§ (1) As from the first day of July, nineteen hundred and thirty-two, there shall be charged in respect of beer brewed in the United Kingdom (not being beer of any of the descriptions specified in Subsection (1) of Section two of the Finance Act, 1930), the following duty of excise in lieu of the duty charged under Section one of the Finance (No. 2) Act, 1931—
|For every thirty-six gallons of worts of a specific gravity of one thousand and fifty-five degrees||5||3||0|
|For every thirty-six gallons of an original gravity of one thousand and fifty-five degrees||5||3||3|
§ (2) As from the date aforesaid there shall be charged on beer imported into the United Kingdom (not being beer of any of the descriptions specified in Sub-section (1) of Section two of the Finance Act, 1930) the following duty of Customs in lieu of the duty charged by Sub-section (2) of the said Section two—
|For every thirty-six gallons where the worts thereof were before fermentation of a specific gravity of one thousand and fifty-five degrees||5||3||6|
|For every thirty-six gallons of an original gravity of one thousand and fifty-five degrees||5||3||3|
§ (3) Nothing in this Section shall affect the provisions of Section seven of the Finance Act, 1925, with respect to the additional duty and drawbacks in respect of beer to be paid and allowed, respectively, under the said Section.—[Sir W. Wayland.]
§ Brought up, and read the First time.
§ Sir WILLIAM WAYLAND
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."
May I first be allowed to say how delighted I am to see the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his place this afternoon? It is compensation for the debacle which occurred the week before last. I and my Friends who support this Amendment keenly appreciate the difficulties which have been facing the right hon. Gentleman, which are facing him, and which probably will be facing him in the future, and it is not with any idea of obstructing him, but with the idea of helping him, that I am moving this Clause. It is the third time that I have had the pleasure 1990 of moving an Amendment in this House to reduce the Beer Duty, and I hope that as long as I remain in this House I shall go on putting such Amendments until this iniquitous tax is reduced by at least 93s. a standard barrel.
I do not think the Chancellor of the Exchequer can possibly justify this tax by saying that it will imbalance the Budget. If the tax is a bad one, whether or not it unbalances the Budget, it should be removed. The other excuse which has been made is that he could not defend the reduction of this tax in the eyes of the world as being a tax on something which part of the world looked upon as a luxury and the other part as a necessity. My answer to that is that if you have a tax which, from a business point of view, is a bad one, no business man in the world would condemn you for getting rid of it. On the contrary, he would say that the nation which still kept on demanding a certain duty which was not paying its way was doing a very stupid and uneconomic thing. I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer ought to be able to prove that the tax has not unfairly or injuriously affected the industry taxed and prevented its legitimate development, that it has not imposed an unfair burden upon the consumer, and that the yield, from a Treasury and business point of view, has justified its imposition.
The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his Budget speech, agreed that beer was taxed excessively, but he also made the remark that other things were taxed excessively and that the burden on the individual was excessive. I agree, but he might have added that beer is taxed not only excessively, but super-excessively, and that there is no equality of sacrifice at all in this tax, considering its difference to-day compared with what it was in pre-war times. I hope the House will excuse my repeating figures which are so well known, but it is necessary to do so. In 1914 the duty was 7s. 9d. per standard barrel. After the War, in 1919, the duty was 50s. Within a year or two after the War all duties were reduced, and there was not a single duty which had been imposed during the War that was not reduced in amount, but we find that although in 1919 the tax upon beer was 50s. a standard barrel, in 1920 it was 1991 raised to 70s.; not satisfied with that, in the following year the Chancellor of the day raised it to 100s., and then in the Budget of April, 1931, another 3s. was added, and in September of last year the last straw was placed upon the poor camel's back, and the duty was raised by another 31s. to 134s., or more than 16 times what it was before the War. Is there any record in the history of this country of an industry, a legitimate industry, being penalised to the extent that the brewing industry has been since 1914, or more particularly since 1919?
Let us examine the estimate which the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord Snowden, made of what he expected to obtain from the additional 31s. He expected to obtain in the first six months £4,500,000 and in a full year £10,000,000. Let us see what the results have been. Taking the standard barrelage of beef and comparing each month in 1931 with the corresponding month in 1930, we find that in October, the month after this extra duty was imposed, there was a decrease of 421,000, equivalent to 26 per cent. There were decreases in November of 296,000, equivalent to 21.8 per cent.; and in December of 317,000, equivalent to 19 per cent. In January, 1932, compared with January, 1931, the decrease was 294,056, equivalent to 23 per cent.; in February, 212,000, equivalent to 19 per cent.; and in March, 386,000, equivalent to 26 per cent. In April this year the decrease amounted to 400,000 barrels, equivalent to 27 per cent. Taking all the months I have mentioned, the average decrease is 23.1 per cent. Let us see what the Chancellor has obtained since this additional duty was imposed. In the 30 weeks between 10th September, 1931, and 7th April, 1932, the Treasury received, in round figures, £3,250,000. All my figures are very conservative; they are not exaggerated. On the contrary, I think that I have underestimated them in many cases against me. This sum in the 30 weeks represents £108,344 per week, or £5,633,334 a year. or £4,366,666 short of the estimate of £10,000,000, a reduction on the estimate of nearly 50 per cent.
How has this duty affected the various trades which rely upon the industry? I will touch upon the different trades. What is the effect upon agriculture? In 1992 my constituency, where hops are grown very largely, it has had the most disastrous effects. Hop growers can only look forward to the barest time that they have ever had in their lives, or probably at any time. There are sufficient hops in store for the next year, and probably for two years, and the crop which will be grown, and must be grown this year, will probably be unsaleable. It is estimated that, owing to the increased tax, at least 60,000 less cwts. of hops will be required. Hop growing is a form of agriculture which employs more labour per 100 acres than any other crop; 15 to 16 men are employed per 100 acres, in addition to which the ground has to be more highly manured than for any other crop, and much more money is spent in various ways than upon anything else that is grown in this country. In addition, you have to consider that during the picking season, in normal times, about 100,000 of the working class, many of them from the East End, who never see the countryside except during the hop-picking season, take themselves and their children and pick hops, earning a little money and returning better in health and in pocket from their sojourn of two or three weeks in the country.
Let me turn to the barley grower. There was 10,000,000 cwts. of home-grown barley used for malting in 1930. That was grown upon 750,000 acres of land. Those hon. Members who are farmers know that if they grow malting barley, they get a much higher price than when they grow only feeding barley. Therefore, in East Anglia and those parts of the country where they specialise in malting barley, there must be a very serious loss to the farmers. I come next to the browers' loss of profits. The House is apt to laugh when one speaks about the brewers. The House is also apt to forget that brewers in this country represent hundreds of thousands of investors. Those investors should certainly receive the same consideration as the investors in any other industrial concerns. Then there are the allied trades. Fifty different trades cater for brewers, and in those 50 different trades there are 2,000 different firms. All those firms are feeling the draught very seriously owing to this duty. Naturally the brewers cannot afford, under present conditions, to spend any more money than they can possibly help. These firms are therefore suffer- 1993 ing, and it means a great loss of profit to them as well as to the country. Then there are the licensed victuallers, a very honest body of men who are carrying on their business far better probably than their fathers carried it on. They are a group of men who are respected to-day. They number about 100,000, and they are seriously suffering because of the extra tax on beer.
An even more serious matter is the amount of unemployment which this tax has created. At a very moderate estimate, it cannot be less than 80,000; some have said 200,000; but if we take 60,000 as the number who are receiving what we are pleased to term the "dole," and if we reckon that each family receives on an average £l per week, it is easy to calculate that the unemployment created by this additional tax is costing the Chancellor of the Exchequer something in the region of £3,000,000 per annum. In addition, we have to consider the loss in Income Tax under Schedules A and D, not only in this year, but in following years. I know that the Chancellor will say that he is out for what he can get this year, that he is not going to bother his head about next year, and that he will remain optimistic and hopeful. I am afraid his optimism will not be justified. There is a loss of Income Tax under Schedules A and D, and also a loss in Stamp Duties, which the Chancellor has complained did not realise what he anticipated. In addition, there will be a reduction in the rate receipts of local authorities because licensed victuallers, seeing that their business has decreased 25 per cent. to 30 per cent., will naturally make a general appeal against their assessments, an appeal which cannot be rejected, but must be listened to with sympathy.
To sum up the debit side. I put the loss of Income Tax under Schedule D at not less than £2,000,000, and the estimated loss of rates and taxes under Schedule A at probably the same sum. With the £3,000,000 which is being paid out on account of the "dole," we arrive at £7,000,000, without taking into account the loss to agriculture and to all the allied trades, such as sugar refiners, engineers and so on. I think that the Chancellor will get at the outside something like £5,632,000 from the tax. I hope that I have proved that he will lose, perhaps, £10,000,000, but at least £7,000,000. 1994 So what is the use of keeping on this tax one minute longer than is necessary?
The Chancellor will ask what the alternatives are. An article in universal use, which no previous Chancellors have taxed, is rubber. It is very extensively imported, and in 1931 the imports amounted to 300,000,000 lbs. As rubber is being sold in the market at a ridiculously low price owing to over-production and competition, why should we not place 1s. a pound duty on it and give 6d. a pound preference to our own plantations? That would mean placing them on a profitable footing and putting into the Exchequer at least £8,000,000. There will be no interference with consumption, as there is in the case of the Beer Duty. If rubber were taxed 1s. a pound, there would not be one pound less purchased or employed in the United Kingdom. The cost of rubber tyres bears no relation to the cost of the rubber in them. I come to sugar, which the Chancellor stated was a necessity, and which he declined to tax more. In 1925 the Sugar and Tea Duties produced a revenue of nearly £50,000,000. They were just as great necessities then as they are to-day, and therefore there is nothing in that argument. If he puts 1d. on sugar in addition to what is already imposed, and allows one-halfpenny preference, he will achieve two objects. The tax will not be felt by the people of this country, and he will give such a preference to our own Dominions and Colonies which grow sugar that they will at least be able to make of it a profitable industry instead of, as they are now, working without profit and becoming practically bankrupt. I am not going to deal with the question of economy in public expenditure, because that has already received attention in the House, and I have only one other word to say. The Chancellor of the Exchequer will understand that I mean no disrespect, but it has been whispered in my ear that if this Amendment were carried it would mean the resignation of the Chancellor and also of the Government. I have always had a very high opinion of the common sense and business instincts of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I do not for one moment think he would ever contemplate resigning over an Amendment such as this. I feel that we are sent to this Chamber to 1995 form our own opinions and to give expression to them, and not merely to be automatic machines, and if we think this tax is a bad one, we should not hesitate to go into the Lobby against it. I am not only pleading for the trades I have mentioned, and for the exercise of common sense in this matter, but for the man in the street, that inarticulate being who has no means of voicing his opinions, the man who finds that it is a hard struggle to get any joy out of his existence. One of his principal pleasures is beer. [Interruption.] Yes, one of his principal joys is beer. Especially is that true of the agricultural labourer, who has no cinemas to run to, no theatres at his door, and who has to rely upon beer for his refreshment—that is in the case of those who drink beer, and the majority do—during eventime. I am speaking on behalf of those men, both those in shiny broadcloth and those in corduroy, who feel a very great resentment at having been penalised by the imposition of this extra duty. I cannot help feeling that in the past—I am not saying now—this supertaxation has had behind it the sinister influence of the teetotal party. I hope that hon. Members, undismayed by any threats, will follow us into the Division Lobby if, in their opinion, this tax is, as we believe it to be, not only an unfair tax but a most uneconomic one.
§ Mr. DIXEY
I beg to second the Motion.
I would like to say, quite frankly, that we feel our responsibility in moving this Clause, but I do not think the Chancellor of the Exchequer will complain, because, after all, this is a national House of Commons and the Measures which are being decided affect the interests of the nation as a whole. One of the underlying things behind this Amendment, I frankly admit, is that we feel some disquiet regarding the action of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I think we are entitled to ask whether the remission which we ask for has not been included in this Budget because this is a National Government? I would like to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether it would have been different if we had had a Conservative Government, with the majority behind it that there is in the country—because, after all, it is the working men of the country who sent 1996 us here, and it is their interests which I am putting before the House. I suggest that we are entitled to know that this decision was taken by the Chancellor of the Exchequer of his own free will, and that it was not a compromise decision, because I say with great respect that some of us are alarmed at the compromises of this Government, both in the Cabinet and among their supporters. Only the other day we had the Leader of the House admitting quite frankly in Debate that he as a back bencher would not have supported the Measure which was then before us—at least, if he did not actually say that, that was my understanding of his view.
In the interests of the country we are entitled to ask whether this decision about beer is a compromise decision? Is it one which the right hon. Gentleman has accepted with the agreement of Lord Snowden? Are we having put before us in the Budget certain compromises which, in our view, are not in the interest of the country? I think the right hon. Gentleman is in the position of one of those gentlemen in a recent play called, I think, "Wings over Europe." In that play the Cabinet met at a critical moment, when they had only a few hours of life, and said with great frankness what they thought of one another. I would like to know frankly what the right hon. Gentleman really thinks about the decision not to allow this particular remission of duty, which the country as a whole desires. It cannot be a question of money. Some of us in this House hold strong views on tariffs and say to the Government, "You are responsible for delaying tariffs." [Interruption.] Surely my right hon. Friend must know as well as I do that had a Conservative Government, with such a majority, been returned to power as a party Government, we should have had tariffs immediately? [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I am only putting the point as I see it. Through that delay six months' revenue was lost to the nation. If that revenue had been obtained by the proper and speedy application of tariffs, this remission of duty could have been granted.
I and every other hon. and right hon. Gentleman who stood on the national ticket went to the country and said, "We are going to do the best we can to secure equality of sacrifice, to secure a remission of taxation, and an increase of work," and 1997 I suggest that to withhold this remission of taxation is unfair to the working class and unfair, too, in its effect upon the unemployment question, Which the Government were put into office to tackle. To talk of the amount of revenue at stake in this case is not a fair answer. Whips and others on the Treasury Bench may laugh, but I am entitled to make that point. A very strong representation was made by the country for an arrangement with respect to State lotteries. There was a majority in favour of State lotteries in this House, and a very substantial revenue could have been obtained by their institution. The other week hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who probably voted against State lotteries here paid certain revenue to the Irish Free State. [Interruption.] In my view this is fast becoming not a National Government but a Coalition Government. The working people who supported the present Government at the election are entitled to say to them, "Before you refuse this remission of duty on beer, you should do two things—you should tackle the provision of revenue"—in the ways I have already pointed out—" and, in addition, you should introduce economies." There are a large number of economies which might be effected were Members of Parliament not afraid of the party Whips. [Interruption.] Those who jeer me realise as well as I do that great economies could be made in the Departments of State, and the Government have the power to tackle that problem, and ought to do so before telling the working people that they are not to have a just remission of taxation on beer— a healthy drink. An hon. Friend showed me just now a return concerning working men in steel works, showing that beer, properly administered, was a very healthy diet for a hard working man. I say in conclusion—not offensively, but because I believe it— that when we are facing a difficult Autumn, when right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench know quite well that there will have to be an Autumn Budget because the returns from taxation are not keeping pace with the demands, we ought to take this nation into the battle before us with a decently-contented working class population.
§ Major the Marquess of TITCHFIELD
I should not have intervened in this Debate if my constituency did not happen to 1998 be the metropolis of malt, and I wish to point out to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer the serious position in which the sales maltsters find themselves at the moment. Unlike my hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury (Sir W. Wayland) I shall give only two figures. In 1913, the sales maltsters of this country produced 3,268,000 quarters of malt—very nearly half the total production. This year, owing to the current high taxation and, of course, for other reasons, the demand for malt has been reduced to 500,000 quarters. I have been told, on very good authority, that the position is even worse than those figures indicate, because some of the maltsters, thinking early in the year that the tax might be reduced, increased their output, and to-day have stored in the kilns of this country enough malt to last the brewers until July of next year.
Some time ago I sent to my right hon. Friend an alternative scheme. It was that we should allow each brewery in the country to increase the average gravity of beer by eight degrees without having to pay any increase in the average duty payable. It was a simple scheme, and I thought it would be easy to work, and, of course, it would be a great help to the maltster, the barley-grower and the hop-grower. I am told, on very good authority, that if only five degrees of extra gravity were allowed to the maltster, it would increase the demand for barley by over 500,000 quarters. That is, indeed, a great boom. Not very long ago I had a short, but very courteous letter from the Chancellor of the Exchequer informing me that he was sorry that he could not agree with my scheme. The reasons he gave were two-fold: First of all, that the brewers of high gravity beer could not agree with the scheme, and, secondly, that he had been informed by his excise officials that there might be some loss in revenue. I cannot understand why the high gravity brewer in this country cannot agree to this scheme. I understand that the high gravity brewers do not brew one sort of beer but sometimes half a dozen, or it may be, a dozen sorts. I understand that the high gravity brewers brew anything from 27 degrees of gravity to somewhere up to 55.
I can quite understand that if this scheme were put into operation it would 1999 make severe competition for the 55 degree beer, but surely if 8 degrees more gravity were allowed in the inferior beer it would make those beers easier to sell. From the point of view of the high gravity brewer, what he loses on the swings he will gain on the roundabouts. I cannot believe that the competition can be very great from the high gravity beer, because most of the big brewers have tied houses, and more or less a monopoly of the sale of beer in those houses. The sale maltster cannot wait. Something ought to be done immediately. If we wait for a great scheme from the brewers we may wait until the crack of doom. If we wait very much longer, the maltster, the hop-grower and the barley-grower will be in the bankruptcy court. I quite understand that there might be, and that there is, a technical difficulty as regards a suitable datum line, but I cannot believe that this difficulty is so great that it cannot be overcome by the right hon. Gentleman's Excise officers. As regards the loss of revenue, I find it very difficult to believe that by allowing a better article to be put on the market the Chancellor is going to lose money. There is one more point, and that is in regard to the cost of materials. I understand that 8 degrees extra gravity would cost the brewer about 2s. per standard barrel. This scheme, I believe, would be a godsend to the hop-grower, the maltster and the farmer, I hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, although he has turned down this scheme, will give his careful attention to other schemes of this sort which may be put before him between now and the next few months. I hope that before the Debate is over, I shall get a favourable reply from my right hon. Friend.
I would like to say one or two words to my hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury and to other hon. Members who have put down this Clause. They have put it down in order that they may defeat the Government. [Interruption.] There can be no other reason. [An HON. MEMBER: "On its merits."] I can assure my right hon. Friend and the Member for Canterbury that the maltsters of my constituency are just as hard hit by this tax as are the hop-growers in Kent. Early in the year my maltsters said to me, "You go and vote against the Government," 2000 and my reply to that was: "Not likely. No one out of Bedlam would do a thing like that, and I have not gone as far as that yet." [Interruption.] Cheap popularity is an extremely easy thing to get. I should like to remind all those hon. Gentlemen who put their names to this Clause, that cheap popularity is a very fickle lady to woo. Cheap popularity is like a butterfly; it is here to-day and gone to-morrow. Cheap popularity is rather like Cinderella. If I remember rightly Cinderella had grand fun going to the ball. She went in her silver coach and she had glass slippers. When 12 o'clock struck, if my memory serves me, she left the ball in a somewhat dilapidated condition. My hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury will go down to the hop-fields of Kent at the end of the week and to the hop-growers around him he will say: "Look at me, the White Knight, sans peur et sans reproche, who was not frightened to break a lance with a stupid and tyrannical Minister." I hope, after he has got that sort of stuff off his chest, he will remember that cheap popularity is but an unsatisfactory and a fleeting pleasure.
§ Lieut.-Colonel SPENDER-CLAY
This tax has strained the loyalty of a great many followers of the Government, and it is as well to remember that there is deep feeling behind all that has been said already. I have been down to my constituency, and I know in the talk that I had with those in the hop-growing areas real distress is going to be felt from the primary producer, the man who originally tills the soil and who is helped by his wife to tie up the hops, down to the consumer, who has to pay higher prices for the inferior article. As the hon. Member for Canterbury (Sir W. Wayland) has pointed out, between those two people, the original producer and the consumer, there is a whole host of allied trades, everyone of which is going to suffer. I will mention one or two of them, in addition to those that have already been mentioned. First of all, there is the hop-grower. The majority of those growers who are dependent on hope for their living are nearly bankrupt. Then there are the merchants. I do not stand up in this House and speak for them, but I am given to understand that they have reduced their staffs by half, and that many of them are unable to pay Income Tax because of the way they have to 2001 operate to-day. The Chancellor of the Exchequer gets no dividend from them, while a large number are kept unemployed. There are the distributors, the makers of cord and twine for tying up the hops, the coopers and even the miners and the transport workers.
Then, as has already been mentioned, there is that large army of women and chldren who come into the hop gardens in the early autumn in order to get a healthy holiday and to make a few shillings. There are the brewers, and lastly, but by no means least, there are the holders of the licensed houses and the working men's clubs. All down the line, from the primary producer to the consumer, is one tale of burden, of a tendency to unemployment and depriving the worker of the beverage that he has been accustomed to drink. I know the Chancellor of the Exchequer says that he cannot afford the money. By the reduced return from Income Tax, and the increased amount of unemployment benefit payments and in other ways, he will lose considerably more than the £10,000,000 which he says he would lose if he gave up the tax.
While the duty on beer has been more than doubled since 1923–24, the tax on tea and sugar has been more than halved. I agree with the hon. Member for Canterbury that if the Chancellor put a 1d. a pound on sugar, not only would he get more revenue, but the burdens on the consumer would not be increased, owing to the fact that there is so much sugar in the world at the present moment that must find a market, and the price of sugar in this country would be reduced. He would also get rid of that incubus of the subsidy on beet sugar. Many of us have acquiesced in it in the past, but I am certain that millions of pounds are spent on that subsidy while the industry to-day does not look like being in any better economic position than it was seven, eight or 10 years ago. I believe that much of the profits coming from this industry goes into the pockets of foreign shareholders, and has not benefited the British workers at all. The right hon. Gentleman is injuring by this tax the revenue producer and injuring the future prospects of getting revenue from beer; at the same time, he is subsidising an industry which is parasitic on 2002 this country. I would like to add one other point. In addition to the money which has been wasted on the subsidy, our West Indian Colonies are at this moment in a bankrupt condition, and we have to give grants-in-aid to the West Indian islands to keep them on their legs while we are subsidising the home production. I never heard of such topsy-turvy finance and cannot imagine anything more absurd. What action are those of us to take who feel strongly about this matter? The hon. Member for Canterbury talked about voting against the Government and said that, of course, the Government would not go out. If the Government were defeated on a Measure of this kind, they must resign, and they would have-to be reconstituted. I do not believe that any Government would carry on as if nothing had happened after a vote of this kind. If we were living in normal times, I should certainly vote against the Government, but we are not living in normal times. We have, during the next few weeks, conferences of enormous importance, both at Lausanne and at Ottawa. If the Government were defeated on this, it must mean that their prestige would receive a blow from which they would suffer when they went to Ottawa. Foolish as I believe this taxation to be, and strongly as I feel that this tax is a great mistake and that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will not get the revenue which he expects to get from it, nevertheless I shall not follow the advice of the hon. Member for Canterbury but shall vote against this Clause, because I believe that, though by the defeat of the Government at this moment one might attain cheap popularity in one's own division, it would be against the best interests of the country.
§ Dr. SALTER
I am bound to comment, in the first instance, on the fact that for the discussion on the Beer Duty the House is very full, whereas last week, during the Debate on the very important mining question, the House was very empty. [Interruption.] I appreciate the studied discourtesy on the part of certain Members in walking out. They announced beforehand that, when a teetotal speech was going to be made, they would walk out of the House. In addressing the House on this Motion, I desire to say that I am speaking only for myself and 2003 not on behalf of my party. The Labour party, by a unanimous vote, agreed that its Members should have a perfectly free hand in this discussion. It is an actual fact that the beer question cuts across all political parties, and that there are divisions though not necessarily in the same proportion, in each of the three principal parties represented in the House. Admittedly high taxation of beer, as on any other article, diminishes consumption. There has been a very remarkable and very pronounced diminution in the consumption of beer since this additional tax was imposed last September. I would call attention to the fact that, simultaneously with that addition to the tax, a great many other things happened. There were very general reductions of wages, reductions in unemployment benefit, and reductions in Poor Law relief and there were also many other reductions, which lowered the purchasing power of the working classes in particular. All those factors have an influence upon the amount of beer sold and consumed.
The net result is that at the present moment there is less beer being drunk per head in the country than at any previous time in our history. I ask the House whether that state of things is desirable or not. Is the fact that the consumption of beer has been reduced to this minimum point a national calamity? I say that, on the contrary, particularly at this juncture, it is decidedly a national advantage. On this very point the Royal Commission on Licensing has expressed itself in no uncertain terms. The Commission was appointed to consider any further necessary legislation in regard to alcoholic liquor. That Commission was not constituted of teetotallers, but was a very mixed body. It had a large majority of non-teetotallers in its composition. After 18 months' consideration of the subject and after taking the most voluminous evidence, the Commission came to certain conclusions on this point. The Commission said, for example, in paragraph 106, of their report and recommendations:A general reduction in consumption of intoxicants ought to be aimed at.It went on to say in the same paragraph that 2004excessive drinking still persists in very large measure and that, apart from actual intemperance, expenditure on intoxicants still reaches a figure which is definitely uneconomic.That is the considered verdict of a body of men and women who—
§ Dr. SALTER
The hon. Member says, "Prejudice," but a very large proportion, in fact a majority, of the members of that Commission are not personal abstainers, and are opposed to the temperance party generally. It was a ground of complaint by the temperance party that so many non-abstainers and persons known to be opposed to the temperance party were placed on the Commission. I will not weary the House by citing all the paragraphs on the importance of this point, but, on the purely economic point, the Commission said—and it was also the considered judgment of Sir Josiah Stamp when he gave evidence—The benefits to be derived from the diminution of the present excessive expenditure would progressively compensate for any loss in taxation yield from that source.In paragraph 94, the Commission says thatindustry stands to gain by a further reduction in the consumption of intoxicants.I could go on for half an hour or an hour quoting similar statements by the Commission in support of those views. The attitude expressed in those recommendations was the considered judgment of a large body, not of prejudiced and partial persons, but of impartial persons. I have been a doctor practising for over 30 years in one of the poorest boroughs of London, and in one of the poorest quarters of the whole country. During that time I have been the recipient of very intimate and very sacred confidences. I have been into many thousands of homes; I suppose there is not one house in the whole of my borough into which I have not been at some time or other. I have been able to watch family life from the inside, and I say without hesitation that, not in the far distant past, not in the days before the War, but at the present time there are enormous numbers of families where babies are going short of milk, where children are going short of boots, where the whole family happiness is being wrecked, be- 2005 cause the father is an excessive beer consumer. There can be no doubt about that. The evidence before the Royal Commission proved it. Evidence from clergy, social workers, chairmen of licensing benches, all went to show that there is still a certain amount of excessive drinking in certain strata of the community.
§ Dr. SALTER
I am endeavouring to show that the effect of the duty, if, as is claimed, it has reduced the consumption of beer, is beneficial to the community and should be continued. I am endeavouring to adduce evidence to that effect. Although I agree that primary poverty is not due to drink, yet a very large proportion of secondary poverty is due to drink. I have addressed in my own constituency meetings of 1,500 or more persons, and in those assemblies I have asserted that, of the homes in my own area where there was insufficient money and insufficient food and clothing, in 25 per cent. of cases that was due to the fact that the father was spending too large a proportion of his income upon beer and too small a proportion on the necessities of life for his family. I have made that challenge to the working men of my own constituency on many occasions and never once have I had a repudiation from the audience, because it is true. Many hon. Members who are attacking this tax to-day know perfectly well that it is true. It is claimed that it is not fair or right to use the weapon of taxation for reducing the consumption of beer. All I say is that, after what I have seen in my own experience and in view of what I know is going on to-day, almost any measure is fair and right if it will result in the reduction of the consumption of drink, and in a larger proportion of the family income going to the purchase of household necessities.
One point which has been made is that, if a man, particularly a working man, gives up beer because of its high cost, or spends less upon it because of its high cost, therefore the revenue and all kinds of subsidiary industries suffer and the 2006 national interest is accordingly prejudiced. One side of the balance sheet, to which the hon. Member for Canterbury (Sir W. Wayland) referred, has certainly been overlooked by those who took that point of view. It is true that the maltster, the brewer, the publican, and persons who are engaged in ancillary industries in the drink trade have suffered, and are suffering to-day.
There are, however, compensating advantages on the other side. Apart from the sort of budget balance to which the hon. Member for Canterbury referred, publications and memoranda have been sent to every Member of the House by the Allied Brewery Traders and a number of other people, and they deal with the matter on a debit and credit basis. On the debit side there is, they say, a loss of Income Tax owing to decreased profits in the case of brewers, maltsters, farmers, hop merchants, licensed victuallers, and so on, and on the credit side there is merely the estimated increase in the Beer Duty. But, if the compilers of these balance sheets are really honest, they will include on the credit side certain other items.
If a man who has been accustomed to purchasing two pints of beer a day, or on the average 14 pints a week, at 5d. per pint, decides, because the price is raised to 6d., to give up beer altogether, he has 5s. 10d. a week to spend on something else. That money does not simply disappear into nothingness, nor is it washed down the drain; it is used, in such circumstances, for expenditure upon additional household requisites and necessaries—on milk—[Interruption.] Someone says, "Not necessaries." It may go in the sweepstakes, I agree, but the overwhelming probability is that, if such a man reduces his expenditure upon beer, it is because he feels that he cannot possibly afford it, having regard to the need of doing justice to his family, and the money so saved will be expended on household necessaries like boots, clothing, furniture, milk, and so on. If that be so, it means that, although the purveyors of beer and those who are dependent upon them will receive less income, and so will pay less Income Tax and so on, yet the manufacturers of useful staple articles of all descriptions will, on the other hand, receive more, and, in consequence, will pay more Income Tax; and 2007 I venture to suggest that these additional items will more than balance the items put upon the debit side by the hon. Member for Canterbury.
I would go further, and say that it is a distinct national advantage that money should be spent on household goods and staple articles rather than on alcoholic drinks. It is an economic advantage. I would remind the House of the figures given in the Board of Trade Journal between 1927 and 1928 summarising the results of the last Census of Production. It was definitely stated, in that official Government periodical, that, for every £1,000,000 worth of production in the brewing and malting industries, only 650 people were employed, whereas for every £1,000,000 worth of production in 19 staple industries, including iron and steel, textiles, coalmining, and so on, 5,733 people were employed. In other words, putting it a little more simply, for every 1,000 persons employed in brewing and malting, 10,423 persons were employed in the other trades in producing commodities of the same value. As far as I know, those official figures have never been disputed by anyone, and they have a considerable bearing on the economic side of the question which is now before the House.
I suggest that the result of the diminution in the consumption of beer, partly owing to the economic state of this country at the present time, and partly, doubtless, owing to the additional tax imposed last September, has been a net gain to the whole country, and I should assume that in the long run it will be a net gain to the revenue. Other industries have stood to gain; certainly the women and children and many other persons dependent upon beer drinkers have gained a great deal; and I believe that the moral and spiritual life of the community has gained also in no small degree. If hon. Members of this House are very anxious to assist the revenue and to assist employment, I would suggest that if, instead of encouraging people to drink beer by reducing its price, they encourage people to drink milk and to provide more milk for children and adolescents, they will not only be assisting the Chancellor of the Exchequer and promoting the public health of the country, but they will be 2008 assisting the whole national interest in the very largest and highest sense. At the present time, this country is the country which consumes almost less milk than any other civilised country in the world. We only consume, on the average, one-third of a pint of milk per head per day—
§ Dr. SALTER
I bow to your Ruling, and I recognise, of course, that I was trespassing a little beyond the limits of the Debate. I shall not follow up that point beyond saying that an increase in the consumption of milk from one-third of a pint to half a pint per head per day would mean, according to agricultural experts, the employment of an additional 100,000 men in the country, and that would be a matter of very considerable importance.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has stated—he will correct me if I have misunderstood him—that, if he abandoned this tax, it would be necessary for the consumption of beer in this country to. increase by 40 per cent. in order to "give him the same revenue. I do not suppose that there is anyone in this House who would suggest that, under existing economic conditions, there is any possibility of an increase of 40 per cent. in the total consumption of beer, and, if there were, I do not think there would be any responsible person in the whole country, whether teetotaller or not, who would not regard such an increased consumption of beer at the present time as a positive national calamity. At any rate I would say, from my knowledge of working-class life and working-class conditions, particularly in my own borough, that I cannot imagine a greater disaster to my own area at the present moment than that there should be any considerable increase in the consumption of beer. I know the sort of avalanche of human misery, wrecked homes, and general moral as well as material damage that would result to the community if any such thing happened. I should say that almost any calamity would be better than a calamity such as that. We shall hear what the Chancellor of the Exchequer has to say, but I gather, from all that has appeared in the Press, that he is going to be adamant on this question. I congratulate 2009 him very warmly on that attitude, and, for the first time since this Government came into existence, I shall, if there is a Division on this Clause, have the pleasure of going into the. Lobby in support of the Chancellor against his revolters.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Chamberlain)
My hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury (Sir W. Wayland) was kind enough, in opening his defence of this Clause, to express his pleasure at seeing me in my place again. I was going to return the compliment, but, unfortunately, I am debarred from doing so, because I do not see my hon. Friend in his place. When he comes back, I hope I shall be able to command the support of the House in asking it to give him a suitable reception. My hon. Friend, in putting his case, told us, first of all, how very much this tax had been increased since the time before the War, and, secondly, how very seriously, not only the brewing trade, but a number of allied trades, were suffering in consequence of it; and that plea has been reinforced, in perhaps more convincing terms, by my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Tonbridge (Lieut.-Colonel Spender-Clay). My right hon. and gallant Friend said that he felt very strongly on this subject, as, indeed, was obvious, but let us not be drawn away by the state of our feelings into exaggerations of the case which will not bear thorough examination.
It is not accurate to attribute to the increase of the Beer Duty last September the whole of the depression which has taken place in the brewing trade and in the allied industries which are dependent upon it. We have only to look at the position of the great staple trades in the country—the iron trade, the ship-building trade, the coal trade, the textile trade— to be able to parallel over and over again the sort of trouble and suffering and hardship and depression which have been adduced by my right hon. and gallant Friend in support of his contention that this tax is bearing so hardly upon those trades in which he is particularly interested. We must not allow ourselves to exaggerate the position.
My hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury dwelt upon the unemployment which he said was caused by this 2010 duty. He went so far as to repeat here a statement which I think he has made in the country before, that in his view the increase in the Beer Duty has already caused an increase of over 80,000 in the number of persons unemployed. In order to arrive at that figure, he drew in, beside the brewing trade, agriculture—the barley trade and the hop trade—merchants, licensed victuallers, and so on; but, putting them all together, is it possible that the increased Beer Duty could have effected so large an increase in the unemployment figures as 80,000? I have tried to find out what evidence one could get on this subject, and I find that, although I have no figures which will cover all the industries named by my hon. Friend, if I take all the drink industries— not only beer, but all those which are concerned with the manufacture of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks—the increase in unemployment between August last and April, that is to say, since the new duty has been in force, is 1,064; while, if I take the hotel, public-house, restaurant, boarding house and club services, I find that the increase during the same period in all these services—which, of course, do not necessarily depend on the sale of beer—is 7,130.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
That is the increase between August, before the duty was imposed, and April, since it was imposed. These figures are obviously not comparable to those mentioned by my hon. Friend, but I think they show clearly that any such estimate as an increase of 80,000 is utterly fantastic and incredible.
There is another point. It is said that there is a very large loss of profits, and my right hon. Friend has even convinced himself that, if I take into consideration the loss of profits in the various trades concerned together with the increase of unemployment, the actual loss to the Revenue in the year would be sufficient to counterbalance the £10,000,000 which I should expect to lose if the duty were remitted. Can my right hon. Friend really have deceived himself as much as that? The figures of the revenue from profits for the current year would not be affected at all, because they are based on the profits of last year and not of this 2011 year. It is no use for my right hon. Friend to say, "I am thinking of the year after this and not of this year," because, although presently I shall have to think of next year, at this moment I have this year to consider, and it is this Budget which has to be balanced and not at the moment that of next year.
Lieut. - Colonel SPENDER CLAY
Ought not my right hon. Friend to preserve the revenue of next year as well?
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
That is not the point that I am dealing with at the moment. I am dealing with the point my right hon. Friend made that the losses owing to the increase of unemployment and the diminution of profits would be so great that this year they would counterbalance the £10,000,000 which I should lose by the remission of the duty, and I am pointing out that that could not possibly be so, not only because the figures of the increase of unemployment have been grossly exaggerated, but also because, even if it were true that the profits were so largely diminished as is thought to be the case by some of my hon. Friends, that could not affect the revenue of this year, because that is not the way the Income Tax is calculated upon those profits. An hon. Member opposite said Income Tax under Schedule A. He does not seem to be aware that Income Tax under Schedule A depends upon valuations which are made quinquennially and the present valuations under Schedule A are not due to be altered until the year 1936–37. There, again, there can be no alteration in the revenue under Schedule A by reason of anything that takes place in consequence of this duty.
Another hon. Member inquired whether the maintenance of this duty was really due to any sincere conviction on my own part or whether it was not rather a compromise arrived at in order to please some other Members of the Cabinet. One wonders a little what is the use of saying anything in this House if hon. Members keep on asking questions as though one had never said a word on the subject. I stated quite definitely on a previous occasion that the whole responsibility for the maintenance of this duty rested upon my shoulders, because I had taken my decision on the subject before ever consulting any one of my colleagues 2012 in the Cabinet. If the hon. and gallant Gentleman does not believe me, I cannot help it, but I cannot convince him by repeating a statement which I have already made publicly and solemnly declared in this House. Of course, the real point is not that I deny the injurious effects of over-taxation on a particular industry or hardships which may be thereby caused to individuals. I never put the maintenance of the tax upon the ground that it was a tax that was desirable in itself. I have never denied my view that the beer industry is over-taxed at present. I agree that it is very hard that this tax should have gone on being increased time after time, with obvious detriment to the industry itself and, in the long run, to the Revenue. See already what has happened to spirits, which have been so heavily taxed that the yield has declined over a series of years, and it is obvious now that no Chancellor of the Exchequer can ever calculate upon getting from spirits anything like the yield that his predecessors have done. The same sort of thing is happening with beer.
Side by side with that, we must not lose sight of the fact that there is taking place a definite change in the habits of the people. That is one of the factors that I have to bear in mind. I consider that the imposition of this tax has accelerated a movement that was going on before and that, if you were to remit the tax, the consumption of beer would not immediately go back to what it would have been if the tax had never been imposed. That is a position that is not taken up by the brewers themselves. None of them would expect that the consumption of beer would go back to the line that it was pursuing before the tax was imposed, and it is for that reason that, while I have only budgeted for an increase of revenue amounting to £8,000,000 from this tax, I nevertheless expect that, if the tax were remitted, I should lose not £8,000,000 but £10,000,000. That is the problem that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has to face in present circumstances.
Can he afford to give away £10,000,000; in the present year, whatever the effect of leaving the tax on may be upon future revenue from beer? In other years we may have other things to assist us. In this year, we have nothing to assist us. We are not starting here with a perfectly 2013 clean sheet, with no taxes in operation, but merely the question how we can most conveniently raise a certain sum of money. The position when certain taxes are actually in force is different from what it would be if you had to begin at the beginning. You cannot remove a tax which is already in operation without producing a number of secondary consequences some of which may be very serious. But the very fact that a tax of any kind has been remitted, even if it has been replaced by a tax of some other kind, in present day circumstances might have reactions far beyond even our own shores. We have seen already, if I may give only one instance, that the figures of unemployment are not diminishing as we all hoped that they would have done. On the contrary, they show an increase which, however explained by the circumstance of the prolongation of the holiday or whatever it may be, are not encouraging us to hope that things are rapidly going to get very much better than they are.
All of us, no doubt, can see reasons for hope and confidence in the future. At the same time, I do not think we can feel so satisfied that the worst is over that we can afford to sacrifice any reserves that we may have behind us. My hon. Friend, with some courage, has made some suggestions for substitutes for a tax on beer. I do not propose to examine them in detail, but, if there is any way of raising further taxation more easily, or any way by which we can make available funds which can be used for the purpose of substitution for these taxes, we ought to keep those new sources of taxation as reserves available for other purposes in case they should be wanted later on in the year. One thing that I am certain of is that this country cannot to-day stand further taxation. Therefore, it is quite impossible, with due regard to my responsibilities, to accept a Clause of this kind.
I know very well that many Members feel strongly on the matter. I respect their sincerity of feeling and their desire to preserve their independence. I should be the last person to try to make use of anything in the nature of a threat against those who exercise such independence but I think I might fairly make an appeal to hon. Members who have been returned to support the National Government, and 2014 who have supported the National Government, among other things, because they have felt that a National Government would represent this country overseas with a prestige and authority which could not attach to any purely party Government. We are on the eve of one of the most important conferences that have taken place since the War. Next week I shall be leaving this country for Lausanne, and the Prime Minister will already have gone. There is no question of the Government being defeated on this Clause. We are not afraid about that. But will hon. Members, even those who feel strongly on this subject, bear this in mind also, that, short of a defeat, a really substantial vote against the Government on a matter of such importance as this—I quite agree with my right hon. Friend that this is a matter of first-class importance—on an essential part of the Budget cannot do otherwise than injure and diminish its authority. I ask hon. Members not to forget those great national and international world interests which are going to be discussed and the future of which may perhaps be decided in the course of the next few weeks, and not to take a step at this moment which might do anything to make less the influence and the power that the Government exercise.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I should like to join with my hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury (Sir W. Wayland) in congratulating my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer upon his return, as we can see, in the fullest mental vigour, to the House. It must have been very disappointing to any Minister as assiduous and-so keenly enveloped in political affairs to be absent while his Budget was actually under discussion. We are very glad that he has come back, and has come back to take part in a discussion of this kind. I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury was quite justified in raising the discussion, but I hope that he will not press his proposal to a Division. I have on two occasions voted against the present National Government in this Parliament, but those were great matters of permanent Imperial consequence such as the Statute of Westminster and a democratic constitution for India. This is not a matter on the same level. It is a 2015 matter of domestic housekeeping and of annual finance, and we are not, I think, at all called upon to press opinions about the expediency of a particular tax to a point where they would raise, as has been pointed out by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, all those other far greater considerations affecting the whole life and position of the country. Nevertheless I think that it is right that the case against the over-taxation of this particular commodity should have been stated, as it has been with so much moderation and force from both sides of the House. We are entitled to deal with this matter as a revenue matter primarily.
I admit the force of much of what was said by the hon. Member for West Bermondsey (Dr. Salter) on the temperance aspect, but, when you consider the progress which has been made, no doubt under the influence of high taxation in the past, in the sobriety of this country, no one can consider that the temperance aspect is an urgent aspect in the discussion at the present time. In the year 1913, the last pre-war year, there were 183,000 convictions for drunkenness, and in 1931, the last year for which we have the complete figures, they had fallen to 53,000. It is perfectly clear that the temperance aspect of the matter ought not to sway our opinions about this tax at the present time, and that we are entitled to look at it solely from the point of view of revenue. I will look at it—and I want to detain the House very briefly—only from that point of view. The question is not whether we should tax beer, but whether we should over-tax it. My right hon. Friend admitted that it was over-taxed. In the five Budgets which I opened and carried through the House I received an average of £81,000,000 a year from beer. I admit that there was a slight falling off in the last year. In the three Budgets which have been carried and proposed since the duty was raised the average, including the estimate for this year,, is only £76,000,000, so that there is on the face of the figures a net and absolute Joss of something like £5,000,000 attendant upon the increase of the tax. It is a very extraordinary and tremendous fact that that should be so.
2016 I agree that it is fair to say as my right hon. Friend did that it is not all due to the tax. The bad trade, the changing habits of the people, all those have played their part, but it must be remembered that bad trade has been largely mitigated by the enormous sums contributed for the relief of unemployment and distress, and also that the progressive cheapness of living has kept pace with the depression. Therefore, I think, it is not unfair to argue that probably three-quarters of this loss of revenue has been due to overtaxation and to trying to get more from this source than it will in fact yield, copious as has been the supply which it has yielded to the revenue. Whatever the need of money may be now or in the future, it surely cannot be sound, economic or provident finance to injure and run the risk of destroying a revenue what has been can of the main, long-established, abundant sources of perennial revenue to the State, and one which, if it were to be destroyed, could not be replaced in any way that we can see at the present time.
Every commodity will bear a certain degree of taxation, and the modern view, differing altogether from the Glad-stonian theory that you should have very few taxes and so on—the modern view undoubtedly of the House is that each commodity should, if necessary, and if otherwise convenient, bear its proper weight and burden of taxation, and that you should spread the taxation over a number of separate commodities rather than press unduly heavily on one particular source so as to inflict a serious permanent injury upon the trade concerned. Men can carry heavy weights if they are well distributed and well balanced. The question which we are entitled to ask when any particular tax is being considered is, Is the knapsack being well fitted upon the shoulders which have to bear it? Under the Budget of the late Chancellor of the Exchequer in September last, I could not feel that he was adapting the national burden which the nation was ready, nay determined to assume, to the national shoulders with wisdom. It seemed to me to be most clumsily imposed, and this was one of the taxes which struck me as being not only im- 2017 provident from a financial point of view but vexatious and irritating.
I hoped that my right hon. Friend, a Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer free from the narrow prejudices which hampered his predecessor, would have seen his way to retrace the foolish step which was taken in September last under very peculiar conditions and which I do not intend now to animadvert upon at all. The right hon. Gentleman says that his remission of the revenue duty would C03t him £10,000,000. Of course, the figures are highly disputable, because it was only realised in the April White Paper that the first Snowden increase of duty produced a heavy shortage. When he made an estimate for an increased yield in the year he did not mention the fact that the duty was already down on the year. So it is impossible for private Members to disentangle the effects of the first over-taxation of beer from its second and aggravated over-taxation. All is mixed up and also influenced by general causes to which reference has been made, but, however you look at it, the destruction of revenue is indisputable. There has been a destruction of revenue of perhaps £4,000,000 or £5,000,000 accompanied by a most heavy increase of the rate of the tax.
This question cannot be put forward as a matter of indulgence. This is no time for indulgence. It is simply a question of obtaining the largest possible permanent revenue not only this year but in years to come. If it be true that we have reduced our revenue by £4,000,000 or £5,000,000 through trying to get more from the tax than it can yield that is an enormous argument for stopping, if not now, at the very first available opportunity, and getting back to a degree of taxation which will safeguard the future. In his speech my right hon. Friend almost accepted the fact that injuries were being inflicted now which coupled with the habits of the country would permanently impair the revenue from this source. That will leave an increasing gap to be filled in future years, and which can only be filled by imposing other additional burdens or by making further heavy cuts. It really cannot be thrifty finance to pursue such courses.
In a House like this, with so many supporters of the Government and many 2018 friends and political associates, I agree with what has been said from various quarters, that those who suggest that any tax should be taken off are under a moral obligation to suggest some alternative, serious as are the risks to private Members who suggest possible alternatives. I proposed, when I spoke on the Second Reading of the Budget that the necessary £10,000,000 might have been taken from the moneys which were set aside to form the nucleus of the new Exchange Equalisation Fund, and, of course, I was very much denounced for that. I was accused of using a capital asset for recurrent expenditure. But this same capital asset was used last year by the late Chancellor of the Exchequer to meet recurrent expenditure, and it was used by the National Government after it came into power for recurrent expenditure, and I saw no reason at all under any canon of orthodoxy which the Government have so far erected why a similar amount from the same source should not have been taken for the assistance of the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he was framing his Budget in the first instance. It is easy to sneer at such suggestions and assume a great air of financial correctitude, but I am sure that if the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he was framing his Budget, had wished to reduce this particular taxation, this beer taxation to its maximum economic level, he could, quite easily and without any reproach, have presented his proposals in the form in which I have suggested.
Upon this question of orthodoxy, let me ask the Government: Are you orthodox? Are you pure? Besides impairing a source of revenue, beer over-taxation causes, as we know, serious losses under other heads of revenue. I do not want to enter into an argument of detail about what those losses are. I have been given some figures which have been carefully prepared and which show that on Schedule D, on the Surtax, on the Estate and Stamp Duties, especially the junior class of securities, and ultimately on the licence duties under Schedule A, that there an additional loss of something between £5,000,000 and £6,000,000 is to be apprehended by the injury done to the beer revenue and to the beer trade. I know that those figures are disputable, 2019 but that the loss is substantial is common ground in all parts of the House. What does my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer say when he is confronted with that fact? He says: "Ah, loss there may be, but this loss will not fall on this year. It will only fall on next year." That may be an argument, but it is an argument fatal to financial orthodoxy, for what is that but an admission of a forestalment of revenue for next year? We are to gain £8,000,000 in our revenue this year at a cost of £5,000,000 or £6,000,000 next year. It is a forestalment that will have to be made up in a future year, and at a time when the steady, continuous impairment of revenue from beer is actually in progress. It is not only a case of devouring the seed corn but of mortgaging future reduced harvests. With all the good will in the world, one must object to the Government's right in this matter to parade with virtue, impeccable and austere, their financial orthodoxy. It is an even worse deviation from financial strictness to create this situation, this forestalment of revenue from next year, than if the right hon. Gentleman had used the £10,000,000 of the Dollar Exchange Fund, when he had it in his possession, in the same manner that it was used by his predecessor. And what about the argument that no capital asset should be used for recurrent finance? How we delude ourselves if we suppose that we can inflict, possibly, a lasting, mordant lesion upon a vital indispensable source of revenue, without committing the fault of using a capital asset for a temporary emergency, and not only a capital asset, because this is a source of continued revenue from year to year exceeding the value of any of those capital assets sometimes brought into Exchequer finance in a difficult year.
I should have thought that the fundamental change that had taken place in the country in our affairs, in our outlook upon finance, since the Budget of last September would have justified a review of this over-taxation of beer. In those days, the whole object was to maintain a high level of exchange, and for that purpose a Sinking Fund of great strength was needed, but now that we are labouring to keep our exchange down, and spending money for that purpose, it is 2020 strange that the same taxation and the same sources of revenue should be maintained. Some hon. Members have mentioned sugar as an alternative source of taxation. I raised that point in September. We could obtain £20,000,000 from sugar by merely restoring the relief given to sugar given by the late Chancellor of the Exchequer and by myself, and the cost of sugar would then be less than it was in 1928, when everybody said how cheap sugar was and how gratifying was the increase in public consumption. What does the Chancellor of the Exchequer say? What he said was most grave and alarming. He said that he could not afford in the present situation to sacrifice his reserves. If that meant anything, it meant that he cannot consider sugar as an alternative, because he may need sugar too. Am I right in that assumption? I am afraid that I am. That raises the extremely serious position that we must not use sugar as an alternative method in place of beer to raise this extra revenue, because sugar may be wanted too. Before we get to that, or to anything of that kind, it will be the duty of the Government to exercise every other alternative before they impose further taxation in relief of the present situation and to supply extra revenue to the State. The Government in such an eventuality will have to consider not only Sinking Fund needs in view of present conditions, but the question of public expenditure in all its branches will have to be considered by the House.
I see no reason why we should press this Debate to a Division. For my part, I should certainly not vote against the Government on this subject. We cannot hope to alter the finance of this year. The right hon. Gentleman declared the obvious truth, that the Government must stand or fall by a serious vote on a main item of its Budget proposals. True, His Majesty's Government have magnified this issue by posing it in this manner, but with the international conferences that are pending there are good and solid reasons why we in this country should not seem to shirk any burden, however unwisely or however unfortunately imposed upon us. We may have our own opinion about policy, and we are entitled to express it in debate. We are entitled to complain at the manner in which the pieces have been set upon the board, and it is not futile. We hope by debate to 2021 influence opinion in the future. We may have to submit and suffer, and suffer we shall, needlessly and fruitlessly, but if we can build up opinion in the House of Commons and among Ministers, then we shall make it very unlikely that this particular specimen of regrettable over taxation will be forced upon us in the forthcoming year.
§ Mr. TINKER
We have had a delightful speech from the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill), who has taken the opportunity once more of leading the House up the garden. This occasion has provided him with an opportunity of getting at the late Chancellor of the Exchequer and saying what he thinks about him on the Beer Duty. It has also provided him with an opportunity of telling the Government what he thinks about them. But he is afraid to strike when the time comes to strike. I have listened to him previously and have heard him say that now is the time for the National Government to be bold. He has proved conclusively from his point of view that the Beer Duty is wrong. Anyone reading his speech would think that the Government have done wrong in retaining the Beer Duty at its present level. That being so, and the right hon. Gentleman having gone out of his way to prove it, to be logical he must go into the Division Lobby when the Division is forced, as I believe it will be forced. On the question of being logical, I remember the Home Secretary last Friday saying that most things in this country were illogical. He said that the English language was illogical, among other things. I think, therefore, we can look upon the right hon. Member for Epping as belonging to the illogical class, because he will not follow up his speech by his vote. We shall wait for another remarkable speech from him on the next occasion.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer gave a very close and reasoned speech in attempting to defend the Beer Duty on the ground of required taxation. He wants £10,000,000 and he is going to go for it where he thinks he can get it. I want to follow up that line of argument. I do not desire to follow the line of argument of my hon. Friend the Member for West Bermondsey (Dr. Salter), who dealt with the question of prohibition or no? 2022 prohibition. We are not discussing prohibition to-day. This country, and I think rightly, does not believe in prohibition. It believes in trying to bring about sobriety by education and by the people seeing the right in this matter, and not by prohibition. My hon. Friend sometimes enters into the fanatical class, but he is a man I admire, because when he believes in a thing he is going to get it by hook or crook.
Is this particular tax right or wrong? It is a continuation of indirect taxation of a commodity which many working-class people like. Some of the mining community, for whom I speak, believe in going to cinemas. Out of the little money they have to spare they spend some in going to the cinema. Others believe in having a pint of beer at the end of a shift. They enjoy having a pint of beer, and no one will say that there is anything wrong in that. A pint of beer at the end of a shift on five or six days in the week is not a vast expenditure and cannot be called immoral. I do not think that even the hon. Member for West Bermondsey would say that it was. This particular tax puts a greater burden upon those people. It means that for one day in the week they will have to miss the joy of their pint of beer because of the extra tax. I have been all over my constituency and in different parts of the country, and good citizens who believe in the welfare of the country think that the tax is in the wrong place. It cannot be said that it will lead to greater sobriety and prevent immorality. It is for that reason that I take exception to it.
I believe that the extra taxation might be directed into different quarters. This tax means taking from many working-class people a certain amount of enjoyment. Some hon. Members suggest putting the tax on sugar. That would be wrong. I should certainly not support taking off this duty on beer if I thought that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was going to tax sugar in order to balance it. I am going to show where the money could be got. Many who are supporting the remission of the Beer Duty belong to the richer classes, and it is from that quarter that the taxation ought to come. I have been going through the figures of estates liable to Estate Duty in 1930 and 1931, and I find that the num- 2023 ber of estates representing fortunes of over £100,000 amounted to 497. Of these 214 represented fortunes from £100,000 to £150,000. Of those estates over £1,000,000 there were eight, over £1,500,000, three; between £2,000,000 and £3,000,000, six, and over £3,000,000, five. The taxation in Estate Duty ranges from 20 to 50 per cent. on estates up to £1,000,000. I claim that in the times of stress and difficulty through which we are passing the revenue could have been got by increasing the 20 per cent. by 10 per cent. That would have brought in all the money that was required. The estate duties have not been increased. Hon. Members opposite claim that they are already taxed to the hilt. All other sources of revenue, including indirect taxation, have been increased, and I ask the National Government and those who are asking for a remission of the Beer Duty to support us in trying to get the revenue from the direction that I have indicated. If they are honest in their intention to help the working man to get one penny off his pint of beer, they ought to support us in getting the money in another direction.
§ Mr. MOREING
How is the hon. Member going to ensure that the people whose estate has to bear duties will die at the right moment?
§ Mr. TINKER
The hon. Member is quite right. We have to take an average over a number of years, that is how the Budget is balanced. Last year the Death Duties showed an increase over the yield of the year before. I agree with the Amendment. I believe it is a move in the right direction, but I shall not be like the right hon. Member for Epping, I shall follow my convictions and go into the Lobby against the Government, and I hope that other hon. Members will do the same.
§ Mr. BAILEY
I have listened with great interest to the arguments which have been put forward why we should not go into the Lobby against the Government, because we who at the moment intend to vote against the Government are just as anxious to do the right thing as the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) who advises us not to vote against the Government. We have been told what will be our position if we vote 2024 against the Government. The hon. and gallant Member for Newark (Marquess of Titchfield) has told us that we should be like Cinderella when she returned from the ball at midnight in a dilapidated condition. I take a little comfort from that, because I am going to pursue Cinderella a little further. In a week's time she was covered with glory for her conduct; and I hope that we shall be like Cinderella.
Then the hon. and gallant Member said, and I noticed the approval on the faces of Members on the Government Bench, that anyone who voted against the Government was mad. Members of the Government approved. Is the Home Secretary mad, because he frequently votes against the Government? I am a young Member; I do not understand these things, and possibly it will take much longer than I shall have the privilege of being here for me to understand such Parliamentary sanity. If the Home Secretary is mad because he votes against the Government, then the Government cannot be too sane if they approve of the continuance of a mad dog in their midst. If you keep a mad dog in your midst unchained, are you not mad also? I am not much impressed by the argument that anybody is mad to vote against the Government when anyone in the position of the Home Secretary is allowed to vote against the Government. Private Members claim that they were elected on the same basis and that they have exactly the same right.
The right hon. Member for Epping tells us that we should not vote against the Government. I aim always a little suspicious—I say this without 'any disrespect, because there is no young Member of the House who admires more his Parliamentary greatness—when I see. him trying to help the Government and I cannot think that his heart really lies in that direction. I may be wrong. He says that we ought not to vote against the Government, because to do so will damage their prestige.
§ Mr. BAILEY
He used an expression to that effect. What then is the argument of the right hon. Gentleman?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I said that there were reasons why in my opinion the 2025 Government should not be forced to take off this tax this time which would not apply next year.
§ Mr. BAILEY
There are "reasons why the Government should not be forced." What are those reasons? Why should we not force the Government, except that we may damage their prestige? Does the right hon. Member for Epping think that a speech like his this evening, in which he not only said that this tax but that the Budget as a whole was clumsy, is going to damage the Government less than our vote against them on a matter which we think to be right? In defence of the time he said that when he saw fit to vote against the Government he only did so on matters of major importance. Why on earth is a vote against the Government on matters of major importance, when one sees fit, right, but on matters of minor importance wrong? I should have thought it was the other way round. But the right hon. Gentleman contradicted his own argument. He said that this is not a matter of importance but has been so magnified that it has become a matter of major importance. What does he mean? What does a young Member of this House learn listening to these great exponents of Parliamentary tradition? What is he to do? How can I be guided by his advice? How can I be guided by the arguments he advanced in justification of his advice? No, Sir, my friends and I are going to do what we conceive to be our duty. We think that this tax is wrong, and we are going into the Lobby against it. We much regret having to do so. It will be the first time, and I hope the last, on which I shall have to vote against the Government which is doing so much and which is to-day the only refuge against anarchy. But we believe that we do the Government less harm by voting against it in a plain and straightforward manner on an occasion in which we think they are wrong than by constantly subjecting it to a policy of pin pricks and insults under the cover of friendliness. When we are against the Government we will be honest about it. When we are in favour, we will speak in its favour.
Let me say a few words on the question of the tax itself. On the subject of teetotalism I need say very little, because the motives of the Government do not run in that direction. Those who 2026 have put down Amendments on the Order Paper accept the assurances of the Chancellor of the Exchequer on that point, that he is looking at this matter from a revenue point of view. We do not think that the teetotal question arises. We do not agree that it is necessary to tax beer out of existence, like the hon. Member for West Bermondsey (Dr. Salter) who says that the working-classes will do themselves much damage by drinking beer if we do not do so. We think that many other Socialists besides the hon. Member for West Bermondsey underrate the common sense and decency of working-classes. In my division you will see very little drunkenness; and actually you will not cure drunkenness by raising the tax. The man who is a drunkard will buy beer whatever it costs. It is the man who needs beer as a food that you will hit by this tax.
Why do we say that this tax is unfair? We all agree that beer is a commodity which should certainly bear its fair share of taxation, especially in times of emergency. With that we absolutely agree. But we say that it is not merely supertaxed but that it is taxed in an outrageous fashion. One can put it in this way: Out of every l0d. raised in taxation a penny is raised from beer. Can anyone, can any Government say that it is really fair that 10 per cent. of the total revenue should be taken from one commodity? Why not tax cyder? Why not tax lemonade? Why not tax chocolate? Are not private motor cars as much a luxury as beer? But they do not pay 10 per cent. of the total taxation. It is utterly unfair, for the purpose of getting revenue by hook or by crook, and that is what we object to. Again the Chancellor of the Exchequer used arguments—I say this with the greatest respect—which I never thought to hear a Conservative Minister use, "I have no care about next year's revenue; I am dealing with this year's revenue." Was that not our constant criticism of the Socialists? They did not care about the future but only about the present. They said, "Let other people have to clear up the mess." That policy of not bothering in the least about the future, as applied to beer or any commodity, is utterly unsound and one which I cannot but be a little surprised to have heard from such a distinguished and orthodox Minister.
2027 In regard to the question of unemployment, statistics can be quoted. I have a list here which would bear out the view of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. One absolutely agrees that the increases in unemployment during the past few months are not due solely or even largely to the increased taxation on beer. It is unfair to score a point merely for what has been termed cheap popularity. But there is no doubt that this tax is doing great damage. The tax was imposed on beer. Beer consumption has declined roughly by 25 per cent. since the tax was introduced. Beer no more than most other luxury commodities has been bit by the general depression. It has been hit as much and as little as other luxury commodities, but on the average they have not declined by 25 per cent. I believe the percentage in their case is about 15. Therefore we are right in saying that by this tax you have lowered by 10 per cent. the consumption in an industry which employs 700,000 men indirectly. It is all very well to say, with a grand smile, "I do not care who is employed indirectly." What was the point of giving £6,000,000 to wheat and taking it away from barley? We want to know.
One feels one is bound to vote against the Government. One regrets it. No decent horse that is going over a fence decides to turn round. One knows that the Government has made up its mind. But one does hope that in the near future the Government will practically, though not in words, acknowledge its mistake, because the Government needs more than the majorities which we are prepared to give it in this House; it needs in the years ahead, years perhaps of graver difficulties than we have known before, the support of a united people. It is one of those curious psychological things—I hate the word "psychology" because most psychologists are frauds—that the nation wants a reduction of the tax on beer. The tax is a barometer. If the tax were reduced people would think that things were going for the better. When the Chancellor said the tax could not be reduced, and that other taxes had to be put on, he was crying stinking fish and destroying the optimism which is so valuable a groundwork for the Govern- 2028 ment to continue to possess in the confidence of the people. One does hope that in this particular matter, which affects so many of the working people, so gravely —one does hope, without in any way making an appeal to cheap sentimentality or popularity, that the Government may be able to do something. They may ultimately be able to reduce the tax. We who are going to vote against them, although our numbers are small, believe that it will be for their good and for the good of the country. Although the Government have it in their power to over-ride the wishes of the country and the wishes of the House, we believe that they will be making a mistake, even if they are sure of a cast-iron majority.
§ 8.30 p.m.
The announcement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he was unable to accept the new Clause proposed by the hon. Member for Canterbury (Sir W. Wayland) was not a surprise, but it was a great disappointment to many supporters of the Government in the House and in the country. It is no doubt easy to exaggerate the effect of the increased Beer Duty in the country, but anyone who is in close touch with the malting barley areas of East Anglia must realise that the increased Beer Duty has had a considerable and an adverse effect not only on the farmers who grow malting barley, but also on the maltsters and on the agricultural labourers and employés generally in those two great industries. The demand for malting barley has fallen off enormously. A maltster told me that in Norfolk last winter only one-third of his maltings were working, and this coming winter he expected there would be far less. You can imagine the loss of employment to these people. Hon. Members know that many brewers do a considerable amount of malting themselves, and naturally a brewer who is conducting malting operations himself does not cut down his own maltings first but cuts down his purchase of malt from other maltsters. Therefore, the effect on the country maltster in particular is far greater than the actual reduction in the consumption of beer would seem to indicate. To the farmers who are growing malting barley there is no doubt that the increased demand for malting barley will mean that many of them will have to sell their malting barley next winter at the 2029 comparatively small price that can be got for feeding barley. It may be thought that farmers should take advantage of the wheat quota and grow wheat instead of barley, but much of the land in Norfolk and Suffolk that is famous for malting barley is quite unsuitable for growing wheat.
A word about the beer drinker, and especially the agricultural labourer. Let me give one instance to show the decreased consumption of beer that has resulted, comparing this past winter with the previous winter. Take the period 1st November, 1930, to 30th April, 1931, and the same period for the past winter. In the particular club whose figures I have inspected, although the membership went up something like 50 per cent., instead of an increased beer consumption of 50 per cent. there was a decrease, but a very small one. But turning to the draught beers, a better index, instead of an increased consumption of 50 per cent., there was a decrease of something like 20 per cent. Personally I feel that the longer this taxation is kept on the more adverse will be the effect on farmers who grow malting barley, and the worse it will be for the maltsters and the agricultural labourers.
We all recognise that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is faced with difficulties and some of my hon. Friends from Norfolk and Suffolk and myself have put down an Amendment to the proposed new Clause the purpose of which is to restrict the rebate to those brewers who brew entirely from British malt hops and sugar. We believe that such an Amendment would give the maximum benefit to the farmers and maltsters and occasion the minimum expense to the Treasury and would be a very good example indeed in connection with the "Buy British" campaign. In the Eastern counties we have a well-known beer brewed entirely from British material. Some people know it as "Norfolk Stingo" and we believe that if brewers were encouraged by a rebate of duty to brew entirely from British materials, it would do a great deal to help the producers of barley and hops. If that proposal were accepted by the Government I believe that the loss of revenue would be small and that great encouragement would be given to the growers of malt and barley.
2030 There is one argument which we have not heard of so far this afternoon. Last autumn we imposed a number of new taxes and also cuts in salaries and so forth and it was then said again and again, and it is repeated in this morning's "Times," that it was necessary to maintain equality of sacrifice, and therefore necessary to maintain all those taxes and cuts. But it is difficult to persuade the man who has lost his employment and has therefore lost 100 per cent. of his pay, that he is having equality of sacrifice with the man who has suffered a 10 per cent. cut in his salary. It is very difficult to persuade the farmer who has been unable to sell his malting barley, who has been driven into bankruptcy or forced to execute a deed of assignment, that there is equality of sacrifice as between him and the man who has only had a 10 per cent. cut. I hope that when the Government give further consideration to this matter, if they find that they cannot accept in its entirety the proposals of the hon. and gallant Member for Canterbury (Sir W. Wayland), they will consider giving a remission such as we ask for in the Amendment which we have put down to the proposed new Clause. The effect of this duty in Norfolk and Suffolk is very serious and in view of the distressed state of the agricultural industry I hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will take the earliest opportunity of giving us some relief in this respect.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
I have listened with great interest to the various speeches on this subject, and I would like, first of all, to deal with that of the hon. Member for West Bermondsey (Dr. Salter). His was the speech which was most of all in favour of the reduction of the duty although apparently he was quite unaware of the effects of his remarks. His complaint is that the working man spends so much upon beer. If the hon. Member could get the Beer Duty abolished altogether, the working man would spend very little on beer and get all of it that he wanted. The reason why the working man spends so much on beer is because the taxation imposed upon it before this extra duty was put on, and indeed ever since the War, has been so high. Take away the taxation, and you would get beer at a halfpenny a pint and the working man, no matter how 2031 diligently he devoted himself to the consumption of beer, could not possibly spend any serious sum out of his weekly wages upon it.
The only reason why the working man spends the amount to which the hon. Member for West Bermondsey objects, is because the hon. Member and his friends who think like him are not paying their share of taxation. They have a sour outlook upon life, and they think that beer is a damaging thing and bad for the health. A lot of things are damaging to health. I believe that in addition to his duties as a medical man the hon. Member for West Bermondsey practices the occupation of a baker. If that be so, I may tell him that, if he lived in poor benighted Portugal, or in one or two other European countries and sold the white bread which he sells to the masses of the people in Bermondsey, he would be sent to gaol for a long period of imprisonment for selling a substance dangerous to human health. The devitalised stuff which bakers sell here, with all the real good taken out of it, lacking all the things which are body building, which make teeth, and so on, is thoroughly bad, and the hon. Member for Bermondsey and his friends in that trade have done more harm than all the brewers in the district round about London. I am sorry that the hon. Member is not here to listen to my remarks. As a medical man, he must know the injurious nature of the bread which he sells. There is no body-building quality in it. It is just pure starch and that is why so many people, whose main subsistence it is, suffer. A little beer would help them very much.
I do not wish to see anything like Prohibition imposed, even by Act of Parliament. There can be nothing worse or more demoralising for a country, but we are getting to it in this country. Look at what has happened in the United States where civilisation is breaking down before our eyes. America is going down in a welter of anarchy. Look at what has happened in that country where, to-day, there is neither law, nor order, nor freedom, nor safety; where a man has to guard his children with guns and where people of substance have to live, like feudal lords, in country districts with great walls around them and 2032 highly-charged electric wires and machine guns to protect them from outrage. These things are all the fruits of the views of people like the hon. Member for West Bermondsey and the hon. Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor). The American nation is full of ladies holding the views of the hon. Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth, and they have enforced their views on American civilisation and have destroyed it.
I do not want to see those views enforced here, even by means of taxation, but if this extreme form of taxation continues for long we shall see exactly the same phenomena here as we see in America. We are already getting it. Hon. Members have no idea of the amount of illicit production which is going on in this country. It is colossal in many parts, and it is surprising probably to hon. Members to learn of some of the stuff that is being drunk. A favourite stuff is surgical spirits which, I am informed, contains a little castor oil and a very small proportion of boracic acid and can be bought without any prescription, in any chemist's shop, notably in all the branches of "Blank's" Drug Stores. I do not propose to give the name. But I have their advertisement here. Then there is the spirit used by French polishers which contains only a small quantity of wood spirit and appears to be consumed with comparative safety by many people. There is also the ordinary mineralised methylated spirit which I am told is only consumed by the most abandoned persons and is well known as being sold in some districts in small quantities of twopenny worth and threepenny worth at a time. A certain firm of merchants in a town in Scotland which I shall not mention is said to be doing a good trade in one or other of these commodities, and I learn that they are rather notorious, being of a teetotal family. There are actually advertisements of the surgical spirit which is being sold.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
And I have no doubt that it prevails in Liverpool also. Liverpool is largely populated by Irish who make their own stuff, in their own tenements, in districts where there is generally an Irish policeman "on the beat." 2033 Who can blame them? I say that a Government that puts a tax of 72s. 6d. on a substance only valued at 1s. is asking for it, and that is what will happen. We shall get a reproduction of the lawlessness that they have in the United States if we continue this harsh and penal taxation at the dictates of people in the Cabinet. There is no doubt whatever that this is the result of the semi-Coalition, the so-called National Government, which is rapidly becoming a Coalition, and a Coalition is always known as a conspiracy of the politicians against the electors. Think of the position of affairs in my country in Campbeltown and Islay. We have contributed scores of millions to the British revenue, and now all the poor fellows are on the dole. That is all the thanks that they are getting. What is the use of talking about the tax being fair? Take the taxation of tea, which is quite a luxury. You get 150 cups of tea out of one pound of tea, and the taxation is nonsensical as compared with beer or whiskey. It is not a halfpenny a gallon, and tea could stand a great deal more taxation. People waste their tea. Take sugar. There is no difficulty in the way of putting a tax on sugar sufficient to meet this reduction of the tax on beer.
I do not consider that this is a brewer's question or a publican's question. I am looking at the poor working man who likes his pint of beer. Think of the poor fellow coining up sweating from the mine in his dirty clothes, sweating out the essential salts from his body. Give him a glass of milk, and he will be sick. I have pointed out before that there are far more people injured by tuberculous milk than by beer. Yet I do not propose to prohibit or to tax cows. Take the farm labourers and the men who sweat and toil with their bodies. These are the men who can drink a pint or even a quart of beer, and it does them good. These are the men to be considered. When you make the price 6d. a pint, it is not so bad, but when you make it 7d. or 8d., it is practically breaking a shilling. It is the same thing with the duty on spirits. 12s. 6d. a bottle is no good to anyone. Make it 10s., and you will double the revenue, because a man will get at least two bottles for £1 instead of one for 12s. 6d., and so you will get your revenue. In 1920, before the heavy duties were put on, there was £40,000,000 taken out of the Spirit Duties, but when the higher duty 2034 was put on it went down to £31,000,000 this last year, and £32,000,000 the year before.
This is the worst and most injurious form of class legislation. You are saying to the poor working-man and the sweating working-man who toils at his job: "You are too poor to be allowed to have a drink. It can only be the people who are comfortably off who can be allowed to drink." Can you wonder that there is a frantic amount of discontent? It looks as if it is called a National Government because it taxes the national beverage. This is the most unnational thing that you could possibly do.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
Yes, unnatural too. There are other sources of revenue open to the Chancellor, and I am not inclined to give him the blame. It is the blame of Liberals and Labour men in the Government. We do not need to mind the Liberal party, because, if the Government go on as they are doing, the Liberals will all be in the House of Lords before the conclusion of this Government. It is the natural goal of all good Liberals to get along to the other end of the passage. Why cannot we insist on getting our own Conservative views? We do not want these tyrants. The Noble Lord the hon. Member for Newark (Marquess of Titchfield) spoke about cheap popularity, and some Members seem to think it is a kind of blasphemy to vote against the Government. He was once a Whip, and I think there is still some of the Whip complex about him. What are we to do? Are we all just to stand up and make a speech, but not to carry the thing through? Suppose the Government was reconstructed. There are plenty of good men in the House who would make just as good Front Benchers as we have now. When I hear back bench men on the Labour side speaking, I always think they make a much better show than their Front Bench men, and I hope the impression is the same on the other side.
Take these taxes as a whole. What a terrible infringement of liberty they are. Here am I. I buy my own barley, sugar, yeast and treacle, and I get a little kettle business, and start to distil something for myself. Why should I not? What a terrible thing it is for the Government to 2035 say: "These are your own commodities, but you cannot cook them in a particular way." We used to cook them in the Highlands in a wholesale fashion up till 1825, and even still I believe there is some of it done. There is in Glasgow, at any rate. There are in Glasgow some who come from the South of Ireland, as my hon. Friend the Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) knows very well. I remember once being entertained in a place, and I said: "This is a very stout commodity." I was told: "That has never paid duty." That was not many years ago, and this thing is being done. This tyrannical interference with a man's right to do what he likes with his own can be tolerated up to a point, but it has reached the breaking point, and the revenue is disappearing, and all these evils are following upon that.
We have had a Government elected for economy, and we have had no word about it yet. We have got the cuts of the May Committee, but they have not the courage to enforce them. The reason is that both Front Benches for the last 30 years have been carrying on politics on the principles of the "Unjust Steward," and that is why they cannot make reductions. They have been using the money of the taxpayer to see if they cannot square different sets of electors, and both parties are equally guilty. I saw a definition in a newspaper the other day of the difference between a statesman and a politician. It was said there that a statesman is a man who wants to do something for his country and that a politician is a man who wants his country to do something for him. I thought that was a very good definition, and that is how the finances of this country have been handled for nearly 30 years. The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) began it, and all the rest have followed like sheep, believing that as a result they would get power and control; and they have got it from time to time. It has been a choice of two evils before the electorate.
We believed this time that we had got a Government that would go in rigidly for economy and that they would scrap a great many of these eleemosynary schemes which lead only to the breeding of innumerable officials. The beneficiaries of all our social service schemes cease to 2036 exist after a time, but there are more and more officials created. We spent last week passing a Bill which will only lead to more officialdom and expense. What about the thrifty and industrious members of the community, who sweat and toil at their work, and who are entitled to a glass of beer? They are being taxed more and more while the machine is getting on top of the people. The country is being carried on as if it existed for the machinery of Government, but we want a Government that will believe that a Government exists for the people and not that the people exist for the Government. Get rid of this disgracefully high taxation on this particular commodity, which is the working-man's comfort. It and tobacco are his two great comforts, and about the only things he can afford, and yet we make them so dear that they cannot get them. If we get a change in the psychology of the Front Bench, to realise that it is not their business to create more and more Departments of the State, and tax people, and tax people, and tax people, then there will be a remission of taxation, and we shall get a reduction of the Beer Duty. This is the first tax that ought to be reduced, because it is the tax that affects the hardest working section of the whole community.
§ Mr. McGOVERN
I rise to express the hope that has been expressed by one or two hon. Members that this Clause is going to be carried to the Division Lobby and I am sure that, after 3½ hours of discussion in this House, it will be nothing short of disgraceful if the division is called off, and all this time used in discussing a Clause which there was no intention of carrying to a division. I have always stated, and I state again, that I deprecate the putting down of Amendments upon which there is no intention of dividing. The right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) at the outset of his speech showed that this tax was wrong, and then proceeded to advise those who had put down their names to the Clause not to divide against the Government as it would be a grievous wrong at this time. I was rather inclined to think that the right hon. Gentleman was in a more chastened mood than that which he was in a fortnight ago. It seems that the "telling-off" that he received from the Leader of the Labour party, which was cheered to the 2037 echo by a great number of Members of the House, has had the desired effect, but I am rather inclined to smile at the right hon. Gentleman coming to the House and telling it what its duty is in regard to the Government after having gone about the country deriding the Government because they were not doing the things that he wanted them to do.
There has been grave exaggeration in this Debate both about the effects of the tax and what would happen if the tax were remitted. The hon. Member for West Bermondsey (Dr. Salter) made a speech in which he honestly and openly stated that he welcomed the tax and would welcome any addition to it so long as it had the desired result of putting an end to the drinking of beer. He said that if the money spent on beer went to provide boots, clothes, and food, it would be much better spent. I agree that to take anything out of the home to buy beer, if it is required for food and clothes, is wrong. I would point out to the hon. Member that last year 186,000 people were denied unemployment benefit under the Anomalies Act. He voted for that Act and thus deprived people of benefit that could have gone to provide the milk, boots and clothes which are so essential to his poor people in the East End of London. I cannot understand the hypocrisy of people coming here as Simon Pures over the question of beer and being anxious to bring about prohibition by means of a tax when they themselves attack the workers in a more vicious fashion at other times.
I speak as one who has no interest in the beer trade and who is a total abstainer. I have never tasted beer in my life. I do not know the taste of it or of any kind of alcohol. At the same time I shall go into the Lobby to-night and vote against the Beer Duty and vote with those who are anxious to reduce it. At one stage of my life I was like the hon. Member for West Bermondsey, a fairly enthusiastic Prohibitionist. I have got through that stage, however, for the experience of America has been a useful education to me. You can educate people by reason and by the use of their brains, but you cannot by the prohibition of anything that the individual wants. If you prohibited me from taking anything I wanted I would try to get it by every means in my power. I am inclined to agree with 2038 the hon. and learned Member for Argyllshire (Mr. Macquisten). I remember four or five years ago a man came to me when I had a plumbing business in the Shettleston area to make up some copper tubes with couplings. When I had done the work, he said, "That was a very fine still you made for me, and it is producing excellent whisky. "He gave me a bottle of the whisky that he produced, and said that it cost 3d. for a five-gill bottle. Not long afterwards he appeared in the Sheriff Court in Glasgow, and the Procurator-Fiscal said during the evidence: "This is one of the finest stills that has ever been made in this country." I had unwittingly contributed to the making of this still to avoid the excise. I afterwards discovered that there was a great number of them in the City of Glasgow.
§ Mr. McGOVERN
My friends will be prepared to learn that also. The hon. Member for West Bermondsey said that if the tax is high you bring about a state almost bordering on prohibition. I do not agree. If a man is determined to have whisky or beer, and if the price is raised, is there not a tendency for him to take more from the food of the children and from the milk and boot bill so that the last position will be worse than the first? If he is an individual who has so little humanity in his being that he is determined to have beer out of the food money, he will get it. Therefore, I am not inclined to agree to that method of bringing about prohibition in this country. If you want prohibition, have it straight out and advocate it straight out, and do not attempt to get it by this method.
Let me point out another aspect in-regard to the price of beer. In the city of Glasgow, just outside the Glasgow Corporation Buildings, there is the Municipal Square, and anyone who goes down there in the evening will see a large number of demoralised and debauched people who have taken to the drinking of what is known as "Red Wine" or "Red Vinegar" and methylated spirits. They go before the stipendiary because they become a public nuisance, and it is noticed that the whole facial expression of these people has been distorted to a 2039 state almost bordering on the imbecile. That has been brought about because they are determined to have a stimulant, and, the price of beer and whisky being high, they are driven to substitutes which are more dangerous than the things of which they have been deprived. Therefore, there is growing up in the city of Glasgow, and it may be in many other cities, a class of people who are driven to these substitutes because of their desire to get a stimulant of some kind. We are thus producing a state which might be welcomed by my hon. Friend, but which I deprecate in the most serious manner.
The Chancellor stated that he could not remit any of this duty, and said a vote against the Government at this time would be a most serious thing for the government of the country. Is there a Member here, even with greater experience of this House than I have, who believes that statement to be true? All Government spokesmen on the Treasury Bench "come away with" that story. I was glad to hear— and I do not say it in an insulting way— the hon. Member for West Bermondsey say the Labour party have decided on a free vote. If they go on in that way, they will have to amend their standing orders so much that I may join them! They allow a free vote on beer, but we were virtually expelled from the party because we voted against the Anomalies Act, which took away benefits from 186,000 people. I welcome that change, and hope it means that the Labour party are going to take the sensible view adopted by the Home Secretary, the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Minister of Education in standing up from the Treasury Bench and advocating that Members of the National Government should dissociate themselves from the National Government and vote with them— should defeat the Government on tariffs, which the Government were returned to impose.
The Government were overwhelmingly returned to carry out a mandate. Whether we agree with tariffs or not there was, in my estimate, a mandate for tariffs at the last election, because the workers believed, rightly or wrongly, that employment would be found if tariffs were introduced. Then those Members of the 2040 Government, speaking from the Front Bench, say to the Members of the Liberal party, "Vote against the Government, destroy the Government, prevent tariffs— but do not vote for a remission of taxation on beer or it will be a serious thing for the government of this country." Does any person seriously believe such tomfoolery and hypocrisy? They have been chosen by the nation as first-class citizens to run the nation's affairs, and then we get cheap melodrama of that sort. I hope hon. Members will take that for what it is worth.
In regard to the duty itself, if we increase the taxation on beer, and in that way decrease the opportunities of the people to buy beer, it has the same effect as reducing wages, reducing unemployment allowances or applying a means test, and the consideration which guides me in opposing all those things, guides me in opposing this additional duty on beer. I do not want beer, and so the duty does not affect me. For a short time I was in Queensland and occasionally accompanied a few friends to a public house. They took a pint of beer, with the white froth on it, while I, with the perspiration running down the back of my neck, used to drink a bottle of lemonade now and again. I used to say "If I am here much longer I shall be driven to start on the stuff with the white froth on top." But that is in passing. Why should I have a right to decide that a man is to be excluded from drinking beer by making the price of it high, while I am free to have a cup of tea or, like the hon. Member for West Bermondsey, a glass of milk? I have no right to impose continued taxation on that beverage for a particular fad of my own. Even if I had the outlook of the hon. Member for West Bermondsey, I have no right to use this House for the purpose of imposing additional taxation to prevent other people from getting a drink when they want it.
I have often played a game of golf with a man and have seen him take a bottle of beer before the game began and one afterwards, and I could not see anything seriously wrong with his doing so. Why should I be free from taxation on my lemonade or cup of tea while he has a crushing burden of taxation imposed on his drink? I am going to vote for this Amendment, because the methods 2041 adopted by the Government remind me of a little piece of poetry which runs something like this:If you can't get potatoes,And you find flour is dear,You can still rely on whiskyOr, for preference, on beer.If this should exceed your income,And the hunger still is felt,You can easily appease itIf you tighten up your belt.I am afraid we are getting to the stage where we are bound to ask for a remission of some of this taxation. The means test and the dole cuts had their effect on trade; let us not assume that the decrease in the consumption of beer is to be attributed solely to the imposition of this additional burden; and any course which will put greater purchasing power in the hands of the people is desirable, in my opinion. I would say, like the hon. Member for West Bermondsey, that I am speaking for myself. I do not know wholly the mind of our party on this subject. We always decide after the vote is taken! I think we are all voting for the reduction in the duty, just as we would vote for abolishing the reduction in the dole. I say in conclusion that I hope this Amendment will be carried to a division, and that hon. Members will not be frightened by the sort of bogy man which has been displayed to-night or by the timidity shown by the right hon. Member for Epping. That is a role which he should never assume in this House. The occasion was too small a one for him to play the part he did. He should have taken up the usual bold-man, rebel attitude. Therefore I hope hon. Members will not be deterred from discharging what they believe to be a public duty. Let them allow their own consciences to operate, because they will find that every time they vote according to their consciences they will go home feeling much better and much more at ease.
§ Mr. HARTLAND
Anyone who listened to the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in introducing the Budget and who also listened to the firm manner in which he dealt with this subject this afternoon must realise that there is no possible hope whatever of any reduction in the beer duty at present, but it does not follow on that account that there is not a very large, a preponderating, concensus of opinion in the 2042 House, and possibly a still more preponderating concensus of opinion in the country, that this duty is iniquitous, bad in principle and dangerous in practice, and that it would be better for all concerned, and also for the revenue, if this extra duty were remitted. Again, notwithstanding that fact, in my opinion, and in the opinion, I think, of the vast majority of Conservative Members, the iniquity of this particular duty, the superimposition of a penny a pint on beer, will never be, can never be, a sufficient justification for the majority of this House risking the existence of a Government on which the whole future of this country, the Empire and possibly the world will ultimately depend. Nobody, however strong be the views he holds on this subject, can for one moment think of taking an action which might result— might result— in the substitution for the present Government of the party which placed the country in a position which necessitated not only this tax but so many other brutal impositions on the people.
While we may not look for any immediate reduction of this tax, and we may know perfectly well that the proposed new Clause has no chance of being put into effect; and while, again, those of us who would like to support the new Clause might, in the circumstances that I have outlined, naturally refrain from so doing, it does not follow that there should not be other means of approaching this question by which some, at any rate, of the evils might be removed and some ultimate good might result to the country. Looking upon that general aspect in a very humble way, some of my hon. Friends from East Anglia and myself have put our names to the new Clause which appears on the Order Paper to-day. The effect of it, at its worst, would be so small that it could do no damage, at least, for this year, about which the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer is so much concerned, and it would do no material harm to his Budget proposals. All we ask in the new Clause is that the extra taxation on beer should be taken off immediately from all beer brewed by brewers who use nothing but English grown barley, English grown hops, and at the worst Imperial grown sugar. We are given to understand that only about 2043 two brewers in the whole country would be affected at once by this proposal, and we are very proud to think that both of those breweries are situated in East Anglia.
I have heard it said by a very distinguished authority on the beer question that British barley and malt cannot produce a beer which is palatable to British beer drinkers. I could take the right hon. Gentleman in question to a city which I have the honour to represent, where beer forms no small item in the day's takings, where the people are very proud about the quality of their beer, and where a most excellent beer is served up, which is a joy and delight for all to look upon and imbibe, and which has never known any foreign ingredient of any sort or kind. If the Chancellor would be prepared to consider the small concession that we ask, that the extra duty be taken off brewers who will undertake to use only British grown materials, then I say that, while the effect on the Budget must immediately be trifling, the ultimate effect on the country might be very great, and certainly it would be a gesture to the people worthy of a National Government which was returned primarily on a ticket to encourage and further in every way British industry for the British people.
The effect would be infinitesimal on the Budget, but what would be the effect on those farmers who depend entirely for their prosperity on the growing of British barley? I repeat a question which I put on a former occasion in this House, and which I notice was repeated to-day: Why should there be £6,000,000 bonus for the growers of wheat and nothing but ruinous possibilities for those who grow British barley? Why not encourage those who grow British barley? Why not hold out an inducement to brewers in this country to patronise British barley? Why not hold out a helping hand to the farmer who grows barley as well as to the farmer who grows wheat? Why not give an encouragement to further employment, particularly in East Anglia, to those farm labourers who, if the present imposition upon beer is to continue, see their livelihood within a few months of termination? When we ask for this small concession we do with the knowledge that 2044 the Chancellor can, if he likes, condescend to give it without harming his Budget. We suggest to him that it would be making a very great gesture to British agriculture, and would be encouraging those people who make the national beverage to make it in a national way. As the consumption of British materials increased, the call for British-made beer would increase, and what the Revenue lost in one way it would gain threefold in another.
There is no question, apart altogether from figures which have been produced in this House one way or the other— and people can do anything with figures— and there is nobody in this House or in the length and breadth of the country who does not realise, that the effect of the extra taxation on beer is seriously affecting employment not only in agriculture but in breweries, in transport, in bottling, in woodworking, and in a thousand and one ancillary trades whose figures cannot be produced. I wish to make this appeal to the Chancellor: Will he consider making this small gesture to agriculture and to those who would further employment? Will he, admitting that the effect of this Clause will be little or nothing on his Budget, at least show that while he is anxious, and naturally anxious, to collect the revenue which is essential for this year's Budget, he is willing to take into some account what he admits must be the dangerous effect which will ultimately accrue to a great industry and to great ancillary industries? Is he willing to help them by making this little condescention to popular opinion to bring British beer for British people within reasonable reach of British working-class persons?
§ Dr. O'DONOVAN
The Government should be thanked for giving so much time for a full discussion of this question which interests the whole of the country. Food and drink are primal matters, and had this taxation gone through without the fullest discussion in this House there would have been many sore heads to-morrow and allegiance to the National Government would have been temporarily weakened. We must have found this Debate extremely interesting. We have had a specialist in necrology studying the death list and the death-rate of the richer classes, looking with a hungry eye on their mortality rates and their dead possessions. Then 2045 we see a member of my profession, like one of the sect of the Manichees, explaining the intrinsic evil of drink, and advising us to take to that drink which was exclusively designed by nature for the nourishment of calves.
We have gone into the realms of phantasy and heard the Noble Lord the Member for Newark (Marquess of Titchfield) discussing the ways of Cinderella and seeing in some of his brother Members of Parliament signs of that incipient insanity which ends in Bedlam. If there be much of that about this House, there can be no question that our problems should be solved by Freudian psychology and inner light rather than by ordinary debate. Such analyses of fairyland, phantasy and lunancy cannot help us. Then we have had the bludgeon wielded. We have been told by quite junior Members that to vote against this Government is almost a blow at the stability of the British Empire, if not at the stability of the universe. I suggest to some hon. Members that one might vote against the Government in the very modest hope of keeping the matter open, although at the present time the verdict of the Government has gone against our wishes.
I intervene only to express to the House and to His Majesty's Government the wishes of the poor in my constituency. There is, of course, an Egyptian quality about the Government. I do not suggest for one moment that His Majesty's Chancellor of the Exchequer, like Pharaoh, has hardened his heart, but I can suggest with propriety that he has imitated the Egyptians in this sense that his face, like the sphinx, is inscrutable, and although his heart may respond to our blandishments, he will not give himself away until the proper moment. I put it to him that after the brewers and the various societies that represent the organised brewing and distributing trades have properly made their representations to him, which he must value for his information, there is still the echo of the voice of the very, very poor. I have received, and perhaps other hon. Members have had the same experience, a petition self-organised by the poor of my constituency, and signed by 6,000 people, asking me to do something to persuade the Chancellor of the Exchequer to lower the tax on beer. I speak to-night only to keep this question 2046 open. I repudiate entirely the suggestion that the poor in the mass are horrid and made up of potential drunkards. I think that the poor working man lives a life of heroic self-sacrifice in order to keep his wife and children in that condition of decency which he values. He sacrifices practically all the products of his labour for their care and upbringing, and he is ably seconded in that by his wife, who rarely is an addict to alcohol.
The poor to-day cannot afford a glass of beer. The agricultural labourer at 30s. a week, who sweats that we may eat, cannot afford a pint of that very poor wash that, of necessity, is sold to-day as beer. I have had a letter from a very humble woman who took the trouble to write, not to me directly, but to my wife, asking her to speak to me as she was not certain that the hon. Members of this House would have time to consider her affairs. The point she puts is this: "Is it not cruel that my husband, who has worked the whole week for me and my children, cannot indulge in a pint of beer without feeling that he is robbing his own flesh and blood?" That cry from the heart should be echoed in this House, and I know it will be listened to with sympathy. It is unfortunate that, owing to our upbringing, we class the publicans with sinners. I think that tends to cloud the issue. Of brewers, all I can say is that I understand they have a tendency to opulence and they are promoted, on good behaviour, to another place. Referring solely to the publicans who are not sinners, I would remind the House that beer was drunk in England before King Alfred burnt the cakes. Beer has been drunk by people with historic names throughout English history, and it will be drunk when we arc dust. The public house is the club of the very poor. Among the poor there is not a place in which a man can comfortably sit once his family has begun to grow. Babies cry, and their washing must be done, and when wages only run to two or three rooms, the man cannot sit in comfort after working an eight hour day. He must go out and surely the streets of London are of hard and cold stone. What will he meet with in the public house but a little cheer, shelter, warmth and a little beer? You can describe that beer in many ways. When I was a medical student there was a rhyme: 2047A little of what you fancy does you good.Then when one is promoted to a higher sphere, one understands that a little alcohol is an anodyne for the discomforts of this weary world. When one is even further promoted to live among the highbrows, one understands that a little alcohol removes those inhibitions which keep us in a state of chronic melancholia. Far be it from me to say one word that would encourage the abuse of human comforts. I only wish to put to this House the suggestion that in English inns, English history has been made. Treaties have been planned, plots have been made and revolutions despatched. In the English inns the greatest influences of human kindness have been cogitated by decent men for the good of their fellows. I would remind the House that my London Hospital, one of the greatest in this country, was founded by a meeting of simple workpeople, business men and merchants in a London tavern. The history of inns is so interwoven with English history and is, on the whole, so good a history, that it is sad to hear that in inns up and down the country barmaids and barmen are being dismissed and innkeepers' wives, who might properly have considered their labours finished, now actually tend the bar and look after customers, and must now at the age of 50, 55 and 60 return to the counter to help their impoverished husbands.
I put this question before the House in order that it may feel that the hon. Member for Canterbury (Sir W. Way-land), and those who support him tonight, are animated by no spirit of animosity to the Government. We sympathise with the burden that the Chancellor carries, and it is no lip sympathy. We have neither the knowledge nor the courage to carry the burden he carries in these awful days. If we vote against him, I ask him to believe that we do it only for one reason— that that sore feeling of the poor should not lack registration, and that this matter may be kept open for consideration at another time.
§ Mr. EASTWOOD
I am one of many in this House who are going to vote against this Clause to-night. I shall vote against it simply through loyalty to the Chancellor and to the Government. I do hope 2048 the right hon. Gentleman will realise that, and what it means to me and to other of my hon. Friends in this House who are going to do the same thing. Let me give one short illustration to show what it means. I am not going to deal with the farmers, who put me here. They are suffering enough, and they want to see this tax reduced. I am not going to deal with the licensed trade, who also want to see this tax reduced. But I have in my constituency an enormous number of clubs— working men's clubs, political clubs, social clubs and clubs which go in for sport. All of them are well run, well organised, and well looked after, and they all attract members who cannot afford more than, perhaps, 5s. or 10s. a year in subscriptions. The result is that those clubs, which comprise several thousand members throughout the constituency, are dependent, as regards their ability to carry on, on the reasonable profits that they make from the reasonable sale of beer. As far as those clubs are concerned, since this extra tax came into force there has been a terrible falling off in consumption and in profit, and, entirely for that reason, many of them at the present time are wondering whether or not they can carry on for one more year.
I say that simply in order that the Chancellor of the Exchequer may realise that this is one of the things that I shall have to face when I go back to my constituents and tell them of the action that I am taking to-night, in spite of what I have promised them, and in spite of my own views— for I believe that this tax is a mistake from start to finish, financially and psychologically, and one which ought to be remedied. Because I have said that year in and year out, and because I drink beer myself, and shall continue to do so while I can afford it, I want the Chancellor of the Exchequer to realise exactly what it means to support him in resisting this Clause, out of loyalty to the Government and to him. I should have been very pleased to-night if the Chancellor of the Exchequer had said, "I realise that beer is over-taxed; I realise that the position has become extreme; and from now onwards I am going to try to reduce the Beer Duty by drastic economies in the spending of the money which the duty produces." If he had said that, I could have gone back to my constituents and 2049 told them that that is what we all want to do, and what we are going to do. It has not, however, been said as strongly as I could have wished.
There is one more thing that I would ask. In September next this tax will have been in force for a year. In October, half the present financial year will be over. I am not suggesting that there should be a supplementary Budget, or anything of that nature; that is not for me to suggest; but, when that year of the Beer Duty is over, and when half the financial year has passed, if the Chancellor of the Exchequer finds that we who say that this tax is a mistake are right, that it is not bringing in the money that he expected and that it is doing more harm than he expected, even then I do not ask him to take the extra tax away, but I do ask him to reconsider the matter then, and to come to us and say that we were right. Then he can get on with the next business of the country, whatever it may be. That is all that I have to say. I end by repeating that, loyal though I may be, it is at a very great price.
§ Mr. J. JONES
I am sure that hon. Members will not think that I am speaking from a prejudiced point of view in this case. I am glad to have listened to so many speeches in which sympathy for the poor working man has been so loudly expressed. I happen, in addition to my other crimes, to be a trade union official, and for the last 12 years I have taken part in negotiations with the object of trying to prevent reductions in wages, which are. the main cause of the anxieties of the poor. The price of beer is a very interesting subject, and I am very interested in it. The amount of taxation that is placed upon beer is out of all proportion to the taxation on other commodities. Why that should be so, no one has yet tried to explain. The working class have no objection to paying their fair share of taxation, but they object to being singled out because of their peculiar habits or customs. In the East End of London, where I reside, and which to some extent I understand, the workers object to being singled out for special taxation, as they have been in this case.
Do hon. Members realise that since 1920 there has been an average reduction in the purchasing power of the workers of this country of £200,000,000 a 2050 year? Is not that taxation out of proportion to their standing so far as economic affairs or financial opportunities are concerned? Now we have this tax, and we are told by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that it must remain because he has no other way of finding the money. Nevertheless, when I read the "Times," as I do every morning out of curiosity— not because of the knowledge that it gives me, but because of the opportunity with which it provides me of understanding the mentality of the people who are opposed to the Labour movement— I find that, when some foreign nation wants money for some scheme from which profits are promised, or opportunities for making higher percentages than can be made in this country, the money is there on the nail; it can always be found. I am only an amateur in these matters; I do not profess to be a financial expert; but I suggest that, if the Chancellor of this Exchequer wants to find money to make up the reduction in the taxation upon beer which this Clause proposes, he might give attention to foreign investments by people in this country. We are asked to buy British, and yet British money is exported to other countries in order that it may compete against home industries. If so much importance is attached to buying British goods and trading within the Empire, why should not some financial rearrangement be made so that those people who think they can make more profit by sending their capital abroad may make a substantial contribution to our own Exchequer, and the Government may in that way make up the difference, and not always be trying it on the dog, as this particular tax does?
I have been very pleased to listen to speeches full of sympathy for the poor working man who lives in a dog-hutch, whose children cannot be brought up properly, and who, therefore, in order to give them a chance to have breathing space, must go to the "pub" or the club. What a commentary upon the state of civilisation in which we are living! I am not going to be like some of those hon. Gentlemen opposite who go out into the country and make violent speeches against the Government, but who are here because they supported a National Government, or, rather, what I should call a national confidence trick upon the 2051 people of this country at the last election. Hon. Members are now saying to the Government, "We do not like you; we think you are doing a wrong thing; but we are going to support you." We on these benches are not pledged to any Government in this case, or even to the Labour party, because some of us have had a free hand given to us. I know that some of my friends here believe in prohibition. They have as much right to their opinion on that matter as I have to mine, which is that I believe in prohibiting them.
In this matter of taxation, I think that people ought only to be taxed in proportion to their ability to pay. No one can say that the working man can afford to pay more for the little things that he enjoys in his ordinary life. To-morrow night I may be in a working-man's club. I am taking the chair at a benefit concert organised for the benefit of the family of a member who died. That is a common thing in working-men's clubs. The men from the docks and factories along the riverside can show their sympathy and they will spend a little money on beer. Next week the takings will be down at the club because they will have spent a little more than they would otherwise have done.
§ Mr. JONES
They have already bought their tickets. My hon. Friend ought to know that. Perhaps, although he is a teetotaler, he has subscribed to the expenses of similar functions in his own constituency. I do not ask whether the man was a teetotaler or not. If I am asked to do something, I do it if there is a justifiable case. You are not going to save the world by denying little pleasures to people or making it almost impossible for them to enjoy them. Teetotalism brought about by means of taxation is not real temperance. It is an insult to the intelligence of the common people. I hope that the appeals to withdraw the Amendment will not be listened to and that there will be some at least who will stand up in defence of the ordinary common people. The brewers do not worry me. They can look after themselves. I have some sympathy with the publicans, because they are very largely tied up, 2052 even to the sawdust on the floors. I know the situation that a large number of those interested in the ancillary trades are placed in. They are hard hit. I have some in my constituency who are tinsmiths working in connection with the brewing industry. A fair proportion are out of work.
You may talk as much as you like about the morality or immorality of drinking, but it is no good going to a man who has been sacked from the brewery and talking to him of the economics of temperance. You have to get down to brass tacks. You have to remember that he has to get his living in the trade in which he was trained. I have in my constituency men between 60 and 60 years of age who have been thrown out of employment because their employers have said definitely that there is no demand for their commodities and they have to reduce staff. If a man is faced with that position, he will go through the list of employers, and they will take men of the oldest age. They are not equal physically, or perhaps mentally, to the younger men, but the insurance companies say that men over a certain age may not be reinsured. The employer has to practise economy in the conduct of his business.
That is a matter that we cannot control, but here is a matter that we can control. There are other sources from which this money could be found. There are other sources whereby the nation could be asked to face up to its responsibilities. I hope those who are responsible for the Amendment will be as brave inside as they have been outside. I remember the Chancellor's appeal when he spoke of Lausanne and the possibilities in Ottawa, and something that may happen somewhere else. After all, we were promised at the last election that, if we did certain things and if the people backed the Government, everything in the garden would be lovely. We have given them a certain amount of time. Within eight months of the previous General Election the Labour party were challenged about their solution of the unemployment problem. It was demanded that we should categorically give facts and figures to prove that we had dealt with the problem, though we were in the minority. Now the Chancellor of the Exchequer, possibly the most responsible member of 2053 the Government, because he is the keeper of the national purse, tells us that things will possibly be worse than they have been up to now, and he has to keep reserves, not in hand but in possibility, so that he may put the screw on someone else later on.
The people of this country have got what they asked for, and I hope they will not grumble. I am pleased to know that some who have always been the most enthusiastic supporters of the Government when it has been a matter of cutting salaries and starving the total services, the people who have been clamouring for the Amendment and crying out against the Labour party, are the people who are now crying out, when their interests happen to be attacked, against the very Government which they themselves are largely responsible for bringing into existence. I am going into the Lobby against this tax if no one else goes with me. Perhaps they would not on principle. A fair deal means a square deal. We are all in favour of that even in existing circumstances. Beer drinkers in the main are the poorest people, beer is the national beverage and this is a National Government. We will go into the Lobby in support of the Amendment although it comes from a quarter that we have not very great affection for.
§ Mr. PIKE
I should like to deal with one or two points which have not been already dealt with. As has been said, this tax is of necessity a revenue collector, but I challenge anyone who is opposing the Amendment to show us one year in which we have had increase after increase of taxation upon beer which has proved valuable to the State from a revenue producing point of view. From 1914 onwards every increase in the taxation upon beer has resulted in a. slow but sure decrease in the revenue of the year, and I maintain that anything that defeats its own purpose is something from which we should rid ourselves, at least at this stage of our national crisis, at the earliest possible moment. It has been said that the fall in the consumption of beer is due in a large degree to the condition of unemployment which has prevailed for a long period of years, but no one can prove to me that the fall in the average consumption from 31.56 gallons in 1900 to 14.75 gallons in 1931 is due to unemployment and nothing else. In my 2054 opinion the greater part of the fall in consumption is due to the exorbitant and unjust taxation to which the commodity has been subjected for the last 10 years. At the moment the tax is reduced we shall find the consumption of beer per head of the population rise automatically. As has rightly been said by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Silvertown (Mr. J. Jones), the natural beverage, and I might almost say in many cases the natural food, of the working man is a pint of good English beer, when he can get it. At the Licensing Commission I believe that the hon. Gentleman was asked a question as to who constituted the majority of beer drinkers in this country, and the answer given to Question No. 25,705 was that 70 per cent. of the national drink bill accrued from the moneys of wage-earners whose average wage did not exceed £3 per week. If that is true—and I have no reason to doubt it—this tax, which has not proved a revenue producer, is a tax placed upon the vast majority of the people who can ill afford to pay the tax.
I am glad that somebody has mentioned the conditions which exist to-day in the public house. The public house is the working man's second home. Public houses are not sinks of iniquity. I go into a good many of them. I go into them for a beverage, and, like many workmen in the little coal mining village in which I live, I go into the public house for the purpose of comfort. In those public houses the working man finds comfortable seats, comfortable fires, comfortable conditions and a little music. Sometimes he is entertained by a singer, a dancer or a pianist, or perhaps by a player or an accordion or a fiddle. In 99 public houses out of 100 you find a factor for which the right hon. Gentleman should be truly thankful and one which tends, not to create unemployment and discomfort, but employment and comfort.
When the great talkie films were first introduced into this country, thousands of actors and artists were thrown on to the streets. They were not required. If you go into our great cities—and I quote Sheffield as an example—you discover that public houses find employment for those artists. Some public houses have miniature theatres. They attract a man and his wife, who can sit down in com- 2055 fort. It is not a question of drinking beer in a common beer house, but of sitting in a well-appointed room surrounded by every comfort and attendance and where one can listen to first-class artists. There are only the brewer and the publican to thank for finding employment for the artists thrown out of work as a result of the introduction, largely, of the American talkie films. In the majority of cases the publican is solely responsible for paying the wages of those artists. The House should realise that the more you tax beer the less possibility there will be of attracting a sufficient number of people to the public houses even to enable the publican to employ those artists, and the result will be more unemployment.
I asked the right hon. Gentleman during the course of his speech whether or not he was in a position to say if the figures which he gave in respect to unemployment were figures of permanent or temporary unemployment. He said that the figure of 1,800 for the whole of the drink trade covered the period from August to April of this year. If the right hon. Gentleman went over the country, north, south, east and west, he would find that in 99 breweries out of every 100 the whole of the staffs are engaged only three days out of the six or seven days in the week. The figure of the number temporarily unemployed must vastly exceed the figure given in the House this afternoon. Even if the figure of those permanently unemployed is only 1,800, here is something which can be done to-night, or at some time more convenient to the nation, which at least would remedy to a degree the problem of unemployment.
It is not fair for me in any circumstances to allege certain weaknesses on the part of the Bill unless I am prepared to suggest a remedy. I do not wish to suggest new legislation, and I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman would help me in this direction, because legislation already exists. But a word from him in this House would go a long way, even at the present prices of beer, to increase the consumption of beer in this country, and, in consequence, the revenue of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I asked a question of the 2056 Secretary for Mines some weeks ago as to the total number of workers employed in the country during the hours of 2 p.m. and 10 p.m., and I discovered that during those hours almost 3,000,000 working shifts had been registered. I do not say that they they were all registered by separate individuals who drink beer, but there are in the country, according to statistics which I have compiled on the minimum basis, at least 1,700,000 workers who work between the hours of 2 and 10 p.m. In the vast majority of districts throughout the country, by the time they get to the nearest public house or the nearest village which possesses one, or somewhere where they can get beer, the public house, by reason of Acts which are commonly called D.O.R.A., is closed. The result is that those men cannot have a pint of beer even if they have money to pay for it, unless their wives, have thought kindly of them and have taken a pint of beer home in a bottle. Any hon. or right hon. Member who has drunk draught beer which has been placed in a bottle after having been drawn either direct from the pump or the wood, will know that it cannot be very palatable to a man who has worked eight hours in front of a furnace or in the pits of the country. I suggest that a word from the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the licensing authorities throughout the country to ensure that men leaving work after the ordinary licensing hours can secure a measure—
§ Mr. PIKE
I am sorry. I was hoping to show the right hon. Gentleman at least one means by which he could secure the money he badly needs. The right hon. Gentleman told us that his £3,500,000 of last year fell short of the Estimate, which was £5,000,000. May I point out to him that the greater amount of the money was received during a period which in no circumstances could be considered a normal producing revenue period? I have tried to find out the total amount of beer consumed from 20th December to 3rd January, and I find that the total amount would be something like 48½ per cent. of the total sum the right hon. Gentleman received during the 6½ months that the tax was in existence.
2057 Everybody wants his beer, wine or spirits at Christmas time. Even the hon. Member for West Bermondsey (Dr. Salter) gets a little drop in the bottle for his friends who come to see him. He is not going to suggest to me that at Christmas time, the great season of good will and brotherhood, because he dislikes it, hates and detests it, that he is going to deny his relatives and friends, who like a drop, the right to enjoy good fellowship at the seasonable period. Throughout the whole country millions or thousands of teetotallers purchase alcoholics for the purpose of allowing their friends to wish them the best in the new year.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer will find that next Christmas receipts will be considerably lower than they were last Christmas. Last year the people were buoyed up with the belief that this Government were going to improve matters, that they were going to have their jobs back, and what little money they had saved went in the spirit of good fellowship, in the "never care, never mind, everything-will-be-good spirit. We have a National Government, and we have somebody who is going to find us work." The Chancellor of the Exchequer will not find that result next Christmas, because things are not turning out as we would have liked them to do. People will not have the money to spend in drink and alcoholics that they had last Christmas. The estimate of £8,000,000, although I do not wish to be pessimistic, will fall very short. The amount realised, I am afraid, will be very short of the right hon. Gentleman's optimistic figures. It is unfortunate that that should be so. I ask the right hon. Gentleman, in a final appeal, to promise before we pass from this subject that at the earliest opportunity, in three, six, nine or 12 months he will review the position, and whenever he has the smallest amount of money to dispose of in the relief of taxation he will first and foremost apply it for the relief of this overburdened commodity, which is required by the people who are the poorest paid and probably the worst clad people in the whole country.
Sir NAIRNE STEWART SANDEMAN
I hold no brief for the brewers, except that they seem to me to have been the people who in the past have laid the golden eggs and that these nest eggs are 2058 the sort of eggs which should be encouraged. I am not speaking with any wish to "suck up" to my constituents. My constituents know me far better than that. They know me as one who tells them exactly what I think, whether they like it or not, and for the Noble Lord the Member for Newark (Marquess of Titchfield) to make out that those who speak against this penny on beer are doing it with that sort of idea, leaves me entirely cold. I could make out a pathetic picture of the people in my constituency who cannot buy their beer, but I do not propose to do that. I look at the question from the financial point of view.
There is an enormous diversity of opinion between the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the hon. Member for Canterbury (Sir W. Wayland) on the unemployment question. I came here with the intention of not putting a single person out of employment, if I could possibly help, and of doing everything in my power to get people jobs. We have the Chancellor of the Exchequer saying that, so far as he can see, only about 2,000 people will be put out of jobs. That strikes me as absolutely absurd. Of course, he is taking the direct figures which he can see, but if you sweep your eye round you see, first of all, the agricultural labourers. If they are put out of a job they are not able to draw unemployment insurance benefit. Then there are the hop growers, who are more or less in the same position. So far as the hop trade is concerned, there is a very big trade in hop bags, which means employment for a very considerable number of people. Then there is the freight on the barley. That means putting people out of work. Then there are the breweries and the malting establishments. Many people in the malting trade have told me that up till now they have kept their workpeople on, because they did not want to put anyone out of a job, if they could possibly avoid it, but now their hands are forced and they have to dismiss a great many people. Then there are the tied houses. I know that they will not be reassessed for some time, but does that matter, because in the meantime they are broke.
There is the question of the transport of the beer. There are the coopers, and an infinite number of trades, we do not know how many, that will be affected by 2059 the lessening consumption of beer. Then there is the question of the effect upon the Income Tax. That will be down and Super-tax will be down. What about the millionaire brewers who have not died. I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer will notice the effect when they happen to come to their time to be released. When all these things are taken into account, I cannot see where the Chancellor of the Exchequer will get the enormous revenue he expects. During the last five years in the estimates of the receipts of revenue they have been out by about £6,000,000 per annum. That reduces the balance very considerably, and when we take into account all the points I have raised I am sure that the few millions that will be left will be finished entirely.
I do not want to vote against the Government at the present time, but I think very little forethought has been shown in keeping the penny per pint on beer. It is killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. It is prejudicing the revenue for the future as well as the present, and it is also putting a severe tax upon the loyalty of people who, like myself, believe that a very great mistake is being made. We are told that we are putting the Government in an awkward position, but the Government ought to think of these awkward positions before they put us into them. I can assure the Chancellor of the Exchequer that when it is time for him to get busy with his big ideas about the reduction of expenditure, he will have the whole of the Conservative party behind him. There is not one of us who is not ready to vote for a great deal of reduction in expenditure. A great many of us believe that the revenue cannot be raised. If you have not the money you cannot spend it, and the sooner people realise that the better. Let us get down to the basic position that we are right up against it, and that we shall have to go on cutting, cutting and cutting. When we come to a knowledge of these facts the Chancellor of the Exchequer will find that if he makes proposals for some enormous cuts in our expenditure and taxation he will get a reception such as he has never had before.
I want to put the case of the barley growers, who are deeply concerned at the prolongation of 2060 this excessive taxation. I know that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is very interested in the welfare of the agricultural community, but by keeping this tax on he is undoubtedly going to cause a great deal of extra unemployment in the country districts, which we have been trying for the last few months by legislation to alleviate, and he is also going to do a great injustice to the people who live in the country districts. In my constituency there are 125 villages, and the main place where the people meet to discuss local affairs is the village public house. The revenue of the public house is derived almost exclusively from the sale of beer, spirits do not enter into the purview of the ordinary country public house, with their clientele earning about 35s. a week, if they are in employment. The revenue of these establishments is steadily being reduced, until in my own division during the last three months six of them have had to close down. They are houses controlled by substantial brewery companies, houses which have good financial backing, but which cannot be maintained because they are not earning sufficient revenue to keep them open. I want the Chancellor of the Exchequer to realise that he is penalising the poorest paid people in the land, the agricultural worker, by charging them excessively on one of their few pleasures, and at the same time he is doing his best to put them out of work.
I came here to-night determined to support the hon. Member for Canterbury (Sir W. Wayland), but after the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer I do not feel that I can do anything but support the National Government, although I thoroughly disagree with the taxation. At the same time, seeing that the National Government is going into a conference which may have far-reaching effects for this country, I do not want an opinion created by an adverse vote in this House which may be detrimental to our action and, therefore, much against my will, I am going to support the Government. I hope, however, that when the Chancellor of the Exchequer is reconsidering taxation he will try and find some other ways of raising revenue. There are many other ways of raising revenue. You have approximately 10,000,000 bicycles using the roads of this country without any sort of contribution 2061 to the Exchequer. That is a field which might reasonably pay a small tax and thus relieve some of this unjust taxation. Again, some teetotallers could pay a little more towards our taxation, and I am sure that the hon. Member for West Bermondsey (Dr. Salter) would not mind at all paying his proportion if the legislation was brought in. There are many other different forms of drink which ought to bear some proportion of taxation. Mineral waters, cider and milk might take some share in providing a contribution to the revenue, and I hope, therefore, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he comes to review the possibility of extra taxation will impose some duty on these forms of drink which at present pay no contribution at all.
I always had the feeling, until we had the Chancellor's reassurance this afternoon, that the late Chancellor of the Exchequer had had a good deal to do with maintaining this duty in the form in which it is. The late Chancellor always made this particular trade one of his pet hunting grounds. But I hoped that when we had a National Government we should have been able to drop that sort of discriminating legislation, which had picked on this trade and on the people who drink this particular form of beverage. I hope that after the very serious pronouncement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer my hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury, whose Amendment I have supported right away through, is not going to press the Amendment. I hope that he will withdraw it, because to embarrass the Government at this time, when the Minister is about to set off on a delicate mission, might do more harm than the prolongation of this tax for a month or two longer.
§ Mr. RAIKES
I want to make one further appeal to the hon. Member for Canterbury (Sir W. Wayland) to withdraw his Amendment. I do so as a Tory who is going to support the Government all through on this Measure. I can imagine no folly more criminal than at this stage of the Finance Bill to try to wreck the Bill and form what must be a reconstitution of the present Government. There may be hon. Members who will be tempted to abstain from voting to-night. I suggest that to-night is the one night when every hon. Member who is a supporter of the Government ought to go 2062 into the Lobby and even court unpopularity in support of the larger loyalty without which democracy is a farce.
§ Sir ERNEST SHEPPERSON
I wish to take this opportunity of making a defence of myself against the attack which was made upon me by the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) a month ago. He accused me of deserting my old flame "Beer, glorious Beer" for "Wheat, glorious Wheat," and I want to restore myself to his good graces by telling him that, having satisfied my desires with wheat, I have returned to my old love, beer. At the time of the Budget statement we were all very disappointed that nothing was done for beer. Our disappointment was not because Members of this House could not get their bottles of beer any cheaper, but because of the agricultural labourer, the worker in the country, and the agriculturist. That disappointment was due to a great extent to the method by which the popular Press endeavoured to show that the finance of this country was much better than it really was. The popular Press produced a hope that we should get a reduction of this taxation. I fully support every one of the reasons which have been given for the reduction of this tax.
What, then, am I to do to-night? I am an agriculturist and I represent a purely agricultural constituency which grows hops and barley. That constituency is suffering and I, personally, am suffering from this increased duty upon beer. I submit that there is nothing which could possibly justify the present high taxation on beer, except one thing and that is, the financial need of the country. As an agriculturist and the representative of a purely rural area, I whole-heartedly support this new Clause but I recognise that to-day there is something greater at stake than the interest of the barley grower. There is at stake the interest of our country. When we see the financial difficulties of America and Europe and are told by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that has expert advisers estimate that the loss of revenue by this concession would be £10,000,000; when we are told that this £10,000,000 is necessary to our financial stability; when we realise that owing to the enormous national sacrifices which have been made our country is weathering 2063 the storm but is not yet in sight of port and that to surrender now would make past sacrifices of no avail—when we realise all these things I ask the House can we as Englishmen, ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to make this concession now? As an agriculturist I am for England first. I am prepared to go under in order that England still may live and if I thought that the action which I am going to take to-night would lose me my seat and end my political career, it would not deter me from doing what I consider to be right for my country in its time of need.
It has been said that if the new Clause is not passed there will be a beer strike; that there will be a cessation of consumption of beer by the beer drinker. The consumer of beer is a patriot like the ordinary Income Tax payer. When the country was in difficulty the Income Tax payer came forward readily to pay his money. I am confident that patriotism is not confined to the Income Tax payer. The consumer of beer, when he buys his beer in the future will realise that he is helping his country by the additional tax he is paying. I am confident that when he realises that, his pleasure in consuming beer will increase, because he will realise that he is doing a duty in a very pleasurable manner.England expects every man to do his duty.I am confident that the drinker of beer will be equally prepared to do his duty in the future as he has been in the past, and will not decrease that consumption
§ of beer, but will realise that by continuing to consume beer he is helping his country in its difficulties. In conjunction with my hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough (Lord Burghley), I have a new Clause on the Paper the purpose of which is that this reduction of taxation should only apply to beer made from British malt and British hops. This new Clause, if carried, would cost the Chancellor of the Exchequer very little indeed, and it would help those whom I particularly desire to help, namely, the agricultural labourer, the farmer, and the grower of malting barley.
§ I want to add my appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to grant us this little thing, which would be a tiny step towards what has been my ideal ever since I have been in the House, and that is the possibility of pure beer. Pure beer is not only in the interest of the industry of agriculture; it has back of it the interests of the whole of the nation. We have heard many times the saying that the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton. Might I suggest that those men of Eton could not have done very much unless they were backed by the consumers of pure beer? I would ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in the interests not only of the industry of agriculture, but of the working class and of the nation he will not take this step towards that ideal of pure beer.
§ Question put, "That the Clause be read a Second time."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 71; Noes, 301.2067
|Division No. 220.]||AYES.||[10.34 p.m.|
|Adams, D. M (Poplar, South)||Fuller, Captain A. G.||Lunn, William|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Granville, Edgar||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)|
|Bailey, Eric Alfred George||Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas||McGovern. John|
|Batey, Joseph||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Maxton, James|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Milner, Major James|
|Buchanan, George||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Nail, Sir Joseph|
|Burton, Colonel Henry Walter||Groves, Thomas E.||Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Petersf'ld)|
|Caine, G. R Hall-||Grundy, Thomas W.||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Cape, Thomas||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Pike, Cecil F.|
|Carver, Major William H.||Hail, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Price, Gabriel|
|Chalmers, John Rutherford||Haslam, Henry (Lindsay, H'ncastle)||Remer, John R.|
|Chorlton. Alan Ernest Leofric||Hicks, Ernest George||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Hirst, George Henry||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Jackson, J. C. (Heywood & Radcliffe)||Thorne, William James|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir George L.||John, William||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|Cove, William G.||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Craven-Ellis, William||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Knox, Sir Alfred||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Daggar, George||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Dixey, Arthur C. N.||Lawson, John James||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Duncan, Charles (Derby, Claycross)||Lees-Jones, John|
|Edwards, Charles||Lewis, Oswald||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Fermoy, Lord||Lockwood, John C.(Hackney, C.)||Sir William Wayland and Mr. Macquisten.|
|Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Logan, David Gilbert|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||McCorquodale, M. S.|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univ.)||McKie, John Hamilton|
|Albery, Irving James||Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton|
|Alien, Sir J. Sandeman (L' pool, W.)||Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||McLean, Dr. w. H. (Tradeston)|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd.)||Fox, Sir Gifford||Magnay, Thomas|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Fraser, Captain Ian||Maitland, Adam|
|Athol, Duchess of||Fremantle, Sir Francis||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Ganzoni, Sir John||Mander, Geoffrey le M.|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.|
|Balniel, Lord||Gillett, Sir George Masterman||Margesson, Capt. Henry David R.|
|Banks, Sir- Reginald Mitchell||Gledhill, Gilbert||Marsden, Commander Arthur|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Glossop, C. W. H.||Martin, Thomas B.|
|Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey||Giuckstein, Louis Halle||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Glyn, Major Ralph G. C.||Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)|
|Beaumont. Hon. R. E.B. (Portsm'th,C.)||Goldie, Noel B.||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John|
|Belt, Sir Alfred L.||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd|
|Bevan, Stuart James (Holborn)||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Millar, Sir James Duncan|
|Birchall Major Sir John Dearman||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.)|
|Bird, Ernest Roy (Yorks., Skipton)||Graves, Marjorie||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)|
|Baker, Sir Reginald||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Milne, Charles|
|Boothby, Robert John Graham||Greene, William P. C.||Milne, Sir John S. Wardiaw-|
|Borodale, Viscount||Grenfell, David Rees (Giamorgan)||Mitchell, Harold P.(Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)|
|Bossom A. C.||Grenfell, E. C. (City of London)||Mitcheson, G. G.|
|Bouiton, W. W.||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro'.W.)||Molson, A. Hugh Eisdaie|
|Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton||Grimston, R. V.||Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E.||Morning, Adrian C.|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||Morrison, William Shepherd|
|Braithwaite, Maj. A. N. (Yorks, E. R.)||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Moss, Captain H. J.|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Guy, J. C. Morrison||Muirhead, Major A. J.|
|Briant, Frank||Hall, Capt. W. D'Arcy (Brecon)||Munro, Patrick|
|Brockiebank, C. E R.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Hartington, Marquess of||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)|
|Browne, Captain A. C.||Hartland, George A.||North, Captain Edward T.|
|Buchan, John||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Nunn, William|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)||O'Connor, Terence James|
|Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie||Henderson, Sir Vivi3n L. (Cheimsford)||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh|
|Burnett John George||Hepworth, Joseph||Ormiston, Thomas|
|Campbell, Rear-Admi. G. (Burniey)||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.|
|Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G||Palmer, Francis Noel|
|Caporn Arthur Cecil||Holdsworth, Herbert||Patrick, Colin M.|
|Castle Stewart, Earl||Hope, Capt. Arthur O. J. (Aston)||Penny, Sir George|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)||Hornby, Frank||Percy, Lord Eustace|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Horsbrugh, Florence||Perkins, Walter B. D.|
|Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Howard, Tom Forrest||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord Hugh||Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||Peto, Geoffrey K.(W'verh'pt'n, Bliston)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J.A.(Birm.,W.)||Hudson. Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Pickering, Ernest H.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Hudson, Robert Spear (southport)||Pickford, Hon. Mary Ada|
|Clarke, Frank||Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Potter, John|
|Clayton, Dr. George C.||Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg)||Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Pybus, Percy John|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Hutchison, W. D. (Essex, Romf'd)||Raikes, Henry V. A. M.|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)|
|Colville, John||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)|
|Conant, R. J. E.||James, Wing.-Com. A. w. H.||Ramsbotham, Herwaid|
|Cooke, Douglas||Jamieson, Douglas||Ramadan, E.|
|Copeland, Ida||Jesson, Major Thomas E.||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Courtauld, Major John Sewell||Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)|
|Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry||Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)||Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Reid, William Allan (Derby)|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootie)||Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)||Rentoul, Sir Gervais S.|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)||Ker, J. Campbell||Renwick, Major Gustav A.|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Kimball, Lawrence||Reynolds, Col. Sir James Philip|
|Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Kirkpatrick, William M.||Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.|
|Curry, A. C.||Knatchbull, Captain Hon. M. H. R.||Rosbotham, S. T.|
|Davison, Sir William Henry||Knebworth, Viscount||Boss, Ronald D.|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Rose Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.||Latham, Sir Herbert Paul||Ruggies-Brise, Colonel E. A.|
|Dickie, John P.||Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)||Range, Norah Cecil|
|Dixon, Rt. Hon. Herbert||Leech, Dr. J. w.||Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)|
|Donner, P. W.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Doran, Edward||Levy, Thomas||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B' Inside)|
|Drewe, Cedric||Liddail, Walter S.||Salmon, Major Isidore|
|Duckworth, George A. V.||Lindsay, Noel Ker||Salt, Edward W.|
|Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel||Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe.||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Liewellin, Major John J.||Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)|
|Eastwood, John Francis||Lieweilyn-Jones, Frederick||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Eden, Robert Anthony||Lloyd, Geoffrey||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Loder, Captain J. de Vere||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Elliot, Major Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Elliston, Captain George Sampson||Lyons, Abraham Montagu||Simmonds, Oliver Edwin|
|Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Mabane, William||Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A.(C'thness)|
|Slater, John||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray F.||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart||White, Henry Graham|
|Smith, R. W.(Ab'rd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)||Tate, Mavis Constance||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A. (P'dd'gt'n, S.)||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Smithers, Waldron||Templeton, William P.||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Somervell, Donald Bradley||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of||Withers, Sir John James|
|Soper, Richard||Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)||Womersley, Walter James|
|Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.||Todd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Kingsley|
|Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement||Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)|
|Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.||Turton, Robert Hugh||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon||Wragg, Herbert|
|Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde)||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)|
|Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)|
|Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Stones, James||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)||Mr. Walter Rea and Major George|
|Storey, Samuel||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.||Davies.|
|Strickland, Captain W. F.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
Resolution agreed to.