HC Deb 27 July 1926 vol 198 cc1964-87

I beg to move, in page 10, line 24, to leave out the words "every subsequent financial year," and to insert instead thereof the words, "each of the subsequent four financial years."

This is a limiting Amendment and brings under review the levy which is to be made on the mineral owners. No one objects to this levy of 5 per cent. for the purposes for which it is made, and especially as it is brought forward in a time of emergency when everybody has to play his part. But in the case of the Mines Eight Hours Act and the miners' welfare fund there is a period of five years, and we think that this form of taxation should also come under review in the same way; that is in five years' time. That is the gist of this Amendment. We believe it is reasonable and just. This is a form of special taxation, and it is possible that at the end of five years we shall see a great improvement in the coal trade—everyone hopes we shall. If that is so, if the owners are making more profits and then men are enjoying a higher standard of wages, surely it is only fair that this question, which has no effect on the selling price of coal, should be brought under review just as the miners' welfare levy and the Eight Hours Act. It may be said that this is not in the Report of the Commission.

If the Government were accepting the whole of that Report it would be a valid argument, but, inasmuch as the Government do not accept the whole of it, then it is not a good argument. I think this point has rather escaped attention. In their Report the Commissioners say that this 5 per cent. levy should be taken, but if the coal industry is to be bought then this 5 per cent. must be taken into account when buying the mineral rights. It means that you start by taxation to reduce the value of a certain article, you make it cheaper. If that is a principle to be adopted by the Conservative party I do not know where the Conservative party stands. Having reduced an article by taxation you are then able to buy it more cheaply. It is only reasonable that this question shall be brought under review in five years time.


I beg to second the Amendment.

While I agree with all my hon. Friend has said, I entirely object to this tax being imposed on the royalty owners. It is a most pernicious principle to impose a tax on a special class of property for a special purpose, which cannot in this case be proved to be an obligation on the persons on whom you are imposing the tax. I know perfectly well that the Secretary for Mines will ride off on the plea that the Government have been forced to impose this taxation on the royalty owners by the Royal Commission. If the Government had accepted the whole of that Report there might be some force in that argument, but it is not so, and especially after what the Prime Minister said yesterday to the effect that because the Government appointed a Royal Commission it did not follow that they were obliged to accept all the recommendations, it loses its force altogether. But as the Government are relying on this argument, let us look at the reason given by the Royal Commission for imposing this tax on the royalty owners. They say: In view of the fact that their income from royalties is largely dependent upon the labour of the miners, it is legitimate to require them to join in the measures which are regarded as necessary for the miners' well-being. A mineral owner has a moral obligation to aid the well-being of the population that works his minerals, in the same way that a landowner has a moral obligation towards the population that works on his estate The analogy is rather unfortunate If there is a moral obligation which rests on landowners it is surprising that no Government has yet attempted to tax them in order to provide amenities in a tenant's house. If you impose taxes because of moral obligations von are skating on very thin ice. I have never been able to find people who can agree on the definition of a moral obligation. Hon. Members opposite would no doubt differ very widely in their interpretation of a moral obligation from Members on this side of the House, and I doubt whether they would agree with us even on the application of the word property to mineral rights. In this case, however, we need not trouble about the moral obligation, because there is an actual obligation which has been brought out in the preceding paragraph of the Royal Commission's Report, in which they say: Pit-head baths are clearly a part of the necessary equipment of the collieries, and the obligation should properly rest, in this country as it rests in others, upon the colliery proprietors. I entirely agree with that. What is the reason why they did not put this burden on the colliery owner? Here follows a delightful non sequitor, as the Commissioners go on to say: In the present economic condition of the industry, however, we consider that the Welfare Fund should bear the cost; but as the claims upon its present resources are very many, and can barely be met, we recommend that its income should be expanded for this purpose. This, we consider, can properly be done by requiring a contribution to be made to the fund by the mineral owners. There was, however, another solution to this problem. I admit that the present economic condition of the mining industry is bad and possibly this tax would to-day be too great a burden on the colliery owners. Why not raise a loan under, say, the Trades Facilities Act? Does anyone suggest that the mining industry is going to continue in such a bad condition that it will never be able to pay the service of such a loan? However, I see no hope of the Government altering this tax. We therefore ask that it shall not be made permanent on the royalty owners. Only one argument has been advanced against this, and here again we come to the Report of the Commission; they state: In a later chapter dealing with welfare, we propose a charge of 5 per cent. on royalties as a contribution towards the cost of providing pit-head baths. This contribution, after acquisition of the minerals by the State, will be paid by the State. The fact that it has to be paid will be taken into account in determining the market value of the minerals and will thus reduce the sums received by the present owners. The State would neither gain nor lose by this, since it would purchase the royalties at a lessened price on the one hand and would make an equivalent contribution to the Welfare Fund on the other. I hope the Government will not advance this argument, because it will put a considerable strain upon party loyalty. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] I say quite frankly what I think, and it is certainly straining my party loyalty very considerably to ask me to vote for something which I consider to be pure confiscation. If the Government reject this Amendment, I shall be interested to hear what arguments they will advance against another Amendment which is, I understand, to be moved from the other side of the House, proposing that instead of 1s. the new levy should be 5s. If a levy of 1s. is good, a levy of 5s. must be better, and if it is legitimate to charge 1s., why not go further and charge 5s.? I hope, however, the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Secretary for Mines will listen to the views of his supporters on this side and will concede this Amendment.

Colonel LANE FOX

The hon. Gentleman who has just spoken told us that the effect of the Amendment would be that this levy would not be permanent. The actual effect of it would be to confine it to five years—to make the levy operate only in this year and in each of the subsequent four financial years. I think both the Mover of the Amendment and the last speaker also suggested that I should not be justified in basing any argument against this Amendment on the Report of the Coal Commission, but the hon. Member who seconded the Amendment has quoted the Royal Commission himself—when it suited him, as indeed many of us do—and, therefore, though it may appear an impertinence to do so I would suggest to him that in two separate passages in the Commission's Report there are definite recommendations on this point and there is no doubt as to what they mean. I quite agree that, it is not necessary, and, indeed, it would be wrong, for any Government so to delegate its functions as to accept without qualification every word of every Report of every Commission which they appointed. Obviously, a Commission is appointed to advise the Government, and it is for the Government to act as they think fit. But I suggest to the House that there is a stronger reason against this Amendment than the Report of the Royal Commission. We all hope that the provision of pit-head baths is going to be, I do not say a very substantial, but a real assistance and a real advantage to the coal industry. I am sure that a very large number of royalty owners—I am a small royalty owner myself, and I can speak for myself—will not be sorry to give this contribution towards the erection of pit-head baths. It has been suggested that the whole country will be equipped in a short time with these baths, and that there will be no further need for this fund. All I can say is that there will always be need for a welfare fund, and, I believe, a great many owners in the country will be glad to pay this contribution. On that ground alone, even if it were the only ground, I think this Clause as it stands is justified.

We have also the very distinct recommendations which the Royal Commission has made on pages 84 and 209 of their Report, and I think, in consideration of all these circumstances, the Government obviously must refuse the Amendment. On page 84 the Commission have laid down that this charge on royalties is to be taken into account in determining the market value of the minerals, and it is obviously contemplated that it will be a permanent charge. This view is amplified on page 209 of the Report, where the Commission suggest that an alternative might be an annual charge on royalties for the benefit of the welfare fund of an average of one halfpenny per ton, and then proceed to recommend the Government to impose an additional charge of 5 per cent. upon royalties averaging one farthing per ton to be paid into the welfare fund. Obviously it is intended that it should be permanent and, in the circumstances, I am sure my hon. Friends do not expect the Government to accede to the Amendment.


One may ask whether this is a justifiable imposition or levy upon the owners of royalties—of whom I am not myself one—but this question is entirely separate from that point. The object of this levy is to provide pit-head baths. That is an excellent idea of which I thoroughly approve, but I would like to ask: What is to be done with the rest of the money when the pithead baths are provided all over the country? Some of the pits have already been provided with baths under the old welfare levy, and it is now proposed to put on a new welfare levy on the same people—[HON. MEMBERS: "No?"]—for the purpose of providing pit-head baths. I argue that when the baths have been provided, the new levy ought to cease. That is the object of the Amendment, which I support in justice to the people who have to pay.


I fully realise that there is no point in taking a Division on this Amendment, and therefore I propose to ask leave to withdraw it. But in doing so, I wish to say that I am very disappointed that the Amendment has not been accepted by the Government, because it deals with a matter of substance and of principle. It is a question of a special form of taxation upon a special form of property. The mineral owners themselves—and I can speak as a mineral owners—desire to play their proper part in connection with the industry, and all that they ask is that as long as the rights of mineral owners are treated as rights of property, they should not be subjected to unfair special taxes. Though I withdraw the Amendment, I think, had it gone to a Division, I should have received a measure of support from those who do not approve of this sort of thing.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


I beg to move, in page 10, line 26, to leave out the word "one," and to insert instead thereof the word "five."

The Government propose in this Clause that the royalty owner shall pay 1s. out of every 20s. to the welfare fund, and I desire to increase that amount to 5s. out of every 20s. It will be agreed that we have come down a long way in our demands since we were in Committee, because in Committee we wanted the royalty owners to pay the whole 20s., but we do not wish to frighten hon. Members opposite who are concerned about the royalty owners. So we have reduced our demand, and will be content with 5s.

Captain BOURNE

Is the hon. Member in order in moving this Amendment? Surely this is an Amendment which increases the charge on the subject, and as such, cannot be moved unless Mr. Speaker is in the Chair.

Captain BENN

Is it not a fact that, when the Welfare Levy was first made in an earlier Bill, the same point was put to the Chair, and it was then held that this was not a levy upon the subject, but a levy of a particular kind for a special object?

Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Captain FitzRoy)

That is exactly the answer which I was going to return to the hon. and gallant Member who raised the point of Order.


It may be wise that I should repeat that, in Committee, we wanted the royalty owners to pay the whole 20s. and to-day we are satisfied that the Government should make the royalty owner pay 5s. out of every 20s. An hon. Member opposite said that the payment of 1s. out of 20s. would stretch party loyalty. I want the Government to accept this Amendment and smash party loyalty. I would like to see party loyalty on the other side smashed at the present time, so that we might have a General Election. If the electors had an opportunity of passing their opinion on the question of how much the royalty owners ought to pay, I am certain in my own district they would consider that the royalty owners got off cheaply at 5s. in the £, and, indeed, would be lucky to get off with paying 19s. in the £. Hon. Members opposite have deplored this tax. I rejoice that at last somebody is beginning to tax the royalty owner. [HON. MEMBERS: "He is already taxed!"] He is a lucky man. He has plenty of money with which to pay the taxes.

When the Commission reported in favour of nationalising royalties, buying out the royalty owners and paying £100,000,000 to buy them out, I strongly disagreed with the Commission. I would not give £100,000,000 to buy out the royalty owners. I consider that instead of the royalty owners being bought out, they ought to consider themselves lucky if they get off without having to pay some of the money back. We are not asking the royalty owner to pay too much out of the money which he gets but does not earn and we are asking that this should be done for the erection of pit-head baths. The Royal Commission put the claim for pit-head baths in language better than mine. They say: We are satisfied that the movement for the provision of pit-head baths is fully justified, and that it is a matter of real importance to secure their establishment throughout the coalfields. We are convinced that the effect upon the health and comfort of the miners, upon the well-being of their wives and families, and, therefore, upon the general contentedness of the population, would be so considerable as to make this a subject which should engage immediate and effective attention. 6.0 P.M.

No one will disagree with the language of the Royal Commission in that respect. An hon. Member opposite asked what would be done with the money after the pit-head baths were erected. The Commission say that to erect pit-head baths throughout this country would cost £10,000,000 and the contribution of the royalty owners they estimate to be £250,000 a year, so that at that rate it will be 40 years before we get the pit-head baths erected. Therefore, the matter scarcely concerns us, and I think we can leave that question to somebody else. I I was glad to hear an hon. Member opposite refer to the moral obligation of the royalty owners in this matter. He read only half of that paragraph, and for his benefit I will read the rest. It says: In view of the fact that their income from royalties is largely dependent upon the labour of the miners, it is legitimate to require them to join in the measures which are regarded as necessary for the miners' well-being. Those words are well worth reading and remembering by every Member in this House. The paragraph goes on: A mineral owner has a moral obligation to aid the well-being of the population that works his minerals, in the same way that a landowner has a moral obligation towards the population that works on his estate. One of our complaints against the royalty owners has been that they have been allowed to escape their moral obligation during all the difficult times through which the coal industry has been passing. During the last five or six years, when the coal mines have been pressed so heavily by local rates, the royalty owners have been pocketing their royalties and not paying a halfpenny towards the local rates. During the last nine months prior to the stoppage of the collieries, when the Government had to come to the aid of the coal industry with a subvention, the royalty owners put in their pockets, from royalties, £4,500,000. I heard several hon. Members opposite yesterday, while speakers were dealing with the mining situation, saying every now and again "Subsidy," as if a subsidy was the thing that was preventing a settlement at the present time, but during the whole period of the subsidy, when the coalowners did so well out of it, these royalty owners received £4,500,000, and we consider that at a time when the coal industry is going through such a difficult period, it cannot be justified that these people should be allowed to pocket such a sum out of the industry.

We are glad that at last something is being done, small though it be, to get some of the money back from these people. In Committee I said, and I want to repeat it here, that our comrade, the Duke of Northumberland, who never misses a chance of kicking the Labour movement, is receiving from royalties to-day, upon the evidence that he gave before the Royal Commission, no less than £234 a day. There are a lot of hon. Members opposite who think that thousands of our Durham miners, who were paid prior to the stoppage 7s. 6½d. a day, were paid too much, and they are voting that that rate should be reduced to 6s. 8½d. a day. I want to submit that no one can justify one person, simply because he happens to be a duke, drawing £234 a day from an industry and another man, who has to go down into the pit, drawing only 6s. 8½d. and having to work hard to do it. The Government say now that he has to work eight hours a day and to risk all the danger of the mine for his 6s. 8½d. a day, and yet the other person can take from the coal industry £234 a day and never go near a coal mine. There is not only the Duke of Northumberland against whom we have a grievance. We have a grievance against all royalty owners. We believe that they are a drag upon industry and that nothing can justify them.

Up in the North of England £400,000 a year is drawn from royalties by the Church, and the great bulk of it is drawn in Durham county. What the Government propose to do with the Church is to say that on that £400,000 they will ask for 1s. in the £, which means that all that the Government are asking the Church to pay towards the erection of pithead baths—and the Church teaches that cleanliness is next to godliness—is £20,000 a year out of the £400,000. We believe that the Church in the North of England ought to be called upon to pay far more than £20,000, and I urge hon. Members opposite to regard this Amendment as reasonable. Seeing that we are satisfied to-day with only moving for 5s. instead of the full 20s. in the £—I would tax the royalty owners out of existence and never feel the slightest qualm of conscience at all—I ask the Government to accept the Amendment.


I beg to Second the Amendment.

We put this forward, and particularly in Durham, with all the strength that we can, and we ask that the provision for pithead baths should be increased from a miserable 5 per cent. to 25 per cent. We are asking this for the sake of the women particularly. On the Bill for increasing the hours of work in the mines, I said, in my last speech, that the Government were increasing a man's hours by one but a woman's hours by three, and we are anxious that with the tremendous work that she puts in, with three shifts going in one day, she should be relieved by having pithead baths provided, so that the dirt may be left at the pit. In my own experience, there were six brothers who worked together, and we were all at home at once. We all did one shift at that time, and when we came to wash, young men anxious to get out into the fresh air or to some form of study, we had three, four, or five buckets on the floor at once, and only one room to do it in, and hon. Members can imagine the semi-circle round the fireside on a winter's night, every one of us hurrying to get done before the others. That was all right for vigorous, healthy young men, but the mother had to wash every one of the dirty stockings and shirts that we had thrown off, and her whole life was worried and shortened by that sort of thing.

My hon. Friend the Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey) has referred to the amount we pay in Durham in royalties to the Ecclesiastical Commission. I have often said that we are burdened with two or three Bishops in Durham against our will, and the poor Free Churchman and the devout Roman Catholic finds that he is producing coal to give somebody else a spiritual healing that he has to pay twice for himself. I would not object so much if they were worth it, but in Durham we have a fearful infliction in certain Bishops, who do not help us in regard to a settlement, but who always—


I think the hon. Member is going beyond the substance of the Amendment.


As my hon. Friend the Member for Spennymoor pointed out, 5 per cent. for these pithead baths will take us years and years to provide what is now a very urgent thing in the coalfield. In regard to the Minister for Mines, I am very pleased that he has got rather sprightly in the last day or two. We were quite delighted when he put in a fighting speech. I was afraid he had got into that form of mind of which Swinburne sings, when he says: I am tired of tears and laughter, and everything but sleep. I thought the right hon. Gentleman had got too tired, but now he has got the sparkling manner of a war horse, and we are delighted to see it. I was glad to hear the speech of my hon. friend the Member for Spennymoor. After all, however ungrammatical we may be, we are practical, and we come from the fields of knowledge and of hard toil. We come from parents who have had to fight for bread, and we are anxious to have some relief. If there is anything that has embittered the relationship between the owners and the men, it has been that tremendous doubt as to why some should work so hard for so little and others should be receiving amounts such as have been referred to by my hon. Friend. He called the Duke of Northumberland his comrade. I do not know how long they have been comrades, but people like the Duke of Northumberland are drawing huge grants of money out of the coal industry, and when it is put to the ordinary man-in-the-street, even the Tory working man, he will tell you that he is dead against royalties. We are saying, that being the spirit to-day, that if you were to take a vote in this country on the question of royalties, you would get an overwhelming majority to sweep them off the board altogether. It is because of that that we make this appeal to the Government to increase the provision from royalty owners for pit-head baths.

My hon. Friend spoke to the point when he said he hoped this was only an instalment. I know that some people will be shocked that we should ask for 25 per cent. instead of 5 per cent., yet they have asked that much reduction from our people. In the last six years we have suffered an enormous reduction in our wages, and we are not asking so much when we ask that somebody who does not do anything at all for it should pay this increased contribution. I am surprised at hon. Members opposite, keen business men, objecting to this Amend- ment. Some of them are men who sink their capital in mines and have to stand the pressure of trade and commerce, and they find that a shaft sometimes costs £500,000 to sink, yet they are satisfied that on the first ton of coal that is raised so much should go to the man who does nothing at all for it. We are only asking a fair thing when we ask that a quarter of the unearned increment should go to the benefit and the domestic happiness of the people who risk their lives in getting it.


I hoped the Secretary for Mines was going to reply at once to the arguments put forward in support of this Amendment. It is high time the Government realise that if they really intend the Miners' Welfare Fund to be successful, they must not tinker with it as they are doing now, but take it very seriously. For more than a generation miners and their wives have been calling upon successive Governments to deal with this matter. It is true that in the Mines Act of 1911 there is an optional Clause under which mineowners and miners can provide a fund by joint contributions, and it is to the credit of certain colliery companies and the miners in these districts that a start has been made; but I believe only 20 or 25 pit-head bath schemes are in operation throughout the country among 1,500 collieries. The main reason why so few have been started is the heavy cost. It has been generally admitted that the maximum sum obtainable under the Act of 1911 is far too low to meet the cost. In the scheme under this Bill the annual contribution towards this purpose will not be more than a quarter to a third of a million. It has been estimated by the Commission that the capital cost of building pit-head baths at all the collieries would be something like £10,000,000, and, therefore, it will be seen that the proposal in the Bill for a levy of 1s. in the pound merely touches the fringe of the problem. If we are to have a pit-head bath at every large colliery a much larger sum than is proposed here will be necessary, and, therefore, I am strongly in favour of this Amendment to give us 5s. instead of 1s.

Some hon. Members may say this would be a very heavy charge on royalty owners. We say the royalty owner has made no contribution whatsoever to the value of the royalty. The minerals are Nature's gifts to the community. No landlord, however historic his family, has done anything to enhance the value of a single ton of coal. It gets its value from the social demand and the different values of minerals because we know that the royalties on certain rich coalfields are higher than on others. We say the natural value ought to belong to the community as a whole. Royalty owners have no moral right to, and I doubt whether they have any legal right to, the ownership of minerals. It has been a matter of common law for many centuries that all minerals belong to the Crown, and prior to the reign of Queen Elizabeth there is no record of any owner of land claiming anything below the surface; but because people of the landlord class have dominated Parliament for centuries they have twisted the law to suit themselves, so that to-day ownership of the surface carries with it ownership of everything beneath the surface right down to the centre of the earth—and even farther if the landlord on the other side does not object! The royalty system in this country is one of the biggest curses afflicting the development of British industry. I know of no greater obstacle to a development of industry than private ownership of land and minerals. Every landlord in this country has the power when leasing land to a colliery company for a royalty on the coal to insist upon payment of a "dead rent" from the first day the lease is signed. It may take two, three, four or five years to sink a pair of modern pits and start the production of coal, but during all this time, when they are producing no coal at all, they yet have to pay the landlord a rent which may vary from a few hundreds to a few thousand pounds a year.


Had I known that this Amendment was intended to raise the whole question of royalties, I should not have accepted it. I thought it dealt with a more limited question, and I hope the hon. Member will confine his remarks more strictly to the Amendment.


I understood that the object of the Amendment was to increase from 1s. to 5s. the tax or levy upon the mineral owners in this country, and I think one is justified in proving that the payment of 5s. ought to be readily agreed to by the House. One of the proofs is that the royalty system has been a serious burden upon the efficiency of the coalmining industry. If the miner is to be more efficient, more healthy and have more social amenities for himself and his family pithead baths ought to be provided at every colliery where a large number of people are employed, and if that is to be done we must have a larger sum of money, the 1s. provided in this Bill being quite inadequate. Under this royalty system we have allowed to waste underground over two billion tons of coal, coal that can never again be worked profitably; at the low figure of £2 per ton we have allowed to waste £8,000,000,000 worth of minerals in coal alone, more than enough to wipe off the whole of the National Debt.

Mineral owners are drawing every year from £6,500,000 to £7,000,000, and 25 per cent. is not too large a levy on them in face of the fact that royalty owners have for 200 years, unchallenged, drawn huge sums in royalties. In the last 70 years they have taken at least £300,000,000. It is a small thing to ask them to agree to this 5s. If the Government agree, the royalty owners will agree. [Laughter.] Yes, because the Government and the royalty owners are synonymous terms. [Laughter.] Oh, yes, I have no hesitation in saying that this Government stand for the landlord class every time, and will fight every inch of the way to increase the chances of that class. I am not expecting them to support the Amendment asking for 5s., because if they did so they would be kicked out by their own supporters.


I am glad the hon. Member does not expect the Amendment to be supported from the Government Benches. The hon. Member who moved it took another line. He said he was in favour of a levy of 20s. in the £ on royalties, and asked the House to praise him for his great reasonableness in asking for only 5s. on this occasion. I propose to be quite brief, but still more reasonable, and to ask the House to reject the Amendment and to be content with 1s.


Surely the right hon. Gentleman is not going to allow the royalty owners to get clear of all their liabilities? Does he remember all that the royalty owners have taken out of the earth and how little they have paid in return? They pay nothing towards local rates. The colliery owner has to pay rates, but those gentleman who are said to own the royalties keep clear of the rates. I think the Amendment is quite a reasonable one. At present the community get nothing whatever from the royalty owner except Income Tax. This is a source of revenue which ought to have been taxed long ago.

Captain BENN

I think hon. Members have some cause of complaint against the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War. The Amendment has been supported by arguments. It may be that we do not agree with everything said in favour of the Amendment, but what the right hon. Gentleman has done has been to treat these arguments with

scarcely any courtesy at all. All he said was: "I am going to be brief. We think 1s. is the right figure." That was the whole speech. I think other Members have the right to ask whether the right hon. Gentleman is satisfied that 1s. is sufficient to provide the social services for which the levy is made within a reasonable time. That is an argument which has nothing to do with the question of who should own royalties or whether they should be taxed 100 per cent.; and if the Minister thinks to curtail debate by treating Amendments and arguments with contempt, with obvious contempt, I think he will find before the end of the evening that he has made a tactical blunder.

Question put, "That the word 'one' stand part of the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 285; Noes, 128.

Division No. 404.] AYES. [6.30 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Cazalet, Captain Victor A. Foxcroft, Captain C. T.
Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.) Frece, Sir Walter de
Ainsworth, Major Charles Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.
Alexander, E. E. (Leyton) Chamberlain. Rt. Hn.Sir.J.A.(Birm.,W.) Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony
Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby) Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood) Galbraith, J. F. W.
Applin, Colonel R. V. K. Chapman, Sir S. Ganzoni. Sir John.
Apsley, Lord Charteris, Brigadier-General J. Gilmour, Colonel Rt. Hon. Sir John
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Chilcott, Sir Warden Glyn, Major R. G. C.
Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W. Christie, J. A. Goff, Sir Park
Atholl, Duchess of Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer Grace, John
Atkinson, C. Clarry, Reginald George Grant, Sir J. A.
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Clayton, G. C. Grattan Doyle, Sir N.
Balniel, Lord Cobb, Sir Cyril Greene, W. P. Crawford
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D. Grotrian, H. Brent
Barnett, Major Sir Richard Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir G. K. Guinness, Rt. Hon. Waiter E.
Barnston, Major Sir Harry Cohen, Major J. Brunel Gunston, Captain D. W.
Beamish, Captain T. P. H. Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips Hacking, Captain Douglas H.
Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.) Conway, Sir W. Martin Hall, Vice-Admiral Sir R. (Eastbourne)
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W. Cooper, A. Duff Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)
Bennett, A. J. Cope, Major William Hanbury, C.
Bethel, A. Couper, J. B. Harland, A.
Betterton, Henry B. Courthope, Lieut.-Col. Sir George L. Harrison, G. J. C.
Birchall, Major J. Dearman Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Haslam, Henry C.
Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.) Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Hawke, John Anthony
Blades, Sir George Rowland Crooke, J. Smedley (Derltend) Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.
Boothby, R. J. G. Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick) Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey,Gainsbro) Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootie)
Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W. Curzon, Captain Viscount Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.
Boyd-Carpenter, Major Sir A. B. Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H. Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)
Braithwaite, A. N. Davies, Dr. Vernon Hills, Major John Walter
Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive Davies, David (Montgomery) Hilton, Cecil
Briggs, J. Harold Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset,Yeovil) Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.
Briscoe, Richard George Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester) Hogg, Rt. Hon.Sir D.(St.Marylebone)
Brittain, Sir Harry Dean, Arthur Wellesley Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Drewe, C. Holland, Sir Arthur
Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I. Eden, Captain Anthony Hopkins, J. W. W.
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham) Edmondson, Major A. J. Hopkinson, Sir A. (Eng. Universities)
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y) Edwards, J. Hugh (Accrington) Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)
Buckingham, Sir H. Elveden, Viscount Hore-Belisha, Leslie
Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James England, Colonel A. Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.
Bullock, Captain M. Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.) Howard, Captain Hon. Donald
Burman, J. B. Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South) Hudson. Capt. A. U. M.(Hackney, N.)
Burton, Colonel H. W. Everard, W. Lindsay Hurd, Percy A.
Butler, Sir Geoffrey Fairfax, Captain J. G. Hurst, Gerald B.
Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Falle, Sir Bertram G. Hutchison, G. A. Clark (Midl'n & P'bl's)
Calne, Gordon Hall Fermoy, Lord Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.
Campbell, E. T. Fielden, E. B. Jackson, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. F. S.
Cassels, J. D. Forestier-Walker, Sir L. Jacob, A. E.
Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City) Forrest, W. James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert
Jephcott, A. R. O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)
Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Oman, Sir Charles William C. Steel, Major Samuel Strang
Kennedy, A. R. (Preston) Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.
Kidd, J. (Linlithgow) Owen, Major G. Streatfeild, Captain S. R.
Kindersley, Major G. M. Pennefather, Sir John Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.
King, Captain Henry Douglas Perkins, Colonel E. K. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement Perring, Sir William George Styles, Captain H. Walter
Knox, Sir Alfred Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple) Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser
Lamb, J. Q. Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome) Sugden, Sir Wilfrid
Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Pielou, D. P. Templeton, W. P.
Little, Dr. E. Graham Pilcher, G. Thom, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)
Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley) Power, Sir John Cecil Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)
Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green) Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Assheton Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)
Loder, J. de V. Preston, William Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-
Lougher, L. Price, Major C. W. M. Tinne, J. A.
Lowe, Sir Francis William Radford, E. A. Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.
Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere Raine, W. Wallace, Captain D. E.
Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman Ramsden, E. Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.
MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen Rawson, Sir Cooper Warrender, Sir Victor
Macdonald. Sir Murdoch (Inverness) Rees, Sir Beddoe Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart) Reid, D. D. (County Down) Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)
McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus Remer, J. R. Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)
Macintyre, Ian Rentoul, G. S. Watts, Dr. T.
McLean, Major A. Rhys, Hon. C. A. U. Wells, S. R.
Macmillan, Captain H. Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y) Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.
Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint) White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dairymple
McNeill, Rt. Hon, Ronald John Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A. Wiggins, William Martin
Macquisten, F. A. Rye, F. G. Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)
MacRobert, Alexander M. Salmon, Major I. Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)
Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel- Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham) Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)
Makins, Brigadier-General E. Sandeman, A. Stewart Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)
Malone, Major P. B. Sanders, Sir Robert A. Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)
Margesson, Captain D. Sanderson, Sir Frank Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Marriott, Sir J. A. R. Sandon, Lord Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Mason, Lieut.-Col. Glyn K. Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D. Wise, Sir Fredric
Meyer, Sir Frank Savery, S. S. Wolmer, Viscount
Milne, J. S. Wardlaw- Shaw, Capt. Walter (Wilts, Westb'y) Womersley, W. J.
Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark) Shepperson, E. W. Wood, E. (Chest'n, Stalyb'ge & Hyde)
Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden) Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down) Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W)
Moles, Thomas Skelton, A. N. Woodcock, Colonel H. C.
Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M. Slaney, Major P. Kenyon Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr) Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.) Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.
Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury) Smith-Carington, Neville W. Young, Rt. Hon. Hilton (Norwich)
Murchison, C. K. Smithers, Waldron
Nall, Colonel Sir Joseph Somerville, A. A. (Windsor) TFLLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Spender-Clay, Colonel H. Major Hennessy and Mr. F. C.
Nuttall, Ellis Sprot, Sir Alexander Thomson.
Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Gillett, George M. Lunn, William
Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro') Gosling, Harry MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R.(Aberavon)
Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery) Greenall, T. March, S.
Barr, J. Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne) Montague, Frederick
Batey, Joseph Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Morris, R. H.
Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith) Groves, T. Morrison, R C. (Tottenham, N.)
Bondfield, Margaret Grundy, T. W. Naylor, T. E.
Bowerman, Rt. Hon, Charles W. Guest, J. (York, Hamsworth) Oliver, George Harold
Briant, Frank Guest, Haden (Southwark, N.) Palin, John Henry
Bromfield, William Hall, F, (York., W.R., Normanton) Paling, W.
Bromley, J. Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute) Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland) Ponsonby, Arthur
Buchanan, G. Hardie, George D. Potts, John S.
Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel Harris, Percy A. Richardson, R. (Honghton-le-Spring)
Cape, Thomas Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon Riley, Ben
Charleton, H. C. Hayday, Arthur Ritson, J.
Clowes, S. Hayes, John Henry Saklatvala, Shapurji
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley) Salter, Dr. Alfred
Compton, Joseph Hirst, G. H. Scrymgeour, E.
Connolly, M. Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Sexton, James
Cove, W. G. Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield) Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities) Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath) Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Crawford, H. E. John, William (Rhondda, West) Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Dalton, Hugh Johnston, Thomas (Dundee) Sitch, Charles H,
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Smillie, Robert
Day, Colonel Harry Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd) Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Dennison, R. Kelly, W. T. Smith, H. B. Lees- (Keighley)
Duncan, C. Kennedy, T. Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Dunnico, H. Kenyon, Barnet Snell, Harry
Garro-Jones, Captain G. M. Lawrence, Susan Spencer, G. A. (Broxtowe)
Gardner, J. P. Lee, F. Stamford, T. W.
Gibbins, Joseph Lowth, T. Stephen, Campbell
Sullivan, J. Wallhead, Richard C. Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Sutton, J. E. Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Taylor, R. A. Watson, W. M. (Dunfermilne) Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby) Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda) Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.) Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney Windsor, Walter
Thurtle, Ernest Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah Wright, W.
Tinker, John Joseph Welsh, J. C. Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Townend, A. E. Westwood, J.
Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P. Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Varley, Frank B. Whiteley, W. Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr.
Viant, S. P. Wilkinson, Ellen C. Charles Edwards.

I beg to move, in page 10, line 27, at the end, to insert the words after deduction therefrom of Mineral Rights Duty and Income Tax, and, in the case of Scotland, of the amount paid by each person in respect of local rates. I am not concerned so much by the imposition of royalties, and the last Amendment dealt with that point. What I am proposing deals with the subject of giving those who are royalty owners fair play. I am not a royalty owner myself, but I do not want to inflict a charge upon a class of income which will have to be paid by other people, and which I should not like to have to pay myself, except under perfectly fair terms and conditions. Hon. Members opposite seem to think that the owners of royalties are not taxed, but I would like to point out that they are already taxed, and taxed very heavily. One hon. Member mentioned the name of a certain Duke, but I know a great many people who are owners of royalties who are not Dukes, in fact they are quite poor people, and we ought to consider their interests when we are proposing a fresh levy upon them. The hon. Member argues that this new levy should be imposed upon the gross amount, but I think it should be upon the amount the person actually receives. That is the course which I advocate.

With regard to Scotland, it is the case that the owners of mineral royalties have to pay local rates upon what they receive in royalties, but that is not the case in England, although in Scotland it has always been the case. Therefore, it is necessary for the Government, when imposing a new levy, to consider that point, and make allowance for the difference of the custom in Scotland as compared with England, otherwise we shall be treating unfairly those in Scotland who are royalty owners. Take, for example, a person who draws £1,000 a year from mineral royalties in Scotland. That sounds a very comfortable income, but how much does he actually receive? His gross income may be almost any figure you like, but what you have to deal with is the money which comes actually into his pocket. In the case I am taking of a person in Scotland receiving £1,000 a year in mineral royalties, the rates on that amount would leave £800. Then you must deduct Income Tax amounting to £160, which brings the amount down to £640. Then you have to take off the Mineral Rights Duty, which leaves £608, and we are now proposing to put on a fresh levy which will reduce the net receipts in this case to £570 a year out of £1,000. You do not take any other class of income and tax it in the same proportion, and there are a great many quite poor people who draw incomes from this source. I am not so sure that my Amendment is necessary, because the expression in the Clause of the Bill is 1s. for every 20s., but that appears to me to indicate that it is intended to tax the gross amount. There is a good deal more in the Clause which I am not able to interpret clearly, and I should like some assurance that the purpose of my Amendment is going to be accepted.


I have an Amendment on the Paper, to insert in this Clause the words "save that mineral rights duty shall be deducted therefrom." We are only asking that when you are proposing to take this 1s. off half the mineral rights you should assess that for the purpose of the new levy on the 19s. as against the 20s., because you have already taken 1s. This is a special form of taxation, but you have this proposal of 1s. and the mineral right, which makes 2s., to come off, and the general Income Tax, 4s., brings it to 6s. Then there is the Super-tax. When hon. Gentlemen opposite talk about the Duke of Northumberland getting this and that, let me point out that at least half of the £6,000,000 which has been referred to as the amount of royalties is taken by the State in taxa- tion, and this special taxation is therefore very high. For these reasons we ask that it should receive attention.


It may be some satisfaction to my hon. Friend to know that, at any rate, half of this Amendment is not required. It has long been the law that Income Tax and rates, in the case of lessors of minerals in Scotland, may be deducted before the Mineral Rights Duty is computed.


Does that apply to the new tax?


That will also apply to the new tax. I do not know whether my hon. Friend wants me to explain why that is so, but I think I can do so quite shortly. The 1s. is to be paid on the rental value which is defined as the rent that is paid to the landlord, and it was decided some 13 or 14 years ago that what is paid to the landlord is that which the landlord receives after Income Tax has been deducted. So far as rates are concerned, it was provided, by a special Clause in the Finance Act of 1912 that rates may be deducted. Therefore, the Amendment before the House comes down to a proposal that the Mineral Rights Duty shall be deducted before the 1s. or the 5 per cent. is computed. If there were any reason for choosing the rate of 5 per cent., it might be said that there was some reason for making deductions from the gross sum before the 5 per cent. was deducted, but the basis of this proposal is really to be found in the Report of the Royal Commission, on page 209. Whatever may be said about the proposals of the Government, at any rate this proposal is not one which has been put into the Bill because it is particularly congenial to the spirit of those who might be supposed to support the Government; it has been put into the Bill because the Commission recommended it and the Government think that it is something which they ought to adopt upon the recommendation of the Royal Commission.

The recommendation of the Royal Commission on this point was not that a particular proportion of a sum should be paid by the lessor, but that a certain amount should be raised in each year, which they computed at about £250,000; and, in order to raise that sum, it appeared to them to be necessary that an additional charge of 5 per cent. upon the royalties, averaging ¼d. per ton, should be paid into the Welfare Fund. It is quite obvious that, if you are going to deduct the Mineral Rights Duty and assess the 5 per cent. upon what is left, it will raise a less sum than if you compute the 5 per cent. upon the gross amount before deducting the Mineral Rights Duty. Acordingly, if the proposal of my hon. Friend were to be accepted, and the Mineral Rights Duty were to be deducted first of all, then, if you are going to raise £250,000, it would have to be, not 5 per cent. but perhaps 5½ per cent. or 6 per cent., or whatever the necessary figure might be. Five per cent. is a purely arbitrary rate. There is no particular justice or injustice in 5 per cent. as contrasted with 4½ per cent. or 5½ per cent., but it happens to be the percentage which the Royal Commission, upon a broad view of all the circumstances, recommended as something which they thought would be reasonable and fair in the circumstances, and would produce a sum of about £250,000 a year. Their intention, obviously, was that it should be upon the same plane as, and, in fact, a reproduction of, the Mineral Rights Duty, the only difference between the two levies being that, in the case of the Mineral Rights Duty, it is a subvention which goes into the national Exchequer, while in the case of the duty or charge which is now proposed it is a sum which is to be used for the benefit of the miners who are in the industry.

The proposal and the obvious intention of the Royal Commission was that it should be charged upon the same basis as the Mineral Rights Duty, and the Government have taken the recommendation of the Royal Commission in the letter and in the spirit in which it was made, and not, as I have said, out of any feeling at all that it is in the interests of the royalty owners. An hon. Member opposite was good enough to say a little while ago that the Government are the friends of the royalty owners. It is a singular way of showing our friendliness to the royalty owners to add this 5 per cent. to the sums which they have to pay. The Government have put this charge upon the royalty owners because they think it is one of the recommendations of the Royal Commission which will commend itself to the country at large and to the royalty owners themselves, and which, as my hon. Friend said a little while ago, they are prepared in a public-spirited way to accept. Hon. Members opposite may say that it is otherwise, but I think it is the fact that, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary for Mines said a few minutes ago, whether the proposal is liked or not there is a readiness on the part of the royalty owners to accept the decision of the Government on this and other matters which might bear hardly upon them. At any rate, whether the mineral royalty owners would escape more lightly or not under my hon. Friend's proposal, if it were adapted an increased percentage would be necessary. The Government cannot accept his Amendment, partly because some of it is unnecessary, and partly because the adoption of the other part would compel the Government to raise the percentage, which, as I have already said, is purely arbitrary.


Does the hon. Member press his Amendment?


I am much obliged to the learned Solicitor-General for his explanation, and desire to withdraw the Amendment.



Amendment negatived.