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Bill 256 Committee

Volume 203: debated on Thursday 4 August 1870

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Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee).

Clauses 1 to 48, inclusive, agreed to.

Clause 49 (Interpretation of term "Promissory note").

said that, taking the clause in connection with the Schedule, it appeared that the stamp duty on a promissory note payable on demand would be charged at an ad valorem rate, while the duty chargeable on a bill of exchange would be only 1d. There was no reason for this difference, under which the promissory note would cease to exist.

said, he failed to see any hardship in the provisions of the clause. He believed promissory notes payable on demand were very rare. [An hon. MEMBER: Not at all.] However, he was willing to consider the representations that had been made before the Report.

said, that a promissory note and a bill of exchange were substantially the same thing.

said, the Government had taken into consideration the suggestions of practical men, and had amended the Bill, so that, in its present form, there was no great objection to it; but he wished the Government to consider the propriety of changing the mode of distributing stamps and of utilizing some of the 8,000 post-offices of the country instead of paying poundage to distributors.

said, he thought there was a good deal of difference between a bill of exchange and a promissory note. The latter was not payable at sight, or on demand, and it might be for a year in the cash-box and never get into circulation. If hon. Members thought differently, let them try to discount a promissory note.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 50 agreed to.

Clause 51 (Ad valorem duties to be denoted in certain cases by adhesive stamps).

said, he would suggest that it would be a great advantage to the commercial world if the use of adhesive stamps were allowed in all cases upon bills of exchange, promissory notes, and other mercantile obligations, instead of the ordinary bill stamps. He did not believe the Revenue would suffer. He hoped the Government would consider the question during the Recess.

hoped that this common-sense view would be adopted by the Department. Where an impressed stamp was spoilt by the bill being wrongly drawn, the principal was obliged to go before an official and make oath to that effect. This inconvenience would be avoided if adhesive stamps were used.

said, he would remind the right hon. Gentleman of the importance in any case of preserving evidence of the date at which the bill was drawn.

said, he would ask that adhesive bill stamps should be sold at the post offices throughout the kingdom.

said, he feared that the Revenue would suffer if adhesive stamps were used. Such an arrangement might open the door to fraud, as the use of stamps could be avoided altogether in cases where no litigation resulted, and if litigation did arise, an adhesive stamp could be put on the bill at any time, months after the bill was really drawn.

said, that could not happen, because the bill must be stamped before it could go through a banker's hands.

said, while he admitted the importance of the subject, it was impossible to discuss it now on a measure which was merely a consolidating measure.

said, that every civilized country in the world except our own used adhesive stamps for these purposes, and no fraud could arise if the person drawing the bill had to write his signature across the stamp when the bill was drawn. He regretted that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had not listened to the appeal which had been made to him by an influential commercial body.

said, he wished to have it clearly understood that the Government did not in the least go into the merits of the question. Their object simply being to effect a consolidation of the Stamp Laws, with a view to future improvement, they had declined to make any changes of the nature proposed.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 52 to 97, inclusive, agreed to.

Clause 98 (Directions as to duty in certain cases).

said, he had to move the insertion of an additional subsection, which had been drawn up in consequence of a suggestion made to him by his hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh (Mr. M'Laren). His hon. Friend had pointed out that in Scotland houses of £10 a year, or under, were never let for a shorter time than a year. Under the Bill, as it stood, tenements of that value would not have the benefit of the reduced stamp duty which similar property would have in England, because persons who were in the habit of renting their houses quarterly would only have to pay 1d. instead of 1s. stamp duty on leases for less than a year. He begged, therefore, to move a 5th sub-section, to the effect that no "lease or tack, in Scotland, of any dwelling-house or tenement, for any definite term not exceeding a year, at a rent not exceeding the rate of ten pounds per annum, is to be charged with any higher duty than one penny."

Amendment agreed to.

Clause agreed to.

Remaining clauses agreed to.

Bill reported; as amended, to be considered To-morrow, at Two of the clock.