HC Deb 27 March 1888 vol 324 cc401-3

I wish, Sir, to put a Question to you on a point of Order with reference to the Report of Ways and Means. I have a general inquiry to make of the Chancellor of the Exchequer with regard to his Financial Statement last night. What I wish to know is, whether I can make that inquiry on the Report of the Resolution relating to the Wine Duties, which seem to me to raise the whole question of the Financial Statement?


Any inquiry or discussion would only be relevant which referred to the subject of the Resolution which was passed last night in dealing with the Wine Duties. The noble Lord, therefore, upon that Resolution would have to confine his remarks to the Wine Duties.


The question is not without importance. I suppose I am right in assuming that the grants in aid of local taxation for the present year remain practically the same as last night. Am I also right in assuming that, in addition to those grants in aid, the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposes to give to local taxation resources an amount equal to about £1,700,000? If I am correct in those two assumptions, I wish to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer a Question which he will see has a most important bearing on the Local Government (England and Wales) Bill. Will that additional grant of £1,700,000 be dependent and conditional on the Bill passing into law—that is to say, that if it does not pass into law will this further grant of £1,700,000 be withdrawn, and will the grants in aid of local taxation remain as they are at present?


I am much obliged, and so is my right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board, to the noble Lord for having put this Question. The grant of £1,700,000 will be entirely dependent on the passing of the Local Government (England and Wales) Bill. There is a clause in that Bill which regulates the temporary arrangement before the new authorities are established; but if the House should reject the whole scheme of Local Government the whole scheme of the re-adjustment of the local and imperial finance would fall to the ground at the same time, and have to be considered in succeeding years when Parliament might feel disposed to take a different view. It is most important that it should be understood that the proposed re-adjustment of local and Imperial burdens must depend upon the plan as a whole, and is dependent upon its being carried as a whole. If the plan as a whole is not carried, we shall remain as we are; the grants in aid of local taxation would continue to be given this year, and that relief will not be given which this and previous Governments have always intended to be part and parcel of any general scheme for the reform of local government.