HC Deb 28 July 1926 vol 198 cc2259-62

Considered in Committee.

[Mr. JAMES HOPE in the Chair.]

Clause 1 (Duties on tobacco) ordered to stand part of the Bill.

CLAUSE 2.—(Duties on ale or beer.)

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

11. P.M.


I should like to ask what is the rate of duty upon beer in the Isle of Man, as compared with the rate in this country? It is on record that in passing the 1918 Act the Financial Secretary at that time, the present Prime Minister, gave the House an explanation of the variation at that time in the Beer Duty. We have a Report of the Committee of the Privy Council, and it states in the Appendix—[interruption.] When I am out of order the Chairman will call me to order. I do not need to be called to order from the Government Bench. In the Appendix to the Report we have the statement that the total gain of revenue by applying the British scale of tax to the Isle of Man would be, amongst other things, "Beer, £10,000."

Before we pass this Clause I should like to have information as to what is the differentiation in the duty which leads to that difference in revenue.


The Beer Duty in the Isle of Man is £3 14s., as compared with £3 15s. in this country.

Clauses 3 (Duties on spirits), 4 (Duties on cocoa), and 5 (Duties on hops) ordered to stand part of the Bill.

CLAUSE 6.—(Duties on motor cars, etc.)

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."


This Clause imposes upon the inhabitants of the Isle of Man apparently the same duties with regard to motor cars as have been imposed in this country.


On a point of Order. The hon. Member says this Clause imposes this duty on the inhabitants of the Isle of Man. May I point out that it does not do anything of the sort. It only confirms a duty which has been imposed on themselves by their own Legislature. In the circumstances, I should like to know whether the hon. Member is in order in challenging the action of Me Legislature of the Isle of Man?


I cannot say the hon. Member is out of order. As I understand the position the Isle of Man Legislature, by Resolution, imposes certain charges on the inhabitants of the Isle of Man which have validity for a defined space of time, and then lapse unless confirmed by this House. Anyone challenging the duties must show why this House should override the Tynwald of the Isle of Man.


I am glad to have that ruling, otherwise I should have had to go into detail. It is clear from the 1887 Act, Section 2, and this supports your decision—


Is the hon. Member in order in giving us the reasons why your ruling is right?


It is a matter of supererogation.

Captain BENN

Inasmuch as the Isle of Man was purchased from the family of the Stanley's by this House, is not the hon. and gallant Member for Westmorland (Major Stanley) financially interested in the matter?


That has long ago lapsed.


Section 2 is perfectly clear that the power to impose duties by the Tynwald is a provisional power, and is subject in every case to the approval of the Imperial Parliament. It is a great pity that there should be any procedure in this House which would tend to take away in any degree the right of Members in dealing with any Public Bill. A Public Bill introduced into this House has to pass through the procedure of Second Reading, Committee stage, Report stage, and Third Reading. If the constitutional position as between this Parliament and the Isle of Man Parliament is such that certain Acts or Resolutions of theirs require the confirmation of this House, it is surely in Order for a Member of this House to assert his right to raise a point on a Public Bill introduced for the purpose of confirmation by this House. It hardly seems to me to be a good plan for a Minister to raise an objection on that ground.

Clause 6 ratifies—I will use that phrase to satisfy the right hon. Gentleman—the imposition of Motor Car Duties in the Isle of Man at the same rate as they are imposed upon the people of Great Britain. It seems to me perfectly clear from the way that this Clause and the way the remaining Clauses of the Bill are drawn, that it is the desire of the Government, acting on behalf of the. Crown, that the Customs Duties for the Isle of Man should as nearly as possible be brought into line with the Customs Duties operating in this country. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I am glad to have that note of approval from hon. Members opposite, because it will lend considerable point to the argument I propose to lay before the Committee. I am confirmed in that view because of the Appendices to the Report of the Committee of the Privy Council, which lead up to the general recommendation from that Committee that there shall be a larger contribution in future from the Isle of Man to the Imperial Exchequer. In that connection we ought to give consideration to what, is the taxable capacity of the Isle of Man, in dealing with this Customs Bill.


This Customs Duty has been imposed by the Legislature of the Isle of Man, and the only question before the Committee is whether there is or is not sufficient reason for this House over-riding the decision of the Isle of Man Legislature.


That is the point to which I was trying to address myself. That is why I refer to taxable capacity, because, as a result of the Customs Acts, which were passed by the Isle of Man, our view is that the indirect taxation raised from the inhabitants of the Isle of Man is altogether out of proportion to the direct taxation.


On a point of Order. Is it in order to discuss the general question of the contributions by the Isle of Man in Committee stage on a particular Clause, which merely ratifies the imposition of certain duties on motor cars?


It is not. I do not know whether it might have been in order yesterday, or whether it may be in order to-morrow.


Are we not entitled' to discuss on a Bill of this kind, which taxes His Majesty's subjects, whether too much is imposed in the way of indirect taxation?


Not on a particular Clause.


In that ease, I will leave that part of the argument, although it does not mean that it cannot be raised on Third Reading. The only other word I want to say is, that, although we are prevented by the procedure of this House from expressing our views upon that argument, we think it is the initiative of the Government, acting under the Crown, which is seeking to impose upon the inhabitants of the Isle of Man these new dunes of a Protective character.