HC Deb 08 December 1931 vol 260 cc1751-9

On a, point of Order. I should like to ask your Ruling, Sir Dennis, with regard to the Amendment which stands in the name of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps)—in page 2, line 36, after the word "the," to insert the word "average." I understand that you consider that that might increase the charge, and would, therefore, be out of Order, and I should like to submit one or two points to you. In the first place, I suggest that, in dealing with the strict rule against increasing the charge, one has to look rather closely at the precedents, because this method of taxation is quite unprecedented. Formerly we have always been dealing with something quite definite—a definite tax of a definite amount or of a definite percentage, and a definite time. In this case we are giving power to put on a tax up to 100 per cent., and, therefore, there is not the same exactitude about the tax as we have been accustomed to.

My second point is that the Amendment would make an alteration in the method of valuation, and I submit that it is impossible to say that a change in the basis of valuation, from one year to the average of a number of years would necessarily increase the charge. It would depend on the facts in any case—facts which are not ascertained—whether it would or would not increase the charge. It is an alteration of the method of valuation. If I might instance as a precedent an Amendment moved by yourself—though I do not know whether it is fair to quote to the gamekeeper an Amendment which he moved at the time when he was a poacher—I would remind you that you moved an Amendment to the Finance Bill last summer proposing that the Land Value Tax should be charged, not in respect of the year 1934, but in such financial year as Parliament might hereafter determine. You were yourself doubtful in regard to that Amendment, because you realised that it might be applied at a time when it increased the charge or at a time when it lowered the charge. In fact, you said: I know that this is an alteration which could not be made except at the instance of the Government and that it would necessitate a further Financial Resolution."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th June, 1931; col. 839, Vol. 253.] You moved the Amendment in a particular form, because you wanted it discussed, and, although there was the possibility, under your Amendment as it stood, of a hypothetical increase in the charge if the tax were in respect of the year 1933 instead of 1934, your Amendment was allowed to be moved, because I imagine it was not contested that it dealt with the principle of the method of valuation. I submit that, if we are going to have a number of Bills of this kind coming forward, we shall be extremely hampered in discussing them if any Amendment dealing with the method of valuation is to be ruled out of order on the mere hypothesis that it might increase the charge. I submit that whether it will do so or not is not a matter that would be within your knowledge as Chairman, but that it depends on statistics, and, in many cases, on statistics which may not even be in existence. I submit, therefore, that we should be allowed to move this Amendment and to debate the question whether the valuation should be based on one year or on the average of a number of years.


Further on that point of Order. I submit that this question, in addition, to depending, as my hon. Friend has argued, on statistics which are not ascertained, depends also on the intention of the Minister as to the amount of the duty that he proposes to place upon these particular commodities. That duty may be anything from 1 per cent. to 100 per cent., and, if it is thought that the taking of an average would mean an addition to the taxation, the Minister himself might put on a lower duty, say 40 per cent. instead of 50 per cent, or whatever might be in his mind. We do not know what is in his mind. I submit that that fact should also be taken into consideration in dealing with this point.


I have given the point to which the hon. Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee) has called attention very careful consideration, because I was really anxious, it possible to admit the Amendment as one which could be discussed. But I think that, if the hon. Member will follow my argument carefully, he will probably see that the question is not, as suggested by him, a mere question with regard to the valuation. Sub-section (2, c) of Clause 2 provides that the duties to be charged shall not exceed a certain percentage, and then it says that in the case of certain articles: the value thereof for the purpose of the foregoing limitation"— I call special attention to this word "limitation"—shall be taken as provided in the Bill. The Amendment now referred to proposes to alter the method of fixing the value in such a way as to alter a definite limitation which is in the Bill, and, therefore, if the limitation which is in the Bill be altered in such a way as to make that limitation, possibly, less effective or more elastic, or to allow of any possibility of a greater charge, the Amendment becomes, as I think the hon. Member will realise, one which could not be accepted. I have considered the particular arguments which the hon. Member has put, and I think that, after what I have just said, he will perhaps realise that this is not a mere case of a method of valuation, but is something quite different, which would alter the limitation.

6.30 p.m.

As regards the form of this Bill, and its not having the same exactitude as has been given in previous cases, I do not think that that applies to the particular argument with regard to this Amendment. I agree that the comparative novelty of the form of the Bill makes it the more necessary to consider very carefully any questions of this kind which arise. The Amendment that the hon. Gentleman referred to as having been moved in the last Parliament by the then Member for Watford (Sir D. Herbert) is one which can be very easily distinguished from the Amendment now under consideration. I cannot charge my memory with all the points that he refers to in regard to that Amendment. I can only venture respectfully to suggest to him and his friends that the hon. Member for Watford in the last Parliament was apparently more successful when in Opposition in drafting his Amendment than the Opposition are on this occasion.


The only part of your argument, Sir Dennis, that I cannot follow is that you assume that a change in the basis of valuation from an average of three years to one year is taking away a limitation. It may be making it even a greater limitation. It is a pure matter of assumption. Supposing the price this year was 25s. and the average for the last year was 23s. So far from imposing a charge, I should be making the limitation more effective. I suggest that the matter is really on all fours with the point to which I referred in your action on the Finance Bill, which was not challenged at all.


The argument, the correctness of which I must not be taken to admit that the effect of this Amendment might be further to restrict the tax or narrow the limitation carries no weight whatever. It is at least as likely, the hon. Gentleman will admit, that it may go the other way, and that is quite sufficient to take the Amendment, out of what can be in order. I am inclined to

think myself that one would be perhaps rather stretching a point—but I had intended to do so on this Amendment—if I thought it dealt simply and solely with the question of the machinery of valuation, but I am quite satisfied that on this occasion it does not do so. In that connection, the hon. Gentleman must bear in mind that we are not now dealing with something uncertain, because we are dealing with a Bill which, when it becomes an Act, will only be operative for one year and, therefore, we know that we are dealing with a question of the difference between the price last year and the price in the last three years, and we are not dealing with the question of the price in the previous three years of any future years to come. In these circumstances, it is perfectly clear to my mind that we should be altering the limitation of the charge in such a way that that limitation might be widened in the future, and in those circumstances I have no option but to rule the Amendment out of order.


May I ask your guidance, Sir Dennis, about the first of the Amendments that we are discussing—the inclusion of the word "average." Would it not be possible to consider that small Amendment? Would not that arise in the question of the machinery of valuation? I raise it because I have received a special request to do so.


I am afraid it is impossible. The whole point of this Amendment is raised by the word "average."

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

The Committee divided: Ayes, 323; Noes, 39.

Division No. 36.] AYES. [6.35 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Broadbent, Colonel John
Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.) Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey Brocklebank, C. E. R.
Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G. Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell Brown, Ernest (Leith)
Albery, Irving James Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury) Browne, Captain A. C.
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l, W.) Beaumont, R. E. B. (Portsm'th, Centr'l) Buchan, John
Allen, Maj. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd, W) Benn, Sir Arthur Shirley Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.
Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent) Bennett, Capt. Sir Ernest Nathaniel Burghley, Lord
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B. Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Burnett, John George
Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K. Bird, Ernest Roy (Yorks., Skipton) Butler, Richard Austen
Aske, Sir William Robert Blindell, James Butt, Sir Alfred
Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover) Bossom, A. C. Caine, G. R. Hall-
Atholl, Duchess of Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley)
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W. Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm
Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J. Braithwaite, Maj. A. N. (Yorks, E. R.) Caporn, Arthur Cecil
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough) Carver, Major William H.
Balniel, Lard Brass, Captain Sir William Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)
Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell Briscoe, Richard George Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Hepworth, Joseph Penny, Sir George
Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham) Herbert, George (Rotherham) Peters, Dr. Sidney John
Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring) Hillman, Dr. George B. Petherick, M.
Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.) Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Peto, Geoffrey K.(W'verh'pt'n, Bliston)
Chorlton, Alan Ernest Leofric Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge) Pickering, Ernest H.
Chotzner, Alfred James Hore-Bellsha, Leslie Pickford, Hon. Mary Ada
Christie, James Archibald Hornby, Frank Potter, John
Clarry, Reginald George Horobin, Ian M. Power, Sir John Cecil
Clayton, Dr. George C, Horsbrugh, Florence Pownall, Sir Assheton
Colfox, Major William Philip Howitt, Dr. Alfred B. Procter, Major Henry Adam
Colville, Major David John Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Pybus, Percy John
Cook, Thomas A. Hume, Sir George Hopwood Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)
Copeland, Ida Hurd, Percy A. Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)
Cranborne, Viscount Hurst, Sir Gerald B. Ramsbotham, Herswald
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. 31r R. (M'tr'se) Hamsden, E.
Crooke, J. Smedley Inskip, Sir Thomas W. H. Rankin, Robert
Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle) James, Wing-Com. A. W. H. Rawson, Sir Cooper
Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro) Jamieson, Douglas Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Jennings, Roland Held, David D. (County Down)
Cross, R. H. Jesson, Major Thomas E. Remer, John R.
Crossley, A, C. Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields) Rentoul, Sir Gervals S.
Curry, A. C. Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton) Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.
Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C. Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Robinson, John Roland
Davies, Edward C. (Montgomery) Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West) Ropner, Colonel L.
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Ker, J. Campbell Ross, Ronald D.
Davison, Sir William Henry Kerr, Hamilton W. Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)
Denman, Hon. R. D. Kimball, Lawrence Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.
Denville, Alfred Kirkpatrick, William M. Runciman, Rt. Hon, Walter
Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F. Knatchbull, Captain Hon. M. H. R. Runge, Norah Cecil
Dickie, John P. Knox, Sir Alfred Russell, Alexander West (Tynemou'h)
Donner, P. W. Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)
Doran, Edward Lambert, Rt. Hon. George Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)
Drewe, Cedric Law, Sir Alfred Rutherford, Sir John Hugo
Duckworth, George A. V. Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.) Salmon, Major Isidore
Duggan, Hubert John Leckie, J. A. Salt, Edward W.
Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.) Leech, Dr. J. W. Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)
Dunglass, Lord Lees-Jones, John Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart
Eady, George H. Leighton, Major B. E. P. Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard
Eden, Robert Anthony Levy, Thomas Savery, Samuel Servington
Edmondson, Major A. J. Lewis, Oswald Scone, Lord
Elliot, Major Walter E. Llewellin, Major John J. Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Ellis, Robert Geoffrey Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)
Elliston, Captain George Sampson Lloyd, Geoffrey Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)
Elmley, Viscount Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hn. G. (Wd. Gr'n) Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.
Emmott, Charles E. G. C. Loder, Captain J. de Vere Simmonds, Oliver Edwin
Emrys- Evans, P. V. Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A.(C'thness)
Entwistle, Major Cyril Fullard Lumley, Captain Lawrence R. Skelton, Archibald Noel
Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool) Lyons, Abraham Montagu Smiles, Lieut.-Col. sir Walter D.
Essonhigh, Reginald Clare Mabane, William Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kine'dine, C.)
Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.) MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr) Smithers, Waldron
Falle, Sir Bertram G. McConnell, Sir Joseph Somervell, Donald Bradley
Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst McEwen, J. H. F. Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)
Flanagan, W. H. McKie, John Hamilton Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)
Fraser, Captain Ian Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton Soper, Richard
Fuller, Captain A. E. G. McLean, Major Alan Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.
Ganzoni, Sir John Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D.(Corn'll N.) Spencer, Captain Richard A.
Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston) Stanley, Hon. O. F. C. (Westmorland)
Gillett, Sir George Masterman Macquisten, Frederick Alexander Stones, James
Gilmour, Lt.-Cot. Rt. Hon. Sir John Maitland, Adam Stourton, Hon. John J.
Glossop, C. W. H. Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest Strauss, Edward A.
Gluckstein, Louis Halle Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Glyn, Major Ralph G. C. Margesson, Capt. Henry David R. Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-
Goldie, Noel B. Marjoribanks, Edward Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray F.
Goodman, Colonel Albert W. Marsden, Commander Arthur Summersby, Charles H.
Gower, Sir Robert Martin, Thomas B. Sutcliffe, Harold
Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas Merriman, Sir F. Boyd Taylor, Vice-Admiral E.A. (P'dd'gt'n, S.)
Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John Millar, James Duncan Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)
Grimston, R. V. Milne, John Sydney wardlaw- Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)
Guinness, Thomas L. E. B. Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chlsw'k) Thomas, Major J. B. (King's Norton)
Gunston, Captain D. W. Morgan, Robert H. Thompson, Luke
Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.) Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles
Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) Morrison, William Shephard Thomson, Mitchell-, Rt. Hon. Sir W.
Hamilton, Sir R. W.(Orkney & Zetl'nd) Muirhead, Major A. J. Thorp, Linton Theodore
Hartley, Dennis A. Munro, Patrick Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H. Train, John
Hartland, George A. Newton, Sir Douglas George C. Turton, Robert Hugh
Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenningt'n) Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth) Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Harvey, Majors. E. (Devon, Totnes) Normand, Wilfrid Guild Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)
Haslam, H. C. (Lindsay, Horncastle) Nunn, William Wallace, John (Dunfermline)
Haslam, Sir John (Bolton) O'Connor, Terence James Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M. O'Neill, Rt. Hen. Sir Hugh Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)
Heilgers, Captain F. F. A. Palmer, Francis Noel Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.
Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley) Patrick, Colin M. Watt, Captain George Steven H.
Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford) Pearson, William G. Wayland, Sir William A.
Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Peat, Charles u. Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour
Wells, Sydney Richard Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George Wood, Major M. McKenzie (Banff)
Weymouth, Viscount Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)
White, Henry Graham Wise, Alfred R.
Whiteside, Borras Noel H. Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Wills, Wilfrid D. Womersley, Walter James Mr. Russell Rea and Lord Erskine.
Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.) Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir H, Kingsley
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South) Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)
Attlee, Clement Richard Groves, Thomas E. Maxton, James
Batey, Joseph Grundy, Thomas W. Mllner, Major James
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Half, F. (York, W.R., Normanton) Price, Gabriel
Buchanan, George Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvll) Salter, Dr. Alfred
Cape, Thomas Hirst, George Henry Tinker, John Joseph
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown) Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah
Cove, William G. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Cripps, Sir Stafford Kirkwood, David Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)
Daggar, George Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Williams, Dr. John H. (Lianelly)
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Lawson, John James Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)
Edwards, Charles Leonard, William
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Lunn, William TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan) McGovern, John Mr. John and Mr. Cordon Macdonald.

Motion made, and Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.