§ Order for Third Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."
§ (2.40.) MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
The present form of this Bill, compared with its form when first introduced, renders absolutely necessary some little discussion on this Motion. I do not suppose there ever was a Finance Bill, on which the Government had been almost defeated, which has been so completely transformed in many respects as the present Bill. Look at the first section. When the Bill was introduced it contained only four clauses, now it contains eight. I am glad to be able to congratulate the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the addition of every one of these four clauses. They belong to a series of clauses to which the right hon. Gentleman has shown himself very friendly, and although they are of a small character, they are sure to prove very useful to trade and commerce. There is the one which imposes an additional surtax on spirits imported from abroad, made necessary by the new duties. Another raises the duty on glucose, and the principal one provides for the free admission into this country of alcohol to be used for manufacturing purposes. Four years ago I brought to the notice of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in connection with the debates on the Finance Bill of that year, the desirability of taking this stop. The right hon. Gentleman then said it was impossible for him to consider such a revolutionary proposal, although he had pointed out how it would greatly help certain manufactures in this country. During the four years which have since elapsed I am sure many useful manufactories have been planted on the banks of the Rhine and in other parts of the world, which might well have been established in this country had the suggested relief been given to imported alcohol. I think the House and the country are to be congratulated that 29 this provision has been engrafted on the Finance Bill, and I hope it will make great inroads on that somewhat stiff attitude which the Customs have adopted in regard to facilities of this kind for the purposes of trade and manufactures. The Chancellor of the Exchequer deserves credit for the readiness with which he listens to appeals of this kind. In no fewer than three Finance Bills has he accepted small Amendments of this character. For instance, the Amendments to Clause 10 in last year's Bill have proved very helpful to the trade of the country. I am glad to lie able to give this credit to the right hon. Gentleman, because I fear it is about the only complimentary thing I have to say to him in regard to the Budget Bill. So much for the first section. The second section—which was one of the most important—has disappeared altogether. I refer to the proposal to double the stamp duty on cheques. If we pass on to the schedules, we find the greatest possible change in them. The right hon. Gentleman proposed to put a duty on corn, and, being untrained in protective duties, he took what he thought was the simplest way. He imposed two duties—one of 5d. and the other 3d., and assumed that the matter was easy that trade could be carried on under the raw, ill-considered schedules which appeared in the first Bill. But in the course of the long debates on this Bill the right hon. Gentleman has been educated. We still have the two duties of 5d. and 3d., but we have also a 2½d. duty and a 1½d. duty, and there are two long provisoes added to the schedules. This shows the extent of the difficulty which the right hon. Gentleman has experienced in setting up his new Protective duties in this country.
It may be said that the Bill has been sufficiently discussed already, and that it is a very serious matter to move its rejection on the Motion for Third Reading. I cannot at all agree with that. Notwithstanding several small improvements that have been made in the measure, I am convinced that the Bill, if passed, will be one of the worst Finance Bills passed by Parliament since 1841. It is the third and most violent step in the direction of broadening the basis of taxation. It is a reversal of the fiscal policy of the country which will bring just as great evils with it as were the benefits gained from the other policy of narrowing the bases of taxation. I am not at all satisfied with the 30 debates that have taken place. A great deal of interesting but irrelevant matter has been introduced because the Colonial Secretary made an indiscreet speech at Birmingham. I regret that we should have heard so much of the Zollverein, seeing that there is nothing in the Bill regarding it. But because one of my right hon. friends who took objection to that speech got some pledge from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he said they would let the Bill pass, or, at any rate, some step might be taken in that direction. I think that was a great misfortune. What we had to do on this Bill was to fight the new duty on corn, and I think it would have been far better to have waited until some definite proposal had been made to the country in regard to other matters before discussing so fully this Zollverein question. That is not the only fault I have to find with the debates. The right hon. Member for Montrose delivered one of the most interesting speeches from this side of the House, and said that the cheque tax had been relinquished owing to the appeal of a powerful section in the City lie added that he had always approved of that tax. I cannot help lamenting the fact that the right hon. Gentleman should have used such an expression. The cheque tax is almost as bad as the corn duty. It has not a single merit as a tax, because it would have produced a violent convulsion in trade. The truth is, that the right hon. Gentleman had not thought out this question fully before using such an expression, and' he has moreover, had no business experience. A great deal of our discussion in this House on financial and commercial matters is earned on by Gentlemen connected with the professions of literature and law, who have no business experience, and I do think that business men on both sides of the House should be listened to on matters which profoundly affect them. I have fault, too to find with the action of the hon. Member for Poplar, when we were trying to fight out the question of the duty on offal. My hon. friend the Member for East Somerset was endeavouring to induce the Chancellor of the Exchequer who had already agreed to reduce the duty by one-half, to give it up altogether but the hon. Member for Poplar jumped up and said he accepted the right hon. Gentleman's proposal as a reasonable compromise, and thereby prevented the 31 development of the debate. The hon. Gentleman by that action made himself as much responsible for the tax as the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I think it is a pity that a case made out on these back benches with regard to commercial matters should be given away without more full examination of the proposals. Generally speaking, I think the case against the corn duty was pitched a little too high by the opponents of the tax on this side of the House. The tax is not open to the objection which attached to the old corn laws. A good deal too much has also been heard about the big loaf and the little loaf. I agree that the loaf may not be very much smaller—possibly it will not be reduced in size at all—and suppose that is so, look at the position in which the Opposition will be placed. The position will be analogous to that they occupy in respect of the sugar tax. Sugar has not become any dearer, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer rides in in triumph because the country has not suffered by the imposition of the duty. But our objection to the sugar tax is not removed because there has been a fall in price, for the people are paying a halfpenny more to-day, and the price to all intents and purposes has been raised as far as the consumers are concerned. One or two right hon. Gentlemen on these benches approved of, and voted for, the sugar tax; the very same Gentlemen have opposed the corn duty, and I think somebody with cleaner hands might have led that agitation. I am glad that the Leader of the Opposition is sound on sugar, sound on corn, sound on coal, and sound on the whole of this bad principle of broadening the basis of taxation.
My contention is, in respect of the corn duty, that any interference by the Customs with the great articles of import will be a profound interference with trade and with the increase of wealth. Hon. Members opposite who are in favour of the restoration of the duty believe that it will increase the wealth of the country. We disagree with them on that point; we assert that a reversal of the policy of Free Trade will simply produce poverty. That is the basis on which we ought to fight. I am trying to avoid the dragging in of high principles in this matter. Let us go in for expediency. One of 32 the greatest authorities on this subject, 130 years ago, wrote a book called "The Wealth of Nations." Adam Smith did not assume any high principles at all; all he said was that he desired to make a few suggestions as to the taxation of countries which would promote the wealth of nations. It is a very good basis to put it on. And on what did Cobden base his case? He was a commercial traveller, and the head of a small manufacturing business in Manchester. He wanted the means of building up his own business. He obtained sympathy in every part of the country, and it was soon found that every class could benefit by taking the same course as he did. He fought his battle in this House, in the same way as we on the back benches have to fight our battle today. Right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Opposition Bench received his arguments with no sympathy, and some right hon. Gentlemen who now claim Cobdenism and Free Trade as a thing that they themselves produced, gave him the cold shoulder and no assistance whatever, until Sir Robert Peel practically accepted the theory. Ever since they have posed as sturdy advocates of the new theory. There is good work to be done on these back benches if the commercial interests of this country are to be protected. Mr. Cobden never sat on the Front Bench at all; he never obtained any re-cognition of his work, and his work would never have been carried to a successful issue if the question of Free Trade had been allow ed to fall too much into the hands of right hon. Gentlemen rather than of practical business men. A number of small duties are now imposed, which it would be better to get rid of, and their effect is to cause a diminution of trade throughout the country. I think that we have been too negligent generally, and that the whole principle on which the country has proceeded is in danger of being sacrificed. Our Whole financial policy formerly consisted in narrowing the basis of taxation. The principle which Adam Smith taught to the country was, "tax as few articles as possible; tax no necessities," and for seventy years that theory was acted upon, until Cobden prevailed upon the 33 House to make the experiment of Free Trade. We have now for thirty years had experience of Free Trade, and how wonderful it has proved. Look at the growth of wealth: our ships are on every sea, our commerce is carried to every land; poverty and starvation are largely banished from our shores. Everything that has been won in increasing national wealth is at stake if the principle of broadening the basis of taxation is extended. I say it would be best for trade and the development of wealth and commerce if we avoid the irritating restrictions imposed by the Bill.
Let me just give one example of the irritation which will be caused. Take the duty on imported offal. It has been reduced to 1½d., and the amount it will produce—compared with the difficulty of collection—renders it perfectly absurd-It is to produce £19,000 a year. Offal is light but bulky; the duty will work out at 1½d. per sack. It would take a large ship to bring over 1,000 tons—or 20,000 sacks—yet all these sacks will be examined to ascertain whether they contain more than 50 per cent, of starch; they will have to be counted and weighed, and when the whole cargo has been thus dealt with, it will produce £125. In order to get a revenue of £19.000, it will be necessary for the Customs officers to deal with' 320,000 sacks. Is the absurdity of the tax not obvious? Even now, at this late stage, this Bill ought to be recommitted, and this tax on offal got rid of altogether. I might repeat the illustration upon the tax on maize, but it is not necessary. I tell the Chancellor of the Exchequer this tax will greatly diminish the progress of commerce, and instead of promoting and increasing the wealth of this country, it will rather tend to promote poverty. A second thing which we must guard against is any recurrence of Protection. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has stated that he is still a Free Trader. He will have some difficulty in maintaining that position when once he has passed this corn duty. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has two great authorities behind him in regard to this tax. One is Sir Robert Giffen and the other is The Times newspaper. In January this year Sir Robert Giffen wrote three letters 34 to The Times in defence of the principle of broadening the basis of taxation, and suggesting Is. duty on corn. But what did Sir R. Giffen say in 1870?—The corn tax is the most indefensible now on the Statute-book. It is a Protective duty, because it is a tax on an imported article not compensated by a tax on the home-grown article. It is, too, a tax on an article of first necessity, and it is monstrous that such an impost should carry money to the pockets of the landlord and the farmer lather than to the Queen's Treasury.On April 10th, 1869, The Times said the corn taxis a Protective duty, and this is sufficient to condemn it.On April 16th of this year the same newspaper spoke of the registration duty on imported corn and flour,which Mr. Lowe, in a paroxysm of pedantry, repeated a generation ago.Therefore, we have the opinions of Sir Robert Giffen and The Times thirty years ago expressed exactly in the same form as the opinions we are expressing now. They have changed their opinions since, but I suggest that their opinions were probably much more sound thirty years ago, when they knew exactly how this tax worked, than they are today; and I claim on my side those two authorities in their better days, before they fell into their dotage.
With regard to this being a Protective duty on corn, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the First Lord of the Treasury, and the Secretary to the Treasury all say that this is a mere reimposition of Mr. Gladstone's duty abolished in 1869. Sir, this tax was imposed in 1849, and then it only produced £300,000. The tax continued, and gradually grew until twenty years later, when it produced £600',000 or £700,000, and those figures made it difficult to maintain that it was only a registration duty. But when it 'brings in £3,000,000 or £4,000,000 it is nonsense to call it a mere registration duty. It is a heavy burden on the country. When we oppose it, I am sure we are on firm ground, and I am sure the Chancellor of the Exchequer will regret that he ever proposed it at all.
Another point I wish to take is the way in which this tax will affect Ireland. Ireland has a separate story to tell, and 35 some of the Irish Members told the story so successfully that they persuaded the Chancellor of the Exchequer to give up half the maize duty. That shows us that Ireland has a separate case. Now, what is Ireland's position in this matter? The taxation of Ireland has grown until it is now £10,250,000. This new impost will raise it to £10,500,000 at least. Six or seven years ago, when the condition of the land was enquired into, the taxation was £7,500,000, and that was declared to be too much by half; but instead of reducing it by £3,000,000, we have increased it by £3,000,000. This is not a matter that I propose to follow up at this moment. I only desire to point out to the House that this is the way in which Ireland has been treated after the three great wars of the last century. After Waterloo the taxation of Great Britain was immediately reduced, but that was not the case with Ireland, and for twenty-five years after Waterloo Ireland was paying a tax which had been reduced considerably in England. In the case of the Crimea, it was the same thing, and now we have the Boer War at the end of the century, and that is made the excuse to raise the taxation of Ireland—already £10,250,000 —by another £250,000, as we raised it both fifty and a hundred years ago. And so we shall go on, until one day—violently, I am afraid—it will all be put an end to. I hope the right lion. Gentleman will take the opportunity of making some concession to Ireland with regard to this matter. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose has no doubt given the Chancellor of the Exchequer in this step that he has taken some little support, because he stated the doctrine that if a war were to be fought by a country, there should be such extended taxation that every class of person in the country should feel the burden of the war. I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer has taken advantage of that admission, which was rather too readily made by my right hon. friend. It is said that the poorer classes do not feel the effect of the income tax, but it must not be forgotten that the income tax limits the wages which are paid. I think myself the people have made a great many sacrifices in connection with the war, and if we are to accept a principle of 36 this kind, we ought to limit it in such a way that while we allow the burden to be spread broadly over all, we should not restrict the commerce of the country. I am afraid we are now taking a step which will greatly interfere with our trade and commerce. We have interfered with the most important trades of the country, but the tax on flour is worst of all; a tax on meal would have been bad enough, but a tax on flour is far worse. I think we ought to take in this House every opportunity of pressing the Government to reconsider a matter of this kind before it passes entirely out of our hands. I beg to move the Amendment standing in my name.
§ *(3.12) MR. JAMES HOPE (Sheffield, Brightside)
I beg to second this Amendment. I do not approach this question from quite the same point of view as the hon. Member. I rise to express a regret that no part of the revenue now sought to be raised is to be derived from Customs duties on foreign manufactures. I am aware that mine is a view which I cannot expect to commend itself to hon. Gentlemen opposite, nor at present, perhaps, to a majority of the House. Nevertheless I will ask confidently for that indulgence which I believe is always accorded to anyone who, with whatever shortcomings in himself or his subject, has a serious case to present to the House. This question may be approached from the industrial or fiscal point of view, and I do not wish to confound the two. Revenue and Protection are distinct and, to some extent, conflicting objects. Of course after a point, the more thoroughly effective a duty is for protection, the less remunerative it is for revenue; and, conversely, you may have a duty excellent for revenue and theoretically protective, yet entailing none of the consequences of protection. Such is, I think, the corn duty, which will not appreciably affect either the producer or consumer; and I confess I cannot share the elation of my hon. arid gallant colleague at its imposition. Certainly if I were to wish to introduce a protective system, corn is the last thing with which I should begin, and the very last to which I should come. I do not give any thanks to my right hon. friend for having put on this registration duty, and for all he has done in that regard he is entitled to wear the phylacteries of Cobdenism as broadly as over on his brow.
37 I fully recognise the distinction between "the fiscal and the industrial aspects of the question. I should like to say a few words OH the industrial side, and to draw attention to the growing disparity between our imports and our exports. I know it is no new argument, but present circumstances give it a special cogency. The following are the balances against exports from 1890 to the present time:—1890, £92,000,000; 1891, £126,000,000; 1892, £132,000,000; 1893, £127,000,000; 1894, £13.5,000,000; 1895, £131,000,000; 1896, £145,000,000; 1897, £155,000,000; 1898, £177,000,000; 1899, £156,000,000; 1900, £169,000,000; 1901, £174,000,000. The figures for 1899 show a fall, but I think I am right in saying that that was the year of the great coal boom, and it was also the first year in which the Board of Trade Returns gave the value of ships made in England and sold abroad.
Now, as I understand the Free Trade theory, the difference between exports and imports is accounted for by the theory of unseen exports in the shape of foreign investments and freights in British ships. On the first point evidence is difficult to obtain; but such evidence as there is does not point to any increase in our foreign holdings. While on the painful subject of British shipping it is not necessary for me to dwell now, I submit that we are brought to the inevitable conclusion that we are paying for imports largely out of our national capital, and that our national productiveness does not increase. If I turn from the bulk to particular articles, some of the facts are very striking. I will not say much about steel, because I am electorally interested in it, but it is an ominous fact that steel rails were never imported till 1900, and the import rose last year from 38,000 to 55,000 tons. As to pig-iron, in 1870 our total production was as nearly as possible 6 to 4 against the total production of America, Germany and France combined. In 1880 it was rather more than 7 to 8, but last year it was equal to that of Germany only, and was less than half that of the United States. Or take the Welsh tin-plate trade, or the textile trades of the West Riding. The hon. Member for Halifax, speaking on the corn duty, admitted that in his department of the textile trade the export to America had enormously diminished, and that the home market, which to some extent they got as a compensation, was in so precarious a condition 38 that it was liable to be upset by the reduced productive power of the working classes consequent upon the corn duty Yon may go through other departments and you will find either that there has been no increase in exports or that the proportion of rise in exports has been very much less than that in imports.
There is one industry on which I should like to dwell a moment—I mean that of silk. In 1859, the year before the silk duties were removed, our exports of silk were worth £1,600,000. Last year they wore £1,400,000—an absolute decrease; while the import, which in 1859 was less than £3,000,000, has risen to £15,000,000. This shows the enormous amount of silk bought by English buyers, but not produced by English manufacturers. Now, one of the chief centres of the silk trade was the town of Coventry, and this town supplies an example for the doctrine of the Free Trader who declares that everyone will make what ho best can, and who will point with satisfaction to the motor and cycle industries which have grown up in Coventry of recent years. In the first place, I should like to know why the destruction of the one industry is necessary to the growth of the other, and why under a different system they might not have flourished together. But apart from this, the doctrine is not wholly satisfactory to the silk manufacturer and those whom ho employs. "You indeed have lost your trade," he will be told, "but be of good heart; your ruin has been effected on the soundest principles. Look around you, and rejoice in the thought that if you had the money you could buy an excellent motor car, built in the very place from which you have been excluded. Therefore, go your way in peace." But this, I think, is the kind of consolation severely condemned in the Epistle of St. James. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said last year that the finished product of one industry was the raw material of another, and thereby argued that any system of Customs duties must handicap in some degree some industry. But what I want to say is, that there is a choice of evils in the matter. I do not pretend that an extension of our Customs system may not bear hardly upon some trades, but when engaged in an economic war you must sacrifice something for your main ends. It is a state of industrial struggle in which you must be content to suffer something 39 yourself in order that your adversary may suffer more, and learn wisdom through his suffering. For myself, speaking personally, I would rather live in the sin of retaliation than die in the odour of Free Trade sanctity.
There is, however, another factor. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton said the other day in this House: "The cost of production must consist in the cost of the raw material, the cost of the labour employed, and the interest on the necessary capital." He also added, "you cannot get away from that." T think you can get away from it, for it leaves out of account another element, viz., the quantity produced. Mr. Byng, in his most interesting work on "Protection," has elaborated this argument. Here I will only say that the reasoning is as follows:—success in competition depends, ceteris paribus, on cheapness, cheapness depends upon quantity, quantity depends on the measure of the demand, the demand depends on the extent of the market available, and a Protectionist country will always have a wider market than a Free Trade country. In illustration of my contention, I trust I shall not be accused of melodramatic tendencies if I exhibit this little object to the House. [The hon. Gentleman held up a carbon.] This is a carbon for electric arc lamps, essential for naval and military searchlights. The manufacture of this article is an industry in which the initial capital bears a very high proportion to the wages and materials. The material is the refuse of gas retorts, and is very cheap, and the labour, in up-to-date establishments, represents less than 10 per cent, of the cost of the article; but the ovens and machinery must be very extensive, and the initial capital consequently large. It is, therefore, an industry in which increased production means lessened cost in a peculiar degree. If the daily output be 20,000 feet, the cost of production for each 1,000 feet is 42s.; but if the output be increased to 30,000 feet, the cost falls to 32s. Formerly the prices ruled at 50s. to 60s. per 1,000 feet, and the English manufacturer made a profit of some 20 per cent.; but afterwards the German manufacturers came along, and, by reason of increased production made possible by their protected home market, they sold in our open market first at 45s., and then at 40s., till they got below the English cost price, and absolutely killed 40 the industry in this country. If it ever be successfully revived without protection, it can only be by Government or sentimental buying, which, of course, are factors, outside ordinary economic conditions. I may also mention a kindred instance in the steel trade, vouched for by my hon. friend the Member for Newport, to the effect that the American Steel Trust can sell steel billets in England at 16½ dollars, whereas the price in Pittsburg is over 23 dollars; that is to say, they are able, by reason of their immense production, to deliver their surplus article in England at 7½ dollars less than they charge in America. So far I have been arguing from the point of view of the producer. But what about the consumer? Who is the consumer but the taxpayer — the same mouth and the same pocket? In order to get revenue you must hit this individual somehow. The question is, in which capacity? You hit him hard enough as it is directly. Formerly, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose told us last year, direct taxation was not more than 30 per cent. of the whole. Now it has risen to 50 per cent, or more. Thus indirectly you hit him, if not in his necessities, at least in his essential comforts. If he is a drunkard, you hit him hard; but even if he be the godliest of men, then, unless he forego the stimulating influence of tea and the quieting influence of tobacco, and unless he adopt the diet of a diabetic patient, you hit him at every turn of the day.
The right hon. Gentleman argued thus: The present expenditure is serious and. menacing; if you go through with your Imperial policy, you cannot expect your expenditure to diminish; therefore, either you must raise a fresh revenue, in which case you will be forced to import duties, or you must give up your Imperial policy; but the policy is not worth the duties, and, therefore, you must renounce the idea of the duties. I believe that the duties must come anyhow; but, putting I this aside, I believe the reasoning is I sound, and only one of the premisses is fallacious. I say that, in honour and conscience, we cannot, and will not, give up our Imperial policy, that we must seek for fresh revenue, that we cannot build further on the present basis, and that to import duties we must come. What are the needs of the country? There is the Navy, for which this year we have a 41 minimum programme. There is the Army. I welcomed the statement of the Secretary for War, but it does not promise future economy. There is Education, for which we have just had a fresh Vote of £900,000, and that does not satisfy everyone. Then there is the restoration of the Sinking Fund; and lastly there is the problem, now becoming acute, of the relief of local taxation. Whence is it all to come? The right hon. Gentleman says he cannot increase direct taxation, and yet when he was pressed as to various excisable articles by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton, he gave sound and adequate reasons why any increase in those respects would be either unproductive or unjust. We are confronted with the double problem—to aid industry and to obtain a. revenue. I admit the revenue must come first, and, I say, estimate your wants and get the money where it will be felt least. Let the burden fall first on the foreign producer, next on the consumer of luxuries, and last of all on the mass of the people. Our imports of manufactured goods are now from ninety to a hundred millions. Put on a 10 per cent, duty, and say they will drop to eighty, though the German experience is against this. Still even so, you will have a revenue of eight millions, and not only will you have your revenue, you will have something more. You will have a weapon of offence and of defence; you will have a scourge to flagellate the nations and teach wisdom to the Gentiles. Situations must often arise in which this country may have differences with others, and in which we may have occasion to obtain or defend something not worth the tremendous possibilities of war. It may be necessary to make our resentment felt, or to concede something for a fair equivalent; and what have we to threaten or to offer? We may oil or obstruct the wheels of diplomacy, but short of war or the menace of war we can do but little more. It was easier when the greater part of Africa was still unpegged; but now the spheres of influence almost throughout the world are denned, I am sure the country would not suffer any large alienation of territory; and we have not an indefinite number of Heligo-lands to throw into a diplomatic bargain. I can conceive a situation in China in which, the doors of trade might be shut against us, both in the north and the south, while 42 the trade of other nations might be unrestricted and flourishing in the Yangtzse Valley. In such a situation, to neglect the obvious and the easy way of retaliation, and all, I presume, for the sake of the mid-China consumer, would be altruism run to madness, which no Minister could defend before the country, and the lessons once taught in China would soon be learnt and applied at home. And, further, in the Transvaal I am sure that the country would never tolerate it that a swarm of esurient foreigners, who had done everything against us, should reap the material fruits of our victory.
I do not deny that, in this country there is still a strong, though a waning sentiment in favour of Free Trade; but it rests, I am convinced, mainly on historic sentiment, which is losing its hold on the rising generation. This sentiment arose from two causes: First, there was in the middle of last century a marvellous extension of applied science, of the fruits of which Free Trade has usurped the credit. Secondly, Free Trade became identified in the minds of many with the triumph of democratic principles. Never was a conjunction more accidental. It may, it is true, be plausibly argued that if Parliament had not been reformed in 1832, the old landed interest would have been strong enough to prevent the abolition of the Corn Laws in 1846; but there is no natural connection between Free Trade and Popular Government. Almost all the modern democratic communities are Protectionist, and I cannot believe that it is only in London that economic wisdom dwells. Nothing shall convince me that with two exceptions the world is blind to its own interest. It is we who live under the domination of sentiment—the dying sentiment of a past age. The great champion of that sentiment is the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who defends his convictions with a consistency and ability that excites our resentment but extorts our admiration. But I believe that even the right hon. Gentleman must feel that such is the ineluctable trend of events that even his cherished policy must go the way of the dead systems of former times—the way of the rest of laissez faire, the way of resistance to a 43 standing army, the way of religious uniformity. The time of the triumph of Free Trade was an epoch of many generous illusions. The unchecked march of science, the wide diffusion of knowledge, the magical developments of communication led men to look for moral- results which material agencies can never supply. Now, we know that extended communications bring forth new organisations of racial hatred—Pan-Slavisms, Pan-Germanisms, and Afrikander Bonds—that knowledge does not abate envy, that science multiplies the weapons of destruction and girds the nation with barriers of steel. Of the other illusions of that time we are sadly free today — the last cannot survive when we regard the onset of a menacing future, and look for a remedy equal to the need.
To leave out the word 'now,' and at the end of the Question to add the words 'upon this day three months.' "—(Mr. Lough.)
§ Question proposed "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ (3.40.) MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
The debate upon this Bill has been a long one, and I feel that at this advanced stage there is very little that I can hope to add to what has been said already, so well by so many speakers on both sides of the House. It has been, I think, a useful debate—useful in its sifting of economic principles, and useful also in the changes which it has brought about in the Bill. One change—that which reduced the duty on maize—has been, I think, by common agreement on both sides of the House, a very great diminution of some of the evils which might have been expected to result from the measure in its original form. I should like to acknowledge that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer always shows a mind which is accessible to argument, and even if he does not agree with an argument, he keeps his mind open to it and gives it fair consideration. I think we may also say that he endeavours to get to the solid substance of a question. Therefore, we owe to him our thanks for the very fair consideration which has been given to the arguments advanced from this side of the House, and to the improvements which have been introduced into the Bill.
44 But the greatest gain which the debate has produced has perhaps been the speech which the right hon. Gentleman delivered when we were discussing the Bill on Report, which largely removed some of the objections and apprehensions entertained by hon. Members on this side of the House. I will in a moment say a word or two about that speech, but meanwhile I must say that the objections which we have entertained to this measure from the first have practically not been diminished. Let me sum them up in the fewest possible words. We object to the corn tax above all parts of the Bill, because it presses most heavily upon those who are least able to bear taxation. I think if we reviewed our fiscal system, we should find that the luxuries—the unnecessary and superfluous luxuries—are far too lightly taxed; and when we come to the common articles of general consumption, and compare them with luxuries, we find that luxuries are relatively less taxed than necessaries. For instance, spirits, beer, public-house licences, and tobacco—which-may be called the luxuries of the masses—are all comparatively lightly taxed, and they would bear higher duties, and those-duties would do less harm than those which are imposed upon articles of general consumption.
Take the case of maize. I came across an illustration which was new to me of the way in which the maize tax operates. I find that in Sussex the wives of farmers and labourers who keep poultry are complaining that the price of maize has been raised, and that their poultry industry is being interfered with. Now, if there is any industry which this House ought not to interfere with, it is that of poultry-keeping. There is far too large an importation of poultry into this country, considering what the capacities of this country are for producing poultry. Therefore anything which would make it more expensive to develop that industry is to be deprecated as much as a charge upon feeding stuffs. I am not an expert in these matters, but I am simply relating a fact which came to my knowledge, that the price of maize had been raised and that it had operated as a hardship in that part of the country. I hope the reduction which the right hon. Gentleman has made in the tax will bring down the price. The financial changes 45 which the right hon. Gentleman has made are very largely changes of a class which will fall upon those classes of the community who are least able to protect themselves. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has raised the tax upon sugar, which is especially the food of children; he has raised the tax on tea, which is especially the beverage of women; and he has imposed a tax on bread, which is especially the food of the poor. It has been admitted, in the course of this debate, that the lower down you go the more the pressure of the tax on broad is felt. It is a tax of practically nothing upon the rich, and I think we must all have observed, within our own memory, that the better-off class of the community consume very much less bread than formerly. I suppose it is because vegetables are more abundant and cheaper, but, certainly, we all eat a great deal loss bread than the people did fifty or sixty years ago. Bread is not, to any palpable extent, felt in the expenditure of a middle-class or upper-class household. It is not very heavy among the better-off section of the working class, but when you come down to the very poor it presses with extraordinary severity, for two reasons—in the first place, because their general margin which keeps them above want is much less; and, in the second place, because their food consists more exclusively of bread. The hardest case of all is that of the widow with children. She has to feed her children very largely on bread. She does not contribute anything on spirits and tobacco, but this tax hits her with unusual severity. That is a point which I will not press further, because I suppose it is generally admitted.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer began by recommending this tax to us as a war, tax. I quite understand that he should desire to bring home to the people of the country the undesirability of their embarking in war. I do not believe that peace has any more sincere friend in this House than the right hon. Gentleman, but I greatly doubt whether the result of this tax will be to make the people realise the evils of war, or make them feel those evils more fully than before. I wish I could think, with my right hon. friend the Member for Montrose, that the effect of taxation has been so far felt by those who have been very ready to shout in favour of war. I do not suppose that is a result which will follow unless the 46 imposition of this tax should happen to coincide with a period of trade depression, and I greatly doubt whether the result which the Chancellor of the Exchequer desires has already been produced. A further observation which is to be made is this. This tax upon bread is, of all taxes upon the necessaries of life, that which is least calculated to bring home the result of war to the people, because it is a tax which presses with undue proportion on those who arc not voters—those who either have not votes or, having votes, know least about politics. It presses most hardly upon that impoverished class of casual labourers—the class of people who live from day to day and who are. engaged in so severe a struggle for life that they have not time to think of their civic duties and their responsibilities at all. If they are not the class particularly hit by a tax of this kind, it is that class to whom, in the early debates on the Budget, the Chancellor of the Exchequer referred, namely, those who would be reached by a poll tax. The right hon. Gentleman remarked with truth that it was impossible to impose a poll tax. A bread tax, coming upon everybody more or less comes in the nature of a poll tax, which brings home to every member of the community their responsibility.
Now, what is the result of the bread tax considered in that light? There was once a poll tax which provoked a great; insurrection in the time of Richard II. It was imposed only upon persons above the age of fifteen. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, if I may venture to use a somewhat colloquial expression, has gone one better, because the bread tax tells upon the whole population, and upon children more severely than upon adult males. There is really no tax that, for the purpose of bringing home to the people their responsibility for war as the Chancellor of the Exchequer desires, is less fit to obtain that object than a tax of this kind, which presses on every member of the population, and not merely on those who enjoy the franchise. However, in the course of the debate the Chancellor of the Exchequer has practically departed from the theory that this is a war tax, and he represents it now as a permanent addition to the taxation of the country. Here we come to what many of us feel to be the greatest of all the objections to a tax upon food. A 47 tax of this kind is marking a new departure. It is a deliberate reversal of the principle of 1869, when we abolished all taxes upon the necessaries of life. It is true that the right hon. Gentleman says that the tax is not, in his view, a protective one. Of course there are three kinds of taxation. There are taxes which are imposed for revenue only, and which cannot act as protection at all; there are taxes which are imposed for protection only, or mainly at any rate, and whose chief object is to foster home industry; but there is a third class of taxes which, although primarily imposed for revenue, are incidentally protective; and I do not think the Chancellor of the Exchequer can deny that this tax, although imposed by him with the view to revenue, must, so far as it goes, operate as protection. A thing is not less real because it is small. Such a tax makes a difference, and every time the price is going up, the price will rise a little more; and every time the price is going to fall, the price will fall a little less. There will always be change, and that change will always be in the direction of protection; and although in the first instance the effect may not be so conspicuous, still the effect is there. However, I do not put the case so strongly upon the actual result as upon the fact that it marks a new departure. We are told that we must not rely upon the small-end-of-the wedge argument; but wedges are not equally wide at both ends. There is a beginning in everything, and if we begin to depart from our policy in one respect, it is impossible for anyone to say how far someone may better the instruction the right hon. Gentleman is giving. I will not enter into the argument—because the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not condescend to use it—that this tax will be paid by the foreigner. Of course we know that that is a favourite argument of the hon. Member for the Central Division of Sheffield; but I do not think it has ever been used by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and it is not necessary for me to review it. It is certainly not the opinion of Protectionists, who desire to have protection in order that the price may rise and enable them to make a better profit. It is not the opinion of the hon. Member for the 48 Central Division of Sheffield, nor of those friends of his who, on the first introduction of this tax, received it with effusion and enthusiasm. Their transports have now been hushed into discreet silence.
§ MR. BRYCE
And perhaps the hon. Member for Central Sheffield does, after all, welcome this as a step in the direction in which he would like to go. I agree that this tax is an argument for it. It is an argument equally for imposing taxes upon meat, cheese, poultry, eggs— upon practically every article of food and this is the gravity of the case. It is not so much that there will be any great present hardship inflicted on the people by a tax of this kind, as the fact that a principle once deserted you have lost the firm standing ground on, which you stood. Many of us can remember, though it is now about thirty years since, the fair trade agitation, begun chiefly by Lancashire. The generation which had seen the triumph of Free Trade was beginning to pass away, and the economic arguments were beginning to be forgotten; and Fair Trade raised its head in 1870. We have, from that time to now. successfully resisted the Fair Trade arguments. But how? By pointing out that if you once begin the policy of fair trade, you will inevitably be led on to impose taxation on the food of the people. You cannot tax manufacturers without giving an opening to agriculturists — a large and important class that has felt the pressure of foreign competition; and you have said that the ark of the covenant of Free Trade is cheap food, and if you are not prepared to make the food of the people dear, you must not touch a protective policy I at all. By using that argument we have continually succeeded in repelling I the assaults of the Fair Traders. Now that argument, I am afraid, is very much weakened, and today we have had from 49 the Member for another Division of Sheffield a full-blown Protectionist Motion—supported by all the usual orthodox Protectionist arguments.
§ MR. BRYCE
I do not see that there is much difference. I think retaliation is one of the methods of Protection, and Protection is only one of the weapons of retaliation. I am rather tempted to follow my lion, friend into the discussion he has initiated. I did not know before that he was a Protectionist. I always wondered what it was in the air of Sheffield that breathed Protection. I always wondered whether the hon. and gallant Member for the Central Division of Sheffield had given Protection to Sheffield, or whether Sheffield had given Protection to him. Now I am inclined to believe, since I see the contagion caught by the hon. Member for the Brightside Division, that it is Sheffield that has something Protectionist in its air. I will not follow my hon. friend into his ingenious and lucid presentation of the case for Protection. You observe that his remedy would aggravate the very evils of which he complained, and what he invites us to do would be to raise the price of everything to the consumer, to raise our expenditure and our taxation, and to declare an industrial war all over the globe. Now, there is another quarter from which the ever-present danger of Protection has been threatening us for some years past—that is the proposals for various forms of colonial preferences. When we have been asked by the spokesmen of various interests in the Colonies—from Mr. Hofmeyr downwards—to enter upon a system of preferential tariffs to give advantages to the Colonies, we have always had the same ready answer. We have said we could not begin to give Protection to the Colonies without giving Protection all round to the Colonies. Every Colony in that case would have to have some form of protection, and you cannot protect colonial wine, or tobacco without also protecting colonial mutton from New Zealand and colonial wheat from Canada. That argument has always been found sufficient and satisfactory, and by means of that argument we have 50 been enabled to repell and resist the various attempts that have been made to lead us into a system of preferential colonial tariffs. But now what happened as soon as this tax was proposed1? The first sign was the awakening of activity in Canada. We had the members of the Empire League immediately demanding preferential treatment for Canadian produce, and Sir Wilfred Laurier, who had long desired an opening for a preferential tariff, made a speech, in which he said that the corn tax was the beginning of a Protective policy in this country.
§ SIR HOWARD VINCENT
Does my right hon. friend remember that Canada has already given us a preferential tariff for the last three years?
§ SIR HOWARD VINCENT
Sir Wilfred Laurier is a member of the Cobden Club, and received the gold medal of that Club.
§ MR. BRYCE
I am not concerned to defend Sir Wilfred Laurier's Free Trade character. I am content to say that under the feeling produced in Canada by this proposed tax, he took advantage of it to propose preferential duties for Canadian wheat. That was an argument for Protection. But besides the singular and remarkable deliverance from Sir Wilfred Laurier, we had a speech from the Colonial Secretary in firm, clear, and explicit language, in which he said—If in adherence to economic pedantry—(I suppose what we call orthodox Free Trade doctrines)—to old shibboleths—(I suppose Cobden's favourite maxim, 'Free Trade, Peace, 51 Goodwill among the nations')—we are to lose opportunities of closer union which are offered to us by our Colonies, if we don't take every chance in our power to keep British trade in British hands, we should deserve the disasters which would infallibly fall upon us.That, at any rate, indicates the desire to have a new departure in the direction which preferential duties with the Colonies would afford. These two speeches naturally excited considerable alarm in our minds. But we had, on the last occasion when the Bill was before the House, a remarkable speech from the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He repudiated, in the clearest and most vigorous language, for himself and his colleagues, the doctrines which, on the faith of these two speeches, had been attributed to His Majesty's Government. And having seemed to toy for some time with the fatal draught of Protection, be flung the cup far away from him. I say, he seemed to toy with Protection, because I take his latest repudiation as being conclusive and definite. I do not believe that the syren voice of the hon. and gallant Member for Central Sheffield would ever wile away the Chancellor of the Exchequer from these principles. But the reasons for our vigilance still remain. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is an admirable Chancellor of the Exchequer in the eyes of Free Traders, but he may not always hold that post which he now adorns. He reminds me of the strong man who, for some temporary convenience, breaks down the rampart at the part of the walls of the fortress placed under his guard, and in the very wantonness of his strength which makes him rely on his own force and prowess at that point. Defended it would be by him, so long as he stands by and wields and sweeps a two-edged sword, with which he is able to keep the part of the wall he guards; but when the right hon. Gentleman has left his post, what certainty have we that another person, holding the same principles, and able to give effect to them, with the same force of character, would come into his place? The breach has been made in the rampart by which we have defended ourselves against Protection, and another Chancellor of the Exchequer, meeting a pliant majority, may seek to raise or extend this tax to other fields, alleging that, in 52 passing this tax, we abandoned our old principles and reverted to the policy of Protection.
There are forces at work that are trying to entangle us in a system of preferential tariffs. I will not go at all into the question of a Colonial Zollverein, but it is known to everybody that there are some of our Colonies which would like to have preferential treatment given to their food products. There are other Colonies which expect nothing from us in the way of a preference for their wool or mutton, but I am afraid that they do expect to have some pecuniary benefit in some other form which would practically be a subsidy, and would involve the principle of protection. In order that I may not divert into a general discussion, I will say three things shortly. First, any preferential tariff system which would raise taxation, either on the food of the people or on the raw material of manufactures, would not be a compensation to us for any preference which they would give us in the colonial markets. Anything which would put us in the position of being entangled in a network of complicated tariff arrangements and commercial treaties would destroy that political freedom which we prize, would prevent us from arranging our tariff and our system of taxation in the way essential to the welfare of this country; and anything which requires us to enter into a series of commercial bargains under which a system of vested interests would grow up—bargains from which we should not be enabled to recede without controversy and recrimination; bargains the receding from which would evoke a sense of irritation and annoyance between ourselves and our Colonies—any bargains of that kind would do much to embarrass our relations with the self-governing Colonies, and create friction from which we, happily, have hitherto been free. Do not let it be supposed for one moment that any of us on this side of the House who feel convinced of the value of the principles of Free Trade, are one whit less anxious for the closest and. most intimate relations with the Colonies than any other Members. I may say that from the very first foundation of the Imperial Federation League I was one of its members, and many other Liberals, and we have always been anxious to take every legitimate opportunity of 53 drawing closer the ties which unite us with the Colonies; but we are convinced that the direction in which we are asked to advance by venturing into such a series of complicated bargains would involve far more danger than profit. If a Zollverein were provided, if it were possible that there should be no Customs offices at all within the Empire, and the Empire should be absolutely free from all Customs tariffs, we might be compelled to undergo some fiscal disadvantages for the sake of obtaining those advantages, if that principle were possible. But on all hands it is admitted that it is impossible. By common agreement it is impossible, and the Colonial Minister has said so. At present we have the best possible relations with our Colonies. We read the other day a very interesting and lucid speech delivered by the Prime Minister of the Australian Commonwealth, in which he pointed to the fact that, under the present free and elastic system, the cordiality was greater than ever it had been before between the Colonies and the mother country. And he said, with wisdom and trust, that it would be exceedingly dangerous to take any step which would destroy that cordial relationship. Let us beware lest in seeking the better we imperil the good. I regret very much, when I look over the world at large, to see what a vicious weed Protection has proved to be when once it has got a lodgment. I regret very much we are taking the step we are doing by this Bill. Protection is a pernicious evil, because it tends to spread. When it is introduced to benefit one industry, other industries immediately demand its extension to them. If yon look at the United States you see that the longer it lasts the more powerful it becomes, and the more it spreads its net over every part of the country. In the United States the economic evils of Protection are not so great as might have been expected, because the country enjoys what is virtually a free trade over an enormous and populous area. Food is cheap, because the country can produce all the necessaries of life within its own limits, and the raw materials of manufacture are cheap. But, especially since the War of Secession, Protection has been a source of political evils in that country. It has led to inordinate taxation, and inordinate expenditure, and it is interfering at the present moment with the political interests of the country abroad in a way 54 that all wise Americans regret. It is an insidious evil because it appeals to selfish interests; it works upon the tendency of each man to push his own selfish interests in the first place, which eventually does greater harm than good to himself and the community. It is an evil hard to eradicate, because it fosters sets of private interest, which assert a power altogether out of proportion to their natural strength, and overbears the common interest. I regret this Bill. It is a step—a small step, no doubt, but still a step—towards a thoroughly mischievous retrograde policy—a policy which is fraught with evil to a country so largely dependent, as ours is, upon manufactures and commerce. Feeling that if this policy is carried any further it will tend to sap and weaken that very self-reliant energy which Free Trade has fostered, and by which and under Free Trade we have attained our unexampled prosperity, I am bound, even, at this, the latest stage of the Government Bill, to renew and repeat my emphatic protest against the measure.
§ (4.15.) MR. HUNTER CRAIG (Lanarkshire, Govan)
From time to time the public mind has been much exercised by the small amount of bread stuffs we hold in this country. The aspect of the grain trade has materially altered in late years; and now we have only five or six weeks' supply of grain to feed the people of this great country. The tax on grain is a vicious tax; it is one which the country will continue to be dissatisfied with; and although we have the assurance of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that it is to be a permanent tax, the Government may change their minds and withdraw it. What effect will that possibility have with the importers of grain? The cost of the tax will involve £50,000 per week, and the grain trade is carried on with such a slender margin of profit, that the fact that the imports have to be put into a warehouse and cannot be exposed for sale on arrival, practically takes away the cntire profit. Therefore importers will be very chary, when the time for the Budget comes round, in ordering more grain than is absolutely necessary. The consequence will be that, instead of a six weeks' supply of bread stuffs, the supply may be run down to six days. I do not wish to be an alarmist, but what an opportunity that would afford foreign 55 Powers if they felt they had to resort to war to keep our food supply from our shores and to starve this nation into surrender. It would be a bloodless war, and a bloodless victory. I think this aspect of the question, which has not yet been brought before the House, is worthy of very serious and very grave consideration. We have heard from the beginning of these debates that this tax is so small that it will not be felt by the community.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Sleaford Division read out, with great éclat, a telegram he received the week the corn tax was announced, stating that it was from one of the largest bakers in Scotland. It was to the effect that bread had not been advanced that week. I rose to correct the right hon. Gentleman, but he did not extend his usual courtesy to me. He has, however, since given me liberty to contradict that statement, and to say that the telegram was not from a baker at all, but from one of the largest millers in Glasgow. If the right hon. Gentleman had any knowledge of the conditions of the Glasgow flour trade, he would have known that this miller had himself advanced his flour 1s. a cwt. The difference in the price of grain will not only be the amount of the duty, but the amount of the duty plus the profit which will be necessarily added, and which will extend from the importer to the dealer, from the dealer to the baker, and from the baker to the consumer. I have read the extravagant statement that bakers ought not to put up the price of their bread, and that there ought to be a law to prevent them doing it. Was there ever a more monstrous statement. The duty on a cargo of 4,000 tons of flour will be £1,666, which will have to be paid in hard cash. The importer will have to give one or two months credit, and he must add his commisson; and the middleman and the baker must add their commissions; and, in all, three profits will have to be paid by the consumer before the bread is consumed. I represent a constituency of over 100,000 inhabitants. It is a working-class constituency, and a very large portion of the population are unskilled labourers who have to work hard to make both ends meet. It is not only this tax they complain of, but they also complain of the tax on coal and sugar, especially the tax on sugar which has 56 prevented its falling to the extent of the tax. In conclusion, I should like to refer to the debate which took place on the 18th June. On that occasion the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Fife, referring to the duty on flour, said—This duty on flour is a Protective duty to the extent of 20 per cent. in favour of the home producer as against the foreign producer. I say these are propositions which cannot be disputed.The Chancellor of the Exchequer replied "I dispute them." Then the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Fife said, "The right hon. Gentleman may have changed his mind," and the Chancellor of the Exchequer replied: "No, I deny that it is a Protective duty." I charitably venture to think that the Chancellor of the Exchequer must have misunderstood the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, or he would not have denied that the duty was Protective. The question is so simple. According to the figures of the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself 100 cwts. of wheat produced seventy-two cwts. of flour. The wheat is worth 25s. and the flour 30s. That is a difference of 5s. or a fifth of the duty on wheat, or 20 per cent.; and in addition the home miller has his bran free which, at 1½d. per cwt., comes 3s. 4d. Therefore, the home miller has the advantage over the foreign miller to the extent of 8s. 4d. or 34 per cent. This is a vicious tax, and I hope that, even at the eleventh hour, the Chancellor of the Exchequer may see his way to withdraw it.
§ Sir HOWARD VINCENT
I have not come into the House with any speeches or observations on this Bill, because my views are pretty well-known to the public, and it might be thought that, if I intervened, it would be with a tendency to regard it as a Protectionist measure. It is not a Protectionist measure of any sort or kind. Why do I support it? I support it because it imposes on the foreigner a toll for the use of our markets for his own convenience; and because it will produce a very considerable addition to the revenue of this country. The hon. Gentleman who has just spoken ought to have been really a Protectionist. He spoke of the diminution of the food supply of this country, and he drew a terrible picture as to 57 what would happen when our food supply, which was now limited to six or eight weeks, would, in certain contingencies, be reduced to six days. If that is his view, he certainly ought to do something to improve the agricultural condition of the country, and to develop the produce of food stuffs in the country, so as to give us a reserve in case of necessity. The hon. Member for West Islington, who moved the rejection of this Bill, described our present system as Free Trade. The system we have had for the last fifty years is not Free Trade at all. It is simply a system of free imports without reciprocity. I am sorry to have to join issue with my right hon. friend the Member for South Aberdeen on these questions. In 1895 we came into very serious but friendly collision on the question of the importation of foreign prison-made goods, He was strongly opposed to any restriction of the importation of goods made by foreign convicts and felons; but the sentiment of the country and of the House was strongly opposed to his view. One reason why it is not necessary for me to trouble the House with any observations in support of this Bill is that it is perfectly clear that there is no serious agitation in the country against it. The imposition of the registration duty on corn and meal, which was retained by Mr. Gladstone, is really a popular measure; and, therefore, it is not necessary to make any strong observations in support of it. The state of the benches opposite, almost all through the discussions on the Bill, shows how little heart there is in the opposition to this measure. I counted the members of the Opposition who were present when my right hon. friend the Member for South Aberdeen was speaking, and I found that there were only twenty-eight present. I find the same absence of agitation in my own constituency, and, so far as I have been able to ascertain from right hon. and hon. friends, and from the usual source of information, I cannot see that there is any serious opposition in any part of the country to this most excellent measure.
The hon. Member for the Tyneside Division has put a Motion on the Paper advocating that the circumstances of the time demand a further extension of 58 this registration system to all our imports. A few years ago it would have been thought impossible that the country would have accepted, as it has undoubtedly accepted, the import duty on sugar, and the export duty on coal, and as it has undoubtedly accepted the toll or registration fee on corn and flour. Whether hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite like it or not, it is perfectly certain that the feeling of the country is paying more attention to commercial and trade restrictions, and the working man above everybody else is the least in favour of opening our markets to foreigners, unless we receive in return reciprocal treatment. It is a question first and foremost for the working men themselves, and they, or the great majority of them, see this question far more clearly than the average politician. They see that if they are to have constant work and good wages, the present system is detrimental to their interests and to their employment, and that it produces the competition by foreigners in their own market. One of the strongest arguments that Cobden used in support of Free Trade was that this country was and would remain the workshop of the world. That was an argument that, if Mr. Cobden lived today, he would not have been able to apply, and an argument that he would have been the last to have desired to apply. The hon. Member for West Islington, in the course of an interesting speech, said just now that Mr. Cobden never concealed that his desire was to advance his own business. That was the view of Mr. Cobden in those days, but we are surely entitled now, in the face of the falsification of all his prophecies, to adjust our fiscal system to the necessities of the year 1902. In 1854 the importation of foreign manufactured goods was £9,000,000 a year. Now the importation of foreign manufactured goods amounts to £100,000,000 a year. The importation of silk manufactured goods in 1900 was £40,000,000, wool and woollen manufactures £10,000,000, iron and steel manufactures, £70,000,000, paper manufactures £5,000,000. wood manufacturs £5,000,000 glass manufactures £3,000,000, leather manufactures £3,000,000, jute manufactures, 59 £2,000,000, and lace manufactures, £1,500,000. Those are only the principal lines of these foreign manufactured goods. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Aberdeen said he could not understand why there was so much feeling upon this subject in Sheffield; he would see it very easily if he looked at the statistical record which has been laid upon the Table, because he would see that no less than £1,000,000 worth of steel and hardware and cutlery was imported last year into this country, where, a few years ago, the imports were infinitesimally small. My hon. friend the Member for Brightside was perfectly right when he said that in this enormously increasing importation of foreign manufactured goods there was very great scope for raising the income necessary from indirect taxation. The condition of affairs is rendered still more remarkable when we find that from South Africa there is an excess of imports over exports, that foreign countries import to nearly £170,000,000 a year, and that the export trade from the Empire, the Colonies, and British possessions, is very nearly balanced by the exports to those Colonies and possessions. In 1900, the imports from British possessions were £109,000,000, and the exports to British possessions were £102,000,000, so that they almost balanced; the difference of £7,000,000 on the imports from British possessions being clearly the amount of the freights collected on the value of those imports. The belief of the majority of the Members of this House, and of the great majority of the working men of the country, is that nothing whatever shall be wanting to draw closer the commercial ties which unite the Empire and those great Colonies which have helped us so well. It is quite evident from the remarks of the right hon. Member for South Aberdeen that he has not read the speeches made yesterday by Mr. Seddon, Mr. Barton, and others. The right hon. Member for South Aberdeen absolutely reproached Sir Wilfred Laurier for having given a preference of 25 per cent. to our goods.
§ SIR HOWARD VINCENT
Well, I am very glad indeed to have given the right hon. Gentleman an opportunity of expressing himself thus regarding Sir Wilfred Laurier, which gives quite a different impression to that which he gave before. But whatever may be the opinion of Sir Wilfred Laurier, there is a real belief in the people of this country that the welfare of trade lies in developing it within the Empire, and doing what we can to develop colonial trade. The words of Lord Salisbury "It is to the trade of the Empire that we look for the future," remain as true today as when they were uttered. I strongly support this tax, and I thank the Chancellor of the Exchequer for having introduced it, and I hope, in years to come, the principle will be extended in the same beneficial direction.
§ *(4.38.) MR. ROBSON (South Shields)
The hon. and gallant Member in describing this as a popular measure is in happy forgetfulness of the Bury election. It is not often in these days that an hon. Member of this House gets up and laments the enormous increase of our foreign trade. The hon. Member spoke in terms of unaffected horror of the fact that in some branches of our trade imports had risen from £9,000,000 to £100,000,000, but how does he suppose that that is harmful to this country? Does he suppose that we get that £100,000,000 for nothing? If we did, the country is much to be congratulated in getting it. Or does he suppose we pay for it in gold? If he does, he has only to look at the statistics to find that some of it is gold. Does he not know that we pay for those imports in goods, and that we manufacture the price that we send out of the country in order to buy them? If the hon. Member wishes us to diminish those imports he is in exactly the same degree asking us to destroy or diminish the industry by which we pay for those goods. I wished, however, to direct my attention to another controversialist, who would not call himself a Protectionist, but who by his policy and his arguments is every bit as much a Protectionist as the hon. Member. I mean the Chancellor of the Exchequer. When the hon. Member for the Central Division of Sheffield was lamenting the growth of imports, I could not help thinking he had distinguished authority for his argument, because the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he 61 introduced the coal tax, defended it upon exactly identical arguments to those which the hon. Member has just used. It was pointed out to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as it was in 1873, by the Commission appointed to consider the export of coal, that the effect of the export of coal was to cheapen imports. That is one of the great merits of any export from the Free Trader's point of view, but it was considered by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to be its most serious detriment. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has, in my opinion, lost all claim to call himself a Free Trader. International trade is exchange. It is our interest in parting with our goods to get as much for them as we can, and to get it as cheaply as possible. That is Free Trade. The Protectionist is the man who says: "Part with your goods if you like, but I will prevent you getting much in return, or getting it cheaply." That is the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I have listened with anything but pleasure to the way in which my right hon. friend the Member for South Aberdeen has accepted the Chancellor of the Exchequer's description of himself as a Free Trader. I do not believe in allowing statesmen to label themselves in economic questions. Torquemada called himself a Christian, but I very much doubt that everything that distinguished Inquisitor did to his theological opponents came strictly within the principles of Christ. The right hon. Gentleman may call himself a Free Trader, but as long as he imposes Protective taxes on the food of the people I should say he is a Free Trader very much as Torquemada was a Christian.
At this, the last stage of the Bill, we who oppose it, are certainly able to approach the discussion with much more advantage than was the case in the earlier stages. The controversy has been immensely simplified, both by events and by admission on the part of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with regard to the character of the Bill and the intentions of the Government. First of all, the tax was to be a war tax. Before it could be passed into law, peace was declared. Never was there a reactionary policy so quickly shorn of all its excuses. Then it was to be put on to meet increased expenditure. Before the right hon. Gentleman could get that excuse into print, he had to admit that next year he 62 would have to dispose of a large surplus. Then it was not to affect prices. Before a single week had elapsed, the price of bread was rising all over the country—["No!"]—out of all proportion to the amount of the tax. Hon. Members opposite deny that. Perhaps they have accepted the latest argument of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who, when he found the bakers raising the price of bread, set his ingenious advisers to inquire into the prices charged by Cooperative Stores, and thereupon came down to the House with a collection of figures which he put before us as being the true prices of the honest trader. But the Co-operative Stores hastened to explain that, instead of putting up the price of the loaf, they thought that, as they were dealing with their own members, it would be more convenient for the present to charge the old price and deduct the loss from their dividends. Therefore, even the Co-operative Stores are witnesses against the right hon. Gentleman's point of view.
It certainly is a remarkable thing that apparently nobody is to pay this tax. The consumer does not pay, and, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer is addressing deputations of producers and distributors, the producer and distributor do not pay—as indeed they certainly ought not—because to make a tax fall upon a particular trade is a vicious and unjust principle. Who, then, is to pay? The Chancellor of the Exchequer is certainly going to get the money. The hon. and gallant Member for Central Sheffield gives the answer which I have always understood the Chancellor himself to adopt, viz., that the foreigner pays. That argument has frequently been used, and the right hon. Gentleman has never repudiated it, though I cannot give exact words to substantiate the statement that he has adopted it. When we have a Budget introduced by a Protectionist financier we are presented with a delightful choice of alternatives. If the foreigner persists in sending us his unwelcome goods, he has to pay the tax. If, however, the tax is too much for him, and he does not send us his goods, then we have the still better alternative that we get the trade. That is the principle upon which this tax is defended. Why, under these circumstances, does the Chancellor of the 63 Exchequer lament the heavy expenditure which has brought about the necessity for this taxation? He ought to rejoice over it—unless he is pained at the prospect of taxing the foreigner. England alone, of all the nations of the world, has refused to act upon the silly, foolish fallacy that it can collect its taxes from those who are not its citizens. England has boldly said, "We will tax our own people," and what is the result? This nation, which has the courage to tax itself, has incomparably the greatest International Trade of any country of the world. Those nations that tax us, according to the Protectionist view—where are they in the race for supremacy in International Trade?
§ * MR. ROBSON
America cannot compare with England in the matter of International Trade. Undoubtedly her domestic trade stands higher, but as regards International Trade neither she nor any other nation is in the same class with England. Other nations, with greater populations and equal resources, and certainly not inferior in energy or education, do not come anywhere near this nation in the sphere of International Trade. That seems a somewhat singular result, when we not only pay our own taxes, but, according to the Protectionist argument, help to pay those of everybody else also.
I have given one reason why I think the right hon. Gentleman is not entitled to the name of "Free Trader;" my hon. friend behind me reminds me of another. No answer has been given to the figures put forward with regard to the incidence of this duty on flour. It has been pointed out that on 100 cwt. of wheat the tax is 25s. On the flour and offals, which are the two manufactured products of that 100 cwt. of wheat, the tax is 8s. 6d. more. In other words, there is a difference of 34 per cent, on the amount of the tax against the manufactured article. The right hon. Gentleman has again and again stated that he does not accept that statement, but why does he not disprove it?
§ * THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir M. HICKS BEACH,) Bristol, W.
. I did the other night.
§ * MR. ROBSON
I think not. What the right hon. Gentleman did was to suggest that we had confined our observations mainly to wheat, that he I was imposing a duty which applied not merely to wheat, but to other grains as well, and that if we took the correlative for barley, rye, and oats it would correct any tendency there might be to protection in wheat; in other words, that, if instead of confining our attention to one article, we took them all and struck an average, the average would not be protective. I understand that to be the argument which the right hon. Gentleman used. If so, what was easier for him than to give us a correlative in those other cases? If he gave us that correlative, I am informed—I cannot speak with authority on the point—that so far from diminishing the inequality which exists, it would rather aggravate it. But even if the right hon. Gentleman is correct, what does it amount to? That although, in the case of wheat the correlative duty on flour may be protective to the English miller, yet that is balanced by the fact that in the case of barley, rye, and oats the corresponding correlative is protective to the American miller; in other words, you have one grain on which the duty is protective to England, and you have others on which it is protective to foreigners, therefore, the duty is not protective at all. That does not seem to me to be a very adequate way of dealing with the question.
Then another point was put to us as a dilemma. It was said: "Last year, when we were putting on an export duty, you declared that it would be paid by the producer; now when we are putting on an export duty, you say it will be paid by the consumer," the suggestion being that each duty ought to operate in the same way. That was a dilemma which applied to the argument of the other side as well as of ours, but let us see how it applies to ours. It is one of the most foolish and flimsy fallacies ever put forward by a responsible statesman in defence of a measure of this kind. When you put on a tax like the coal duty on exports you handicap a single exporter, say England, in the neutral market. Suppose, for instance, this corn tax were 65 imposed on Russian corn only: the consumer would escape the burden by buying American corn, so that the Russian exporter would be. left to pay the bulk of the tax. But when you come to put a duty on all exporters—because that is what an import duty is—every exporter is subjected to the same detriment, and then, of course, it is paid by the consumer. Tint is perfectly obvious, and yet it has been put forward by the First Lord of the Treasury, the Financial Secretary, and others, as a serious reason for not accepting the argument of this side of the House. Listening to arguments of this character, I cannot help reflecting that we ought to count among Imperial assets not merely wealth, territory, population, unity, or loyalty, but also knowledge applicable to the art of government. That is one of our most valuable Imperial assets. It was because we were economically better informed than other nations in 1846 that we secured the start we have kept ever since, and it is impossible to have listened to the speeches made in defence of this Bill without seeing that the standard of economical knowledge in England has fallen very low indeed, and that we are in danger of losing an Imperial asset which we may very soon come greatly to want.
But do not let us confine our criticism of this tax merely to the question of Protection, important though that may be. A tax may be entirely non-protective and yet be extremely oppressive. A food tax is that, whether it be protective or not. There has been one remarkable omission from all the speeches on the other side. When the Budget was first introduced, the right hon. Gentleman was faced with figures of impressive and tragic importance, showing beyond possibility of dispute or cavil that we have in this country, even in the most prosperous times, a great under-fed class always with us—a class extending, even in prosperous cities like York, to 15 per cent, of the population, and in great industrial areas to as much as 35 per cent. The right hon. Gentleman has not ventured to say one word to controvert either those figures or the arguments founded upon them. The existence of this under fed class is known to the right hon. Gentleman and hon. 66 Gentlemen opposite as it is to us, and we are entitled to judge their arguments, motives, and sense of humanity by that knowledge. Judge them by that knowledge, what arc we to say of the statesman who, knowing that even in good times we have this class, and that in bad times they are put to the severest straits, nevertheless insists at a time of prospective surplus and in days of peace in putting burdens upon that class in order to relieve the propertied class of the country? That is a consideration of which we are entitled to ask the country to take note. There stands an unanswered argument—an argument ignored, but not one of which the Government are ignorant. There are three classes who ought to Le considered whenever new taxation is being suggested. Every tax falls on all classes in some measure, directly or indirectly, but, speaking roughly, and having regard to the main incidence rather than to the complete incidence of the tax, one may say that there are three classes to be considered. First of all, there is the labouring class, who are hit by indirect taxation; then there is the mercantile and professional class, who are, hit by direct taxation in the, form of income tax; and, thirdly, there is the propertied class, who undoubtedly share with the mercantile and professional class the burden of direct taxation, but who still are on a different footing, because income from property is not subject to the accidents of health or the risks which accompany income from professional or mercantile labour. Therefore, when you are seeking to impose a burden on the whole; community, an indirect tax will fall mainly on the labouring class. and the main burden of the Income. Tax will fall on the professional and middle classes, so that you ought also to put some burden specifically on property in order that it may not escape its share. In framing his taxation the right hon. Gentleman has not imposed a single tax of which the main burden falls on property alone. Not only that, but he has put this tax on labour in order to relieve property. ["Oh!"] If a tax is put on when there is a surplus it is not to meet a deficit or the existing expenditure, but to meet 67 contemplated expenditure. What is the contemplated expenditure? We know it by Bills which are running parri passu with this, and to which I need not limner allude, except to say that it is, at all events, to relieve that class of a burden they have hitherto borne, that this burden is being put on the working classes. That is done by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who claims to be a Free Trader. We all remember the noble and pathetic words with which Sir Robert Peel closed his career as a statesman. He rose in this House and said that his name would sometimes be pronounced by those who earned their daily bread in the sweat of their brow; that when they came to renew their strength by an abundance of untaxed food they might remember what he had done for them, that they would remember his name with goodwill, and that their meals would no longer be embittered by a sense of injustice. What will be the record of the right hon. Gentleman when he comes to lay down his great trust? He will be able to boast that he has brought back the shadow of the tax-gatherer to the scanty table of the labouring poor; he may point with pride to the fact that ho has revived what I maintain to be the true traditions of his party, and that he has left scarcely a single article of the food of the labouring poor untouched or undiminished. As to the pitiful luxuries of the poor, he began by putting £8,500,000 on their tea and sugar, his colleagues, by the prohibition of store cattle, have managed to raise the price of meat, they have put on meat a burden as bad as that of the tax-gatherer, without the tax-gatherer's excuse; and now, in a time of peace and with a surplus in front of him, the right hon. Gentleman strikes at the bread of the poor, t venture to say that when the poor come to give their little ones that abundant food so necessary to healthful growth and life, they will remember the name of the right hon. Gentleman—but will it be with expressions of good-will or free from that sense of injustice which Sir Robert Peel thought he had abolished for ever?
§ * MR. ROBSON
Oh, no; this is a different tax; this is a higher tax; it is a protective tax; and it is one thing to leave on a tax when it is the last stage in the journey, but quite another thing to put it on as the first step in the return journey. The poor will remember the name of the right hon. Gentleman, but so far from uttering expressions of good-will, they will say that he put this needless burden on them and on their young in order as far he could to make the rich richer and the poor poorer.
§ *(5.12.) SIR THOMAS WRIGHTSON (St. Pancras, E.)
I noticed that under the whole of the argument of the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite there lay the fallacy of not recognising that exported corn is a surplus product which is not wanted in the exporting country. As a matter of fact, we import four-fifths of our corn from foreign countries, and the putting of a high and protective tax on those four-fifths would undoubtedly raise the price of the remaining one-fifth. But the question is, Who would pay the light tax of Is. on those four-fifths? This corn, being a surplus product, the foreign exporter, rather than lose his market, will, I contend, pay the tax, and that shilling, which otherwise the Chancellor of the Exchequer would require from the people of England, is paid by the foreigner, and without ultimately raising the price of the one-fifth grown in Great Britain. Being a surplus product—and that is my point—those who are exporting the corn would pay the 1s.; therefore, the nation, to the extent of four-fifths of its corn consumption, clearly benefits by the tax. It is upon this ground that I shall support the Bill. This question of surplus production wants to be considered. We are just now in this country a great nation of manufacturers. There was a time when we were a nation of shopkeepers and merchants. The creed of the merchant,—and it is a proper belief,—is that he must buy in the cheapest market and sell in the dearest. That is not strictly the case with a nation of manufacturers. A manufacturer might buy his goods from foreign countries, in consequence of their peculiar system of tariffs, at a lower rate than he could manufacture them in this country, but what would be the effect 69 even if he did save a small percentage What benefit would it be to the working classes of this country if they lose the labour which is being taken from us by the system of tariffs prevailing in o her countries? I am not a Protectionist myself, but I say with regard to the raising of revenue by moderate tariff of this kind that it is an absolutely sound policy, and therefore I support the proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ * SIR BRAMPTON GURDON (Norfolk, N.)
I wish to say a few words to the House on a duty which forma part of the Budget, but has received little or no attention in the debates on the Bill. I mean the tobacco duty. I should like to see a higher duty imposed on expensive brands of cigars, and especially on t hat peculiar form of tobacco known as the cigarette. I have observed, with great regret, the growing habit of smoking cigarettes by very small children, and I think we can hardly exaggerate the evil to the British race if the indiscriminate smoking of cigarettes goes on. The Spaniards, who are inveterate cigarette smokers, had no chance in war against the Americans; the Germans, who smoked pipes, obtained a victory over the French. I believe that the war in South Africa, happily now at an end, would have been concluded a year earlier if we had not poisoned our soldiers by sending out exceedingly bad cigarettes; while the Boers all had their pipes, and grow the best tobacco in the world. I hope that the result of the entente cordiale will be that some efforts will be made to import Transvaal tobacco into England. We cannot expect to be always at peace. Supposing we have the misfortune to be at war fifteen or sixteen years hence, we shall have to depend on soldiers who have been brought up from the age of ten, eight, or six years upon those filthy cigarettes—men who have grown up effeminate, nerveless, and useless. I wish the Chancellor of the Exchequer would look with favour on the suggestion that he should take the next opportunity of imposing an addition to the ordinary tobacco tax of a special 1d. stamp upon packets of ten cigarettes. I believe that would be a proposition acceptable to this 70 House, and I am quite sure it would be gratefully received by the country. I have never alluded to the subject at any political meeting without receiving vociferous applause. The only enemies of the proposal would be the children, and as they have not got votes we need not be afraid of them. I believe it might save the country from ruin and disgrace in the future. I cannot sit down without thanking the Chancellor of the Exchequer for not having reduced taxation. I wish very much that we had had an extra penny on the income tax instead of the bread tax, but if it comes to a bread tax or nothing, and if I am to be a. Protectionist or a fraudulent bankrupt, I would rather be a Protectionist. We have heard with much relief from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on behalf of himself and his colleagues that they I have no intention of making it the basis of a protective corn tax. I know that it would be an easy thing for him to come down to the House and say, "We will give you peace with one hand and plenty with the other," and to take off the corn tax and the proposed increase of the income tax, but that would be grossly immoral. I am sure that the additional expenses of peace will be at least as high, if not higher, for the first year, as if there had been a continuation of the war. If the nation goes to war it ought to pay its way, and I would support any tax the Chancellor of the Exchequer would impose for that purpose except a tax upon bread. Though I cannot entirely support all the sources from which ho derives the revenue. I am glad that he has not been tempted to reduce taxation on the plea that the war is ended.
§ *(5.21.) SIR. ELLIOTT LEES (Birkenhead)
I agree with much that fell from the hon. Member for South Shields, although I cannot agree with the remarkable peroration in which he denounced the Chancellor of the Exchequer. That peroration will no doubt be very effective on many a platform in the country, and I hope we shall find an equally effective platform reply. The hon. Member pointed out that our political knowledge and fiscal system had, during the last fifty years, been of very great ad vantage in promoting the material prosperity of the country. That may be, but there are things even more necessary to the 71 nation than sound political economy, great and important as that may be. I am not sure whether this be a war tax or not, but if it be, I welcome it, and I am glad that this House should see fit to bring home to the conscience of every man, woman and child in the country, the payment that must be exacted for war. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said in a famous speech some years ago that there are worse things than war. There are worse things than war. But in this country we are not called upon for personal service, and unless the people are made to feel the effects of war in taxation, it is possible to let a democratic Government degenerate into the exponent of the jingo sentiment with respect to the glories of war. Our opponents in the late war called every able-bodied man into the ranks. They risked their whole occupation, as well as their lives. Their houses were desolated and their occupation is all gone. From this country we have sent 2 or 3 per cent, of the able-bodied men; our occupations in this country have not been disturbed; our trade has hardly suffered any shock; the avocations of the people have been continued, and unless some such tax as this upon the necessaries of life is imposed, what is to prevent the great mass of the electors of the country from thinking, that they may have the excitement and glory of war, without contributing to the cost? That might be one of the greatest calamities. It is important, I therefore, that there should be brought home to them the knowledge that they themselves would have to contribute to the cost of carrying it on.
With regard to the economic aspect of the question, at the present moment men's minds are in a state of confusion. The old doctrines that we were taught twenty years ago—the doctrines of John Stuart Mill, Professor Jevons and Adam Smith—are questioned in many quarters now, and by some very responsible authorities. I would not venture for a moment to suggest that the old authorities were wrong in basing the material prosperity of this country on the Free Trade system, but I should like to suggest that it may be well for us, however convinced we may be of the truth of those doctrines, to look at things with a broader mind, and ascertain whether there may not be considerations which may outweigh the material 72 prosperity gained under a system of Free Trade. The nation does not live by a period of prosperity alone. We have seen during the last few years the feelings of the other nations of the earth towards this country. We have realised that we might be at any moment the butt of a gigantic conspiracy to overthrow us. We know that greater than material prosperity is national freedom, national character, national existence. Are we doing all we can to meet that crisis if it should arise? Three suggestions arc made with regard to this very question of the taxation of food, which ought to bear on the problem of national defence. There is the question of our food supply in this country in time of war, and on that am I bound to say that I agree with my right hon. friend the First Lord of the Treasury as to the importance of maintaining and relying on our supremacy at sea There is another important consideration which has been brought forward with some strength in recent years, and that is the change in the character of the population—the constant movement of the country population to the towns, and the deterioration in the character and the physique of the nation which may be caused thereby. In view of our experience, I am bound to say that men from the country make far more efficient soldiers, both in the matter of physique and in point of greater power of endurance, than townsmen, although they may not at first be so quick and intelligent. That, however, is remedied by a few months in the field. It is suggested that by a tax upon food we should retain more of the population in the country districts. That I venture to doubt very gravely myself. I do not think the farmer would get any additional profit as a result of a tax upon food in this country, and I doubt if the landlord would get any additional rent, except in cases where land out of cultivation was brought into cultivation. The whole increased profit would, I believe, be divided among the labourers. But we cannot suppose for a moment that the working men in the towns will allow their wages to be cut down when the price of their food has gone up. So the same thing we see now existing will continue to go on—the superior attractions of the town will still draw the population from the country to the town. The question has been raised several times in the course of the debate of the possibility of a great system of internal 73 trades within the Empire. It seems to me that to attain an Empire hound by ties of material self interest, as well as those which, now bind us would be be worth the sacrifice of a little portion of our present prosperity. Of course statesmen should consider whether they can carry out such a proposal within a reasonable time, and whether the country will reap hereafter the benefit of it. If one generation can make changes which would result in a system such as prevails in America, it might be worth the consideration of statesmen whether such a course would not be most conducive to national and Imperial interests. Now that the different constituent parts of the Empire have been federated on the battlefield, might we not try and look at all these fiscal questions, and questions of Imperial defence, from the point of view of the new partners in the firm—with the bright eyes of the young nations across the seas, and see whether our fiscal system might not be re-modelled to meet the needs of the younger communities? When I was a student of political economy I was taught that even a system of Protection was sometimes permissible for young national and I, and those who hold with me, want those who adhere strictly to the old doctrines to try and look at the new condition of affairs with a more open mind. I think it would be well worth the sacrifice of one or two principles of political economy, and perhaps of some little volume of prosperity, if we could add the ties of mutual self interest to those other ties which bind together all pars of the British Empire, the tics of patriotism, self sacrifice, a common language and a common loyalty.
§ *(5.33.) MR. CREMER (Shore ditch, Haggerston)
In the speech of the hon. Member for the Brightside Division, he stated that there was still some lingering feeling of admiration on the part of our countrymen towards the policy of Free Trade. My own experience goes to prove that it is not a lingering feeling which is entertained by our countrymen, but one which is strongly held by a large proportion of the people of this country. That feeling is not one of mere sentiment, but arises from far more material considerations than those referred to by hon. Members on the other side of the House. 74 I want to make myself clear, and to challenge the opinion, given utterance to by the last speaker and others, that the country is responsible for the late war. This is not the moment to do so, but if it was I could produce facts and figures which would, prove conclusively that so far from the country having endorsed the war, out of the millions of adults in the United Kingdom only a very small proportion, not more than two and a-half millions, gave their assent to the war. But, even if a small minority of our countrymen were cajoled and hoodwinked by false information into a support of the war, that would not justify the taxation of the food which has to be consumed by every man, woman, and child out of the forty millions in the United Kingdom. I am, unfortunately, old enough to remember the later stages of the. Protectionist period, and I have sometimes wondered, during these discussions, at the light heart displayed by hon. Members on the other side of the House, who spoke so loosely in regard to the proposal which has been made for a return to the system of Protection, and to tax the food of the people. Have they known anything practically as to the operation of Protection? It was my unfortunate lot to know a great deal about it, and the bitterness of the half-starved life of my boyhood has been so burnt into my memory that I shall never forget it. My mother was left with myself and two sisters. We had to subsist on 6s. a week. Our breakfast consisted of three slices of bread and butter, and a cup of weak tea without any milk or sugar. For dinner we had a few potatoes, which at that period were very dear, because the potato crop had failed on account of the potato disease, and there was a potato famine. With the potatoes one or two rid herrings, varied with "hard duff," a composition of flour and water, boiled in the shape of a pudding, an indigestible compound which filled our bellies but ruined our digestion. For tea we had another three slices of bread, and another cup of weak tea without any milk or sugar. And then my mother had to calculate whether it was possible to have anything in the shape of supper for my sisters and myself; but it generally ended in our 75 going to bed supper less. That was the miserable lot in which my life was cast; and but for the heroism of my mother, I who had the greatest possible dislike of getting into debt, there is no saying what might have happened to-my sisters arid myself. My lot was typical of the condition of thousands of people in our country. If it was a solitary case, I would not have referred to it; but it was characteristic of multitudes of people in this country, who even at the present day have to go to bed supper less. The result in my own case, has been not merely stunted growth, but a weak stomach and a lifetime of chronic dyspepsia. That also is the condition of millions at the present day. At the period to which I am referring—the winter of 1848–9 — bread was sold at 2s. 8d. per gallon — which was the term then used; and the 21b. loaf was sold at 8d. When the repeal of the Corn Laws was accomplished— probably hastened by the terrible distress which then prevailed — the price of a gallon of bread was reduced from 2s. 8d. to 1s., and that has been the average price ever since. Bread has therefore been brought within the reach of millions who had previously been unable to obtain it. That alone is sufficient to burn into the memories of the people the blessings of Free Trade.
I am, therefore, exceedingly sorry that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has taken the first step in a return to the old Protection policy. It will astonish some, hon. Members if I tell them what the kind of food was on which the people had then to exist. At the trying time to which I refer bread was at such a price that it was out of reach of the labouring classes of the country. The wages of artisans were 14s. or 15s. a week, and agricultural labourers did not get more than 8s. or 9s. But that year, in the place where I lived there was, fortunately, mi abundance of sprats, and the bulk of the people for several months that winter lived on sprats and swede turnips. Those who got through that terrible time have never forgotten what they had to endure in those severe months that immediately preceded the repeal of the Corn Laws. The hon. Member for South Shields said just now, that even now 76 there were a large number of people only just above the starvation line. Now, I have in the last few days been making purchases at the shops in the districts in which these people live. I have gone among these people. I know some of them in my own constituency, and many thousands can Le found in London, dragging out their miserable lives in hovels unfit for human dwellings. It is natural that Members who have been reared in the lap of luxury should not have so much sympathy as they would have if they knew the actual life of the poor. I have some articles here which, if hon. Members doubt my statement as to the kind of food on which these people live I shall be glad to show them. In the poorest parts of the Metropolis, before the Chancellor of the Exchequer imposed an extra duty on tea, two years ago, a farthing's worth of tea, a farthing's worth of sugar, a halfpennyworth of butler, and a halfpennyworth of bread could be purchased. Since that duty—although it was only 2d. on the lb. — and the tax on sugar has been imposed, you can only buy a halfpennyworth of tea or sugar, so that these poor people I who have to purchase their food in these I infinitesimal quantities have to pay double what they paid before. At the I present moment you can buy in these shops a halfpennyworth of tea, sugar, margarine, and bread, and a farthing's worth of milk, a commodity which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has not yet taxed. That comes to 2¼d., and that provides a meal, very often the only one which many thousands of the poor subsist upon day after day. If they can afford a bloater or a rasher of bacon they regard the meal as almost a banquet. And that is the class which the Chancellor of the Exchequer is desirous of sweeping into his net by extending the basis of taxation. I should like to know how much more it is possible to squeeze out of these poor, miserable creatures. The hon. Member for Central Sheffield received with vociferous delight the proposals of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to put a tax upon corn. I have sometimes thought I should like to make the experiment of making the hon. Member, and the right hon. Member for the Sleaford Division of 77 Lincolnshire, and the right hon. Member for Thanet, who constitute the Protectionist Triumvirate in this House—
§ * MR. CREMER
And compel them for three or lour weeks to live upon the fare upon which these poor people have to subsist If that were done, the Protectionist craze would quickly be knocked out of them, and we should hear no more of putting this tax upon the people's food. It is not the small amount which is placed upon com by the Chancellor of the Exchequer: it is a question of what the people will have to pay when it reaches their table. I cannot better illustrate the mischief that is likely to arise than by stating that this tea which is sold by the halfpenny for a quarter of an ounce can be bought for 1s. 4d. a lb.; but the people who have to buy it in these small quantities have to pay double the price. 2s. 8d. a lb. And that is what is going to result from the imposition of this tax. It is just the same with sugar, cheese, and cveryothercornmodity; the priccis doable ivhat they would have to pay if they could afford to buy by the pound or half pound. The loaf which is cut up in slices will be cut into smaller slices on account of this tax. I admit it is a small tax which the right hon. Gentleman is imposing on corn, but I suppose there is no Member of this House who does not feel that this is the beginning of a very bad end. What is to prevent the Chancellor of the Exchequer, next year or the year, after, supposing a dole is required for the landlords or the clergy, coming down and proposing to increase the duty on corn by another Is.? It is because we feel it is the beginning of a bad end, because we feel we are on the return road to the state of things which I described just now which existed in my boyhood, that we arc determined to oppose this Bill, even at this final stage, and register our protest against it. I know it is said that the pro posed tax is so trifling that it will not affect the price of the people's food; arid that, therefore, the opposition we offer to this proposal is needless. But when we 78 consider the many small profits made—the profit of the grower, the corn merchant, the corn dealer, the miller, the baker, and the retailer of the, slices of biead—all those profits mount up considerably, and the poor consumer has to pay; so that it makes the difference to him between a half-filled and an empty stomach. I have endeavoured to learn from these debates who is going to pay, and have been unable to do so; but in my own mind I am convinced it is the consumer who will have to pay. I happen to have in my hand—and I commend this to the attention of the. hon. Member for Central Sheffield, because it is a faithful picture of things which existed in the old Protectionist days — a grocery bill, dated 14th of April, 1841: 61bs, of sugar at 8½d. per lb., 1 lb. of Souchong tea at 5s. 4d., 3 lbs. of soda at 2d., 1 lb. of loaf sugar at 11d., 4½lbs. of starch at 7d., and6½lbs. of soap at 7d.—total, 17s. ld. The accuracy of this bill I can vouch for, I knew the grocer who made it out. I made a calculation of what the same articles would cost after fifty years of Free Trade, and found that you could purchase the same kind of commodities for 5s. 8d. 11s. 7d., therefore, has been saved by the adoption of the Free Trade policy. Yet that is the state of things to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposes to return by the imposition of this corn tax, and the increased duty on tea and sugar. It is very easy for an hon. Member to get up as the hon. Member for Central Sheffield did just now, and say he is absolutely certain that this proposed tax is popular throughout the country. I can only say thatamong the people whom I represent, the majority of whom are working men, he could not find one, Liberal or Tory, who is in favour of this tax which it is proposed to put upon their food. We have been so accustomed to talk of millions, that we cannot understand and realise the difference that farthings make in the poor man's budget. I do not know what is the use of talking about broadening the basis of taxation, because it is quite clear that these poor creatures, who are to be found in millions throughout the United Kingdom, are quite unable to contribute anything more to the upkeep of the country.
79 If the Chancellor of the Exchequer had taken the means I am going to refer to to raise money, his proposal would have been as popular as this tax is unpopular. I think, however, ho might have rendered unnecessary any increase of taxation by a rigid economy in those department; over which he has control, instead of which we have been lavish and wasteful in our expenditure on the late war, which I always regarded as unnecessary and infamous. Not only so, but the right hon. Gentleman might have curtailed the expenditure of the country, and refused to grant the money which the House gave not long ago to the landlords and the clergy in the shape of doles. If we had saved that expenditure new taxes might have been avoided. Or he might have taxed the unearned increment. I suppose most Members have tried to estimate the amount that could be drawn into the purse of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if unearned increments were taxed. I can give one example, and the House will see the advantage that could be gained. The value of that portion of London extending from Charing Cross to Blackfriars Bridge Street, and back again to this building has been increased, since the Embankment has been constructed, by 50 or 60 per cent. There is a splendid opportunity for the Chancellor of the Exchequer. That is going on in every big town all over the country. The public make improvements, and the landlords pocket the profits. That is a source the Chancellor of the Exchequer might have tapped, and it would have been extremely popular. He might also have obtained sufficient for his purpose from a graduated income tax, or by taxing mining royalties; or doubling the public house licences. Although that would have been unpopular with the publicans and sinners, it would have been a great advantage to the country. But then the liquor Party supports the present Government, so the interest of that Party is considered by the Chancellor of the Exchequer too sacred to be interfered with. He might also have increased the duty on spirits, which are not a necessity of life, or taxed ground rents, which would be very popular among the masses of the people. Instead of doing any of these things the Chancellor of the Exchequer, inspired, I am afraid, by some 80 evil genius has left the path of Free Trade which we believed he was treading, and has begun this return to the old Protection duties by imposing a tax on the staff of life. Even at this late stage, I feel it my duty, as representing a number of the poorest classes to register an emphatic protest against the proposals of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ *(6.12.) SIR M. HICKS BEACH
The debate has been rather discursive, and the hon. Member who has just sat down has provided me with various alternatives to the proposals in the Budget. It has been exceptional in another way, localise we have had from my hon. friend the Member for the Bright-side Division of Sheffield and from my hon. and gallant friend the Member for the Central Division of Sheffield an absolutely new commercial policy entirely at variance with the Budget of the present year. I still believe in Free Trade. I have been denounced somewhat in the style of a prosecuting counsel at the Old Bailey by the hon. and learned Member for South Shields on account of what he considers are my Protectionist principles; but I confess that I sympathise on questions of this kind with some words addressed to the House the other day by the right hon Member for Montrose. The right hon. Gentleman said that he was not a hardened arid convicted political economist, and that he would not lay down any proposition which would apply to all communities at all times and stages of their history. I think that was a wise view. I have never believed, for example, that the United States, or a country like Canada or Australasia, of almost illimitable extent and variety of resources and climate, might not prosper exceedingly wider the policy of protection. As a matter of fact, the United States has done so. But, when I coma to what is my chief concern and look at the circumstances of the country in which we live, I believe that the adoption of Protection in the United Kingdom would be the beginning of the gravest social and fiscal danger. When my hon. friend the Member for the Brightside Division of Sheffield so boldly and so ably put forward his views on that 81 subject, I think that he suggested them to the House rather in order to benefit our producers than as a means of raising revenue. My hon. friend boldly avowed that he desired to diminish our foreign imports. To him it is a. very sad thing that year by year there should be a great disparity between our exports and imports, and that the imports of this country should increase. He told us that our trade is diminishing, and he desires to initiate a policy of retaliation upon foreign countries to keep out their goods for the benefit of our own manufacturers. He considers that we are losing wealth year by year owing to the working of our present fiscal system. For an answer in a single sentence, I refer my hon. friend to the growth of the income tax returns to the growth of the deposits in the savings banks, to the proof we may see all around us of the improved condition of every class in the country. And when he asks me to change the policy of this country—seeing all I see in this matter—from Free Trade to Protection, I can only say that that is not the policy which to my mind this country ought to adopt. But my hon. friend did not deal with one of the practical objections to his own scheme. He wants to impose duties of considerable amount—because his idea is that they should be protective upon all foreign manufactured goods, but he did not suggest what manufactured goods are. If anybody looks through the list of our imports and exports and can draw the line between raw materials and manufactured goods he is a much cleverer man than I am. To taka one article alone—leather—we import about £9,000,000 worth a year of leather, and I should like to know whether leather is a raw material or a manufactured article. So you might go through all the list of imports, and you would find that almost every import, beginning with indisputably raw materials like cotton, wool, or iron ore, and going on to articles which are nearly finished, is the raw material of some industry in this country.
But if my hon. friends the Members for Sheffield take a different view on this matter to the view which is entertained by the Government, I am bound to say we have had a considerable variety of opinion exhibited also on the other side 82 of the House between the back Benches and the Front Opposition Bench. I was much interested in certain passages of the speech of the hon. Member for West Islington, who opened the debate. The hon. Member speaks often on fiscal questions. I thought he was about to attack rue on the Budget, but for once in a way he changed his mind, and devoted I his attention to the right hon. Gentlemen below him. He denounced the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose for approving the cheque tax. He said the right hon. Gentleman was not a man of business, but was a mere literary person who had no right to interfere in this matter. Then he fell foul of the hon. Member for Poplar, who is the real author of the corn duty, because that hon. Member was good enough to support me in resisting the hon. Baronet the Member for South Somerset in attempting to abolish entirely the tax upon offals.
But that was not all. I have boon denounced a good deal for continuing to impose taxation under this Budget in spite of the termination of the war. I was delighted to hear from the hon. Baronet the Member for North Norfolk that, in his opinion, it would have been a grossly immoral act to reduce taxation in present circumstances. I am obliged to the hon. Member for that candid expression of opinion, but I do not think it is quite reconcilable with some of the opinions which have been delivered from the Front Opposition Bench. This, however, I have noticed throughout this debate — that there is a feeling in the House very much of the kind which the hon. Member has expressed. I believe that the House is convinced that we ought to continue taxation under existing circumstances, and that the sole objection really to this Budget is to one particular tax which it imposes, viz., the corn duty. I will attempt to deal with that point in the spirit of the hon. Member for West Islington, who advised his leaders to avoid high principles in this matter, to go in for expediency, and not to argue upon a shifting foundation. I think some of the arguments which have been addressed to us today have, in spite of the advice of the hon. Member, been based on rather shifting foundations. The hon. Member who has just sat down favoured us with a very interesting description of the hardships of his child- 83 hood. Under this tax? Oh, no, Sir; under the old Corn Laws, when Protection was the law of the land, when not only corn but many other articles, which are now absolutely free from taxation, I were heavily taxed, and he brought all these things forward as if he really believed that by imposing this corn duty we were reverting to the old system. Then the hon. and learned Member for South Shields referred to the well-known words of Sir R Peel on quitting office, and contrasted what he thought would be my record as having imposed this tax with the blessings lavished on Sir R. Peel, by the poor whose food he had cheapened. But he forgot that, at the very moment when Sir E. Peel spoke those words, he had imposed the very tax I now propose; and yet the hon. and learned Gentleman accuses me of inhumanity in proposing it.
Then the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Aberdeen thought it necessary again to reiterate the old arguments—how this corn duty would press on the poor, what a terrible thing it would be for the widow and the orphan, and how it was worse than the poll tax of Richard II., which provoked a revolution. I was impressed by these prophecies until I came to the termination of the argument of the right hon. Gentleman, when he said the tax would inflict no great present hardship upon the people. And the hon. Member for Islington, whom I really begin to look upon as an authority, clinched this by reminding the House that, after all, poverty and starvation have largely diminished in this country in recent years, and practically admitted that there was no force whatever in all this talk about the hard ship on the poor and the return to Protection. For what did he say? He advised his leaders that the tax was not open to the same objections as the old Corn Laws, and that the loaf may be no smaller, and cannot be much smaller, under the tax than it was before. Sir, there is an end of the whole matter of the hardship on the poor.
Now I come to the Protective part of the Question. There, again, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Aberdeen admitted that if it was Protective it was infinitesimally Protective. But to the right hon. Gentleman even this is terrible, because it is the "first step" to 84 Protection. Well, a tax that does not practically protect is no Protective tax at all. If anybody could show for a moment that when this tax previously existed it was practically Protective, if anybody had shown that it had increased the price of corn, that it stimulated the production of corn in this country, and kept out foreign corn from the United Kingdom—if anybody could have shown one single tittle of these things, he would have adduced some argument against its imposition. But, throughout these debates, not a single attempt has been made on the other side of the House to I prove that anything of this kind occurred during the whole twenty years that the duty existed. I am told I have made a new departure, that this year we are taking a step that is to reverse our fiscal policy in the future, and to change the policy of the country from Free Trade to Protection. I cannot understand the alarm prevailing on the Benches opposite. If there was anything of the kind being done, do they suppose that the country would be in a quiescent state in regard to this duty? Do they suppose that during our debates those benches opposite would have been as thinly manned as they have been? Do they suppose there would have been the lack of interest in the whole matter which has been displayed by the Press of the country at large? No, Sir, not a bit of it. The fact is there has been an attempted agitation, -which has failed. [Opposition cries of "Bury," and Sir HOWARD VINCENT: "Woolwich."] I do not know if, or how far, this duty influenced the Bury election; but I do know this, that a very short time before that election my noble friend who sits behind me, professing himself to be a supporter of the corn duty, was returned by a greater working-class constituency than Bury—the constituency of Wool-wich—without a single opponent venturing to come against him. I think we may well put one against the other if you talk about the opinion of the electors. I put that aside altogether, and what I ask the House is this—whether there is any truth in this talk of "reaction" and "new departure"? There is no truth, I venture to say, in any suggestion that this Bill is a change to Protection from Free Trade. There has been a new departure, and I 85 took it last year. Why did I take it? I told the House plainly last year, and I have told them plainly again this year, that to my mind it was necessary to increase the heads of our indirect taxation, that the ordinary expenditure of the country, besides the cost of the war, had grown so enormously that it was impossible, with any fairness in our system of taxation, to limit the indirect taxes of the country to as few Reads as those which existed before last year. I took a new departure last year, when I added sugar and coal to the list of those articles from which we draw our indirect taxation. I have but continued this policy in the present year. I know that it is a policy which is not agreeable to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, many of whom, I suppose, would desire that no duties on articles of this kind should be levied at all. They talk about the effect which duties of this sort have on the poorest of the poor. Why, you cannot have any indirect tax which will be worth collecting which will not be paid even by the poorest of the poor; and this is true of every indirect tax, including those on tobacco or alcohol. I got a pamphlet only yesterday from the Financial Reform Association, which advocated the repeal of all Customs and Excise duties in the country. Well, that is a policy to which I am utterly opposed. I do not believe it is fair or just, and I believe if you attempted to persist in it, with our present expenditure, you would simply ruin the financial system of this country. Therefore it is that I have proposed the present duty on corn, which has been attacked as bitterly, and I think as unfairly, as the export duty on coal was attacked last year. But lam convinced of this, that the attack on it has failed, and I believe that as soon as Parliament has passed this duty into law the agitation will absolutely cease, and that no long time will pass before it will be generally recognised that this duty, easily collected, and yielding largely to the revenue, inflicts no injury whatever on the mass of the people.
§ (6.34.) SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Monmouthshire, W.)
I do not rise for the purpose of prolonging the debate on matters which have been 86 largely discussed during the last few weeks; I only desire to state the reasons why, at this final stage of the Bill, I for one enter my protest against it. The right hon. Gentleman has said quite truly that the main objection is to the corn duty, and I ventured at an earlier stage to submit to the House an amendment directly aimed at the tax. The right hon. Gentleman has said that this tax is only part of a plan for broadening the basis of taxation which has become necessary in consequence of the great expenditure of this country. But, in my opinion, that is not a correct description of this tax, which docs not resemble the export duty on coal or the tax upon sugar. Sugar is an article not produced in this country. Those two duties have nothing of a Protective character about them, and all the money produced by them goes to the Exchequer. In the present case it is perfectly certain that the rise in the price of corn necessarily followed from the imposition of the tax; you cannot add a shilling in this way without raising the price of the commodity, and that applies to the corn grown in this country as well as to that imported from abroad. It is this that distinguishes this tax from any other tax which at present exists in this country.
It is perfectly idle to say that this tax is not Protective in its character and essence when it raises the price of the homegrown commodity as well as the imported. It may be Protective in a small degree or in a large degree, but it is Protective. How can the right hon. Gentlemen doubt it after the debates which he has heard in this House, in which the Protectionists have expressed their delight and the Free Traders their alarm? He must be aware that he has set the heather on fire. This tax re-opens a question which we all believed was closed, and ought to have been closed, in this country. There are persons, who are less ardent Free Traders than the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who, we believe and fear, will take advantage of this tax in order to promote the principle of which it contains the poisonous leaven. I have not yet arrived at the conclusion that in administering finance in this country you should not allow yourself to be governed by principles; I remember that those great reformers, Adam Smith and Mr. Cobden were actuated by principles.
87 I observed that the Chancellor of the Exchequer very carefully avoided matters that were raised by my right hon. friend the Member for South Aberdeen. This now departure raises a number of dangerous questions with regard to our foreign trade, and it has raised the very embarrassing question of preferential treatment with regard to the colonies, and with regard particularly to Canada, where the production of corn is so great. There are special reasons why this ought not to have been done at this particular time. You knew perfectly well that you were going to discuss your commercial relations with the Colonies, and you chose this moment for imposing a tax which places you in a very disadvantageous position in conducting your conference.
As far as I am concerned, Sir, I condemn this Budget on the ground that in order to raise a comparatively small sum of money it has raised a number of collateral fiscal questions which are most I injurious to the commercial prosperity of the country. At this moment I confess, and I know that I shall be called a pessimist when I say it, that I believe that the financial position of this country is very grave. The liabilities that you have incurred in the war in South Africa are enormous, far greater than have over been incurred during similar periods in this country. The mere interest on the debt will correspond, I think, to something like 2d. on the income tax. You will have to discharge that burden duo to the debt, and that is a very serious item in our expenditure. But, Sir, there is a great deal more. There are the prospects of the immense taxation which the country is now bearing. What are these prospects? The Chancellor of the Exchequer the other day expressed a sentiment to which I desire to give my entire accord. He said that the really formidable and vexing financial problem of the day is the spirit of levity with which the high taxation and the increasing expenditure of the country is generally regarded, a spirit of levity which I am sure the right hon. Gentleman does not, share. I am sorry to hear it said in very high quarters what does it signify whether you spend hundreds of millions and incur this enormous debt? It signifies very much, and I am perfectly certain that anybody who has studied this question and who knows the real condition of things as regards the resources of the country, knows 88 that there has been put upon them a very heavy strain; and I think we should be utterly unworthy of the example of those who have gone before us if, now that the era of peace has dawned, we did not make some effort to reduce the expenditure of the country. The disposition seems to be on the other side, and to increase it in every respect, arid it is that state of feeling which, to my mind, constitutes the real gravity of the situation. Again, it is not by taxes of this kind that you are likely to meet the position in which you find yourselves. You have had a vast expenditure on the war. You have before you, in South Africa, and perhaps elsewhere, the prospect of a great outlay in time of peace. The amount is at present very vague, but it is certain to be very large. You cannot measure what calls may be made upon you in the settlement of South Africa. These are things which, in my opinion, ought to be regarded in a far more serious spirit by the country and by the House than I see exhibited at this moment. I see demands from every quarter for additional expenditure not resisted or checked in this House. If that is to be the peace policy of this country, how are you ever to maintain under it that prosperity, and the content of the people founded upon that prosperity, which we now possess as the result of sound commercial and sound fiscal principles? I may be jeered at as one who is wearing ancient phylacteries and following outworn shibboleths; but I cannot forget that within my own life time these shibboleths have produced the present financial position of the country. They have also enabled you to raise the revenue necessary to carry you through the late war. Therefore I, for one, am not disposed to unlearn these shibboleths; and it is because I see in it the germs of a departure from the sound fiscal principles of the past that I must enter my final protest at this last stage of the Bill.
§ MR. HARWOOD (Bolton)
I shall not attempt to do more than in a few words answer the challenge which the Chancellor of the Exchequer hag thrown out many times during the debates on the Budget. The right hon. Gentleman has asked whether there is any reason why a tax upon corn which was allowed to continue by Mr. Gladstone and Sir 89 Robert Peel should not be repeated now. That is a very fair question. The great difference now depends on the sources of our supply of corn. At the time when Sir Robert Peel and Mr. Gladstone allowed the tax to continue, three-fourths of our total supply of corn was grown in this country, but now only one-fourth is grown in this country. I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer will allow that that makes a considerable difference. The price of a commodity is chiefly determined by the source of its largest supply. Therefore the action of Sir Robert Peel arid Mr. Gladstone in allowing the tax to continue did not affect the price of corn because anyone thinking of sending corn to this country had to consider whether he could afford to pay the registration duty when it came here, and compete with the producers of the large amount of corn grown in this country. He had to pay that duty and bring his one-fourth into competition with the three-fourths grown in the country. Now the case is quite different and I hope hon. Members realise the extreme gravity of the change. Everyone has acknowledged during the debate that the farmers will get the advantage. They will get I he advantage because the price of their one-fourth will be determined by the price of the three-fourths imported from abroad.
§ *(6.55.) MR. JOHN WILSON (Falkirk Burghs)
When the Chancellor of the Exchequer brought forward the Budget statement two months ago, this country was involved in a long and costly war which was seemingly interminable. Now that peace has been happily restored, it may be well to recall that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Monmouthshire has spoken in a dismal way of the prospect of securing revenue from the Transvaal, and of the enormous cost of maintaining a force there. I think the splendid way in which the terms of peace have been accepted by people who acknowledge that they have been beaten, may be taken as an indication that they will be good, peaceable, and law-abiding citizens. I came down to the House expecting when the news 90 of peace was announced that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would bring forward an amended Budget, but what is the case? The whole of the proposals have been maintained. I should like to call the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the coal tax. The right hon. Gentleman endeavoured to convince us that the coal tax would be paid by the foreigner. He now argues that the corn tax will be paid by the foreigner. He cannot be right in both arguments. I differed from him as to the coal tax having to be paid at home, and I should rather think that it would have been more appropriate if lie had taken the view that the corn tax would not be an infliction on the people of this country, and that the price of grain would not be added to. The coal tax has been put on in the most unjust way. Instead of being an ad valorem tax, which would affect all the exporting centres of the kingdom equally, it is at a fixed rate, and the consequence is that in Scotland we are paying exactly double the tax that the Welsh coal trade is paying. I think that is a question which the right hon. Gentleman promised to give his attention to last year, but we have no signs of any alteration of the coat; tax now. He has given relief to patent fuel in Wales, but he refuses to extend that privilege to Scotland. We produce from the mines in Scotland for export an article which we call "doubles" or "trebles." That article I which was formerly worthless is now treated by machinery which was erected at considerable cost. The Chancellor of the Exchequer would not consider the effect of the tax on that article. He would not receive a deputation so that the point might have been argued and threshed out. It is for these reasons that at this final stage of the Bill I protest against the proposed taxation, which I maintain ought to have been put on the Transvaal. It is proposed to put a paltry gold tax of 10 per cent, on the Transvaal, which will only yield £450,000 per annum. The best practical authorities in the Transvaal state that a saving of £5,000,000 will accrue annually to the capitalists who own the mines. Why is it that we do not hear from the Chancellor of the Exchequer now in regard to his proposals for the taxation of the Transvaal? The right hon. Gentleman put them off before 91 because peace was not restored. Now that the war is at an end we ought to be told what taxation is to be put on the Transvaal. It is for the reasons given that I object to the taxes put upon the country and that I shall vote against them.
§ MR. BATTY LANGLEY (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
I should not have interfered in this debate, but for the speeches delivered by the hon. Members for the Brightside and the Central Divisions of Sheffield. The hon. Member for the Brightside Division has appeared as a full blown Protectionist. I am sure that the hon. Member for the Central Division of Sheffield must have been exceedingly pleased with the admirable speech in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer demolished in such a clear and uncompromising manner, the fallacies of the hon. Member for Brightside. We have only had one large public meeting in Sheffield to protest against the corn tax, and it was hold in the largest public hall of the hon. Member's division. At that meeting the tax was condemned in the most emphatic manner by the working classes of Sheffield. I am exceedingly pleased that the Chancellor of the Exchequer gave in such clear and unmistakable language, his own views and those of the Government on this question of Protection. I want the House to distinctly understand that the views promulgated by the hon. Members for the Central Division and the Brightside Division are not the views held by the intelligent merchants of Sheffield; and I protest against the good name of Sheffield being mixed up with such miserable trash as we have heard from these hon. Members. But I would remind the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he would get no gratitude from the working classes of Sheffield for the taxes he has imposed during the last four or five years—the tax on tobacco, on tea, on sugar, and coal, and now on the bread loaf. I know that is done in order to broaden the basis of taxation, but the voice of the working people of Sheffield will ultimately be heard in condemnation of a broadening of the basis of taxation which touches their interests and their daily life.
§ MR. JOHN WILSON (Durham, Mid)
I do not think it is necessary for me to make any apology for addressing the House even at this late hour. My first 92 remark is that of astonishment at the manifestation of indifference as to discussion on this question, for if the corn tax presses hardly on any class, and if the Chancellor of the Exchequer interferes with the interest and best welfare of any part of the community, it is the working class portion of it. The right hon. Gentleman will forgive me when I say—because it is exactly what I feel—that I was surprised at the apologies he made for the situation in which he finds himself. He commenced by saying that he is still, and always will be, a Free Trader; but the tongue is an instrument by which you can play any tune you please. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is a very good player on that instrument. What single indication has he ever given, since he assumed the office he holds, that he is a Free Trader? As I understand it, the real essence of Free Trade is the Gladstonian policy of removing taxation from the necessaries of life that are imported into this country for the welfare of the industrial community. Wherein, therefore, I ask, has the Chancellor of the Exchequer shown that he is a Free Trader? Who is it who put on the tax on coal, who increased the price of sugar on the working classes? Who is it who has now pleased the red school of Protection—the hon. Member for Central Sheffield and the right hon. Members for Sleaford and Thanet? It is said that the people of this country are quiescent, and are receiving this attempt to introduce Protection in a very quiet spirit. Do hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite desire that there should be riots? Do they want the people to march from the North to London in large masses—a huge deluge causing destruction? Do they want to see this House beseiged? [Cries of "No, no."] If that is what they require they can see it next week. [Cries of "Oh, oh."] I know what I am saying. [Cries of "Divide."] Hon. Gentlemen opposite may cry "Divide" as long as they like, but when I get on my feet I stand until I have said my say.; When it is said that the people do not Complain of this tax, I would pit my experience against that of the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the hon. Member for the Central Division of Sheffield, and I maintain that there is in this country from the north to the south a demur, quiet it may be, but strong in its force 93 and volume, against this tax, I have attended many meetings at which resolutions have been passed against this corn tax, and only last Saturday I was at a very large gathering in Sunderland which emphatically condemned the tax. I know the people of the North of England. It may be that we are lese loyal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer than in some parts of the south; it may be that we are a crooked and stiff-necked generation, and that we require to be punished in a special sense; but I maintain that there is a general protest in the country against the imposition of this tax.
I joined issue with the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the debates last year in regard to the coal tax, and I do it again now. Additional experience has not altered my views. The Chancellor of the Exchequer imposed the coal tax without obtaining that knowledge of its probable effect, which he ought to have had, when the employment and the wages of the people were at stake. We were told that the miners were earning large wages, and that the coal owners were making large profits. As the secretary of one of the largest organisations in the country, I can say that since the coal tax was imposed, the men I represent have suffered to the extent of 20 per cent, in their wages. Is that a light matter? Is that something to be proud of? Is it the work of statesmen to bring about a reduction of wages? I tell the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the wages of the Durham miners would have been reduced still further by 1¼ per cent., had it not been that the employers and workmen agreed to refer the question as to who should bear the incidence of this tax for the next three months to an inquiry. Wages are not the most essential element in this discussion. It is the employment of the men. Wages may fall, and the men may suffer to a great certain extent, but if you put men out of employment altogether you deprive them and their families of the means of livelihood. I know many hundreds of men who are being paid 10s. a week by our organisation be cause they cannot get employment on account of the imposition of this tax. There has been a restriction in the 94 export of coal from Durham alone of a million tons, and that means that employment has been taken from 600 or 700 men. As to the corn tax, there are two ways of viewing it, the one right and the other wrong; the one looking up, and the other looking down. My hon. friend the Member for Haggerston gave the House this afternoon an object lesson by his graphic description of his own childhood, and of the effect of Protection in increasing the prices of the necessary food which had to be bought in small quantities for the support of the families of the working classes. He has placed before the Committee this fact—that to those people who buy by the halfpenny worth the price has gone up 100 per cent. There are two views which we can take of this tax. One is the view downward, and the other the view upward. I can remember when flour was 4s. 6d. a stone in this country, and I can remember the hard times in my own life, but I am going to say this to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. In my opinion, even this tax, which ho touches in so light and airy a manner, he has made with more faith, if he be a Free Trader, than he otherwise would. But is it more difficult for him now to make an attack on other sources of revenue than it was before he placed this 5d. on corn? Of course it is, because he would have to return that before he started anything else. Therefore; his task would be very much heavier than it was. The noble Lord the Member for Greenwich treated us to an expression of his views in this matter. He said that if the bread of the people was taxed they could drink whiskey. I quote from the Morning Post—It was within the power of every taxpayer to throw the burden on taxation on that part of his expenditure which he valued least To a man who consumed both bread and spirits it did not matter which you taxed, but if spirits alone were taxed a man would save on bread and spend more on spirits, and vice versa."[Cries of "No, no!"] Is that what the noble Lord said? Am I right in my quotation? If I am not, I have another, because there has been some dispute as to what the noble Lord did say. Mr. Speaker, there is a school m which statesmen would do well to serve their apprenticeship. It is the 95 school of poverty, an experience of the darkened homes of many of our people; and I think a question like this might be very useful if candidates for high office had to pass an examination as to; their qualifications: "Do you know as much as you should about how the poor I live in this highly civilised country?" [Cries of "Divide."] I hope hon. Members will give me this credit. I have always treated this institution, and every member of it, with deference and courtesy, but I think many of us could sketch out a scientific frontier with greater ease than many of us could depict the real life of the people of this great city. The Secretary to the Treasury, speaking of indirect taxation, said—It is, of course, easy to bring forward invidual cases of hardship.This would be a happy country if we had to depend on "individual cases," but there are whole classes affected Do hon. Gentlemen understand, do they know that 15s. a week would be a fabulous weekly wage to many and many a family? A noble Lord in another place said he knew there were thousands of agricultural labourers to whom 14s. a week would be a fortune. I Are those "individual cases"? Are they to have the price of their bread increased even by the shadow of an impingement? Does any hon. Gentleman know the anxiety of a working man and his wife to make both ends meet? I think the shadow of poverty and hunger should be kept from these people rather more than it is. And on behalf of these people I speak today, and I say there are other sources of revenue that should be taxed before the bread of these people. There is not a man on this side of the House who would not marshal himself behind the Chancellor of the Exchequer if the right hon. Gentleman would make the wealth of the country the real basis on which to place taxation, as he ought to do. The Secretary to the Treasury, when he made the remark I have read, said he was not in favour of taking off indirect taxation and placing it on direct taxation. I speak now with the voice of Birmingham. I have said that I, like others, come from a rude, unlettered school. We are the rude Othellos of debate, and we tell a "round, unvarnished tale." I will read my 96 authority on direct and indirect taxation and the Secretary to the Treasury will not question my authority—He had the curiosity to take account of the total consumption and the taxation of the articles consumed by those people, and he found that the taxation payable on the articles they consumed amounted to 7½ per cent, of the total wages of the twenty-four families that formed the whole population of the village. I have been trying to make a contrast, and in order not to give offence to any body else I have taken my own ease. I find it rather difficult to estimate exactly what I pay, because a good deal of the taxation is skill fully hidden, and it is difficult to follow it out; but I have come to the conclusion that I certainly do not pay more than 6 per cent, of my total income, and I do not believe I pay as much. You see that I who, at all events, by comparison with those poor people, am a rich man, who have pot a, good deal more than the minimum of subsistence, who am able to indulge in luxuries, who, as the Tories are constantly telling yon, even wear a flower in my button-hole—I, who have all these advantages, pay 1½ per cent. less than is extracted from the scanty earning of those poor peasants of Northamptonshire, whose average earnings are only 16s. per week. I say that is unfair, and I say the sooner it is altered the better. If Parliament would only support the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if they would give him leave to equalise the duties payable on land and on personal property when those pass on death and by inheritance, and if in addition they would consent to impose a higher tax upon incomes exceeding a certain amount, I believe Mr. Childers would be able at once to remedy this injustice and to give a free breakfast table tomorrow, and to enable yon, perhaps, in addition, to double and treble the currants and raisins that you put in your Christmas puddings.I do not know whether the authority who uttered these wordsat Birmingham in 1885 still holds those views or not, but he has not expressed them here. I will conclude by a proposition I put before the House; one is that the taxation of the land should fall on those best able to bear it. I do not think a man with 16s. a week should bear taxation at all. The words uttered in Birmingham in 1885 that this comparatively rich man, the leader of the spoliation party, was paying 1½ per cent. less, are as true now as they wore when they were uttered.
§ (7.26.) Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 286; Noes, 181. (Division List No. 247).101
|Acland Hood, Cap Sir Alex. F.||Dorington, Sir John Edward||Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Doughty, George||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick|
|Agnew. Sir Andrew Noel||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Jessel, Captain Herbert Merton|
|Allhusen, Augustus Hy. Yd n||Doxford, Sir William Theodore||Johnston, William (Belfast)|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Duke, Henry Edward||Johnstone, Hey wood (Sussex)|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Darning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin||Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H.|
|Bagot, Capt. Jose ine FitzRoy||Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir William Hart||Kenyon, Hn. Geo. T. (Denbigh)|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Keswick, William|
|Bain Colonel James Robert||Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||Laurie, Lieut.-General|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Faber, Edmund B. (Hants, W.)||Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Faber, George Denison (York)||Lawrence, Joseph(Monmouth)|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Fardell, Sir T. George||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A.J. (Manhc'r||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward||Lawson, John Grant|
|Balfour, Capt. C. B. (Horney)||Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J.(Manc'r||Lecky, Rt. Hn. William Edw. H.|
|Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W.(Leeds||Finch, George H.||Lee, Arthur H.(Hants. Fareham|
|Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christch.||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Fisher, William Hayes||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage|
|Barry, Sir Francis T. (Windsor||Fison, Frederick William||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie|
|Bartley, George C. T.||FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose-||Leveson-Gower, Frederick N.S.|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin||Fitzroy, Hon Edward Algernon||Llewellyn, Evan Henry|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir Michael Hicks||Flower, Ernest||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.|
|Beckett, Ernest William||Forster, Henry William||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Foster, Philip S.(Warwick, S.W.||Long, Col. Charles W.(Evesham|
|Beresford, Lord Chas. William||Galloway, William Johnson||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter(Bristol, S.|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Gardner, Ernest||Lonsdale, John Brownlee|
|Bigwood, James||Garfit, William||Lowe, Francis William|
|Bill, Charles||Godson, Sir August us Frederick||Lowther, Rt. Hn. James (Kent|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Gordon, Hn. J. E.(Elgin & Nairn)||Loyd, Archie Kirkman|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Gordon, J. (Londonderry, S.)||Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft)|
|Boulnois, Edmund||Gordon, Maj Evans-(T'r H'mlets||Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth|
|Bowles, Capt. H. F.(Middlesex)||Gore, Hn G. R. C. Ormsby-(Salop||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred|
|Brassey, Albert||Gore, Hon. S. F. Ormsby-(Linc.)||Macartney, Rt Hn W. G. Ellison|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon||Macdona, John Cumming|
|Brookfield, Colonel Montagu||Goschen, Hon. George Joachim||Maclver, David (Liverpool)|
|Brotherton, Edward Allen||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Maeonochie, A. W.|
|Brown, Alexander H.(Shropsh.||Graham, Henry Robert||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)|
|Brymer, William Ernest||Green, Walford D. (Wedn's bury||M'Calmont, Col. H.L.B.(Cambs|
|Bullard, Sir Harry||Greene, Sir E W (B'ry S E dm'nds||M'Calmont, Col. J.(Antrim, E.)|
|Butcher, John George||Greene, W. Raymond- (Cambs.)||Majendie, James A. H.|
|Campbell, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Glasgow||Grenfell, William Henry||Manners Lord Cecil|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Gretton, John||Maxwell, Rt Hn Sir H.E.(Wigt'n|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lanes.)||Greville, Hon. Ronald||Maxwell, W J H (Dumfriesshire|
|Cavendish, V.C. W. (Derbyshire||Groves, James Grimble||Melville, Beresford Valentine|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill||Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Gunter, Sir Robert||Middlemore, John Throgmort'n|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. (Birm.||Hall, Edward Marshall||Milner, Rt. Hn. Sir Frederick (J.|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc'r||Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F.||Milvain, Thomas|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Hamilton, Rt Hn Lord G(Midd'x||Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)|
|Chapman, Edward||Hamilton, Marq. of(L'nd'nderry||Montagu, Hn. J. Scott (Hants.)|
|Charrington, Spencer||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm,||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy|
|Churchill, Winston Spencer||Hare, Thomas Leigh||More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire)|
|Clive, Captain Percy A.||Harris, Frederick Leverton||Morrell, George Herbert|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Haslam, Sir Alfred S.||Morrison, James Archibald|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Haslett, Sir James Horner||Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptford|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Mount, William Arthur|
|Callings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Heath, James (Staffords, N. W.||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.|
|Colomb, Sir John Charles Ready||Heaton, John Henniker||Muntz, Philip A.|
|Colston, Charles Edw. H. Athole||Helder, Augustus||Murray, Rt Hn A. Graham(Bute|
|Compton, Lord Alwyne||Henderson, Alexander||Murray, Charles J. (Coventer)|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Hermon-Hodge, Robert Trotter||Murray, Col. Wyndham(Bath)|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Hermon, Sir Alfred||Myers, William Henry|
|Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge||Higginbottom, S. W.||Newdigate, Francis Alexander|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Hoare, Sir Samuel||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Hobhouse, Henry (Somerset, E.||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay|
|Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton)||Hogg, Lindsay||Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Hornby, Sir William Henry||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry||Peel, Hn. Wm. Robert Wellesley|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Hoult, Joseph||Pemberton, John S. G.|
|Denny, Colonel||Howard, John(Kent, Faversh'm||Pierpoint, Robert|
|Dickson, Charles Scott||Hozier, Hn. James Henry Cecil||Pilkington, Lt.-Col. Richard|
|Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Hudson, George Bickersteth||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Digby, John K. D. Wingfield||Hutton, John (Yorks, N.R.)||Plummer, Waller R.|
|Disraeli. Coningsby Ralph||Jackson, Rt. Hon. Wm. Lawies||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)||Warde, Colonel C. E.|
|Purvis, Robert||Seely, Charles Hilton (Lincoln||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Pym, C Guy||Seton-Karr, Henry||Webb, Colonel William George|
|Quilter, Sir Cuthbert||Sharpe, William Edward T.||Welby, Sir Charles G.E.(Notts.)|
|Randles, John S.||Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew||Wharton, Rt. Hon. John Lloyd|
|Rankin, Sir James||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Rasch, Major Frederic Carne||Smith, HC(North'mb. Tyneside||Williams, RtHnJ.Powell-(Birm.|
|Rattigan, Sir William Henry||Smith, James Parker (Lanarks.||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Reid, James (Greenock)||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Renshaw, Charles Bine||Stanley, Hn. Arthur(Ormskirk||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.|
|Renwick, George||Stanley, Lord (Lanes.)||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Richards, Henry Charles||Stock, James Henry||Wilson-Todd Wm. H. (Yorks.)|
|Ridley, Hn. M. W. (Stalybridge||Stone, Sir Benjamin||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath)|
|Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson||Stroyan, John||Worsley-Taylor, Henry Wilson|
|Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)||Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart|
|Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)||Wrightson, Sir Tnomas|
|Rolleston, Sir. John F. L.||Talbot, Rt.Hn.J.G(Oxf'd Univ.||Wylie, Alexander|
|Ropner, Colonel Robert||Thornton, Percy M.||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Round, James||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray||Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.|
|Rutherford, John||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-||Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward|
|Sadler. Col. Samuel Alexander||Tuke, Sir John Batty||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)||Valentia, Viscount||Sir William Walrond and|
|Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert||Vincent, Col. Sir CEH(Sheffield||Mr. Anstruther.|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.)||Elibank, Master of||MacVeagh, Jeromiah|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Emmott, Alfred||M'Crae, George|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Esmonde, Sir Thomas||M'Govern, T.|
|Allen, Charles P.(Glouc, Stroud||Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan)||M'Kean, John|
|Ambrose, Robert||Ffrench, Peter||M'Kenna, Reginald|
|Asher, Alexander||Flavin, Michael Joseph||M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North)|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Flynn, James Christopher||Mansfield, Horace Rendall|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Mappin, Sir Frederick Thorpe|
|Austin, Sir John||Fuller, J. M. F.||Mooney, John J.|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Furness, Sir Christopher||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Gilhooly, James||Moulton, John Fletcher|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Gladstone, Rt Hn Herbert John||Murnaghan, George|
|Bell, Richard||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Murphy, John|
|Black, Alexander William||Grant. Corrie||Nannetti, Joseph P.|
|Boland, John||Griffith, Ellis J.||Nolan, Col. John P. (Galwny, N.)|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)|
|Brigg, John||Harwood, George||Norman, Henry|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Hayden, John Patrick||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Hayne, Rt. Hn. Charles Seale-||O'Brien, Kendal(TipperaryMid|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur D.||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Helme, Norval Watson||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)|
|Burns, John||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.|
|Burt, Thomas||Holland, William Henry||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Caine, William Sproston||Hope, John Deans (Fife, W.)||O'Doherty, William|
|Caldwell, James||Horniman, Frederick John||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)|
|Cameron, Robert||Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.||O'Dowd, John|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||O'Kelly, James(Roscommon, N.|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Jacoby, James Alfred||O'Malley, William|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Joicey, Sir James||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Cawley, Frederick||Jones, David Brynmor (Sw'nsea||Palmer, George Wm. (Reading|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Jones, William (Carn'rvonshire||Partington, Oswald|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Joyce, Michael||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Cogan, Denis J.||Kinloch, Sir John George Smyth||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Kitson, Sir James||Pease, Sir Joseph W.(Durham)|
|Craig, Robert Hunter||Lambert, George||Perks, Robert William|
|Crean, Eugene||Langley, Batty||Philipps, John Wynford|
|Cremer, William Randal||Law, Hugh Alex.(Donegal, W.||Pickard, Benjamin|
|Crombie, John William||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Leamy, Edmund||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington||Price, Robert John|
|Delany, William||Leigh, Sir Joseph||Rea, Russell|
|Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.||Leng, Sir John||Reckitt, Harold James|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Lewis, John Herbert||Reddy, M.|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Lloyd-George, David||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Doogan, P. C.||Lundon, W.||Reid, Sir R. Threshie(Dumfries|
|Duncan, J. Hastings||MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A.||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Dunn, Sir William||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E)||Whiteley, George (York, W.R.)|
|Roche, John||Thomas, Alfred(Glamorgan, E.)||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Roe, Sir Thomas||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Russell, T. W.||Thomas, JA (Glamorgan, Gower||Williams. Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)||Thompson, Dr EC(Monagh'n, N||Wilson, Fred. W.(Norfolk, Mid.|
|Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh)||Thomson, F. W. (York, W.R)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)||Tomkinson, James||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Sheehan, Daniel Daniel||Toulmin, George||Wood, James|
|Shipman, Dr. J. G.||Tully, Jasper||Young, Samuel|
|Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)||Ure, Alexander||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Soames, Arthur Wellesley||Walton, John Lawson(Leeds S.|
|Soares, Ernest J.||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Spencer, Rt Hn C. K. (Northants||Wason, Eugene(Clackmannan||TELLERS FOR THE NOES-|
|Sullivan, Donal||White, George (Norfolk)||Mr. Lough and Mr. Rob-|
|Tennant, Harold John||White, Luke (York, E.R.)||son.|
§ Main Question put and agreed to.
§ Bill read the third time, and passed.