HC Deb 26 May 1892 vol 4 cc2000-18

Considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clause 3.

*MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)

I beg to move, in page 2, line 9, after "(D)," to insert the words "except as under." I am sorry to inflict this Amendment upon the House at this late hour. I hoped that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have been able to bring this subject on at an earlier hour. The point which I wish to raise is the old story of whether the Income Tax should be charged on industrial incomes at the same rate as on those incomes which are derived from capital. It will be unnecessary for me to dwell at any length on the important difference there is between these two great classes of income. The Income Tax derived from the absolute labour and industry of individuals, and which die with those individuals, is altogether on a different basis from that derived from spontaneous sources—namely, the results of capital. But at the present time the two classes of income have to pay Income Tax at exactly the same rate. Let us look for a moment at the position of the two classes. A person with an income of, say, £200 a year, derived from spontaneous sources—from investments or shares—can spend every penny of that income without infringing the rules of proper order or care, or thrift, on the necessities of life, and need not put by anything for the future. But a man who has £200 a year dependent upon his own exertions—whether in a shop, a factory, or a profession—should not spend all that income. He must set apart something for life insurance and provide for possible sickness and loss of work, and to do this at least £30 must be taken from his precarious income. Therefore, we come to this result: That a man who earns £200 a year by his own industry must pay away about 15 per cent. of it to meet possible contingencies. It is manifestly unfair, then, to tax industrial incomes at precisely the same rate as those derived from capital. It, of course, may be said that a man may run the risk, and not insure his life, or provide for sickness; but it has been the great object of the Legislature in recent years to do everything possible to impress upon the people the importance of providing for such contingencies. It adds, however, very much to the difficulties of securing this whilst the tax is the same on these two classes of incomes. The proposal to make a differential rate in the Income Tax between industrial and spontaneous income is not a new one, and, indeed, I have been blamed on that ground. In 1842, when Sir Robert Peel introduced the new Income Tax, Lord Brougham moved a Resolution in the House of Lords to the effect that it was expedient to made a reduction or difference between incomes arising from capital and incomes arising from labour, with the object of levying a smaller proportion on the latter. It was debated at great length by Lord Brougham in an able speech, and no argument was used against it. It was also debated at great length in this House, when Mr. Crawford moved to omit from Schedule D, professions and trades, employment, or avocation. This was supported by Lord John Russell and Mr. Hume. Thus I am merely carrying out the wishes and intentions of the great financiers of that day in the Resolution which I propose. I think the only reason why the principle was not adopted at that time was because it was always felt that this Income Tax was a temporary tax, and that, as it would not last very long, it was not worth while to make the alteration. There was also this reason—that the great bulk of securities were in Consols, the present enormous holdings of other stocks not then having developed. It was felt that if a reduction was made from the incomes of the industrial classes, it would be thrown largely upon the land, and as land was greatly interested, the alteration was not made upon that ground. I am sure the Chancellor of the Exchequer will admit that there is a great deal of difference between these two sources of income, and he must acknowledge that, in the interests of strict fairness, some change should be made. The objections he will raise, however, are, I think, threefold. He will say, if we reduce the taxation on industrial incomes, that there are a great number of very rich men who receive incomes of that nature. But the Amendment I submit will not embrace those rich men, and therefore he will still have the gratification of taxing the rich men who draw industrial incomes. The Amendment simply deals with those having incomes of £400 per year and under. The second objection will be that it would be hard to tax the widows and persons of small means, who derive their incomes from spontaneous sources, while not taxing industry. But from the remarks which I have already made, I think it is clear that the widow with a small spontaneous income is really better off than a married man with the same amount of industrial income for this reason—that her income is permanent while in the other case it fluctuates, and being derived entirely from industry is precarious, and would of course be lost to his family in case of death. Probably the real objection of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as he will say, will be the difficulty involved in the change. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) once said that a reform of the Income Tax would involve a century of labour; and I believe the degree of trouble involved is the reason the Chancellor of the Exchequer does not go into the subject. I have been in a public office myself, and I know that the permanent officials do not like a revolutionary change in their Department; but if the change I propose is just and fair and reasonable, the difficulty of carrying it out should not be an insuperable objection. I feel certain that the difficulty has been exaggerated. We must remember that we have already five Schedules in the Income Tax Bill—Schedules A to E; and it is a remarkable thing that the differential doctrine is already recognised in the Schedules. Schedule B is charged differently to all the other Schedules, and what I propose is that Schedule D should also be charged at a different rate. The difference I have already pointed out is not, however, all, for Schedule B is not only charged in a different way from the other Schedules, but different charges are under that Schedule levied in different parts of the United Kingdom. England is charged 3d., Ireland and Scotland 2¾d., while all the other Schedules are at the rate of 6d. Therefore it is shown that the system has been introduced and can be carried out. The Chancellor of the Exchequer may also say that part of the income in Schedule D is derived from capital. No doubt that is so; but the difficulty is one which can be got over either by each person stating and proving what amount of capital is in his business, or, as I think better, to allow the capital employed in industry in this country which is charged under Schedule D to receive a lower rate of charge, in the way I have described. The last point I wish to bring before the House is the effect that this change would have on the present Budget. I am aware that the Chancellor of the Exchequer's surplus is not large; but I will show exactly what my proposal would do. The proposal is that under Schedule D all industrial incomes under £400 per year, instead of paying 6d., should only pay 3d., bearing the same rebate as before. What are the effects? There are 436,000 persons in the United Kingdom who pay under Schedule D, and 215,000 out of that number pay on incomes of less than £200 per annum, and 150,000 pay on incomes between £200 and £400. That is to say, that out of the whole number of persons, 436,000, who pay Income Tax upon this Schedule, more than three-quarters, 366,000, pay upon less than £400 per year. The whole amount they pay comes to £800,000 per year. Therefore, if my Amendment were carried it would mean a reduction in the Revenue of £400,000. I have no hesitation in saying that reduction should, without doubt, be added to the large spontaneous incomes, for these are the incomes that pay relatively and absolutely the smallest amount of taxation. I will acknowledge frankly that my ultimate view is to get rid of Schedule D altogether, because the removal of that Schedule would do away with a great deal of injustice and unpleasantness, dispense with those inquisitive forms we receive, and dispel the frauds perpetrated in connection with it by the public and the extortions that come from the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Talking about Schedule D, I only had the honour of receiving one of its papers a short time ago. It is a most formidable document, arranged as closely as it can be on four large foolscap pages, and I defy any human being to fill these forms up without probably incurring some serious penalty. It is such a form as only the best counsel in England could decipher and understand. My view is to get rid of this Schedule D altogether, because I believe the French system of simply levying Income Tax upon spontaneous income and securities is better. I have not proposed to go so far, as I thought it advisable to have a small beginning in the direction of what I believe to be the right and ultimate solution of this difficulty. When we look at the circumstances of taxation, I say the bottom of the middle class is the most severely taxed portion of the community, although they are often not so well off as many of the artizan class. They are the people who are the backbone of our trade and commerce, and I think it would be right to make the incidence of taxation fairer and easier in their respect. All experience shows that is the direction in which amendment of the Income Tax should take; and I hope the Government will tell us definitely that they contemplate some change. I beg to move the Amendment.

Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 9, after "(D)," to insert the words "except as under."—(Mr. Bartley.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."


I am sure that everyone will agree with the concluding portion of my hon. Friend's speech, in which he stated that the lower middle class, the poorer middle class, is that section of the community particularly deserving of the attention of this House. That is a view which I have held, and some of my own recommendations have been in the direction of somewhat relieving the heavy burden of that class. Let us see precisely how we stand. The Amendment of my hon. Friend would only benefit those having incomes of £400 or under. A person with such an income would have the usual rebate on £120 and a rebate of three pence on the remainder, while those immediately above that amount would pay the whole tax without any rebate. To use a phrase occasionally employed in this connection, the jump would be very great. If my hon. Friend contends that this might be remedied, I must remind him that we are not now dealing with an abstract Resolution. My hon. Friend has moved a particular Amendment in a particular Bill. I must ask the Committee to examine the nature of that Amendment, and I think I can conclusively prove that it will be extremely difficult for hon. Members who wish to see justice done in taxation to vote for it. My hon. Friend has spoken as if all the income of those who earn less than £400, and are assessed under Schedule D, is derived from their own exertions. That is not the case. A portion of it must come from capital employed. Let me point out that my hon. Friend in his specific Amendment deals only with Schedule D, and not with Schedule E. He proposes that a clerk who pays under Schedule D is to be relieved, but the one who pays under Schedule E is not to be relieved. Now, those who pay under Schedule E are persons in the service of the State or of a municipal body, or of any body corporate of any kind, such as a Joint Stock Bank, and if my hon. Friend's Amendment were passed, these persons would continue to pay sixpence, while clerks in the service of a private bank or tradesmen who might have £3,000 or £4,000 in their business would pay only threepence. I would ask the Committee, Can you possibly assent to such a proposal as that? Again, while the clergy belonging to any ecclesiastical body, such as the Wesleyans or the Church of England, would continue to pay sixpence, those who receive their stipends from congregations would only pay threepence. I think I have pointed out to the Committee most serious reasons why we cannot accept this Amendment. But, says my hon. Friend, will you extend the proposal to Schedule E? In that case his estimate of loss would have to be increased very largely indeed. Again, under the Amendment, shareholders in railways would pay only threepence, while holders of Consols or of foreign Government stocks would continue to pay sixpence. Is that contemplated by my hon. Friend? His Amendment would tax the whole railway property of the United Kingdom, when held by persons with incomes under £400, at 3d. instead of at 6d. If it were passed a man who put, say, £4,000 in North Western Railway Stock or debentures would pay only threepence, whereas if he invested the money in Consols he would be obliged to pay as much again. The Committee will accordingly see the dilemma in which my hon. Friend is placed. And, again, he fell into a grave error as to the number of people affected. He puts his estimate of the separate assessments under Schedule D at 436,000 persons, but this does not include the vast number of shareholders in companies, who are assessed under that Schedule, and therefore the hon. Member must add to his estimate of the loss which would accrue the difference which his proposal would make in the sum paid by many of the shareholders in the various companies. I cannot conceive that he has thought this matter out. My hon. Friend went very far when he said he thought all capital engaged in the industry of the country should be relieved of payment altogether. There is a great deal of spontaneous income derived from capital employed in commerce under Schedule D, and I think you would exempt the very persons it is desired to to tax. How can you separate in a tradesman's business what represents income from his capital and what represents the efforts of his own industry? The effect of the Amendment would be, that the tradesman with £3,000 or £4,000 capital, which he could leave to his family, would pay threepence on the earnings of that capital, while the half-pay officer or the telegraph clerk would pay sixpence on his precarious income. The hon. Member has said that the alteration proposed in his Amendment would involve a loss of £400,000, but the estimate of the Inland Revenue officials is that the loss would be nearer a million. Am I to be asked at this stage of the Session and at this stage of Parliament to find an additional million and to re-construct the whole of the Income Tax?—because I think I have said enough to show the Committee that you could not effect only the one alteration my hon. Friend suggests. I would not be responsible for the working of an Act which would relieve a person assessed under Schedule D, and at the same time leave so many persons exactly in the same position without relief.

(12.42.) SIR W. HARCOURT (Derby)

I do not think—if there is to be a Division taken on this subject—that we shall have to determine the question whether or not there shall be further abatement on the Income Tax in the lower scale. That is a subject which has to be considered. Everyone must feel that the Income Tax is one of the main pillars of the revenue of the country, and that you cannot make alterations in it without very careful consideration of all matters of detail. It is quite plain that at a quarter to one in the morning, at this period of the Session, the House is quite incapable of entering upon such a discussion as it should do before deciding upon any alteration. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has shown how complicated the question is, and how many difficulties surround it in every form. One argument used by the right hon. Gentleman is, to my mind, conclusive, namely—Is it right and fair at this stage of the Session, and at this period of the Parliament, to create a deficit of one million and to impose upon the Government the duty of bringing in practically a new Budget, because if you are going to get rid of a million by this Amendment you must find the money elsewhere. It seems to me that the proposal is one which it is quite impossible to adopt under the present circumstances, and therefore I shall certainly support the Government in opposing this Amendment.

*SIR J. COLOMB (Tower Hamlets, Bow, &c.)

I desire to express my sympathy with the Motion of my hon. Friend (Mr. Bartley), but I quite see from the facts which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has stated that it is practically impossible to carry it into effect at this stage of the Session. I trust, however, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the next Parliament will see his way to deal with the matter in a satisfactory manner, because it is just, and I believe there is a general feeling throughout the country in its favour. I will only say this—that I think there are imperfections which might at once be corrected without those vast complications arising to which the right hon. Gentleman has alluded. For instance, it is well worthy of consideration whether it is necessary to call upon these small incomes to pay this enormous tax, for so it is, in one lump sum. I do not see why the amount might not be divided and paid quarterly. This would give some relief, and would not, I think, cause the Chancellor of the Exchequer much difficulty. I entirely assent to the views expressed by my hon. Friend (Mr. Bartley), and I trust that in the next Parliament the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be able to deal with this question in a thoroughly satisfactory manner.

*(12.46.) MR. BARTLEY

For one moment I may be allowed a word of explanation. I have brought this matter forward on many occasions, both in Committee and in the form of a Resolution, and I have been told that it was not a convenient opportunity, and that it would take a hundred years to bring about the change I proposed. Now, when I have brought the subject forward in this form, again I am told it is inconvenient, and this has been the manner in which the subject has been treated for the past fifty years. I am told my figures are wrong, but all I can say is that they are taken from Returns furnished by the Treasury and from the edition of 1890, and the Treasury is responsible for the inaccuracy, not I.


The hon. Member will surely see that my explanation was to show not that the figures were wrong, but that the hon. Member had not taken into account the distinction between the assessment of a company and the assessment of individual shareholders.


I quite understand; but when I take another form of Income Tax the right hon. Gentleman says the incomes derived from Railway Companies come under Schedule D. If so, the fact is concealed in an extraordinary way. I do not see how such incomes can be included. All that the right hon. Gentleman has said goes to prove the immense difficulty of the subject, and the importance of having a Committee to examine it, as I have urged and moved for year after year. The matter should be carefully gone into. The right hon. Gentleman has referred to the clergy, and clerks in the post offices and other classes. I purposely left them out for the present, and confined my Amendment to one Schedule, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer might not accuse me of mixing up the Schedules. He has met me again with the old argument about complications. The discussion has shown the importance of the subject, and if I am lucky enough to get anybody to tell with me I shall go to a Division.

(12.50.) MR. TIMOTHY HEALY (Longford, N.)

I would make an appeal to the hon. Gentleman not to waste the time of the House. It was terrible to see the state into which the hon. Gentleman worked himself to-night. It is true, he addressed himself to the interest of that class to whom he is about to make an appeal for re-election; but I trust his zeal will not lead him to abate in the least degree his well-known loyalty to the Government. Is there no one to warn him in familiar tones of the danger to the integrity of the Empire? I hope he will not put the House to the trouble of a Division. Very painful is it also to see him assisted in his revolt by that staunch supporter of the Government, the hon. Member for Bow (Sir John Colomb). Really it is a most painful thing, at this period of the Session, to see a loyal Conservative Gentleman about to go to his constituents in a few weeks' time for the purpose of telling them that he has done his best for them, keeping up Ministers to this hour. Surely there are other subjects that hon. Gentlemen might go to their constituents upon? That noble subject, the "unity of the Empire," ought to be sufficient for the purpose.

DR. CLARK (Caithness)

I congratulate the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bartley) upon the movement he has made in this matter, and I must say that neither the Chancellor of the Exchequer nor the ex-Chancellor has at all touched the principle of the proposal. This is a question which excites a good deal of feeling in the country, which may have an effect on the General Election. I trust the hon. Member will go to a Division. The suggestion of the hon. Member for a differential Income Tax on earned and unearned incomes is a good one, only I think he does not go far enough. It should be a shilling in the pound on all incomes above £5,000. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham intends to support the hon. Member, but I remember that at one time he was a supporter of the principle. There are, I have no doubt, a great number of people whose votes depend on the manner in which this subject is treated. The subject has not been seriously treated to-night; neither the Chancellor nor the ex-Chancellor has said anything against the principle. I hope the hon. Member will take a Division, and will get such support as will compel recognition of the importance of the subject.

MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)

The decision to be taken will not in any way have reference to the principle of differential taxation, or whether the Income Tax should be heavier on incomes from capital than from industry. The proposal of the hon. Member does not involve that principle.


Yes, it does.


It simply proposes one small alteration in the incidence of Income Tax, and upon that I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer has shown the present position will not be improved, and that, indeed, the inequality will probably be increased. I think that the hon. Gentleman himself, in his interjected remarks to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, showed that he has not quite grasped the position, for when the right hon. Gentleman mentioned a number of incomes under £400 which the hon. Member had not taken into account, the hon. Member said, "Very well, make it £500." And, again, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer mentioned Schedule E, he said, "Well, let us extend it to Schedule E." What we want is a Committee to examine carefully the whole question of the incidence of the Income Tax. If hon. Gentlemen would support such a proposal, then we might arrive at some proper conclusion upon a scheme of differential taxation on permanent and precarious incomes.

Question put.

(1.0.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 35; Noes 110.—(Div. List, No. 148.)

Clause agreed to.

Clause 4.

*MR. THOMAS H. BOLTON (St. Pancras, N.)

The Amendment I have to propose has not so sweeping an effect as the Amendment of my hon. Friend (Mr. Bartley) would have had, and it would not, if accepted, very seriously disarrange the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Budget. At this hour I do not intend to inflict upon the House anything in the nature of a speech. I will merely say a few words in explanation of my Amendment. The House is aware that, while the rates are levied on the net income from property, and while Income Tax generally derived from earnings and personalty is levied on actual net income, yet for the purpose of Income Tax on land and houses the gross rental of property is assessed. This may, of course, be defended to a certain extent, and may not be so very objectionable on large and valuable property, but it presses very heavily indeed on smaller property throughout the country. We have been passing Acts for the purpose of encouraging the building of dwellings for the working classes; we are to advance money at a cheap rate of interest for the purpose of encouraging the provision of small holdings for the labouring population; and there are Acts of Parliament that by sanctioning the system of compounding—that is to say, of arrangement between the Local Authorities and the landlords to fix a certain rate of assessment for small properties—encourage the maintenance of this class of dwellings. The principle of the Income Tax, I apprehend, is to charge the actual product, the actual income, or the actual profits derived; but that principle is altogether violated by the way in which Income Tax is charged on the gross and not on the net clear income from property. I am quite aware this opens up questions of a larger character, and I know that it will be said that while landed and house property enjoys certain immunities from taxation, it is inflicted with a heavier tax in another direction; but I do not see there is any justification for inflicting a practical injustice upon certain people in connection with the taxation they have to pay. It is no satisfaction to a man who pays more than he ought to know that there are others who pay less in respect to other property. The proposition I make is not a large one. It will not affect very large interests, but I believe I have—I hope I have—the sympathy of Members on both sides of the House in the desire to see all taxation levied on actual income, not on supposed income, and I make this suggestion with reference to this particular grievance in the confident hope that it will receive considerable encouragement. This is an actual grievance. I can tell the Chancellor of the Exchequer of cases in which the income derived from small house property is but half what it is assessed at for purposes of the Income Tax. I could give the Chancellor of the Exchequer a case in which a number of large old timber cottages, which are very comfortable and convenient for the people who live in them, but very expensive to keep up, are rated at less than half what they are assessed at for the purposes of the Income Tax, and the rating fairly represents what they actually produce to the owner. I do not refer to exceptional cases; you may find them all over the country in rural districts, and very largely in Scotland and Ireland, where the property is assessed for Income Tax in many cases at double what it is for rating purposes. There is no reason or justification for this. This is a grievance generally admitted, but probably it is felt most keenly in agricultural districts. I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he is not prepared to accept my Amendment, will, at all events, give us some expression of opinion that may lead to the belief that at no very distant time the substantial injustice to which I am calling attention will be removed.

Amendment proposed, In page 2, line 28, at end, insert—"Except as to any property of less annual value than twenty pounds, or which is compounded for by the owner for the payment of rates, and in every such case the sum charged as the rateable value shall be taken as the annual value for Income Tax assessment."—(Mr. Thomas H. Bolton.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

*(1.12.) MR. GOSCHEN

The proposal of the hon. Member is to charge a lower rate of Income Tax on cottage property; that it shall be charged upon the rateable value instead of on the gross. It is a very large question, and I am quite certain that if the proposal had been made from this side it would have been denounced as one of the crimes committed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in relief of owners of property. It is a proposal to relieve owners of property from a portion of the taxation they now pay. The hon. Member says there is an anomaly in charging the tax upon more than the actual receipts, and I have always acknowledged there is force in the argument that the tax ought to be levied on the actual receipts, and that the time may come when it will be possible to lay this taxation on the net and not on the gross receipts, and that as regards all property, not cottage property only. But it has always been held that such a measure would have to be considered side by side with other measures affecting real property. The point raised by the hon. Member is one well worthy of consideration, but I am not prepared to deal with it in a piecemeal manner. The hon. Member is fully entitled to call attention to the matter, but I hope he will not now consider it necessary to press it.


If I am right in my appreciation of the right hon. Gentleman's observations, they come to this: That he does not dispute the general position taken up by the hon. Member, but he rather regrets that he himself did not make the proposal. He said that if he had made it he would have met with much criticism and opposition from this side of the House; but he admits the general force of the argument urged against the injustice of assessing a man on a nominal amount while he receives in reality a much smaller amount. The force of the argument will be clear to everybody, but I am inclined to think that we who sit in this part of the House are specially concerned with the present Amendment from the point of view of some Irish farmers assessed under Schedule B. It seems to me that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has not considered the matter from that point of view, and while admitting the force of the general argument, has declined to discuss it. But I submit if the proposal does contain some grain of truth or reason, the Government ought to enter into the discussion with the object of doing justice to all classes of taxpayers. Unquestionably injustice is done to many small owners in the rural districts of the country; and, no doubt, this proposed Amendment will attract within the next few days a considerable amount of attention. The right hon. Gentleman has not urged one single solid argument against the hon. Member; but we are not so much concerned from his point of view—we are concerned for the Irish farmers to whom I have alluded, in so far as they are affected by this proposal; and we have good ground for asking the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is prepared to maintain his untenable position, or to make some concession which may appear insignificant to the Chancellor of the Exchequer; but which, to many ratepayers, is a substantial matter, and in regard to which many of us will be interrogated before many days have passed.


It is four years since I brought forward a very similar Amendment to this, argued it in the same way as a grievance, and received on that occasion exactly the same answer from the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I must say it does seem to me hard that a grievance admitted to exist amongst a large class should be postponed, and should not be considered until some grand system of reform for everybody comes into play. We heard from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian that it would take a hundred years to carry out complete reform, but I think the time has come when the House should press the Government to take this matter in hand, and it is a matter too important to be taken at a late hour like this, when Members are impatient.


The doctrine of the Chancellor of the Exchequer seems to be quite out of harmony with the doctrine of the First Lord of the Treasury. The doctrine of the latter is that it is the landlord who pays the rates and taxes ultimately, wherever there is a revision of rent, and that is the doctrine of the Local Government Bill. What then is the use of talking of the relief of the occupier?

Question put.

(1.20.) The Committee divided;—Ayes 24; Noes 97.—(Div. List, No. 149.)


I have a request to make on behalf of a small but deserving class of Her Majesty's subjects—namely, Members of Parliament, and I would ask, seeing that they have to spend a considerable portion of their time here in London, whether it would not be fair that they should be allowed to deduct from the Schedule, or whatever it is called, the amount of expenses incurred—


Order, order! This has nothing to do with Clause 4.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 5 agreed to.

(1.34.) MR. HEALY

I wish to raise the question seriously. We have been endeavouring to deal with large questions all the evening, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer has made that a ground of objection. This is a small question as it may seem to Her Majesty's Government, but it is not unimportant to some of us who consume a great deal of time and take considerable trouble in the discharge of our duties as Members of this House; and I ask would it not be fair that our expenses on this account should be deducted from the amount of our small incomes upon which this tax is levied? The Attorney General laughs, and with £8,000 a year he can do so; but I really do not see why, if we have to leave our homes and attend here in London at the expense of £200 or £300 a year, we should not be allowed to deduct the expenses thus incurred. It may be that there are some Members who would be too proud to avail themselves of such a provision. I am not one of those. We have been engaged in altruistic propositions in favour of other people, and it is right we should look after ourselves. I therefore move this as a new clause.

New Clause—(Deductions by Members of Parliament)—brought up, and read a first time.

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


I am unable to gather from the title what the proposal is—


I should have explained that the clause proposes that in the assessment of incomes of Members of Parliament a deduction of £300 a year shall be allowed in respect of expenses in connection with attendance on the House.


It is a matter of some importance, and I do not wish to treat it lightly. We ought to have had it with due notice by having the proposal clearly laid before us. So far as I am concerned, the proposal is a new one, and I think it really forms part of the question of payment to Members, and should be considered in relation to that subject. There are various matters that present themselves in relation to the position and privileges of Members of this House. I know that in some parts of the world free passes on railways are one of the privileges of the position. But I hope the hon. Member will not press his proposal at this time, for none of us has had the opportunity of considering it.


The right hon. Gentleman has spoken of the privileges of Members and of free railway passes. It is all very well for Members resident in London who can take a hansom cab to Portland Place to dismiss the question of expenses lightly, but it costs some of us a five pound note every time we return home. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman is justified in his sneer at free passes—


I really meant to treat the matter seriously; I intended no sneer. I merely alluded to the privileges attaching to the position of Members. I assure the hon. Gentleman I wish to treat his proposal with all respect.


I accept the right hon. Gentleman's explanation, though in the light of the explanation the remark as to railway passes is wholly unintelligible. I allow that it is a fair objection that I have not put notice of my Amendment on the Paper; it was my intention to do so. I do not esteem it a privilege to spend £200 or £300 a year in London. There may be Members who regard the position from quite another point of view, but remember we have to attend here not for our own convenience at considerable expense. We should be satisfied if we could transact our Parliamentary business in Dublin. I will not now put the House to further trouble in regard to to the proposal, but I shall certainly raise it on another occasion. It is not concerned with the payment of Members.

Question put, and negatived.

Bill reported, without Amendment; to be read the third time To-morrow, at Two of the clock.