House Of Commons
Tuesday, 23rd April, 1901.
The House met at Two of the clock.
Private Bill Business
Midland Railway Bill
King's consent signified. Read the third time, and passed.
Taff Vale Railway Bill
Read the third time, and passed.
Colwyn Bay And Colwyn Urban District Gas Bill (By Order)
As amended, considered; to be read the third time.
London Underground Railways (By Order)
Ordered, That a Select Committee of Five Members be appointed to join with the Committee of the Lords on London Underground Railways as desired by their Lordships.
Ordered, That a Message be sent to the Lords to acquaint them therewith.
Ordered, That Sir William Arrol, Mr. Ashton, Mr. Cawley, Sir Michael Foster, and Sir John Dickson-Poynder be Members of the Committee.
Ordered, That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers, and resords.
Ordered, That Three be the quorum.—( The Chairman of Ways and Means.)
Electric Lighting Provisional Orders (No 2) Bill
Read a second time, and committed.
Electric Lighting Provisional Orders (No 3) Bill
Electric Lighting Provisional Orders (No 4) Bill
Electric Lighting Provisional Orders (No 5) Bill
LOCAL GOVERNMENT (IRELAND) PROVISIONAL ORDER (No. 1) BILL.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT PROVISIONAL ORDERS (No. 2) BILL.
METROPOLITAN COMMON SCHEME (HAM) PROVISIONAL ORDER BILL.
METROPOLITAN COMMON SCHEME (ORPINGTON) PROVISIONAL ORDER BILL.
Read a second time, and committed.
Private Bills (Group H)
reported from the Committee on Group H of Private Bills, That the parties promoting the Dublin Equalisation of Rates Bill had stated that the evidence of John Mallon was essential to their case; and, it having been proved that his attendance could not be procured without the intervention of the House, he had been instructed to move that the said John Mallon do attend the said Committee on Monday next, at Twelve of the clock.
Ordered, That John Mallon do attend the Committee on Group H of Private Bills on Monday next, at Twelve of the clock.
Horley District Gas Bill, And Crawley Gas Bill, Consolidated Into "The Horley District Gas Bill"
Reported, with Amendments; Report to lie upon the Table, and to be printed.
Resolutions reported from the Committee:—
- Nothing in this Act shall authorise the West and South London Junction Railway Company to enter upon, take, or use (except by agreement) any cellar or vault in or under any street belonging to or connected with any building, or the sub-soil under such cellar or vault, unless such cellar or vault, or the building with which it is connected, is described in the deposited books of reference.
- And also a Clause to the effect that they shall not take or use (except by agreement) not only the cellars or vaults belonging to or occupied by the memorialists. His Grace the Duke of Northumberland, K.G., the Right Hon. the Lord Iveagh, K.P., the Hon. William Frederick Danvers Smith, M.P., but also the sub-soil under such cellars or vaults.
- That the Committee on the Bill do report how far such Order has been complied with."
Resolutions agreed to.
Report [this day] from the Select Committee on Standing Orders read.
Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Alfred Thomas and Mr. David Thomas.
Shannon Water And Electric Power Bill
Ordered, That the Minutes of Evidence and Proceedings taken before the Committee on the Shannon Water and Electric Power Bill, 1899, be referred to the Committee on Group H on the above-named Bill.—( Mr. Caldwell.)
Message From The Lords
That they have passed a Bill, intituled, "An Act to authorise the Sheffield District Railway Company to raise additional capital by the creation and issue of debenture stock for the purposes of their undertaking." [Sheffield District Railway Bill [Lords].
Sheffield District Railway Bill Lords
Read the first time; and referred to the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills.
Petition from Hereford, in favour; to lie upon the Table.
Petition from Monmouthshire, for alteration of Law; to lie upon the Table.
Elementary Education (Higher Grade And Evening Continuation Schools)
Petitions for alteration of Law, from Bradford; and Aspatria; to lie upon the Table,
Local Authorities Officers' Superannuation Bill
Petitions in favour, from Staines; Dorking; Weardale; Burton on Trent; Twrcelyn; Menai Bridge; and Norwich; to lie upon the Table.
Licensing Acts Amendment (Scotland) Bill
Petition of Royal, Parliamentary, and Police Burghs of Scotland, in favour; to lie upon the Table.
Local Government (Scotland) Act (1894) Amendment Bill
Petition from Carluke, against; to lie upon the Table.
Marriage With A Deceased Wife's Sister Bill
Petitions against, from Plymouth; and Selby; to lie upon the Table.
Mines (Eight Hours) Bill
Petitions in favour, from Waverley; Brook; Varteg; Pwllbach; Poynton; Cwauncaegurwen; Treeton; Nunnery (No. 1); Penrhier and Woodfield; Park Lane; Cannock Chase; Chase Town; Brereton (No. 2); Ashton Moss; Bagworth; West Cannock (No. 1); Oakwell; Balgonie; Westfield; Lumphinnans; Halbeath and Kingseat; Lassodie; Windygates; Crossgates; Methilhill; West Wemyss; Rosebank; Kelty; Lochore; Donibristle; and Cardenden Collieries; to lie upon the Table.
Poor Law Officers' Superannuation (Scotland) Bill
Petition from Cathcart, against; to lie upon the Table.
Sale Of Intoxicating Liquors To Children Bill
Petitions against, from Rochester; Whitchurch; Berkhampstead; Reading (two); Shrewsbury; Derby; Osgold-cross; Nottingham; Westbury-on-Trym; Thornbury; Hawkesbury Upton; Chipping Sodbury; Morley; Oldland Common; Birmingham; Fishponds; Idle; Upper Hackney; Matlock Bridge; Matlock Town; Hartle- pool; Kingswood; and Hythe; to lie upon the Table.
Petitions in favour, from Rotherham; Derby; London; Sheffield (two); Halifax (four); Rhayader; Swansea; Gorseion; (two) Llansamlet; Goole; Masham; Rothesay; Failsworth; Hallifield; Plaistow; Stanwix; and Royal, Parliamentary, and Police Burghs of Scotland; to lie upon the Table.
Sale Of Intoxicating Liquors On Sunday Bill
Petitions in favour, from Sheffield; Epsom; Halifax; and Queensbury to lie upon the Table.
Sale Of Intoxicating Liquors To Children (Scotland) Bill
Petitions in favour, from Lochmaben; Annan; Barry; Thornliebank (five); Cathcart; Lonmay; Rathen; Kinning Park; Lesmahagow; Dunfermline; Logie Port; and Swinton; to lie upon the Table
Returns, Reports, Etc
Address for "Return showing the names of all Aliens to whom Certificates of Naturalisation have been issued, and who have taken the oath of allegiance, between the 1st day of January, 1900, and the 31st day of December, 1900, giving the country and place of residence of the person naturalised, and including information as to any Aliens who have during the same period obtained Acts of Naturalisation from the Legislature (in continuation of Parliamentary Paper, No. 113, of Session 1 of 1900)."—( Mr. Jesse Callings.)
Imprisonment Of A Member-Mr Patrick Aloysius M'hugh
MR. SPEAKER acquainted the House that he had received the following letter from the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland relating to the imprisonment of Mr. Patrick Aloysius M'Hugh, a Member of this House:—
In the High Court of Justice in Ireland,
King's Bench Division,
Four Courts, Dublin,
22nd April, 1901
Sir,—I have the honour to inform you that Mr. Patrick Aloysius M'Hugh, Member of Parliament for North Leitrim, having been prosecuted by the Right Honourable the Attorney General for Ireland, by ex officio information, for publishing in his newspaper the Sligo Champion certain seditious libels charged as calculated to prejudice and affect the administration of Justice, and having been found guilty was this day sentenced by me to six calendar months imprisonment as a first-class misdemeanant for such offence, and committed to Kilmainham Prison accordingly.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient Servant
Lord Chief Justice of Ireland
To the Right Honourable
The Speaker of the House of Commons
May I be allowed to ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether, as a matter of privilege, it will be competent for me to draw the attention of the House to the circumstances of the conviction.
No; not in the case of a criminal conviction.
Under those circumstances I will presently ask the First Lord of the Treasury to put the Attorney General for Ireland's salary down for discussion on an early date.
Notice of that question must be given in the ordinary way.
South African War—Jameson Raid—Position Of The Chartered Company
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the assets of the late Transvaal Government which he is advised do not pass to His Majesty's Government, for example, the claim against the Chartered Company in respect of the Jameson Raid, will be made available to meet pro tanto the just and lawful liabilities of the late Transvaal Government incurred before the outbreak of hostilities; and how His Majesty's Government propose to deal with the proportion of these liabilities which may not be met out of such assets.
I have already pointed out that such assets cannot be made available. With regard to the just and lawful liabilities of the late Transvaal Government, in so far as they are just and legal liabilities against his Majesty's Government, they will be recognised to the extent to which they can be fulfilled out of the revenue of the Transvaal.
Does the answer to the first paragraph apply equally to such assets as arrears of taxation and arrears of royalties?
That point does not arise out of the question.
Mr Merriman's Letter Of 14Th November, 1899
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that the Hon. J. X. Merriman, who has been a Cabinet Minister in several Governments at the Cape, from his place in the Legislative Assembly of Cape Colony moved on 17th September for information as to the methods by which his private letter, dated 14th November, 1899, came into the hands of the British authorities and was published in a Parliamentary Paper issued by the Colonial Office on 23rd August, and that Sir Gordon Sprigg, the Prime Minister of Cape Colony, promised a post office inquiry; and what was the result of that inquiry.
The manner in which the letter came into the hands of Sir Alfred Milner is described as follows in a Parliamentary Paper presented to the Cape Parliament—
This statement was made at a later date than the promise of a post office inquiry, and the information it contains appears to have rendered that inquiry unnecessary."All that the Governor knows about the matter is that this letter fell into the hands of the military authorities after the second occupation of Dordrecht, and was sent to him in the same way as other correspondence captured from the enemy…. The idea that the letter was intercepted in the post is entirely erroneous."
Did the right hon. Gentleman himself suggest to Sir Gordon Sprigg that it should be merely a post office inquiry?
Cost Of The War
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether the approximate war cost of £1,500,000 per week is in addition to the ordinary expenditure on the military services.
Lord Roberts's Telegrams
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether there would be any and if so what objection to laying upon the Table of the House of Commons a reprint of the various telegrams, not primarily designed for publication, which Lord Roberts sent to the late Secretary of State for War in the course of the campaign, having regard to the difficulty incidental to the comprehension of the despatches without the aid of the telegrams.
I cannot undertake to publish telegrams which have passed, nor am I aware of any telegrams despatched by Lord Roberts to the late Secretary of State for War, not primarily designed for publication, which would facilitate the comprehension of despatches as suggested by the hon. Member.
IS the right hon. Gentleman aware that Lord Roberts's despatch about Paardeberg consists of twelve lines only?
[No answer was given.]
I beg to ask the Financial Secretary to the War Office whether the advice of the Law Officers of the Crown was taken with reference to the action of the South African Cold Storage Company in supplying troops in the field with 2,250,000 lb. of frozen meat instead of freshly-killed meat, under the terms of the contract entered into on the 27th October, 1899. I beg also to ask the Financial Secretary to the War Office whether the contract with the South African Cold Storage Company, dated the 27th October, 1900, was entered into in this country or in South Africa.
The reply to the first question is in the negative. The reply to the second is that the contract was made in South Africa.
Aid For Discharged Soldiers
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that Private S. Groves, 5,046, 1st Battalion Leicestershire Regiment, who contracted enteric at Lombard Kopt and was discharged from Netley in November last as unfit for further service, has up to the present been in receipt of only 1s. per day, although still unable to walk without the aid of a stick and altogether incapacitated for employment, and if there is any special reason in this case why the 2s. 6d. per day to which he is entitled on the authority of the Paymaster-General has not been paid.
The man is reported by the medical authorities as partially able to earn a livelihood. At the time of his discharge 1s. a day was the maximum rate provided by the Royal Warrant, but under a new regulation he is now eligible for a rate of 1s. 6d. His case is one of a large number which are being considered as rapidly as possible.
Return Of Troops
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether he can hold out any hopes of immediately relieving the Militia regiments now serving and who have been serving in South Africa for more than twelve months.
In view of the arrival of four fresh battalions of Militia who volunteered for service in South Africa, Lord Kitchener has intimated to us that he is sending home 6th Battalion Warwickshire, 4th Battalion Derbyshire, 3rd Battalion Durham Light Infantry, which were the first three battalions to embark, and the 4th Battalion Scottish Rifles, which is relieved by the 3rd Battalion of the same regiment.
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether he can hold out any hopes of immediately relieving the different companies of the Imperial Yeomanry now serving and who have been serving in South Africa for more than twelve months.
I am not at present in a position to state when the Imperial Yeomanry companies can be relieved. Special consideration has been shown in cases of hardship reported by commanding officers.
Military Courts Of Inquiry
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been called to the fact that non-commissioned officers and men punished for offences and dissatisfied with the award of the commanding officer are entitled to demand trial by court-martial, whereas officers aggrieved by the action of the authorities, taken after the consideration of the proceedings of a court of inquiry, are not entitled to trial by court-martial if they should desire it; and whether, having regard to the fact that courts of inquiry can be and are held in the absence of the accused, who are at times not informed of the evidence brought before them or of the gravamen of the charge of which they have been found guilty and condemned, the privilege of open trial by court-martial will be accorded to officers who demand it.
I must refer the hon. Member to my reply to a very similar question put by my hon. friend the Member for Chester on the 28th February.†
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether in the Government scheme of reorganisation the system of linked battalions, one battalion in each regiment being liable to be sent abroad, will be adhered to.
Yes, Sir, so far as two-battalion regiments are concerned.
was understood to ask if the answer applied to army corps designed for purely home defence.
That would not affect the linked battalions.
Army Reorganisation—Highland Regiments
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether, in the Government scheme of army reorganisation, the Highland regiments will all be attached to the army corps having its headquarters in Edinburgh.
No pledge can be given, but the desirability of quartering Scotch regiments in Scotland will not be lost sight of.
China—Command Of Allied Forces—Correspondence
I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs will he state when the Correspondence embodying the negotiations between Great Britain and the Bowers with reference to the affairs of the Generalissimo of the Allied forces in China will be published; and whether he can state the reasons on which the objections of the Powers to an English Officer as Generalissimo were based.
spondence on this subject will be found in China No. 1, 1901, pages 60 to 74. No question of a British Commander-in-Chief was ever brought forward.† See Debates, Vol. xc, page 27.
Fighting In Central Arabia
I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any information to the effect that a battle has been fought between the followers of Mubarek, the Sheikh of Koweit, and Ibu Raschid, the original ruler of Nejd, in Central Arabia, and that about 5,000 men were killed; and can he state whether Ibu Raschid has recovered his kingdom of Nejd; and whether he has any information regarding the fate of Mubarek.
According to the information which has reached His Majesty's Government, a fight is reported to have taken place on the 17th of March last between the forces of Mubarek, the Sheik of Koweit, and those of Ibu Raschid, the Ameer of Nejd. The losses are said to have been heavy on both sides, but no details have transpired. Mubarek, who is now at Koweit, is said to have been defeated. The Ameer of Nejd is at Boreyda, a place in Nejd near which the battle was fought.
Khorat Railway Contract
I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if compensation has been obtained from the Siamese Government for Messrs. Jardine, Matheson, and Co., who were forcibly ejected in August, 1896, by that Government from their contract known as the Khorat Railway Contract; and if he will state the total amount obtained and also the amount offered in full settlement by the Siamese Government and refused by Messrs. Jardine, Matheson, and Co.
The contractor for the Bangkok-Khorat Railway was Mr. G. Murray Campbell, and the dispute between him and the Siamese Government in regard to the execution and cancellation of the contract was referred to the arbitration of Sir Edward Clarke, whose decision was announced on the 28th ultimo. I will inquire whether there is any objection to publishing the terms of the award. We have no information of any previous offer being made by the Siamese Government and refused by the contractor.
The New Sugar Duty
I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will state how his new taxation would apply in the case of a merchant who has sold to a brewer sugar for delivery weekly during 1901, and can he state who will have to pay the duty; and how will his proposed new duty apply in the case of a merchant who has sold to a brewers' sugar maker raw sugar for forward delivery; will the brewers' sugar maker be obliged to accept delivery notwithstanding the fact that raw sugar will no longer be available for brewers' use, owing to the duty which puts it at a disadvantage in comparison with malt and flaked maize.
In the case referred to in paragraph one the merchant who imports the sugar will pay the duty, but will be entitled to increase his contract price with the brewer by the amount of the duty. The imposition of the duty will not entitle the brewers' sugar maker to break his contract. I cannot admit the assumption that the result of the duty will be to render raw sugar no longer available for brewing.
I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether with a view to avoid the further dislocation of many trades now occasioned by the Customs delaying delivery of consignments pending analysis for duty purposes, he will consider the possibility of accepting declarations by the producers in the country of origin as to the amount of added sugar, subject to occasional checking by the Customs Laboratory. I beg also to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether be is aware that the Customs are assessing and collecting duty on condensed milk upon the assumption that the full bulk weight comprises sugar, whereas the quantity contained is far less than half the amount charged, and whether he will take immediate action to prevent the continuance of this action.
So far as the Customs is concerned, no delay is taking place in the delivery of imported articles subject to the new sugar duties. In regard to the sugar not cleared at the highest rate, the foreign certificate of polarisation is accepted, subject to no question arising as to authenticity. In regard to articles partly composed of sugar, I do not think such declarations could be accepted; duty is at present being charged, in accordance with the law, on their full weight—among them is condensed milk. But samples of such articles are being taken in order that the amount of duty on them may in such a case be ultimately adjusted as far as may be possible with reference to the amount of sugar, under powers which will be inserted in the Finance Bill.
Cannot the right hon. Gentleman make it a little more clear?
We have to act under the Customs Tariff Act, 1876. We cannot fix the duty until the amount of sugar in the articles has been ascertained. Samples are now being taken, and we shall soon be in a position to come to a decision.
Am I to understand that every article which comes into the country will be charged the full sugar duty on its total bulk?
When the matter has been properly adjusted, any over duty will be returned. We are obliged, in accordance with the law, to charge articles on their full weight.
Is it in accordance with the law? Does the Act of 1876 not prescribe that as to an article containing spirit the duty shall be levied on the spirit? Has the right hon. Gentleman seen the schedule of the Act?
Shall I read it for him?
On this point I think I know as much as the hon. Member. The schedule of the Act of 1876 has two provisions—one relating to spirit and one relating to all other articles. The duty with regard to spirit is charged on the amount of spirit, and the duty on all other articles is charged on the weight. I assure the hon. Member that the delay will not be as great as he imagines.
May I ask—
Order, order! This matter cannot be discussed in the form of questions across the floor of the House.
The New Coal Duty—Agricultural Land Rating Act
I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the objections to the proposed duty on exported coal, the Government will withdraw that proposal in favour of an equivalent gain to the Exchequer by the non-renewal of the Agricultural Land Rating Act.
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether he is aware that the operation of the Customs Order, G. O. 32, 1901, 18th instant, will in effect injure the business of steamers engaged in bringing into port catches from the fishing fleet, by causing delay in entering and clearing on account of shipping two or three tons of bunker coal; and whether, having regard to the element of time being of importance in such transactions, he will cause the matter to be investigated with a view to ascertaining whether arrangements should be made to enable entry omnibus forms to be given, say, weekly or fortnightly.
No delay will be caused to steam fishing vessels on entering the fishing ports in connection with the duty on coal, and no delay need occur on their departure, inasmuch as the entry for shipment of such bunker coal as they require may be passed in anticipation. There will be no objection to the entries being passed weekly or fortnightly, as may be most convenient, and steps will be taken for giving effect to this.
I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer if he can state the total weight of all goods exported from the United Kingdom in 1900.
I am afraid that the information for which the hon. Member asks cannot be given.
Food Adulteration Prosecutions
I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board whether he is aware that a person charged with selling articles of food in contravention of the Sale of Food and Drugs Acts must be informed to the exact nature of his alleged offence, and of the alleged adulteration, as stated in the analyst's certificates, while persons charged with selling diseased meat under the Public Health Act, 1875, are not informed of the exact nature of the disease, but are vaguely charged with selling meat which is diseased or unsound or unfit for food; and, as under these circumstances the defendant cannot prepare his defence, whether he will take steps to oblige sanitary authorities to state the exact nature of all such charges, and medical officers of health to furnish to the person whose meat is seized a certificate of the exact nature of the disease affecting the meat seized.
I am aware of the different requirements of the Sale of Food and Drugs Acts and of the Public Health Act with regard to the matters referred to. I may point out that the adulteration of food and drugs can ordinarily be discovered only by the application of chemical tests. This is not so as regards meat which is diseased or unsound or unfit for food. The two classes of cases do not therefore seem to be parallel. I cannot say I think there is any sufficient ground for proposing such a change in the law as that suggested in the question.
Medical Officers Of Health
I beg to ask the President of the local Government Board whether he will grant a Return showing how many medical officers of health there are in England and Wales, and distinguishing those part of whose salary is paid by Parliament, and showing how many have diplomas in public health.
I do not think it necessary that there should be a Parliamentary Return on this subject, but I shall be happy to give the hon. Member the information which he desires. It will take some little time to prepare, but I hope to be able to send it to him in the course of a week or ten days.
London County Council's Tottenham Housing Scheme
I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board whether his attention has been directed to the proposed scheme of the London County Council for the erection of workmen's cottages on a site in Tottenham for the purpose of housing about 35,000 persons, at a cost of £1,500,000; and whether, as this will necessitate an outlay for the erection of new board schools, and also an expenditure for sewerage and other necessary works, any and what relief can be afforded out of public funds to the ratepayers of the district; and what steps should be taken for this purpose.
I am aware of the proposed scheme. Assistance of the kind referred to in the second paragraph of the question could not be given, but I may point out that the erection of dwelling houses on vacant land largely increases the rateable value of a district, and from investigations which I have caused to be made elsewhere, I do not think it should be assumed that the result of the scheme would necessarily be to increase the burdens on the ratepayers.
Will the local authorities be given an extension of borrowing powers?
I am not quite sure I follow the hon. Member. Does he mean an extension of the time for repayment of the loan they may have to contract in order to carry out the works? Of course any such application will be considered, but I do not think there are any special grounds in this case for differentiating it from similar cases.
Penrhyn Quarry Dispute
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether any endeavour has been made by the Board of Trade to settle the Penrhyn Quarry dispute, and whether any steps will be taken to bring about an amicable settlement.
The Board of Trade have received no application from the parties to take any action with reference to the Penrhyn Quarry dispute, and they have no reason to believe that such action would lead to any useful result.
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether, in accordance with the powers conferred upon him by Section 2, Sub-section (a), of the Conciliation Act, 1896, he has inquired into the causes and circumstances of the dispute existing between Lord Penrhyn and his workmen; and, if so, will he present a Report to the House.
It is not the practice of the Board of Trade to institute a formal inquiry with regard to a dispute unless they consider that such an inquiry is likely to promote a settlement. In the dispute referred to in the question they have no reason to think that this is the case.
Would it not conduce to a settlement if the fight hon. Gentleman were to send some one down to ascertain the real facts?
I have paid close attention to the progress of the dispute, and I do not think any intervention on the part of the Board of Trade, at any rate at present, would he effectual.
Belfast Orders For American Steel
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that Messrs. Harland and Wolff. Belfast, have placed an order to the value of £156,000 sterling with Messrs. Carnegie, Pittsburgh, from the importation of which manufactured steel under our free import system no revenue will be derived; and whether he can state how much duty would be levied by the American Government upon a similar order placed in Great Britain.
No, Sir, I have no information as to the dealings of Messrs. Harland and Wolff, and in the absence of particulars of the nature of the goods referred to in the question it is impossible for me to make any statement with regard to the duty leviable thereon by any foreign country.
Locomotive Explosion On Lancashire And Yorkshire Railway
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he has yet received the report of the inspecting officer who held the inquiry into the cause of the explosion of locomotive 676 on the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway, and if so, when will it be published.
No, Sir, and the necessity of making some chemical inquiries will probably delay the preparation of the report.
Instruction In Forestry
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Agriculture whether he can state what provision has been made by the Government for instruction in forestry in the United Kingdom.
In England provision is made for instruction in forestry at the Durham College of Science, at the South-Eastern Agricultural College at Wye, at the Yorkshire College at Leeds, and by the Board of Agricultural Studies at Cambridge University, to all of which institutions grants are made by the Board of Agriculture. Lectures in forestry are also given at the colleges at Cirencester and Downton and other institutions not in receipt of grants from the Department. Examinations in forestry are conducted by the Surveyors' Institution. Perhaps the hon. Member would be so good as to address inquiries with regard to the analogous grants in Scotland to my right hon. friend the Lord Advocate, and with regard to instruction in forestry in Ireland to my right hon. friend the Chief Secretary.
Bruce Grove Post Office—Provfsion Of Change
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether his attention has been called to the refusal to supply postal orders at Bruce Grove Sub-Post Office, when a £5 and a £10 Bank of England note were offered in payment, on the ground that there was not sufficient change in the office; whether he has satisfied himself that this is the case; and, if so, what means are being taken to prevent inconvenience to the public by such offices having insufficient money to cash postal orders when presented if they exceed in the aggregate £10, or to enable the public to secure postal orders or money orders when bank notes are tendered.
Yes, Sir. A representation was received at the post office, dated the 6th instant, to the effect that an application had been made on the 4th instant at the Bruce Grove Post Office for a postal order for five shillings and for three stamps, and a Bank of England note for £10 tendered in payment; and that the sub-postmistress had been unable to change the note. It appeared on inquiry that the sub-postmistress could not give change of a £10 note at the time without inconvenience and risk of leaving herself without sufficient cash for other customers, and she asked the person who tendered the note for something smaller. On a recent occasion change for a £5 note had to be refused under similar circumstances. There was nothing irregular in the matter, so far as the sub-postmistress is concerned, as, according to the rules of the Department, postmasters are not bound to give change, although they may do so when no inconvenience is likely to be caused. The circumstances were all fully explained to the person who wrote to complain.
Postal Accommodation At Thorpe Hesley
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, if he is aware that the post office at Thorpe Hesley has been closed since 15th April, to the inconvenience of a population of about 3,000, who are compelled to walk nearly two miles in order to obtain stamps or postal orders; and if he can state what steps are intended to be taken to provide proper postal facilities for the place.
The closing of the post office at Thorpe Hesley, Rotherham, is due to the fact that the late sub-postmaster has resigned his appointment, and that no eligible candidate for the sub-postmastership has as yet come forward. All possible efforts shall be made to avoid inconvenience to the public and to fill the appointment as soon as possible.
Ireland—Mortality Amongst Calves
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that much mortality has taken place for some time past among calves in Ireland, which has caused losses to the farming classes in Ireland, and whether he can recommend any remedy.
The Department of Agriculture is now investigating the causes of the serious mortality amongst calves, and for this purpose has secured the services of the eminent bacteriologist, Professor Nocard. The principal of the Royal Veterinary College of Ireland will assist him in his researches.
Will Irish farmers be invited to give evidence in the course of the investigation?
That I cannot say.
I will put down a question.
Will a copy of the Report, when presented, be furnished to the Irish county and district councils?
I am quite alive to the importance of this question, and will do my best to communicate the results of the investigation to all concerned.
Grazing Land Tenancies
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is now in a position to state the decision arrived at by the Congested Districts Board as to the status of eleven months tenants in the occupation of grazing lands about to be purchased by the Board.
The Board purchases directly from the owner of estates in the congested districts, and consequently steps into the position of a landlord. This introduces no modification into the status of tenants on estates so purchased.
Land Purchase In Co Wexford
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland if he will state what are the intentions of the Government with regard to land purchase in the county of Wexford, in view of the fact that in that county a large number of tenants have arranged to purchase their holdings, but that the purchase of these holdings cannot be proceeded with owing to lack of funds.
In view of the fact that time will not, in all probability, admit of any comprehensive land legislation during the present session, the Government has prepared an interim Bill to deal with the difficulty in county Wexford and with similar difficulties which may arise elsewhere. Such a Bill cannot, however, be introduced and passed unless some assurance be given that it will be discussed as an interim measure to meet an emergency.
When will the Bill be printed and circulated so that we may see its provisions?
If I can receive any assurance—I do not wish to press it too far—there will be no objection to circulate it on an early day.
The right hon. Gentleman must see that we cannot give any assurance about a Bill which we have not seen. Is the Chief Secretary's statement to be taken as a declaration of the Government's abandonment of the promise contained in the King's Speech to deal with the question of voluntary land purchase?
No, Sir. It is premature to make any statement as to the business of the House.
It has just been made.
I asked the Chief Secretary, arising out of his answer to the question on the Paper, whether the Government abandon their promise to introduce a Voluntary Land Purchase Bill.
I made no declaration. I merely alluded to a possibility.
Land Disturbances In County Longford
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether any report has been received from the Edgworthstown Police Station as to a disturbance created in the townland of Lisnanagh, county Longford, by the two emergency men guarding the evicted farms there; is he aware that one of them bombarded the house for several hours with stones, and was only prevented from committing further excesses by the arrival of the police; and will any steps be taken to bring these disturbers of the public peace to justice for such conduct.
The hon. Member has been misinformed. The occurrences referred to in the first and second paragraphs did not take place.
I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that I have not been misinformed, but he has by his subordinates.
Longford Guardians' Surcharge
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that the Local Government Board have issued a sealed order confirming a surcharge of 8s. upon three members of the Longford Board of Guardians, the price of a coffin granted in which to inter the remains of a poor man who had died near Ardagh; whether, seeing that this poor man was on outdoor relief and had no friends or relatives to see to the interment of his remains, he can explain on what grounds the auditor made the surcharge; and did he know that the man was virtually a pauper, and as such entitled to be buried at the expense of the union; and, will he call his attention to the fact that no surcharge should have been made in such a case.
The provisions of Article 4 (4) of the Union Accounts Order were not complied with, and in the evidence adduced the auditor could not find that the expense was incurred in the burial of the deceased. I am making further inquiries. It is not a very large matter.
But there is a principle involved.
Labourers' Cottages In The Granard Union
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that at the recent inquiry into representations under the Labourers (Ireland) Acts in Granard Union two evicted tenants named John Farrell and John Heslin, both of Lisnanagh, county Longford, were refused cottages mainly because they were evicted tenants; whether he is aware that there is a scarcity of labourers in the portion of the county in which they applied, and that for nearly seven miles the country round Lisnanagh is a grazing plain on which there are but few dwellings; and will he call for an explanation from the inspector of his reasons for advising the rejection of these men's representations.
The inspector who held the inquiry reported that three cottages had already been erected under the Labourers' Acts in the townland of Lisnanagh, and that there were also in the locality six or seven other houses, two of which were unoccupied and fit for human habitation. Under these circumstances there was no case for erecting these cottages.
Did the inspector tell the right hon. Gentleman that the two houses in question were houses from which men had been evicted?
I do not think that is material to the question.
Butler Estate, Co Galway
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland if he can state the reasons for the delay in the sale of the Butler estate in county Galway.
A request for an inspection of this estate under the 40th section of the Act of 1890 was received by the Land Commissioners in January last, and an assistant commissioner was deputed for the purpose of carrying out the inspection. I have drawn the attention of the Land Commission to the matter.
How many years have these negotiations been going on?
We have no knowledge of the negotiations until the matter comes before the Land Commission and an agreement has been arrived at.
Poor Law Officers' (Ireland) Superannuation
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that the Irish Poor Law Officers' Association has made itself responsible for a statement to the effect that the passage into law of the Poor Law Officers' Superannuation (Ireland) Bill would mean a saving to local rates, and that solely on the strength of this representation certain boards of guardians are giving sanction to the Bill; whether the Government will obtain a report from a competent actuary as to the probable effect of the Bill on local rates, having regard to the experience of the working of the English Act of 1896, and to the fact that the Bill proposes to include those giving only a portion of time to the service; and whether the information so obtained will be placed in the hands of Members before the Second Reading of the Bill.
The Bill is down for Second Reading on Friday, 3rd May. The Government will be prepared to accept the Second Reading on the understanding that the Bill be referred to a Select Committee, with a view to ascertaining the ultimate actuarial effect of the measure on local rates. For this purpose it is proposed to employ a competent; actuary.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that before the English Bill became law the cost was £6,200 annually, whereas it is now £74,000?
Does not the right hon. Gentleman consider it his duty as the representative of the Irish Government in this House to place in the hands of hon. Members a statement as to the probable effect of this Bill on the rates of Ireland?
Yes, and I propose to accomplish that object by placing the information at the disposal of the Select Committee.
But we want it before the Second Reading.
I cannot give it before the Second Reading, but if hon. Members will allow the Bill to be read a second time—
This is a matter of the utmost importance.
Considering the importance of this measure to the ratepayers of Ireland—
The hon. Member is not entitled to preface a question by arguments and comments.
Cannot we have the information before the Second Reading?
The right hon. Gentleman has twice answered that question.
The right hon. Gentleman has stated that the Government are prepared to take the time of the House to promote the interests of a certain organisation in Ireland. Why will he not also take time for necessary legislation?
I must ask the hon. Member to resume his seat.
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he can state on what grounds the Local Government Board propose, in opposition to the wishes of the Rural District Council, to make a union charge of the cost of the French-park Waterworks, which will serve only a few hundred people.
The action of the Board in this matter has been in accordance with their general policy as to chargeability of rural sanitary expenses since May, 1899. The area of charge in this case has not yet been fixed. The district council wish to fix an area of so limited an extent that the annual charge thereon in respect of the loan would be about 10d. in the £, whereas if the dispensary district were adopted it would be only 4d., and if the whole rural district were adopted it would be about ·09d. This was fully explained in a letter addressed to the council on the 1st instant.
Carrick-On-Shannon Petty Sessions Clerk
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether any objection has been received to the election of Mr. Devenish by a majority of one vote as clerk of Carrick-on-Shannon Petty Sessions district on the 12th instant; whether he is aware that Mr. Devenish resides in the county Roscommon, and is already a petty sessions clerk in that county; and whether, as he has no residence in the county Leitrim, his appointment under these circumstances to an important centre like the county town of Leitrim will be sanctioned by the Lord Lieutenant.
The reply to the first and second paragraphs is in the affirmative. Mr. Devenish resides four miles from Carrick-on-Shannon. A petty sessions clerk is not required to reside in the district of which he is clerk. The appointment of Mr. Devenish has been sanctioned by the Lord Lieutenant.
Irish Railways-State Purchase —German State Railways
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the German State railways realised a profit of £23,200,000 last year; and whether he will consider the advisability of introducing the system of State ownership in Ireland, with a view to decrease the burden of taxation, and to increase transit facilities by cheaper rates for goods and passengers.
This question is similar to one put by the hon. Member and answered by me on Friday last.* As soon as I obtain information on the first paragraph I will communicate with the hon. Member.
Road Labour In Ireland
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether, before laying upon the Table of the House the draft Provisional Order regarding direct labour, he will communicate to the Irish Members the decision of the Government as to the Amendments suggested by them and forwarded to him.
Yes. Sir; but I must not exclude from myself the right to insert or object to any amendment of the provisions of the Bill on the Committee stage.
David Finlay's Estate, Co Cavan
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland can he state on what date the tenants on the estate of the late David Finlay and others, situate in the county of Cavan, signed agreements to purchase their holdings through the Irish Land Commission; on what date were these agreements lodged with the Irish Land Commission; and what were the reasons that these agreements had not been lodged at an earlier date.
No agreements have been lodged between the landlord and tenants of this estate, and consequently I have no cognisance of any proceedings in respect of its sale.
The King's Accession—Proclamation At Limerick
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that on the proclamation of King Edward the Seventh as King the high sheriff for the county of Limerick requisitioned the Dublin Castle authorities for a guard of honour composed of a half battery of artillery, a half squadron of cavalry, and a half battalion of infantry
for the proclamation in the towns of Bruff, Rathkeale, and Newcastle: whether the Castle authorities refused on the grounds that they could furnish no expenses unless the high sheriff would in person defray expenses from his own private purse; and whet her he will lay upon the Table of the House the correspondence connected therewith.* See page 789.
The high sheriff, in February last, communicated to the Executive Government a copy of a correspondence that had passed between him and the military authorities, who felt unable to comply with his requisition for troops for the purpose mentioned. The high sheriff was informed that the matter was not one calling for the intervention of the Executive. The answer to the last paragraph is in the negative.
Culloville (Ireland) Postal Arrangements
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether he will inquire into the inconvenience caused to the people of Culloville by not having a Sunday delivery of letters, as is the case in the surrounding post office districts; and whether he will arrange a collection of letters, for this district each evening later than that now existing, and also erect a pillar box at Culloville.
The Postmaster General has caused inquiry to be instituted, and the result shall be communicated to the hon. Member as soon as possible.
How soon? The people of this district are greatly inconvenienced.
I cannot say, but the result shall be communicated as soon as the Postmaster General has had time to form an opinion on the inquiry.
Cork Post Office Revision
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether he can explain why, although the revision of the Cork Post Office staff took place on the 4th July, 1899, under which the clerks' class was increased with the authority of the Treasury given on that date, the sorting clerics and telegraphists promoted on the 16th February, 1900, only received the increased pay from the latter date, notwithstanding that in the case of the superintendent of telegraphs and the female supervising officer at Cork the increased pay was allowed from the date of the Treasury latter; and seeing that in the case of the revision of the Dublin telegraph staff the promoted officers' promotions were eventually antedated to the date of the Treasury sanction, and that this is the practice at large offices, whether it will now be arranged that the officers in Cork are paid from that date.
In regard to the superintendent for telegraph duty, the revision merely authorised an improvement in his scale of salary, and as regards the woman supervisor the revision merely converted the assistant supervisorship into a supervisorship, so in these two cases the revision could be carried out at once. As regards the promotions to new appointments arising from the revision considerable difficulties were experienced in making the selections, and it was not until the 16th of February that the recommendations received the Postmaster General's approval. It is the practice to date all promotions from the day on which they receive the Postmaster General's approval unless there are any special circumstances in the case which justify a different course, and the Postmaster General sees no reason to depart from the practice in this case.
Higher Elementary Schools
I beg to ask the Vice-President of the Committee of Council on Education what steps, if any, it is proposed to take to place beyond challenge as to legality the right of school boards to assist the maintenance out of the school board rates of schools recognised under the Higher Elementary Minute now incorporated in the Education Code for 1901.
I have nothing to add to the statement I made a day or two ago, that the Hoard of Education are advised that higher elementary schools under the conditions of the Code may be maintained by school boards out of the School Fund.
Rex V Cockerton
I beg to ask the First Ford of the Treasury whether, in the event of the School Board proceeding no further with the appeal against the Cockerton judgment, the Government will undertake to deal with the matter in the present session.
I cannot give any pledges at the present time with regard to the legislation of the session, as I informed the hon. Gentleman a few days ago.
Royal Declaration Against Roman Catholicism
I beg to ask the First Ford of the Treasury whether he can state the present intentions of the Government with regard to repealing that portion of the Royal Accession. Declaration, which describes Roman Catholic beliefs as idolatrous.
Before the right hon. Gentleman answers that question, may I ask him if the Royal declaration by which King Edward VII. sits upon the Throne is not part of the Bill of Rights and of the Art of Settlement?
Order, order! That is a comment, and not a question.
I understand that the present position of the matter is as follows:—There was originally a proposal in the House of Fords to appoint; a Committee to investigate the terms of the Oath. It appeared to me that if the subject was to be, investigated it had better be by a Joint Committee, and I threw that suggestion out in the House. The Opposition have intimated that they do not propose to serve on the Committee, and therefore that proposal falls through. I presume that the Committee appointed by the House of Lords will investigate the subject on their own account, as was originally proposed.
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether he can arrange to have the House meet on Saturdays for Government business, with a view to preserve the rights of private Members on Tuesday.
No, Sir: I cannot imagine that any arrangement for Saturday sittings would meet with the approval of hon. Members.
Decimal System Of Coinage
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether the Government propose to take the necessary steps to substitute the decimal system of coinage for the system at present in use.
Royal Commission On Irish University Education
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether he is yet in a position to name the members of the Royal Commission on Irish University Education and to give the terms of reference.
No, Sir, we are not in a position as yet to state the names of the Members of this Commission. It will be in the recollection of the hon. Gentleman that an appeal was made to us not to settle finally either the members of the Commission or the terms of reference until the debate which took place last night had been concluded. We hope to proceed very rapidly now with the business of appointing the members of the Commission, and finally settling the terms of reference.
Royal Commission On Local Taxation
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether he can state when the Royal Commission on Local Taxation is expected to report; and whether that Report will be in the hands of Members before the Agricultural Rating Bill is renewed.
I understand that no date can yet be fixed, but every effort is being made to press on the Report. It is impossible to give the pledge asked for in the second paragraph.
Business Of The House
I beg to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will postpone the discussion on the Report of the coal tax resolution until next week. On Thursday there is to be a meeting of the Federation of Miners from all parts of the kingdom. The right hon. Gentleman will see that the miners are not able at once to place their views before him as the coalowners and merchants can do; and yet it is highly desirable that they should have an opportunity of placing their objections to the tax before the Government. That cannot be done if the Report is taken on Thursday.
Of course I shall be very happy to receive and consider any views which the minors may present to me on this subject. I may say that I have already undertaken to receive deputations from other interests affected; and of course I shall consider anything which may be said. But I confess I do not quite see why the Report of the resolution should be postponed. The invariable course has been—and both I and the right hon. Gentleman remember the opposed Budget of 1885—to allow the Report of the resolution to be adopted by the House and to be embodied in the Finance Bill, before the House is really asked to express a decision on the subject. There will be ample time before the Second Reading of the Finance Bill for any representations to be made and considered; and therefore I hope I shall not be pressed to postpone the Report of the resolution, which is treated invariably as a formal stage binding the House to nothing. The postponement would make a very inconvenient delay in the introduction of the Bill.
It is quite true that there have been occasions on which this resolution has been passed without discussion; but that has not been the usual course. There are very special reasons in this case why the right hon. Gentleman should have an opportunity of knowing the feelings of the miners on this subject, and that there should be a full discussion on the resolution. That being so. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to make arrangements for postponing the resolution, because the opportunity of which he speaks may not occur for a considerable time.
Of course I will consider the suggestion, and I will communicate with the right hon. Gentleman on the subject; but I may add that I am not convinced by what he has said.
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury, who no doubt is aware of the communication which you, Mr. Speaker, read to the Mouse at the commencement of business, whether he will put down Irish Supply and the Attorney General's Vote on the earliest possible day, to give to Irish Members an opportunity of discussing the prosecution of the lion. Member for North Leitrim.
I will do my best to meet the views of hon. Gentlemen; but though I cannot at present give an absolute pledge without consultation, as at present advised, I see no obstacle to putting down the Vote on Friday week. As I understand, hon. Members will not be able to discuss in Committee of Supply the sentence passed on a Member of this House or the action of the judge in passing it. The only subject of discussion would be the conduct of the Irish Executive in ordering the prosecution.
As to the point of order, that may be dealt with when it arises. All we ask is that the Vote for the Attorney General's salary shall be put down at the earliest possible day. I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say be cannot put it down before Friday week.
I have already announced that Votes in Class III. will be put down on Friday next, and there is considerable objection to upsetting an arrangement already made.
Inasmuch as we have had Irish debates during almost the whole time of the session, could not the right hon. Gentleman allow Friday week to be given to something connected with England?
I do not quite see the point of that request. Next Friday will be devoted to English questions, and there must be a certain number of days in the session devoted to Irish Supply. I do not know that it is more inconvenient to discuss Irish Supply on Friday week than on any other Friday If any special inconvenience could be shown either for English or Irish Members, alterations might be made.
When will the Army resolutions be taken?
I am anxious to bring them on as soon as possible, for it is inconvenient to the War Office that the final decision should not be quickly taken. But progress must be made with the Budget and the Civil List proposals before those resolutions can be brought on.
Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the advisability of providing English Members with a Parliament for themselves?
The New Sugar Duty—Motion For Adjournment
I beg to ask leave to move the adjournment of the House to call attention to a definite matter of urgent public importance—namely, the levying by the Customs authorities of duty on the bulk weight of articles containing sugar, instead of on the sugar itself.
That can hardly be said to be a matter of urgency. It has already been stated that the Report of the sugar tax resolution is to be taken very shortly, and is to be followed by the Finance Bill. Therefore the question can hardly be said to be urgent.
It is a matter of extreme urgency. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer knew that he was going to levy the duty, my complaint is that he did not make his investigations beforehand. The matter is urgent in this way. Unless we get an assurance that this will be rectified, it is impossible that the trade can be carried on. The whole trade is demoralised.
That is not a point of order. The hon. Member is making a speech on the question.
I am as anxious as the hon. Member can be that the matter should be settled, and I will do my best to settle it.
Why did you not make your inquiries beforehand?
Water Companies (Liability For Storage Of Water) Bill
Ordered, That the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills do examine the Water Companies (Liability for Storage of Water) Bill, with respect to compliance with the Standing Orders relative to Private Bills.—( Mr. Louis Sinclair.)
Infant Life Protection Act (1897) Amendment
Bill to amend the Infant Life Protection Act, 1897, ordered to be brought in by Mr. Spear, Mr. Lawrence, Mr. Duke, Mr. Peel, Mr. Schwann, and Mr. Cawley.
Infant Life Protection Act (1897) Amendment Bill
"To amend the Infant Life Protection Act, 1897," presented, and read the first time; to be read a second time upon Wednesday, 1st May, and to be printed. [Bill 146.]
Local Government Act (1888) Amendment
Bill to amend the Local Government Act, 1888, ordered to be brought in by Mr. Spear, Mr. Duke. Mr. Oldroyd, and Mr. Taylor.
Local Government Act (1888) Amendment Bill
"To amend the Local Government Act, 1888," presented, and read the first time; to be read a second time upon Wednesday, 1st May, and to be printed. [Bill 147.]
Ways And Means
Considered in Committee.
(In the Committee.)
[Mr. J. W. LOWTHER (Cumberland, Penrith) in the Chair.]
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Income Tax shall be charged for the year beginning the sixth day of April, Nineteen Hundred and One, at the rate of one shilling and twopence."—( Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer.)
said the proposals contained in the Budget with regard to the augmentation of the income tax had very properly been taken great exception to. But he wished rather to draw attention to the general features of the Budget taken as a whole. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had had a great opportunity presented to him in connection with the Budget, and he had missed it, although he had advanced somewhat from the hopeless and impracticable attitude which had been the vogue for many years past. They were used to being told on these annual occasions how our glorious and beneficent fiscal system had enabled this country to surmount all difficulties and dangers. But he noticed the Chancellor of the Exchequer had not this year passed the usual eulogies upon our broken-down financial system. The right hon. Member for West Monmouthshire had indeed spoken of it—possibly reading from some old notes—as the envy and admiration of the world. But the world had shown its envy of the system by universally discarding it.
I must remind the right hon. Gentleman that the only subject that can be discussed on this resolution is the incidence of the income tax. He cannot enter on a general review of the fiscal position.
We were assured by the Government that as they were most anxious to get certain resolutions involving new taxes passed at once, that being a matter of urgent necessity, the Committee would be allowed to take the general discussion upon the remaining resolutions.
:I asked for an assurance from the Government, and received it, that there should be a general discussion.
That understanding only applied to the next day—Friday—when the general discussion was taken—if I may be permitted to say so—very inconveniently. I never understood that the undertaking would apply to this day.
The Chairman has, no doubt, quite correctly stated the general practice. But on this occasion it was pointed out that it would be extremely inconvenient for these new duties to remain in abeyance while the whole Budget was being discussed. I certainly understood the Government to undertake that indulgence would be extended to those hon. Members who had in the public interest refrained from taking part in the general discussion of the Budget on the earlier resolutions. Anyhow the Government deliberately pledged themselves to such a course in the face of Parliament. The Chairman of Committee was not a party to the under taking, which was, I think, given in the whole House, but the Government distinctly made the promise.
I am sure that nothing which I said ought to have given rise to that impression. On Friday night the discussion was certainly general, including as it did a disquisition on the South African war, but I did not understand that the general discussion of that evening was to apply to every day upon which the Budget was put down.
May I remind the right hon. Gentleman that there was not a whole night's debate on Friday, but only half a night's. It commenced at half-past nine.
I certainly understood that there was to be a general discussion now. There was some doubt about the arrangement at the time, and I asked a question specifically in order to obtain a definite answer. I asked whether the arrangement would apply not merely to the duties which were then discussed, but to the other duties.
Mr. Speaker refused to allow my motion, for the adjournment of the House on the sugar question, on the ground that the matter was to be discussed to-night.
The hon. Member is mistaken. It was refused on the ground that it could come up on the Report stage.
But can we discuss it on Report? We are told we cannot.
I never said that. It certainly can be discussed on the postponed Report. As soon as the other resolutions in the Budget are passed in Committee the resolution on sugar will come up for discussion—probably on Thursday, as far as I can judge.
In these circumstances I understand that the discussion now will be a general one.
I am afraid I must stop the right hon. Gentleman. That is certainly not my understanding of the agreement entered into. I was not consulted with reference to the setting aside of the ordinary rules of the House, and was no party to any such arrangement. My duty, therefore, now is to see that the ordinary rules of the House are maintained. The general discussion can take place on the first or second resolution of the Budget, but when subsequent resolutions are reached, then the debate should be confined to the subject-matter of those resolutions. I understood the agreement come to on Thursday evening to be limited to the next sitting of the Committee, but not to extend beyond that day. [Cries of "Move to report progress."]
said a suggestion had been made to him that he should move to report progress, but he recognised that the Chairman's duty was to carry out the rules of the House. The Government, however, distinctly undertook to sanction the arrangement of a general discussion now, and they had the statement of the right hon. Gentleman opposite that he had received an assurance that a discussion of a general character would be allowed to take place on all resolutions. But he did not wish to press the point, and he would therefore deal with that most obnoxious imposition the income tax. He would, however, tell his right hon. friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he had introduced a very unpopular Budget, and that he was trying to smuggle it through without discussion. The income tax was the impost of all others most closely associated with the Cobdenic school. It had gone up by leaps and bounds. Designed originally as a war tax, it had since become a favourite instrument for constructing sensational Budgets in time of peace. It had been the refuge of those who wished to evade their difficulties and to retard the fulfilment of their obligations. Our fiscal system had been described as the "envy and admiration of the world." But the "envy and admiration of the world" for the income tax had not hitherto been very marked. Foreign countries had discarded it; indeed, the income tax was highly unpopular in all the countries of the world. No Government—autocratic, a limited monarchy, or a Republic—appeared to approve of it. Our own colonies had not followed the example of the mother country in this respect. They preferred to extract taxes largely from the foreign producer; and it was worthy of notice that the affection of the Chancellor of the Exchequer for this form of taxation exclusively was cooling somewhat. The foreigner hitherto had been a sacred person whose pocket must in no way be touched, but now he was getting somewhat out of favour. One of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's imposts was openly avowed by him as intended to relieve the British taxpayer out of the needs of the foreign consumer. The war was not responsible for the breakdown of our much-vaunted economic system, which it was at last admitted had signally collapsed; it had been the growth of our normal expenditure, which had caused the present difficulties, and no one could predict where it would stop. It was not expenditure upon the defensive forces of the nation which could be held mainly responsible for our difficulties. How about the bloated Education Estimates, the money flung at the heads of the county councils to squander on so-called technical education and matters of that kind, and which was recklessly spent? They did not raise the money, and they did not care how they spent it. The Chancellor of the Exchequer spoke about holding a fair balance between direct and indirect taxation, but he had pointed out before that this balance was based on erroneous premises, because the payers of income tax were relatively also large contributors to indirect taxation. The right hon. Gentleman entirely ignored the fact that the income-tax payers were also large contributors to indirect taxation. Let them take as an instance the increased duty on sparkling wines: was it not the income-tax payer who had also to pay that, and could that be fairly quoted as a contribution from the classes who do not pay income-tax, and which made it necessary to increase direct taxation to balance it. For such really was the argument of the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he spoke of the equal apportionment of direct and indirect taxation. He quoted that to show that the right hon. Gentleman on this point was entirely erroneous in his premises. At the present moment the, direct taxpayer was far more heavily burdened than the Chancellor of the Exchequer had stated to the House. His system was the knocking off of the duty from the numerous articles which formerly contributed to the revenue, and the concentration of all the efforts of the Exchequer upon a few selected articles.
But that system had broken down and collapsed. To increase the income tax at a time when direct taxation had been contributing far more than its fair share of the total liabilities appeared to be indefensible. His right hon. friend had been afforded a great opportunity in connection with the Budget, and it was in his power to have taken I advantage of the patriotic outbursts throughout the, British Empire to draw closer the commercial ties which were the surest means of maintaining the unity of the Empire. There was a general desire for the free interchange of commodities as far as could be in the various parts of the Empire. The right hon. Gentleman had always had strong objection to the cultivation of friendly commercial relations with their colonies. He always treated the foreigner and the British subject upon identical terms, and he knew no difference between the Belgian and the Canadian—indeed he thought that the right; hon. Gentleman preferred the Belgian, as being nearer home. That was what he called Little Englandism. If ever there was one principle which had made greater progress during the last few years it was the establishment of preferential duties between this country and the various parts of the Empire. The Chancellor of the Exchequer must not think that he was asking him to adopt some reactionary protection doctrine, because he was talking of revenue, and as a substitute for his income tax he might have done better if he had consulted an eminent gold medallist at the Cobden Club. Sir Wilfrid Laurier. That gentleman was received with open arms at the Cobden Club, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer might even hope to get the gold medal himself if he would only adopt the policy of Sir Wilfrid Laurier. What had he done? Why he had so arranged the duties as to accord preferential treatment to inter-British trade? Sir Wilfrid Laurier had, in fact, given a preference of 25 per cent., since increased to 33⅓ per cent., to inter-British trade, and was forthwith decorated with the gold medal of the Cobden Club. Why did the Chancellor of the Exchequer not adopt some statesmanlike and patriotic attitude of that kind? Why was the right hon. Gentleman so devoted to Little England finance? The missing of this opportunity had caused great disappointment, not merely in Canada where they had shown the lead and given us for some years past great commercial advantages, but it had also created great disappointment in the new Commonwealth of Australia where they relied upon the Customs revenue but were perfectly ready to reciprocate friendly overtures. This was a principle which his right lion, friend need not think was by any means dead. He might pass it over, but it was making the greatest progress throughout all parts of the Empire, and he would find himself confronted with a strong demand that he should no longer stand in the way of what was a true British demand. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had consoled himself with an addition to the income tax and certain other imposts which it would be irregular to discuss at the present time. Without any very great effort he could have supplied himself with the sum which his income tax was expected to produce without any substantial interference with the habits or the mode of living of the people. The right hon. Gentleman took credit to himself that at any rate this duty would not benefit any British subjects more than the inhabitants of the most distant realms. He hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer would realise that he had missed a great opportunity, that he had created vast disappointments, and he had done more to retard the general advance of the British Empire than any of his predecessors.
said he experienced the greatest difficulty in following the line taken by the right hon. Gentleman who bad just sat down. He complained of the income tax being put at 1s. 2d. in the £, and in that complaint he was cheered by hon. Gentlemen opposite. Those very hon. Gentlemen who were applauding the right hon. Gentleman had supported this Government through thick and thin, and the Government were responsible, not for 2d., but for 6d. on the income tax. The right hon. Gentleman and his friends must recognise that as a consequence of their support of the present Government in its extravagant ways they must accept not only an occasional twopenny increase in the income tax, but a shilling in the £1 as a permanency. It was their duty to examine the reasons for this expenditure. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had told them that they had got to provide for a permanent increase of expenditure, amounting in the last five years to no less than £28,000,000 a year. What did that mean? That the 1s. income tax had become permanent. [Cries of "No, no."] They could not point out to him any probable new sources of revenue which were likely to reduce that shilling to a lower figure. They could not look to any reduction so long as they had at the head of affairs a, Prime Minister who had publicly rebuked the Treasury for its parsimony, Before Lord Salisbury could have got to the point of declaring in public that his difficulties were increased by the parsimony of the Treasury what an amount of pressure he must have put upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer to induce him to consent to every kind of extravagance—an extravagance which had landed them to-day with an income tax of 1s. 2d. in the £. Personally, he should not blame the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but rather defend him; he bad been attacked, not from the Opposition side, but by the Prime Minister.
said it was within the recollection of the Committee that an attack was made upon the Treasury, and the right hon. Gentleman was responsible for the policy of the Treasury. The hon. Member for King's Lynn the other evening declared himself unwilling to drive home the responsibility of the Government for the increase of expenditure, and in very forcible language he appealed to the Government not to imperil their existence, because he saw no possibility of an alternative Government. It was surprising to hear the hon. Member say-that he could see no possible alternative to a Ministry of which he was not himself a member. But although the hon. Member might hold that opinion as to the necessity of maintaining those particular gentlemen in office, he for one did not believe that any such opinion was held by the country at large. On this side of the House they had been twitted that they were not a united Party. [Ministerial cries of "Hear, hear."] Hon. Gentlemen opposite cheered that statement, but those who were present when the Chancellor of the Exchequer made his Budget statement had a very extraordinary spectacle presented to them. Hon. Members opposite could not see it, but it was apparent to Members sitting on the Opposition side. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, after making a brilliant, capable, and honest Budget statement, lasting a very considerable time, sat down between two right hon. colleagues, one on his right and the other on his left, who received his speech with stern silence, with implacable coldness, almost with resentment. In order to bring himself in order he would suggest that that resentment was due to the proposed increase of the income tax, but if he might give his honest opinion he should be inclined to attribute it to the light hon. Gentleman's frank statement that during the last five years the expenditure of the country had been increased by £28,000,000 sterling. It was said that the Government were not responsible for that expenditure, but that the House as a whole was responsible. More than that, it was said that the constituencies were responsible. That statement might very well be made upon a public platform, but he was astonished that anyone should adduce it in that House, where "a miserable and divided Opposition" had learned through bitter experience that they were absolutely impotent in opposing the Government. With the knowledge that year by year they had had their rights and privileges taken from them, were they to be told on this side of the House that they had been responsible for the extravagance of the Government? Not so very long ago Lord Salisbury told the country that the Treasury were too parsimonious. They must look to the head of the Government for the responsibility for the extravagance, and not to those on the Opposition side, who, in season and out of season, had endeavoured by every means in their power to resist that extravagance. It was difficult to put one's hand on each particular item of expenditure, and to say whether it ought to be reduced. He would give the House one instance of extravagance. There was the question raised by the hon. Member for King's Lynn, with respect to the docks which were being built at Gibraltar. A scheme was introduced in the 1892 Parliament which was to cost something like £2,000,000 for the Gibraltar docks.
pointed out that this matter was not relevant to the resolution before the Committee.
admitted that he laboured under a difficulty in referring to the subject. He would only name it, without going into detail. The hon. Member for King's Lynn, after personal examination of the subject on the spot, found that a very large increase in the expenditure, covering several millions, undertaken by the present Government, was wasted money. A Commission was appointed, of which the lion. Member was chairman. He understood that the Commission had unanimously reported—the Report had not yet been made public—but it was quite obvious, since it was unanimous, and the hon. Member for King's Lynn had already made up his mind on the subject, what the nature of the Report would lie. It was a Report that would justify the pamphlet written by the hon. Member, in which he charged the Government with having wasted a considerable amount of money. If they went to any part of the world where the Government had been carrying on warlike or peaceful operations, they would find that there had been extravagance after extravagance of small sums here and there, contributing largely to the total increase of £28,000,000 during the five years the Government had been in office—apart altogether from the war in South Africa. In the three years during which the late Liberal Government had been in office the public expenditure had increased by only three millions. During the previous twenty years it had increased by only twenty-three millions. Had there been anything in the condition of the world during the past five years to justify an increase of twenty eight millions in the public expenditure? Germany, which had not been behindhand in pushing its policy, had increased its expenditure during the same period by only ten millions. He did not understand the objection of hon. Gentlemen opposite to the increase in the income tax. As they had to swallow a pill, they ought to do it with cheerful countenances. They told their constituencies that they had Heaven-sent Ministers to guide them, but in the House they grumbled and said those Ministers were extravagant. Let them be true to themselves either in the House or in the country.
said he did not propose to wander quite so far as the hon. Member had done in his speech, but certainly he was encouraged to do so by the amiable indulgence which the Chairman had shown to the hon. Member. He wished to join his right hon. friend the Member for Thanet in expressing regret that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had thought it necessary to increase that onerous and most unfair impost, the income-tax.
said the satirical cheers of his right hon. friend the Member for West Monmouthshire did not disturb him. It was not because the increase in the tax fell upon him or upon his friend that he objected to it, but because it was morally unjust in its incidence. That tax fell alike upon the man who had a wasting security and the man who had a permanent security; it fell upon the man who had to earn his livelihood by his own labour or brains, which were subject to exhaustion; and it fell no more heavily upon the man who had a settled income from Consols. It might be said that the middle-classes, to whom the increase in the income tax was a serious matter, had made a mistake in returning the Government to office. Constituents wrote to him saying that they were not going to vote for him again. He was sure that hon. Members would be pleased to hear that these constituents were not going to vote for him; but that did not distress him particularly. He might, however, say that these gentlemen would only get out of the frying-pan into the fire, and he did feel a very great sympathy with them in this matter. A constituent had written to him that day on a small matter, but evidently under a misunderstanding. He inquired if the amount which he was entitled to deduct in respect of the landlord's property tax would be limited to 1s. He did not think there was any difficulty in the matter; for of course the answer was that when the tax was 8d. the deduction was limited to 8d.; when the tax was 1s. the deduction was limited to 1s.; and when the tax was 1s. 2d. the deduction was limited to 1s. 2d. He would be glad, however, if the Chancellor of the Exchequer would make the point clear. The hon. Member who last spoke joined the Chancellor of the Exchequer in a strong demand for economy. He sympathised with that demand; although he fully recognised that there was no party in the House—at least not more than half a dozen Members—who acted together in insisting on economy in national expenditure at all points. Where there was continuous temptation to extravagance, and to which the House fell a victim, was owing to the fact that civil servants had been given votes. [Cries of "Oh, oh."] He knew that that was an unpopular argument, but it was the true thing to say. It was a thing which every man would say in private, but not in public. Here were large bodies of civil servants organising and pressing hon. Members by notes and circulars and in every way to grant their demands, with the implied threat that the votes of a considerable body of men in their constituencies would be withdrawn from them if they did not grant these demands. Well, human nature was human nature, and great was the temptation put before any hon. Member who very much desired the honour of a seat in this House, and who had a very small majority, to succumb to the demands of, say, a very fine body of postmen in his constituency. He did not say that the postmen were unjustified in the demands which they made; but even if they were unjustified they would find Members of Parliament to support them. He asked the House seriously to consider whether a grave blunder had not been made in granting the franchise to the civil servants. It was a serious question, which affected in a most material degree the complaint which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had made. He was debarred, owing to the unfortunate misunderstanding which he and almost every Member of the House had fallen into in regard to the bargain which the Government had made with them, from touching on any other subject than the income tax, and he would only ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer to seriously consider what he had urged as to the strong distinction which existed between wasting securities, whether of brain or capital, and those which were maturing.
said he need not traverse the general unfairness of the incidence of the income tax, but he wished to point out the extreme unfairness of an increase without readjustment. The impost would fall with extreme severity on the smaller class of income tax payers. In 1894 the late Chancellor of the Exchequer—the result of whose financial statesmanship must be very agreeable to the present Chancellor of the Exchequer just now, although he opposed it strongly at the particular time—increased the income tax from 7d. to 9d., but in such a way that no fewer than 500,000 income tax payers paid less at 8d. than they would have done under the old system at 7d. That was to say, the smaller class of income tax payers got off more cheaply, for the Chancellor of the Exchequer of that day raised the exemption from £150 to £160, and widened the range of abatements. He wanted to know why that policy had not been pursued now. Why should not the Chancellor of the Exchequer be able to get all the additional revenue he required without increasing the impost on the smaller income tax payers? There were no more estimable and blameless members of society than the small middle class people, who were ground down with taxation. The Chancellor of the Exchequer might find cold comfort in saying that the income tax was 2s. in the £1 at the time of the Peninsular War: but the men for whom he pleaded had to bear far heavier burdens, in the way of local taxation particularly, than were known at the time of the Peninsular War. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that at the time of the Crimean War the income tax was 1s. 1d., and therefore 1s. 2d. should be paid cheerfully now. But there was then a differential rate of income tax—the small payer paid 11½d and the larger class paid 1s. 4d. He confessed he did not know whether that was good political economy, but he would like to go back to the differential rate, and put a much heavier impost on the linger incomes. He pleaded for the lower middle class of people, who had so many burdens on them, and who lived a godly, righteous, and sober life, and who were the cream of the community. The education of their children was expensive, the State not having provided cheap secondary education. They were, perhaps, buying their houses through a building society, and had often poor relatives to assist. Convention demanded a measure of respectable living and clothing which was a severe drain on their small incomes. He would take the opportunity to test the question as to whether or not, even in this Budget, some plan could be devised to relieve that class from additional imposts on incomes up to and including £500 a year. It ought not to tax the ingenuity of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his officials to lay out a scheme in the Schedule on the lines of his own scheme of 1899, and to go back to the days of the Crimean differential rate by relieving incomes up to £500 of any further impost, and yet be able to get the revenue he required. It was said that they ought to be punished for "Mafficking," but there was no public policy in telling a man that, because he was deluded into a mistaken act two years ago, he should be overburdened with taxation. Moreover he did not think that it was the class for whom he was pleading that did the "Mafficking."
said he would like to say a few words on the income tax. There was no doubt that the extra 2d. was necessary at the present time, but it was a fact that it was causing a great deal of annoyance among a most estimable body of the community. Inasmuch as the Chancellor of the Exchequer had raised two thirds of his additional revenue from indirect and only one third from direct taxation, he thought all would agree that, taking it as a whole, it was a fair arrangement. He strongly urged on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to consider the question whether some arrangement could not be made on the lines of the suggestions of the hon. Member for the St. Albans Division. A good many years ago he himself had brought forward a scheme of differential rating on incomes from old investments and on the reward of present-day labour; and he was sure there would never be a perfectly fair income tax until a distinction was made between these two sources of income. Of course a change of this sort involved a great deal of trouble, and a Chancellor of the Exchequer did not like to embark on a new and difficult system of taxation which involved that. The tax would be less unpopular if a differentiation could he made between incomes derived from labour and incomes derived from investment. All taxes were unpopular, especially the income tax, and therefore the Chancellor of the Exchequer should levy it with as much consideration as possible. He was afraid that that was not now done. He brought before the House last year an instance as to the system of claiming arrears of income tax on the higher rate, a matter which he supposed concerned a great many persons, and which seemed to him to be sharp practice on the part of the Treasury. In some instances especially most extortionate demands had been made in connection with arrears. He would again mention the ease of the. Jamaica Railway, which was established practically by the English people in order to promote the well-being of Jamaica. The great bulk of the money required to build the railway was raised on debentures, and there was a clause in the agreement that if the railway did not answer they should be exchanged for Colonial Bonds. Of course the railway did not answer, and the debentures became Jamaica Bonds. Three years elapsed before the arrangement was completed, and in the meantime the income tax had been raised from 8d. to 1s., and because the income tax for the three years was paid on the 10th of April instead of on the 30th of March, a 1s. tax was claimed for the entire period. That seemed to him to be a system of imposing the income tax which made the tax very much more unpopular than it otherwise would he. It was not fair, and if a tradesman had acted in that way he would not be supported by the law. No doubt the Chancellor of the Exchequer was acting within his right, but such a system as that tended to make people dislike and resent the payment of the tax. The whole question of the income tax had been many times debated in the House of Commons during the last half century. Mr. Gladstone had an idea of amending its various anomalies, but the matter proved too difficult even for him to carry out. With the income tax at its present enormous high rate—and in his opinion it would not be much lower—it was essential that it should be leyied on a fairer and more equitable system. What the Chancellor of the Exchequer said about the enormous increase of expenditure was a matter which should he considered by all who had the interests of the country at heart. No doubt the enormous increase in the national expenditure was largely due to hon. Members themselves. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was about the only man in the House who really seemed to try and control expenditure. With reference to the remarks of his hon. friend on the various phases of the public service, the Chancellor of the Exchequer once said that it might be necessary to disfranchise public servants, if they went on clamouring in the way they did for more pay, while their appointments were clamoured for by hundreds of people who could not get them. The Government should be fair and liberal, but it was never intended that an organised body should exist for the purpose of increasing the salaries of the class to which they belonged. While being fair and liberal to the servants of the country, the system of always endeavouring to increase payment, whether it was deserved or not, ought to be discouraged. The current expenditure of the country was growing in a way that was very alarming, apart altogether from the war. The enormous expense of war was, to a certain extent, an advantage, because it prevented people going into war as readily as they otherwise would, and he thought it was providential that war was so enormously expensive. How could the increasing national expenditure be stopped? It was quite clear that unless the Government with the largest majority of modern times was firm and strong—and it ought to have, if any Government ever had, the power of putting a stop to unnecessary expenditure, whether it was popular or not—unless they had the pluck and determination to arrest the development of expenditure, they would have to regard 1s. as the normal income tax, and would have to increase taxation in many directions. The infliction of suffering on the part of the poorer people was a matter which should also be considered, and they would not be worthy of the position they held in the House of Commons unless they insisted on the Government doing something to prevent the enormous growth of national expenditure from year to year.
said that after discussing several subjects on the Budget they had at last settled down to the income tax, but he was afraid that it was very unfortunate that they were confined to one subject. After the ruling of the Chair, he did not desire to revert to the general question, as no doubt there would be another opportunity of dealing with it. The hon. Member who had just sat dowm desired an income tax which would fall with equal weight on every income-tax payer. He desired to tax the individual income, but that was an impracticable position. It had been attempted more than once, and had been found impossible. In 1853 Mr. Gladstone proved, as far as a proposition could be proved, that it was impossible to deal with the individual income, and that incomes must be dealt with by taxing them at their source. The hon Member would distinguish between one class of income and another. Personally, he did not pay any income tax as an individual. His sources of income were already taxed before they reached his hand; but under the system of individual taxation he would have to make a return of his full income, and he was afraid his inclination would be not to put his income higher than he possibly could. Permanent income at the present moment was derived from realised property, which was subject to a tax which was not unreasonable. The high death duty did away with a good deal of the injustice of the inequality of taxation. Year by year the actual pressure of the tax on precarious incomes had been diminished by abatements and concessions. The system of graduated taxation upon free incomes of the lower class, under which incomes up to £160 were altogether exempt, was a complete system of graduated taxation so far as it went, and he thought that that system should be extended to a much higher figure. He should not hesitate to graduate income tax in that way up to incomes of £1,000 a year or more. That was a proposition which any Government might accept, because Governments of both parties had from time to time given greater exemptions and abatements in regard to income tax. He was in accord with the hon. Member for Camberwell that when the income tax was raised it should be graduated to a greater extent. He regretted that he could not support this proposal as a whole, He was not, he said, one of those who thought the additional 2d. ought not to have been placed on the income tax. In his opinion a yet further addition of 2d. should have been placed upon it. We were in the middle of a long war, which was to cost £170,000,000, and yet it was only proposed to raise £27,000,000 by extra taxation. In his view the amount raised by extra taxation was inadequate to the total amount of the war. His general objection to the whole Budget was that the Government were not raising enough by extra taxation to meet the great burden placed upon the country. That observation also applied to indirect taxation, which did not produce sufficient revenue, taking into account the cost of the war and the disturbance to trade that would be involved by the imposition of the sugar and coal duties. He was glad that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had not given way to the clamour against taxing the rich at all, on the ground that the poor relations of the rich would suffer. He should support this resolution.
said that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had done as well as he could under the circumstances. He cordially supported the proposals as to sugar and coal; but he accepted the increase of the income tax as a disagreeable necessity, forced upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer by the desirability of winning some measure of support from the front Opposition bench. The income tax was one which was levied mainly on British industries, while incomes derived from investments abroad were largely exempt, not theoretically, perhaps, but for all practical purposes, because those who held shares in British concerns had their income tax deducted from the dividends when paid. In the case of those who had investments abroad the dividends had first to be traced. It was not too much to say that there was a large amount of leakage in that respect, and that many persons who ought to pay income tax paid nothing at all. There was also a good deal of money which ought to be collected which was not collected. There were a great many people employed in the colliery districts who were well known to be in receipt of £200 or £300 a year who never contributed. He supported the Budget, and would vote for the extra 2d., on the income tax because he believed the Chancellor of the Exchequer could not avoid, placed in the position he was, putting it on. The speech of the hon. Gentleman who had preceded him represented largely the view of the opposite side of the House that there ought to be more than 2d., but with that view he could not agree. There could not be in a large form a worse tax than the income tax. He greatly regretted that it had not been possible for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to propose that the foreign importations into this country, which contributed nothing to the revenue, and many of which entered into competition with our industries, should bear some portion of the burden, instead of it being imposed upon the unfortunate British taxpayer in the shape of income tax. He should, however, not oppose the income tax resolution, but support it as a disagreeable necessity forced upon the Government by the obvious common sense position in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer found himself, of being obliged to follow the line of least resistance.
said that many extraordinary economic heresies had from time to time been put forward in the Committee, but the view of the hon. Member for the Kirkdale division really beat all. If hon. Members who held such opinions attempted to put their theories into practice they would all within a couple of years cease to represent any commercial community in the country. With regard to the income tax, he thought that where it was desirable that direct taxation should bear the largest possible proportion of the taxes Irishmen would be in favour of the direct taxation being in the form of an income tax. The incidence, of course, whether between individuals, employments, or countries, was quite another matter. He and his colleagues were all in sympathy with the graduation of the tax, so that the higher the income the larger the proportion of the tax imposed. Up to 1853 Ireland was recognised as a separate fiscal entity as regarded the income tax. Owing to the disastrous years of scarcity in 1847–8, large local sums for relief became due, and these amounts were paid by the English Treasury. Shortly afterwards Mr. Gladstone imposed for the first time the income tax in Ireland, in order to counterbalance the sums the Treasury had paid. The tax was avowedly imposed as a temporary charge—for eleven years—but forty-seven years had since passed, and still the income tax remained. In discussing the general financial relations, the Treasury usually urged the difficulty of arranging the matter with regard to indirect taxation generally without erecting custom-houses and creating trade barriers in Ireland, but here was a tax in regard to which the Treasury could, without any such alteration, give some effect to the findings of the Royal Commission of four or five years ago. One could not help having a feeling approaching contempt for the men who hurrahed and shouted for the war, but were now grumbling through The Times and the Standard at the paltry addition of 2d. on the income tax which they were called upon to pay. If there was any portion of the Empire which under present circumstances ought to escape this additional income tax it was Ireland, not only because of the historical fact to which he had alluded, but also because the increase was undoubtedly due to the enormous expenditure on the costly and bloody war in South Africa, against which Ireland had always protested, and therefore for which she should not be called upon to pay.
considered that the Budget as a whole was as fair a Budget as could under the circumstances have been devised, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer was to be congratulated on having made the additional burden of taxation fall as equally as possible on all classes and interests. Those who were disposed to criticise the income tax should remember that such questions had to be regarded not only from their financial and ecomonic aspect, but also from their political aspect, and it would not be possible for any Chancellor of the Exchequer to put taxes on sugar and coal—both of which were commendable under present circumstances—without also increasing to a moderate extent the income tax. The hon. Member for Poplar was not likely to get many to join in his regret that an additional 4d. was not put on the income tax, and that the taxes on coal and sugar were not 2s. 6d. per ton and 1d. per pound respectively.
pointed out that his regret was that the taxation imposed this year was not twice as much, considering the amount of the debt.
said that was practically the same thing. From that point of view the criticism of the hon. Member was very unfair. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had hit upon a very happy mean in the amount he had imposed upon present taxpayers and that which posterity would have to pay. The war was one for which posterity would gain to a much larger extent than was the case with regard to many wars in which this country had been involved, and therefore the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Government were quite justified in placing a very considerable portion of the burden upon the shoulders of posterity. British trade with South Africa amounted to about £20,000,000 before the war. He believed that ten years after the war had finished and peace been restored that trade would have doubled, and no one could say that that would not be a great benefit to future generations and to the present generation. The hon. Member who had just sat down took the same line which was taken the other night by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Monmouthshire and other speakers on the opposite side in throwing the whole responsibility for this great expenditure upon the present policy of His Majesty's Government. He held that that was a most unjust charge, for the persons who wore really responsible for it were those who caused the war originally by the capitulation after Majuba. This extra 2d. on the income tax was due to their action far more than to the policy of His Majesty's Government. All the expenditure upon this war might have been averted by timely action, but who were the persons responsible for preventing that timely action? Why, the hon. Gentlemen sitting on the opposite benches. In every single case they carried on a policy of inaction. In 1884, 1894, and 1896, they were the persons who prevented action being taken when it would have saved all this expense. Hon. Gentlemen opposite had no right to throw the responsibility for these increases on His Majesty's Government. The war in South Africa was forced upon this country, and a great British conspiracy in South Africa rendered the war inevitable. [Nationalist cheers.] Hon. Members opposite were always ready to take advantage of a slip. He should have said that a great anti-British conspiracy had rendered the war inevitable, and the persons who could have avoided that war, or at least made it easy and inexpensive, were those persons who should have dealt with that anti-British conspiracy in time. He protested against the way in which hon. Members opposite had charged the Government with responsibility for this expenditure, when they themselves were the cause of it. With regard to the incidence of taxation, he was not aware that the income-tax payers had raised any outrageous cry against the tax. There had been a certain amount of correspondence in the press, and he had heard much complaint from the Ministerial Benches. Although everyone regretted the increase in the income tax, yet he thought the income tax payers as a whole had behaved much more creditably than the coalowners and great coal merchants, who had made an outcry of which he was thoroughly ashamed. Nobody had gained so much by this war from the increased price of coal, carriage, and transport as they had; they ought to pay, and he was glad the Chancellor of the Exchequer was going to make them pay, although he believed that in the long run the tax would fall rather on the foreign consumer. He congratulated the right hon. Gentleman on his Budget, in which he had made a very equal division of the taxation. He believed this Budget was an original, bold, and fair one, and one which would be popular with the country.
said that the hon. Member who had just sat down had managed to wander somewhat from the strict subject of the debate. The whole of the speakers on the opposite side of the House had, with the exception of the hon. Member who had just spoken, been harping upon the imposition of 2d. upon the income tax, and he could not help feeling that underlying some of the speeches made on the other side was the desire, perhaps unconscious, to return to protectionist theories and practices in the taxation of this country. Two hon. Members—the Member for Thanet and the Member for Liverpool—blurted out that they did desire to return to protection; indeed, one hon. Member bad spoken of the exploded theory of free trade. The income tax was of all existing forms of direct taxation the one against which most reasons might be urged, and there were, he understood, insuperable practical difficulties in the way of graduating it. But, after all, he approved of that form of direct taxation far more than the two other methods by which the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed to raise additional taxation. The hon. Member for Thanet had made his contribution towards the settlement of this difficult question of the finances of the country which they were considering at the present moment, and he had spoken of the bloated expenditure upon education. He could understand the hon. Member saying that until his anti-educational policy was carried out there would be little chance of inducing the mass of the people to agree to his theories with regard to protection. If it were accepted that £11,000,000 was to be raised by the three distinct methods proposed, then he thought the right hon. Gentleman had not proposed a sufficient increase of the income tax in proportion to the other methods. If they took the average family of a labourer with a wage of £1 a week, they found that the indirect taxation he would pay on sugar would amount to 1–54th of his income, whereas the increase in taxation to the man with an income of £1,000 a year, owing to the increase of income tax plus the tax on sugar, would amount to 1–105th part of his income. So that the labourer with £1 per week would pay almost double the proportion of his income that the man with £1,000 a year and upwards would pay. Seeing that every additional penny added to the income tax yielded loss than the last one, he could not help thinking that it would have been a more just and economical way of dealing with the question if the Chancellor of the Exchequer had gone as far as to increase the income tax by 4d. in the £1. He knew perfectly well that he was excluded from considering the scheme of the Chancellor of the Exchequer as a whole, but he presumed he was not precluded from expressing the utmost possible dissent from the principles that underlay the speeches of hon. Gentleman opposite with respect to the increase of the income tax. The view that underlay those speeches in most cases was that this country should return to the protective system. He believed that such, an attempt was hopeless. He believed that the people of this country were convinced by two generations of human life as to the enormous advantages we derived as compared with foreign nations from the system of free trade. Our national finance was based to a greater extent than that of any other nation in the world upon direct taxation. It seemed somewhat late in the day to have to argue that in the House of Commons. We could not by putting a duty on imports tax the foreigner. We were often told that good trade was the result of having a Unionist Government in office. But we had now removed almost all restrictions on trade, and there was no opportunity for a Government by its policy to produce good trade. But, although a Government could not produce good trade, it might by its legislation produce bad trade. It was the duty of every free-trader to nail to the counter such a false coin as the suggestion that we should return to the evil system of protection which sixty or seventy years ago well nigh ruined the country. By getting out of it, practically the recent prosperity of this country was wholly due.
said the hon. Member for the Ecclesall Division had alluded to certain points on which he desired to say a few words. The hon. Member had endeavoured to put the blame for the war on previous Governments. He had no desire to enter into useless discussion in regard to the origin of the war, because the constituency he represented, and the people of Ireland generally, were opposed to the war, and had been from the commencement. They could not understand why they should be called upon to support a war upon which they were not consulted, and of which they disapproved. In regard to the way in which the war was begun, he could hardly understand the want of system that existed in this country, which was supposed to be a constitutionally governed country and under the management of the House of Commons. This war was manipulated and brought about by a capitalist clique altogether outside this House, but when the cost of the war was to be paid an appeal is made to Parliament which was not consulted, and they were obliged through their constituents to meet the expenditure. It appeared to him that a great constitutional principle was being lost sight of by the House, and he thought it would be well in future, when war was looming in the distance, that the First Lord of the Treasury should call the House of Commons to consider the question, and to consult it as to the advisability and necessity of plunging into war which the country would have to pay for in men, money, and social suffering. The object of just taxation ought to be to adapt the financial burden to the capability of those who were called upon to hear the tax. He held that the wealthier classes did not pay a proportionate share of the income tax. A business man was called upon to make a hypothetical return of the amount of profit he was likely to realise in the ensuing year. That was a preposterous way to levy taxation. The poor governess was disproportionately burdened. Brains were taxed entirely out of ratio with rentals or royalties. The whole subject required to be reformed, and greater gradations of payments introduced. The income tax in Ireland was introduced in 1853 by Mr. Gladstone, who said it was to be a tax for seven years, but it had been continued ever since. British financiers when they got hold of a tax seldom relinquished it. The Irish people were told that it was in exchange for the payment of £260,000 a year, in connection with the Consolidated Fund annuities, that the income tax was imposed. The income tax amounted to double the amount of the Consolidated Fund annuities, and the result was that they had paid something like £30,000,000 in income tax since then. In his opinion Mr. Gladstone was the most expensive friend that Ireland ever had, from a taxpayer's point of view, and the sooner his system of taxation was abolished the better. For what had been the result of that financial policy? It had increased taxation and decreased population. For according as the population decreased, the incidence of taxation increased. Now that was a result that had not been attained or attempted by the Government of any civilised country in the world. While the population had decreased by one half since Her late Majesty came to the throne, the taxation had increased three-fold. These were very serious facts, and demanded the immediate attention of everyone in this House who had any interest in Ireland. He entirely traversed the statement made by the last speaker in regard to free trade. He did not believe that it was a policy of free trade. It was a policy of free imports; for they received everything from all parts of the world, while there was a wall of protection against British and Irish products and manufactures wherever they were exported. The Manchester school and all those who had obtained prosperity under so-called free