§ Mr. SNOWDEN
I beg to move, in page 2, line 5, to leave out the word "fourpence," and to insert instead thereof the words "one penny."
We have now reached the consideration of a Budget proposal which has aroused a good deal of interest and excited widespread condemnation. My Amendment is to reduce the Petrol Duty from 4. to 1d. That, of course, is a Parliamentary form involving, if it were carried, the withdrawal of the Duty. It has been imposed for a very specific purpose, in order to provide funds to finance the de-rating proposals of the Government. It is an exceptional thing to propose taxation and to allocate it for a specific purpose, and it is an unusual thing to single out one section of the community and to impose a tax burden upon it for the special benefit of another section of the community. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has done that, and he has selected for this increased burden of taxation a class of the community and an industry already very heavily taxed. We cannot discuss this Petrol Duty without bearing in mind the reason why it has been proposed. The users of petrol are to be heavily taxed in order that relief may be given to what the Government call, rather indefinitely, the productive industries of the country. In proposing this tax the right hon. Gentleman is imposing an additional and a very heavy tax upon an industry which is just as necessary as any of the so-called productive industries which will come within the relief proposals of the Government.
It is a perfectly ridiculous thing to try to separate the productive from the distributive class of industry, because one without the other is altogether useless. What we have to consider is the price at which the commodity can be sold. I take it that the purpose of the Government's rating proposals is to reduce the cost of production in order that the price of the article may be reduced. The cost of distribution enters into the market price of the article just as much as the cost of production. This Petrol Duty will increase the cost of distribution, it is a real burden upon industry and, to some extent at any rate, it will nullify any advantage which might possibly go to 106 certain industries from the de-rating proposals of the Government. In considering this question we are too apt to think that a vast part of the petrol consumption is used in what we call pleasure motoring. I do not think that it the case at all. The vast number of pleasure motor cars on the road to-day are low-powered cars which may be getting something like 40 miles out of a gallon, but the heavy commercial vehicles have a very heavy petrol consumption, probably in very few cases exceeding 10 miles a gallon. This, too, seems to have been largely lost sight of, that petrol is not merely used in vehicles we see on the roads. An enormous amount of petrol is consumed for other commercial purposes. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had a deputation waiting on him a few days ago. They enumerated a very large number of industries where petrol may be regarded as the raw material of the industry, and they pointed out that this tax will add very considerably to their costs of production and to their working expenses.
Let me come back for a moment to the statement I made in regard to the increased cost of transport which must certainly follow from the imposition of this duty. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in trying to justify the duty, referred to the lower price of petrol to-day compared with a year or two ago. Surely that is a very curious reason for imposing a duty on petrol and thereby increasing its price, because that statement was made in connection with another very remarkable statement. The right hon. Gentleman pointed out that the industrial greatness of this country has been built up on coal, but that coal was now being gradually superseded by oil. That is another curious reason, or attempted justification, for a Duty on petrol. To tax what is becoming, on his own admission, more and more the motive power of industry, is almost too ridiculous. What would have been said 150 years ago, when coal began to be used in the industrial revolution, if some Chancellor of the Exchequer had proposed a tax on coal? That is precisely what the right hon. Gentleman is doing.
As I said, the motor transport industry is already very heavily taxed and this, for a good many small men engaged in that business, will be the last straw. I had sent to me a letter from a man in Yorkshire who keeps a motor garage and 107 also runs a one-ton lorry, and he gave me some very remarkable figures. I was very much struck by them, and submitted them to an expert on these matters, and he told me they were rather on the under than the over side. The cost of running this one-ton lorry amounts, with the new Petrol Duty, to no less than £626 a year. The road tax is £59 8s. The new Petrol Duty will be £52 a year, insurance is £17 10s. a year; he needs a man and a lad to run the lorry, and their wages are £215; petrol consumption—10 gallons—is £156 a year, oil comes to £62, a set of tyres in the year—a moderate allowance—£32, and depreciation at 16 per cent. is £32. That makes a total of £626. These figures make no provision for breakdowns and repairs. He goes on to say:I am one of the number who served through the War and who came back to try to make an honest living, but now I find it is almost impossible. Surely the high percentage of failures in this line of business confirms my conclusions, which are based on experience. Could the Chancellor be reminded that in this line of business, which has greatly increased since the War, there are large numbers of ex-service men, who ask no favours but only the right to live?He adds that he wrote to me in preference to his own local Member, who is a railway director. So much in regard to the small man in the motor transport business. There are, of course, much larger concerns engaged. It is a mistake to assume that this increased duty on petrol will not enter into the cost of transport. It is doing so already, not only in the conveyance of commercial goods hut, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself had to admit last week, in the charges that are being made by many omnibus companies. I believe he was present when I spoke on the Second Reading and produced a number of special halfpenny tickets marked "extra payment for the Petrol Tax imposition." I find this sort of thing is going on all over the country. I have just had handed to me by an hon. Friend a large number of letters which practically cover the whole country. In some districts they are not only charging the extra halfpenny, but much more. The Thames Valley Traction Company which, I believe, covers the whole of the Thames Valley between London and Oxford, have issued this official notice: 108Pending the alteration of a revised fare list, the following increases in all fares will take place on and from Thursday, 17th May, ½d. on all fares up to and including 5d., 1d. on all fares over 6d., including return fares.That increase represents between 300 and 400 per cent. on the cost of working imposed by the Petrol Duty. Therefore we are getting what we always get when taxes of this description are imposed. They take out of the pockets of the public a great deal more than they bring into the Exchequer. We have been discussing for the last two hours the burden of the Tea Duty and I associate myself with everything that has been said by my hon. Friends upon that, but this increased Petrol Duty in respect of motor omnibuses alone is a heavier impost than even the Tea Duty. The Chancellor of the Exchequer in his two last Budgets has appropriated something over £20,000,000 of the Road Fund which had been specially contributed by the owners of motor vehicles for the purpose of road improvement and road maintenance. He has also taken for general revenue purposes a certain proportion of annual licence duties on what he calls luxury motor cars. Those licences are very heavy. They are particularly heavy upon commercial vehicles. They were originally imposed under an agreement between the Treasury and the owners of motor vehicles so that the proceeds should be devoted for the purposes I have just mentioned, namely, road improvement and road maintenance. The Chancellor violated that agreement when he raided the Road Fund.
What is going to be the effect of this increased Petrol Duty taking it in conjunction with the raiding of the Road Fund which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has carried through during the last year or two? The users of commercial vehicles and motor transport are going to get no advantage in improved roads from this tax. It is going, not to their advantage, but to the advantage of others. The Chancellor of the Exchequer will say, as he has said upon a great many occasions, that we have the best roads in the world and that no further additional expenditure is necessary to keep them in that perfect condition. I am not discussing the Road Fund, but I am pointing out its relation to this Petrol Duty. We are putting an additional 109 burden upon these people, and they will derive no advantage either direct or indirect from it, because in the rating proposals of the Government even their garages are not to get any advantage. Even the workshops in which motor vehicles are repaired are not to be regarded as productive works. Well, if a motor car or a motor vehicle cannot be repaired it will soon cease to be an aid to production.
The further point I want to mention in this connection, in reply to the oft-repeated claim of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that we have the best roads in the world, is this. As a matter of fact, from one point of view we have the worst roads in the world. We have the most dangerous roads in the world. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the fact? Does he know that in this country there are 11 motors per mile of roads, and that there is no country in the world which approaches within 50 per cent of that figure. The United States has seven—that comes nearest—and France has only two. We have, therefore, not the best roads in the world; we have the most dangerous roads in the world. Between 5,000 and 6,000 people were killed last year by motor accidents upon the roads of this country. If it were necessary to impose additional taxation upon these vehicles, then the receipt of that taxation ought to have been devoted to the improvement of our roads, making them more adaptable for the increased traffic which is appearing upon them every day, and thereby lessening the danger.
We oppose this Petrol Duty to-day, apart altogether from our opposition to the purpose to which it is to be put; we oppose it because it is tax imposed upon one small class of the community—I mean small in proportion to the population—not for their benefit, for they derive no benefit whatever from it, but for the benefit of another class of the community. We oppose it because it is an illustration of one of the worst cases of indirect taxation. It has every one of the evils of indirect taxation. As I pointed out just now, it is taking out of the pockets of the people who pay it far more than it will bring to the revenue of the State. We oppose it because it is a burden which will not ultimately and finally rest upon those 110 who consume the taxed petrol. It will enter into the cost of transport, and it will result in increased fares, and the working people of this country are, of course, the overwhelming majority of the people who use the motor omnibuses on the roads. A large proportion of the people within the Income Tax-paying range own motor cars, and therefore very seldom use a public omnibus. Thus this tax will finally be paid mainly by the working people of this country, and that amounts, on the estimate of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to £14,000,000, I think, this year, and he expects ultimately to get £20,000,000 a year from it. Therefore, that means £20,000,000 a year additiona[...] taxation mainly upon the working people of this country that will be added to the £25,000,000 a year of other indirect taxation which has been imposed during the past three years by the right hon. Gentleman. These are some of the reasons—my hon. Friends behind will give others—why we submit this Amendment. I am confident that the feeling of injustice against this duty is shared by practically every Member of this House, and if hon. Members were free to vote according to their intelligence and their real appreciation of the facts of this case, there would be no doubt at all about the overwhelming support that this Amendment would receive.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden) has directed the Committee to an Amendment which would certainly, if it were accepted, secure us a combination of the worst of all possible courses, and all the arguments which he used against the tax would be continued in principle, but the advantage to the Revenue would be virtually destroyed. I can understand direct opposition to the Duty on Petrol, but to say that we should impose a duty of a penny upon petrol is in my opinion most unhelpful, and, if I may say so without offence, to set up the whole machinery of this duty merely to place a penny upon it would be obviously futile. The Amendment would involve a loss to the Revenue of £8,750,000 this year and £11,250,000 next year. Of course, if the right hon. Gentleman felt that the proposal which he was making was so unjustifiable in itself that he considered it necessary to state in a perfectly candid manner, a 111 brutal manner, that what he wished to do was to wreck the tax, why go through this farce of reducing it from 4d. to 1d.? I am quite sure that the right hon. Gentleman wishes to wreck this tax, and he knows that if he were successful in wrecking the tax he would wreck the Budget and the policy dependent upon it, and in particular he would succeed in wrecking the scheme of rating reform on which we are working, and would destroy our projects for relieving the necessitous areas, a substantial measure of relief to productive industry and complete relief of rates to agriculture.
I think the right hon. Gentleman has been courageous and candid in taking this attitude of direct and general challenge to the whole proposals which are now being considered. That is what the Amendment amounts to. There is no doubt whatever that without the aid of this tax it would not be possible to make any further progress with the policy which has been unfolded, and we wish to take note of the position which the Opposition have adopted on this question. When the right hon. Gentleman proceeded to detail his arguments there were several points which I think called for reply. In the first place, he represented this tax as one which would fall mainly upon the working classes. I do not think his figures—I will have them examined before the Report stage in detail—will in the slightest justify this contention. The proportion of the tax—I have not got it in my memory at the moment—which is paid by the omnibuses and chars-a-banc is a very small part of the total tax. [An HON. MEMBER: "It is two-thirds."] No, it is not so at all. The commercial vehicles constitute a very important part of the tax, but our case is, and has always been, that they are at the present time not paying to a proper extent for the damage which they do to the roads, and that they are virtually——
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Mr. Dennis Herbert)
The hon. Member knows that he cannot speak if the hon. Member who is speaking does not give way.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
The hon. Gentleman had plenty of time, but I shall be perfectly willing to allow the hon. Gentleman to interrupt me if he wishes.
§ Mr. RILEY
May I remind the Chancellor that a question was asked him last week on this very point of the proportion of the burden between privately-owned cars and commercial cars, and the reply of the Chancellor was this. The question was:Mr. Robinson asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer"—That is not the question, but, when I produce the answer, he will realise that it is two-thirds commercial vehicles and one-third private vehicles.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I leave it to the Committee to judge whether the hon. Gentleman has made any contribution to the Debate. I stated that only a small proportion of this duty will be collected from the use of hackney vehicles. I have now got the figure, which fully justifies what I stated from my recollection of the facts. Only 16 per cent. of the consumption of petrol may be traced to hackney vehicles, and this covers many other kinds of hackney vehicles, besides the omnibuses and chars-a-bane which are used for the working classes. All the statements put forward by the hon. Gentleman are absolutely unfounded. The great bulk of this duty is paid either by the pleasure or well-to-do traffic or by commercial vehicles. As to the pleasure or well-to-do traffic, it can perfectly well bear this addition to its burdens, and it has been accepted with commendable good will. So far as commercial traffic is concerned, I was about to argue, when I was interrupted and much reproached for not immediately giving way and reproached for being afraid to face the disclosures—never were fears less founded——
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
This was the question which was put to the right hon. Gentleman on 14th June:If he will consider the abolition of the tax on petrol used for commercial purposes?113 and he replied:I regret that I cannot see my way to adopt the hon. Member's suggestion, which would entail the reduction of the yield of the Duty by about two-thirds."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th June, 1928; col. 1158, Vol. 218.]
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
What has that got to do with the taxation on the working classes? Really, this has not the remotest connection with the facts. When it is sought to justify the original statements, fresh statements are made which have not the remotest connection with the original case. I was proceeding to argue, when I was interrupted on several occasions by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, who were not in a position to make helpful contributions on the subject, that our case for additional taxation of commercial vehicles is based on the fact that we contend that they are virtually subsidised as against rail traffic, in spite of the tax they bear at present, owing to the great extent to which they cause wear and tear to the roads, not only on account of their weight, but on account of the mileages they run. The ordinary man, who takes his motor bicycle or small car out at the week-end, makes the very slenderest call upon the roads, but the licence duty he pays is computed as though he were using them continuously. On the other hand these commercial vehicles, which play such a valuable part, I readily admit, in our national life, run enormous mileages and of course the mileage of omnibuses are the greatest of all.
I am of opinion that the right hon. Gentleman is perfectly correct in stating that, in some of the country districts, there has been profiteering by some of the omnibus companies. The tickets, which he produced on the Second Reading of the Finance Bill, and others which have been sent to me, leave me no doubt that an altogether excessive charge is being imposed in a certain limited area and over certain limited services on those who use those omnibuses. The calculation is that the duty adds a halfpenny a mile to the cost of running an omnibus. If a halfpenny is collected from 15 or 20 passengers in that vehicle, then it is perfectly clear that profiteering of a very gross character almost amounting to an imposture has made itself apparent in some districts.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I am the father of a great many things. If they are all to be viewed together, I shall be prepared to recognise my progeny. It always happens, when new taxes are imposed, that here and there considerable difficulties and abuse arise, but competition and, I trust, public opinion in this case will have a salutary effect. The right hon. Gentleman then spoke of the non-road-user of petrol, and indicated that that was a heavy burden on the industry of the country. Out of 805,000,000 gallons of imported petrol, only 50,000,000 are used for the non-road purposes, so that, at any rate, that evil is one the limits of which are comparatively narrow. But I have never attempted to argue that this tax is not a burden. I wish I were in the position to carry forward the large scheme, on which we are engaged, which causes so much perturbation to right hon. Gentlemen opposite, and which the right hon. Member for Colne Valley would gladly hamstring if he could, without this taxation, if that were in my view at all possible. If we had not had the prolonged industrial troubles of 1926—no matter who was responsible—undoubtedly the revenue of the country and our finances to-day would be in such a position that we would be able to carry forward this policy of rating relief without imposing any new duty.
In all the circumstances, it would have been impossible to have gone on without imposing new taxation and I am most gratified and surprised at the manner in which it has been accepted from one end of the country to the other. I thought it a most serious matter to impose this duty, and I thought it would raise a great storm. We went forward ready to face that storm because of the importance of the objects to which we wished to apply the money. But it has been a matter of great relief and satisfaction to me that the general good sense of this country has accepted this tax as one which might well and reasonably be imposed at the present juncture, and has endorsed the view of the Government, that the tax will be far less burdensome in its effect upon our wellbeing than the direct burden of rates on industrial and productive enterprise, and has shown 115 itself ready and willing to accept the burden, because it is the only means by which a far greater evil than the tax can be removed from our industrial and economic life. The right hon. Gentleman with the utmost frankness challenged our general policy. We for our part will be ready now, and at any future time, and in any circumstances, to meet him in direct competition.
§ Mr. E. BROWN
The hon. Gentleman says he is always ready to recognise his progeny. Does he recognise the child which, four years ago, he hoped so much to bring into being, namely, the child Economy? When he talks about freights, he entirely overlooks the fact that there are whole tracts of the country districts where road transport is the only transport for bringing goods to villages. I did not rise to argue the general case, but to put a particular point to him concerning the administration of the duty, which affects every port in the land. I understand that some zealous Customs House officers have been insisting that the duty on crude oil used as bunkers shall be paid by the ships using that crude oil. As I understand the Clause, crude oils are not supposed to come under the levy of 4d. a gallon, but I understand that some zealous Customs House officers are actually levying it. This is a very important matter, and we should like to have an answer about it. Is this duty included in the Clause or is it intended that there shall be a rebate? I understand that at present, whether the crude oil is transhipped from vessel to vessel, or from tanker to steamer, the Customs officials insist on the payment of the 4d. per gallon which, I venture to say, is entirely illegal. A Cunard liner like the "Mauretania" will take on board for one voyage 6,000 tons or 600,000 gallons of crude oil which at 4d. a gallon represents £10,000. She will make 12 trips in the course of the year and that means, in the case of either the "Mauretania" or the "Berengaria" a sum of £120,000 of taxation on the crude oil used in the bunkers. A Castle Line ship like the "Carnarvon Castle" will ship about 3,000 tons of oil, which means about £5,000 in taxation, or, on the basis of 12 voyages, £60,000 a year. A fair-sized cargo boat, such as those which go out from Leith or Hull or the Port of London, 116 will ship for each voyage 1,000 tons of crude oil or 100,000 gallons, and will pay roughly £1,600 per voyage.
Is it with the authority of the Treasury that the Customs officials are levying this charge? Even if I am told that a rebate is to be given, I suggest that this practice ought to cease, because it means the locking up of a great amount of capital and involves serious interference with the shipping industry. I am sure that when the House of Commons passed the Budget Resolution authorising the imposition of 4d. a gallon, it did not understand that this practice would be adopted. I regard it as illegal, and there ought to be a direct statement from the Treasury Bench as to what regulations will be made in order that a line may be drawn between the oils which are subject to duty and oils used for bunkering ships so that this interference with shipping may be ended at once.
§ Mr. MacLAREN
I propose to establish a record in this Debate by occupying not more than one minute. I do not intend to discuss the details of this duty. We all know, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer knows from his good old Radical training, that ultimately the consumer will pay it. But I think it necessary to denounce this duty as an instrument whereby the present Government hope to raise money to bribe the agricultural districts of this country by the most profligate form of bribery.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
I follow the example of the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer in opposing this duty from the point of view of the average workman. Many workmen to-day are unable to pay their rent or their rates, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposes to place a further burden on them by this duty. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that he was ready to meet the Members of the Opposition at any time and in any part of the country on the question of this duty, and he sought ingeniously to make it appear that the general effect on the workers would be practically nil. Whatever the right hon. Gentleman's theory may be, we find in South Yorkshire, in actual practice, that the miners who are obliged to travel four or five miles every day to work have to make a daily contribution towards this duty. Tickets have been specially printed for 117 the purpose, and ½d. for Petrol Tax is charged on each 4d. ride. On this basis, and in view of the amount of travelling which these men are called upon to do, they are contributing at the rate of 12½ per cent. If only from that point of view, we are justified in protesting against the imposition of this burden upon those who are already heavily burdened, whether it is to meet the needs of agriculture, of silk manufacturers, of brewers, or of any other fairly prosperous sections of industry in this country. In his Budget speech, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said:The 20th century has seen us become increasingly dependent upon imported liquid fuel, scarcely any of which is found inside the British Empire.—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th April, 1928; col. 854, Vol. 216.]That statement is very curious coming from a right hon. Gentleman who, in 1914, placed the resources of the Admiralty at the service of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company and participated in that company to the extent of 2,000,000 shares on behalf of the British Government. In 1919, the right hon. Gentleman further manifested his desire to develop the oilfields of Persia by persuading the then Coalition Government to make a further investment, to the extent of 3,000,000 shares, in the same company. These two Government investments in which the right hon. Gentleman has been definitely involved have not brought us nearer to success and there are no guarantees that his next escapade is going to turn out any better. Those two investments did not help British industry, nor did they help the British Empire to develop its own oil resources. Having helped by Government finance and influence to develop the Anglo-Persian oil interests, the right hon. Gentleman now comes along in 1928 and suggests a duty on all petrol consumed—for the purpose, as he says, of protecting the coal-mining industry in this country.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
No, I stated that it would incidentally have an effect in stimulating the development of the coal industry, but that was not the purpose of the proposal. That is a by-product. The main purpose is to get the money for the rating relief scheme.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
Yes, but the right hon. Gentleman made a special point about coal distillation. This Duty, how- 118 ever, is not so much a help to the coal industry of this country as a method of making another contribution to the refiners of this country. In view of past experience, the miners are obliged to view any proposal of this kind with the utmost suspicion. The Chancellor in his Budget speech showed a definite bias against the distributors of petrol when he made this statement:I understand about one-half the present price of petrol is represented by the cost of distribution, and there is every reason to believe that some considerable compression might easily be effected in this field."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th April, 1928; col. 858, Vol. 216.]Does the right hon. Gentleman desire to compress the small garage proprietors? Does he want to compress the profits made in the field of distribution in order that more profits may be made by the refiners? In any case, it looks as though the Chancellor of the Exchequer tried to prove too much. He first suggested the possibility of this Petrol Duty assisting the distillation of coal and in the next breath he suggested that there should be a reasonable compression in the charges for distribution. If there should be a considerable compression in the 6¾d. per gallon spent on distribution, would that not cancel out the 4d. Duty, and would not the protection which he suggests for the coal industry, in regard to the distillation of coal, be cancelled out also? In proving too much, she Chancellor of the Exchequer indicates that there may be in the dark regions of other considerations which lie behind this proposal, some other reason for this suggestion of protection. Those in the coal industry who have had experience of by-product work in the past, cannot fail to be suspicious that this Duty is designed so consolidate a vested interest in this country. We remember the very pleasant gift which the Government made to the sugar refiners. I recall that Lord Melchett, then Sir Alfred Mond, speaking on the Budget, made this statement:This is the most fruitful, the most far-reaching, the most statesmanlike and the biggest-visioned Budget we have had introduced into the House for a great number of years."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th April, 1928; col. 947, Vol. 216.]Any statement originating from that source is viewed with a great deal of suspicion on this side of the Committee, and the speech which was made by Sir 119 Alfred Mond, now Lord Melchett, on the 1st June on the introduction of the Budget lends itself to the belief that the ultimate result of this Petrol Duty will be that the company of which Lord Melchett is the head, having deprived Baldwins, Limited, of the profitable production of sulphate ammonia, are also going to deprive them of the profitable production of coal distillation. On 4th June, Lord Melchett, speaking as chairman of the Chemical Industries, Limited, at the annual meeting, said:I want to say a few words on the important subject of oil from coal.… We have been studying this problem for some time, and not long ago I saw the first petrol produced from oil on a small scale at Billingham. Our problem is not quite the same as that of the Germans, who are working from brown coal, but we are proceeding with this, and we are satisfied that a technical solution can be found.That is quite different from the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who said definitely that a solution of the problem had been found. Lord Melchett went on to say:The commercial aspect has been much altered by the imposition of a duty of 4d. per gallon in the new Budget. The Chancellor, by introducing this Duty, has certainly rendered easier and more practicable all those processes which aim at turning our coal into the petrol and oil we require.My point is that the Petrol Duty, which the consumers are called upon to pay, is going to be used for the purpose of establishing a tremendous vested interest in this country, at the head of which may be Lord Melchett or anybody else, and that it is not going to be of any assistance to the producers of coal. Unless we can be sure that the production of the raw material is going to have some relation to the utilisation of that raw material, that the value of the finished article will be reflected in the wages paid to the working people, we ought not to support an imposition of this description. I suggest that the statement made by Lord Melchett only helps to consolidate our suspicions. We know that the workers, indirectly, will be called upon to pay the Petrol Duty. Whoever may make the first payment, ultimately the workers will pay. We have proof positive that they are paying it now all over the country. In the price of their foodstuffs and other commodities the price 120 of petrol is reflected and, therefore, it is the consumer, the workers, who will be called upon to pay. Unless we can have some guarantee from the Government that the workers, or the nation as a whole, will benefit as a result of this further piece of indirect taxation, we are justified in opposing the duty in the Division Lobby.
§ Mr. R. MORRISON
I desire to put a point which has not yet been mentioned, and that is the practicability of this Duty. During the Debate on the Budget Resolutions, and also this afternoon the Chancellor of the Exchequer in a threatening sort of way has held up his hands in horror at the idea that we are challenging the whole fabric of what he calls his scheme. I think I may speak for every hon. Member on these benches when I say that we certainly do challenge the whole fabric of the Budget proposals and are prepared to do so before the electors of this country. In my own constituency, over 1,000 people were summoned for not paying their rates. A stone's throw away there is a big firm which has paid 90 per cent. in dividends to its shareholders during the last five or six years. These people are not fools and are beginning to realise that there is something wrong with a Government which proposes to pay three-quarters of the rates of a firm paying 90 per cent. dividend at a time when numbers of poor people are being summoned for not paying their rates. We are perfectly justified in challenging not only the Petrol Duty but the whole fabric of the right hon. Gentleman's scheme, and we are prepared to allow the electors to decide.
The right hon. Gentleman used some strong language this afternoon about the profiteering that was going on by omnibus companies, particularly in country districts. The language was all right, but it came to nothing in the end. His only solution was that competition might put it right. Competition, as we all know, has almost ceased among these omnibus companies. There is very little competition and, consequently, I cannot see how this profiteering is going to be stopped. With regard to the practicability of this Duty on petrol; it is interesting to remember how the proposal arose. The hon. and gallant Member for Chelmsford (Colonel Howard- 121 Bury) who I am sorry is not present at the moment, presented a gigantic petition signed by over 1,000,000 people asking for a tax on petrol. It had been organised fey the Automobile Association, which is said to number among its members about 200 Members of Parliament. The proposal in that petition was that the horse-power Duty should be abolished and in its place there should be a registration fee of 2s. 6d. plus 6d. per gallon petrol Duty, and it was estimated that this would raise the same amount as was being produced by the horse-power Duty. The point I want to bring before the Committee is: why has that not been done? Why has not the horse-power Duty been abolished and a levy on petrol put in its place? The answer was given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Budget speech: He said:A separate petrol duty levied for road purposes only involves a new chemical frontier much more complicated than the one that divides the light oils from the heavy.… It is a highly complicated matter."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th April, 1928; col. 862, Vol. 216.]In the same speech he went on to tell the House that a Committee of experts had been sitting for three years dealing with this question, and he said that it consisted of the best scientists they could command, and in addition they had the services of the chemists of the great oil companies, and that the formula they arrived at represented the very last word. The formula was the chemical frontier between what the Chancellor of the Exchequer called light oils and heavy oils. From that statement it will be seen that the right hon. Gentleman had no intention of taxing paraffin. His idea was to tax petrol. His Committee which had sat for three years reported that it was a highly complicated matter, an almost impossible proposition, but that it was possible to set up a chemical frontier between light oils and heavy oils. That was his position when he introduced the Budget.
The question I want to put is: Why did he alter his position in less than a week? After the first week-end, during which hon. Members had been to their constituencies and discovered a good deal of indignation, a meeting was held upstairs, then a deputation went to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, negotiations took place, and it all ended in a 122 complete surrender; paraffin was cut out of the Budget. Conservative Members as well as other hon. Members were very glad, but what about the poor Chancellor of the Exchequer, what is the effect likely to be? Is it only that he has lost £3,000,000? I think it is a much wider question than that. The Chancellor of the Exchequer himself said that it is much more complicated to draw a frontier between light oils subject to duty and those that are not, and that there would be some additional expense in the collection of the duty. He admitted two things. First, that it is a much more complicated business to draw up a frontier and, secondly that there will be some additional expense in the collection of the duty. One question should be answered in this Debate. Did the experts who sat for three years on this question, and were unable to find a chemical frontier separating petrol from other oils, suddenly discover one when Tory Members of Parliament revolted? Let me quote again from the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Budget speech:The complications are enormous.… A separate Petrol Duty levied for road purposes only involves a new chemical frontier much more complicated than the one that divides the light oils from the heavy.… It is a highly complicated matter.… I am already putting a very heavy strain upon the Customs and Excise officials, and I do not wish to add to that at present."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th April, 1928; cols. 861–2, Vol. 216.]Is that true? If it is we ought to know. Can anyone explain how it came about that a week later the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who had said that the complications were enormous, should turn round and say that it is a simple matter, and that all you have to do is to substitute a new chemical frontier expressed in terms quite unintelligible to all but experts? Later, he gave a hint that after all it was not so simple as it looked. He said:There is, of course, a danger, if kerosene is exempt from duty while petrol is taxed, that misguided persons will attempt to burn kerosene, or mixtures containing it, in their motor vehicles to the detriment of the duty on petrol. However, I am assured that they will not long continue that practice."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st May, 1928; cols. 1593–4, Vol. 216.]Those of us who were present when he announced the surrender will remember distinctly that the Chancellor of the Ex- 123 chequer went on to shake his finger in solemn warning as to what would happen to the engines of motor ears if people were foolish enough to try to burn mixtures of petrol and kerosene. Within an hour, from the Conservative benches, a practical motor expert, probably one of the greatest in this House, gave the Chancellor of the Exchequer his reply. I am referring to the speech made by the hon. and gallant Member for Chatham (Lieut.-Colonel Moore-Brabazon), who said:It is no good the Chancellor of the Exchequer saying that you cannot use paraffin in motor cars, because it will be found that it can be done. The objection that he raises, even on the question of spoiling the lubricating oil, has already been got over by the use of distilling filters.It is generally recognised that the hon. and gallant Member for Chatham has a very close practical knowledge of motoring. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is likely, as the months pass, to get into a worse difficulty on this subject than he got into in regard to the Betting Duty last year. Against the advice of his own officials he has rushed in and thrown the Kerosene Duty overboard. I hope that the hon. Gentleman who is to reply for the Government will throw some light on the subject, which is rather a mystery at the present time.
§ Mr. ROBERT HUDSON
I noticed with some interest that none of the right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite who have put their names to this Amendment sit for coal-mining areas. The party opposite speaks with two voices on this matter, apparently. They forgot, when they put down the Amendment, that the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. G. Hall), who moved a reduction of the Vote for the Ministry of Mines last week, spoke of the competition between oil and coal in this country. He showed the extent to which the coal industry was suffering at the hands of the oil industry. It is going to be very interesting for Members on this side who sit for coal-mining areas, to be able to explain to those areas the fact that the Labour party are proposing officially to decrease the relief which would have come to those coal-mining areas by no less than 75 per cent. Let me read what the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil said last Thursday: 124We are told that in 1910 the total imports of oil into this country were 345,000,000 gallons, and in 1927, 2,051,000,000 gallons; in other words, last year it cost thi6 country nearly £44,000,000 for the importation into this country of a commodity Which is competing with coal. Last year was not the peak year either. According to the information that one has been able to get, there has been an increase in the importation of oil into this country from 429,000,000 gallons for the first five months of 1926 to 646,000,000 gallons for the first five months of 1928.He went on to describe the various processes under investigation for the production of oil from British coal, and he instanced a number, and then said:Ought not a process of that kind to be encouraged more than it is encouraged at the present time by the Government or by the Mines Department?"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st June, 1928; col. 1818; Vol. 218.]Surely it stands to reason, if what the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil said is true, that one of the things causing depression in the coal industry to-day is the increasing competition of oil, it ill becomes hon. Members opposite, who always talk about the evils and difficulties of the coal industry, to come forward to-day and move to reduce by this 75 per cent. the competitive power of British oil produced from British coal. We have heard in the course of the last few days that the loss of the coal industry to-day approaches a shilling per ton of coal. It has been calculated that the relief which has been given by the Budget, by the imposition of this Petrol Duty, will amount, taking the country as a whole and taking the various reliefs on rates, railway freights and so on, to something approaching 6d. Again it will be very convenient and very good for us on this side to be able to go down and tell our constituents that the Labour party are proposing to put off still further the day when the miners will be able to get an increase of wages as a result of the coal industry having become profitable again—that the day is put off further by the fact that, instead of the coal industry being able to get 6d. a ton reduction in costs under the Budget, the reduction will be only 1½d. per ton if this Amendment be passed.
§ Mr. OLIVER
Have the hon. Gentleman's constituents not told him that they are already paying in increased omnibus 125 fares one shilling a week, and are paying for the relief that the coal industry will get?
§ Mr. HUDSON
It unfortunately happens that in my particular constituency the men either walk or cycle to their work, and where omnibuses are used the company pays a large proportion of the cost. In any case that does not alter the fact that the day when the men will be able to benefit by the division of some of the profits in the industry will be still further postponed if this Amendment be carried. For this reason alone I am sure that all of us on this side are grateful to hon. Members opposite for moving this Amendment. It shows the absolute lack of foundation for what they are always claiming—that they are the friends of the coal industry and of the miners.
§ Mr. CRAWFURD
The hon. Member for Whitehaven (Mr. K. Hudson) began his remarks by saying that it would be a matter of great interest to himself and his friends to know what hon. Members of the Labour party who represent coal mining areas had said. As the hon. Member went on, it became a matter of great interest to me to realise that the angle from which the hon. Member approaches this question is what he will be able to state to his constituents about what someone else is doing; and, secondly, that he will be able to go to his constituents and to say "The relief to be, given you under the Budget is at the rate of 6d. a ton." Is that the hon. Member's attitude? If so, what right have the hon. Member and his friends to cast stones at Labour Members with regard to certain Poor Law guardians? If we are going to have charges of bribery like that, let us have them on both sides. If people are going to complain of bribery in one direction it does not lies in their mouths to enunciate the doctrine of mass bribery on the other side.
§ Mr. HUDSON
I am afraid that the hon. Member cannot have caught the drift of my argument. The men in the mining districts to-day cannot get any increased wages until there is a profit earned, and there is at present a loss of a shilling per ton, or 9d. a ton on the average. The proposal of the Budget will reduce that loss by about 6d. a ton, and, therefore, will bring nearer the day on which 126 the men will be able to get an increase of wages under the ascertainment. That is not bribery.
§ Mr. CRAWFURD
I do not think I failed to catch the drift of the hon. Member's argument. He began by saying that he would proceed to tell his constituents, who were interested in the mining industry, that hon. Members of the Labour party were trying to obtain 75 per cent. decrease in the amount of relief that his constituents were to get. He went on to say that that 75 per cent. total relief was equivalent to 6d. a ton. In the first place. I think the hon. Gentleman is not doing himself justice, any more than the Chancellor of the Exchequer does himself justice, in these discussions, in the attitude which he takes towards them. A few minutes ago the hon. Member for North Tottenham (Mr. R. Morrison) mentioned that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had first stated that it was a practical impossibility to arrive at a formula which would enable the Petrol Duty to be imposed, or a differentiation made between petrol and paraffin, but that later the right hon. Gentleman said that this would be a perfectly simple matter. We have not got a perfectly simple; Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the attitude of the Chancellor towards this tax, like that of the hon. Member who has just spoken, is totally wrong and is not worthy of the traditions of the House. What are the reasons why we oppose this duty? In the first place we are opposed to [...]he way in which the money, when raised is to be spent. We may be wrong, as anybody may be wrong; but even if we are wrong we are entitled to careful consideration of what we say. Otherwise why are we here at all? I say to the last speaker that although, if we stop short at the Amendment, the effects might be such as he suggested, yet if we adopted, not the whole scheme of the right hon. Gentleman but the whole scheme that has been urged from these benches, the hon. Gentleman's particular district would get more than 6d. a ton.
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Mr. CRAWFURD
That is very amusing, but it does not really meet criticism. The hon. Member's district, I say, will get more, and similar areas will get more, and deservedly more, than under the Chancellor's proposal, by just 127 that amount by which under the Government's proposal money is to be wasted upon people who do not need it. Unfortunately I have not been able to be here during the past week, but I have seen in the Press statment after statement made in this House and in public speeches by the Chancellor of the Exchequer or by leading Members of the Government, to the effect that my hon. Friends have got some sort of prejudice against prosperous industries. We have nothing of the sort. We rejoice to see industries prosper, and I will show how the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he had had a little more consideration for industry, could have made industry prosper far more. Although we rejoice to see industry prosper, we do not think it is necessary to give the prosperous industry money which is to come from the pockets of those who are less prosperous. We object to the way in which the money is to be spent, and we object to the way in which the money is to be raised. The hon. Member for Whitehaven (Mr. R. Hudson) said that if this Amendment were carried, such and such a result would happen, and that the relief which his constituents were to get would be denied to them. The hon. Member had no right to say that. He knows perfectly well that we do not stop at this Amendment and that we have a proposal which would give more than is being given by the Government. He has no right to say that the result of a particular Amendment, if carried, would be such that the party who support it desire to prevent his constituents from getting relief.
I am entitled to say something about the Government's neglect of the motor industry in dealing with the Petrol Duty. The Motor Duty, which goes back as far as 1909–10, is a tax drawn from a particular industry for a particular purpose, and, therefore, is a discriminating tax, because it taxes only motor users. At a certain period the method of the taxation was altered to the harming and worsening of the industry. The hon. and gallant Member for Chatham (Lieut.-Colonel Moore-Brabazon) and the right hon. and learned Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Home), in speeches which they made some weeks ago in this House, pointed out conclusively that the motor trade in this country is being hampered in one way more 128 than any other by the persistence of the Government in adhering to the horsepower tax.
The great obstacle to our motor trade capturing our Dominion market and a far larger share of the export market is because the Government insist upon retaining the horse-power tax. Every motoring expert inside and outside this House who has spoken on the matter is agreed upon that point. We all know the disaster which followed upon a leading Australian attempting to introduce these British cars into the Australian market, because of the horse-power tax. We are here to-day discussing what is said to be a relief of industry—not, if you like, a direct bribe—and the Government by the course they have pursued for the last three or four years and by the additional duty which they are putting upon this particular industry through the Petrol Duty have done as much as lies in their power, not to help the motor industry, but to injure it. We object to the way in which the money is to be spent, and the way in which it is to be raised. It is a thoroughly bad duty—we have our own proposals—and we shall vote against it.
§ Mr. GILLETT
I am entirely with the hon. Member for Walthamstow West (Mr. Crawfurd) in disagreeing with the principle on which the money is to be distributed, even if we held that the distribution of the money in the way suggested by the Government will be helpful to industry. I disagree with that point of view, because I believe, in the first place, that the Government will be too late with their help, and, secondly, that they are spreading the money to such an extent that it is not likely to be as effective as it might be otherwise. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his cheerful, airy way, says: "I cannot raise the money in any other way. Therefore, it must be raised by a duty on petrol." There is no need for hon. Members to take it that there is no other way of raising the money. I disagree entirely with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I would ask hon. Members opposite not to sit down complacently, and say: "This is the way we suggest, and no other way is possible." There are other ways, and anyone could suggest a number of ways.
There is one fundamental objection to the proposals which the Government are 129 making, and that is that the duty has not met with as great an objection as would have been the case if it had been imposed a year or two ago, when the price of petrol was much higher. The fundamental mistake that the Government are making is that they are imposing this duty upon a commodity over which this country has practically no control whatever. Already it has been pointed out in the Press that the price of petrol in America, from which country 72 per cent. of the world supply comes, had been recently at a lower figure, but in the last few months there has been a rise in the price, while the demand in America for petrol for domestic purposes has risen recently by something like 16 per cent. At the same time, there has been a larger increase in the number of motor cars in use in that country. The registration of cars in the early part of this year in America increased by about 6 per cent. You are going to have a country which is the largest producer of oil in the world finding a great demand in its own services for that commodity, although there may be other countries which, at the same time, may produce the commodity. A good deal is said about the Russian supply, but the Russian supply is only about 6 per cent. of the supply of the world, and can therefore almost be ignored.
The serious point is that the Government are going to build upon this uncertain factor the financial structure of their scheme of rating reform. What will happen if the great oil companies get control again of the price of the commodity? I will draw the attention of the Financial Secretary to the Treasury to a report which appeared in one of the morning financial newspapers that an understanding has just been come to by two of the greatest oil interests in the world. The report was denied, but it is obvious that there is something going on in the way of negotiation between the oil interests. Suppose they come to a satisfactory conclusion from their point of view, but unsatisfactory from the point of view of the oil consumers of the world; in a very short time the users of oil in this country may be faced not only with the duty which the Government are imposing upon them but also with the fact that they will have to pay an increased price for the raw material in their industry.
130 If we [...]urn to see the effect which this will have upon some of the industries referred to, it is very striking. The Chairman of a motor omnibus company in London, soon after the proposal came before the country, estimated that last year the duty, had it been in operation, would have involved the motor omnibuses of London in an expenditure close upon £400,000. The Secretary of one of the commercial companies has estimated—it is a statement made by a Mr. Bristow—that the rebate on a London omnibus would be £22, while the additional tax would involve an expenditure of something like £100. In connection with motor vehicles, he also estimated that, white there would be a saving of possibly £12 on a heavy commercial vehicle, yet when the duty finally came into operation, with the addition which the companies would put on from 4d. to 5d., there would be an extra cost per vehicle of from £40 to £50. Anyone who has studied the charges in connection with motor traffic knows that on heavy commercial vehicles about 20 per cent. of the running cost is due to the petrol charges. Therefore this duty is a very serious matter. These are two of the reasons which make me say how unsatisfactory are the proposals of the Government.
We have to bear in mind that, beside the commercial interest, and beside the burden thrown upon the motor omnibus, and so noon the workers, there are numbers of other industries which are vitally affected. The professional man, a doctor, for instance, is involved in extra charge on the motor car which he keeps, and there are a large number of industries which make use of petrol and some kind of motor vehicle in their business, so that additional charge will be thrown upon them. Why the Government could not have thought out some scheme that would have procured this money without easting an extra burden upon industry, I do not know. There are large sources of revenue which are only partially taxed, and those sources could have been drawn upon without inflicting hardship. It is most unfortunate that the Government should come forward with a proposal of this kind. The basis is unsound, and we may live to regret it very much when we find the price of petrol rising in this country, and the motor industry affected prejudicially. 131 Upon that unstable foundation, the Government are attempting to build, and they may find, long before the promised benefits have arrived to the community, that some other factors will have intervened which will have made the burden still greater, and, instead of the so-called gifts being received with welcome, they will find that they have aroused a storm of opposition which they cannot ignore.
§ Mr. OLIVER
I would not have risen but for the observations of the hon. Member for Whitehaven (Mr. R. Hudson). He told us that he represented a mining constituency, and that the opposition from this side of the Committee will be given as evidence against us, as being inimical to the interests of the miner and the mining industry generally. I have had the advantage of being in contact with my constituency as recently as yesterday, and, if my experience may be accepted as a criterion of the experience of other hon. Members representing mining constituencies, I am quite sure that, instead of the miner praising the Government for the introduction of this scheme, he will condemn them violently, particularly when the full force of the Measure comes into operation. I have been trying to obtain figures in order to find out how much petrol is used by the private car owner, and how much by commercial vehicles in the form of road transport and the familiar motor omnibuses in which the working-classes ride. I understand, however, that no such figures are available. If they could be obtained, they would be most illuminating, because outside the petrol which is used for private cars, the bulk of the increased charge of 4d. per gallon will be and is being borne by the working classes.
Speaking quite recently to a very well known firm of road transport contractors, I was told that there was no doubt about it that the increased charge which is imposed by this Budget would be transferred to the consumers, in the form of the people who purchase the articles which are transported by road. According to the information I have obtained from my constituency, which is mainly a mining district, I understand that by the increase which the omnibus companies have imposed in their fares, the miners who are compelled to travel daily to their work under the weekly ticket 132 system are paying no less than 1s. a week increase at a time when their wages are at a particularly low ebb. Instead of having immediate relief, which they require, they are paying at least an additional 1s. a week, and in some instances a higher figure than that. It will take a long time before this scheme, however brilliantly conceived, can possible give back to the miners—and what applies to the miners applies to other workers as well—the amount of increased fares that they are now being charged.
Instead of feeling that we are doing wrong in opposing the proposals of the Government and in suggesting that this tax ought to be reduced, I think that, until the Government can come forward and say that the charge cannot be transferred to the working-classes but must be borne by the industry upon which it is imposed, there is no justification for the statement that the mining industry will rejoice at the proposals of the Government. In view of the great increases which have taken place in the fares, an increase of 3d. and 4d. from Nottingham to my own constituency, representing an increase of 30, 40 and 45 per cent. in the travelling charges, I think it constitutes a positive outrage; and it is up to the Government to come forward with some other proposal, because, like the last speaker, I feel that the £30,000,000 required to relieve industry can be obtained by a much simpler and more effective means. I noticed that in the first Budget that the present Chancellor of the Exchequer introduced into this House, he handed back to the Super-tax payers of this country a sum almost exactly the amount which it is proposed to raise by this 4d. per gallon on petrol, and for that reason I hope that hon. Members opposite, who are so concerned about relieving industry and helping to stimulate the purchasing power of the working classes, will come into the Lobby and vote for this Amendment.
§ Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE
Before we come to an end of this discussion, I think we ought to look at this duty from the point of view of agriculture, and I should like to say a word about the way in which this duty affects agriculture. First of all, there are no doubt certain of the larger farmers, who use a tremendous amount of petrol both in their commercial vehicles and in their tractors and other 133 agricultural implements and machinery of all kinds, will possibly find that the duty on petrol is an off-set to the rating relief which they will get on land. But I think the majority of agriculturists will take a much larger view and will say that, at any rate, the rating relief on land is permanent, whereas the tax on petrol is capable of alteration. While large farmers may find the Petrol Duty to be a burden at the start even now, they are, at any rate, paying less than they would have paid a year ago when petrol was dearer, and the smallholders and farmers who do not use much agricultural machinery will find undoubted relief in their rates. For that reason, I think the feeling in agricultural districts is entirely in favour of the system of agricultural relief.
When we are taking the larger view, I differ very much from those who say that we are approaching a time of oil shortage. We know that there are recently tapped wells, for instance, in Mosul, which have had to be closed down because it was not possible to use them, and all those large fields will open up if the price of petrol is increased. We hope also that we are on the eve of discoveries in coal whereby we shall increase our sources of supply of petrol; and it was with amazement that I listened to the hon. Member for Ilkeston (Mr. Oliver), who has just sat down, and to the speeches of other miners' representatives, who do not welcome this tax as a possibility of helping the coal industry. To my mind, it shows, if I may say so, that they have a great deal to learn in finance and in fiscal matters generally. In looking at it from a large point of view, we must not neglect the present, and while petrol is at a low price, as it is now, I have no hesitation in supporting the present duty.
§ Mr. TOWNEND
In the discussion on the last Amendment, we had a difficulty in appreciating the angle from which those responsible for this Measure viewed the effect of this legislation upon the lives of those who constitute the larger proportion of the population of this land. We endeavoured to impress the Financial Secretary of the Treasury with the fact that 2s. 7d. was rather an important proportion of the weekly wages of the 134 workers, and we had a difficulty in understanding his suggestion that that was a mere detail.
§ Mr. TOWNEND
At any rate, 17s. per year. We had the utmost difficulty in impressing on the mind of the Financial Secretary the fact that 17s. in the pockets of the average workers of this land was an important item. He said we must use the figures relatively and that it did not matter so very much, because it was only a small amount. In the same way, we have a great difficulty in appreciating the mind of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the attitude that he takes up towards the critics of this phase of his Bill. He comes along and takes the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden) to task by telling him that, if this Amendment be carried, he will be compelled to withdraw this proposal from the Bill, and that it would wreck his rating reform scheme. He also says that my right hon. Friend was very courageous in moving this Amendment in view of the dire effect that it would have on the Budget, and that he could not progress with the policy of the Government if the Amendment were carried. The assumption of injured innocence on the part of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is something to make the angels weep. Quite frankly, we cannot understand his suggesting that we are prepared to do anything else but attempt to destroy this part of the Budget proposals, particularly when we know that this duty is to be applied for the purpose not only of assisting those who really need it, but, to a very large extent of the proceeds, those who really have no necessity for it.
Perhaps the Financial Secretary to the Treasury will believe me when I say that we are opposing this Bill out of kindness to his Department. It was suggested that we were the only opponents to this part of the proposal, but I want to assure the Financial Secretary that we are not the only people who are objecting to this scheme. The local authorities are lying in wait for the Chancellor of the Exchequer in view of the purpose to which he proposes to put the proceeds of this duty. When we know that it is being used for the purpose of relieving sectional 135 and specified industries, and that the benefit of the duty will not be shared by the population as a whole, when we see the effect of the Chancellor's Road Fund raid on the local authorities, we are entitled to say to the Chancellor that, before any further tax is placed upon petrol-driven vehicles, his shortcomings in connection with the improvement of the roads should be remedied. When we are informed, as we have been this afternoon by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley, of the dangerous state of the roads, and reminded, as we were by the Postmaster-General a few days ago, of the extreme dangers of the roads and of the fact that many of them are death traps, surely the local authorities ought to have some kind of relief other than that which is to be provided to industries, both prosperous and depressed, by this Clause. Therefore, I want to assure the Financial Secretary to the Treasury that, until we find a greater degree of equity as between one section of the public and another, we shall feel that we are justified in the attitude which we have taken up, and we shall go without hesitation into the Lobby in favour of the Amendment.
I wish that the House had been very much fuller to have heard the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Louth (Lieut.-Colonel Heneage). He commended the Government's proposals by saying that, after all, the relief that is to be given in the rating of land is permanent, whereas the Petrol Duty is capable of alteration. I shall be interested to hear if that is really the idea at the back of the mind of the authors of this proposal, because it seems to embody in a nutshell the whole of the Conservative philosophy of taxation. They bring in a scheme which, they say, is going to rob the rich man's motor car in order to relieve the poor man's rates. It is only when the scheme is very carefully analysed that you discover that the rich man's motor car is going to bear a very small burden of the amount to be raised, and that, after putting a crushing burden on many sections of the working class, and after having made the life of the more poorly paid and necessitous middle-class much more difficult, they say, "The landlords 136 are going to get relief for ever, and perhaps your taxation will not be so bad in a few years' time."
The people for whom I want to plead are not the manual working class, whose case has been put so ably by many Members of these benches, but those who, for want of a better term, I would describe as the lower middle-class, whose means of earning a living are becoming more and more bound up with the running of petrol-driven vehicles. I have always opposed the suggestion that the Petrol Duty should be substituted for the horsepower tax, and I support this Amendment because, unfair as the horse-power tax is, a tax which is based on mileage is a much more unfair burden on the community. What you do when you charge 4d. a gallon on petrol is not to get the money from those who can afford it, that is, the pleasure motorists who do not run cars for very many miles, and only for pleasure journeys; the mass of car users who will be hardly hit are the thousands of small people, such as commercial travellers, managers of multiple businesses, who have to use petrol-driven vehicles. More and more employers tend to make it a condition that they should have a petrol-driven vehicle, and in order to carry out their work effectively and satisfactorily to their employers, they have to drive cars.
I have been making inquiries into the position in regard to a trade union with which I am concerned. This union has in its membership several hundred men who are employed in managing one or two different businesses for multiple firms, and they find it necessary in these days, if they are to compete satisfactorily, to have a petrol-driven vehicle. Commercial travellers, canvassers, and that type of people, on whom the other side rely for their seats and positions in this House in many cases, will be hit very hardly by this heavy duty. If we are successful in passing this Amendment—and judging from the state of the Committee at the moment we shall be—and reduce the sum which the Chancellor will have at his disposal for the benefit of large industries, some of them poor and some of them affluent, we shall not injure the Government. As my hon. Friend who has just spoken says, we shall be doing the Government a very good turn. The hon. Member mentioned what was happening with the 137 omnibuses in one part of the country. In one line of omnibuses running in my constituency, the passengers are first charged their ordinary fare, and then given another ticket for a halfpenny, a penny, three halfpence or twopence, as the case may be, and on this ticket it says:This extra money is to pay your petrol tax.I say to hon. Members opposite that if we carry this Amendment we shall be saving them from the machinations of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who intends to destroy their vast majority as he has destroyed vast majorities before. I hope the Committee will not be deluded by the specious promises made in the Budget speech, because as these omnibus tickets are issued and people realise that another 1d. has been put on the fare in order to give the Noble Lord who recently sat in this House as Member for Carmarthen £200,000 a year for the relief of his necessitous and forlorn businesses, and in order that the brewer supporters of the Conservative party may have another £400,000 a year, there will be a good deal of dissatisfaction. Hon. Members will find that even the dullest Tory working men and Conservative middle-class supporters will begin to grumble when they find that the use of the car which they employ for business purposes or of the omnibus in which they go to and from their work is made more expensive in order to benefit large benefactors of the Conservative party. Therefore, hon. Members opposite have nothing to fear from the carrying of this Amendment, but have everything to gain. Instead of going to the electors in fear and trembling and saying, "We did not really mean it, but the Chancellor talked us into it," they will be able to say: "When a Chancellor of the Exchequer who had not had time to get steeped in the great traditions of the Conservative party brought forward a proposal that was not quite in keeping with the principles and the conscientious convictions that we hold, we did not hesitate to join even with those terrible Labour men to pre-serve your interest, to cheapen your omnibus fares, and enable you to use your cars for business and for pleasure without being taxed at every turn for the benefit of a very large number of affluent and prosperous industrialists."
§ Mr. WELLOCK
My fundamental objection to this tax is the misuse to be made of the money to be derived from it After all, the sources of taxation are not too numerous, and I do not think any section of the people will object to any kind of taxation if the use which is to be made of the money justifies it. I do not think those who have to pay the 4d. duty on petrol would really object if the businesses which are suffering at the present time were to get the benefit, but what I do not think the British public will stand, especially that section which is having so pay the tax, is that a large amount of the revenue derived from it is to go into the pockets of prosperous business people. In past times almost everything that has been done in our Parliament has sacrificed the working classes to business interests. Now we are going a stage further, and are witnessing the sacrifice of the small business men to big business interests. In every part of the country small tradesmen are realising what is their fate, and are seriously considering the changing of their political allegiance. The hon. Member for Whitehaven (Mr. R. Hudson) said that if this duty were agreed to the miners of the country could look forward to improving their wages. I am afraid he has not realised what is actually taking place at the present time. During the first three months of this year the miners have suffered reductions in wages at the rate of £7,000,000 a year. Last year the miners received £117,000,000 in wages, and in the first three months of this year their wages were at the rate of only £110,000,000 a year.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I do not understand how the hon. Member is connecting his speech with a duty of 4d. on oils.
§ Mr. WELLOCK
The hon. Member for Whitehaven suggested that the Finance Bill foreshadowed an increase in miners' wages, and I was merely pointing out that during the first three months of this year they have suffered reductions in wages at the rate of £7,000,000 per year, which is more than the total value of the relief which is to be given to the mining industry. But my fundamental objection is that a sum of money which has not yet been stated with any definiteness—nobody knows how much will be used for this purpose—is to go into the pockets of people who are running profit- 139 able businesses. I say the small business people will not tolerate that condition of things and will manifest their displeasure when the next election comes round. If a duty of 1d. per gallon had been put on and the money had been concentrated on one particular industry as an experiment, I believe that would have given far more satisfaction to the people of this country.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for SCOTLAND (Major Elliot)
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has already replied to the Debate, but one or two specific points have since been raised by hon. Members, and I will do my best to reply to them. The hon. Member for Leith (Mr. E. Brown) raised a question of ships in harbour and also the transfer of bunker oil from one ship to another, and the question of fuel oil in general. With regard to bunker oil, I take it the hon. Member is referring to the transfer of surplus bunkers. In that case, transfers will be permitted without any formality save the lodging of a request by the persons responsible with the Customs officers, because in the case of ships in port the oil comes within the purview of the Customs officers. No further formality would be necessary. In the case of fuel oil in general, this would be landed as "free goods." It is subject, of course, to a full rebate, but there is no question of paying money and then getting the money back. It is put into bond and drawn out by the ship starting on its voyage, and thereby there is no actual financing of this duty done by the shipping company. I hope that meets the point which the hon. Member wished to raise.
The hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr. R. Morrison) raised the question of the practicability of these proposals in view of the new chemical frontier between the classes of oil which have now been distinguished in the duty, taking as his authority the hon. and gallant Member for Chatham (Lieut.-Colonel Moore-Brabazon). We have decided that it will be quite practicable to impose the duty under the new conditions. We have consulted authorities higher even, I think, than the hon. and gallant Member for Chatham, including the members of the Petroleum Committee and important persons in the commercial world, such as 140 the operating manager of the London General Omnibus Company. We have been told on the best authority that there will be no insuperable difficulty in practice in operating this duty on the formula which has been enshrined in the Finance Bill.
I think I have now answered all the points of substance. The general attack which has been made on the Petrol Duty has been replied to on the widest possible grounds by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. May I point out that at the present time the price of petrol is no higher than it was in 1924, and, if the working-classes were able to bear the strain of the omnibus fares and the, petrol charges which were imposed in 1924, I can see no reason to suppose that the omnibus fares current on account of the present prices will prove so serious as has been predicted.
How will it be possible for a miner who is now receiving a wage of £2 9s. per week as against £4 per week in 1924 to pay increased omnibus fares?
§ Major ELLIOT
Unless we can get the mines of the country working again a mere reduction of a halfpenny in the omnibus fares of a miner will be of very little advantage. If we can only get the industries working again, then it will be possible for the miner to pay his extra omnibus fare, and a penny up or down will be of much less importance.
§ Mr. HARDIE
I was so deeply interested in this question that I have been looking forward to hearing something more than we have heard upon this particularly interesting Clause. I was expecting to hear something with regard to the possible evasion of the tax. The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland has told us that the Government have had the most competent men connected with the Petrol Board investigating this question. A short time ago, accompanied by two chemists, I drove in a car which was driven by a power which escaped every proposal in this Bill. For a long time, I have been trying to get hon. Members to grasp what they are up against by the problems presented in the case of the Petrol Duty. Nothing whatever has been said about the danger of escaping the duty. I would like to remind the Under-Secretary that the Chancellor 141 of the Exchequer, when he first introduced this duty, laid stress on the fact that it was going to help forward the possible scientific treatment of coal for the production of oil. I should have thought, after making that statement as a simple forecast, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when we came to deal with this Clause in detail, would have come forward to tell us how his object was going to be achieved in regard to the production of oil. What is the use of the right hon. Gentleman claiming to be practical if when we come to an essential point we do not have some statement, which the ordinary lay mind can grasp, as to what is meant by this help resulting from a duty of 4d. on petrol. Why is it that the whole of this question has been evaded? The hon. and gallant Member for Louth (Lieut.-Colonel Heneage) pointed out that the price of oil had become so low that certain oil wells were shutting down and were waiting for a rise in price.
§ Mr. HARDIE
On this point, I am within the recollection of the Committee, and I think the hon. and gallant Gentleman did make that statement.
§ Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE
I said that many of the wells that had been discovered in Mosul had been shut down because it did not pay to work them.
§ Mr. HARDIE
At any rate, the Chancellor of the Exchequer did make the statement that this duty would produce something that would help the miner by the scientific treatment of coal. Now we have been told by the hon. and gallant Member for Louth that there is such a large supply in the oil wells that it does not pay to let the oil run out. A great deal of nonsense is talked about natural oil wells. There is an impression that all you have to do is simply to bore a hole where you suspect that there is oil, but that is not necessarily an oil strike. When a hole is bored, the flow of oil from it goes on, but you never know when it is going to go off, and that is where all the gamble takes place in oil, because you cannot, even when you get an oil well, measure what oil is going to come out of it. People whoso minds are only concerned with the placing of bias 142 either to the right or to the left cannot expect to follow the ordinary everyday business of the House of Commons.
The statement has been made twice to-day that the Petrol Duty was to go to form a subsidy to something else, but, according to the statements which have been made and what has been left unsaid, it is not going to be possible to treat coal in order to make the products from it pay, owing to the fact that oil wells cannot be worked because the price of oil is not high enough. How is this tax of 4d. going to help the coal industry in this country? It cannot be done in that way. If a proper investigation had been made in relation to oil as between what is brought into the country and what we can get from our own coal, and by the process of cracking the oil and getting the various bodies of which it is constituted—if that had been done and put before the House of Commons, it would have been understood, but, instead of that, we have simply these blind-alley methods. This Clause, drawn up as it is, simply means an evasion of the promise made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he introduced the Budget, and a tax which it was said would apply to one thing is going to apply to another. That is just the form of juggling which is so characteristic of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. JOHN BAKER
I had not intended to intervene in the Debate until I heard the suggestion of the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland that in some mysterious way this tax of 4d. a gallon on petrol is going to increase miners' wages. I would be very pleased if the hon. and gallant Gentleman would intervene again and enlighten me on that point. The problem of the steel worker is a little dearer to me than that of the miner. If this tax goes through, and its product is applied in the way suggested, it is an absolute certainty that it will have the effect of reducing prices, and, as wages in the steel trade are based on the selling price of the material made by the men, their wages are going to come down. If the hon. and gallant Gentleman can show me how that disastrous effect on the workers in the steel trade is going to be avoided, I shall be extremely pleased. I have been told, as some consolation, that we shall get more work in the steel trade. I do not mind telling 143 the hon. and gallant Gentleman that I have always been more concerned about wages than about work. He will probably agree with me in that. He suggests that the miners can support the increased costs which will result from this tax as readily now as they could in 1924. I think he does not realise that the wages of miners, steel workers and others have been seriously reduced since 1924, and that it is an utter impossibility for any class of workers that has suffered such wage cuts as we have since 1924 to bear increased charges as readily as they could be borne in that year. I am afraid that the hon. and gallant Gentleman is looking at this matter from one angle of view only, and is not looking at it all round. Personally, I am not enamoured of this tax as a method of dealing with a very grave problem. On the other hand, I am not going to oppose relief, as such, to the iron and steel industry of this country, but I do want to find out, if I can, how the wages of the workpeople in the iron and steel industry are going to be saved under this proposal, and, until I get some sort of assurance on that point, I have no option but to vote for the Amendment.
§ Mr. KELLY
Like the last speaker, I am very much concerned about the statement made by the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland regarding the raising of wages. I am not going to ask any questions about the steel trade, because that has been done by my hon. Friend the Member for Bilston (Mr. J. Baker), but I do wish to know how this proposal is going to bring them an advance in wages.
§ Major ELLIOT
If the hon. Member will forgive me for interrupting him, what I was speaking of was the existence of wages—a much more fundamental thing.
§ Mr. KELLY
I take it that the belief of the Government is that, provided they impose a burden upon industry, industries which are compelled to use commercial vehicles, and which will have to bear an extra burden in the shape of this tax on the oils that they use, will be able to advance wages. That, surely, is a very curious line of argument for the Government to adopt, and, when we consider the amount of these oils that is used by industries such as engineering, 144 shipbuilding, agriculture, the chemical trades—prosperous as they are—and the food trades in particular, which make a very large use of petrol-driven vehicles, we have not had anything from the Government to show that they will thereby be enabled to do more trade and make more profits out of which to pay higher wages. The last statement of the hon. and gallant Gentleman was that, provided this money is raised by means of this tax on oil, the mines will become prosperous, the miners will be able to bring up more coal, and it will be possible to dispose of that coal. That, I think, is asking the country to believe something that cannot possibly happen.
It is suggested that industry can be made more prosperous and more trade can be obtained by imposing for the next 18 months an additional 4d. per gallon on petrol, and that that will mean higher wages. I hope that the country will treat that suggestion in the way that it ought to be treated. I would like to think that the proposal of the Government will mean advances in wages, but I can assure the Under-Secretary for Scotland that quite recently, in some negotiations with regard to wages, a supporter of the Government, who at one time sat in the House of Commons for a considerable period, stated that it was impossible even to think in terms of an advance in wages, because this extra charge for petrol would mean an increase in the price of various articles used in the domestic circle, and, instead of an easement, it would be a greater burden, certainly for some time to come; and for that reason he refused an advance in wages to something like 600,000 people who are employed in the industry in question. Despite the fact that the hon. Gentleman said he had answered most of the points that had been put up, I think we are entitled to hear how this is going to help these industries into prosperity so that the higher wages hinted at by the Government will be paid. I shall certainly vote for the reduction of the tax in the hope of winning through and destroying this part of the Budget.
§ Mr. R. RICHARDSON
Despite the fact that we want help for the miners, I am going to vote against this Clause because I feel we are going to get nothing whatever out of it in the shape of wages and we shall be called upon to pay over- 145 head charges to a greater extent than we are now. The proposals of this Bill will not make up the losses the owners say they are making month by month. They will get something like 5½d. out of the oil tax, whereas our losses are 7d. a ton, so that the miners will get no wage increase at all. It reminds me of the way the last subsidy was given to firms that were making money to the detriment of their fellows who were not making money. That policy apparently is to be followed in regard to the oil tax. Goods have to be conveyed to the place where they are purchased largely by oil, and the miserably low wages that are paid are to be further reduced because of the increased burden thrown upon the people with whom we have to deal. Men women and children are starving in Durham. If hon. Members will come with me I will take them to see it for themselves. I see it only too often, but I shall be glad to go with any Member who desires to know the truth of the position in the coal area. The, proposals they are making will not help the people at all but will drive them still further down. The day will come when common justice will be done to those who need the help of the nation. Are you going to let the coal trade go out of the country?
§ Mr. RICHARDSON
I apologise, Sir, but the whole thing was based on the idea of doing something for the coal trade. That is why this tax is imposed on petrol. The conditions laid down by the Government in this proposal are not going to help us but are going to make things worse than they are at present. The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland should take this seriously to heart. We should help those who need help, and not hand money over to firms who are multiplying their profits every year. What comes out of this will go to the coalowners. They cannot say they are not making profits. As Mr. Taylor said, when the Durham miners were discussing the last wages agreement, "We cannot say we have lost money, but we have not earned as much as we think we ought to have earned."
§ Mr. RICHARDSON
This 4d. will go to the people who have not made losses, but the men who have suffered something like 200 per cent. between the highest and the lowest are not to get anything at all. They have done everything to make the position better by sacrifice——
I am very glad hon. Members on this side have dealt with the statement of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Louth (Lieut.-Colonel Heneage) in which he was careful not to show in what way others than the owners are going to benefit by the tax. The hon. Member for Whitehaven (Mr. B. Hudson) made a statement, which was to some extent vouched for by the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, that this was in some way immediately going to improve the position of the miners. I should be delighted to understand when and how that relief, which is estimated at 6d. a ton, is going to come about. In South Wales for some time past we have been suffering a loss of 1s. 6d. per ton on all coal produced. The hon. and gallant Gentleman said the miners would not complain when they understood the duty, and would not be parties to refusing to help the restoration of their trade. In 1924, the time the hon. and gallant Gentleman spoke of, the average wage of the miner in South Wales was somewhere in the region of £4 a week. To-day it is less than £2 10s., for those who are regularly at work, and we know, from the increase of rates that is taking place with regard to the vehicles used by the miners and other overhead charges, that an increased charge of somewhere about 1s. a week has been put on, and the miner to that extent will be worse off when this tax comes fully into operation by 1s. a week, with a wage of £2 10s., than he was in 1924 with a wage of £4 a week. We shall have to wait until 1929—I should put it at 1930—before even that 6d. a ton is granted, if it comes at all. In the meantime, I would ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman to show us how we are going to sustain our men in that depressed coalfield, where we have 70,000 147 men unemployed, and industry is almost at a standstill. I come from a district—the Rhondda Valley—where I have been connected publicly and officially with the coal trade for 33 years. I have never seen anything similar to what the men are suffering at the present moment. They do not know where to turn. They cannot possibly bear the taxation which will be the outcome of this proposal; it cannot do otherwise than make their position worse. I should be pleased if the hon. and gallant Gentleman could show us how there can be any relief to these hardly depressed people who are unable to pay their way at the present time.
§ Mr. MARCH
If it is thought by the Government or by any representative of the Government that this duty is going to benefit any particular industry, I can tell them that it is not going to benefit the transport industry. Those who are engaged in the commercial road transport of this country, and there are large numbers of them, know that to add 4d. per gallon to the cost of petrol will mean, in many instances, at least an extra 1s. a day. If you add 1s. a day to the cost of each of these vehicles, it will mean that in the long run you will curtail the number of these vehicles on the roads. Probably some might say that that would be of great benefit. It might benefit the pedestrians, and it might benefit some of the other people using other types of vehicles. At the same time it would mean the displacement of labour, and that would mean throwing more persons into the unemployed market. It would appear that if you increase labour in one direction you are going to decrease it in another. This proposal will also tend towards decreasing wages. A short time ago an hon. Member said that the engineers were unable to get an increase of wages owing to the extra taxes which are being imposed upon the industry. The same thing applies to the transport workers. If they do not get an increase in wages, it will mean that they will make a big stir about it, and they will not bless the Government for the work they are doing in transferring one of their liabilities to someone else. Another thing that will probably happen will be that as well as displacing men the employers will be asking their employés to 148 work an increased number of hours. We know that the Government will not mind that. They are out for increasing hours as far as they possibly can whenever they get the chance. But they will have something to do, for the transport industry is pretty well organised and will be able to show to the Government the injury they are doing to the trade.
We have been given to understand that this proposal is going to be of benefit to local authorities. Have hon. Members thought about the position of local authorities who are using petrol-driven vehicles? Do they realise what it will mean to them? Hon. Members opposite who talk about relieving the rates, should realise that this proposal will entail a further administrative charge upon the local authorities in respect of the work they are doing in the public service. A question was asked to-day as to whether some remission could be given in respect of fire brigades and ambulances which use petrol. It was said that no relief can be given to them. Therefore, this will mean increasing the administrative charges of the local authorities, and the cost will have to go on to the rates. Their charges will be heavier and their expenditure will be heavier; it will be putting them at a disadvantage instead of helping them. This proposal will also have a bad effect on a large number of trades as well as upon road transport. There are large numbers of firms engaged in the confectionery trade, the bakery trade and in the milk trade using motor vehicles, and the addition of the duty on petrol will entail heavy additional expenditure upon them. It will probably mean the cutting down of a number of vehicles, a reduction of labour, and an increase of hours. We are strongly opposed to the Government's attitude in connection with the imposition of a duty of 4d. per gallon on petrol. It might have been imposed upon private cars. The owners of those cars who use them for pleasure probably would not make much stir about it, but those who are in business will feel the effect of this duty, and the road transport industry will feel it very severely indeed. I shall have very great pleasure in going into the Division Lobby against this proposal.
§ Mr. GIBBINS
The surprising thing about the reply of the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland was that this duty 149 will in some way provide wages where wages do not exist at the present time. I hope that I am not misrepresenting or misunderstanding the hon. and gallant Gentleman, but in reply to the case that the miners and those who are getting small wages to-day would be compelled to pay this duty, he stated that the most important thing about it was that the effect of the duty would be to provide wages, and that that was fundamental. This point, for once in a way, brings out the fact that the present Government have it in their minds that this is going to be a solution of the present unemployment in this country. Speaking for a Division where most of the work is distributive work and work that is done by dockers and transport workers, I would ask what hope can be held out to those people that by the imposition of a duty of 4d. upon petrol they are going to have increased employment? The point has been well made by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for East Rhondda (Lieut.-Colonel Watts-Morgan), that while the imposition of this duty is going to be made forthwith, we are asked to wait for two years, until November, 1929, before any benefit can accrue to the rates. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, speaking on Saturday, not only referred to this as something that is going to do good, but also talked as if the conditions of the workers and the unemployed were so much better than they were in 1924, and that their wages were £100,000,000 better than they were in 1924. This is not borne out by the experience some of us have in our constituencies up and down the country.
To tell us that the imposition of a duty of 4d. on petrol is going to make the lot of the workers in this country better is a mockery. It is a mockery of the unemployed. It is hypocrisy of the worst possible type, to try and fool the people of this country with this sham, with this statement that the imposition of the duty is going to make their lot any better. They will know very well that it is only something held up as a sop for the next General Election and that when that time comes should a Conservative Government again be placed in office, it would mean another four or five years of incompetency in regard to the conduct of the affairs of this country. At the docks of 150 Liverpool one-third, and sometimes two-thirds, of the men are unable to find work, and to tell them that the present Chancellor of the Exchequer has imposed a duty of 4d. on petrol and that that is going to ease their troubles, is—there are no other words in which to describe it—hypocrisy of the worst possible type.
§ Mr. BATEY
I want to support this Amendment. I should not support it if I though; the duty was going to help industry, but, in my opinion, the mining industry certainly will get no relief at all from the tax. The first week-end after he introduced the Budget, the Chancellor went up to Newcastle and addressed a very large Conservative meeting. He said:We"—I do not know whom he meant by "we"; I take it he meant the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Prime Minister—We have launched our advance against what I call the Hindenburg line—the threefold line—against the triple entrenchment of unemployment, trade depression, and rating muddle.He made the North Country folk believe that the Government had really launched an advance, but a day or two later he came down to the, House and was in retreat over the Paraffin Duty. He led that meeting to believe that by this tax they had launched this advance against unemployment, trade depression, and rating muddle. This duty and this scheme will not find work for a single man in my district. We have 60,000 miners in Durham without employment and with no hope. Does the Chancellor of the Exchequer believe that this Petrol Duty is going to find work for one unemployed miner? If he does, I do not. I cannot understand the Chancellor of the Exchequer going to Newcastle and leading these people to believe that this was going to solve the unemployment problem. It will do nothing for trade depression either. He not only held out this scheme and this duty as a solution of unemployment but as a solution for trade depression. The mining industry is in a terrible condition, and, if there is a trade that can be described as being depressed, it is the mining industry. We were told only last week by the Secretary for Mines that we were going to get 2½d. per ton in relief from rates and 4d. relief 151 on freight carriage. Altogether, the mining industry is going to get 6½d. per ton relief from this scheme.
The Minister of Mines on another day said that the deficit in the mining industry on the last ascertainment came to no less than 8½d. per ton. If we are going to get 6½d. per ton by way of relief and we have a deficit of 8½d., I want to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how this is going to assist trade depression and the mining industry? It is not going to get us a single order or set a single man to work, but will leave the mining industry just as it is at the present time. This scheme is not going to reduce costs or selling prices. All that it will do will be to help the owners to reduce the deficit which stands against the miners on each ascertainment. The miners will not be owing the employers so much on each ascertainment. The debts that the miners owe to the employers have reached a colossal figure in my own county as is shown by the deficit under each monthly ascertainment. The miners in the county of Durham at the present time have owing to the employers——
§ Mr. BATEY
I want to be in order, and I say that this duty and this scheme are going to do nothing for the mining industry and are simply going to be—as the other Government schemes have been—a delusion, making the people believe that the Government are going to do something when they are not. I was pointing out—and I hope it will be considered that I am in order—that the raising of this Petrol Duty and the launching of this scheme will merely reduce the monthly deficits, and the miners will not be owing the employers so much, but it will not reduce prices. If the mining industry wants anything at the present time, it is something which will reduce costs and selling prices. This
§ scheme, which will not meet the deficits, will not reduce selling prices of export coal. Although we get 4d. per ton for freight carrying, it will not reduce the selling prices of export coal by a halfpenny a ton. Nor will it reduce the price of domestic coal or industrial coal. If the Committee carries this duty and puts this 4d. on petrol, it will simply be leaving the mining industry just where it is to-day. I notice that in his brilliant speech the Chancellor of the Exchequer not only said that it was a cure for unemployment——
§ Mr. CHURCHILL indicated dissent.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
No. I have repeatedly said that we do not put this scheme forward as a cure-all, but that it will mitigate and benefit.
§ Mr. BATEY
Will it mitigate? I submit that it will not find work for a single unemployed miner or mitigate trade depression in the coal industry. The coal industry will be just as depressed when the scheme is passed as it is at present. It will not relieve the rating muddle, because what we want in the distressed areas is something which will reduce local rates and this will not touch them. All you are going to do is to pay three-quarters of the rates of the employers and assist in regard to freight carriage, so that it cannot touch local rates which will be left where they are at present. Because I believe that after this duty is passed we are going to be just where we are at present, I have very much pleasure in going into the Lobby and voting against this duty.
§ Question put, "That the word 'four-pence' stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 237; Noes, 115.153
|Division No. 181.]||AYES.||[9.35 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Bennett, A. J.|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Atkinson, C.||Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman||Balniel, Lord||Berry, Sir George|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Betterton, Henry B.|
|Apsley, Lord||Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Blundell, F. N.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Bellairs, Commander Carlyon||Boothby, R. J. G.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Harrison, G. J. C.||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Hartington, Marquess of||Preston, William|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Raine, Sir Walter|
|Brass, Captain W.||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Ramsden, E.|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Henderson, Lieut.-Col. Sir Vivian||Rawson, Sir Cooper|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Rees, Sir Beddo[...]|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Reid, Capt. Cunningham (Warrington)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Hills, Major John Waller||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Hilton, Cecil||Remer, J. R.|
|Burman, J. B.||Holt, Capt. H. P.||Rentoul, G. S.|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)|
|Campbell, E. T.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Hudson, R. S. (Cumberl'nd, Whiteh'n)||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell|
|Cassels, J. D.||Hume, Sir G. H.||Ropner, Major L.|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Hiffe, Sir Edward M.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Christie, J. A.||Iveagh, Countess of||Rye, F. G.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)||Salmon, Major I.|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Jephcott, A. R.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Kennedy, A, R. (Preston)||Sandeman, N. Stewart|
|Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Kindersley, Major Guy M.||Sanders, Sir Robert A.|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||King, Commodore Henry Douglas||Sanderson, Sir Frank|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Knox, Sir Alfred||Sandon, Lord|
|Cope, Major Sir William||Lamb, J. Q.||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Couper, J. B.||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Scott, Rt. Hon. Sir Leslie|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Little, Dr. E. Graham||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl. (Renfrew, W)|
|Craig, Capt. Rt. Hon. C. C. (Antrim)||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Craig, Sir Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Loder, J. de V.||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Long, Major Eric||Skelten, A. N.|
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Looker, Herbert William||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Lumley, L. R.||Smithers, Waldron|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Lynn, Sir R. J.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||MacAndrew Major Charles Glen||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Rt. Hon. G. F.|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Dean, Arthur Wellesley||MacIntyre, Ian||Storry-Deans, R.|
|Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert||McLean, Major A.||Streatfeild, Captain S. R.|
|Drewe, C.||MacRobert, Alexander M.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Tasker, R. Inigo.|
|Elliot, Major Walter E.||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Thom, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)|
|Ellis, R. G.||Margesson, Captain D.||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|England, Colonel A.||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, S.)|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Mason, Lieut.-Col. Glyn K.||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-|
|Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Tinne, J. A.|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Meyer, Sir Frank||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Tomlinson, R. P.|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Fielden, E. B.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Ford, Sir P. J.||Mocre, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Forrest, W.||Moore, Sir Newton J.||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Foster, Sir Harry S.||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Nall, Colonel Sir Joseph||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony||Nelson, Sir Frank||Watts, Sir Thomas|
|Galbraith, J. F. W.||Neville, Sir Reginald J.||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Wells, S. R.|
|Gates, Percy||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dairymple|
|Goff, Sir Park||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hon. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld.)||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Gower, Sir Robert||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Nuttall, Ellis||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Greene, W. P. Crawford||Oakley, T.||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)||Withers, John James|
|Grotrian, H. Brent||Pennefather, Sir John||Womersley, W. J.|
|Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Penny, Frederick George||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Wragg, Herbert|
|Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Perring, Sir William George||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Pitcher, G.|
|Hammersley, S. S.||Pilditch, Sir Philip||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Power, Sir John Cecil||Major Sir George Hennessy and|
|Captain Viscount Curzon.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Beckett, John (Gateshead)||Brown, Ernest (Leith)|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Bondfield, Margaret||Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)|
|Baker, Walter||Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Broad, F. A.||Charleton, H. C.|
|Barr, J.||Bromfield, William||Cluse, W. S.|
|Batey, Joseph||Bromley, J.||Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)|
|Compton, Joseph||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Scurr, John|
|Connolly, M.||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Sexton, James|
|Cove, W. G.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Crawford, H. E.||Kelly, W. T.||Shinwell, E.|
|Dalton, Hugh||Kennedy, T.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lawrence, Susan||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Day, Harry||Lawson, John James||Smillie, Robert|
|Dennison, R.||Lee, F.||Snell, Harry|
|Dunnico, H.||Lowth, T.||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Lunn, William||Stamford, T. W.|
|Fenby, T. D.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Gardner, J. P.||Mackinder, W.||Strauss, E. A.|
|Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||MacLaren, Andrew||Sutton, J. E.|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Gillett, George M.||March, S.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Gosling, Harry||Morris, R. H.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Greenall, T.||Murnin, H.||Townend, A. E.|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Naylor, T. E.||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley||Oliver, George Harold||Varley, Frank B.|
|Groves, T.||Owen, Major G.||Viant, S. P.|
|Grundy, T. W.||Palin, John Henry||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Watts-Morgan Lt. Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Hardie, George D.||Potts, John S.||Westwood, J.|
|Harris, Percy A.||Purcell, A. A.||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Hayday, Arthur||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Henderson, Right Hon A. (Burnley)||Riley, Ben||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Ritson, J.||Windsor, Walter|
|Hirst, G. H.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)||Wright, W.|
|Hollins, A.||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Scrymgeour, E.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr. Paling.|
§ Mr. HARRIS
I beg to move, in page 2, to leave out from the word "twenty-eight," in line 8, to the word "and," in line 9.
This Amendment proposes to omit from the Clause the wordsand on all hydrocarbon oils so imported before that date,the date in question being 25th April, 1928. I move it as a protest against the vicious system which is now growing up of making these new duties retrospective. It is based on a thoroughly unsound principle and is liable to very grave abuse. It has been argued that in some cases, in anticipation of new taxation, merchants have made considerable importations of certain articles, but that suggestion is not made in this case, and apparently the proposal is made in this instance in order to increase the revenue from the duty. I assume that any money which has already been collected would be returned if my Amendment were carried.
Apart from the effect of the duty on petrol for motor purposes, this is a very serious thing in relation to those industries in which oils are largely used for the manufacture of paints and varnishes. Those industries require to have certain quantities in hand in order to carry out contracts. Business agreements have been made and quotations of prices have 156 been given to the users of paints and varnishes and the ordinary commercial stocks which these firms had in hand on 25th April for the purpose of carrying on their trade, ought not to be subject to this duty which, in some cases, will mean the conversion of a possible profit into a considerable loss. I should like to ask how much money has been collected in respect of oils which were in stock before the date of the imposition of the duty. We ought to be informed how much money the duty has already brought in. At any rate, we are justified in protesting against the very unsound policy of making new duties retrospective, and, unless I get a satisfactory answer I shall press the Amendment to a Division.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
As far as I am able to comprehend the argument of the hon. Member for Bethnal Green, South-West (Mr. Harris), he wishes to exclude from the Customs Duties such oils as were not actually landed before the 25th of April, which is the operative date. At any rate, that is the effect of his Amendment. The word "imported" has a technical meaning. Section 7, Sub-section (2) of the Finance Act, 1901, enacts:As respects the first levying or repealing of any duty of Customs (including any duty imposed by this Act), the time at which the importation of any goods shall be deemed to have had effect shall be the time 157 at which the entry of the goods under the Customs Act is delivered instead of the time mentioned in Section forty of the Customs Consolidated Act, 1876.The entry is the formal document, and it is to that that we attach the significance of the word "imported." What is entered is imported. If the Customs duty on oils had been imposed in the usual form, the cargo steamer or oil tanker, or other vessel, on which entries had been passed before the 25th April would have escaped, although the vessels had not been discharged. There are three classes. There is the oil which is actually in the country, and which is covered by the Excise Duty; there is the oil which has not yet been entered, and there is the oil which, although it is deemed to be entered is still on board ship. What reason is there for exempting the last except it be that those persons who have oil which was entered but not landed would be able to put the duty in their own pockets? I cannot conceive that there is any advantage in leaving this gap between the Customs Duty and the Excise Duty. Obviously, in all forms of taxation there is a certain amount of leakage. Not everything that is taken from the public reaches the revenue, and we are often reminded that in other forms of taxation there is a certain amount of evasion. But I cannot see why those people who have entered their oil and imported it, though they have not actually landed it from the ship, should be in a privileged position and be able to charge the enhanced price of the duty on the oil, although they have not borne the tax. The Excise Duty is an important part of this year's oil revenue. There will be a certain amount of difficulty in its collection, but it has been well accepted and the oil companies have been most helpful in regard to it. By this Excise Duty we have gained £3,500,000 which otherwise would not have been collected; not on the oil which was entered but not landed, but on the whole of the imported oil in stock we have gained as much as £3,500,000 on account of the tax. If we had not done that, I think the vast bulk of it would have gone to the importer. I cannot accept the Amendment.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. KELLY
I beg to move, in page 2, line 18, after the word "gallon," to insert the words "on oils used in the 158 manufacture of paints, varnishes, or colours and".
I regret that the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) is not here to move this Amendment as he is well acquainted with this industry. He has another engagement which prevents his being present at the moment. In this Amendment we are proposing that the oils used in the manufacture of paint, varnishes or colours should be exempt from the duty of 4d. per gallon, which means that the raw material which forms the basis of these paints, colours and varnishes, would not be taxed under the Budget proposals. We have heard from the Chancellor of the Exchequer that his sole intention in raising this money is to help industry. How is he going to help industry if he taxes the raw material of this particular industry? In the last few years it has developed to a greater extent than at any time and is now able so meet the demands made upon it, but just when they are in this position the Chancellor of the Exchequer says, "I want to help and assist you and, therefore, I am going to ask you to pay 4d. per gallon for all the spirits you need for your paints, colours and varnishes."
I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will explain why, if he wants to help industry, he imposes this particular charge. Is it the intention of the party opposite to tax the raw materials of industry? That is what is meant by the imposition of this 4d. per gallon. Anyone who knows Hull, or Manchester or the East End of London, will understand that these particular firms have been doing well for the last three or four years and I hope the Chancellor will agree to accept an Amendment which will prevent the crippling of an industry which is trying to help itself. The Joint Industrial Council which has been set up for this particular trade was astounded at the proposal to tax it in this way. They say, "Here is the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He desires to help the industry, yet he makes us pay an extra 4d. per gallon for petrol for our commercial vehicles and motor engines, and also an additional 4d. per gallon for the oils we use in our paints, varnishes and colours." I hope he will accept the Amendment, which will prevent the crippling of this industry.
§ Mr. G. THORNE
I rise to support this Amendment, not because I have any direct knowledge of the matters involved, but in order to state views that have been represented to me by those who have. I hold in my hand a letter which I have received from a member of a firm which carries on probably one of the largest varnish and paint works in the world. In the course of it, referring to the Budget Duties on turpentine and white spirit, there are these words:This places a heavy burden on the varnish and paint industry, which cannot in the main be passed on to our customers. We as a trade feel that we are being most unfairly treated in being made to pay for a rating scheme which, being intended for the benefit of the country as a whole, should not repose for its finance on a limited number of businesses. No advantage whatever can come to anyone engaged in our industry; in fact, in many cases these new Duties will far outweigh any advantage from de-rating.I have also received from the Midland Varnish, Paint and Colour Manufacturers' Association another letter, in which complaint is made of the Duties in resolutions passed by that Association—that it is a tax on the raw material of an important industry amounting, in the case of white spirit, to 40–50 per cent., and that it imposes on a single industry a burden which should be distributed more evenly over the whole country. I do not think that any words of mine can add to the direct information conveyed in those letters, and therefore I support the Amendment.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Of course it must be admitted, at the outset, that where this Duty affects petrol or turpentine or white spirit used in the manufacture of other commodities, a situation of a rather more complicated character arises than is evinced in the general working of the Duty as a whole. Quite a number of different trades are affected in different ways and to different degrees. There are the trades which use turpentine or white spirit as an ingredient for their finished products and where the ingredient remains in the finished product. There are trades which use white spirit or turpentine as an ingredient, but where the ingredient does not appear in the finished product. Lastly, there are trades which use turpentine or petrol or white spirit as a solvent pure and simple, and recover what they have used, or the bulk of it, 160 again and again. Wherever the oil is used as an ingredient which manifests itself in the finished product we give a rebate on the export; but where it is used as a solvent or as a disappearing ingredient there is much more difficulty.
I have come to the conclusion, very regretfully, that I must ask the Committee to support the Government in resisting the whole series of these Amendments for exemptions from the general duty. They do not cover a very wide field. Out of 800,000,000 gallons which we are dealing with, only 50,000,000 gallons are for non-road uses. We are now concerned with only one-sixteenth, therefore. If we were to begin giving exemptions, I do not know where the process would end. I am sure that every single demand met or exemption given, even where a hard case was shown, would open the door to another case so closely akin that at once another exemption would have to take a place by its side. So we should move on from point to point, from trade to trade, and from exemption to exemption, until the whole working of this Duty would cease to be the simple proposition that it is now and would become the most intricate matter of exemption and allowance and so forth.
It must be remembered that one of the reasons which the oil companies put forward to justify their charge of an extra penny on the old Petrol Duty was the amount of labour caused by the exemptions which were given in all kinds of directions. We have tried to secure the collection of this tax with the minimum diversion in any direction to private interests, and in order to do that very strict and austere requirements were necessary in excluding anything in the nature of exemptions. I ask myself whether the hardship amounts to such substantial proportions that we ought to abandon these principles. In the main, and so far as this group of industries is concerned, it is only a very small part of the area of the tax and they will, to a large extent, be safeguarded against any unfair incidence of the tax so far as foreign competition is concerned, both by means of the duty on importation and the drawback on exports. That is our intention. For the rest, they are undoubtedly entitled to pass the tax on to the consumer and in one way or 161 another, I have very little doubt, they will be able to do so. There may be some very minor instances where they will not be able to pass the whole of it on to the consumer because of foreign competition, but these instances are all very small and are not to be compared with the grave issues which will arise once we start breaking in on the sanctity and integrity of the tax.
Moreover, it must be remembered that there is an off-set to this burden in respect of the rating relief. Some of those concerned showed me figures which were calculated on a pessimistic view of their misfortunes and an equally pessimistic view of what they were going to get in the way of relief. Even on this showing, it will be found that a very considerable off-set, if not a complete off-set in these cases will be afforded by the rating relief. Whether that be so or not, there is no tax which you can impose which does not tread on somebody's toes. Wherever you begin with the imposition of taxation, there are some trades which are affected more than others. Last year, to my great regret, I had to put something extra on tobacco. I had to get that taxation as far as possible from the profits of the tobacco industry, and we are getting the increased revenue without any increase in the cost of cigarettes. Wherever you turn in these matters of taxation, you cannot do anything without its being said that there is a little more imposed on this class than on that class, or a little more on this trade than on that trade, or that you have given some little advantage more here than you have given there.
If you are to proceed upon the basis that you must never give any favour, however small, to a flourishing industry, and you must never inflict any injury, however small, upon any industry which is not prosperous, then you had better buy a large consignment of plaster of Paris in which the House of Commons should ensconce itself. Of course, there is no tax which is not bound in some way or other in its ramifications to cause some anomaly or hardship. So far as this duty is concerned, we are like people in a diving bell; we cannot afford to open a single chink, otherwise the water will rush in and we shall be drowned. In giving the rebate which has been 162 asked for by the hon. Members who moved the Amendment on their paints, their varnishes, or their colours, I have no doubt that I should be drawn into giving a rebate on feeding stuffs, petrol used in dyeing and cleaning, the making of gloves, and so forth, and from that I am sure that I should come up against the fishermen who, apparently, although they use kerosene to drive their boats, use petrol sometimes to start their engines, and I should also be up against the Minister of Agriculture, whose farmers are using a small quantity of petrol in order to get their kerosene-driven tractors into initial activity. If we were to concede any one of these points we should erect a whole complicated system of administration which would vitiate the working of the duty and probably cause a depletion in the Revenue which in the present stringency I am not able to afford.
§ Sir GODFREY COLLINS
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has used a figure of 50,000,000 gallons as being for non-road users That means, transferred into cash, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is placing upon these productive industries by his taxation proposals a further burden of £1,000,000 a year. I arrive at that figure by taking one-sixteenth of the total money which he estimates his duty will bring in to the Exchequer during the coming year. One million pounds a year is the contribution which these trades will pay to the Exchequer by this duty. That is a direct tax upon productive industry. While on the one hand the Chancellor of the Exchequer is by this policy of largesse handing out large sums of money to people who do not need it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Yes, to people who do not deserve it and those who are prosperous, on he other hand he is taking £1,000,000 from these people, and according to the letters which have been read to the Committee they are unable to pass it on. The right hon. Gentleman is creating an injustice in regard to this matter. Cannot he right it before the Committee stage is over? He twitted me because of some other Amendments to Clauses which are to be debated a little later to-night. May I remind him that he is only doing a certain thing in a later Clause because in his first Budget he did a great injustice to the sugar 163 refining industry. By Clause 4, which we shall discuss shortly, he is trying to rectify the wrong.
§ Sir G. COLLINS
I opposed the wrong, and later this evening perhaps the Chancellor of the Exchequer may hear what I have to say. This evening, as four years ago, he is creating an injustice. Are we to wait another four years before the right hon. Gentleman rectifies the wrong? I hope that before the Committee stage is over, we may have some further guidance from the Government.
§ Mr. HARDIE
In putting on a tax it is always well to consider whether or not the effect of the tax may not be a loss to some trade. I would like to refer to the high polish on certain goods manufactured in England which go abroad, in the last three weeks I have been asked to see samples of work done by what is called a spirit which has to be purchased now because, since the duty has come into being, the people are unable to pay the price of the spirit which they formerly used. If they were to pay that price on the amount of spirit which they would use, it would mean a serious loss. Consequently, a great many firms have been forced to buy an inferior spirit. When that spirit has been applied to wood of very fine workmanship it looks all right for one or two days, but on the fifth day the polish usually develops white spots. A technical chemist who has been brought in to give an expert reason for this condition of things, finds that it is due to an impure class of spirit. That means that these firms who cannot afford to lose their trade in furniture continue to buy the spirit which they formerly used, and if they are to go on buying that spirit they are bound to lose orders when they come into competition with firms in other countries. Do the advisers of the right hon. Gentleman approve of this, or has he any suggestion to make in order to prevent this kind of thing from taking place?
In regard to the industrial spirit which is used, is there any formula adopted which would protect the basis of the spirit? Take the question of what is known as sub-turps, that is a substitute 164 for turpentine. The moment you begin to deal with that, you run the risk of spoiling some very fine woodwork that has been completed by expert cabinet makers. These things have evidently not been examined by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I challenge him to get up and say that he has given his personal attention to them.
§ Mr. HARRIS
We listened to a remarkable speech by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who seems to forget that nobody asked him to impose this tax. It germinated entirely in his own mind, and the justification for the tax has been that it is imposed in order to help industry. We have put an unanswerable case for taking off this duty, because, after all, it is a tax on a raw material. Here is an important ingredient in a very important industry which is going to be taxed. Every factory has to be painted, and a part of the cost of running a factory is the cost of keeping it in good repair. The Chancellor's boast has been that the money from this tax will be a great stimulus to industry, but one of the biggest charges on industry is the cost of maintenance of factories, the cost of painting and repairs, and paint comes into almost every factory and every industry. There is another phase of great importance. The Minister of Health has been responsible for a very elaborate scheme to stimulate housing, and here we are going to have a paint tax which will affect every house. For about 21 years I have been on the Housing Committee of the London County Council, and there I have found that one of the most serious things has been the heavy cost of maintenance. One of our difficulties in making two ends meet has been the heavy cost of all the raw materials that we have had to use, and particularly the cost of painting houses and other buildings, and here is a case of a tax on the raw material of paint.
It is up to the Minister to get round any difficulty that he might see in the way of distinguishing between petrol used in the manufacture of paint and petrol used for power purposes, because it is not fair, or just or reasonable to single out one industry for a particular burden of taxation. All over the country there are large varnish and paint manufacturers, employing a great number of people. Cheap paints and varnishes are essential to the 165 whole of our industrial organisation, and I say that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with his expert Customs officials, should get round the difficulty of granting a drawback when oil is used for the manufacture of paint. If there is a will, there is a way to be found, but the right hon. Gentleman does not like to make concessions. Sooner or later he will have to make them, because when this tax comes into operation there will be such an outcry all over the country that, just as in the case of kerosene he had to give way, he will have to come down in a white sheet and ask the House to distinguish between oil used for the manufacture of paint and oil used for power purposes. I support the Amendment.
§ Mr. A. V. ALEXANDER
We heard from the Chancellor of the Exchequer just now that if he allowed any other chinks to be made in his diver's bell he was liable to be drowned. I should have thought that, after the wide chink made when he agreed to exempt kerosene from the tax, he must already be in very great danger of drowning so far as this scheme is concerned.
§ Mr. ALEXANDER
I am not sure about watertight compartments, because it is plain from what I have heard that some people, in spite of what the Chancellor said, will be able to use kerosene in internal combustion engines with the aid of a little device attached to the engine. So he is probably going to lose pretty seriously in that direction. The whole speech of the Chancellor upon this Amendment shows how completely unsound it is to levy taxation in this way for any great Government scheme. He said that he was unable to do this, that, and the other thing without injuring some other member of the community. That supports the whole case of the Members on this side, that indirect taxation is not the way to raise revenue for the great purposes of national reconstruction and development, and that if you really want a scientific basis of taxation you have to go back to the elementary principle of taxation, and levy your impost in relation to the ability of the particular individual to bear the burden.
The Chancellor said that it was impossible to make certain adjustments in 166 this tax if he is to give the great relief to industry which he says that he is going to give. As a matter of fact, there must be many of the larger concerns which are beginning to amalgamate their capital, although they may be indulging in a varied number of productions, who will have very much the same experience as the co-operative productive factories in this matter. The actual rate relief which the right hon. Gentleman hopes to distribute by means of the receipts from the Petrol Duty will work out at something like one-quarter of 1 per cent. of the turnover of the productive factories, and yet on every hand there will be corresponding charges made against these factories, either in their production or in their actual distributive charges. You will get relief upon a factory in Manchester, but you will have to pay more for your raw material in the paint works at Derby. You will get relief on the boot and shoe works in Leicester, but you will have to pay more for your raw material in the cake mills in Liverpool. You will get relief on flour mills in Hull, but you will have to pay more for distribution of your food supplies. The whole scheme, if it is to be any real advantage to industry, seems to be completely unsound, and more unsound when you remember that two-thirds of the production of industry in this country is not for the export market, but for the home market, and therefore the tax to be imposed on the raw material of factories and on the actual cost of distribution must be of great importance. I hope, therefore, that we shall continue to oppose this tax and support this Amendment in the Lobby.
§ Mr. KINGSLEY GRIFFITH
I should like to call attention to the remarkable defence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to this Clause as it stands. He says, in effect, "This Clause is unworkable unless I keep in it an injustice which I admit, an injustice which is a very special burden laid upon a particular industry, which happens to be one of these productive industries that I have set out to benefit. Nevertheless, I must strike this blow at it, and so much is the Bill rooted in injustices, that if I take this injustice away, the whole thing will fall flat." But it does not stop there. He says: "Look at the further Amendments. If I remove this one injustice, 167 to which attention is now being called, I shall be called upon to remedy one, two, three, four and five further injustices, which are also involved in my Clause as it stands." Because the whole essence of this method of taxation is to collect in an indiscriminate way, which hits some people harder than others, and hits many others than the people who are intended to benefit, therefore the Chancellor must stand his ground and defend this flagrant injustice for fear that he will be called upon to remedy others afterwards. The moral is that the whole basis of this form of taxation is bad, and that we should rather have supported this reform by some taxation which could have been distributed according to need instead of falling arbitrarily upon those who can ill afford to bear it.
§ Mr. PALING
The Chancellor admitted in his speech that if he could have avoided this hardship to these particular industries he would have done so, but that immediately he attempted to touch the duty it involved him in other complications, and that in order to avoid this he was going through with the duty. I remember that in introducing the Kerosene Duty he made the same apology. He did not want to include kerosene, but it would be so difficult if he did not; the number of evasions would be so numerous that the tax would become useless. Apparently some pressure was brought to bear upon him by members of his own party, afraid of losing votes, and he found it possible to swallow all that he had said and to withdraw the duty on kerosene. As it has been found possible to get on without
§ that duty, I am quite certain that if the Chancellor applied his ingenuity to this case he would find a road out of the difficulty.
§ I understand from the letters which have been read that it is impossible for those engaged in this industry to pass this duty on to the consumer, and that the amount of relief they will get in rates is small as compared with what they will have to pay in duty. They are afraid that the profits they have been making—and I understand they are making decent profits now, though not very great—will be reduced. I am afraid if they find they cannot pass the charge on to the consumer that the next source to which they will look for relief will be a reduction in the wages of the people who work for them. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has stated at various times that it is his intention in giving relief to the railway companies that they shall not take advantage of it to increase their profits, but that the consumer is to get the benefit. As he is prepared to protect the consumer in that connection I ask him whether he will protect the workers should these industries, unable to pass the charge on to the consumer, seek to reduce, the wages of their workpeople? If he will say he will not make this an excuse for those people to reduce wages, we shall be able to support this with much greater pleasure than we do at the present time.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 120; Noes, 241.171
|Division No. 182.]||AYES.||[10.30 p.m.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Crawfurd, H. E.||Hardie, George D.|
|Baker, Walter||Dalton, Hugh||Harney, E. A.|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Harris, Percy A.|
|Barr, J.||Day, Harry||Hayday, Arthur|
|Batey, Joseph||Dennison, R.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)|
|Beckett, John (Gateshead)||Dunnico, H.||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)|
|Bondfield, Margaret||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Hirst, G. H.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Hollins, A.|
|Broad, F. A.||Fenby, T. D.||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)|
|Bromfield, William||Gardner, J. P.||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)|
|Bromley, J.||Gibbins, Joseph||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Gillett, George M.||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Gosling, Harry||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)|
|Charleton, H. C.||Greenall, T.||Kelly, W. T.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Kennedy, T.|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Griffith, F. Kingsley||Lawrence, Susan|
|Compton, Joseph||Groves, T.||Lawson, John James|
|Connolly, M.||Grundy, T. W.||Lee, F.|
|Cove, W. G.||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Lowth, T.|
|Lunn, William||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)||Thurtle, Ernest|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)||Saklatvala, Shapurji||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Mackinder, W.||Salter, Dr. Alfred||Tomlinson, R. P.|
|Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Scrymgeour, E.||Townend, A. E.|
|Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Scurr, John||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Morris, R. H.||Sexton, James||Varley, Frank B.|
|Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis||Viant, S. P.|
|Murnin, H.||Shiels, Dr. Drummond||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Naylor, T. E.||Shinwell, E.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Oliver, George Harold||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Owen, Major G.||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)||Westwood, J.|
|Palin, John Henry||Siesser, Sir Henry H.||Wiggins, William Martin|
|Paling, W.||Smillie, Robert||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Snell, Harry||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Ponsonby, Arthur||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Potts, John S.||Stamford, T. W.||Windsor, Walter|
|Purcell, A. A.||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)||Wright, W.|
|Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Strauss, E. A.|
|Riley, Ben||Sutton, J. E.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Ritson, J.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton), E.||Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr. Hayes.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Dixey, A. C.||Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman||Drewe, C.||Jephcott, A. R.|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Eden, Captain Anthony||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)|
|Apsley, Lord||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Kindersley, Major G. M.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Elliot, Major Walter E.||King, Commodore Henry Douglas|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Ellis, R. G.||Knox, Sir Alfred|
|Astor, Viscountess||England, Colonel A.||Lamb, J. Q.|
|Atkinson, C.||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s-M.)||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)|
|Balniel, Lord||Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Little, Dr. E. Graham|
|Barclay-Harvey C. M.||Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Everard, W. Lindsay||Loder, J. de V.|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon||Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Long, Major Erie|
|Bennett, A. J.||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Looker, Herbert William|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Fielden, E. B.||Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Ford, Sir P. J.||Lumley, L. R.|
|Blundell, F. N.||Forrest, W.||Lynn, Sir R. J.|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft.||Fraser, Captain Ian||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Ganzoni, Sir John||MacIntyre, Ian|
|Brass, Captain W.||Gates, Percy||McLean, Major A.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Macmillan, Captain H.|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Goff, Sir Park||MacRobert, Alexander M.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Makins, Brigadier-General E.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.|
|Burman, J. B.||Grotrian, H. Brent||Mason, Colonel Glyn K.|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Meyer, Sir Frank|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)|
|Campbell, E. T.||Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)|
|Cassels, J. D.||Hammersley, S. S.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Moore, Sir Newton J.|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Harrison, G. J. C.||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Hartington, Marquess of||Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive|
|Christie, J. A.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Nall, Colonel Sir Joseph|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Nelson, Sir Frank|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Henderson, Lieut.-Col. Sir Vivian||Neville, Sir Reginald J.|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)|
|Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld.)|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Hills, Major John Waller||Nield Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Hilton, Cecil||Nuttall, Ellis|
|Cope, Major Sir William||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Oakley, T.|
|Couper, J. B.||Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Pennefather, Sir John|
|Craig, Sir Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Holt, Capt. H. P.||Penny, Frederick George|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Pilcher, G.|
|Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Hudson, R. S. (Cumberl'nd, Whiteh'n)||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Hume, Sir G. H.||Preston, William|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Price, Major C. W. M.|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Hurd, Percy A.||Raine, Sir Walter|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Iliffe, Sir Edward M.||Ramsden, E.|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Rawson, Sir Cooper|
|Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Iveagh, Countess of||Rees, Sir Beddos|
|Reid, Capt. Cunningham (Warrington)||Skelton, A. N.||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Reid, D. D. (County Down)||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Remer, J. R.||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Rentoul, G. S.||Smithers, Waldron||Watts, Sir Thomas|
|Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.||Wells, S. R.|
|Ropner, Major L.||Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Rt. Hon. G. F.||White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dairymple|
|Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Steel, Major Samuel Strang||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Rye, F. G.||Storry-Deans, R.||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Salmon, Major I.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid||Womersley, W. J.|
|Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Tasker, R. Inigo||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Sandeman, N. Stewart||Thom, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Sanders, Sir Robert A.||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)||Wragg, Herbert|
|Sanderson, Sir Frank||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Sandon, Lord||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-|
|Scott, Rt. Hon. Sir Leslie||Tinne, J. A.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl. (Renfrew, W.)||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of||Captain Margesson and Captain Wallace.|
|Sheffield, Sir Berkeley||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Shepperson, E. W.||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
§ Mr. KELLY
I beg to move, in page 2, line 18, after the word "gallon," to insert the words "on oil used by fishing vessels and."
The object of this Amendment is to exempt from the duty of 4d. per gallon the oil used in fishing vessels. The fishing industry, as we have heard many times in this Chamber, is an industry which requires assistance in order that it may develop. It has been working under great difficulties. The men concerned in it, and the owners of vessels, have found it very hard indeed to make anything approaching a reasonable livelihood, and yet, despite the hardships and difficulties of their calling, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in order to raise money, is creating for them one of those injustices which are to be found in this Measure. Surely, if there is one industry in this country which might receive his assistance, and which is a productive industry—though I am not sure that he would agree with me on that point—it is an industry such as this, which ought not to have forced upon it a payment of 4d. per gallon on the oils that it uses.
The Chancellor a little earlier in the evening, told us that they used but a small amount of petrol in order to start the engine, so small that one need not trouble too much about it. I can assure him there are petrol-driven engines on these vessels, and that the amount they use is much more than the right hon. Gentleman indicated. This affects all those ports where they have been struggling to bring back the fishing industry into the position it held before the War. Now that there appears a chance of success, the Chancellor asks them to pay another 4d. a gallon in order that he may give this direct relief in 172 rating to certain other industries. I cannot understand the mind of the Government on this matter. I hope hon. Members opposite who represent districts that are dependent on the fishing industry will have the courage to come into the Lobby with us if the Chancellor refuses to accept the Amendment.
§ Commander WILLIAMS
I think this is an Amendment the Chancellor might possibly be able to accept without in any way hurting the sanctity or the integrity of this tax, because that was really the main argument he used a short time ago about other Amendments on roughly the same lines. The argument in favour of the duty as a whole is that it will in the main be paid by the comparatively prosperous distributing trade and luxury trades to help those industries which are not well off. Whatever else can be laid down about it, there is no doubt at all that the fishing industry has not been prosperous during the last year. Whatever the claims of the people on land, those who are directly operating at sea get none of the relief from rates which agriculture and other industries get. I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, in this one instance, where you have an industry that is separated from the whole of the rest of the industries concerned in the Budget, an industry in an entirely different position, without detracting from the tax, but rather adding to its usefulness, could he not meet a claim which on the whole is just and far removed from the other claims. I would also remind him of a speech which he made last year and of a speech which the Prime Minister made before the election. When he held another most important office on 173 the eve of a great national crisis, this industry, scattered right round the coast, helped him in a way very few other industries were able to do. Surely on this one Amendment he might exercise that clemency which we generally have exercised at least once or twice in the course of our Budget Debates and give this industry just this relief from a burden which will bear with exceptional hardness in many cases on the very smallest type of fishing vessel. The concession would not in any way make it difficult for him to collect the duty as a whole. Above all, he would be doing something which would help a class of men who are worthy of the best consideration at the present time.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I am sorry that a public engagement which occasionally takes me out of the House prevented me from hearing the whole of the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Torquay (Commander Williams) and of my hon. Friend the Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly). I also regret very much that I did not hear the reasons of the Chancellor of the Exchequer for refusing the previous Amendment. I have since heard what they were, and they were very astonishing. The right hon. Gentleman pictured himself, I understand, as going down into the great depths, and at great pressure, in a diving-bell, and said that if he allowed one little chink in the diving-bell the green water would rush in and overwhelm him. But since he has introduced his Budget he has taken out a whole plate in the diving-bell by his concession to the country-dweller in throwing overboard his duty on paraffin. And be it noted, if he had not given this concession to the agricultural labourers, the farmers and the country-dwellers, there is not question that these fishermen for whom the hon. and gallant Member for Torquay and I am pleading would have had this concession. That is the extraordinary part of it.
If the agricultural Members in this House had not intimated to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury that they would be forced for once to vote against the Government, if these battalions from the backwoods had not come forward, the Chancellor of the Exchequer would not have dropped his Paraffin Duty and the fishermen would have had an 174 allowance in respect of the petrol used in their fishing vessels. Because he dropped the Paraffin Duty he says, "Well, now, of course, I cannot allow the farmer an allowance in respect of the petrol used for his agricultural machinery, his tractors and so on, but only in respect of that used for starting his machinery." The poor fisherman who does not get relief from the Paraffin Duty as does the farmer is in the same category as the farmer who uses petrol-driven machinery for plough[...]ng and other farming operations. He has to suffer in the same way by losing a rebate on petrol used in fishing vessels. I defy anyone in any part of the Committee, and even the Chancellor himself, to defend that on the grounds of equity and justice. The farmer gets relief on his petrol, and he is to get relief on the transport of his agricultural produce some time next year. The fisherman under this Budget gets absolutely no relief at all, unless he is the skipper or the owner of a steam trawler who uses coal. Then, next year, he will get a reduction in the price of coal as a result of the Budget, but the fisherman who uses petrol—the small fisherman, the little man, and the individual owner—gets no relief at all under this Budget. On the contrary, he gets an impost placed upon him.
Therefore, you have this position. Great trawler companies, some of them with a capital of £1,000,000, using coal-burning, deep-sea fishing trawlers, will at some time next year get a relief under the general scheme of the Government, but the little fishermen, the inshore men, those who use the smaller ports of the Kingdom, and the Scottish fishermen—I appeal to Scottish Members on this matter—not only get no relief, but they have to pay this taxation. We asked to-day at Question time for figures from the Chancellor of the Exchequer as to the amount of petrol that is actually used by the fishermn throughout the Kingdom. We cannot get the figures. They are not available. They cannot be given. The only thing we are told is that we can raise this matter on the Committee stage of the Finance Bill. Very well, we raise it. I invite the right hon. Gentleman, if he can, to give the information, for we are entitled to it. We must have some figures to go upon. How much petrol is consumed by the fishing vessels? Obviously the Government will have infor- 175 mation of this kind. They must have some estimate, and what is this duty actually going to mean to them? I reinforce the plea made by the hon. and gallant Member for Torquay. The fishing industry to-day is suffering from very severe foreign competition. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about Protection?"] Neither this Government nor any other Government could put a tax on fish. There will not be a tariff on fish. I represent a port which in recent months has produced the greatest amount of fish in any port in the world. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] It may be temporary, perhaps, but we have actually beaten Grimsby. The hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Womersley) will agree with me that neither in Grimsby nor in Hull do the leaders of the industry for a moment suggest that this Government or a diehard Government, and certainly no Government from the Opposition parties should put a tariff on fish. [An HON. MEMBER: "Then why complain about foreign competition?"] Because foreign competition exists; but while there is foreign competition you must at least put no burden on British industry that the foreigner has not got to pay.
We ask only for a fair field and no favour. If you tax the petrol used by the British fishermen, and the Danish or German fisherman has not got to pay that tax, you are giving a bounty to the Danish or German competitor. No Free Trader has suggested that for a moment. That is the last thing that we suggest. The fishing industry is undergoing very severe competition indeed, and it is also going through a bad time, because when trade is bad, and there is much unemployment, unfortunately the people in this country, instead of looking on fish as a great staple food, look upon it as a luxury and knock off fish first of all and go on buying meat, bacon and so on. Therefore, one of the first industries to feel the pinch of bad times is always the fishing industry, and we have been feeling it now for a number of seasons in succession. There is general agreement that if we can help the fishing industry we should do so. If the amount of petrol involved is great, then the relief given to the fishing industry would be all the more valuable. If the amount of petrol involved, and therefore the duty, is small, the Chancellor of the Exchequer 176 will not feel it. I am sure that if he allows this little chink in the diving-bell, as he described it, to be added to the great aperture left by the dropping of the Paraffin Duty, it will be all the more reason for resisting other demands on his clemency and generosity. For this reason, I hope that the right hon. Gentleman, who on past occasions has been good enough to give small concessions, will on this occasion show the same statesmanlike realisation of the justice of every cause which I espouse.
§ Major Sir ARCHIBALD SINCLAIR
I am sure the Chancellor of the Exchequer will not suspect me, at any rate on this occasion, of seeking to profane the sanctity of his Budget or split its integrity. This Amendment is essentially different from those with which the right hon. Gentleman lumped it in his last speech. It does not apply to an industry which will benefit along with others from this Budget. It applies to an industry which is at present in a serious plight and which will not benefit from the effects of the Budget. The object of raising the money which is to be raised by this duty is, we are told, to help productive British industry. It is not for me at this time to say whether the methods proposed are wise or foolish, are right or wrong, are well-conceived or ill-conceived—the object is to relieve British productive industries which are staggering out of the slough of post-War depression. Coal is going to be relieved of rates; agriculture, iron and steel, cotton, all the great productive industries are to be relieved—except one, and that the industry which is perhaps in the most serious position among all our industries. It is the oldest industry, and it is one in which, at the present time, the wages are far worse than the wages in any other great industry. It is an industry which rendered great service in the War, which endured great hardships, which offered heroic sacrifices, and provided an indispensable element in our sea defences against invasion and starvation. In times of peace it is an industry which supplies cheap nourishing and wholesome food to the people of this country. Yet this is to be the Cinderella of our industries. It is the one productive British industry which the Government are making no effort to help. We protest that it is in no condition to bear the extra burden which will be imposed 177 by this duty, and we appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to put it back in the position in which it was before he made the concession on the Kerosene Duty—to put it back in the position in which it was when he introduced the Budget and told the fishermen that they would be relieved of this duty.
The position of the fishing industry, especially that part of it which is mainly concerned with this Petrol Duty—namely, the herring and white fishing; and the crofter fishing in Scotland—grows worse from year to year. The Report of the Fishery Board for 1923 compared with the last Report shows the seriousness of its plight. Under every heading—numbers of men, numbers of boats, numbers of women, and other ancillary workers—by every criterion you can take—it will be seen the industry is declining. Let me quote the wages actually earned by the men in the herring fishing, because it is important that the right hon. Gentleman should realise from what resources these men will have to find the money to pay this duty which he thinks is so insignificant. The men in the herring fishing are share fishermen, and the net proceeds, after paying all gross expenses of the boat, are divided into three shares, namely, the labour share, the share for the nets, and the share for the boat. Owing to the depression in recent years very few of the men have the capital to hold shares in the nets or the boats.
Those who depended only on the labour share got £5 10s. for eight weeks' winter fishing, or only 14s. a week; for eight weeks' summer fishing they got less than £20, and for the autumn fishing they got only £2, or less than 5s. a week. These are the official figures of the Fishery Board of Scotland. If you add to that £15 or £20 for such white fishing as they can get in the winter, these men over the whole year earned less than £1 per week net. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer will look at the Reports of the Fishery Board he will see constant reference to the extreme depression which exists in this industry, which has got worse since 1923. This slight concession which was originally made, but which was clandestinely withdrawn—I say that because the House of Commons, the country, and the fishermen concerned, were never told at all— 178 I am sure the right hon. Gentleman did not realise that it was being withdrawn——
§ Sir A. SINCLAIR
Then I must repeat that it was clandestinely withdrawn, and without consulting the House of Commons or the country beforehand as to what was involved when the kerosene concession was made. It means that this industry is to bear the full rigour of this additional taxation without obtaining the compensating rating relief. It is not the case that these boats do not use petrol. They all use petrol. When the engine begins to fail and there is a critical time ahead they have to resort to the use of petrol to get going again. The smaller boats used by the crofter fishermen use petrol almost entirely. Therefore, I say that these men deserve special consideration. In 1923, the Prime Minister wrote to the Conservative candidate in East Aberdeenshire to this effect:I fully realise the unfortunate position of the fishing industry on the East and North coasts of Scotland. It is the Government's intension to consider how assistance can best be given as the kernel of our policy at present is the abnormal unemployment in the country.Since then nothing has been done for the industry. It has got worse, whether you consider it from the number of men employed or the number of boats engaged. All that the Government have done is to take away such little assistance as was given in 192[...] in the way of credits to enable them to supply themselves with gear and nets, and nothing at all has been put in its place. Now this additional taxation is to be imposed on the industry. Only last week the Prime Minister made another speech in Scotland and, referring to his respect for and sympathy with the fishing industry, said:All I can say to them is that my friends in Scotland are studying with great care and sympathy this more difficult problem. It is being studied sympathetically and with all the consideration that we can give to it.Four years after the promise of 1923 no action has been taken, and if that speech of the Prime Minister last week is not a hollow mockery, it is high time that the Government showed their earnestness 179 and sincerity in this matter by withdrawing this burden.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
If I had realised that my hon. and gallant Friend was going to consume so much of his energy and our time in the very powerful oratorical effort which he has made, I would have interceded before and shortened our deliberations. I have been asked to give some information as to the actual burden of this tax upon British industry. Of course originally, when kerosene was included in the Budget proposals, I proposed that the oil tax should not apply either to the fishing industry or to the agricultural tractor; but when the tax on kerosene was dropped and it became desirable to simplify our procedure, I mentioned in my speech that the exemption would no longer apply in the case of the agricultural tractor, which only uses a very small quantity of petrol for starting purposes. I did not then mention the case of the fisherman, but as it subsequently appeared that exactly the same considerations applied, I authorised the withdrawal of the exemption which under the new conditions would be operative only in so far as petrol was concerned. De minimis non curat lex. In the first place it is calculated that the total consumption of oil by Scottish boats is 4,800,000 gallons a year. The petrol which is used is estimated at 175,000 gallons. Therefore, the tax on that works out at about £3,000. Of course one does not want to place any burden at all on this industry. I do not think that the amount, spread as it is over perhaps 2,000 boats, can be held to be a crushing or harsh burden. Nevertheless, of course, one must always remember that what may be very small from the point of view of the Government is not small to the consumer.
When we come to the case of England, the situation is slightly different. Where petrol is used practically entirely for the starting up of the engine, it does not cause serious difficulty, but it has emerged that there are numbers of small boats which are found to use petrol not only for starting purposes but for running. They are two-man and three-man boats. Their average consumption would be, of course, considerably higher than that of the boats which use petrol only for starting purposes. It is esti- 180 mated that the number of these boats would amount to 715. The cost of the duty falling upon the English and Welsh fishing industry is estimated to be £6,000, spread over the whole industry. Of that £6,000, it is probable that two-thirds may be assigned to the small vessels which use petrol not only for starting but for regular propulsion. So far as the boats which only use petrol, either in England or Scotland, for the purpose of starting, are concerned, I doubt if it would ever be worth their while to embark on the elaborate process of reclaiming the money, but it may be worth while in the case of those vessels that are dependent on petrol as the sole means of propulsion. If it were possible to set up a system of repayment, of recovery, for that is the only way in which it could be done, and if everybody in England and Wales—I have not calculated the figures for Scotland—claimed, not only those wholly dependent on its use for propulsion, but also those who use it only for starting, that would involve 9,000 separate repayments in respect of sums which would usually amount to under £1 each. The expense of such a system would be very considerable in proportion to the money involved. It is calculated that the administration cost might well be 25 per cent. on the £6,000 involved for England and Wales, and no doubt a similar proportion in respect of the £3,000 in the case of Scotland.
I should feel about this that it must be looked at in regard to the treatment which Parliament gives to the whole problem. If I were quite sure that this particular matter could be settled as a single, solitary exception to the whole of the Petrol Duty, I should be very disposed to give it careful consideration between now and the Report stage. If, however, it were to be used merely as a means of pressing forward the case of the commercial traveller, the doctor, the agricultural tractors, which are also getting their rating relief, and so forth, and were to be used as a means of involving us in all these complications, I should in the general interests of the tax as a whole, ask the Committee to support me in resisting the Amendment. We will see how we get on. I will readily undertake between now and the Report stage to study very carefully this elaborate system and see if there is a way 181 by which these small sums can be reclaimed without undue delay, red tape or cost. I will consider it with a desire to avoid these very laborious, costly and inconvenient arrangements. Rather than have it said that on this industry of very poor men—who face the storms and dangers of the sea and gather by their hard toil what is on all hands admitted to be a very frugal and meagre competence—we are placing some extra burden, I would be willing to face both the trouble and expense, provided at the same time that I could feel an assurance that the concession we were making would not lead to our being involved in further more serious and less defensible exceptions which would largely vitiate the efficiency of the duty.
§ Mr. E. BROWN
The whole Committee will welcome the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is obvious that individual Members are not entitled to speak for anybody else, but personally this industry means so much to me that it ought not to be made the shuttlecock of party politics at all. All who know anything about the men who deal with the fishing feel this much more seriously than as a mere party issue, and I would like to say that I hope the Chancellor will be able, not merely to consider this matter between now and the Report stage, and to meet the design of the Amendment, but to do it without any elaborate and complicated formula. It is true, as some of us tried to point out at Question time, that it is not merely a question of the five-men boat, which some of us know so well in the North and in Scotland where they use petrol to start the engine. Many a time, in running a boat of that kind, when the engine is not running free, the only thing a man can do is to turn off the petrol and turn on to the kerosene, but if you go to the smaller villages in the West of England that the hon. and gallant Member for Torquay (Commander Williams) and I know so well, if you go to the village called Cadgwith, by the Lizard, where the whole of the fishing population have little motor boats with two men and the engine in the boat is only suitable to be run by petrol, they do not use kerosene: and on top of that, when they beach their boats, the boats are hauled up by a winch, and the winch again is run by petrol. Although we are glad to have the calculations we have got already, the 182 Chancellor will be wise not to assume that his calculations exactly state the case, because when you talk about £6,000 and £3,000 spread over 2,000 boats of a motor character in Scotland, and 2,000 boats in England and Wales, those of us who know the industry know that the greatest weight of the burden will come on the smallest boats and men in the industry.
There is no need for me to make the speech I had prepared, since the right hon. Gentleman has met us, but I hope he will not take those figures—his preliminary inquiry—as conclusive in the matter, and I hope that when the Report stage conies and he is able to make his own suggestion for cutting the fishermen out from this impost, it will be by some other way than by a complicated system of formulas. The last thing the little fishermen want to have to do is to understand and fill up a large number of complicated forms. Those who are technically responsible for collecting the tax know more about it than does any individual Member of the Committee, but I do not see, myself, why this industry, separate as it is, could not be cut out of the imposition altogether and not have to pay on the petrol consumed in the boats. That was the original assumption in Instruction 171, and I was very much surprised when I saw Instruction 171A, withdrawing the concession announced in the original Budget speech. At any rate, the Committee as a whole, I am sure, whether or not the Members sit for ports where fishermen are voters, will welcome the attitude of mind the Chancellor of the Exchequer has shown, and will hope that this case will not be mixed up with other subsequent cases to be argued, but that between now and the Report stage it will be judged upon its merits, and upon the merits of one of the finest breeds of men this old country knows.
§ Mr. WOMERSLEY
Hon. Members representing fishing constituencies, who are supporters of the Government and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, welcome the announcement we have had to-night that he will give this matter further consideration. When the Amendment was made in the Budget speech, that the fishing industry were to be exempt from the Kerosene and Petrol Duty, we made the most of that statement in our con- 183 stituencies, and it would be very humiliating if we had to tell our people that this concession had been withdrawn, in view of the fact that it was not announced publicly in the House in the same way that the announcement of the withdrawal of kerosene from the duty was made. It was done in a way that did not meet with the approval of our fishermen. Therefore, I think that it is wise policy for the Chancellor to reconsider this matter. I know the great difficulty there is in dealing with these small rebates, for when a Petrol Duty was in operation before, and a rebate was given, the officials had a very difficult time in dealing with the small claims. If it is narrowed down to one industry, there are people connected with the Customs and Excise in the ports who can do this work very well with very little cost; and if, as has been suggested by the hon. Member for Leith (Mr. E. Brown), the form of claim for rebate is made as simple as possible, I do not anticipate that it will cost the Chancellor of the Exchequer very much. In view of the fact that this promise was made to the industry, it is only right that they should be given the exemption, and I hope that it will not be abused and that claims for exemption will not be made for other industries.
This industry is entirely different from anything else—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] That has been argued from the Labour Benches as well as from the Liberal Benches, and I am repeating that argument. I have no doubt that it was that argument that moved the Chancellor to say that he would reconsider it. Those who follow this particular industry will not receive anything in the way of the relief from rates which will be given to the producing industries. Therefore, if this little concession can be given to them, I can assure the Chancellor of the Exchequer that it will be welcomed very much.
§ Mr. KELLY
I understand that there is some doubt as to the promise made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I understood him to say that the position he was considering was that of the small boats, and that he was not considering the whole position of the fishing vessels. If he is dealing with the whole of the 184 fishing vessels, it might make some difference with regard to the view to be taken on the matter.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I was not limiting the scope of my remarks; I was dealing with the industry as a whole.
§ Mr. CRAWFURD
If I understood the right hon. Gentleman aright, he says in effect that if he agrees to this concession it is on the understanding that other concessions should not be pressed.
§ Mr. CRAWFURD
It is a totally unwarranted interference with the liberty of the House of Commons for the right hon. Gentleman to suggest that because he is prepared to grant one concession he is not going to give completely unbiased consideration to other Amendments.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I am the last person to make an unwarranted interference with the liberties of the House of Commons. On the contrary, I have always endeavoured to defer to the wishes of the House and as far as it is possible to invite them to share in the business of shaping our legislation in these matters. The last thing in the world I intended to indicate was that any Member was not within his rights in moving any Amendment, but if a whole series of Amendments is to be moved which would limit the duty, and the Committee pressed me on the whole of these Amendments, then I should be in a very difficult position. My hope is that we shall now be able to pass from this duty without very much difficulty, and then I shall be able to make proposals for relieving the fishermen.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
My hon. Friend asked leave to withdraw. If you still allow the Amendment to be withdrawn I only want to say that I realise that the Chancellor has tried to meet us on this point.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
Leave has been refused to withdraw the Amendment, and the Amendment must be put to the Committee.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I am sorry this has happened. I do not think the hon. Member for West Walthamstow (Mr. Crawfurd) with its great fishing industry wants to prevent the Amendment being withdrawn. I think he only wanted to safeguard his position.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I understood I had met the point of the hon. Member for West Walthamstow (Mr. Crawfurd). I made it quite clear that I did not regard any of his freedom to move future amendments as abrogated and in these circumstances perhaps the hon. Member will allow the Amendment to be withdrawn.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I asked definitely from the Chair whether leave was given to withdraw the Amendment. The hon. Member for West Walthamstow (Mr. Crawfurd) persisted in speaking to the Amendment afterwards and therefore I am afraid that question lapses, and the only thing is for the Amendment to be put from the Chair.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I am very sorry, but the hon. Member must understand that when the question was asked of the Committee whether leave was given to withdraw the Amendment and it was refused by the hon. Member persisting in speaking, that leave was withheld.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Sir VANSITTART BOWATER
I beg to move, in page 2, line 18, after the word "gallon" to insert the wordson petrol for commercial vehicles used solely by commercial travellers in the exercise of their business or.If after the consideration the Chancellor has given to the last Amendment I may have an assurance that he will give my Amendment the same consideration I do not think I need go further in the matter. In the circumstances I think I shall have to go on with my argument. My case is that although the fishing industry is carried on round the coasts of these islands commercial travellers go 186 not only round the coasts but into every village and town, and that it is upon their efforts that the trade of the country is brought to fruition. Though this portion of the duty means very little to the Chancellor it represents a great deal to commercial travellers. They have an allowance of so much per day or per week for travelling expenses when they are travelling about the country in their motor broughams showing their samples, and it is an injustice that they should be imposed upon by this taxation. If the Chancel or of the Exchequer can see his way to take off that which is a small tax to him but which is a very heavy burden to these commercial travellers it will afford them a great amount of relief. Everyone connected with business will realise that this burden on commercial travellers is a real hardship, and I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will see his way to give them some relief.
§ Mr. A. M. SAMUEL
I am sorry that the Government are not able to accept this Amendment. May I point out that it would be quite impossible to give this concession in respect of vehicles used by commercial travellers without granting the same concession to the users of all other commercial vehicles and that would involve the loss of about two-thirds of the estimated revenue from the duty.
I hope the Committee will not agree to the withdrawal of this Amendment, because it is a very important one. The taxation of cars used by commercial travellers together with the Petrol Duty constitute a very serious handicap to a very poorly paid class of the community. It seems to me perfectly ridiculous for the Financial Secretary to get up and refuse to listen to the plea put forward by the mover of the Amendment on the ground that it would involve the loss of two-thirds of the duty because the same concession would have to be given to all commercial vehicles. There is a strong case for relieving commercial vehicles of all kinds from this kind of taxation. To take money from the motor car industry in this way and then give hack a portion of it in another way seems to me to be a most Gilbertian way of dealing with finance. I do not know if hon. Members realise how much the light 187 petrol driven car is now used in the selling side of businesses in this country. I do not think that the Amendment ought to be dismissed so lightly, or that the almost ridiculous arguments used against it ought to be accepted by the Committee without consideration. I shall be amazed if hon. Members opposite, many of whom represent big suburban constituencies, where great numbers of truest-blue Conservative supporters are going to be hit very hardly by this tax, let this proposal go through without any protest, and I do hope that the Committee will not allow the Amendment to be turned down in such a very tame and half-hearted manner, even although the hour is getting late.
§ Mr. RILEY
I desire to add my protest against the withdrawal of this Amendment. A feature of this imposition is the peculiar hardship to the small commercial traveller who uses a car for his daily work. It may be argued that it is not a great hardship to apply a Petrol Duty to commercial vehicles, because the person using such a vehicle for goods can recover the tax by an extra charge in respect of the carriage of the goods, but with the commercial traveller that does not seem likely or possible, and, on the face of it, it would appear that this imposition will be a definite deduction from his ordinary salary or wages, and, therefore, I suggest, a definite hardship. I was interested to hear the Financial Secretary say that the proportion of the Petrol Duty which will apply to commercial as against private vehicles will amount to two-thirds of the whole. There has been some dispute on that point, and we are grateful to the hon. gentleman for his confirmation of that figure. There has also been dispute as to what will be the additional expense to which the users of small cars, such as those of commercial travellers, will be put as the result of this tax. An interesting statement was made earlier by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden), who read a letter from the owner and user of a one-ton commercial lorry, in which he said that the Petrol Duty will mean an extra expense to him of £52 per annum. The ordinary average car of, say, 12 horse-power, might be regarded as weighing a ton, and probably more, and, if that be agreed, this tax on commercial 188 travellers is going to be a very great hardship, Which ought to be resisted.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. TOMLINSON
I beg to move, in page 2, line 18, after the word "gallon," to insert the words:or petrol for tractors used for agricultural purposes and.Originally, it was the intention of the Chancellor to give this remission. I should like to quote his words:The tax on light oils used in agricultural tractors, of which there are 23,000, for the purpose of tillage, but only for the purpose of tillage, in all its stages will he remitted.When he gave the concession on the Kerosene Duty he rather ungraciously withdrew this concession which was made to agriculture. It is possible to make out quite as strong a case for arable farmers as the case that has been made out for the fishing industry. Hon. Members who represent agricultural constituencies in whatever part of the Committee they sit, will realise the very serious position of arable farmers. The cost to the Treasury is so small and yet is of such importance to those engaged in this industry that the Chancellor might very reasonably be expected to take this matter into consideration together with the other matter. I hope that he will be willing to give this remission.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Certainly, this is a very small question compared with the general incidence of the tax. I am informed that the tractors in almost every case use kerosene, and it is necessary only to use relatively a very small quantity of petrol for starting up. Once the tractor is started up, properly handled, it gives as satisfactory results on kerosene as on petrol. Tractors which can only run on petrol are altogether exceptional, and the makers of one of the leading kinds of tractors recommend the use of kerosene in preference to petrol. This proposal differs, it will be generally admitted, from the proposal in regard to fishing boats. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] I will give two reasons why. First, it is undoubtedly true that when I withdrew the Kerosene Duty I told the House there and then that we did not propose any longer to exempt this petrol which is used for starting up agricultural tractors. On the other hand, I did not say anything at that time with 189 regard to fishermen. That is one reason. The other reason is much more important. No one has obtained more from these proposals than the farmer. He will be entirely free from rates and will be relieved of all future anxiety as to whether the rates go up or down. In view of the fact that the farmers are getting very substantial relief, I certainly think that it is going too far to ask that we should complicate the matter by entering into separate discussions with people who only use a minute quantity of petrol. Nothing could be more calculated to illustrate the difficulty of making the concession which I wish to make with regard to the fishing industry than that it should be made the basis by the hon. Gentleman for his Amendment for giving a concession which would be inconvenient and complicated in practice.
§ Mr. LAMB
Will my right hon. Friend tell us what he said at the time he introduced the Petrol Duty? May I remind him of another remark which he made? When he was giving relief in respect of the Kerosene Duty, he said, in reply to those who contemplated getting out of the payment of the Petrol Duty by using kerosene, that it would be possible for them to do so.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
My hon. Friend will permit me to interrupt him. I was dealing entirely with motor cars. The tractors are different types of engine. They are simpler and, in some ways, cruder types of engine, and the inconveniences which might result from using kerosene—and which I am advised on the highest expert authority would result from using kerosene in motor cars—are such that they do not present themselves at all with regard to agricultural tractors.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Commander BELLAIRS rose—
§ Mr. J. HUDSON
On a point of Order. May I ask whether my Amendment regarding the exemption of dry cleaning will be admitted? I suggest that it is an amendment upon a point which has not yet been discussed in any of the Amend- 190 ments which have already been before the Committee?
§ Commander BELLAIRS
I beg to move, in page 2, line 19, at the end, to insert the words:(4) There shall be allowed from the duties a rebate at the rate of fourpence per gallon on the delivery of light oils (as defined in the last preceding Sub-section) for use in connection with vehicles propelled by internal-combustion engines and constructed to run exclusively on rails.The effect of the Amendment will be to exempt patrol engines running on rails. The Chancellor of the Exchequer very early in the Debate said that he had to resist a whole series of Amendments. It is rather ominous that the right hon. Gentleman gave as a reason that it would open the door to fresh Amendments. I am not going to press my Amendment on the ground advanced in the case of the fishing industry, that it was an appeal to his heart. I want to appeal to his head in this matter. The argument that he used in regard to commercial vehicles was that they were subsidised by the use they made of the roads. These petrol engines running on rails assist the roads. They run on private property, and the result is that a good deal of work which would fall on the roads is taken by these rails running over private property, and they receive no assistance under the rate-aiding scheme. The quarries concerned will receive no assistance whatever.
§ Commander BELLAIRS
The mines will, but the sand-pits will not. The object of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is to assist the railways. These petrol engines running on rails at these various sand-pits, gravel pits, and so on, feed the railways. In the case of agriculture, they get relief through the horse-power tax, but these petrol engines will get no relief whatsoever. I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be able to make some concession in this matter even now or on Report, because undoubtedly this will be a very severe tax in cases where there are numbers of engines running on rails and using a great deal of petrol. They may have to face unrestricted foreign competition and could 191 ask for safeguarding on that account. The result of this will be a tax in favour of the foreign competitor, and I hope the Chancellor will make some concession.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Inquiry has been made, and it appears that there are certain cases where there are one or more of these vehicles in use on private lines where there are quarries, etc., and various constructional works, and which might be to some extent affected. I cannot undertake to compensate all those who might be affected by this tax. The Committee has already resisted the requests of others who are affected to a greater extent, or at any rate just as directly as those who are the promoters of such works as I have referred to. Moreover, it will be found that in the vast majority of cases in which these rail-borne, petrol-driven engines are employed, there is also at the same time the rating relief enuring to the constructional enterprises concerned. These sand-pits are included in the general definition of properties which constitute productive industry by means of manual labour. Therefore, this case, again, is quite differentiated from the case of the fishermen.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
I regret to hear the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It may be the case that there are only a few companies to whom this proposal would apply, but there are some companies running vehicles on their own rails and never touching the highway. They will receive no countervailing advantages. Many of the small firms will receive little or no benefit through rating relief and this imposition may make the difference between a firm being able to carry on and being driven out of business. I have in mind a company in my own constituency who own five of these motor vehicles. They never leave the steel rails which are the property of the company. They serve building contractors in connection with collieries and it seems to me this penalty ought not to be imposed on them. If the Mover of the Amendment is disposed to carry it to the Division Lobby I shall support him.
§ Commander BELLAIRS
I may have to raise this matter again on the Report stage, especially in connection with the statement of the Chancellor of the Ex- 192 chequer about the relief of rates. I ask leave now to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. HARRIS
I beg to move, in page 3, to leave out from the word "articles" in line 26, to the end of the Sub-section.
The Amendment would leave out the wordsfor use on a voyage to a place outside the United Kingdom.and the reason for it is a practical one which ought to appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
In Germany and America immense strides have been made in the development of the aeroplane for commercial purposes. This is a very critical moment in that connection. The production of aeroplanes is increasing and the reputation of the British machine is being strengthened every day. Now the Government come along with a duty which will seriously handicap the industry. Obviously an aeroplane requires a very large amount of petrol and the duty is going to be a set-back to the development of the industry in this country. In Germany in the last three or four years the use of aeroplanes for commercial purposes has been increasing; in this country progress has been comparatively slow. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman that it is unwise at this most critical period of the industry to subject it to such a serious penal tax as this will prove to be. I remember how the motor industry was handicapped at the commencement by restrictions imposed by the State, which resulted in other countries getting ahead of us, and now we are doing the same thing in regard to aeroplanes. Other countries have a considerable advantage in the development of this industry already and now the Government propose to subject it to a heavy tax which is not imposed in Germany or America. To-day we have welcomed on the Terrace of the House the distinguished lady who arrived by aeroplane from America. Such a flight has become possible because of the encouragement given to commercial aviation in the United States. Men and women there are using the aeroplane and have come to regard it as the common thing to go in an aeroplane, just as we do to go in a motor car. This tax will be a serious 193 set-back to the development of the industry and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who must be interested in the industry, should think well before he proceeds with it. As far as I know they are to get no relief in the matter of rates, and that is an additional reason why this concession should be granted.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
There are many difficulties which oppose an aeroplane rising in the air, or a wide adoption of that form of locomotion, but the addition of 4d. on the Petrol Duty will not be an appreciable addition to these. Under the present rules, areoplanes which set out for foreign flights will be treated in the same way as ships taking in bunker oil, and it is now sought to extend this privilege to internal flying. That would be entirely out of accord with the whole method of the Customs Duties. There is no ground for such a distinction, and it would be inconsistent with our general practice. Moreover, if the light aeroplane case were granted, I should find myself in a very delicate position after having resisted the proposals just made with regard to fishing and agriculture. It must also be remembered that we have done a great deal to foster civil aviation in this country and have given large subsidies which compare favourably with those given by foreign countries. I think it is very much better that aviation should be treated like all the other activities than that it should be given a small special favour.
§ Miss WILKINSON
Suppose that an aeroplane is proposing to go for an ordinary joy-ride in the United Kingdom and just goes for 20 miles to Calais and then turns back. Would it have its petrol free?
§ Captain GARRO-JONES
With that facility for forgetting which distinguishes him, the right hon. Gentleman has forgotten the past, when he was Secretary
§ of State for Air. His reply shows that he has left out of account all the essential facts upon which the position of civil aviation is based to-day. Everyone who has watched civil aviation for the last year or two has witnessed an intense struggle against the cost per ton-mile. First of all by shillings and then by pence the cost has come down. Even a penny which can be saved by the designers or by the organisers of finance or by the beggars of subsidies has been a welcome relief from the burden which civil aviation has had to bear. The right hon. Gentleman himself said some years ago that civil aviation must fly by itself. Now he is not content with that, and he is putting an additional burden upon it.
§ His argument as to the subsidy seemed to me to be somewhat illogical. If we are going to place an additional burden on civil aviation now, the longer we shall continue to pay the subsidy, because in every part of the world British aviation companies are continuing a most disheartening struggle against foreign aviation companies which, with the assistance of subsidies and every form of diplomatic aid from their capitals, are keeping British air lines out in every part of the world. It is quite inaccurate to suggest that a mere fourpence per gallon on petrol will not be a serious handicap. Aeroplanes drink up petrol in enormous quantities. A tax on petrol for aeroplanes is an entirely different proposition from a tax on petrol for motorcars. The smallest aeroplane in regular use uses thousands of gallons of petrol per annum. I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he will not consider afresh all the important implications which go to the root of the development of civil aviation at home and abroad. If he will take the advice of the Secretary of State for Air he will find that an established case can be made out for exempting aeroplanes from the duty.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 179; Noes, 71.195
|Division No. 183.]||AYES.||[12.10 a.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Astor, Viscountess||Boothby, R. J. G.|
|Ainsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles||Balniel, Lord||Bourne, Captain Robert Croft|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman||Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.|
|Apsley, Lord||Betterton, Henry B.||Braithwaite, Major A. N.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Blundell, F. N.||Brass, Captain W.|
|Briscoe, Richard George.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Taints)||Preston, William|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Price, Major C. W. M.|
|Burman, J. B.||Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.||Radford, E. A.|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Raine, Sir Walter|
|Campbell, E. T.||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Ramsden, E.|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Hills, Major John Waller||Rawson, Sir Cooper|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Hilton, Cecil||Reid, Capt. Cunningham (Warrington)|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Holt, Capt. H. P.||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)|
|Christie, J. A.||Hope, Capt. A. D. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Ropner, Major L.|
|Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.|
|Colfox, Major William Phillips||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Salmon, Major I.|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Iliffe, Sir Edward M.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Cope, Major Sir William||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Couper, J. B.||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Sandeman, N. Stewart|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Kindersley, Major G. M.||Sanders, Sir Robert A.|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||King, Commodore Henry Douglas||Sanderson, Sir Frank|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Sandon, Lord|
|Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Knox, Sir Alfred||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Lamb, J. O.||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl. (Renfrew, W.)|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Looker, Herbert William||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Skelton, A. N.|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Lumley, L. R.||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon|
|Dixey, A. C.||MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen||Smithers, Waldron|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||MacDonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Rt. Hon. G. F.|
|Elliot, Major Walter E.||MacIntyre, Ian||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||McLean, Major A.||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Macmillan, Captain H.||Storry-Deane, R.|
|Fairfax, Captain J. G.||MacRobert, Alexander M.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Fermoy, Lord||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Fielden, E. B.||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-|
|Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Margesson, Captain D.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Gadie, Lieut. Col. Anthony||Mason, Colonel Glyn K.||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Galbraith, J. F. W.||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Meyer, Sir Frank||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Gates, Percy||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw||Watts, Sir Thomas|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Goff, Sir Park||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)||Wells, S. R.|
|Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Nall, Colonel Sir Joseph||White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dairymple|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Nelson, Sir Frank||Williams, A M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Greene, W. P. Crawford||Neville, Sir Reginald J.||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Grotrian, H. Brent||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Nuttall, Ellis||Womersley, W. J.|
|Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Hamilton, Sir George||Oakley, T.||Wragg, Herbert|
|Hammersley, S. S.||Penny, Frederick George||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Perring, Sir William George||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Harrison, G. J. C.||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)||Mr. Frederick Thompson and Sir|
|Hartington, Marquess of||Power, Sir John Cecil||Victor Warrender.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Riley, Ben|
|Barr, J.||Hirst, G. H.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)|
|Batey, Joseph||Hollins, A.||Saklatvala, Shapurji|
|Bromfield, William||Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Scurr, John|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Sexton, James|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)||Shinwell, E.|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Compton, Joseph||Kelly, W. T.||Strauss, E. A.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Kennedy, T.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Crawfurd, H. E.||Lawrence, Susan||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Dalton, Hugh||Lawson, John James||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Day, Harry||Lee, F.||Tomlinson, R. P.|
|Dunnico, H.||Lunn, William||Townend, A. E.|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Mackinder, W.||Varley, Frank B.|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Gillett, George M.||Murnin, H.||Westwood, J.|
|Gosling, Harry||Oliver, George Harold||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Paling, W.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Windsor, Walter|
|Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Potts, John S.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Harris, Percy A.||Purcell, A. A.||Sir Robert Hutchison and Mr. Fenby.|
|Hayday, Arthur||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ Mr. J. HUDSON
It is extremely unsatisfactory that, in view of the large number of genuine cases to which relief ought to have been given, the Chancellor has been able to give favourable consideration to only one comparatively small item, particularly in view of the fact that I could not get called to move an Amendment in which a very important matter might have been raised in connection with
§ dry cleaning that involves very heavy expenditure to the industry following upon this tax and also a very high cost to the consumers in the industry. I hope to put down the Amendment again on the Report stage, and before that I sincerely trust that the right hon. Gentleman may reconsider the very special case of dry cleaning.
§ Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 171; Noes, 71.199
|Division No. 184.]||AYES.||[12.20 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Nuttall, Ellis|
|Ainsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles||Greene, W. P. Crawford||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Oakley, T.|
|Apsley, Lord||Grotrian, H. Brent||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)|
|Astor, Viscountess||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Balniel, Lord||Hamilton, Sir George||Preston, William|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Hammersley, S. S.||Price, Major C. W. M.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Raine, Sir Walter|
|Blundell, F. N.||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Rawson, Sir Cooper|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Harrison, G. J. C.||Reid, Capt. Cunningham (Warrington)|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell|
|Braithwalte, Major A. N.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Ropner, Major L.|
|Brass, Captain W.||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Salmon, Major I.|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Hills, Major John Waller||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Burman, J. B.||Hilton, Cecil||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Holt, Capt. H. P.||Sandeman, N. Stewart|
|Campbell, E. T.||Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nur.)||Sanders, Sir Robert A.|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Sanderson, Sir Frank|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Sandon, Lord|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Christie, J. A.||Iliffe, Sir Edward M.||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl. (Renfrew, W.)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Kindersley, Major Guy M.||Skelton, A. N.|
|Cooper, A. Duff||King, Commodore Henry Douglas||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon|
|Cope, Major Sir William||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Smithers, Waldron|
|Couper, J. B.||Knox, Sir Alfred||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Lamb, J. Q.||Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Rt. Hon. G. F.|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Looker, Herbert William||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Storry-Deans, R.|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Lumley, L. R.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||MacDonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-|
|Dixey, A. C.||MacIntyre, Ian||Titchfield, Major the Marques of|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||McLean, Major A.||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Macmillan, Captain H.||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Elliot, Major Walter E.||MacRobert, Alexander M.||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Watts, Sir Thomas|
|Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Margesson, Captain D.||Wells, S. R.|
|Fermoy, Lord||Mason, Colonel Glyn K.||White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dairymple-|
|Fielden, E. B.||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Forrest, W.||Meyer, Sir Frank||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw-||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon B. M.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)||Womersley, W. J.|
|Galbraith, J. F. W.||Nall, Colonel Sir Joseph||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Nelson, Sir Frank||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Gates, Percy||Neville, Sir Reginald J.|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Goff, Sir Park||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Mr. Penny and Sir Victor Warrender.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Bromfield, William||Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)|
|Barr, J.||Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Compton, Joseph|
|Batey, Joseph||Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)|
|Crawfurd, H. E.||Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)||Saklatvala, Shapurji|
|Dalton, Hugh||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)||Scurr, John|
|Day, Harry||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Sexton, James|
|Dunnico, H.||Kelly, W. T.||Shinwell, E.|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Kennedy, T.||Strauss, E. A.|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Lawrence, Susan||Sutton, J. E.|
|Fenby, T. D.||Lawson, John James||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Lee, F.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Lunn, William||Tomlinson, R. P.|
|Gillett, George M.||Mackinder, W.||Townend, A. E.|
|Gosling, Harry||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Varley, Frank B.|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Murnin, H.||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Oliver, George Harold||Westwood, J.|
|Harris, Percy A.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Hayday, Arthur||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Potts, John S.||Windsor, Walter|
|Hirst, G. H.||Purcell, A. A.|
|Hollins, A.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hore-Belltha, Leslie||Riley, Ben||Mr. Benjamin Smith and Mr. Wilfrid Paling.|
|Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Mr. A. V. ALEXANDER
I beg to move, "That the Chairman do report Progress and ask leave to sit again.
I think the Committee will agree that we have made substantial progress, having passed a Clause which I believe the Chancellor expected would raise considerable contention, and having got through a rather difficult Debate with good humour, and quite good results from the Government point of view. In the circumstances I hope the Chancellor will agree to our adjourning now.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I am very much in the hands of the Committee. Progress has been made with some very important matters, but, if hon. Members will look at the Bill, they will see that we have a considerable amount of work to get through. However, I will not press the Committee on this first occasion beyond what hon. Members opposite feel inclined to regard as a proper limit. I would ask, however, that we should have the first three Clauses. Clause 3 is a machinery Clause. If that is understood, I shall be willing that we shall adjourn.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 3 (Supplementary provisions in connection with the duties on hydrocarbon oils) ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Motion made, and the Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again," put, and agreed to.—[Mr. Churchill.]
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.