HL Deb 02 April 1860 vol 157 cc1717-8


Orders of the Day for the Second Reading, and for Standing Orders Nos. 37 and 38, to be considered in order to their being dispensed with in the said Bill, read.


If I rightly understand the wish of the House, from the desire which was expressed on a former day by two or three noble Friends, and from the tacit assent of the remainder, I apprehend that it is not now desired to enter into a discussion at the present moment either of this measure or of the Income Tax Bill; but that a discussion should take place on the general financial scheme of the Government when some three or four other Bills are brought before us after Easter. If that be the feeling of the House, I shall act more in conformity with it by abstaining from debating the question, or from defending an enactment which there is no desire at present to assail. I shall, therefore, simply explain to your Lordships that the general scope of this Bill is to extend to various other articles of agreement in writing that principle of penny taxation which has been adopted with vary great success for some years, and has produced, on the whole, a very considerable revenue. It was first adopted in the case of the Post Office by my noble Friend (Lord Monteagle) when Chancellor of the Exchequer in a former Government. It was carried further by my right hon. Friend the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, who imposed an uniform rate of 1d. on receipt stamps; a step further was made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the late Government when he imposed a similar stamp on bankers' cheques; and we now propose to extend the principle considerably further by imposing a small tax, varying from a penny to sixpence, on various other documents. I do not now enter into the question of stamps for a higher amount which are to be found in the present Bill. I am quite aware that objections have been raised to the measure on the ground that it interferes with trade and creates impediments of an undesirable nature. It is impossible to deny that any tax, however small, must have that tendency; but when it is believed—whether rightly or wrongly, I purposely abstain from entering into that question—that the general measures of the Government are largely calculated for the relief of the trade of the country, we have thought it not unfair that it should be called on to contribute a compensation to the revenue to an extent which it is well able to bear. With this short explanation, I beg now to move the Second Reading of these Bills, with the intimation that, if your Lordships should be willing to agree to it, I shall then move the suspension of the Standing Orders Nos. 37 and 38, with a view to both Bills being read a third time and passed.

Motion made and Question proposed. That the Stamp Duties Bill be now read the second time.

Motion agreed to; Bill read 2a accordingly; Committee negatived; Standing Orders Nos. 37 and 38 considered, and dispensed with; and Bill read 3a and passed.


then moved that the Income Tax Bill be now read the second time, and said as their Lordships had been kind enough to allow him to pass the former Bill without a single word of observation, he would not further intrude upon their Lordships' time even with any explanation of the only two remarkable features in this Bill—that was to say the imposition of an additional penny in the tax, and why it was only imposed for one year. He apprehended that these points would all be raised in the discussion that was to take place after Easter, and, therefore, he would abstain from expressing any opinion whatever on them now.

Bill read 2a; Standing Orders read, and dispensed with; Bill read 3a and passed.

House adjourned at a Quarter before Six o'clock, till To-morrow, Three o'clock.