§ BARON DIMSDALE (Herts, Hitchin)
I beg to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his attention has been called to a Report issued by the Local Taxation Committee with reference to 1747 the response made by the English County Councils to his remarks on the 29th November, 1888, and the 15th April, 1889, on the reinforcements of the local finances for the amount lost to the ratepayers by the withdrawal of certain licenses enumerated in the First Schedule of the Local Government Act, 1888; whether it appears from this Report that 35 out of the 41 County Councils which have expressed an opinion on the matter, have invited action by Her Majesty's Government with a view of supplying the deficiency in the county resources; and whether he is prepared to consider the propriety of granting relief in such form as he may deem expedient, in order to place the ratepayers in the position indicated on the introduction and passing of the Local Government Act, 1888?
§ * THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. GOSCHEN, St. George's, Hanover Square)
My attention has been called to the Report; but I do not know that the Resolutions of the Councils help much to the solution of the question. A large number of Councils have delared in favour of a "reinforcement of local finances," which, of course, all bodies of ratepayers' representatives must desire, but without suggesting any means of attaining that desirable end. It is only a minority which declares specifically for the wheel tax. None of the Resolutions come from borough County Councils, and as it was from the boroughs that the opposition which prevented the Excise Duties Bill being passed last year came, this seems to me a fact of great significance. I have given a good deal of consideration to the matter; but I do not at present see my way to meeting the views of the Councils. A further surrender of Imperial revenue is out of the question, and as for new sources of local revenue, I still know of none fairer than a wheel tax for the special object of maintaining roads. But I am afraid that experience has taught me that the opposition which any new tax, however reasonable, encounters is out of all proportion to the gratitude felt for any relief, however great, which such taxation affords.