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Isle Of Man (Customs) Bill

Volume 180: debated on Wednesday 7 August 1907

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Order for the Second Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."

*MR. HAROLD COX (Preston) moved that it was undesirable to proceed further with a measure affecting the revenues of the Isle of Man which made no provision for a further contribution from those revenues towards the cost of defending the Empire. The position with regard to the Isle of Man, he said, was that this country collected revenues and handed them over to the Isle of Man for the sum of £10,000 a year, paid into the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom. This arrangement was made in 1866. The point was that if that arrangement was equitable then, it was obviously inequitable now. In 1866 the Army cost us £14,000,000 and the Navy £10,000,000. Since then the Army had doubled in cost and the Navy had trebled in cost. The Isle of Man still paid the same sum, although it had increased in wealth enormously. The population of the Isle of Man was about 50,000, so that on the basis of population the Isle of Man paid 4s. per head towards the cost of defending the Empire. There was no reason why the Isle of Man should not bear its proper share. Taking similar figures for the United Kingdom, they found that for the upkeep of the Army, the Navy, the Civil List, and the Diplomatic Service, the people of the United Kingdom paid £2 a head, while in the Isle of Man they paid 4s. This was the estimate on the mere population basis, but another comparison was equally interesting. The Isle of Man derived its revenue from the whole of the county of Lancashire. Lancashire poured its wealth into that little island. He asked the House to consider the injustice that was occasioned to every watering-place on the mainland in Lancashire. There was Blackpool. He did not see the Member for Blackpool in the House that night, but the injustice to his constituents was apparent. Blackpool was in the same position to the Empire as the Isle of Man, but the Blackpool people—the lodging-house keepers and others—had to pay towards the cost of defending the Empire at the rate of £2 a head, while the people of the Isle of Man paid 4s. a head. This was a cruel injustice. The Isle of Man escaped the taxes from which this country suffered—even the income-tax. They all knew that an author of some repute lived in the Isle of Man, and the whole Empire would gladly shed its last drop of blood in defence of Greeba Castle. Yet the occupant of that castle paid not a single penny of income-tax. Think of the injustice to the hon. Member for Gravesend who had to pay a cruel income tax on his scanty earnings, while his rival in the Isle of Man escaped scot free.

Amendment moved—

"To leave out all after the word 'that' and insert 'it is undesirable to proceed further with a measure affecting the revenues of the Isle of Man which makes no provision for a further contribution from those revenues towards the cost of defending the Empire '"—(Mr. Harold Cox.)

Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."

said that the amount which the Isle of Man paid was arrived at after long discussion. It was impossible to make any just comparison between the Isle of Man and Blackpool, but if they compared the Isle of Man with Australia they would find the contribution from the people of the Isle of Man was large, in fact, it was considerably larger than it was in any other of our possessions, as the hon. Member for Preston very well knew. The object of this Bill was only to affirm that the Custom duties levied in the Isle of Man should be the same as those in the rest of the United Kingdom, the sole object being to prevent any smuggling between the Isle of Man and this country.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Bill read a second time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House.—( Mr. Runciman.)