§ The CHAIRMAN
The next Amendment which I propose to call is the second one standing in the name of the hon. Member for Govan (Mr. N. Maclean). In accordance with what I said yesterday, it comes in the group of Amendments which has been described as deferment of the date of the duty, and the hon. Member will realise, therefore, that we shall discuss on the Amendment which I am about to call both that 1288 Amendment and also the later Amendment in the name of the same lion. Member to leave out Sub-section (2).
§ 3.45 p.m.
§ Mr. NEIL MACLEAN
I beg to move, in page 5, line 5, to leave out the word "April," and to insert instead thereof the word "November."
The purpose of the Amendment is to delay the operation of the tax until the month of November. The reason for putting down the Amendment is evident from the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is to give him an opportunity of putting the particular industries in whose interests the tax is being imposed in some sort of order. In replying to the discussion which took place yesterday afternoon on another group of Amendments, the Chancellor of the Exchequer made it evident to the House that he had two purposes in view. The first purpose was that which every Chancellor of the Exchequer has in view in imposing a tax, namely, to raise money for the purposes of carrying on the Government. The second purpose which the Chancellor of the Exchequer gave yesterday was that it might help the coal industry, and, in elaborating that purpose, he said that he had been informed that by the imposition of the tax, and the fact that a number of oil users might require to go back to the use of coal, there was a possibility of employment for about 12,000 miners. He did not say what might be the number of workers who would be displaced in other industries. He merely referred to the fact that 12,000 miners might be employed if coal of equal fuel value were used instead of oil.
I cannot say definitely, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer cannot say with regard to the number of miners who will be given employment, how many workers may be thrown out of employment as a result of the imposition of this tax, but I can say that in the East and in the West of Scotland, as Leith and at Ardrossan, two orders which had been placed for oil-using vessels have been cancelled. The orders were placed before the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced the tax, and immediately after the announcement the orders were cancelled, because, in the opinion of the shipping companies who had ordered those vessels, it would have been un- 1289 remunerative to build the ships and run them on oil upon which a tax had been imposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and which would have had to be paid. The cost would have been too high to enable them to run the vessels, or at least to look forward with any hope of running them with any possibility of profits being derived from the carrying of cargoes.
We are inclined to the belief that in imposing the tax the Chancellor of the Exchequer has made too sudden a leap upon the users of oil fuel. He might at least have given them some longer period, so that they might have had an opportunity of developing other methods of using alternative fuels, which would have enabled them to meet the tax. He has given them no such opportunity. During the operation of the tax the users of oil fuel will have to consider the making of arrangements to change into some other method, it may be the method of using coal, thereby employing a certain number of additional workers in that industry; but in the meantime those individuals or companies will have to pay the tax. We wish to put this point to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that he is either doing this for the purpose of assisting the coal industry, as he said, or for the purpose of deriving revenue. In either case, he is not facing up to the difficulties that those who use oil fuel are likely to meet.
Has he considered, or have the Government considered, any scheme for transforming, by the processes already known, coal into oil fuel? If that was the purpose of the tax, then practically every Member of the House would agree with the right hon. Gentleman, and the mine owners and mine workers would agree with him, but the Government have come forward with no scheme whereby oil fuel can be taken from coal. They are putting it forward merely as a tax, and leading the House to believe that one purpose is the increased employment of miners. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer really had the interests of the miners at heart, if he was desirous of employing the 12,000 miners to whom he referred, then both he and the Government would have gone carefully into the methods of producing oil from coal in this country. They would have had a scheme prepared and would have had 1290 that scheme put into working operation in time for the imposition of this tax, so that those industries now using oil fuel could have turned over to the using of oil fuel manufactured from coal produced by the miners of this country. That would have helped not only the miners but the Government in deriving revenue from the tax.
If it is a protective tax—I do not think it is, Since it has no relation, I understand, to the Import Duties Advisory Committee, and cannot be referred to them—then it is a protective tariff to keep out foreign goods, and it is a revenue tariff to raise revenue for the Government, and the information that the right hon. Gentleman conveyed to the House yesterday afternoon as to the assistance that it was likely to give to the mining industry was beside the point. If it were possible by the end of next week for the users of oil fuel so to transform their plants into coal-using boilers and furnaces, he would lose revenue, but the 12,000 additional miners might be employed. If the Government interested themselves in the development of the methods for producing oil from coal in this country there would be much wider use of that oil than is the case in regard to oil imported from abroad. In that way the right hon. Gentleman would develop an industry in this country, which is a new industry, and at the same time he would be giving greater assistance to the coal mining industry by providing employment for a very much larger additional number than 12.000. The right hon. Gentleman ought to delay the imposition of the tax, so that the Government might have an opportunity of considering the various schemes for producing oil from coal that are in existence, so that they might select that which is considered by the experts to be the best and most economical, and then they ought to put the schemes into operation, if possible, by November of this year. The tax could then become operative against any oil that might be brought into the country. That would give home-produced fuel an opportunity of facing up to the foreign imported oils, and it would also give employment to a large number or mine workers.
§ 3.57 p.m.
§ Mr. MARTIN
I rise to support the Amendment because I believe its accept- 1291 ance would give time for the examination of the problem in such a way that a great many of the difficulties which at present are not apparent to the Committee might be made clear. Throughout the discussion on this tax there has never been any real evidence that the coal industry is going to benefit to the extent to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer hoped it would benefit. Yesterday I listened for an indication from the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he had worked out with any appreciable degree of detail how the coal miners were going to be put into work. As one who represents a constituency which is largely a coal mining district, I should be very pleased if I could see that this tax would really mean a considerable reduction in unemployment amongst the coal miners; but after listening to the right hon. Gentleman there were still in my mind many doubts which I have been trying to dissipate by research amongst the various channels open to me to find out how far the Chancellor of the Exchequer could prove his contention to be right. If the operation of this tax were put off until November all those industries that are affected by it would have a chance of showing how far they would be able to give employment to the people engaged in their particular trade. The argument has been put forward that certain trades will be affected adversely. In examining these matters one discounts a certain amount as exaggeration, which is quite natural when a trade is putting forward a case against a proposed tax on its fuel.
I would ask the Chancellor another question. If he is going to say, in reply to this Amendment, that he must have this revenue, it can be pointed out to him that the revenue could be obtained by a different method. If between now and November the amount of revenue which he would stand to lose would be too much, I would suggest that he should put the tax on in a different manner. I would suggest that he should tax lubricating oil to a much greater extent, and that he should leave the tax on kerosene. I could give figures to show that he would obtain by that means a much greater amount of tax in the year than by the present tax. Between now and November he could, by such method of taxation, at least obtain his revenue, and 1292 he could find out from a very careful inquiry among the trades concerned whether employment was going to be improved or worsened. On the other score, not of revenue but of helping the gas industry, I maintain that the agitation which has been aroused as a result of the imposition of this tax has so far benefited the gas industry that it has already obtained a great deal of advantage without the tax actually coming effectively into operation. It has seemed to me, on careful examination, that the main cause why the coal industry and its derivatives have been losing in the fight with oil has been very largely because the coal salesman has not been as good as the oil salesman.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member's speech is developing into an argument on the general question. He must confine his remarks strictly to the question of the date at which the tax is to come into operation.
§ Mr. MARTIN
I quite appreciate your Ruling, and submit to it, but I am trying to point out that there is good and sufficient reason why the tax should be deferred until November. I am trying to point out that gas and the other derivatives of coal have already obtained sufficient advantage by the agitation of the last few weeks to enable the Chancellor to say that it will not suffer if the tax is deferred until November, that it will not necessarily lose ground in the intervening months. I would suggest that the gas industry itself might not object to the tax being deferred until November. I think, perhaps, that all the industries concerned in gas, coke and so on, would admit that they would not lose ground, because their salesmen would have the definite advantage which has been given to them by the general agitation of the last few weeks. If, therefore, the Chancellor says that on the ground of revenue he cannot accept this Amendment, I can suggest ways by which he might get his revenue without damaging the heavy oil users. If he puts it on the score of not being able to help coal and its derivatives sufficiently, I would suggest that the derivatives have already obtained sufficient advantage by the fillip given to the industry by the discussion of the tax. Therefore, I hope that the Chancellor, while still maintaining, perhaps, the principle of attempting 1293 to help the coal industry and coal derivatives, will consider this Amendment as a reasonable one, because it gives him and those concerned sufficient time to consider the implications of the matter in all its aspects and that will be in the interests of all concerned.
§ 4.5 p.m.
It would be a very great pleasure to support this Amendment if the proposed postponement would result in action by the Government in the direction indicated by the Mover and supporter of the Amendment. If this Amendment would permit of it, I would like to draw the attention of the Government to their lackadaisical method in dealing with the difficulties of the coal trade. As far as the proposed tax is concerned, I am afraid that it will not give to the mining industry the necessary help that this Government ought to give and which this House ought to have begun some months ago. I think it is time that steps should be taken to re-establish prosperity in the mining industry, and not only that, but to take note of the fact that this industry, on which the whole Empire has built its prosperity, is not being given the attention of the Government that it warrants. I would suggest that if postponement would result in the Government and Parliament dealing with the position of the mining industry in a proper way by reorganisation, and giving full consideration to the tremendous possibilities there are, it would be a Godsend not only to the mining industry but to the nation as a whole. I think it is a colossal crime the way the Government have sat Since taking office 18 months ago and not made the slightest attempt to bring back prosperity to the most important industry in the British isles.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member, I think, is getting rather away from the Amendment. This is not the occasion for a discussion of Government policy in regard to the coal industry.
The Government did undertake to do something real for the mining industry, and I suggest that if this industry is allowed to go on much longer in the way it has been going for the last few years, you are giving away the greatest asset of this nation, and there is nothing to replace it. There are 1294 vast possibilities both in the production of oil fuel and in the use of pulverised coal if the Government would take action. But I could not support this Amendment, because I have no faith in the Government. If they had made any provision to do anything, it would be a delight to support this Amendment giving them time to do it, but this tax will not bring back the prosperity that is desired in the mining industry and I hope it will not be long before they give way to somebody who has an interest in the industry, and is desirous of bringing it back to prosperity.
§ 4.9 p.m.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
I want to support the Amendment, which has my name against it. I am really astonished that the Committee should have been sidetracked in the way it has been by putting the coal industry up against oil, and engineering and shipbuilding. That has been a deliberate plot put on foot in this House. There is no denying that. They have also brought in the gas industry, which is a very powerful combination in this House, and all the interests have been used with a view to crush what is one of our new industries at its very Inception, when we are geting our feet as far as the Diesel engine is concerned, and when we are being able to compete in this field of engineering in a way that we have never been able to do before. We have just got ourselves set going, and now we find the whole power in this House being turned against it in the most scientific manner possible. And it was done by my own fellow-countryman, the right hon. Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Home) yesterday, the whole of this Debate having been sidetracked by the contention that the most modern method was gas, and not oil. We are here to-day to try to save those who have put their all into this business. That is why we wish to insert "November" instead of "April." It is to give us a breathing space. That is all we are asking. We are not asking very much of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and there is no doubt that the light hon. Gentleman himself was not very sure of his ground, so much so that at the start of this Debate on oil he himself said that he would wait before he gave his decision; he would hear the discussion of the different points of view on the Floor of the House. But they have 1295 turned it round now as if the action of the Chancellor is in defence of the coal industry. It is all so much nonsense, and I am sorry to see that all my colleagues who represent colliery divisions have fallen into the trap.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
The hon. Member may not, but it was evident yesterday when we came to a vote that it was done in such an artful manner that a number of my colleagues fell into the trap. I hope they are not going to do it to-day. I hope the Committee will see that we are trying to do what we can to save the situation for some time, that is, the difference betwixt April and November. There are many instances which could be given to justify what we are doing. I know several cases where new factories have been established in which the Diesel engine has been installed. It is impossible for them to instal gas. Gas, as understood by those who were putting forward the proposition yesterday, presupposes that you are either near a big still or near a large industrial centre. There are many new industries being established in this country that are not adjacent to either of those, and they have installed the Diesel engine. It will spell ruin to them, unless the Chancellor is going to give some concession in cases such as these. Then, again, it is going to cripple our coastal trade.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
I agree. I will not transgress on that, but I would appeal to every section of the Committee, because if ever there were something that was not a party question, this is it. Hon. Members in this House who do big business know perfectly well that this is no party matter, but they have taken advantage of the inexperience of some hon. Members to sidetrack them into voting in a manner which they were led to believe was for the benefit of the working classes. They were not doing anything of the kind; they were voting against the working classes.
§ 4.15 p.m.
§ Mr. EDWARD WILLIAMS
The last thing I desire to do is to put any impediment in the way of the Chancellor of the 1296 Exchequer doing something to revive the mining industry. We do not accept the stories which were told yesterday by hon. Members representing small industries. There is a justifiable reason for delaying the imposition of this tax. In the first place, it should be ascertained whether it will have any serious effect on the manufacture of the Diesel engine in this country. If that manufacture was impaired it would have a detrimental effect on the mining industry. If it would prevent- the absorption of steel which goes into the manufacture of the Diesel engine, in that way the mining industry would be affected. There is, also, a case for making further inquiries as to whether the imposition of the tax would mean that more miners would be engaged by the prevention of the importation of oil into this country. That is the only way by which miners can be employed in larger numbers, by producing coal which would be consumed in those factories which are now consuming oil. That, I believe, is what the Chancellor of the Exchequer has in mind. On the other hand, there is the point as to whether the manufacture of the Diesel engine, or any kind of technique which now gives employment to steel workers and persons in the ancillary trades, would mean that more miners would be employed in the production of pig-iron. This point should be considered, and I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer should have further time to reflect on all these matters which ultimately affect the employment or non-employment of miners.
Figures which were given last week from the Ministry of Labour indicated that 40,000 more miners were unemployed during the last 12 months than in the year previous. The Government have made no attempt to tackle the mining problem. If they did they would at once institute a National Board and eliminate all the petty competition which now takes place. When the Chancellor of the Exchequer puts up the argument that it may mean that 12,000 more miners will be at work, he is really making an apology for the ineffectiveness of Government action during the last 18 months. We are not pressing the Amendment because we desire to put any impediment in the way of the engagement of more miners. We are anxious that the industry should be properly re- 1297 organised, unified and treated as a national concern, and that all the petty squabbling which is taking place in the production of steel and coal should be eliminated. We have to be convInced that this tax will fulfil what the Chancellor of the Exchequer has in mind. Will it engage 12,000 extra miners? Will it mean that oil will come into this country in smaller quantities? Will it tend to affect the production of the Diesel engine, with a detrimental effect on the mining industry? We hope the Government will accept the Amendment as one coming from the mining industry. The Chancellor of the Exchequer may have arrived at certain deductions from certain figures, but it may be that the figures upon which those deductions have been made may not be thoroughly sound.
§ 4.21 p.m.
§ Sir STAFFORD CRIPPS
I want to ask the Financial Secretary whether he-will answer a question which I put to the Chancellor of the Exchequer yesterday, which no doubt he ovErieoked in the course of the many speeches he had to make, and that is, what is the policy of the Government as regards the matter of oil duties? I entirely agree that we ought to take a broad view of this matter, not a sectional view, as to whether it assists particular industries with which we are connected or which thrive or not in our own constituencies. In this proposal we are taxing one of the great primary commodities used in this country for manufactures, used as a fuel and in other ways. You cannot play fast and loose with these great commodities, change the tax upon them, without any declared policy, unless you are going to do a great deal of harm to industry. I ask whether this tax is to be regarded as a first step in the taxation of fuel oil, or as a final tax?
§ The CHAIRMAN
I do not think that I can allow the Financial Secretary to answer that question on this particular Amendment. It might come up on the question of the Clause standing part. The hon. and learned Member is dealing with the tax as a whole rather than with the date at which the tax shall come into operation.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
But the policy behind the tax is a vital matter in regard to 1298 the date upon which it shall operate. Unless the Government have some policy I am asking that they shall delay its operation until they have found a policy. Before we give authority for the tax to come into operation at once I want to know whether there is a policy, and I want to be able to judge whether that policy has been sufficiently developed to make it wise for the Committee to authorise the tax immediately or whether, in view of their statement, the Government should not have more time to think out their policy. That is why we do not think that the tax should come into operation until November next. I have spoken of the uncertainty which this leaves in the minds of those concerned with the great industries which use this material as a fuel. Yesterday the right hon. Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne) spoke of various alternative forms of fuel. I should like to ask whether the Government have any policy as regards the development of gas; or whether they will have a policy by November next?
§ The CHAIRMAN
I am afraid that I really cannot allow a repetition of yesterday's Debate. The Amendment before the Committee is simply a question as to the date; whether the tax should be imposed at this particular date or some other date.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
Am I not in order in pointing out that until industrialists in this country know the purpose of the Government this tax should not be imposed? And that they should be given time, after knowing the policy of the Government—if the Government have one—to decide what they are going to do with their plant; whether they will reconvert it or continue to use oil in spite of the extra taxation? Am I not entitled to ask the Government whether they have any policy so that industrialists may know?
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think that is in order, but with a strict limitation to questions of policy arising out of this tax. To discuss policy generally is not in order.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
I will confine myself strictly to policy arising out of the fuel tax. The industrialist has to consider at once, if the incidence of this tax is not delayed, whether he is to convert his 1299 plant. Is that what the Government want him to do? If he is to convert it, to what form are the Government anxious that he should convert it? Is it, necessarily, to some coal burning form of plant? If the object of the Government is to prevent people burning oil and make them burn coal then, presumably, the Government have worked out some plan as to the future use of power, and power creating instruments in this country. We want the Financial Secretary to tell us, so that we can make up our mind as to whether the tax should be postponed or not, whether this is merely an isolated revenue raising protective tax or whether it is part of a considered fuel policy of the Government. If it is I hope the hon. Member will tell us what the policy is. Is it to encourage the pulverisation of fuel, the hydrogenation of coal, to get our own home oil supplies; is it low temperature carbonisation; or whatever the process may be. It is only in the light of these considerations that the Committee can properly make up its mind as to whether the tax should be imposed now or postponed for six months, to allow manufacturers to adjust themselves to the incidence of the tax and determine what they are going to do, and how they are to do it in order to assist in carrying out the Government's policy.
§ 4.29 p.m.
§ Mr. HANNON
I find it somewhat difficult to follow the arguments of the hon. and learned Member for Bristol, East (Sir S. Cripps) because he wants to turn every possible argument he can to the disadvantage of the National Government. I have considerable sympathy with the Amendment. I suggest that this tax has been introduced without sufficient consideration for the varied interests involved. The Chancellor of the Exchequer must have received in the course of the last few weeks a multitude of representations, not merely from small industries but from large industries as to the incidence of this taxation. Representing an industrial community I consider that it would have been desirable if the Treasury, in preparing the financial statement for the year, had examined more carefully the extent to which employment in the industries now using fuel oil would be affected by the tax. I think it would be useful, indeed it would be very much appre- 1300 ciated by a large number of struggling industrialists, if the introduction of this duty could be postponed for a period until more exhaustive inquiry were made as to the extent to which industry would be affected and the extent to which employment in industry would be affected.
I hope I shall not be regarded as saying anything very violent if I express the hope that more consideration might be given by the Treasury, in many instances where taxation is proposed without adequate regard to the interests immediately involved. It would be very helpful if we were not merely told that this duty would employ 12,000 men in the mining industry, with the resuscitation of which everyone has sympathy, but also if we were told the extent to which that would react on the employment in industries to which the tax would apply. I am told on good authority that many of our industries in the Black Country and Midlands, and above all the glass industry, are dependent for their continued efficiency on fuel oil and cannot carry on without fuel oil. They will suffer immediate loss and will have to put on the roadside large numbers of men who are now employed. That is a very serious consideration. I respectfully submit to my right hon Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer that it would be helpful if he could see his way, in order more fully to examine all the considerations involved, to postpone the time when this duty is to come into operation.
§ 4.33 p.m.
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Mr. Hore-Belisha)
I find it somewhat embarrassing to reply upon this Amendment, because the whole question of policy has been raised by various speakers, and you, Mr. Chairman, have ruled that out of order.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
On a point of Order. Is not the hon. Gentleman entitled to give an answer to a question which you said that I was entitled to ask, as to the Government policy?
§ The CHAIRMAN
Up to a certain point that is so. The hon. and learned Member will quite understand that, although an alternative policy is a matter which may be referred to as an argument against a particular Amendment, yet the wide discussion of alternative policies is not a matter which would be in order on an 1301 Amendment of this kind. I allowed the hon. and learned Gentleman and some other speakers to go rather far, because I am always unwilling to curb an Opposition unnecessarily in matters of that kind, but the discussion must be kept within certain limits, and I shall have to watch and see that the hon. Gentleman who is replying does not go beyond those limits.
§ Mr. HORE-BELISHA
It was because I was so anxious not to disappoint my hon. Friends who have raised this matter that I called attention to the fact that the Ruling of the Chair would necessarily limit me, and that I could not extend over the whole field. The Amendment under discussion and the one which follows are narrow Amendments. One Seeks to postpone the operation of the Customs Duty until November, and the other seeks to cancel the Excise Duty altogether. Of course, the effect of the first Amendment would be that we should get only four months' tax in the course of the financial year, and the effect of the second Amendment would be that all the stock in the country would escape payment of Excise Duty. That is the narrow and immediate effect of the Amendments. It has to be borne in mind that the duty is already in force, and that when a duty of this kind is imposed it is advisable, in the interests of the revenue, that it should operate the moment it is announced. That is, of course, what happened in this particular case. Otherwise, and if the spirit of these Amendments were to be accepted, you would be giving notice to all the importers of oil that they had a certain period in which to accumulate stocks and to escape the tax altogether. It would be quite impracticable in cases of this kind to give a long period of notice.
§ Mr. MARTIN
Surely it would be quite possible to avoid that by making it quite clear that in November all the stocks would similarly be taxed?
§ Mr. HORE-BELISHA
No, and in this matter we have followed the precedent of previous cases. In order to prevent evasion it is clearly desirable that a duty of this kind should have effect from the 1302 moment it is announced. So much for the purely technical effect of the Amendment. Those who have spoken have asked that the tax should be delayed for two purposes. The Mover of the Amendment said in effect: "Delay this tax for four months until you have made sure that there is a satisfactory and profitable method of extracting oil from coal." I am sure he appreciates, from the previous discussions, that the policy of the Government is far wider than that. It is not merely for the purpose of extracting oil from coal, but it is for the purpose of encouraging the direct use of coal and its derivatives, coke, electricity, and so forth. It is not for giving a breathing-space or time in which a lucrative method of extracting oil from coal can be devised.
The other grounds on which the Amendment has been advanced are, first, that notice should be given to British industrialists in order that they may have time to convert their plants from one type of fuel to another. What about those people who have already, under this tax, planned to change back from oil to coal? There have been letters in the newspapers from hotels and other enterprises, in which statements have been made that schemes are already in existence—I do not know on how large a scale—to take advantage of this duty and to return to a form of heating or power which is derived from coal. It would be a gross deception to those who under the aegis of this tax have made these preparations were we now to betray them by taking the tax off altogether. An hon. Member said that if it were merely a question of revenue he would suggest alternative means of getting the revenue. He wanted a higher tax on lubricating oil. Lubricating oil is an essential in all industries, and there is no particular justification for putting the whole of the financial burden of this tax upon one kind of oil. Besides it would infringe the general policy which my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced, of encouraging the use of coal and its derivatives.
The hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) asked some very wide questions, which I do not propose to answer in detail because they exceed the scope of the Amendment. He asked whether it was our policy that industrialists should convert their plants. Undoubtedly, wherever that can suitably be done, it is. He asked what they were to 1303 do. In each particular case it is a matter of the technical considerations of the industry concerned, but the Goal Utilisation Council and the Gas Council are ready to advise any industrialist or any private person as to the best uses of the fuel over which they have control. In any event I do not think that any industrialist will now be in any doubt. It is our purpose, and we have succeeded in effecting it, to show that oil is not going to be put in a favoured position, and is not going to become a vested interest free of all tax, and we have given a plain indication of what the general lines of our policy are.
§ 4.55 p.m.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I rather agree with the hon. Member for Moseley (Mr. Hannon) in deprecating the suggestion made by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) that the Government should produce a plan. It was an unkind suggestion. Of course the Government have not got a plan. It would be most exceptional if they had. In this particular case it is even more ridiculous to suppose that there is a plan, for the whole thing is obvious. The Chancellor of the Exchequer wanted revenue, and he saw that if he imposed this particular tax he could call in aid the almost unanimous opinion of this House in favour of protecting something or everything. But this particular Amendment has nothing to do with Protection at all. It is solely a question of a tax, and nothing else. The extra 12,000 miners whom we are to see at work owing to the beneficent action of this tax, will not be affected in the least by postponing the imposition of the tax until November. Notice has been given, the tax is coming on in November, and the effects, so far as the coal trade is concerned, will be exactly the same as if the tax was imposed now. All that the Amendment does is to leave in being the enormous advantage that these trades are to get from this tax, but at the same time to reduce the revenue side of the tax.
If the Amendment were carried the Chancellor of the Exchequer would lose this year about £1,500,000 of revenue. That is all there is in it. I would ask the hon. Gentleman opposite, who is the yoke-fellow of the Chancellor of the Ex- 1304 chequer in this enterprise, not to put forward again the argument that if this tax was postponed the country would be flooded with untaxed fuel oil and that the manufacturers and Shell-Mex would get away with it. It would not have that effect in the least. When this tax was imposed three weeks ago it was imposed on all oil in the country, as well as on all oil coming into the country. If it is put off until November, in the same way it will go upon all the oil in the country. The only effect will be to exempt from tax the oil actually used between now and November. As far as this Bill or this Government is concerned, it will be a loss of revenue of £1,500,000 but the protective value of the tax, if it has any protective value, will remain as at present. All we are considering is the revenue question, whether we want to take £1,500,000 from the industries which have gone in for the use of fuel oil or whether it would not be more generous on the part of the Government to give them a breathing space and time in which to change over if they wish to do so.
The Financial Secretary was almost pathetic in his desire not to do anything now which would injure those who, according to letters in the Press—which I have not seen—are arranging to change over from oil fuel to coal. The letters which I have seen were all from suppliers of oil who said that tome people were going to change over, but I have not seen any letters from people who said they were going to make the change themselves. The Financial Secretary made a pathetic but no doubt thoroughly justifiable appeal that we ought to stand by the proprietors of blocks of flats and hotels—half a dozen perhaps at the outside—who have decided in view of the tax to make the change. They cannot have incurred very great expense. Let the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Financial Secretary think rather of all those thousands of people who, relying on general theories of what constitutes fair taxation, have put their Capttal into oil fuel methods of firing.
In the case of the transport trade, when the Government are dealing with motor cars and lorries they give a breathing space to the people who have put their Capttal into solid-tyred vehicles before saying, "You must convert to pneumatic 1305 tyres." I forget how many years have been allowed in that case but I think it is a matter of years. All we are asking in this case is that the people who have put their money into a particular form of firing should be given not years but eight months' breathing space—only eight months in which to write off all the Capttal cost which will be incurred if they have to convert to other forms of firing, and in which to adjust forward contracts for the supply of goods at prices based upon a fuel 40 per cent. cheaper than that which they will actually have to use in the production of those goods. There are forward contracts for thousands of pounds which will be affected by this proposal. There are large sums invested in plants which may have to be scrapped. The Government might give those concerned eight months in which to write off that expense and get rid of their contracts in order that they may not be completely ruined by Government action.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer yesterday made it clear that he had three objects in this proposal. The first was protection, which we need not deal with here. The second object was to safeguard the revenue from the Petrol Tax. The right hon. Gentleman apparently was afraid that if this heavy oil was not taxed, science and invention would devise methods of using heavy oils where light oils are used at present. That question is not affected in the least by this Amendment. The knowledge that the tax is going to be imposed in November is quite enough to prevent people experimenting any further with the use of heavy oil to take the place of a light oil. The third object was revenue and that is the only object with which we are concerned here. [HON. MEMBERS: "Coal!"] Coal is not affected by this Amendment. The knowledge that the tax is going to be put on in November will have exactly the same protective effect on the coal trade, by checking people who were about to adopt oil burning. It is the revenue question with which we are concerned here and, as regards revenue, I think we might all with clear consciences whether we are Protectionists or Free Traders, ask for the Amendment.
The Chancellor said yesterday that progress might lie in various directions. 1306 Progress can be forward or backward. Progress hitherto has been the result of invention inspired by the desire to reduce costs. It has been the result of every individual thinking out for himself what was best for his own business. Now, for the first time the Government—not the Labour party—have devised a method of the State direction of progress. It is no longer to be left to the individual managing his own business to decide in what way industry is to progress. The Government have taken it in hand. This is State Socialism of the most drastic character and, of course, I welcome it—
§ The CHAIRMAN
I hope the right hon. and gallant Gentleman is not now going to improve on the example of earlier speakers in going outside the scope of the Amendments to try and discuss State socialism.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I was getting on to the same ground and if I may say so, Sir Dennis, you were quite right to intervene. State Socialism, from whatever side it comes, is, of course, desirable but that is all the more reason why we should require the State Socialists to have some plan and some idea of the direction in which they are going. The eight months for which we ask would give them a breathing space and an opportunity to produce their plan. In addition to the arguments which can be advanced from the point of view of the victims of this new tax, I urge that the Government themselves ought to have a breathing space in order to decide the direction in which they intend to force the manufacturers of this country to go.
Captain ARTHUR EVANS
I Sincerely hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will not succumb to the enticing and persuasive appeal of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood). The right hon. and gallant Gentleman concluded his remarks by asking the Government whether they had a plan. As I understand it, the plan of His Majesty's Government is to give some direct encouragement to the use of coal as against the use of oil. It is obvious that the main consideration in the minds of the Treasury is not so much one of revenue—
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
On a point of Order. Is not the question at issue on this Amendment solely one of revenue?
§ The CHAIRMAN
I do not think that is so. At the same time I think the hon. and gallant Member is getting beyond the scope of the Amendment. There are two Amendments to be discussed and two only, one deferring the date on which the Customs Tax comes into operation, and the other getting rid of the Excise Tax on existing stocks.
I was endeavouring to address myself to the first Amendment dealing with the postponement from April to November. If we did that the coal industry would lose a great opportunity which presents itself now for demonstrating the advantages of coal as at present used in great industries throughout the country and of showing that the methods in use are far superior to the methods which were employed even a few months ago.
§ Mr. E. WILLIAMS
The hon. and gallant Member represents a division of Cardiff and Cardiff mainly depends on the export trade in coal. How will the release of all this oil for the export market affect the export coal trade?
I see the point which the hon. Member has in mind but I feel that the proposals of the Government go
§ a long way towards encouraging those experiments which we know have been carried out with such vigilance and care in order to see how far it is practicable to extract oil from coal on a commercial basis instead of using imported oil. With all respect to the hon. Member that is a question which is causing grave anxiety to the coal interests in Cardiff. As I have said, it is obvious that the Government are, in this instance, having regard to more than the question of revenue. I do not desire to go outside the Rulings which have been given on the scope of this discussion but it is obvious that the Government have in mind the fact that by imposing a tax of this kind at this time they are giving the best possible encouragement to the consumption of coal as against oil. Various arguments have been introduced to show that oil is more practicable and is cleaner in use than coal—
In view of the fact that I am approximately 24 hours late I bow to your Ruling, Sir Dennis, and I do not propose to deal further with that question.
§ Question put, "That the word 'April' stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 273; Noes, 54.1309
|Division No. 194.]||AYES.||[4 58 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Browne, Captain A. C.||Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil)|
|Adams. Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Davison, Sir William Henry|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l, W.)||Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie||Denman, Hon. R. D.|
|Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent)||Burnett, John George||Denville, Alfred|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley)||Dickie, John P.|
|Apsley, Lord||Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley)||Donner, P. W.|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick Wolfe||Campbell.Johnston, Malcolm||Doran, Edward|
|Baillie, Sir Adrian W. M.||Castlereagh, Viscount||Dower, Captain A. V. G.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Drewe, Cedric|
|Balniel, Lord||Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)||Duggan, Hubert John|
|Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell||Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (P'rtsm'th. S.)||Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)|
|Barglay-Harvey, C. M.||Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Dunglass, Lord|
|Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey||Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Eady, George H.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Chamberlain, Rt.Hn.Sir J. A.(Birm.W)||Eastwood, John Francis|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury)||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B.(Portsm'th,C.)||Choriton, Alan Ernest Leofric||Elliston, Captain George Sampson|
|Beit, Sir Alfred L.||Clarke, Frank||Elmley, Viscount|
|Benn, Sir Arthur Shirley||Clayton, Dr. George C.||Emmott, Charles E. G. C.|
|Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B.||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Emrye- Evans, p. V.|
|Birchall, Ma)or Sir John Dearman||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Entwistie, Cyril Fullard|
|Blindell, James||Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)|
|Bossom, A. C.||Conant, R. J. E.||Erskine-Boist, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)|
|Boulton, W. W.||Cook, Thomas A.||Essenhigh, Reginald Clare|
|Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton||Cooke, Douglas||Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E W.||Cooper, A. Duff||Everard, W. Lindsay|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Falle, Sir Bertram G.|
|Briscoe, Capt. Richard George||Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)||Fermoy, Lord|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)||Fielden, Edward Brockiehuret|
|Brockiebank, C. E. R.||Crossley, A. C.||Forestier-Walker, Sir Leolin|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H.C.(Berks., Newb'y)||Culverwell, Cyril Tom||Fox, Sir Gilford|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||Lindsay, Noel Ker||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)|
|Fuller, Captain A. G.||Llewellin, Major John J.||Salmon, Sir Isidore|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Lloyd, Geoffrey||Salt, Edward W.|
|Gillett, Sir George Masterman||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hn. G.(Wd.Gr'n)||Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Glossop, C. W. H.||Loder, Captain J, de Vere||Scone, Lord|
|Gluckstein, Louie Halle||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Glyn, Major Raiph G. C.||MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G.(Partick)||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Goff, Sir Park||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Shute, Colonel J. J.|
|Goldie, Noel B.||McConnell, Sir Joseph||Stater, John|
|Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||McEwen, Captain J. H. F.||Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.|
|Graham, Sir F. Fergut (C'mb'rl'd, N.)||McKie, John Hamilton||Smith. Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nichulas||McLean, Major Sir Alan||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Grimston, R. v.||Macmillan, Maurice Harold||Smithers, Waldron|
|Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E.||Maitland, Adam||Somervell, Donald Bradley|
|Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Soper, Richard|
|Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.|
|Hales, Harold K.||Marsden, Commander Arthur||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonal John||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Hanley, Dennis A.||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde)|
|Hartington, Marquess of||Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.)||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)|
|Hartland, George A.||Mitchell. Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Stevenson, James|
|Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenningt'n)||Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale||Stewart, J. H. (Fife, E.)|
|Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes;||Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres||Stewart, William J. (Belfast, S.)|
|Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||Morgan, Robert H.||Stones, James|
|Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Storey, Samuel|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Morrison, William Shepherd||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Moss, Captain H, J.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsf'd)||Munro, Patrick||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray F.|
|Hepworth, Joseph||Nation, Brigadier-General 1. J. H.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|Herbert, Capt. S. (Abbey Division)||Newton, Sir Douglas George C.||Summersby, Charles H.|
|Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|Hope, Capt. Hon. A. O. J. (Aston)||Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Petersf'ld)||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge)||North, Edward T,||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G.A.||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Hornby, Frank||Palmer, Francis Noel||Thompson, Luke|
|Horsbrugh, Florence||Penny, Sir George||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Perkins, Walter R. D.||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Vaughan-Morgan. Sir Kenyon|
|Hurd, Sir Percy||Peto, Geoffrey K.(W'verh'pt'n,Bliston)||Wallace, Captain O. E. (Hornsey)|
|Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Pickford, Hon. Mary Ada||Wallace, John (DunferMilne)|
|Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.||Pike, Cecil F.||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Iveagh, Countess of||Potter, John||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||PowNail, sir Assheton||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Jesson, Major Thomas E.||Procter, Major Henry Adam||Watt, Captain Gecrge Steven H.|
|Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Ramsden, Sir Eugene||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)||Rankin, Robert||Wedderburn, Henry James Serymgeour-|
|Ker, J. Campbell||Ray, Sir William||Whiteslds, Borras Noel H.|
|Kerr, Hamilton W.||Reid, Capt. A. Cunningham*||Whyte, Jardine Bell|
|Kimball, Lawrence||Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Knight, Hollord||Reid, William Allan (Derby)||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Renwick, Major Gustay A.||Wilson, Clyde T. (west Toxteth)|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Latham, Sir Herbert Paul||Robinson, John Roland||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Law, Sir Alfred||Ropner, Colonel L||Wood. Rt. Hon. Sir H. Kingsley|
|Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)||Ross Taylor. Walter (Woodbridge)||Wragg, Herbert|
|Lees-Jones, John||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Young, Rt. Hon.Sir Hilton (S'V'noaks)|
|Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)|
|Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.-|
|Lewis, Oswald||Rutherford, John (Edmonton)||Sir Victor Warrender and Captain|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir Francis Dyke||Grundy, Thomas W.||Milner, Major James|
|Bailey, Eric Alfred George||Hamilton, Sir R. W.(Orkney & Zetl'nd)||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Banfield, John William||Harris, Sir Percy||Price, Gabriel|
|Batey, Joseph||Hirst, George Henry||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Sevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Holdsworth, Herbert||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Briant, Frank||Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A. (C'thness)|
|Cove, William G.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
|Cowan, D. M.||Kirkwood, David||Thome, William James|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Lawson, John James||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Daggar, Gecrge||Leckie, J. A.||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Liddall, Walter S.||White, Henry Graham|
|Edwards, Charles||Logan, David Gilbert||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Evans, Capt, Ernest (Welsh Univ.)||Lunn, William||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||McEntee, Valentine L.||Williams. Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Wood, Sir Murdoch McKezie (Banff)|
|Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesoro'.W.)||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Groves, Thomas E.||Maxton, James||Mr. John and Mr. G. Macdonald.|
§ I move this formally.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The next Amendment on the Paper—in page 5, line 10, to leave out the words "seven pence" and to insert instead thereof the words "seven pence halfpenny"—deals with the rate of duty, and with it could be discussed an Amendment two pages later on, also in the name of the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) and two other hon. Members—in page 5, line 21, to leave out the word "penny" and to insert instead thereof the word "halfpenny." The subject of the discussion, therefore, will be the rate of the Customs duty or the rate of the Excise duty on existing stocks.
§ 5.8 p.m.
§ Mr. KIRKW00D
I beg to move, in page 5, line 10, to leave out the words "seven pence," and to insert instead thereof the words "seven pence halfpenny."
The idea of this Amendment is simply to hinder this tax. We have to use every artifice left to us by the Rules of the House, and we are simply using this as
§ a means of protesting against this tax. We think we have a distinct grievance against the Government for putting this tax on oil. The case against the tax has been stated very ably from all sides of the Committee; but our party has made certain arrangements which we desire to keep, otherwise we could keep the Committee going all night on Amendments which we have put down purposely. It is quite legitimate for us to hold up business, but we have no desire to do so to-day. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer could see his way to giving us this small concession, we would not divide the Committee; otherwise, we shall have to do so.
§ 5.10 p.m.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Chamberlain)
The hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) has been so very candid in his explanation of the purpose of the Amendment that I do not think it necessary for me to say very much in reply, except that I accept his description of the Amendment as a wrecking Amendment, designed purely to hinder the tax, and in these circumstances he will hardly expect me to accept it.
§ Question put, "That the words 'seven pence' stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 267; Noes, 46.1313
|Division No. 195.]||AYES.||[5.12 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel.||Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Culverwell, Cyril Tom|
|Adamt, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Brown,Brig.-Gen.H. C.(Berks., Newb'y)||Davison, Sir William Henry|
|Ainsworth, Lieut.-Colanel Charles||Browne, Captain A. C.||Denville, Alfred|
|Albery, Irving James||Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l, W.)||Burgin, Dr. Edward Lesile||Dickie, John p.|
|Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent)||Burnett, John George||Donner, P. W.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Butt, Sir Alfred||Doran, Edward|
|Anstruther-Gray, W, J.||Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Drewe, Cedric|
|Apsley, Lord||Calne, G. R. Hall-||Duggan, Hubert John|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick Wolfe||Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley)||Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)|
|Baillie, Sir Adrian W. M.||Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm||Dunglass, Lord|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Castlereagh, viscount||Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey|
|Balniel, Lord||Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Elliston, Captain George Sampson|
|Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell||Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)||Elmley, Viscount|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Cayzer, Ma). Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)||Emmott, Charles E. G. C.|
|Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey||Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Entwistle, Cyril Fullard|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury)||Chamberlain, Rt.Hon.Sir J.A.(Birm.,W)||Erskine-Boist, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)|
|Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th.C.)||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Essenhigh, Reginald Clare|
|Belt, Sir Alfred L.||Clarke, Frank||Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)|
|Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B.||Clayton Dr. George C.||Falle, sir Bertram G.|
|Birchall, Major sir John Dearman||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Fermoy, Lord|
|Blatter, Sir Reginald||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Fielden, Edward Brockiehurst|
|Blindell, James||Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Forestier-Walker, Sir Leolin|
|Boothby, Robert John Graham||Conant, R. J. E.||Fox, Sir Gifford|
|Bossom, A. C.||Cook, Thomas A.||Fraser, Captain Ian|
|Boulton, W. W.||Cooke, Douglas||Fremantle, Sir Francis|
|Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton||Cooper, A. Duff||Fuller, Captain A. G.|
|Bawyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Galbraith, James Francis Wallace|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Crookshank, Col. C.de Windt (Bootle)||Ganzoni, Sir John|
|Briscoe, Capt. Richard George||Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)||Gillett, Sir George Masterman|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Glossop, C. W. H.|
|Gluckstein, Louis Halle||MacAndrew, Lt.-Col C. G. (Partick||Salt, Edward W.|
|Glyn. Major Raiph G. C.||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)|
|Goff, Sir Park||McConnell, Sir Joseph||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Goldie, Noel B.||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard|
|Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd, N.)||McEwen, Captain J. H. F.||Scone, Lord|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas||McKie, John Hamilton||Selley, Harry R.|
|Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||McLean, Major Sir Alan||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Grimston, R. V.||Macquisten, Frederick Alexander||Shute, Colonel J. J.|
|Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E.||Maitland, Adam||Slater, John|
|Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Smith, R. W.(Ab'rd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Hales, Harold K.||Marsden, Commander Arthur||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Smithers, Waldron|
|Hanley, Dennis A.||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Somervell, Donald Bradley|
|Hartington, Marquess of||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Harvey, George (Lambeth'.Kenn'gt'n)||Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale||Soper, Richard|
|Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres||Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.|
|Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)||Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde)|
|Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Morrison, William Shepherd||Stevenson, James|
|Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Moss, Captain H. J.||Stewart, J. H. (Fife, E.)|
|Hepworth, Joseph||Munro, Patrick||Stewart, William J. (Belfast, S.)|
|Herbert, Capt. S. (Abbey Division)||Nail-Cain, Hon. Ronald||Stones, James|
|Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Nation, Brigadler-General J. J. H.||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Hope, Capt. Hon. A. O. J. (Aston)||Newton, Sir Douglas George C.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge)||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray F.|
|Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Petersf'ld)||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|Hornby, Frank||North, Edward T.||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Horsbrugh, Florence||O'Connor, Terence James||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hacknsy, N.)||Ormsby-Gore, Rt Hon. William G.A.||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Hudson, Robert spear (Southport)||Palmer, Francis Noel||Thompson, Luke|
|Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Perkins, Walter R. D.||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg)||Peto, Sir E.(Devon, Barnstaple)||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Hurd, Sir Percy||Peto, Geoffrey K.('w'verh'pt'n.Blist'n)||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyoa|
|Hurst, Sir Gerald S.||Pickford, Hon. Mary Ada||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Pike, Cecil F.||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Jesson, Major Thomas E.||Potter, John||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)||PowNail, Sir Assheton||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Kimball, Lawrence||Procter, Major Henry Adam||Watt, Captain George Steven H.|
|Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Ramsden, Sir Eugene||Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour.|
|Latham, Sir Herbert Paul||Rankin, Robert||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Law, Sir Alfred||Ray, Sir William||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)||Whyte, Jardine Bell|
|Lees-Jones, John||Held. Capt. A. Cunningham-||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Reid, William Allan (Derby)||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Lewis, Oswald||Renter, John R.||Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)|
|Lindsay, Noel Ker||Renwick. Major Gustay A.||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Llewellin, Major John J.||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Lloyd, Geoffrey||Robinson, John Roland||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Kingsley|
|Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hn. G.(Wd. Gr'n)||Ropner, Colonel L.||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Ross, Ronald D.||Wragg, Herbert|
|Loder, Captain J. de Vera||Hots Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'V'noaks)|
|Lovat-Fraser, Jamee Alexander||Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)|
|Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Ruesell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Lymington, Viscount||Rutherford, John (Edmonton)||Sir George Penny and MajorGeorge|
|Lyons, Abraham Montagu||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)||Davies.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir Francis Dyke||Hamilton, Sir R. W.(Orkney & zetl'nd)||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Bailey, Erie Alfred George||Harris, Sir Percy||Milner, Major James|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Hirst, George Henry||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Briant, Frank||Holdsworth, Herbert||Pickering, Ernest H.|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts. Mansfield)||Janner, Barnett||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Cove, William G.||Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Daggar, George||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A. (C'thness)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Kirkwood, David||Thorne, William James|
|Edwards, Charles||Liddall, Walter S.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Wish Univ.)||Logan, David Gilbert||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||White, Henry Graham|
|Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||McEntee, Valentine L.||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton||Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)|
|Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Grundy, Thomas W.||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Mr. John and Mr. Groves.|
§ "other than oil used for power production."
§ Amendment negatived.1315
§ The CHAIRMAN
The next Amendment which I propose to call deals with the question of ships. It is the new Amendment on the Order Paper in the name of the hon. Member for West Derby (Sir J. Sandeman Allen), and the discussion on it can cover all the other Amendments dealing with ships, whether overseas or coastwise vessels.
§ 5.25 p.m.
Sir JOHN SANDEMAN ALLEN
I beg to move, in page 5, line 10, at the end, to insert the words:except in respect of oils used as fuel in any vessel whether trading overseas or coastwise.I want to put such a ease before my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer that I trust he will be able to withdraw all shipping entirely from the purview of this duty. Yesterday, in dealing with the general question of oils, excluding shipping, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for reasons which he fully explained, was not prepared to give any concessions, but he intimated that on the Report stage, if any cases of hardship came up, he would be prepared to consider them. On Second Reading he also said that he would give careful consideration to any point which might arise. Whether he will give favourable consideration is another matter. In any case, I know that before he gives any answer he will want a full and fair statement of the case. I therefore desire on behalf of those interests that are covered by the Amendment to state the case as briefly and as precisely as I can. My right hon. Friend said yesterday that the first thing to do was to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of the Oil Duty, and that is what I propose to do. I am sure that my right hon. Friend will give this matter his close attention, because I need hardly remind him or the Committee that in touching the shipping of this country he is touching one of the most vital interests with which the country is concerned. I doubt whether many people realise, even those who have all their lives had to do with shipping, how far something that seems to be apparently harmless on one side of the matter is, when searched out. found to have a deep and serious effect on the whole industry.
Therefore, when we begin to consider what is to be done with shipping, we have to take very serious thought in the 1316 general interests of one of the greatest and most important industries of the country. There is no doubt that the decision arrived at yesterday to consider shipping separately from the other questions was a sound and proper decision. I can appreciate that there is a kind of family resemblance between this question and the other questions, but when we begin to study it all the arguments that were made yesterday go into the distance, because there are much more vital and direct arguments dealing exclusively with our national shipping. It is, therefore, important that we should not confuse the issue by treating shipping as if it were part of the ordinary industries of the country. It is nothing of the kind. It is totally different in its origin, its methods and everything concerned in it. Therefore, although the arguments with regard to other industries may appear at first sight to apply to shipping, they must fail when put to the test that must be made when we are dealing with such a worldwide and national question, and we have to realise that special conditions and special matters have to be considered in connection with this subject.
In his brief and lucid speech yesterday, the Chancellor pointed out that he had two objects in mind when putting forward this duty. One was naturally to obtain revenue, but there is no doubt from what he said that he had behind it a deliberate and very proper idea of doing everything he could to develop the coal industry which, with shipping— though not so much as shipping—has made the country what it is. Therefore, it is a very sound and statesmanlike proposal of the Chancellor to encourage and develop that industry upon which much depends. It is to be regretted, however, that he should have brought in a proposal which, to a certain extent, will be injurious to the other great industry of this country. I think that I am safe in saying that the total amount of revenue that this proposed tax on shipping will involve is somewhere about £150,000, and it is a very expensive £150,000. The revenue question is one of which the Chancellor knows more than I do, but I think the Committee will agree that the amount of revenue in question does not provide a sufficiently strong argument for disturbing the shipping methods of this country.
1317 The importance of developing the coal trade of this country has been referred to, but I would like to know how we can hope to develop the use of coal by this tax on that portion of the shipping plying round our coasts which uses oil fuel? Those who know the facts, and I am sure they cannot be unknown to the Chancellor and to the Treasury, know that a very large number of coastal vessels are laid up at the present moment because they are not suitable to carry on their trade economically in these difficult times. The coastal trade is holding on only by the skin of its teeth, in face of the modern methods of transport which have replaced the old carrying methods which were followed for centuries. In the past 50 years we have seen no increase in the trade done by coastal vessels, and, indeed, there has been the greatest difficulty in maintaining the amount of trade which is done at the present time. It is impossible to compare the position of coastwise shipping with the position of transport by road and rail. I would point out, further, that the oil-burning vessels in the coastal trade cannot be expected to go back to coal. They are the vessels which have survived in the trade by the process of natural selection. Without them the coasting trade would not have survived to the extent that it has done. In recent years many of us have been doing the best we can to develop it in the interests of shipping and in the interests of the ports of this country.
It will be noted that this Amendment covers not only coastal shipping but overseas shipping. People wonder why it covers overseas shipping. The effect of this tax is bound to hit overseas shipping. In the last year or two there has been a great development in the direction of short cruises in ocean-going steamers. That development has just enabled a large number of ocean-going steamers to carry on and pay their way. What would happen unless overseas shipping were included in this Amendment? Vessels not "going foreign" would be in the same category as coastal shipping, and would have to pay this enormous extra burden on their fuel bills. Then there is the case of the overseas ship which completes her voyage at one port here and, after discharging her cargo, proceeds to another port in this country, in ballast maybe, to pick up 1318 another cargo, or it may be to lie up or to undergo repairs. She can only clear coastwise for that. If she has to pay this enormous extra cost on her fuel it will be a direct encouragement, though an unintentional one, I admit, for ships to be sent abroad for repairs.
I am afraid it has not been fully realised how this new duty will hit shipping at every turn. There are the vessels which go out to the lighthouses round the coast, there are the pilot boats, and the boats of harbour commissioners, all of which are busy looking after a vital trade in this country. If we look at the position carefully, we must realise that it is impossible for us to start penalising a great industry in this way. It is a matter calling for very grave consideration, and I have great confidence that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who has promised that he will give consideration wherever a real case can be made out, will consider the position of shipping. Then there is the case of ships which are launched from yards in this country and which make their trial trips. It makes no difference whether they are to be engaged in coastwise traffic or otherwise; whether they are cargo-carrying boats or men of war, the trial trips will obviously be dearer coatswise unless they "clear foreign."[may be wrong, and I know that I have two of the most acute Members in the House listening to what I am saying— and I am glad to think that they are listening in a friendly spirit—but on the face of it it seems clear that everything that is not going foreign is going to be taxed under this proposal.
Another point to which I should like to turn is the question why the coastal trade should have been picked out. What has it done to be singled out in this way? It is a vital branch of our shipping, it is the nursery of our mercantile marine and of our Navy. The only answer to that question that I can see is provided by the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself when he indicated that in his opinion all forms of transport in this country should be taxed. But I cannot help feeling that when he said that he ovErieoked the fact that there are two totally different aspects of that question. Carriage by road and rail, which has developed a hundredfold in the last few years, is one thing, and coastal shipping, which is just where it was, is a totally different thing. It has a four or five times longer haul 1319 to make in taking goods to their destination, and it is only available for certain purposes; and it is also of the greatest help to overseas shipping by providing for the transhipment of goods and carrying on transport from the larger docks to the minor ports of this country.
An important consideration which must not be ovErieoked is that road and rail transport in this country have no foreign competition to face, whereas coastal shipping has, though here there is a danger of misunderstanding, and I do "not want to mislead this House in the way that I myself might have been misled about it. It may be asked why no provision has been made to demand from the foreigner who deliberately engages in the coastal trade that he should pay the same tax as British coastal shipping. If that is the only idea of protecting us from foreign competition, I venture to suggest that those who have put that suggestion forward have not appreciated the position of affairs. I do not blame them for that failure. I do not set up as an authority on this matter, but I have been working in this particular trade with the object of developing it for the past 12 months, and therefore, possibly, I am in a better position than most people to put the matter before the Committee. It is true that a foreign vessel engaged on a British coastal voyage, and clEarlng from one British port to another British port, would have to pay on all the oil that is used, but I understand that they get a rebate as soon as they "clear foreign." But what happens in practice? It is very often the case that vessels come with a cargo from the Continent—free oil—and then proceed to load a part cargo for the Continent and a part cargo for a British coastwise port, but of course they "clear foreign," and so they would be able to get their fuel free of tax, and that is a clear case of unfair competition with British vessels. Further, some of these foreign coasters are specially built and modern vessels; they are really a new type of vessel competing in our home coastwise trade.
It may be said that only 1 per cent. of our coastal trade is done by foreign vessels, but that is a general statement covering the whole of the coastal work, and that argument does not in the least help those for whom I am speaking.
1320 Directly we come to the question of tramp steamers or bulk-cargo steamers, the picture is a different one, because in the smaller ports the foreigner has been getting into the trade to an increasing extent. Our shipowners have taken special steps to try to stop this competition, and they have been so successful that the foreigner was beginning to consider selling his ships to our people. There are some ports which cannot afford to dredge their channels, but they can take light oil-burning ships and these foreign vessels have been trading with those places. As I have said, our people have been meeting that competition, but we cannot hope to be successful if there is to be an addition of 40 or 50 per cent. to the cost of oil fuel. Another point is that the foreign coaster spends, perhaps, half the year trading on his own coasts. He has free oil, and the cost of running his ship is to that extent lower. Afterwards he makes one or two voyages to this country, and naturally he is then in a better position to compete for trade here than our shipowners, who have been trading all the year round on our coasts and running at a much higher cost for fuel. The foreigner can "scoop" some good freights and go off again. An important point which I wish to bring out is that here we are dealing with a development of our shipping which is in its initial stages, and we cannot make comparisons with other transport which is concerned merely with home trade and operates on terra firma.
I come to my next point—what is the coastal trade? The term "coastal trade," as I understand it to be applied in this connection, refers to all voyages made by vessels from one port in the United Kingdom or Northern Ireland to another port in the United Kingdom or Northern Ireland. That embraces all the island services, all the services to outlying districts which are difficult to serve and which often can be served only by steamers. Is it proposed to put a special burden on all these outlying districts? They certainly will feel the burden if this tax is imposed, and even if it does not materially cripple the resources, as it will, of many of the shipping companies, it will involve higher expenditure or a reduced service. I do not want anybody to imagine that in what I am saying I am doing more 1321 than explaining what must be clear to anybody who has studied the question, but what, I feel, cannot have been in the minds of the Treasury when this tax was imposed. I am responding to the request of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and trying to put before him a case where there will be undoubted hardship and a real unfairness if this tax is imposed.
Here is another important point. It has already been refered to, but I must mention it again, and my hon. Friends from Ulster will certainly appreciate the importance of it. A vessel clears for Dublin and a vessel clears for Belfast. The one has to pay some 40 to 50 per cent. more for its fuel oil than the other. This is a pure and simple case because it works out that we are subsidising the Irish Free State's interests against our own. I cannot see how that can ever have been intended, and I am sure that it was not. I feel confident that that kind of point will be reconsidered and remedied by the Chancellor, who has always taken a very sound and fair view. I cannot always agree with him, but I can say that. This is one of those cases about which I am convInced there is great grievance, and, owing to the vital importance of this question, I consider that it is a national issue, and ought to be faced as such.
I want to point out the effect that this is going to have upon the processes to which I have referred, those of development and elimination, in order to give the best service that this country can give to aid British shipping and to make it paramount to any other shipping in the world. The shipping industry has given the best possible service to all trades otherwise, how should we have to-day such an infinitely greater proportion of the carrying trade in the world? British shipping has always proved itself of immense value. Merely by the natural development of things, and in the course of trade, we have provided this service. Coastal shipping is inextricably linked up with the rest of shipping, and it is sheer folly—I can use no other word—to attempt to distinguish between coastal shipping and overseas or any other kind of snipping. The shipping industry is a complete whole, and it is vital to the interests of this country that we should not disturb it in the way that appears likely from the operation of this duty.
1322 I feel strongly, and I am sure that the Committee see that I am speaking with firm conviction. I do not believe that this duty is to be proceeded with, because it would be an act of sheer folly. The Chancellor is so wise and so capable of seeing the points that hon. Member's submit that I have every confidence we shall receive from him a recognition of the serious nature of those that I have submitted in, I trust, not too long a speech.
§ 5.49 p.m.
§ Major Sir HERBERT CAYZER
I have much pleasure in supporting the Amendment which asks the Chancellor to exempt coastwise shipping as well as deep-sea shipping from the duty. It gives me all the more pleasure to support the Amendment because I have the authority of the Chamber of Commerce to say that they are whole-heartedly in favour of it. The Amendment consequently has the support of the deep-sea lines as well as the coastwise ones; in other words, it represents the view of the shipping industry. The deep-sea lines feel, that if the Chancellor of the Exchequer sees his way to accept the Amendment, that will be just and equitable to the coastwise lines. As hon. Members know, the lines trading with foreign countries and overseas are exempt from this duty, and therefore this Amendment is primarily a coastwise Amendment, although it affects ships engaged in overseas trade to a less degree.
I cannot understand why this burden should be placed on coastwise shipping. Surely the shipping trade has heavy enough burders to carry already. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, I think, recognises this, because he has seen fit to exempt ships engaged in overseas trade. Why should coastwise shipping bear this burden alone? The cost to the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be very trifling. The total oil consumed would probably be not more than 100,000 tons. The original estimate was 150,000 tons, but I understand that that included river traffic as well as coastwise. The yield in taxation would be, roughly, £100,000, and of that probably more than half would be obtained from the trade with Northern Ireland and other island traffic. The imposition of this duty will bring about many 1323 anomalies, and it will bristle with difficulties. A great many misconceptions have already arisen in the shipping industry.
It is an anomaly that vessels going to the North of Ireland should be taxed on the fuel that they use, whereas those going to Southern Ireland get off without paying the tax. The country which has always remained loyal to this country and to the Empire is to be penalised, as against the South of Ireland, which will get the benefit. There is the question of repairs. I have a case before me which shows how the imposition of the duty will hit, not only ships trading overseas, but ships trading coastwise. Take the case of a ship which arrives from a foreign port at Southampton. She goes up to Newcastle for repairs, and she has to pay the full tax on the oil fuel that she burns in going there. The amount is probably anything from 100 to 150 tons on a large ship, which means that the oil consumed will cost up to £150 or more. If, instead of that ship going to Newcastle, she went to the Continent for her repairs, she would pay no duty for her fuel, and that factor might be just the turning point in the decision of some shipowners as to having their repairs done on the Continent, where they would escape the tax, rather than having them done in this country. That is a case which favours the foreigner.
Take the case of the foreign shipping companies that come over here and do coastal voyages, for instance, the Belgian and Dutch shallow coasters. They do a sort of triangular voyage. They come to London from the Continent, load up to one port on the coast and load out again to the Continent. They will probably escape the tax altogether, or, at the worst, they will only pay it on one of the three voyages. On the other hand, British coastal shipping generally runs from one port to another port on the coast. They often go one way in ballast, returning with cargo, or vice versa. It will be taxed on both of those runs, whether in ballast or in cargo. That shows a decided leaning in favour of the foreigner. Then there is the effect of the duty on British merchants and manufacturers, who are faced with keen competition from the Continent. A great many of the goods manufactured only show a very small 1324 margin of profit. They are goods such as wireless sets and pianos, which are made in London, and are sent coastwise to the Northern ports. The boats taking them will have to pay the Heavy Oils Duty; similarly, goods made in the North or the Midlands, such as machinery, manufactured iron, ale, paints, newsprint and rubber goods, are sent coastwise to London and to ports in the South of England. If the Heavy Oils Duty has to be paid, there is no question but that it will cause an increase in the coastwise freight change of 2s. or 3s. per ton. Probably that will make all the difference between the manufacturers retaining the trade in this country, or Continental manufacturers capturing that trade, the Continental manufacturer having to pay no tax from Continental ports to British coast ports.
There is the question of storage of goods. London is a great store centre, where large quantities of goods are sold and stored. On the other hand on the Continent there are large warehouses for storing in places like Amsterdam, Antwerp, and Hamburg, etc. At the present moment, and for a long time, those places have been making tremendous efforts to secure this traffic from this country. If this duty is to be enforced, goods that go by the coastwise lines which pay the duty will have to be charged at a higher rate but goods coming from the Continent will be taken by the foreign lines to the coast ports in this country free of tax, and they will get in at a cheaper rate. Then there is the question of engine trials; oil used for these will be taxed. It may cost a very big sum for large boats that will have to pay the heavy oils duty on the fuel oil which they use, and I do not believe that that will make for efficiency. It will cost a good deal of money, according to the size of the boat. Again, if a boat is laid up —it is very unprofitable for the shipowner to have to lay his ships up at all— a boat deteriorates very quickly when laid up. Now it will be still more costly because while the ship is laid up she will now have to pay for the oil that she uses in light and fire.
I have a letter here from a well-known shipping firm in the Atlantic Trade. They write to say that they are going to be hit very heavily in certain directions 1325 by this duty. They say that very often a boat comes back from New York to Glasgow and they send her on a short coastal pleasure cruise of three to four days' duration from Glasgow without touching at any intermediate coastal port. Then the ship returns to Glasgow for another voyage across the Atlantic. That vessel will be liable to pay tax on the fuel she uses on that coastal voyage. Hon. Members may ask why does she clear coastwise, and not clear foreign? The answer is that it would cost nearly three times as much. It costs £.316 to clear foreign, and only £118 15s. to clear coastwise. If the additional duty on oil fuel is included, I am told that the addition will probably mean the cancellation of the pleasure cruises, with consequent unemployment of the crews.
A fact which many people do not seem to realise is that boats engaged in foreign overseas trade, in a great many cases, do not load outward from the port to which they come home. Boats from Calcutta, Africa, Australia and America, coming to London, may go round to Glasgow, Liverpool or Hull to load outwards. Here there is an anomaly. By rights, if such a vessel clears coastwise, she has to pay this duty on the oil that she consumes in going round to her outward loading port, but I believe that the Customs authorities, who have a good deal to do with the regulation of this matter, say that, if she takes a cask of whisky, or some other exciseable cargo, she will escape the tax on the oil fuel which she uses in going round. That is an absurd anomaly. On the other hand, a boat coming to London and going round to the Clyde to lay up because of the depression in the trade of the world, has to pay for the oil fuel that she uses in going round. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said yesterday that he thought that in some of the speeches which had been made there was a certain amount of exaggeration, and that if he had listened to all the demands of the various industries for help by way of exemption from taxation, there would be no taxation at all. There is no doubt that he had to consider that aspect of the matter, but I claim that shipping, whether coastwise or engaged in overseas trade, is in a quite exceptional position. I do not think I am exaggerating when I say that it is the 1326 most depressed industry, not only in this country, but in the world. It receives absolutely no protection; it has never received any help from the Government; and yet it has to meet the fiercest foreign competition that any industry has to meet.
§ Sir H. CAYZER
Yes. Nearly all the great Governments are subsidising their shipping in one form or another to the tune of millions of pounds—in some countries hundreds of millions of pounds. It can almost be said that British shipping is competing with a great many of the most important Governments in the world to-day. It has to compete with international conditions on a very unfair basis, and I hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer at the World Economic Conference will remember the position as regards British shipping, and will be able to get some alleviation from the subsidised foreign competition that we have to meet to-day. It may be said that coastwise shipping is not international shipping, and that is true, but it has to compete with foreign shipping, and this tax is going to make that competition harder, because ships engaged in this trade, on all their voyages round the coast, will have to pay the tax, whereas in most cases the foreign shipping will be able entirely to avoid it. The margin between profit and loss in shipping to-day is so narrow that the smallest item has to be looked into. Indeed, in many cases it is not a question of profit or loss, but a question of a great loss or a lesser loss— whether it is cheaper to lay up a boat or trade at a loss. I have not tried to exaggerate, but have put plain facts, and I would ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer really to consider that it is not the time now to put an extra burden upon shipping, whether coastwise or oversea. I hope that he will be able to see his way to give favourable consideration to this Amendment.
§ 6.5 p.m.
§ Major SIR ARCHIBALD SINCLAIR
I rise to support the Amendment. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said yesterday that every Member was inclined to speak for the trade interests of the constituency which he represented in the House, but, in speaking for the shipping industry, we 1327 are speaking for an industry which is in the truest sense a great national industry. The Chancellor, it is true, represents a city in the very middle of England, but he, with his historic sense, and as a protagonist of the Imperial idea in politics, will be one of the first to agree that our great shipping lines are the arteries through which we draw the very lifeblood of the nation, the food of our people and the raw materials of our industries by means of which we have built up our great Empire. There is no country in the world where so great a proportion of the population lives around the coasts and ports as is the case here. In time of war we exist by our sea power. Hon. Members will have read the striking and eloquent testimony which was borne, in a letter to the "Times" by Lord Beatty on the 6th of this month, to the importance of our coastal shipping in connection with our national defence, and I hope that any hon. Member who feels inclined to support this tax will look up that letter before he goes into the Lobby in support of an impost of so serious a character. Our shipping is in a condition of lamentable and unprecedented depression at the present time, and our shipbuilding industry too, which will also be affected by this tax. Coastal shipping shares in this depression to the full. The Chancellor, in arguing this point about coastal shipping at an earlier stage, said that it was merely a form of competition with inland transport, but it is a form of competition which in its turn, as has been pointed out by the hon. Members who have preceded me, has to face the keenest competition from foreign countries, whereas our inland transport is a sheltered industry which has not to meet any competition of that character.
I should like to address to the Chancellor of the Exchequer a question to which I attach the greatest importance, and I shall be grateful for an answer when he comes to reply. It is as to how the fishermen will be affected by this tax. They do, of course, get a rebate from the tax upon light oils, but it is not clear to me, and I would beg the Chancellor to be good enough to give me an answer on this point, that they will receive a rebate from this new tax on heavy oils. The prospects of the fishing 1328 industry are bleak indeed at the present moment. The Russian embargo is taking away their great Russian market; the trebled duty on herrings in Germany makes it doubtful whether they will be able to sell in the German market; and I would implore the Chancellor to give to the Committee and to the fishermen themselves the assurance that they will not have to bear this additional impost. Many fishermen, of course, have the lighter kinds of engines, but a great many of the most up-to-date boats are fitted with Diesel engines burning heavy oil.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in dealing yesterday with the general arguments urged against the tax said that there were three main considerations weighing in his mind in favour of the tax. One was that, in the case of foreign competition, some of our competitors abroad had to bear at any rate some measure of tax upon this oil, and in the case of Germany the tax upon oil is, he said, 10 times as heavy as anything that we have in this country. But one of my hon. Friends pointed out that Germany has, in a great and growing industry, the Diesel engine industry, been put out of the world market by that tax, and we have been enabled to take the place of Germany in that market. That shows how serious the effects of such a tax may be. His second consideration was that we must not leave out of account the fact that we have changed our fiscal system, and have given to the great bulk of our industries an amount of protection which they have not had before, and which may be set against the difficulty which they say they will now have to encounter because of the increased tax on their oil. But no protection is afforded, or can be afforded, to the shipping industry, so let us at least refrain from adding a burden to it by means of this impost.
The third reason which the Chancellor gave was that of competition with other industries in the home market. There are many parts of the country where, as was pointed out by the hon. Member for the West Derby Division of Liverpool (Sir J. Sandeman Allen), coastal shipping is the main, and sometimes the only, means of transport. One such part, and perhaps the largest part, is the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, where only a few years ago the Government of which the Lord President of the Council 1329 was the head, and in which the present Home Secretary was Secretary of State for Scotland, negotiated a contract with Messrs. MacBrayne, under which they have provided an ample service to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. I am glad to have the opportunity of paying tribute to my right hon. Friend for the part which he played in carrying through that scheme. Messrs. MacBrayne have played their part splendidly. They have provided six magnificent new ships, and, when I went round the islands a year ago, I found them pulsing with new life through this improvement.
§ Sir A. SINCLAIR
It was a condition of the contract, as my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Argyllshire (Mr. Macquisten) reminds me, that four of the vessels should be completed, according to plans and specifications approved by the Minister, within a period of two years from the signature of the contract, and it is, to say the least, unfortunate that, the Government of this country—a different Government from the present, it is true—having signed that contract and having prevailed upon Messrs. MacBrayne to build these ships, should put upon them an impost which really has the effect, unintentioNaily no doubt, of varying the terms of the contract to the advantage of the Government as against the company. There are several other firms all over the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, smaller firms than Messrs. MacBrayne, who carry on vital services of this kind—also ferry services between the islands of Orkney and Shetland and in the Western Isles—with boats fitted with Diesel engines, and they will be seriously hit by this tax. I urge the Chancellor of the Exchequer to see whether he cannot at any rate give some consideration to the special case of these services in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.
There is no question here of competition with any other form of transport. In large parts of the Highlands the people live scattered along the coast, in many cases 45 miles from a railway, and they are dependent almost entirely on the coastal shipping. It may be said that 1330 these places are very small, but they have played a very important part in the life of the country. There is one that I hope to be visiting next week, a tiny village 40 miles from a railway, from which there went out a boy who was a member of the last Cabinet in Canada. In every village there are members of different families serving in most responsible positions all over this country and in all parts of the Empire. I have no hesitation in asking the Chancellor of the Exchequer to take the needs of these communities into his very serious consideration. I would ask him what he expects these shipping companies to do in the face of the depression, and what he hopes they will be able to do when trade revives and they will be faced with even keener foreign competition? Surely to cut their costs. What costs can they cut? None of us want them to cut wages. I am informed that this impost will add anything up to 75 per cent. to the cost of their fuel, which is their greatest cost next to wages. The 75 per cent. may be an exaggeration. I am not speaking with the great personal authority of the hon. Member who moved the Amendment. But take it as 50 per cent. At a time when we want to see these shipping companies cutting their costs, we are surely not going to add 50 per cent. to their fuel costs. There is, indeed, little that we can do to help the industry. Let us, at any rate, refrain —the responsibility rests primarily upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but also upon every Member of the Committee— from adding new burdens.
§ 6.18 p.m.
§ Sir JOSEPH McCONNELL
I rise to support the Amendment in general, and in particular to emphasise the serious effect that the tax will have on shipping between Great Britain and Ireland. Take, for instance, the shipping trade between Liverpool and Belfast, which may perhaps be designated the greatest coastal trade within these islands. Take, again, the trade between Liverpool and Dublin. Oil fuel steamers going to Dublin will get there free of tax while oil fuel steamers going to Belfast will be charged 45 per cent. tax on the fuel that they consume. We are satisfied that this was never the intention of the Government. I do not believe the Government intend to kill the fatted calf in 1331 Ireland at the expense of the Northern Government. This is a matter that is vital to Northern Ireland. It is the only means of transport that we have between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give the matter serious consideration because it is the life blood of our transport.
§ 6.20 p.m.
Mr. KIRKWOOD; The Committee has listened to different points of view from different types of men. We have heard the case of the shipping interest well put by the hon. Member for West Derby (Sir J. Sandeman Allen), then we had a member of the Chamber of Sh
"No !"] I hope that is not the case, but that is how it appears to me. On the admission of the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself, the tax is going to hit shipping. My own trade union notified me that our workers were thrown out on the streets at Ardrossan and Leith. They stopped the building of two ships at once. You could not have better evidence than that. Surely the Chancellor could find some other industry to tax. Right round the British Isles every estuary is packed with ships laid up, and 25 per cent. of the 230,000 engineers and shipbuilders whom I represent are unemployed. This tax is going to aggre-vate that situation.
The hon. Baronet the Member for Caithness (Sir A. Sinclair) drew attention to the way the tax is going to affect the Outer Hebrides where they are up against it as far as transport is concerned. We raised that question time and time again until we worried the then Government into doing something. MacBraynes agreed to build certain ships, which have been of great service to the people living in those out of the way 1332 places which are so far removed from the big industrial centres and from the world in general. They are further removed than they have ever been before because of the great developmnt that has taken place in road transport, which has brought the rest of Scotland more in contact with other places. This tax will lower their standard of life, because they will have to pay more for their transport, and I do not think the House would stand for anything that is going to aggrevate the conditions in which they are living. I am appealing for a race of men and women who have played no mean part in the making of the British Empire. I am appealing for the men who patrolled the North Sea or German Ocean during the War, the most onerous job that men had to undertake at that time. They are going to be hit in no uncertain fashion by the National Government, which was elected by these same folk If there is any section of Britain that is Conservative, it is the Highlands of Scotland. The Liberals who represent them are Tories. I have told the House that before.
It ill becomes the Chancellor of the Exchequer to treat this matter lightly and simply push it on one side, and I hope he will do nothing of the kind. Those who build and those who man the ships believe that this tax is going to be detrimental to their best interests. Think of the conditions of the shipping industry. Think of the shinyards. Think of the sacrifices that the shipbuilders have made. They have rationalised their industry. They have scrapped yards in my own constituency, not shipyards that were out of date. They were built within the last 20 years, are the most up-to-date yards in the world, equipped with the finest machinery in the world. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will have all these things in his mind when he replies, because he is taking on himself a terrible responsibility. Further, we have the statement of the hon. Member for Antrim (Sir J. McConnell) that ships sailing from Liverpool to Dublin will enjoy a privilege which is denied to vessels going to Belfast. If the House stancis that, it will stand anything. I have no objection to this House and my fellow-countrymen extending the right hand of fellowship to the Irish Free State. I am all out for it. I wish we could do away with all the trouble which is on just now—the 1333 embargoes against the Irish Free State and Russia. But that is not the question which is before us, though it is a phase of it.
This tax will be just as much an embargo as those which I have mentioned. It will have the same effect. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, by means of the tax, is to penalise the workers of Britain in the same way as they have been penalised by the embargoes on Russian and Irish Free State goods. He will hit the shipbuilding and the engineering industry, and it is my business here to do what I can to lodge a protest. I hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will have regard to all these outstanding facts. On the Clyde we are building a cruiser, sloops, and destroyers for the Admiralty. [An HON. MEMBER: "You are lucky."] We are very lucky. I want to know from the Chancellor of the Exchequer if, in the trial trips which are about to be run on the Clyde, the tax will operate on the oil required for fuel? Is the Chancellor of the Exchequer going to allow a rebate, because when we contracted for those ships we did not know that there was to be this tax upon oil. Any profit likely to accrue from the building of those vessels will be wiped out as a result of the tax.
§ 6.33 p.m.
I want to emphasise one or two matters which have already been raised by the hon. Member for the West Derby Division of Liverpool (Sir J. Sandeman Allen), and I Sincerely hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will give very beneficent consideration to the points which I have to raise. In the first instance, I shall follow the last argument raised by the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood). Like the Clyde, we are building on Tyneside in my division the machinery for two destroyers and a cruiser, and I have been led to understand that the additional cost of the fuel which is to be used in trials will amount to something like £4,000. We have been told on several occasions that in presenting our case we must in no circumstances exaggerate our difficulties, and therefore to prove my statement I wish to mention further details of these figures. The whole of the oil fuel used for trials in a destroyer amounts to something like 430 tons, and the oil used for trials in connection with 1334 a cruiser amounts to 3,250 tons. So that the effect of the proposed tax which has been introduced in the Finance Bill will run the company which has contracted to build these ships for the Admiralty into something considerably more than £4,000. I feel certain that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will, at any rate, make some arrangements with the company because—and I again emphasise the point raised by my hon. Friend—when they contracted to build those ships they had no knowledge that the Chancellor was to impose this tax. Obviously, it would be very unfair for the company which have undertaken the work to be put to this extra expense which is not specified in the contracts. One may say that it is rather futile to rob Peter to pay Paul, but that is naturally a matter for settlement between the Admiralty and the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
I turn to my second point We still build a certain number of foreign vessels in this country, in spite of very fierce competition, and only those who are intimately connected with the shipbuilding trade have any idea of the immense amount of work which lies in front of a company which is endeavouring to obtain orders from foreign firms. At the present moment on the Tyne we are building one or two bAttleehips for Portugal. It is entirely open to Portugal to decide where it shall place its orders, but we know that we obtain these orders only by cutting down our specifications absolutely to rock bottom. If we have to add the cost of the tax it will go extraordinarily hard with our shipbuilders when they are endeavouring to obtain orders from foreign firms. I will go a step further and refer to ships which come to this country for repairs. Ship repairing is a very important industry in this country. I have recently received a communication from a very important marine engineering company in my division in which they say:We were expecting a large British vessel coming to Wallsend, in a few weeks' time, for extensive repairs, which would give work to a large number of skilled workmen for over a month. This vessel burns fuel oil, and if the Customs authorities require payment of the proposed tax on the fuel oil consumed by the vessel while on the proposed trip from Liverpool to the River Tyne, and its return to Liverpool, then the owners will be obliged, on account of the extra cost of the fuel, to divert the vessel to the Continent for these extensive repairs.1335One point about the case is that this vessel is not a coasting vessel.…I think you will see the importance of this case, especially in view of your intimate knowledge of the condition of unemployment in the shipbuilding and engineering industries in your constituency.I do not want on this occasion to go over all the points which have been raised in connection with shipping, and which have been so admirably put by so many of my hon. Friends, but I would respectfully remind the Chancellor of the Exchequer of a point which he made in his speech yesterday when replying generally to Members who were raising points in connection with the Debate which took place on the users of oil. He said:Suppose their competition is competition with the foreigner, we must not leave out of account that we have changed our fiscal system and that we have given to the great bulk of our industries an amount of Protection which they have not had before and which may be set against this difficulty."—-OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th May, 1933; col 1201, Vol. 278.]When we introduced the Import Duties Bill for the protection of our industries, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his colleagues were very careful to insert a Clause to exclude from duty any material which was used in connection with shipbuilding and ship repairing works. The Clause was included because it was generally felt, and he actually had the support of Members from shipbuilding areas, that it would be absolutely disastrous to run the risk under any consideration of raising costs in connection with the shipbuilding and ship repairing works of this country. If that argument was reasonable when the Import Duties Bill was introduced, it is equally reasonable to-day. I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to consider the position of these vast and important industries. Speaking generally, I appreciate the position of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in trying to encourage coal, and as a Member of a constituency which is partly coal, and partly shipbuilding and repairing, I find myself in an extraordinarily awkward position. But I submit to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that by voting with the Government yesterday, and opposing them today, I am settling the difficulties of the average politician, I hope, very successfully, and I beg of him favourably to 1336 consider the claims put forward in the Amendment.
§ 6.44 p.m.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
The hon. Lady, in the extremely interesting and valuable speech to which we have just listened, has stated her difficulties in having the two sides of the case both represented in her constituency. I happen to be in a different difficulty, because up to the present I have heard only one side of the case, and a large number of hon. Members who take the other view have reserved their fire until this moment. At any rate, I think that I am in a position to know the worst, and I should like to make a few observations to the Committee upon the considerations which have been put to me this afternoon. Yesterday, when we were debating the more general aspects of the question of this duty, I indicated that, in my view, there was something to be said on both sides, and that it was a case in which one had to weigh up advantages and disadvantages and try to arrive at a conclusion as to which was the most important in the general interests of the country. These general considerations, which I put before the Committee yesterday, apply in the present situation. The particular case we are considering is not exempt from the considerations that I put to the Committee yesterday, but what we have to consider now is whether there is a sufficient difference in the case of coastwise shipping and the allied instances that have been discussed, to enable me to say that there is a somewhat different set of considerations.
We are discussing, under the general head of ships and the Oil Duty, in the first place coastwise shipping, but the Amendments on the Order Paper which are embraced in our general discussion cover a wider field than that. There is the question of fishing boats, on which the right hon. and gallant Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair) expressed the anxiety of his constituents. I am surprised that one who takes so deep a personal interest in the affairs of his constituents should have failed to acquaint himself with the circumstances, which I should think must be already known to every one of them, because not only have they been told over the broadcast that the fishing industry will obtain a rebate on this duty, but the 1337 Scottish Office, of which the right hon. and gallant Member was so distinguished an ornament, have asked for and received a large supply of pamphlets giving full particulars of this concession to the fishing industry. I am told that they have been distributed in the neighbourhood of Caithness, and no doubt when he visits that picturesque place he will find them in the hands of his constituents. Whatever decision the Committee comes to about the duty in connection with coastwise or other shipping, the fishermen are secure.
We are asked to deal with vessels owned by and operated by harbour authorities, but it seems to me that vessels operated by harbour authorities can hardly come under the same arguments that have been used in connection with coastwise shipping, because they are not in competition with foreigners. Their position is far more analogous to that of inland navigation than of coastwise shipping, and I cannot conceive that any attempt would be made, and I do not think any attempt has been made, to put the case for harbour vessels as requiring special treatment. Now I come to the question of coastwise shipping. I think this matter was raised at an earlier stage on one of the Resolutions, and a plea was made that coastwise shipping should be put in a special position. I said the first thing that naturally occurred to one, that coastwise shipping was a form of transport which would appear to be most immediately in competition with inland transport, but, of course, it is impossible, as I have said on a previous occasion, when you are thinking of a new duty to give notice to the whole country that you are thinking of it and that you would like to know how it would affect this or that concern or industry. If you did that, obviously advantage would be taken of your inquiries to forestall the effect of your duty.
I do not profess that I could possibly beforehand know exactly all the details and all the ways in which coastwise shipping may be affected by the imposition of this duty, and I must say, after listening to the speeches this afternoon, that there is something to be said for the view that coastwise ships are exposed in a special way to foreign competition. The speech of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Ports- 1338 mouth, South (Sir H. Cayzer), in which be gave a number of detailed particulars where the tax upon fuel oil on the coastwise vessels would affect them detrimentally as compared with their foreign competitors, particularly impressed me. I was also impressed by the plea that was made to me by the right hon. and gallant Member for Caithness that this was the case of an industry which had no protection, and that it ought to have some form of compensation. That at once touched me. When it is a case of protection, I cannot altogether turn a deaf ear to it. It is perfectly true that shipping of all kinds is doing very badly It is one of the industries which has been very prosperous and very valuable to the country in the past, but it has fallen on evil times and met with a great deal of competition for a very much diminished amount of trade.
If it be true, as I have some reason to think it is true, that the cost of fuel is, apart from the cost of wages, the most substantial item in the running costs of a vessel burning oil, then it is making it a bit difficult for them if one is going to add still further to that heavy item in their costs. On the whole, I think some case has been made out for coastwise shipping; I have considered whether I should make some difference in the level of the duty, whether I should offer to make it half the rate of duty in the ease of coastwise shipping—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]—but I do not think it is a case where there is much advantage in haggling about half the duty or none at all. If anything is done, one might as well go the whole hog, and the conclusion that I have come to is that I shall be prepared to exempt coastwise shipping from the operation of the duty. Let me make it quite clear that this concession will apply to fuel oil only. Nobody, I think, has asked for anything else, but I want to make it quite clear.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
Diesel oil is fuel oil. I mean, not lubricating oil. I make no distinction between coastwise shipping and the pilot cutters which are the subject of another Amendment on the Order Paper. These, too, I propose to include in the exemption. Then comes the question of trial trips referred to by the hon. Member for Wallsend (Miss Ward) and the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs 1339 (Mr. Kirkwood). They will be exempt also. There will be no duty on fuel oil for trial trips. There is no Amendment on the Order Paper which will exactly carry out the undertaking that I have given to the Committee, and I think I shall have to get an Amendment drafted which I can introduce on the Report stage. I hope that hon. Members will take it that the Amendment will do all the things that I have suggested. It will cover the whole field, and I trust that it will give satisfaction. I think the group of Amendments has been fully covered, and I hope that in view of the statement that I have made we shall be able to proceed further with the Bill.
§ Mr. HOROBIN
Does the exemption cover tugs and lighterage in the great rivers and the Port of London?
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
I am not quite sure, but, as the hon. Member has drawn my attention to it, I will look into the matter.
§ Sir BASIL PETO
What will be the position at the moment with regard to the charging of duty on coastwise trips that are made between now and the Report stage?
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
Of course, the duty falls to be paid as soon as the duty was imposed. The exemption really is retrospective and takes effect from 26th April. My hon. Friend is right in raising the point, and my answer is that I am afraid we must go on charging the duty for the moment, but we will see whether we can find some means by which we can cease charging it. In any case, any duty that is charged will be repaid.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
I thank the Chancellor of the Exchequer on behalf of the people in the Highlands of Scotland, who would have been hit very sorely by the tax.
Sir J. SANDEMAN ALLEN
I should like to say how very deeply one appreciates the attitude that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has taken. So far as my Amendment is concerned, I should like to withdraw it.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
I beg to move, in page 5, line 10, at the end, to insert the words:Provided that this Section shall not apply to oils for use as fuel in any plant installed and in use prior to the twenty-fifth day of April, nineteen hundred and thirty-three.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 53; Noes, 275.1341
|Division No. 196.]||AYES,||16.58 p.m.|
|Banfield, John William||Holdsworth, Herbert||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Briant, Frank||Janner, Barnett||Rothschild, James A. de|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||John, William||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Cowan, D. M.||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A.(C'thness)|
|Daggar, George||Kirkwood, David||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
|Dobbie, William||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Edwardt, Charles||Leckie, J. A.||Thorne, William James|
|Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||Logan, David Gilbert||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univ.)||Lunn, William||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||McEntee, Valentine L.||White, Henry Graham|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot||Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)|
|Grentell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)||Williams, Thomas (York. Don Valley)|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.)||Maxton, James||Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)|
|Grundy, Thomas W.||Milner, Major James|
|Hamilton, Sir R.W.(Orkney & Z'tl'nd)||Parkinson, John Allen||TELLERS FOR THE AYES —|
|Harris, Sir Percy||Pickering, Ernest H.||Mr. Groves and Mr. C. Macdonald.|
|Hirst, George Henry||Price, Gabriel|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Aske, Sir Robert William||Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick Wolfe||Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell|
|Albery, Irving James||Astor, Ma). Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Barclay-Harvey, C. M.|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l, W.)||Balley, Erie Alfred George||Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey|
|Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent)||Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th.C.)|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M.S.||Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J.||Belt, Sir Alfred L.|
|Apsley, Lord||Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Betterton, Rt. Hon. sir Henry B.|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Hepworth, Joseph||Procter, Major Henry Adam|
|Bird, Ernest Roy (Yorks., Skipton)||Herbert, Capt. S. (Abbey Division)||Pybus, Percy John|
|Blinded, James||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)|
|Boulton, W. W.||Hoars, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Ramsden, Sir Eugene|
|Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton||Hope, Capt. Hon. A. O. J. (Aston)||Rankin, Robert|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hllisorough)||Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybrldge)||Rawson, Sir Cooper|
|Briscoe, Capt. Richard George||Hore-Selisha, Leslie||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Hornby, Frank||Reid, William Allan (Derby)|
|Brockiebank, C. E. R.||Horobin, Ian M.||Remer, John R.|
|Brown,Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks.,Newb'y)||Horsbrugh, Florence||Rentoul, Sir Gervals S.|
|Burnett, John George||Howard, Tom Forrest||Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U,|
|Burton, Colonel Henry Walter||Hume, Sir George Hoowood||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)|
|Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley)||Hunter, Capt. M, J. (Brigg)||Robinson, John Roland|
|Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley)||Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Carver, Major William H.||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Rosbotnam, Sir Samuel|
|Caetlereagh, Viscount||Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)||Ross, Ronald D.|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Ker, J. Campbell||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)||Kimball, Lawrence||Runge, Norah Cecil|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Chamberlain, Rt.Hn.Sir J. A.(Birm.,W)||Law, Sir Alfred||Rutherford, John (Edmonton)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)|
|Chapman, Col.R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Lass-Jones, John||Salmon, Sir Isidore|
|Clarke, Frank||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Salt, Edward W.|
|Clayton, Dr. George C.||Lewis, Oswald||Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Liddall, Walter S.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Lindsay, Noel Ker||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe-||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard|
|Conant, R. J. E.||Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Llewellin, Major John J.||Savery, Samuel Servington|
|Cooke, Douglas||Lloyd, Geoffrey||Scone, Lord|
|Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'ndsw'th)||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Crooke, J. Smedley||Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Crookshank, Col. C.de Windt (Bootle)||Lockwood, Capt. J. H. (Shipley)||Shaw, Captain William T. (Fortar)|
|Crookshank, Capt, H. C. (Gainsb'ro)||Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Shute, Colonel J. J.|
|Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Lymington, Viscount||Simmonds, Oliver Edwin|
|Culverwell, Cyril Tom||MacAndrew, Lt.-Col C. G. (Partick)||Skelton, Archibald Noel|
|Davies, Maj.Geo. F. (Somerset,Yeovil)||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O, (Ayr)||Slater, John|
|Davison, Sir William Henry||McCorquodale, M. S.||Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)|
|Denman, Hon. R D.||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Denville, Alfred||McKie, John Hamilton||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dins, C.)|
|Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A, F.||Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Dickie, John P.||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Smithers, Waldron|
|Donner, P. W.||Macmillan, Maurice Harold||Somervell, Donald Bradley|
|Duckworth, George A. V.||Macquisten, Frederick Alexander||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Dunglass, Lord||Magnay, Thomas||Soper, Richard|
|Eastwood, John Francis||Maitland, Adam||Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T, E.|
|Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Elmley, Viscount||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Marsden, Commander Arthur||Spens, William Patrick|
|Entwistle, Cyril Fullard||Martin, Thomas B.||Stanley, Hon. O. F. C. (Westmorland)|
|Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Stevenson, James|
|Erskine-Boist, Capt. C. G. (Blackpool)||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Stones, James|
|Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||Mills. Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.)||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)||Mitchell, Harold p.(Br'tf'd A Chisw'k)||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Mitchell, Sir w. Lane (Streatham)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray F.|
|Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Forestier-Walker, Sir Leolin||Moreing, Adrian C.||Thompson, Luke|
|Fox, Sir Gifford||Morgan, Robert H.||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||Morrie, John Patrick (Salford, N.)||Train, John|
|Fremantie, Sir Francis||Morrison, William Shepherd||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Galbraith, James Francis Wallace||Moss, Captain H. J.||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Munro, Patrick||Wallace, John (DunferMilne)|
|Gillett, Sir George Masterman||Nail, Sir Joseph||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Glossop, C. W. H.||Nail-Cain, Hon. Ronald||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Gluckstein, Louis Halle||Nation, Brigadier-General J J, H.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Goff, Sir Park||Newton, Sir Douglas George C.||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Goldie, Noel B.||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Petersf'ld)||Whyte, Jardine Bell|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas||North, Edward T.||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Graves, Marjorie||O'Connor, Terence James||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)|
|Grimston, R. V.||Ormiston, Thomas||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G.A.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Palmer, Francis Noel||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Hales, Harold K.||Patrick, Colin M.||Withers, Sir John James|
|Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Pearson, William G.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Kingsley|
|Hanley, Dennis A.||Penny, Sir George||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenn'gt'n)||Percy, Lord Eustace||Wragg, Herbert|
|Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'oaks)|
|Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||Peto, Geoffrey K.(W'verh'pt'n,BIIst'n)|
|Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)||Pike, Cecil F.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.-|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Potter, John||Captain Sir George Bowyer and|
|Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||PowNail, Sir Assheton||Captain Austin Hudson.|
Motion made, and Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," put and agreed to.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ 7.11 p.m.
§ Mr. ALBERY
I want to thank the Chancellor of the Exchequer for considering the case of the pilot cutters. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will also consider the case of the tugs, which are constantly coming into heavy competition with foreigners. One other thing I hope he will consider on the Report stage is whether there is any possibility of finding a way to make some concession to those industries which have recently installed Diesel plant at great expense, for the definite reason that they desire to be up to date. They might be given a concession during a period of time. In my own constituency there is a case which I wish to bring before the Committee, as an example. It is that of a firm making wood pulp in competition with Scandinavia. They were only enabled to do this by installing Diesel plant for power purposes. The competition from Scandinavia which they face utilises electricity. If they have to pay this tax upon fuel, it will be impossible for them to continue this business which, I believe, is new in the district, being only comparatively recently set up, and which has at present difficulty in carrying on against severe foreign competition. I hope before the Report stage the Chancellor of the Exchequer will consider making some kind of concession to those who, from a desire to bring their plant up to date, have recently installed machinery of that kind.
§ 7.13 p.m.
§ Mr. MOLSON
I wish to express the gratitude of one coal mining area to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the courage he has shown in resisting the pressure put upon him by those interested in oil. I believe it is the most constructive effort in tariffs which has been made, and I rejoice that it is the National Government which has done the most that can be done to prevent further decay in the coal mining areas.