§ Considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Postponed Clause 4.
§ (5.5.) MR. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.)
I beg to move to insert, after "ninety," in line 9, page 2, "in England and Scotland, but as regards Ireland, after the passing of any Act relating to Local Government in Ireland." I understand that some of the Scotch Members find considerable fault with my Amendment, on the ground of its moderation—that it does not extend to Scotland. Personally, I cannot go into a discussion I do not understand, and therefore, I have confined my Amendment to Ireland. I hope that even at the eleventh hour the Government will give us some assurance as to the way in which they propose to conduct this measure. Let me put before the Chancellor of the Exchequer the position in which the Irish Members find themselves. We have before us a Bill brought in in a manner in which no other Bill has ever been introduced before, because in its Preamble the Bill sets out that we grant Supply to Her Majesty; but in another clause it provides that the moneys shall be dealt with as Parliament may hereafter determine by Act of Parliament of the present Session. Then the Bill speaks of two Bills, neither of which has yet passed, namely, the Land Purchase 1292 Bill and the Bill relating to Local Government in Ireland. Irish Members intend to support this Amendment, in order to relieve themselves from this triple embarrassment. We protest against a Budget Bill containing clauses relating to Local Government; we protest that when it does so contain them we should be referred to a Bill to be dealt with in this present Parliament, a Bill which may never become law, a Bill which, even if it does become law, refers us to two other Bills which may never become law, namely, the Land Purchase Bill and a Bill not yet introduced, a Bill for Local Government in Ireland. We are confronted with three Bills—the Probate Duty Bill, the Land Purchase Bill, and the Bill for Local Government—and we are asked to give a tax to the Government on the contingency of the three Bills passing, two of which have only been read a second time, and one of which has only been promised in the Queen's Speech. I hope that light may penetrate the mind of the Government on this point, at least so far as Ireland is concerned. The position the Government has taken up is absolutely unexampled. I challenge them to produce a single precedent for anything that has been done in regard to this Bill. It is surprising no one has ventured to consult Mr. Speaker as to whether such embarrassment has ever before been placed in the path of private Members. Personally, I believe the embarrassment has been designedly created by the Government. Now, I desire to address myself to the more immediate matter of the Amendment. I have not had the opportunity of consulting my Colleagues on the point; but I heard with considerable satisfaction the statement which the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Chief Secretary were good enough to make on Friday night. That statement tended to some extent to alleviate our position, and, accordingly, I welcomed it. But we want to know before we assent to these taxes how much further the Government are prepared to go? Are they, for instance, prepared to enable us to have the Corporations who are to have the disposition of the money elected upon a franchise similar to that on which the County Councils in England and Scotland are elected? If the municipal franchise in Derry, Belfast, and other towns 1293 is reduced, so that the Corporations can be popularly elected, the position will be vastly improved so far as the towns are concerned. I wish the Government to understand that I, speaking for myself, do not at all reject the suggestion which has been made. On the contrary, I think it is a matter which in principle we might fairly be inclined to admit if the Government will consent to reduce the franchise in Ireland to the level of the franchise in England and Scotland. Then we come to the consideration of the more important question, the question of the counties. We are asked to agree to this tax, although we are placed in a position that Englishmen and Scotchmen are not placed in. Englishmen and Scotchmen address themselves to the consideration of this question, knowing that Local Government prevails in their counties and boroughs, and that if the tax be inequitable, and they object to it, they will get value for the cash they have paid. That is not the case with us, and I should have imagined that before the Government proposed or attempted to carry a tax like this, in face of the Irish people, they would have made some effort to redeem their pledges on the question of Local Government. It is now 10 years since the first real pledge on the subject of Local Government was given; Local Government was promised in the Queen's Speech of 1880. It is now 1890, and the same pledge is given almost in the same terms. I can carry my mind back to the glorious time of Conservatism in Ireland, when the Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. J. Lowther) was Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant. That right hon. Gentleman went the length of introducing a Bill to create Local Government, so that, so far as the legislative history of the question is concerned, Local Government in Ireland is as old as the hills. Yet we find the Government proposing the imposition of a tax in regard to our country, while any advantages resulting from it are made dependent upon the existence of a system which, as yet, does not prevail in Ireland. I admit also, for myself, that my position is, to some extent, illogical. My objection to the tax is not so much as a Customs Tax as an Excise Tax. I would prefer to see the Customs Tax 1294 increased instead of reduced. I do not want to see German spirits at 9d. introduced, while Irish spirits are taxed at the rate of 4s. or 5s. Having said that much, let me point out to the Government that as they have refused to carry out the policy laid down by the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord R. Churchill), the policy of similarity and simultaneity, there is no reason why we in Ireland should be embarrassed simply because of a little Customs difficulty. I do not think we need contemplate any smuggling, especially if we adopt the word hogshead—men cannot carry hogsheads in their waistcoat pockets. Now, I should like to know why the Government will not let us see their hand, their trumps, on the question of Local Government? Why do not they, at any rate, introduce their Bill? In 1886 the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington said—Why deal with these trumpery questions now, when next year you shall have the Bill which shall enable you to deal with all these local taxes.That is four years ago. Are we to put any faith in the words of Ministers and noble Lords? And if we cannot believe the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington, what faith are we to put in the statements of the Chief Secretary for Ireland? The noble Lord has never gone about abusing the Irish Members; he has always treated them with courtesy and respect; and if I may institute a comparison between the two Gentlemen, I would certainly as soon believe the noble Lord as the right hon. Gentlemen. I will make a practical suggestion to Her Majesty's Government. Let them introduce their Local Government Bill, which everybody is anxious to pass. It will meet with no opposition if it is anything like the Bills which were passed for England and Scotland. It will have the blessings of the distinguished Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham; it will have the support of those enlightened Tory democrats the Members for South Belfast, North Armagh, and North Antrim. Let the Government for the moment drop the Irish Land Purchase Bill, which no one is anxious about, which only takes up time, and the money to be divided by which is not required—because they 1295 have £5,000,000 of the Ashbourne Act money unspent—and bring in a non-contentious measure of Local Government. If this were done, instead of continuing the wrangle as we have been doing for a considerable time past, everybody will be satisfied. The Torypress, which is so anxious to confer Local Government upon Ireland, would be delighted. Theright hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) would be pleased, and the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale (the Marquesas of Harting-ton) would be very well satisfied also. The three Parties would lie down in amity and friendship together. We all know it is simply want of time that prevents such a measure being brought in. Let me now point out some of the Inconveniences which must arise if the Government do not adopt this suggestion. They are manifold. In the first place, we shall have to vote this money blindfold. We do not know how it is to be spent. I am told it is to be placed in an account; but we shall not be able to look at the account and see how the money is going. Perhaps the Government are going to spend the money on the police in Ireland and extra battering-rams. Perhaps they are going to lend it to the hon. Member for South Hants (Mr. Smith-Barry)—
I must invite the hon. Member to address himself to the discussion of the practical question. He has been extremely discursive for some time.
§ M. T. M. HEALY
Well, Mr. Courtney, if you will tell me how this money is to be spent I will discuss the method of spending it. The difficulty I find is how to discuss the question of the way the money is to be spent.
The hon. Member is quite entitled to refer to the fact—if it be a fact—that the money is to be locked up. He is not entitled to discuss the other questions.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I find that the money is to be locked up in this way. £40,000 will be assigned for the extinction of licences. No machinery, however, is provided by the Bill now before the House for the extinction of licences. Englishmen and Scotchmen are to have their licences extinguished; but we are to be definitely prevented from adopting a similar course in Ireland. The Chief 1296 Secretary for Ireland will deny to places like Dublin, Belfast, and Derry, which are equipped with the machinery of Local Government, that power of ex-tingaishing licences which Liverpool, London, and other towns in England are to enjoy. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to defend that position, and say why, in those places where Local Government exists, this power of extinguishing licences should not be put into operation? I will tell the right hon. Gentleman the reason: It is that he does not intend to apply the money in this direction at all. The Government will lock up the money, and will never introduce a Local Government scheme. Ireland will probably have the money used for horse breeding, or Queen's Plates, or the other purposes for which this Act enables it to be used. I know I shall be told by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the Government are willing to give us these powers in relation to cities and towns, and that we will not have them. No, Sir, we will not have them unless the Government give us them on the same franchise as that which exists in England and Scotland. We will not take them unless Derry and Belfast can have the same franchise as London, Liverpool, and Glasgow. I ask the Government whether they will carry out our wishes in this respect? In consequeiice of the manner in which they have dealt with this question, the Committee is placed in the most astounding position. Not one single argument used on the question of temperance during the last three years can be made applicable to Ireland. The hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. Russell) declared that he would not vote for the Second Reading of a Local Taxation Bill unless Ireland was included in the Licensing Bill. Ireland has not been included in the Licensing Bill; but the hon. Gentleman found himself able to vote for the Local Taxation Bill in spite of his promise. What is your position? You have brought in a Bill under which no advantage is to accrue to Ireland. No Government could have made such a proposal with less justification. I can understand such a course being adopted in respect to coercive legislation; that you might have declared a necessity, but here without any real need you put an aggravated tax on the chief article of Customs, and at the same time refuse to 1297 give us the machinery for spending the money thus raised. We are to be deprived of the right of extinguishing drunkenness in Ireland until that country arrives at a normal condition; in addition to being agrarian criminals we must be intoxicated drunkards. You say your Bill is for the promotion of temperance, to spread the blessings of temperance throughout the length and breadth of the land, yet you deny those blessings to Ireland. Our country is continually taunted with being a drunken country; yet, when we, ask to be allowed to apply this additional tax on whisky to the extinction of public houses, we are told we must continue to drink until Ireland assumes a normal condition. A more fatuous and absurd position was never taken up by any Government; and yet that is your position because a single Member of the Cabinet has taken up a position adverse to Local Government in Ireland. I am not now referring to the precedent of the Local Government Board, nor to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. We know the latter to be a most liberal-minded man, and in favour of the extension of Local Government. So are many of his Colleagues, but because the Chief Secretary has to redeem the pledge of his noble relative to give us 20 years of resolute Government of which only three have elapsed, we are for 17 years to be deprived of the right of extinguishing licences; we are to be stopped for 17 years in the march of temperance, and we are to remain open to the taunt of being drunkards and intoxicated spendthrifts. That is the position in which you respectable Conservative Gentlemen place us by your proposal to lock up this money. I beg to move the Amendment which stands in my name.
In page 2, line 9, after the word "ninety," to insert the words, "In England and Scotland, but as regards Ireland, after the passing of any Act relating to Local Government in Ireland."—(Mr. T. M. Healy.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ (5.35.) THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. GOSCHEN,) St. George's, Hanover Square
I must decline to enter into a discussion of the Constitutional questions such as the reform of Local Government 1298 and of the Municipal Corporations which are raised by the Amendment. A great portion of the hon. Gentleman's speech has been but a repetition of arguments which he has already addressed once or twice at considerable length to the Committee; and I do not intend to go over that again. I am sure the hon. Member himself will see that it is impossible for the Government to accept the Amendment, and I trust it will not be pressed to a Division now that the hon. Gentleman has made his protest. We could not impose a higher duty on spirits in England and Scotland than we do in Ireland. The hon. Member suggests this could be easily done. I differ from him entirely; I say there would be very great difficulty, and I suspect he only throws out that suggestion as a peg upon which to hang the frequently-expressed desire to suspend this part of the Bill.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
It would only be a temporary suspension. You could bring in your Irish Local Government Bill and then put us all on an equal footing.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Yes, and in the meantime create a corner in favour of Irish whisky. I scarcely think this is a business-like suggestion. Remember that, after all, we are only discussing the application of £4 0,000 out of the £900,000 to be raised by this Bill. I repeat we cannot reintroduce a Differential Spirit Duty.
§ (5.40.) SIR W. HARCOURT (Derby)
No doubt the proposal to impose a Differential Customs Duty in favour of Ireland would be a source of great inconvenience. But the inconvenient position in which we find ourselves arises from the fact that we are now discussing what the right hon. Gentleman himself has described as a Local Budget. We are discussing not an Imperial Tax, but local taxation for purposes of Local Government. That necessarily raises difficulties in reference to the character of the Local Government. In England and Scotland we have got Local Government, and when we have levied a local tax we may proceed to apply it. But in Ireland there is no Local Government to deal with, and this circumstance is at the root of the embarrassment in which we find ourselves. This is the real crux of the matter. You 1299 surely ought to state what you are going to do in Ireland with this money. I have never heard the Government state what they are going to do with it. How are you going to dispose of it for the benefit of Ireland? The difficulties are insuperable. As long as there is no Local Government in Ireland you cannot deal with the money. Certainly, therefore, it is not an unreasonable conclusion for hon. Members to draw that as there is no Local Government in Ireland the money ought not to be raised in Ireland. Three or four years ago the Government promised that the necessary machinery should be supplied, but still it does not exist. Yet, having failed to fulfil your pledge, you propose to raise in Ireland a tax, although you cannot deal with it when you have raised it. This is a point worth arguing; you have not yet attempted to answer it. You are proposing a great financial injustice; you are imposing a tax in such a manner that hereafter the Government will be unable to deal with it for Imperial purposes. The present Amendment is founded in the fact that this is a Local Government tax. The Government have talked about the application of the Bill to temperance purposes, but how are they going to so apply it in Ireland under present circumstances? I hold that until some fuller and clearer explanation is given by the Government in regard to the application of the tax to Ireland, the Irish Members will be justified in protesting against it. You cannot expect to make progress with this Bill until you bring it into conformity with your own declarations.
§ (5.47.) MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
I hold that the proposal of the Government is unparalleled. I believe that in the whole history of taxation there can be found no precedent for such a tax as this, especially in its application to the Irish people. For, by the proposal of the Government, we are to be called upon to vote an increase of taxation of a most oppressive character on the Irish people; while, at the same time, the tax is not immediately needed, and the Irish people are to be denied the right of using it. The proceeds, so far as Ireland is concerned, are to be locked up in the public chest until some Bill is brought forward, which may not even be drafted as yet. A more unjust or unwarrantable proposal was never made. I venture to say 1300 that no British Finance Minister would dare to levy a tax in similar circumstances on England or Scotland; and this is only another illustration of the unfair and unequal treatment which is meted out to Ireland by the English Government. Yet we are to be held up to odium because we are protesting, on behalf of our constituents, against a course of procedure which no English Minister would dare to apply to the United Kingdom generally. The other day the Chief Secretary stood up in this House and, with his eyes turned to Heaven, asked what alternatives the Government had before them. He said they had no machinery in Ireland by which the tax could be used immediately in that island. He went through two or three alternatives and rejected them all as impossible. But if you want a tax which is to be used in England and Scotland for local purposes, and which cannot be used in Ireland for similar purposes, why not impose one which affects only England and Scotland? There are many methods by which you could do this; why not increase the Income Tax or the House Duty? No, the Chancellor of the Exchequer says he must have a tax on whisky. Then why not limit the increased tax to England and Scotland? Because, says the Chancellor of the Exchequer, a differential duty would be so inconvenient. But if the right hon. Gentleman chooses to adopt the inconvenient course of raising his tax, then he ought to put up with the inconvenience of a differential duty rather than act unjustly towards Ireland. I know it is convenient to have a common Customs Duty for the whole of the United Kingdom, but the right hon. Gentleman might remember that for 60 years after the Act of Union there was a Differential Duty. When English Governments have, in the past, brought in an Arms Bill, they have not troubled their consciences much about the inconvenience of searching for arms. I have noticed this on more than one occasion, that when it is a question of abridging the liberties of the Irish people, or inflicting any oppression on them, no amount of inconvenience is allowed to stand in the way, and you are absolutely indifferent on the question of expense, but when it is a question of doing justice to the people, and of not enforcing a tax for which 1301 there is not a shred of justification, and which no one attempts to justify, you are then swayed by the suggestion that it would be inconvenient to have a differential duty, and you are thereby induced to inflict a gross injustice on the people of Ireland. How is it that this duty is proposed? It is because the Chancellor of the Exchequer, two years ago, was defeated on his proposal to levy a Van and Wheel Tax. This Whisky Duty is intended to fill up the vacuum thereby created. The right hon. Gentleman ought to have adhered to his former proposal, which would have fallen with three-fold greater force on the richer country than on Ireland. Why should the right hon. Gentleman tax the drink of the poor of Ireland? Why should he not, instead, propose a tax upon the luxuries of the rich, upon their champagne and upon their expensive cigars? Why should he take the money out of the pockets of the labouring classes? The right hon. Gentleman said, the other day, that drink ought to be made to pay for the suppression of drunkenness. Why, a more preposterous argument was never put before the House. The question to be considered is, on whom will the tax chiefly fall, and by whom ought the burden to be borne? I say this tax on spirits will fall chiefly on the labouring classes, and that the burden ought to have been placed on the luxuries of the rich, rather than on those of the poor. That proposition is tenfold stronger on the other side of St. George's Channel. I protest against this proposal in its entirety, but more especially against including Ireland in the scope of this taxation, putting upon our already overburdened people, who pay double their proportional share of Imperial taxation, a tax of the most oppressive character that could be imposed upon the people of Ireland, and at a time when it is not needed for Imperial expenditure, and is not to be used for local expenditure in Ireland. We are not to be allowed to expend it, so there is not the shadow of any ground for justification of the imposition, and I think we are justified in resisting it by every means in our power.
§ (6.1.) MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)
My only objection to the Amendment of my hon. Friend is, that he leaves in the word "and Scotland," the effect of which 1302 will be, that while he will relieve Ireland of the new tax, he will expose Scotland to all the evil of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's proposal. I do not think a more impudent proposal could be made under existing circumstances than to propose to tax Scotch whisky in the way proposed in the Bill.
§ (6.2.) MR. CLANCY (Dublin Co., N.)
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the course of his reply, stated that he supposed my hon. and learned Friend's Amendment was merely a peg on which to hang discussion of the proposals as they affect Ireland. I do not think my hon. and learned Friend need be ashamed if that is the case. I think we have every right to seize every opportunity to protest against the postponement of the Local Government Bill for Ireland. There is a Member of the House sitting opposite from whom I hope we may have some expression of opinion on this matter; I mean the noble Lord the Member for Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill). In the Autumn Session of 1886 the noble Lord made a declaration to which many references have been made. I remember the occasion very well from circumstances surrounding it. I remember the noble Lord declared that Ireland should be treated with similarity and simultaneity to England and Scotland, and I remember that on that occasion he was applauded by many of his followers. More than that, some two years ago, when the Bill of my hon. Friend the Member for North Kildare on the subject of Local Government was before the House, the noble Lord emphatically repeated his statement, and again when the English Local Government Bill was before the House the noble Lord said he supposed, and could not believe otherwise, that a similar Bill would be introduced for Ireland. In the face of these declarations, I think the noble Lord is morally bound to join us in our protest against the further postponement of this local measure for Ireland. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has stigmatised as ridiculous the proposal to put a differential duty on Irish spirits, but it seems to me that so long as we have this 1303 differential treatment in the matter of Local Government a differential duty on Irish spirit is a most reasonable proposition, and the burden of proof lies with the right hon. Gentleman, and not with us. The difficulties about a Customs cordon exist only in the right hon. Gentleman's imagination. No difficulty is found in giving Ireland the administration of the Coercion Act, and there is an army of police available for a Customs cordon. I trust we may have the assistance of the noble Lord the Member for Paddington on the lines of the declarations he has previously made.
§ (6.6.) MR. J. O'CONNOR (Tipperary, S.)
As the noble Lord makes no sign of response to this invitation, I will say a few words in support of the proposal of my hon. and learned Friend. The Government are pursuing a dog-in-the-manger policy in reference to the whole question. My hon. and learned Friend (Mr. T. M. Healy) has introduced a Bill for the purpose of curtailing or entirely stopping the issue of new licences in Ireland, but in response to the appeal of my hon. and learned Friend the Government decline to afford him any facilities for passing this Bill into law, and I, therefore, think he is occupying a logical position in asking that the present measure shall not apply to Ireland until Local Authorities have been established there for the purpose of giving effect to the purpose of the Bill in this respect. It is, I say, a "dog-in-the-manger" policy. The Government will not give us any control over the issue of licences, yet still they insist on imposing this tax, which is intended in England for the purpose of extinguishing licences. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says there would be difficulties in carrying out the arrangements in regard to different taxation, but let me point out that there is the machinery in existence; there are the Customs Houses in Ireland, the Customs officers, the Revenue officers; the books, as it were, are open. There are the clerks, the gaugers, and the whole staff, and, it is futile to say the plan could not be carried into operation. It is an utterly absurd suggestion coming from the right hon. Gentleman, who is presumed to be, and I suppose is, one of the leading business men of the country. It would not be business, he says, but I say 1304 it is a very bad business to go on robbing the Irish people by the imposition of this duty from now until the time when, in the opinion of the Government, it will be right to pass a Local Government Bill for Ireland. Robbery of the Irish people it will be ever, though the money will be hung up, for I believe, though the interest be allowed to accumulate, it will become more difficult to spend the money, as is proposed, without great injustice to many parts of Ireland. It will become more and more difficult and a much worse business to carry out the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman. I cannot, for the life of me, see what difficulty there would be in the future as soon as the Local Government Bill for Ireland is passed making provision for this tax, for which now, as regards Ireland, there is no defence. The "normal condition" of Ireland has been referred to. The normal condition of Ireland has ever been agitation and coercion. Do the Government think that while we have no Local Government in Ireland we shall have no agitation there? If they indulge in any such hope I promise them it will not be fulfilled. While the Irish people have their rights withheld from them there will be agitation, of a more or less violent character, and with agitation I suppose there will be coercion, and that will continue to be the normal condition of Ireland, and so, if we wait for a change in this normal condition of Ireland for the Local Government Bill we shall wait for all time. We shall wait beyond the 17 years of resolute government still to run before the Irish people are accorded Local Government. That is what I have to say in support of the Amendment of my hon. and learned Friend and Colleague, and the arguments that have been—if I may call them arguments—addressed to the House by the Chancellor of the Exchequer will not hold with any business man, or with any Member of the House who desires to see justice done to the people of Ireland.
§ (6.13.) MR. T. M. HEALY
The Government appear to be lost to all sense of shame in this matter. Every argument addressed to them is met with silence, and no attempt is made to parry any of our statements. They have no case, but they have the Closure. The whole case for the Government lies in 1305 their capacity to meet us in that way. They cannot maintain their position; our protests are disregarded; this money is to be raised, though it is to be locked up, and we are not to be allowed to handle it; simultaneity of taxation is to be maintained, similarity of treatment, else there is to be none. I should have hoped some sensible man in the Conservative ranks would have asked what the Government moan by this imposition of taxes they do not want. An amount of £250,000, I suppose, is to be levied, and the money is not required! Is this a Constitutional state of things? Heavy taxes we have had to pay before now, but they have been to pay the expenses of wars and rumours of wars, but this tax is not to be employed; it is as useless as the talent buried in the ground; it is to be buried in the bank, and we are not even to use it in buying out publicans! The right hon. Gentleman says it is inconvenient to have separate Customs House arrangements, and so rather than have an extra clerk or two we must pay this taxation, though the money is wanted for no purpose, but will lie in the bank, or, perhaps, be invested in Egyptian Bonds. Whatever inconvenience there might be you could remove at any time by passing a Local Government Bill. It would be but a spur in your sluggish sides to stir you up to legislative action. Why, I do not suppose the Nabobs of India, or the Sultans of Turkey, or even the gentleman who rules over Egypt, would levy taxes which are not required; but this is what the Government of Ireland has come to! I doubt if it would be done in the Congo State, or any other habitable quarter of the globe. You impose this tax, and, I suppose, at the end of 20 years of resolute government you will take out the money and allow us to buy out a few publicans. This is the Unionist Government you are proud of; this is the legislation we ought to be delighted to undertake a seasick journey of hundreds of miles to come here to assist in! The hon. Member for North Armagh seems to enjoy the position, and he is the author of the sentiment that "England never wiped the eyes of Erin without making her pay for the handkerchief." He relishes the idea, but I suppose on or about the 12th July there is an average amount of whisky consumed in his constituency, and yet he is content to pay 1306 the tax, though his constituents are not to have the power of using it to lessen the temptation to over drinking. Tax yourselves as much as you like; tax us, if in your wisdom you think it right; but, at least, have a decent pretext for it. Where is your usual hypocrisy that you can only urge simultaneity and similarity as a reason for making an Irishman pay more for his whisky? An appeal has been made to the noble Lord (Lord Randolph Churchill), and I second it. I admit the difficulties of his position, but he has never spoken contumeliously of Irish Members; he has always spoken kindly of our country and our claim to be treated with equality in the government of the three Kingdoms; he has declared in favour of Local Government; and we may appeal to him to assist us in extracting some statement from the Government. Is this promise of Local Government to remain ever a recurring decimal; is there always to be a full stop before it? In the history of hypocrisy and broken pledges in British dealings with Ireland, no Government has ever gone the length of this Liberal Unionist Chancellor of the Exchequer. If this is Liberal Unionism, I prefer brigandage. A brigand takes your money, but he spends it upon his own amusements, even if he only takes an excursion to Egypt; but our money is to be taken and locked up, with the right hon. Gentleman sitting on the chest. Is this your statesmanship? Why, the darkest African chief, the puniest pigmy Stanley discovered, would invent a better system of statesmanship than this. I challenge any hon. Gentleman opposite to give us any other explanation than that you want to work your spite on Ireland, to show Irishmen they are a humbled and conquered people, that they are not to have the right that Englishmen and Scotchmen enjoy, the poor enjoyment of buying publicans. It is not a sport for which I myself have a keen relish, but whether or not it is an excellent thing to distribute this money among the brewers and large owners of tied houses, at least, since we supply the money, we may claim a share in the distribution of it. If the Irish are the most drunken people on earth, why are they to be deprived of this miserable satisfaction? As an Irishman I know I am one of a drunken, 1307 degraded race, and that, from your higher moral standpoint, you look down upon our degraded state; but why do you baulk the Irishman's desire to have the means of cutting off his own sins? You say Ireland is not in a normal condition, but we are as your Unionist Government has made us. We are brought here to take part in the equal government of the three Kingdoms, but not one among the Conservative Party is able to raise his voice in explanation or defence of this proposition. On Friday the Chancellor of the Exchequer made some attempt to defend the tax. "We will avail ourselves," said he, "of the existing machinery of Local Government in large towns." "Yes, certainly," we said, "and a simple clause of three lines will remove all difficulty." I will draft it myself if your Government draftsman is too much engaged. But now that we claim equal treatment for Nationalist and Orange municipalities you turn round and refuse what we could have had on Friday. Our object is to give the working class, who feel the evil of the existing public houses, a share in the means of extinguishing the evil. No one has a vote except those who do not use the public house, the club men of Derry and Belfast. To show the absurdity of the position, compare a town like Colchester with Derry. The population is about equal, but in the first there are 4,792 municipal electors, in the other case 981, and yet you will not let an equal number in either town have a voice in reducing the means of drunkenness. The people who exercise the municipal franchise in Ireland are not the people who have the evils of the drink trade brought home to them in their lanes and alleys. You will not give attention to this, because it will take up a few hours of Parliamentary time. Take a Saturday Sitting for the purpose; we will be ready enough to take part in a measure for equalising the municipal franchise to that of England. We will sit through September to accomplish this. What idle talk is this of the difficulties of a Customs cordon, because a few more guagers may be required. You have your cordon now in respect to the introduction of arms, and whatever inconvenience arises you can relieve yourself of it at once by establishing Local Government. Will the right hon. 1308 Gentleman be candid enough to tell us when the Local Government Bill will be introduced? He says my Amendment is but a peg to hang argument upon; but I suppose an argument must hang upon something, call reason a "peg" if you like, its purpose is still the same, but drive the peg home if it is in the way, and say what your Local Government is to be, and when it is to be proposed; do not meet our arguments for equal treatment, equal rights, with charges of obstruction and use of the Closure. We have caught you in the fact, you are naked and yet not ashamed, and it is our duty to expose such suggestions as you have put forward. Smarting, as they do, tinder the disabilities which I have mentioned, the Irish people have no more aggravating form of oppression than will be produced by this tax; and it is under the circumstances I have stated that I strongly urge the House to support our claim for equal rights to Ireland.
§ (6.32.) MR. MOLLOY (Kings Co., Birr)
I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman this question. Will the money be paid to a separate account pending the establishment of Local Government for Ireland, or will it, in the meantime, be used for any other purpose? If the money is to be used for other purposes, it is quite clear that Local Government for Ireland will be delayed as long as possible.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
The hon. Member need not have any fear that there is a desire on our part to keep the sum of £40,000 in hand. The money will be invested in the names of the Commissioners for the National Debt.
§ (6.33.) MR. STOREY (Sunderland)
Before this vote is taken, it ought to be clearly stated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the money voted for one year is not to be used for another, or in ten years to come.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I did not intimate anything of the kind. I spoke of the sum of £40,000, and I said there need be no fear of any desire to keep that sum in hand.
§ MR. STOREY
But the money will accumulate, if it is not used. The Party opposite are supposed to care more for Constitutional facts than we on this side; but if you look back to the whole history of England, it will be seen that some of the severest conflicts between this House 1309 and the Crown have been as to the right to use the public money, and it will be difficult to find an instance where the House has admitted that the Crown could lay by money for future use. Take the great conflicts of Elizabeth's time. [An hon. MEMBER: Oh, oh.] An hon. Member says, "Oh, oh."
§ MR. STOREY
The hon. Member who interrupted me has been travelling so much in Asia that he seems to have forgotten the rest of Europe; but I regard the matter as extremely germane to this question as to the control the House should exercise over the National money. There were conflicts in Charles 1. time between the Crown and the people as to the employment of the National funds. Suppose King Charles had come down to this House and had asked the then Chancellor of the Exchequer for £400,000 or £500,000 which he had no immediate use for, but which he intended to make a purse of. What, I ask, would there have been to prevent him from creating a fund by means of which he might ultimately have put down the Parliament? I contend, as a Radical and a Constitutionalist, that it is extremely improper for the House to vote any money which the Government does not propose to expend during the existence of the financial year. That is a principle we have contended for and affirmed over and over again on this side of the House. I object to those who call themselves the Constitutional Party coming here to prevent our discussing these questions as fully as we desire. I say that they are now proposing to take money which they do not mean to spend during the financial year, but to make a purse of; and I have known the time when if such a proposition had been made by us it would at once have been denounced as unconstitutional, and hon. Gentlemen opposite would have stumped the country against it. We say that such a proposal is extremely dangerous, and therefore we enter our serious protest against it.
§ (6.40.) MR. H. H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
I should like to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether this money is to be in any way im- 1310 pounded or made available for purposes of the Irish Land Purchase Bill, so as to make it an additional tax on the people of Ireland, which is to be applied for the benefit of those who take advantage of that measure?
§ MR. H. H. FOWLER
The Pill provides that the Irish share of this money shall beSubject to the provisions of any Act hereafter passed relating to the purchase of land in Ireland.So that this additional taxation which is to be placed on the people of Ireland is to form an additional guarantee for the large sum of money to be advanced to the Irish landlords. I do not wish to prolong the Debate; but I think it is worthy of note that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has very carefully guarded himself as to the date of future Local Government in Ireland, and that there is no provision in the Bill for the suspension of licences in Ireland.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I never alluded to the point of the suspension of licences as left out by accident. What happened was this—we were asked whether we would deal in a certain way with the Corporation of Dublin with regard to the suspension of licences, and I then said—The fact is that this Bill does not include the question of the suspension of licence in Ireland.
§ MR. H. H. FOWLER
I accept the assurance 'of the right hon. Gentleman; but I wish to point out that there is an absolute state of confusion and uncertainty with reference to the imposition of this tax in Ireland which affords legitimate ground for the protests of Members for Ireland, who are entitled to know how this tax is to be expended.
§ (6.45.) MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
I have been listening to the discussion with a perfectly unbiassed and unprejudiced mind, in order that I might know on which side I should vote. After having listened to this discussion up to the present moment I am of opinion that my hon. Friend the Member for Longford is entirely in the right, and that the right 1311 hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer is entirely in the wrong. I really do not know who is responsible for business on that Bench. We are told that the First Lord of the Treasury is a good man of business; but I am sure I have never been present at such a muddle. We are asked to levy a tax, a portion of which is to be devoted to the compensation of publicans. I am entirely opposed to that. But what do we find with regard to Ireland? The tax is to be levied, but the publicans are not to be compensated. The Chancellor of the Exchequer denies that this money can be used for any other purpose. My right hon. Friend has pointed out to him that by the Bill, which is the only thing we have to go by, the money may be secured for Land Purchase in Ireland. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says, "No, it does not exactly mean that; it means something else. We are going to put this money in a bag, and keep it there, until we are able to pass a Bill for County Government in Ireland." Who knows what that County Government will be, or whether it will ever be passed? When leader of this House the noble Lord (Lord B. Churchill), at the commencement of this Parliament, said a County Government Bill was going to be passed for Ireland. That was four years ago. This measure of Local Government may not be passed at all, yet we are asked to agree to this money being put in a bag for a vague and indefinite period. The Irish have a right to protest against this, and I should be astonished if they did not. What are they met with? By a conspiracy of silence on the part of right hon. Gentlemen and hon. Gentlemen opposite. Hon. Gentlemen know that we boat them every day, every hour, every minute, in argument. They sit there stolidly, and the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer wants to pass everything by the mere brute force of those behind him.
§ (6.50.) MR. DILLON
I think I am justified in saying that the course which the discussion has taken to-night is the most extraordinary that has ever been witnessed. The Amendment raises issues of the gravest importance to the people of Ireland, as well as the general power of voting the taxes in this House, yet it is treated with the most absolute con- 1312 tempt by the chief Ministers sitting opposite. It is apparent that Ministers and Members opposite are obeying the order of the Times, of which the Ministers are becoming mere salaried servants. The complaint the other day was that we did not talk enough on an Irish Bill, and hon. Gentlemen opposite, I am bound to say, displayed a very poor and despicable attempt at obstruction, although the intention to obstruct was there. If we do not talk we are trying to trick the Government. When we do talk we are obstructing the business of the country. When we did not talk at sufficient length the Governor of our country (the Chief Secretary) treated us to an inordinately long speech, manifestly for the obstruction of business, for ho repeated himself over and over again. The measure under discussion the other day was only a small one, affecting only a small section of the Irish people. Ministers and their followers spoke at enormous and preposterous length on that occasion and now when we bring forward a real, substantial, and important grievance, backed by unanswerable reasons why this tax should not apply to Ireland, we are met by a conspiracy of silence on that side of the House. Hon. Members and Ministers, acting under the orders of the Times, are relying, not on arguments at all, but simply on their majority. By the action of the Government we have one other illustration of the fact that Irish Members need expect no kind of justice or fair treatment at their hands.
(6.53.) SIR W. HARCOCRT
I think my hon. Friend the Member for Mayo may take some consolation to himself in respect to the treatment of Irish questions by Her Majesty's Government. The precedent they set in taking the article in the Times, and the fact that the majority will not always be on that side, will apply to future Parliaments as well as the present Parliament. Every precedent they set of passing measures for Ireland by the violent use of the Closure, by refusing to listen to argument or discussion, and by laying the Bill on the Table, and saying, "This is the Bill of the Government; we have got the majority; we won't discuss it: we will pass it"—all that will be equally applicable when other measures come to be dealt with for Ireland. One of these 1313 days it is possible there may be a majority in favour of Home Rule for Ireland, and all we shall have to do will be to imitate the example now set us. We will lay that Bill on the Table and say, "We do not think it worth while to discuss it." There may be some members of the loyal minority in Ireland who may raise some objection to a Bill of that character. All we have got to say is—"We are the majority; here is the Hill, take it or leave it; we do not want in discuss it, but to vote upon it, and dispose of it in a simple manner." That is the policy which is recommended; that is the policy which is acted upon.' Let us know it, let us record it; it may be useful hereafter.
§ (6.55.) MR. GOSCHEN
Unfortunately, Sir, history is not written in the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman, but in actual events. And the precedent which he quotes will be this, that the general subject lhs been debated day after day without making progress with one single line of the Bill. We thought plenty of time had been given to the discussion of the subject, which had been thrashed out, as I thought, over and over again. Again, we find that it is useless to argue with hon. Members opposite, because the only result is to open the way to a broader re-statement of the arguments originally advanced. I hope I have not been in the slightest degree discourteous to hon.; Members in the brevity of my remarks, out it seemed to me that I had already dealt with the points raised. I endeavoured to dispose of them on the last occasion, and I know I did not succeed in convincing them, and I do not think after their treatment of my arguments then that any fresh arguments I. might have used would have given them satisfaction. This is an Amendment upon one particular point of raising a duty to be applied to Ireland, but when the clause comes to be discussed as a whole I shall be prepared to justify the proposal. But I say we are justified on this Amendment in declining to re-open and re-discuss the whole question as to the general imposition of this tax.
§ *(6.57.) MR. FLYNN (Cork, N.)
Sir, Members sitting here have waited in vain for the reply of the right hon. Gentleman to the arguments of my hon. and learned Friend. What is the fact, 1314 he moves to omit Ireland from the operation of this clause. It is a perfectly unchallengeable proposition. The right hon. Gentleman seeks to impose an increased Spirit Duty, the proceeds of which in Ireland are to be expended by bodies which are not yet in existence. And we in Ireland are called unreasonable because we ask that Ireland should be excluded. We have made extraordinary concession to the noisy advocates on those Benches, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer might consider whether Corporations or authorised Municipalities may have this tax for the extinguishment of licences and other purposes. Nothing has been said about County Councils, and the extra duty is to be handed over to bodies which are non-repesentative, and only nominated by themselves. Such a proposition is utterly intolerable and utterly untenable. I think the hon. Member for Sunderland has raised the Constitutional question of how this taxis to be applied in a manner that cannot be mistaken. Of course, we shall be voted down, but we shall insist upon bringing these arguments forward in Committee, feeling there is no real or tangible reason for resisting them. Pour weeks ago the Official Representative; of Ireland in this House made the clear pronouncement that so soon as Ireland was in a normal condition she would get Local Government. Ireland is not now in a normal condition, and she is not likely to be. We have the Minister most closely connected with Ireland-and who, therefore, may be supposed to have a knowledge of the Governing Bodies in that country—saying we are not going to have these bodies. But you are handing over money to these bodies in England and Scotland, and we have a right to ask "What are you going to do in the case of Ireland, are you going to hand over the money to the Grand Juries?" We in Ireland have no confidence in those Local Authorities, and we predict that if this money be raised and handed over to them it will be simply jobbed away. It is absurd to suppose that they would use it for extinguishing licences, because they are the people who have granted the existing licences, and they have given them largely in excess of the demand. I think in this matter we require from! the Government more than the crack of 1315 the whip of the Times newspaper; we want a distinct and specific promise as to what is to be done with the money. What do they want it for; how will it be applied, supposing County Governing Bodies are not established for two, three, four, or five years? What is to prevent the right hon. Gentleman in two or three years time coming down and saying' "We want this money for extra police," or "We want it to cope with the Plan of Campaign," or for some other purpose. So far as we are concerned we are bound to protect the interests of our constituents and to insist on the recognition of Constitutional principles, and, therefore, we protest against the action of the Government. I hope the Amendment will be pressed to a Division.
§ (7.5.) MR. ILLINGWORTH (Bradford, W.)
I think hon. Members for Ireland have very substantial reasons for protesting against the proposals now before the House, and the Committee has a right to complain that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has not dealt with the Constitutional objections raised. We are supposed to be dealing with an even hand towards Ireland, but if a Bill had been introduced proposing to apply the taxation of Great Britain for local purposes without any definite scheme being put before Parliament, does anybody suppose that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have been listened to for five minutes, no matter how substantial might have been his reasons for raising money in one year and tying it up for use on subsequent occasions? Surely the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale, who likes to adhere to safe Constitutional lines, will use his influence with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the leader of the House to obtain some justification for this most dangerous innovation. I deny the right of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to limit the discussion. Irishmen have a right to object to the Government laying violent hands on their money, and they are entitled to object to the allocation of that money for the extinction of licences, because they have no security that in a reasonable time that money will be in their hands. I think the trifling, petty, and tinkering suggestion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the proposal will establish differences in the system 1316 of Customs between the two countries is no answer to the serious Constitutional objections raised. I do not think the Government can make any charge against the Opposition, and throw on them the stigma of obstruction, when the House has protested again and again against the novel and highly dangerous innovation contained in the Bill, an innovation which the Party opposite and sane Gentlemen on my own side would, in their better days, and in their right minds, have strenuously opposed.
§ (7.10.) MR. T. M. HEALY
The hon. Baronet the Member for Mid Armagh (Sir J. Corry) is in his place, and, as he was not here on Friday night, I would inform him that the Chief Secretary promised then to devote this money to the cities and towns in Ireland. The hon. Baronet has now heard the Government recede from that promise.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
Then, where do we stand? I understood him to say that as we had introduced new difficulties his pledge fell to the ground. The matter cannot be left in this way, and I would remind the Government that it is a mistake to suppose that they can settle everything by the Closure. They have yet to get Section 7, to which I have already put down Amendments; and unless they give us some satisfactory assurance as to how this money is to be disposed of, they will see if their conspiracy of silence is calculated to make them get on more quickly. I would ask them to let us know whether they intend to insist on the section giving the same powers to the boroughs in Ireland as they have given in England and Scotland, or to drop it. The hon. Member for Mid Armagh himself endeavoured some time ago to initiate legislation for Belfast. It failed in consequence of some steps such as Conservative Members are always making, but I would ask if a pledge was not given to him that the provisions of this Bill would be extended in some way so as to meet his views? That is a plain question, and I think we ought to have a plain answer. We were pledged to certain of our friends in Ireland, who were in the licensing interest, to oppose that Bill, because it would compensate the publicans; and now we have a statement, 1317 and, so far as the Irish publicans are concerned, there is to be no money compensation, because the money is to be given to the Irish landlords. This is a tax not to compensate the Irish publicans, but the Irish landlords. That, in my opinion, will entirely justify us even with the staunchest advocates of the licensing interest in Ireland. I think a plain issue is before the Committee.
§ Mr. CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ (7.15.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 212; Noes 150.—(Div. List, No. 91.)
§ Question put accordingly, "That those words be there inserted."
§ (7.30.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 148; Noes 211.—(Div. List, No. 92.)
§ (7.37.) MR. BLANE (Armagh, S.)
I beg to move the omission of the word "gallons," and the insertion of the word "hogsheads." The object of this Amendment is not, as many Members on both sides of the House suppose, obstruction, but the equalisation of the duties chargeable to the various classes of the community. I find that 300 per cent, is charged as duty on the spirits consumed by the lower classes, whilst the Chancellor of the Exchequer is satisfied with a duty of 1d. or 2d. a bottle on the wine consumed by the higher classes. I think this is a monstrous state of things, and I propose this Amendment with the object of remedying it. To my mind, nothing would tend more in the direction of temperance than the abolition of the Spirit Duty altogether. The working classes do not consume spirits day by day, but merely when they are out for a spree. If the duties were reduced a working man would not regard it as so great a treat to have spirits which he could get at any time, and we know that prohibition of any kind increases the desire to obtain the article which is prohibited. I venture to say that there are as bad spirits made in Ireland as in any part of Germany, and that there are more inquests in Ireland on men who drink 1318 Irish spirit than on men who drink German spirit. I believe that many of these inquests would not take place at all if the price of spirits came more within the means of the working classes.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 11, to leave out the word "gallons." and insert the word "hogsheads."
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'gallons' stand part of the Clause."
§ (7.43.) MR. GOSCHEN
I hope the Committee will recollect that 54 gallons go to the hogshead. Of course, you had better have no duty at all than have one which amounts to a 54th part of that which we now propose. It would make the tax absolutely worthless as a means of revenue.
§ (7.47.) SIR W. HARCOURT
I hope the hon. Member will not press this Amendment to a Division. It is an Amendment which I myself could not support. The next Amendment will very properly raise the question of the duties.
§ *(7.48.) MR. FLYNN
I, too, hope my hon. Friend will not press his Amendment to a Division, because I think it would have the effect of bringing about the handicapping of native spirits. I must take issue with my hon. Friend as to there being bad Irish spirit. If there is any bad spirit sold in Ireland it is because the Irish spirit has been mixed with the German spirit.
§ (7.50.) COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
I hope my hon. Friend will go to a Division. The right hon. Gentleman thinks it expedient to divide on a subsequent Amendment rather than upon this; but it must be borne in mind that we defeated a Government on this point. If the Irish Members attack this increase of Spirit Duty at every point, we are certainly acting consistently. In the first place, I object to this tax on whiskies because it is a piece of class legislation. Then I think it amounts to a question of a large nation attempting to bully and over-tax a small nation. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer takes a pint of claret with his dinner, and pays 1s. for it, he only contributes 1d. to the Revenue; but if an Irishman takes one shilling's worth of whisky he contributes 9d. to the Revenue. Why should an Irishman, after his hard day's work, contribute 9d. to the Chancellor of the 1319 Exchequer's 1d.? That is most unfair. It is better that whisky should be consumed than wine. Whisky distillation employs a certain number of men in Ireland and Scotland, while the making of wine employs Frenchmen or Germans, who could be employed in the Armies of their countries. Again, it is better, from the point of view of health, that whisky should be consumed rather than wine. Does anyone suppose that a fashionable West End doctor would recommend the drinking of wine before whisky? It is well-known that if a man cannot do without alcohol, whisky, with cold water, is the best form of alcohol he can take. I never could see the justice of taxing whisky, or any other spirit produced in this country, at a higher rate than wine or beer, and, therefore, I regard this as a most valuable Amendment. I do not know a more flagrant piece of class legislation than the extraordinary difference between the tax on alcohol in wine and that on alcohol in whisky, whether Scotch or Irish. I have always noticed that when the duty on whisky is increased the price per glass is not increased. The fact of the matter is, that the article is adulterated just in proportion as the duty is increased, and, judging from experience as the Chairman of a large Union, drunkenness is not diminished by any tax that is put upon spirits. There are certain respectable people in Ireland—people moderately well off—who have just as much right to drink a moderate portion of alcohol as the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and these people are prevented from taking a reasonable amount of good whisky by the extraordinary and extravagant duty. But the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the First Lord of the Treasury can revel in their pint bottles of claret, and, at the same time, contribute less to the Revenue. I trust my hon. Friend will press his Amendment to a, Division.
§ (7.59.) MR. MOLLOY
I hope my hon. Friend will withdraw his Amendment, because I believe; its effect would be to foster the use of German spirit, which is admittedly most injurious to health.
§ (8.0.) MR. BLANE
Notwithstanding all that my hon. Friends say, and despite what has been said from above the Gang-way, this touches an old and recognised 1320 grievance. In 1715 the two great grievances of the rebels of that day were the Salt Tax and the Malt Tax; and now, 175 years after that date, the Malt Tax still remains. In these days we hear much about Free Trade; but in any representations against such tariffs as are imposed by the United States, we are met with counter statements about our duties on imported wines and spirits. Is this Free Trade? A nation that teaches the doctrine of Free Trade should apply it at home. It is impossible to say there is Free Trade, when, from the cargoes of foreign ships coming into our ports, barrel after barrel of goods is broken open in the search of spirits; and the boxes of passengers, even of British subjects, are ransacked, and even, I believe, the pockets of their overcoats are searched. If we claim to be a Free Trade nation, we should adopt the principle entirely, and not put into the mouth of Foreign. Governments an argument against our own hypocrisy. This is the argument I met with in New York. Remember, too, the men who maintain this embargo on foreign spirits would establish it against fruit, and they resisted the repeal of the Customs Duty against foreign grain. As a humble Free Trader, I have done my duty in good faith; but as my hon. Friends do not see their way to go to a Division, I greatly regret that I must withdraw my Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdraw.
§ (8.5.) DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
Before the hon. Member (Mr. P. McDonald) proceeds with the next Amendment, I wish to introduce an Amendment and, in doing so, I would call attention to the fact that great injustice will be inflicted on a large section of the community if this tax is carried in the way proposed in the Bill. It is well-known that there are a great number of commodities used by chemists and druggists in this country in which spirit is used, and upon this subject I have had many communications from members of the trade, though not, as yet, very many from chemists and druggists in Ireland. These gentlemen who have written to me point out that which is well-known, namely, that many of a large number of medical substances known as tinctures and mixtures are 1321 made up with the addition of proof spirit, and, therefore, if you are going to raise the price of these spirits you will certainly increase the price of the inctures and mixtures. I have here a communication which I have received from a medical friend, who tells me that the effect of the addition of this proposed duty will be to raise the price of these substances by about 2d. per pound, and even now that increase is being made, the trade anticipating the increase which the Chancellor of the Exchequer is bringing in. Thus you inflict a great injustice.
If the hon. Member will state his Amendment, perhaps we shall be able to appreciate the drift of his argument.
§ DR. TANNER
Certainly, Sir. But, in the first place, I was going to talk about it, and then I was going to hand it in to you. The Amendment is Clause 4, line 15, after "spirits," to insert these words "Except spirits taken out of bond for bonâ fide medical purposes." I can assure the Committee I thought the matter out before I ventured to bring it under consideration, and I think the Committee will understand the point I am addressing myself to. If you look down the pages of the British, Pharmacopœia, you will find a very long list containing the medical substances 'which I refer to. Now, I think that to raise the price of medical necessities is injudicious, if not worse. I tried to find a method of putting my proposition in a more sweeping way, to indicate to the Customs generally that when spirits are imported into this country for bonâ fide medical purposes, they should be fully relieved from the taxation upon spirits for ordinary consumption. However, in talking over the matter with a few friends, we saw the difficulties the Customs would meet with in letting such spirits pass; but I think, with the assistance of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, there should be no difficulty in devising the means by which compounders of medicines when they apply for proof spirit for the purposes of their trade, should be able to take it out of bond, and the character of these manufacturers for honesty, probity, and straightforwardness would be some guarantee against smuggling under cover of medical purposes; and, on convic- 1322 tion, any such an offence should be severely punished. If the right hon. Gentleman will give consideration to this Amendment, I think he will agree with its object, and will agree that when proof spirit is imported by well-authenticated medical firms it might be allowed to pass through the Customs, paying only the duty heretofore imposed. I think the preparation of medicines should be made as cheap as possible. I cannot deprecate too strongly the very high prices again and again charged for all these medical substances in consequence of various causes, and I certainly hope the Government will try and help the stand that is being made against the increase of the price of such substances. It is purely as a medical subject I bring the matter forward, and I may claim to have some knowledge of it. I hope that we may have the assistance of the right hon. Gentleman in a matter most interesting to the medical profession.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 13, after the word "spirits," to insert the words, "except spirits taken out of bond for bonâ fide medical purposes."—(Dr. Tanner})
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ (8.12.) MR. GOSCHEN
Whatever may be the theoretical expediency of introducing such an Amendment as the hon. Member proposes, I can assure him that it would be extremely difficult and practically impossible to carry it out. The Committee will observe that the proposal is not to relieve these commodities from the heavy duty which is imposed upon spirits, but only of this 6d. additional duty, which is comparatively a very small percentage. Now, we have the whole machinery for carrying out the duty, but not for making this exception. It will be observed also that if this proposal is carried out in the Customs, it must equally apply to the Excise.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Yes; but there is a great difficulty in devising any machinery to carry it out. It is impossible for the Customs or the Excise to follow the transport of small quantities of spirits. It is suggested that any respectable manufacturer might enjoy such a privilege, and his name 1323 would be a guarantee; but suck a course could not be worked out in law, and no distinction could be made between chemists and druggists and in any quantity which they might require for their own purposes. This proposal would lead to a great deal of complexity and difficulty, and possibly, in the case of some few people, it would lead to fraud. There is nothing more difficult, not only with regard to spirits required for chemists and druggists, but those required for perfumery and other purposes, than to prevent any illicit practices in connection with those trades. The officers of Excise have great experience of the difficulties to be met with in such cases; and whatever our desire might be to meet such a suggestion as that made by the hon. Member, we have no machinery to carry it out.
§ (8.17.) MR. CHANCE (Kilkenny, S.)
I do not think there is much in the objection of the right hon. Gentleman. He says the additional 6d. is a very small percentage, but that might be said of the tax altogether. The object of the additional taxation is to provide the people with the means of getting rid of the excess of public houses. That may be a laudable object, though it seems to mo the produce of the tax will find its way into the pockets of large brewers and distillers who own tied houses, but I should imagine there can be no objection to an Amendment which lays down a distinction between spirits used for medical purposes and spirits used as a luxury, or as drink. I admit there is a difficulty in following the transport of these spirits in small quantities, but would it not be possible to allow the exemption upon spirits which are used in bond for these medical preparations? Or is it possible in some way to adopt the procedure applied to methylated spirits? Compounding in bond would be an advantage, inasmuch as it would tend to throw the trade into the hands of substantial and respectable firms who alone could provide for the use of bonded warehouses, and this would be a guarantee against the adulteration too often practised in the poorest class of trade.
§ (8.19.) MR. STOREY
I would rather support a Motion for increasing the tax on medicines, than an Amendment for a reduction. I think the dearer we make medicines the greater 1324 advantage it will be to the country. I see perfectly well the difficulties the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have to encounter in carrying out such a proposal as that suggested by the hon. Member, and if a Division is taken I must support the Government.
§ (8.20.) COLONEL NOLAN
I congratulate my hon. Friend on the exuberance of health that induces him to advocate an advance in the price of medicines; but, unfortunately, there are those who are obliged to take medicines, and among the poorer classes price is a serious consideration. It must be admitted that the imposition of high duties on spirits must lead to illicit distillation and smuggling, and this applies to use of spirit in trades, or in preparation of medicines. There is no attempt at smuggling wine, because the duty is moderate. In relation to workhouses and dispensaries this addition to the tax will make a very considerable difference, the medical bill being a considerable item in the poor rates. From this point of view teetotalers will be interested, for they pay these equally with the consumers of alcoholic liquors. I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer might find some means of allowing a rebate by which this additional tax may not be made to fall upon workhouses, hospitals, and dispensaries, and the sick poor. Surely a distinction can be made just as it is made on the use of spirit in the industrial arts.
§ (8.25.) DR. TANNER
This is really an important point, and I should like to secure attention to it. The proposition for the additional tax is supported by the argument that it is to provide for the existing drink evil a cure, but in this those who use spirits in medicines are in no way concerned. I have brought this Amendment forward with the best intentions, and the right hon. Gentleman is mistaken in calling it a theoretical point; I support it from a purely practical point of view. There are, at the present time, certain classes of manufacturers who are exempted from this tax. For instance, hat manufacturers are permitted, under stringent restrictions, to buy, minus the duty, at the actual commercial price of spirits. Surely, what is allowed in the case of hat manufacturers might be allowed in this case. Instead of raising 1325 a theoretical or obstructive point I contend I have really raised a point ray opinions as to which will be endorsed by nine-tenths of the member of my profession throughout Great Britain. I had hoped that the Government would have given some assurance that steps will be taken to lower the price of the medicines affected by this tax. I am extremely sorry to have to say I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer has met my proposal in an unworthy spirit. I am only doing my duty to the poor; because the House should bear in mind that when a small addition is made to a tax it will not affect the large manufacturers so much as it will affect the smaller manufacturers, and it will certainly affect the poor, because whenever any addition is made to the taxes relating to medicines of this class the dealers often raise the prices, so that in this way the poorer classes really suffer from this kind of legislation. The right hon. Gentleman said that this would affect the Excise as well as the Customs; but even if it does, that would only be a small matter. I think the proposal, if accepted, will do a great deal to relieve the wants and necessities of the poor, and I am sorry the Government have not seen their way to accept it. I shall certainly press the matter to a Division.
§ (8.33.) MR. J. O'CONNOR
I am, of course, against the raising of the duty on spirits, and I should be glad to be able to support my hon. Friend in his Amendment if I possibly could. As to what my hon. Friend has said about these medicines being compounded in bond, I think there is some difficulty in that. My hon. Friend must have had in his mind the fact that by law it is enacted that whiskies in Ireland that are blended for the purpose of exportation shall be blended in bond and marked with the letter "B." But it must not be omitted from the consideration of this subject that that portion of the question deals with large quantities of spirits, while this portion of the question raised by my hon. Friend deals with a comparatively small portion of these commodities. What I am afraid of is that a great amount of injury might be inflicted on many persons by this Amendment. The Member for Kilkenny 1326 has said it would have the effect of concentrating the trade in these medicines in the hands of large manufacturers, and I ask the Committee whether that is a desirable thing to have in view or not. I should like to have some explanation on that point from my hon. Friend, because I, for one, shall always oppose any legislation that has for its object the placing and concentrating in the hands of large manufacturers any important branch of trade whatever. I know, for a fact, that many chemists throughout the country are obliged to hold in stock small quantities of spirits that are many degrees over proof—spirits of wine, for instance. Well, we must do one of two things in this matter. We must either compel all medicines to be compounded in bond, or we must prohibit these small people from holding any strong spirits on their hands in stock. We must assuredly do one of these two things, and let us take care that, while we have a supreme desire to benefit the poor, we do not inflict a great injury upon a large number of traders in the country, who dispense very wholesome drugs to the poor, and who are, therefore, beneficial to the poor. Are we going to drop these small traders who are in contact with the poor, and who do their best for the poor? These objections would trouble my mind if I wore to vote for the Amendment. If my hon. Friend can remove these objections I shall certainly be most happy to support the proposal. But if there is to be an increase of duty on spirits lot it be an increase all round. I believe we should create a greater evil if the Amendment were carried than the one sought to be remedied by its adoption. I trust that my hon. Friend will be able to remove the objections to which I have called attention. (8.45.)
§ (9.9.) DR. TANNER
Sir, I moved this Amendment in the interest of the poorer classes of Ireland; but, inasmuch as the Chancellor of the Exchequer does not intend to give ear to it, I shall not press the matter any farther, though I shall certainly go to a Division.
§ (9 13.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 73; Noes 127.—(Div. List, No. 93.)
§ *(9.20.) DR. CAMERON (Glasgow, College)
I propose to move the rejection of this clause, because it constitutes 1327 the first stone in the erection of the Government Local Budget; and, so far as Scotland is concerned, her protest may be best made by moving the rejection of this clause. The right hon. Gentleman, by this clause, proposes a Customs Duty on foreign spirits, but that is only a part of the scheme to levy a Local Budget Duty on spirits and beer, to be distributed between the three countries. I protested, on the introduction of the Chancellor's scheme, against the proposal of a tax of 6d. a gallon on spirits and whisky, and an extra 3d. a barrel on beer. I did so on the ground that that was most unequal and inequitable on the respective liquors of Scotland and Ireland and England, greatly to the advantage of England, and that it was an injustice done to Scotland and Ireland, aggravated by the circumstance that it was proposed that the whole fund thus raised should be one fund devoted to local purposes amongst all countries. I am quite aware that the right hon. Gentlemen will attach no importance to anything I can say in the way of argument, but I think I can adduce to him the statements and arguments of an authority he will accept. He will not, for instance, altogether throw overboard the President of the Board of Trade, who, in 1885, took the lead in resisting a similar proposal when made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Edinburgh. The President of the Board of Trade argued that the original proposal of the right hon. Gentleman was bad enough. That was to put 2s. a gallon tax on whisky. But he said that if the proposed tax were reduced to 1s., the result would be even worse; that it would be impossible for the dealer to raise the price of the commodity, and that the tax would lead to the deterioration or un whole someness of the article. Again, the President of the Board of Trade said if a man wanted to buy a higher class of article made from the best malt he would find it adulterated either with very inferior sherry or with spirits made from rice. Such was the argument of the right hon. Gentleman the present President of the Board of Trade, and in stating the case for Scotland, I will do it in the words of a supporter of the existing Government, the Member for Dumbartonshire, who, in a Debate which took place in 1885, 1328 said he had intended to move an Amendment, but had omitted to put it on the Paper. The effect of that Amendment was that the proposed increase of 2s. per gallon in the duty on spirits was unjust and inequitable to Scotland and Ireland, and that no increased duty should be placed on spirits until wine, beer, ale, and porter, were charged an equal duty; and, further, that considering 1,711 stills had been detected during the previous two years, it was inexpedient to make any increase in the duty charged on spirits. The hon. Member who should have moved this Amendment, went on to show that the high duty on spirits was of comparatively modern origin, and added that, while no one would dare to propose that Scotland and Ireland should pay double the Income Tax paid by England, the then duty on spirits made Scotland pay, for the alcohol there consumed, an amount larger than double the Income Tax she paid in 1883. This is not my argument, but one put forward by one of the right hon. Gentleman's most devoted supporters, who showed that it was not until 1860 that the Whisky Duty reached its present high figure. The hon. Baronet also said "he knew the increased duty was supported by teto-tallers and others, on moral grounds, but, in his belief, there were no higher principles of morality than truth and justice, while there was no lower form of morality than cant and hypocrisy in defence of injustice; and he held that anyone, acquainted with the facts, who yet supported these duties on alcoholic drinks on the ground of morality, shut out all sense of justice from his mind." For my part I should hardly like to use language such as that, but I have no hesitation in calling the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the language of one of his supporters, in order to show the deteriorating influence it must have on, at least, that Member of his Party if he persists in the suicidal course on which he has embarked. My objection to the right hon. Gentleman's proposal is vastly intensified since the figures in its defence have been before the House, for anything more destructive of his argument it is hardly possible to conceive. The Secretary to the Treasury told us that when the Probate Duty was allocated by the Chancellor of the Exche- 1329 quer he had to determine the respective shares to be allocated to the three countries, and he had decided that the true principle was not to take the amount of Probate Duty paid by each, but to take the total contribution of each country to the Imperial Taxation. But the Chancellor of the Exchequer has not done this; for he has allocated the License Duties to the different countries on the amounts raised in each, and he also proposed to deal with the Wheel Tax not in regard to the common fund, but to allocate the money to the countries according to the amounts raised in those countries. And now he proposes to raise a sum of money which would be, roughly, what would have been raised by the Wheel Tax for local purposes in England. And how does he propose to do it? We were told the other night that we were too well off. We were told that the percentage of contributions paid were 82.6 by England, 10.5 by Scotland, and 6.9 by Ireland, and that England received loss than she paid, whilst Scotland received £18,846 more than she, and Ireland £57,000 more than she paid. He proposes to remedy that so far as Scotland is concerned by making her pay £76,000 more than she receives. The inference to be drawn from this proposal is too obvious to need re-enforcement—that I only trust that the people of Scotland will derive a correct impression from the figures. None will more readily appreciate their injustice. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer will reply "You take simply the Spirit Duty," but I do that because it is the only new duty proposed to be raised. No extra duty on beer is proposed in the Bill before the House, and this £76,000 on spirits is to be raised in order that it may be sent into England and applied to a purpose of which we do not approve. A Return presented to the House in the course of last week shows that England contributes £177,000 more than she receives of the Probate Duty, and Scotland is £69,600 less. I would bog the House to look for a moment at the principle on which the grant was allocated. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that instead of giving grants in aid, which only led to extravagance, half the Probate Duty would be given to the Local Authorities, who, by being 1330 left to make the best of it, would be stimulated to economy. At the time that grant was made Scot land received £234,000, and, according to the Secretary to the Treasury, she ought to have received, on strict principles of justice, £11,000 less. But the Chancellor of the Exchequer, wishing to be generous, gave 11 per cent. instead of 10½ per cent. to which she was entitled. The Chancellor of the Exchequer now comes down and says that the Probate Duty in England has increased, and Scotland will receive an undue benefit. That shows the vice of the whole system of this allotment by the Exchequer. If a fixed sum had been given out of the Consolidated Fund, instead of a share of the Probate Duty, that would have remained stationary, and there would have been no dislocation in the equity of the arrangement. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer is to make any calculations he should base them on the £234,000 intended to be granted to Scotland, and not on the £264,000 which he estimates will be given to Scotland in the next year. That would leave a continued benefit to the extent of only £39,000, instead of £69,000. Now he proposes to impose a tax upon Scotland by which she will have to pay £76,000 more than she receives.
§ *DR. CAMERON
No, the right hon. Gentleman does not find that, but he will find the materials for arriving at it. He has carefully concealed the £76,000. I will tell him how ho can find it. If ho will look at the amount of the Spirit Duty on page 5 he will find the amount that England, Scotland, and Ireland get on the basis of 80 per cent., 11 per cent. and 9 per cent., and he will find what they pay by omitting in Table 2 the item beer, and adding together the contribution from British spirits and foreign spirits. In this way he will find that Scotland will have to pay £76,000 more than she receives. I contend, also, that the assumption of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the larger consumption of foreign spirits in England equalises the tax is erroneous, and I would point out that it is shown in a Return that the quantities of foreign spirits consumed in the three King- 1331 doms contradicted his assertion. The percentage of Scotland is 107, almost exactly the proportion proposed to be returned to the country. The amount of the tax on a gallon of proof spirit contained in beer is only 1s. 8d., and on whisky it is 10s. The right hon. Gentleman says that beer sustains a man—that it is a food. Well, in Scotland there is a superstition that whisky sustains a man. I have noticed, however, that when a man takes too much beer, or too much whisky, so far from its sustaining him he has generally difficulty in sustaining himself. But the right hon. Gentleman says beer is food, and that, therefore, it should not be taxed in the same way as spirits, whilst alcohol is simply an intoxicant, which should be taxed to any extent. Well, I do not object to the right hon. Gentleman taxing alcohol to any extent ho likes, compatible with the prevention of illicit distillation. I do not object to his taxing it for local purposes, provided he gives the proceeds of the tax to local purposes. But I certainly do object very strongly to his imposing an extra tax of 1d. a gallon on the alcohol in beer in England, while he imposes an extra 6d. a gallon on the alcohol in whisky in Scotland, and then dividing the proceeds equally between the two countries. It is grossly unfair to do this, and lump together all the proceeds for the purpose of buying up licences, superannuating police, and mitigating rates, both in England and Scotland. When are we to have finality in this matter? Because the receipts from the Probate Duty have somewhat differed from the expectations of the right hon. Gentleman, he now proposes a new tax. The right hon. Gentleman thinks no one can get fat on whisky. I would remind him, however, that the fattest Member who ever sat in this House, in my recollection, was a man who eschewed beer as a poison, and who was celebrated for his strict adherence to whisky, and could carry a large amount of it. To my mind, the alcohol in beer and the alcohol in whisky have precisely the same effects. They may stimulate the nutritive functions to a certain extent; and, in the case of some persons, each of them may produce fatness, and in the ease of others each may lead to leanness. Well, supposing whisky comes to be adopted in 1332 England as an anti-fat stimulant, in accordance with the right hon. Gentleman's notions, and it appears that, on the allocation, Scotland is getting more than her contribution out of the new fund, is the right hon. Gentleman again coming to Scotland to tax bag-pipes, haggises, kilts, and oatmeal? If the right hon. Gentleman had proposed to give each country the proceeds of its own tax on alcohol I should have been quite content. I beg to move the Amendment which stands in my name.
§ Amendment proposed, on page 2, to leave out Clause 1.—(Dr. Cameron.)
§ Question proposed, "That Clause 4 stand part of the Bill."
§ (9.50.) SIR G. CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)
I entirely agree with the arguments of my hon. Friend. I am quite agreeable that the tax on whisky should be made as high as it possibly can bo without producing smuggling, but I do object to the gross injustice of taxing the whisky in Scotland when you do not give an equivalent tax to England. My hon. Friend has said, with perfect truth, that there is not a word about imposing a duty on beer in the Bill before the House. Last year it was discovered that the basis on which the tax on beer was imposed was not a fair basis, and did not entirely fulfil the original object with which the tax was imposed. It was, therefore, necessary to make some slight variation in regard to the strength. The tax was not imposed for any special purpose, but for general financial considerations, and it, therefore, cannot be brought into comparison with the tax which it is now sought to place on whisky for the special purpose of local taxation. It is altogether misleading to ear-mark a particular tax in the way proposed. The arrangement suggested is of the most inequitable character. The tax on the alcohol in beer will amount to about one-sixth of the tax on alcohol in whisky. The Chancellor of the Exchequer justifies this on the ground that beer is, to a certain extent, food. Well, Sir, in Scotland we combine the consumption of whisky with the consumption of food. We used to hear a great deal about a concoction called Athol-brose, a mixture of whisky, oatmeal, and milk. Does the right hon. Gentleman say that the whisky in brose ought 1333 to be taxed at six times the amount at which beer is taxed? This is a case in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has not dared to face the great brewing interests of England. These interests are very powerful in this country, and he dared not face them. I shall have very great pleasure in supporting my hon. Friend's Amendment.
§ (10.0.) MR. T. M. HEALY
I do not know whether I ought to move to report Progress; but the Chancellor of the Exchequer does not seem inclined to reply to the arguments which have been used.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
Then the Chairman was wrong in calling on me. I venture to differ altogether from the right hon. Gentleman, because to suppose that the clause was to be put from the Chair is to suppose a very unusual thing. I understand the clause was put in the usual way; but the right hon. Gentleman has been so anxious for Progress that he has forgotten the promise he made to us earlier in the evening.
§ (10.2.) MR. GOSCHEN
I am surprised at the observations of the hon. Member; I was waiting to have the opportunity of hearing other Members who might get up before I made my reply. One of the main points put by the two hon. Members who have just spoken is that the Beer Duty is an old duty which is re-imposed this year. That may technically be so; but when the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir G. Campbell) says that I am frightened of the brewing interests, I must point out that a more ridiculous statement was never made in the House. I should have thought that to light the whole of Scotland was a much more difficult matter than to fight the brewers of England. The hon. Member may not have read the declarations I made last year with regard to the Beer Duty. I stated that the remission of the extra 3d. should be taken into consideration side by side with any general reduction in the tax. When I proposed the increase in the duties on spirits I felt that an increase of 3d. should be levied on beer, and it is certain that the proceeds of the 3d. will be devoted to local purposes in Scotland, Ireland, and England. The hon. Member does not deny that?
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Well, considering that the whole plan is that the proceeds should be distributed among the three countries, I do not understand his denial. The hon. Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) charged me witth having imposed this duty in order to rectify an increase which has taken place. I would point out to him that the Probate Duty is levied in much larger proportions in England than in Scotland or Ireland. Would the hon. Member be prepared to have each of the three duties distributed in the proportions in which they are collected in the three contries? I think he would make a bad bargain for Scotland if he adopted the suggestion. I turn to the general question of the imposition of this duty. If hon. Members will read up the history of the Spirit Duties they will see that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian has repeatedly laid down the proposition that the taxation of spirits stands on a different footing from the taxation of beer or any other article. The right hon. Gentleman has expressed the opinion that spirits should be taxed as highly as possible short of producing illicit distillation. The hon. Member for Glasgow has contended that the tax ought not to be put on whisky as compared with beer, and it is in reply to that portion of his argument that I think I am fairly justified in quoting the opinions of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian. I am prepared to contend that we are entitled to increase the duty upon spirits. Hon. Members have spoken as if the whole increase is intended for the purpose of buying up licences. But there are many other purposes served by this increase of duty, amongst others being the additional endowment of national teachers in Ireland, amounting to £77,000. I shall be perfectly prepared to argue with hon. Members from Scotland or Ireland as to how far this particular duty ought to be allocated for local purposes; but this clause simply imposes a duty on foreign spirits, and I think that the hon. Member for Glasgow can scarcely contend that that duty weighs with any unfairness upon Scotland.
§ (10.15.) COLONEL NOLAN
The First Lord of the Treasury and the President of the Board of Trade have run away. The Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. 1335 Jackson) is obliged to stay to assist the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but he really must be ashamed of himself on the present occasion. The hon. Gentleman assisted us in turning out the Liberal Government on this very question. I acknowledge the Chancellor of the Exchequer comes to this question unspotted and unstained. He voted for the taxation of spirits in 1885, but the whole of the Conservative Party demanded the importation. They said it was a crying iniquity to tax spirits and beer unless wine was also taxed. They went to the country on the question, but now that the election is over they evidently think this a nice time to increase the tax on whisky. It is rather amusing to read what was said by prominent Members of the Conservative Party at that time. The President of the Board of Trade (Sir Michael Hicks Beach) proposed—That this House regards the increase proposed by this Bill on the duties levied on beer and spirits as inequitable in the absence of a corresponding addition to the duties on wine.The Liberal Budget was unfair to the whole country, because it proposed to increase the tax on beer as well as spirits, but this Budget proposes to increase the duty on spirits only, which, I contend, is most inequitable and unfair to Ireland. The Chancellor of the Exchequer argues that Ireland gets more than her share through the Probate Duty grant, but he himself picked out the Probate Duty; if he had fixed upon the Succession Duty Ireland would have stood in a far more favourable position. Under the proposed arrangement our country will pay more than she receives. It has been pointed out that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian raised the tax on whisky. That is the only blot on the right hon. Gentleman's name; but still Mr. Disraeli raised the tax on Irish whisky; indeed, every English Government since 1814 has raised the tax on such spirit. Possibly you may, by these increases, force the people to drink beer instead of whisky, but then you will force them into the poorhouses, because they will be unable to work. I consider the proposal a most unfair one. As I have said, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been consistent, but what has the First Lord of the Treasury to say in defence of this increase, 1336 considering that ho voted against the increase in 1885?
§ (10.18.) MR. T. M. HEALY
I should like to be permitted to read a few extracts from the speeches of leading Members of the Conservative Party, when, in 1885, they denounced as immoral and tyrannical the imposition of this tax by the Liberal Party. I am glad to see the First Lord of the Admiralty (Lord G. Hamilton) in his place, because he was one of the chief opponents, in 1885, of this immoral Whisky Tax. [Lord G. HAMILTON: Oh!] Oh, yes; Hansard never lies. The noble Lord was most eloquent in his denunciation of this tax, and so was the President of the Board of Trade (Sir M. Hicks Beach) not five years ago, and yet the Conservative Party have managed in that time to forswear every opinion they held on this question. The President of the Board of Trade, speaking on the 8th of June, 1885, was not only most eloquent upon the subject of the increase of the Spirit Duty, but Mr. Courtney, he wept, I may say, alcoholic tears at the very idea that there would be adulteration of the drink of the poor man. He was afraid of illicit distillation, but, above all, he was afraid of the addition of the murderous German potatoe spirit to the drink of the working classes. The right hon. Gentleman showed that the whisky production of Ireland and Scotland was the chief article of commerce in those countries, and he wept over the fact that the whiskey trade was already decaying. He added—The Government have selected for increased taxation two important British and Irish trades, already heavily taxed, and by no means so prosperous as they were formerly, and have added insult to injury, because at the very same moment when they impose this increased taxation on these trades, they are proffering a boon to the foreign producer of the very article—namely the strongest class of wine—which principally competes with these home industries.A moment or two afterwards the First Lord of the Admiralty jumped up and said—Lord Beaconsfield once observed that the Radical Party were friends of every country in the world but their own.The noble Lord attacked Sir Charles Dilke, and said—The great mass of the Radical Clubs who supported the right hon. Baronet had beer and spirit licences: and to support pothouse 1337 politicians out of doors and denounce thorn in the House of Commons was nothing but claptrap.Then he said—Of course, any taxation was unpopular; still, it was remarkable that whenever it was proposed to tax any home produce, the Radical Party were dumb; hut when it was proposed to tax an article of foreign produce they raised every possible objection.I wonder who are the dumb now. To turn back to the President of the Board of Trade, let me say that what troubled his mind most was the introduction of terribly poisonous spirit into the beverage of the poor man. This fear caused him to assist in turning out a Government that was carrying out the law in Ireland with energy and vigour, which I understand to be the great credit of hon. Gentlemen opposite. You forget every question when Ireland comes up. No matter what blunders are committed by other Members of the Government, the one Member who shines out above all others is the Chief Secretary, and the people are asked to support him as the true man, even though all the others have proved faithless. But in 1885 the President of the Board of Trade had great concern for the consumer of spirits. He said—I fear that the consumer of spirits will be too often maddened by raw spirits sold to him by persons who will not be able, owing to the increased taxation, to bear the necessary expense of mellowing their spirits by keeping them in bond.You are a great Party. You talked like this in 1885; but now, in order to establish and endow the bung—the publican—you swallow all your former speeches. I will not go through the speeches of some Members of the rank and file of the Party opposite. There was Mr. Orr Ewing, who, I believe, was a most respectable Scotch Member. He grew furious at tin: proposed taxation of the beverage produced on his native heath; and then there were the Allsopps, who are here by the score, and who will support you in the Lobby in a few minutes, never thinking that there ever was such a year as 1885. But now I come to the Excise section. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer has denounced the German spirit. We all know he has a close acquaintance with German spirit. Is there any intention of carrying out these 1338 suggestions made by the right hon. Gentleman opposite in the memorable year 1885? Radicals, we know, are friends of every country but their own; but I am sure the Chancellor of the Exchequer is not ready to sacrifice the produce of this United Kingdom in the interest of Germany. I believe a lot of this German spirit is, or was, made by Prince Bismarck; but he is no longer in Office, and, therefore, this cannot influence the present Government. The Germans can send spirits into this country, at the price of 9d. a gallon, and though this stuff, as a friend of mine said, is only fit for lighting-Limps, this same spirit is blended with Scotch and Irish whisky under the very nose of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the mixture is sent through the country to deceive consumers into the belief that it is Scotch or Irish whisky. It is no more entitled to the name of whisky than to be called beer or champagne. I denounce this practice which allows this poisonous compound to be sold at 15s. to 17s. a gallon. Now, the Chancellor of the Exchequer is no friend to German spirit. Why does he not do justice to native spirit, and put an extra tax on this foreign spirit, and provide that it shall be illegal to sell it under the name of whisky? He might punish an evasion of such a law, as the Treasury dropped upon the gentlemen who attempted to concoct sparkling wines in bond. No; the right hon. Gentleman would do nothing of the sort when the suggestion was made. He suggests, when we raise a point, that we shall let it stand over for the next clause, and when the next clause is reached we are told the opportunity is passed. Now, I think the time to discuss this question of this German spirit is on the German Clause; and I ask the right hon. Gentleman what he intends to do? Are we to continue to pay 10s. 6d. duty whether we get Irish whisky or German spirit? Has the right hon. Gentleman no regard for the consumer or the interests of law and order? Yes; I assert that this vile, adulterated concoction is a cause of much violent crime and disorder—this spirit at 9d. a gallon, similar to that which is known in India, I believe, as "fixed bayonets"—but there it is supposed to be arrack. This poison should never be allowed to be sold as 1339 whisky. I make a suggestion that will greatly ease the situation so far as Ireland and Scotland are concerned. The original meaning of whisky was a spirit from a pot still of three or four runnings, and made from malt or barley: but this foreign spirit is made from potatoes or from wood, treated with sulphuric acid. But in this clause the nomenclature is most unfair. "Spirit" only is mentioned, as if the Excise and Customs know no distinction, and regard all alike from an Excise point of view; and if 10s. 6d. a gallon can be collected it does not matter what the consumer gets. You have enormous distillers in the three Kingdoms. Is it fair to these traders to allow this free admixture of this 9d. spirit under the eyes of the Excise? I submit this stuff ought to be stopped at the ports and branded as poison or something of the kind, for it is no more fit for human consumption than so much oil of vitriol. Yet the Government absolutely encourage the importation, and when it is sent out again to exercise its civilising influence in Africa or South America they allow a drawback upon it. The whole question is treated from a purely fiscal and Chancellor's point of view, and no attempt is made to prevent the consumer being deceived. When we hear of these murders in England, of a character to make an Irishman's hair stand on end; when we hear of Englishmen kicking their wives to death; when we hear of the murders here in proportion of four to one in Ireland, we can, to a large extent, trace these things as the result of the maddening effect of this German spirit, the trade in which the Customs and Excise arrangements encourage. It is time our manufacturers lifted their voices in emphatic protest against this system by which the trade in this spirit made from potatoes, wood, or rags is given the Government stamp of respectability.
§ *(10.45.) MR CHILDERS (Edinburgh, S.)
When, five years ago, I received such a denunciation from the present President of the Board of Trade because I proposed an increase in the Spirit Duties, I little thought the Nemesis would come so soon, or that it would come through the action of one of his Colleagues, a right hon. Friend of mine who supported me in 1885; and is therefore, perhaps, more en- 1340 titled to take this course now. I do not think right hon. Gentlemen will easily forget those Debates of 1885; at all events, they have not been allowed to forget them to-night. Two distinct questions arise on this clause; there is the question which has been well argued by the hon. and learned Member who has just sat down as to how German and other raw spirit should be allowed to go into consumption, and the other question is in reference to the allocation of the amount raised. Upon the first question I will only say that I think the time has come when it might be dealt with, I mean what restrictions as to its age should be placed on spirit containing much fusil oil. When I was at the Exchequer I had the matter before me, but at that time it was a new question, and the Revenue officers were tolerably strong in the opinion that not much could be done; but I have reason to believe that now that opinion is much altered. I gather from the nod of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he agrees with me, and that it is a question that must be dealt with ere long. Whether it would be better to prohibit the sale of spirits within a certain time of distillation, and whether there should be special treatment for imported spirits, I do not profess to judge; but I am quite sure the question is one that will have to be dealt with, and I hope before this discussion is over wo shall have a word or two from the Government upon it. The branch of the question that was so well put by the Member for Glasgow is whether we should allow this clause to pass having regard to its sole object, which is the allocation of the money between the different parts of the United Kingdom. Looking at the figures, I come to the conclusion that the distribution proposed by the Government is not fair. It is said that we have to deal both with spirits and beer. I deny altogether that it is fair to consider beer—first, because the Beer Duty was settled in a previous Session; and, secondly, because there are really no reliable statistics as to the consumption of beer. We have reliable statistics as to the consumption of spirits, because spirits cannot be removed from one part of the United Kingdom to another, except under a permit; but no permit is necessary for the removal of beer, and 1341 the result is that the quantity of beer transferred from one country to another is estimated as we are told, in a note to the Return, solely from information supplied by a few leading firms. Now, I entirely dispute the propriety of Parliament founding such an important division of revenue on such information. It is only right that the allocation, as far as beer is concerned, should be based on something more exact. The actual percentages of spirits consumed in the three countries are 67 per cent. for England, 19 per cent. for Scotland, and 11 per cent. for Ireland. If beer is also included, as I trust it cannot be, the percentages are 73, 15, and 12 respectively. It is proposed, however, to give 80 per cent. to England, 11 per cent. to Scotland, and only 9 per cent. to Ireland. I maintain on the face of these figures, compiled from official statements, that this is an unfair provision, and I hope the Committee will reject the proposal of the Government.
§ (10.55.) MR. GOSCHEN
The right hon. Gentleman has certainly effected a great change in his opinions now that he has become a Scotch Member from those he held when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer. He now proposes on this question of the Spirit Duties to make the division on a principle that will give the advantage to Scotland and Ireland as against England. The Probate Duty was distributed according to the proportion in which the three countries were supposed to contribute towards it, and that is the principle which is adopted in the present case. The right hon. Gentleman proposes that one principle should be applied when it is favourable to Scotland and Ireland, and another when it is adverse to those countries. England has lost by the Probate Duty, and gained something by the Spirit Duty; but the loss on the Probate Duty is greater than the gain on the Spirit Duty. I am willing to accept either the one or the other principle, but it is preposterous to apply the one principle in the one case and another principle in an analogous case.
§ *MR. CHILDERS
It is not a question of collection but of consumption, which is a totally different thing.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
It is not a question of consumption or collection; it is the point of view of who bears the fixation, and in reference to the Spirit Duty the right hon. Gentleman would adopt a totally different principle.
§ *MR. CHILDERS
I quite concur as to spirits, for which we have accurate statistics, but we have none for the Probate Duty, and I accepted the settlement of 1888 as a fair estimate.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
The Probate Duty was distributed according to the proportion the different countries were estimated to contribute to Imperial Taxation, and that is the principle now adopted. The question of foreign spirit is scarcely germane to this particular Amendment. I have, however, stated that the question of retaining spirits in bond and the question of German spirit are under consideration. I will consider whether it should be examined, not only from an Excise and Customs point of view, but also from a medical and scientific point of view. I propose that the German spirits should be examined in order to ascertain whether there is any truth in the statement that they contain deleterious substances; but this is a matter that is scarcely germane to the clause.
§ (11.0.) SIR W. HARCOURT
I do not propose to go into the question of whether justice is given to Scotland and Ireland by the division of the Probate Duty. It is quite enough to refer to the fact that in 1885 all the Members on the Ministerial Bench, except the Chancellor of the Exchequer, were strongly against the policy which they now support. It appears to me that in order to meet the arguments as to the injustice done to England and Scotland, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been obliged to fall back upon the Probate Duty of last year, and to put that forward as redressing the inequality of which he does not deny the existence. It is really the; fact that the Budget can be defended only by going back upon the Probate Duty of last year. I shall vote against the clause, but not because I object on general principle to raising the Spirit Duty. As far as I am concerned, I am very sorry that the Amendment for reducing the amount of the Spirit Duty, which stands upon the Paper, by some 1343 accident was not moved. It was quite intended the reduction should have been moved, because what would have been left of the Spirit Duty would have been quite sufficient for all the purposes contemplated by the Government other than compensation for public house licences. I hope that the question may be raised in that form upon the Excise Clause. Taking this clause as a whole, I regard it as having for its main object to obtain the money with which to pay compensation to brewers for licences, and therefore I shall have no hesitation in voting against it.
§ (11.3.) COLONEL NOLAN
I should like to point out that we in Ireland did not accept the distribution of the Probate Duty without protest, because we deemed it most unfair. The whole result of the operations of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is most unfair to Ireland, because its share of Probate Duty is very small, as that is a tax which is much more productive in England than in Ireland, and the unfair allocation of the Spirit Duty aggravates the grievance of Ireland.
(11.5.) MR. CONTBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
I think it is only fair that English Members should take some part in this Debate. In some parts of the country, and especially in Cornwall, in which I am more particularly interested, there is a very strong feeling on this question, and I think the time is come when we should enter our protest against the whole policy of the Government in connection with this tax. The Government have little hope of winning any support in Scotland or Ireland; indeed, they did not the other day venture to contest the return to this House as Member for Mid Tipperary my fellow criminal; while as to Scotland the only scintilla of hope they have had was in the election at Ayr Burghs. Surely it was very unkind of them to reward their friends in that constituency by thus increasing the Spirit Duty. On the other hand, the Government have everything to fear from the defection of the brewers, who are a strong electioneering force in England, and, notably, in the southern part of the island; and this is the explanation of their policy. They have held out to them a gigantic; bribe for their votes and 1344 influence at the next election, and they may reasonably fear that if they fail to carry their proposal that election will result unfavourably to them. It is very amusing to hear the right hon. Gentleman, who has deserted his former chief, always relying on the financial authority of that greatest of modern Financial Authorities—the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian. I always notice that when right hon. Gentlemen opposite get into any difficulty, they find it convenient to quote the right hon. Gentleman as their authority. They practice what they do not preach, and if their leaders only had the honesty to stand by their principles it would be more reputable on their part. Though we may be all agreed as to the desirability of taxing spirits with a view to preventing intemperance, we are not all at one as to the wisdom of utilising the proceeds of the tax for the purpose of pensioning off publicans. I should prefer to see no taxation of spirits at all, rather than that, by means of the taxation, we should confer on the publicans a vested interest which has hitherto been denied to them. There are minor reasons for opposing this proposal, but perhaps it is hardly worth while emphasising them, seeing that they have already been raised by other speakers in the course of this Debate. But, before I resume my seat, I should like to state that I entirely sympathise with those who have argued against the impolicy of heavily taxing native spirits to the great advantage of the filthy potations which the Germans send over here. We are being flooded with Germans and Gorman articles, with German waiters, and with German potato-spirit of a most poisonous character, and we have actually got a German Hebrew trying to force his way into this House for the purpose of undermining the political Constitution of this country.
§ (11.16.) MR. H. H. FOWLER
I think there is a general misconception as to the position of the tax on beer. My hon. Friend has contended that no new tax is being imposed, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer has contradicted that statement. There seems to be a general impression that last year the Chancellor of the Exchequer imposed an additional tax on beer for Imperial purposes, and that ho now 1345 proposes to transfer that tax to local purposes. That is not the case. There has been no additional tax on beer at all. I will read the words of the right hon. Gentleman in his Budget speech last year. He said—I have still to find £300,000. This I propose to effect by doing an act of justice and reparation to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian. I must ask the Committee to carry its mind back to the year 1880, when the right hon. Gentleman substituted a Boer Duty for the duty on malt and certain other duties connected with the manufacture of beer which had previously existed. The problem he had to solve was to place such a tax upon beer as would be a full equivalent for the duties which were abolished, and give a slight advantage to the Revenue. He did this by assuming that two bushels of malt would yield 36 gallons of beer of a specific gravity of 1055, and by imposing a tax of 6s. 3d. either on the two bushels of malt or on the 36 gallons of beer of a specific gravity of 1055. A great, resistance was offered by the representatives of the brewers' interests, who asserted that the imposition of 6s. 3d. on 36 gallons of beer of the specific gravity of 1055 would give a great deal more than the right hon. Gentleman estimated.…In the long-run it has been proved that my right hon. Friend was entirely right. Still, the right hon. Gentleman yielded to the brewers' contention, and raised the standard of specific gravity from 1055 to 1057. What I propose to do is to revert to the original proposal of the right hon. Gentleman.It is evident that, from 1880 to 1889, the brewers were not paying their full share of taxation; they were, instead, putting the money into their pockets. Last year the Chancellor of the Exchequer rectified the injustice. Therefore it is not right to say that the right hon. Gentleman has put any additional tax whatever on beer.
§ (11.20.) MR. J. M'CARTHY
I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will now allow me to say what I would have said earlier in the evening had not the right hon. Gentleman closured me. I do not often take part in the Debates of the House—
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I hope the hon. Gentleman will allow me to say that I did not see who was the person in possession of the House.[Cries of "Oh."] What do hon. Members mean by saying "Oh?" Surely they accept my statement? I give my assurance to the hon. Member, knowing his position in the lions that I did not know he was the Member who had risen.
§ MR. J. M'CARTHY
I entirely accept the assurance of the right hon. Gentleman. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman had he seen me would not have stopped me, as I do not usually occupy the House at any length, and never speak unless I think I have something to say. What I want to point out is that we have had no explanation from the Government as to their plan or method for utilising the machinery of Irish cities and towns for the purpose of dealing with this Licence Purchase Question. The question I wish to ask is whether the right hon. Gentleman can give a single precedent for raising a tax which is not to be applied within the year?
§ (11.22.) MR. GOSCHEN
My answer to the observations of the hon. Member is that Her Majesty's Government made an offer fairly to consider the question of this £40,000 being disposed of by the Municipal Authorities in Ireland. Soon after that it was said that some arrangement had been come to with the Town Clerk of Belfast, whose name I had never heard of, and then the hon. Member for Long ford stated that the Irish Party could not consider the question of the administration of these funds by the Municipal Authorities until the municipal franchise had been reformed. I have never said that the Government withdrew their pledge, but they cannot undertake to alter the municipal franchise, or to deal with Municipal Government in Ireland, before they pass this Bill. That is the main point. As to the other point of the hon. Member, as to there being any precedent for the allocation of money the disposal of which has not been finally settled by Parliament, I would remind him that the allocation of the Probate Duty was made before the final disposition of the fund was settled. Let me remind the hon. Member that this £40,000 is only part of the sum dealt with in this Bill.
§ (11.26.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
I am very glad indeed that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton has proved, by the words of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that no additional duty has been put on beer, but that what was done last year was to rectify the duty imposed in 1880. The right hon. Gentleman told us that the 1347 duties on articles of ordinary consumption ought to be reduced; but is not whisky an article of ordinary consumption, and are you reducing the duty on that? No, you are increasing it. The Chancellor of the Exchequer wants to put beer on the same footing as tea and currants; he says it ought not to be taxed. I utterly deny that, and I think the Government proposal is a most arbitrary one, not to be justified by the references to the allocation of the Probate duty.
§ (11.29.) MR. ILLINGWORTH
I wish, before we go to a Division, to enter my protest against the Government scheme. This and the three following clauses are what I regard as the extension of a vicious system—a system of subvention from the Imperial Exchequer. It has been contended that this is a separate local Budget, but the Chancellor of the Exchequer has entirely knocked that ground from under his feet. Now, what are the facts before us? It is bad enough when we are trying to raise the money wanted for Imperial taxation; but here the Government are proposing to create a tax for local purposes, which is designed to set Scotland and Ireland against England, while the people are being deluded by having the money taken out of one pocket for the purpose of having it put into the other. I wish to enter my protest against the mischievous and vicious system of subventions from the National Exchequer for local purposes, and I believe the policy of the Chancellor of the Exchequer will, in a very short time, be condemned as mischievous to the last degree. If the local taxation of this country amounts to £40,000,000, and they want £4,000,000 more, surely the ratepayers will be courageous enough to raise the additional sum on the same system as the rest, without resorting to the juggling system of subventions. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has attempted to deal with the gross injustice which will be caused by the dangerous proposal, first of all to tax Ireland without her consent, and then to tie up the money so that she cannot get the benefit of it. Surely Ireland is the last portion of the kingdom that ought to be experimented on in this way. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer saw the 1348 difficulty of establishing a Local Authority in Ireland to distribute the money, he ought to have left Ireland out altogether till such time as she might be able to distribute the money produceable by Irish taxation. What good can come of this legislation? it is a piece of legislation which the country will very shortly have to redress, and we shall then convict ourselves of having wasted the time of the House over so small a matter during a Session in which the Government have so many important measures which it declares must be passed into law.
§ (11.33.) MR. T. M. HEALY
I wish to say a word or two in correction of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is very hard for us struggling Irish Members to defend ourselves against his repeated charges of misrepresentation, because we venture to give our appreciation of his statements. Whenever we venture to challenge him, he says that when we come to the clause he will make his grand and final deliverance on the subject. I challenge him now to say whether the use of the Closure this evening was not justified on the ground that we should have sufficient discussion on this question when we came to this clause? We have only discussed the matter a very short time.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I largely sympathise with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is in charge of the Bill, and is conducting it by himself, unsupported by any of his Colleagues who opposed the Whisky Bill of 1885. I feel for his position, alone as he is on that Bench. He says we have been discussing this matter since 9 o'clock, but, so far from that being the fact, not one word was uttered till the right hon. Member for Derby got up and asked a question. It was the Scotch clause we were discussing.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
We ought not to discuss on this clause a question which is raised by a subsequent clause.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
Then, when is this question to be discussed? Are we to be dodged about from clause to clause as if we were pursuing some "Will o' the Wisp?" What we are pursuing is the sum of £40,000, which is a very different thing, and what we want to get 1349 from the Government is on what clause we may discuss this subject. If the right hon. Gentleman would only say "on this or that particular clause I will make my announcement," we will stop instantly, but we cannot allow this question to remain in a kind of Parliamentary cloudland. The right hon. Gentleman is at present in a state of Parliamentary ineption; he does not want to get along. The Chief Secretary has deserted him, and so long as he had that right hon. Gentleman by his side, he left the matter very much to him. Now, however, the Chief Secrotary has gone, and this shows how beautifully united the Cabinet is. I deny the assertion of the right hon. Gentleman that I object to his proposal on principle. What I said was that we should be glad to accept it if the Government would give us the same franchise that exists in England and Scotland. Nor did I charge the right hon. Gentleman, the Chief Secrotary with colleaguing with Mr. Black, of Belfast. I also introduced the hon. Baronet the Member for Mid Armagh, and it seems very strange that whenever I mention this subject the hon. Baronet immediately skedaddles out of the House. ["No, no!"] Oh, at present I see the hon. Baronet has taken up a very modest position. What I asserted was that the hon. Baronet, accompanied by Mr. Black, had taken a particular course, in order to put pressure on the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I bow to your ruling, and I think the astonishing thing is that we have been able to get so far. I have only, in conclusion, to assure the House that our only anxiety in this matter is that if we are to be taxed, our money should not be hung up. I think it would be the proper thing, supposing the tax cannot be used for the extinction of public house licences, to refer the point to a small Committee, on which I should not object to see the hon. Baronet the Member for Mid Armagh taking the position of Chairman. In that way you might get out of the Constitutional difficulty in which you are now placed, namely, the raising of money which you do not know what to do with. For the 1350 first time, the present Chancellor of the Exchequer has placed the House in this dilemmn, and I deny and protest against his statement, repeated four times, that what occurred in 1888 is a precedent in this matter. The question of the Probate Duty was an entirely different question. It was not, as in this case, the imposition of a new tax. If it were a precedent at all, it was one invented by the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself. Here you seek to impose a tax on Irish commodities which the Irish people repudiate through their Representatives, and no one knows what is to become of the money. These are our objections to the clause.
§ (11.45.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 240; Noes 169.—(Div. List, No. 94.)
§ Clause 5.
§ (11.58.) DR. TANNER
I rise for the purpose of trying to move the exemption of a substance which has become very popular and useful, and beneficial to the public. I refer to chloroform, the application of which has been greatly successful in ameliorating human suffering. It was first used and turned to account by a French surgeon, and then was turned to account by an English surgeon, Mr. Lawrence, of St. Bartholomew's, and by Edinburgh surgeons, since which time it has come into general use. Because this drug has come into general use the Chancellor of the Exchequer seems to think it right to tax it. The first time it was taxed was in 1856, when 3s. was put upon it. The increase now proposed is a very small one, namely, 1d., hut I think that at a, time like the present, when the anaesthetic is so extensively used, and is of incalculable value to humanity, the tax ought rather to be taken off than increased. If any nonmedical Member of the House had an opportunity of seeing what my medical friends are in the habit of witnessing every day—the sufferings of unfortunate patients on the operating table—and if they could appreciate the terrible agony these people had to go through before anæsthetics were known, they would instead of increasing the tax upon chloroform, be only too anxious to do all in their power to take it off. I should like further to say that chloroform is more 1351 extensively used in the public hospitals nowadays than it was formerly—of course, in those hospitals supported by voluntary contributions—and, in view of those institutions especially, I think the tax an unfair one. And the more right hon. and hon. Gentlemen look into it the more they will see the inherent objection to the increase of the tax.
§ (12.1.) MR. GOSCHEN
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will allow me to interpose and to point out that if this clause is omitted the only result will be that the foreign manufactured article will come into this country duty free, and English manufactured chloroform will pay a higher duty. This clause is necessary in order to put the foreign and English manufactured articles on the same footing. The total amount of the tax which would be derived from this addition would only be about £7, and I trust, therefore, the hon. Member will see that the item is hardly worth while discussing.
§ (12.3.) DR. TANNER
Then will the right hon. Gentleman promise to give a rebate on English chloroform? When the right hon. Gentleman was introducing the Bill he made an allusion to Fair Trade in connection with currants, and there was a loud cheer from below the Gangway. Well, if he allows a rebate upon home spirits, why should he not do so in the case of home made chloroform? He says the amount of the increase is very small, if it is small why propose it? I think, instead of putting an increased tax upon these anaesthetics, the proper policy would be to take it off entirely. I want to force this point to a conclusion, and to ascertain whether the right hon. Gentleman, who is a supporter of coercion in Ireland, will also desire to deprive suffering mortality in England of the relief which is afforded them by this great invention. I shall press my Amendment to a Division, and I may say that I think the right hon. Gentleman should extend to hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House that courtesy which they are in the habit of extending to him. There is another Amendment down in my name, and that is with reference to a substance known as sulphuric ether, which is used for flavouring foreign spirits. I will not propose that Amendment. There is also one as to "ether 1352 butyric," which is used, I am told, for purposes of adulteration. I shall not propose that either, but will confine myself to dealing with chloroform and collodion.
§ Amendment moved, in page 2, line 25, to leave out the word "Chloroform."—(Dr. Tanner.)
§ Question proposed "That the word 'Chloroform' stand part of the Clause."
§ *(12.5.) MR. CHILDERS
I hope hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway will not find it necessary to divide the House. I would point out to the hon. Member that chloroform is made in this country with spirit; the spirit is either distilled here or imported, and, therefore, has paid a duty, which duty is included in the price of the chloroform sold in London. If the Committee strike out this clause the effect will be that the foreigner will reap the advantage, for the difference to the English producer will be sufficient to destroy the trade. It will prohibit the production of chloroform in this country in favour of French manufactories, where a very large-amount of this drug is made. What I would suggest is that the hon. Gentleman should not press this Motion; but if he could induce the Chancellor of the Exchequer to consider whether it would not be possible, in the interest of the home manufacture of chloroform, to introduce some Excise arrangement which would enable the British manufacturer to use spirit free of duty, as in the case of methylated spirit, it would be very desirable—assuming that, from the Revenue point of view, it was possible, and then there need be no duty on foreign chloroform.
§ (12.10.) MR. T. M. HEALY
I have understood that we are all Free Traders, and if Free Trade is to apply in some directions I do not see why it should not apply in this. I do not see why the British manufacturer should be ruined in order that the consumer may benefit. Why is the chloroform maker to get an advantage over the whisky manufacturer? While we admit German post cards and German swords, and other articles of German manufacture into the country, why should we protect British chloroform against foreign chloroform? Why should not the chloroform trade be put on the same footing as the sugar bounties 1353 question? It seems to me that the way in which the right hon. Gentleman is endeavouring to treat chloroform is an attempt to get in the thin end of the wedge of Fair Trade, so to speak. The right hon. Gentleman says the increase of Revenue will only be some; £7. Then, does ho mean that the great Constitutionalist Party mean to sacrifice one of the great principles of their country for £7? I would deprecate the disruption of a Free Trade Parliament on a question of chloroform; but I think the right hon. Gentleman is wrong in his figures. Ho says we shall only get £7 on the clause, but I think he will see that he is putting on an additional £5. But, in any case, is it worth while to sit up till 2 o'clock in the morning on a question of £7? I would suggest that we have now arrived at a period of the Debate when there is a desire for harmony in the Committee. We have all heard what has fallen from the hon. Member for South Edinburgh, whose assistance we warmly welcome; and I should be happy to endorse his advice, and to appeal to my hon. Friend not to press his Motion, if I did not think that in this clause the Government are attacking Free Trade principles.
§ (12.15.) MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
Will not the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer give some answer to the appeal of the right hon. Member for South Edinburgh?
§ MR. GOSCHEN
The right hon. Gentleman has appealed to me to know whether it would not be possible, by some arrangement, to abolish the duty on chloroform. I must point out that it would derange the chloroform in bond. However, I will make inquiries in the matter, and see whether anything can be done.
§ (12.16.) MR. LYELL (Orkney and Shetland)
Could not the right hon. Gentleman make a return to the British manufacturer of 3s. 1d., which is the amount he pays on the alcohol he uses in the manufacture of chloroform? That might meet the difficulty.
§ (12.17.) MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
The right hon. Gentleman will agree that chloroform is not an article which it is desirable to tax one penny more than is necessary. I think he 1354 makes a mistake as to the difficulty of manufacturing in bond, for the manufacturing in bond is not done by small but by large manufacturers. But my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. T. M. Healy) makes a mistake in thinking the question of Free Trade comes in here. The argument of the Free Traders against Fair Trade is that you give an artificial advantage to the foreign producer, but in this case you will be artificially hampering our own trade.
§ *(12.18.) DR. CAMERON
I think there would be no difficulty in getting a drawback on chloroform equivalent to the amount of duty paid on the spirit used in its manufacture.
§ (12.19.) MR. GOSCHEN
I have undertaken to look into the matter and to see what can be done. I am not at all sure that it would be a desirable thing to render chloroform extremely cheap, as some danger to the community might be involved.
§ (12.20.) DR. TANNER
After the satisfactory assurance given by the right hon. Gentleman I shall not proceed with the Amendment. I am perfectly satisfied with having drawn attention to the question, and I hope that in subsequent Budgets succeeding Chancellors of the Exchequer may see their way to the adoption of my proposal. As the right hon. Gentleman says chloroform is cheap, I may point out that this drug is one of the articles most largely used by charitable institutions.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ (12.21.) DR. TANNER
I want to ask questions with regard to the other substances mentioned in the Bill. Collodion is one of them. The right hon. Gentleman is putting 1s. a gallon extra tax upon collodion. This drug is very useful for dressing wounds, and is also used very largely in photography, which is designated as a cheap art in this country if you increase the price of collodion you will very probably increase the price of photographs. This, no doubt, will not practically affect photographers in large cities, but it may have considerable effect upon the poor and struggling photographers in the country districts. The right hon. Gentleman also proposes to increase the 1355 tax upon sulphuric ether by 1s. 2d. a gallon. Sulphuric ether is not only used as an anaesthetic, but is commonly employed as a medicine in connection with cough mixtures and so forth. I hope that when the right hon. Gentleman looks in to the question of chloroform he will also consider the position of these two articles.
§ (12.24.) MR. GOSCHEN
The same remark applies to those drugs as to chloroform. The increase is made in order to equalise the duty. I may point out that there are only 59 gallons of chloroform imported in the course of the year, and only 45 gallons of sulphuric ether. It has been considered unfair to put British manufacturers on a different footing from foreign manufacturers, and I trust the hon. Member will perceive that it is impossible under these circumstances to make any alteration in the clause.
§ DR. TANNER
Surely, if only 45 gallons of sulphuric ether are imported, the amount of the tax is so trifling that it is useless to increase it.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Yes; but if you have a different duty in favour of foreign manufacturers there is no doubt that the 45 gallons Will soon be largely increased.
§ (12.26.) MR. BRUNNER (Cheshire, Northwich)
I hope the right hon. Gentleman will bear in mind what he said a short time ago about making spririts free for all medicines. If he would do so in the same way as, to his honour, he has made spirits free in the Arts, I believe he would give great satisfaction to the House, and would largely benefit the country.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I will consider that suggestion, but I do not think any great relaxation of the duty on intoxicants would be desirable.
§ DR. TANNER
I would point out that, while the right hon. Gentleman is going to increase the tax on all these substances, he is going to leave out chloral hydrate.
§ *DR. CAMERON
I object to these clauses because they are all parts of a scheme to which I object. I hope we shall take a Division against them.
§ (12.28.) House cleared for a Division, but clause agreed to without a Division.
§ Clause 6.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Blane.)
§ *THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH,) Strand, Westminster
I am sorry to say, Sir, that the Government cannot consent to report Progress. The Committee must feel that very slight progress has been made this evening. Under these circumstances, greatly as we regret that any strain should be imposed upon the Members of this House, we must ask them to dispose of Clause 6 before we consent to report Progress.
§ (12.32.) SIR W. HARCOURT
The right hon. Gentleman says very slight progress has been made. Very important questions, however, have been discussed. I do not think the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who has been here all night, will say there has been any unnecessary discussion on this Bill. [Cries of "Oh!"] Hon. Members who have been ordered to come down and vote this Bill through, and who have heard nothing about it, may jeer at my statement, but I do not think the Chancellor of the Exchequer will say there has been anything but fair and bonâ fide discussion of the clauses that have come before the House. No fair-minded person who has been in the House will contradict my statement. I must protest against the course proposed as unreasonable, and as inconsistent with the practice of this House. I shall certainly support the Motion to report Progress.
§ *(12.34.) DR. CAMERON
I was prepared to challenge a Division on Clause 5, but I did not do so because I was led to understand that if time were saved by our not going to a Division progress would be reported. Clause 6 particularly brings up the whole subject of the Scotch distribution. Only three Scotch Members have spoken to-night, the rest having refrained, I have no doubt, because they thought that the subject would be better discussed on the 6th clause. It would take a considerable time to answer the fallacious 1357 arguments advanced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer earlier in the evening, and it would be unreasonable to attempt to commence the discussion of this clause at such an hour.
§ (12.36.) MR. T. M. HEALY
I would pointout to the First Lord of the Treasury that ho proposes to take the whole time of the House; and, that being so, tomorrow evening and Wednesday afternoon will be at his disposal. I think the Government have not considered their own harvest of opportunities in this matter. I would also point out that the present hour is equivalent to 20 minutes to 2 of the old time. The Government gain nothing by resisting the Motion to report Progress, and their position would be far stronger to-morrow night in moving to take private Members' time if no progress were made in the meantime. I protest against their present attitude as a most unreasonable one.
§ *(12.40.) MR. W. H. SMITH
I am anxious to meet hon. Gentlemen as far as I can, but no suggestion has been made as to when the Bill can be got through Committee. Under these circumstances, we are clearly bound to make progress. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby has said the Debate this evening has been a perfectly reasonable one. I have no wish to enter into any controversy with him on that point; but I have been present the greater part of the evening, and I could not help noticing a considerable amount of repetition. However that may be, I do not desire to enter into a contest as to the circumstances which render it necessary for us to ask the House to proceed somewhat longer than it has yet done.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
Will the right hon. Gentleman state how much longer he will take to go on? [Ministerial cries of "No, no!"] That shows the temper of the Party opposite. The shouts of hon. Gentlemen simply show that the supporters of the Government will not listen even to the reasonable proposals of their own leader.
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH
There is one other consideration. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is asking hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite to 1358 swallow all their principles and to go directly in the teeth of the votes they gave in 1885. That ought not to be without some deliberation. I do not think the Government is well advised in following further the Times newspaper. The Times newspaper—[Ministerial cries of "Oh, oh!"]—the Times newspaper—[renewed cries of "Oh, oh!"]—the Times newspaper—[reneiaed cries of "Oh, oh!"and counter cries of "Pigott!"] The Government have been led far astray by taking the advice of the Times, and if they take it again they will only have to blame themselves for the consequences.
§ *MR. W. H. SMITH
I am not desirous of entering into any controversy which can be avoided, but I think it is not unreasonable to ask the House to finish the 6th clause—["No, no!"]—seeing that all the questions that it raises have been debated on the 4th clause. Clause 7 is the clause which raises the questions of interest for the Party opposite.
§ MR. HUNTER
It is most unreasonable to ask Scotch Members to debate a point of peculiar interest to them at a time when the proceedings of the House cannot be adequately reported. The Scotch case has not yet been dealt with because the Scotch Members were told by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that they could most properly plead their case on the 6th clause. Already the proposals of the Government have been condemned by two-thirds of the Scotch Members, and now the leader of the House is trying to force the Bill through at 10 minutes to 1 o'clock.
§ MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)
I assure the leader of the House, who, I am sure, does not wish to be unfair to the Irish Members, that they refrained from speaking on Clause 4 because they thought they could raise the Irish case best on Clauses 6 and 7, both of which raise questions of great importance. I should like to remind the right hon. Gentleman also that, although a Division was challenged on Clause 5, we did not go to a Division, because we distinctly understood that if we did not the Government would not resist the Motion to report Progress.
§ MR. SEXTON
There must have been some misapprehension; but hon. Gentlemen were led to believe that the Government would consent to report Progress. On that account we refrained from taking a Division on Clause 5. The right hon. Gentleman very naturally wishes to make progress, but surely the course proposed by him is not the one best calculated to expedite business. To expect that hon. Members can conveniently enter upon this discussion at so late an hour of the night is absurd. I warn the Government that if they enter upon it they will not finish the clause, even if they sit all night.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
I was in consultation with my hon. Friend, and I know he abstained from making any observations upon Clause 4 because he thought the Irish case could be raised more properly upon Clause 6. I, myself, was prepared to make a few observations on the subject, but, holding the same opinion as my hon. Friend, I abstained from doing so. I also wish to assure the right hon. Gentleman that we did not divide on the last question because of the distinct assurance conveyed to us that the Government would consent to report Progress.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
I will use the usual language employed in such cases. The information was conveyed to us by the ordinary channels by which such information is conveyed.
§ MR. MARJORIBANKS (Berwickshire)
I think there has been some misunderstanding between my hon. Friends below the Gangway and myself. It was thought desirable by my right hon. Friends on this Bench that the Government should not be put to the trouble of a Division on the 5th clause. I did my best to convey that view to hon. Members below the Gangway, and said that if that Division were not taken my right hon. Friends on this Bench would support the Motion for Progress. From my own point of view, and on my own authority, I also said I did not doubt that right hon. Gentlemen opposite would not persist in pressing the Bill further at so late an hour.
§ MR. H. H. FOWLER
I think I may very properly make an appeal to the First Lord of the Treasury on the part of those Members who, like myself, have been sitting on Select Committees during the day. It is now 1 o'clock, and, unless there is a case of imperative public necessity, it is unfair and unreasonable to ask hon. Gentlemen to sit up longer after they have been here for 13 hours. Is there a case of imperative public necessity? There is a Rule of the House that only one stage of a Money Bill can be taken in the same day. Consequently, if the Government get Clause-6 to-night, they will still have to take the Report stage on Wednesday, and they cannot get the Third Reading before Thursday. The right hon. Gentleman has said he is prepared to ask the House to give him the whole of to-morrow and the whole of Wednesday. That will be a large appropriation of the time of private Members. The Government can thus secure the Third Reading on Thursday. They are, therefore, not entitled to put an unfair pressure upon a large section of the House, who are doing their duty to the best of their ability.
§ *(1.0.) MR. W. H. SMITH
If the right hon. Gentleman and his friends will promise to assist the Government in getting the Bill through Committee to-morrow, I will at once consent to the Motion to report Progress. I have no desire to put undue pressure on hon. Members in any part of the House. But the Government are bound to endeavour to get this business through before Whitsuntide. As I say, if we got the promise I have suggested, I shall be exceedingly glad to fall in with the suggestions of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ (1.1.) MR. LABOUCHERE
I protest against any species of bargain being entered into. This is an old plan of the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury. He takes important business in the middle of the night and then says, "I will allow you to go home immediately if you will make a bargain with me to agree to pass the Bill in a certain number of hours. I ventured to interpolate a remark when the right hon. Gentleman was speaking, which he at once took up. It was a simple remark, but it was a practical one. It was, "Let us light it out." Why did 1361 I say that? I said it because I am an old bird at this game. I knew what was going to happen. I saw the right hon. Gentleman come in ready to protest against our Motion to report Progress, and I saw hon. Members behind him who had returned from evening and dinner parties. I heard their shouts. I heard them calling upon their Friend the First Lord of the Treasury to put the Bill through by force. It is evident the right hon. Gentleman came in stolidly and obstinately determined, as far as possible, to get the 6th clause passed; and hon. Members had mustered in force to support him in that purpose. In vain did Gentlemen who represent Scotch and Irish constituencies point out that the matters raised by that clause would take hours to legitimately discuss. I can only repeat "Let us tight it out." It is no use appealing to the First Lord of the Treasury. I advise hon. Members around me to enter into no arrangement, but to fight this matter out.
§ (1.3.) COLONEL NOLAN
May I point out to the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury that our constituents take very great interest in this subject, and may I ask him if it is fair at 1 o'clock in the morning to invite them, wearied and fagged as they are, to enter into a discussion upon this important question? How can we preach law and order to the people in the West of Ireland when the First Lord of the Treasury and the Chief Secretary insist on taxing them at such an hour of the night, and when it is totally impossible that the speeches of their Representatives can be published? I say that this is a most un-Constitutional act on the part of the Government, and that the people of Scotland and of Ireland will consider that this Conservative Ministry is acting in a most un-Constitutional manner in pressing the clause through at this hour.
§ *(1.6.) MR. FLYNN (Cork, N.)
I and a large number of Irish Members took no part whatever in the discussion on Clause 4, because we preferred to reserve ourselves for the Debate on Clause 6, the proposals contained in which are causing great anxiety and a sense of injustice, both in Ireland and in Scotland. Hon. Members opposite who have not been in attendance during the Debate may be under the impression 1362 that we have been discussing the points raised by this clause during the whole of the evening, but we have been doing nothing of the kind. We have simply reserved ourselves for this clause. I hope the first Lord of the Treasury will listen to the voice of reason and will not try to carry this measure by force.
§ (1.8). MR. CONYBEARE
Hon. Members opposite may cry "Divide," but if they had been here instead of dining out they would know I have not taken up much time in discussing this question to-night. I object to voting taxation at this late hour of the night and in this improper manner. I think it is a most improper practice, and I shall consider it my duty on all occasions, while I have the honour to occupy a seat in this House, to protest to the utmost of my ability against allowing Money Bills to come on at these irregular hours. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury is-very fond of appealing to the interests of the country, but I should like to know if he thinks he will be serving the best interests of this country by forcing us into an all night conflict? All night Sittings do not tend to the transaction of any real business. They simply raise up difficulties which confront the Government at later stages of the Bill. I appeal to the First Lord of the Treasury to assent to our very reasonable demand, and not to insist upon prolonging this wrangle. I refuse to lend myself to any bargain between the two Front Benches. I do not like bargains. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby has clearly pointed out in his very forcible speech that there is nothing likely to prevent this Bill being got through before the Whitsuntide Recess, and I do trust, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman, now that we have spent three-quarters of an hour in discussing this question, will agree to the Motion.
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ (1.15.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 195; Noes 12G.—(Div. List, No. 95.)1363
§ Question put accordingly, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."
§ (1.25.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 127; Noes 194.—(Div. List, No. 96.)
§ (1.37.) MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling, &c.)
I wish to make an appeal to the right hon. Gentleman on behalf of the majority of Scotch Members who are particularly interested in Clause 6, which raises a question affecting the imposition of the duty in Scotland, and which they are of opinion is grossly unfair in its character. I do not refer to the objects to which the tax is to be devoted. I refer merely to the comparison of the charge on the English, the Scotch, and the Irish people which is involved in the imposition of this duty. I believe most of us would not be unwilling to see an increase in the Spirit Duty, if accompanied by an increase on the liquor consumed in other parts of the United Kingdom. The Scotch Members think that the article of commonest consumption in Scotland—and this also applies to Ireland—is being taxed under this Bill to an extent very much in excess of the tax imposed on the article of the commonest consumption in England. The Scotch Members are prepared to lay their case before the Government and the country, but they cannot possibly do so at this hour of the night. It is absolutely necessary to the proper vindication of their case that the discussion shall take place at an hour when the Debate can be reported. If the discussion is taken now nothing will be gained, because I fear the arguments will be repeated on the Report stage; so that no time will be gained. I do not intend to move a dilatory Motion, but shall simply make an appeal to the right hon. Gentleman.
§ *(1.40.) MR. W. H. SMITH
I fully recognise the conciliatory spirit in which the right hon. Gentleman has made the appeal. If the right hon. Gentleman and his friends are prepared to support the view expressed by the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton the Government will be most ready to meet those views. I think that view is exceedingly reasonable, and I shall be glad to meet it 1364 by reporting Progress, and taking the discussion to-morrow.
§ (1.41.) MR. ESSLEMONT (Aberdeen, E.)
I must point out to the right hon. Gentleman that the people of Scotland take a deep interest in this question, and we shall not be doing our duty to our constituents by presenting our case at 2 o'clock in the morning. I beg to move that the Chairman leave the Chair.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do now leave the Chair."—(Mr. Esslemont.)
§ (1.42.) MR. T. M. HEALY
The difference between the Government and the Opposition is not now very marked. It is understood that the Bill will be passed before Whitsuntide, and in those circumstances I cannot see that the Government have anything to gain by keeping the House longer. The clause in dispute may be discussed and disposed of on the following day. Besides, there is nothing said about the time of adjournment for the holidays on Friday.
(1.45.) THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON (Lancashire, N.E., Rossendale)
I think the hon. Member has introduced a practical consideration by suggesting that the time of adjournment for Whitsuntide is left open, and if sufficient progress is not made with the Bill it may be that the Motion for adjournment will not be made on Friday. I can quite understand Members below the Gangway objecting to anything in the nature of a bargain between the two Front Benches, and I do not think any bargain has been entered into. Still, I think that, as no one on the Front Opposition Bench has risen to support the suggestion made by the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton with reference to what may be done to-morrow, it is rather unreasonable to expect the Government to consent to proceed no further to-night. There ought to be some concession on each side.
§ (1.47.) MR. SEXTON
I am entirely unaware of any reason why the Government should press us so urgently to agree to a time bargain. I have been a spectator of the proceedings throughout this discussion, and have heard speeches from this side of the House and replies from the Ministerial Bench, and I 1365 have discovered nothing obstructive—or even dilatory—in the proceedings. May I refer for a moment to the Debate on the Second Reading of the Local Taxation Bill. I should like to ask how many Irish Members took part in that Debate? Is it not a fact that not a single word was uttered by Irish Members on that occasion; and is it not equally a fact that in the present Debate no Irish Member has spoken who has not contributed serious matter for the consideration of the Committee? I have given close attention to the speeches from the beginning to the end; they have been dictated by a desire to bring before the House matter worthy of its consideration; therefore, I am at a loss to understand why the Government should press us for a time bargain. We are entitled to a fair and liberal construction of our motives in continuing this Debate, and I think we are justified in refusing to enter into any arrangement. It is understood that the Motion for the adjournment for the holidays will be moved on Friday; and I think, in view of that fact, the Government have every prospect of getting that adjournment carried without in any way jeopardising the Bill now under discussion. If there is any difficulty let them take the necessary stops to ensure that the Bill is carried. I shall assent to no time bargain, and I may say for my Colleagues as well as for myself that we shall continue to conduct ourselves, not with any desire to unduly prolong the Debate, but with a view to securing a fair, adequate, and exhaustive discussion on a point affecting the interests and fortunes of our country.
§ (1.50.) Sir W. HARCOURT
Does the noble Lord expect everybody on this Bench to rise and express an opinion as to what should be the progress of this Debate? This may be an interesting proceeding, but it is also a new method of procedure in the House of Commons. I have been cautious to give no pledges in this matter, because the other day the leader of the House and the Chancellor of the Exchequer charged me with having broken pledges which I did not consider I had given, or indeed that anybody had given. I do not intend to expose myself to such a charge hereafter. The action of the Government is calculated 1366 to make it impossible for any flag of truce to be held out from these Benches with a view to facilitating business. That is the reason why I have given no pledge. But if it is desired that I should rise and express concurrence with the suggestion of the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton I readily do so, because I fully agree with it, although I wish to be cautious about entering into pledges.
§ (1.52.) MR. GOSCHEN
The hon. Member for Long ford has said there is not much difference between the views of the Government and those of hon. Gentlemen opposite. I do not know how far to interpret what the hon. Member for Long ford has said to mean that tomorrow will suffice for the discussion of the remaining clauses. That is understood to be the view of the right hon. Gentlemen the Members for Derby and Wolverhampton. But the hon. Member for Northampton has said that he will be no party to any kind of bargain. From the attitude of the hon. Member the Government may fairly expect that tomorrow hon. Members may discuss one or two Amendments, and in the evening the Committee may find itself in the same position as we are in at this moment. The hon. Member for Northampton has said, "Let us fight it out," and in that sentiment he was cheered by a section of hon. Members opposite. The Government think that, on the whole, the hon. Member is more in command of this warfare than some other older Members; but if the Government obtain a reasonable hope that the Scotch and the Irish Members may be able to present their case to-morrow then they will be disposed to report Progress now. If, however, there is no indication to that effect, the Government must act on the principle enunciated by the hon. Member for Northampton.
§ (1.56.) MR. LABOUCHERE
I have no objection to the right hon. Gentleman entertaining any expectation that he chooses. How is it possible for me to say that the Debate will come to an end to-morrow? All this is in the womb of the future. I protest against the system which the First Lord of the Treasury adopts of saying, "You must go on until an unreasonable hour of the night unless you enter into some agreement that you will only debate the question 1367 until a certain time next day." I have already said let us fight it out. I did not think there was the slightest chance of coming to terms with the First Lord of the Treasury. There is only one way out of the difficulty, and that is for the Government to be reasonable and surrender.
§ *(1.59.) MR. LENG (Dundee)
As a new Member of the House I am not accustomed to these untimely hours. Before I came here my constituents, knowing that I was not over strong, advised me to take care of my health. I promised that I would do so; but I am afraid that on this, the first occasion of temptation, I have yielded, and have broken my promise. I rise to support the Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for East Aberdeenshire, because it appears to me that at this moment we are not a deliberative Assembly. How can we, at 2 o'clock in the morning, enter into a discussion on a series of clauses of the utmost importance to Scotland and Ireland? I agree with what the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire has said that the people of Scotland are intensely interested and feel great anxiety with regard to the two clauses that have to come before the House, and the attempt to force their consideration on the House at 2 o'clock in the morning, after many Members have been here from 11 o'clock on the preceding day, and we are to have a Morning Sitting to-day, is a thing against which I, for one, enter my strongest protest.
§ MR. CONYBEARE
I appeal to the First Lord of the Treasury on behalf of his Colleague the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I am quite certain that, if the Government go on in the way they propose, they will be the death of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ (2.5.) Mr. HALSEY
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put;" but The CHAIRMAN withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
§ Debate resumed.
If one's sympathetic expressions are to be met in this way this is the last time I shall ever express my sympathy with anyone on the opposite side.
§ DR. TANNER
I concur with the argument just addressed to the First Lord of the Treasury. I have been in this House since 2 o'clock yesterday, and I am supposed to come here again at 11 o'clock to-day. It has been shown that other Members have been here since 11 o'clock yesterday and that the House is to meet again at 2 o'clock this afternoon. It will be absolutely and physically impossible that hon. Members should perform their duty if called upon to sit so many hours together, and I think the country will expect from the Government something more than the silly way in which they are treating the wishes of the Representatives of Scotland.
§ Debate resumed.
§ DR. TANNER
I have spoken very seldom on this measure, and on the occasions when I have spoken to-night it has been simply on medical matters with which I am acquainted, and then I so condensed what I had to say that even the Chancellor of the Exchequer was satisfied. I ask only for fair play, the standard of which ought to be upheld by the English Members. I think the Government ought to assent to the request made on behalf of the Scotch Members. In this case, the Government are occupying the undignified position in which they allow the "tail to wag the dog." But I will not speak at any undue length, and will conclude by expressing a hope that the Government will consult the wishes of the large minority of this House, and allow the further consideration of this question to be postponed.
§ Question put, "That the Chairman do now leave the Chair."
§ (2.13.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 114; Noes 177.—(Div. List, No. 97.)
(2.20.) MR. J. MORLEY (Newcastle-upon-Tyne)
Mr. Courtney, I confess I do not understand what it is the right hon. Gentleman is any longer waiting for. The proposal of my right hon. Friend (Mr. Fowler) he acknowledged to be very 1369 satisfactory, and the noble Marquess invited Members of this Bench to express their opinion upon it. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir W. Harcourt) gave an expression of his opinion, to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I understood, did not object. But what the right hon. Gentleman is expecting is an assurance from every part of the House that Clauses 6 and 7 will be passed to-morrow. He is experienced enough to know that he cannot get such an undertaking; therefore he must look to the probabilities of the case. Clause 6, I understand, chiefly affects the interests of the Scottish and Irish peasantry. It is not likely that Irish Members will interfere with the discussion of Clause 0, but what will happen as the result of the unconciliatory attitude of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, will be that to-morrow, when the Motion is made for taking the whole time of the House for this Bill, the discussion will be prolonged, and it is perfectly certain, after what has happened to-night, that the discussion on Clause 7 will be prolonged even beyond what its importance demands. I do not, like my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, demand the surrender of the right hon. Gentleman, but I appeal to him to take a business-like view of the situation, and extricate the matter from its difficult position by not insisting upon going on with the clause.
§ (2.22.) MR. GOSCHEN
What I think we can ask is that from the various sections of the House there should be some kind of a promise given. If we could get from the hon. Gentleman for Northampton, and from one or two of the leaders of the Irish Party, language similar to that which has been used by the right hon. Gentleman, that would be sufficient for the Government. But we have no kind of distinct hope that hon. Members will do their best to bring this matter to a determination. What we want is a fair assurance, not an absolute promise, from sections of the House chiefly interested, that we shall be able to make progress if we stop to-night. But it must be clearly understood by hon. Members that until this Bill has been passed the adjournment cannot be moved. It is for that reason that we are 1370 anxious to be tolerably certain that the Bill will pass through the Report stage to-morrow, and not be left in precisely the same position as it is to-night. If we are met by the Members for Ireland and Scotland in the same spirit as that shown by the right hon. Gentleman, I dare say we should consent to report Progress.
§ (2.25.) SIR W. HARCOURT
The right hon. Gentlemen is quite right in believing that what is desired is that we should come to a reasonable understanding, but the right hon. Gentleman has said that he is not going to move the adjournment until the Bill has passed, and he addressed that observation to hon. Gentlemen on this side, as if they, and not hon. Gentlemen on his own side, were to be deprived of a holiday—rather a novel proceeding, though I do not suppose that is what he contemplates. My noble Friend (the Marquess of Hartington) said that if we on this Bench expressed concurrence in the proposal of my right hon. Friend (Mr. Fowler), he and the Government would be satisfied. We have done so, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer is putting my noble Friend in the wrong by not taking the opportunity to come to a settlement on the subject. Instead of that he goes round the House and says ho wants an undertaking from here and from there, without specifying anyone, until we do not know at the present moment whose statement will satisfy the right hon. Gentleman. What the right hon. Gentleman wants is a businesslike expectation of passing the Bill. He has got it. Why does he not accept it? He will not. It is not our fault. The further assurance which he desires to get I say is not business-like.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
If I understood the hon. Gentleman the Member for West Belfast, I understood him to say that he would be bound by no kind of bargain. He held out no hope whatever.
§ MR. SEXTON
I think it is humiliating under the duress of the Closure that a promise should be extorted. I object to the endeavour to extort these bargains from Members of this House, who are here in 1371 the discharge of their duties. I repeat what I did say, that to-morrow the Government would be able to calculate whether or not they could move the adjournment on Friday, and I, for my part, see no reason to doubt that they will be able to do so.
§ MR. CLANCY
I rise to move, Sir, that you report Progress and ask leave to sit again. The attempt to discuss anything at this hour of the night is an outrage and a farce.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Clancy.)
§ MR. DILLWYN (Swansea, Town)
I beg to second the proposition, and in doing so, I appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has not seen many a wrangle of this sort, and whether he has ever seen the Government with such a minority on this side succeed in doing any business after a wrangle of this sort? I would go further, and ask him what he expects to get if he does win? Will he get a calm discussion of questions upon which the Scotch Members have appealed to him time after time for opportunity for full discussion. I second the proposition, but I do hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will see that he has been met on this side of the House in an amicable spirit, although we have been compelled to refuse to bind ourselves by pledges.
(2.31.) MR. PHILIPPS (Lanark, Mid)
As a Scotch Member, I desire to join in the hope that the Government will not force us to begin a discussion upon a question of so much importance to Scotch Members at this unseemly hour of the morning. It is after half-past two, and as many of us have to meet at half-past 11 to-morrow it is ridiculous to suppose that we can start upon an important discussion now.
§ (2.32.) MR. ESSLEMONT
I think the Scotch Members have really humiliated themselves quite enough. We have appealed to the Government; we have not detained the House; we have a strong case; the question is one in which our constituents are deeply in- 1372 terested; and at this hour of the night we cannot be reported. Under the circumstances, we think it is not unreasonable that we should desire an adjournment. I do not know what opportunity we shall have of discussing these matters on Report, but I must say that if the Government think that they are facilitating business by the measures they are adopting they are very much mistaken. I do not think it would be reasonable or dignified of Scotch Members to beg favours any longer at the hands of the Government. If they think they are doing justice to Scotland in endeavouring to force on the Debate at this hour, let them do it.
§ (2.38.) MR. DILLON
The idea seems to have got abroad that it is only the Scotch Members who are interested in this matter, but nothing could be further from the truth. I myself have materials in my hand which would enable me to speak upon this question for fully three-quarters of an hour, and I should have done it ere this had I not been ruled out of order. The question is one of the utmost importance to the Irish people, and I can assure the Government that directly the Scotch part of the question has come to an end the Irish Question will begin. I would suggest that if we are to continue this Debate someone should be asked to take your place, Sir.
§ (2.39.) MR. T. M. HEALY
Supposing the Motion is withdrawn, and we go on with business, will the Government give us a guarantee that, if we sit—although we may astonish the country—from now until Thursday next, we shall be allowed to go on with the discussion, and shall not be closured? I am quite prepared to go on with the Debate, but would propose a short adjournment for a half-hour for refreshments. If the Government take a strong view on the matter, and insist on having their way, I am quite prepared to sit up all night. I understand the subject so thoroughly that I am quite prepared to discuss it now and always.
§ (2.42.) MR. T. HARRINGTON (Dublin, Harbour)
I have not yet had an opportunity of speaking on this measure. I would dissociate myself from the spirit of the remarks of the hon. Member for Aberdeen, that we have been making an appeal to the Government. For my part, I would not be a party to making an appeal to the Government; I would ask them to look at themselves as others see them, and they will be surprised at the sorry figure they cut. The First Lord of the Treasury has gone home, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer seems anxious to make us peddling a bargain as ever took place over an emergency pig in Ireland. We repudiate all these bargains, and would impress upon the Government that it would redound to their credit if they accepted this reasonable Motion, and agreed to report Progress. If they do not do that, let them agree to sit continuously until the end of the week, without an adjournment. I would say to the Government, as a friend, speaking on the Irish question from an Irish point of view, said—We have a hand to hold in friendship,And another to make you quake;And you are welcome to whichsoeverIt pleases you most to take.
§ (2.44.) MR. CONYBEARE
The right hon. Gentleman is asking us to bind ourselves down by agreements; hut I remind him that we are here tonight in the interests of our constituents, and I may tell him that I, myself, would never enter into a disgraceful bargain which would practically be a dereliction of duty. There is another point to which I would call attention. It has been assumed that only Scotchmen and Irishmen are interested in this discussion; that is an entire illusion.
§ (2.45.) Mr. TOMLINSON
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put;" but the CHAIRMAN withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. CONYBEARE
I shall be very much surprised, as this Debate goes on, if 1374 it does not become evident that much has to be said on the question from the point of view of the English Members. As an English Representative myself, I shall have no hesitation in adding my quota to the discussion on this clause when we get to it. I am perfectly ready to give the Chancellor of the Exchequer this assurance, that, as far as I am personally concerned, I will confine myself to the discussion of every clause of this Bill only as fully, and fairly, and intelligently as my limited capacity will enable me, and my duty to my constituents will require me.
§ (2.47.) MR. M. J. KENNY (Tyrone, Mid)
A few minutes ago the Chan cellor of the Exchequer was on the point of saying that he understood from the observations of my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast (Mr. Sexton) that he might reasonably hope that at the end of a certain period the House might come to a conclusion on Clauses 6 and 7. Since then, in consequence of some slight interruption, the right hon. Gentleman has remained silent. It is perfectly plain that the silence of the right hon. Gentleman is altogether due to dudgeon; his attitude is one of sheer obstinacy. The Government can keep us here dividing until morning, but it is perfectly impossible to make any progress with business. Surely they have sufficient courage to come forward and admis that for the last two hours they have been delaying the Committee and obstructing the public business. I can not for the life of me understand why Money Bills should be favoured more than other Bills, and that it should be competent to discuss them at a time when any other opposed Bill cannot be taken.
§ *(2.50.) MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen)
I am surprised that in addressing his remarks to the Scotch Members the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not perceive that he was inflicting as deadly an insult upon them as it was in his power to inflict. He talked to us as if we were a set of disorderly schoolboys, and said that, if we would promise to be of good be haviour he would be graciously pleased not to ask us to begin the 1375 discussion of an important Scotch question at 3 o'clock in the morning. I claim that Scotland has a right to a fair share of the time of the House, and to have her business discussed at reasonable hours, and I leave the Committee to judge whether 1, or 2, or 3 o'clock in the morning is a reasonable hour to begin a discussion of this kind. By this Bill the Government are taking from Scotland £60,000 a year. Is it reasonable or fair that such a Bill should be debated at this hour? If the Chancellor of the Exchequer wishes to go to war with the Scotch Members he is taking the right course; but, as far as I am concerned, under no consideration would I degrade myself by making any promise whatever to him.
§ *(2.53.) CAPTAIN VERNEY (Bucks, N.)
I agree that this is not altogether an Irish or a Scotch question; it affects every English Member, and it affects everyone who cares for the honour and dignity of the House, and who does not wish to have the House of Commons exposed to ridicule by absurd and preposterous proceedings. There must be a means of bringing this wrangle to a, reasonable and honourable conclusion. The Government have had from this side every assurance that can possibly be given that an endeavour will be made to prevent protracted Debate on succeeding stages. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has suggested that assurances should be given to him from other quarters. Surely that is hardly desirable; we do not want to recognise a vast variety of different sections in this House. There will be no end to it if we do. The leaders of sections in this House are not responsible as are leaders sitting on the Front Benches. As for the Front Opposition Benches the country looks to them to do their duty quite as much as hon. Gentlemen sitting on the Front Ministerial Bench. I maintain that they are doing their duty to-night, but that while they are responsible the leaders of sections below the Gangway are not responsible. Seeing that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer has received such friendly assurances from this side of the House, even if he thinks he is making sacrifices, I would urge him to accept the proposals 1376 made. He should not be too rigid in this matter—someone must give way on one other side or the other, and it seems to me that that desire is very strong on both sides of the House. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will devise some means of extracting us from our present difficulty.
§ (2.59.) DR. FITZGERALD (Longford, S.)
On sanitary grounds I would appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and to hon. Gentlemen on both sides to bring this unseemly wrangle to a conclusion—I say on sanitary grounds, for I see a Member sitting behind the Chancellor of the Exchequer in a thoroughly collapsed condition. The fact is that we have been bamboozled into passing the 5th clause. I could have discussed the question of chloroform for two and a half hours; and if the right hon. Gentleman forces us to discuss this clause now I will find some means of slipping the chloroform into the spirits, because I do not think the 5th clause has been adequately discussed. The Government are endeavouring to rob Ireland at 3 in the morning, but we do not mean to be robbed. We simply want to discuss these important clauses to-morrow or the day after, or the day after that, because we do not want to go for a holiday at all. We have been sent here to do the business of the country, and it appears to me that it is the business of the Times newspaper that the Government are doing. The sooner we proceed to business the better.
§ (3.2.) DR. TANNER
There is no doubt in the world that the Government has entered into what is known in Ireland as a criminal conspiracy—
§ Mr. CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER rose in his place, and claimed to move "That the Question be now put."
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ (3.3.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 167; Noes 107.—(Div List, No. 98.)
§ Question put accordingly, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."
§ (3.15.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 107; Noes 167.—(Div List, No. 99.)1377
§ (3.24.) COLONEL NOLAN
I wish to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he thinks it will conduce to his character as Chancellor of the Exchequer to pass the most important part of his Budget scheme after having silenced those who represent the majority of the people? I would also ask him whether he has any regard for his own health or that of other men's? I beg to move, Sir, that you do now leave the Chair.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do now leave the Chair."—(Colonel Nolan.)
§ (3.25.) SIR W. HARCOURT
I would really ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has not carried this lesson in Home Rule for Scotland and Ireland far enough? For a first lesson, I think this is sufficient to show what is the time of night at which the Parliament of Westminster thinks fit to do the business of Scotland and Ireland. The assertion of principle the Chancellor of the Exchequer desired to make has now been made, and I do not think it will be advanced any further by sitting for three or four hours more. I think this measure for the endowment of the publicans ought to be resisted in every possible way. He has resolved to carry it, and we are resolved, if we can, to prevent his carrying it. We believe we are supported by the majority of the country. That is a, matter of opinion; but it is a matter you can decide. If you would like that decision, the sooner you invite it the better. In the meanwhile Ave are satisfied and convinced that in resisting your legislation we are supported by the majority of the country. That being so, the only question is how many days and nights the right hon. Gentleman chooses to proceed? I should have thought he had done enough tonight. If that is so, let us go in and discuss the matter to-morrow in a reasonable way. Would it be possible for anybody to state now his case on this clause in a manner which would be reasonably satisfactory to the country? I am sure the Chancellor of the Exchequer must feel that, and, therefore, I cannot understand what advantage he can hope to gain by continuing the contest to-night.
(3.26.) THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
Perhaps the Committee will allow me to support the appeal made to the Government by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby. I do not do it precisely on the same grounds; but I do it from another, and, I think, a sufficient ground. You, Mr. Courtney, have, in the exercise of your discretion, allowed, I think, several—I do not know whether three or four—dilatory Motions to be put in succession.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
Mr. Courtney, I rise to order. I wish to ask you whether it is in order for the noble Marquess to cast aspersions upon your conduct?
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
Nothing was further from my intention than to cast any aspersion. I am not certain whether a dilatory Motion is a proper term; but a Motion to report Progress, or that the Chairman do leave the Chair, is generally known by the name of a dilatory Motion. It is entirely within the discretion of the Chairman to refuse to allow such a Motion to be put, and it is within his power to allow such a Motion, without in the smallest degree questioning the motive which actuated it. But I was saying that you, Sir, have permitted these Motions to be put, and it is probable, as time becomes more and more inopportune for the discussion of serious matters, you will continue to allow them. That being the case, the probability is we shall only spend two or three hours more in discussing Motions of this kind, and not come any nearer the discussion of the clause. In these circumstances, and also considering that there is still a large amount of time at the disposal of the Committee to consider the further clauses of the Bill before the holidays, I hope that the Government will not think it necessary to push matters to an extremity this evening, and that, if necessary, they will postpone the all-night conflict to another occasion.
§ (3.31.) MR. GOSCHEN
Two appeals have been made to the Government. The right hon. Member for Derby asks how the Government expect 1379 to carry their Licensing Bill or this Bill. The Government do intend to carry their Bills, and if they cannot pass them tonight, they will pass them later.
I do beg hon. Members to restrain themselves. All those interruptions are quite unnecessary.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
In answer to the appeal of the right hon. Member for Derby, I say that, whatever may happen to-night, we are absolutely determined to carry the Bills, and we are not weakened by one whit on account of the opposition offered to this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman speaks of the country; we, too, shall leave the country to judge. We shall see whether they approve such proceedings. I have been silent while I have heard repeated over and over again the statement that the length of the speeches has been extremely moderate. In the earlier part of the evening there was repetition after repetition. Argument after argument was repeated again and again, and certainly if every point is to be discussed at the same interminable length at which some points were discussed this evening, we shall never arrive at the end of our discussions.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
My noble Friend made a very different kind of appeal, which the Government must consider with a desire to meet it. My noble Friend explained how dilatory Motion after dilatory Motion has been put from the Chair, and how it has been impossible to arrive at the substance of the discussion. The country will mark those dilatory Motions, and the manner in 1380 which they have avowedly been made and we are not in the slightest degree afraid. On the contrary, we are glad to be able to mark them; but after the appeal which has been made we assent now to report Progress.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again to-morrow (Tuesday) at Two of the clock.