§ Mr. E. C. GRENFELL
I beg to move, in page 19, line 5, at the end, to insert the words:(a) is owned by any society, body of trustees, or company established for the purpose of, or amongst whose purposes or powers are included those of constructing, or facilitating, or encouraging the construction of dwelling houses for the working classes, being a society, body of trustees, or company which does not trade for profit,During the last 10 years numerous schemes have been debated in this House and various Bills involving great expense to the public have been passed to improve the housing of the nation. This Amendment arises from the efforts of certain people to assist the housing question for the last 60 years. The first big effort in this connection was made by a well known merchant, Mr. Peabody, in London. He founded the Peabody Fund, with which I have been associated for 20 years, and he also founded the banking firms of Morgans which exist to-day in New York and Paris as well as London. This old gentleman, having amassed a considerable fortune, noted the poor conditions in which the people of London lived and made a donation of £500,000, which was a considerable sum in those days, to make provision for housing London's respectable poor. If I may read extracts from the Charter of Incorporation of the Trust, I think the Committee will agree that there is some reason for treating these schemes favourably under this Bill. I quote the following words as to the general objects of the fund, as defined by the Charter of Incorporation. They were:to ameliorate the condition and augment the comforts of the labouring poor who either by birth or established residence form a recognised portion of the population of London.and in furtherance of such objects and purposes, inter alia, to acquire and hold sites and to erect model dwellings thereon. He further goes on: 458It is my ardent hope and trust that within 100 years the annual receipts from rents for buildings of this improved class may present such a return that there may not be a poor working man of good character in London who could not obtain comfortable and healthful lodgings for himself and his family at a cost within his means.I regret that, owing to the increased cost of building, the increased size of London, and the very small charge made for the rent of these buildings, what he hoped for in 100 years has not come to pass, but prompted by Peabody's example, certain other bodies—the Guinness Trust, the Lewis Trust, and the Sutton Trust—were formed to give similar donations and some of an even greater amount, and to-day those four trusts house 64,000 people in London alone. Had the fund been increased by 5 per cent. each year, in the case of the Peabody Trust, it would have been £15,000,000 in 1942, and at the end of the period of 100 years it would have been £65,000,000. I regret that that is not the total of this fund to-day.
Under this new Bill, it is difficult to state what the cost to these four trusts will be, but we estimate that with the increased value of land, it may be £20,000 or more a year. This extra cost must fall on the poor. The trustees, the hon. Members supporting this Amendment and other gentlemen associated with me, will be obliged either to raise the rents by a figure of 6d, or 8d. each per week, or else we shall inflict a hardship on the poor by not having a yearly fund with which to make their lives more comfortable by new and improved houses. That is the choice. No dividend has ever been paid or may be paid on these funds, and no directors have received any emoluments. The managers have exercised a wise discretion and intelligence in studying building schemes all over the world. I maintain that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be well advised—and I believe that most Members of the Committee on all sides will agree—that, if possible, no fresh charges should be put on these schemes or similar enterprises. I have only referred to these four trusts, because I am well acquainted with them, but there are many similar funds established throughout England and Scotland. I think we should wish to encourage private individuals to continue to emulate the example of these four men who in 459 their later days may have felt that they had helped to add to the comfort of less fortunate people than themselves.
§ 4.0. p.m.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir Stafford Cripps)
The cases which have been put forward by the hon. Member are, I think, all, as a matter of fact, exempted under the new Clause 19 as charities. Certainly the Sutton and Pea-body Trusts are. I am not quite certain of the position of the Lewis and Guinness Trusts, but I think that they are in exactly the same position. I think that they have to devote the whole of their funds to fresh construction, and, in those circumstances, they would all be exempt as charities. But if it is convenient to the Committee, and if I may be allowed, I will deal a little more widely with the question of housing associations which this Amendment raises, and as to which there are a number of Amendments which follow on the Order Paper. The position as regards the housing associations varies a great deal, naturally, with the way in which they are constituted and the powers which they have of carrying out work of different kinds. There is an Amendment on the Paper in the name of the hon. Member for Luton (Dr. Burgin)—in page 19, line 35, at the end, to insert the words:(i) is owned by a housing trust or by a public utility society within the meaning of Section one hundred and thirty-five of the Housing Act, 1926, or by an authorised association within the meaning of Section sixteen, Sub-section (5), of the Town Planning Act, 1925, or by a body of persons authorised by special Act of Parliament to develop a garden city or garden suburb "—which goes a good deal further, defining the different housing associations with reference to the various Acts under which they may be authorised or constitued. That Amendment really in its form is probably wider than the hon. Member who put it down quite appreciates, because it would cover, in fact, every co-operative society which happened to build houses. But we are very anxious to meet the position as regards the real housing association which exists for the purpose of housing the working classes or building houses for the working classes, and which is essentially in its nature, or so limited in its dividends, that it is obviously a non-commercial association. The words of the present 460 Amendment, curiously enough, I object to because they are not wide enough; they are limited strictly to real charitable institutions, and the phrase "company which does not trade for profit" might be held to exclude a company with a limited shareholding, and limited dividend on that shareholding, and where they raise money or give shares, perhaps, of a nominal value which people are good enough to subscribe. We are anxious not to exclude from the exemption associations of that type, as well as the purely charitable associations which deal with this problem through an original endowment, or an accumulation of funds obtained by an accumulation of the rents which have been received.
We propose, therefore, to introduce a Clause on the Report stage, if the Committee feel that that is the right thing to do, in order to give an exemption to associations which are limited, or substantially limited, to the building of houses for the working classes, and which also are limited in their dividends, or limited in the amount which they can pay by way of interest on money borrowed by them. I think, probably, the Committee will feel that if those classes of associations are exempted, then we really deal with the problem which, I think, many Members of the Committee have in mind in putting down various types of Amendment on this subject.
§ Sir WILLIAM DAVISON
I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, in line 4, to leave out from the word "classes" to the end.
There is a class of company which is providing dwellings for the working people of this country rather different from the classes referred to in the Amendment, and that is the reason I have put on the Paper an Amendment to the Amendment something on the lines indicated by the Solicitor-General. I, myself, am chairman of an industrial dwellings company known as the Improved Industrial Dwellings Company, which houses some 20,000 workers. It was founded by Sir Sydney Waterlow, a year after Peabody started his housing trust in 1863, that is 68 years ago. It was an aphorism of Sir Sydney Waterlow, who subsequently presented Waterlow Park to London, that the soundest institutions were those which paid their way, and that the truest philanthropy 461 was philanthropy and 5 percent. He always endeavoured to see that his company, which has dwellings in all parts of London, should pay a reasonable dividend of 5 per cent., and that working people, and as many people as possible, should be interested in the company. Consequently, there are a very large number of small shareholders. This company started building flats in 1863, and has gone on doing so ever since. The first Duke of Westminster, when these flats were being built 30 or 40 years ago, thought it was undesirable, and not in the national interest, that all the rich people in London should be congregated in Mayfair and Grosvenor Square, and seven sites in Mayfair were set apart on which to erect industrial dwellings. We have erected them there, and altogether, scattered about in May-fair, there are some seven industrial blocks of dwellings housing a large number of workers.
If this tax is to become law, it will, naturally, have a most serious effect upon our dwellings in the West End of London. It will not have much effect on our dwellings in the East End and the poorer parts of London, but it will upon the dwellings to which I have referred in the West End, near Grosvenor Square, Sloane Square, and Selfridges especially. If you take away the industrial dwellings and leave a vacant site in the neighbourhood of Dorchester House or Selfridges, the value of the site is enormous. What is to be done? This will not be a question of taking land from the dukes and giving it to the people, but it will be a question of taking the industrial dwellings from the workers and giving them back to the dukes for luxury flats, because we have these valuable sites. We have had no valuation made, but hon. Members know the enormous price given the other day for the site of Dorchester House. The value of the site on which these dwellings stand in Mayfair may reach £500,000. That is a mere guess, but it is certainly a very large sum of money. If we are to pay even a penny in the £ on a valuation of that kind, one of two things must occur. Either we must pull the flats down, and put up luxury flats, if we can do so, or else we must increase our rents, and let the flats to quite a different class of person than the class 462 at present occupying them at 10 shillings, 12 shillings or 14 shillings a week.
Therefore, in order to raise the matter, I move the Amendment to the Amendment. I cannot say whether the words will require some further amendment, but companies such as ours, the Artisan Dwellings Company, and others, should have special consideration with regard to the sites of dwellings let to working people, and that those should be on a different basis. Supposing we did pull them down and erected business or other premises, of course any concession made would be done away with, but I would suggest to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that, as long as the sites of industrial dwelling companies, whose main object is to provide residences for the workers of this country, are used for that purpose, they should have special concessions given to them with regard to this land Tax, and I have indicated in the case of the company with which I am familiar what would be the disastrous effect of this tax on that company.
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
I want to speak on the main Amendment, and perhaps I can say here what I was about to say, which was that I heard with great satisfaction the learned Solicitor-General say that the Government proposed to introduce on Report a Clause which will cover public utility societies for building purposes. I myself have an Amendment on the Paper—in page 19, line 22, at the end to insert the words:e) is owned by any such society, body of trustees, or company as is mentioned in Sub-section (2) of Section three of the Housing, &c, Act, 1923.dealing with that very point, and I do think the Government have done well in recognising the work of those societies. As the Bill stands, if an area is developed for housing purposes by a municipality which owns the land, it is exempt. It seems to me that these public utility societies, which have been formed for the purpose of housing in many cases where the municipalities or local authorities have failed to do their duty are deserving of as much consideration. They take the initial risks of the scheme; they work the scheme: their profits are limited to 5 per cent. as a rule; the rents are fixed at the lowest possible level so as to cover the working of the scheme; and the whole of any profits there may be are devoted to 463 developing the housing in that area. It is true that at the end of the period the houses will become the property of the public utility society, but, if need be, I think that that could be met by it being suggested that they should pass to the local authorities.
There has never been any idea in these societies of making money out of it, and, therefore, it seems to me that any burden placed upon them would really be an error in public policy. I say that the rents are fixed at the lowest possible amount, and any further charge would be unfortunate. I only want to be sure how far the proposal of the Government goes. Take the case of Letchworth, which is one of the oldest societies. The whole of the profits is put into the undertaking to improve the housing, and, therefore, as I say, I think they ought to be protected from any tax. I am glad that the Government have gone as far as they have, and I hope they will see that these societies are all protected.
Will the Solicitor-General give us an assurance that when he is framing the new Clause which he has proposed, he will at least, without committing himself definitely, take into consideration the case put by my hon. Friend the Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison), then perhaps we shall be able to get on with the next Amendment?
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I rather gathered, from what the hon. Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison) said, that what I had said would probably cover the cases he had in mind. The two essential factors from our point of view are that the association or body of persons, whatever it may be, should exist solely for building working-class houses or practically for that purpose, and that the profits should be limited to a figure of 5 percent.
§ Sir HERBERT SAMUEL
Will the hon. and learned Gentleman answer the point put by my right hon. Friend in regard to garden cities?
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
The right hon. Gentleman mentioned Letchworth. Frankly, I do not know exactly the position, but, if they comply with the conditions I have stated, they will be as entitled as anyone to exemption, but I 464 rather doubt whether Letchworth exists solely or mainly to supply houses for the working classes.
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
My contention is that they do comply with the conditions mentioned by the Solicitor-General.
§ Sir W. DAVISON
I am obliged to the Solicitor-General for what he has said. We have also, however, dwellings for what might be called black-coated workers. The overwhelming majority of our dwellings are for working people at low rents of 8s to 10s. a week, but there are certain other dwellings let at a higher rent and it is only for the former class of dwellings that I ask for exempt-ion from the tax. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment to the proposed Amendment.
§ Amendment to the proposed Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Sir J. SANDEMAN ALLEN
I beg to move, in page 19, line 5, at the end, to insert the words:(a) is land owned by any savings bank certified under the Trustee Savings Banks Act, 1863, or vested in the custodian trustees of any such savings bank.These savings banks are philanthropic institutions and do not trade for profit, and the very small margin that they get to cover their expenses might be easily swallowed up by any further taxation. They exist for the general interest and welfare of the public, and it is only right and proper that they should be exempt. I am not clear whether they are already excluded under the heading of charitable institutions, but I move this Amendment in order to make the position clear.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I am afraid that this is a case where we cannot agree to exemption. This matter has been carefully considered from time to time as regards exemptions from the Income Tax provisions, and savings banks have been already charged to Income Tax in respect of both their premises and their investments. Therefore, they do not come under charitable exemptions. The position nowadays with regard to savings banks is different from what it was. There is now no limitation of the total amount that can be deposited by any one depositor as there used to be, so that really they are in much the 465 same position as other banks, although they cater for a particular class of people. That does not seem to be any real reason why they should be exempt, and they are not really analogous to charities.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Lieut. - Colonel Sir A. LAMBERT Ward
Is this Amendment consequential on the next—in line 9, after the word "purposes," to insert the words:or is owned by trustees in trust for naval, military or air force purposes"?If so, would it not be for the convenience of the Committee if they were taken together?
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
They are not actually consequential, but if it be for the convenience of the Committee for me to deal with the whole of the Amendments to Clause 19, I am prepared to do it. The word "used" is proposed to be left out because it is felt to be redundant, and creates a little difficulty in the wording of Clause 20, which would have to be amended accordingly. To indicate that it is land owned by a Government Department is sufficient without putting in the word "used" as well.
I want to say, in regard to the Amendments to this Clause which have been put down by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that we find ourselves in the extraordinary position that, under the Guillotine, it is absolutely impossible to obtain adequate time for our own Amendments. We are obliged to sacrifice discussion on one Amendment after another which we would have wished to discuss, and we have to make our choice between Amendments and take only those upon which it seems to be possible to get any discussion. The only course open to us therefore is to avoid any discussion on the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Amendments.
§ Sir A. LAMBERT WARD
There is an Amendment in my name, in line 9, after the word "purposes," to insert the words "or for the purposes of the Territorial 466 Army." I am not quite sure whether the Chancellor's Amendment is intended to cover the object which I had in putting my Amendment down. I am informed that the case I have in mind has been brought to the notice of the Chancellor by the War Office. It is a commonplace to say that the greater includes the less, but in the proceedings of this House that is not always the case. For example, it is impossible to debate anything dealing with the Territorial Army under Vote A of the Army Estimates. I should like to have a definite assurance that the Amendments of the Solicitor-General definitely include land held for the purposes of the Territorial Army. In the City of London, half-a-mile from the Bank of England, there is a piece of land occupying five or six acres, which has been used for military purposes for 400 years and is now occupied by a Territorial unit. If valued, that land would be worth some millions of pounds sterling. It is now in the occupation of this unit on a lease from the Corporation of the City of London at a peppercorn rent, provided it is used for military purposes only. I should like to have an assurance that this piece of ground is covered by the Amendment.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
With regard to the question of the hon. and gallant Member for North-West Hull (Sir A. Lambert Ward), the words in the second of my Amendments are proposed for the purpose of exempting, among others, the Honourable Artillery Company's premises to which the hon. and gallant Member referred. As regards canteens, I think that the whole of the premises they occupy are in the possession of the Government, and are therefore exempt.
§ Mr. KELLY
I understand that they were at one time in the possession of the Government, but that at a particular stage—I do not know why; it may have been some bargain that was made with 467 other people—they were passed out to another concern, and I cannot look upon them as a Government institution. They are institutions with which we are not able to deal when abuses occur.
§ Amendment agreed to.
Further Amendment made: In line 9, after the word "purposes," insert the words:
or is owned by trustees in trust for naval, military, or air force purposes."—[The Solicitor-General.]
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I beg to move, in page 19, line 12, to leave out the word "authority," and to insert instead thereof the word "board."
§ This is a purely drafting Amendment.
§ Sir DENNIS HERBERT
As the Solicitor-General is moving a drafting Amendment, may I suggest that he would be good enough to consider two other purely drafting Amendments in the names of the hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Womersley) and myself? The first is in page 19, line 11, after the first word "by," to insert the words "or controlled by or held in trust for." The other is in line 11, to leave out the second word "by."
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I beg to move, in page 19, line 14, at the end, to insert the words:or by a body of persons authorised by any special Act or order having the force of an Act, to construct, erect, or maintain as its principal business, any embankment or sea or river wall.This Amendment is moved because there are some statutory bodies occupied with the maintenance of sea walls, like the Wallasey Embankment Commissioners, who are at present not included in the Bill with other similar bodies who have been brought within its provisions. It had not been realised that there were such bodies who were outside the Drainage Act, 1930.
§ Brigadier-General CLIFTON BROWN
Does this Amendment cover the Amendment standing in the name of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Oxford (Captain Bourne) and myself and some other hon. Members?—[In page 19, line 13, after "1930" insert "or under any other Statute or award."]
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. RAMSBOTHAM
I beg to move, in page 19, line 17, to leave out from the word "persons" to the word "on" in line 19, and to insert instead thereof the words "which carries."
If this Amendment were accepted paragraph (d) would then read:is owned by a body of persons which carries on as its principal business any railway, canal, inland navigation, dock.This Amendment is followed by a number of others in the names of hon. Friends of mine covering similar points, and therefore I do not propose to deal in detail with this Amendment, but be as brief as I can in order to allow other hon. Members to put their points. First, I would say a word on the main principle underlying the whole Sub-section. I understand it is the case under the Bill that if a body of persons carry on work of the kind mentioned in this paragraph under the authority of some public statute or order they will be exempt from Land Tax, but a private body of persons doing precisely the same kind of work at precisely the same charges and rendering the same service to the public are to be taxed. Before I say a word or two on the principle of that, if it can be called a principle, I would remark in passing that it is much the same as if the Solicitor-General were to receive his salary free of Income Tax while occupying that position but pay Income Tax on his earnings when he returns to the Bar.
Coming to the actual undertakings affected, I would draw attention to the position of the wharfingers of the Port of London. They will be taxed under the Bill, whereas the Port of London Authority, which carries on the same work as the wharfingers, escapes from the taxation. The wharfingers are in direct competition with the Port of London authority. Is that wrong, in the Government's view? Is it anti-social of the wharfingers to compete, and are they to be penalised, or do the Government suggest that the sites of the wharves and warehouses are not being put to the best use and should be turned into big offices? Is it suggested that the wharfingers do not carry out a similar public duty and render a similar 469 public service? They provide accommodation for steamers and facilities for unloading barges and the like. The Port of London Authority already has advantages over the wharfingers for it pays its rates on its income value and the wharfingers pay on their annual value. The Port of London Authority receives revenue from dock dues, whereas the wharfingers receive none, and yet the annual value of the wharfingers property is in the neighbourhood of £500,000 per annum. I ask the Solicitor-General how he can justify the discrimination between these two bodies. In actual fact the wharfingers employ more men that the Port of London Authority.
I expect the principle on which the Government has proceeded is the principle of abstract Socialism, which is showing its head for the first time in this Bill. The principle which the Subsection enunciates is this, that it is wrong and anti-social for private persons to do something which it is right and social for a public authority to do. I object most strongly to that principle. What have the Liberal party to say about it?? The advance guard are here and the main body cannot be far behind. The commander-in-chief is not absent, he is within hail. On a vital Clause of this kind, where the issue of individualism versus Socialism is put clearly before us, we ought to know the Liberal party's view, and what they are instructed to say by their various coloured books. I must remind them of the clarion call of their leader when speaking at Tenby:A party can be driven up to a point when its very self-respect will force it to hit out.I thought at the time that I had never heard a better paraphrase of the old proverb, "A worm will turn." It is not too late. The Liberal party can still retrieve their position and recover some portion of their shattered reputation. If they support this Amendment and carry it, it may be that it will cause for a time their political downfall, but it will be honourable for them to die in the last ditch, if the last ditch is the Thames at the Port of London.
§ Viscount WOLMER
I wish to put the case, which I have been asked to bring forward by the Gas Companies' Protection Association, oil gas companies who 470 will be adversely affected if this Amendment is not carried. There are 350 of them in England and 150 in Scotland. They are gas companies who are performing precisely the same public service as gas companies working under statutory powers, but who themselves have not received statutory authority. In many cases, they were started as very small concerns and simply could not afford the expense of coming to Westminster to get an Act of Parliament, but they have carried on their work for many years and have always been regarded as being on exactly the same level as other gas companies. When the Local Government Act, 1929, was passed words were inserted which put these gas companies in precisely the same position as statutory gas companies. If a differentiation is now made against the non-statutory gas companies, surely a very great injustice will be done.
These companies are in a sense in competition with statutory companies. If further charges are put upon them they must pass them on to their customers by raising the price of gas, and it is clearly inequitable that the price of gas to one set of customers should be raised by this Act while the price of gas to another set of customers is not interfered with. Two firms who are respectively drawing gas supplies from two companies of these different types may themselves be in competition, and we shall be adding to the costs of the one firm and not to the costs of the other. These gas companies are in direct competition with electricity companies, which are statutory bodies. While they may have to raise the price of their gas the electricity companies will not have to raise the price of electricity. I ask the Solicitor-General on what principle he can justify placing an extra burden on these companies, many of which are just as old as any of the other gas companies and are carrying out precisely the same work? I repeat that my appeal is not made on behalf of an isolated case or two, for there are 500 of these gas companies in the United Kingdom.
§ Sir D. HERBERT
The hon. Member for Lancaster (Mr. Ramsbotham) made special reference to the case of the wharfingers of the Port of London. There is a similar Amendment on the 471 Order Paper in the name of myself and various other hon. Members, including the Member for the City of London (Mr. E. Grenfell), dealing with the City of London—in page 19, line 22, at the end, to insert the words:(e) is owned by or leased to or occupied by a public wharfinger as defined by Sub-section (9) of Section two hundred and twenty-four of the London Building Act, 1930.I ask the Government to be good enough to pay special attention to the case of the wharfingers in the City of London, because it has been found necessary in the past to give them special treatment, and there is a good case for it here. To put the matter very shortly, the trade of the Port of London cannot be carried on by the Port of London Authority alone. These wharfingers are an absolute necessary to the business of the port. They make only the same charges as the Port of London Authority and if they are to have burdens thrown upon them which are not put upon the Port of London Authority the result, as they are retricted to the particular charges levied by the Port of London Authority, will be that they will be thrown out of business, to the very great detriment of the Port of London and the trade of the country as a whole. Under the Derating Act it was necessary to treat them specially, and I hope the Solicitor-General will make quite sure that the wharfingers are protected under this Bill, and that even if he cannot agree to the present Amendment he will at least agree to the later one which is confined to the wharfingers of the City of London.
§ Major HARVEY
May I inquire about the position of private aerodromes? I know of one, of great benefit to the people in the west of England, which is run by private enterprise, and I see no reason why that individual company should be taxed whereas, if the aerodrome were run by a municipal authority, it would escape this taxation.
§ Captain Sir WILLIAM BRASS
I wish to support this Amendment, because in this Clause we are differentiating between people who are working under private enterprise and the work of municipal authorities, railway companies and so on. I imagine that the hotels of the railway companies are exempted, and it is most 472 unfair that a hotel like the Adelphi in Liverpool, which is a big luxury hotel, or the hotel at Gleneagles, should be exempted because they are owned by railway companies while other struggling hotels which are being run by ordinary private enterprise have to pay the tax. It is not fair, either, that local authorities' aerodromes should escape this taxation while aerodromes supported by private enterprise are penalised. This point ought to be taken up by someone on the Liberal benches. At the General Election the Liberals professed to be an independent party, anti-Socialist, and out for private enterprise. Perhaps some of the Liberals who are now in the House will let us know whether they are still independent and believe in private enterprise, or whether they have all gone over to Socialism.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
We are dealing with the land owned by local authorities. The reason for exempting it is because it is land already owned by the community, and the payment of a Lax by a municipal authority to the central authority would be merely transferring the money from one public body to another, and it is not thought worth while doing that in the circumstances. The position is different with regard to statutory companies. Statutory companies are exempted from the operation of the Bill because they are controlled by Parliament, and in practically every case they are controlled in regard to the charges that they can impose and also in regard to the use that they can make of their land.
Take the case of the railway companies. They cannot sell the land which they have acquired for the purposes of their undertaking. The land they have bought must be permanently devoted to the purposes of their undertaking. The hotels are in a rather different position. I will first deal generally with the case, and then come to the position of the hotels. Generally, as regards the whole property of the railway companies, they cannot alienate it so long as it has been acquired to be used for the purposes of their undertaking; that is to say, other than surplus land. There are special Regulations in the Lands Clauses Act as to how the land may be dealt with. Under the Railways Act of 1921 a limitation is put 473 upon the company's earnings, and the position is entirely different from that of a private undertaking.
As regards the special case of the Gleneagles Hotel, and other similar hotels, of which I should think there are probably half-a-dozen in the whole country, they admittedly raise a different case. In that case, it is merely an investment, and they can sell it if they wish to do so. It is quite true to say that those particular hotels are in competition with other hotels in the country. The difficulty, however, of trying to extract the hotel business from the railway companies' property is insuperable, because, as the railway companies' departments are arranged, all the restaurant cars and all the refreshment rooms are dealt with as part of the hotel business of the railway company, and it is obvious that nobody can go up and down the country and separate at every station the site value of the refreshment room in order to charge that department of the hotel with the tax, and not charge the rest of the railway station. [An HON. MEMBER: "It is an absurd tax!"] If the hon. Member who has interrupted me looks through the Income Tax law, he will find instances in which it might be called an absurd tax, but he would not argue that we should drop the tax altogether on that account.
It is necessary when starting with the charge of a new tax like this that we should work out our way, and it is much better to exempt wholly the statutory companies than by a more complicated series of provisions atempt to bring in a value which on the whole six or seven hotels might not amount to more than £100 or £200. The site value of Gleneagles Hotel would be extraordinarily small, because it is not in a busy centre. The Adelphi Hotel at Liverpool is one of the few cases where the hotel is not built in association with the railway station. The bulk of railway hotels are built in association with the stations, and in that case it is impossible to divide them. Where an hotel is built over a railway line it is difficult to apportion the values between the railway and the hotel, and the result cannot possibly have much effect upon the tax. In regard to the cases which come under the Railways Act it does not matter, from a competition point of view, because, 474 although the hotel business is an ancillary business under the Railways Act of 1921, the profits or losses are brought into the general account of the railway companies, and it makes very little difference whether one or other of those ancillary businesses shows a loss or not.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
If it does not matter to the railway company whether it makes a loss or not on the hotel business because they can meet the loss by the profit on the other part of the railway business, the question of the tax falling upon the hotels will not affect the position very much, because the railway companies can make up the business from their freight receipts. [An HON. MEMBER: "It is absurd."] If hon. Members had heard the arguments put before the Railway Tribunal as I have heard them, they would know that is exactly the argument which is always put forward by their competitors.
The Port of London Authority is in our view clearly a case where a company has submitted to statutory regulation, and where it is being substantially run for the public benefit; in fact, it is one of the forms of nationalisation. In these circumstances there is no reason why an extra charge should be put upon a company, the whole of whose profits have to go to the reduction of the dues which are charged. The profits of the Port of London Authority can only be applied to reducing the charge to the consumer. Therefore, as the community gets the whole of the profit made by the Port of London Authority, there is no reason why a land tax should be charged in respect of their property. May I also point out that the Port of London Authority are regulated by a maximum in regard to the charges which they can make. Those are the reasons why we have given this exemption, and they are the reasons why we are not able to extend an exemption to ordinary commercial companies which are carrying on their business in the ordinary way the profits of which go to the individuals who own the company or have an interest in it, and whose charges are not regulated by Statute.
§ Sir PHILIP CUNLIFFE-LISTER
I hope the Solicitor-General will be able to reconsider this question before the Report stage because he has not met the case 475 which has been put forward in favour of this Amendment. The claim is not put forward in the interests of the man who owns the property, but entirely in the interests of those who use the property. The Solicitor-General is opposing this Amendment on the ground that the property belongs to a private company and not to a public authority, but that is not the point. The real issue is how this tax is going to affect the people who use these private undertakings. The inevitable effect of the Clause is to put a burden on the people who use the wharves. The Solicitor-General drew a distinction between the wharfingers and the Port of London Authority, and in the latter case he said that the profit was devoted to the benefit of the public. I remember that when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) was negotiating the arrangement for the establishment of the Port of London Authority he found it was desirable to exclude the wharves from his amalgamation of the large dock companies, and that was done in the interests of the people who use the wharves, and because the multifarious trades were better served in that way than by leaving them under the control of the Port of London Authority. At least 40 percent, of the trade coming into the Port of London comes to the wharves and 50 per cent. of the labour engaged in the Port of London is engaged on the wharves, and it is in the interests of those using the wharves that they should be exempt from this tax
The wharfingers do not make excessive charges, and they have to arrange their charges subject to the charges fixed by the Port of London. The only effect of this tax is that it puts them at a disadvantage, and you are really placing the charge on the people who are using the independent wharves. For these reasons, I ask the Solicitor-General not to be so deplorably consistent and to do something for what is, after all, a thing which a great Free Trade Government should consider, and that is the interests of the shipping trade of this country. If the hon. and learned Gentleman adopts my suggestion, he will be rendering a great service to the shipping trade of the Port of London and other ports by giving this 476 exemption. It the solicitor-General does not accept this Amendment, he will be showing himself singularly callous to great public undertakings by rejecting such a reasonable proposal.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ Major COLVILLE
The Solicitor-General has laid down the axiom, apparently, that, where profits are limited by the State, exemption from land tax can be secured. In that case he is going to be in serious difficulty with the Kent Restrictions Act, if we understood him correctly as to the reason for certain undertakings being exempted from the tax. With regard to the question of wharves, it would be unreasonable to exempt railway lines and yet tax railway terminal stations, but the wharves are the terminals of the seaway just as much as the terminal stations are of the railway. It is quite unreasonable to take the suggested action and leave these wharves subject to the tax, and I suggest that the particular case of the wharves requires the Solicitor-General's very earnest consideration.
§ Sir D. HERBERT
As the Solicitor-General did not refer specially to wharves in his reply, I should like to ask him whether, in considering a Bill of this kind, he cannot go outside these mere rules in regard to where profits go, and have a little regard to one of the most important things for this country, namely, the prosperity of the Port of London and of the many workers engaged therein, who will be thrown out of employment if these wharves have to shut up.
Lieut.-Colonel Sir FREDERICK HALL
I desire to raise another point in connection with this matter. Unfortunately, it is not possible for all the Amendments which have been put down to Clause 19 to be considered, but I am wondering whether the Solicitor-General or other members of the Government have looked into the case of the private omnibus owners. Compare the position of private omnibus owners, with regard to the land on which their garages are built, with the position of omnibus undertakings belonging to local authorities or even to railway companies. If an omnibus undertaking is owned by a local authority or a railway company, the land on which its garages are built is exempt, under Clause 19, from the land tax. That places a very big industry, namely, that of the private omnibus concerns, in a very unfortunate 477 position; they ought to have the same consideration as the railway companies and the omnibus undertakings that are owned by local authorities. The private omnibus owner has to bear the whole of his rates and taxes, and in addition, under this Bill, a tax on the land on which his garages are constructed. I do not ask that the offices should be exempted, but only the land on which the actual garages and workshops are constructed, as in the case of the railway companies.
If the Government desire to be fair, the private omnibus owner should be placed on exactly the same footing as the local authority. Otherwise, as has already been pointed out, a distinction is drawn between the costs in the two cases. Someone has to bear the costs, and, if the land on which these garages and so on are constructed is to be subject to this tax, the users of the omnibuses will have to pay it. I have an Amendment on the Paper, but, unfortunately, I have no opportunity of moving it. I would, however, ask the Solicitor-General whether, between now and the Report stage, he will look into the matter. I will take care then to put down an Amendment dealing with this subject, and I hope that we shall have an opportunity of discussing it, and that in the meantime the Government will look carefully into the matter and see that fair rations are dealt out to these private owners. The manner in which I can discuss the matter now is
§ rather limited, but I hope that on the Report stage I and my hon. Friends who are interested in the Amendment will have a reasonable opportunity of discussing it, and that the Government will not only give it their sympathy, but will recognise that it is only fair and honest to these private omnibuses that they should be placed in the same position as the coaches owned by municipal undertakings.
§ Captain Sir BURTON CHADWICK
I shall not attempt to add to all the forcible arguments which have been put forward against this tax from this side of the Committee, but, with regard to the question of docks and wharves, I want to emphasise the point which was made by my right hon. Friend. Not only is this a harsh tax with respect to the shipping which makes use of these wharves, but it is a discriminating tax as between one kind of sea transport and another, and it inflicts very great hardship on one particular kind of shipping trade, namely, the short sea coastal trade. That trade is heavily enough handicapped under existing conditions, and I hope that the Solicitor-General will take this matter into consideration between now and the Report stage.
§ Question put, "That the words pro-posed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 266; Noes, 222.481
|Division No. 349.]||AYES.||[5.7 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire)||Freeman, Peter|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Buchanan, G.||Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)|
|Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigie M.||Burgees, F. G.||Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.)|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')||Cape, Thomas||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Car'vn)|
|Alpass, J. H.||Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.)||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)|
|Amman, Charles George||Chater, Daniel||George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)|
|Angell, Sir Norman||Church, Major A. G.||Gibbins, Joseph|
|Arnott, John||Clarke, J. S.||Gibson, H. M. (Lanes, Mossley)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Cluse, W. S.||Gill, T. H.|
|Ayles, Walter||Cynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Glassey, A. E.|
|Barnes, Alfred John||Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Gossling, A. G.|
|Barr, James||Cove, William G.||Gould, F.|
|Batey, Joseph||Cripps, Sir Stafford||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)|
|Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham)||Daggar, George||Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin, Cent.)|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood||Dallas, George||Gray, Mliner|
|Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||Dalton, Hush||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne)|
|Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd)||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)|
|Benson, G.||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Day, Harry||Groves, Thomas E.|
|Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret||Denman, Hon- R. D.||Grundy, Thomas W.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Broad, Francis Alfred||Duncan, Charles||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Ede, James Chuter||Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, c.)|
|Bromfield, William||Edge, Sir William||Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)|
|Bromley, J.||Edmunds, J. E.||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)|
|Brooks, W.||Elmley, Viscount||Hardie, David (Rutherglen)|
|Brothers, M.||Evans, Capt. Ernest (Walsh Univer.)||Hardie, G. D. (Springburn)|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield||Foot, Isaac||Harris, Percy A.|
|Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Manning, E. L.||Shield, George William|
|Haycock, A. W.||Mansfield, W.||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Hayday, Arthur||March, S.||Shillaker, J. F.|
|Hayes, John Henry||Marcus, M.||Shinwell, E.|
|Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Markham, S. F.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.)||Marley, J.||Simmons, C. J.|
|Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||Marshall, Fred||Simon, E. D. (Manch'ter, Withington)|
|Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)||Mathers, George||Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)||Matters, L. W.||Sinkinson, George|
|Herriotts, J.||Maxton, James||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Hirst, G. H. (York, W. R. Wentworth)||Messer, Fred||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Mills, J. E.||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)|
|Hoffman, P. C.||Milner, Major J.||Smith, Lees-, Rt. Hon. H. B. (Keighley)|
|Hopkin, Daniel||Montague, Frederick||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)|
|Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)||Morley, Ralph||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Hunter, Dr. Joseph||Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Mort, D. L.||Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)|
|Johnston, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Muff, G.||Stamford, Thomas W.|
|Jones, Llewellyn-, F.||Muggeridge, H. T.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Murnin, Hugh||Strauss, G. R.|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Naylor, T. E.||Sullivan, J.|
|Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Noel Baker, P. J.||Sutton, J. E|
|Kelly, W. T.||Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)||Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)|
|Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Oldfield, J. R.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Kinley, J.||Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Kirkwood, D.||Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)||Tillett, Ben|
|Knight, Holford||Palin, John Henry.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Lang, Gordon||Paling, Wilfrid||Toole, Joseph|
|Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Palmer, E. T.||Tout, W. J.|
|Lathan, G. (Sheffield, Park)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Townend, A. E.|
|Law, Albert (Bolton)||Peters, Dr. Sidney John||Vaughan, David|
|Law, A. (Rossendale)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Viant, S. P.|
|Lawrence, Susan||Phillips, Dr. Marion||Walker, J.|
|Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)||Picton-Turbervill, Edith||Wallace, H. W.|
|Lawson, John James||Pole, Major D. G.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Lawther, W. (Barnard Oastle)||Potts, John S.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermilne)|
|Leach, W.||Price, M. p.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.)||Quibell, D. J. K.||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Lees, J.||Raynes, W. R.||Welsh, James (Paisley)|
|Leonard, W.||Richards, R.||Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)|
|Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||West, F. R.|
|Lindley, Fred W.||Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)||Westwood, Joseph|
|Lloyd, C. Ellis||Riley, F. F, (Stockton-on-Tees)||White, H. G.|
|Logan, David Gilbert||Ritson, J.||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Longbottom, A. W.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)||Whiteley, William (Blaydon)|
|Longden, F.||Romeril, H. G.||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Rosbotham, D. S. T.||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Lunn, William||Rowson, Guy||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Salter, Dr. Alfred||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|McElwee, A.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|McEntee, V. L.||Samuel, H. Waiter (Swansea, West)||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|McGovern, J. (Glasgow, Shettleston)||Sanders, W. S.||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|McKinlay, A.||Sandham, E.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|MacLaren, Andrew||Sawyer, G. F.||Winterton, G. E.(Leicester, Loughb'gh)|
|Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)||Scott, James||Wise, E. F.|
|Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Scurr, John||Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)|
|MacNeill-Weir, L.||Sexton, Sir James||Young, R. S. (Islington, North)|
|McShane, John James||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Mander, Geoffrey le M.||Sherwood, G. H.||Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr. Charleton.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Castle Stewart, Earl of|
|Ainsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles||Bird, Ernest Roy||Cautley, Sir Henry S|
|Albery, Irving James||Blindell, James||Cayzer, Sir c. (Chester, City)|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R.(Prtsmth, S.)|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.)||Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Chadwick, Capt. Sir Robert Burton|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh)||Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.||Chamberlain Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.)|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. IM. S.||Boyce, Leslie||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)|
|Ashley, Lt-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Chapman, Sir S.|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Brass, Captain Sir William||Christie, J. A.|
|Altar, Maj. Hn. John J.(Kent, Dover)||Briscoe, Richard George||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer|
|Astor, Viscountess||Broadbent, Colonel J.||Clydesdale, Marquess of|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Cobb, Sir Cyril|
|Atkinson, C.||Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Cohen, Major J. Brunei|
|Baillie-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W.||Buchan, John||Colfox, Major William Philip|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bowdley)||Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Colman, N. C. D.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Bullock, Captain Malcolm||Colville, Major D. J.|
|Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet)||Butler, R. A.||Cooper, A. Duff|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Courtauld, Major J. S.|
|Beaumont, M. W.||Campbell, E. T.||Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.|
|Betterton, Sir Henry B.||Carver, Major W. H.||Cowan, D. M.|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Hudson, Capt A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Rothschild, J. de|
|Crichton-stuart, Lord C.||Hurd, Percy A.||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E.|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C.||Iveagh, Countess of||Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Salmon, Major L.|
|Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Kindersley, Major G. M.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Daikeith, Earl of||Knox, Sir Alfred||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart|
|Dairymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey||Lamb, Sir J. O.||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)||Lambert, Rt. Hon. Georae (S. Moiton)||Savery, S. S.|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Davies, Ma]. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil)||Latham, H. p. (Scarboro' & Whitby)||Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Belfst.)|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Skelton, A. N.|
|Despencer-Hobertson, Major J. A. F.||Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Dugdale, Capt. T. L.||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Locker-Lampson, Com. O.(Handsw'th)||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Lockwood, Captain J. H.||Smithers, Waldron|
|Elliot, Major Waiter E.||Long, Major Hon. Eric||Somerset, Thomas|
|England, Colonel A.||Lymington, Viscount||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-t.-M.)||McConnell, Sir Joseph||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Macquisten, F. A.||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Ferguson, Sir John||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)||Stanley, Hon. O. (Westmorland)|
|Fielden, E. B.||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Flson, F. G. clavering||Margesson, Captain H. D.||Stewart, W. J. (Belfast, South)|
|Ford, Sir P. J.||Marjorlbanks, Edward||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Forestler-Walker, Sir L.||Meiler, R. J.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.|
|Fremantle, lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A.|
|Gaibraith, J. F. W.||Milne, wardlaw-, J. S.||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Thompson, Luke|
|Gauit, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.||Thomson, Mitchell-, Rt. Hon. Sir W.|
|Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley)||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Glimour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Morris, Rhys Hopkins||Todd, Capt. A. J.|
|Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)||Train, J.|
|Gower, Sir Robert||Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Muirhead, A. J.||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrst'ld)||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Greaves-Lord, Sir Waiter||O'Connor, T. J.||Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||O'Neill, Sir H.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert|
|Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William||Warrender, Sir victor|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Peake, Captain Osbert||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Perkins, W. R. D.||Wells, Sydney R.|
|Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Peic, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Power, Sir John Cecil||Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)|
|Hammersley, S. S.||Purbrick, R.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Pybus, Percy John||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Hartington, Marquess of||Ramsbotham, H.||Withers, Sir John James|
|Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Rawson, Sir Cooper||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Haslam, Henry C.||Reid, David D. (County Down)||Womersley, W. J.|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Remer, John R.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Rentoul, Sir Gervais S.||Wright, Brig.-Gen. W. D. (Tavlst'k)|
|Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford)||Reynolds, Col. Sir James||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton|
|Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)|
|Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell||Sir Frederick Thomson and Sir George Penny.|
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I beg to move, in page 19, line 23, to leave out paragraphs (e), (f), (g), and (h), and to insert instead thereof the words:(e) is owned by any persons entitled to claim, in respect of the unit or of any part thereof or in respect of the rents or profits of the unit or of any part thereof, exemption from Income Tax under Schedule A of the Income Tax Act, 1918, by virtue of Section thirty-seven or thirty-eight of that Act, or section thirty of the Finance Act, 1921, or allowance in respect of such Income Tax by virtue of No. VI of that Schedule;(f) is owned by a registered friendly society.The purpose of this Amendment is to exclude charities generally, and also registered friendly societies. The reason for the form of the Amendment is that it is desired, as far as possible, that 482 people who are already exempt under the Income Tax Acts should know their position under this Act, and, therefore, if one legislates by reference to exemptions already given under the Income Tax Acts, it will be comparatively easy for any body or association which has already made an Income Tax claim for exemption to know what the position will be under the present Bill. The general effect of the Clause, of course, is limited to cases where the land unit is not subject to a lease granted for a term exceeding 50 years, but I should like to make it clear that, by the operation of Clause 20, any interest of an exempted body, whether as lessor for more than 50 years or as lessee for a term of under 50 years under another lessor, is itself exempted, so that all 483 these bodies will be totally exempted whether they own the land or are lessors for over 50 years or are lessees of other lessors for less than 50 years.
I do not think that it would be profitable to go through the precise Sections of the Income Tax Acts that are referred to in order to explain the content of each one of them. It will probably be better if I give a general view of what is covered by those Sections. The scope of the meaning of charitable purposes, which is the expression used in those Sections, is very wide indeed, and, as was explained by my right hon. Friend on 15th June, it covers four main heads, the relief of poverty, the advancement of education, the advancement of religion and other purposes beneficial to the community. It is, naturally, not possible for me to give the Committee anything like an exhaustive list of the bodies which have been held by various judicial decisions to come within the term "charity" for the purpose of the Income Tax Acts, but perhaps I may indicate very shortly the type of body which has been held to be covered, and to do so largely by illustrations from Amendments which have been put on the Paper by various hon. Members opposite. For instance, orphanages, institutions for the care or benefit of the destitute, blind, crippled, aged and sick and poor in general, bodies which hold their land in trust for the advancement of religion, such as churches, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, the Young Men's Christian association, all public schools, the term "public school" including all schools which receive grants from local authorities or the Board of Education, universities and colleges, trustees of scholarship funds, such bodies as the Royal Lifeboat Institution, societies for the protection of children, village institutes and clubs for poor boys and girls in the East End of London and other poor districts and the National and the London Playing Fields Associations. That, of course, is only a very limited list of the type of bodies, and to that may be added bodies of the type of the Yorkshire Agricultural Association which, it has been decided, is a charity and, of course, a number of other agricultural associations would similarly fall into that category.
484 There is perhaps one matter of detail to which I should make reference. It will be seen from the form of the Amendment that it covers cases where exemption under the Income Tax Act is in respect of a unit or any part thereof or in respect of the rents or profits of a unit or part thereof. There are some cases where under the Income Tax Acts only a part of a unit might be exempted, because as regards some other part of it it might be occupied by a person who paid rent whose income was over £150 a year. That might particularly apply in the case of places like colleges, where there might be some rent charged either to a fellow or to a student, and, consequently, that particular part of the college would not be exempt for the purposes of Income Tax. However, it has been thought that in such a case the whole unit ought to be exempt for administrative purposes. It obviously makes it much easier, and it is a matter of small importance. Therefore, the words "or part of a land unit" have been inserted to cover cases of that sort. The only other case that is dealt with is the case of registered friendly societies, and those are exempted from Income Tax on the basis of the Chancellor's statement on 15th June. I have a list here of the various Amendments that are covered either wholly or partly by the exemptions. It is a very long one, and I do not propose, unless hon. Members desire it, to read it out, but, if I can assist anyone by saying whether in my view a certain class comes within or without the charitable exemptions, I shall be very glad to do anything that I can.
§ Mr. BEAUMONT
We are very grateful to the Chancellor for the very wide response which he has given to some of our demands for exemption, but, of course, as is always the case, like Oliver, we ask for more. I want to call attention to one particularly difficult case which will occur when this Amendment is carried. It very rightly and properly exempts all schools which will come under the heading of charities. It will exempt all State schools, and, as far as I can make out, all schools not run for private profit. But you will then come up against the case of the small private school, which fulfils a very great purpose in the State and relieves it of a considerable amount of expenditure 485 inasmuch as the children who attend it pay for their education instead of Coming on the State for it, particularly in suburban areas, [Interruption.] I really cannot see why hon. Members find it necessary to cheer that statement ironically. It will be a very serious question indeed for small private schools in suburban areas, as all the school population will suddenly be thrown on the already overcrowded elementary schools. No small private school would be able to afford to own its land and, above all, to own its playing fields and the land for the amenities that we desire to see in the schools. You are going practically to wipe out small private schools in urban areas, because they will not be able to afford to carry on. I am not talking about the rich private school which charges a big fee and can afford, as far as anyone can afford, to pay the tax. I am thinking of the small private school which caters for the poor and charges very small fees. I ask the Solicitor-General if he can put the case up to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and see whether anything can be done on Report to ease the very severe burden which will be thrown on these schools and, by compelling them to move out into the country, will incur increased expenditure on the State.
§ Mr. SKELTON
I should like to ask the Lord Advocate whether he is satisfied that the Amendment gives relief to charities in Scotland whose investments are in the form of feu duties. The Bill is so complicated that I am not certain of the answer, but it is a matter that ought to be cleared up, because a great number of charitable institutions of all sorts in Scotland have their investments in feu duties, and some are confined to that class of investment.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. Craigie Aitchison)
We have considered the matter from the point of view of charities in Scotland, particularly having regard to charities whose main investments are in feu duties. A charity in Scotland is the same thing as in England; that is to say, there is no difference for the purposes of Income Tax in what constitutes a charity in Scotland and in England. The matter works out in this way. The best way to get at it is to take a particular case. If yon take, for example, the Church of Scotland, one of three situations may 486 arise. The first situation is where the Church owns the land itself. That is to say, where you have what in England you call the freehold, where the Church owns both the superiority and the property and has, therefore, the full ownership. In that case it is quite clearly within the ambit of Clause 19 of the Bill, and no difficulty arises. There are two other cases to consider. There is the case where the Church holds land under a superior for which it pays a feu duty. That case is covered by Clause 20 (1) as applied to Scotland by Clause 30. I will indicate how Clause 20 (1) reads, if we read it in reference to the Application Clause, which is Clause 30. I will give a rough paraphrase of the Clause for purposes of illustration. Clause 20 (1) would read:Where the Church (or any other charity) holds land under a superior and that land would have been exempt if the Church had held it free from any feudal relationship, the Church shall be entitled to relief from the tax, except in so far as it is recoverable from the superior.The remaining case which arises is where the Church is the superior of the land and is therefore in receipt of the feu duties. That case is covered by Clause 20 (2) as applied by Clause 30. The Sub-section could be paraphrased to read thus:Where the superior from whom any part of the tax is recovered by the vassal is the Church (or other charity) then as respects the tax so recovered he shall be entitled to relief as if he were the owner.That is to say, as if he were under Clause 19. In the result he gets repayment of the tax. So that the hon. Member will see that we have dealt with the situation thus: First, where the Church owns the land itself, in that case it is within the ambit of Clause 19; secondly, where the Church is the vassal and has to pay feu duty, relief from tax is provided for under Clause 20 (1) as applied by Clause 30; and, thirdly, where the Church is the superior in receipt of feu duty, in which case we provide for a repayment of the tax under Clause 20 (2) as applied by Clause 30. Accordingly, I am able to give the hon. Member an assurance that the position of the Church and similar charities in the sense of the Act in Scotland is adequately protected.
§ Mr. OLDFIELD
The hon. Members who are associated with me in putting down certain Amendments to the Bill are 487 very satisfied with the sympathetic and courteous manner with which the Solicitor-General has always met us. I rise now to ask the Solicitor-General certain questions, in the first place, in regard to matters about which there seems to be a doubt as to whether they are covered by the new Clause of the Government, and, in the second place, to ask his opinion on certain matters which seem to be doubtful. Two Amendments with which my name is associated deal with the exemption of voluntary schools of a nonprofit making character, and with matters which, broadly speaking, come under the definition of charity for Income Tax purposes. In regard to the Clause, there is not, and never has been, any difference in principle between that for which we were asking and that which the Solicitor-General is prepared to give us. We never have asked, and indeed we should not think of asking, for the exemption of schools, denominational or otherwise, which are run for profit.
§ Sir WILLIAM MITCHELL-THOMSON
On a point of Order. Do I understand that we are also discussing on the Amendment moved by the Government, as the hon. Gentleman appeared to be starting to do, the two following Amendments on the next page of the Order Paper standing in the name of the hon-Member for East Leicester (Mr. Wise) and in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Watford (Sir D. Herbert) respectively? I think it is as well that the Committee should appreciate what is the position. We rather understood that these two Amendments would be called as separate Amendments.
My difficulty is that I am not quite clear as to how far the Government's Amendment might cover the demands contained in the subsequent Amendments. I rather wanted to hear from the hon. Member for Watford (Sir D. Herbert) and the hon. Member for South-East Essex (Mr. Oldfield) whether it was their intention to move the Amendments standing in their names.
§ Sir D. HERBERT
On that point of Order. I am anxious to save time on this matter as much as possible, and I recognise in the present circumstances we are very much in the hands of the Government. In my opinion, it is immaterial whether we discuss the Amendments now 488 on the Amendment of the Chancellor of the Exchequer or whether we deal with them later. I, certainly, have a point with regard to the Amendment in my name which I wish to put to the learned Solicitor-General, to the effect that he has not covered entirely the demand in my Amendment and, possibly, not everything he intended to cover in regard to religious bodies.
In that case, I suggest to the Committee that we should discuss the Government Amendment and, having got rid of it, I will then call such subsequent Amendments as may be necessary.
§ Mr. OLDFIELD
My difficulty in regard to your Ruling is that I cannot possibly tell until we have heard a speech by the Solicitor-General exactly where we stand regarding the other Amendments which are coming afterwards. I should have much preferred, if it had been possible, to have had a fairly wide discussion on the Amendment of the Government, because we should have known exactly where we were covered and where we were not covered. But it seems now that the specific exemptions have been withdrawn, and that the Government are proposing to exempt all those institutions and organisations.
I must explain to the Committee that if the Government's Amendments is carried, the other two Amendments must be moved in somewhat different form. The wording of those Amendments will have to be altered in order to make it possible to insert them. My difficulty is to know what is the precise thing to do in order to meet the changed situation.
§ Sir W. MITCHELL-THOMSON
May I make a suggestion? I think that substantial justice would be done if we could have a wide discussion upon this Amendment covering everything, and then, if my hon. Friend and the hon. Member opposite failed to get a satisfactory answer from the Solicitor-General, they could reserve their right to divide on their Amendment without further discussion. That, it seems to me, would do justice to everybody.
I think that that is by far the better method to adopt, and I am quite willing to agree to that course.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN indicated assent.
§ Mr. OLDFIELD
The point I wish to raise is whether all those schools which the Solicitor-General wishes to exempt are really exempted under the Government's Amendment. As far as the schools in England are concerned, the exemption is complete in regard to schools which are not run for profit. The case does not seem to be quite as satisfactory as far as Scotland is concerned. If one takes the denominational schools in Scotland set up under the Act of 1918, one finds that they are now operating in two ways. Some of those denominational schools have been sold to the local authorities, and in those cases the question does not arise. But in other cases they have been leased to the local authority under the Act of 1918. Although the whole of the money obtained from the local authority in the way of rent is devoted to purposes which are clearly charitable within the meaning of the Income Tax Act as being devoted to educational purposes and so forth, yet, strictly speaking, those schools are not exempt from tax under Schedule A for the reason that they are not subject to a trust. Unless I am mistaken they have to be subject formally to a trust before they can be regarded as a charity at all.
Those schools are exempt from Schedule A simply because of a convenient arrangement. An artificial trust has been created in order to meet the difficulty. I do not think that it is a very good way round, but that is what has actually been done. I do not believe that it will be practicable, without a good deal of undesirable dislocation, to provide a trust for those denominational schools of such a nature 490 as will bring them within exemption under Schedule A. The first question, therefore, which I should like the Solicitor-General to clear up is: Is it possible by altering the words slightly on the Report stage, to make it clear that those schools in Scotland will be brought in and will be exempted as are the schools in England?
The next thing which seems to be doubtful is the question of the churches. Under the Finance Bill, as originally drafted, churches were exempted specifically, and I suppose that the reason why that was done was that, unless a church trustified itself, strictly speaking it did not come within the definition of a charity as laid down in the Finance Act. I believe that churches are now exempt from Schedule A, not through any legal provision, but simply through custom and because, in point of fact, the tax is not collected by the Board of Inland Revenue. Under the new provisions in the Government's Amendment, although I do not doubt for one moment the intention of the Government, which, I think, is perfectly clear—I speak subject to correction, having had no legal training—we are not in such a strong position as we were under the specific exemption given to us in the Finance Bill as originally presented to us. I would like the Solicitor-General to deal with that point, and if the position requires strengthening perhaps he will indicate between now and the Report stage whether he can give some practical shape to it.
So far as the many charitable organisations are concerned the position is more satisfactory, because nearly all of them depend upon some kind of trust. Even where they do not depend upon some kind of trust it would, no doubt, not be very difficult to create a trust which would bring them within the meaning of the term "charity." The chief difficulty, as I see it, lies in those few charities which are directly administered by religious bodies and in respect of which it would be inconvenient to create an ad hoc trust, where the position seems to be an ambiguous one now, and in those anomalous positions which may arise in Scotland unless there is some slight alteration. In regard to the taxation of houses in which the clergy live and of church halls, it seems to me that church halls are not included by the new Amendment 491 and that presbyteries, vicarages and the like are only excluded from the tax in cases where the incumbent's income is under £150. So far as the religious body is concerned for which I am mainly speaking this afternoon, most of our priests have not an income of £150 a year. I do not think that distinction is a very satisfactory one and I am wondering whether the Solicitor-General cannot produce a more satisfactory distinction other than the purely arbitrary one of incomes of £150 a year.
I should like to see church halls exempt from the tax. For the main part they are used for purposes which are charitable within the meaning of the Act. Although it may be possible to include them by creating a special trust for each church hall, it should not be very difficult to devise words which would bring them in without putting upon them the obligation of turning themselves into trusts. I am putting these suggestions before the Solicitor-General more for clarification than for anything else. It may be that the two Amendments which stand in the names of the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Scurr) and other hon. Members, and also in my name, are not wholly or entirely met by the Government Amendment, but I feel that the Solicitor-General has gone such a long way towards meeting us and has treated us with such generosity that my hon. Friends and myself do not propose to press our Amendment. We will leave it to the Solicitor-General to remedy those things which he thinks can be remedied before the Report stage comes along.
§ Mr. CAMPBELL
The hon. Member referred to the difference between voluntary schools and profit-earning schools. What difference does he see between a voluntary school which is not exempted and a profit-earning school? Voluntary schools are to a certain extent profit-earning.
§ Mr. CAMPBELL
Somebody gets some profit from them. It is the same in a private school; somebody gets a certain amount of profit there. The question is, what is the amount of profit?
§ Mr. OLDFIELD
The distinction is very simple. The ordinary non-provided school, which is provided in the vast majority of cases by religious bodies, does not make profit. It gives free education and is in receipt of certain grants from the local authority and the Government, which contribute towards the cost. In so far as what the Government provide and what the local authority provide does not quite cover the whole of the cost, the school is run at a moderate loss, which is found by the managers of schools. I draw a very sharp distinction, and it is a distinction easily drawn, whether we agree with it or not, between that class of school and the school which is run by a private corporation, say, run by some nuns, primarily for profit, and makes profit. That is in quite a different category.
§ Sir D. HERBERT
After the speech of the hon. Member opposite I can add very little, except to reinforce what he said, in so far as it is covered by the Amendment which stands in the names of myself and three hon. Friends of mine. The right hon. and gallant Member for New-castle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) is in his place, but perhaps it may not be necessary for him to express his views in regard to religious bodies on this question. I imagine that the Solicitor-General intends and desires to exempt everything which is covered by the Amendment in my name, namely, property owned by a religious body or on their behalf by trustees andused wholly or mainly for the purpose of public religious worship or as a place of residence for the ministers, etc., of such body.The hon. Member opposite was right in saying that the churches, which certainly do not pay Income Tax under Schedule A, are not exempt from that Income Tax in the way set out in the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Amendment. I do not quite know the reason but I believe there is a theory they are not taxed because they are uninhabited places within the peculiar meaning of—I will not enter further into the matter. I do not know what the reason may be, but the Solicitor-General will agree with me that he does not want to tax churches. It is clear that they are not given exemption from Schedule A Income Tax under any of the enactments referred to here. There- 493 fore, I would suggest that the Solicitor-General should put into the Bill words sufficient to cover them.
There is serious doubt whether some of the residential property is exempt under the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Amendment. Let me deal with the matter irrespective of denomination, because it does not apply to one particular church. Presbyteries, monastries, convents and properties of certain religious and residential kind are, I believe, intended to be exempt from this tax, and I think it would be the general view of the Committee that they should be, but it is extremely doubtful whether they are exempt under the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Amendment. I therefore ask the Solicitor-General whether, if he cannot agree to the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Mile End, which includes mine, he will agree, and I would press him very strongly to agree, to the shorter Amendment standing in my name and the names of other hon. Members.
§ Major GLYN
Has the Solicitor-General given consideration to the question of those sisterhoods which belong to the Church of England where they collect fees from certain pupils, and those funds are, in turn, used to give free education to other children cither there or at other institutions. I am informed that as the Clause is now amended by the Chancellor of the Exchequer those religious bodies would be subject to the tax. In those circumstances considerable injustice would be done, because those bodies are, in the main, depending upon legacies which are left to them. They carry on work not only in this country' but in India and elsewhere, which is very largely dependent upon the statutory funds which they obtain and upon the funds which they are able to collect from the wealthier parents for educating some of the pupils, the balance of the money being solely used for educational and religious purposes. If the Solicitor-General will consider that matter, I shall be very much obliged. There is another point in regard to city companies in London who own considerable amounts of property in the shape of almshouses in London, to a large extent in the suburbs. Those almshouses are very old buildings and very frequently occupy sites of great importance. I would like to know 494 whether we can be assured that those almshouses, which are administered by city companies which work under charter, will be exempt from the tax.
§ Sir JOHN WITHERS
I should like to thank the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the Amendment and for the sympathetic way in which he has treated the universities, the public schools and other educational charities. The Solicitor-General very kindly said that he would answer questions as to certain exemptions. I take him at his word and I should be much obliged if he would let me know something about au Amendment which I have put down regarding two trusts, the Oxford Preservation Trust and the Cambridge Preservation Society, which was put down as an Amendment not to this part of the Bill but to paragraph (c). These two bodies are incorporated under the Companies Act as associations not for profit. The Board of Trade has consented to the omission of the word "Limited" on the names. No profits can be distributed, and the liability of members is limited by guarantee. There is no profit to members. The Articles of Association cannot be altered without the consent of the Board of Trade. The objects of both bodies are to protect the amenities of university towns and to preserve ancient buildings. A considerable amount of money has been subscribed and spent in these ways, and both universities are very anxious to know that they come within the exemptions of charities from the tax. They will have to come under the exemption of "bodies formed for other purposes beneficial to the community."
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL indicated assent.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Commander SOUTHBY
I should like to add a few words to what was said by the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Beaumont) about private schools, and what was said by the hon. Member for South-East Essex (Mr. Oldfield) in regard to church halls. I represent an area which will be particularly affected by this tax. Until quite recently it was a country area, but it is now very rapidly being built over, and the land has risen very much in value. In this area there are 495 many private schools and many church halls, and it seems to me that it would be very unfair that they should labour under the disability which they may labour under compared with the private schools or church halls in other districts where the value of the land is not so great. I ask the Solicitor-General to reconsider the question of these private schools. For the purpose of carrying on their business they must be situate as near London as possible. They must have playing fields and also sufficient premises to house their staff. They are going to be hit extremely hard by this tax. Many private schools exist in this area, some of which certainly are run for profit, but already they pay heavily as far as Income Tax Under Schedule A is concerned, and this further imposition will be a very difficult demand for them to meet. I hope something will be done to help them. As far as church halls are concerned, they occupy sites in this particular locality which are of great value, and, considering the good work which is done by them and the useful purposes they serve, they are deserving of the sympathetic consideration of the Government. I hope they will receive that sympathetic consideration.
§ Mr. DENMAN
May I add a word to reinforce the plea that has been made on behalf of those who occupy religious houses and places used as a residence for officers or employés of a religious body? After the generous treatment by the Government of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners one hardly likes to ask for anything more except when one considers that there has been an accidental omission, and I suggest that this point has been neglected by mistake and not by intention. The Solicitor-General realises that although the exemption frees the income of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners from a very heavy charge, the tax will be payable in respect of the properties of a benefice, that is to say, that incumbents will have to pay for glebe land and for the land on which their residences are situate. He will also realise that this may be something of a hardship because these residences often have a larger amount of ground than more modem residences; and their incomes are frequently small. Also they are quite incapable of 496 realising any of the financial advantages which will accrue from the appreciation of that land I am all the more emboldened to ask that this should be included because it was a point made in the Act of 1909–10 Section 37 of that Act said that Undeveloped Land Duty shall not be charged on land used for certain charitable objects, and the land free from the burden included land used and occupied by—any corporation sole and all universities.I have no personal knowledge as to the nature of a "corporation sole" but the Solicitor-General will correct me if I am wrong in thinking that it includes bishops, deans and incumbents. If he will come on to the terrace and have a cup of coffee with me—[HON. MEMBERS: "Bribery!"] I do not know how a House of Commons cup of coffee can be described as a bribe. [An HON. MEMBER: "What do you put in it?"]—he will see the site of the London County Council building which is free, St. Thomas's Hospital which is also free, but if he looks further to the right he will see Lambeth Palace Gardens which will be taxed. It seems rather hard that the Archbishop should have to pay for the site value of Lambeth Palace, and, if that hardship does not impress him then I ask him to reflect on the poor incumbents up and down the country in urban areas upon whom this burden will press.
§ Mr. ANNESLEY SOMERVILLE
I desire to add a word on behalf of private schools. There is a general idea that private schools are scattered units throughout the country doing no useful work for education. That indeed is not the case. I speak for two associations of private schools, including more than 1,000 schools, which are all doing good and useful work for the community.
§ Mr. SOMERVILLE
I am asking for justice. These schools are doing very efficient work. They welcome inspection, and the reason they are not all inspected is because there is not a sufficient staff of inspectors at the Board of Education. They provide school buildings, teaching power and open, spaces, which are of great benefit to the community, and if 497 this additional burden is put upon them—it is additional because they already pay a considerable amount under Schedule A—they will find it difficult to carry on. I have here a list of private schools, and in two cases of private schools near the seaside they pay £92 a year and £272 a year in property tax. These schools, in fact, provide a very large income in rates and taxes for the community, far more than the State schools, and if you injure them at all you will inevitably decrease the income in rates and taxes of the local authority. What is going to be the effect on playing fields? Let me read a passage from a letter I have received from the chairman of a small private school, a girls' school, which is doing good work, but which last year had to reduce their fees owing to financial pressure. He says:The imposition of the tax would mean an added burden which the finances of the school cannot bear, and doubtless it would have to close down, with the consequent result that 14 resident mistresses would join the ranks of the unemployed.The school has about 15 acres of land partly used as playing fields and partly used for growing produce for the use of the school. It may be said that if exemption is granted to these schools you are encouraging inefficient schools. The exemption in the Bill up to the limit of £120 will cover most of the inefficient schools. They are generally small, and with only a small site value. Indeed, by the Bill you are letting off the inefficient schools and hitting the efficient. The double burden will compel proprietors of these schools to sell the whole or part of their playing fields, particularly when they are in the neighbourhood of large towns, where these open spaces are of great value.
I do not know how the hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. A. Somerville) brings this within the Amendment. Under the Amendment we are dealing with exemptions for charitable institutions and not with ordinary private schools.
§ Mr. SOMERVILLE
We have heard from the Solicitor-General that charity covers not only a multitude of sins, but a multitude of definitions, and I contend that any educational establishment may be considered a charitable establishment. 498 These open spaces are of such importance to the community and are used for public purposes that if you cause the proprietors to sell you are doing a disservice to the whole community. I strongly urge that this matter should be reconsidered for the sake of the health of the community, for the sake of education, and on the ground of simple justice.
§ Mr. SANDHAM
I want to occupy the time of the Committee for a moment from the point of view of the modest yet very important institution which goes under the name of the Independent Labour party. It has branches all over the country. Its headquarters are Lanark House, Seven Sisters Road, Finsbury Park. It is an institution which exists exclusively for the development of education on high moral grounds. Our desire, of course, in the ultimate is to transfer to the community what the community has produced; in other words, to introduce a system of society that will abolish poverty and make life worth living. We realise that there can be no standard of high morality in business, and it is on those lines that I am speaking on the question of the education of the masses of the people. Our institution exists for that purpose. I contend that we have as great a claim for exemption for our premises as any religious institution in the country. Socialism, Mr. Dunnico, is my religion.
I am afraid that on an Amendment of this kind we cannot go into sectarian differences.
§ Mr. SANDHAM
I accept your Ruling. I do not wish to propound any distinctive differences or any feeling in regard to any other religious institutions. I am reminded of the definition of Socialism in the "Encyclopedia Brittanica "——
The hon. Member must obey my Ruling. He cannot discuss the merits of Socialism on this Amendment.
§ Mr. SANDHAM
I only want to know whether we are entitled to put in our plea for exemption on the ground that we are a modest but yet very important educational institution. In that regard, I do feel that the learned Solicitor-General would do well to take into consideration our particular viewpoint, because we are 499 week by week, in that self-sacrificing way, putting forth all our energy in the ultimate merely to abolish poverty, and there can be no greater moral work of an educational character. On those lines I make this appeal in order that we may be aided in our work, just as other bodies have put forth their plea to be aided in their work. If we take the prophecy of Isaiah we find it said:And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them.They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
§ Mr. ATKINSON
Let me put the case in a nutshell. Playing-grounds are necessary for the health of the children and they are not a source of profit to those carrying on a school. They are indeed a charge and expense to a school. Let me ask one question which will test the whole thing. Will it be for the public good to force a reduction in the number or area of these playing-fields? No one can reply "Yes" to that question.
It would not be in order to pursue that question further on this particular Amendment.
§ Mr. ATKINSON
I should have thought it came under the Amendment, which is directed to educational purposes. My remarks were intended to suggest that the Sub-section ought to be more widely drawn. At any rate I shall not now say more about it. I hold that these playing-fields are entitled to be included in the exemption on educational grounds, and on the ground that it would be a thousand pities if anything were done to reduce the number or area of these playing-fields.
§ Viscount WOLMER
I want to say one thing to hon. Members opposite who are taking rather the same line as some of us on this side. We are grateful to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the Amendment that he has proposed, and of course we do not intend to divide against it. But in our view it does not go nearly far enough. We think that the discussion has shown that the Amendment still leaves a large number of anomalies which it is quite impossible to 500 defend. The case brought forward by an Ecclesiastical Commissioner just now is a particularly hard one—that of the parson who is occupying a building, perhaps with a small garden, in the slum area of some city. Because he is situated on the field of his work he should not be taxed. An Amendment which stands in the name of several hon. Members on page 2281 of the Order Paper covers all these cases, and we hope very much that we shall have an opportunity of voting on that Amendment. If the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Scurr) and his supporters do not propose to move that Amendment, we should like to have an opportunity of moving it formally and voting in favour of it, because it deals with the matter a great deal better than the Amendment of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ Mr. T. LEWIS
I rise to express the thanks of a very large organisation, namely, the friendly societies, for the very generous way in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has met us. It is also, I agree, no more than justice. We do not always get justice from Governments, and when we do get it we want to recognise it. I fear that we would not have got treatment of so generous a kind from the previous Government. I remember their most ungenerous treatment of the approved societies, not mentioning the friendly societies, whose funds were depleted to a very large extent. I am still hopeful that the present Government will restore that which the previous Government took away from us. I congratulate the Chancellor of the Exchequer on his action, which was a matter of very grave importance to the friendly societies, with their eight million members and funds somewhere in the region of £80,000,000. They would have been seriously affected had this Amendment not been moved.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I have been asked a number of questions, and I should be lacking in courtesy if I did not answer them. Let me first of all state that the basis of this Amendment is to adhere to what is already the practice under the Income Tax Acts. When I made that statement at the beginning hon. Members opposite, expressed their approval of that system of working the exclusion. Of course, if that system, is to work it cannot be added to by other and extra exclusions which do not come 501 within the Income Tax Acts. The system of dealing with charities as they are dealt with under the Income Tax Acts must be in itself completely adhered to or else it must be completely departed from. It is impossible partially to adopt it and partially to depart from it. Several cases mentioned by hon. Members are really ruled out on that line, apart altogether from their merits.
Reference has been made to private schools. I think that hon. Members have exaggerated the effect of the proposal on private schools. Let us take a case and see how it would work out. Let me assume that a private school occupies two acres of land, which is a very fair area for a playing field and school to occupy. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Hon. Members say "No," but I suggest that the type of school mentioned, that in a suburban area, very seldom has more than two acres of land. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Some hon. Members think that such schools have more land and some that they have less. As an arbitrator I should say that I am probably right. I will assume that the land is worth £1,200 an acre, which is a very high value and likely to be excessive. The tax for the year would be £10, and if there are 50 pupils that tax will work out at 4s. per head per annum, I do not think that hon. Members can say that that is going to put a school out of business.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I am not dealing with "for ever!" I am dealing with the effect of this proposal on private schools. Let me answer the questions put to me by the hon. Member for South-East Essex (Mr. Oldfield), as regards the voluntary schools, in contradistinction to profit-making schools. As far as the hon. Member gave any details I think that those schools would be covered. Of course it is impossible to give an answer in a particular case without knowing all the circumstances. If my hon. Friend Has any particular case in mind and would like to ask me privately, I will try to assist him and tell him whether it is covered. As regards the Scottish schools, he said that they were let for a term of years to a local authority. Again I am not certain what is the terms of years, and. 502 therefore, whether the local authority will be owners or whether the people who have let the school will be the owners under the Bill. I am not certain who are the people who own the school. Are they nominees or are they some religious body or is it a private individual?
§ Mr. OLDFIELD
It is the Church which owns the schools not already sold to the local authority. I think they are vested in the diocese. My point was that each school could not be administered by an ad hoc trust in Scotland without a good deal of dislocation.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I do not think the question of an ad hoc trust will arise. Someone owns, nominees or diocese or bishop, and presumably the owner owns them on trust for some educational purpose, and that must be a charitable purpose.
§ Mr. OLDFIELD
There has been trouble over Schedule A, and it was only by creating a trust which was to manage the rent received by the local authority that the schools got out of paying Schedule A. I wonder whether the Solicitor-General could devise some method of attaining the undoubted object in view, of exempting these schools. If he would agree that there is no point of difference in principle between us, and would look into the question between now and Report, to see whether an arrangement cannot be made to work more smoothly, that would be all we would ask for.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
We must really leave it at Income Tax exemption. I understand that they are exempted under Schedule A, and therefore they will be exempted under the tax. The question put by the hon. Member as to finding a way for dealing with the matter, is one for lawyers rather than for drafting in this Bill. As regards the churches, again I am not certain who is the owner of the churches. In this country as a rule the freehold of the church, I think, is technically in the Church of England incumbent.
§ Sir D. HERBERT indicated dissent.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I see that the hon. Member for Watford (Sir D. Herbert) shakes his head, but I think I am right in saying that, as a rule, technically speaking, the Church and 503 churchyard are in the legal ownership of the incumbent upon trust for the use of the parishioners.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
No. I think the hon. Member will find that it includes the church too—and, out of that, arises the right of the clergyman to keep the church closed on certain occasions, a right which has caused difficulty in certain cases. Clearly, he holds that property in trust for charitable purposes. It is not an express trust in the sense of a special document, but a legal trust which arises out of his position. That is why such property is not taxable under Schedule A or the Land Tax. A question was also asked about church halls. If these are held upon trust by some individuals for religious purposes they will be exempted, but there again it is impossible to deal with particular cases without knowing the particular facts of those cases.
§ Sir D. HERBERT
Will the hon. and learned Gentleman consider the question of chancels which are vested so often in the lay rector?
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I will consider the point certainly, but I do not think that anything will arise out of the consideration. There was one other substantial point put to me, and that was with regard to the residences of certain ministers of religion. This is a matter dealt with specifically in the Income Tax Acts La this sense—that under the Act of 1921, relief was not extended in the case of land which was in the use and enjoyment of a person whose total annual income from all sources, estimated in accordance with the provisions of the Income Tax Acts, amounted to more than £150. There would be cases where charities and religious bodies would have houses in which persons were living with salaries of over £150, and in those cases there would be no exemption. Unless one is going to depart from the Income Tax code in this matter one must leave it in the way in which it has been worked out for Income Tax purposes. I do not think that the case of the country parson or the parson in a small town will be a very hard one, because it is not 504 likely that the land value of the vicarage will be very high. In most cases it is impossible to sell the vicarage—at any rate it cannot be sold by the parson. It cannot be sold except under an Act of Parliament. Powers have to be acquired and consents have to be obtained from the bishop, and the patron and from a lot of people; and it is questionable whether there is any market price for it at all. But I appreciate that there is a difficulty which I have not looked into, and which arises out of the complicated legal procedure necessary in order to sell ecclesiastical land.
§ Sir D. HERBERT
May I tell the Solicitor-General that I, myself, not long ago, took some part in selling a vicarage in a town in order that it might be pulled down and the site used, and sold it for a very large sum of money?
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
Yes, but before it was sold there was either an order of the Privy Council for the purpose of combining two parishes, or else there was an order by the bishop, and the consent of the patron and other persons had to be obtained in order to permit the sale to take place under Statute. It is that statutory difficulty which I should like to look into, in order to see what the position is in the light of what my attention has been directed to to-day.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
A question was asked by the hon. and gallant Member for Abingdon (Major Glyn) with regard to a sisterhood of the Church of England who run private schools for girls where fees are charged—I think he had in mind the Wantage case. That, I am afraid, falls under the head of private schools, and is another case which would not be exempted. I think I have dealt with all the points which were put to me.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I cannot answer questions of that kind without having particulars of the precise cases which hon. Members have in mind. I 505 cannot give an answer on particular case. I can only state the principle upon which the matter will be decided. Where they are, within the meaning of the Income Tax Acts, used for charitable purposes only, the answer is of course that they would be exempt with very rare exceptions.
§ Mr. GEORGE HARDIE
May I ask a question with regard to schools in Scotland? Supposing that the rent paid is rent for the full time use of a building as a school, what is the difference between that case and the case of a building which is only used part-time as a school—a building, say, in which education is given, but, in which some rooms are used for other purposes? What would be the purposes which would entitle such a building to exemption?
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
In every case it must eventually be a question of fact as to whether or not the building is used for charitable purposes only, and I am afraid that it is impossible to give definite answers on hypothetical cases. If I attempted to do so I should be liable to mislead the Committee. There is the other case which was mentioned by the hon. Member for Kirkdale (Mr. Sandham) with regard to the Independent Labour Party. I have no doubt that if they can satisfy the commissioners that they exist for charitable purposes only, they will be granted the benefit which they desire to have.
§ Mr. SANDHAM
May I remind the Solicitor-General that the Independent Labour Party is the most potent force for good in this country, and that it is the organisation which gave that Labour party its existence?
§ Mr. WISE
I do not propose to enter into a discussion of the last point raised, because this Debate has been so peaceful, so comfortable and so comforting to most hon. Members, that I hesitate to raise such a Controversial issue. But I would point out that, as this exemption is drawn, while it seems to cover a great number of organisations and bodies which exist for educational purposes, it is not clear that it exempts bodies whose purpose is educational in the political sense. I am not referring to one or 506 other of the political parties. I am not speaking for the Independent Labour Party or the Labour party or any other party. But, obviously, most of these bodies, even if they are not charities within the meaning of the Act, are very far from being profit-making, and it would seem that any exemption which applies to churches, chapels and church halls should also apply to halls used partly for political education and partly for workers educational classes and concerts and things of that sort. I think there is a perfectly fair case to be made out for such an exemption, and that it could be justified on precisely the same lines and by the same general arguments as the exemptions already made.
I wish to thank the Solicitor-General and the Government for having met to a considerable extent two classes of cases in regard to which Amendments have been placed upon the Paper by Members of all parties. First, there is the case of the allotments but I wish to point out the anomalous position in which some allotments have been left. Under the original exemption, allotments owned by local authorities are exempted from the tax. That exemption covers about a quarter of the total. Under the Amendment at present under discussion, allotments which are owned by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners or by any body coming under the general heading of charities, colleges and so forth, are also exempted. I think the Amendment also exempts allotment societies which happen to be registered as friendly societies. I am told that there are some such societies registered under the Friendly Societies Act. I do not know whether that brings them within the terms of the Amendment but if so they are also exempt. A considerable number of allotments however are run by allotment societies which own the land themselves—and on the whole these are the most active, the best organised, and the most effective allotment societies—and which are registered not under the Friendly Societies Act but under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act.
This point is illustrative of the complication of the law in regard to this matter and the danger of dealing with a whole class of diverse cases by reference to other Acts. As I understand the position of the societies to which I refer, while they are exempt from Income Tax 507 under Schedule C and Schedule D, they are not exempt under Schedule A. But because of the purpose for which they are formed, and because of the generally low income of most of their members, they have—I do not know under what particular section in the Income Tax Acts—special privileges from the Inland Revenue authorities. Under these arrangements they pay half tax on half assessment, that is to say they pay about a quarter of the Income Tax which would be levied on the income from their land if it were used for -other purposes. Despite that concession under the Income Tax Acts, it appears, on a legal reading of the Amendment as it stands, that they would not be exempt in this case. Moreover, the mere fact of that special con-cession under the Income Tax Acts will make the Amendment, which I understand hon. Members below the Gangway are going to move, less helpful in their case than in the case of anybody else. Their assessment under Schedule A will be so much smaller than it otherwise would be, that when the subtraction has been made, by the very difficult mathematical calculation which hon. Members propose to propound later, the relief which they will get will be correspondingly less.
I do not wish to go into that point now, but I ask the Government, between now and the Report stage, to give consideration to this anomaly, the creation of which I am sure is not any part of their intention. Already they have covered three-quarters of the cases. It is not sufficient to say that these societies will be exempted because they will be let off tax on the cultivation value. Many of the societies which own land have had to buy it close to towns or in the middle of towns, frequently at high prices, because of the possibility of building value, and at prices out of all proportion to the cultivation value. I am sure it is not the desire of the Government to put any taxation on allotments, and, as they have already removed from one-half to two-thirds of the allotments from the scope of the Bill, I hope they wall find it possible to meet us in this matter.
There is one other case to which I wish to draw attention. The Government have met the Amendment on the Paper in regard to the exemption of colleges, 508 universities, and other educational institutions not carried on for profit and assisted, many of them, from public funds, in a most generous and comprehensive manner in respect both of the land on which their buildings stand and the land that they own, but as a matter of fact in the case of universities and colleges, which derive a considerable part of their income from scholarships and exhibitions for the very large number of undergraduates who would not get a university education but for that fact, a great deal of their land is let on 99 years' leases, and as far as I can read the Act the income from such land would be liable to tax.
In the case of my own college, Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, I understand that nearly £1,000 a year would be liable to be paid in tax on the income from land which is let on a 99 years' lease. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury shakes his head. I have read very carefully the reliefs, and I am assured by others who have also studied the question that Clause 20, which is the Clause which may apply in this case, can be read in two or three ways. It is the most obscure, complicated and lax Clause in the whole Bill, and it has not been discussed in the House, possibly because no one but the Solicitor-General understood what it meant. I suggest that, having met the case of the universities, colleges and other educational institutions in principle, whether or not by some conceivable reading or interpretation of Clause 20 or any other Clause, it would be very much more satisfactory if the point was covered by a specific Amendment. There is no advantage in leaving these things open to chance.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I hate to butt in on this happy family party, where everybody is getting all that they want, but I do not quite know whether someone ought not to ask the Government exactly what these concessions and exemptions are costing the country. If the Church of England, and if the Church of Rome, and if the Nonconformist churches and charitable organisations of this country are all getting a finger in the pie, might we not have some idea as to how deep the finger is going? Whenever on previous occasions when Finance Bills have been under discussion in this House concessions have been made, we have had from the Government an estimate of what they 509 would cost if they were going to refuse them, and an estimate of what the concessions would cost by the person who was demanding them, if he thought he was going to get them. On this occasion, the figures have been left in the background, and we do not know with how large a sum of money we are endowing the Churches of this country.
As I ventured to tell the Committee yesterday, Mr. Gladstone held the now quite unorthodox view that any remission of taxation was the equivalent of a grant to the person or body getting the remission, and here we are giving grants of substantial amounts to the teaching of different religious sects in this country. I do not approve of it, of course, but the majority of people seem, to approve of it, and I think we ought to know the extent of the endowment. It ought to be realised in the country how much the Church is getting, and it ought to be realised how much the Church of Rome is getting from all that property around Westminster Pro-Cathedral. I do not think: it is fair that the country should not appreciate the sacrifices that other taxpayers are making for the benefit of these religious bodies. But if we are agreed to make all this sacrifice for the teaching of true religion, I cannot understand why a distinction should be drawn between the true religion of the Socialist and the true religion of the Christian. We have always been told that Christianity and Socialism are one.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I have heard hon. Members on the Government Bench perorating on the great question of whether Socialism or Christianity came first. The moving perorations that I have heard on that question alone should have decided half this country to become Socialists.
Does not the right hon. and gallant Gentleman realise that Christianity says that you should love your neighbour as yourself, and that Socialists say that you should hate capitalists?
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
Brotherly love is the foundation of Socialism. I am speaking of brotherly love in a Socialist Sunday School.
The CHAIRMAN (Sir Robert Young)
I think we had better get back to the more mundane subject of the Amendment.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I was perhaps slightly out of order, but the Amendment is one for the benefit of religious bodies, I do not know how wide the definition of religion goes, but I feel certain that it ought to include that religion which is represented so largely on these benches. The little local preaching that I have done has always been done in a Socialist Sunday School. I cannot see why a building in which is carried on the charitable and educational work of teaching children the way they should think should be deprived of the benefits of this largesse that is being scattered broadcast. The real danger is that once you take to endowing the innoculation of the people of this country with specific dogmas, there is no end to it. Spiritualism, theosophy, Socialism—they have all got just as good a right as the Catholic Church.
I want to ask the Solicitor-General whether he can make the position with regard to the Catholic Church a little clearer. In England the property of the Church is not vested in a trust but is really vested in the diocese, of which the Bishop is the head, and I would like to know whether in the case of the exemption that he mentioned, the Bishop came under that classification of exemption. I want to ask whether the Government cannot make this exemption Clause a little tighter. I am a sectarian. I believe in a certain religion, but I also believe in the taxation of land values and that the principle of land ownership is wrong. That being so, while one would be in favour of the exemption of certain sites in particular areas which are used definitely for religious and educational purposes, I want to ask whether it is right, granting that the principle of land ownership is wrong, that investments in land by either religious or educational bodies should be exempt from this tax.
I want to point out exactly how far we are going. The right hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle - under - Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood), whose predilection for land value taxation is as great as is his puzzling prejudice against Catholicism, mentioned in his two speeches 511 against exemption the question of the Pro-Cathedral or the alleged Pro-Cathedral, of Westminster. Why did he not go a little further? If he went across the river, or if he entered the Library of this House and looked across the river, he could see there land owned by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, a report on whose property eight years ago is a standing disgrace to anybody who says that they are going to use the income derived from that morass of vice and immorality for religious purposes. [Interruption.] Ask the people who were on that Committee for the confidential report on the Ecclesiastical Commissioners' slum property in London.
Does not the hon. Member think that the Roman Catholic Church owns equally bad things from which they get money?
My remarks apply equally to any Church which makes an income from investments in land. It does not matter which Church it is, and I only mention the Ecclesiastical Commissioners because my right hon. and gallant Friend in front of me twice mentioned a particular kind of sectarian body. I practise in Paddington, and there is a certain street there known as Eastbourne Terrace, which is a regular morass of the vice and immorality such as you find near any London terminus. That land is owned by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. It is leased to people and hotel proprietors, who use those hotels for one purpose and one purpose only. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners and the Bishop of London's estate derive their income from that land, and under this Bill—[Interruption.] I know it, because I am on the Paddington Borough Council, and constant reports are coming to us about this particular bit of land. Constantly private complaints and police complaints are coming to us, asking us to get the ground landlords to deal with this particular type of land. The particular people who own this land are the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, jointly with the Bishop of London's Paddington estate, and under this Bill that land, the income of which is derived from immoral purposes——
§ Sir CHARLES OMAN
On a point of Order. Is not this tedious repetition? 512 We have heard this particular statement about the Ecclesiastical Commissioners repeated four times.
I do not know that I have heard the argument repeated, but I have heard certain words repeated in the course of the argument.
§ 7.0 p.m.
I am always glad when a representative of a classical university interrupts me, especially when he is a Conservative, because it means that I am getting beneath his skin. I have heard the hon. Gentleman himself do worse in Debates in this House than I am doing, inexperienced as I am. My point is this. This land is going to be exempt from this tax. If land ownership is immoral and against the principles of justice, I cannot see why this land and similar land should be exempt from land value taxation. I do not want to vote against the Government, but I am sorry that the Government are exempting so many people from this tax. I have mentioned a religious body and I would now like to mention an educational body. Near the constituency I represent is a body known as the Trustees of Dulwich College, an alleged educational body. I am not saying that the product of Dulwich College is not a good educational product——
The hon. Member is now dealing with an educational institution. This deals with charitable institutions.
I understood that this was a wide discussion, and that educational purposes were included. I am glad I am getting these interruptions from the other side, and I expected that one. This body is on the border of my constituency, and in the same borough. It owns land given as a trust by an actor in the time of Shakespeare for the specific purpose of the education of poor boys. In the course of centuries this educational endowment, like many others, has got into the hands of the rich, and now this educational body, with the increased value in the land resulting from those investments, is deliberately using their monopoly of land owned by them to keep 513 overcrowding in other parts of Camber-well, and to keep the land owned by them in Dulwich at a high price by keeping large houses there, and seeing that there shall be no flats. Instead of a place like Ruskin Manor being used for the housing of workers, it is used as a boarding house with a large private golf course.
Every statement I am making here tonight can be verified up to the hilt. There was a law case quite recently In which Dulwich College were deliberately using their power as landowners to prevent the property depreciating in value, as they call it, by being let in flats. What they call depreciation of property means that in other parts of Camberwell—and the Camberwell Borough Council have built no houses for the last 10 years—there is overcrowding, with all the consequencies, such as disease and immorality, which it brings. But the parvenus of Dulwich, through the machinations of the Dulwich College trustees, keep the land valuable and this land, the income from which is being used for education, is land which is being used to the detriment of other people in the vicinity, is land to be exempt from land value taxation. I would have liked the Government to have been harsh on this point and to see that such land was not exempt. [Interruption.] These interruptions are very good to me, because I am a very inexperienced speaker and, when I get interruptions from the Conservative side, it means I am doing well. I would agree that, when the land is used by an educational body for a playground or by a church for the specific purpose of religion, it should be exempt, but I am not in agreement with the view of this Amendment, although I am a supporter of the Government. It is because I believe in loyalty and co-operation that, being a democrat, I support the majority of my party. I, personally, would have liked to have seen land used by educational and religious bodies as an investment not exempted by the Government from this tax, and I hope that future Governments will see that these bodies have to pay their tribute to the public purse.
Sir F. HALL
I have heard many speeches in this House, but I have never heard an hon. Member pat himself so much on the back or so pleased with his 514 dissertation as the hon. Member for North-West Camberwell (Dr. Morgan). No one would have thought from his speech that the Dulwich College authorities utilise, as they do, the whole of their income, with the exception of a few eleemosynary pensions, for the education of over 3,500 pupils in all parts of London. It is true that the authorities—and they are perfectly right—have allocated to themselves the right to say what buildings should be put up in Dulwich, and what should not. They have done their best to maintain the position, in order that they should receive sufficient income from their properties to educate not only poor children but those of various classes. The whole of their work is not confined to Dulwich or to Camberwell. Part of it is, of course, in the district represented by the hon. Member, who, apparently, does not appreciate their efforts. They have considered it right and advisable for the protection of the property handed down to them as trustees to utilise it as they consider best for the educational purpose for which it was intended.
The speech of the hon. Member was wanting in appreciation of the great efforts of that educational authority. It may interest hon. Members to know that in various parts of Southwark, which is recognised as one of those parts of London which should receive consideration, a large portion of the income of the Dulwich College estate is spent on the education of the poor children of Southwark. The Dulwich College authorities have to submit their accounts to the educational authorities of this country, with the exception of a few eleemosynary pensions. I challenge the hon. Member to appeal to the educational authorities of the country and ask them if they are satisfied. If they are satisfied with the manner in which the trustees discharge their duties, then I leave ft to the hon. Gentleman to stew in his own juice.
§ Mr. LOGAN
I am a little anxious about the Amendment of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I should like to have it made clear in order that there may be no ambiguity. Paragraph (e) in the Bill provides exemption for landused wholly or mainly for the purpose of public religious worship and owned by trustees for that purpose or by the representative of any religious body.515 I understood that the Amendment of the Chancellor of the Exchequer would cover all the difficulties, and I am anxious to get definite information on this particular point. I would like to know whether this Amendment exempts the land exempted in paragraph (e) of the Bill, which deals with religious worship. Is the right of the churches to this exemption being continued in the Amendment of the Chancellor of the Exchequer? I have not a legal mind, and I am not able to find in this Amendment the assurance which I desire, and so I should be glad to get from those who are acquainted with this subject, an assurance that this class of case is fully covered in the Amendment. I trust that, in order to avoid any ambiguity, we shall get a guarantee to that effect.
Mr. ERNEST WINTERTON
The hon. Member for North-West Camberwell (Dr. Morgan) who has had medical experience, will agree with me that there are occasions when there should not be an excessive temperature on the part of the patient. The introduction of some of the matters which have lately been discussed has given rise to a temperature not altogether desirable in a discussion of this kind. I want to take the Committee to the church of the open air, to refer to a point which was raised by the hon. Member for East Leicester (Mr. Wise), and to ask the Solicitor-General one or two questions on allotments. The Amendment provides certain exemptions. It has already been brought to the notice of the Committee that there are many allotment societies which, although they are not wholly exempt from the payment of Schedule A Income Tax, have secured from Somerset House a concession by which they pay practically one-quarter of the ordinary amount of tax, and they are wholly exempt from any payment under Schedule B.
The Chancellor informed the Committee, although there was scarcely need to do it, of his great sympathy with regard to playing-fields. He has also, as we would naturally expect, expressed his desire that nothing in this Bill will cramp the development of allotments. It is important in connection with the policy of the Minister of Agriculture, under which unemployed men are being encouraged to go upon the land, and where Government 516 assistance is being given to them, that no difficulties should be placed in the way of the development of the allotment system, especially in the larger towns. I am speaking as a supporter of the principle of the Bill and as one who is not anxious to allow any loophole by which people will be able for a period to let their land, which should pay its proper share of tax, for allotment purposes and, having held it during a time of rising values, suddenly sell it for building purposes, having escaped, through any exemption of allotments, their fair share of the tax. I realise the difficulty of the Chancellor and his advisers in desiring to obtain the fruit of the tax from the landlord without at the same time doing any injustice to the extension of allotments.
I want to suggest one or two courses which I trust the Chancellor will consider. An allotment association does not occupy quite the same position as a local authority. It can, however, be registered as a friendly society, in which case it will come under the Amendment, or it may be registered under the Provident and Industrial Societies Acts. It is not a profit-making association. It consists of a limited number of shareholders who pay a nominal sum of one shilling or 2s. 6d., and any profits which may accrue are distributed for the general benefit of the Association. I am anxious that the allotment movement should not in any sense be cramped by the Amendment. I fear that under its provision there is not sufficient safeguards for allotment societies. In the Midland area, of which I have the most right to speak, this is a very powerful and growing institution, and we all desire to see its extension. I therefore ask the Chancellor whether, in the case of the ordinary allotment association, which does not exist for private profit, which owns land which it means to retain for allotment purposes, but which it can sell if it were so disposed for building purposes at a profit, he will try and meet the situation in which they find themselves. There seem to be two alternatives. The first is to make the tax retrospective on the owner when allotment land comes into the market as building land.
I am doubtful whether we can discuss allotments now. Last night we discussed an Amendment 517 dealing with allotments, and I intimated that we would deal with the whole subject then.
I am pointing out that certain allotment associations will probably come within the exemptions under this Amendment, because they are exempt from Income Tax, as they are registered under the Friendly Societies Act, and urging that it is desirable that the scope of the Amendment should be widened to meet the case of other allotment associations which, though equally deserving, are excluded by the working; of the Amendment. Therefore, I suggest that I am within the bounds of the Amendment which we are discussing.
That may be so, but last night when I called an Amendment dealing with allotments, I said that that would cover any other Amendments dealing with the same subject. We discussed allotments last night.
The Solicitor-General, in opening the Debate this afternoon, indicated the four categories which would be covered by the Amendment, and among them were "other purposes beneficial to the community." I suggest that the question of allotments comes in that category.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
This point was raised earlier, and Mr. Dunnico expressly said that he would not take the Amendment next on the Paper, which proposes to insert words dealing with allotments registered under certain Acts. He expressly refused to take it.
If I may continue, I will not keep the Committee more than a few moments. The second alternative for the consideration of the Government is that they should be prepared to exempt land used for allotment purposes, or make a remission of taxation in oases where the land is held on lease from a private owner and there is no breaking clause, and that they should treat all allotment land, whether in rural districts or town areas, as agricultural 518 land for the purpose of this Bill. I should be glad if the Solicitor-General could clarify the situation so far as the Amendment applies to the general question of allotments.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I dealt with allotments last night, and it would not be right for me to occupy the time of the Committee in dealing with that subject once more. With regard to the question of the property of the Roman Catholic community, my own view is that this is fully covered by the Amendment in its present form, but, if the hon. Member has any specific doubt in his mind, I will look into the matter again in order to make certain.
§ Mr. MARKHAM
May I put two questions to clear up the position of museums and art galleries? As soon as this Amendment is accepted, national museums will be exempt under paragraph (a) of the original Clause; corporation museums under paragraph (b); and a certain number of museums, which are now exempt from Schedule A Income Tax, will be exempt under the Amendment. Is it the intention of the Government to exempt all museums that are open to the public free of charge? In cases that are under consideration by the courts, and have yet to be decided, such, for instance, as the Montrose Antiquarian Society, will the exemption apply to future decisions as well as to decisions that have been given in the past?
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
The exemptions from Income Tax by virtue of the Sections mentioned in the Amendment will of course apply to Land Tax as to Income Tax, whether they are past decisions of the court or future decisions. With regard to the question whether it is the intention to exempt museums to which the public are admitted free of charge, they will probably be included under the general charitable exemptions, but I can imagine cases which are in private ownership, to which the public are admitted free of charge, which would not be exempt, because they would not be charities. Apart from such cases, I think that most of them will be exempt. I cannot give the hon. Member further information without knowing the precise conditions of tenure and the trust under which the museums are held, and the particulars of any case he has in mind.
§ Mr. MARKHAM
I take it that museums owned by antiquarian and learned societies, which are open to the public, will be exempt under the Amendment, but that museums owned by private individuals will not be exempt. I ask that society and private museums which are open to the public free of charge, should be exempt.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Sir D. HERBERT
I beg to move, in page 19, line 23, after the words last inserted, to insert the words:(e) is owned by any religious body or community or charitable body, or by trustees for or any representatives of such body, and either—In accordance with the arrangement made with the sanction of the Chair I propose to move this Amendment formally, with the necessary alteration to make it fit after the words last inserted.
- (i) is used wholly or mainly for public religious worship or as a place of residence for ministers, officers, or employees of such body;
- (ii) is used wholly or mainly by persons living together as a religious community;
- (iii) forms part of the property or endowment of such religious hotly or community or charitable body and which, or the income or profit of which, is used wholly for the purposes of such religious body or community or charitable body;
- (iv) is owned by or vested in trustees on behalf of and is used wholly or mainly for charitable purposes, being a university, university college, college, hall of any university, training college, hospital, sanatorium, convalescent home, asylum, orphanage, hostel, school, almshouse, or a colony or institution for the care of the blind, deaf, deafened, dumb, crippled, aged, destitute, mentally defective, or tuberculous patients;
- (v) is held by any governing body or body of persons for charitable, educational, or religious purposes who are exempt from Income Tax under the provisions of Section thirty-seven of the Income Tax Act, 1918, and amending Acts."
§ Sir ARTHUR STEEL-MAITLAND
On a point of Order. I am sure the hon. Member will realise that no discourtesy is intended towards the Committee. The position is this. We were allowed by the Deputy-Chairman, when he was in the Chair some time ago, to have a general discussion both on the contents of this Clause and on the Amendment which has just been passed. 520 I am sure none of us wish to do anything that might be embarrassing to the Chair or contrary to the agreement that was then arrived at by the permission of the Chairman. I am sure the hon. Member will realise that there is no discourtesy; we are proceeding according to an agreement under the Ruling of the Chair.
I did not intend to interrupt the hon. Member's speech, but I did understand that there was an understanding that these Amendments would be put formally and voted upon, and such understandings are usually accepted and acted upon.
§ Mr. KELLY
That may be, and I usually accept them even when they go against me, but, when I find the hon. Member for Watford (Sir D. Herbert) prepared to stand up and say he moves formally and without the slightest explanation an Amendment of this length, all I can say is that he is abusing his position——
§ Sir D. HERBERT
On a point of personal explanation. The hon. Member, I submit, has no right to say such things, after having been away from the House, in view of the fact that I spoke on this subject for at least 10 minutes.
§ Mr. KELLY
May I say that the hon. Member was not out of the House? He was out of the Chamber, engaged in one of the Committee rooms on other work. The hon. Member for Watford has not even taken the trouble to remind us of the number of paragraphs in the Amendment, or to explain one of the institutions which are affected. The Amendment refers to universities, university colleges, the hall of any university, training colleges, and the rest, and not a word has been said about them. There is also a reference to the residence of a minister and I would ask what minister——
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
Is it not evident that the hon. Member is confusing himself and the Committee? We have heard all this.
§ Sir D. HERBERT
On a point of Order. Is it not the case that the Committee have decided that these Amendments should be put without discussion? That was the decision of the Committee, which is binding upon hon. Members.
I am afraid no decision on that point was actually registered, but I understand that was the arrangement which was accepted by the Committee.
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
I think the Committee are placed in a great difficulty by this Amendment. I suggest that we have already decided the Question of Subsection (5) by the last Amendment which we put into the Bill. I fail to understand how, after we have decided without a Division the point about the societies that are exempt from Income Tax under Schedule A, we can again vote upon that Question under the Amendment which is now before the Committee. I submit that the Committee have already decided this Question, and that, if a new Question is to be put, at least the Sub-section dealing with that particular point must be amended, after we have already decided it by a vote.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
Of course, the decision has not been recorded in writing, but the understanding clearly was that, the general discussion having been taken on the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Amendment, a decision would afterwards be taken on this Amendment without discussion of it.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
As I understood it, the position was that the general question covered by these Amendments should be discussed, and that, if the Committee were not satisfied with the Amendment of the Government, it would be open to hon. Members who had put down Amendments to move them. As I understand it, the Committee are satisfied with the Amendment of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I do not appreciate, therefore, how this Amendment can really be moved.
§ Mr. G. HARDIE
Is it the custom that a Member whose name is not attached 522 to an Amendment should be allowed to move it without at the same time explaining what it is?
The hon. Member can move the Amendment and he can, in accordance with the understanding of the Committee, move it formally, which he has done. I understand, also, that it was an agreement on the part of the Committee that this Amendment should be put. The Amendment has been moved and I understood there would be a vote on it.
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
I was not present when that agreement was arrived at, but I submit that no agreement can be reached which sets at defiance the Standing Orders. I submit that Sub-section (5) and the Amendment which you have just read out from the Chair cover the same Question which was submitted to the Committee and voted upon a few minutes ago, and, the Committee having decided that Question, they cannot be asked to vote upon it a second time. If this Amendment is to be put under an agreement, I submit that the Mover must at least leave out that part of it which deals with the same subject matter as has already been decided.
I do not want the Committee to be confused. What the right hon. Gentleman has just said would be true if this Amendment were exactly the same as the one which we have dealt with, but it seems to differ slightly.
§ Mr. OLDFIELD
As I was one of those implicated, I may say that it is perfectly true that there was an understanding that, if we had a full discussion on the Government's Amendment, there was to be no discussion on the subsequent Amendments which cover that point. But we on our side made it fairly clear, I should have thought, that we did not expect to be moving our Amendment, and we thought it as likely as not that the Opposition would not move theirs. There was no understanding that the Opposition should in any case move their Amendment without discussion. The only understanding was that, if at the end of our long discussion on the Government Amendment the Opposition still wished to move their Amendment, then they would do it.
I think the Committee will appreciate that an understanding was arrived at, and I always like to see such understandings accepted and acted upon by hon. Members, but I am not in a position to apply the Closure of my own volition to any hon. Member who does not desire to fall in with the understanding, and therefore I call upon the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly).
§ Mr. WISE
I was putting my point to the Chairman. Surely the whole of the proceedings will be thrown into confusion if we now reject the Amendment we have just agreed to. I have been present during the whole of the discussion, and, if there was an arrangement, it was that these other Amendments should be put if the Amendment we were primarily discussing, the one in the name of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, were rejected. There was no proposal to put two Amendments covering wholly or partially the same points.
§ Sir W. MITCHELL-THOMSON
As I was the unfortunate person who proposed the arrangement, I should like to say that that was not so. What I said was distinctly this. When the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Scurr) started the discussion, I said I thought it might be for the convenience of the Committee if we had a wide discussion covering not only the Government Amendment but the others, but that my hon. Friends reserved
§ the right, if they were not satisfied, formally to move their Amendment and to divide the Committee.
The Chairman had decided that the two Amendments should be discussed together. The first one has not been moved and the second one has. This Amendment differs in many respects from the one already disposed of by the Committee. I think the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly) may proceed.
§ Mr. DENMAN rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put,"but the CHAIRMAN withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
§ Mr. KELLY
I think what has taken place is a full justification for the action which I have taken. The Mover of the Amendment took exception to the interpretation which has been put upon the Amendment by those sitting on this side, but he had not the courage to explain what was meant by the proposal. The hon. Member for Watford (Sir D. Herbert) has taken this opportunity of forcing the Committee to a Division upon an Amendment which he had no part or lot in putting on the Amendment Paper. We have not had one word of explanation of this Amendment, and, if it is going to a Division, and as no one seems to have the courage or capacity to explain it, I shall take this opportunity of voting against it.
Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 233; Noes, 288.527
|Division No. 350.]||AYES.||[7.48 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel.||Baillie-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W.||Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart|
|Ainsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles||Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)||Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.|
|Albery, Irving James||Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Boyce, Leslie|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet)||Bracken, B.|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.)||Balniel, Lord||Braithwaite, Major A. N.|
|Allen, Lt. Col. Sir William (Armagh)||Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Brass, Captain Sir William|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Beaumont, M. W.||Briscoe, Richard George|
|Ashley, Lt-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Bellairs, Commander Cariyon||Broadbent, Colonel J.|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Betterton, Sir Henry B.||Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Bevan, S. J. (Holborn)||Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.|
|Astor, Viscountess||Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Bullock, Captain Malcolm|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Bird, Ernest Roy||Burton, Colonel H. W.|
|Atkinson, C.||Bourne, Captain Robert Croft.||Butler, R. A.|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Cadagan, Major Hon. Edward||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Campbell, E. T.||Hammersley, S. S.||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Rawson, Sir Cooper|
|Castle Stewart, Earl of||Hartington, Marquess of||Remer, John R.|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Rentoul, Sir Gervais S.|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt, R.(Prtimth, S.)||Haslam, Henry C.||Reynolds, Col Sir James|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd,Henley)||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.)||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Robinson, Sir T. (Lanes, Stretford)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford)||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Ross, Ronald D.|
|Christie, J. A.||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E.|
|Clydesdale, Marquess of||Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Howard, Bury, Colonel C. K.||Salmon, Major I.|
|Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunei||Hurd, Percy A.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Sendeman, Sir N. Stewart|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Inskip, Sir Thomas||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D|
|Colville, Major D. J.||Iveagh, Countess of||Savery, S. S.|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Kindersley, Major G. M.||Skelton, A. N.|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Knox, Sir Alfred||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine,C.)|
|Crichton, Stuart, Lord C.||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Latham, H. P. (Scarboro' & Whitby)||Smithers, Waldron|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C.||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Somerset, Thomas|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Cunllffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Dairymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey||Llewellin, Major J. J.||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)||Locker Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Locker-Lampson, Com. O.(Handsw'th)||Stanley, Hon. O. (Westmorland)|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil)||Lockwood, Captain J. H.||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Long, Major Hon. Eric||Stewart, W. J. (Belfast South)|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Lymington, Viscount||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.||McConnell, Sir Joseph||Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.|
|Dugdale, Capt. T. L.||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A.|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Macquisten, F. A.||Thomas, Major L. S. (Kings Norton)|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)||Thompson, Luke|
|Elliot, Major Walter E.||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Thomson, Sir F.|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-t.-M.)||Margesson, Captain H D.||Thomson, Mitchell-, Rt. Hon. Sir W.|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Marjoribanks, Edward||Todd, Capt. A. J.|
|Faite, Sir Bertram G.||Mason, Colonel Glyn K.||Train, J.|
|Ferguson, Sir John||Meller, R. J.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement.|
|Fielden, E. B.||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Flson, F. G. Clavering||Milne, Wardlaw-, J. S.||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Ford, Sir P. J.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Forestler-Walker, Sir L.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Galbraith, J. F. W.||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)||Wells, Sydney R.|
|Gauit, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton||Muirhead, A. J.||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Windsor-Clive. Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Gower, Sir Robert||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsfid)||Withers, Sir John James|
|Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||O'Connor, T. J.||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Womerstey, W. J.|
|Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||O'Neill, Sir H.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Greene, W. p. Crawford||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William||Wright, Brig.-Gen. W. D. (Tavist'k)|
|Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Peake, Capt. Osbert||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton|
|Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Penny, Sir George|
|Gritten, W. G. Howard||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Perkins, W. R. D.||Major the Marquess of Titchfield|
|Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||and Sir Victor Warrender.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood||Brothers, M.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield)|
|Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigie M.||Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayishirs)|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')||Benson, G.||Buchanan, G.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Burgess, F. G.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Birkett, W. Norman||Calne, Hall-, Derwent|
|Angell, Sir Norman||Blindell, James||Cameron, A. G.|
|Arnott, John||Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret||Cape, Thomas|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Bowen, J. W.||Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S W)|
|Ayles, Walter||Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Chuter, Daniel|
|Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)||Broad, Francis Alfred||Church, Major A. G.|
|Barnes, Alfred John||Brockway, A. Fenner||Clarke, J. S.|
|Barr, James||Bromfield, William||Cluse, W. S.|
|Batey, Joseph||Bromley, J.||Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R|
|Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham)||Brooke, W.||Cocks, Frederick Seymour|
|Cove, William G.||Lang, Gordon||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)|
|Daggar, George||Lathan, G. (Sheffield, Park)||Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Dallas, George||Law, Albert (Bolton)||Ritson, J.|
|Dalton, Hugh||Law, A. (Rossendale)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)|
|Davies, E. C. (Montgomery)||Lawrence, Susan||Romeril, H. G.|
|Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd)||Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)||Rosbotham, D. S. T.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lawson, John James||Rowson, Guy|
|Day, Harry||Lawther W. (Barnard Castle)||Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Leach, W.||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Devlin, Joseph||Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)||Samuel, H. Waiter (Swansea, West)|
|Duncan, Charles||Lees, J.||Sanders, W. S.|
|Ede, James Chuter||Leonard, W.||Sandham, E.|
|Edge, Sir William||Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Sawyer, G. F.|
|Edmunds, J. E.||Lindley, Fred W.||Scott, James|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Lloyd, C. Ellis||Scurr, John|
|Elmley, Viscount||Logan, David Gilbert||Sexton, Sir James|
|England, Colonel A.||Longbottom, A. W.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Longden, F.||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Foot, Isaac||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Sherwood, G. H.|
|Freeman, Peter||Lunn, William||Shield, George William|
|Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.)||Macdonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Shillaker, J. F.|
|George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Car'vn)||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Shinwell, E.|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Macdonald, Sir M. (Inverness)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)||McElwee, A.||Simmons, C. J.|
|Gibbins, Joseph||McEntee, V. L.||Simon, E. D. (Manch'ter, Withington)|
|Gibson, H. M, (Lanes, Mossley)||McGovern, J. (Glasgow, Shettleston)||Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Gill, T. H.||McKinlay, A.||Sinkinson, George|
|Glassey, A. E.||MacLaren, Andrew||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Gossling, A. G.||Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall. N.)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Gould, F.||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||MacNeill-Weir, L.||Smith, Lees-, Rt. Hon. H. B. (Keighley)|
|Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||McShane, John James||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)|
|Gray, Milner||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne)||Mander, Geoffrey le M.||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Manning, E. L.||Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Mansfield, W.||Sorensen, R.|
|Groves, Thomas E.||March, S.||Stamford, Thomas W.|
|Grundy, Thomas W.||Marcus, M.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Markham, S. F.||Strauss, G. R|
|Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Marley, J.||Sullivan, J.|
|Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.)||Marshall, Fred||Sutton, J. E.|
|Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)||Mathers, George||Taylor, R A. (Lincoln)|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)||Matters, L. W.||Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)|
|Harbord, A.||Maxton, James||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Hardie, David (Rutherglen)||Messer, Fred||Tillett, Ben|
|Hardie, G. D. (Springburn)||Mills, J. E.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Harris, Percy A.||Milner, Major J.||Toole, Joseph|
|Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Montague, Frederick||Tout, W. J.|
|Haycock, A. W.||Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Townend, A. E.|
|Hayday, Arthur||Morley, Ralph||Vaughan, David|
|Hayes, John Henry||Morris, Rhys Hopkins||Viant, S. P.|
|Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)||Walkden, A. G.|
|Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||Mort, D. L.||Walker, J.|
|Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)||Muff, G.||Wallace, H. W.|
|Herriotts, J.||Muggeridge, H. T.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Hicks, Ernest George||Murnin, Hugh||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermilne)|
|Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)||Nathan, Major H. L.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D, (Rhondda)|
|Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Naylor, T. E.||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Hoffman, P. C.||Noel Baker, P. J.||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Hollins, A.||Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)||Welsh, James (Paisley)|
|Hopkin, Daniel||Oldfield, J. R.||Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)|
|Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)||Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)||West, F. R.|
|Hunter, Dr. Joseph||Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)||Westwood, Joseph|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Palin, John Henry||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Johnston, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Paling, Wilfrid||Whiteley, William (Blaydon)|
|Jones, Llewellyn-, F.||Palmer, E. T.||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Perry, S. F.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Jones, Rt. Hon Leif (Camborne)||Peters, Dr. Sidney John||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Lianelly)|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Pethick-Lawrence. F. W.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Phillips, Dr. Marion||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A. (Preston)||Picton-Turbervill, Edith||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)||Pole, Major D. G.||Wilson R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Kelly, W. T.||Potts, John S.||Winterton, G. E.(Leicester, Loughb'gh)|
|Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Price, M. P.||Wise, E. F.|
|Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M||Quibell, D. J. K.||Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)|
|Kinley, J.||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson|
|Kirkwood, D.||Raynes, W. R.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Knight, Holford||Richards, R.||Mr. Charleton and Mr. Thurtle.|
Question, "That the Clause' be read a Second time," put, and agreed to.
The next Amendment I select is the last but one on page 2,288 of the Amendment Paper, standing in the name of the Chancellor of the Exchequer,
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I beg to move, in page 19, line 39, at the end, to insert the words:(2) No tax shall be chargeable in respect of any land unit for any period during which the unit—
- (a) is used as a park, garden, or open space which is open to the public as of right;
- (b) is used as a churchyard or burial ground;
- (c) is land which is a disused burial ground within the meaning of the Disused Burial Grounds Act, 1884, on which no building has been erected."
§ This Amendment includes the words "is used as a park, garden or open space."
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Sir DONALD MACLEAN
There was a discussion last night with regard to playing-fields, but the Amendment which stood in the names of myself and other Members, not only of any party but above the Gangway and on the other side of the House, was not reached. The Solicitor-General paid little or no attention to it, but devoted practically the whole of his speech to the discussion of an Amendment which was peculiarly open to some of his devastating arguments; but he quite clearly stated his view, and, as we understood it, the view of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Government, that our Amendment was one which the Government themselves viewed with favour. Whatever may have been the figures of the Division on the Amendment which was before the Committee, there is not the slightest doubt that the vast majority of the Committee last night was in favour, not only of the principle, but of most of the details which were included in the two Amendments. In the course of a somewhat confused discussion, varied by an irrelevant point of Order, it was extremely difficult to ascertain what the position was as it was left by the Government. I do not wish to weary the Committee, but would like to remind them of what I said. After the very interesting 530 and sympathetic speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edgbaston (Mr. Chamberlain), I said, referring to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of tile Exchequer and his statement:The Chancellor of the Exchequer has made a conciliatory statement, but I very much fear, unless we carry with us the party above the Gangway, we shall not represent, as one wishes specially to do in a matter of this kind, the House of Commons as a whole.My last sentence was this:If the right hon. Gentleman is prepared in effect to accept the Amendment in the name of hon. Members below the Gangway and myself, I shall be delighted to accept that offer."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd June, 1931; cols. 382–3, Vol. 253.]That was the offer of conferring with the Government and, preferably, also with the official Opposition in the House, to see if we could arrive at a concordat on this most important national question. After that, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his reply, did not, I am bound to say, display what I hope are his real intentions at their best, if I may put it in that way, and, therefore, the Division which took place did not really represent the feeling of the vast majority of the Committee. It is quite open for either myself and hon. Members with whom I act, or for the right hon. Gentleman, or any other Members above the Gangway, to enter into a conference. That is often a very desirable and, indeed, a necessary part of our procedure, but I would very much prefer, and I am sure the Committee as a whole would prefer, that the Committee, and, indeed, the country, which is deeply interested in this matter, should be put publicly in possession of the real views of the Government with regard to that Amendment. I say that in the interest of the House and of the great object with which we are all concerned. I hope, therefore, that, before the House loses touch with this Clause in Committee, the Solicitor-General or the Chancellor of the Exchequer will inform the Committee of the specific intentions of the Government with regard to this most important matter.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Philip Snowden)
I have just refreshed my memory, while the right hon. Gentleman was speaking, as to what was said last night. He spoke of a rather confused discussion, but I really do not 531 see that I could have made my position clearer than I did. The right hon. Gentleman, I think, assumed too much just now when he expected that I should accept his Amendment. I made it quite clear last night that, although he had put forward the germ of a solution of this question, I could not accept it in the form in which it appeared on the Paper, and I gave one or two reasons. I pointed out that its effect would be to admit certain organisations which I could not possibly admit. I said I was quite prepared to give an undertaking that between then and the Report stage we would hammer away at the germ of an idea which is in the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment, and see if we could arrive at a form which would be generally satisfactory. With regard to the question of a conference between the three parties in the House, I said I had no objection at all, and I am quite ready within the next few days to meet the right hon. Gentleman, and anyone whom he cares to bring with him, and see if we can arrive at some agreement. As I believe I said last night, I recognise that there is an almost, and perhaps quite, universal feeling in the House in favour of exempting genuine cases, but the Amendment that was considered last night went a great deal further, and as I said then, I am not prepared to exempt racecourses and dog racing, which would certainly be involved if the Amendment were accepted. I say, however, that between now and the Report stage I am open to receive any suggestions, or to meet the right hon. Gentleman or any of his friends and see what we can do to come to an agreement.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
If I may, I would add that what I said was that I understood that the right hon. Gentleman was prepared in effect to accept the Amendment, which still stands on the Paper, and which is not open to any of the objections that the right hon. Gentleman has now stated—not one of them; it is clear of them all.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
May I just point out a verbal matter to the right hon. Gentleman? I think that if he looks at it he will see that paragraph (j) of his Amendment would in fact cover racecourses and dog racing, and what I think 532 my right hon. Friend means is that, because of the wide scope of the Amendment, it is really beyond the idea of what is commonly understood by playing fields, and that it is impossible to accept it in this form.
Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I understand, from what the Chancellor of the Exchequer has said, that he is prepared to accept what he calls the germ of the Amendment, but that the Amendment contains some words which in his opinion, and in the opinion of the legal advisers of the Government, might carry the Bill far beyond anything which my right hon. Friend contemplates. He certainly does not desire to cover the case of racecourses and dogs. Therefore, I think there is a great deal to be said for the suggestion that between now and the Report stage—I take it that it will not be very long before we come to the Report stage—there should be an opportunity of discussing the actual draft which is to develop this very admirable germ of an idea which my right hon. Friend has been endeavouring to incorporate in the Bill, and probably in the circumstances the matter has been carried as far as it can be carried. I think, also, that my right hon. Friend is perfectly right in saying that the issue was rather confused last night. No one was quite clear as to what had been said—[Interruption.] At any rate, what the right hon. Gentleman has now said is quite clear, and I think that my right hon. Friend and the rest of us will consider it satisfactory.
§ Mr. O'CONNOR
May I ask the Solicitor-General a question? He seems to be banking up a terrific amount of work for the Report stage. May I ask if the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposes to bring before the House a Motion to alter the Guillotine procedure in order to deal with this enormous amount of work?
We cannot discuss a Guillotine Resolution on the Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."