§ Considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Postponed Clause 7.
§ (12.2.) SIR G. CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)
I rise to move the Amendment which stan 1s in my name, namely, to insert after the word "Ireland"—In manner following, viz: As regards the duties mentioned in sub-section (a), as nearly as possible in the proportion in which those duties are paid, viz: England, 66.5 per cent; Scotland, 19.4 percent.; Ireland 14.1 percent.; and as regards the duties mentioned in subsection (b).By the previous section the Committee has resolved to impose upon Scotland and Ireland what I consider to be, under the circumstances of the case, unjust taxation, and the question now arises whether the Government will consent fairly to distribute that taxation? For my part, I have always protested against the mode in which the revenue allotted for local purposes has been distributed. If the localities themselves are not allowed to collect, manage, and distribute this revenue, the question which necessarily arises is how it can be most fairly distributed. In the present state of affairs the question of distribution has become a most important matter. It was pointed out by one of the newspapers on Saturday that the principle of distribution now decided upon will determine the distribution of more than £6,500,000. 1490 More than £4,000,000 will be handed over for distribution if this Bill passes, and the sum intended to he distributed for education will bring the total up to £6,500,000. The question is, how the distribution can be made as fair towards Scotland and Ireland as towards England. As a matter of principle, if it is the Inland Revenue which is to be distributed it ought to be distributed in accordance with the revenue contributed by each separate portion of the Kingdom rather than in an inverse ratio. In order to take something out of the sting of the injustice which is proposed to be perpetrated, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has promised that a full inquiry shall be made, so as to do justice both to Scotland and Ireland in the future. Whatever may be the immediate effect of the Government proposals, it is gratifying to find that there is to be some prospect of justice being done in the future. We certainly think that hitherto much injustice has been done. In reference to the Spirit Duties, I do not altogether object to the provisional arrangement proposed to be made. And here I wish to correct a statement which I made the other day. I said that it was very hard, indeed, that Englishmen should drink three times as much alcohol in the shape of beer as Scotchmen, and only pay one-half as much in the shape of duty. I believe that the Englishman does, as a matter of fact, pay more than half as much; but instead of paying it into the Exchequer, it goes to the monopolist brewer. The real reason why beer is not taxed as it ought to be, is that the brewers, who have a great monopolist interest, hold a rod over the heads of the Government. The Chancellor of the Exchequer admits that, in regard to taxation upon alcohol in all forms, the distribution now proposed is not a fair one, and is only to be justified on the ground that, whereas Scotland and Ireland pay a much larger share of the taxation on alcohol, England pays a larger share of the Probate Duties. The statistics on this subject presented by the Chancellor of the Exchequer I am quite prepared to accept provisionally, but with the important exception that in the matter of the Probate Duties the Metropolis, the monetary centre of the three Kingdoms, is included in England, 1491 which, especially as regards Scotland, is a gross injustice. My complaint is that the Returns we have are of a fragmentary character, but are sufficient to show the injustice done to Scotland. If the right hon. Gentleman would place one of his clerks at my disposal I believe that I could get him to prepare a proper Return in half-an hour.
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL
Yes; in half-an-hour. It seems to me that the right hon. Gentleman has not produced Returns because he dare not; because such Returns would absolutely upset all the calculations he has made, and show plainly the injustice which is being done to Scotland. Some of the statistics which are contained in the Reports of the Board of Inland Revenue conclusively prove that gross injustice has been done to Scotland in this matter. As I say, I am prepared to accept the figures contained in the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Return, No. 153, as far as the taxation of alcohol and the Customs Duties are concerned. They show that, according to population, England pays 80.9 percent.; Scotland. 107 per cent.; and Ireland, 8.4 per cent. The right hon. Gentleman says that in giving us 11 per cent. he is giving us practically better terms than we are entitled to. I accept so much. The great injustice of which I complain has reference to the stamps, which include the Probate Duties and the Income Tax. I am unable to give the figures of the Probate Duties because the Chancellor of the Exchequer has persistently refused to give them, but I look upon them as being practically another form of a tax upon property and income—the same us the Income Tax, and especially Schedule D. The Returns of the Board of Inland Revenue show that the distribution proposed by the right hon. Gentleman is most unfair towards Scotland.
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL
My impression is that the Probate Duty paid by Scotch- 1492 men in England goes to swell English Returns. Probably the Committee will not be surprised to hear that a very large proportion of Schedule D from profits from professions and companies is paid in the Metropolis, which is the Metropolis of the three Kingdoms, and not of England, only. The only full figures which we have in regard to the Income and Property Tax are contained in the Report submitted to Parliament, decennially. From the last Report, in 1881–5, I find that Scotland, according to her population, paid 9½ per cent. of the Income Tax, which is rather less than her full share, if London is to be included in England. But if you take out London, which is the common Metropolis of the three Kingdoms, there is a very different result. I see that the Chancellor of the Exchequer laughs, but does he doubt that an enormous amount of Income Tax is paid in London by Scotchmen. Take my own case; I am a retired officer of the East India Company's Service, my pension is paid here, and, when I die, the Probate Duty will be paid here.
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL
That is so for a part of the year, but my home was in Scotland, until I was sent here by a Scotch constituency, and, although I reside in London, I consider myself a Scotsman all the same. I altogether deny that I have shaken off that character. I assert that a large proportion of the property held in London is really Scotch property, and as the Reports of the Board of Inland Revenue do not distinguish the Metropolis from other parts of the Kingdom, I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer might very well givens a special Return. Referring to the details of the Property and Income Tax which are given in the Return, I find, in regard to Schedules A and B, that Scotland pays twice its fair share. So far as Schedule C is concerned, it relates to dividends on British, Foreign, Colonial, and other Stocks, and all payments under it are made in London, so that Scotland does not get credit for a single farthing. Now, I would ask the Committee whether, knowing what habits of thrift 1493 the Scotch people possess, they really believe that no portion of these Stocks is held by Scotchmen. I maintain that it is unjust to exclude Scotland from consideration whenever Schedule 0 is dealt with. Schedule E deals with salaries, of which an enormous proportion is paid in the Metropolis and a very small proportion in Scotland.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
They are omitted from the calculation. England pays 85 per cent. and Scotland only 3 per cent.
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL
Then I understand that the calculations of the right hon. Gentleman, so far as they are founded on Schedule E, omit the Public-Offices.
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL
But with regard to public companies, my contention is that a large portion of the shares are owned by Scotchmen, and it is unfair that all the payments should be credited to England alone. I am quite willing, however, to rest my case upon Schedule D, which is a tax upon personal property of all kinds. From the last Report of the Board of Inland Revenue for a decennial period, ending in 1889, I find that the total amount of property assessed to Income Tax under that schedule in 1883–4 was £291,000,000, and of that Scotland paid a fair share;. The Metropolis paid upon £109,000,000, leaving £182,000,000 for the rest of the three Kingdoms, out of which Scotland paid £31,000,000, or 10.7 per cent. Deducting the Metropolis it will be found that Scotland paid a little more than 17 per cent. under Schedule D.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Surely the hon. Gentleman does not propose to take out the whole of the Metropolis, and not credit it with any payment at all?
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL
I take out the whole of the Metropolis in order to distinguish what is paid by England and Scotland, exclusive of London. What I complain of is that Scotland in these calculations is unfairly dealt with, and that 1494 what is paid by Scotchmen in the Metropolis is not credited to Scotland, but goes to swell the payments of England. The Return of the amount of property assessed to the Income Tax last year shows a reduction of £247,000,000. Of that sum £109,000,000 applied to the Metropolis, and Scotland went down to £23,000,000, still reaching 17 per cent. I maintain that I am fairly entitled to ask that, in making these calculations, the Metropolis of the Empire should be treated separately, and not as part of England. The Chancellor of the Exchequer admitted that there is some injustice to Scotland in the matter, but he gave some figures to show how slight the injustice was. We have no means of testing the right hon. Gentleman's figures, or of seeing how he got them, but the figures themselves prove too much, and amount to a reductio ad absurdum. If we are to believe his figures, while Scotland pays 17 per cent. of the Income and Property Tax, under Schedule 1), omitting the Metropolis, it scarcely pays 1 per cent. under Schedule L), upon dividends in connection with British, Foreign, Colonial, and Indian Stocks. Out of £500,000,000 of Stock transferred it is said that only £6,000,000 were transferred in Scotch names.
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL
These Returns apply not only to Consols but to Colonial and Indian Stocks. I understand that the Returns refer to the whole.
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL
So far as Foreign, Indian, and Colonial Stocks are concerned, I believe that a considerable portion is held by Scotchmen, and it is, therefore, unfair to take Consols alone. I am quite satisfied that Scotland holds much more than the 1¼ per cent. of the Foreign, Colonial, and Indian Stock, which the right hon. Gentleman says she holds, and pays Income Tax upon.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I never stated any figures in regard to Foreign, Indian, and Colonial Stock. The hon. Member will remember that the Return includes the dividends paid upon the English Railways, which are credited to England, 1495 while all the dividends upon the Scotch Railways are credited to Scotland.
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL
What I am dealing with now is Schedule C, and the right hon. Gentleman will admit that upon that Schedule not one farthing is paid in Scotland, but in the Metropolis, which gets credit for the whole of it. Some of the figures show a curious stats of things. Up to a recent period I find that Scotland paid quite her fair share of the Probate and Succession Duties. In 1882, excluding the Metropolis, Scotland paid on £18,820,000 out of £180,000,000, or not far short of 11 per cent. In 1887, out of £181,000,000 she paid upon £19,633,000, again approaching 11 per cent. Up to the year 1887 Scotland paid even more than her full proportion of the Probate and Succession Duties; but a startling change took place from 1887 onwards. Probate and Succession Duties were paid in England, in 1884, upon £118,000,000; in 1885, upon £116,000,000; in 1886, upon £119,000,000; and in 1887, upon £117,000,000. In 1888, it suddenly jumped up to £136,000,000, while the amount for Scotland and Ireland fell. I think that there must have been some change in the mode of keeping the accounts to explain this circumstance, and I should be glad to learn from the Chancellor of the Exchequer to what he attributes this sudden jump in the Probate Duties in England, and the sudden fall in Scotland. There is certainly some necessity for explanation, but, whatever the explanation may be, I think I have made it clear that there will be no fair means of judging between the three Kingdoms until the Metropolis is distinguished from the rest. The results of the investigation I have been able to make is to show that of all other Revenue Scotland pays quite her full share, while in regard to alcohol she pays very much more. Even if beer is included. Scotland pays at least 15 per cent., although she is only to have 11 per cent. allocated to her. I maintain that the people of Scotland are overtaxed, and upon that ground it is not fair that the contribution towards local taxation should be unjustly distributed. And what is the great concession which the Chancellor of the Exchequer claims 1496 to have made? According to his own figures, Scotland is entitled to 10.7 per cent., and all that he gives her is 11 per cent., which is to cover all the injustice and inequalities of the Income and Property Tax, and the Probate and Succession Duties. I say that his proposal is totally inadequate, and on behalf of Scotland I repudiate it I quite admit that if local subventions-were given to London in the same proportion as to other parts of the Kingdom with reference to the Revenue paid London would, in my opinion, get a very unfair amount. But it must be remembered that much of the money paid in London really comes from other parts of the Kingdom, and we know that the allocation is not made to London in accordance with the revenue paid in the Metropolis.
In page 3, line 9, after the word "Ireland," to insert the words "as regards the Duties mentioned in sub-section (a.), as nearly as possible in the proportion in which those Duties are paid, such apportionment to be made by the Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury, and as regards the Duties mentioned in sub-section (b.)."—(Sir George Campbell.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ *(1.5.) DR. CAMERON (Glasgow, College)
I have an Amendment on the Paper to the same effect as that of my hon. Friend, but I quite admit that the wording of his proposal is superior to that of mine. This discussion deals with an old tax and a new tax. In the case of the apportionment of the old tax, we have the precedent of the Probate Duties to follow. In the case of the new tax we have to make a precedent for ourselves, and we should strive to make that precedent a just one. The discussions we I have had on this question have had the effect of, at all events, advancing matters to a certain extent. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has been very chary of making admissions, and when he is taxed with admitting anything, I notice he invariably says he does not admit it. But, yesterday, he did directly admit two facts. One was that the increase in the Probate Duty was a matter that might be put out of the question altogether. I quoted from his own speech, 1497 made when allocating the Probate Duty, to show he had anticipated an increase, and I argued that if any benefit had accrued through an increase, or through a change in the distribution of the Probate Duty, we were entitled to adders to the settlement arrived at two or three years ago. The right hon. Gentleman then admitted that the increase ought not to be regarded as affecting the question. The second admission was one that was made by the right hon. Gentleman in 1889, namely, that the extra tax of 3d. then imposed on beer was not a new tax but an old tax, reimposed in rectification of a ton great reduction made in consequence of certain statements of the brewers, which afterwards turned out to be misrepresentations. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, last year, said not one word about this being a temporary tax. Another admission made by the right hon. Gentleman was that any alteration of taxation of alcohol in one form or another unsettles the international basis of taxation. Now, what was the state of things before the Malt Tax was changed, and what is the state of things at the present moment? Before the Peer Tax was substituted for the Malt Tax we had arrived at a sort of modus vivendi in the matter of alcoholic taxation. That certainly was not unfavourable to England, and it was most unfavourable to Scotland and Ireland. In the case of spirits taxation had been laid on in increasing doses, so that between 1850 and 18G5, or 1860, the amount of taxation had been doubled, trebled, and, I believe, even quadrupled. But from the date of the last settlement, when the tax on spirits was raised to 10s. a gallon, we have had a state of things to which we have got accustomed. If Scotland and Ireland had paid too much in the shape of taxation on their national beverages, as compared with the tax on English beer, that had been taken into account in the imposition of new taxation, and in the making of grants from the Imperial Exchequer for local purposes. We had arrived at a state of things against which there was no protest. Bat the slightest attempt to disturb the balance arrived at was warmly resented, and by none more so than by the Party op- 1498 posite. I quoted the other day the words of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, showing how he denounced and exposed the injustice of the attempt of the then Chancellor of the Exchequer to unsettle the arrangement arrived at, and the resentment that was awakened was so strong that on this question the Government was turned out. The first proposal of the then Chancellor of the Exchequer was to increase the tax on spirits 2s. a gallon, but he dropped that and substituted a proposal to increase it by 1s. The proposal now is to increase it by 6d., which at the present moment represents considerably more than half the 1s. additional tax proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh on which the late Government were turned out of office. We have figures now placed before us which show that under this new tax Scotland will have to pay £7G,000 more than she is to receive back in the shape of subsidies, and that Ireland will pay £42,000 more than she is to receive. English Members, regarding the matter from an English point of view, are rather apt to under-estimate the significance of these figures. The population of Scotland and Ireland are to the population of England as 12,800,000 is to 28,G00,000, and, in order to realise what a similar injustice would be if perpetrated by a Scotch Chancellor of the Exchequer upon England on the lines of the injustice about to be perpetrated on Scotland, you will have to imagine a sum of £262,000 going away from England and being devoted to local purposes in Scotland and Ireland. But if you take the case of Scotland alone, the hardship and injustice are much greater. The population of Scotland is only one-seventh of that of England, so that in order to realise the injustice now proposed to be perpetrated on Scotland you must imagine a Scottish Chancellor of the Exchequer screwing out of the people of England £532,000, and allocating the whole of it to local purposes outside the country. Would not English Members resent that, and does not that illustration show that though the arrangement the Government now propose may involve to Scotland and Ireland the loss of apparently a comparatively small sum, it is a large 1499 sum when taken in proportion to the population. And even that does not illustrate the position of matters in the most unfavourable light for Scotland. If you have regard to the position of Scotland and England, not as represented by the relative populations, but as represented by their tax-paying powers as adjusted under the existing systems of incidence of taxation, you would have to multiply the amount paid by Scotland eight times, so that this £76,000 would represent £600,000 a year which England would have to pay to Scotland and Ireland for local purposes. And how is this £76,000 net excess that is to go forth from Scotland to be spent? Why on objects in England, of which we entirely disapprove, or with which we have no national concern. What do we get in return? We get a subsidy £76,000 less than the sum we pay, which we are to be obliged to spend on objects of which we also largely disapprove. Even if we had the whole sum it would be unjust to require us to spend it on objects of which we do not approve; but as it is you, as it were, tax us £3, hand us back £2, and require us to spend a considerable portion of that on objects we entirely disapprove of. If such a proposal as that were made in the case of England would it not be held to justify the most obstinate and pertinacious resistance on the part of English Members against what would be universally recognised as a glaring injustice? The light hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer wishes to extinguish licences. Well, if he will let us alone in Scotland we will do it for him. Licences have already been largely reduced there; no compensation has been paid, and that despite the fact that at the recent Licensing Courts renewals were granted on appeal on the special ground that legislation for compensating publicans for the loss of their licences was now being proposed by the Government. If it was proposed to return Scotland all the money extracted from her on account of this additional tax, the condition being that she apply it in a way she does not want to do, it would be a bad bargain. It is, no doubt, right that that portion of the Beer Duty, which it is proposed to earmark and hand over to this common 1500 fund, should be allocated on the principle adopted in regard to the Probate Duty. The right hon. Gentleman says he has apportioned the distribution as between England, Scotland, and Ireland, on the proportions of 80, 11, and 9 per cent. But that has not been done in the case of all grants from the Imperial Exchequer. It was not done in the case of Licence Duties, which were formerly a portion of the Imperial funds. They were allocated to the different countries in which they were raised, and the same was to have been the case with the proposed Van and Wheel Tax—not originally, but on representation being made that the Scotch Members did not want the £74,000, which would have been Scotland's share of it. In the case of the Van and Wheel Tax there was to be no placing of the money in a common fund, and no division between the three countries. If that tax had passed, Scotland being excluded, you would have had the money you now propose to raise, in another way, raised in England and applied only to English cases, and that is the principle we ask you to adopt in the present instance. We ask you to follow the precedent you yourselves set in the case of the Van and Wheel Tax. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has not denied the accuracy of our figures. He says, "You must have regard, on the other hand, to the Probate Duty paid by England." He says we receive benefit from that. He contends that the money received by Scotland from the Probate Duty was no-element in inducing him—
§ MR. GOSCHEN
What I referred to was the excess gained by Scotland, that excess existing at the time the Probate Duty was under discussion. I have not rested my argument on the increase of the Probate Duty in England, though an increase has taken place. What I referred to was the normal excess in the Probate Duty, and, on the other hand, an excess in the Spirit Duty.
§ *DR. CAMERON
I am glad the right hon. Gentleman has, at last, made himself clear. What we now have is, that the normal advantage that Scotland gained at the time of the allocation of the Probate Duty should be taken into 1501 account in connection with this matter. What was the excess? Instead of getting 10½ per cent. we got 11½ per cent.—the total amount we got being £234,000. The excess we got on the Probate Dnty, as originally allocated to us, amounted to £11,500. That was the total excess we got, and now you propose to take that £11,000 into consideration, and rectify that excess by levying on us an excess in the Spirit Duty of no less than £76,000. That, Sir, it must be obvious to everybody, is absurdly unjust.
§ *DR. CAMERON
That is just what I object to. The right hon. Gentleman says what we ought to take into consideration is the basis on which the Probate Duty grant was originally settled. I take his scheme as it was worked out, and it shows that at the time we gained £11,500.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
The hon. Gentleman wishes to get an advantage out of both figures; he wishes to apply the figures of one year to the Spirit Duty and the figures of another year to the Probate Duty.
§ *DR. CAMERON
In consequence of the representations of the Scotch Members, the right hon. Gentleman was willing to drop the Wheel and Van Tax in the case of Scotland while going on with it in the case of England. In that case you had a new tax levied in one country to be applied exclusively to that country. That is what we want in this case.
§ (1.35.) THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. JACKSON,) Leeds
If the hon. Gentleman had been able to show that the proportions which have been adopted by my right hon. Friend in allocating the amount of Imperial revenue to local purposes-—namely, 80 per cent., 11 per cent., and 9 per cent. for England, Scotland and Ireland respectively—are wrong, he might possibly have made out some case. In making the allocation of the Probate Duty on the basis of 80, 11, and 9 per cent. my right hon. Friend did so distinctly on the ground that, as far as he was able at that time 1502 to ascertain the figures, those figures represented the contributions by the three countries respectively, giving a slight turn in favour of Scotland and a larger turn in favour of Ireland. It is on that basis that my right hon. Friend proceeds in allocating the proportions of the new taxes to be raised under this Bill. I do not think the hon. Gentleman will admit for a moment that his own argument should be applied in the case of the Probate Duty, because it is contributed by England to a larger extent than by Scotland and Ireland respectively. The hon. Member for Kirkcaldy gave us some very interesting figures, and seemed to be of opinion that the figures which have been presented do not state the case fairly as regards Scotland. The hon. Member made a very interesting analysis of the Income Tax, pointing out very properly that the collection of Income Tax in London does not accurately represent the amount of Income Tax properly to be credited to England, Scotland, and Ireland respectively. In presenting the figures to the House the year 1888–9 was adopted because it was the last completed year for which the figures could be obtained. On a former occasion I stated that if certain corrections, which must be necessarily to some extent matters of estimate, were made, giving credit to Scotland and England where credit ought to be given, I believe the result would so work out that the figures presented to the House practically represented the facts of the case. Since that time it has been possible to make an analysis of the figures of the Income Tax under the different Schedules, and I will give the Committee the result.
§ MR. JACKSON
For the year 1888–9. Taking the Income Tax as a whole, according to payments, the percentage is 87.5 for England and Wales, 8.56 for Scotland, and 4.39 for Ireland. Putting together the sums received under Schedules C and D, so as to show as far as we can all those which may be held by different divisions of the Kingdom, the total amount represented is £1,635,280. If that sum is apportioned to the three Kingdoms in the proportions in which 1503 the three Kingdoms contribute to Schedule D or are assessed to Schedule D— and that seems to be the fairest proportion you can possibly find—it will give to England £1,399,799, to Scotland £174,974, and to Ireland £60,507. If the totals of the Table A, page 6 of the Return, are corrected by those figures, the result will be that the total contribution of taxation by England, Scotland, and Ireland respectively will work out thus—81.44 for England, 10.43 for Scotland, and 8.13 for Ireland. It is rather curious that the proportions of the assessment under Schedule I) in the three Kingdoms compare very closely with another test which may be applied, and that is the test of the total railway receipts. These proportions are 85.6 for England, 10.7 for Scotland, and 3.7 for Ireland. The total gross receipts of the railways in England, Scotland, and Ireland are represented by 85.06, 10.97, and 397 respectively. The not receipts work out as follows:—84.29 for England, 11.81 for Scotland, and 3.90 for Ireland; and the total annual expenditure of the railways is 85.78 in England, 10T8 in Scotland, and 4.04 in Ireland. Under Table A also for 1888–9 the figures in regard to tea, tobacco, and other Customs duties, not including spirits, and according to several methods of collection, show similar proportionate results; so that, by all the figures we can collect and all the tests we can apply, it is shown that the basis adopted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer of 80, 11, and 9 for the three Kingdoms is favourable to Scotland and a little more favourable to Ireland. In no case, after every inquiry and test, can the figures be made to show that Scotland is entitled really to more than 10.18 percent. As regards tea, tobacco and other Customs duties, of course we have no accurate figures. If the figures are taken on the basis I have given to the House the percentages work out as follows:—81.29 for England, 10.57 for Scotland, and 8.14 for Ireland. It has been pointed out that both in Ireland and Scotland the tea used is of a higher quality than in England. The result is that if a poor person in England buys tea, which has cost 6d. per lb. in Mincing Lane without the duty, and a man in Ireland or Scotland buys tea which has cost 1s. per 1504 lb. without the duty, the Englishman will pay duty on the two pounds against the one pound bought by the Irishman or Scotchman. The higher priced tea goes further, and I believe that when the question is investigated more clearly it will be seen that Scotland and Ireland do not consume per head of the population the same number of pounds of tea, although they may spend the same amount on tea. The figures are calculated on the duty which is paid, and, taking them in the most favourable way, they will work out as follows:— 80.66 for England, 10.93 for Scotland, and 8.41 for Ireland. The hon. Member for Kirkcaldy complained that a Return had not been furnished him showing the amount of taxation raised or collected in London, because he thought those figures would have helped him in his argument. The hon. Member seems to start with the belief that it would be fair to separate London from England; but, apart from that, the amount of taxes collected in London could not by any possibility be supposed to represent the amount of taxation which is due or paid by persons living in London, and in those circumstances I do not see how the Return, if it were obtained, could assist him. The hon. Member is, no doubt, aware that most of the principal Railway Companies having termini in London pay at their central offices. It could not be said that the Income Tax paid by the Great Northern Railway Company or the North Western Railway Company, although it is paid in London, could be properly credited to London. The banking business of London also represents the banking business of the whole of England.
§ MR. JACKSON
Of the United Kingdom and Ireland. The hon. Member also appeared to think that even Scotchmen living in London and settled here should have their contributions to taxation credited to their native country. But I think the hon. 1505 Gentleman can hardly be serious in saying that when a man has taken up a position in London, follows his profession, and makes his profit here, Scotland should have the credit of his earnings. Again, I mentioned the Railway Companies. It is no doubt true that a great many Scotchmen have investments in English Railway lines, and the Income Tax thereon is payable in England and credited to the account of England; but it is equally true that a great many Englishmen have made investments in Scottish lines, and the Income Tax upon their dividends is collected in Scotland. We have made our calculations in various ways, we have tested them to the best of our ability, and we believe that whatever way you take to arrive at the result, however you conduct the inquiry by figures, the result goes to show that the basis which we have adopted in the distribution of taxation is a fair and equitable one. Then there are various important items which have not been mentioned during the course of these discussions on this clause, and among them may be mentioned the Post Office surplus. From this source you have an item of £3,000,000 going into the Exchequer. We have made some calculations under this head, and it is not easy to arrive at any figures that may be said to be absolutely proved to be correct; but according to the best calculations we have had made, I do not think it would be an unfair apportionment or an unfair estimate to say that, as regards Ireland, there is no surplus as compared with the expenditure upon the Post Office in Ireland, but so far as I have been able to work out the figures there is a surplus in Scotland. It is hardly safe to say what the surplus is, because it is not possible to give any figures which can be relied on as being strictly correct or capable of proof; but according to the best calculations we are able to make there is a surplus receivable from the Post Office on account of Scotland of £120,000 a year. Put this means that at least £2,800,000 or thereabouts must be contributed by England, and ought to be credited to England. I do not push this example too far, but I say that in any examination of receipts and contributions, with a view to testing the basis of percent 1506 age which has been adopted for purposes of distribution, it is right that figures such as these should not be lost sight of; they must be borne in mind because they affect the calculations very distinctly in favour of our plan. I hope I have shown that we have taken some pains to try and verify our calculations, for the apportionment between the respective countries, and this I can say, that all the calculations I have been able to make go to show that the basis which has been adopted by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer is justified.
*(2.5.) MR. CAMPBELL-BANNER-MAN (Stirling, &c.)
I do not rise for the purpose of continuing this controversy, but I do wish to recall the recollection of the Committee to a circumstance which seems to throw a strong light upon the matter. Last night the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that the Government purposed to appoint a Select Committee to inquire into the financial relations between the three Kingdoms. That, of itself, is an admission on their part—not, as was said at the time, that there is a primâ facie case of injustice towards Scotland and Ireland—but, at all events, that there is sufficient difference of opinion to justify inquiry. Here we have had to-day my hon. Friend bringing forward what I think—what, as a Scotsman, I am bound to think—is a very strong case indeed, from our point of view, of unjust burden and distribution as between Scotland and England. Therefore, if my hon. Friends go to a Division, I shall certainly vote in favour of the Amendment. When the hon. Gentleman opposite proceeds to adduce figures leading to an opposite conclusion, I confess I am unable, at the moment, to entirely follow the effect of those figures. But what is the use of continuing a controversy if it is certain that we are going to have a full inquiry into the matter? The Chancellor of the Exchequer assents to that, and, surely, he will also assent to this proposition that it is undesirable in this Bill to stereotype any particular arrangement, seeing that the whole matter is going to be considered. I should have thought it would not be an un- 1507 reasonable course to accept the proposals of the Government for a limited period only, say, for a year. I am aware that proposals thus to limit some of the provisions of the Bill have been made, and have been rejected by the Committee, but that was before the announcement that a Committee would be appointed to inquire into the matter. It seems to me rather odd that the Government should insist on a particular money arrangement which has been defended at great length and with much force by the Secretary to the Treasury, though it was admitted last night that the matter is open, I will not say, to doubt from the point of view of the Government, but, at all events, open to inquiry. I am not going to make any definite proposal, but I should have thought that a reasonable settlement of the difficulty would be that we should accept the proposal of the Government for a time, and that when we hear from the proposed Committee what the real balance between the three countries is, the disposal of the money and the levy of taxation should be arranged according to the method that may seem equitable in the light of the disclosures made by the Committee?
§ (2.10.) MR. GOSCHEN
I think Scotch Members who have addressed the Committee would have complained if I or my hon. Friend had not replied as fully as possible to the allegations made. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman it is rather a mistake to continue the discussion, seeing that the point at issue will be referred to a Select Committee, by whom the matter will be thrashed out, and, therefore, I think it would be well to shorten discussion, especially having in view the other issues Members wish to raise during the present sitting. With regard to the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman, of course, if it appears as the result of the investigation of the Committee that some other principle ought to be adopted it will be the duty of the Government to introduce proposals to remedy any grievance which may be proved to exist. I frankly state I consider it would be our duty to act on the Report of such a Committee which may disclose any injustice. I do not say absolutely that we should accept the Report of the Committee, 1508 but we should give our best consideration to it. But I am not prepared, meantime, to accept simply an annual arrangement. We should have to unsettle a good many of the points settled last yea?', and I think it would be better to wait for a time, and see whether it will be necessary to disarrange our present proposals. I frankly say I shall deem it my duty to re-consider these proposals if it should be proved that the financial arrangements between the three portions of the United Kingdom are not properly adjusted.
§ (2.11.) MR. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.)
As far as it goes, this statement is satisfactory, but we have to consider the probable composition of the Committee. We all know very well how arrangements are made for the majority on a Committee. Of course, it will be the duty of the Government to bring forward certain evidence, and I think it would be some satisfaction to know if the right hon. Gentlemen has formulated any view as to how the Committee should be composed; is it to be nominated on Party lines, or will it be a Committee of financial experts? Furthermore, I would point out, in regard to the right hon. Gentleman's statement that he will be prepared to act on the recommendations of the Committee, no matter what the result may be, that there is the ground for objection the right hon. Gentleman formerly took up, that if Ireland is found to be unfairly taxed, then will arise that very necessity which, in an earlier period of the Debate, the right hon. Gentleman said was so objectionable, the necessary separation in the fiscal system—the separation of the Customs House arrangements. If Ireland is too heavily taxed, then we must have separate Customs Houses, there must be a different duty on Irish whisky; and, as regards Scotland, the continuity of train service must be broken at Berwick-on-Tweed. This the right hon. Gentleman said was an insuperable difficulty.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
Therefore, he must, when he granted this Committee, if he granted it with an open mind, have granted it subject to the knowledge that if the Committee should report ad- 1509 versely to his present views it will be necessary to set up this separate fiscal system.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
Then I do not understand, and shall be glad if the right hon. Gentleman will explain.
§ (2.13.) MR. GOSCHEN
I thought I explained that, as between the three countries, it is not a question as to the Revenue derived, but the local expenditure which is drawn from Imperial sources, and its apportionment to Scotland and Ireland. It does not at all follow, because the duty on whisky may weigh heavily on Ireland—if it is proved that Ireland is treated unfairly on this particular item—that the duty as regards Ireland should be reduced. I am glad the hon. and learned Member has raised the point, for it is clear we could not undertake that the whole fiscal system of the country should be disturbed because of one particular commodity in one part of the United Kingdom. If it is proved that Ireland is unfairly treated, then justice will be done; but I think the Committee will have a very difficult task to prove that. What the Committee will have to do will be to examine the facts, and present them to the House. Then, of course, it will be for the Government, on their responsibility, to take such measures as will meet the justice of the case. As to the composition of the Committee, I do trust that, we having consented to this Committee, hon. Members will not raise difficulties, and ask us whether we have considered this or that. Of course, we acknowledge the difficulties as to composition are great. I do not know whether we shall succeed, but we shall be anxious to form a Committee which shall have the confidence of all Parties. We shall be extremely anxious to do this, and, at the same time, to have a comparatively small Committee—not a large Committee, but such as will be thoroughly interested in the subject—some of them experts in finance—and with the hope that they will arrive at their conclusions without too long delay, not carrying on their investigations at the length to which Committees sometimes go, but 1510 addressing themselves to the task in a business-like spirit.
§ (2.18.) MR. T. M. HEALY
I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that we ought not to criticise the statement made in any but a generous spirit, and I do not think it would be fair at the moment to enter into such discussions as he deprecates. I think on this side there will be nothing but a desire to meet the Government with a view to sinking any controversies that might throw difficulties in the way of the appointment of the Committee. At the same time it is desirable that we should, to some extent, know the proposed terms of reference. There may be exaggerated views of what the Committee is to do, and unreasonable expectations maybe raised by distillers, brewers, and other classes as to the result in the event of the Committee giving a Report adverse to the present view of the Government. Of course the position will be exceedingly difficult for the Government, but with them lies the responsibility of appointing the Committee. There has not, I think, been any inquiry since the inquiry by General Dunn's Committee, when he was Member for Queen's County, some 30 or 40 years ago.
§ (2.20.) MR. J. O'CONNOR (Tipperary, S.)
We have it from the right hon. Gentleman that if it is desirable upon the Report of the Committee about to be appointed he will disarrange present arrangements, and I suppose he means to re-arrange or re-adjust the state of things to be established by this Bill. Now, I have listened with great pleasure to the admirable statement of figures put forward by the Secretary to the Treasury. Perhaps I may be allowed, on this occasion, to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman upon his new honours, which set so well upon him, and which are richly deserved by his great labours for the State, and which I am sure every person and every section of the House are glad to find have been bestowed upon him, and I hope he will live long to wear them. I have listened with pleasure to the right hon. Gentleman's admirable financial statement, but I must confess it only confirms me in my intention to 1511 support the Amendment. We have made objections to certain portions of the Bill, objections based upon certain figures furnished us, and now the right hon. Gentleman asks us to compare the figures he has read with the figures in Table A of the Return. The figures differ but slightly, and the difference in no way alters my opinion. The percentages, according to the figures he has given us, are 81.44, 10.43 and 8.13, and in table A the figures stand: England and Wales 81.7, Scotland 10–2, and Ireland 8.1. If our attitude with regard to the Bill was just when based upon the figures found in Table A, our attitude is equally just founded on the figures read out to us to-day. I find myself in the same position I have occupied throughout the discussions, and hence it is that I feel bound to support the Amendment, and I believe my Colleagues intend to support it.
§ (2.26.) SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
I have admitted that some ground of our complaint has been removed by the promise of full inquiry, and if the application of the proposals in the Bill was to be for a limited period, I do not know that it would be worth while to carry our opposition any further. But the point of duration makes a difference. The Government ask us to pass this Bill into law, and they undertake that, upon the decision of the Committee, possibly at a future time they will get the law altered. I do not want to Protract this discussion, but I agree with the hon. Gentleman below the Gangway that the figures of the Secretary to the Treasury do not alter our position, and I think we must support our protest by a Division. The modifications in the figures are very slight, and do not alter the result we arrived at upon the figures previously supplied. The only real modification seemed to me to be in a portion of Schedule C.
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL
I do not find any redress on that account. With regard to my objections as to Schedule I), I do not think they have been met to any considerable degree by the Secretary 1512 to the Treasury. It is possible that 45 per cent. may be divided in certain proportion. I quite admit that you are not to give the whole to Scotland, but there is no reason why it should be credited to England alone, for London is the Metropolis not merely of England, but of the United Kingdom, and though some portion may be attributable to England, some also is attributable to Scotland. That part not returnable for London should be distributed for the whole kingdom. The right hon. Gentleman said I seemed to think that the payments of a Scotchman resident in London should not be attributed to London, but I say that there is no reason why they should be attributed to England only. Take my own case. I am a resident in London, but should my constituents no longer require my presence here, and I took up my residence in Scotland, that would make no difference in the payment of Income Tax and Probate Duty should it be my misfortune to become liable to that duty. My small savings invested in Railway Stocks have their dividends paid in London and the deductions are made here. Under the circumstances I feel it my duty to take a Division, though I wish to avoid further discussion.
§ (2.30.) The Committee divided: — Ayes 94; Noes 155.—(Div. List, No. 103.)
§ (2.41.) MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)
Although the next Amendment in my name is substantially different from the one just defeated, I do not propose now to move it, as a number of Members are anxious to proceed with the discussion of the Motion of the hon. Member for Barrow. I will, therefore, defer my Amendment until the Report stage.
§ (2.42.) MR. CAINE (Barrow-in-Furness)
I do not propose to move my Amendment in the exact form in which it appears on the Paper, but I shall only propose a part of it, and, in doing that, I do not think I need make any speech in its support. The Government have secured the taxation on spirits, and the clause now under consideration proposes that the money raised from the tax shall be appropriated "as Parliament may hereafter direct." I simply move this 1513 Amendment in order to give the Government one more opportunity of receding from the untenable position they have taken up in regard to the extinction of licences. They must be aware that their proposals have excited strong feelings in the country, and my Amendment will give them an opportunity of taking the most sensible and practical course open to them—namely, that of not dictating to the County Councils how the money shall be expended, but to leave it to them to decide. Part of this money is to go towards police superannuation. But many municipalities already possess excellent schemes of superannuation, and they will hardly know what to do with this money. I am sure that if the Government take that course it will relieve them of a great deal of trouble in the future. If the Government will accept my Amendment they will at once be relieved of a great deal of difficulty, for they then will be able to withdraw the police superannuation clause and the provisions for the extinction of licences, and to proceed at once to the clause for stopping the issue of new licences.
In page 3, line 15, to leave out the words "Parliament may hereafter direct," and insert the words "each respective County Council in England and Scotland may direct."—(Mr. Caine.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ (2.45.) MR. T. M. HEALY
I am sorry that the hon. Member has only moved the Amendment in a form in which it applies simply to Scotland and to England. I did not think he would thus have deserted us.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
You are making your tax dependent upon three Bills, two of which only have been read a second time, and one of which has not even been introduced, although it was promised to Ireland 17 years ago. The Chancellor of the Exchequer seems to have learned from his Colleague the Chief Secretary 1514 that it is easy to break promises made to Ireland. Now, in this Bill you provide that the money to be raised by the additional tax shall be appropriated as Parliament may hereafter direct. But suppose that, owing to the pressure of business, you are not able to pass the Bill appropriating it, what will you do then? Does the right hon. Gentleman think he is going to pass his Land Purchase Bill and the Local Taxation Bill—or, as the latter has happily been called, the Publicans' Endowment Bill—this Session? I asked the First Lord of the Treasury yesterday if he intended to drop the Land Purchase Bill. He said "No"; and he may not mean to drop it, but we know very well that it will be dropped, and that it is as dead as mutton, and has as much chance of passing through this House as has a camel of passing through the eye of a needle. I think the Local Taxation Bill has just about as much chance of passing into law as the Land Purchase Bill. The hon. Member for Barrow is the Whip of the Unionist Party—
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
At any rate, he-has great influence with the leader of that Party, the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale, and from that fact we may judge how little chance there is of pissing a Bill containing proposals to which he so strongly objects. Now, if the Government genuinely intend passing these Hills, let them adopt the suggestion I have to make to substitute for the word "hereafter," the words "in the present Session," and thus provide that the money shall be expended, not as Parliament may hereafter direct, but as Parliament, may direct in the present Session. If you do not get your Bills through this year, it will only be fair to abandon the tax. I respectfully protest against the Bill being left in its present shape. Seeing that there is no chance of its passing, would it not be more honest to put in the words I have suggested? It would be a monstrous thing to raise this tax this year and not be able to appropriate it till next year. I challenge the Government to say whether they intend to keep us all here until the Publicans' Endowment Bill and the Landlords' En- 1515 dowment Bill are passed, no matter how long- that operation may take. If the tax is raised it will remain in the Treasury until next year, and the taxpayer will be the victim of the confidence trick. And next year there will be the dispute as to what shall be done with it. I do think the Government, if they mean to pass the Bills, should insert in this clause the words I have suggested. On these grounds I support the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Barrow (Mr. Caine), and, if it be not accepted, it will give me great satisfaction to move my own Amendment.
§ (3.0.) THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. RITCHIE,) Tower Hamlets, St. George's
The hon. and learned Gentleman who has just spoken seems to contemplate the fact that a clean sweep will be made of all the measures the Government have brought forward this Session.
§ MR. RITCHIE
I did not hear that measure specially named. If it be any satisfaction to the hon. and learned Gentleman to know what the intentions of the Government are, I will tell him that there is not the slightest intention on their part either to drop the Land Purchase Bill or not to deal with the licensing proposals; while it is the intention of the Government, with the assistance of the House of Commons, to pass the Local Taxation Bill during the present Session.
§ *MR. RITCHIE
No, that is a different matter. I hope I have now, in as explicit terms as the right hon. and learned Gentleman can desire, set his mind at rest as to what are the intentions of Her Majesty's Government with reference to these two measures, and I may add that I hope and believe that the Licensing Bill, or what is called the Licensing Bill, will receive the assent of Parliament during the present Session. I am sorry I was not in the House when my hon. Friend the Member for Barrow moved the Amendment which stands in his name. I understand that he did not 1516 accompany it with any elaborate remarks, but that he stated its main object was to give an opportunity to Her Majesty's Government to recede from the position they have taken up with reference to this matter. I am very much obliged to my hon. Friend for affording us such an opportunity, but it is my duty to inform him that Her Majesty's Government are unable to accept the opportunity he has put before them. The Government are convinced that the proposals they have made are distinctly in the interests of temperance, and they consider it their duty to proceed with this Bill. If there ever was any doubt in the minds of the Government as to the course incumbent upon them to pursue, that doubt has unquestionably been removed by the attitude taken up by the Party to which the hon. Member belongs, and the uncompromising manner in which they desire to deal with this question. The hon. Member and his friends have given an importance and prominence to the proposals of the Government which they themselves never contemplated they would assume, and they have rendered it impossible for the Government to depart from the position they have taken up without leading to the gravest and greatest misunderstanding as to the objects they have in view. The hon. Member has spoken about the great opposition to the Government proposals. My firm conviction is that the opposition arises largely from a misunderstanding as to the scope and objects of the Government proposals. I do not wish to attribute blame in any quarter, but I am not astonished at the misunderstanding which exists when I consider the misrepresentations which have been made in many quarters as to the proposals of the Government.
§ *MR. RITCHIE
It is, I think, evident from the Resolutions that have been received that there is a misunderstanding on the part of large numbers of the Temperance Party. The Government are now receiving Resolutions protesting against the Government granting compensation to publicans whose licences have been refused by the Magistrates. 1517 This shows most completely the entire misunderstanding which has prevailed as to the proposal made by the Government. Daring the last few days the Government have been receiving unmistakable evidence that their proposals are meeting with most favourable consideration. They are even now receiving Resolutions and letters thanking them for the proposals, and hoping that the Government will persevere with them in the interests of temperance.
§ *MB. RITCHIE
The hon. Member knows that it is impossible for me to say at this moment from whom they have been received, but they come from individuals and public meetings. I have received a telegram only to-day containing a Resolution passed at a public meeting in the Bridgeton Division of Glasgow, warmly approving the proposals of the Government. I am convinced that the more widely the Government proposals are circulated the greater will be the support which the Government will receive for them in the country. Therefore, thanking the hon. Member for Barrow for the opportunity he has offered us of receding from our position in this matter, I once more beg to assure him that we have not the smallest idea of taking that course, but that it is our intention to proceed with our proposals, in the firm belief that not only are they made in the interests of the Temperance Movement, but also that they will be supported by a large majority in this House. The hon. Gentleman asks us to leave this matter in the hands of the County Councils. I do not exactly understand the position he takes up on this point. He cannot blow hot and cold at the same time. He must know that we have already proposed to leave a large sum of money in the hands of the County Councils for the extinction of licences, if they choose so to apply it, and we believe that they will exercise those powers in a discreet and judicious manner. The hon. Gentleman, however, and his friends do not think so, and yet they want us to leave the whole of the money at the disposal of the County Councils, to apply in any way they choose.
What I have said is this, that you propose to raise the money for the express purpose of relieving the burdens of local taxation, and that the best method of applying it would be to hand it over to the the County Councils, and allow them to use it as they think fit, making no provision by Act of Parliament as to any particular mode of disposing of it.
§ *MR. RITCHIE
But surely the hon. Gentleman must remember what was done by the Local Government Act of 1888. The course he suggests was certainly not pursued in that case. What was done was to hand over a large sum to the Local Authorities to be applied by them to certain distinct purposes, and we are now acting in accordance with the proposal then laid down. We say to the Local Authorities, we give you this money for the purpose of doing certain things, among others applying it to police superannuation, which is a matter that has been under discussion for a great many years, and one which it is generally admitted requires to be dealt with. We made the same provision as to many other matters, which I need not now refer to. I think we did perfectly right when we gave over that money to the County Councils to accompany the transfer with obligations as to its disposal, and what we are now doing is in strict conformity with what was then enacted. In conclusion, I have only to express my regret that Her Majesty's Government cannot accept the proposal of my hon. Friend, and I, therefore, must ask the Committee to adhere to the proposal we have attached to the Bill, namely, that the money we pay to the Local Authorities shall be disposed of in the manner pointed out by the Bill.
§ (3.10.) SIR W. LAWSON
The right hon. Gentleman has spoken boldly and courageously of what the Government intend to do with regard to this Bill, but I should like to recall to his memory the fact that on a certain day in June, 1888, when the then Compensation Clauses were brought forward, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Barrow got up and asked the leader of the House, "Do you intend to stick to your Com- 1519 pensation Clauses?" The reply then made by the right hon. Gentleman being, "Certainly, Sir." But within so short a period as 24 hours the leader of this House withdrew them all. The right hon. Gentleman has spoken of a precedent. I say that that is a precedent, and it is one which I think the Government would do well to follow. I regard the speech just made by the right hon. Gentleman as one of the most extraordinary speeches he has made in this House for a very long time. The tone of his remarks was this, that thy Government are not insisting upon these proposals because they are particularly impressed with their necessity, but that the matter has been so much talked about in the country, and is considered of so much importance, that therefore they must go on with it. They seem to be actuated by a kind of pique, and I, for one, certainly never heard so extraordinary a statement made by a responsible Minister. What does the right hon. Gentleman moan by "misrepresentation," or by saying that this is not a compensation measure? The Chancellor of the Exchequer would hardly get up and make the same statement, because in his Budget speech we have the very inception of this policy. In a pamphlet just issued by the Chancellor of the Exchequer I find the phrase that he was going to do something for the brewers which would bring them much compensation and consolation.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I hope the hon. Baronet is sufficiently master of the English language to know that the word "compensation" may be used in two senses.
§ SIR W. LAWSON
I do not think the Chancellor of the Exchequer need interrupt me in order to make that statement. We all of us know that the Government are using the word compensation in two senses continually, and that the compensation which is to be given to the brewers is not the compensation which gives consolation to the majority of the people who desire to get rid of the drink traffic. However, the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board has declared war. My hon. Friend the Mem- 1520 ber for Barrow has done what he could to make peace. He asked the right hon. Gentleman to withdraw while he could with all the honours of war. "No," says the right hon. Gentleman, we will fight it out, and we do so because you consider it important, not because the Government think it important. Therefore, we accept your challenge. "Well, we have held out the olive branch, and have done all we could to make peace, the battle is now set and we must fight it out, and I assure the right hon. Gentleman that we mean to fight it out. Let him be quite sure of that. It is nonsense for the right hon. Gentleman to get up and say," This is a temperance proposal. "That will not do. They may go on making that statement as long as they like; but the longer they say it the less will the people believe them. We see this measure supported up and down the country by the great Drink Party; but, at the same time, nine-tenths of the Temperance Party are opposing it tooth and nail. Hero is a letter I have just received, showing how keenly the Drink Party are supporting the Government. It is a letter from a publican in Manchester, who wrote with great glee after the result of the Division the other night. He says—The Chancellor of the Exchequer's public purse this day will receive £5,000, and we lovers of fair play are drinking to his health.[Laughter.] Well, those are his own words. Those are the right hon. Gentleman's friends; this is the right hon. Gentleman's Temperance Party.
§ SIR W. LAWSON
Yes; and lovers of drink too. I wish the right hon-Gentleman joy of his party. After the speech of the right hon. Gentleman there is no drawing back on his part; there will be none on the other side; the battle will be fought out, and it will be seen whether the Temperance Party or the Government and the publicans are the strongest in the country.
§ (3.15.) MR. ROWNTREE (Scarborough)
Surely it would be much better for this House to develop the plan of allowing the money allocated to the Local Authorities, to be applied 1521 as they may think fit, than for the Imperial Parliament to impose restrictions as to the purposes for which it may be employed — a procedure which is certain to lead to great inconvenience in the fixture. It appears to me that the Government have not yet fully realised what are the strongest objections to the proposals embodied in this clause. In my own opinion nothing has ever occurred during the present Parliament which has raised so general and widespread a feeling of opposition as has been created by the introduction of this measure. I may here say that I think it would contribute to the calmer consideration of this question if we were not told from time to time that the proposal is made in the interests of temperance. It appears to me to be merely trifling with the House and the country for the Government to keep on repeating this assertion. That is not the suggestion that was put forward in the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Budget speech.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
The hon. Gentleman is under a misapprehension; it was put forward in my Budget speech, in which I distinctly stated that we were endeavouring to assist the cause of temperance. I also spoke of the large increase in the consumption of liquors, which rendered it necessary for the House to go into the matter, and it was on this account that the Government introduced the clause to stop the issue of new licences. Therefore, the Bill was introduced in the direction of temperance.
§ MR. ROWNTREE
That does not affect what I was saying, which was that this is not solely in the interests of temperance.
§ MR. ROWNTREE
The President of the Local Government Board has done so in the House and in the country, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that the Government would introduce a measure which would bring the brewers much consolation and compensation.
I believe the suspension of the issue of now licences is agreeable to the brewers, and, although the stoppage of the issue of new licences may have given dissatisfaction to other parts of the trade, it is certainly a measure in the direction of temperance.
§ MR. ROWNTREE
But I put it to the Committee, why should we be asked to give compensation twice over? Because that is what it comes to. The brewers are satisfied with having their monopoly enhanced and increased, and every organ of the trade recognises the fact; and yet, above and beyond this, we are asked to give money to buy the very places the suppression of which will add to the value of the existing monopoly. To be told that this is in the interests of temperance is trifling with the intelligence of the House and the country. I feel afraid that the Government will not be strengthened by the feeling they have aroused and the opposition they have created throughout the country by their policy on this subject—an opposition which I think they will find much greater and stronger than they have calculated upon.
§ (3.20.) SIR W. HARCOURT (Derby)
I do not intend to speak at length on this Amendment, but I shall take this and every other opportunity of expressing my desire to defeat the plans of the Government on the subject of compensation. I know that the Government raise a verbal issue as to the use of the word "compensation," but it does not seem to me to be of much importance what meaning they attach to it. We understand what it is, and nearly everybody, not only on this side of the House, but those engaged in the liquor trade, regard it, and what is generally understood by compensation. Not only so, but the other day I read a speech which was delivered by a great authority on the Conservative side—I allude to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland— who was addressing the ladies of the Primrose League. I am quite sure the right hon. Gentleman would have addressed them in most grammatical language; and in that speech he recommended this measure as one that would not be disagreeable to the publicans, because it established the principle of compensation. Therefore, do not let us be found fault with if, in addressing our constituents, we use the same words and sentiments as were conveyed by the Secretary for Ireland to the Primrose Dames. As to the real character of this measure, what is the use of the Chancellor of the Exchequer saying his Budget 1523 speech was in favour of temperance, and what is the use of the Church of England Temperance Society saying the same thing when, in any reading rooms you enter, you find all the organs of the publicans joining in a paen of approbation of this measure, while in all the temperance organs you find it is denounced The measure is approved and praised to the skies by the entire liquor interest, while it is strongly denounced by every temperance organ in the country. I do not think that even the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) can find a single newspaper which approves of the course he has taken, and I only mention him because I desire to call him as a witness to the fact that the temperance opinion prevailing in this country is adverse to the Bill. I do not deny there are some persons who share his views, but he is too candid a man to deny that the enormous and overwhelming majority of temperance opinion in this country is strongly adverse to the Bill. Well, the Government have rejected the offer made to them by my hon. Friend, and I am very sorry that they have taken, as far as they can, the means of cutting off their retreat. They felt that it was necessary and prudent to beat a retreat in 1888, but now they have nailed the compensation flag to the mainmast of the Unionist Party and are going into action under that flag. The flag of compensation has been hoisted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and under that banner my noble Friend the Member for Rossendale (Lord Hartington) is going to fight. Of course, the Unionists are the best judges of what should be their own policy, and we cannot but regret the issue they have adopted. Undoubtedly, this is the issue which, at this moment, mostly engages the attention and interest of the whole country, and it is to this issue the Unionist Party have committed themselves. For our part, we are willing to fight upon that issue, and I warn the Government that this is only one of the smallest skirmishes or outpost affairs likely to arise on this question. The great pitched battle—indeed, there will be many of them—has yet to come. Both in this House and in the country and on the issue thus raised we are ready to meet the Government and the Unionist Party.
§ (3.25.) MR. GOSCHEN
The right hon. Gentleman has said that this is only a kind of outpost affair compared with what we have had.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I only hope that the right hon. Gentleman will, so far, be true to his declaration that they are to be pitched battles and not simply dilatory and guerilla warfare.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Already there has been one pitched battle, in which the Opposition was signally defeated.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
And the Government will not know when they are beaten until they are really beaten on the subject. But the right hon. Gentleman says this measure must be against the cause of temperance, because the Temperance Party say so. The fact is, however, that before they had even read the Bill, or knew what it was to contain —before the provisions of this measure were laid on the Table—I myself received hundreds of stereotyped objections from Good Templars and others against the proposals we were going to make.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Yes, but they had read it accompanied by the misrepresentations which were made and accompanied by the necessary interpretation afforded by the Bill. I wish the public thoroughly to understand what has happened, namely, that before our proposals were made known—the proposal as to the purchasing of licences not having been made known in the Budget Speech — our proposals were condemned by a fictitious and a factitious opposition which was got up in advance. Another reason why the right hon. Gentleman says this proposal cannot be in favour of temperance is that compensation is attached to it. He assumes that compensation and the reduction of the traffic in drink can have no relation to each other. We, however, deny that that this is a Compensation Bill; but, even if it were, it cannot be said that a 1525 reduction in the number of public houses is not in the interests of temperance. Why has the number of licences continued to increase? Why has no previous Government been able to deal with this question before? It is because the Temperance Party have taken up an attitude of absolute confiscation. We believe we shall be able to prove by the results that this is a step in the direction of temperance, which the Temperance Party have never dared to take, because they have preferred to establish the principle of no compensation rather than make a serious reduction in the number of public houses. The Temperance Party have brought the matter to a deadlock. We are attempting to remove that deadlock, and we believe we shall succeed. Hon. Members opposite have prevented progress in this direction by taking up an attitude which they have never induced the people of this country to assume, and which none of their leaders have ever assumed until within the past few days under the stress of Party emotion. Unless something is done in the direction in which we are moving, I believe the temperance cause will permanently suffer. If the right hon. Gentleman chooses to go about telling the country that this is simply a Compensation Bill, ho may do so, but it is absolutely untrue. The essence of the Bill is to diminish the number of licences, and it is a misnomer to say that the money is going to be applied to compensation, when it is going to be applied to the purchase of the good wills which the owners may sell in the market to others if they choose. I did not intend to prolong this discussion, but the right hon. Gentleman has been persistent in calling this a Compensation Bill when it is not a Compensation Bill. Hon. Members, if they choose to call it a Compensation Bill, may do so; but, at all events, they will admit that there is more in it than that. They will admit there is in it a diminution of licences. I must say I believe it will have a disappointing effect on the true and moderate friends of the temperance cause throughout the country to see the attitude taken up by men who prefer to continue the assertion of a principle the country will not accept rather than to make any real progress in the direction of temperance.
§ *(3.35.) MR. H. H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
The right hon. Gentle- 1526 man says the present agitation is fictitious and factitious. Well, the right hon. Gentleman knows a great deal. I am not sure that he is not one of the best-informed men in the House as to most political questions; but one thing he is most profoundly ignorant of, and that is the moral sentiment of the middle and artisan classes of this country; and I think he will find that he has embarked in a conflict in which the feelings of the middle and artisan classes have been aroused in a way in which they have not been aroused on any other question certainly within the past two years.
§ (3.36.) MR. GOSCHEN
What I said was, that the agitation which was set on foot before our proposals were known was a fictitious and factitious agitation. But since our proposals have become known, I quite admit that the agitation on this matter is an earnest one in the minds of those who engage in it.
§ *(3.37.) MR. H. H. FOWLER
At all events, they now have the Bill of the Government before them, and during the Whitsuntide Recess I have no doubt hon. Gentlemen opposite will take the opportunity of addressing some large public meetings—open, not ticket meetings—to take the opinion of their constituents as to this Bill. The hon. Member for South Tyrone will probably attend some of these meetings, which will be of a temperance character, to give an air of impartiality to the proceedings. If the right hon. Gentleman can get 10 open meetings of the working and middle classes to pronounce in favour of the Bill, I shall be willing to concede that this agitation is fictitious. The people of this country believe drunkenness to be the curse and the crime of this country, and they believe that if this Bill becomes law it will strike a fatal blow at all temperance legislation. ["No, no!"] That is the point. Argue it if you like, but I want to put the case strongly before you to justify the attitude we take up. The sum which it is proposed to lay aside for the purchase of licences may be small, but if you embody this proposal in an Act of Parliament you will be creating a vested interest and admitting the principle of compensating owners of licences when licences are discontinued; you will be surrender- 1527 ing the whole position, and in future will be able to carry out no temperance legislation without an enormous expenditure of public money. The Member for West Birmingham the other day talked— and others have written in the Press— about depriving the honest, hard-working publican who has devoted the whole of his life up to the present to the carrying on of his trade of the means of earning a livelihood. They say that to deprive them of compensation would be unjust. Not 10 per cent. of the licences in this country belong to the men who carry on the business; but in this Bill we are asked to vote large sums of public money to the brewers who have invested their money in a species of speculation just as anyone may speculate in nitrate shares or South African shares. Who ever heard of compensating people who have invested their money in the belief that a certain state of things will happen when an entirely different state of things arises which dooms them to a loss in their shares? We shall have an opportunity, on a future day, of taking a distinct issue on this point, divested from all its surrounding circumstance, and of seeing whether the sympathy of the Government is with the tenant from year to year. I would assure the right hon. Gentleman that this agitation is genuine and real, and will be one of the stiffest, most stubborn, and most protracted fights that this or any other Parliament has ever known, because we believe that the principle at stake is the question of the future of temperance legislation in this country. I believe that if this Bill passes, a fatal blow will be struck at all temperance reform.
I must recall the Committee to the issue before it. The issue is not the merits or demerits contained in the proposals of another Bill, but the question whether the proceeds of this tax should be appropriated in the manner proposed in another Bill, or given to the County Councils to do as they like with it.
§ MR. CAINE
When I moved the Resolution, I was extremely careful not to introduce any matters extraneous to 1528 the Motion before the House, and the sole blame for transgressing in advance the rule you have just given must be laid upon the Treasury Bench. I hope you will not rule me out of order if I answer what has been stated by the President of the Local Government Board and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The right hon. Gentleman has referred to what he is pleased to call the fictitious and factitious opposition raised previously to the Customs and Excise Bill.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I rise to order. I was allowed to reply to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir W. Harcourt), and the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler) replied to me. The hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) rose just now possibly to reply to the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton; and as he was not allowed to do so, is it in order for the hon. Member for Barrow (Mr. Caine) now to reply to our speeches?
I think the hon. Member for Barrow would be well advised if he allowed the matter to rest, after the remarks of the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton.
§ MR. CAINE
I will carry out your suggestion, Mr. Courtney, and will avail myself of some other opportunity of replying to the observations of Gentlemen opposite. I will merely put forward some reasons why the Government should consent to my Amendment. The Liberal Unionist Party are divided on this subject. When the hon. and learned Member for Inverness (Mr. Finlay) is able to oppose this measure, we can justly claim that a section of the Party which is worthy of consideration is out of accord with the Government. We are Liberal Unionists, but the right hon. Gentleman opposite seems to think we must drop the adjective and stick to the noun. I am not prepared to do anything of the kind, and I warn the Government— knowing much of the inner working of the Liberal Unionist Party—that if they persevere with this Bill, their action can only end in the' breaking up of the Unionist Party. I dare say, as far as this House is concerned, that the fragments which will be broken off may be small; but that is not so in the country, and I know that the allegiance of the Liberal Unionist Party to the Govern- 1529 ment is now being strained to the utmost. What is our position in regard to the Government itself?—that we should support them with the distinct understanding that they will proceed with remedial legislation for Ireland.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
I wish to say that I rose to reply to some of the remarks made by the right hon. Gentlemen the Members for Derby and Wolverhampton about myself, but I respected your ruling, Sir, and refrained.
§ (3.45.) The Committee divided:— Ayes 203; Noes 127.—(Div. List, No. 104.)
§ (3.58.) MR. T. M. HEALY
I congratulate myself upon moving an Amendment which I am sure the Government will cordially accept, namely, after "direct" to add "by any Act passed in the course of the present Session." I am sure those words will give great gratification to the Government. I would like to explain to the Conservative intelligence exactly how the matter stands. The ground of the Amendment is that the Government by another Bill declare they will appropriate this tax in a particular way. If they do not pass the other Bill, they will not want this money. Every Conservative Member, therefore, if he believes in the First Lord of the Treasury and the Chancellor of the Exchequer with that faith to which I believe the belief of the Mahomedans in Mecca is nothing, must support my Amendment. To oppose my Amendment would mean that they did not believe in the pledges of the Government or in the statement of the First Lord of the Treasury that they mean to pass these Bills this Session. I invite the Conservative Party not to throw discredit and doubt on the honour and faith of their leaders. The First Lord of the Treasury has declared over and over again that he is going to pass the Publicans' Compensation Bill. [Ministerial cries of "No !"] Then he intends to drop it.
If the hon. Member will refrain from using invidious language the discussion can be conducted without interruption.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
Well, the title is the Local Taxation (Customs and Inland Revenue) Bill. It was only to save the time of the House that I shortened it.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
The Government have over and over again declared their intention of passing the Local Taxation —in brackets—Customs and Inland Revenue Bill, and they are pledged to pass their other measure also. We know we can rely upon the faith of Ministers absolutely. Every pledge they have ever given has been absolutely fulfilled. We know they intend to give Local Government to Ireland; and though it has been promised for the last 17 years, I have no doubt the pledge will be redeemed this Session. This Session they are going to pass the Irish Local Government Bill, the Land Purchase Bill, and the Bill with names in brackets. This Amendment is a simple recognition of Conservative good faith, and I cannot conceive the Government rejecting it. I believe they will welcome it with gratitude. I believe I shall be hailed as a benefactor to the Conservative Party, as a man who, whatever my misdeeds have been in the past, has now enabled the Conservative Party to give complete assurance to the landlords and the publicans. One of the legs of the Government rests on the landlords and the other on the publicans, and that being so they will adopt my Amendment. They will' not allow any doubt whatever to creep into the publican's breast, which is a most sensitive breast. It is not enough for the Government to declare their intention of passing the Bills—human intentions, we know, are fickle, and I am sure the House will not be content with a declaration that the Government, as at present advised, mean to pass the measures. All we want from them is a declaration that even if the House be kept sitting until Christmas, and the Christmas following, nothing will pre vent them from carrying the measures. Amendment proposed, Clause 7, page 3, to add at the end of the Clause, "by any Act passed in the present Session."—
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ (4.10.) MR. GOSCHEN
The hon. and learned Member made an unnecessarily long speech. He said the same thing— and I counted it—13 times over.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Unfortunately, the hon. Member cannot withdraw the time he has wasted. No doubt it is a humorous thing to withdraw the 12 times, but it will be noted that the time which is lost by these repetitions is not saved afterwards by retractation. Why did he not ask us whether we would accept the Amendment? It is a very simple Amendment. We intend to pass an Act this Session applying this money, and we have no objection whatever to put these words into the Bill.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ *(4.11.) MR. H. H. FOWLER
I have no wish to imperil the passing of this Bill through Committee before half-past 5, as I consider that, although no undertaking has been given, there is an understanding that we should finish the present stage to-day. I will, therefore, shorten my observations as much as possible. Clause 7 raises the question of the allocation of these debts to Local Authorities. Even if the objects of this Bill were such that there was no difference about them I should object, on financial grounds, to the further subvention of Local Authorities out of Imperial funds. I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer has unnecessarily re-opened the controversy on this point. The controversy has lasted for a great many years. It was practically brought before the House first by Sir Massey Lopes some 10 or 12 years ago, and it was understood on both sides that the question was closed by the proposals made in 1888. On that occasion the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that, as far as he was concerned, he had shown his whole hand, and it is evident the Government then thought ample justice had been done to the local taxpayer. This is a re-opening of the controversy. You cannot re-open the question without asking where the real burden of local taxation lies, and to what extent that burden has been lessened by the legislation of 1888. It was stated in 1532 1888 that 68½ per cent. of the local taxation was borne by the Metropolis and urban districts, and 31½ by the rural districts. This fact has not been sufficiently borne in mind in the allocation of funds to local purposes, and, as a result, the country districts have received a larger share than they ought to have received. The poor rate proper, i.e. the portion of the rate expended on the relief of the poor, stands in precisely the same position as the tithe. It is a burden on the land, and has been so for three centuries. So far from being an increasing, it is a decreasing burden. I find from the last Report of the Local Government Board presented to Parliament that during the last 15 years the increase of rates in the Metropolis has been 76 per cent.; in the urban districts it has been 66 per cent.; in the partly urban and partly rural districts 17 per cent; and in the purely rural districts only 10 per cent.; and you are now going to increase the very large subvention to local taxation. I am not asking that the settlement of 1888 should be re-opened, but I maintain that the subvention should not be increased. What was the settlement of 1888? The Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed to appropriate for local purposes £2,969,000 from licences and £1,800,000 from the Probate Duty.; he also proposed a new tax of £826,000. I am not going to talk of the Wheel and Van Tax, which succumbed to what I suppose the Chancellor of the Exchequer will call a factitious and fictitious opposition, but I think that there is a great deal to be said for the Horse Tax if it had been fairly assessed with no exemption at all. At all events, the Chancellor of the Exchequer might have left it to the Local Authorities to say whether they would impose this tax or not. The main reason that was urged for the imposition of those taxes was that they were to provide for the increased burdens to be thrown on the Local Authority in consequence of the repair of roads and in substitution of turnpikes, which have practically been abolished. How have the figures worked out? The Chancellor of the Exchequer expected £3,000,000 from licences and £1,800,000 from the Probate Duty. I regret the absence of Returns showing the amounts granted 1533 and the amounts allocated; but there is the Chancellor of the Exchequer's own statement that the taxes he proposed to allocate for local purposes have amounted to £415,647 more than he anticipated. That is to be set against the £826,000 of the new taxes proposed, and, further, the Chancellor of the Exchequer estimates this year that the Probate Duty proposed to be handed over will be £2,400,000. Practically, then, the Local Authorities are going to get, and have already got, all the relief anticipated in 1888, or within £200,000 of it. and that will soon be made up by the increment in the Licence and Probate Duty. Upon that ground the Chancellor of the Exchequer cannot be justified in handing over, out of Imperial funds, £1,300,000 to the Local Authority to carry out the settlement which was declared to be closed in 1888. Apart from all the other contentious parts of the Bill, I protest against the handing over of this sum from Imperial funds which we want for Imperial purposes, because, if there was any disturbance of the public peace, we shall find ourselves at a great disadvantage from having parted with this source of Imperial revenue. Put there is, further, an inequity in this arrangement with reference to the various sources from which these funds are derived. The classes who pay Imperial taxation and those who pay rates are two distinct bodies, and if we are taking money from the taxpayer to relieve the ratepayer we must look at the incidence of taxation in both cases. What are the proportions of the contributions from the working and artisan classes to Imperial funds, and what are their contributions to the rates? In a speech delivered in this Douse in 1877 Mr. Holmes, the then Member for Paisley, said that Professor Leone Levi estimated that the working class contributed one-sixth to local rates, and the upper and middle class five-sixths. This estimate was adopted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian in 1873. On the same occasion Lord Beaconsfield took the proportion as one-fifth and four-fifths. Just in proportion as you make grants from the Imperial Exchequer in aid of local rates, you relieve the middle and upper classes to the extent of four-fifths of the amount granted, and the working classes to the extent of 1534 one-fifth. So unless you are prepared to show the same proportion of four-fifths and one-fifth in Imperial taxation, you are putting a burden on the working classes in relieving those who largely pay local rates. Mr. Holmes, in his speech, put the case in a concrete shape thus: Of a sovereign contributed to local taxation the working man pays 4s. Put what is his contribution towards Imperial taxation? In the opinion of the authority I have quoted—an opinion I do not altogether agree with, although I quote it—after a careful investigation of his long and interesting speech full of facts and figures, his opinion is that the working classes pay three-fifths and the upper and middle classes two-fifths. It is a very big question, and I am not going into it now; but I have very carefully worked at the figures, taking out the various sources of taxation, the taxation on consumable articles in the year just closed at £43,500,000, the amount raised on property £22,500,000, the stamps and licences £8,000,000, and working out the proportion of the £43,500,000 paid by the working classes alone. But we have a very suggestive figure given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his speech on the Budget in reference to the House Duty. He showed that four-fifths of the houses of the country are under £20 in value; that is, that they belong to the artisan class or the classes beneath them. My own impression is—I give it with the greatest doubt and hesitation, but should be prepared to argue it, if we had time and opportunity, with great diffidence—that at the present time the Imperial taxation of the country is about equally divided between the propertied and the working classes. If the figures are at all right, the Committee will see that the proposals of the Government amount to taking 20s. from a pocket to which the working classes contribute 10s. and putting it into a pocket for local taxation purposes to which the same class contribute only 4s. So the result of the transfer is seen. The Chancellor of the Exchequer gave the turn of the balance in favour of the rural rate-paying interest, and they have no further claim on the contribution of upwards of £1,250,000. They have found the Chancellor of the Exchequer's contributions a 1535 very pleasant thing. I was looking the other day over the balance sheet of my own county of Stafford, which has enjoyed rather a fair share of these subventions, and I commend to the attention of hon. Members who are familiar with the taxation in largo towns a comparison with these financial proposals for the county for a rate of 3 1/ 16d. Is that an enormous burden of local taxation? With all the objects we have in view for Imperial purposes, with changes looming in the future, and the many things desired in the present, apart from all statistical questions, is there any public reason or fiscal reason, any just reason for further increasing contributions from Imperial funds to Local Authorities? And, remember, if you provide Local Bodies with funds they do not raise, you diminish their responsibility for expenditure. It is easy to be generous with other people's money. If County and Borough Authorities are to have the assistance of Imperial taxpayers for local purposes, you diminish local responsibility and destroy one of the most valuable guarantees for local economy. I hold not only that those who pay the rates should control the expenditure of the rates, but that those who control should pay, and you cannot separate the two bodies without all the old evils of Imperial subventions promoting local extravagance. In reference to this matter—I am not going into it now—I shall have some strong representations to make upon the Police Superannuation Fund. That raises a very formidable question as between those solvent County and Borough Authorities who have carried out the law, being placed at a disadvantage as compared with those who have not. Mine has been but a condensed, disjointed statement, but I have been fettered by the desire not to protract the Debate. My broad and general objection is that we have done enough in the form of Imperial subventions to Local Authorities, that the controversy was closed in 1888, and it is unwise now to re-open it.
§ (4.40.) MR. GOSCHEN
I appreciate the sacrifices the right hon. Gentleman has made to brevity, and the disadvantages he was under in dealing with his subject within a short space of time. I may add that I feel equally embarrassed in dealing with his argu- 1536 ments in the short space of time I can give to reply. I may also suggest that it is much easier for the right hon. Gentleman to prepare his case and have all his figures ready than it is to reply when one does not know the precise case which is going to be opened, for we cannot be prepared with all the figures to answer the arguments. I must correct one error into which the right hon. Gentleman has fallen. The right hon. Gentleman took the Probate Duty at £1,800,000 for the year 1888–9, and at £2,400,000 for the next year, showing an increase of £600,000. But the £1,800,000 was the share that fell to England alone, while the £2,400,000 is the total that falls to England, Scotland, and Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman will observe that I have the confirmation of the strong financial authority behind him (Mr. Buxton.) The original amount was £2,130,000, and the increase on that amount is £270,000, and not £600,000. There was, I think, an amount of £280,000 involved in the Van and Wheel Tax, and I wish to point out how we stand as regards the £800,000 promised. It may be said to be decreased by the additions to the Probate Duty of £270,000, but not by any larger amount. There remains a considerable sum of which the County Authorities have been disappointed by the withdrawal of the Van and Wheel Tax, and the right hon. Gentleman cannot, therefore, contend that, in the view of the Government, the account is closed. The right hon. Gentleman has repeated some remarks of mine on introducing the Budget, to the effect that the account was closed, but that was taking into-view our proposals as a whole, including the Van and wheel Tax, as well as the arrangement relating to Licences and Probate Duty. Therefore, I could not consider the account as closed when the Van and Wheel Tax proposal failed. The right hon. Gentleman does not feel the necessity of increasing the funds at the disposal of the County Councils, and I think he bases his opposition to our proposal on two grounds; he dislikes any further contribution being made from Imperial funds to local purposes, and he dislikes the Particular allocation proposed, because he thinks the counties gain more than the towns. This tendency of localising expenditure and the 1537 raising of Revenue can be carried to a dangerous extent. If the locality which contributes most is to receive its exact proportion in grants, what will become of the poorer parts of the country? Successive Parliaments have felt the necessity of giving relief to the poorest districts; and though I dislike the principle of Imperial subvention, I do not think it fair that the poorest districts should be made to meet the whole of their expenditure out of the rates. Then the right hon. Gentleman urges that four-fifths of the rates are paid by the wealthier classes, and that they do not fall on town and country alike. But it must be remembered that in towns a man pays his rates upon the value of his house or shop, while the rural ratepayer, who lives on a farm, pays not only on his house, but on the property distributed all over the farm. The right hon. Gentleman says the rates in the counties are very light, but the rates levied by the County Authorities over a particular area by no means represent the rating weight which rests on the rural community. It is unfair to make the distinction the right hon. Gentleman has drawn between the Poor Bate proper and other local rates, and it tends to give the false impression that we are giving assistance to those who pay a rate of 1d. or 1½d. The county does not only include the agricultural ratepayers, a number of towns are within the area. It would carry me too far if I were to attempt to enter upon the dispute between the right hon. Gentleman and my right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board. As to the degree to which the big towns and the rural towns have respectively been assisted by the subventions, out of the total amount of £2,400,000 a half has gone direct to the Poor Rate. Though the Poor Rate proper may have diminished, the point is whether the aggregate rate has not increased. Rates have increased enormously, and they are felt much more heavily than before in rural districts, because of the long-continued agricultural depression. New rates have been imposed since the period to which the speech of Lord Beaconsfield, from which the right hon. Gentleman has quoted, referred, and whatever authority that statement may have carried then, I doubt whether it could be sustained at the 1538 present moment. Rates have increased enormously since that time.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Yes; they have increased 10 per cent. in rural districts. While the agricultural districts, from the long depression, have grown poorer, towns-have grown richer. ["No!"] Well, somebody has grown richer, as I gather from Income Tax Returns. I would recommend hon. Gentlemen, as a statistical occupation, to study the interesting figures in relation to the Returns under Schedules A, B, and D. It will be seen that under A and B there has been a considerable decline, and there has been an enormous increase under D. Therefore, I assert there has been a large increase of wealth in towns as compared with rural districts. As to the exact proportion paid to the rates by the working classes, it is very difficult to arrive at any accurate conclusion, and I cannot accept the right hon. Gentleman's figures. I am bound to say that I consider some of Professor Lenoi Levi's interesting-statistics are of a somewhat fantastical character. It is extremely difficult to-arrive at an accurate conclusion, but I have neither the time nor the material to go into the interesting subject. To sum up what I wish to say—I do not think that, in these further grants to local purposes, the Government deserve the displeasure which the right hon. Gentleman shows at the whole of our plans. Some further relief is due to local burdens, and especially in regard to police superannuation—a question of supreme importance, which has not been grappled with before because of the insufficiency of financial resources.
§ (4.55.) MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
I do not propose to follow my right hon. Friend or the Chancellor of the Exchequer into the question how far the new proposals affect the different classes of taxpayers. I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer, having showed that my hon. Friend had made a mistake in relation to the Probate Duty, might have spared the sneer at myself. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, upon his own figures, has shown conclusively that he is about to increase, by £300,000 or £400,000, the original proposal for local subventions. The original proposal of £840,000 has 1539 been raised considerably by the increase in the Probate Duty, and yet there is this proposal for a further grant. I did not understand my right hon. Friend to say he would have the whole of the subventions withdrawn, but he did object to increasing the grants on the present system. The protest I particularly wish to emphasise is that upon which the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself dwelt with force in his Budget statement, namely, the system introduced two years ago, and now being extended, of mixing up local and Imperial finance in a manner that had never been followed previously. Three years ago the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I understand, was endeavouring to divide altogether local from Imperial finance, but since then they have become inextricably mixed up, and this year the confusion will become worse. We are handing over a large sum to Local Authorities in the form of Licence Duties, and to that, I think, there is no objection. These licences are collected locally and handed over, and to that there is no objection. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has handed over the Probate Duty, which is partly local and partly Imperial, and this year he proposes to hand over the Spirit and Beer Duties in the same way. In voting against this clause I may say I do so to express an emphatic objection to the system of mixing up local and Imperial finance. I will not discuss the matter on this occasion, but I hope on some future Budget the Chancellor of the Exchequer will see his way to prevent the confusion which has thus undoubtedly arisen by handing over to the Local Authorities the whole of some particular tax instead of handing over, as at present, small portions of particular taxes.
§ (5.4.) MR. H. H. FOWLER
I would further remind the Committee that the total amount of money now proposed to be given in local subventions out of Imperial funds, including the additions proposed this year by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, amount to no less than £9,500,000. The statement I made just now with regard to £200,000 was incorrect, but I fell into the error in the absence of figures, which I again ask for. I ask the First Lord of the Treasury to use his influence to obtain them, so that we may know exactly what is handed 1540 over to the Local Authorities. As far as I am concerned I can only take the statement which appeared in the Times the week before the Budget.
§ (5.8.) MR. GOSCHEN
AS to the non-production of the figures I may point out that they will have to be got from the Local Authorities all over the kingdom, and it is difficult to collect figures going up to the middle of March by the middle of May.
§ Question, "That Clause 7, as amended, stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.
§ Bill reported; as amended, to be considered to-morrow.