HL Deb 21 July 1909 vol 2 cc678-80

LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGHhad the following Notice on the Paper— To call attention to the speech of the Lord Advocate at Armadale on the 2nd June, when he is reported to have said: 'The Chancellor of the Exchequer had made but a very modest estimate of their yield, only some£500,000, yet of all his proposals they would find that the land taxes would be the most keenly—indeed, savagely—fought. Why? The reason was that these modest-looking taxes involved a principle capable of far-reaching application, a principle which they believed to be sound and safe, but which the great bulk of their political opponents equally strongly denied. What was that principle? It was this, that the land of the country, the land as distinct from the buildings erected upon it, the land as distinct from the improvements made upon it, in truth belonged to the nation. And if this were so, then the nation was entitled to appropriate for public purposes a portion of the value of the land. This the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed to do'; and to ask whether the opinions of His Majesty's Government are correctly represented by the Lord Advocate.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I think it is due to the House and to myself that I should explain the position in which I am placed. The Question has been on the Paper for some days, and personally I dislike postponing anything without notice; but since I came to the House this afternoon I have received a message from the noble Earl who leads the House that it was his intention to answer the Question and that he would answer it if he could be in his place in time. I may say that nothing, as your Lordships would suppose, could exceed the courtesy of his message, and I have no complaint to make. I understand that the noble Earl is engaged in public business of an important nature, and in the circumstances, as he is not here, I have no alternative but to postpone the Question. I will take it off the Paper altogether, in order that I may consult the noble Earl as to when it will be convenient that it should be again put down.