||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Raine, W.||Steel, Major Samuel Strang||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Ramsden, E.||Storry-Deans, R.||Wilson, M. J. (York, N. R., Richm'd)|
|Rawson, Sir Cooper||Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Rees, Sir Beddoe||Streatfelld, Captain S. R.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Reld, D. D. (County Down)||Strickland, Sir Gerald||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Remer, J. R.||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Rice, Sir Frederick||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)||Womersley, W. J|
|Robinson, Sir T. (Lanes., Stretford)||Styles, Captain H. Walter||Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'dge & Hyde)|
|Ropner, Major L.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Templeton, W. P.||Wragg, Herbert|
|Rye, F. G.||Thom, Lt.-Col J. G. (Dumbarton)||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)||Young, Rt. Hon. Hilton (Norwich)|
|Sandeman, A. Stewart||Tinne, J. A.|
|Sanderson, Sir Frank||Titchfield. Major the Marquess of||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement||Mr. F. C. Thomson and Captain|
|Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W.R., Sowerby)||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.||Margesson.|
|Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl. (Renfrew, W)||Waddington, R.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydv11)||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Hardie, George D.||Scurr, John|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Sexton, James|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hayday, Arthur||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Barnes, A.||Hayes, John Henry||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Barr, J.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Batey, Joseph||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Short, Alfred (Wednosbury)|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Hirst, G. H.||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Broad, F. A.||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Bromfield, William||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Smillie, Robert|
|Bromley, J.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)||Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)|
|Buchanan, G.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Snell, Harry|
|Charleton, H. C.||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Clowes, S.||Kelly, W. T.||Spencer, G. A. (Broxtowe)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Kennedy, T.||Spoor, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Charles|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Kirkwood, D.||Stamford, T. W.|
|Compton, Joseph||Lansbury, George||Stephen, Campbell|
|Cove, W. G.||Lawrence, Susan||Sullivan, J.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Lawson, John James||Sutton, J. E.|
|Crawford, H. E.||Lee, F.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Dalton, Hugh||Lindley, F. W.||Thurtle, E.|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Lowth, T.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Lunn, William||Townend, A. E.|
|Day, Colonel Harry||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Dennison, R.||March, S.||Viant, S. P.|
|Duncan, C.||Mitchell, E. Rosslyn (Palsley)||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Dunnico, H.||Montague, Frederick||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Edwards, C (Monmouth, BedwelltY)||Morris, R. H.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermlins)|
|Edwards, J. Hugh (Accrington)||Murnin, H.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Uiniver.)||Naylor, T. E.||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Oliver, George Harold||Welsh, J. C.|
|Gardner, J. P.||Palin, John Henry||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Paling, W.||Wiggins, William Martin|
|Gillett, George M.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)|
|Gosling, Harry||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Ponsonby, Arthur||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Lianelly)|
|Greenall, T.||Potts, John S.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Purcell, A. A.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Riley, Ben||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Groves, T.||Rose, Frank H.||Sir Godfrey Collins and Mr. Percy|
|Grundy, T. W.||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Harris.|
|Guest, Haden (Southwark, N.)||Saklatvala, Shapurji|
§ Mr. A. V. ALEXANDER
I beg to move, in page 5, line 30, to leave out Sub-section (2).
2022 I do so, not in order to go into the matter in detail, but to have a question before the House. I understand that as 2023 a result of the previous discussion the Chancellor of the Exchequer is likely to make a suggestion for an Amendment which might possibly meet us, and we should be glad to hear if that is so.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I am very anxious in dealing with this difficulty that we should not go beyond what is necessary to meet the practical needs of the situation. We certainly do not wish to set up any procedure which, for instance, would enable a Government to pass a tax by a mere Resolution, and then, without troubling about all the other stages of Parliamentary procedure which have been designed for the protection of the taxpayer, to proceed with the imposition of a tax for an indefinite period. I think what I am going to suggest will meet the views of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Swansea (Mr. Runciman) and other hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, as well as some of those who have spoken for the official Opposition. It ought to be quite possible to make it perfectly clear that no such result would accrue. I think a shorter method can be devised than that which figures in the time table Amendment, which has evidently been the result of a considerable amount of serious attention. I should be quite prepared, if it meets the views of the Opposition and if it is felt that it safeguards our financial legislation from the dangers which I have mentioned, to insert in Sub-section (2) of Clause 6, in line 24, after the word "Act," the words "giving effect to the Resolution," and after the word "operation" in the same line, to delete the words, "imposing the duty." The Subsection will then read:If the duty so imposed is a Customs Duty, the Commissioners may require any person who, on or after the specified date, imports any goods to which the resolution applies to give security that he will, if and when an Act giving effect to the resolution comes into operation, pay the duty chargeable in respect of the goods under that Act.That would mean that the provision to impose these duties and the obligation of giving the security would be effectually linked and only linked with the Resolution. That would make it quite impossible that any such contingency should arise as has been suggested—that, for instance, a Resolution should be passed 2024 and the duty continued to be levied indefinitely without the full financial protection coming into operation. If this will have the effect of disarming some of the criticisms which have been made from the benches opposite, it certainly will also be in complete harmony with the purpose and intention of the Government.
I am very much obliged to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for considering the point, which was really a point of substance. In the original case, the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil) proposed a very rigid time limit of, I think, four months. The words proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer would mean, at the worst, that a Resolution would be passed at the beginning of the Session, and the Act would have to be passed before the end of that Session, because the Prorogation of Parliament would destroy the validity of the Resolution. I would say, on behalf of my right hon. Friend the Member for West Swansea (Mr. Runciman). and on our behalf here, that we are grateful to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for his proposal. It does meet our point to some extent, and, if he will embody it in the Clause, we shall not press our other Amendment.
§ Mr. ALEXANDER
In asking leave to withdraw my Amendment, I should like to say that we on these benches, too, are grateful to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the consideration which he has given to this matter.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Amendments made: In page 5, line 24, after the word "Act," insert the words "giving effect to the Resolution."
§ Leave out the words "imposing the duty."—[Mr. Churchill.]
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I beg to move, in page 5, line 30, after the word "Act," to insert the words "giving effect to the Resolution."
There are two further consequential Amendments which are necessary in order to make the Bill read correctly. They merely repeat in the region of Excise what we have already settled in the sphere of Customs.
§ Amendment agreed to.2025
§ Further Amendment made: In page 5, line 31, leave out the words "imposing the duty."—[Mr. Churchill.]