HC Deb 30 September 1931 vol 257 cc407-13

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


I oppose this Clause, but I do not intend to inflict an original speech upon the Committee. I will recall the great speech which was delivered in this House, with dramatic effect, by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, on the 27th April, 1927, when he opposed a similar increase in the Tobacco Duty, proposed by the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill). His speech on that occasion was so biting and so concise that he said for all time all that is to be said on this question of an increase in the Tobacco Duty. Therefore, I propose to read the relevant sentences from his speech and to leave them as the case against this Clause. He began by reminding the right hon. Member for Epping of the danger of placing a tax upon tobacco in these days, when women had not only largely increased their consumption of tobacco but had been enfranchised and were in process of being still further enfranchised. He went on to say: What is the case put forward by my hon. Friends "— The hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) and others had opposed this increase in the Tobacco Duty— against this increase of the Tobacco Duty? In the first place, they pointed out that tobacco being, as I think they very properly described it, a poor man's comfort, already bears a very heavy duty indeed. I am not quite sure, but I believe, with the possible exception of the Spirit Duty, tobacco is far more heavily taxed than any other commodity. I did not quite follow some of the figures that were given by my hon. friend who moved the Amendment, in regard to the proportion of the duty to the retail price of the article. The right hon. Gentleman went on to point out that in the Schedule of the Finance Bill the tax was placed at 11s. 2½d. In the Schedule of the present Bill the tax has been raised to 12s. The right hon. Gentleman then used a phrase that was quoted all over the country by his supporters. He said: I do not smoke pipe tobacco, but I understand that tobacco will be retailed at from 10d. to 1s. an ounce. If you take it at 10d., I make it out that something like 17/20ths of the retail price of tobacco is duty. That is to say, when these new duties become operative, out of every 20 puffs of tobacco the working man blows, three are for his own enjoyment and 17 for the Chancellor of the Exchequer. How can a heavy duty like that be justified. [Interruption.] I am not aware that the right hon. Gentleman has to make serious mathematical calculations with the Chief Whip as to the majority that he is going to get in the Lobby. I have sat on the second bench and heard the Chief Whip talking with the Minister in charge of the House, and I know very well what they talk about on occasion.


Perhaps the hon. Member will get back to the Motion before the Committee.


The two Ministers in charge of this Measure were engaged in conversation with the Chief Whip while I was speaking. I should have thought that ordinary courtesy, especially when an hon. Member is directing his remarks specifically to them, would have meant that, at least, they might pay him the compliment of appearing to attend to him. The right hon. Gentleman said, in 1927, that the smoker took three puffs for his own enjoyment and 17 for the Chancellor of the Exchequer. From now onwards I estimate that he will have three puffs for his own enjoyment and at least 18 for the pleasure of the Chancellor of the Exchequer before he gets another one for his own enjoyment. After asking how a heavy duty like that could be justified, the right hon. Gentleman dealt with another point. The right hon. Member for Epping interrupted him and asked him to justify the same line of argument in regard to beer. After pointing out that beer was bad but that tobacco was good, because the beer was for the solace of somebody else and tobacco was his, he said: I was dealing with the contention of my hon. Friend that the poor man pays a far larger proportion of the Tobacco Duty than those who can afford the more expensive tobaccos. Another argument is that a tax of this sort penalises a man according to his taste. Because one man happens to have a particular taste, or happens to spend some part of his means in a particular way, he is taxed, when a man who has not got that taste and chooses to spend the same amount of money on some other article which is not taxed, escapes taxation altogether. I oppose this Clause out of sheer kindness of heart, because I have not smoked for 10 years. It is impossible for me to smoke owing to my having been badly gassed during the War, but there seems to me to be no reason why I should escape taxation and other people should be taxed simply because their taste or their habits cause them to consume this particular commodity. Then the right hon. Gentleman in his peroration said: I shall be interested to hear the defence of this impost made by hon. Members opposite. I can imagine Members from agricultural constituencies going down and addressing public meetings of farm labourers, who are earning 30s. and 32s. per week"— That is what they get— and dilating to these men upon the blessings that are being showered on them by this Tory Government, chief among which

is this increase of ½d. per ounce upon what practically is the only comfort that these working men have. I wish them joy in doing that. We shall, of course, carry this Amendment to a Division. I hardly expect that we shall defeat the Government, but although we shall nut defeat the Government, this action on their part will be one addition to the indictment which they are piling up against themselves, and sentence will be passed upon them when the electors of the country next get an opportunity."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th April, 1927; cols. 859–861, 863, Vol. 205.]

The hon. Member for Central Hackney (Mr. Watkins) drew my attention earlier in the week to the issue of "Punch" of the 1st April, 1931, and having read that speech, with its clear enunciation of policy, a quotation from "Punch" of that date seems to be particularly apt. It was: Things we have never dared to say. A schoolboy's essay: 'The Prime Minister is generally the First Lord of the Treachery.'

Never was that more apt than now—and in his second in command he has a very good Second Lord.

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

The Committee divided: Ayes, 276; Noes, 216.

Division No. 504.] AYES. [5.49 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Buchan, John Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)
Aitchison, Ht. Hon. Craigie M. Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip
Albery, Irving James Bullock, Captain Malcolm Dalkeith, Earl of
Alexander, Sir Win. (Glasgow, Cent'l) Burgin, Dr. E. L. Dalrymple-White, Lt.-Col, Sir Godfrey
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.) Butler, R. A. Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh) Butt, Sir Alfred Davies, Dr. Vernon
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Calne, Hall-, Derwent Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)
Aske, Sir Robert Campbell, E. T. Dawson, Sir Philip
Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover) Carver, Major W. H. Denman, Hon. R. D.
Astor, Viscountess Castle Stewart, Earl of Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.
Atholl, Duchess of Cautley, Sir Henry S Dixey, A. C.
Atkinson, C. Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City) Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley) Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.) Duckworth, G. A. V.
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.) Dudgeon, Major C. R.
Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet) Chadwick, Capt. Sir Robert Burton Dugdale, Capt. T. L.
Balniel, Lord Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.) Eden, Captain Anthony
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. p. H. Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston) Edge, Sir William
Beaumont, M. W. Chapman, Sir S. Edmondson, Major A. J.
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon Christie, J. A. Elliot, Major Walter E.
Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central) Church, Major A. G. Elmley, viscount
Berry, Sir George Clydesdale, Marquess of England, Colonel A.
Betterton, Sir Henry B. Cobb, Sir Cyril Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)
Bevan, S. J. (Holborn) Cockcrill, Brig.-General Sir George Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)
Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Cohen, Major J. Brunel Everard, W. Lindsay
Blinded, James Colfox, Major William Philip Falle, Sir Bertram G.
Boothby, R. J. G. Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock) Ferguson, Sir John
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Colville, Major D. J. Fielden, E. B.
Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W. Conway, Sir W. Martin Fison, F. G. Clavering
Boyce, Leslie Cooper, A. Duff Foot, Isaac
Bracken, B. Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L. Ford, Sir P. J.
Briscoe, Richard George Crichton-Stuart, Lord C. Forestier-Walker, Sir L.
Broadbent, Colonel J. Cranborne, Viscount Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham) Croft, Brigadler-General Sir H. Galbraith, J. F. W.
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Crookshank, Capt. H. C. Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y) Croom-Johnson, R. P. George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea) Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th) Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Gillett, George M. Long, Major Hon. Eric Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)
Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Lovat-Fraser, J. A. Salmon, Major I.
Glassey, A. E. Lymington, Viscount Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Glyn, Major R. G. C. McConnell, Sir Joseph Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham) Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.
Granville, E. MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw) Savery, S. S.
Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I. Scott, James
Gray, Milner Macquisten, F. A. Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham) Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome
Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John Makins, Brigadier-General E. Simms, Major-General J.
Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.) Margesson, Captain H. D. Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Gritten, W. G. Howard Marjoribanks, Edward Skelton, A. N.
Gunston, Captain D. W. Markham, S. F. Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
H[...]ing, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Mason, Colonel Glyn K. Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) Merriman, Sir F. Boyd Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Millar, J. D. Smithers, Waldron
Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland) Milne, Wardlaw-, J. S. Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Hammersley, S. S. Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham) Somerset, Thomas
Hanbury, C Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr) Southby, Commander A. R. J.
Harbord, A. Morris, Rhys Hopkins Spender-Clay, Colonel H.
Harris, Percy A. Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh) Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Hartington, Marquess of Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester) Stanley, Hon. O. (Westmorland)
Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Muirhead, A. J. Stewart, W. J. (Belfast, South)
Haslam, Henry C. Nall-Cain, A. R. N. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley) Nathan, Major H. L. Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.
Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)
Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J. Nicholson, O. (Westminster) Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)
Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld) Thompson, Luke
Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar) O'Connor, T. J. Thomson, Mitchell-, Rt. Hon. Sir W.
Hore-Belisha, Leslie Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley) Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S. Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William Todd, Capt. A. J.
Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K. Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon) Train, J.
Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings) Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Hurd, Percy A. Perkins, W. R. D. Turton, Robert Hugh
Hurst, Sir Gerald B. Peters, Dr. Sidney John Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)
Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R. Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple) Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Tudor
Inskip, Sir Thomas Power, Sir John Cecil Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Jones, Llewellyn-, F. Pownall, Sir Assheton Warrender, Sir Victor
Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton) Purbrick, R. Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Pybus, Percy John Wayland, Sir William A.
Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne) Ramsay, T. B. Wilson Wells, Sydney R.
Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A. (Preston) Ramsbotham, H. White, H. G.
Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford) Rathbone, Eleanor Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Kindersley, Major G. M. Rawson, Sir Cooper Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)
Knight, Holford Reid, David D. (County Down) Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Knox, Sir Alfred Remer, John R. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Lamb, Sir J. O. Rentoul, Sir Gervals S. Withers, Sir John James
Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Molton) Rhys, Hon. C. A. U. Womersley, W. J.
Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R. Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y) Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Latham, H. P. (Scarboro' & Whitby) Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall) Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)
Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak) Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs, Stretford) Wright, Brig.-Gen. W. D. (Tavist'k)
Leighton, Major B. E. P. Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton
Lewis, Oswald (Colchester) Rosbotham, D. S. T.
Llewellin, Major J. J. Rothschild, J. de TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. Sir Frederick Thomson and Sir
George Penny.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Brown, W. J. (Wolverhampton, West) Edmunds, J. E.
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Buchanan, G. Edwards, E. (Morpeth)
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro') Burgess, F. G. Egan, W. H.
Alpass, J. H. Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland) Forgan, Dr. Robert
Ammon, Charles George Cameron, A. G. Freeman, Peter
Arnott, John Cape, Thomas Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)
Attlee, Clement Richard Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.) Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.)
Ayles, Walter Charleton, H. C. Gibbins, Joseph
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Chater, Daniel Gill, T. H.
Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley) Clarke, J. S. Gossling, A. G.
Barnes, Alfred John Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Gould, F.
Barr, James Cocks, Frederick Seymour Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)
Batey, Joseph Compton, Joseph Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)
Bennett, William (Battersea, South) Cove, William G. Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne)
Benson, G. Cripps, Sir Stafford Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)
Bowen, J. W. Daggar, George Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Dallas, George Groves, Thomas E.
Broad, Francis Alfred Dalton, Hugh Grundy, Thomas W.
Brockway, A. Fenner Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd) Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)
Bromfield, William Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)
Bromley, J. Day, Harry Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)
Brooke, W. Dukes, C. Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.)
Brothers, M. Duncan, Charles Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire) Ede, James Chuter Hardie, David (Rutherglen)
Hardie, G. D. (Springburn) Marcus, M. Sinkinson, George
Hastings, Dr. Somerville Marley, J. Sitch, Charles H.
Hayes, John Henry Marshall, Fred Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.) Mathers, George Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick) Maxton, James Smith, Tom (Pontefract)
Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow) Messer, Fred Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)
Henderson, W, W. (Middx., Enfield) Middleton, G. Sorensen, R.
Herriotts, J. Mills, J. E. Stamford, Thomas W.
Hicks, Ernest George Milner, Major J. Stephen, Campbell
Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth) Montague, Frederick Strachey, E. J. St. Loe
Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Morgan, Dr. H. B. Strauss, G. R.
Hoffman, P. C. Morley, Ralph Sullivan, J.
Hollins, A. Mort, D. L. Sutton, J. E.
Hopkin, Daniel Muggeridge, H. T. Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Horrabin, J, F. Murnin, Hugh Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Isaacs, George Naylor, T. E. Thurtle, Ernest
Jenkins, Sir William Noel-Burton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.) Tillett, Ben
John, William (Rhondda, West) Oldfield, J. R. Tinker, John Joseph
Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown) Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston) Toole, Joseph
Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Palin, John Henry Tout, W. J.
Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. Paling, Wilfrid Turner, Sir Ben
Kelly, W. T. Palmer, E. T. Vaughan, David
Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan) Viant, S. P.
Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M. Perry, S. F. walkden, A. G.
Kinley, J. Pethick-Lawrence, F. W. Walker, J.
Kirkwood, D. Phillips, Dr. Marlon Wallace, H. W.
Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Pole, Major D. G. Watkins, F. C.
Lathan, G. (Sheffield, Park) Potts, John S. Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Law, A. (Rossendale) Price, M. P. Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Lawrence, Susan Quibell, D. J. K. Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Joslah
Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge) Raynes, W. R. Wellock, Wilfred
Lawson, John James Richards, R. Welsh, James (Paisley)
Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle) Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring) Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
Leach, W. Riley, Ben (Dewsbury) West, F. R.
Lee, Frank (Derby, N.E.) Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees) Westwood, Joseph
Leonard, W. Ritson, J. Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Lewis, T. (Southampton) Romeril, H. G. Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Logan, David Gilbert Rowson, Guy Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Longbottom, A. W. Salter, Dr. Alfred Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Longden, F. Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West) Williams Dr. J. H (Llanelly)
Lunn, William Sawyer, G. F. Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Scrymgeour, E. Wilson, J. (Oldham)
McElwee, A. Sexton, Sir James Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
McKinlay, A. Shepherd, Arthur Lewis Wise, E. F.
MacLaren, Andrew Shield, George William Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan) Shillaker, J F. Young, Sir R. (Lancaster, Newton)
MacNeill-Weir, L. Shinwell, E.
Mansfield, W. Short, Alfred (Wednesbury) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
March, S. Simmons, C. J. Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr.
William Whiteley.