HC Deb 15 June 1950 vol 476 cc695-710
The Chairman

I have selected the Amendment in the name of the hon. and learned Member for Norwich, South (Mr. H. Strauss)—in page 12, line 36, to leave out "gives" and insert "has after 6th April, 1948 given"—and I hope it will be convenient to the Committee to discuss at the same time the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Hove (Mr. Marlowe), in page 13, line 27, to leave out subsection (3) and the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Ilford, North (Mr. G. Hutchinson)—in page 13, line 27, at end, insert: payments made by virtue of agreements made after the sixth day of April, nineteen hundred and forty-seven, and to.

Mr. Marlowe (Hove)

Without in any way seeking to question your Ruling, Major Milner, may I ask you to consider the diversity of view which occurs between the Amendment of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Norwich, South (Mr. H. Strauss) and my Amendment? My Amendment seeks to impugn the idea of retrospective legislation altogether. The Amendment in the name of my hon. and learned Friend accepts the idea of retrospective legislation for one year, from the time the Chancellor made his announcement. In my submission those Amendments are not such as can conveniently be taken together and, in view of the fact that your Ruling indicates that you have not selected my Amendment, may I ask you to reconsider the matter and that it should be selected separately, in view of the fact that it has the support of more than 95 hon. Members?

The Chairman

I am much obliged to the hon. and learned Member. I have fully considered those points. It is my duty to expedite the business of the Committee in so far as it is possible. The arguments would be largely the same and I desire to avoid repetition. For that reason, I think it most convenient if the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Hove is discussed on the first Amendment on the subject, which is in the name of the hon. and learned Member for Norwich, South (Mr. H. Strauss).

10.45 p.m.

Mr. Marlowe

Further to that point of order, Major Milner. May I ask whether this means that the Amendment in my name has not been separately selected? I am not quite sure whether I correctly follow your Ruling, but do I take it that this Amendment has not been accepted for separate discussion and Division?

The Chairman

The hon. and learned Gentleman appears to be challenging my selection. He has urged another course upon me. I am sorry I cannot agree.

Mr. Marlowe

I am not challenging your selection, Major Milner, but what I ask is whether I can have a separate Division on my Amendment.

The Chairman

That is a matter to which I will give consideration when the time comes. The hon. and learned Member cannot ask me to give a decision on that matter until I hear what is said.

Mr. Molson (The High Peak)

May I, with the utmost respect, make this submission? You said, Major Milner, that it was the responsibility of the Chair to seek to expedite business. Will you consider again whether it is with a view to expediting business that the power to choose Amendments has been given to the Chair? I venture, again with the greatest respect, to suggest that the purpose of giving this power of discretion to the Chair is to enable all important and relevant matters to be fully discussed. I can recognise how difficult it is for anyone speaking on the spur of the moment to speak in an entirely judicial way, but is it really the case that to expedite business is the matter which has to be borne in mind in selecting Amendments, or whether there are different issues upon which the Committee may express an opinion?

The Chairman

The hon. Member is substantially correct. I mentioned "expediting business" because, on examination, I thought that the arguments would be largely the same on the Amendment in the name of the hon. and learned Member for Hove (Mr. Marlowe) as on that in the name of the hon. and learned Member for Norwich, South (Mr. H. Strauss) and I thought they might well be discussed together.

Mr. Pickthorn (Carlton)

I do not for a moment try to argue, which would be both mistaken and improper, but do I understand that the Ruling is that the Amendment in the name of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hove (Mr. Marlowe) should be discussed straight away along with that of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Norwich, South (Mr. H. Strauss), or that the question of whether that Amendment shall, or shall not, be selected is postponed until towards the end of the discussion? I think that that was the impression made by the words from the Chair in the minds of some hon. Members. Is it a correct impression?

The Chairman

In substance, the first impression of the hon. Member is correct. I have suggested that the two later Amendments shall be discussed under the heading of the selected Amendment in the name of the hon. and learned Member for Norwich, South (Mr. H. Strauss), but I have not yet decided which Amendment shall be selected for a Division.

Mr. G. Hutchinson

Further to that point of order, Major Milner. May I draw attention to the fact that the date referred to in my Amendment is 6th April, 1947, but ought to be 6th April, 1949? It was printed in that way on the Order Paper yesterday.

The Chairman

I am obliged to the hon. Member. The principle involved in all the Amendments is, in my view, precisely the same.

Mr. Henry Strauss (Norwich South)

I beg to move, in page 12, line 36, to leave out "gives" and to insert: has after the sixth day of April, nineteen hundred and forty-eight, given. I shall not, of course, question the Ruling you have given, Major Milner, in any way, but it is only fair, I think, to my hon. and learned Friend, the Member for Hove (Mr. Marlowe), to say that he is quite right in the important distinction between what is involved in his Amendment and mine, in that my Amendment does not question retrospective legislation in toto.

We have now come to the Clause which has become very well known in popular discussion as the "Retrospective Clause" and it has sometimes been associated with two particular names of gentlemen who have received large sums in consideration of restrictive covenants. It is a Clause that has become, as I say, well-known and has excited a good deal of discussion and correspondence in the Press, particularly in "The Times" and in "The Manchester Guardian."

I think that all Members of the Committee, in whatever part of the Committee they sit, know that extremely important questions of principle are involved. Although I think there may be important differences between Members in different parts of the Committee, I hope there will be some propositions on which we can all agree. In the course of the correspondence in "The Times," there was a valuable letter from Mr. C. J. Hamson, the Reader in Comparative Law in Cambridge University, from whose letter I should like to quote one passage because I think that the Committee should bear it in mind, and that is has considerable importance: It is of great importance that upon fundamental principles the law of this country should not depart from the norm of civilised nations. It is a part of that norm that laws, particularly involving a penalty, should not be retroactive. To quote only two examples: The principle is enshrined in the constitution of the United States (Art. I, sections 9 & 10), and it is expressly and very categorically de- clared in the French codes as much for civil matters (Code Civil, art. 2) as for criminal (Code Penal, art. 4). While the issues we shall have to discuss are of great interest and importance to lawyers, they are not uninteresting, I think, to laymen. Nor are the principles difficult for laymen to comprehend. None of the Amendments with which my name is associated on the Order Paper—the Amendment which I am now moving, nor the Amendment which immediately follows, in the name of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for West Derby (Sir. D. Maxwell Fyfe)—is based on the view that no retrospective laws can be tolerated. Although there are many who have taken that view, and it is a view that deserves respect, it is not on that view that our Amendments are based. But I think that the whole of the Committee may agree with me in this, that, if retrospective legislation is ever tolerable, it is tolerable only in certain exceptional circumstances, and certain conditions must be satisfied.

Let me state what I consider two of these conditions are. First of all, there must have been a warning previously given; secondly, the legislation that contains the retrospective provisions must be in accordance with that warning. I am not saying that satisfaction of those conditions always makes retrospective legislation tolerable or desirable, but without satisfaction of those conditions it is clearly intolerable.

So far I do not think I have said anything with which the Law Officers of the Crown or the representatives of the Treasury would disagree. The Chancellor of the Exchequer gave his warning in his Budget speech in 1948, and it was quoted by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury in his speech on the Second Reading of the present Finance Bill. The Chancellor's statement was made on 6th April, 1948, which the Committee will notice is the date mentioned in this Amendment. I think it will be fairest to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and to the Government if I read the essential sentences of that speech: Before I leave this subject, I will mention one other device which people may be tempted to adopt. That is to dress up what really is remuneration in a non-taxable capital form; for instance, as compensation for loss of office, or as payment in consideration of a restrictive covenant on an individual's employment. Such devices, by which a man aims to evade paying his fair share of Income Tax, are intolerable in our present state of affairs, and I must give warning that the position will be closely watched, and that the Government will not hesitate to propose legislation, with retrospective effect, to deal with any such devices."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th April, 1948; Vol. 449: c. 70–71.] There are then two conditions which must be satisfied if retrospective legislation is not to be intolerable. The first is the warning; and the second, that the provisions are in accordance with that warning. The bulk of what is necessary to bring about the second condition is contained in the Amendment not now under discussion, but which will be moved in due course by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for West Derby. That Amendment endeavours to bring into this Clause the conditions set out in the warning of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

My limited purpose in this first Amendment is to show that the agreements which are hit are agreements made after the warning by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. There is nothing to prevent the Government from accepting the Amendment which I am now moving, because it will not prejudice their obtaining what they want in every case which they have so far described as cases which they want to hit, provided, of course, they are correct in their description of those cases. The provisions, which will enable the court to decide whether any individual case falls within the principle, will be the subject of a subsequent Amendment, but this initial Amendment is to insert in the description of the agreement that falls within this Clause, the fact that it was made after the warning of the right hon. and learned Gentleman. I think that I have explained the reasons for the Amendment which I am moving and I will reserve my further comments on the Clause to a subsequent Amendment.

11.0 p.m.

Mr. G. Hutchinson

I understand that the Amendment which stands in my name is to be discussed at the same time as that just moved by my hon. and learned Friend. There is little difference in principle between these two Amendments. I have selected one date after which an agreement out of which payment arises will attract taxation. I have selected the date of the Budget last year. My hon. and learned Friend has selected the date of the warning—namely, the date of the Budget in the previous year. All I need say about my Amendment is that the arguments used by my hon. and learned Friend apply with equal force to the Amendment in my name. Nothing could be more unjust than that an agreement made before any indication has been given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer or anybody else that there will be legislation, should be caught by retrospective legislation. Under the two Amendments now being discussed, that could not happen. It would be a more just and fair method than that which is proposed under this Clause as it now stands.

Mr. Marlowe

It appears that, by a process that I am not able to follow, I have to talk on an Amendment though I do not know whether it has been selected or not.

The Temporary Chairman (Mr. Touche)

The hon. and learned Gentleman is not bound to talk on any Amendment at all. His Amendment can be discussed with this Amendment, as I understand the Ruling of the Chairman.

Mr. Marlowe

I am bound to talk on it if I wish to move it. I do not know whether it has been selected or not. That is the difficulty. It was not indicated whether it was to be selected. I understand that we are discussing restrospective legislation, and the Chairman has not decided whether he has selected this Amendment, so we are discussing retrospective selection at the same time.

The problem I want to put before the Committee is the general one of whether retrospective legislation is ever justified. My hon. and learned Friends, in their Amendments, have accepted the principle that there are certain cases, particularly in fiscal matters, in which the principle is permissible. I hold strongly to the view that retrospective legislation, when it imposes any kind of penalty, is never justified. I emphasise the words "when it carries a penalty" because there is a considerable distinction between penal legislation and an act of indemnity. No one would question an act of indemnity; it may be a very meritorious form of retrospective legislation. But I hold strongly the view that where a penalty is imposed—in this case upon a person who has acted within the law perfectly innocently—it is utterly wrong to go back and punish the man for something which was lawful at the time he did it. It is a principle of our law that no one should be penalised for doing a lawful act.

I also believe that contracts between adult persons competent to conduct their affairs should not be made the subject of later legislation which undoes the contracts so made. The law has always recognised that there are certain people— infants and lunatics—who need protection, and it may be justified that their contracts should be the subject of subsequent investigation either by the courts or by Parliament, but I think that it is very undesirable that contracts made in this way should be subsequently torn up by the intervention of a political party, which is, of course, what is happening in this case. I only take this case as an example, for I do not seek to defend for one moment the two particular covenants which this Clause hits.

Mr. Donovan (Leicester, North-East)

Is it really right to say the contract has been torn up?

Mr. Marlowe

I should have thought so. The contract is, as I understand it— and I do not wish to elaborate on this point because I do not defend the practice itself—that these two gentlemen entered into covenants to restrict their future activities in consideration of payments of the sum of £100,000. The contract has been torn up to the extent that, by the action of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the contract is reduced from £100,000 to £5,000, because taxation amounts to £95,000.

I am not praising the merits of these particular covenants, nor do I support them. I would support a Clause which stated that this kind of covenant should not be permitted in the future. That I would consider a perfectly proper Clause. What I object to is that, these contracts having been made, there should be retrospective legislation affecting them to the extent that they are virtually nullified.

The matter would be bad enough if it stopped at contracts, but once the principle is admitted there is no reason whatever why the field of retrospective legislation should not be extended to crime. That has been done in dictatorship countries. It was done regularly in Germany before the war and, as far as I know, is probably regularly done in Russia today. I remember that on the occasion of the "night of the long knives" in the Nazi purge, Hitler claimed afterwards that he was entitled to act as he did because he had declared illegal the acts of those who had offended. What they had done was to offend—exactly as in this case—against the party line. That is exactly what has happened here, and therefore the law is being changed back.

The justification is that a pronouncement was made in the House by the Chancellor of the Exchequer a year ago. I do not subscribe to the idea that the law of this country is made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer standing up in the House and making a pronouncement. The law is made by Parliament, and not by any pronunciamento by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He cannot change our law by saying, "Anybody who incurs my displeasure by entering into covenants of this kind will have a penalty imposed on him."

Mr. Hector Hughes (Aberdeen, North)

The hon. and learned Member has admitted that these two contracts are un-meritorious attempts to evade taxation. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] If that is so, does he not agree that this is a suitable case in which, exceptionally, to apply retrospective legislation?

Mr. Marlowe

What I have been saying is precisely the reverse of what the hon. and learned Gentleman has just said. The whole of my case is that there is no justification for interfering with these or any other arrangements on this basis. I reaffirm the principle that the law does not allow punishment to be inflicted on a person for an act that was lawful at the time. The hon. and learned Gentleman completely begs the question when he says, "Was not this tax evasion?"; in other words, was not this an offence? The answer is that it was not an offence. It was perfectly lawful. You may call it immoral, if you like; I do not know enough about the terms of the contracts, or the circumstances.

The point is that at the time of the offences the law permitted them. These two gentlemen and the companies with which they are associated were conforming to the law as it then stood. What I find deplorable is that, after persons have acted within the law, the Government, because it offends their party line, says it was unlawful. It was not. It is an immoral thing for any Government to declare afterwards something unlawful which was perfectly lawful at the time it was done. I speak only for myself and those who have supported me by putting their names on the Order Paper. I do not want it to be thought that in this Amendment I am committing any member of my party to this view. It is purely the view of myself and those who have associated themselves with me.

It is accepted by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for West Derby (Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe) that some degree of retrospective legislation is permissible. I disagree with him in that. What is the argument that has been put in favour of this form of retrospective legislation? The only one I have heard, apart from the pronouncement of the Chancellor last year, is that there are precedents. I agree there have been precedents, and it is because of them that it becomes the more necessary for us to take stock and see whether we are going the right way. I have a definite feeling that we are going the wrong way.

I think it necessary to go back to the principle that nobody should be penalised for doing an act which was lawful at the time it was done. That is the principle to which I adhere. If there have been precedents and they offend against that principle, they become as precedents utterly valueless. It would be unworthy of us if we decided that a principle was right, to say that looking back we found we had offended against that principle and we were, therefore, justified in going on doing so. Nobody of any party would feel justified in following a principle, and violating it merely on the ground that it had been violated before.

11.15 p.m.

Again, coming back to the principle which I think it important to see established, the question of precedent becomes even more valueless when we realise the effect of it. Assuming the principle to be correct, every precedent whittles away something from that essential freedom. If this principle that a man should not be punished for doing a lawful act is, as I believe it to be, a basic principle of one of our freedoms, then every time there is another precedent we are taking something away from that freedom, and we can ultimately justify ourselves, by going on from precedent to precedent, in abolishing that freedom altogether. That is one of the reasons which drives me to the belief that it is absolutely necessary to make a stand, and it is for that reason that I have put my Amendment on the Order Paper.

Now I want to draw the attention of the Committee to the dangers that can come from adhering to these precedents. As a matter of fact, they are not of ancient lineage. The first was in 1926 and was not a case of tax avoidance. It was a Clause in the Finance Bill, 1926, and the Solicitor-General will remember it. It was a Clause in which the Revenue, having lost the case of Whelan v. Henning in the House of Lords sought to gain victory by putting a Clause into the Finance Bill. What they did was to reverse the decision of the House of Lords in that case which related, not to tax avoidance, but to the method of assessment. It could have been said at that time—and this is the danger of these precedents—that there were certain merits in it. It had been assumed over a long period that a method of assessment was so-and-so and, the case in the House of Lords having said it was not so, the Finance Act of 1926 merely sought to reassert the position which everybody had thought to be the case, but it did not penalise anybody.

That formed the first precedent and that was the danger when, some years later, Sir Kingsley Wood when Chancellor of the Exchequer, wanting to go in for some retrospective legislation, went back to that precedent. Once more, although a tax avoidance case, that was not one which inflicted actual penalty by seeking to recover some money that had not been paid. Then there was a series of of cases. There was another in the 1938 Finance Act where the dates of settlements were ante-dated. Hon. Members will remember that case where there had been settlements in favour of children and in which the date of settlement was assumed to have been before the date of the Act and the tax became leviable from then onwards, whatever the date was. But it did not go back and snatch money which had not, up to that date, been paid.

The most notable precedent during the war was the 1943 one relating to whisky, on which my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for West Derby can speak with more authority than myself, because it was his Clause. I differ from him in this matter because he considers himself bound by that precedent whereas, if I were in his position, I should have no difficulty in exonerating myself from that past.

The whole argument against retrospective legislation is that it threatens the rule of law. I do not think a war-time precedent is of any account at all. In time of war the rule of law is in suspense. Many things are done in war-time which offend the rule of law. After all, it is not normally within the rule of law for us to set about killing each other, and it is fair to say that the rule of law is abrogated. I do not think we should feel in the least bound by any war-time precedent in this matter.

It is essential to come back to the principle which I have expounded. Do we accept or not the idea that a man should be punished for doing an action which is lawful at the time he did it? However much we may regard it as immoral or reprehensible, the law should not be altered backwards to bring that man within its scope. That is a principle to which I feel I must adhere. We find very often in these days cases in which principle is sacrificed to expediency, but I think it would be deplorable in a case like this to say that these two men who have made a good bargain and have more than the rest of us must be punished in this way. That has undoubtedly good political appeal, but I do not believe we should support it because of that. The Committee should come back to this principle and if they accept it as true, take this opportunity of reaffirming it.

Mr. Quintin Hogg (Oxford)

The hon. and learned Member for Hove (Mr. Marlowe) has rendered a service to the Committee by raising what is undoubtedly an interesting and, some of us might say, not very easy topic. I think it is also a great advantage that he has done it in a form in which it can hardly be used as a matter for a clear-cut party division. It is a matter which the Committee should consider carefully both in relation to this legislation and to further instances of it which may be proposed.

I think most of us on both sides of the Committee would accept with wholeheartedness the principle upon which my hon. and learned Friend alleged he founded his argument—namely, that people should not be punished for doing that which is lawful at the time. But I imagine that most of us also would feel some doubt whether that principle has actually been infringed in this case, whatever we may think about the advisability or correctness of this particular piece of legislation. I am sure some hon. Members opposite would like it to be infringed. I do not feel it has been infringed. If I thought it had been, I would say so and oppose it on that ground, but there is a great distinction between what is unlawful and what is taxable and between what is a punishment and what is a tax. Nobody is saying, or attempting to say, in this proposed legislation that what is proposed to be taxed is regarded as unlawful or criminal or proved to be such, or to be punished as such.

Therefore, although it is a valuable principle which has been set up from which I would not desire to depart, I am not sure that it is a fair attack upon this proposal that it infringes that principle. Having said that, I do not think that I have quite overcome all the difficulties about this proposal. I simply have disposed, for my own part, of an argument which I think is an unfair one against it.

It is not, I think, generally or necessarily desirable that that which is not subject to tax at the time when it is done should be rendered retrospectively subject to tax; and whatever exceptions we may recognise as exceptions from time to time, and whether or not this is a good example of such an exception as we propose to recognise, I think there would be fairly general acceptance on both sides of the Committee that in general, at any rate, it was not desirable to impose taxation retrospectively on completed transactions. Such a course would, I think, render great injustice if it were pursued on an extensive scale, and it would be attended by many practical inconveniences.

If the Government propose to answer the speeches which have been made on this Amendment, I hope they will confirm my opinion that, quite irrespective of the merits of this particular proposal, the general principle is that if the transactions are not subject to tax at the time the transactions are completed, they shall not be made subject to tax retrospectively, and it is not the design of this proposal to impugn that, and that the general principle will be accepted. I hope we shall have that assurance and, if we do, I think it will help a great deal to dispel some of the doubts which some of us may feel.

Next, I think there is a very great deal of confusion about what is meant by tax avoidance and tax evasion. Everyone is entitled in general so to arrange his affairs that they attract to themselves the least possible amount of tax. It is not true to say that one must necessarily travel third class in order not to be able to set off a first-class rail fare as expenses. In general one is entitled to arrange one's affairs in such a way as legitimately to attract to them as little tax as possible. The question is what is legitimate and, if what is done is not considered legitimate, what is the appropriate action of the legislature and the fiscal authorities? For my part, I see a distinction in what was done in the two particular cases which many of us must have in mind in discussing this proposal and what is ordinarily called tax evasion.

In the whisky case to which my hon. and learned Friend referred, and which I can well remember, a certain amount of attention was drawn during the war to the many elaborate schemes which have been invented from time to time by ingenious persons to avoid the whole purpose and meaning of tax, with varying degrees of success or failure. Personally, I have never felt very much difficulty about supporting, whether in peace or war, the kind of attitude for which a precedent was quoted in the action of my right hon. and learned Friend who was, I think, Attorney-General during the war-time period.

11.30 p.m.

I do not see anything in principle objectionable, if people seek to pick a hole in an Act of Parliament deliberately to defy its purposes and deliberately to get round its provisions, to repair the hole retrospectively. I think they must expect Parliament to protect its own policy in that way, at any rate up to a point. But that does not seem to me to be what has happened in this case. What was done in this case may be grossly reprehensible, or not. Whether we think it is or not depends, I suppose, on all kinds of considerations, only some of which would be relevant to this Debate, but there can be no doubt, at least in my opinion—I see on the opposite side of the Committee and in front of me many who are far more qualified to express an opinion on this subject than I am—that the transactions which are rendered subject to tax by these proposed provisions were, in fact, obviously not subject to tax without these proposed provisions.

Transactions of this kind, although not common, were obviously outside the provisions of tax law previous to the present Budget and I see a distinction, and a distinction of importance, between cases where the Legislature and the Executive propose to protect their own previously declared policy contained in tax law against ingenious evasions of an illegitimate kind, and cases where they propose to protect a series of subjective standards of their own, which may or may not be laudable, against transactions which were obviously not subject to tax at the time when they were completed.

I feel a certain amount of difficulty about accepting the present proposals in the light of that consideration. I must add this—and I think it is also germane to the topic. It is not only retrospective legislation which is odious. In my opinion that is not always odious; but what is always odious, I think, is if the Legislature picks out for punishment and contumely individuals, as distinct from classes of people, who happen to offend; and, in discussing whether legislation is discriminatory against individuals and not against general classes of persons, regard must be had, not merely to the language or legal form in which the legislation is couched, but to the reality of the case.

There cannot be a child above the age of five in this country who is in the least interested in public affairs who does not know as a matter of fact that these proposed provisions, although general in form, although in form attacking a particular class of transaction, are in fact directed as a punishment against two named individual cases. I myself find it as beneath the dignity of a Legislature and as politically odious to do that kind of thing, even when, as can be said, I think with a good deal of force in a case of this kind, large classes of persons have been offended and scandalised—to use the word in its literal sense and not in its vituperative sense—by the particular acts to which attention has been drawn.

It does always savour of tyranny to use the weapon of general legislation in a discriminatory fashion against individuals, and it is none the less tyranny because the action of the individual may have been deplorable and because the political circumstances may make it highly expedient to do so. For my part, I find a certain hypocrisy in the puritans in this matter. I do not myself, to use plain language, see much difference between the cases of Black, Lord and Plummer. I wish I could. [Interruption.] Oh, yes, and there is a difference between the political friends of the three gentlemen, too—a very marked difference, which has not been missed by the country.

I find it deplorable that the Government, instead of dealing with the question which I think did require to be dealt with, the question of liability to tax of lump sum payments made on account of service agreements and on certain other accounts, whether by way of compensation or damages, or otherwise—a question which does require legislation, or which at least is appropriate for inquiry and which may demand careful scrutiny and most detailed examination in the future— should have selected for action another question. There has been selected a crude, blunt instrument, a form of words, general in character, not designed to remedy a general mischief, but intended to yield to political pressure against two named individuals doing that which was not merely lawful but obviously not taxable at the time it was completed.

Committee report Progress; to sit again Tomorrow.